Archive for the “reviews” Category

As fun as a straight-forward monster movie can be, with clear delineations between good and evil, sometimes something more meaty is called for. I’m not talking about the almost cynical nihilism that you see more often than I’d like in horror films; I’m thinking more of the quiet, introspective dread that you see from time to time, especially in the more supernatural films. Horror that disquiets at least in part because it is taking base human needs and emotions and exposing the potential monstrousness that’s there.

It Follows opens with an anonymous girl fleeing her home, attracting the concern of her neighbors, before racing away to the beach in her car, making one last phone call to her parents, and then being found the next day brutally murdered. It then cuts to Jay, a young woman preparing for a date with Hugh, her new boyfriend, while her sister, a friend, and the “nice boy next door” Paul all hang out in her living room. On their date, Hugh seems somewhat melancholy, and cuts the date short when he thinks he sees a woman entering the movie theater behind them, but Jay agrees to see him again anyway. On their next date, after having sex in his car near an abandoned factory, Hugh choloroforms Jay, straps her to a wheelchair, and explains to her that he has passed on a curse to her. An entity will start following her, moving at a slow walking pace, and will kill her if it catches her unless she passes the curse along to them. Only people with the curse will be able to see this Follower, and it will start to move back up the line of previous targets if it kills the current one. When a strange, naked woman starts walking towards the two of them, Hugh takes Jay home. The nature of her delivery, and the fact that Hugh lied about his name and where he lives leads everyone to presume Hugh raped her, but in a few days, Jay starts seeing strange figures following her that no one else seems to be aware of. Her friends, somewhat skeptical, agree to keep her safe, but no matter how far they flee or how many people Jay attempts to pass the curse on to, it keeps coming back to her. Eventually she and her friends attempt to trap and kill it at a pool, and while it’s possible they succeeded, the film ends without a definitive answer.

A lot has been written about the symbolism and metaphor in It Follows, much of it focusing on what some see as an essentially conservative, anti-sex message in line with the sort of “if you have sex you’ll die” morality of 80s slasher films. I don’t really accept that, especially as I can’t help but see that as a gross misinterpretation of what was actually going on in those 80s slasher films, but also because it doesn’t really fit at all with what’s going on in this film. Jay, as we learn, isn’t a virgin, so it’s not as if she’s being punished for having sex, full-stop. Yes, the curse is acquired through sex, but it’s also lifted, at least temporarily, through sex. Sex is a primal human drive, but it’s also a very adult drive, and is often seen as the unofficial rite of passage into adulthood. And adulthood means responsibilities, but it also means mortality. The Follower isn’t so much coming to get you because you were a bad little girl or boy and have to be punished, it’s coming for you because everyone, eventually, dies. And this is just the nature of your death.

Or, you know, not. It Follows is deliberately elusive, and layers in metaphor and subtext to the point where a number of possible meanings present themselves and can be convincingly argued. The repeated connections to water, reflections, point-of-view shots, white-clothing, watching others; there’s quite a few ways a careful viewer can dig into the film, and unlike most times a film-maker does this, the freedom granted to the viewer to interpret feels like a specific choice the film-makers made, to give viewers room while still telling their story.

Given this elusiveness, the bare nature of the Follower works well. One of the things that aggravates me with supernatural horror films, is when a creature is given specific weaknesses and rules it must follow, which are then disregarded in favor of a cheap jump scare or one of those cynically nihilistic endings I mentioned earlier. The audience barely knows anything about the creature because the characters barely know anything about it, and what they do know is pieced together and hearsay. And because of that, since we don’t really know what this thing is or how it works, the question of origin or motivation are moot. Even one of the central mysteries, why it changes its appearance, to what end, and why it chooses who it chooses, are only the subject of conjecture by the characters. It’s nice to see a horror film embrace the alien and unknowable, and the dread those bring, rather than make something blandly quotidian by over-explanation.

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Mixing comedy with horror is, as I’ve talked about in the past, a tricky business. But people keep going to the well, probably because when it’s done well, it is extremely satisfying. There’s just something about those two primal emotions, joy and fear, playing off each other. For some peculiar reason, New Zealand seems to be one of the few countries that really excels at making the combo work.

What We Do In The Shadows is a faux documentary focused on Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon, three centuries old Eastern European vampires living in a run-down house in a Wellington suburb. Also living with them is Petyr, an almost completely feral Nosferatu-type creature, in the basement. Wellington, for inexplicable reasons, is home to a host of supernatural creatures, including a large vampire community, but the three room-mates are, clearly, not adjusting well to 21st century life, spending most of their time in petty squabbles, nostalgia, and utterly failed attempts to find victims. Until one night Jackie, Deacon’s human servant, brings some victims over and one, Nick, is turned into a vampire by Petyr. Nick, along with his very human computer programmer friend Stu, prove to be what the vampires needed to jump-start them into adjusting to the new century and moving on from their past regrets, much to the annoyance of Deacon, who finds his place as the cool, upstart bad-boy vampire taken by Nick. Unfortunately, Nick’s modernity also leads to a lack of care that endangers those around him, leading ultimately to the (re)death of Petyr and the mauling of Stu by a pack of werewolves. Ultimately, though, a kind of happiness is found for everyone.

Much of What We Do In The Shadows is straight comedy. It’s very character driven, establishing the three leads, their particular neuroses, and letting them play off each other and the world around them in a naturalistic way. So, when the film does shift gears into horror, as it does dramatically on at least two occasions, the contrast is jarring. The horror sequences are genuinely tense, and don’t shy away from the inherent monstrousness of the characters. This is actually a recurring feature of the film; it never lets you forget that these three men, as quirkily appealing as they are, are all mass murderers (Deacon even casually mentions that he was a Nazi, just to drive the point home). Yes, there is a pathos to them (the joy they all experience when Stu shows them sunrise videos on YouTube is palpable), but at the end of the day they’re monsters. It’s hard to classify them as evil, though; the only truly evil character would appear to be Jackie, who is quite happy to lead innocents to their death if it means she can get what she wants out of Deacon. The contrast with her and Stu, who actually does seem put off by the supernatural but stays with it because of his friendship with Nick, keeps the film from the now insufferable cliche of “humans are the real monsters” though.

The film also deserves credit for almost aggressively shying away from the trend in modern vampire stories to make the creatures “not vampires” in some way, or to dismiss the accumulation of vampire lore as mere fictions. These vampires die in the sun, avoid crucifixes, are burned by silver; in general, they conform to all the major elements of classical vampire lore. A lot of this ties into the overall themes at play in the film, specifically the conflicts between the present and the past. Each of the characters, in some ways, is unable to reconcile themselves to their place in the modern world. Even Nick, the very modern and contemporary character, is challenged by the realization that he is going to ultimately outlive everyone he knows and that the future ahead of him is one of constant loss, that he is going to become just as much a relic of the past as the others. Sticking to the vampire lore gives the film the grounding it needs that ultimately allows the characters to move forward and find some kind of reconciliation with the present.

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You know how long I’ve waited for a good new entry to the werewolf film canon? It’s been decades since An American in London came out, and even Dog Soldiers is pretty long in the tooth now. So…this isn’t the next great werewolf movie we’ve been waiting for, no, but it does somehow manage to be an interestingly flawed indie horror comedy.

In the small rural town of Woodhaven, Sheriff’s Deputy Lou Garou is an all around embarrassment; not only an incompetent cop but the town drunk as well, which is saying something given the not at all hidden drug cartel essentially running the town. Lou is given the thankless task of investigating local gun shop owner Willie’s claim of a lead in the ongoing investigation of missing pets and animal attacks that are casting a pall over the upcoming “drink and shoot” event, and this leads to the ritual sacrifice of a reforming politician and a pentagram being carved into Lou’s chest. As such things do. Lou awakens the next day with no memory of the preceding night, but strangely heightened senses and a new competence, which surprises Tina, the other deputy, since previously she was pretty much the only person in this town who ever seemed to do her damn job. That night Lou turns, gorily, into a werewolf in the bathroom of the town bar, operated by local temptress Jessica, and kills a couple of drug dealers that were sent to kill him for…reasons? Anyway, turning into a werewolf lends Lou an unanticipated competence that leads him into violently cleaning up the town, as well as attracting the sexual attention of Jessica. Which, unfortunately for Lou turns out to be a trap laid for him by the group of shape-shifters that have been secretly running the town for centuries, and enacting a “turn some poor sap into a werewolf and then sacrifice him to retain our power” ritual every 32 years. Luckily Tina comes to Lou’s rescue and the two manage to clean up the town of criminal and supernatural menaces both.

Wolfcop really wants to be a brisk comedy, and though most of the humor is really terrible and off-putting puns (at one point Wolfcop Lou describes himself as “the fuzz”), there are moments where the film-makers are clearly playing with the absurdity of their deliberately silly high-concept premise. Most obviously this is in the recurrent three robbers in pig masks, but there’s some extremely unsubtle Red Riding Hood imagery tossed into the mix as well. The problems with the film basically come from the concept not really coming with enough plot to stretch a film out to more than 90 minutes, and the efforts to correct that not really making sense. The notion of shapeshifters secretly running the town ties several disparate elements together, but as the characters point out, running a small meth-addled town is pretty low ambitions for a supernatural menace. And while “everyone was shapeshifters” goes some way to glossing over some of the more blatant plot holes, so would “everyone was corrupt” and that’s a hell of a lot simpler an explanation. Despite these issues, Wolfcop is, marginally, better than most of the other films making up the “high absurdity” trend in indie film horror these days. If that’s damning with faint praise, well…

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2000 Ad–2000 AD
As per usual, a magazine sized anthology reprinting a selection of current and previous titles which have appeared in the British sci-fi/satire comic. It’s the usual quality material that’s not going to be to everyone’s taste as always, and this year there are no real stand-out entries in the sampler itself.
It’s free

The All-New, All-Different Avengers–Marvel
The first half of this is a pretty fun story about the Avengers team consisting of the “new”, more diverse slate of legacy characters running around in Marvel’s books. It’s a good story, and a nice way to give some weight to the characters. And then there’s another preview of Marvel’s ongoing attempts to make the Inhumans happen outside the context of a Kirby FF story.
It’s free

And Then Emily Was Gone–Comix Tribe
The first story in this book is an evocative fairy-tale themed horror story with arresting art by Iain Laurie that’s compelling and disturbing. And then the second story is a, well, fairly obvious Joker-analogue character that just read like a really depressing throw-back to bad 90s violent anti-hero stories. So the first story would have gotten this a Get it but the Millar-esque Joker/Mask story knocks it down to
It’s free

Attack on Titan–Kodansha Comics
Another sampler, this one featuring a selection of manga titles from Kodansha, leading off with two brief out-takes from the Attack on Titan family, a series I can never quite get over the impression of a grammatical error in the title translation. In any case, the push here is on boys adventure stories with fairly diverse tones but mostly similar art styles, to results dependent heavily on your own tastes.
It’s free

Avatar: The Last Airbender–Dark Horse
While I’m still not a fan of the various Avatar cartoons, the story in this comic is well written by Gene Luen Yang and well drawn by Carla Speed McNeil, as is the preview of the Tobin/Coover series Bandette series. I can see the appeal of the lead series, but my personal preference would have been to make Bandette the pushed book.
Also there is a Plants vs. Zombies story in here.
It’s free

Bob’s Burgers–Dynamite
I’m not particularly a fan of the show, though I have noticed how it occupies the same sort of mental space that the Simpsons did at the same point in its life-span, before it became somewhat neutered by its status as a television mainstay. The comic doesn’t feel like it has quite the same energy as the show, focusing instead on little vignettes with individual characters, which is probably the best way to go about adapting a property like this to comics.
It’s free

Bodie Troll–Red 5 Comics
Bodie Troll is an absolutely amazing and gorgeously drawn comic that it’s always a delight to see. I kind of wish it wasn’t paired with a story called “Drone” which is about, well, a robot drone fighting “terrorists” in Sudan, because that’s a really tonally jarring companion piece. It’s also not the sort of thing I’m really comfortable handing off to a kid, while Bodie Troll is almost perfect for kids. So…yeah. I wish I could say Get it I’ll have to settle for
It’s free

Bongo Comics Free-For-All–Bongo
It’s a pretty representative sampler here of Bongo’s Simpsons comics. There’s nothing that truly stands out, though some of the more off-model artistic styles have some visual appeal.
It’s free

Boom Studio’s Ten Year Celebration–Boom Studio
A selection of licensed and original all-ages comics published by Boom. As with every anthology, some of it is good, most is fairly indifferent, with the licensed comics in particular the weak point. Part of that may be that Boom specializes in licensing a lot of the Aggressively Weird Cartoon Network shows and those in general are very much Not For Me. Overall the art in all the stories is good, however, and I can see the book appealing strongly to kids.
It’s free

Captain Canuck–Chapter House Comics
A very brief reintroduction of the cult character. For me, it doesn’t really do much to sell me on the character or the concept, and I’m a guy who actually likes the more oddball super-hero types.
It’s free

Chakra the Invincible–Graphic India
This is credited to Stan Lee, but, well, so many things are…
It’s a slickly produced set of super-hero stories starring an Indian boy and very heavily playing off aspects of the culture. The stories are fun, and all in all it’s a perfectly fine kids super-hero adventure story.
It’s free

Cleopatra in Space–Graphix
Sci-fi heroines are going to be a bit of a theme with this year’s books, it looks like. In this case, it’s a younger readers book about Cleopatra as a young girl sent forward in time to save a race of talking cats from an alien invasion. It’s engagingly drawn and fun.
Get it

Comics Festival 2015–Beguiling Books
A selection of short material by mostly Canadian creators, with a decided emphasis on general audience, skewing to “young adult” style material. Generally it’s very good, but suffers from the unevenness that usually plagues anthologies.
It’s free

Dark Cricle Comics–Archie
The current artistic renaissance going on at Archie is pretty interesting on a number of levels. That they’ve chosen to go a very dark and adult route with their super-hero revival is not surprising given the successes they’ve had, but “dark adult” super-heroes in the bigger scheme of things doesn’t really feel like something we need more of, even when they’re as of high quality as these are.
It’s free

Defend Comics–CBLDF
An anthology of brief stories with a common theme of freedom, stories and reading loosely linking them together. A few of the stories are slightly preachy, which, given the publisher and context is fairly understandable, but the overall quality of the work here is outstanding.
Get it

Divergence–DC
So, after the “Convergence” event ends, DC has this whole slate of new books and retools coming that are direct response to fan exhaustion with the “New 52,” with a deliberate approach to more diverse characters and storytelling styles. But rather than showcase those books for Free Comic Book Day, DC has decided to preview the new status-quos for Batman and Superman and the next Justice League storyline, which were already spoiled by one of the scummier internet sites and mostly antagonized existing readers.
It’s free

Doctor Who–Titan Comics
I’m pretty much burnt out on almost everything Doctor Who related these days, so while there’s nothing at all objectionable in these brief stories, I just can’t work up any enthusiasm for them. I’d much rather have seen some material from the other books Titan publishes, but I’m under no illusions as to what will get people to pay attention to them.
It’s free

Fight Club–Dark Horse Comics
I’m probably at least fifteen years too old to be excited about more Fight Club anything, but the art by Cameron Stewart is nice, so it’s at least pretty to look at. The same is true of the included Goon and Strain stories; nicely illustrated but otherwise not really doing much for me at all.
It’s free

Gronk–Action Lab
The lead story, about a little monster struggling to fit in, and the back-up about super-cats, are both just overwhelmingly cute. They’re also funny where appropriate and very nicely illustrated with clean, cartoony styles. They’re both extremely charming.
Get it

Hatter M: Love of Wonder–Automatic Publishing
It seems like every year there’s another preview book for this steam-punk story inspired by Alice In Wonderland, and every year I find myself perplexed somewhat by it. It’s not that it’s bad, by any means, I just find myself always unimpressed and slightly confused by it. The generous interpretation is that it’s just Not For Me. Pretty enough art by Sami Makkonen this time around, though.
It’s free

March: Grand Prix–Capstone
A very nicely drawn all-ages book about car racing. The graphic asides listing the various strengths of the various cars and diagrams of parts were an especially nice touch, especially for kids with particular interest in cars or machinery.
Get it

Hip-Hop Family Tree Three-In-One–Fantagraphics
Last year’s book was one of the highlights, and this year we get pretty much more of the same: excerpts from the book itself, with a bonus “Cosplayers” story by Dash Shaw. It’s good material, and it’s worth checking out, but it all feels very much like the same thing as last year’s book.
It’s free

ICE: Bayou Blackout–12 Gauge
12 Gauge is a publisher that regularly attracts artists whose work I enjoy, but the bulk of their line is violent action comics, most of which feel more than a little bit like film pitches. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just don’t find it particularly interesting.
It’s free

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure–Viz
JoJo is one of those long-running manga titles that very much exemplify the “fight comic” aesthetic. It’s also just very peculiar with an extremely dated art style. And as much as I’d have liked to see Viz push one of their stronger titles like Assassination Classroom for Free Comic Book Day, this is an understandably safe bet for them.
It’s free

Jurassic Strike Force 5–Silver Dragon
Humanoid dinosaur aliens fighting ninjas. I mean, that’s a pretty solid concept for a fun kid’s book.
It’s free

Legendary Comics Sampler–Legendary Comics
This is not a comic. This is a catalog of current and upcoming Legendary comics and graphic novels. I really wish it were a comic, because Legendary has put out some good, or at least interesting, comics. And for some reason Holy Terror, but no one’s perfect.
It’s free

Mercury Heat–Avatar
By Avatar standards, this is positively restrained: I only count one eye-gouging. This is a teaser issue for an upcoming sci-fi comic about a woman who is also a police officer on Mercury, that appears to be trying very hard to ride the current zeitgeist for female protagonists in sci-fi stories. Only this is an Avatar book, so our heroine’s uniform includes a bare midriff.
Avoid

Motorcycle Samurai–Top Shelf
Well, this is just charmingly peculiar, a visually distinct post-apocalyptic biker samurai action comic by Chris Sheridan that…well…it pretty much does what it says on the tin and I didn’t know I needed this but apparently I did.
Get it

Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice–Papercutz
Yep…this is a reprint of a 90s book that was part of a line to launch an original super-hero universe all right.
Avoid

The Phantom–Hermes Press
A collection of classic Phantom stories reprinted, along with a brief and more recent recap of the Phantom’s origin. It’s good, classic adventure story material, hampered somewhat by poor reproduction, particularly in terms of inconsistent recoloring.
It’s free

Pokemon XY–Viz
That’s weird, in this comic X is a boy, and we all know that X is a girl and the boy is the asshole neighbor of the real hero.
Anyway…Viz’s Pokemon line is pretty consistently fun, and this sampler provides some nice teasers for several of the books.
It’s free

Savage Dragon Legacy–Image
Well, I’ll give Erik Larsen credit for keeping his creator-owned series going for so long. And while his brand of comics aren’t to my taste, I can see why he has his fans. But if this is intended to catch people up on the series, well, it’s a couple of fights book-ending pages and pages and pages of clumsy exposition, and that’s just not interesting at all.
Avoid

Super Mutant Magic Academy–Drawn & Quarterly
Sometimes I’m really not sure I get certain indie comics. That’s okay, not everything has to appeal to everyone. I am absolutely certain that there are plenty of people who find Jillian Tamaki’s rather corny jokes about teenagers who, for some reason, are mutants or aliens or wizards or something just amazing great and compelling cartooning. I’ll be perfectly happy flipping the book over and reading the Kate Beaton strips on the other side.
It’s free

The Stuff of Legend/Thanatos Diver–Th3rd World Studios
Th3rd World’s offerings are usually better than average, and that trend continues. Stuff of Legend is one of those books that you should probably be reading already anyway, and the flip-book companion, is an intriguing and lushly illustrated story about undersea salvagers in an apparent post-apocalyptic world.
It’s free

Rabbids–Papercutz
Very fun stories featuring characters from a variety of Papercutz all-ages books, including Smurfs and Ariol. The title characters, better known as “the reasons we all bought Wiis back when” are featured in a series charming wordless gag strips.
Get it

Secret Wars #0–Marvel
What we have here is an almost incomprehensible info-dump on Hickman’s “I so want to be taken as seriously as Grant Morrison” multi-year epic, mostly consisting of the Avengers being jerks and committing mass murder, as lead-up to Marvel’s “we swear it’s not a reboot” reboot. Which would be fine, but this is apparently supposed to be an attempt to get readers hyped up for the not-reboot, and all it does is remind you that Hickman’s take on the Marvel characters is actually pretty ugly.
There’s probably some curiosity value to be found in the Attack on Titan cross-over preview in the back.
Avoid

Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: World’s Unite Prelude–Archie
See, utterly incomprehensible cross-overs aren’t just the demesne of Marvel and DC!
It’s free

Spongebob Freestyle Funnies–Bongo
The Spongebob comics sometimes have very nice art, but I think enough time has now passed since both they and the show came out that I can be quite certain that I just don’t find them entertaining or amusing at all. And I can live with that. If you like Spongebob, or more likely have a kid that does, this is probably fine.
It’s fine

Steampunk Goldilocks–Antarctic Press
I quite like Rod Espinosa’s art, and as very much Done as I am with both “steampunk” and “fairy tale reimagings” this was fun.
Get it

Street Fighter–Udon
Very nicely illustrated fight comics that make absolutely no sense to me.
It’s free

Tales of Honor–Image
This is a very brief introduction to the Honor Harrington character from David Weber’s military sci-fi series, along with a short, stand-alone story featuring the character dealing with space pirates, because this is basically just a naval adventure story in space. It’s nicely produced, with good art and writing, but military sci-fi is very much Not For Me, so while I appreciate the talent involved, it left me rather nonplussed.
It’s free

Teen Titans Go/Scooby-Doo Team-Up–DC Comics
Hey, it’s the kind of fun, all ages stories the internet insists DC doesn’t publish! Weird.
Anyway, I’d have preferred a full length Scooby story, instead of half of a team up with a very Super Friends-ish incarnation of the Justice League, but the draw is probably going to be Teen Titans, which is one of those things I am assured The Kids Today go crazy for.
Get it

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–IDW
Unlike most of the current crop of licensed titles, I was a little too old to get into Turtles when they hit it big. This is quite nicely illustrated by Mateus Santolouco, but it’s another one of those books that spends a good chunk of its time catching people up to whatever the current status quo is for the characters in the comic, instead of just dumping right into the action. Since that’s a pretty grim place for the characters at the moment, that lessens the fun of the book somewhat.
It’s free

Terrible Lizard–Oni Press
A giant monster comic about a girl and her pet tyrannosaur. The art by Drew Moss is engaging, and I’ve consistently enjoyed writer Cullen Bunn’s previous work. There isn’t anywhere near as much monsters fighting each other as there needed to be in the preview, but there is some fun action and an arresting premise.
Get it

The Tick–NEC
A collection of short stories in the typical style of Tick comics. It’s generally good material, but your mileage will vary strongly based on your tolerance for Tick style jokes.
It’s free

Transformers: Robots in Disguise–IDW
While a few other titles from IDW’s stable of licensed kids books make appearances, the focus here is on, what I’m guessing is, the current animated incarnation of the Transformers franchise. And I’m pretty much officially too old for anything Transformers related I think.
It’s free

Valiant 25th Anniversary Special–Valiant
This is a mix of generally well-executed comics and promo material for a line of super-hero books that hold absolutely no appeal for me.
It’s free

Wonderland–Zenescope
I’ve pretty much chalked up Zenescope’s fairy-tale line as the spiritual successor to Chaos Comics. Take that as you will.
It’s free

Worlds of Aspen–Aspen
Huh. These still exist.
It’s free

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There are things from your childhood that you barely remember. And, because you were so small when you saw them, you are utterly unable to articulate anything about them to others, and they end up sounding like some feverish dream you had when you were sick. Eventually, you start to half-accept that you never actually saw it, or if you did, that it was fundamentally different from what you remember.
Then you’re in another state and find it in the “Under $10” bin at at national discount chain.

Witch’s Night Out is an animated special about Tender and Small, who are looking forward to dressing up and scaring people on Halloween. Unfortunately, Goodly and Nicely (yes, really), with help from Malicious and Rotten (oh, God, yes, really), decide that what Halloween really needs is to be made into a meaningful, sophisticated holiday for adults, and so they plan to hold a party at the allegedly haunted house in town. Tender and Small end up having their night ruined, and not even a bed time story from their baby-sitter Bazooie can cheer them up. At the party, which looks more like a prelude to a particularly creepy orgy, the witch (voiced by Gilda Radner and looking like an extra from Grey Gardens) who lives in the house is frustrated at her inability to scare anyone. She hears Small making a wish for a scary Halloween and rushes off to the children, transforming them into monsters. The monsters scare the party-goers, which also fails to make the children happy, and the witch loses her wand in the process. Just as the townspeople are preparing a lynch mob to kill the children, the witch gets her wand back and calms everyone down by agreeing to transform the townspeople into their heart’s desires for one night.

As animated holiday specials go, this is a particularly strange one. The character designs are very simple, consisting broadly of outlines and barely rendered faces. Thematically, it fits, what with the characters named by traits thing going on, but it also makes for a very dated appearance. It looks exactly like what you would expect a slightly cheap effort by a bunch of animation school students to put out in the late 70s. It’s not particularly funny, or engaging, despite Radner putting out some one-liners as the witch, so it’s probably not terribly surprising that it never entered the holiday film canon. Mostly what I remember from it as a kid is how Nicely, the fluffy ball of pink sweetness, was absolutely horrifying.

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