IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)
In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.
The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.
Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.
CULT OF CHUCKY (2017)
It’s been four years since horror icon Chucky’s triumphant return to form in Curse Of Chucky. Now he returns again, this time roaming the halls of a medium security institute for the mentally ill. This installment finds Nica (Fiona Dourif) declared mentally insane after taking blame for the murders Chucky committed in the Pierce house and she’s been institutionalized since. Meanwhile, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been keeping and tormenting Chucky’s possessed head and Nica’s doctor (Michael Therriault) decides to bring in a Good Guys Doll as part of her therapy. It also seems, though, that Chucky has been busy learning new spells and can inhabit more than one doll…and as more Good Guy Dolls show up at the institute via Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and Andy, all hell breaks loose with Nica at the center of it. With more than one Chucky stalking the halls and Andy and Tiffany on premises, the inmates will soon be running the asylum!
Don Mancini returns again to write and direct and again delivers one of the best of the series. Cult of Chucky is an absolute blast of bloody fun as the demented Chucky starts to off the inmates and staff of the Harrogate institute, all the while tormenting Nica. The gore is plentiful and the kills inventive and Mancini takes full advantage of the sterile environment of the institute in contrast to the old haunted house style setting of the last flick. He giddily splashes the clean white walls with bright red blood and really has come into his own as a visual director with some Kubrick-esque shots and hallucination sequences. He balances the mood very well here with playing things fairly straight, yet keeping and honing the series’ twisted sense of humor, especially in portraying Chucky’s enthusiasm for what he does. He also gets to have some fun with the fact that Chucky can inhabit more than one doll at once and there are at least three roaming the dimly lit halls at one point. And Chucky gets to delight in the fact that only Nica knows he’s real and the rest of the inhabitants are in dangerous denial. It’s simply a really fun, stylish and gory time with one of horrors most famous icons in top form thanks to Mancini’s clever script and direction. Sure there area few plot holes, such as how did Chucky research new spells if he was only a disembodied head in Andy’s possession, but otherwise this is a solid entry in the Child’s Play franchise.
The cast are all in top form, too. Brad Dourif once again performs Chucky’s vocals with gusto and at this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it. Daughter Fiona Dourif is also solid as Nica. She takes the material seriously and plays the role with conviction, until the last act where the script allows her to go a little over-the-top and she has fun with what she’s required to do. Alex Vincent certainly is having a good time as the adult Andy and Jennifer Tilly is a delight as the demented Tiffany, playing it as if there was never a long break in-between films. The rest of the cast do well in portraying various inmates and staff, many of whom fall to Chucky’s homicidal antics.
This installment was really entertaining. Don Mancini has found a way to revive this series with two recent quality installments that further the adventures of Chucky and yet delightfully pay tribute to the earlier chapters in the franchise. Where most horror series slowly fizzle out as they go along, Don Mancini has found a way to keep this one fresh, inventive and lots of bloody fun. Sure there are a few plot holes, but you are willing to overlook them because you’re having such a gory good time.
A solid 3 Chuckys.
CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)
It’s been almost ten years since we last saw Chucky, the homicidal doll possessed by the spirit of deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray, but Curse Of Chucky brings him back in all his blood spattering glory…and turns out to be one of the best entries in the series.
The story takes place in an old house owned and lived in by Sarah Pierce (Chantal Quesnel) and her wheelchair-ridden young daughter, Nica (Fiona Dourif). When they receive a strange package that contains an old Good Guys doll named Chucky (once again voice by Brad Dourif), things obviously start to go wrong in the Pierce home. To start, Nica wakes up to find her mother dead, an apparent suicide…or so we are led to believe. Her sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives to console her along with her husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), daughter Alice (Summer Howell) and nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). And soon a night of family drama turns into a night of blood curdling terror as Chucky begins to slaughter the unsuspecting occupants one by one.
Directed and written by series writer and Seed Of Chucky helmer Don Mancini, Curse returns Chucky to his more menacing roots and for the most part jettison’s the goofy humor that permeated the last two installments. What we get is a nice and atmospheric haunted house slasher that has some real nice tension and suspense along with a few effective and gruesome kills. The added element of Nica being confined to a wheelchair is used to maximum effect by director Mancini and there are some really intense sequences, especially when Nica comes to realize who and what Chucky is and she becomes his next target. There are some really nice surprises, too, especially when the film links to the previous chapters and we get some fun nods to past Chucky flicks that I won’t spoil here. The FX bringing the killer doll to life are some of the best in the series and the gore effects are well done and there is plenty of the red stuff spilled.
The film isn’t perfect. There are some flaws, mostly the film looses momentum somewhat during its final scenes which are fun, but in an effort to explain Chucky’s arrival in the Pierce house and why he is there, we are treated to flashbacks and scenes that interrupt the tension and take us out of the confinement of the spooky old house which to this point added a lot of atmosphere and the isolation inside it added some tension. The scenes are fun as said, but don’t carry the same intensity of what preceded it. The film kind of ends on a much lighter note more akin to the last two movies, while the earlier scenes of the film match the original’s more serious tone.
But flaws aside this is a solid and entertaining horror flick that deserved better then being dumped direct to home media. It’s a welcome return of a modern horror icon and a nice addition to his movie legacy. Watch through the credits for a fun post credits scene that should delight and amuse fans of this long running series.
A solid 3 Chuckys.