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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Videodrome (1983) - David Cronenberg

Videodrome came to us during the peak of David Cronenberg's work. It's a strange yet wonderful journey into the bizarre mind of David Cronenberg. Seriously, Cronenberg put some really weird stuff in this movie, but that just makes it all that much more intriguing. It's brash and sleazy. It's perverted and brutal. It's a tough movie for some to watch and a breeze for those very few that appreciate good solid gore.

Max Renn (James Woods) is a sordid television producer that picks up a pirate signal of some brutal snuff clips playing virtually twenty-four-seven. Once he begins investigating the source of the signal he gets mixed up in a psychological and bio-deforming experience that may be driving him to murder. We get scenes of trashy explicit savagery mixed with scenes of extreme sadomasochism and body manipulation. The actual storyline gets lost as this movie rolls on. It takes you down a bizarre path led by Woods' character. It's wonderful. 

This movie takes reality and shifts it into an uncomfortable position. It creates a really deep fear in its viewers. It identifies with us today being based on a society that is dependent on its visual media. James Woods and Debbie Harry are great and they do a wonderful job. Cronenberg of course delivers big. This movie is fantastic. I can't say it enough. The effects were amazing. From the body manipulation to the set design. Everything was repulsive and intriguing at the same time. It masterfully combined gore, sex, and politics in a single picture.  

I cannot recommend Videodrome enough. Go out and find this. The Criterion Collection release has some really good features including documentaries and short films. It also has a booklet of essays based on this film. Check it out. 

Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods, Debbie Harry, and Sonja Smits
Style: Body Horror - Sci-Fi
Studio: Famous Players
Country: Canada

Did ya know...
David Tsubouchi, who appears here briefly as a Japanese porn dealer, later became a Minister in the Ontario provincial government. His appearance in this controversial film as a pornographer was exploited by the opposition.
The TV station "Civic TV" is patterned after City TV, an actual television station which started out in Toronto and was particularly infamous for showing soft-core sex films as part of its late night programming schedule. At one point in the film, one of Max Renn's partners is called "Moses" which is a reference to City TV founder Moses Znaimer.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Black Friday (1940) - Arthur Lubin

This movie has a masterful mix of old-style gangster pictures and a mad scientist horror film. It's great! You get both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff doing their usual thing. Giving the movie some street cred. It plays out really smoothly and packs a big punch. It's the kind of quality I have grown to love from Universal. 

A criminal with a secret stash of hidden money is paralyzed and dying after being involved in a hit and run during a get-away from a heist. A surgeon, and friend to a victim of that hit-and-run, performs a very risky operation. He transplants the brain of the criminal into that of his friend in hopes of recovering the location of that hidden money. However, he awakens a murderous and treacherous fiend that has a love for murder!

It can be argued that this has too much action to be a horror movie. Some parts feel like No Country for Old Men but others are thrilling and suspenseful enough to definitely be horror. People argue that this movie has serious flaws. Mostly with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff not sharing any scenes. Apparently, Karloff was hard to work with. However, none of that seems to take away from the entertainment value. 

This isn't the best horror movie and it's really not that scary but I highly recommend it. It's a quality picture that shouldn't get swept under the rug or forgotten about. Not just because it is a Karloff/Lugosi movie. But also that it's a really absorbing and fun. 

Director: Arthur Lubin
Starring: Boris KarloffStanley RidgesAnne Nagel, and Bela Lugosi
Style: Action Horror - Mad Scientist
Studio: Universal
Country: USA

Did ya know...
Of the eight films featuring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi the two stars have no scenes together in this film and also "Gift of Gab."
Shooting lasted from December 28, 1939-January 18, 1940, released March 21.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ouija (2014) - Styles White

Cliche supernatural event after event. This picture is far less than stellar than anyone could have hoped for. Especially one based on a board game. Every over stylized modern horror effect is on full display. From the strange supernaturally sped up movements of ghosts. To the high-pitched, generically creepy laughter of children. It's so predictable. So much so that some scenes seem downright stolen right out of other movies. They had problems during production and it shows. Re-Writes and Re-Shoots. However, they could have done much better. 

Emotional teenagers find an old Ouija board and play with supernatural forces beyond their comprehension. Or at least beyond the directors comprehension. They have a friend that was killed after playing Ouija by herself. So they try? Stupid teenagers. This predictable and tired format should have died out long ago. But year after year we are fed these very safe and family friendly horror films that do little to amaze. Most of these tend to be so dry and boring, the audience struggles to care and stay awake. PG-13 is killing the genre folks. 

Not that this movie doesn't have its charms. Lin Shaye makes an appearance and does a great job. However, underneath it all this is a giant commercial for Hasbro to sell more Ouija boards. Is this movie in the same realm as Battleship and the upcoming Monopoly movie? What a strange time we live in.

I cannot really recommend this to anyone. I hate these types of horror movies and we are seeing them pop-up all the time. I don't understand why these keep coming back. The reviews are always horrible and the quality of movie is garbage. Usually there are redeeming qualities in bad horror movies but this is just unoriginal drivel. I award this movie no points and my god have mercy on its soul

Director: Styles White
Studio: Universal and Hasbro
Country: USA
Did ya Know: Some cast members are said to have experienced supernatural occurrences since the production of the film Ouija ended. It is said to be influenced by the making of the film. The only thing haunting this cast and crew would be their reputations for being in this filth. 

This gif is far scarier 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Inseminoid (1981) - Norman J. Warren

What can be said for mindless schlock pictures like this one. They were pumped out in droves during the eighties. Inseminoid!? give me a break! It sounds like some pre-pubescent teenage boys came up with the title. On the plus side the movie isn't horrible to look at and it has a decent amount of gore. If you can separate yourself from the political incorrectness, then you might have a perfectly decent Sci-Fi Monster Feature. 

A research team exploring caves on Jupiter accidentally awakens an ancient alien that rapes and impregnates one of the team members. She suffers from terrible shock and trauma, leading to a complete mental breakdown as her pregnancy accelerates faster and faster. Feeling threatened she decides to kill anyone she deems a threat. Can the rest of the research team survive or will they all become victims of INSEMINOID!

Apparently this movie had a million dollar budget. That's really shocking considering the outcome of the picture. The acting isn't phenomenal and the effects tend to take away from the scene, rather than add to it. In short, this doesn't feel like money well spent. It's not much more than a laughable cult movie with a flair for exploitation. 

I recommend this movie to those looking for movies that can entertain an entire party. It's a great movie to laugh at with a group of friends. Unfortunately for the director this movie didn't go off the way he would have wanted. But whats to be expected from Inseminoid?

Director: Norman J. Warren
Starring: Robin Clarke, Jennifer Ashley, and Stephanie Beacham
Style: Exploitation Style Sci-Fi Monster Movie - Aliens
Studio: Jupiter Films
Country: United Kingdom

Did ya know...
The bulk of the movie was filmed in The Chiselhurst Caves to enhance the production value, but resetting lights and moving cameras around the natural rock formations proved to be problematic and time consuming.
The story was originally supposed to take place aboard a spaceship, but they changed the location to avoid having to employ elaborate special effects.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mummy's Hand (1940) - Christie Cabanne

This film is noticeably a few notches below the original. It's not a sequel but more of a re-envisioning. So maybe it's just on a completely different path. From the beginning this movie looks and sounds really sub-par. It doesn't feature anyone of note and it suffers from tired acting. However, it runs at a fair and balanced pace. Plus it has a story line that actually makes it palatable. 

This isn't in the same continuity as the Karloff original. In fact this movie stands on its own. Young quick-witted adventurers looking for the tomb of an ancient princess, Mistakenly awaken a murderous Mummy (Tyler) and get harassed by a strange old wizard (Zukko).

Their group features the usual social make-up of a movie from its time. A straight-man (Dick Foran) and a fast-talking jokester (Wallace Ford) complete with beautiful dame (Peggy Moran) in tow. The story progression is pretty normal as well with just the right amount of cheesy romance laced in. The antagonists the living mummy Kharis and the wizard Andoheb are both passable villains that suffer from a limited budget. But I can't really fault the movie for that. The forties were a weird time. 

Universal had been responsible for the earlier, far superior, Mummy film. They had essentially ruined any chance of making a sequel by completely destroying their offender as the first film came to an end. Even destroying what made him live and what gave him his power. This film, the Mummy's Hand had no option than to be made as a remake. A sequel just wouldn't work. This kicks off a series of Mummy films that have their own continuity but fail to out do the Karloff picture.  

I recommend this movie on the basis of watching the entire series. That series consisting of The Mummy's Hand (1940), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost (1944), and The Mummy's Curse (1944), It's a different take and it's actually pretty interesting. The films may be of a lower quality, but they have it in other places.

Director: Christie Cabanne
Studio: Universal
Country: USA

Did ya know...
To make the mummy appear more frightening, Tom Tyler's eyes (and the inside of his mouth) were blacked out frame-by-frame in almost all close-ups.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spookies (1986) - Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, and Brendan Faulkner

It's impossible to get a decent movie when you take two films and just squash them together. That is essentially the story of how this movie came together. The film started as Twisted Souls. However, according to the financial backer they didn't have enough horror. So they ended up hiring another guy to come in and add a monster in virtually every scene. 

This movie started out being directed by Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran. It basically is the tale of two sets of teenagers that arrive to a strange building surrounded by a strange cemetery. It was your usual tale of teenagers in a big hows with a few monsters. Then they brought in Genie Joseph and added even more. Like a haunted birthday party, a murderous cat-man, zombies, and an old wizard. It really became a smorgasbord of horror with a very thin plot-line leading it around. This movie is hard to summarize in a conventional way. It just packs so much. 

The most interesting part of this movie are definitely the effects. You get a ton of them here. The creature department must have been going nuts. Some effects were dumb like the Cat-Man. But others were pretty cool like the Spider-Woman. It just has so many creatures and plot devices that it becomes a bit overwhelming. The acting is obviously sub-par. I wasn't looking to this movie for a great deal of epic performances. What there is of a screen play also leaves a lot to be desired. 

Everyone loves terrible movies that are so bad it makes them good. This movie is no exception. If you are planning a party or wanting to find something to make fun of, this is for you. It has plenty of weird and under-produced scenes that are begging to be made an example of. Get your friends together and get ready to laugh but don't expect to be scared.

Directors: Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, and Brendan Faulkner
Starring: Alec Nemser, Felix Ward, and Maria Pechukas
Style: Teen Survival Monster Movie
Studio: Twisted Souls
Country: USA

Did ya know...

Well-known underground comic artist Richard Corben created the poster art and video box for this film.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Maggie (2015) - Henry Hobson

First off, I am a huge fan of Arnold. My favorite being Total Recall. It's what drew me into this movie in the first place. Upon watching it I was pleasantly surprised that this was nothing like other Schwarzenegger movies. Explosions, catch phrases, and endless supplies of ammunition are sacrificed for fantastically dramatic acting and astute themes. In short. This movie isn't Total Recall. 

Maggie has been bitten by a zombie and infected with the virus. Her transformation is slow coming but undeniable. Her father, Wade, decides to keep an eye on her and vows to do what needs to be done. He takes her out into the country, back to their home. He and his wife try to enjoy what little time they have left with her. However, the time is ticking. Maggie tries to come to grips with the reality of her situation while we watch her literally deteriorate. 

This movie doesn't move as slowly as you would expect. In fact, it has a pretty steady tone and is so full of suspense that it doesn't really give you a second to lose interest. Abigail Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger do a phenomenal job. If you really want to watch Arnold act then check this out. This movie delivers the gore pretty well too. You get a lot of really nasty looking zombie stuff mixed with some heavy emotional scenes. It's a trip. Not to mention how wonderfully shot this movie is. Seriously, it's pretty.

I completely advocate for this movie. It's the best zombie movie of 2015, so far. And it's definitely not the type of movie you picture when you hear about a Schwarzenegger zombie film. However, it does a really good job. This movie focuses on the emotional side of the zombie outbreak. The zombies featured are not quick-moving ninja zombies. These are the slow shuffling type. It's not incredibly scary so don't add this to any playlists for Halloween. Instead, throw this movie on during a stormy night with your significant other. It's perfect for that. 

Director: Henry Hobson
Studio: Lionsgate
Country: United Kingdom

Did ya know...
Chloë Grace Moretz and Paddy Considine were originally going to star.
This is Arnold Schwarzenegger's second horror film. The first being End of Days.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Doctor Cyclops (1940) - Ernest B. Schoedsack

Doctor Cyclops is a really interesting film. It's in color even though it was made in 1940. This is made possible through Technicolor. The film goes down the Mad Scientist route with Albert Dekker in that role, and its pretty perfect. Ernest Schoedsack is the director. His previous film had been King Kong. So you know it's in good hands. 

A group of scientists are summoned to Peru to assist a fellow expert, Doctor Alexander Throkel. Thorkel is a maniacal bastard. He has this whole thing planned that ends up with him capturing the group and shrinking them down to 1/5th their original size. He tries keeping these tiny people locked up but they end breaking out and running for their little lives! Now they have to try to figure out how they can get back to their regular sizes while surviving in this crazy, huge world. 

The Doctor has an amazing look. He has this weird James Bond villain-type thing going on. It's pretty sinister. The movie has a really great look and equally entertaining score. It's a high quality picture indeed. The plot is a bit corny but it's actually really suspenseful and really gets the blood pumping. It's a good horror movie. 

Of course this movie is crammed with amazing effects. Not just the obvious shrunken human's thing. But also the practical effects used like the Doctors hand and the jungle sets. Really cool. It isn't bound by the usual genre boundaries either. This movie is as much an Adventure and Fantasy picture as it is a Horror film. It definitely has me looking forward to the next feature by Schoedsack. 

Country: USA

Did ya know... 
This was Albert Dekker's most memorable role.
It was nominated for an Oscar in 1941 for Best Effects. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) - Jack Sholder

This really strange sequel comes to us from Director Jack Sholder and not Wes Craven. Craven had shown disinterest in Directing another slasher film. He had soured on the genre. It's a pity. This film could have been huge. Instead, we get a strange cult horror picture with overt homosexual overtones. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Freddy is back in Springwood and has found a new teenager to torment. The young, sexually confused Jesse Walsh. Jesse and his family have moved into Nancy Thompson's old house on Elm Street. They start to notice some Freddy Kruger staples (nightmares, temperature control, dying pets, and possessed children) not to mention Freddy is "deep inside" Jesse. All of this is happening when Jesse should just be getting more serious with his "girlfriend" Lisa. Can the "true love" of his girlfriend be enough to tear Jesse away from the treacherous Freddy? 

This film is pretty fast paced and has a number of notable scenes. Only a handful seem to stand-out; the Pool Party is the most iconic. Either that or the creepy school bus scenes. They are the only scenes you really need to watch. Everything else is just weird. 

Check this movie out if you want to get into the Freddy lore. You wouldn't be doing yourself an injustice by skipping this and moving right ahead to Dream Warriors. It's a far superior film. This movie does have it's little charms but doesn't hold up to the original. 

Director: Jack Sholder
Starring: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Kim Myers
Style: Serial Slasher
Studio: New Line Cinema

Did you know...
Brad Pitt, John Stamos, and Christian Slater all auditioned for the role of Jesse.
David Chaskin deliberately wrote his screenplay to contain homo-erotic subtexts. Director Jack Sholder was completely unaware of this.
The running time for this film is 87 minutes, Freddy appears in just 13 of them.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Mama (2013) - Andrés Muschietti

Mama was really appealing to me. I am a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro's work (ex. Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and The Devil's Backbone) But he isn't really all that involved. Other than that, this picture relies heavily on sub-par CGI mixed with low-budget effects. The story is frustrating and the main antagonist is so over-the-top, it's ridiculous. But I watched it.

This movie is about two young girls that were abandoned in a cabin, far out in the woods. Their father had apparently went on a killing spree and then was killed himself. For five years they had been raised by a strange, vengeful spirit named Mama. When discovered, the girls were malnourished and very feral. They would lash out and hiss. It was quite a scene. The girls uncle takes them in and raises them with his punk-rawk girlfriend. Weird, semi-spooky events start to take place. Mama apparently doesn't want to let go of her "daughters". 

This movie started out with very little promise. I had put off watching this as much as I could. By the time the action started this instantly turned into one of those frustrating pictures that you end up shouting at. The horror was obvious and drab. Tamed down and neutered from what it could have been. The story isn't all that bad, it's just not presented very well. Mama is another victim of the terrible PG-13 rating system that had ruined so many promising horror movies of the early 00's.

Director: Andrés Muschietti
County: Canada
Style: Dissolved Terror with Supernatural Events

Did ya know...

Mama's movement is not entirely CGI. Javier Botet has well-above-average range of motion in his joints. The only CGI on Mama is her hair.