Horror Sommelier: July 2018
Every month join Brennan Klein, your horror sommelier, as he runs through the upcoming theatrical releases and pairs them with the perfect horror film for a killer double feature.
Every summer on my personal blog Popcorn Culture, I run a weekly review of an 80’s slasher film that is thematically linked to an upcoming release. I’m folding those picks into this article, so if you want to join me over there every Wednesday for those reviews, get a sneak peek at the titles I’ll be choosing by checking out the movies marked with an asterisk in each weekend’s pairings.
July 4 (Wednesday)
THE FIRST PURGE
Directed by: Gerald McMurray
Synopsis: To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the others, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.
Pairing: UNCLE SAM (1996)
Even when he’s making the trashiest, slashiest horror flick, Bill Lustig gives it his all, from Maniac Cop to plain ol’ Maniac, and Uncle Sam is no different. Sure, it’s a cheesy Fourth of July-themed slasher, but there’s a lot of political subtext about America in the wake of the Gulf War, presented with about as much proud unsubtlety and panache as The Purge’s current ad campaign. A perfect fit!
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Synopsis: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.
PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1987)*
The theme of this particular slasher pairing is “Kicking Ass… Together!” Psychos in Love tells the story of a husband and wife who both just so happen to be serial killers, and I’m sure it’s much more romantic than Ant-Man.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
Directed by: Boots Riley
Synopsis: In a dystopian, not-too-distant future, black telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe of material glory. As his friends and co-workers organize in protest of corporate oppression, Cassius falls under the spell of his company's cocaine-snorting CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), who offers him a salary beyond his wildest dreams.
Pairing: GET OUT (2017)
This is the most recent film I’ve ever included in a Sommelier pairing, but Get Out certainly earns that slot. As long as we’re dealing with satire about the racial animus in America, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a pretty unassailable choice. And it’s just been long enough to earn a good revisit. Plus, the incredible Lakeith Stanfield is in both flicks, so it’s an even better double feature for that!
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Synopsis: Former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson) now assesses security for skyscrapers. He's on assignment in China when he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he's been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family, which is trapped inside the building, above the fire line.
Pairing: MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE (1983)*
As far as high-altitude action goes, who could possibly look further than Mountaintop Motel Massacre? OK, well a lot of people could, but what horror fan could possibly resist that title? And I’m always down for a female killer, and the crazed hotel owner Evelyn is giving me some serious Aunt Cheryl in Night Warning vibes, which is a very good thing.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Synopsis: We join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac (Adam Sandler) can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis (Selena Gomez) realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.
Pairing: MONSTER SQUAD (1987)
When kids films and monsters unite, very good things tend to happen. The best of those things is obviously Fred Dekker’s Monster Squad, the buoyant cult classic that doesn’t shy away from all the grim realities of suburban life, while combining that very reality with the glossy high camp of all your favorite off-brand Universal monsters! It’s a classic that I’m sure you’ve seen, but always deserves a third look. Or a fourth. Or a fifth…
THE EQUALIZER 2
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Synopsis: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) returns to deliver his special brand of vigilante justice -- but how far will he go when it's someone he loves?
Pairing: Fallen (1998)
What if the body-hopping demon worm from Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was actually scary, you ask? Well, here we have Fallen, about a serial killing, body hopping demon fighting Denzel Washington, playing yet another hard-nosed cop. This is alternately a horror film, an action movie, and a cerebral psychological thriller, and while it doesn’t totally nail every one of those things and it owes a lot to Se7en, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and Denzel Washington has never looked more handsome.
MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN
Directed by: Ol Parker
Synopsis: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) finds out more about her mother's past while seeking guidance on how to handle her pregnancy.
Pairing: SLASH DANCE (1989)*
Slasher musicals from the 80’s are a little hard to come by, and this one isn’t one hundred percent a musical, but I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the return of a movie musical standard than the crazy, pun-tastic Slash Dance, about an undercover cop investigating a rash of killings at a dance studio.
UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB
Directed by: Stephen Sucso
Synopsis: A teenager (Colin Woodell) finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is watching every move he makes.
Pairing: THE DEN (2013)
Unfriended is by far the most popular of the “looks like a computer screen movies” (at least until that John Cho flick comes out later this summer), but let’s not forget where it came from. The Den was doing what Unfriended was doing quite a bit before, and the plot is a little more far-reaching to boot.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Synopsis: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team find themselves in a race against time after a mission goes wrong.
Pairing: AMSTERDAMNED (1988)*
A key hallmark of the Mission: Impossible franchise is beautiful international locales, and what’s more beautiful and international than a giallo film set in Amsterdam? Amsterdamned is a great title, but it’s also a raucous weirdo good time, and how often do those things come hand in hand?
TEEN TITANS GO TO THE MOVIES
Directed by: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
Synopsis: A villain's maniacal plan for world domination sidetracks five teenage superheroes who dream of Hollywood stardom.
Pairing: TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT (1995)
Tales from the Crypt might not entirely be suitable for kids, but of course it’s a kids show! The Cryptkeeper doesn’t say “Hello, kiddies,” for no reason! So this fits perfectly with the theme of “kids show comes to the big screen!” And it doesn’t get bigger than Demon Knight, a goopy, gory, helluva good time full of ear-splitting puns and a deliciously wicked Billy Zane performance. This is definitely one of my favorite 90’s horror flicks, and you should just watch it anyway, double feature or not.