HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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Elizabeth

I didn’t like Halloween and after now watching Halloween II I don’t really understand why there were two movies. Halloween was boring and only picks up in action toward the very end. Luckily, Halloween II literally picks up right where Halloween left off, so it at least started off much less boring than Halloween.

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is taken to the hospital to treat the injuries Michael Myers gave her in Halloween. So the action moves from a neighborhood to the hospital, where the events are pretty similar to Halloween. Michael wants to kill Laurie, but instead just one-by-one kills people who don’t even know they’re being stalked. We find out that Laurie is actually Michael’s younger sister, which sheds light as to why he’s targeting her, but still doesn’t help explain why Michael has always been hell-bent on murdering his sisters. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) essentially says he thinks Michael is this immortal, pure evil beast after Michael survived being shot six times and falling off a second floor balcony. So . . . is he a pure evil beast? He does keep surviving fatal attacks, after all. Or is he just a deranged human killer who can just take a lot of shit? We’re never told, and at this point it feels like it’s because the filmmakers don’t know, either.

This was less boring than Halloween because there was more action, but it still just feel into the category of a slasher movie with no real motivation.

Christopher

Obviously Elizabeth and I have been focusing on the Friday the 13th series, but Halloween is still a series I would like to watch through as well. As I think I mentioned before, Michael Myers scared the shit out of me when I first learned about him. I was fairly old, probably like middle school? But someone had the Michael mask at a sleepover birthday party I went to and I have a very vivid memory sitting up with fear that whole night. I can still smell the mask. Actually, I just bought that Gorilla Tape and it had the exact plastically smell. It was a weird feeling smelling it when I opened it up. It was one of those things where I have been looking for that smell again but have not come across it again until now. Anyway, Halloween, the idea, scared me and made me want to never see any of these movies.

When Elizabeth and I watched Halloween in theaters last year, I was so disappointed by how not scary it really was. The actual movie was nowhere near as horrifying as the movie I created in my head.

But I also kind of love that. Now that I’m adult I can look at this film in a whole new perspective and an idea that I thought would murder me in my sleep, is now something I can make fun of with Elizabeth.

Halloween II I do think is more interesting than the first one. I thought it kept my interest way more than the first movie. I also like that they got right into the action. In this movie it’s basically just Michael going around a hospital killing people. It’s really clear why more people don’t realize he’s there and go to stop him, but logic never seems to be a factor in these kinds of movies. I think what does get me about this franchise though is the music. I do really love that and it gets me excited to see what’s to come. Too bad the movies couldn’t create a more interesting villain than Michael Myers. Yes, he’s a “monster” but can’t we get more about the person than a doctor running around the whole time screaming he’s not human?

I can only assume the movies get worse and more mystical from here.

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FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I liked how Friday the 13th Part 2 began, with checking on Alice, the sole survivor of the first movie. For some reason, Alice is living alone in a giant house, though she’s still plagued by nightmares. Then suddenly she finds Pamela Voorhees’ (Jason’s mother) decapitated head (Alice’s own handiwork from the first movie) in her refrigerator and then is killed with an ice pick to the head.

After that, it’s mostly the same set up as before. It’s five years later and teenagers are gathering at a camp on the other side of the lake from Jason’s camp. Again, the teenagers are picked off one by one without anyone really knowing what’s going on. Just like the first movie, it doesn’t really get interesting until the end.

This time our heroine, Ginny (Amy Steel), is a student of child psychology. She starts to look at the whole situation differently before she even realizes anyone is dead. She assumes Jason didn’t drown, is still alive, and is permanently feral and fucked up after seeing his mother decapitated. Those are a lot of assumptions, especially about someone who at this point is just an urban legend, but end up being fairly on point. When Ginny is finally confronted by the killer, she runs into the woods and finds a makeshift cabin which holds the dead bodies of Ginny’s friends along with Pamela Voorhees’ decomposing head sitting on an altar. Correctly assuming that the killer (who is wearing a burlap sack over his head) is Jason, Ginny puts on Pamela’s sweater and tries to use psychology to defeat him, which doesn’t work.

At the end of the first movie, after everyone else is dead, Alice is found by police floating in a rowboat in the middle of the lake. When she wakes up, she’s pulled under water by what looks like a decomposing child come to life. She then wakes up (again) at the hospital to learn that everyone’s dead but that no one saw a boy. So at the end of this movie, after Ginny thinks she’s killed Jason, she and her boyfriend are attacked in a cabin by Jason bursting through a window and trying to pull Ginny through it. Then suddenly Ginny wakes up on a stretcher, her boyfriend may or may not be dead, and we have no idea what happened to Jason.

So except for Ginny taking a psychological route, which doesn’t work, Friday the 13th Part 2 follows nearly the exact path of Friday the 13th, including the lack of fear from no one realizing anyone else is dead. So that was disappointing.

Also, I know it was a different time, a full 34 years ago, but what the fuck was with some of these costume choices? No bras (as usual), and every woman at some point seemed to wear ridiculously short shorts and/or ridiculously cropped shirts.

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Looks comfortable.

Christopher

I liked this one a lot more than Friday the 13th. It was far more intense and kind of actually had a plot worth following. It ‘s more of a, these campers are intruding on Jason and he needs to defend his home. People still die pretty fast but a lot more people live in this one.
The one disappointing part was that the end was kind of the same as the first one. I love everything that had to do with Jason’s hobo house in the woods but all the dream-like sequences after were not what I was really hoping for.
I would almost recommend just starting with this film in the series because it does a good job of telling everything that happened in the first film.
I’m anxious to watch the third one, I think he gets his mask in that one!

MOMMIE DEAREST (1981)

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Christopher

I had no idea how intense this movie was. It’s crazy and scary but I loved the whole thing. For whatever reason I thought this movie was about a drag queen? But I’m so glad I finally watched this cause I didn’t want it to stop. Faye Dunaway did a great job, I can imagine Joan Crawford being like an over-dramatic person who’s always acting even in front of her family.

Elizabeth just got Amazon Prime and this was one of the first movies we found to watch on it.

Elizabeth

To be honest, I sort of don’t know how I feel about Mommie Dearest. I am glad that I read up about the book and movie after watching it, because that would have probably changed how I felt about the movie if I had read about it before.

I thought Mommie Dearest was really sad and intense. It’s always going to be hard to watch a movie that has child abuse, even if it’s minor, so seeing Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) chop off her young daughter, Christina’s (Mara Hobel) hair as Christina sobs, or seeing Crawford strangle older Christina (Diana Scarwid) nearly to death was really difficult. Those scenes were also uncomfortably long, especially when Joan strangles Christina. It just never ends! Which makes it all the more intense.

Watching the movie alone, without other knowledge, is best, I think. I read about the movie afterwards and found out that Faye Dunaway won a Worst Actress Razzie award for this movie, which really confuses me. Do people think Faye Dunaway is bad in this? Did I miss something? Am I dumb? I thought she was really good . . . I mean, if you know how I feel about fucking Silver Linings Playbook then you know that I don’t think that yelling a lot is a substitute for an actor playing a crazy person. But despite that (and Dunaway definitely relied on yelling a lot), I thought she was really good and super creepy.

So, I liked Mommie Dearest, but I guess I’m nervous that it’s supposed to be this obviously bad movie that everyone hates. Not that that’s stopped me from liking a movie before.

STRIPES (1981)

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Elizabeth

Stripes was playing at a local theater in honor of Bill Murray’s birthday, so it seemed pretty necessary to go, especially since I had never seen the movie before. I really didn’t know what to expect; all I knew was it was a movie in which Bill Murray joined the army.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Stripes was the fact that it’s view of the army wasn’t the stereotypical movie view: it’s not like they made it seem like being in the army was easy, but it also wasn’t a Full Metal Jacket-esque hell hole, either. They made it almost seem like summer camp. Maybe people in the army wouldn’t feel great about that, but I thought it was pretty funny. But the starts of the movie, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, really carry it. They’re funny and sweet and have a funny and good relationship. I loved Harold Ramis’ character in particular, maybe because I feel like I would have similar views to everything as he. Naturally, Stripes isn’t exactly a feminist movie, but you have to choose your battles with that. It came out in 1981, so for me it gets a pass for a lot of the bullshit. But at least they showed a female character in the army who was actually good at her job, despite being a female, plus she was played by Sean Young, which helps with the you-can-be-feminine-and-be-in-the-armed-services idea.

Stripes is really just good, young Bill Murray action, and definitely fun to watch.

Christopher

I think this was the third time I have watched this movie in my life but it was enjoyable to see it on the big screen for the first time. We were able to get tickets to a new theater in Round Rock that for $5 a ticket we got to see the movie, got a piece of cake, and a pint glass with a picture of Bill Murray and a memorable quote form the film. Well worth it and the theater was great, except the employees were a little too friendly for me.

I think Stripes is a good funny movie to enjoy. I know people really do love it but I don’t think it ever really struck me as a favorite in any way. I think my favorite experience seeing it was this last time. Maybe since I was older more of the jokes made sense to me? I’m not sure but I’m glad I saw it again cause I have a better memory of it now. That’s not saying that all my other experiences with it were bad, I really would just forget almost everything about the movie. As funny and straight-forward as the plot was, none of it really stuck with me.

The best part of the movie to me is easily Bill Murray and John Candy but I don’t think I ever realized how funny Harold Ramis is!

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE (1981)

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Elizabeth

The first sentence of the plot summary on My Dinner with Andre’s Wikipedia page is: “The film depicts a conversation between Gregory and Shawn (not necessarily playing themselves) in a chic restaurant in New York City.” And that’s it. That’s really all the movie is. I think it’s probably impossible to make that sound not boring: Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory sitting in a restaurant having a conversation for nearly two hours. But here’s where some really legit magic happens: it’s not boring!

Granted, I think you can argue that the beginning of their dinner is a little slow, mostly because you’re trying to figure stuff out: who are these characters/why are we watching them/are they reliable narrators/etc etc. And as a viewer, it just takes some getting used to to just watch two guys talk to each other. It’s not as if the movie has only one shot or anything, but there’s no flashbacks or scene changes, except for the very beginning and the very end. I think as a film audience, we don’t expect to just watch a conversation, so it’s a little bit disconcerting. But ohhhh how it pays off.

There’s really something to be said for movies that rely solely on dialogue and acting. Maybe that’s my writer’s standpoint talking, but it’s just so interesting. My Dinner with Andre is pretty much the definition of this. The writing here is really unbelievable. And of course, the delivery is incredible, too . . . you wouldn’t think there’d be much “acting” involved in two men, playing themselves, having a conversation. But I don’t know. It’s incredible.

Christopher

I always wanted to see this movie but that was off of the impression that is was Wallace Sean having dinner with Andre the Giant. Unfortunately that was not the case. Fortunately however, this movie is fucking incredible. It’s in many ways it’s everything I want in a movie, it’s just two people, mostly just one, telling stories!!

I always try to get Elizabeth, the writer that she is, to tell me stories but she always refuses so it’s nice to have almost two hours dedicated to just that. [editor’s note – I tell Chris stories all the time]

The other thing I like about this movie is that the debate that unfolds at the end is interesting! It’s basically two people arguing which way they want to view life. And at multiple times I found myself on the side of each one. So there really isn’t a ton of conflict, which I like.

This is a movie I hope to see often. I actually think I might go back to the library soon to check it out again!

BODY HEAT (1981)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Body Heat sort of reminded me of a good version of Wild Things; between taking place in Florida, having sexy ladies, murder, and twist endings, it makes me think that the people who made Wild Things probably pitched it as “Like Body Heat, but campy and with twenty-somethings playing high schoolers!”

But anyway, we all know Body Heat is super sexy. It was made when Kathleen Turner and William Hurt (and Mickey Rourke, for that matter, though he doesn’t have any sexy scenes) were at the height of their sexiness. I mean, Kathleen Turner is just insanely hot. But then, so is William Hurt. So that’s pretty great.

Body Heat is also a really good example of how much context matters in a movie. There’s a relatively famous scene where Ned (William Hurt) is at Matty (Kathleen Turner)’s house, where she has turned him down, but not before kissing him and going back into the house. He stands by his car for a few moments before going back up to her front door, where he can see Matty standing in the foyer, waiting for him. The front door is locked, and all of the other doors are locked, but they keep looking at each other and Matty clearly wants him to come in. So, he throws a lawn chair through a window, which only barely makes Matty flinch, and he climbs in where they have sex on the floor. It’s both hot and cool in that classic movie way. But what’s interesting is if you imagine that same scene happening in, say, a Tyler Perry movie. It would be horrifying. It’s not as if Ned rapes Matty, it’s clearly consensual, but in a different movie, a man throwing a chair through a window to get inside the house where a woman is alone so he can have sex with her would be super scary. And it would be super scary in real life. I wanted Chris to kiss me pretty badly when we were still just friends, but if he had left my apartment only to turn around and break through the window to climb in and kiss me . . . well things would have been a lot different. But that’s just evidence of good filmmaking. Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan has created a universe for Body Heat where something like Ned breaking into Matty’s house not only is okay, but makes sense.

The pacing of Body Heat is also pretty great, as well as the set design, which made me feel really hot while watching it. Everyone in the movie is always sweating, there’s always a haze of cigarette smoke, people are fanning themselves, rubbing themselves with ice, pointing fans at themselves. I was honestly feeling overheated while watching it. But that was also because I was nervous, another point for Body Heat. I was nervous because Ned and Matty’s murder plot started to unravel, and the more clear it became that they were not going to get away with it, the more nervous I became. Making the audience root for murderers isn’t always easy, but it is in this case. This also further proved to me that I would never be able to commit murder. Not that I thought I could before I saw this movie, but I was getting so nervous just watching Body Heat that the thought of being in a situation remotely similar made me feel sick to my stomach. I would have cracked the second 1981-Ted Danson started to suspect something.

Christopher

I had actually watched this in high school but had completely forgotten until we started watching it. It’s pretty obvious that I rented this just solely on the fact that I must have known there was nudity and that it was sexy but it’s actually a pretty badass movie! The story is interesting and the actors are great. The only thing I didn’t really like was how bright it was. There are scenes in a diner where you can barely look at the screen it’s so bright.

WATCH THIS . . . but not with one’s parents.

THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

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Elizabeth

Because this movie is old and popular, I’m sure I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion. But as someone who had never seen The Evil Dead and really didn’t know a ton about it, I was amazed at how incredibly anti-feminist this movie is. It’s kind of unbelievable. The horror movie genre isn’t exactly known for being kind to women, so it’s not like I was super shocked. But still.  So here are some points to think over:

  • The first victim of the whole possession stuff that takes the characters over is Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss). Her character is that of a typical “hag,” as Ash (Bruce Campbell)’s sister, she’s the only one without a man at her side and she is constantly being the voice of reason and therefore the killjoy. So how does she turn evil? She gets raped. Now, she’s raped by a tree, but she’s still raped. So the only way to bring down this character is by violating her in the worst way possible, in a way that is primarily only targeted at women and perpetrated by men. Once she gets raped, she is damaged goods, which the movie takes literally by turning her into a zombie thing.
  • Eventually, everyone but Ash is also turned into the zombie things, including Linda (Betsy Baker), Ash’s girlfriend, Shelly (Sarah York), Scotty’s girlfriend, and Scotty (Hal Delrich). Although Scotty does turn into a zombie, he doesn’t fall victim as easily as the women and he only tries to attack Ash once. The women zombies, however, attack Ash over and over again, even after being decapitated. So women are the evil dead. Shorten that a little and you just get women are evil. They never attack each other; instead they band together and go after the one man who has shown any kind of sensitivity (Ash is nice, Scotty is a dick). So the only way to win is for Ash to triumph over the women in his life is by violence against them.
  • This is a stretch, but Ash’s name is actually Ashley. Coincidence that the one character who is constantly getting attacked has a female name while the other male has a distinctly male name? In any other movie I would say yes, but maybe not in this case.

So, no, I wasn’t very impressed with The Evil Dead.

Christopher

SO FUCKING BADASS!!! Watching this as an adult though there are definitely a lot of things wrong with it other than production value but it just has such a great cheap 80’s horror movie feel. The Changeling is still my favorite horror movie but the Evil Dead series is probably pretty close.