My Halloween Favorites

It’s Halloween again! If you’re like me, a movie marathon is in order. So grab some popcorn, candy, and soda and check out my list below.

Rockula

This little known comedy is the king of camp. Rockula is a satire about a vampire who is forced to live his life over and over again always loosing the woman he loves. This generation he vows not to loose her and creates a band to woe her. This ‘80s film features vampires who always have fangs and musical numbers culminating in a performance by Toni Basil. Hilarious and not your average vampire movie, this movie has me quoting it all year. So watch out I will threatening you with a ham bone soon. Available on Netflix Instant Streaming.

 

 

Nightmare Before Christmas

This movie plays in my house from the beginning of October all the way to New Years. This stop motion classic of holiday mixing gone awry is the thing my father and most bond over. I still remember going too see it with him after the Iron Bowl, and it still holds a dear place in our hearts. As a child I often wondered what it would be like if my two favorite holidays were switched, and then magically it come out of Tim Burrton’s mind. With a wonderful story, unique characters and fabulous musical numbers by Danny Elfman, this movie that Disney originally didn’t wanted to be associated with is now one of its staples.

 

Hocus Pocus

 

I didn’t like horror movies as a child; they were something I had to grow into. But when I was young I loved this movie, and it became a gateway to scary movies. Packed with zombies and witches, this hilarious kid-aimed movie delighted parents as well. In fact we saw this movie many times at the dollar theater. As an adult, I still quote the movie (“Amok? Amok, amok, amok, umph!”) and look back on it with sweet nostalgia.

 

 

The Omen

This movie frightened me the first time I saw it, and it still scares me to this day. This familial tale of the devil’s spawn is more compelling than Rosemary’s Baby. The Omen packs more of an emotional punch because you actually see the child. Tackling other radical sociological ideas of the time (motherly apathy towards her child, the affects of a father who is rarely home), The Omen goes beyond physical scares to psychologically creep up on you. When Thorn goes to kill his own child, it’s one of the most heart breaking scenes you’ll ever see. But the creepiest part? Evil wins.

 

Dracula 2000

This is personally my favorite retelling of the Dracula story. Taking few plot points from the original story, it really goes in its own direction and becomes a fascinating story all its own. The explanation of where Dracula came from is a brilliant piece of story telling. The movie finds a good balance between gore, story, and casting. Introducing me both to Jonny Lee Miller and Gerard Butler, this film helped the career of many of the up-and-coming actors. This updated spin on an old classic is always on my favorites list.

 

 

Psycho

This is the best horror movie ever. Forget the Exorcist; this psychological thriller proves that you can scare the pants off of someone without nudity, cussing, or gore. We all know the tale. Woman steals money and runs away. The cute but awkward motel keeper’s mother kills her in the shower. Her sister comes to look for her, and it turns out it’s been the innkeeper all along. Zone of Hitchcock’s best, the score, directing and sets give the perfect atmosphere for this Bates tale. The genesis for all multiple personality or schizophrenic killer tales, Psycho and Anthony Perkins’s creepy smile stays with you forever.

 

It’s Elementary

Elementary, CBS

The game is afoot! CBS’s newest police procedural takes a Sherlock Holmes spin. The series premier of Elementary aired last Thursday bringing in a very different Holmes and Watson to skeptic fans. Can Elementary hold its own? Watson is a girl?

I, personally, was very excited to see Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu take on the roles of Holmes and Watson. They are both fabulous actors and they bring a lot to their characters. I have always been a Sherlock fan. Jeremy Brett is my favorite Holmes, and Jude Law won me over as Watson. But Miller and Liu carve out a niche in the Sherlock Holmes fandom.

Elementary takes the detective in a different direction. Confronting Holmes’ drug problem head-on, Watson is a sober live in companion hired by Sherlock’s father. As ex-surgeon, Watson herself has a deep, complex past that lends to a more developed character. In order to start again after rehab, Sherlock has been shipped to a crappy apartment building in New York City, and he is doing the same thing he loved to do in England: solve crimes. Watson goes with Holmes while he is consulting for the police department and finds that she loves the investigating herself. The two become a team on more than just a “say no to drugs” level.

As any police procedural viewers are presented with weekly cases, and Sherlock helps solve them. These original cases do not yet copy those of the classic Holmes tales but puts him in new, modern situations. In the pilot, Holmes is confronted with a wife killer who uses an unusual method to kill his wife. Using keen observations, psychological profiling, and leaps of logic, Holmes is able to see things that the police have missed. But this talent comes without a price.

Sherlock is a brash but charming eccentric detective. Miller plays Holmes’ ticks with grace and finesse and viewers marvel over his dedications the same way one marvels at Spencer Read when he comes out with some amazing fact. Holmes will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the case including getting verbally rough with a witness. But Miller manages to make you like his Holmes because we can clearly see the driving force: solving the puzzle. With a zeal that puts Gregory House to shame, Holmes’ obsession is the puzzles in the crimes, and now with out the drugs he needs them more than ever.

Liu is the more reserved Watson who has a fiercely independent streak. But she harbors a secret past that Holmes and the viewers are salivating to hear about. She’s not your average happy go lucky Watson. She gives a nice balance of stability while Holmes bounces around the room, while having her own dark side. There is great chemistry between the two and it’s great to watch them work off each other.

It is hard for many people not to compare this with the BBC Sherlock, a drama that was nominated for several Emmys. But the two shows are so different. One is a police procedural while the other is British detective story. As for a comparison, all I can give you is that Elementary has the more likable Holmes while Sherlock has better writing.

Elementary is a joy to watch and gets your brain thinking. It has a unique quirky side that does not diminish the dramatic aspects. It is in fact, my dear Watson, one of the best new shows on television.

What Now? Fall’s New Shows

Every fall networks try to peddle their news shows hoping that they find a wide audience. Often my favorite shows like Dollhouse don’t make it very far, but shows that I abandon after three episodes, like Bones, continue for years. It’s why I like to get into established shows even though each year I try out a few new ones. Here’s my take on the new Fall shows. We’ll see what lasts on what doesn’t.

Best Bets

Elementary

This is by far the show I am most excited about this Fall. This modern day tale of Sherlock Holmes transplants Holmes to New York City and played by Jonny Lee Miller. Fresh out of rehab, he and his live in sober companion become consultants for the police department. But here’s the twist: Watson is played by Lucy Liu and she has a past of her own. These two must overcome their pasts to move forward with their future.

Miller is a fantastic actor and will add so much to the role of Holmes. I really look forward to see the chemistry between him and Liu. But don’t expect to see the two romantically involved. Instead they will have romances of their own that will be complicated by their living situation. I find this a very fresh approach as women and men as co-workers.

Chicago Fire

Jesse Spencer as a fireman.

Well, really I need to say more than that. This Dick Wolf creation (Law & Order) delves into the lives of the Chicago Fire Department. Part procedural, part character oriented, this drama promises to be more than just eye candy. I am excited to see something other than a police procedural, reality TV show, or worn out sitcom this season. Chicago Fire should add flame to a boring Fall season.

WTF?

Revolution

15 years after the world looses electricity a group of survivors try to restore power to the earth. This J.J. Abrams vehicle sounds as interesting as Alcatraz and just as short lived. The show will focus on the quest to turn the power back on, but not on how or why it was turned off.

Millions of questions spring to mind. How can all the power go off? In 15 years why haven’t they used water wheels and such for rudimentary electricity? Why does the preview show someone with electricity? Where did they find all those swords?

I remember when JJ Abrams made good TV and that ended with the third season of Alias. His radical premises may have charmed some, but I have no patience for contrived plots and confusing story lines.

Animal Practice

This comedy about a veterinary practice features an ad that shows vets and techs rushing with an injured dog on a gurney being check our by a monkey. It all goes down hill from there. The show center around a man who works for his ex he now runs the veterinary hospital. On of the cast even told Entertainment Weekly that they knew the show was a long shot. If the cast feels that way, what is the point of the show’s existence?

On the Fence

The New Normal

From the mind of Ryan Murphy comes a semi-biographical tale of two gay men and a surrogate. Add to an already tense situation a racist grandmother and the show has the potential to make a statement. Even though the show presents the liberal and conservative sides of the gay parent argument, the show is already being banned by certain stations. You have two crowds for this show: those that want it gone and those that want it to succeed because of the egalitarian content. This show will succeed or fail not based on the quality of the show, but because of the hype.