Last Friday was the 13th of May, my brother’s birthday, but more importantly a traditional day of horror. Normally, I’d watch the slasher series with the hockey-masked killer, but my family was having none of that. Instead, we watched one of the newest incarnations of Scooby-Doo (which strangely features a lot of heart-throbbing between the characters - yuck,) an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and part of The Mummy Returns. There wasn’t enough gore-filled stabbing in either of those for my taste, but one has to deal with all sorts of compromises when one has a family.
What this really did is remind me how much I enjoy a good horror film. I’ve mentioned in these pages far too many times about how my wife and child hinder me from watching all the crazy sex-and-violence-filled films that I want, so I shan’t do that again. Actually, I have to admit that those days are mostly gone. The daughter goes to bed around 8:30 now and the wife is generally happy to do her own thing while I watch the flicks I want to without her. Still, there are loads of other things I like to watch so while horror flicks have taken an upswing in my viewing numbers, I still haven’t been able to watch as many as I’d like.
Horror movies have an an interesting resurgence over the last few years. With a variety of companies releasing enormous back catalogues of horror on Blu-ray plus the advent of streaming services and illegal torrents, there is more horror available to the average hound than ever before. This creates more and more horror fans, which enables more and more studios to release more and more horror films. Circle of life and all that. Of course, the vast majority of these films are terrible but there are also an abundance of really well-regarded horror films coming out regularly.
Which bring us to The Witch and my pick of the week. Set in New England during the 1630s, The Witch is about a devoutly Christian family struggling to survive along the edge of a great wilderness. When one of their children goes missing and all of their crops fail, they begin to fear a great evil has set upon them. This being in the genre it is no doubt those evils come out in force, but word on the critical street is that The Witch does so with more subtlety and artistry than most films of the type can even dream. [Read Davy's review.]
Put my kid to bed, give my wife an interesting Pinterest account to peruse, and sign me up for The Witch as my pick of the week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Orange is the New Black: Season Three: I took a break from this Netflix comedy/drama somewhere in the middle of Season Two. That was months ago and I’ve yet to get back to it. I’m not ready to say that this show has gone the way of Jenji Kohan’s other series, Weeds, which got pulled down the suck drain quickly after season three, but the signs are there. I’m still enjoying it, but it's already feeling the strains of a show that is based on a book in which our hero spent barely over a year behind bars. Eventually, they’ve either got to get her out of jail or fall into the trap that Weeds did which is completely overstaying its welcome.
Mr. Selfridge: Season 4: Somewhere over the last few years, my wife and I got out of the habit of watching PBS. That’s a great shame because I know there are any number of wonderful shows still airing, including this one.
Naked Island (Criterion Collection): Japanese film from 1960 about a family who live on a secluded island in which they have to make multiple daily trips to another island just for fresh water. It contains very little dialogue but is a meditation on this family's life and what it means to exist.
Hired to Kill: Arrow Video is killing it with their releases of ridiculous action flicks from the 1980s and '90s. This one is about a soldier of fortune hired to infiltrate a volatile Middle Eastern country. But really it's just an excuse for cheesy-looking explosions. Huzzah!
Dirty Grandpa: Robert De Niro continues his quest to be a comedian late in his life and stars in this terrible-looking, gross-out comedy in which De Niro plays the titular grandpa who tricks Zac Efron into taking him to Florida for Spring Break.
Candy: A satirical, sexy modern (well modern in 1968) take on Voltaire’s Candide. Sounds…fun?