Well, friends, it’s already the 22nd of Halloween October: leaves are changing and pumpkins are everywhere, so if the urge to watch Halloween movies has not kicked in yet, you may want to see a doctor. The classic Halloween entertainment lexicon for adults is comprised largely of slasher films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The genre is comprised mostly of sexually promiscuous teenagers or young adults—especially women—being pursued and violently killed by a humanoid horror of some kind. While there are a few good eggs amongst slasher films, the shrieking blood-and-guts aspect is not really my cup of tea, and for anyone of like mind who still wants to live Halloween entertainment to the fullest, I propose digging up some spooky children’s movies from the late 80’s and early 90’s, because they have aged better than you think.
One thing in our culture that has always bothered me was this idea that sexual repression and Christianity go hand in hand. This idea states that if you are a Christian, you aren’t allowed to express your sexuality in a healthy way. Typically this means that you can only be a married heterosexual couple who only have sex in the missionary position. So if someone ever convinces someone who was (or in some cases still is) a strong Christian to start having sex, they’ll unleash a wild, sexually deviant person because of all that desire the Christian had to repress for so long. There are so many problems with this notion. It simultaneously makes both people who want to stay virgins and people who enjoy certain fetishes into “weird unhealthy people”, neither of which is the case.
You can see a very clear example of this in one of my favorite musicals: Rocky Horror Picture Show. This movie certainly isn’t entirely bad or evil or anything; I love Rocky Horror Picture Show and I watch it all the time during Halloween. But it’s definitely highly problematic because the show really exemplifies the virgin-whore dichotomy.
In 1993 a Batman movie came out called Batman: Mask of the Phantasm that was based on the 1990s Batman Animated Series. The show was wildly successful, so it is no surprise that a movie came out of the series. Since the release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, it has been hailed as one of the best Batman movies and is often put at the same level as many of the great live-action Batman films. It is certainly one of my favorite Batman movies: it introduces one of my favorite female characters, delves more deeply into Batman’s psyche, and gives us some of the most hilarious and terrifying Joker moments.
Spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
A little over two years ago, Ace and I started something we called “Ghibli Month” in which we watched all the movies in the Studio Ghibli library and reviewed them. I never planned on reviewing the final two movies in said library—if I watch them, and then review them, then I’m admitting to myself that there may be no more Ghibli movies, and I’m not ready for that. However, I finally sat down the other day and watched The Tale of Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata. Upon seeing the two hour timestamp, I was apprehensive that Takahata could really utilize all that time while keeping the film interesting. Looking back, I needn’t have worried.
In the history of cinema, there’s been one genre of film that’s garnered a seriously bad reputation over the years: video game films. This is not without merit: truthfully, a lot of movies based on video games just suck, either because the director doesn’t understand how to adapt the source material from one medium to another, or because the film ends up losing the spirit of the series entirely. Even thinking about it, I can’t come up with any nationally distributed big Hollywood gaming film that was something I’d even call “good”—I have heard some good things about the Silent Hill movies, however, so maybe not all is lost. Despite this track record, 20th Century Fox plans to try once more with the Hitman series; an especially timely move given the announcement of a new Hitman game at this year’s E3. Will this movie break the video game slump? Eeeeeeh, probably not.
Oh boy, okay, here we go. This trailer is… longer than the original teaser trailer, and we, um, get a look at some more characters, like Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor. So yeah, that’s exciting… but I’m gonna be honest. I’m beyond disappointed in how this is developing. I want to be excited for this movie, but it looks so boring.
Spoilers after the cut!
Supervillains are historically inseparable from their superhero counterparts. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, Joe Biden has Nixon’s Ghost. However, as comic movies keep getting bigger, and as the MCU sucks up the world’s supply of white dudes named Chris, the villains are increasingly left behind. These guys fall into a few tidy categories, and alive or dead, find themselves forgotten when the credits roll.
Somehow, the greater realism applied to superheroes, the less room there is for supervillainy. Instead, we’re left with a handful of tropes, with only a few bad guys able to break out of the box. This dynamic is crucial to the ways our current crop of superhero blockbusters reflects our wider psychology. We ache for something bigger than ourselves to believe in, and assemble the Avengers. We question that ache, and begin the Civil War. But when it comes to evildoers, we haven’t figured out what we want. Sometimes it’s just exaggerated versions of the bad people in the world, sometimes it’s faceless alien hordes, sometimes it’s pure evil, given the nasty explanation of “mental illness.” In contrast to the depth we’ve given our heroes, our villains keep falling short.