Willard (2003)

MAY 11, 2007


Next week on Freezedriedmovies.com I will be launching a miniseries of articles about movies I am sick of defending. Whether just assumed to be bad due to poor box office (Postman) or because they don’t feature a psychotic druid in a Shatner mask (Halloween III) or whatever other reason, they will all be films I feel are unjustly criticized. I expect the article to be a complete bomb and get me fired.

Either way, one of those films will be Black Christmas (2006), a delightfully (and refreshingly) mean-spirited slasher film that took a lot of heat for being a remake of a great (and under-appreciated) film, as well as “ruining” the original by adding a backstory. Those people are of course, idiots. I am pretty sure that short of buying every copy in the world and destroying it, nothing that Glen Morgan, James Wong, or anyone else in the world can do will ever ‘destroy’ a pre-existing film. If anyone can explain to me how this would be possible otherwise, feel free to drop me a line.

Anyway, the director of that film is one of my favorite unsung directors: Glen Morgan. He and partner James Wong are two of the best black comic filmmakers in recent memory. They got their start on X-Files, and then went on to make the first and third Final Destination films. But while I rushed out to see all of their other films, I missed their Willard remake during its 7 hour or so theatrical run in the spring of 2003, due to being unemployed at the time (yet I managed to be the one who saw Dreamcatcher, which was released around the same time). But thankfully, I watch 365 unseen horror movies a year!

I never saw the original (for which I am a bit ashamed of myself, as I usually have a rule never to watch a remake before the original) but now I definitely plan on doing so. And the remake is definitely up Morgan and Wong’s alley: It’s weird, it’s frequently hilarious, and it’s DARK. One scene in particular, of a poor little cat’s attempt to flee the hundreds of rats it is trapped with, ranks as one of the funniest/horrifying scenes in the past 10 years (though this may be due to the fact that the cat looks just like my own cat). For some reason, cats being killed just don’t carry as much hatred as a dog being killed. Maybe because dogs actually like people.

Another thing about Morgan and Wong that I really appreciate are their credit sequences. I believe all films should give proper credit to the folks who work on them (if it were up to me, I would go back to the old days with ALL of the credits at the beginning, rather than at the end where no one sees them unless they are showing Jackie Chan fucking up on the side), but at the same time I want to be entertained throughout a film. So a creative credit sequence always scores points with me (FD3's is more fun than half of the movie, actually).

For a PG-13 film, this one is pretty messy. Deleted scenes reveal a handful of “Fuck” usages that were likely cut to give the film the lower rating while retaining all of the fairly gory violence (R. Lee Ermey’s death alone is more gruesome than anything I’ve ever seen in a PG-13 horror movie), and some other character bits that probably should have been left in (one is a scene featuring Morgan’s super-hot wife, Kristen Cloke), but the film is still better than I expected. Of course, there is no actor in the world stranger than the criminally under-used Crispin Glover (hearing Movie Trailer Guy say his name was something of a minor miracle in itself), and his remake of Michael Jackson’s “Ben” is worth the price of downloading a torrent of the DVD alone.

Speaking of the DVD, it’s pretty jam-packed. The deleted scenes segment runs close to a half hour, there’s a Ben music video (complete, like the film and the deleted scenes, with a commentary track), an 18 minute documentary about rats, and a 75 (!!) minute documentary about the making of the film proper. Plus TV spots! I think I’ll just keep the DVD from Blockbuster. Beats returning it.

Of course, since it was really good, this film tanked in theaters. I have no idea how many people found it on DVD, but hopefully many. People need to start supporting offbeat horror films. I would love nothing more than to have this type of dark humor/horror movie showing up in theaters every other week.

What say you?


  1. I just had to add my "Shout out" to the "Postman." Most of my friends scoff when they see it in my collection...I've given up trying to convince the unconvinceable.

  2. Hahhah nice. The 1st part of the article is up at freezedriedmovies.com... though Postman is not listed yet as thats a top 5er and only 6-10 are there for now :)

  3. this is seriously one of my favorite movies ever. i love crispin glover, and i love rats.

  4. Im sorry but I disagree...willard sucks. I wouldve given it more of a chance had they not used a possum for the head rat...annoying.

  5. hahahah well i also like killer shrews... which has dogs for shrews. :(

  6. i was lucky to see this at special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Austin, TX. Crispin, and Morgan & Wong were in attendance (it was actually the first time they got to see the final edit.) i quite enjoyed the film. Crispin was great as usual. it's also the first time that i noticed porn star ashlyn gere in one of their works (i eventually noticed her in millenium and space:above and beyond).


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