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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2 (1981) - Rick Rosenthal

This sequel always intrigued me. It followed the first movie directly. It followed so well that you could edit the two movies together successfully. Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, and Donald Pleasance all returned to their roles and that Myers boy is still up to no good. I personally love Halloween II. A lot of people hate it but I found it to be pretty interesting. I found out that a surprising number of people have not seen this movie as of yet. That's surprising because they play this all of the time on television. Anyway, I will be spoiling this film further down the article. 

While the plot of the first movie continues, Michael Myers had taken the shots that Doctor Loomis unloaded on him and walked away. Leaving a beaten and terrified Laurie Strode to be rushed to the hospital. Doctor Loomis and the Sheriff continue their manhunt leading eventually to Michael Myers tracking down Laurie to the hospital she was admitted to.

This has a very dark brutality to it. The call backs to the style of the first movie add a great deal of suspense and continuity. Parts are hokey and the story may get muddled, but it is a brutal slasher from the beginning to the end. Don't get me wrong this is no Halloween, but this is a welcome sequel that dives deeper into the Haddonfield mysteries. This has a decent body count too. Eleven!

The murders are pretty grotesque. Some are hard to watch. I am not a big fan of syringes. They are too... pricky. The side story with Dr. Loomis and the Sheriff is interesting too. Their search shows how the town is reacting to the recent killings. The story with the hospital staff is the same way. They talk about Laurie, and that adds another element to her. Not to mention the big swerve for her. 

You could say that this movie began a big push for the lore of the film to unfold. It's in this film that we discover that Laurie Strode is Michael's sister. His near supernatural power of invulnerability is on full display here as well. Not only has he taken numerous slugs from that sidearm of old Loomis, both at the house and the hospital. But he has also taken two to the dome courtesy of his sister. Laurie. Oh, then he is blown up. 

But Michael Myers comes back, just not in the sequel. It wouldn't be until the fourth installment of the Halloween franchise that the Shape would make his murderous return. Laurie would not. However for all of you hardcore Doctor Loomis fans, he will be back. Don't you worry. Sir Pleasance will return. 

Halloween II is scary for all the reasons that Friday the 13th was or certain parts of the original were. This is definitely a slasher movie and  with an obviously larger budget. Casual horror movie fans will appreciate the franchise factor. It's always fun to see a franchise killer working. Hardcore fans will have fun putting the two movies together and poking holes. If you watch this with friends, then expect the Mystery Science Theater treatment. But those murder scenes though. 

Director: Rick Rosenthal
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers and Dick Warlock
Country: USA
Style: Suspenseful Teen Slasher - Michael Myers
Studio: Universal Studios

Did ya know...
To get the role of Michael Myers, Dick Warlock revealed that as he passed by a room, the Michael Myers mask was on a table. He put the mask on and walked into Rick Rosenthal's office and stood there. After Rosenthal continuously asked him who he was and he didn't reply, he took off the mask and asked if he could play Michael Myers.
The sequel, though not as successful at the box-office as the original Halloween (1978), still grossed more money than other 1981 horror movies such as The Howling (1981), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), and The Final Conflict (1981).

Friday, October 30, 2015

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) - Werner Herzog

This is a fuller and richer telling of the Nosferatu tale using the original Bram Stoker characters. Klaus Kinski does a wonderful job as Dracula, but the film compliments his performance almost too much. There was a mystery about Max Schreck that really made his performance. Something that couldn't be eclipsed or duplicated. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic film that has been on the playlist of many film students and cinema-lovers. 

Following in the footsteps of Browning's Dracula and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu before it, Werner Herzog's Nosferatu takes the source material loosely, but nearly completely. Dracula is interested in a home in Varna and has sent for an agent to go over properties with him. Jonathan Harker from Varna itself answers and, against the warning of just about everyone, takes a trip to Dracula's estate. This is where Dracula sees the lovely Lucy. Dracula leaves Harker as a prisoner in his home while he travels to Varna for Lucy. Can Harker get to Lucy before the evil lurking Dracula does? 

Beautifully designed and very good looking. This film's overarching and depressive tone is constant through out. Dracula yearns to be human, to age and die. But he cannot. Herzog did a fantastic job of transferring this emotion onto the screen. Along with the beautiful cinematography and stage design, this movie has a lot to keep you interested. It's like watching some dark classical masterpiece being played out. 

Parts of the movie could be considered to be dragging. At least by some. To those that fancy the Michael Bay's of our world. This movie would seem boring and long. However, this movie is rich with story and the storyteller doesn't waste the space, he embellishes. There is a strong difference. If you are not familiar with Werner Herzog's work and would like to know more. Watch Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Heart of Glass. Everyone has their favorite Herzog. 

Director: Werner Herzog
Starring: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz, and Roland Topor
Country: West Germany
Style: Dramatic Suspensful Re-Telling - Dracula
Studio: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

Did ya know...
Procuring rats for the film proved difficult, though the production eventually procured a large quantity from a scientific research facility. When shipped to Holland for filming, a customs inspector reportedly fainted upon opening their crate and discovering its contents. In addition to the notorious dye job the rats had to endure, each had to undergo spaying or neutering to control their breeding. Animal rights activists have also alleged that the rats were underfed and actually began to eat one another during production.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poltergeist (2015) - Gil Kenan

I was pretty intrigued with this remake of Poltergeist but disappointed in it being rated PG-13. The original was rated the same, but that was back when the rating wasn't abused. So, I was expecting this to be rated R but it didn't need it. This movie was frightening without. Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt gave me a good deal of hope. 

The Bowen family moves into a new home to begin their new life. The only problem is that their home was built on top of a former cemetery and, unfortunately for the Bowens, the bodies were never removed just the headstones. This makes for a really scary place as they are haunted by terrible entity that is angry and mean and has kidnapped the youngest of the Bowen family.

This movie has elements of Paranormal Activity and White Noise. It does a good job of setting the scene and making it eerie. This isn't a shot-for-shot remake, it pays homage to the original film with nods to certain scenes. But this movie expands on those scenes and the story. It changes some certain things like the Ancient Indian Burial ground was replaced by a regular cemetery. 

The suspense in this movie does a really good job of expressing the childish fear that all of us are familiar with. If I were a kid this movie would scare the crap out of me. I guess it's effective. This is an example of effective PG-13 work. However, it could have been legendary if it were rated R. Just saying. 

Electricity seems to be the catalyst for the supernatural behavior. They go into much more detail on the subject. The film is broader but not better. I still prefer the practical effects and acting chops of Craig T. Nelson but I really appreciate Sam Rockwell. He is fantastic. Kennedi Clements does a fantastic job too. She isn't overly annoying as most children are in horror movies. 

Yes, I recommend this movie to those that are interested. It made a great movie for my 31 Movies of Halloween, especially since I had already reviewed the original. Casual fans might find this a bit terrifying but they should appreciate how good it actually is. Go out and watch this movie. Rent it, if that is still a thing. It's worth it. 

Director: Gil Kenan
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemary DeWitt, Kyle Catlett, and Kennedi Clements
Style: Supernatural Suspenseful Thriller
Country: USA
Studio: MGM

Did ya know... 
The original cut ran for 101 minutes with 7-8 minutes of footage missing from the theatrical cut. This footage will supposedly be released as a director's cut on the DVD and Blu-ray release.
Rosemarie Dewitt wanted to do the film, after she experienced the engaged and lively audience reaction at the premiere of The Conjuring (2013), which she attended because it featured her husband Ron Livingston.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Funhouse (1981) - Tobe Hooper

This is a movie that had been on my radar for a good while. I had seen it once or twice before but didn't think much of it apparently. The concept felt pretty good, I like the idea of setting this in a carnival. It reminds me that I have to watch Santa Sangre sometime. 

Teenagers sneak out and head to a carnival that has a bad reputation for being dangerous. They intend to break into the Funhouse and stay the night. However, while sneaking around, the group watches a strange masked man murder the fortune teller. They soon find out that this Carnival, like many, had a dark underbelly. 

The story is fantastic. It builds the backstory for so many of its characters. You get a good look at what is lurking in the shadows of this carnival. It doesn't appear that all of the carnies were in on the villianry that had been taking place. That added a layer to the story that made you think about this Carnival and it's killer reputation. 

Toby Hooper showed us his storytelling skills with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His modern films have this quality as well. Toolbox Murders wasn't the greatest movie but Toby Hooper told a good story. The Funhose follows suite. Hooper's ability to tell such great stories is what usually helps take the movie up that extra notch. 

This movie has some really decent effects, even with the very minimal amount of blood and gore. The antagonist for the film is horrific on his own. The rest of the terror all comes from the suspense that builds while watching these teens trying to survive the night in this hellish carnival fun-house. Hooper is still green as a director, parts of this movie may drag a bit but it isn't horrible. 

This movie is a bit different from Massacre, in that he is trying his hand at a more mainstream feature. For Massacre he had a $300,000 budget and the film grossed $30.8 Million. This is according to Wikipedia. I am sure that the success of Massacre led to Hooper being at the helm here. Overall, he does a good job with a bigger budget. The characters are flushed out and you feel for them. It has a good story and a creepy atmosphere. It's definitely one of the best of the eighties. 

Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Jack McDermott, Cooper Huckabee, and Kevin Conway
Style: Suspenseful Teen Slasher - Circus Freaks
Country: USA
Studio: Universal

Did ya know...
Steven Spielberg asked Tobe Hooper to direct E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) but he turned it down because he was busy on this movie. However Hooper and Spielberg would work together on Poltergeist (1982).
An accident occurred during filming when a carnival ride carrying several passengers was left on for about twenty minutes to half an hour. The ride, one which has several octopus arms that spin around with rotating carriages, normally only runs for about four minutes per joyride. Thrillseekers vomited and yelled out real screams as the ride continued way past its end time. When stopped, the riders could not walk and were somewhat twisted in their musculature. An ambulance was called but no one was seriously injured.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pet Sematary (1989) - Mary Lambert

This movie scared the crap out of me. I had nightmares for a long time. It literally ruined my sleep during my 8 year old summer. It was so effective, so scary. The story is so damn good. Stephen King is a master. He has been such a cornerstone of the genre for so many years. This story is a testament to that. Both the movie and book are amazing. I was more than excited to watch and review this one.

The Creed family, Louis, Rachel, Ellie, and Gage, move into a small house that sits on a dangerous highway. Across that highway lives Jud. An elderly man that has lived in the area for the better part of a century. Shortly after moving into the house, the family discovers a strange path leading to a Pet Cemetery. 

When Ellie's cat Church dies, Jud takes Louis into a secret part of the Cemetery to bury it. A bad part. The cat comes back but the cat is changed. Jud explains to Louis that the Cemetery is sour and anything buried there doesn't stay in the ground. This doesn't stop Louis from screwing everything up and burying just about anything dead he could find. 

You know your watching a REAL Stephen King movie when he makes an appearance in it. That's how you know Pet Semetary is an official King flick. For me, the story is the strongest part of this movie. It's so absorbing. The acting is pretty average. It's nothing amazing. All the same, the acting fits this specific picture pretty well.

This isn't just another classic case of the book being superior to the movie, but both mediums here share a similar quality. Parts of this movie will stay with you. They are not exactly hard to watch. It's just horrific. Not just the evil reanimated bodies, but also the underlaying dread and side stories. The story about Zelda specifically. It makes me shudder. 

Then when you think that this movie is nothing more than just a suspenseful zombie thriller, boom! This movie breaks your heart. It takes your heart out and kicks it against the wall. When that happens, it's kind of the point at which this movie becomes so effective. If you don't like this movie then you will at least end up remembering some part of it. 

Horror movies are made to bring out a response in the viewer. In the most basic cases it's fear. This movie touches on all sorts of feelings. I don't guarantee that you will love this film, but you will recall scenes and parts of it for years. It hangs on you. The Stephen King factor will attract casual horror movie fans. Just don't expect them to sleep well. 

Director: Mary Lambert
Country: USA

Did ya know...
The role of Zelda, Rachel's dying sister, was played by a man. Director Mary Lambert wanted Zelda and her scenes to frighten the audience but did not believe that a 13-year old girl was scary so she cast Andrew Hubatsek in the role to make something be "off about Zelda".
Bruce Campbell was the first choice for the role of Louis Creed.
Stephen King once mentioned that the only novel he wrote that really scared him was Pet Sematary.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright is a great director. He is so fresh and he has a style that identifies with today's culture. With Shaun of the Dead, Wright tackles the Zombie genre. Or, sorry, the Zed Word genre. If you are not familiar with this then I pity you. Do me a favor and watch it. You will not be disappointed

Shaun is a mild mannered store clerk that lives a monotonous life with his friend Ed and roommate Pete in London. His girlfriend just broke up with him and the moment he decides to get her back the Zed Apocalypse breaks out! Hilarity ensues as Shaun and his band of friends try to make their way to safety at the local pub. 

Everything about this production is amazing. It's hilarious. The soundtrack is stellar. The way the movie is structured and laid out is fantastic. I cannot sing this movies praises enough. Everyone I know that has watched this movie has a favorite scene. If you haven't seen this movie, give it a watch and you'll have a favorite scene too! 

This movie isn't only a comedy gem. It's also very well steeped in the horror genre. Some scenes are pretty graphic and morbid. The gore is pretty spot on and the Zed's look pretty... dead. It doesn't disappoint those that enjoy a good beheading. You get to see quite a bit of that sort of thing. 

I love this movie so much. It's a personal favorite and it makes for a great film to watch at anytime. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are instant stars. The duo would go on to be in a number of films and shows together. Even George Romero's Land of the Dead as Zed's! I cannot recommend this movie so hard to anyone and everyone looking for a good time. Only Bill Murray could have made this movie any more complete. 

Director: Edgar Wright
Country: United Kingdom
Studio: Universal

Did ya know...
When asked by an interviewer why they chose to have slow moving zombies instead of running zombies, Simon Pegg simply replied, "Because death is not an energy drink."
Shaun tells Liz that he's going to take her to "the place that does all the fish". When he opens the phone book you can see that the restaurant is literally called 'The Place That Does All the Fish'.
Nick Frost (Ed) allegedly kept his genitals shaved throughout the production to create a genuine need to scratch that the character demanded.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Maniac (1980) - William Lustig

I wanted to watch a gritty, brutal slasher and I think I found just what I was looking for with Maniac. You have guaranteed gore factor with Tom Savini providing the color for the more grotesque scenes. I had reviewed the remake with Elijah Wood previously and been pretty impressed with the realism. It's seriously stomach churning. This movie is no different. It still creates that pit in your stomach. 

Frank Rizo is a troubled man with issues stemming from his mother's death. He misses her and it drives him over the edge. We watch his insanity eat him alive as he tries to cope while doing some really terrible things. His victims are a number of women in New York. He always retrieves the scalp of the victim and nails them to mannequins in his apartment. But he has attracted the attention of the police and now things are getting a bit too heated. You can relate this to a modern day telling of the old Jack the Ripper tales. 

Rizo is a demented, tormented figure that's terrifying and real. Portrayed by Joe Spinell in a twisted way. This character makes Psycho's Norman Bates look like Charlie Brown. You also spend a great deal of time with Rizo, watching his day-to-day life. It tends to put you into his head-space and that is a scary thing. 

Tom Savini does a great job with the blood and gore. The effects are noticeably from the eighties and it makes it that much more realistic. It's a trait that's long forgotten in today's pictures. I think that is why I spend so much time watching movies from the Second Golden Age of Horror. Arguably, the last great decade in horror movie history.  Effects from that era are practical by necessity. It adds needed depth to the storyline. With each slice and dice you flinch and avert your eyes. As if the horror on the screen were real. But it's not. You just have to keep reminding yourself that this is just a movie. Today, films might be getting back to this logic. Unfortunately, a lot of it had to do with the time and lack of technology. I wont ramble about this any longer but I will write a book about it. Keep your eyes open for that. 

Yes. This movie is recommended for those that want to get more into horror. However, I warn you. This is not a movie that is recommended for parties or gatherings. Not unless you are okay with being "That Guy" from now on. This is best only watched by yourself, in a dark room, at night. You can assure you will obtain maximum fright. As always do not be judgmental of a movies lack of finances unless it gets in the way of the storyline, and this movie doesn't do that. You should be fine. 

Director: William Lustig
Starring: Joe Spinell, Abigail Clayton, Caroline Munro, and Tom Savini
Style: Realistic Psychotic Slasher - Maniac
Country: USA
Studio: Magnum Motion Pictures

Did ya know...
William Lustig and Joe Spinell, say they didn't always have the necessary permits to film on location in New York City. Certain scenes (including the infamous shotgun through the windshield scene) had to have been filmed quickly and afterwards the crew had to run away before the cops arrived.
In order to keep costs down, several porn actresses, such as Abigail Clayton, were hired to play the victims and other minor female roles.
Gene Siskel was so disgusted by the infamous "shotgun head explosion" scene that he walked out of the movie, saying on his television show with Roger Ebert that the film could not redeem itself after the ultra-violence that he had seen.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Let the Right One In (2008) - Tomas Alfredson

From the beginning to end, this is a fantastic film. It feels so real. The director did such a great job of creating a believable universe with flushed out characters. This is on a number of top horror movie lists including my own. I found it really intriguing and weird. 

Oskar is a twelve-year old with a few issues. He isn't very popular and he doesn't have very many friends. The kids that do pay attention to him just bully him and beat him up. Except for one strange girl. Eli. It's like Ellie. They live in a big brick tenement in Stockholm, Sweden. Eli has a strange secret and it has to do with consuming blood, staying out of the sun, not eating food, and not being able to enter a room without being invited in. I am sure you can put those things together. Let's just say that she has been 12 for about 200 years. 

Gripping, intriguing. I have watched it a couple of times now and enjoyed it each time. It's like a book that you can't put down. The acting is really good. Kåre Hedebrant plays Oskar and does a fantastic job. He plays a troubled child so well. Lina Leandersson brings the realistic melancholic feeling to her vampire character. It's like nothing before. 

The plot is very dramatic and it doesn't eat into the horror so that's nice. This movie takes the vampire genre in another direction and it is well received. It actually makes you feel something. Watching this movie elicits an emotional response from it's viewer. It is a pretty incredible thing.

This is a highly recommended movie. It's made in Sweden and can be watched with subtitles or dubbed. I would suggest watching this with the subtitles. You may not understand exactly what the actor is saying, but you can hear their voice and it adds more to the movie. Unless your one of those types of people that has an aversion to subtitled movies. The dubbed version lacks some emotion, but either way it's great. 

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, and Henrik Dahl
Style: Dramatic Vampire Romance - Kids
Country: Sweden
Studio: Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige AB

Did ya know...
Almost every scene in the movie contains the color red or red/orange, a clear reference to the color of blood, the only food Eli can consume.Several tricks were used to create the right sound effects for some of the gorier scenes. Biting into sausages was used to replicate biting into skin and flesh, and drinking yogurt was used to sound like drinking blood. The sound of the children blinking was made by the skin of a grape rubbing against each other in an almost 'blinking' motion.Both John Ajvide Lindqvist and Tomas Alfredson admitted that they do not like or care for vampires.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sinister (2012) - Scott Derrickson

While this movie is a bit slow moving, the depth and character speak volumes and actually make this a scary movie. The supernatural elements are questionable sometimes and the motivations of the movie seem weird. But overall this did really well. I didn't expect much. It had come out during a time when everyone was tossing a hat into the "subtle scary" ring. Insidious, Paranormal Activity, the Conjuring, and the Last Exorcism are all examples of movies that rely pretty heavily on this gimmick. It's not a bad thing, in fact it's pretty neat. It's literally that saying 'less is more.'

A troubled writer, named Ellison, seems to be going through a tough-patch both professionally and personally. He moves his family into a strange house out in the middle of nowhere to focus on rebuilding his life. However, Ellison comes across a mysterious box of Super 8 reels all featuring a family being murdered.  He starts piecing together this freaky puzzle that may lead to a place that he doesn't want to explore and may put his family in danger.

I had written above about the subtle supernatural elements that are implemented with this film. It appears to be a product of it's time and nothing more. It takes that subtlety and pairs it with an intriguing and original storyline. The bad-guy in this movie is interesting. The lore that they create with this picture makes me want to actually see more of it. 

By the way, Ethan Hawke was a fantastic choice for the lead in this movie. He did a great job as always. He actually appears to become tormented and frightened. Not like he has any shortage of fright. This is a pretty scary one. Watching it in the dark is definitely the way to go. Not a lot of jump scares but more looming and practical horror. 

Some people online drew comparisons between this film and The Ring, but I just don't see it. Sure, both movies have supernatural movies within them. But that's about it. If you liked The Ring then this would still be right up your alley. It's really well made and popular enough to be enjoyed by most everyone. It is a great date movie. I am usually a pretty harsh critic for new horror movies but I couldn't bring myself to tear this one apart. This is a successfully scary big-budget horror movie and it's rated R. Thank god. 

But what's with the names Ellison? Is he Canadian or something? 

Director: Scott Derrickson
Country: USA
Studio: Alliance Films

Did ya know...

The name 'Bughuul' translates back to 'Boogeyman'.In the scenes where a scorpion and snake are shown in the attic, these are two of Buguul's forms, as depicted in the ancient drawings given to Ellison by Professor Jonas in the movie.The 'Pool Party '66' snuff film in Sinister was extremely difficult to film according to C. Robert Cargill. The actors/actresses who played the doomed family were tied down to lawn chairs and pulled underwater in reality, and the filmmakers had to be extremely careful that nobody was harmed while filming the scene took place. Further complications occurred while filming the killer underwater; Nicholas King (Bughuul) had to wear weights and stay underwater for several seconds while he was filmed. Since the scene was filmed entirely on super 8 film, care had to be taken to ensure that the camera was properly rolling and that the cartridge and light meter were working, otherwise the scene would have to be re-shot numerous times.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Demons (1985) - Dario Argento

Right off the bat I am intrigued by the soundtrack featuring Motley Crüe, Rick Springfield, and Saxon among others. The story is neat. Dario Argento wrote and produced this and he hasn't disappointed me yet. This is the perfect midnight feature. It's gory and full of vintage flair and evil. 

Demons spread like a disease in a strange little theater that traps it's visitors inside during a "special" showing. Slowly moviegoers start turning into Demons. Murdering each other in grotesque ways while speed metal provides the tunes. It's survival mode as a group of people fight for their lives.

The survival part of the movie is really great. It's reminiscent of Romero's Dawn of the Dead film, just not as good. The characters are fun and original. The dubbing is horrible, but that's more of a charm. Lamberto Bava sets a good tone and keeps the movie interesting throughout.

This was my first Brava feature. It helped that Argento wrote and produced it. The movie has a few tropes that are really commonplace, but they don't become annoying. It works really well even with questionable effects. It develops it's characters really well.

If you haven't seen an Italian horror film this is a pretty decent one to start with for seasoned fans. It's fluid and entertaining. It has good characters and a decent story. This perfect for a late night horror movie marathon or dissecting with friends. The overlaying Zombie movie feel should be pretty easy for casual fans to enjoy. As long as the are not too offended with the low-budget effects and production. This might be a bit of a horror movie for horror fans. This is not a date movie. 

Director: Lamberto Brava
Country: Italy
Studio: DACFILM Rome
Did ya know: A poster for Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) is visible in the lobby of the theatre: it's the title of writer/producer Dario Argento's third film. In Germany this was released as sequel to the second film which was released as the first part.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) - Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

I had been skeptical about the series when I first heard about it. I thought it had looked intriguing but was just a cheap gimmick. I wasn't wrong. This entire franchise is a cheap gimmick. The stationary camera just watching is cheap but so damn effective. It's a necessity for the franchise and it works so well. This may have a convoluted storyline but it just makes me want to watch the next one. 

This one shows you that no one is safe from the demon Toby's powers. A family starts to experience some strange occurrences when some new neighbors move in across the street. It just so happens that the neighbors are Katie and  her "son" Robbie. The movie focuses on the younger daughter Alex and her adopted brother Wyatt are the focal points. They do a decent job.

This movie doesn't just take advantage of a camcorder. This time, anything with a Wi-Fi camera can be used. As long as they don't close their laptops and keep them open. This was one of my biggest complaints. However, I really do like the X-Box camera feature. That was pretty cool. 

The scares are similar to the first three movies. But seem a bit more intense. You don't get a look at the series antagonist. But you get a psudo-look at some apparitions. You even get some additions to the Witches coven that was brought up in Paranormal Activity 3. 

This is a bit slower and a bit duller, but overall it is just as satisfying as the other entries. It isn't hard to make a successful Paranormal Activity movie. They are all scary, this one is not an exception. I recommend this movie to people that are fans of the series. The quality may wain but the entertainment is still there. 

Directors: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Starring: Katie FeatherstonKathryn NewtonMatt Shively, and Aiden Lovekamp
Style: Realistic Supernatural Horror - Demons
Country: USA
Studio: Paramount Pictures

Did ya know...

The chronological order of the films is: Paranormal Activity 3, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 4 and Paranormal Activity: the Marked Ones.
As with the previous three Paranormal Activity movies, Paramount Studios utilizes paranormal investigator/researcher, Christopher Chacon, (who is recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on paranormal phenomena), to internationally promote and publicize this fourth installment. Chacon also works in the entertainment industry as a writer, director and producer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Last House on the Left (1972) - Wes Craven

I don't know what it is about the seventies, they always have the most inappropriate music to accompany some graphic scenes. It's almost a tactic that makes the scenes that much creepier. I'm not complaining. I like an Axe Murder to Marvin Gaye anytime. I hadn't watched this one for a few years and finally picked it up to watch for the 31 Movies of Halloween. This feature has a pretty strong reputation of being hard to watch or almost too hard-hitting. So you know I was interested. 

Phyllis and Mari go to a big concert unsupervised in the big city. Only thing is, they don't come home. They run into a group of psychopaths that kidnap they young ladies. The gang humiliates, rapes, and murders the girls in the forest, then seek refuge in Mari's own home. Clumsily dropping clues that they had killed the girls, leading to the Mari's parents plotting the gang's demise. 

This low budget feature from Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven, holds up to the title of being hard-to-watch. Movies like this one that tend to be more realistic appear to come off as more graphic. While a movie about a serial slasher like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers is pretty unbelievable. This one is so steeped in reality that it really adds to the terror. 

The actors are very believable. David Hess is terrifying as the leader of the gang, Krug. You root for Mari (Sandra Peabody) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) but ultimately you have them ripped from you. It's rough. Your heart really gets into the movie and is rightfully ripped out. It helps that you can cheer for the good guys and revel in the bad guys getting their comeuppance

Director: Wes Craven
Country: USA

Did ya know...
When fledgling director Wes Craven took this film to the MPAA, they slapped it with an "X" rating. Wanting an R for wider release, Craven went back and removed ten minutes of footage. However, this still wasn't enough and the film still got an "X" rating. Once again Craven removed footage, this time taking out 20 minutes. It still wasn't enough. Finally, Craven put all of the original footage back in, got an authentic "RATED R" seal of approval from the film board from a friend of his, put it on the film and released it.
When distribution companies Hallmark and Atlas International released the movie in Germany, they attempted to pass it off as an actual "snuff" film (i.e., a real murder staged for the camera).

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) - Chuck Russell

Written by Wes Craven and directed by Chuck Russel (The Blob). This incredibly dark Freddy Kruger feature happens to be one of the best of the bunch. It's definitely a step up from the original. They had gone through various re-writes of Craven's script but still came out with something that is complete and full. It really helps to strengthen the Freddy Kruger character and enrich his backstory. It's nice to actually get to see him in more than just a handful of scenes too. 

A group of young people at a mental facility start passing around stories of the famous child killer that stalks you in your dreams. Each of these young patients are at risk and seem to always be on the verge of committing suicide. When Kristen arrives with her tales of Kruger, it only strengthens the legend. Adding strength to the already powerful demon. Nancy Thompson arrives and starts coaching the kids through tactics that may help them against the dream killer. They learn about their dream powers and the differences between the dream world and the real world. With outside help from Nancy's dad, can it be enough to help them survive? 

This is an amazing entry of vintage horror from the second Golden Age, the eighties. This is almost a masterpiece. Aside from a few dragging segments and the re-edits, this movie delivers a really high-quality product. The dialogue is a bit rough, but it is more than made up for with an incredibly rich story. The effects are top-notch as well. Although this is a darker feature, Freddy starts to flush out his comedic chops as is more apparent on his future appearances. 

We a movie full of storyline and plot. Aside from the original, this film is far more focused on the underlying storyline. It's not just Freddy killing in a Christmas sweater. You get a big look the origin of Kruger, which may or may not have been retconned in later films. Then just in case you felt slighted or unimpressed with the original movie, you get closure for that as well. 

Easily the best of the Nightmare sequels to date. It has so much content, it is literally bursting at the seams. Casual viewers will really appreciate the practical special effects and characters in the Mental Facility. It may drag at points, but those points are brief and go-by quickly. The cameos are wonderful. If you haven't seen this then you will be pleasantly surprised. Freddy is terrifying and entertaining. This isn't a SFW movie either, it has an X rating. If you can find an uncut version then check it out. I bet your going to love it. Get some friends together and make a night of it. It's wonderful. Enjoy. 

Director: Chuck Russel
Country: USA

Did ya know...

Ken Sagoes stated in an interview he really didn't want to audition for the role of Kincaid, but his agent talked him into going. On the day of the audition he walked in heavy rain to catch a bus to the location. He showed up completely drenched and had to sit and wait for a few hours due to the auditions running late. When it was his turn, director Chuck Russell told him, "Do whatever you want to do". Sagoes was so frustrated and mad about the whole ordeal that he yelled "FUCK YOU!", and then proceeded to scream and curse out Russell. Russell immediately hired him.

Wes Craven had nothing to do with the first sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), as he didn't believe that Elm Street was capable of spawning a franchise. The success of the second film, out-grossing the original, convinced him otherwise.