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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Shining (1980) - Stanley Kubrick

I have been watching this movie for years. It's one of my favorites. Earlier last year I finally got around to reading the source material. This movie sure takes it's liberties, but why not? It's a fine improvement on the original piece of literature. Although, the book is still fine on it's own. I tend to regard this movie as a separate thing altogether. The subtext that Stanley Kubrick adds is phenomenal. It brings an entirely different element of horror to the movie. An element that just isn't there in the writings. It's creepy and terrifying. Quite a masterpiece. 

A broken family becomes the winter caretakers at a secluded hotel in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This hotel, built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground, is an evil place that is out to haunt and kill it's caretakers. Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, and Danny Lloyd play the family living in the house this winter. Jack succumbs fully to the houses power while his wife and son struggle to survive. 

I had recently watched Room 237 as well and found it to be really interesting. It has me looking really deeply into the movie. I am watching for the underlying Native American influences. Kubrick is a master and this movie shows it. Trying to map this place out is ridiculous. It reminds me of that M.C. Escher picture House of Stairs. Nicholson is astounding as Jack Torrence. His portrayal of a man that has finally come to his breaking point is from another world. Shelly Duvall is the portrait of a female in distress, at least she plays her character to the point of perfection. 

The soundtrack is just as phenomenal and creepy as the visual element too. It conveys the scenes perfectly and alerts you to the presence of the "ghosts" The combination does a strange job of leaving you clambering for a means to the end. Not just that it leaves you with questions. It leaves you with questions that actually formulate a back story for you. The characters give you the feeling that they have always been around before and after this movie ceases. Amazing character development.

The terror is so smart. This isn't just a blood and guts, cut 'em up, slasher picture. This movie takes thirty-five minuets just to pick up steam. It builds so much and pays off in boat loads. It's that old fashioned horror that makes you work for it. It's a classic though and through. Do yourself a favor and see the Shining if you haven't yet. For some reason Stephen King really hates this version, don't be fooled into watching that TV version that he produced. This is the real deal. The cream of the crop.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. 
  •  Because Danny Lloyd was so young and since it was his first acting job, Stanley Kubrick was highly protective of the child. During the shooting of the movie, Lloyd was under the impression that the film he was making was a drama, not a horror movie. In fact, when Wendy carries Danny away while shouting at Jack in the Colorado Lounge, she is actually carrying a life-size dummy so Lloyd would not have to be in the scene. He only realized the truth several years later, when he was shown a heavily edited version of the film. He didn't see the uncut version of the film until he was 17 - eleven years after he'd made it. 
  • Stephen King was first approached by Stanley Kubrick about making a film version of 'The Shining' via an early morning phone call (England is five hours ahead of Maine in time zones). King, suffering from a hangover, shaving and at first thinking one of his kids was injured, was shocked when his wife told him Kubrick was really on the phone. King recalled that the first thing Kubrick did was to immediately start talking about how optimistic ghost stories are, because they suggest that humans survive death. "What about hell?" King asked. Kubrick paused for several moments before finally replying, "I don't believe in hell."
  • Every time Jack talks to a "ghost", there's a mirror in the scene, except in the food locker scene. This is because in the food locker scene he only talks to Grady through the door. We never see Grady in this scene.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

House on Haunted Hill (1959) - William Castle

Every year, during Halloween time, my mother would put The House on Haunted Hill on television. Introduced and starring Vincent Price, Haunted Hill is a Halloween staple. The effects are cheesy and the overly dramatic cast list reads like a Twilight Zone episode. Richard Long, Carol Ohmart, Carolyn Craig, Alan Marshal, Elisha Cook Jr... The cast is full of big names from the late fifties.  The movie played big on the drive-in, date night, style of movie that was popular at the time.

Vincent Price plays Frederick Loren, a bored millionaire that decides to throw a haunted party for a random group of citizens. The party includes a $10,000 prize for anyone that stays though the night. $50,000 in all. Through the night the contestants begin to notice strange goings on. A vat of acid, used to dissolve bodies, sits in the basement ready for a new victim. Voices, Pounding, Walking, Knocking, all of these things are happening. Quickly driving the inhabitants mad. Can they stay the night?

The movie is very campy and obvious. It used to be frightening. However, now it's full of Halloween fun. Easy and safe for even children to view. I wouldn't be surprised if this came on the Disney channel nowadays. The movie harkens back to the early days of horror, using the Old Dark House storyline. A usual for the early days. The scares in the movie are still there. The infamous scene with the skeleton coming out of the acid is the scariest scene. Impressive for it's time, it's a stretch now. Very safe for Halloween parties of all ages.

The movie is fantastic. Such a classic and best to be brought out during a Halloween or Halloween Eve movie parties. The soundtrack, the actors, the storyline, and the sets are all made especially for viewings such as this. It's not a usual Thursday night movie that you can just put on at any time during the week. Rather, a film for a certain season.

"If I were gonna haunt somebody, this would certainly be the house I'd do it in."
  • The large grosses for this film were noticed by Alfred Hitchcock. This led him to create his own low-budget horror film - Psycho.  
  • The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
  • Used a gimmick called "Emergo" in theaters. When the skeleton rises from the acid vat in the film, a lighted plastic skeleton on a wire appeared from a black box next to the screen to swoop over the heads of the audience. The skeleton would then be pulled back into the box as the skeleton in the film is "reeled in". Many theaters soon stopped using this "effect" because when the local boys heard about it, they would bring slingshots to the theater; when the skeleton started its journey, they would pull out their slingshots and fire at it with stones, BBs, ball bearings and whatever else they could find. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dracula (1958) - Terence Fisher

Christopher Lee, much like Bela Lugosi, was born to play these roles. His name will no doubt go down in horror movie history right next to Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lionel Atwill. Thanks mostly in part to the roles that he got during the heyday of Hammer films from Britain. This unique take on Dracula was really interesting. Hammer took the usual Dracula storyline thus-far and updated it a bit. Peter Crushing, Christopher Lee, and Michael Gough do a fantastic job of delivering a masterful performance. All of this cements this film as one of the greatest Dracula movies ever made and it makes for quite a contender against Bela Lugosi's original. 

Jonathan Harker visits Castle Dracula under a ruse to check the Counts accounts while actually plotting to bring the dark lord to death. During his visit he creeps around the castle grounds hunting out the sleeping place of the notorious vampire. However, Dracula as always gets the jump, turning Harker into a vampire thus kick-starting an investigation by Harker's good friend Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, but is it too late? Dracula is already harassing and killing Harker's family and friends. Can Van Helsing stop him!

Like I said above, Peter Crushing and Christopher Lee really steal the show. Their acting alone, is something to behold. The beauty behind this movie is how simple it is. They trade the blood and guts for good, solid storytelling. Beautiful sets and fantastic costume work. The art design behind this movie is something else. It's really good. Everything about what makes this movie a movie is fantastic. The downside is that the movie can kind of lull at some points and yeah, it sounds a little pompous at times. However, the good really outweighs the bad. 

If you haven't witnessed a Hammer Horror picture then I implore you to go seek out this movie. It's a very smart horror movie that you will have to watch to appreciate. Don't go into this movie expecting some vampire erotica or sparkly, twinkly, vampires that can't get their love lives in check. This is a horror feature though and though. It pays a great deal of attention to the original source material by Bram Stoker. Interesting take on Dracula and really good. I recommend it! 

I am Dracula and I welcome you to my house.
  • The cape worn by Christopher Lee was discovered in 2007 in a London costume shop during its annual inventory-taking. It had been missing for 30 years, and is believed to be worth around $50,000 (US$). Lee was contacted to verify its authenticity.
  • One of the most graphic scenes is when the stake is driven into Lucy's heart and the blood spurts out. American producers did an identical shot in color and spliced it into the black and white prints of "Return of Dracula" (1958). "Return of Dracula" (1958) was in general release in the U.S. before this film, retitled "Horror of Dracula" (1958) 
  • In the United States the title was changed to "Horror of Dracula" to avoid confusion with the classic 1931 version (Dracula). This was a real concern since the Bela Lugosi version was still being booked into theaters (through Realart) until the Shock Theatre package of classic Universal horror films was released to television.


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Tobe Hooper

The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is something of beauty. Presented as a low budget slasher movie, this brutal and well planned feature has almost no blood or gore in it. Virtually no blood whatsoever. Instead the terror and fear conveyed is enough to give you nightmares. The implied gore seems to creep up on you a lot more than the actual stuff. The movie kind of lets your mind wonder and take you into places that you really don't want to go. Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow, and Edwin Neil are a terrifying cannibalistic family. Hansen does a masterful job as Leatherface, the infantile psychotic, chainsaw wielding, cannibalistic, man child. A new horror icon ready to terrorize your dreams nightly.

A group of young adults, driving across Texas, are looking for their family home. The group gets sidetracked and stranded after a run in with a very strange hitchhiker. To find help they begin migrating to a strange house in the Texas brush. One by one they fall victim to a family of cannibals that have been grave robbing in the area. The movie is "based on true events" in an effort to boost it's popularity. In actuality the movie is largely fabricated, though some things stem from the the real life Ed Gein.

While brutal and violent. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is actually more tame than most Jean Claude Van Damme movies. However, the overall tone is completely different. While most of the gore is implied you are encouraged to put the pieces together in your mind. Everything culminates during the dinner scene where Marilyn Burns (our heroine) is forced to watch the insanity that is this family, consume what very well might be her friends. It is one of the scariest scenes in horror movies. Hell, the intro scene is scary too. This movie is just plain scary. 

What would you do? This family could all too well be real. The Sawyer clan hides right out in the open. Running a small barbeque joint right off the side of the highway. Probably selling human flesh and parts as food right back to the local Texans. It's easy to see why people would think this movie was actually based on true events. That is the scary part. Just like Hitchcock did before him, Tobe Hooper uses Ed Gein and his exploits as inspiration for the Leatherface character. It's done really well. 

The fear is present throughout the entire movie. Tobe Hooper does such a good job with implying what is actually going on. Surprisingly this movie has very little blood at all. I think Marilyn Burns got it the worst. She was the bloodiest by the end of the movie. It was all just bloody clothes though. With a movie that has Chainsaw Massacre in the title like this to not be a virtual bloodbath and still succeed is something in of itself. It is really truly amazing where your mind will take you. The massacre really happens in your mind. Most of that happens off camera. Sure you get to see the aftermath but hardly the actual act. Genius.
e was pretty scraped up. Her clothes are caked with blood but a movie with

From the opening credits to the final strange dancing scene. This movie is bizarre. The movie's title is intimidating enough to stave off casual viewers. However, for those that are brave enough to venture beyond the DVD sleeve a masterful horror movie awaits. Watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is something that you can check off of your bucket list of movies. Needless to say, I highly recommend it to anyone that's a fan of the genre or anyone that's even mildly interested.

That's the last goddamn hitchhiker I ever pick up.
  • During the dinner scene towards the end of the film, when Leatherface cuts Sally's finger, he actually does cut her finger because they couldn't get the fake blood to come out of the tube behind the blade.
  • A family was actually living in the house that served as the Sawyer family house in the later half of the movie. They rented out their house to the film crew and continued to stay there during the entire shoot. During filming, the crew discovered that one of the residents had been cultivating a marijuana field; fearful that production would be shut down if they were found near the plants, the filmmakers called the Sheriff, who never arrived to investigate.  
  • Leatherface had "lines" in the script that were gibberish with little side notes indicating what he was trying to say.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween (2007) - Rob Zombie

A brutal eulogy to the Halloween empire built on the back of one successful movie in 1978. Rob Zombie takes his unusual style of horror-core to another level with his obvious love for the basis material for his movie. Rob Zombie loves horror movies like Kid Rock loves crap. So you know that when he has the opportunity to shower his movie in blood and guts, that's what you're gonna get. Of course wherever Mr. Zombie goes his entourage of horror icons from yesteryear are right in tow. In addition to the new Laurie Strode, Ms. Scout Taylor-Compton. We also have: Malcom McDowell, Tyler Mane, William Forsythe, Danny Trejo, Bill Mosley, Tom Towels, Brad Dourif, Clint Howard, Richard Lynch, Udo Kier, Dee Wallace, Ken Foree, Mickey Dolenz, Sid Haig, even a Halloween franchise alum Danielle Harris... and of course, with him as always Sheri Moon. 

This all-star cast is shoved into this awkwardly thorough interpretation of the Michael Myers babysitter murders. We delve deep into the background of what made Michael Myers who he is. From childhood all the way until the Michael Myers that we know now. The adult Michael Myers. The movie makes you pitty Michael. He becomes a product of the system and is exploited by Dr. Loomis his psychiatrist. Then we jump into the movie as you know it. Laurie Strode and her friends are brutally murdered at the hands of this psychotic madman. Bent on killing his little sister. 

This remake clocks in at a lengthy 109 minuets and loads you with content. Almost too much all at once. You get so much character development it's practically the only thing running the movie. Rob does like to have his brutality extra bloody and always tries to add in elements of realism to catch the viewer and make them squirm in their seats. He does a great job at it. The knife fight with Big Joe Grizzly is a great example. It makes me weak to watch Michael Myers manhandle this Bear of a man and then slice him up.

Fantastically shot and edited. Of course parts of it look like a music video. In that matter the soundtrack is pretty awesome. Really good music that sets the time in each scene. Dare I say it. I actually liked Rob Zombie's Halloween. Some of the dialogue, well most of the dialogue is horrible. But it more than makes up for it with how scary it is. I like it because Rob Zombie knows just what the perfect horror movie needs and gives it to you. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to say otherwise. 
I heard that on Halloween night, the boogeyman comes out at night and attacks kids. 
  •  Emma Stone auditioned for the role of Laurie Strode.
  • The movie's production was delayed due to the death of Moustapha Akkad, the producer of all 8 previous movies. Akkad died of severe injuries as a result from the terrorist attacks at Jordan in 2005.  
  • The film underwent re-shoots as a result of poor test screenings. These included a new escape for Micheal from the hospital as well as an alternate ending. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) - Wes Craven

This was something else... let me tell you. Just because something is your dream doesn't mean it's going to be amazing. This is Wes Craven's semi-uninhibited version of what he would want Freddy Kruger to be. Although imposing, this Kruger comes off more cartoonish than the version he was trying to avoid. He does have a cool new claw. I have to give it to him for that. Past cast and crew return focused around Heather Langenkamp, Nancy from the original. It also stars of course Robert Englund, Miko Hughes, John Saxon, and Wes himself.

This movie takes place in the "real world" where Heather Langenkamp and other former stars of the Nightmare franchise are being haunted and murdered by a new, Supernatural and ultra-intimidating Demon Freddy. Wes explains it as an ancient entity that was awakened when he filmed the original movie. However, It's driving him to complete his script. To defeat it? Heather's son Dylan seems to be acting as some kind of conduit for the Demon Freddy. Some kind of weird and annoying conduit. Freddy seems to be gunning for Nancy, while the movie warps into an homage to the original. Culminating in a face-off between Nancy and Freddy in the (real?) Dream World?

Craven focuses on the lore behind Freddy Kruger and the "Dream Demon" in this film. The problem is that he doesn't really think out the full scope of his own mythology before putting it down. Throughout the movie we get updates on where Wes is in writing the new script that Heather will be in. It makes me feel like he was writing the movie as it was being filmed and this was his way of showing it. It just doesn't feel well thought out. This Ancient Being or Demon, was awakened when Wes Craven made Nightmare right? So was this Demon just a fan of the series and decide to manifest itself as Freddy? Or was Fred Kruger a "real life" murderer that this Demon attached onto? Who knows.

I also had a problem with how the movie looked. It was cheap. Freddy looked like he was in a big rubber suit most of the time. Heather Langenkamp was annoyingly in distress the entire film. I saw no other emotions in her. There are numerous frustrating scenes with her. Most of them taking place in the hospital. This is definitely something of spin-off quality. I wouldn't highly recommend this movie to anyone. Sorry to say it just feels like most of the movie is a waste of time. Good job making Freddy more menacing I guess.

  • The events in this film revolve around Heather Langenkamp having a stalker. In real life she did have a stalker, and Wes Craven got her permission to weave it into the story.  
  • The large rocket ship used in the park scene went into actor Miko Hughes's backyard after his father bought it. 
  • In the ending credits, Freddy Krueger is credited as himself, even though Robert Englund reprises the role. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Evil Dead (2013) - Fede Alverez

Okay, so this movie is really hard for me to put into words. When I first heard about the possibility of there being another addition to the Evil Dead franchise. I couldn't wait. I wanted to see it ASAP. When I found out that it was going to be a remake I was pretty disturbed. How could someone come in and trample all over what Sam Raimi had done? Then after seeing it and hearing all of the background. I realized that Evil Dead was amazing. It was really good. Not a remake in itself but a more of a re-quel. A remake and a sequel. This movie acts as a reboot for the series but it is also officially Evil Dead 4.

David, Eric, Mia, Olivia, and Natalie all travel to a cabin out in the woods to help Mia kick her habits. While at this mysterious cabin they run into the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis aka. The Book of the Dead. While Mia goes through withdrawals the young adults unknowingly unleash demons. Blood thirsty demons that like to play deadly games. The plot points remain the same as the original but the characters are different. Everything else has been updated including the gore, which is pretty gruesome.

This movie makes great use of duct tape. It's in nearly every scene. These little details are littered throughout the movie. It's chalk full of Easter eggs that pay homage to the classic. The acting isn't horrible and the changes that are made are just fine. The filmmaker knows just what the audience is thinking and leaves you wondering how this actually fits into the Deadite spectrum. Is Ash Williams still out there? Somewhere? In a cave? Maybe.

I can stomach most of the new characters. Except for Jessica Lucas her character was a B. The new main character, Mia, is pretty interesting. She is a drug addict who becomes possessed by the Deadites after she falls victim to the woods. You know what I mean. Eric, the dorky blonde guy that acts as a human pincushion and punching bag. I felt bad for him. A good deal of the movie felt like the Passion of Eric. The other characters play out roles like the ones in the prior films.

I loved this movie. I went into it totally against it. However, early in I thawed. I watched it for the first time at a drive-in. They don't have many of those anymore. Even there, the movie was terrifying. Great update and really intriguing. I highly recommend.

Director: Fede Alverez
Starring: Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Shiloh Fernandez, Bruce Campbell
Country: USA
Style: Demonic Possession Survival Horror

Did ya know...
If you take the first letters of the main characters David, Eric, Mia, Olivia and Natalie, the letters spell out DEMON.
In the scene where the broken necklace is found outside of the cabin, it can be seen resting in the shape of a skull, just like in the original.
Mia is seen sitting on THE 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 in the beginning of the movie.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) - Charles B. Pierce

The Town That Dreaded Sundown isn't bad, but it isn't amazing either. It's presented as a quasi-documentary with a narrator describing key events as they happen in the film. The soundtrack and the narration really throw off the creepy vibe. However, the fact that this is based on a true story is really interesting and makes this worth the watch. 

A hooded brute is stalking the young people in a small Texas town and savagely murdering them. The film revolves around the efforts of the police in the area and an expert ranger to apprehend this serial killer. As they begin the largest manhunt in Texas history. Their suspect alludes them at every turn. Becoming an enigma and earning the title of the Phantom Slayer.

Made in 1976, Sundown was a big influence on the slasher genre. Stupid teens in love, necking over at "The Point" The Phantom Slayer looked to be a big part of who Jason Voorhees was supposed to look like in Friday the 13th: Part 2. I feel like this movie had a huge impact on the horror society and it was vastly overlooked. Yeah the movie is dated but things were scarier back then. Aside form the soundtrack and narration you have a really solid horror movie here. That is, all the way up until the end. What a cop-out.

I liked the movie and I can't wait for the remake to come out. If anything it will be a nice upgrade to a movie that needs it. This one was really well paced, but the ending and the overall vibe killed the creepy qualities. The scenes with the Phantom are great. Really suspenseful. Then it's killed with narration that's too loud or a soundtrack that doesn't make sense. I recommend this movie for Halloween playlists all around. It's perfect to play in the background while beer pong is going on.

"Texarkana looked normal during the daylight hours. But everyone dreaded sundown..."
  • Based on the real-life string of mysterious killings that terrorized the people of Texarkana, Texas, in 1946. The murder spree became known as the "Texarkana Moonlight Murders" and ultimately would claim five lives and injure many others. The only description of the killer ever obtained was of a hooded man. To this day no one has been convicted and these murders remain unsolved.
  • A remake is being developed by Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is to direct from a script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Addison Timlin will play the lead role.
  • According to the interview with Andrew Prine on the Region 1 Shout! Factory release, Prine had to write the ending for the movie because the script didn't have an ending.   

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Death Proof (2007) - Quentin Tarantino

Death Proof
Year: 2007
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Style: Grindhouse Revival

I know, I know... Sid, what the hell are you doing? Death Proof isn't a horror movie. It's an action thriller at best! Screw that. Quentin Tarantino does a great job of taking a simple car-chase movie and adding the creepy elements. This isn't just about slick muscle cars tearing up the asphalt. This isn't just a movie about girls out on a simple road-trip. It's much more complicated than that. This movie definitely gets your blood pumping. 

Kurt Russell does a masterful job of being the psychopathic serial murderer Stuntman Mike that stalks young girls and runs them down viciously in his stunt cars. We watch Stuntman Mike stalking two sets of girls who seem fairly similar. Jungle Julia, a local radio jockey, and her crew along with Rose McGowan are the first set of victims. Then we have the stunt-women. After being stalked by Mike, these tough chicks are eventually confronted. Stuntman Mike and his beautiful 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 500 decides to take to the road against their 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. The latter being the exact car from Vanishing Point. The two trade more than just paint as Stuntman Mike makes sure the girls get the idea that he is out to kill them! 

I really like this movie for the obvious. It has been years since a movie had a decent car chase. This movie does it so well. The speed, the rush, the feel. It's so exhilarating. Nothing like watching a well put together chase scene. The movie is pretty weak on the gore scale. You get a few really nasty scenes when Stuntman Mike uses his car as his weapon. Other than that the scares come across really slowly. It creeps up on you. I also really like the Tarantino element. This movie takes place in the same world as Planet Terror (it's sister movie), Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn, and to a lesser extent Machete. A world where everyone is witty and talks really fast. An ultra-violent world where the gun knows best. For some people it's too much. For me it's just right.  

Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Rose McGowan, and Michael Parks are just some of the names in this action packed horror. I highly recommend it to any Tarantino fans. If you love his movies then this will fit right in there. If you want car chases, this movie is for you. Do you miss movies like Bullet? Then pick up Death Proof! 

"Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn't a lie. This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you REALLY need to be sitting in my seat."
  • The film was physically scratched to achieve its dirty look, rather than digitally scratch the film footage.
  • The original name for this film, which pops up for about a frame, is "Quentin Tarantino's Thunder Bolt".
  • In an interview, Quentin Tarantino said that the version of "Down in Mexico" heard in 'Death Proof' was likely the rarest recording in his entire collection. When he was working at a stag theater in his teens, he showed the record to the projectionist, another record collector, who immediately pointed out the words "Newly Recorded" on the record's label. Tarantino said this version soon became one of his favorite tracks of all time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Night of the Creeps (1986) - Frank Dekker

I have to give it to Frank Dekker. He was really ambitious with his project Night of the Creeps. It felt like he wanted to do so much and pack it into an hour and a half. Maybe a little too ambitious. Creeps has a lot of problems. So many grey areas. I found myself asking "Why did that happen?" more often than not during the movie. I know it's just an eighties schlock piece, but come on! You have to pay more attention to continuity. I am still scratching my head at some parts. 

The movie is about these strange parasitic slugs from space that lay eggs in your brain. Who crash land on earth back in 1959. The first victims are a young couple who were necking out at the point. (always a couple necking at the point) During this time a Psycho Ax Murderer is also wandering the streets. Needless to say. While our hero "Johnny" (Always Johnny!) goes into the woods and gets infected, leaving his girlfriend to be chopped up by the killer. While the alien eggs are incubating you walk around like a zombie, even if your dead. Cut to 1986, Chris and J.C. aren't the coolest kids on the block. When the two get mixed up in a Frat pledge prank, they mistakenly unleash the slugs. Now they have to exterminate these bugs with extreme prejudice. 

The movie is pretty decently cast for the eighties. Tom Atkins stars as the grizzled detective that was there that night in '59 and is ready for the Creeps in 1986. Jason Lively, Jill Whitlow, and even a young David Paymer round out some of the starring roles as young college students at Corman University. The acting leaves a lot to be desired. However, the special effects are really cool. I love the comic book ascetic. It is done really well... so well that I think Frank Dekker might have sacrificed the storyline and continuity for it. Making this movie nothing more than fodder.

The continuity is a real problem. I am not talking about a clock that says one time in one shot and then immediately another time with the next. No, this is more than that. The continuity problems are almost Uwe Boll worthy. There needs to be more explanation as to what is going on in the movie. I don't know how half of the characters were infected in the first place. There is a scene where a person is holding a shotgun and then all of a sudden a flame thrower... It's a problem. 

Overall, I like the movie. It's not the best film but it has it's moments. If your a fan of Tom Atkins then I would suggest checking this out. If you don't look too far into it, then you will see that the movie is actually really fun. It has some funny moments. Is it scary? No. It's too comic bookie to be scary. 
"Thrill Me"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maniac (2012) - Franck Khalfoun

Maniac is a remake of the 80's cult classic. This one is brought to us from Alexandre Aja and Franck Khalfoun, the point of this remake is to make you feel like you are actually committing these crimes. An effect that works, really, really well. At times it's nauseating to watch. Elijah Wood does a masterful job of being extremely creepy. He does justice to the Frank Zito name. 

Frank Zito, is in mannequin restoration. He lives and works out of his family's shop in downtown Los Angeles. Zito has some extracurricular activities that include stalking young women, getting alone with them, then killing them. Ultimately, Frank would end up cutting the scalps off of these women and staples them to his personal collection of mannequins.

The movie delves deep into the mind of a psychotic. What would you expect from a movie that's exclusively shot from the killers perspective. The psychology behind the characters is all really well thought out. You get to see what makes a psycho killer like Frank Zito tick. It's a rare look into the brain of a killer. This movie explains a lot more of the Serial Killer mentality than Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

When I found out that Alexandre Aja was producing I knew that it would be a decent piece. Aja is responsible for movies like High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, and P2. I knew that this remake was in good hands. Using Elijah Wood was a good choice too. He is on the cusp of indie cult actor so he fits really well.

I liked this movie about as much as you could like it. I don't think I will be viewing it again. However, I suggest this movie to people that want to see a little bit more. If you're tired of watching the same old, same old. Then this movie is for you. Just be warned... it's pretty graphic. 

"You are totally not what imagined."

  • The movie features the song "Good-bye Horses," by Q. Lazzarus. The song was also featured in The Silence of the Lambs, another movie about a serial killer who skinned people and had issues with his mother.  
  • We don't see Frank's face until 12 minutes into the film.
  • Body count: 9

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lake Placid (1999) - Steve Minor

When I was growing up Lake Placid was an awesome movie. It was horror enough, that it had decapitations and mild mutilations. However, it had always felt like family friendly gore. It's the kind of movie that had all of that stuff but wasn't really scary at all. Those scenes just passed by like nothing usually. Sometimes they were funny. When the deputy's head is eaten, most people are laughing at the reactions. Yeah, the characters are scared but it's all in good fun. Right?

Lake Placid is about a thirty foot crocodile that wreaks havoc on a small town in Maine. It eats a few people, a moose, and even a bear. Oliver Platt, Bill Pullman, and Bridget Fonda are the main characters in a group that is trying to figure out how to capture the Croc. Bill Pullman wants to kill it, Oliver Platt wants to study it, and Bridget Fonda wants to protect it. Then we have Betty White that wants to love it. She lives on the lake and seems to be taking care of it. That's about it.
The movie itself is following on the short-lived, giant monster phase of the 90's. Movies like Eight Legged Freaks, Ticks, Mosquito,and Bats were a dime a dozen. None of them really stand above the others. They all feel plagued by the cheapness that surrounds the genre. Most of them get so lost in the comedy aspect you can't even come back around. Lake Placid doesn't do that quite to the extent that the others do. Oliver Platt and Betty White are there for the yucks, it's no secret. Alternatively Bill Pullman acts as the heavy and makes it work. Whereas Fonda acts as the heroine and doesn't do it so well. Her character feels forced and unbelievable.

I loved the movie. It hadn't seen it in years and feared that it would suffer the same fate as the GI Joe cartoon and He-Man. It didn't. The jokes still rang true after all these years. Betty White was great. Like she always WAS. This was years before the big Betty White boom that exploded into Hot in Cleveland.

If you haven't seen this movie. It is worth checking out. I think it was the last decent thing that Oliver Platt was in. Am I correct with that? This movie is fun for parties. Tons of stuff to comment on and laugh at. Is it scary... no. 
"I'm rooting for the crocodile. I hope he swallows your friends whole."
  • In the hospital, someone can be heard paging Mr. Miner in the background. Lake Placid was directed by Steve Miner
  • Betty White's character is told that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would be interested to learn of her alleged mistreatment of her cows. In reality, Betty White is a major on-air spokesperson for PETA.  
  • Three sequels follow the film Lake Placid. All are television/Syfy films and were not as successful as the original.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Feast (2005) - John Gulager

Feast is a horror movie reject piece, produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Wes Craven through a short-lived bad idea, called Project Greenlight. The movie is a slapstick comedy/horror combo with some sort of All-Star cast. Henry Rollins, Judah Friedlander, Balthazar Getty, Duane Whitaker, and Jason Mewes are just to name a few. The movie is highly stylized and overly comedic. I think it was too much.

Bozo, Beer Guy, Hot Wheels, Edgy Cat, Tuffy, Grandma, Bartender, and Boss Man all frequent this bar out in the middle of nowhere. A few out of towners are in tonight, drinking and having fun, when a Hero and Heroine both come into the bar warning about a coming force of weird, deadly creatures. The rest of the night the group in the bar is holding up and trying to fight back against the monsters. All the while not ripping each other apart. These are all horrible people. No one that you can identify with. The Heroes are all boring and typical. 

The comedy is the problem here. This movie can't be taken seriously, even for a second. Shawn of the Dead did slapstick comedy/horror with class. This movie is really nothing but dick and fart jokes. It's dumb teenage humor that doesn't stick. It detracts from making this a good movie. If they left out the stupid jokes then this would be a solid horror submission. However, it is nothing more than an excuse to cash in on a few bucks. 

The gore is a plenty. You would almost expect it. Don't think this is a gore-porn or anything like that. Sure this movie has a ton of really disgusting scenes that just don't need to be put onto celluloid. However, they did use a lot of maggots. The action is really horrible. It made me motion sick. Just like in Transformers, I couldn't tell what was going on. I didn't know who was fighting who or what was happening. It felt like everything was so stylized and so "uber-cool" looking that the constant use of jump shots, confuses the viewers. I was. I still am. 

I say skip this one and watch something worth while. Jeepers Creepers was more entertaining than this nonsense and I didn't really like Jeepers Creepers. Check this movie out if you absolutely must. 

  • The role of Hero was offered to Mark Wahlberg, but he turned it down. Josh Duhamel was also interested but forced to drop out for scheduling conflicts.
  • One of several films that Harvey and Bob Weinstein took to their new production company, the Weinstein Co., after their separation from Miramax/Dimension Films in early 2005.
  • The original script for the film included a lot more action spots, but producers decided they had to be cut to fit the budget.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dawn of the Dead (1978) - George Romero

In Dawn of the Dead, a direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead, we get a better look at what humanity is going through during the Zombie Apocalypse. George Romero had the audience looking through a microscope with Night of... while with this feature we get a telescope. The Zombie Apocalypse is now showcased in full scale. This is the reason for the success of this movie. It gives you so much more. The whole reason people see zombie movies is to be spoon fed destruction and this movie has a whole hell of a lot of destruction.

Four people take refuge in an abandoned mall while the world falls apart around them. The United States has apparently enacted Martial Law and roving hordes of rednecks and psycho bikers are migrating about cleaning out the zombies and looting all they can. The four people, Flyboy, Peter, Roger, and Francine make the mall their home. Everything's great. That is until boredom and stupidity step in. Flyboy makes some of the most palm to face decisions of the whole movie.

The acting is not the greatest. Some scenes really don't make any scenes at all. I'm looking at you Blood Pressure scene. Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger have a great buddy-cop thing going on and they are the most interesting characters. I like, early in the film, when the two veteran warriors have to school Flyboy on just how stupid he is. Sorry, I didn't like that character. Although, later in the film he has some pretty redeeming scenes. The music in this movie was done by our friends Goblin under the direction of Dario Argento and actually this time the music was pretty spot on. Not like in Deep Red.

I really liked this movie, mostly for the wide scale aspect. The mall is such a great place to hide out too. Especially when you're faced with the best zombies. Slow moving ones. Tom Savini goes nuts in this movie with the gore. He really has a grand time with it. So many scenes with outrageous and original gory killings. In many ways this movie is the ultimate zombie film. It's like a zombie opera, I should say. Quite an amazing and fantastic piece of film from the zombie Godfather George Romero. I highly recommend this movie to anyone that actually want;s to take the time to sit down and watch a quality picture like this. .

"Every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills! The people it kills get up and kill!"

  • In addition to the lead biker Blades, Tom Savini plays the zombie who breaks window of the truck and is shot by Roger with a revolver. This scene leaves a bloody smear on the windshield, the effect was created by Savini throwing himself on the non-moving truck and spitting a mouthful of blood on the windshield. 
  • The skating rink shown in the film was part of the Monroeville Mall. It has since been replaced by a food court.  
  • Extras who appeared in this film were reportedly given $20 in cash, a box lunch, and a Dawn of the Dead T-shirt. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Wicker Man (1973) - Robin Hardy

The Wickerman was amazing. I really liked it. I watched it earlier and let it soak in. This was my first viewing and instantly noticed that Hot Fuzz was based on this film. Or at least in part. The movie revolves around religion pitting Christianity, Anglican Christianity against the "Old Gods." Horror movie icon Christopher Lee and veteran actor Edward Woodward star in this. They put in a great performance each. Especially Christopher Lee, his character is haunting.

The movie is about a Sergent Howie, that comes to the island of Summerisle to find a missing girl. While investigating her disappearance he begins to see the evil underlinings of the island. Suspicious inhabitants have him running in a circle. Things get even weirder when Howie meets the pagan leader of the island Lord Summerisle. The adults on the island are teaching their students about very inappropriate topics. Some children dance nude throughout the main town. However, the island is facing huge problems. Crops aren't growing. The inhabitants of the island have all been brain-washed. Lord Summerisle would eventually disclose that his great-grandfather had experimented with exotic fruits and vegetables here. However, during the recent times the ground had rejected it. Lord Summerisle believes that human sacrifice will appease the gods and bring the crops back. 

When I first started watching I wasn't expecting much. I was half-expecting to see a poorly acted b-movie and was presently surprised with the outcome. The acting is mediocre but it's nothing to hold against it. The screenplay and direction are enough to overpower the acting. It isn't horrible. It's just not the best. The religious aspect is actually fantastic. It draws faith into question. Look at what all of these people do in the name of Faith.

I had a great time watching this movie and I think you will too. It's great to watch when you can't figure out what to put in. The overall creepiness of the movie keeps it scary. No real grotesque scenes of gore and guts. No jump scares. Just a really creepy vibe that holds strong throughout. Beginning to end. Go find this movie if you haven't seen it yet and enjoy. I know you will.

"Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not NEARLY as effective as the right kind of adult." 
  • The negative and the outtakes of the film were stored at the vault in Shepperton studios. When it was bought, the new owner gave the order to clear the vault to get rid of all the old stuff. Foolishly, the vault manager put the negatives, which just arrived from the lab, with the ones which were to be destroyed.
  • Christopher Lee agreed to appear in this film for free. 
  • Although the film is set in Scottish territory and all the characters are meant to be of Scottish nationality, all five of of the leading cast are not Scottish: Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward are English, Diane Cilento is Australian, Ingrid Pitt is Polish and Britt Ekland is Swedish.  


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Vagarant (1992) - Chris Walas

This ugly, straight to cinemax, black horror comedy. Stars Bill Paxton and Michael Ironside in mediocre performances. This was really hard for me to find. During the time of this review, I had not seen the movie since I was thirteen or so. I was really young. I remember a lot from it. Some images have danced through my mind for the past fifteen years or so. I would search for it online and come up with nothing. Then BAM! right out of nowhere it pops up on YouTube and came out on Blu Ray in August. Wow.

The Vagarant features Paxton as a jerk, yuppie that becomes obsessed with a strange homeless man that constantly invades his home. Almost instantly bad things start happening. People start turning up dead and Paxton is the lead perpetrator. He has no case when it turns out that he is a sleep walker and now apparently sleep killer. Michael Ironside does his usual heavy man work. No problems there. The movie is hokey and silly. Too silly at some points. It should stop that. However, the movie has a unique storyline that sort of draws interest.

The movie is poorly made but on the high side of poorly. The scary scenes are actually really creepy and some of the comedy scenes are funny. This is just one of those highly predictable movies. You know whats coming at every turn. For once I would like to see a movie with believable dialogue. Most of the effects are stylized and exaggerated. The homeless guy in this movie looks extra crispy and covered in some sort of slime. Just look at the art direction! Contrary to the movie poster this is not a movie about a leprechaun.

I thought that this movie was... Okay. It has blood and guts. It shows mutilated body parts and showcases a serial killer at play. That's all fine and good. The underlying plot isn't horrid. It's just incredibly cheap and predictable. The parody of the middle American yuppy life aspect saves it a lot but not much. Be wary that it might get boring. I think I loved watching it for the nostalgia factor. 

  • The SWAT raid scene took three days and 1500 bullet hits to set up. All of which were fired in less than one minute, resulting in less than 10 seconds of on-screen time. 
  • Shot in 45 days.  
  • Richard Jefferies based the character of the Vagrant on an actual homeless person who lived in a vacant field located across from a guest house Jefferies was residing at in Studio City, California at the time. Moreover, the script Jefferies wrote took almost ten years to finally be made into a film. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ticks (1993) - Tony Randall

Ticks is a low-budget, sci-fi, monster movie that had buckets of guts and gore. It starred a really young Seth Green among some big names like Clint Howard and the one and only, Carlton himself Alfonso Ribeiro. It is really cheaply made, but holds up well as a Cult Classic. 

Seth Green and Carlton are members of an inner-city youth program with three other "teens". They are escorted on a camping trip to Big Bear where giant ticks, unintentionally mutated from marijuana growers, attack the group. These ticks are especially nasty. They can bite you, releasing venom making their hosts, trip balls. The ticks also infest their victims, filling their body cavity with other monster arachnids. It doesn't help that the kids are angsty and virtually out of control. It also doesn't help that the "adults" chaperoning, are dicks and have secret motives. Oh, and it also doesn't help that racist, redneck weirdos are running around terrorizing the kids.

I remember watching this movie when I was about fourteen on Sci-Fi Channel... Yup, they used to call it Sci-Fi. The production is actually better than current movies that they show on SyFy, The giant mutated bugs, giant being the size of a baseball and later the size of a lazy-boy. Chow down on their victims quite viciously. These scenes are all gory but not scary. The movie is too laughable to be scary. 

I recommend this movie to anyone that wants to see Carlton say "fuck" and use a switch-blade. It's actually entertaining and worked as one of my 31 Movies of Halloween. Don't watch this movie and expect an Oscar worthy film. No. Just get drunk and make fun of this one with some friends. You won't have a bad time. 

Director: Tony Randall
Country: USA

Did ya know...
"I've killed about as many people as you've boned." Seth Green poked fun at the film during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1999. During a Q&A at Dragon*Con in 2008, Ami Dolenz said that one of her main memories of making the film is the fake blood, which would stick to her skin and hair. David Gale had originally been cast as the heavy, but died a year before production started.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Serbian Film (2010) - Srdjan Spasojevic

In the same vein as Human Centipede this vile and disgusting horror movie from Serbia acts more as the comedians joke, The Aristocrats, than an actual film that I could get into. However, this movie has one redeeming quality. Under all of the filth, and necrophilia, and rape, and incest, and depression, and brutality, and gore, and porn. Under all of that filth is actually a watchable movie that doesn't seem all that different from 9mm. It could even be argued that this movie is far superior to 9mm. For one the movie doesn't have Nicholas Cage. I wonder what it would be like if it did? Huhh... 

If you're still with me after that introduction then I guess I should put it into context a bit, right? A retired hardcore porn star named Milos, decides to give it one more try after fretting over being able to provide for his wife and child. He takes a strange gig from one of the most shady characters ever put to film. I still don't know why he accepted. He could of kept looking around. Anyway, one thing leads to another and he ends up doing all sorts of really messed up stuff on camera. This gig introduces him to a world of hardcore reality snuff that pits him in a game he doesn't want to play. The overtones seem to be; stay the hell out of Serbia if your looking for a good time. 

Critics online smother the movie with gore-porn accusations that I feel are pretty just. Some of the content was so elaborate and over-the-top that it actually boiled over from being hard to watch, to just a bizarre gimmick of putting whatever you can in front of the camera. Yes, there really is a baby raping scene. A newborn in fact. This scene is a great example of what I am talking about. This film didn't really need to have that scene at all. There was no need for that whatsoever. It was just gimmicky and came off as gore porn. If you come into this movie expecting gore porn then you will not be dissatisfied. Remarkably, you might just like this movie if you weren't looking for gore porn too. I actually found this movie to be easier to watch than Human Centipede

The movie itself is pretty good. Not really good. It has it's problems. The story-line is pretty two-dimensional and takes a few cheap twists and turns. Without the gore and gruesome footage this movie could be a solid straight to video release. Srđan Todorović (yeah that was a cut and paste) did a great job of playing Milos. He was great the whole movie. I really felt for him. The pacing dragged a little bit during a few scenes and felt rushed during others. Overall, I think Srdjan did a great job. It looks and sounds beautiful. Really well put together. I didn't really like the ending. I am not going to ruin it for anyone but the ending felt like a cop-out. I really don't like endings like that. However, even with my dislike for the ending they did a good job of being consistent throughout and delivered a great product.

Director: Srdjan Spasojevic
Country: Serbia
Style: Shock Porn

Did ya know...

The film was shot in sixty-one days, on location in Belgrade. It was banned in Norway. It now sits beside Ichi the Killer and Grotesque. The film was banned in Brazil as well. But in America, it's all right.