I've mentioned Scream many times on this site. It's a movie that was responsible for reviving the horror genre in the 1990s and launching a wave of imitators. It was the Pulp Fiction of horror movies, if you will. It holds up pretty well today but it has definitely begun to show it's age. The hairstyles and fashions in the film stand out now, what with it being almost twenty years old. And you have to remind yourself that almost no one owned a cellphone at the time, because that's literally a plot point in the movie. I particularly enjoyed watching the movie again recently because I forgot just how awesome Sidney Prescott was, she had plenty of 90s sass and humor along with the strength to kick a little ass when confronted with a jerk in a Halloween costume. It was also enjoyable to be reminded of all of the little plot details around the edges of the film. You remember the teens and the rules and the iconic costumes, but you forget that a lot of the movie was about the main character coming to terms with her mother's death and the reality of her mother's sordid past. Also, the motivation of the killers (spoiler alert?) reads like something you'd see on a Men's Rights Activism message board nowadays, so you're happy to see them get killed at the end.
There was a brief period of time when it was cheaper to shoot a movie multiple times in multiple languages rather than to dub a single film into another language for a foreign territory. That's how we ended up with a version of Dracula shot on the same sets as the Bela Lugosi version only with a different cast speaking in Spanish. It's almost the exact same movie, except for a few different camera setups, some slinkier costumes for the ladies, and a couple of scenes that got mentioned but not shown in the English language version. Some hipsters might try to convince you that this version is better than the Bela Lugosi version but they're full of shit. The truth is, they're both good. The Spanish language version is actually a great companion piece to the English language version. It might even be fun to see the two versions spliced together.
A podcast jerk travels to the depths of Manitoba for a story and winds up being turned into a walrus by a lonely old crazyman. This isn't as good as Smith's previous horror entry, Red State, but it's still weird and broken in the same good way. It coulda been about 15% better if Johnny Depp's part was cut down to a couple minutes.
A black guy (well, I mean a guy who just so happens to be black) goes with his girlfriend to meet her white family (well, I mean her family that just so happens to be white) and things end up getting a little creepy. You know, body snatchers style not to get too spoilery.
This is a great movie set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. A woman whose husband gets deployed at the front line is left alone with her daughter, but after an unexploded missile hits their apartment building things start getting freaky. Actually, I guess the missile hitting the building is freaky too. There might be Djinn or there might be brain whatsits, but it's very very tense either way!
In this movie, which seems pretty mundane at first, a couple adjusts to life in a real fixer-upper while the husband guy tries to write. He invites in some unexpected guests who smoke and throw parties without asking and also puke naked into toilets. It's a pretty straightforward flick for a long time, but of course Aronofsky gonna Aronofsky, so the last twenty minutes will probably fuck you up but good.
Who know a franchise's fifth entry could be its best? A bus full of business colleagues are taking a trip when one of them has a vision of a terrrrible bridge collapse. He convinces them all to run off the bridge and waddaya know, it collapses. The death scenes in this one are especially creative, featuring a gymnasticking, a Buddhaing, *and* a LASIKing.
It's the granddaddy of all vampire movies y'all. Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula would go on to be the archetypal depiction of a vampire. The accent, the cape, the medal, the brooding sexuality. Yes, people in the '30s thought Bela Lugosi was sexy. Despite not being as popular as Frankenstein, released a few months later, Dracula was not only a success but a launching pad for the first wave of Universal's monster movies.
Some kids in the 80s fight a killer clown and his cadre of fear shapes. It leaves out a lot of the bizarre space/dimension/turtle mother stuff that the novel had but maybe they're saving it for the sequel?
Some goblins release Samhain, the pumpkin-headed spirit of Halloween, from his prison inside an ancient Irish relic. Now free in New York City, Samhain pledges to stop time and make Halloween night last forever. Can an army of ghosts and goblins fend off the Ghostbusters long enough for Samhain to spread eternal darkness across the entire world? Nope. They can, however, make a memorable episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the animated spin-off of the mega-hit movie Ghostbusters. Watching the episode now, you might find it hard to get past some of cheap animation and continuity errors, but as a child I couldn't get enough of characters like Samhain and the Boogieman.
Some friends (they don't seem like friends!) are enjoying a trip to the local stock car race (ok?) when one of them has a vision they'll all die in a terrrrrible bleacher collapse. He gets all his pals kicked out and whaddaya know, the bleachers collapse. Anyway this was a 3D movie so expect lots of impalings and other things flying right at your face but hey look if you didn't make the third entry in your horror franchise the 3D one then you missed out pal. All 13% here goes to the incredible death a racist gets.
I know this movie has its defenders, but I couldn't help but think it was meant to be seen as a parody. Written and directed by the late, great Wes Craven, Shocker seems to cherry pick elements from other, better Wes Craven films. There are a lot of similarities between Freddy Krueger and Horace Pinker, Shocker's unstoppable villain, and yet I'm not surprised that Pinker failed to make much of a cultural impact. I'd tell you the plot, but it really doesn't matter. Don't waste your time on this one.
Some rollercoaster buds are enjoying their senior trip to an amusement park when one of them has a vision they'll all die in a terrrrible rollercoaster accident. You can probably figure out where it goes from there, although this time they have the neat gimmick of a camera predicting how they'll each die.
Here's a tip: if your father never forgives you for accidentally killing your mother when you were a child, then maybe it's not such a good idea to go to his cabin on a secluded island. There's a chance he might be hiding out in said cabin, looking to kill you and all of your little buddies. Just sayin'.
A girl starting a road trip with her friends has a vision of a terrrrible car crash so she ditches her pals and whaddaya know, her friends all die in a terrible car crash. I get that these movies need to keep coming up with ways for the characters to "fight" death, but I'm really not sure why any of them take the creepy mortician's riddles seriously.
A sexually frustrated housewife attempts to seduce her therapist. After he turns her down, she picks up a guy at an art galley. Unfortunately, she soon finds out that he has a serious case of VD. She doesn't have a lot of time to fret over it though, as she gets hacked to death with a straight razor in the elevator of the guy's apartment building. So then it's up to her son and a prostitute who witnessed the murder to find the killer. I guess there's a lot of people out there who hated this movie when it first came out, calling it overly violent and misogynistic. Nowadays, a lot of people would probably hate this movie because of its less than PC handling of sexuality and gender dynamics. Personally, I'm not one to let dated attitudes stand in the way of a good murder mystery.
A kid has a terrrrible vision of his class trip's plane exploding so after he gets all his friends kicked off the flight whaddaya know, the plane explodes. Phew, close one! Nah, just kidding - death slowly comes for all these kids via wild Rube Goldberg devices and good old-fashioned blind bus drivers.
After finding Zoe trying to stow away on the TARDIS, the Doctor used a device that could display his thought patterns on a monitor to show Zoe some of the dangers she might have to face if she chose to join them. Story-wise, this gave Zoe some agency in her choice to become a companion, something very few of the previous companions got to have. Production-wise, this allowed the producers to air a repeat of The Evil of the Daleks in the gap between The Wheel in Space, which closed out season five, and The Dominators, which opened season six. It had been almost a year since the Daleks had last been on the show and there seemed to be a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to find a replacement adversary that could capture the public's attention. The Quarks, the robot henchmen of the Dominators, were one such attempt to create the next Daleks. Needless to say, they did not catch on. And while that is evident to us now, apparently both the writers and the show's producers thought that they had hit pay dirt. Each side tried to claim ownership over the Quarks and attempted to launch product lines and advertising campaigns using their image. The battle for the Quarks, who would not go on to become popular characters whatsoever, got so heated that the episode order for The Dominators was cut from six episodes to five at the last minute and the writers were told that they would never work for the series again, and they didn't.
So far, all of the Cybermen stories have been consistent with the Second Doctor era's reliance on the base-under-siege storytelling formula. You could even argue that The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase were practically the same story. And yet, The Wheel in Space was the first Cybermen story that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. For me, it was just too much like The Ice Warriors, a serial that was a Cybermen story in all but name. There wasn't anything in The Wheel in Space that seemed particularly unique, as if all of its pieces could have been taken from other serials. The only real takeaway from this story was the introduction of the newest companion, Zoe, a brilliant young astrophysicist. Already, her relationship with the Doctor and Jamie is much different than the one they had with Victoria. Zoe appears to challenge and exasperate the Doctor and Jamie, where their relationship with Victoria had been much more paternal and doting.
Rating: Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority%
I wasn't looking forward to watching Fury from the Deep. Chronologically, it's the last serial from the Patrick Troughton era to be missing in its entirety, all his remaining serials contain at least one surviving episode. So it was with some hesitation that I plowed through the episode reconstructions, doing my best not to nod off. In the end, while I found the plot to be very formulaic and not entirely dissimilar from The Ice Warriors, I wish more than just a handful of clips from this serial had survived. All that remains now are a few outtakes and some of the more violent moments that were cut from the film prints by Australian censors. Lost are the helicopter stunts, the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver and the final moments of Victoria's tenure as one of the Doctor's companions. I liked Victoria, she never got much to do but I thought she had a great rapport with Jamie and the Doctor. Ironically, during the serial she complained of being terrified all the time but ultimately it was her screams that defeated the monsters.
Going in, I didn't have high hopes for The Web of Fear. I didn't really think that the Yeti deserved another shot at the Doctor, especially so soon after their debut. Thankfully though, with just a slight update to their appearance and a change of location, the Yeti have justified their existence. These new Yeti, dubbed Mark II, have flatter faces with big light-up eyes. Given that they spend the majority of the serial chasing people around in abandoned subway tunnels, they reminded me a lot of C.H.U.D.s, which is never a bad thing in my book. This serial also sees the return of actor Nicholas Courtney, in his first performance as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (though, he's only a Colonel here). We first saw Courtney playing a different character in the First Doctor adventure The Daleks' Master Plan. He'll return once more during the Second Doctor era before becoming a regular fixture during the Third Doctor era. Most of The Web of Fear was recovered in Nigeria at the same time as The Enemy of the World, though one episode of The Web of Fear remains missing.
Arriving in the middle of a season full of monsters is the unexpected gem, "The Enemy of the World." The serial finds the Doctor and his companions arriving in the far-off year of 2018. After some folks in a hovercraft attempt to assassinate him, the Doctor discovers that he bears a striking resemblance to a political figure known as Salamander. What follows is a twisty tale of murder, manipulation and madness. A complete version of the serial was discovered in Nigeria in 2013, prior to that only one episode was known to have survived. While it wasn't particularly well received at the time of it's original airing, the serial stands out now because of how different it is from the rest of its season and the Troughton era as a whole. This type of story was more typical of the First Doctor era, especially with the lead actor playing multiple parts (see also: "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve"). And while I can understand that some people will be put off by his accent and the use of makeup to darken Troughton's skin while playing Salamander, this serial is also notable for being the first Doctor Who story to feature a character played by a woman of color. So I guess it all evens out?
Rating: See if there's any buckets and spades in the TARDIS%
The Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who gets a little flack for being formulaic. A lot of serials from this period were focused on "base under siege" plot lines and wave after wave of new monsters. And while you could definitely level some of those criticisms at The Ice Warriors, it's still a serial with a lot of charm. For the first time in a long time we get to see the TARDIS make an awkward landing, which makes for some funny business when the Doctor and his companions have to climb out the front doors. We get to see Jamie perv out a little bit over the body-hugging uniforms worn by the scientists at the ionizer base. And we get introduced to the Ice Warriors, a group of Martians who are revived after they're discovered in a glacier. (Side note: British people don't say glacier like those of us in North America would, they say "glassier." Kinda like if you were to cover a glass object with even more glass, you would have found a way to make it glassier.) The Ice Warriors are fairly well designed and they feature one of the key ingredients for enduring popularity as a Doctor Who baddie, they have voices that are very easy to imitate. And even though they only pop up a handful of times on the show, they're still highly regarded among the Doctor's rogues gallery.
What could be better than the Doctor going toe-to-toe with a Yeti? How about the Doctor having to face several robotic Yetis controlled by a mysterious disembodied entity? Because that's what we get in The Abominable Snowmen. The Yeti and their controller, the Great Intelligence, were the next attempt to find an enemy that the Doctor could face on a recurring basis. With the Daleks off the table, the show could not survive on Cybermen alone. And while the Yeti would make a couple more appearances on the show, they were hardly popular enough to become the next big thing.
Finally, in his eighth adventure as the Doctor, we have a Patrick Troughton serial that has survived completely intact. The fact that it's also a fairly well-liked serial is just an added bonus. Typically, I only ever take notice of the direction and production value on these older serials when I notice the cardboard sets or when the camera literally bumps into something. But this time around I was fairly impressed with some of the directing and I loved the sets, especially the Cybermen's frozen tomb. This serial also features another all-time great speech from the Second Doctor, where he takes a moment to comfort his newest companion. Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, has said that this serial was an influence on his portrayal of the character.
Rating: Well, now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure%
I won't pretend that I understand the various ins and outs of copyright law, especially not the copyright laws of other countries. I will say that I'm amazed that Terry Nation, the man who created the Daleks, was somehow able to hold the copyright to the Daleks despite having created them specifically for Doctor Who. Jack Kirby is probably still spinning in his grave over that one. Since Nation was trying to get a Dalek show off the ground in America, The Evil of the Daleks was intended to be the last time our beloved Doctor faced his most famous foes, and it was the last time... for about four years. At least it made for a pretty good serial, with several twists and turns and the introduction of a new companion, Victoria. And as an added bonus, there's definitely a hint of I, Borg in there too.
Rating: The Daleks will take pleasure in killing everyone in sight%
In the previous serial, we got our first glimpse of Doctor Who's new title sequence. Now, in The Faceless Ones, we get an updated theme song to accompany the new intro. Doctor Who is, after all, a show that is continually trying to update itself. Out with the old, in with the new. And so, in this serial, we say goodbye to Ben and Polly. As this particular adventure ends, we come to find out that the TARDIS has brought the Doctor and his companions to London on the exact day that Ben and Polly had initially left with the First Doctor. Leaving them free to pick up exactly where they had left off. It's an awfully lucky coincidence considering that all of the Doctor's previous companions were either left stranded, killed, or returned to their homes years after they first left. The Doctor doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to parting ways with his companions.
I guess there's really no getting around it, The Macra Terror is a story about giant crabs. Not giant crab people, just giant crabs who've found a way to enslave a human colony on some distant planet. Giant crabs who would have just kept on enslaving generation after generation of colonists if it weren't for the Doctor and his friends. You know, giant hypno-crabs from outer space. That old chestnut.
When the Daleks first showed up on Doctor Who, they were a cultural sensation. Without the Daleks, the show probably wouldn't have lasted this long. But the Doctor can't fight the Daleks every week. And, by this time, with a new Doctor in the TARDIS, the show's producers were desperate to find a few more iconic villains. Hence, the return of the Cybermen, only a few months after they first appeared in The Tenth Planet. Here, in The Moonbase, they've received some upgrades. Their costumes have changed, giving them more of a robotic quality. And their bizarre sing-song voices have been modified, courtesy of the Radiophonic Workshop. At times, it can be difficult to understand what they're saying, but typically their dialogue boils down to, "do what we say or we'll kill you." The Cybermen's design would change slightly with each additional appearance, a trend that has continued in the revived series. The Moonbase is also notable for containing one of the first truly iconic moments for the Second Doctor. During a tense moment, the Doctor tells his companions and the occupants of the titular base, "There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought." The First Doctor would have shouted such a statement to the rafters, though he probably never would have said it in the first place. The Second Doctor delivers these words with a deadly, quiet seriousness. The Second Doctor loves to goof around but when the shit hits the fan, he can be as serious as a heart attack.