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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.