But you do.
It’s been a long week.
We had an unexpected surprise, though, with an actual question from a reader. And it worked out to be a perfect question, because it, coincidentally, coincided with what we planned to use for our bonus content this week.
Justin Dueringer, a reader in Lincoln, Illinois asked the following question via Facebook: Are you as excited about the new Halloween as I am? The 1978 original is my favorite horror movie. Thoughts about ignoring the several sequels and John Carpenter’s return? I love Halloween II as much as the first and am a little disappointed that that it is being ignored. It is a John Carpenter film as well, and, in my humble opinion, as scary and exhilarating as the original.
This is a great question, Justin! And we can tell you that we’re all a little excited about it (even Karen, who is not normally a fan of horror films). But the best answer to this question really needs to come from Greg. He is our resident expert on horror movies.
I agree that Halloween II is pretty great. I love most the fact that it picks up seconds after the first one ends. That was kind of rare in the movies. Still is. Seen more on TV shows than anything else.
Also, Carpenter IS involved with the new one! He’s executive-producing it! In fact, he disliked the Rob Zombie ones, which partly influenced his decision to get involved again. Now, I’m not saying anything about anything, but I personally enjoyed the Rob Zombies as well. First one more than the second, but both were fun!
The new Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green (who also directed George Washington, a 2000 non-horror film that Aaron, in particular, really admires). It also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising the role she made famous in the 1978 original. Halloween will be released in theaters nationwide on October 19, 2018.
Feel free to send us more questions, everybody! We’d love to answer them and really enjoy hearing from you.
Our bonus content this week actually dovetails quite nicely with Justin’s question. We have more snippets of our “behind the scenes” Q and A, and Karen asked both Greg and Aaron the following question: What director’s body of work do you feel is grossly under-appreciated? Do you think that’s a function of timing or poor critics’ consensus? Something else? Why do you love that director’s work in spite of critical consensus?
Aiyeee!!! I’d say John Carpenter, because a lot of his work is seen from the outside looking in as “B-caliber,” but there’s also a shit ton of his work that most horror aficionados, and even the critical world, look at and say, “Wow! That’s a good fucking movie.”
The first Carpenter movie I ever saw was not Halloween, actually. It was Starman. This is when I was too young to know who John Carpenter was, so I didn’t really catch on that I was watching his work when I saw Big Trouble in Little China shortly thereafter, or Halloween and Prince of Darkness after that (when I wasn’t allowed to watch those movies because they gave me terrible nightmares, but I watched them anyway). As I started to remember names of actors and actresses, then directors, writers, composers, and so forth, and, as I developed an affinity for horror (best way to deal with what scares us is to face it head on, right, folks? I learned that from The Karate Kid – booya!!) Carpenter, to me, had a knack for creating visual horror as well as uncomfortable and almost surreal environments. Claustrophobia, isolation, eerie…all of these words can be used to describe a Carpenter flick. In the Mouth of Madness continues to be one of my faves of his for all of the above.
Starman and Big Trouble In Little China being the two exceptions to his horror body of work, those two flicks also proved that Carpenter could be an effective creator of drama in one case, and comedy in the other. Hard to say why the critics didn’t latch on.
I could tell you stories about the labor of love that was The Thing that give him and his special effects team an A just for the effort, and I could relay an anecdote or two about the making of Halloween that would make you sit up and say, “They did that how??” He knows how to get the work done, and somehow or other, his work has just always connected with me. Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness had some visuals that were just downright scary. Halloween is one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve ever seen…right up there with Hitchcock’s work. To be sure, Halloween is to this day critically revered, which doesn’t go along with your question, Karen, but to say the critics love this masterpiece and not the others of his body of work (which follow many of the same rules as Halloween follows) is not being fair to Carpenter.
Was it the timing of his work that made critics shy away a bit? I don’t know. But I do think his work is timeless. I am excited to see where the Halloween franchise goes now that he is involved as a producer again. I hope The Rock never remakes Big Trouble In Little China like he wants to. And someday, I hope Carpenter comes out of hiding and directs one or two final odes to the genre that he and his now-deceased rival Wes Craven helped create somewhere between Haddonfield, IL and Elm St. USA.
Aaron (whose tastes often run a little more obscure) responds as well:
Am I understanding the question correctly? Are we asking for a director that I love that has a massive audience following, despite being critically lambasted? I’m having a hard time coming up with one. Ridley Scott is a director who has done a good amount of work that I greatly admire. But he has also done work that I wouldn’t recommend. And a quick perusal of his overall ratings on Rotten Tomatoes reveals that the movies that are getting critical drubbings are deserving of a critical drubbing. Except for Legend. That movie is awesome.
On the other side of this coin, I reference him in one of my questions from Greg, but I feel personally that independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch does not receive the love and admiration that he deserves, neither critically or publicly. I don’t personally know many people who can even tell you who he is, let alone name a movie he made that they have seen. I recommend his movies a lot. Like westerns? Watch Dead Man. Interested in quirky, character studies that connect different stories thematically and tonally? Then, watch Mystery Train (for love of GOD, watch Mystery Train!). Are you someone who thinks that Bill Murray is incapable of dramatic acting? May I recommend Broken Flowers? Jarmusch is pretty well loved by critics, though. Only two of his films are listed on Rotten Tomatoes at less than 60% (and I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t seen either one of them), but most of them are rated at 80% or more.
In the spirit, though, of trying to answer your question…There are a handful of individual movies that I really enjoy (including one that makes its way into my current list of top 20) that have very, very low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Those movies, in order of decreasing overall ratings, are:
The Sandlot 56%
The Ghost and The Darkness 50%
Natural Born Killers 47%
Three Amigos! 46%
In related news, I think I just discovered an idea for a column entry: discussing why these five movies are worthy of higher praise than what they have received. Hook? Come on!
If we’re counting Central Illinois as the homebase for Three Nerds And A Movie, the one of us that lives furthest away is Karen, who has lived in Los Angeles for several years now. For Karen’s contribution to this week’s bonus content, we give her a chance to talk about this direct with a question asked to her by Greg: In California, the silver screen comes alive all over the streets. Not to mention that you now have unlimited access to flicks many of the rest of us in no-man’s land won’t have access to until long after you’ve already seen them, if at all. With the saturated movie market that is California, how do you be selective about what you spend your time and money on?
Ahhhh… LA. It can be a confusing place. A baffling juxtaposition of beauty and dirt, art and technology, authenticity and superficiality. But in LA, movies are pretty simple. There’s probably no better place to bask in the joy of film than the Tinsel Town pool of magically-delicious, movie gorgeousness that is Los Angeles. Here you can see an original 35mm film print of a classic film that someone just went and grabbed from the Academy archives for the afternoon. Things like that happen here. So many 35mm original print screenings. Crackles and pops in the audio, the muted artistry of color that was captured on an actual honest-to-goodness film camera. A vintage theater soaked in film history. I’m in love with it. LA has woken that up in me to some extent.
But back to your question: I think the answer is that I’m not selective. One of the things I wanted to do while living here was experience every possible movie/film/cinema/arthouse/whatever event/sitting/festival that I could. So I have. A few months ago, I checked out a midnight screening of a 35mm original print of Purple Rain at the Vista Theater with Frank.
I love Purple Rain. It is absolutely, without a doubt, one of the Top 5 music films of all time. Prince wasn’t a great actor, but it didn’t matter. He owned a stage. He was a musical savant. And that pours out of the screen and rakes over you in a way that makes Purple Rain really meaningful to fans. Given that, the screening alone would have been enough to fill my little movie-loving, Prince-adoring heart with joy. But wait! There was more. On the docket was a Prince panel promising insight and a brief discussion on the film. Around eight people who actually knew Prince participated in the Q&A. Excitement! Joy! Rapture! One was a record producer who worked with him on the Purple Rain album. His long-time hair stylist. One of his photographers. The lead contractor who worked on Paisley Park. One of his clothing stylists (HELLOOOO, assless chaps???!!! – this was her). They all had intimate insight into his life. And because they live here, they could all just stop by for the evening, remember Prince, and check out a 35mm screening of Purple Rain. It cost $12 to attend this screening. $12!!! In a way, this represents the best of what LA has to offer – music and creativity and film and a lot of love all rolled into one. Basking in the warm glow of beautifully-restored vintage movie theater. There are few things better.
That’s all for today. Karen will see you Friday with her first solo entry for discussion.
In the meantime, sound off below in the comments. What’s your favorite John Carpenter movie? Is Hook a better movie than a lousy 29%? Are you jealous that Karen got to attend that Purple Rain screening? (Aaron sure is).
Be sure to subscribe and receive email notifications whenever we post new content.