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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Grotesque (1988) - Joe Tornatore

This movie is an overloaded, low-budget, slasher. Full of cartoonish characters that fall flat and boring. I had hoped for a nice low budget feature, but only received a pointless and out-of-touch, made for TV quality, picture. Linda Blair is more adjacent to Reba McEntire, in appearance, in this film than the Scream Queen is herself. Does that make sense?

The film surrounds the Krueger family. The father Orville Krueger is a Special Effects Artist and wants to "...take a break from Hollywood..." and go out to the family home in deep in the woods. Presumably near Big Bear, CA, since that's where it was filmed. The film focuses on Lisa Krueger and her friend who are driving to the family home. They come upon the most pathetically exaggerated caricatures of evil gutter Punks. The girls refuse the Punks help with car-trouble and this presumably starts off a chain of events that ends up as nothing but pointless drivel. Something about a monster-man thing, the snow, some lame deaths, and a horrible plot. 

The film takes so many different paths, that it becomes hard to determine who you are supposed to get behind. The acting is a special kind of bad. The worst part is that someone had actually put some money into this horrible plot. It felt as though it were being written as it was moving on. Characters came and went so quickly. It was watered down. It was hard to swallow. It was not good. I usually don't bash on movies like this but this one was bad. 

It had left me thinking that an hour and a half were too much. I cant recommend this movie to anyone. I will have to say, pass on this movie unless you want to be disappointed. The ending is the most horrific part of the movie. It's just really awful. Poor show. 

Director: Joe Tornatore
Country: USA
Style: Horrific Slasher Comedy

Did ya know...
Linda Blair once stated in an interview with Fangoria magazine that the original title of the film wasn't as exploitive, and as associate producer, she could have sued to fight the change, but it would have ended up costing her more money than she got out of the whole project.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Growth (2010) - Gabriel Cowan

Growth is an un-watchable and overly CGI'ed snooze-fest that doesn't make sense and does a bad job of telling a story. The film's quality equals that of a SyFy original. The film unoriginal and uninspired. I am pretty sure they had reused models from the film Dreamcatcher. At least they were heavily influenced by the aliens in that film. This movie is worth skipping. It's not an amazing feat and is just another nu-horror feature that will get lost in network programming. 

The film is about an island that houses a strange type of genetically modified worm-things? They had an outbreak in the past and thought they had the worms under control. But they didn't. Some random's arrive to the island and it is unclear who the main character is. They spend a good amount of time building relationships with characters that end up being irrelevant. They find out that these strange worm things inhabit peoples bodies and gives them enhanced senses, invulnerability, super strength, and super-speed. It isn't until late in the film that we figure out who the main characters are. It's pretty abysmal. 

Somehow this movie apparently had over 150 CGI 3D shots. It might have been great in the theater with those stupid glasses on your face. However, in your home. On your screen. This movie looks like garbage. I am talking Uwe Boll, House of the Dead bad. Someone gave these guys $300,000 to make this! 

I don't recommend this movie to anyone. Just skip it. It's not fantastic. It's not memorable. It's just another modern filler picture. Just filling space. You can watch a similar movie that is actually fantastic if you check out Slither. It's funny and gory, it has a good story and good actors. It's not this. 

Director: Gabriel Cowan
Country: USA
Style: Monster Infestation Horror

Did ya know...  
This was filmed in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. They even used some Red One Cameras! 

Chamber of Horrors (1940) - Norman Lee

Otherwise known as The Door with Seven Locks, this low budget but mildly entertaining feature is a surprising treat for those that can stay interested. It stars Edgar Wallace, Leslie Banks, and the lovely Lili Palmer. The film takes queues from other horror movies of it's time but adds intrigue and mystery. 

The film is about a rich loony that dies and is buried with his riches in an elaborate tomb. The only way to enter the tomb is with seven keys that had been deposited all over the place. Various members of the family try to gain access to the tomb, but they are unsuccessful. That is until Judy Lansdowne from Canada shows up and starts sticking her nose in the case.

The horror element is very mild. It does however feature a few really creepy scenes, The fright tends to just come from the unknown in this piece. It has a lot of flaws. The film crawls and the acting is piercing. Edgar Wallace and Lili Palmer turn in the best performances. 

I recommend this movie to hardcore classic horror fans. They will really appreciate the mystery and general horror in this piece. It will come off as boring and tedious to the casual fan. It's a good movie just a chore to get through. 

Director: Norman Lee
Country: England
Style: Mystery and Suspense Horror

Did ya know...
Edgar Wallace reprises his role as a rich eccentric baron. Just like in the film The Most Dangerous Game.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) - Herschell Gordon Lewis

This movie feels like Twilight Zone completely let loose. It has gore. It has horrible acting. But more importantly, it actually has a decent story line. Albeit a bit thin. It was the movie that ushered in the Splatter genre of horror films and it cements itself in the grind house archive forever. This was a fun ride from start to finish. I can even forgive the incredibly annoying and horribly long banjo introduction.

The film is about a town in the deepest south of America. A town that celebrates tradition in the most gruesome of ways. On the town's centennial they held a large event to lure in travelers from the north (Yankees). Their goal is to capture some unsuspecting travelers and murder them in honor of The South. The Yankees were wined and dined. They were given a place to stay and treated like kings. That is until their deaths. Some of the group gets wise but most meet their demise. 

The ending was really smart and it carried the movie. It kind of surprised me while I was watching it. It definitely elevated my liking of the movie. Not that this is a great movie. By no stretch of the imagination is this a masterpiece. However, it serves as a fine film for what it is. Aside from the twist ending, the story was the other successful element. For being so low budget it actually got the story across really well. The acting was the main downfall. It is terrible. That and the horrible over dubbing. Oh, I almost forgot. That damn banjo.

This movie is a gritty and messy splatter film. A film that features an obscene amount of blood. Nearly tame by today's standards. It has mutilation and cannibalism. Torture and even a guy getting ripped apart by horses. It doesn't disappoint there. I recommend this movie to anyone that wants a good movie playing in the background of their party. Just mute it and you have perfect kitchy, artistic, horror. 

Country: USA

Did ya know...
Many of the buildings from this movie, including the Hunter Arms Hotel where a large portion of it was filmed, still exist in downtown St. Cloud, Florida.
This movie was shot on a location now owned by Walt Disney World.
The town of St. Cloud helped in the production.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Don't Go In The House (1980) - Joseph Ellison

This movie really pushes some limits. It came out in 1980 and earned itself a spot in the infamous Video Nasties group. This film has shades of Psycho and a great deal of graphic content ready to keep you up for the next few nights. The quality may be crap but the product is oh so good. Don't Go in the House is a quality horror movie.

The plot revolves around Donald "Donny" Kohler. A weak man with a mental condition, that likes to find women and torture them with a flamethrower. This is a response to his horrific upbringing. He keeps the corpses of the women that he kills in his home. He finds comfort in them and dresses them up and talks to them. His emotions change over the course of the picture and he starts to become more and more abusive to the corpses. It's strange but in a good way. 

This movie doesn't tend to pull any punches. The torching scenes are really graphic and intense. It's an overlaying theme that stays consistent throughout. This is a contributor to the reason that this movie is so good. It deals with mental conditions in a pretty strange way, that I fully approve of. The film is pretty dated. It definitely deals with homophobia in a negative way. But, it's a product of it's time. 

The acting isn't the best but it works and the plot is terrifying. In some sick and twisted way this movie actually delivers a good message against child abuse. I recommend this movie to those that want to get into the Video Nasties but don't want to watch something that will rush right over their heads. It's short and complete. 

Director: Joseph Ellison
Country: USA

Did ya know...
The first video release in the UK was uncut. A following cut version was later unofficially approved by the BBFC. The film was not prosecuted as a 'video nasty' as the distributor assured the BBFC that this cut version would replace the uncut version.

Creepshow III (2007) - Ana Clavell and James Dudelson

Creepshow and parts of Creepshow 2 are classics. This movie is not Creepshow or even parts of Creepshow 2. This movie shouldn't even be under the same title as those others. It isn't on par. It doesn't belong. Tom Savini has said that he considers Tales From the Dark Side more Creepshow 3 than this garbage. 

This nightmare has a confusing plot that has interweaving story-lines and characters. It has a cartoon opener just like it's predecessors but it's weak and not very good. The individual stories are equally weak as they lack any sort of depth or plot. The acting isn't anything either. The first story is a great example of how the movie is as a whole. 

The first story starts out with Alice, a girl that hates her neighborhood, walking home. She complains about losing her licence as she walks down the middle of a street on her cell phone. Her father gets his hands on some strange remote control that changes reality. It tosses his daughter Alice into different realities where her family is African-American or Hispanic. She develops boils on her skin and arms. Her legs start to become bloody and infected. However, she doesn't react to it. Instead she is thrown through reality more and ends up turning into a rabbit. 

This movie loses control right out of the gate. People have commented on the writing. It is a common feeling that this movie was written in a very short amount of time. It doesn't ever go anywhere creative and leaves the viewer asking more questions than getting any answers. It is comedic when it doesn't need to be and tries way to hard to fit in. 

As a stand alone movie this might have been decent. However, as a Creepshow alum it makes for a really weak feature. There isn't much else to say about it. It has five different stories. It's lackluster and instantly forgettable. I say leave it alone and watch Tales From the Dark Side. 

Director: Ana Clavell and James Dudelson
Country: USA
Style: Anthology Horror

Did ya know...
Creepshow III, unlike Creepshow (1982) & Creepshow 2 (1987), has no involvement from either Stephen King or George A. Romero - the series creators. Unlike the King/Romero-helmed Creepshows, Creepshow III has CGI animation in place of traditional animation.

Altered States (1980) - Ken Russell

Altered States is a fantastic film that explores the dark side of psychological experimentation with psychedelics. Some parts feel like a dark story told by Timothy Leary. The film deals with advanced scientific theories like genetic regression as well. It is based on the work by Paddy Chayefsky, who apparently hated it and disowned his involvement. All of these factors make for a hell of a picture. 

The film stars William Hurt and Blair Brown. Both play genius scientists that fall in love. Edward Jessup (Hurt) is obsessed with finding reality in other dimensions. He hopes that copious amounts of psychedelics would propel him into the unknown, and for the most part he is right. He takes these drugs and then gets into an isolation chamber. This act really enhances the trip. Emily (Brown) is genuinely concerned when Edward starts complaining about the drugs and time spent between dimensions was actually making him regress in evolution. Edward slowly turns into a neanderthal. 

Ken Russell really delivers the trippy scenes. The effects are crude and primitive but they are bright and they kick ass. The film is thought provoking and perfectly executed. It has really intense scenes that are off putting but pleasing to the eye. He had a terrible time making the movie and dealing with Chayefsky but overall I think he did a good job. 

The imagery in the movie is terrifying at times. We even get some really good gore. I definitely recommend this movie to smart horror fans that want something different. It's old, it has a bunch of good actors (including Bob Balaban and Drew Barrymore), it's trippy, and it's nearly forgotten. 

Director: Ken Russell
Country: USA

Did ya know...
Author Paddy Chayefsky disowned this movie. Even though the dialogue in the screenplay was almost verbatim from his novel he reportedly objected to the general tone of the film and the shouting of his precious words by the actors, this conflicting with director Ken Russell typical style of wanting heightened performances. Paddy Chayefsky had not seen the film before he took his name off the credits, the script being credited to "Sidney Aaron", a pseudonym for Chayefsky, the two names being Chayefsky's real first and middle names. Director Ken Russell and Chayefsky fought constantly during production, Russell maintaining that almost nothing was changed from Chayefsky's script and stating that he was "impossible to please."