Back in 2007 after the collaborative efforts of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez known as “Grindhouse” flopped, one of the popular elements of the double feature that lingered on was the mock trailers during intermission. After delivering a very popular faux trailer with “Thanksgiving,” director Eli Roth finally gives us what we’ve been begging for almost twenty years later. Thankfully while the whole faux grindhouse aesthetic has fallen out of favor with mainstream cinema, “Thanksgiving” ends as a pretty great slasher film with its own merits to offer the horror genre.
I think what ultimately hinders director Josh Greenbaum’s “Strays” is that it’s nothing that we’ve haven’t already seen before. While there is the more blunt explorations of the dog habits and a lot of gags involving humping on objects, and a ton of coarse language, “Strays” is basically just one of the many, many, many talking dog movies available to audiences. “Strays” is also hindered by the fact that there’s a deep sadness permeating under the surface of its story.
For a long time, “Halloween” has been a lot about the inexplicable evil that arose in Haddonfield. But what Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green attempt to do is explain that Michael Myers is only symptomatic of what resides at Haddonfield. Like everywhere in humanity, there always has to be a scapegoat for to pit hatred and fear on to something, and Michael Myers was for a long time the epicenter of it in Haddonfield. “Halloween Ends” explores more the idea of evil as an amorphous entity rather than a maniac in a mask. While Michael Myers was every bit as evil and a force of darkness as we saw in “Halloween,” the final film in the new trilogy takes a step back to look deeper in to the darkness.
We can get argue about Batman in the movies all day long but when it comes down to it the best Batman movie I’ve ever seen is “Mask of the Phantasm.” It’s shocking that the movie initially didn’t do well at the box office since Batman was still a hot property in the 1990’s. Back in 1989 when “Batman” was unleashed, wearing his symbol on a button or t shirt or hat was like a fashion statement, while in 1992 Michelle Pfeiffer just made wave portraying Catwoman in “Batman Returns.”
I could definitely picture re-watching Ryan McGonagle’s “Black Pumpkin” down the line. If anything it’s so bathed in Halloween ephemera that it’s a decent bit of background sounds for the respective Halloween geek. What holds it back though is that there seems to be so much behind the narrative that we’re not informed on, thus there feels like a big chunk of the intend narrative is either cut out or missing. That’s due to the fact that “Black Pumpkin” is technically a sequel to the 2016 movie “Bloody Bobby,” later-released in 2021 as “The Legend of Fall Creek.”
So, it’s a sequel—kind of. But not really…?
Director Maria Lee Metheringham’s “Pumpkins” is a film that would have worked so much better as a short form segment in an anthology horror film. As a feature length film, it falls painfully flat. Everything that needs to be resolved about the narrative is literally resolved in the first half hour. Everything else is merely filler that transforms what could have been an interesting revenge tale in to another slasher film.
There’s a horror sequel to “Bring it On.” Repeat: There is a horror sequel (part seven!) to “Bring it On.” The cheerleading sports teen comedy that birthed a series of cheerleading sports teen comedies actually has a sequel that is a full on horror movie. That’s kind of like a sequel to “Mission Impossible” that’s a full on slasher film or something. It’s kind of amazing. It’s too bad “Cheer or Die” just isn’t.