Because it simply wasn't argumentative enough, every Tuesday in October, to delve into the films we're too scared to watch twice, Missy Yearian of Chickapin Parish and myself are also joining forces throughout October to bring you Thursday Guilty Pleasures, in which we regale you with the movies that we know we're supposed to hate, but we unabashedly love, nevertheless. So buckle in and prepare to cringe, as we get it all off our chests. Be gentle, please...
Van Helsing (2004)
Wow, you're still reading? Yes, B-Sol of The Vault of Horror enjoyed the hell out of Stephen Sommers' gauche, gaudy Universal mashup starring Hugh Jackman as Gabriel "I'm too cool to be named Abraham" Van Helsing. Am I proud of that fact? No. But I'd be a fool to deny it.
Maybe it's the thrill of unleashing it on my kids, who had already been exposed to all the classic Universal monsters, and so got all the references. Maybe it was just the coolness factor of having all those classic monsters in one movie. But whatever it was, I would be lying if I didn't say that this loud confection of a horror/action flick held my attention, and then some.
I fully understand why people generally hated it--it's approach is in many ways completely anathema to the classic horror cinema it's trying to emulate; the camp factor is totally off the charts; the guy playing Dracula is pretty dreadful. Still, there were just enough old-school Universal references peppered without, and a certain respect for the lore of the classic monsters, that gave my inner horror geek a treat and a half.
I defy you to tell me, also, that this film doesn't feature one of the most faithful representations of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Monster ever put on the screen. Say what you want about the rest of the painful hamminess going on in this flick, but Shuler Hensley is magnificent in a role which somehow seeks to translate the creature of the novel, while still giving a nod to the 1930s movie series. And I proudly admit to the childish grin that crossed my face when he shouted out "Friend!"
My only regret about seeing it is that Sommers' previous helming of The Mummy remake for Universal prevented everyone's favorite bandaged ancient Egyptian from making an appearance amongst his monstrous brethren. Van Helsing is a deeply flawed movie, and not at all what hardcore fans of classic monster cinema were hoping for, but I can't help but have a whole lot of fun with it.
And now, I yield the floor to Missy, and her first guilty pleasure of the month...
House of Wax (2005)
Look, I don’t have a good excuse for having seen this. I mean, it’s got everything working against it. It’s a remake (ew) and it stars Paris Hilton (double ew). And I really should have had the strength to say NO! But I didn’t. And as such, here we are staring down the barrel of week one, and I am about to admit a few shameful things to you.
Thing the First: I love The Simple Life. I own every season on DVD, and anytime I am feeling a little bit sad, I’ll pop them in (season two is my favorite) and a big ole stupid grin will spread across my face. I mean, really, if you let these entitled jerkwads into your lives, you deserve everything you get, right? Right?
It’s possible you’ve stopped reading now that you know this shameful secret. For those of you who are giving me the benefit of the doubt, let me explain why I tell you this. In watching five seasons of this show, I developed a keen understanding of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Mostly, I discovered that Nicole is the smart (and devious) one and that Paris has no identity at all. Because of this lack of personality, I thought, “Gee. Maybe she’ll be like Brad Pitt.* And it will be like she’s this blank slate onto which any character can be painted! Maybe she’ll be the greatest actress of all time!” What can I say? I am like a child, and I have great, great optimism. And that’s why I went to see House of Wax.
I was definitely wrong about Paris Hilton.
Thing the Second: I effing loved House of Wax. I loved it way more than it deserves to be loved. I mean, like, if you had kids, and one of them was like The Changeling or something, and the other was House of Wax, you would totally love The Changeling more, right? Yeah, me too. Everyone knows parents don’t really love their kids “the same but in different ways.” House of Wax is totally the DJ Conner of the family. You can’t help but forget he exists when someone as awesome as Darlene is around. (Well, until the later seasons when you have to deal with Becky 2, and then all bets are off. Wait, what was I talking about?)
Thing the Third: That CGI ending with the titular house catching fire and the knife separating the wax babies is totally like the most awesome thing in the history of CGI. And I want to marry it every time I see it, which is a lot because I watch this movie a lot, and I guess that’s Thing the Fourth.
Thing the Fifth: I would probably stalk Elisha Cuthbert, but only after that crazy garage guy chops off the tip of her finger because that’s when you know she’s a badass, and that’s when I realize that House of Wax is actually awesome and totally fun and not something I should be ashamed of at all.
Wait…. What are we doing here?
* Please note that I do not actually like Brad Pitt, but I do believe he has put in some convincing performances, and I believe that is because he is a non-person, and as such, he can become anything.
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