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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) - Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski is a fantastic director, who has gone through some real shit. Unfortunately this "shit" has overshadowed his career. He has lived in exile from the United States in France for the past forty years, after fleeing the country in 1978 following sexual assault charges. Polanski has directed some real winners, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist, and 2010's The Ghost Writer, just to name a few. This movie on the other hand is not amazing. It is bland and it drags on. The sound is wretched. The comedy is forced. The best acting comes from Polanski himself and his former wife Sharon Tate. Yes, the same Sharon Tate that was murdered by Charles "Tex" Watson in the famous Charles Manson murders. I told you, Polanski has gone through some shit. 

The Fearless Vampire Killers is a horror/comedy movie from 1967, that tells the story of a professor and his assistant (Polanski) who both study vampires. The two shack up in a small town in Transylvania and plan to conduct their experiments much to the dismay of the town. After a few vampire attacks and the abduction of Sarah, an innkeeper's daughter (Sharon Tate). The duo head to vampire Krolock's castle. When they get there they find Krolock and his son. Both vampires. The movie follows the usual "Dracula" storyline from here, the only difference is that hilarity is supposed to ensue. It doesn't.

The movie feels bad. The whole thing is dry and long and doesn't do much but make me long to watch Rosemary's Baby. Why I chose to watch this Polanski movie first, I wont understand. The ending is the only redeeming factor here. It is surprising and drawn out for the perfect amount of time. I wish that this movie could be just all ending and none of the filler. That is just wishful thinking. The cinematography and set design isn't bad, just the story and the acting. Even great directors find themselves making crap every now and then. I won't hold it against him.

The gore in the movie is pretty tame. Very little blood and not much suspense left me yawning and waiting for something, anything, cool to happen. If you are going to have a Halloween party then I would suggest skipping this one. Your going to put your party to sleep with it. Better luck tomorrow.

"Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire?"
  • The original format of the film was to be spherical widescreen. However, at the early stages of production the format was changed to wider, anamorphic Panavision. This results in some of the spherical shots having to be re-framed and cropped in order to be as wide as Panavision.
  • Roman Polanski met Sharon Tate on this set. She had previously been on the The Beverly Hillbillies.
  • Filmed in Italy and England.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Relic (1996) - Peter Hyames


The Relic was recommended to me by some one over at thebetterboard.com, who says that this is one of their favorite horrors. So Techatomon this one is for you. This movie stars Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller (doing her best Dana Skully, impression) and they both don't do too bad of a job. That is saying quite a bit for Tom Sizemore, who hasn't been decent in anything since... well since this I suppose. I am not too familiar with Penelope Miller's work. However, she does well in this.


This movie is about a evolutionary biologist (Miller) and police detective (Sizemore) that are both investigating a mysterious shipment from Brazil. The shipment was bound for a museum in Chicago, and when it arrives it is clouded in mystery. The boat that it arrives on is sans-living people, everyone that was on the ship has died. Now the museum that the shipment is being housed in is finding that people are dying left and right from something. What is killing people in the museum? How are the killings linked to the mysterious shipment? Why is whatever is killing people, removing glands from their brains? Those are the big questions here.


The movie preys on peoples fear of superstition. Hell, the museum that is holding the Relic is having an entire presentation on superstitions. Namely superstitions of different tribes. This movie has found some new life in the eyes of cult-movie goers all over. The movie has classic horror elements, however it hearkens back to the good old days of monster movies. Keeping the actual antagonist hidden from the camera for the majority of the film. The blood and guts are plentiful and they don't skimp when it comes to that. Most of the victims in the movie are decapitated in an extremely brutal fashion.


This movie actually boasts a pretty decent cast. Besides, Sizemore and Miller, we have veteran actor James Whitmore and Linda Hunt rounding out the faces on-screen. These four don't really have terrible roles, they are however forgettable. The special effects are pretty decent as well. All of the be-headings and mauling that take place are pretty gruesome. They have really taken the Monster Movie aesthetic and added some hard edges.

This movie is fun and I think that it fits really well in the 31 Movies of Halloween. This movie is great for parties or for a good scary date night. Most of the horror movies that came out around this time were pretty forgettable. Its nice that this one didn't stay by the wayside.

"I heard your wife got custody of the dog. Were you late on your ALPO payments?"
  • Stan Winston and his effects team made the creatures for this movie.
  • Based on a 1995 best selling novel, Relic. 
  • Harrison Ford was Peter Hyames' first choice for Lt. Vincent D'Agosta. The role eventually went to Tom Sizemore.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Highway to Hell (1992) - Ate de Jong


I should have known before coming into this movie that it had a stupid concept. The movie couldn't even get the right Lowe brother. They got Chad Lowe of all people, Rob must have been too busy making Wayne's World. Highway to Hell is categorized as a horror comedy: its extremely cheesy and wonderfully under-acted. The movie has an awesome array of cameos the biggest being Ben Stiller and his father Jerry Stiller and both portray guys stuck in hell. Jerry Stiller is a cop and Ben Stiller is a cook. 

Highway to Hell is a comedy about a girl, Rachel (Kristy Swanson) that runs away with her boyfriend Charlie (Chad Lowe) to get married in Las Vegas. Instead some Hellcop abducts Rachel and she is taken to hell. Charlie must save her so he takes to the open road on his way to hell to find his true love. From there even more cameos pop up: Lita Ford, Gilbert Godfrey, and Amy Stiller. The movie paints hell as the Mojave Desert where people are still operating jobs and living their depressing and horrid lives. Kind of like the movie Wristcutters.

This movie is obviously made for the MTV generation, back when Ben Stiller had his own show and MTV actually played music! Yes kids, there was actually a time. The movie is full of cheesy puns and over the top situations that only add to the charm of the movie. There is one scene where our hero goes into a hellish strip club and everyone in there is dressed in their proper historical garb: Knights were dressed in full knight gear, Nazi's dressed in their full regalia, gunslingers are decked out with 10 gallon hats and western wear, Hitler (Gilbert Godfrey), Attila the Hun (Ben Stiller), and Cleopatra (Amy Stiller) are all dressed in familiar fashion. There is even a Muammar Gaddafi reference as we get to see a reservation at a table in hell for him.

I recommend this movie to anyone that wants to relive the early 90's. This movie has everything from laughs to blood and guts and it sets it up in a Mad Max type environment. Keep your eyes peeled for this on the VHS rack in your local Goodwill. This movie is definitely worth the 99 cents.

Charlie: Can you tell me the quickest way to Hell?
The Hitchhiker (Lita Ford): Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll

  • On Hellcop's chin are the letters "S.J. + L.Q.", which stand for Steve Johnson (makeup artist), and Linnea Quigley (his wife). 
  • This movie features four members of the Stiller Family: Jerry Stiller, his wife Anne Meara, Ben Stiller, and Ben's sister, Amy Stiller, who does bit parts in most of Ben's movies. 
  • Shot in 44 days in Page, Arizona. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Birds (1963) - Alfred Hitchcock


Classics are always amazing, they may take sometime to build up, but they always have an amazing payoff. This is my first Alfred Hitchcock film. I have kind of steered away from them for some reason. It just so happens that the local theater down the street from me is playing The Birds for $3. So I popped on over there and got some popcorn and had an awesome time.


The Birds is about a small town that gets over-run by vicious killer birds. There is no motive and there doesn't seem to be any resolution. The movie instead focuses on the exploits of a young socialite that falls instantly in love with the weirdly shaped "hero" of the movie. She creepily drops in on him while he is on vacation in Bodega Bay, CA. If anyone is keeping count, this is the forth horror movie that I have reviewed that is set on the Central Coast. Anyway, while she is "visiting/stalking" the seagulls, sparrows, crows, and other birds start going crazy nuts! They kill people left and right, its a slaughter. This movie has some pretty horrific scenes. They look cheap, but its amazing for its time.

The movie's antagonist(s) were actually creepier than I thought they were going to be. I was ready to be disappointed but it didn't bother me. It looked cheesy but good for its time. They were crazy vicious too. They killed people! They could break through walls, you couldn't out run them. They all worked together and congregated in huge flocks that would lay over large portions of the town.


The acting is really pretty decent too, but we are talking about Alfred Hitchcock here. This man is a legend, he knows what he is doing. I am planning on watching Psycho, Rear Window, and Vertigo soon. I cant wait. This movie is awesome because it has a real horror feeling, which I assume Psycho has. This movie has a horror feeling and it also has a great plot with good character development. This movie serves as a rare gem in the Horror genre. Its so easy to become a stereotypical horror movie. This movie keeps a few car lengths from being stereotypical.


I would highly recommend this movie to anyone that is curious about Hitchcock's work, its a great jumping point. His stuff is incredibly intricate, he really pays attention to the little things. He really had some great movies and I am really excited to explore his catalogue. It is going to be a fun trip.

Tippi Hedren is the lead actress
"It's the end of the world"
  • Actress Tippi Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith. 
  • The film has no musical score. 
  • The movie was filmed on location in Bodega Bay, CA and Bodega, CA. A few scenes were done in studio. The movie was filmed in 35mm.
BTW... This trailer is one of the best in the movie world. Please if you don't watch this movie watch this trailer. It is really good.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pontypool (2009) - Bruce McDonald


Awhile ago I wrote a review on the movie Dead Air with Bill Mosley. That movie was really forgettable and got away from itself really quickly. It had to do with a radio DJ and his wacky morning crew that just happened to come to work when a zombie outbreak started. The movie plays up the terrorist angle a bit too much and shows what scares Americans (namely Corbin Bernsen). I thought I would never see another movie like this one... that is until I discovered Pontypool from the same year. This movie is far better than Dead Air.


Pontypool is a movie that is shrouded in mystery from the beginning to the end. The film stars Steven McHattie as shock jock Grant Mazzy who takes the mic during an outbreak of some sort that is centered in their little town of Pontypool. Somewhere in Canada. Little is revealed about the actual incident. We are just aware that emotion and the English language play a part in this. The fact that you don't know what is going on propels this movie forward much like Night of the Living Dead. That movie as well drew a ton of its intrigue because they never explain anything. There are just zombies and that's that. Pontypool doesn't have zombies. Which I am very happy about. The Z wave that Shawn of the Dead started was really swell, but now the swelling has gone down. Lets move on... Anyway, Pontypool is under quarantine and everyone in this radio station is holed up for safety.



There are some scenes of gore, but that really doesn't provide the terror. The terror is more implied leaving the viewer to stew it around in their minds for a moment. The viewer essentially has to piece the happenings together through phone interviews and on the ground reporting from the radio stations own Ken in the Sunshine Chopper. That is what delivers the terror. Knowing that something is going on and you are fully restricted from knowing just what that is.

The movie has a pretty decent script for such a weird story line. The end of the movie is played out really well and I really enjoyed watching Steven McHattie's performance. It wasn't Bill Mosley in Dead Air that is for sure. I haven't heard much about this movie here in the states. Maybe it's just bigger in Canada.


"Sydney Briar is alive."
  • Orson Welles' infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds inspired the approach that they decided to take. It was simultaneously produced as a motion picture and a radio play.
  • There are three stages to this virus. The first stage is you might begin to repeat a word. Something gets stuck. And usually it's words that are terms of endearment, like sweetheart or honey. The second stage is your language becomes scrambled and you can't express yourself properly. The third stage is that you become so distraught at your condition that the only way out of the situation you feel, as an infected person, is to try and chew your way through the mouth of another person.
  • Writer Tony Burgess and director Bruce McDonald are intending to include more exposition for two planned sequels.

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) - Samuel Bayer


This is a pretty movie. Its apparent from the start, that this remake of the 1984 classic, has a pretty good sized budget to work with. In fact the budget for this incarnation was $35 Million according to Wikipedia. The budget for the Wes Craven original, $1.8 Million. You don't always get a better movie if your budget is huge, look at Avatar. You just get a really pretty movie that looks polished and has flawless special effects. Again, see Avatar. That movie was nothing but flash. The story is unoriginal and weak... and don't try coming at me with this whole "Shut up man! Avatar proved itself!" shut up! The larger budget in this case makes the movie look too polished to be takes seriously. Why the hell are we caring about watching clones of the Twilight teens being chased by Freddy Kruger? Were not. This movie didn't need a budget of $35 Million. It feels wasted. Some of the appeal of the original came from watching the director be a director and figure scenes out. This movie didn't do that. It felt trite and forced.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a movie about our friend Freddy Kruger. A school groundskeeper and child molester is burned alive by his victims families for putting them all through such pain. Years after his death he comes back and seeks his revenge on the children in the town. Coming to them in dreams and attacking them with his razor sharp nails (You know Freddy Kruger!) Anyway, the differences are huge in this movie. The disgusting use of CGI is apparent from the beginning. Hell Freddy's burns weren't even real, they were CGI burns. He didn't look scary. He looked like a cartoon. It was really disappointing.

The movie also does something different, as it decides to go back into Fred Kruger's history. Giving us some back story on the character and making us feel remorse for him. This makes him less bad-ass and paints him as a wounded puppy, a character that we are meant to feel sorry for. This is yet another element that takes away from the original. You don't need his back story. In fact the movie is scarier without a back story. If you are not a fan of being scared but you want to know about Freddy then I would say that this movie is for you. It is like a family friendly horror film when compared to its original. I know that I shouldn't draw so many parallels but it is hard not to.

The movie has some pretty cool scary elements though. It doesn't fail in every aspect, it just could be done so much better. Jackie Earle Haley actually does a pretty decent job. If it weren't for the CGI, he would scare the piss out of me. The movie does itself justice by keeping the creepy nearly silent dream sequences. Which is always fun in Nightmare movies. You never know if they are dreaming or sleeping until POP Freddy pops up and cuts their throat or something. Its pretty exciting. That is still around. Oh and the teenagers are still played by actors that are like 26, so that didn't change. The movie even has a few jump scares and creepy spooky scenes. Its not a horrible horror movie. It is just different.

Freddy Kruger is less of a movie villain in the horror industry and more of an icon. Everyone I knew growing up all had Freddy Kruger nightmares when they were a kid. Perhaps this new version of Freddy will serve to scare the shit out of kids these days. I would hope so. Maybe when they remake this movie again in twenty years they will bitch about it then as well. Who knows.

Did you know that after the heart stops beating the brain can function for well over seven minutes? We got six more minutes to play. - Freddy Kruger

Director: Samuel Bayer
Producer: Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller
Writer: Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy and Thomas Dekker
Studio: New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes and Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Country: United States
Did you know: Originally intended to be a prequel. Billy Bob Thornton was considered to play Freddy Kruger. Johnny Depp accompanied his friend Jackie Earle Haley to auditions for A Nightmare on Elm Street. Instead of Haley being chosen for a role, it was Depp who was spotted by director Wes Craven, who asked him if he would like to read for a part. Depp got a part in that film, Haley didn't, but Haley would go on to play Freddy in this remake 26 years later.











Thursday, October 06, 2011

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) - Tommy Lee Wallace

This is the most pointless movie ever put to film. Tommy Lee Wallace and John Carpenter should have steered clear away from this one. At least Moustapha Akkad was financially obligated to the movie. I can understand, more-so, what he was doing there. However, I can't piece together why anyone would go into this movie with such a horrible script. John Carpenter must have been high as a kite! Steven King came out and admitted that when he filmed Maximum Overdrive, he was blown out of his mind. Those guys had mucho bucks in the early eighties and blew it on the rich man's aspirin. 

The plot is virtually un-recognizable. It just keeps going on with no end in site and no reason. The movie has to do with an evil CEO of a mask making company that plans on killing children with their masks. How? Well on Halloween, Silver Shamrock is going to air a commercial after the local channel plays Halloween (Yes, John Carpenter's original Halloween) on television. This commercial will send out a special signal to a piece of stone that was stolen from Stonehenge. Then the mask with somehow kill the kid with a laser, and materialize bugs and snakes inside of the children. Then the bugs and snakes would make their way out of the child in anyway possible, thus insuring the death of the young one. Why? Why would anyone ever do this? Well... that is really never explained. Yup. I guess that wasn't important enough.

So if you made it through what i tried to describe as a plot. Then I want to make this point. The point is that this movie holds a certain amount of mystique that keeps me coming back to it. Hell its why I own it on VHS. Its because Halloween 3 has nothing to do with Michael Myers or that plot device what-so-ever. This movie is a completely different film that is fully-aware of the previous two films. However, the movie is called a sequel... Your guess is as good as mine. 

It has been said that John Carpenter had plans to make the Halloween movies a series horror, with different stand alone story lines. Like Creepshow, but with separate full-length films that come out every year on Halloween. The first two movies that deal with Michael Myers and Laurie Strode have something to do with the Boogieman. I have no idea where he was going with the third movie, but I would of liked to see his concept done right. I wish that Halloween 3 was a better movie so that Michael Myers would have never come back. John Carpenter may have been on to something there. 

I am going to recommend Halloween 3. You have to see it with friends around. This movie is so much fun for Halloween parties. Invite your witty friends over and crack open a few beers. You will have a blast. I cracked up so many times. There is nothing scary about the movie. It does have some decent gore, but mostly its just pointless mess. The soundtrack is fun. I think they even use parts of the setting music from the other movies. 
(Hero) Daniel Challis: Why Cochran? Why? 
(Villain) Conal Cochran: Do I need a reason?

  • The tagline "The night nobody comes home" is a play on the original Halloween movie's tagline, "The night HE came home.
  • Michael Myers does appear briefly in this film, on a television advertising the original Halloween. It comes near the beginning when Dan Challis is drinking in a bar.
  • The voice of the operator that Challis keeps getting when he tries to call out of Santa Mira is Jamie Lee Curtis.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mans Best Friend (1993) - John Lafia


Mans Best Friend is a horror (comedy?) movie that is filled with uber-ridiculousness from beginning to end. The movie has a 90's made-for-tv kind of feel to it with campy humor and bad graphics. The film is trying to be original and succeeds in its quest. I haven't seen a good dog-horror film since Cujo, but this movie is no Cujo.

The movie is about a dog that is "rescued" from a laboratory by two young twenty somethings that have something to prove to the world. This dog however isn't a big old cuddly doggy with rivers of slobber and a love that knows no boundaries. Nope, roll over Beethoven, this dog is a killing machine... literally. This dog has tons of genetically modified traits like expendable claws for climbing trees. Understands basic English and also understands the components of an Auto-mobile. This dog has metal eyes that probably do something cool, but the movie ran out of money. The dog can run upwards of 75 miles per hour. Finally, this dog pees pure acid.



Overall, this movie is horrible. The acting is terrible, the production, writing, set design, and the Acting. This movie is just plain terrible. I mean the biggest actor in the film is Lance Henriksen. Come on! However, there is something that makes me want to watch this movie over and over again. I think it's the nostalgia factor. I haven't really talked about 90's horror movies too much, and I don't think I've given them a fair shake. I really like the 90's feel to this movie, it makes me feel like I am watching an Alex Mack episode. I liked that show...

The movie really presses the issue of animal cruelty and if this movie ever saw a screening, i bet it was swamped with Sarah Mclachlan supporters that picketed... Well... probably not. This movie is pretty non-threatening and it is obvious that the animals harmed on screen are crude reproductions of what animals are supposed to look like. That and this movie is so far fetched (pun intended) that it doesn't matter when Lassie goes down.

Director: John Lafia
Country: USA
Style: Mad Scientist Creature Horror



Did ya know...
They used puppets and early CGI to create the killer Max. Max is a Tibetan Mastiff


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Hell Night (1981) - Tom DeSimone


Hell Night is a painfully fun eighties slasher film that doesn't have the most original plot, or even the best acting. However, this movie does have Linda Blair at the beginning of her eighties romp. She provides ALL of the acting in the film, with the other characters being portrayed by sub-par stand ins. This is the beginning of her movie career that capitalizes on her character acting in The Exorcist. 


The movie takes place on Halloween night (i think) when the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity decides to team up with their sister sorority and put the pledges through HELL NIGHT. This entails having two girls and two guys stay the night in a creepy old mansion, while the senior members have sex and terrorize the pledges. Only someone is picking teens off left and right.

The movie is un-original and the acting is sub-par. The best actress in the movie is Linda Blair and her best work was with The Exorcist. This venture just seemed lazy to me, just trying to ride on the Exorcist's coat-tails. The plot and terror was virtually non-existent and the film seemed to just drag on. It even tries recycling scares, coming back to the same jump scene multiple times.


If you are having a Halloween party this year, Czech out Hell Night as it is so bad that you can laugh at it. That is about all this movie is good for. Linda Blair isn't enough to save this trash. Try again...


If you weren't screaming, and we weren't screaming - then someone is trying to mind fuck us here.

S!D

  • Linda Blair almost won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress with this movie. 
  • Filmed in 40 Days
  • Filmed in Redlands, Pasadena, and Los Angeles, CA




  

Monday, October 03, 2011

Carnival of Souls (1962) - Herk Harvey


Independent horror movies from the 1960's have always intrigued me. Their solutions to problems both on and off the screen were always creative. The film-maker has to make his audience scream but can only do it with the limited amount of funds that was allocated to this guy by whatever flash-in-the-pan studio came his way. That meant that this type of director had to work harder to bring the story to life. He didn't have half of the money that Laurence of Arabia even paid their grips! Well... don't quote me there, but you get the idea.


Carnival of Souls is about a woman that was the lone survivor in a terrible car accident. Who is strangely driven to investigate an abandoned carnival in her new town. She is constantly harassed and haunted by the specters of the other people that were in the accident with her and she slowly begins to lose her mind.

This movie hits all of the places that it needs to, it is just plagued by the things that usually haunted cinema in the late 50's and early 60's. Characters lacked personality and the dialogue seemed forced. At some points the dubbing was so atrocious that it hardly synced up to the actors' lips. I know that most of the films at the time had to deal with this ancient editing flaw, but most seemed to manage. The way the director set the film up is spectacular. If you can look past these flaws and watch this movie (paying attention to the atmosphere and story) this movie suddenly becomes terrifying. If you are showing this movie to someone that is expecting to be scared Michael Myers style, then I think you should skip ahead to Spider Baby.

The film had its creepy moments and made you think more than other horror films of its era. The movie's creepy parts are when our heroine is being haunted and harassed. However, this is where those problems from above arise. Something scary would happen, a moment would pass, and then you would hear the scream. It really drags down the scary value.

For its time, Carnival of Souls is a classic horror movie. For some, it may be one of the scariest movies of all time. To me, however, it felt like a light Twilight Zone episode. It lacked character and that would of made all of the difference. If you have a free night this month, go ahead and pop this one in.


"You're gonna need me in the evening, you just don't know it yet."

S!D


  • Filmed in Salt Lake City and parts of Kansas
  • On a budget of $17,000
  • Was an inspiration for George Romero and David Lynch




Sunday, October 02, 2011

Red State (2011) - Kevin Smith


The Westboro Baptist Church is a group of homophobic baptists that preach out of a congregation in Topeka, Kansas. They hold inappropriate signs at protests in some of the most sacred of venues; Gay Rights Conventions, Veterans Hospitals, Concerts, Sporting Events, High Schools, Jr. High Schools, Elementary Schools, and even Funerals. They are mostly known for the latter in that laundry list. You can almost be certain that when their leader Fred Phelps Sr. (and mouthpiece Shirley Phelps-Roper) caught wind that indie film director Kevin Smith would be making a horror film based on their church. They were angry.

Red State is a horror movie that is based on the Westboro Baptist Church. There are some little differences, as the movie actually points out for you in a phone call. This group of hate-mongers actually kidnap "homosexuals" and kill them in front of their congregation as part of a big ritualistic thing. They also have a heavily guarded compound, and are ready to fight to the death for their cause. That God is going to come down from Heaven and wipe away the fag lovers in America. God's Country.

This movie uses the terror of something very real and exploits it. You aren't going to see Red State at the Academy Awards winning best Picture (or even Best Writing, Best Acting, Best... well anything). The enjoyment that you get out of watching this movie is the same type of enjoyment you get when you see Hitler getting his brains scattered all over a Jewish owned theater in Inglorious Bastards. It just makes you feel good. You get to be present when "Fantasy Justice" is being served to whom ever is receiving it.

Kevin Smith is mostly known for his twenty-something comedies of the 90's where he flexed his "Graphic Content" muscle as much as possible. He paved the way for tons of DIY film students and "slackers" of the 90's generation. That was about the extent of Kevin Smith's pop culture reach. Going into the New Millennium Smith's films started to really wind down. Almost to a distinct halt. Movies like Jersey Girl, Zach & Miri Make A Porno, and Cop Out have served as a nail in the coffin for this New Jersey film-makers career. So he decided to make Red State for himself. "It won't ever see a wide release," says Smith at San Diego Comic Con in 2011. "This movie will tour the country with me for as long as we can ride it out." (I paraphrased just a bit)

Director: Kevin Smith


Country: USA


Style: Religious Satire






Did ya know...



This is Kevin Smith's lowest budget movie since Chasing Amy. The Westboro Baptist Church attended the films screening in Topeka, KS. It was filmed entirely on ADRC (All Digital Red) Great for giving amazing quality while being amazingly portable. Smith advocated for this at San Diego Comic Con earlier in 2011.





Friday, September 30, 2011

Return of the Living Dead: Part 2 (1987) - Ken Weiderhorn



Return of the Living Dead Part 2, much like the original, does little to frighten you and more to make your roll your eyes. This parody of 80's Z Movies is so full of slapstick comedy and corny over-the-top acting that you can hardly take this movie seriously at all. Perhaps that is the point. The movie does little to add to the Z mythos that is floating around Hollywood. Instead, it lifts most of the plot points from the previous film. It looks like a higher budget and more thought out version of the original movie. It even brings back two actors from the first movie that sort of reprise their roles in this one.

This movie follows the young Jesse Wilson, a young kid that lives in a newly developed housing project. While grab-assing with the local hooligans he finds a familiar looking barrel that is shrouded in mystery. While left in the protection of the local hooligans, the barrel is opened and zombie gas seeps out. Now Jesse, his sister, the cable-repair boy, and some holdovers from the first movie have to survive and find their way out of the city that is in quarantine!

Doesn't that sound a little familiar? I can't really blame the director here, there is only one available main plot for Z movies. The only thing that the director/writers can do are hire new actors and tweak the subplot points. The main story is still going to be the same. Zombies are attacking en masse (is that right?) and a few people have to survive; two of those people trying to survive already died in the last movie, and they even reference the fact that they are back in this movie, relating to their previous encounter with Zombies as nothing but a dream.


This movie is corny and un-creative but overall qualifies to be a quite an amazing b-movie of the era. Is this movie better than its original? No. However, it is on a different plane. This movie is as watchable as any dark comedy from the 80's and should be celebrated as such. I can watch this movie back to back with a classic like Better Off Dead.

This movie is full of gore including creative deaths and floods of blood. It actually surprised me a bit to see the gore. They really saved the money gained from the first movie and put it into the effects for this one. I guess that is a plus. I suggest watching this movie if you are a fan of 80's horror. This movie is incredibly nostalgic. Even the soundtrack takes you back.


Director: Ken Weiderhorn
Country: USA

Did ya know...
There is a Michael Jackson zombie in Thriller gear that pops up. Thom Matthews and James Karen both, nearly, reprise their roles from the first movie. Even going as far as to repeat a few of their lines. The director wanted to get out of the horror business and purposefully made this movie in a more comedic way to try to gain more comedic scripts. He still, almost exclusively, receives horror scripts.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1983) - William Asher


Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is an Exploitation Horror movie from 1983 and part of the Video Nasty catalog. You see, in England at the end of the seventies and into the early eighties there was this Video Nasty movement that banned certain movies from seeing the light of day. Since VHS was the only way to get your hands on one of these gems, they were being passed around like hotcakes. Illegal hotcakes. People actually spent time in prison. What a waste of time and money. 

These movies aren't all wonderful, some of them are downright horrible. That is the appeal here though, when your mom tells you that you can't have something you always want it more. You always want what you can't have. So true. 

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (or Night Warning) is a strange Oedipus journey that deals with obsession, anti-homosexual views, and gruesome murder. The movie has copious amounts of blood supplemented with a late 70's soap opera storyline. The movie is cheesy and offensive and at sometimes is a bit suspect.


The movie is about a boy that loses his parents to one of the funniest car wrecks ever put on celluloid. He is raised by his aunt who continuously tries to sleep with him. She kills a gay handyman and covers it up by claiming rape. Throw in a homophobic cop (That has secret homosexual fantasies himself), a head in a jar, a decomposing body, and an insanely intriguing killer aunt and you have one hell of a cheap ass ride. 

The movie deals with some pretty heavy issues, I suppose that’s why this is a exploitation film. There are anti-homosexual remarks at every turn. I guess it was a sign of the times. The movie also really jumps around from bizarre storyline to bizarre storyline.

The special effects are nothing to write home about, in fact there aren't really any amazing special effects. The movie mostly focus on shocking you with its storyline content. There are scenes that made me ask "What the hell! How did they put this to screen?" Of course this movie is full of holes, but no Video Nasty would be complete without them so who cares? 

"Phil Brody, remember him? The man who got wasted here? Well he was a fag, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a fag to be raping your aunt, unless you're one. Are you a fag?" - Detective Joe Carlson (What the hell sense does that make?)

Director: William Asher
Country: USA
Style: Incestual Revenge Horror

Did ya know...
The movie is also known as Night Warning and On the Verge of a Nightmare. Jan De Bont worked as a cinematographer on this movie for a few scenes. Nominated for a Saturn Award for the Best Horror Movie of 1982 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. 

Friday, April 01, 2011

When Harry Met Sally (1989) - Rob Reiner


Directed by Rob Reiner (Misery, This is Spinal Tap) and starring the knock-out, beautiful Meg Ryan (City of Angles) and the hilarious Billy Crystal. When Harry Met Sally is the greatest romantic comedy of all time. This movie has Billy Crystal in the one role that he was born to play; forget City Slickers, Analyze This/That, and Mr. Saturday Night. When Harry Met Sally gives Crystal all of the lines and hilarity that he was born to play. The dynamic between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal should go down in history as one of the best; there was no point in the movie in which I was not rooting for them to make it.

The movie is about this one thing... "men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way". Harry (Crystal) says that in the beginning of the film and the entire movie follows this one thesis. Of course the movie follows the same romantic comedy dynamic that every romantic comedy does, this one however delivers on the goods. This is the greatest Woody Allen movie that had nothing to do with Woody Allen. 


The film hits almost every mark on the checklist of romcom troupes: scene with a taxi going over a bridge with the New York City skyline as the backdrop... Check. Winter skating at Rockefeller plaza... Check. Slow walks through central park with the leaves changing colors on all of the trees... Check. New York City shown in the way that I always envision it, Pre-Mayor Bloomberg... Check. The antagonistic beginnings of the titular character’s relationship eventually blooming into the ninth inning, bases loaded, out-of-the-park brand of love...Check Check.  This movie has it all. Why wouldn't I watch it. 
Deli Scene... there I referenced it. Oh and that Wagon Wheel table is awesome. 

"Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, "You never wear Sunday." It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn't believe me." - Sally (Best conversation in the movie)

Director: Rob Reiner
Country: USA
Style: Romantic Comedy

Did ya know...
Meg Ryan breaks character in the museum when Billy Crystal says to her "I would be proud to partake of your Pecan Pie." She looks off camera to director Rob Reiner who urges her to go with it. Rob Reiner makes a cameo off-camera yelling "Hey everybody! 10 seconds until New Year!" The orgasm scene was filmed at Katz's Deli, an actual restaurant on New York's E. Houston Street. The table at which the scene was filmed now has a plaque on it that reads, "Congratulations! You're sitting where Harry met Sally."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Waxworks (1988) - Anthony Hickox


Quintessential 80's horror classic crap movie. Those are the best 80's movies anyway right? Guys in blazers with the sleeves pushed up, collar's popped to the ceiling, girls wearing some sort of Madonna/Pat Benatar/Debbie Harry crossbreed of fashion; the movie acts as the perfect parody of what everyone left behind in the eighties. I couldn't take any of the characters seriously; they all act as caricatures of the stereotypical heroes and heroines from other eighties classics. It was fun.

The movie is about a group of friends who get invited to "tour" an old Wax Museum late one evening. There is something off about this museum though. Could it be the fact that the group of friends were invited off of the street and they were told to come alone? Could it be that the owner has an extremely large butler named Lurch and an extremely small butler named Hans? Could it be that this Wax Museum is an obviously evil place with an obviously evil owner? Could it? While inside the museum the kids start dropping off, falling victim to many of the creatures on display including but not limited too: The Mummy, Zombies, Hatchet Killers, Killer Babies, Werewolves, Dracula, A Voodoo Priest, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and the Marquis De Sade. Its like a pop culture overload!

The movie is in no way great in the strictest sense of the word; it has plot holes and gaps in the narrative and whole sections that are boring just like any other bargain bin VHS; however, even through all of that what stands out here is the fun feeling that you get from watching it. Well that and the make-up and special effect design. Bob Keen was the designer and he did an amazing job. I tried watching the movie by myself a couple times and could only make it a quarter of the way through. I needed a group to watch this movie and it made it that much more enjoyable.

The only way I can recommend this film is if you are going to experience it with a group because it might bore you to death if you watch it by yourself. Grab a couple of beers and get together with your besties and toss this in the old VCR. It makes for fun times.

Did ya know: The script actually called for Jason Voorhees, from Friday the 13th, to be one of the wax exhibits. However, it was cut when they couldn't get the rights. The movie also had to cut 5 children from Village of the Damned, The Thing from John Carpenter's The Thing, and The Golem from Der Golem. The zombie sequence, as well as most of the movie was filmed in Griffith Park in Los Angeles.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972) - Bob Clark



Bob Clark (A Christmas Story and Porky's) wanted to try his hand at the newly budding zombie movie craze that George Romero started with Night of the Living Dead. The result was nothing more than disastrous. Hey, at least the guy tried.

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things is an early seventies gore film, that deals with zombies without actually ever muttering the zed word. For an early horror movie they hit all of the main points. However, this movie suffers from being poorly written and horribly acted. The make-up is fair, but at times really lags and serves as the catalyst for most of the cheapness. In other words this movie is truly independent.

The film is about a theater troupe that comes to a remote cemetery island to perform rituals to raise the dead. Things go awry when the dead actually does raise up and come after the group. The movie is really ridiculous. It is hard for me to put into words just what I actually think, but I know that I was unamused the entire film. It seemed stale even though this was at the beginning of the craze. How did they accomplish that?

The scares in the movie are few and far between, it is rare that you actually jump. I think that the cold opening is the only really scary part of the film, and that's just because of the loudness. The movie really wains at times. There are long drawn out pieces to this movie that just keep going. This movie is perfect for hardcore zombie fans, but it is going to be incredibly dull for casual horror movie watchers.

I peed in my pants! - Jeff
  • Alan Ormsby played the main character Alan, he also provided the make-up for the movie and co-wrote the screenplay.
  • The script was written in 10 days and was shot in 14 for $70,000
  • Alan Ormsby and Anya Ormsby were married on set, both star in the film.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Kongo (1932) - William J. Cowen

Kongo is a brutal and disturbing movie that pushes the limits of film from the thirties; it is a wonder that MGM allowed a movie with this kind of content to be released. By today's standards this movie is pretty tame, but in the context of the time in which it was made the images are shocking. The movie deals with all sorts of topics ranging from racism to drug abuse and the brutality of the death scenes stick with you.

The movie is about a deranged and tyrannical man who runs a village in Africa with an iron fist from the security of his wheelchair. He keeps all those around him paralyzed with fear which he perpetuates by performing "magic tricks" like decapitating women and reanimating their bodies. He kidnaps the daughter of his rival, and then terrorizes her and a stranded doctor for most of the film.

The treatment of race is a big issue here too which may be a reason why this movie is difficult to find on DVD or VHS. The maniacal madman constantly berates the natives and constantly presumes that "whites" are smarter than "blacks".

The movie is a remake of the Lon Chaney drama West of Zanzibar; the difference here being the horror inserted into Kongo's plot. I was completely surprised by this movie; what I expected was another standard 1930's horror flick, but what I received was a compelling movie that kept me up until the wee hours of the morning looking up the history of the film. I highly recommend this movie. 

"I wouldn't waste Gin on that tribesman, that's kerosene!"

  • Virginia Bruce and John Gilbert were married on set during the filming.
  • The film is also based on a play of the same name, that opened in the mid 20's.
  • The movie got away with much of its content because it is Pre-Code.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

IT (1990) - Tommy Lee Wallace


In 1990 magic happened. Horror Icon Stephen King and film director Tommy Lee Wallace had come together to create, what just might be, the scariest made-for-television movie of all time! This may seem a bit boastful. However you have to keep in mind that it had treated an entire generation of children to their newest fear of coulrophobia. Otherwise known as the fear of clowns. I'm sure there are several of you would cite this movie as the root of their nightmares.

Like I had said above, this movie was aired on ABC as a two part mini-series. That means that it was coming on IT continues to be one of the best to film adaptations of King's work. I personally think that The Shining is the best with IT following closely behind. Pet Sematary is somewhere after those two. While IT really is amazing. It also happens to run just a bit too long. It is also a victim of being limited by the technology of 1990. But none of these factors actually derail the picture. It's still wonderful. Although I love it, I am very excited for the 2017 remake. Even though no one could ever replace John Ritter. 

The movie is about an ancient evil that manifests itself every hundred years or so and massacres the people of Derry, ME. It's another worldly force. And in the case of this movie, that evil force is manifesting itself as Pennywise the Clown. An evil clown that appears to children and abducts them to feed on. Pennywise is discovered by a group of social outcasts in elementary school. The group comes to be known as the Losers Club. The Losers Club somehow finds a way to harness a force of good that can stop Pennywise from carrying out his evil plans.

Let's talk about the cast for a moment. If you aren't familiar with Tim Curry's work then I suggest you pick up this movie. You should also probably go ahead and pick up The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Legend as well. In this movie he is absolutely terrifying as Pennywise. The way that Curry delivers his lines is creepy enough. But when you have that creepy voice behind scary clown makeup it gets turned up to eleven. I noticed that Pennywise's make-up is very similar to that of one Ronald McDonald's. I wonder if that was on purpose.

Other cast members include Night Court's Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, the late Jonathan Brandis, Robot Chicken's Seth Green, and none other than Three's Company's John Ritter. All of their performances are questionable to say the least and suffer from over-acting and poor delivery. There are parts that are acted very well but it seems as if the director sacrificed the opportunity for good acting in place of more storyline. A lot of that back-story just isn't needed and its absence would make the movie seem less... stuffy.

This movie has a presence like no other. The movie has been referred to many times as one of the scariest movies made for television, and Pennywise is right up there as one of the scariest horror movie villains of all time. It's for good measure. All of the elements had come together in such a way that delivered such an iconic film. This is definitely a scary movie. The visuals. The Timing. Everything is executed really well aside from the acting.

IT stands as an iconic film in the Stephen King lexicon. People had been talking about this movie ever since it had come out. I remember teasing friends at school with the "You'll float too!" line. The quick shots of Pennywise and his rows of razor sharp teeth are stuck in my mind for good. Not too shabby for a made-for-TV mini-series. The effects leave a lot to be desired and the acting is TV quality. But what was I expecting? With a decent budget this movie could possibly have been the next Exorcist. I highly recommend.

Director:
Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring:
Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, Annette O'Toole, Tim Reid, John Ritter and Richard Thomas
Country of origin:
United States and Canada
Studios:
Lorimar Productions, DawnField Entertainment, The Konigsberg & Sanitsky Company and Greeb & Epstein Productions
Original release:
November 18 – November 20, 1990


 "When you're down here with us, you'll float too!"
  • Tim Curry did such a good job portraying Pennywise that actors actually stayed away from him during filming.
  • Both actors John Ritter and Jonathan Brandis tragically died in 2003. Ritter suffered a fatal aortic dissection while Brandis hung himself.
  • Seth Green was menaced in this film constantly by werewolves. In the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seth Green plays a Werewolf.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine (2001) - Jamie Blanks


Valentine owes everything it has to the 80's slasher film formula; this movie follows the exact same path as the countless others that set out before it. That wouldn't be such a bad thing had the movie been half way decent, but everything about this movie just seems so temporary on the pop culture scale. A lot of the people that I talk to about horror movies forgot that this film even exists. Has the memory of Valentine been swept away with the newer generations? The movie didn't come out that long ago. It's really bizarre.


Talking about forgotten generations, the soundtrack to the movie is the first thing I noticed. Listen to this line-up: Orgy, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Static-X, Rob Zombie, and Marilyn Manson. Let the soundtrack serve as the catalyst for the movie.


Like I said above the movie uses the 80's slasher premise to get its point across, and as it is executed here it is awfully predictable and a tad bit confusing. You have a kid who gets bullied in school by the bitchiest group of girls ever known to mankind. 15 years later or so, the girls start dropping off one by one. David Boreanaz, gives a bad performance as a recovering alcoholic boyfriend to the main character, and here is a spoiler for ya... he slips off the wagon. Oh, and a young, chubby, Katherine Heigl is in about 7 minuets of the movie.


Forgettable, poorly acted, horribly written, and overly predictable, this movie couldn't possibly be saved by anything, could it? Well the killer was pretty fun looking and brutal to boot, but that's about it; far from salvaged. I can't give this movie a score over 4 and feel like a decent human being so that's what it's getting.


Suggested viewing: Hatchet (2008) - Adam Green (This movie uses the same premise with a better coating. It also has Katherine Heigl in it.)


Rating: 4 of 10


Favorite Quote:  You look great, Kate. How about a date, Kate? You could be my mate, Kate.


S!D

  • In one scene a girl refers to David Boreanaz as "no Angel"
  • Tara Reid wanted to be in this movie.
  • Katherine Heigl didn't read the whole script before accepting. She has said that she regrets being in it.