Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

For members of the audience who are hazy on the details of Tom Holland’s masterstroke Fright Night, Tommy Lee Wallace rejiggers a highlight reel during the opening therapy sessions in which Charley Brewster’s (William Ragsdale) vampiric battle is expostulated by his psychiatrist as delusions. Strangely, despite the popularity of the predecessor, the home video release of this oft-forgotten sequel is out-of-print and can be exorbitant to acquire.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – In the Tall Grass (2019)

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Not all Stephen King short stories should be cushioned and expanded to feature length. Although this adaptation of a 2012 novella is a father-son collaboration with Joe Hill, the film itself is an interminable, lackluster hodgepodge of King’s previous motifs (religious fanaticism of The Mist, the insular claustrophobia of 1408, the sinister, rural setting of Children of the Corn, etc.).

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Venom (1981)

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Checkered production histories occasionally yield far more engrossing narratives than the films that surround them, Such is the case with 1981’s Venom which was originally a Tobe Hooper picture until “creative differences” splintered his directorial participation. Likewise, the on-set friction between Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski was an example of art-imitating-life as the two madmen squabble frequently much to the dismay of director Piers Haggard.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

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From the time-travel aspect to a soldier with a dinosaur exhibit who venerates Godzilla as almost a pagan god who saved him on the battlefield, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah is one of the more loopy and exuberant of the Toho series. For that, I concede a standing ovation since it isn’t another belabored exercise in conference room scenes where scientists and bureaucrats are bellicose about Gojira’s resurgence.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

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In a scarcity for me, I had only seen the 2010 remake before indulging in this 70’s slice of misogynistic, rape-revenge depravity. The remake definitely constructed byzantine contraptions to castrate and otherwise disembowel the chauvinistic molesters behind the heinous crime. For its part, I thought it was an adequately manipulative exploitation flick

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Rawhead Rex (1987)

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Though the adaptations are less frequent, Clive Barker’s book-to-screen translations have been much more consistently spectacular. Movies such as Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions, Candyman, Midnight Meat Train and of course, Hellraiser all range from ghoulishly copacetic to magnificently depraved. Rawhead Rex is not one of the more celebrated titles despite Barker receiving solo credit for the script and it is festooned with his bitingly wiseacre wit (“How can you be bored? This is the land of your forefathers” “Yeah and they left.”).

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

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Imitation is the highest form of flattery but a franchise shouldn’t pilfer the coffers of its previous antecedents. The execrable Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III prefaces itself with a text crawl that is dispiriting for two cardinal reasons- the narrator isn’t as baroque or monotone-like-a-courtroom-stenographer as John Larroquette and it effectively jettisons the original’s most pixilated characters in favor of nondescript, inbred rednecks.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – The Vineyard (1989)

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Lo Pan himself, James Hong, wrote (alongside Douglas Kondo) and directed this midnight movie about an archipelago in which the formula for eternal youth has been perfected and extracted from young, concupiscent subjects. For all intensive purposes, The Vineyard is a frustratingly cornucopian, albeit giddy excuse for Hong to fondle his lingerie-bound co-stars. But, as vanity projects go, the film can never be accused of boringly lurid.

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Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: The Grizzlies

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The Grizzlies is an incredible Canadian movie and based on a true story about a group of indigenous students who form a lacrosse team in northern Canada (Kugluktuk, which is at the northwestern mainland tip of Nunavut and had the highest youth suicide rate when the story took place in 2004) and try to compete in the national championships in Toronto. It confronts enduring issues in Canadian indigenous communities including youth suicide, domestic violence, alcoholism, and intergenerational trauma. I think the film is a huge triumph for raising awareness and supporting the voices of these people and communities. It’s not an easy watch (the opening scene is a gut punch), but it is a rewarding and enlightening one that ends on a hopeful note. 

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Slugs (1988)

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How is this for an advertising proclamation- “From the director of Pieces- it’s exact what you think it is”. Whereas Pieces was a disturbingly loitering slasher movie despite the missteps (for instance, the karate instructor interlude is completely capricious without any context and the stinger, while grotesque, is utterly nonsensical), his follow-up after MST3K’s quarry Pod People, is a colossal miscalculation.

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