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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Evil Dead 2 (1987) - Sam Raimi


Evil Dead 2 is a classic in the horror genre. It is a treat to sit back and watch someone like Sam Raimi sit behind the camera and create such entertaining and fantastical storyline. Credit's due where credit is due I guess. Bruce Campbell carries this movie the entire way. He IS this movie. The entire first half of the film is just Campbell working by himself. He pulls it off with such gusto. Bruce Campbell IS Ashley Williams, no matter how good this new remake looks. Remember, I wrote this before that remake had come out yet. Anyway, Evil Dead 2 only serves as an improvement to the already stellar and familiar Evil Dead franchise. This movie doesn't compete in anyway and it doesn't need to try. It is a classic through and through. 

This movie starts things off in a really interesting manner. It just completely retcon's the entire first movie... well not entirely. The first movie has to do with a group of young adults, going up to a cabin to have a good time. They stumble upon the Necronomicon Ex Mortis and awake evil spirits, otherwise known as the Deadites. Demon Zombies. Kinda. This movie rewrites the first story to ONLY include Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend. The other three characters are removed from the storyline. Now this either has to do with the Deadites re-writing history and driving Ash crazy or they just made the change. Either way Sam Raimi does it in an interesting way that doesn't put you off. Rather, it drags you in. His action of retconning the storyline from the previous movie actually helps this movie in someways. I makes it feel like you aren't watching the same exact movie, when in fact you are. In a broader sense. 

Sam Raimi had more money to make Evil Dead 2 with than he had previously worked with for Evil Dead. He found this to be a good opportunity to re-write the first story, while adding more depth and terror. He could breeze past the stupid teenager plot and jump right into the Deadites fighting Ash. It was genius. This of course allowed for Bruce Campbell to show off his acting skills and they both came up with some really amazing scenes. What a duo. In case you didn't know, Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi work together in just about everything. Even when Raimi was making Spider-Man he used Bruce Campbell in key scenes. 

This movie is hands down one of my favorites. The amount of gore is tremendous and it is cheesy enough to entertain anyone weather you are looking for a horror movie or just something fun to watch. It is campy to the level of hilarity, all the while showing you things that you won't soon forget. Ash cutting off his own hand for becoming possessed is a scene that comes to mind. It is hilarious. Then Ash takes a chainsaw to his arm while laughing maniacally and getting covered in buckets of blood. 

This movie is fantastic and gets high marks from me. It is bloody, frightening, funny, and smart all at the same time. If you haven't seen it than you need too. I am highly recommending this to anyone. Just go and see it. 

Groovy

S!D

  • The recap of The Evil Dead includes a shot where the "evil force" runs through the cabin and rams into Ash. When this shot was filmed, Bruce Campbell suffered a broken jaw when Sam Raimi (who was operating the camera) crashed into him with a bicycle. Or so people were led to believe. This was a story concocted by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell as a gag to see how many people would believe it actually happened. 
  • Freddy's glove makes an appearance. 
  • Stephen King helped fund this movie. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Martyrs (2008) - Pascal Laugier



Martyrs is an Ultra-Violent revenge horror film from France that really pushes the ultra-violent edge and leaves you cringing in your seat. It asks the question what is beyond our realm of existence? What happens to us after we die? 

The word torture porn gets thrown around a lot in horror these days. Case in point Saw and Hostel. Those movies have an excessive amount of gore and the storyline works right along with it. This movie is all about torture, all the way through. Our main character is tortured the entire film, even when she isn't physically tortured her emotions are toyed with. 



Our main character gets dragged into a place that she didn't want to be in, all for being "The Good-Guy". Classic tale of wrong place at the wrong time, only this time the emotion is much more. The story revolves around an evil corporation or cult of old people that are looking to answer some questions about their own mortality. They find these young women and put them through rigorous tests. All the while looking for the perfect vessel between our world and the "next" one. 


The pacing in this movie comes into question. The revenge storyline in the first half of the movie is really solid. It plays out pretty nicely even though there are moments that you yell directions at the screen. The second half that deals with the cult and the hostel-ish corporation is really boring and kind of tiresome. It is just a girl being beat to shit and tortured for a solid thirty minuets. It isn't horrible its just boring. 

I hear that they are remaking this movie (10-30-2012) for the English audience. I am expecting something like the English version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I will check out the remake even though it will most likely be ruined. If this movie is a 6 on my rating meter, then the remake will be about a 4.5 or even a 4. Let's hope they do a good job. 

Martyrs are exceptional people. They survive pain, they survive total deprivation. They bear all the sins of the earth. They give themselves up. They transcend themselves... they are transfigured. 

Director: Pascal Laugier
Country: Canada

Did ya know...
In Pascal Laugier's previous film House of Voices, the main character is called Anna Jurin. In Martyrs, Anna is one of the female leads' character names, whilst Lucie Jurin is the other. As the mother is kicked into the pit, a body flinches to brace itself for the impact of the mother falling on him.


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Last Exorcism (2010) - Daniel Stamm



The Last Exorcism isn't very adventurous in the genre. You can pretty much surmise what happens without watching it. Priest gets a call about a girl that is possessed, its always a girl for some reason. The priest comes, he is usually disillusioned. He preforms an exorcism that pulls the devil out into the real world. In just about every single one of these movies, the person that is possessed is always claiming possession by Lucifer himself. The possession is always dismissed and then returned upon. 

This movie was also bitten by the found footage bug that has been haunting horror for sometime now. Thanks Blair Witch Project. The film follows a disillusioned priest that starts preforming exorcisms as a way to show that there is no God. Of course he is proven wrong, just look at the poster for the movie. It doesn't matter. The plot is inconsequential, you are watching this movie to figure out why we are seeing the found footage. Folks. I don't know why you are seeing this. There is no explanation. 

The movie just sort of ends, it doesn't offer any explanation and leaves everything up to the viewer. The problem with that is, we are watching to find that stuff out. So, the movie fails. It doesn't pan out the way that they thought it should. Yeah, the movie has a few creeps and creaks. However, the movie doesn't have a good flow. It is very jagged and if you turn away for a few moments, it is hard to pick back up on.

Take this review as a warning. There are better exorcism movies out there. Hell just watch The Exorcist. That movie is shades above this one and both are pretty much the same movie. I started watching this one because Eli Roth attached his name to it. However, maybe he shouldn't have.

Director: Daniel Stamm
Country: USA
Style: Found Footage






Did ya know...
This movie was shipped out under the name Scrutiny. Actress Ashley Bell did all the contortion work. The crew had a real exorcist on set to advise. He makes a cameo in the movie too.  


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Psycho (1960) - Alfred Hitchcock



The iconic, terrifying, and original Alfred Hitchcock tale of a man and his mother. This is more than just your usual horror movie. Psycho is Hitchcock's vision on murderous real-life killers like Ed Gein or Albert Fish. Or at least his interpretation of the novel. 

The casting was an enormous task for Hitchcock that went was adamant about his choices. Anthony Perkins is fantastic. Norman Bates transformed killers in movies. Hell, it transformed what the public thought of those around them.  could be just about anyone that I could know. The killer wasn't adorned in some fantastic costume. He was just a neighbor kid. He looked perfectly normal. Such a great job of bluffing the viewer, that is unless you are watching this movie already knowing the twist. Then its not much of a surprise.

Psycho follows a young woman that turns up missing after stealing a large amount of cash and disappearing from a out of the way motel. The number one suspect is Norman Bates, a young unsuspecting youth that primarily takes care of the motel and his ailing mother.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good flick. This is a Hitchcock movie so you know that the acting is superb and the storyline is solid. This is a psychological horror movie that doesn't draw on heavy revolting imagery, but more subtle and creepy scares. High quality and really fun.

"It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?"
  • This was Alfred Hitchcock's last feature film in black and white, filmed November 30 1959-March 1 1960. 
  • During filming, this movie was referred to as "Production 9401" or "Wimpy". The latter name came from the second-unit cameraman on the picture Rex Wimpy who appeared on clapboards and production sheets, and some on-the-set stills for Psycho.
  • Alfred Hitchcock produced this film when plans to make a film starring Audrey Hepburn, called "No Bail for the Judge," fell through. 


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Duel (1971) - Steven Spielberg

A lot of people out there might just look at the title and think that Duel doesn't belong in the horror movie area. I have a different view on the subject, obviously. Duel is scary as shit to me. I hate driving on the freeways and passing a trucker. Those "cowboys" of the highway are all hopped up on goofballs, they could run you right off the road and not even know they did it. Crazy. That is like one of my fears. 

This is Steven Spielberg's first theatrical film, written by Richard Matheson and based on his short story. If that isn't enough to get you to see it then maybe the plot will. The movie is about a guy that is on his way home from a business trip and runs afoul of a menacing and ugly diesel tanker truck. The truck stalks our hero the entire film and squares off with him on numerous accounts. The most recent movie that I could tie this in with would be Joy Ride from 1997. 
The movie dose a good job of solidly setting you up and getting you to root for our hero. The trucker is overbearing and horrifying. He is always around. It is almost paranormal. Like he haunts the road looking for lonely wanders, lost on the open highway. The movie is beautifully shot in California and is full of luscious golden hills, vast valleys, and the beautiful landscape that surrounds the Santa Clarita Valley. 

This movie is quite the treat. It is sought after by film students and fans alike. It is one of the best things that Spielberg has ever put out. I think in some ways this movie is better than Jaws. Its just scarier to me. I recommend this movie to anyone that wants to see some fantastic film making while clutching their couches in fear. 

I'd like to report a truck driver who's been endangering my life

S!D

  • There are seventeen notches on the headlights of the truck.
  • According to Richard Matheson, he was inspired to write the original short story "Duel" after an encounter with a tailgating truck driver on November 22, 1963, the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 
  • David Mann's car was a 1970 red Plymouth Valiant with California license plate 149 PCE. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

[rec] (2007) - Jaume Balagueró

Found footage horror movies are the newest genre and this is one of many that helped usher in that genre. The draw here isn't gore or jump scares, but it does have plenty of that. The draw here is being put into the cameraman's shoes. You are first hand for all of the madness that occurs. The only thing that takes you out of it is the subtitles. The movie is in Spanish but it does have English subtitles.

The movie starts out by introducing our main heroine for the film. She is a news reporter and we are watching her filming a segment at a local fire department. She follows them around the station, seeing how things work during the overnight shift. She even gets to go on a call with them. A call that has them responding to an old woman that is trapped in her apartment. When they are in the apartment complex, they are shut in and told that they are under quarantine. Now this news reporter and a handful of firefighters have to survive the night with virus Zombies running around.

This is a found footage movie that plays out as such. The movie has the creepy vibe to it. You start to realize that you aren't going to see this main character anymore. With no prior knowledge this movie could have been amazing. Unfortunately, I watched Quarantine (an American remake) before watching this movie. This looked better. The effects felt smoother. Even though both are pretty much the same scene for scene.

The movie deals with a "virus" that is infecting people in an apartment complex. The virus has the same effects pretty much as the 28 Days Later or I am Legend contagion. I like that the movie doesn't give you too much information. You are pretty limited with this movie. You only get to know what the cameraman knows. That is pretty cool.

There's something more to this place. Our cells don't work. Neither does the T.V. or radio. We're isolated. 

S!D

  • The old man at the start says that their mobile phones, TV etc don't work but when the Pablo and Angela go up to the third floor to get keys the TV is obviously on and working.
  • The film premiere was in August 2007 at the 64th Venice International Film Festival, out of competition.
  • The DVD for this film wasn't released in the US until after its remake Quarantine had been out in theaters and the sequel [Rec] ² had been confirmed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Idle Hands (1999) - Rodman Flender


Idle Hands is a dark horror/comedy. It's a good send off to the teen movies of the nineties. It features an almost timeless soundtrack and quintessential nineties cast all playing high-school students. The movie has tons of cameos and plays out in a really fun and unique tale. 

A demon that only possesses the laziest human being, has targeted a young stoner that just made the realization that all he does is watch TV all day with no ambition. The demon takes control of his hand and begins murdering people. Parents, Friends, Girls... errp. His hand has to be stopped.

If you want to have some fun this year then this is the movie to watch. This is more of a comedy movie in horror movie clothing. It brings you some really big laughs, and some really gory scenes. The movie does have its drawbacks. It is really unbelievable and cheesy, most of the time that is ironic so it is pretty funny. However, other times it is misleading and just cheesy. That comes in the form of poorly delivered lines and Hollywood physics.

I recommend this movie to anyone that wants to have a good time. If you are from Southern California or were going to High School in the nineties, you will definitely dig this movie. Also fans of the classic Hands of Orlac movies. This movie is just a retelling of that classic tale. Anyone that reads these reviews knows that this is one of my favorite story-lines 

Is this one of the last things that Devon Sawa was in? I haven't heard from him recently. Admittedly, I haven't looked him up either. The comedy pulled off well and the soundtrack takes me back. I love it.

That is some one-hit shit.

S!D

  • Filmed in the same neighborhood as Halloween.
  • The shirt that Dexter Holland of The Offspring is wearing in the dance scene is AFI, a Californian punk band who started out in 1991. 
  • Perhaps the reason behind the film's financial failure is due to the fact that it was released ten days following the Columbine High School massacre. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1408 (2007) - Mikael Håfström

This is a creepy movie through and through. It follows a haunted house-type storyline. However, it offers a fresh approach to the genre. Rather than having an entity to deal with or some ghosts to spook our hero, he has to survive the night in an evil room. 

Our hero, Mike Enslin, is a depressed and bored ghost hunter that pens successful books on the subject of creepy attractions across the world. His writing leads him to the beautiful Dolphin Hotel in the overly cramped New York City. The Dolphin Hotel is notorious for the fifty six mysterious deaths that have all taken place in room 1408. Get it. 1 + 4 = 5 + 8 = 13. Riveting. The manager of the hotel pleads with Mike not to stay in the room. But of course he stays. Why wouldn't he. 

This movie differs from other haunted house movies in a pretty big way. The manager says that there are no ghosts or demons. It is just an evil fucking room. This is scary on many levels. Firstly you are playing by the room's rules. Once you are inside of the room the outside world either seizes to exist or you do. There is a point in which our hero tells his wife that he is inside of the room, and she points out that the police are in the room and no one is there. I don't know if that is just a manifestation of the room itself, or if John Cusack wasn't playing in their realm anymore. Either way it was creepy. 

This movie is scripted perfectly. It goes along at a really quick pace that is easy to follow and scary to watch. You start to identify with the main character really quickly. You see the trials that the room puts him through. I mean John Cusack turns in some really good acting. He drives the movie. It is well done. This movie also made me remember that Samuel L. Jackson has been pigeon-holed into always being Sam Jackson. I guess I don't mind it. He is bad ass either way. It's just funny to see Nick Fury managing a swanky hotel. The acting is solid. 

The scares are really creepy and sometimes subtle. Not always though. The jump scares are few. This movie does a great job of dragging you in and almost putting you in his shoes. I can't watch the movie and not try to figure out what I would do in Cusack's situation. You start to lose your mind right alongside of him.

This movie didn't do well with the critics and the box office didn't treat it well either. However, this is one of the better Stephen King adaptations. Did I not mention that this was a King story. Oh yeah. I love it. This is a really solid movie with a great story, awesome script, fantastic acting. Oh, and it is scary. It creeps me out every time.

Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room! 

S!D
  • The story this film was based on was almost never written. Stephen King originally created the first few pages of '1408' for his nonfiction book, "On Writing," as an example of how to revise a first draft. The story, however, intrigued him, and he wound up not only finishing a complete draft, but adapting it for an audio-book compilation of short stories.
  • There are many references to the number "13" throughout the movie. The room is numbered "1408", add each number together equals 13. The room is on the 14th floor, and the Hotel skips the 13th floor, so the room is technically on the 13th floor. The room's key lock also has "6214" etched into it, which adds up to 13. And the first death was in the year 1912, which adds to 13. Even the film's American release date sums to 13: June 22, 2007.
  • The axe the fireman uses to break down the hotel door at the end of the movie is the same axe that Jack Nicholson used in The Shining.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tales from the Crypt (1972) - Freddie Francis

Tales from the Crypt brings the EC Comic publication to the big screen in a decent anthology horror movie. Just like in the comic books you are presented these stories by the Crypt Keeper. Not as cool or grotesque looking as the Crypt Keeper that most will remember, but creepy none the less.

The main storyline follows a group of people that are on a tour of the Crypts in Britain. They get lost and wander into a strange room and are introduced to our host. He presents each of them with a tale.

...And all through the house. 
This is the cream of the crop. A escaped, psychotic, mental patient is stalking a woman that had just killed her husband in her house. It is christmas time and naturally the mental patient is wearing a Santa suit. This is the scariest of the movie. The actor playing the escapee did a great job. He was really frightening.

Reflection of Death
A man that is leaving his family for his mistress  is haunted by a mysterious nightmare that prophesies his own death. This short is really good too. This movie is picking up some steam. Cool effects and an equally cool story.

Poetic Justice
A poor old man, that loves his community and helps the children. Is harassed by a corporation that wants to drive him off of his property. They stoop to all sorts of levels. They finally push him too far and he ends up getting his form of revenge. This was again a great piece. So far the first was the best but this is a good movie so far.

Wish You Were Here
This is kind of a comedic piece. It follows a down on their luck, couple that finds an ancient chinese figurine that grants three wishes. When wishes are involved it is never a good time for anyone. They wish for fortune, the husband dies. Enid, the wife, believes he was hit by a bus and she wishes him back the way he was just before he was hit. He died of a heart attack just before he was hit, he dies again. She wishes for him to live forever. However, his blood has been replaced by embalming fluid. Now he lives forever in pain. Just goes to show that you can't trust anything that gives you wishes in a horror movie.

Blind Alleys
The last story has to do with a slumlord. The slumlord puts his tenants through hell, he makes drastic cuts to the building to "save money". He starves and freezes his tenants, while he lives in the lap of luxury. When people start dying, the tenants decide to get their revenge. They set the slummy building up like a maze and sick his own starving dogs on him. This story was creepy. I remember watching it as a kid and being really scared of the dogs.

This movie is pretty fantastic. I saw it as a young kid during the eighties, and then hadn't watched it again since then. I decided to pick it up and give it a watch. I didn't dislike it. The movie was creepy and scary. It really did its job. It may be predictable, but it is the creepiest thing from the early seventies.


Who's next? Perhaps... you?

S!D

  • Peter Cushing is said to "act as himself" in this movie: Cushing's wife had died recently and he was very depressed; while Cushing's character is a widower who uses a ouija to talk with his dead wife.
  • Robert Zemeckis has said this is his favorite movie to watch on Halloween since it was released. he later produced a HBO show based off the comic series and directed the first episode, which was also the first story in the movie.
  • Only two stories in this film - "Reflection of Death" and "Blind Alleys" - originally appeared in EC Comics' "Tales from the Crypt." "...And All Through the House" appeared in "The Vault of Horror" and "Poetic Justice" and "Wish You Were Here" both appeared in "The Haunt of Fear."


Monday, October 22, 2012

Phantasm (1979) - Don Coscarelli


Phantasm is a very creative horror movie that draws on original content from director Don Coscarelli. He had such huge ideas that it filled over three hours worth of footage. Much of which is now lost forever, but some has popped up in Director's Cuts of the movie. The film sets it focus on a new antagonist, The Tall Man.


Angus Skrimm portrays the Tall Man, a ghoulish undertaker that is stealing bodies from the local cemetery and creating mindless dwarf zombies out of them. No one in the town knows about this and it is unclear how long it has been going on. However, a young boy witnesses the Tall Man and investigates him, much to his own horror.

This movie has a really good storyline to it and it is one of the main draws of the film. The movie also has some really sweet visuals that were obviously creepy in its day. The tools that the Tall Man utilizes are all creative and astounding. The mystery that surrounds the Tall Man creates an unknown horror around him that surrounds him the entire movie.

The movie is also accompanied by a great creepy soundtrack. It does wonders for the scenes and helps push the story along without sacrificing any of the scary elements. The movie has an unusual ending too, sort of with a twist. I couldn't tell if the movie was ending or not.

All in all, I really liked this movie. I hadn't watched it before and the dated effects didn't even damage the viewing for me. It was a great movie with some really surprising twists. It made me want to watch the other movies in the series. I heard they are horrible, but whatever.

You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die.

S!D

  • The mansion used for the exterior shots of the mausoleum was also seen in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. 
  • The dwarfs were played by children.
  • The copyright date shown during the closing credits of this film says MCMLXXVII (1977) 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Man From Deep River (1972) - Umberto Lenzi

Disgusting. This movie is gross. Man From Deep River, aka Sacrifice!, aka Il paese del sesso selvaggio, aka Deep River Savages is a disgusting cannibal exploitation grind-house film from Italy. This is my first viewing of the genre. It turned my stomach pretty badly. There are senseless scenes of animals meeting their demise in front of the camera. It is like a snuff film based in animalia.

The plot of this piece revolves around a British photographer that is taken in by a tribe somewhere in the jungles of Thailand. He eats monkey brains. Witnesses the mutilation of various animals including Pigs, Alligators, and Snakes. It is only a matter of time before the cannibalism kicks in and the tribe that he is with eats a young woman.

The story moves pretty slowly and is hampered by terrible audio and forgettable shots. For a great deal of the film our main character witnesses animals being killed and then retreats for veracious love making with his tribal bride, then right back to animal cruelty. Its just killing, sex, killing, sex for a good forty minuets of the movie.

If this is any indication of how movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox are going to go then I am going to be sorely disappointed. This movie was trite and too slow moving to really catch an interest. This movie is one of many movies to be banned in the UK and dubbed a Video Nasty by the censorship committee at the time. The movie does feature a large amount of gore. I am usually a pretty big fan of gore but I don't like this movie. It just didn't sit right with me.

I'm a human being, like you! I'm a man, not a fish!  

S!D

  • The film Cannibal Ferox, also directed by Umberto Lenzi, was originally released in Australia as "Woman from Deep River" in order to draw an implied connection with this film.
  • The film is considered to be the first "cannibal film", a sub genre of European exploitation films that was prevalent in Grindhouse cinema in the late seventies and early eighties.
  • Filmed in Bangkok, Thailand

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lord of Illusions (1995) - Clive Barker

At one time during the nineties, directors tried to recreate the film noir style. David Lynch, Alex Proyas, and Clive Barker are the directors that come to mind right off of the bat. They did such good work and helped usher in neo noir. 

Lord of Illusions is based on one of Clive Barkers stories from The Books of Blood, The Last Illusion. This story follows detective Harry D'Amore (Scott Bakula) as he is following the case of a cult created by illusionists Nix and Swan. D'Amore gets mixed up in a world of lust, intrigue, murder, and magic. The cultists and Nix are pretty scary. However, the crude effects take you out of the movie at several occasions. This could actually benefit from a remake, but I don't think its gonna happen. 

Barker does a great job of making this movie a "nod" to the noir films of yesteryear. The heavy shadows and Bakula's tough as nails detective really make for a fantastic combination. The added magic element makes for the right amount of fantasy to offset the real world situations. It does its job and creates a great deal of horror. The visuals are really fun. Cultists trapped in mud. Swan being impaled during one of his "tricks". They were all amazing, they just lacked the substance of really good effects. 

Of all of Clive Barker's work, this one is my third favorite. It is not as good as Hellraiser or Nightbreed, but it is what it is. A Clive Barker psychological horror movie with deep spiritual and paranormal ties. The mix of pain and pleasure is a constant tugging force in his films and this movie is no exception. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the best Scott Bakula movie. 

I was born to murder the world.

S!D
  • The tattoo on D'Amour's back was included only after Scott Bakula researched the character.
  • There is a partially obscured inscription around the ceiling of the Magic Club's Library. In full, it reads "Magic is the oldest trick in the book". 
  • When D'Amour throws Nix down the hole at the end, you can see that the hole is not rock but burlap walled.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) - Eli Craig

Lately there have been some really good satirical horror films. Of course I am talking about Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (which will be from now on known as; TDv.E), and Cabin in the Woods. I am going to start things off by recommending this movie to anyone that likes Cabin in the Woods. Both of these movies take a really huge leap with the genre. This movie particular, is slightly predictable. At least at first. It's smart like that. It leads you on and then switches gears on you and it does it so well. 

Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson did a fantastic job penning this movie. It is so well written and just a fantastic movie all around. I had a great time. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk carried the movie all the way to the very end. They were the best duo, I really want to see something else with them. If this entire team could do another movie I would be a very happy camper. 

The plot is so original. It is a breath of fresh air in a world full of horribly smogged over regurgitated plot lines. The film follows the misconception storyline but goes further with it than you would usually see. It takes your would be villains and quickly establishes them as the heroes. The bumbling teenagers here, are the villains.

The movie is pretty bloody and gory, but it does it in a tasteful and playful way. It is ultimately non-threatening in the way that it is presented. If the movie was viewed from the other perspective, then it would be less light hearted. That is really what makes the movie. This is a buddy comedy movie with huge horror overtones. Great movie. Very funny.


Oh hidy ho officer, we've had a doozy of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property. 

  • A rough cut of the film was leaked which revealed various moments when lines are dubbed and when post-production effects are used. 
  • In the closing credits, the credit for Construction Foreman is misspelled as Construction Forman.
  • The newspaper which Allison and Dale read during the movie's finale, is dated Tuesday, July 15, 1990. In 1990, July 15 fell on a Sunday.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Fog (1980) - John Carpenter

The Fog is really short, both on entertainment and time. The movie feels like it just builds, and builds, and builds. However, nothing is ever really achieved. The antagonist is too vague. You never really know what the antagonist is, zombies, pirates, zombie pirates? There are too many questions that the movie leaves you with. It also feels as if it is rushed, and the run time seems to be a bit short.

The stars are a-plenty in this freak fest. Jamie Lee Curtis makes an appearance, this is during her scream queen era. Also joining the cast are Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, and Halloween III's Tom Atkins. Atkins really made his way around the horror movie circuit in the 80's. He was pretty popular. This is the third movie that I reviewed with Tom Atkins in it. It doesn't fare much better than Halloween III. Creepshow blows this one out of the water. 

The plot of this movie is pretty simple. Really simple in fact. This next paragraph has spoilers. So don't read ahead if you don't want me to ruin the movie. A fog is rolling into town on the anniversary of a crazy battle in which a trove of Pirates were massacred. The Pirates had gold, but it was stolen and made into a giant cross. Now the Pirates are showing up in a fog bank that rolls in around midnight and fades away around one in the morning. To make a short story short, a priest gives the gold back to the Pirate captain. He leaves. That's it. For some reason some of the pirates are just wearing black clothes. Others are actually zombies, but you can't see them. They are too heavily shadowed the entire movie. 

This movie was missing the horror part of the story. Everything else was there, but it was missing a conflict aside from the main one. It was too linear. If the movie had some twists and turns then there might have been a shred of hope. The movie did look pretty. It had some fantastic shots and really well done effects, it was just very vanilla. What happened to John Carpenter? This movie wasn't the best, but it was still shades above Ghosts of Mars. Why did Carpenter fade out. The eighties were definitely his heyday. 

Hey, there's a fog bank out there.

S!D
  • Dr. Phibes, the name of the coroner played by Darwin Joston, is an in-joke reference to Dr. Anton Phibes, the character played by Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
  • Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis, the leads, do not appear together in any scenes.
  • At one point during the movie, Tom Atkins' character mentions Bodega Bay. That is the scene of another horror movie, The Birds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cat People (1942) - Jacques Tourneur



Cat People is an awesome film noir style horror film that has to do with some pretty heavy problems for its day. It was made during World War II, which was a crazy time for America and a crazy time to be making a horror film. The movie has to do with a young girl that believes she comes from this rare race of Serbians that can turn into cats. Not like house cats, but like full grown leopards and the like.

The movie is highly stylized and very uniquely shot. It has some really fantastic scenes that are creative and compelling. I am not a fan of anamorphic movies, films where the main villain turns into an Animal type thing just don't do it for me. However, this movie is very clever about its transformation. The effects are subtle and heavily shadowed to protect the charm of the story. Film noir is a fantastic medium to present these types of movies.

The acting in the movie is very well done Simone Simon does a great job as our helpless anamorphic and Kent Smith does a great job as her beau. They create an amazing chemistry that develops into a jealous love triangle very well. They do a great job of making the story seem believable. Again, the effects are tremendous. Maybe it is the primitive effects that I am used to seeing in black and white movies, but this blows other effects out of the water. The story isn't even horrible. It moves at a great pace and the shadowing makes for awesome mystery.



This is a very good movie and I recommend it whole-heartily. If you are a film student then you would really enjoy this movie. It is really fun to watch the cinematographer at his best. It is also good for casual horror fans, but it might fall short if you are really wanting some blood or guts.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Producer: Val Lewton
Written: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith.Tom Conway. Jane Randolph
Studio: RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
Release Date: December 6, 1942 (New York City)
Country: United States
Did ya know: Original trade reviews appeared Friday the 13 November 1942. This movie was in theaters for ever. It played for so long that reviewers could see it multiple times. The horror movie technique of slowly building tension to a jarring shock which turns out to be something completely harmless and benign became known as a "Lewton bus" after a famous scene in this movie created by producer Val Lewton 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Insidious (2010) - James Wan



Insidious is a creepy haunted house nu-age horror film that plays with the same type of terror that a found footage film would have. The scares are a mix of spooky terror and jump shots, it does a good job holding your interest the entire film. The acting is not the worst, but it does show the limitations that a tight budget would have.

The film is a haunted house type movie in the way that Paranormal Activity is. Very slight almost subliminal terrors await in just about every scene. It sets a really good pace. The source of the evil in the house comes from a comatose young boy that came in contact with the evil first. The movie mixes elements of different inspired stories. One that comes to mind first is the Twilight Zone episode Little Girl Lost. In that episode a young girl is lost in a different dimension. She is pulled back into the real world by her father, who ventures into the dimension to save her. This movie carries a lot of the same elements and uses them out-rightly. It is actually done pretty well.

Aside from the movie looking very cheap, it has a few really good moments that get the hairs on the back of your neck standing straight up. A few times during the movie I found myself holding my breath. Other times I just really wanted to fast forward it. Insidious could have been done a bit better, but it is just as good as expected from James Wan (Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence).

I suggest this movie for anyone that wants to get into the new style of horror. Or if you are just looking for a movie to cozy up with your other too, this is it. It is full of jump scares that will prove a bit of closer holding. Pop some popcorn for this one too. I think that in a few years this movie will be really getting into its own. I hope it doesn't get buried by some of the other trash that is out there now.


Director: James Wan
Country: USA







Did ya know...
The mask Elise puts on to enter the world of dreams is the same as the mask used by the the Sandman, the master of dreams, in the comic book series of the same name, created by Neil Gaiman.When Josh is dismissing his class, director James Wan's name can be seen on the blackboard, underlined twice. The director avoided horror movie cliches specifically while filming.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) - Tod Williams

Like the first movie; Paranormal Activity 2 is a very slow paced horror film, that rewards you for waiting through some really dull scenes. You literally stare at the screen and wait for something to happen, then a chair moves across the floor less than a foot. If you want to see a fast-paced high intensity killer, that chops his victims up and comes back every holiday to kill teenage girls. This movie isn't for you. 

This movie is a prequel to the horror movie hit, Paranormal Activity, that takes place a few months prior to the beginning of that title. The movie deals with the same demon as the first film only this time we get more information on why the demon has attached itself to these girls. In this movie the demon is interested in abducting or killing this families first-born son. The demon constantly harasses the mother in this movie, the sister of our lead from the first movie. There is a ton of paranormal activity, I should say. The movie goes the usual path of sequels, and offers more scare for your buck. In this movie it doesn't feel too over-blown, just yet. 

The feel that this movie, and its brethren illicit are very genuine. I feel actual terror when I am watching these movies. Perhaps it is just that the scares in this movie are ultra-realistic. The directors and writers for these movies work hand-in-hand with some leading paranormal investigators to bring you something that feels very plausible. The scariest thing about "Found Footage" horror movies are that there is always this underlying feeling that this is all real. 

I recommend this and all other Paranormal Activity movies. They are really interesting and if you get scared like me, then you might just have a hard time sleeping after watching it. I can attest to sleeping worse after these movies. Blaming every noise in my apartment on the crazy demon that is attached to me. 

I don't know if the house is haunted, but I hope it is. 

S!D
  • Shipped to theaters under the false name Sharpie '79.
  • Brian De Palma was tapped to direct. 
  • The trailer for this movie had false scenes that it showed to throw off the audience. It was banned in a few states for being too scary. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Poltergeist (1982) - Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist was, at one time a creepy and scary film. I remember watching it, at a young age and being really scared. Throughout the years, the film has lost a great deal of its luster and hasn't held up really well against the more intense horror flicks. That standing, this is a really solid movie about realistic paranormal phenomena that takes its liberties with some of the realistic aspects. Does that make any sense?

Steven Spielberg is notorious for making some really, huge, and overly adventurous movies that feature a good cross section of average American life. This movie is no exception. The main characters are delivered in very average light. They are an average American family that is haunted by this entity throughout numerous movies. Even the students and doctors that survey the entity are average. 

The movies plot deals with an evil ghostly entity that is terrorizing a young girl. It has opened a dimensional gate in her closet and sucked her in. Devastating her family and driving them into a reclusive state. They open their home to a group of students from UC Irvine, that want to play Ghosthunters and bite off a bit more than they can chew. 

This is a fun movie to watch with your friends. Its from the eighties so you have tons to pick-a-part and over analyze. The movie has some pretty funny acting and really dated effects. The gore even seems a bit... well... off. For example there is a scene, pretty famous scene, where a student rips his face apart in the bathroom mirror. This scene is funny because of how horrible it looks. That just about sums the entire movie up.

There is no death. It is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness.

S!D

  • The hands that pull the student's face off are Steven Spielberg's. 
  • The sign at the Holiday Inn reads, Welcome Dr. Fantasy and Friends. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for producer Frank Marshall. 
  • The film was originally given a R rating, but the filmmakers protested successfully and got a PG rating (the PG-13 rating did not exist at the time).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

King of the Zombies (1941) - Jean Yarbrough

King of the Zombies is a horror/comedy from 1941. Boy does it show its time. The entire movie is loaded with racial stereotypes that start to really distract you from enjoying this otherwise mediocre chuckle fest. However, they did get some good jabs and references to Nazi Germany.

Low on fuel and off course, a cargo plane crash-lands while following a strange radio signal. The only inhabitants of the island are a crazy racist German doctor and his "servants". As he calls them. Jeff, one of the crew, stumbles upon zombies in the basement. However, that is only the beginning of this story. This racist German doctor is practicing voodoo!

This movie is the first movie that I have reviewed from the forties. It is interesting that this movie was made while the world was in such a terrible place. I was constantly looking for the mentions of the world outside of the one that the actors had created for themselves. 

That is until the main villain turns out to be a German spy that is holding a United States Admiral hostage. He apparently is trying to extract military secrets from the captured Admiral through voodoo crazy magic! What? We didn't enter the war until December 1941 and this movie was made less than a year before that. However, it is pretty apparent to me that this movie was meant to start motivating the public into buying into the military. Don't mess with America and what-not. Not bad Hollywood. Clever.

Take it easy there woman, I ain't no herring! 
  • Bela Lugosi was tapped to be the villain for the movie. He turned it down. Then Peter Lorre was contacted. He turned it down as well. 
  • The score for this movie was nominated for an Academy Award. This is the only zombie movie to date that has been nominated. 
  • The boom mic is visible in numerous scenes.




Friday, October 12, 2012

Necropolis (1987) - Bruce Hickey

Necropolis is a cheap and forgetful movie from the era that spawned countless amounts of crap. The movie has no substance and is confusing at some points. The cuts are horrible. The movie jumps around too many times. It is hard to keep up with, but it doesn't really matter. The movie doesn't provide you with anything to keep your interest.

This supernatural thriller is about a killer witch that has the power of suggestion. She can literally make people do her bidding just by talking to them. Instead of having them do anything for her though, she just ends up killing them. She also has some powers over zombies? There is a scene with this witch wet-nursing a group of zombies with ectoplasm? Yeah... I don't know what for. Who cares. 

The eighties is littered, literally littered with crap like this. The writer/director Bruce Hickey, never wandered into the horror genre again. This was it. There aren't any scenes that I would recommend. The best I can say is to stay away from this stinker. It is no good.

Try again next time!
  • The film is also known as Necropolis: City of the Dead
  • Empire International Pictures folded in 1989. 
  • This was filmed on location in New Jersey and New York

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Silver Bullet (1985) - Daniel Attias


I hate werewolves. This movie is no exception. The special effects are basic and trite in this adaptation of Stephen King's short story. What's the best part of the movie? Gary Busey of course.

This movie is about Marty (Corey Haim), a young kid that loves fireworks, poker, wrestling, and hanging out with his uncle (Busey). Did I mention that Marty is in a gas powered wheelchair. Strange things have been happening in Marty's small town. People have been dying left and right. There are murmurs of a werewolf, but that is crazy right? Werewolves don't exist! That is until Marty comes in contact with the creature. Now he has to warn everyone before it is too late.

The special effects in the movie are not the best. The transformation scenes are ridiculous and the werewolf himself isn't the scariest looking thing. He is a huge, hairy, humanoid with a blood lust. The eyes are really cool and he is a huge bulking mass of terror. However, he just fails to really connect with me. I can't see the creature as scary. Especially when that werewolf isn't just ripping people to shreds. He is actually using weapons. The werewolf using the baseball bat to kill someone was really stupid.

I wasn't expecting this movie to be fantastic and it doesn't really need to be. It's a Stephen King movie. That should be reason enough. The nostalgia factor sets in when your watching it and you find yourself entranced. You can't switch it off. Everything from the cameos of Terry O'Quinn and Everett McGill, to the cheesy lines spewed by Gary Busey or Corey Haim, keeps you watching. This isn't a good werewolf movie, but this is an awesome eighties flick.

What is it, Bobby? You gonna make lemonade in your pants? 

S!D
  • The film has been panned for not having enough to do with its setting. The movie is set in 1970's New England. However, no one speaks in an accent or mentions anything about the area. You can also see 80's cars driving around in the background. This is a minor gripe to me, but to others it is a big deal. 
  • In the scene right after Marty shoots the werewolf in the eye and rides back to his house, you can very obviously see his legs moving when he climbs from his window to his bed, even though he is supposed to be paralyzed from the waist down.
  • The narrator of the movie claimed that the full moon in 1976 fell on October 31. This incorrect as the moon was just past half on October 31, 1976. They also said that the moon had not set yet and that it was already 3:00 AM. Moon set October 31, 1976 was at 1:42 AM.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The House of the Devil (2009) - Ti West

The House of the Devil is such an intriguing movie right from the beginning. Ti West does a great job of making you feel like you are watching an old VHS.  Remember those days. Walking down to the video store and picking up some creepy looking movie, judged solely by the cover. Those were the days. West does a great job of taking everything that I remember about watching those movies and shoving it into an hour and a half. The soundtrack, the style, the feel... its all from the eighties. 

The House of the Devil is a really cool movie that deserves some attention. Ti West is a new comer to film making that had a lot to prove following his debut flop, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. A follow-up to Eli Roth's awesome Cabin Fever

The plot revolves around a young girl that answers an ad looking for a babysitter, to house sit for the evening. The girl that replies gets the deal of a lifetime. She goes to the house and ends up meeting the weirdest family. They are eccentric and bizarre, but hey, she is offered a ton of money. Why not take the job? Right? 

This movie hits all of the right buttons with me. It has the creepy style that I have come to know and love, since starting the project. When I first watched it, I couldn't stand it. I unfairly wrote the movie off as a straight to video crap fest that would sit on my Netflix queue collecting dust. It wasn't until I sat down and held back those allegations that I really enjoyed the movie. 


The acting is one of the key elements. Tom Noonan, a veteran actor, really sets this movie off. He has everything going for him. He acts like the creepiest person ever. If anything watch this movie just to see his performance. If you want to see who I am talking about, check out the religion episode of the hit comedy show Louie. He does a fantastic job of being a total creep in that as well. 


This is a great nu-horror movie that is turning on a new leaf in the horror genre. Ti West and Eli Roth are only the beginning of a new breed of horror directors that are ready to reshape the field. The horror movie legacy has been tarnished by years of oppression at the hands of the "moral majority". Now it is time for a new face. Time to be scared. Thank you Ti West. 
  • Filmed in Connecticut
  • Filmed on 16mm film to give it that real "retro" style
  • Promotional copies of the DVD were released in a clam shell case, similar to early VHS tapes in the 80's