Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the only thing tricky about our treats is getting to them before we do. This is the scariest movie column on the internet. It combines the horror of watching terrible movies with every child’s worst nightmare: heart disease. Every witch-filled week we are haunted by a terrifyingly bad film that we manage to exorcise from the house by mocking its many ghastly faults. Then, because we don’t speak ill of the dead…when they’re in the room, we profess our undying affection for said abomination. Lately, we’ve been going the more conceptual route, which is frightening in and of itself considering the unsettling dearth of smarts in our skeleton crew. However, knocking on the door of Junkfood Cinema will always yield a delicious, if sure-to-kill-you-slowly, snack themed to the movie.
Happy Junkfoodween, bats and ghouls! This is our absolute favorite holiday of the year. While we know many of you may be conflicted and not wish to choose Halloween over that other big holiday at the end of the year, we have no compunction about telling Guy Fawkes Day to take a flying fawk. This is the time of year when adults are allowed to be children again…wild, boozed up, scantily clad children. Okay, well maybe not children, but at least more inclined to indulge their love of things like candy, scary movies, and dressing up in costumes.
This tradition is not lost on the horror genre and even the schlockiest of titles often feature Halloween party scenes teaming with throngs of costumed weirdos. What I love about the way parties are depicted in bad movies, particularly bad horror movies, is that they usually offer incontrovertible evidence that the person who wrote the scene has never been to an actual party. Either that or the translation from the page to the final product speaks to the director’s hailing from another planet bereft of young people. These kids treat frivolity like some sort of mental affliction and often their choice of seasonal attire leaves much to be…puzzled over. Today, we will give out a few suspect commendations for those party patrons who went above and beyond to adorn themselves in sub-par costumes.
The Comedian (Halloween Night)
If you haven’t seen Halloween Night, I envy you. It is one of the most singularly amateurish movies since the director’s cut of Edison Brushes His Teeth. And that’s not even a thing! Halloween Night tells the story of a kindly old grandpa who turns out to be a diabolical cultist hellbent on making a sacrifice of one of his own relatives on Halloween. We’ve all been there. But before we get into that inevitably awkward family reunion discussion topic, we are treated to a scene featuring an All Hallows Eve bash in someone’s house…barn…no, house…warehouse barn/meth lab. Just as things are getting rolling, the film stumbles drunkenly outside the party where a man dressed as a standup comedian takes his costume a little to literally and starts telling a series of gruesomely awful jokes. It grinds the already limping movie to a dead halt much in the same way as did Rudy Ray Moore’s rapping in Dolemite. I don’t know why this guy thought he could halt the movie to tell jokes just because he’s wearing a costume but… What? He wasn’t wearing…he’s an actual…and they were just…? Oh, that’s so much worse.
Vader Mummy Convict (Killer Party)
If that costume title confuses you, don’t worry. The kid wearing this amalgam of utter embarrassment doesn’t seem to have any more of an inkling as to what he’s supposed to be than we do. This actually speaks to the impish narrative structure of JFC alum Killer Party. By the way, “impish” is code for “I want to punch the screenwriter in his spleen.” The movie has two or three fake openings before we get to the actual plot. Ha, “plot.” I make myself laugh sometimes. Technically the titular party here is not a Halloween party, but rather an April Fool’s Day bash in which everyone comes in costume. But then again, Killer Party technically claims it’s a movie, so they started it. I rule in favor of me. So our featured party guest is wearing what appears to be the top half of a Darth Vader helmet, a 1930s prisoner uniform, and white-painted chains that also sort of resemble bandages in certain shots. Is he Mr. T’s sci-fi version of an escaped con? A samurai Jacob Marley busted for tax evasion? A confused mummy at Comic-Con when he should be at his own parole hearing? Help me help you, kid, because right now it looks like you fell into Goodwill and went with whatever stuck.
Bat, Man (Strange Behavior)
Now truth be told, many of these movies are working off of less-than-meager budgets; budgets that, were they anthropomorphized, would have to be constantly reassured by their girlfriends that all that matters is how they use it. That Freudian frugality is therefore understandably reflected in the characters in these films. This might explain why teens in these movies routinely show up to Halloween parties wearing costumes they didn’t buy retail. By that I mean they didn’t pay retail price, buy it from any reputable retail establishment, and they found it in a drainage ditch. Case in point, the young man at the entertainingly inept Halloween party scene in 1981’s Strange Behavior. The film centers on a scientist turning teenagers into murders. His name is Dr. Rockmusic von Grandtheftauto. This young man dresses as (kind of) Batman. His cowl, apart from being the entirely wrong color, is not so much cowlish as it is poorly-cut fabric space helmet reminiscent. But at least he dances just like Adam West…would today.
White Jules (Halloween: Resurrection)
Calling Halloween: Resurrection a b-movie is a monumental insult to both movies and the alphabet. It’s a rotten, sloppy suckburger with extra I hate you. It’s actually a remarkable feat of spectacular failure; landing not a single one of its creative punches and irreparably, to this point, bleeding the franchise. The logical leap to get from the very clear and definitive end of the series in H:20 to this walking dead cash-grab is superhuman; pretty sure this script was written by very lazy aliens. There is a Halloween party in this movie, which adeptly serves to poorly develop a character we don’t care about, to build no tension despite the film’s insistence that we are scared, and to entangle a secondary, dull storyline into the much duller primary storyline. One supposedly hilarious party-goer, demonstrating the same questionable reasoning power as everyone and everything else involved with this film, opts to attend as Jules from Pulp Fiction; his overwhelming Caucasianality phasing him not at all. Were this character in any way clever or likable, this would have gotten a pass. As it stands, one hopes for Samuel L Jackson to burst through the door and staple a cease and desist letter to the kid’s forehead with bullets…or staples I guess.
All The Neon Maniacs (Neon Maniacs)
As ’80s movies about killer mutants of various broad-stroke character molds living in the Golden Gate bridge go, Neon Maniacs isn’t the worst. Despite it’s many shortcomings, it does feature an affable throw-it-all-against-the-wall-see-what-sticks approach to b-movie-making that only somewhat plagiarizes my approach to making and serving quiche. The problem here is that the fun concept is spread too thin (the only time those two words have ever shared such close proximity in the history of this column), having to split already microscopic production costs across a gaggle of antagonistic mutants. During the course of the mutant onslaught, wouldn’t you know it, a Halloween party. Though there are plenty of asinine costumes at the party, the winner of the day has to be the maniacs themselves. They look like the reanimated corpses of the Village People with one albino Bigfoot thrown in for good measure.
Pizza Lady (Ernest Scared Stupid)
More unnerving than the prospect of having to sit through Jim Varney’s incessant cornball shtick in another Ernest movie, which I am not ashamed to say I do on many occasions, is the prospect of having to sit through the incessant cornball shtick in a surprisingly dark family Halloween film about trolls. There are times watching this movie when I wonder why it wasn’t released as Troll 3: The Importance of Being Ernest. Before discovering that milk defeats the trolls, because they’re either lactose intolerant or Dolph Lundgren from Black Jack, Ernest storms into the town’s Halloween shindig to warn everyone of the impending invasion of half-pint monsters. Just before his accomplice, homeless chic Eartha Kitt, can follow him in, she spots a mother and daughter quarreling. While the daughter is dressed like the popular Wizard of Oz character, the Middle Class Lion, her mother is dressed as…pizza. She’s covered in pepperoni, looks like a rolled up pizzeria tablecloth, and has an entire throw-pillow-sized pie hanging off her head. There’s no indication that she’s supposed to be, say, a pizza delivery person (because who’s wildest Halloween departure is dressing as a minimum wage food runner?), she’s just pizza.
Honorable Mention: Shower Crap (Karate Kid)
Though not a horror film, when it comes to ungainly, poorly-conceived Halloween costumes, Daniel LaRusso takes the cake. In addition to his abhorrent cake-thievery, LaRusso actually believes that coming to a Halloween party at a brand new school full of strangers dressed as an entire bathroom fixture is a good way to make friends. Seriously, kid? Kid of Karate? What are you going to do next year as an encore? Come as your own front lawn? Hold on, it does grant him the ability to be alone with Elizabeth Shue even in the middle of a crowded room. Okay. This kid’s shower may be golden.
Junkfood Pairing: Trick or Treat Brownies
So decadent, it’s scary. This morbidly delicious confection, and believe me if you eat enough of it that won’t be the last time you hear the word morbidly, are the monstrous creation of fellow Reject Brian Kelley. Basically, you pour half a standard batch of brownie batter into a pan, artfully place rows of your favorite Halloween candy on top of it, and then cover with the other layer of batter. Bake at 350 for 30–35 min and presto! Diabetes! In mine I like to use Rolos, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Dove Cookies and Cream chocolates. Vincent Price once called these brownies, “something I would consider eating if I hadn’t have died twenty years ago.” If ever there were a junkfood pairing worthy of this column and this holiday, it’s Trick or Treat Brownies.