Nis’ Pick – Hocus Pocus
If I know Dean, and I would I hope I do after years of countless movie conversations, this year’s Halloween picks will no doubt include his choice of either scary movie classic or unknown horror gem. With that in mind, I’ve decided to go the nostalgic/kid-route again, and what better choice than a Disney movie? Because we must not forget that Halloween isn’t just for Wiccans getting spiritual or for grown-ups to party, but it’s also for kids — young and young at heart — to get all spooked out and eat lots of chocolate.
Hocus Pocus tells the story of new teen in town Max (Omri Katz), who has recently moved to Salem, Massachusetts, and gets roped into taking his little sister Dani (Thora Birch) out trick-or-treating. At one of the houses, they run into Max’s new crush from school, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). She joins them on their outing, and before long they arrive at the old Sanderson House, a now-closed museum that used to belong to the famous Sanderson Sisters — witches who were hung 300 years ago for the deaths of local children. In an attempt to impress Allison, Max inadvertently lights The Black Candle, which brings the sisters — Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) — back to life for one night. The sisters must then brew a potion and capture a child to suck the life out of before sunrise, or they will turn to dust. The kids, now with the help of Binx (a kid from Ye Olde Salem that was cursed into a cat by Winifred 300 years ago), must prevent the sisters from brewing their potion and getting a child, or the Sanderson Sisters will live forever.
Harmless enough at first glance, but like any good, kids movie, there are actually quite a few aspects of the film that are kind of intense, when you have a proper think about it. The main one would of course be the witches killing children, but also a few other scenes like when the witches are trapped by the kids to get burned to death in a kiln, or when Winifred curses the people at the town’s adult Halloween party to dance till they die. But of course the film is handled in a light- hearted, kiddie-friendly, full of gags kind of way that you wouldn’t have a problem with showing this to kids at all (well, I wouldn’t). For some reason virgins are popping up left, right and centre in older kids movies (my pick for last year, Monster Squad, also had a similar theme — only a virgin could read the mantra to open the abyss to get rid of the monsters). Here too, The Black Candle can only be lit by a virgin. I’m not sure why virgins have all these superpowers in these semi-scary kids movies, but it’s interesting to note that they are similar to the superpower held by virgins in regular horror movies (ie, surviving a serial killer).
Why is this my pick for this Halloween? Well, first and foremost is because I genuinely love this movie. Though obviously aimed at kids, I like the story and characters, it has some good jokes, and I just think it’s a lot of fun. Of course, the film being set on Halloween is also a solid reason. Any time I watch it, it just makes me feel like a kid, and want to experience The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (which is not Christmas for us here at For A Few Movies More!). The film does actually have a cult following — probably made up of the countless kids who have watched and developed a love for it as kids, but then nurtured that attachment as they grew up over the years. Though it may not have rave reviews, or even a “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, I think you’d be hard- pressed to find someone who, having seen this as a kid, doesn’t have fond memories of it at least, if not still watch it to this day.
And just a quick fun-fact for all you movie nerds out there, Hocus Pocus also features chameleon Doug Jones as Billy, an old boyfriend of Winifred’s that she brings back to life from his grave (yes, this film features a zombie too!).
Dean’s Pick – Hatchet
I’d hate to ruin my reputation, but this Halloween I’m choosing neither a obscure oddity nor a cult favourite film for my recommendation, but rather a film that falls somewhere between both of those boundaries. Whenever I envision a Halloween film I immediately picture a horror film that can be either watched with a group of friends or thrown on in the background of a party. Nothing too sombre or serious, instead something that captures the feel of the Halloween and features a fun, energetic vibe feels more appropriate to me. So this year, I’ve delved deep into my catacomb of endless horror flicks and have come up with what I feel is the perfect holiday horror film. So dim the lights, lock your doors, and get ready to come face to face with the modern day horror icon Victor Crowley in Adam Green’s debut feature film, Hatchet.
Hatchet is a relatively simple venture that wastes no time getting its hands dirty. During the holiday season of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a group of clueless tourists, as well a local girl with a mysterious agenda, head into the dense swamps of Louisiana for what should have been a straightforward sightseeing expedition. Unfortunately, this being a horror movie and all, the night soon turns into a bloodbath when the group run afoul of resident homicidal madman, Victor Crowley. Thought to be the by-product of local folklore, Victor Crowley is instead a real life deformed psychopath stalking the swamp, forever searching for fresh victims to quench his endless bloodlust. And now with this new batch of potential victims in his sight, the night is just about to get a whole lot more interesting.
A loving throwback to the over the top slasher films of the 80’s, Hatchet is a basic film that never takes itself too seriously. Rather than focusing on an in depth plot or layered characters, Hatchet is instead all about life’s simple pleasures, hardcore violence and ample nudity. It effectively captures the 8o’s vibe its going for, all the while standing on its own two feet as a unique experience. It doesn’t exactly do anything new with the genre, however it is an accurate homage that does a good job of harnessing the ruthless take no prisoner attitude the slasher films of yesteryear possessed.
Featuring an assortment of outrageous show stopping scenes, Hatchet is a film capable of grabbing the attention of even the rowdiest of viewers. The violence in particular is an extreme highlight reel of some of the best death sequences in horror movie history. Faces are crushed to a bloody pulp, limbs are torn off and in one particular nasty sequence, a victim’s face is turned into a gaping hole with a tongue sticking out of it when their mouth is viciously torn open like a wet, squirming plastic bag. They’re the kind of grotesque moments that leaves any self-respecting horror fan laughing out loud and fist pumping in glee, while simultaneously feeling a little ashamed for doing so.
Victor Crowley, the individual behind all of the carnage throughout Hatchet is an imposing figure who stands as a memorable movie maniac in the ilk of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kruger. He’s yet another seemingly unstoppable killing machine capable of ludicrous acts of violence using only his bare hands who funnily enough, just so happens to be played by Kane Hodder, the man famous for portraying Jason Voorhees in several of the Friday The 13th films. Hodder is an imposing figure in real life, so add pounds of disfigured makeup on him and the result s speak for themselves. Also be sure to keep an eye out for fellow horror icons Robert Englund and Tony Todd, both of whom pop up for brief cameo appearances.
Hatchet by no means is a perfect film, but it sure is an undeniably fun one. It’s clearly a low budget affair judging by its relatively simple productions values, but what it lacks in finesse it more than makes up for with entertainment value. There’s never a dull moment throughout its short run-time and it’s the perfect film to throw on in the background while you’re enjoying your other Halloween activities. But mark my word, the moment Victor Crowley lets out his first distraught howl and comes tearing through the night-time fog like a bat out of hell, I can assure you anyone in the vicinity will be glued to the TV set. For while the carnage that soon follows is excessive beyond words, the hilarious underlying layer of sly humour it posses significantly softens the blow while simultaneously marking it as a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Nothing tickling your bones this year? Check out our picks from last year!
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