LiveThought: Cult of Chucky

Hey kids:  A new Chucky movie! On Netflix!

For nostalgia buffs, it all starts out very strong. Andy is back, in a surprisingly opulent opening shot, and the dialogue is not-so-bad.

Five minutes in

Super-cool twist before the opening credits even roll. Clearly, we knew Chuckster was on his way back, but that was fun.

As the credits roll, we learn the Fiona Dourif is starring in this flick along with her dear-old-dad. She starred in this film’s predecessor Curse of Chucky too, but it’s hard to know how the continuation train is going to roll in this franchise. I’m glad to see her back.

15 minutes in

We are in a mental-health facility. The acting in this scene is, again, surprisingly good. It’s actually a bit triggery in spots. Hot sex scene, though.

23 minutes in

…Damn, Fiona Dourif is a great actress. And she’s sharing screen with Jennifer Tilly, who lest we forget, is an Oscar-nominated actress. She’s also a killer poker player, FYI.

Also? Multiple Chuckies running around right now.

30 minutes in

Sorry for the delay, I needed a beer for this. Goose IPA, for the record.

Angry lady with bangs is bugging me, which probably means she’s not long for this flick, so I’m going to try to let it go. In addition: Worst. Therapist. Ever.

35 minutes in

Plot exposition time, please hold…

44:50 minutes in

HOLY SHIT

These effects are sick! The cinematography is amazing! A slow-mo of a breaking skylight falling into a stark-white examination room? Dude. BTW I was right about annoying lady with bangs. She’s now annoying head with bangs.

Michael Therriault Picture50 minutes in

Just going to reiterate that worst-therapist-ever sentiment here again, with the added bonus of actor-info: he’s 17 days younger than I am, he’s Canadian, and much less menacing in appearance in his head shots.

 The actress playing Madeline is a dead-ringer for Lili Taylor.
1:15 in 
 …I’ve had the Labeled for ReUse photo below all night, and just hit the point in the movie where it happens.

Surprised this film wasn’t called Army of Chuckies… I bet the research proved that cults were more popular than armies this year.

Ok, so we just reached the super-meta point in the film at which Fiona Dourif is basically playing her dad.

1:25 in

This is happening. Reminds me of Bound…remember Bound?

1:30 in

There’s the final twist, ensuring an eighth installment. And I have to say … that might have been the best Chucky/Child’s Play film ever.

Scream Queens: Jamie Lee and the New Horroyalty

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Scream_Queens_2015_cast_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpgFair Warning: If campy humor isn’t your thing, Scream Queens isn’t the show for you.

But if you’re in the mood to revel in horror cliches, eighties soundtracks, slapstick comedy and a cast of actual veteran scream queens — and a few scream dukes and duchesses, if you will — it’s the perfect week-night indulgence.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Scream_Queens_(TV)_Logo.pngCreated by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, Scream Queens premiered on Fox on September 22 — perfectly timed with scare-season — and centers on a series of murders at the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority, perpetrated by the school mascot-as-villain Red Devil.

The Supreme Ruler of the whole she-bang is, of course, Jamie Lee Curtis — the OG Scream Queen herself. She’s joined by a sprawling cast of regulars and guest players including Emma Roberts, arguably the newest member of the SQ ranks. Skyler Samuels also has a few chillers under her belt – a redux of The Stepfather for one, and American Horror Story: Freak Show and Hotel.

They’re joined by a slew of actresses who aren’t quite sure which dramatic genre they hope to dominate. Abigail Breslin doesn’t look like she’ll last as a horror maven… despite having more horror credits to her name than Roberts (Signs, Haunter, Zombieland), she seems uncomfortable with both the killing and the kitsch that Scream Queens provides. By the same turn, Lea Michele is perfectly creepy as Hester in Scream Queens, but will probably return to her musical roots, having recently confirmed she refused to actually scream. Keke Palmer has a great scream but is just too versatile to be confined to any one genre. Nasim Padrad feels unlikely too, as one of SNL’s funniest alums. It’s too much of an oxymoron.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5743/21637558086_34b2c4d917.jpg

The would-be Scream Queens 2.0

Ariana Grande, on the other hand, might well go on to star in a handful of horror remakes from the 1980s. She’s got the necessary look, scream, thigh-high boots, and career confusion. And Billie Lourd is a contender, too…she may be Princess Leia’s offspring, but her resume is light enough that she can pave her own way, and wouldn’t it be nice if that way was dimly lit and foreboding?

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Patrick_Schwarzenegger_TIFF_2012.jpg

Don’t slash me, bro!

On to the men…we don’t normally think of men as Scream Queens and Scream Kings doesn’t have the same ring. But Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk could viably be the mad scientists behind a new crop of recurring horror actors, teeming to join the likes of Bruce Campbell and Kane Hodder on a fairly short list.

So, let’s take a look at who we’ve got: The front-runner is Chad Michael Murray, who has already dabbled in horror through his turns in House of Wax and A Haunting in Connecticut 2. Nick Jonas? It’s an odd choice at first, and his comedic chops shine brightest in Scream Queens. But Jonas is just now ramping up his acting career in earnest, and a bloody blockbuster or two could be just what he needs to catapult himself into an eventual rom-com.

In the actors related-to-other-stars category, we have two contenders (other than Lourd): Patrick Schwarzenegger and Oliver Hudson. I see the first as a solid third-to-go in a classic slasher flick, and the second as an actor versatile enough to play well the grieving father or the psychotic killer.

Whoever rises to the top of the body heap, Scream Queens is great training ground for the new order, and could churn out more than one heir(ess) to the throne.

Who are your favorite Scream Queens — on the show and otherwise?

Scream Queens is on Fox, Tuesdays at 9 p.m., and also on updated weekly on hulu.

Hellraiser  – a horror franchise that really hit the nail into the head.

I did something in pure service to my Blogtoberfest readers this week. I watched Hellraiser I through IV.

I’d seen the first installment, but not in a while. With all my talk of horror franchises lately, I felt compelled to give it another watch and keep going until even Clive Barker had had enough.

In some ways, Hellraiser holds up; it’s not the effects, though those did stand the test of time longer than many horror movies of the eighties. It’s not the acting either, or the setting…but the core story is still a good one and the monsters, the Cenobites, are still unlike anything we’ve seen.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: Hellraiser was actually born first in literature, like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby before it. The film is based on a novella written by Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart, which is still available to buy and is regarded by many critics as being pretty damn good, while critics of the celluloid version are fairly evenly split.

My favorite aspect of the entire first film is Clare Higgins, the British stage actress of some acclaim who plays one-part conflicted heroine and one-part villainess.

Actually, if I’m being totally honest, my real favorite part is Clare Higgins’ hair. Whether she’s killing someone with a hammer or hosting a dinner party, she has a perfectly teased, gelled, and sprayed Hockey Helmet going on that’s so impressive it’s distracting. Distractingly awesome.

Hellraiser II maintains some of the same innovative monster design and clings to the storyline like Wacky Wally to a wall. Clare Higgins is back; the hair is less amazing, but even without flesh, she fully rocks a Grecian dress and diamonds. The sequel is best viewed in tandem with the first Hellraiser, not unlike Halloween II, because while it does start to veer off into crazy land after a while it adds a few wrinkles to the plot. A doctor with plenty of ‘disposable’ patients to sacrifice to resurrect Higgins’ character from the labyrinth of hell? It moves a horror plot along nicely.

By the third installment (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth) the series is pretty much just celebrating the fact that it’s a franchise. Pinhead – who, by now, is colloquially known as Pinhead – is ensconced in a statue for half of the film for some reason. The cast is unnecessarily huge, and yet the hooks that shoot out of the puzzle box have gotten considerably smaller. Such a torture letdown.

But, it’s fun to wax nostalgic about the early nineties with vaguely famous Paula Marshall, a sea of actresses’ eyebrows that have yet to be plucked clean, and a soundtrack that includes Motörhead, KNFDM, and The Soup Dragons. There are also a lot of chokers and chain belts.

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline was the last Hellraiser to be released in theaters and the last to involve Clive Barker in any way — there are five more after this from various writers and directors.

It’s billed as a prequel but starts in space in the year 2127…that’s less confusing than the choice to name the first female lead we meet ‘Rimmer.’ (But look, it’s Christine Harnos from Dazed and Confused! Fun!)

It’s not long before a space station commander is telling an ‘ancient story’ like he was there, and the judging by the casting choice to have him play all of his ancestors, he was. That leads into the aforementioned origin story of the puzzle box and its connection to hell…

And Adam Scott!

In period garb! That alone is worth sticking around for.

If you gobble up these four Hellraisers and still want more pins in the head, check out one or more of the five additional  Hellraiser films I have yet to experience – plus, rumors of a remake of the original are here and there, so there’s still hope for a Higgins Hair ‘do resurrection.

All of the Hellraiser films are available on Netflix streaming.