It's time to play catch-up in my Halloween Film Fest reportage. You see, every time I sit down at a computer at home, my new cat Herbert whines at me. Repeatedly. It's really very annoying, and even though I shouldn't let the tiny, furry terrorist win, I usually end up backing away from the laptop and going for the feathers at the end of the stick instead. Yes, I'm fully aware that this is a policy of appeasement. I guess that makes me the Neville Chamberlain to the feline axis powers. I'm not proud of this situation and hope to change it in the future. (If the cat lets me.) Now, on with the show...
28. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and for want of anything better to do until it was time to get ready for work, I downed a cherry-lime energy drink and watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space. In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that I'm reasonably frightened of clowns—as any sane person should be—so I was hoping this movie might hit my horror sweet spot. (I should have known better.) There is so much potential nightmare fodder in the circus milieu that it's remarkable that Killer Klowns manages to be completely scare-free. This thing can't even successfully serve up what I consider the cheapest ploy in the horror bag of tricks—the generic jump scare, wherein a suspenseful silence is broken by a loud noise or by something (menacing or not) jumping out at the protagonist/audience. Obviously, Stephen King's It tackled harlequin horror much better—but I gradually came to realize, in my early morning quasi-wakefulness, that Killer Klowns wasn't really in the business of genuine scares. It's just a stupid little movie aspiring to nothing more than distracting an audience for an hour and a half. It succeeded. I was distracted, and even if I can't confidently say that I liked Killer Klowns from Outer Space, I also can't say I disliked it—although the film's entertainment value probably peaks between 1:00 and 6:00 AM.
29. The Innkeepers (2011)
Ti West, even though I gave you credit in your previous film House of the Devil (2009) for trying to reinvigorate the horror film with your return-to-basics ethos and your knack for subtlety—a rarity in the genre these days, to be sure—I can't grade your films only on the basis of your intentions. Sooner or later, they need to be entertaining—or even interesting. Putting Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and some satanic bric-a-brac in your movie just isn't enough. Don't get me wrong. I think The Innkeepers is a slight improvement over House of the Devil, but you can't keep ratcheting up the suspense throughout this overlong movie and then just have it all lead up to some clichéd ghost story bullshit. I get it. You like nuance, you like characterization, you like those quiet moments... Well, I do too! But you need to make sure they're heading somewhere. Rather than going out with bang, The Innkeepers peters out with a fart.
30. Young Frankenstein (1974)
I'm not going to say that Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is a bad movie—in part because that sounds almost blasphemous—but also because it's really not a bad movie. It's entertaining, enjoyable, fun, et cetera. But there's one thing that Young Frankenstein is not—and that's funny. I just read that this movie comes in at number 13 on the American Film Institute's list of funniest American movies—of all time! Really? What's funny about it? I will concede that there are a couple of funny moments here and there—actually, they're probably more 'cute' than out-and-out funny—but I can't even pick out that many parts of the film that are even trying to be funny. Much of the thing seems as though it's played straight. Is it supposed to be funny just because Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman are in it? I don't know. Maybe the humor is too old-fashioned for me. Mel Brooks has never really been on the cutting edge of comedy. Theoretically Spaceballs is funny too, but it seems like something that would only make my grandfather laugh—and he's dead.