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Showing posts from June, 2018

The Darkest Dungeon (2016): The Countess

I enjoy Red Hook's The Darkest Dungeon (2016) a great deal, but one thing that always struck me is how most of the bosses feel a little underwhelming. It's not like they're easy, per se; in fact, many are legitimately dangerous, but not to the degree that I feel frustrated by them. I don't dread fighting them because if one goes into battle fully prepared, they're fairly straightforward affairs. In this sense, one just lines the bosses up, and proceeds to knock them down, one at a time. There's some prep time involved, but once you have the means, it's not really so bad. Call it a harvest, and you the reaper.


Then, there's the Crimson Court... Here, the bosses are truly tough, to the point that one can't simply muscle through them. To be honest, the Viscount is something of a pushover, but the Baron is not, as I recall. Nor, it turns out, is the Countess. I went into the Countess fight having never fought her, before. Fighting her was quite possibly…

Halloween 4 (1988): Review, part 1

I’m currently watching the older Halloween movies in anticipation of the latest one, coming out in October. I already watched II (1981), and saw III (1983), years ago. So I decided to move onto 4 (1988), which I’ve never seen, before. This review is divided into two parts; read part two, here. Also, SPOILERS! 

There is a perennial quality to the Halloween franchise, which leads back to an initial trauma: Halloween 4 was made and occurs ten years after the original; H20 (1998), twenty, and the latest, forty(!). 4  clearly benefited from a break, coming back stronger than ever. It's tight and lean, with little to distract us. For a horror franchise with such a famous, immediately-recognizable title track, the opening to Halloween 4 is strangely silent. Instead, an vacant Illinois landscape unfurls through a montage of evenly-timed shots. A derelict farm passes before our eyes in roughly a minute, made all the more empty thanks to the combination of dust and fall leaves swirling in f…

Halloween 4 (1988): Review, part 2

Here is part two of my review of Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988); read part one, here. SPOILERS!

Rachel has her arc, and Loomis has his. As for Loomis, he’s straightforward. Better yet, this time around, no one argues with him, for a change. What a treat! Generally the victims are people off-screen, but those he talks to “keep their mouths shut and their eyes open.” It keeps things plugging along but there’s a sense of continuity throughout. The new sheriff recognizes Loomis, and remembers Brackett even though the man has long since retired (and moved to St. Petersburg, of all places). Loomis tells the new boss what went down, at the fuel station, and his story seems to check out; or, at the very least, the new guy decides to go with his gut, the moment he realizes the lines are down.


It’s so refreshing to see people working together! I simply can’t stand it when too much of a movie is wasted merely to have characters argue for the sake of it. Here, they (mostly) stic…

Halloween 2 (1981): Review, part 1

I’ve decided to sit down and watch all of the Halloween movies, from II (1981) all the way to Resurrection (2002). I could review the original (and probably will at some point, because it’s awesome), but the point of these little reviews is to cover the ones I haven’t seen a million times. In part one, I’ll look mostly at things I liked, larger themes, and the music; in part two, I’ll examine what I disliked; and in part three, I close the review by looking at more of the good stuff the movie has to offer.
I went into Halloween II with an open mind, and frankly more than anything found it to be somewhat disappointing. The biggest issue is that apart from some minor deviations—and an attempt to expand on what Michael’s was, and how he related to Laurie Strode—I felt the movie to be mostly a rote-but-lesser exercise in the same kind of slasher horror the original knocked out of the park. This being said, there were things I enjoyed. More than I would have guessed. For one, I really enjoy…

Halloween 2 (1981): Review, part 2

Here is part two of my three-part review of  Halloween II (1981), where I’ll examine what I disliked about the movieIn part one, I looked at what I liked, larger themes, and the music; in part three, I'll close the review by looking at more of the good stuff the movie has to offer.


Everything in Halloween II is crowded. The town is simply too alive and full to generate the quiet, unsettling atmosphere featured in Halloween. Too many names and too many faces dominate the urban carnival of a main street Haddonfield for Michael to stand out. Instead, he’s made to blend in. On one hand, this makes sense, since he’s a man in a costume, and no one knows what he’s wearing. Conversely many scenes show him in full-view. In Halloween, Carpenter generally didn’t shoot Michael from the neck up, in close-up shots. Any full-body shots of him were generally from a distance. That, or his mask, when the face was revealed, was still partially concealed in shadows. In the original, his face seems t…

Halloween 2 (1981): Review, part 3

Here is part three of my three-part review of  Halloween II (1981), where I close the review by looking at more of the good stuff the movie has to offer.In part one, I looked mostly at things I liked, larger themes, and the music; in part two, I examined what I disliked.

Halloween II  is far from perfect, punctuated by a lack of tension and general limp feeling felt throughout—odd, considering it has plenty of chase scenes, or dark rooms with dead bodies in them. All the tricks Carpenter did so well, in Halloween (1978), Rosenthal struggles to get right, in Halloween II.


Part of it is that Carpenter spent a lot of time introducing us to a small cast in an isolated, carefully controlled setting. We had time to get to know these characters, and watch them respond. Take Tommy, for instance. He’s introduced fairly unobtrusively early on, when he greets Laurie on his way to school; then, another, with the bullies (“He’s gonna get you!”) and another when Laurie is reading him King Arthur (no…

Halloween (2018): First Trailer Impressions, part 1

The trailer for Halloween (2018) is finally out, but was it worth the wait? For me, the short answer is, "Hell yes!" The reason being, the movie advertised within looks not like a carbon copy of the original, but ventures in new directions while capturing much of the same classic tone, themes and content. Faithful, but re-inventive, it looks like a really good time.

Note: As I tend to go into detail, and love close-analysis, a longer write-up of the trailer is in order. However, seeing as there's much to discuss, I can't possibly cover it all at once. As such, I've decided to divide this into two projects. The first will be a write-up covering the trailer in as much detail as possible. Look for that, in the coming days.

This piece is the second of the two: a three-part essay that has me analyzing the trailer relative to my own history with the franchise, and as a student of Gothic literature, cinema and videogames. Part one covers my history with the franchise, and…

Halloween (2018): First Trailer Impressions, part 2

Here is part two of a three-part essay I've written, analyzing the trailer of  Halloween (2018). In it, I investigate the Gothic themes present throughout the franchise, as invoked by the trailer. Read part one, here; part three, here. SPOILERS!

As previously discussed, the modest and close-knit feel to the creative process in the upcoming Halloween  has me feeling very excited, indeed. That being said, my optimistic feelings stem from more than its solid pedigree; the trailer itself is quite decent. I like it as much as I do because it manages to evoke the feelings of the original, without copying it, note-for-note. It appears to have taken some risks, but regardless looks very interesting from start to end.



The biggest hurdle the movie faces is tradition. Michael Myers isn't dead; he's aged, and everyone knows his legend. The trailer even starts with two nosy investigators, hell-bent on exploring the ghost story everyone knows (one, in the trailer, smugly declares that he…