Review: Stake Land (2010)

10

Stake Land Poster

“They’re dead! There’s nothing to be done about it but kill that thing.”
– Mister

SYNOPSIS: Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden. – via IMDB

So I watched this a few years ago at the behest of some fellow bloggers, and remembered liking it, though not loving it. Recently on Netflix I saw the sequel, and figured I might as well give this a rewatch for refresher purposes and check it out. Now, this is actually a decent watch but it also has a lot of things that are annoying.

Let’s start with the vampires – I struggled with them because, well, they are vampires, but they behave just like zombies. While I appreciated a fresh, different aspect on the phenomenon, I also wanted more answers. Keeping it vague kept it interesting, but also frustrating. But then, as Mister says, “we don’t do history”, so that also ties in nicely. The acting at times is a little awkward, too. Like, Mister must be badass, and Mister is pretty damn cool, but sometimes it comes across like he is trying too hard.So I watched this a few years ago at the behest of some fellow bloggers, and remembered liking it, though not loving it. Recently on Netflix I saw the sequel, and figured I might as well give this a rewatch for refresher purposes and check it out. Now, this is actually a decent watch but it also has a lot of things that are annoying.

I really liked the relationship between the Martin and Mister. Like, the other characters come and go, and Martin becomes more attached to them than Mister, who has obviously been around long enough and lost enough people, yet he has this attachment to Martin he does not demonstrate to the others. It is them against the world. I was quite interested in the concept of this crazy Brotherhood and their special brand of cuckoo, and I saw Michael Cerveris in there and all I thought is “September went dark side”, like the Observers went more off the deep end before. I found the ultimate showdown between him, Mister, and Martin to be rather dull, and it had so much more potential, and it was built into this big thing.

I enjoyed the ambiguity of the story – no real history (though it could get frustrating at times), it just gets right into it, and we are told this snippet of a story by a boy who was saved by a stranger who has taken him on this deadly journey. The sets are great, and everything looks apocalyptic and dreary. The narration from Martin is sad and depressing, and the score works together to bring this all together.

Stake Land is a slight different vampire movie in the sense that we get zombie like vampires with no higher brain functioning, but it is a decent watch. You will be engaged throughout, and the dynamics between Mister and Martin are enough to keep you going, and to see how people have survived this apocalypse, or, more accurately, how they are trying to survive.

Rapid Review: Halloween II (2009)

5

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“Hey, world! Guess what? I’m Michael Myers’ sister!”
– Laurie Strode

SYNOPSIS: Laurie Strode struggles to come to terms with her brother Michael’s deadly return to Haddonfield, Illinois; meanwhile, Michael prepares for another reunion with his sister. – via IMDB

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GRADE 4Nope. Nope, nope, nope. I get why this installment gets so much flak, and it breaks my heart to say that because I really am a Rob Zombie fan. But this movie? What a freaking wreck! The best thing about it is seeing more Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett – because he really is the only likable character. I have no idea how we are supposed to root for either Laurie or Loomis, always fan favourites, in Halloween II. They are both terrible, wretched characters with no redeeming qualities. I was also not a fan of a new young actor taking over from Daeg Faerch as Michael, because I just don’t like inconsistencies. At all. Halloween II is still bloody, gory, and brutal, and holds back on no punches there, and is serious to boot, no little bits of campy horror here. Visually, the film is still appealing, so there is that, and I still enjoyed the mustic. But that aside, the movie is long and it is messy. Long, and yet it feels rushed. What a juxtaposition. There is just no other way. Sloppy writing and a lot of silly stuff is happening, plus so many inexplicable scenes and scenarios (for reals, why the heck did the Sheriff’s house look like a bloody junkie den?), not to mention an overkill of cussing, and that rarely bothers me – but here? Just came across as forced. Let’s not even forget that Michael Myers is really noisy in this one. All that grunting when he kills? I was also no fan of Deborah Myers and her white horse showing up all the time. I can appreciate what Zombie was trying to do, I can, and there were glimpses of stuff that could have been brilliant, but this just didn’t work out quite as well as I would have liked.

Rapid Review: Halloween (2007)

5

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” These eyes will deceive you, they will destroy you. They will take from you, your innocence, your pride, and eventually your soul. These eyes do not see what you and I see. Behind these eyes one finds only blackness, the absence of light, these are of a psychopath.”
– Dr Sam Loomis

SYNOPSIS: Young Michael Myers is committed to Smith’s Grove after the brutal murder of his mom and sister’s boyfriends, and his sister Judith. After being there for roughly 17 years, he returns to his home town of Haddonfield in search of one of the only people he has ever cared about, his baby sister Laurie Strode. As he is tracked down by Dr. Sam Loomis he will kill anybody who gets in his path. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5You know, I have always felt that this movie gets way too much hate! I know Zombie is pretty divisive for people, but I am a big Zombie fan, that’s for sure. When it comes to his movies, I always respect what he is going for, whether it works out as well as you would hope or not. Zombie’s Halloween tries to give a more psychologically sound explanation as to Michael Myers’s murderous antics, and I appreciate what he was going for. The pre-psychopathic warning tendencies/indicators were shown in their full glory here, as well as the crappy home situation that Michael found himself in (definitely tacky to boot, not the regular middle class family he was from originally). Zombie’s rendition is also a hell of a lot more brutal, gory, and bloody. Plus Michael’s first attack on that kid? It was sinister. Not to mention the extremely graphic rape scene that invaded our screens – that was OTT! Daeg Faerch was a really creepy pick to play a young Michael. I also enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit, and I think the film was shot really well. However, Halloween is a movie filled with awful characters I just could’t give a crap about, even our new Laurie Strode, even our new Dr Loomis, and that is a pity. There wasn’t really anyone to root for at all. It was cool to see Danielle Harris return to the series (totally different character), but I felt like a total pedophile. Seriously – four movies ago she was a nine year old girl, and here she had her rack out on display. It was madness! Also, I was not a fan of the dialogue – all constantly cussing, and everyone seemed a little… common? You can tell that Zombie loves the original movies, and there are a lot of throwbacks here, but Zombie still tried to make it his own, and his mark is evident. I didn’t love the fact that the movie is littered with a lot of tacky moments, and the modernisation of this did not really help the cause. Anyway, not nearly worth the hate that it gets, and it is a decent watch all around, if I am being honest. Not the best Myers film, but a solid one nonetheless.

Rapid Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

4

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“They know that Michael Myers is her uncle and that she attacked her foster mother, that’s why they fear her, especially on Halloween.”
– Dr Sam Loomis

SYNOPSIS: It is exactly one year later since Michael Myers returned to terrorize his hometown of Haddonfield, and his long-lost niece, Jamie Lloyd. Now, he wants revenge! Young Jamie, who has lost her ability to speak since attacking her foster mother, has developed a telepathic link with her demonic uncle. The ever resourceful Dr. Sam Loomis has realized this, and plans to use it to finally put an end to Michael’s rage. But unbeknownst to them, a stranger has come to Haddonfield, and he is a key factor in the outcome of the madness that has plagued Haddonfield on Halloween for over ten years! – via IMDB

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GRADE 6The Revenge of Michael Myers starts off with Michael Myers, and how he escaped the end ordeal of the last movie, and displays almost instantaneously that Myers really is a force of nature. This dude is unstoppable and single minded, only wanting to exterminate his entire family. I was quite confused as to how Jamie was still fitting in with everyone, then I established she did not kill foster mama last time, but still, the fact that the family is still so supportive is pretty cool. Something I have got to ask why the heck Haddonfield has not banned the sale and wearing of the Michael Myers costume?! It is beyond me, and how these kids are going to get themselves shot at some point. Anyway. Dr Sam Loomis is again painted the crackpot, and while the man might be going a little cuckoo (in his own obsession with Michael), he is also the only one that knows what the heck is going down at any given time, and yet people ignore him. But he’s been right every time?! People, come on! He has a viable track record! I thought the friendship between Jamie and Billy was absolutely adorable, really! I thought that the story for this one was a little bit disjointed, and the flow was not as smooth. I also didn’t find this one to be a particularly chilling or scary entry at all (but that laundry chute scene was great), though it was mindlessly entertaining. Oh, let’s talk about the touching moment between Jamie and Michael later in the movie (Jamie calling him uncle and wanting to wipe away his tears). It was so out of place, but sweet, and then it was just all gone, so fast. Anyway, I thought that the movie was alright, although far weaker than the other movies in this canon. Still decent for a movie night binge though!

Rapid Review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

6

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“We’re not talking about any ordinary prisoner, Hoffman! We are talking about evil on two legs.”
– Dr Sam Loomis

SYNOPSIS: Ten years after his original massacre, the invalid Michael Myers awakens and returns to Haddonfield to kill his seven-year-old niece on Halloween. Can Dr. Loomis stop him? – via IMDB

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Because someone was so kind as to show exactly where the mask came from.

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GRADE 6.5And so we see the return of Michael Myers (entire pun intended), and I was pleased. I honestly think that this movie is better than people give it credit for. Sure, there are flaws, but it is a horror/slasher flick and they are always riddled with such things. Looking beyond that, I would like to point out that the acting is pretty damn solid all around, especially from Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, and Donald Pleasence. They really do own this, and Harris impressed for such a young girl. The music was not as effective in this one as previous installments though, which was a pity. I enjoyed the throwbacks that were peppered throughout the film. A big one for me was Jamie sporting the clown outfit – seriously, this Myers family, man! Michael was more brutal in this one and definitely more supernatural than ever before, though my favourite rendition of him (so far) is still the first one. I was really happy that Loomis was (surprise surprise) not dead after Halloween II. Watching this, I was just horrified to (again) see how messed up kids are –  the kids that bullied Jamie, as well as Brady jumping ship from Rachel the moment she had to babysit. You asshole. Speaking of – that provided the teen drama angle here. I am still not sure how I feel about the end – a stroke of genius, or just super sudden and uncalled for? Jarring? This was another suspenseful slow burn, not too much gore, but did not focus on the atmosphere a heck of a lot. I think this movie gets way too much flak – while it is not brilliant, it is not a bad sequel, and it is plenty entertaining.