Originally I was going to review Succubus: Hell-Bent, a dopey-looking movie that came in a three-pack with Vampires: Out For Blood and Blood Angels. I'll admit, the first movie was bad, but my having been a huge Vanessa Angel fan for years gave me an actual reason to want to watch it. It was bad, but it was enjoyably bad. I wasn't expecting masterful acting from any of the cast, but the movie actually managed to surprise me with a few clever ideas and gave some hints as to how it could be much better given a real budget, a few better actors, and some cleaner writing.
I realize that's like saying "Dirty Dancing 2 could have been The Artist with some better writing and an entirely different cast" but work with me here.
Blood Angels shook my faith in everything I'm doing. It reached deep into me and left me lying in my bed in the middle of the night staring at my ceiling going "...is this really worth the time and investment I put into it? Am I even really enjoying myself when I do movies like these?" There were no actors in it I was eager to see, miserably awful writing, terrible special effects, and a plot that was so transparent it had to be kept away from areas where lots of birds would fly around, lest they die immediately on impact.
So why would I expose myself to that again? I can't think of a single reason to, and now I find myself idly looking around for something to do so I can finish this month and move on.
Blood Angels, you made me start to hate Halloween. I'll never forgive you.
Maybe...maybe I need to look back at something nostalgic, something that I loved when I saw it when I was little. Maybe there's something out there that I can remember that helped me get more "into" Halloween, something that made me appreciate it more than just "that holiday where people get scared and then eat candy." For a long time growing up I was so convinced that all "fear" was bad that it took my slowly exposing myself to different kinds of fear to understand what I liked and what I didn't like, and I can really only think of one thing that threw so many references at me that I was able to explore each and realize "hey, some of this stuff is really good."
That. That is what I remember.
Let's look at the list of things this special pays homage to:
Nightmare on Elm Street
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Edgar Allen Poe's The Telltale Heart
Casper The Friendly Ghost
What I'm pretty sure is the legend of the Cù Sìth.
The Devil and Daniel Webster
All of that is just within the first half, and it's not even everything I caught.
Seriously, they put a reference to a movie where a guy is chased by a murderous truck driver in a cartoon, people. One meant for kids.
There's an amazing amount of attention to detail in this special, from the angles the "camera" shoots the scene from to the vivid colors and background details on walls. The paintings you see through the Night Gallery segments allude to every other segment in the episode, none go to waste. The writing is sharp and crisp, and the voice work is top of the line, providing some genuinely laugh out loud moments. There are moments of comedy that I swear are on par with some of the greatest satires I've seen, ranking up there with Airplane! or Young Frankenstein. Of particular note is a scene in an Abbott and Costello homage where Plucky realizes that saying the word "things" makes lightning crash and starts messing with the weather patterns.
Every actor here knows what they're doing. There are Tiny Toon regulars like Tress MacNeille, Joe Alaskey, Don Messick, Cree Summer, Maurice LaMarche, and so many others that when you realize who some of the cameo voices are (Jim Cummings, June Foray, Ron Freaking Perlman) that it just makes you appreciate how well these people and characters interact with each other.
Since the special originally aired after Animaniacs started, there's also a lot of cameos from that show as well. Cameos I picked up on quickly were the Director, Barney knock-off "Baloney," Satan, and even an appearance by The Brain.
I found the whole video on Dailymotion and watched it with a blanket wrapped around me slippers on, and while there was a lot of humor, there was also enough of the source material to let me fondly remember what they were paying homage. I was also able to remember just why I enjoyed being scared by certain things. I enjoy the tension from Duel, the poetic dread from Poe, and the cruel lessons from myth and legend that translate even to stories today (for instance, teenagers shouldn't ever have sex if there's a chance a crazy lady will blame them for the death of her son in a lake).
Some of the skits are better than others, but each one has something to bring. Whether it's Plucky's constant overacting in their homage of William Shatner's performance in that one Twilight Zone episode to a call back to obscure characters appearing in a Night of the Living Dead parody, there wasn't more than a minute where I wasn't smiling, laughing, or thinking fondly to the movies and TV series that this program opened the doors for me to experience.
|This opening will never get old. Ever.|