Tag Archives: Quick bite

Quick bite: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

This movie is for those who are in on the joke that nothing anywhere has ever mattered. All that exists is what exists now, precisely at this moment, and only at this moment. String some of these moments together if you want. Go ahead and call them time. It makes no difference, because concepts mean nothing. Take plot and character. These don’t exist. Think about them, and they’re already gone. You’re onto the next thing. None of it matters.

Maybe you’re two, maybe four college students. Maybe you’re driving across the country (or the state) to find the sorts of roadside attractions that they don’t write about in respectable guidebooks. One thing might lead to another, or not, and the next thing you know, or maybe you don’t, you’re being repeatedly and graphically tortured by an incestuous family of serial killers, which they play for the laughs, because it’s supposed to be funny. And then maybe they’re ready to sacrifice you to whatever dark power that they do or don’t worship, and suddenly the setting goes subterranean, and you’re flashing back to the Vale of Pnath, and the movie that you’re in is getting half-good. Would any of that matter? No, it would not. Directed by Rob Zombie.

Quick bite: Dark Skies (2013)

A suburban family under financial pressure becomes the embarrassment of the commuter belt when sinister forces beyond their control begin interfering with their lives. But enough about their mortgage company. The space aliens in this movie are the more immediate threat, with their coming and going and conducting experiments for reasons that not even J. K. Simmons can explain in a lackluster monster-expert cameo. Will the family sitting down to spaghetti dinner be enough to repel the invaders? What if they board up their windows first? The plot is more faithful to the first half of Poltergeist (1982) than the actual remake from 2015, so that’s one thing to recommend it. Keri Russell stars as the soccer mom. Directed by Scott Stewart.

Quick bite: From Hell (2001)

Police Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) investigates—and solves—the Whitechapel murders thanks to opium, absinthe, and low-grade clairvoyance. With overall uninspired direction and a script that does different kinds of disservice to the original graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, the A-list cast, and the actual historical events, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) this isn’t. And while the real-life Abberline worked the Whitechapel case, there’s no record that he had even one shamanic vision. The definitive Jack the Ripper movie has yet to be made. Directed by the Hughes brothers.

Quick bite: The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Three co-eds move to off-campus housing, where they’re stalked by an autonomous, malevolent thought that appears to them as a hooded vagrant. I can’t begin to express how much I love this concept. Unlike the monsters from similar movies—A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Candyman (1992)—the Bye Bye Man was never real in the sense of having once had material existence. And with the exception of a few ambiguous plot points, he doesn’t interact with the material world. He exists solely as an idea. But here’s where my enthusiasm for this movie goes bye-bye, because everything about it is so spectacularly bad. It’s watchable only through an act of will (which makes a perverse kind of Schopenhauerian logic that’s fitting for the subject matter). Carrie Anne Moss has an extended cameo, either because she owed someone a favor or because she really needed the money. Directed by Stacy Title.

Quick bite: The Wolfman (2010)

A ne’er-do-well actor (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his ancestral home only to contract a case of werewolfism. This turgid remake of The Wolf Man (1941) is a soulless corporate exercise in big-budget CGI spectacle from a studio that won’t be happy until it has turned its stable of classic monsters into franchise-ready comic book characters. The Wolfman seems to think that it’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), which Danny Elfman’s score quotes liberally from, despite not having a single thing in common besides Anthony Hopkins in a key supporting role. The script is standard PG-13 dreck, yet the film gets an R for artless digital gore, surely a lose-lose from the studio’s perspective. But the monster battle ought to please them. Directed by Joe Johnston.

Quick bite: Carriers (2009)

Four friends attempt to cross Texas during the outbreak of an extinction-level airborne pathogen. There are no zombies to speak of, but the script hits all the usual zombie beats anyway to remind us that humans are the worst monsters of all. You won’t find anything here that you haven’t seen elsewhere, except maybe for Chris Pine’s toxic masculinity level, which makes his James T. Kirk look like Fred Rogers. Directed by Alex and David Pastor.