Trick R Treat, The Crazies, So Vam, and Halloween Kills
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 186
We’ve got our usual collection of four horror films and a short film for you this week. This week, our oldie film is the original version of "The Crazies" from 1973. We'll next look at the anthology "Trick R Treat" from 2007. We'll look at the (at least right now) most recent Halloween film, "Halloween Kills" from 2021, and then the brand-new "So Vam" from 2022.
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The Crazies (1973)
AKA “Code Name Trixie”
Directed by George A. Romero
Written by Paul McCollough, George A. Romero
Stars Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones
Run Time: 1 Hour, 43 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Almost right away, we find out that it’s a disease causing the problems, and it’s being handled by the military. It’s still pretty horrifying and tense, but it’s more of a medical action thriller than horror. The 2010 remake really played up the zombie effects of the disease, and that movie took quite a while to reveal that it was just a military bio weapon that leaked. There’s a lot of shouting and shooting, so it’s a loud movie, but overall pretty gripping and entertaining.
A little girl gets a drink before bedtime. Her brother Billy is annoying. He starts acting like a zombie, but then their father goes berserk and starts wrecking the place. Their mother is a bloody corpse, and then the father sets the house on fire.
The town fire alarm goes off, and David, a volunteer fireman, doesn’t hurry to get out of bed. Judy gets a call from her boss, Dr. Brookmeyer, about the little kids being burned. At the fire station, one of the men says he saw a couple of truckloads of soldiers on the road.
When Judy arrives at the hospital, there’s a doctor there wearing a gas mask. There’s a bunch of military here, and they’re taking over. Major Ruder says they are sealing off the town.
The firemen, including David and his friend Clank, give up on the burning house. The father is locked up in the back of the police car; he’s freaking out about what he’s done. The doctor warns Judy that there’s a super-infectious disease on the site, and he wants her to get away from people– to keep her coming baby safe. Judy sneaks out the back door.
The deputy tells the sheriff that the soldiers are setting up roadblocks and not letting anyone through. David and Clank go after Judy. A plane crashed that carried Trixie, an experimental vaccine that may be spreading. They call the President to order that a plane with an atomic bomb come over, just in case they need to sterilize the area.
Dr. Watts, one of the developers of Trixie, is forced onto a plane at gunpoint, leaving his equipment behind. Meanwhile, the soldiers clear out the high school, the motel, and everywhere else. They start rounding everybody up. Colonel Peckham arrives, much to Major Ryder’s relief.
Peckham admits that Trixie was developed to be a biological weapon, not a vaccine. There’s a struggle, and the sheriff is shot. Some of the locals don’t want to be rounded up, and start shooting back.
David, Clank, and Judy are captured by the soldiers and put into the back of a van. One of the passengers is sick. They fight back and escape, picking up Kathy and her father along the way.
Dr. Wells says that in three years of research, they were never able to find an antidote; it’s going to spread throughout the entire town. You either die or go mad and die within two days; it’s_ always_ lethal. He wants to send out blood samples so the guys back in the lab can study them, but there’s no way to get helicopters in right now.
It’s martial law. Colonel Peckham orders that resisters and the infected are to be put down.
David and his crew are still hiding in the woods but it looks like Kathy may be infected. They find out about the plague and the cause, but Clank starts acting more and more… crazy. So does Kathy’s father, who starts getting really frisky with his daughter. Clank breaks that up, and a bit later, the father hangs himself.
David spots soldiers moving on their position and he and Judy run off. Kathy goes out to greet the soldiers, having lost her mind. They shoot her. Clank realizes he’s got the bug and decides to hold back and fight the soldiers while David gets away. Clank actually does kill all the approaching soldiers except for the one who shoots him.
Dr. Wells has found a cure, and he prepares a sample to take to the lab outside. On his way to see Peckham, he’s rounded up by the soldiers and put in with the infected. There’s a riot, and he’s killed.
David and Judy make it to the perimeter. He builds a hiding place for her and then goes off to find a hiding place for himself. Judy seems to have lost her mind; has she got the disease or is she just really upset? David kills a soldier and steals his white suit. Some locals come out of nowhere and kill Judy. A bunch more soldiers arrive and capture him.
The government calls, and there are signs of Trixie in Lexington. Colonel Peckham needs to relocate there now that he’s got experience. He goes through decontamination and then gets airlifted out by helicopter.
After the first ten minutes, pretty much all the dialogue is shouted, screamed, yelled, or otherwise loud. It gets going right away and never lets up.
It was from 1973, so it’s obviously very dated, but everything unfolds in a realistic manner, and in many ways, this is the way something like this would actually play out.
We watched the remake of “The Crazies” from 2010 a few months ago, and it’s essentially a zombie apocalypse movie. This one is the same basic story at the core, but this is much more from the point of view of the military.
Trick R Treat (2007)
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Written by Michael Dougherty
Stars Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb
Run Time: 1 Hour, 22 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a clever anthology, taking place in the same town on the same Halloween night. We get to see things at different times and different points of view that bring it all together nicely. Individually the stories are just okay, but the whole thing together is very good. It’s creepy, has a good cast, and the special effects are really good. Overall very well done and entertaining.
We begin with a PSA discussing good advice for kids on Halloween.
Emma and Henry are two drunk adults in costumes. She wants to clean up all the decorations before her mother comes for a visit tomorrow. She notices a guy in a mask just standing there watching her. Something under a bedsheet kills her while Henry sits inside and watches porn waiting for her to join him for a fun time. Sometime later Henry notices Emma never came inside and goes out looking for her. He finds her. Credits roll.
Earlier that night, in Warren Valley, Ohio, there’s a huge celebration. Laurie and her friends are all dressed as fairy-tale girls. Laurie is Red Riding Hood, and she whines that she’s still a virgin.
Charlie grabs a handful of candy out of Stephen’s pumpkin and gets caught in the act. Stephen talks about the dead roaming free this one night of the year. Stephen is a bit of a traditionalist– “always check your candy,” he warns as Charlie pukes out his entire innards. Too late. We see that Stephen is the local school principal. Stephen carries overweight Charlie to the backyard and puts him in the pre-dug grave. Between kids, dogs, and neighbors, it’s really hard to dispose of a body.
As he goes back inside, one of the neighbors tries to get his attention, but he doesn’t care. His son wants to carve a pumpkin– right now. Except… it’s not a pumpkin.
A group of kids is out searching for jack-o-lanterns for a charity project. “Rhonda the Retard” comes out of one of the houses; she’s said to be some kind of idiot genius who joins them. Meanwhile, a vampire kills a woman at the big party downtown.
The five pumpkin kids end up in a rock quarry. This is where the Halloween School Bus Massacre happened thirty years ago. Flashback time: eight troubled, disturbed children were on this bus, but the driver took a different route today. The kids’ parents were sick of their crap and paid the bus driver to kill all their children. We see that the kids were chained into their seats. One of the kids commandeered the bus but drove it over the cliff instead. The driver was never heard from again, and neither were those kids.
Back in Town, Laurie’s looking for men, but can’t find any single ones. She spots the vampire from earlier.
The pumpkin collectors plan to leave eight pumpkins there as offerings to the kids who died. The group splits up, and Rhonda ends up alone; she encounters the schoolbus. She’s chased by monsters until she loses her glasses and falls on a rock; turns out the monsters were the rest of her friends playing a prank. Then the real dead kids show up… and Rhonda gets her revenge.
Throughout each of these stories so far, we get glimpses of a little kid with a cloth pumpkin mask wandering around. Since he’s the kid on the movie poster, it seems likely we’ll be seeing him again.
Laurie, aka Little Red Riding Hood, is now walking through the woods and runs into the masked vampire again. “What big eyes you have…” Back at the party, someone throws a body wearing the Red Riding Hood costume into the clearing. It’s not Laurie inside; it’s the vampire. Laurie shows up and says she was playing hard to get. The vampire was wearing false teeth; it’s Stephen from before, just in a costume. Turns out, Laurie isn’t _that kind _of virgin; she’s just never killed before. All the women at this party are werewolves. The little pumpkin boy just sits and watches all of this.
A group of kids approach a creepy old house for some trick or treating. Inside is a grouchy old man who scares them away and takes their candy. There’s one kid outside who comes back. We see that he’s Mr. Kreeg, Stephen’s angry neighbor from before. When he goes out the front door, he sees dozens of pumpkins out there. His dog won’t stop barking at the little doggy door.
Eventually, Kreeg sees someone upstairs inside the house. It’s the little pumpkin-kid we’ve been seeing around the neighborhood. He goes up to his bedroom and finds more than he bargained for. The little boy pulls out a candy bar and peels it, revealing a box-cutter blade inside. The little boy attacks, and the two fight. We get the scene from earlier as Kreeg yells for neighbor Stephen to help and is ignored.
Kreeg finally shoots the kid with his shotgun. There’s more pumpkin guts and slime than blood. He calls 911, but the phone goes dead when the cord is yanked. The child’s severed hand starts chasing him around the room. The hand reconnects, and the kid gets up. This is where Kreeg really figures out that something isn’t right with all this. The kid takes the piece of candy Kreeg was about to eat and just leaves Kreeg alive on the floor. We see that Kreeg is the former bus driver from one of the other segments.
Later, more trick-or-treaters come to the door, and Kreeg gives them each a big handful of candy. We see more characters from previous segments interacting. Kreeg watches Rhonda cross the street after her ordeal, he watches the girl in the car heading to the party, and Emma and Henry arguing about taking the decorations down. The doorbell rings, and it’s all the dead kids from the school bus coming to pay Keeg a visit...
It’s great the way the various stories overlap and eventually all tie together. None of the segments are especially noteworthy individually, but they do really fit together exceptionally well. There are lots of recognizable faces here in each segment, and none of the parts are bad.
It’s really good.
Short Film: Laika (2022)
Directed by Adam Fair
Written by Adam Fair
Stars Anton Saunders, Roisin Monaghan, Alexander Kaczmarek
Run Time: 7:39
We are told that in 1957, Laika the dog was launched into Earth’s orbit. She never returned. We watch the dog take off in a rocket as the title comes up.
In the present day, we watch the ISS explode in some kind of disaster. Commander Kotov gets out in an escape pod, alone. After a tense spin, he gets the capsule under control, and the ground crew wants to know what happened to the rest of the crew.
His story? Well, it turns out he may not want to survive…
The special effects here for all the space stuff is excellent; the dog, less so, but it’s all perfectly good for the story. It took 65 years for justice to be served, but it all worked out in the end.
Halloween Kills (2021)
Directed by David Gordon Green
Written by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Scott Teems
Stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Run Time: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This continues directly after Halloween from 2018. That was the movie that disregarded all the other movies in the series and was a years-later sequel to the first 1978 movie. What’s worse than ignoring the second movie from 1981 and all the other movies in the series? Going back to edit and supplement the events in the 1978 original and its ending. This movie spreads its cheeks and takes a massive steaming dump on the whole Halloween timeline.
A few minutes after the previous film (Halloween 2018), Allyson’s boyfriend Cameron finds Office Hawkins on the street; Hawkins isn’t quite dead yet. “He needs to die,” whispers Hawkins. “And I’m the one who’s gonna get him.”
We get a flashback to 1978 as Hawkins shoots at Michael Myers. The police warn all the kids that there’s a murderer on the loose, including Lonnie, a wimpy kid. Lonnie sees Michael and calls him the Boogieman. The two cops then go into the old Myer’s house to look around. Michael storms in and attacks one cop, but Hawkins shoots the cop by mistake. Hawkins tells Loomis that Michael did it, and the police capture Michael outside, a sort of alternate ending to the first movie. Credits roll.
Back in 2018, there’s an awful talent show at the local bar in Haddonfield, hosted by adult Lonnie. A guy comes up on stage and tells the story of Haddonfield’s most famous citizen. He’s Tommy, the boy from the first movie. He points out several survivors of that fateful night. They all drink a toast to Laurie.
Meanwhile, Laurie is in the back of a truck with her family, heading out of town after setting fire to her house with Michael in the basement. The firemen show up and do their thing. One of them falls through the floor into the basement, where Michael kills him and steals his hat, enough to get the others to help him out. The firemen see who it is and attack Michael, but he kills them all.
Laurie is taken to the hospital; Karen and Allyson are there as well. Karen breaks down, realizing that her husband didn’t survive. Laurie goes into emergency surgery.
Michael kills an old couple a few houses down from the fire. He fills up the old man with knives like pins in a pincushion, but takes the best knife with him.
Before long, Tommy, Lonnie, and everyone in the bar learn about what happened on the TV news. One of the patrons finds someone in their backseat, and a bunch of the bar patrons go out to “get” Michael. Whoever was in the car drives off but doesn’t get very far. We see that it’s not Michael; it’s the other escaped lunatic who’s still unaccounted for.
Big John and Little John live in the old Myers house now, and they tell the story to scare some kids.
Hawkins gets wheeled into the hospital, and he needs surgery too. Karen brings the police up to date on her story.They tell her that Michael’s alive. Cameron explains that the whole town is out looking for Michael; Karen insists that Michael will be coming to the hospital for Laurie. Allyson wraps up a big knife and lays it next to the unconscious Laurie.
Tommy, Lonnie. Lindsay, and everyone else get guns and go Michael hunting. They start organizing, but Michael starts fighting back. Laurie wakes up, but Allyson has run off to join the fight. Hawkins is in the next bed, and they talk about old times. Laurie tells him they killed Michael, and he doesn’t know any better.
Tommy comes to the hospital, and he rabble rouses dozens of families to hunt for Michael. “Evil dies tonight!” and they shout down the incompetent police. Tommy comes in and tells Laurie the truth. Karen says to trust the system, but Laurie isn’t having that. Laurie gives herself a shot of pain relief and says bring it on!
Outside, the second maniac shows up, asking for help, and the others think that he’s Michael. They chase the terrified lunatic all over the hospital, causing no end to the riot’s mayhem. Karen tries to save the guy, but he ends up jumping out the window instead.
Laurie gets carried back to her room, and Hawkins tells more about what happened in 1978. Loomis was about to kill Michael, but Hawkins saved Michael’s life; lots of regret there. Hawkins explains that it was Dr. Sartain that took Michael to Laurie’s house; Michael doesn’t care about her at all– it’s about that house and going home.
The Big and Little Johns get a knock at the door. Michael’s home! Lonnie, Cameron, and Allyson figure this out on their own and head over there. They soon find two dead Johns. Lonnie and Cameron soon join them, but Allyson puts up a fight. She can’t win, but then Karen arrives and sticks a pitchfork through Michael. She steals his mask, but he gets up and comes after anyway. She runs away, leading him away from Allyson.
Turns out, she was leading him to the organized mob of townspeople, armed and ready. He picks up his mask and puts it back on. They shoot him repeatedly and beat him up with baseball bats even more repeatedly. Then they kick him excessively. Karen finally stabs him in the back of the neck.
Back in the hospital, Laurie says there’s “no way Michael could be human. The more he kills, the closer he gets to ascendance. You can’t defeat it with brute force. If they don’t kill him tonight, maybe we’ll find him again next Halloween.”
Michael gets up and kills the entire crowd of armed people, one at a time, including Tommy and Karen.
Laurie and Michael both stare out windows pensively.
We mentioned that the previous film disregarded the second movie, and here they even retcon the end of the first film, showing Michael’s capture instead of escape.
Remember, as far as most of these people know, only five people were killed way back in 1978. Only five. How did Michael get to be so legendary for that when we have bigger murderers than Michael almost every day in modern times? By cutting out all the umpteen deaths in previous films, they’ve reduced Michael to a pretty minor serial killer in the big picture.
Finally, the Silver Shamrock masks come into play! Well, they make an appearance anyway. Not only those, but a lot of the former cast members of the original 1978 film reappear here. Most of the adults in town were child actors in the first film.
For the most part, Laurie and Hawkins sat this one out, but you can tell they were saving them for the next and final part, “Halloween Ends.”
Horror Guy Kevin notes that this is a watchable movie, even with some entertainment value, but he has lost patience with the disrespect to the original two films.
So Vam (2021)
Directed by Alica Maio Mackay
Written by Alica Maio Mackay, Benjamin Pahl Robinson
Stars Chris Asimos, Emma Bleby, Jessica Burgess
Run Time: 1 Hour, 13 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was an interesting take on the vampire mythos. It’s the first horror movie the Horror Guys have seen with trigger warnings at the beginning before it starts. A little hit-and-miss in a low-budget indie movie kind of way, but overall decently done and pretty entertaining.
We start out with a trigger warning and someone talking about Katherine Hepburn. Kurt talks about the value of being a drag queen. Well, at least he wants to be one. He then gets gay-bashed up by some bullies, and it’s a bloody mess. Suddenly, two people walk up, and everything stops. We hear a growling noise, and the bullies run away. Credits roll.
Kurt’s in high school, and even the mean girls bully him. When he goes home, he watches horror films on TV with his friend Katie. He compares the angry mobs in Frankenstein films to the jerks at high school.
A couple of drag queens at the drag show think they should give Kurt a chance on stage. We get a fairly long drag-dance number from one of the pros. Next morning, at the comic book shop, we get short speech about how Dracula was really just a racist metaphor by Bram Stoker, a closeted homosexual. “If you don’t like something, make it a vampire,” one customer adds. We see that Kurt is not his father’s favorite son.
He pesters Katie at work, but she can’t talk while there. As he leaves, a man with glowing eyes and big teeth talks to him in the car. He doesn’t want to go along, but he doesn’t fight back much, either. It looks like a bit of hypnotic power is being used. Suddenly, the guy grows fangs and bites Kurt. A couple of vampire hunters storm in and set the guy on fire with holy water.
When Kurt wakes up, April and Harley, the hunters, explain that he was dying, and they brought him back. They’re vampires themselves, but they don’t like Landon, the vampire that nearly killed Kurt. Kurt is a vampire now as well.
It’s broad daylight, but that’s OK. Sunlight only bothers them a little. They go to a “pray the gay away” camp for dinner. April tells him, “We need blood, so we take it from those who don’t deserve it.” After he eats, the bodies melt. Which is a mighty convenient way for the evidence to go away.
Katie starts looking for Kurt, but no one has seen him lately. She misses him, and then gets angry when he turns up. They encounter the girls from school and through the magic of camera tricks, he’s able to beat them up this time. April puts Katie to sleep so she’ll forget the fight. He was going to tell Katie about his new situation, but April says that he can’t do that. Later, Landon, who isn’t really dead, comes upon the three unconscious girls and smiles….
April takes Kurt to a vampire club, but it’s pretty sparsely attended. They all drink from a nazi they murdered. Kurt meets Andy, who talks about actual vampire hunters that are out there. At school, the three bad girls all give Kurt nasty looks.
Landon comes to Katie, and he asks her out after work. Kurt sees her with him, but he’s staked through the stomach by one of Landon’s vampire girls. Andy rescues him, and he heals. Kurt’s father reports him as a missing person. We get an angst-montage as Katie wakes up and other vamps are out looking for her.
Harley finds Katie, and she’s fine. Landon didn’t do anything at all to her; it’s a message. Katie wakes up, and she knows all about vampires now.
Landon comes in, and he fights with April. Andy and Kurt fight with the three Landon-loyal-girls with help from Katie and take care of them. The four heroes gang up on Landon and tear him apart. They all go home, covered in blood.
Later on, Kurt finally gets to go on stage as a drag queen. His father and Katie are in the audience watching with his vamp friends.
The acting here is pretty mixed. Some of the actors are really good; others are indie-film can’t-quite-act-natural-yet actors. Actually, the beginning of the film feels really well done, but as it goes along, it starts to seem cheaper with lower production values. The story keeps carrying it though.
The idea of vampires as an allegory for gay people is far from new; it was pretty much the entire premise for “True Blood” and a handful of other well-known stories. This one is fairly short and moves quickly. The story is good and fairly original.
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