Sometimes you need to lighten the mood, even during Halloween. So, here are some laugh-filled horror-themed flicks to add some chuckles to the chills during the Halloween season!
(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)
Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!
- ABBOTT and COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
- EVIL DEAD 2
- NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
- THE MONSTER SQUAD
- DEAD ALIVE
- TUCKER & DALE vs. EVIL
- SHAUN OF THE DEAD
- KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
Honorable Mention: SLITHER
If you took Shaun Of The Dead and put it in a blender with the 1990 classic Tremors you’d get Grabbers, a fun British horror/comedy about the citizens of a remote island off the cost of Ireland pitted against slimy, tentacled space monsters. The story begins with a fishing vessel witnessing a meteorite crashing in the sea. A short while later, the crew is killed by something big and tentacled while off the coast of the Irish island of Erin. Meanwhile on Erin, Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), the local Garda (the national police of the Republic of Ireland), is dealing with a new temporary partner, the by-the-book Lisa Nolan (cutie Ruth Bradley) who doesn’t approve of O’Shea’s drinking problem. The two have bigger issues to deal with, though as dead whales wash up on shore, a mysterious creature is captured by a local fisherman and citizens start disappearing. Soon they realize that their peaceful little island is under siege by mysterious tentacled creatures who are laying eggs all over the place and are protected by a massive and very vicious alpha male. The island is a perfect habitat for the monsters, though they do have a very interesting weakness, considering this is Ireland after all. Now can these two lone cops somehow keep the villagers safe and survive the evening long enough to realize that they have fallen for each other despite their differences?
The answer to that is a lot of fun finding out as director Jon Wright (no relation to Edgar as far as I can tell) has a good time with Kevin Lehane’s derivative but fun script. And that’s the key… we recognize the obvious inspirations and have seen it all before, but we cut it some slack as it’s a lot of fun. One of the reasons is the film is populated with a lot of colorful characters brought to life by a fine Irish cast. Coyle and Bradley have a nice chemistry and work well together and to be honest, they make a cute couple. The eccentric characters around them also blend very well such as local drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy) and resident scientist, the stuffy Dr. Smith (a homage to Lost In Space’s infamous doctor perhaps?). Another reason is we get some well executed and effectively slimy critters in our CGI Grabbers. They are basically all tentacles and teeth and those are two combinations that effectively chill when it comes to a movie beastie and their level of menace helps propel the story as does some decent but not overdone gore. Wright also gets the tone for this kind of thing down perfectly. He never takes his subject too seriously, but never lets it get too silly, so as not to make a joke out of it. There are proper amounts of humor and horror blended evenly, much like the two previously mentioned films it evokes. That is the way to making a film like this work. If you are going to evoke the work of others, lay your homages out in the open and have a good time with it. The audience will have fun and let you slide that you are presenting them with a mash-up of stuff they’ve seen before.
Grabbers is a fun, fast paced movie with a charming cast and a nice mix of laughs and thrills. Nothing original, but it’s not trying to be… it just wants to recreate the fun of it’s influences and on that level, it works. Entertaining and unlike the recently reviewed Cockneys vs Zombies, Grabbers isn’t an imitation, but a cinematic hug to the movies that entertained it’s makers, in it’s own style. And that’s the difference between homage and rip-off.
3 tentacled Grabbers!
THE WORLD’S END (2013)
The World’s End is the third film in writer/director Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto trilogy’ that feature friends and frequent collaborators Simon Pegg (who co-wrote) and Nick Frost. I like these films though, I don’t quite see them as the comic masterpieces their passionate fan-base does but, I do enjoy them. And much like the other films (Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead) this is a fun romp where the genuine friendship between these three talents comes through and the good time making the film is evident as you watch. This film tells the story of eternal teenager Gary King (Pegg) who is determined to regroup his band of school buds (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) and finish the epic pub crawl in their home town that they failed to complete 20 years ago. He somehow convinces the men, some who are now married, have families and are fairly successful adults, to return to Newton Haven and complete ‘The Golden Mile’ a stretch of road containing twelve pubs in which they each must have a drink. Things start off well enough… at least in Gary’s eyes… but, soon they realize something is very wrong here in their former stomping ground and an encounter with a gang of youths reveals the town has been taken over by alien robots and their very lives may be in jeopardy. But, despite the alien occupation, Gary is determined to finish what they started two decades ago, even if it means battling a town full of inhuman invaders to do it. Edgar Wright is a clever director and it is the cleverness in his mixing of a story of growing older and facing change and responsibility with an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers-esque Sci-Fi tale that makes it work and makes it fun. He creates some very human and endearing characters in his leads who are brought to life by a talented cast including Rosamund Pike as Sam, who is the sister of Oliver (Freeman) and with whom Gary wishes to repeat his previous pub crawl bathroom encounter with. It is the likability of this bunch and their personal growth during this adventure that keeps one from realizing how silly it all is. Despite some amusing action scenes and abundant SPFX in it’s second half, the movie is rooted in this band of middle-aged friends trying to relive days gone by even in the face of an alien invasion. Their bickering over personal issues while being pursued by a town full of robotic alien clones of their old friends and neighbors, is what really makes this flick work despite top notch effects and the well choreographed action. Not everything works perfectly. It takes the film a while to get going and it takes some time for you to warm up to Pegg’s Gary who is basically a jerk but, when the film does start moving it’s a lot of fun and Pegg skillfully makes you not only root for Gary but, feel sorry for him when his personal secrets are revealed. The climax in the alien hive does bring the momentum to a grinding halt, though, it isn’t boring, just stops the action cold and the film does have a somewhat gloomy finale considering the more energetic tone… but, it works and certainly doesn’t ruin the film. All in all, I liked this third and finale (?) chapter in the trilogy but, like the others, I don’t think it’s a classic. It certainly is a bit of a refreshing change from the crude and lazy comedies that Hollywood is cranking out continuously and that is most welcome. Also stars Pierce Brosnan as the gang’s school professor Guy Shepard and a vocal cameo by the great Bill Nighy as the alien ‘Network’.
With The World’s End opening this weekend, I decided to revisit the first big screen film from Pegg, Frost and Wright…
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Not the masterpiece most fanboys make it out to be, but British flick Shaun Of The Dead is an amusing horror comedy with a twisted sense of humor and some some excellent gore effects. The film mixes the laughs and horror well enough (which isn’t easy as most horror/comedies fail) and actually is a pretty decent zombie film even without the jokes. Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a slacker who yearns for more yet, can’t quite get off the couch to go for it, despite pressure from his pretty girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). When a zombie apocalypse breaks out, Shaun finds the hero within when he’s forced to take action to save his girl, his mom (Penelope Wilton) and their friends.
Frequent collaborator Nick Frost, in the lovable loser role, plays Shaun’s best friend and bad influence Ed, and the two play off each other very well and their reactions to each other come across as very natural (they are friends in real life). The rest of the supporting cast, including the great Bill Nighy, back them up nicely and all come across as real people not quite able to deal with what’s happening. The group turns to Shaun to guide them as he seems to be the only one with a plan, even if it is only to get to the local pub and wait things out. Director Edgar Wright wisely gives plenty of clever props and nods to the zombie films of George Romero, which clearly influenced Shaun, but while making the movie all his own. The flick has it’s share of flaws though. It is a bit predictable as we know how it’s going to all wrap up as we’ve seen the ‘slacker does good/wins the girl’ story many times before. Frost’s Ed was a bit annoying to me in the earlier scenes and I kind of sided with those who don’t like him much. He has some funny bits and again, he works well with Pegg and the two are fun to watch once the film gets going, but I wasn’t as endeared to the character as others seem to be. Also, some of the scenes of Shaun being lectured by those disappointed in him get tiresome quick. We get the point. He’s lazy. In fact I find the stuff before the zombies show up to be a bit dull and, ironically, the film only really livens up when the dead show up, but maybe that was the point.
Not quite the great movie it’s made out to be, but a fun ‘Saturday night with a few beers’ flick and one of the better horror comedies of the 2000s. An enjoyable flick and a lot of fun, but a bit overrated in the context of all the fuss that’s made about it.
3 fun zombie fighting friends!