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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Laid to Rest (2009) - Robert Hall

Laid to Rest is a low quality but high effort horror movie written and directed by Robert Hall. I say high effort because Director Hall had the drive and wanted to create something. The parts that succeed remind me of Hatchet but the rest suffers from the Director's inability and a low-budget. 

This movie features a slasher named Chromeskull. A serial killer that wears a chrome-skull mask and specializes in brutalizing his victims. Of course he does it in the goriest ways possible. Chromeskull is in pursuit of Princess, a young woman with amnesia that woke up in a morgue. Princess (Bobbi Sue Luther) is joined by Steven (Sean Whalen) and Tucker (Kevin Gage). They serve as her protectors that aid her escape from the clutches of this malicious masked stranger whose motives are a mystery chased through the entire picture.

Chromeskull is awesome. His style is the coolest-looking thing in the movie. His mask reminds me of Marilyn Manson's album cover for Golden Age of the Grotesque. Robert Hall must have had a great time directing Chromeskull's mutilation scenes. Gore levels in this movie are off the charts. In one scene, the killer takes a knife and stabs a man through the mouth. Cheek to cheek. Right through the teeth and gums... yikes. Then rips off the dudes face! That was wonderful! The practical effects were wonderful. I even liked the CGI when it was used sparingly. 

That's all the movie did well. The Director misused the computer graphics when he put cheap splatter effects in. I saw that CGI blood and lost it. Then the movie has horrendous editing that hinders a number of scenes. Sometimes it's hard to tell what is happening and who is getting attacked. And the casting is weird. Why even get Lena Headey (300, Game of Thrones) when she is so inefficient. 

In fact, all the characters are inefficient. It's a cliche female lead with Goldberg and Steve Buscemi’s little brother in tow. Your biggest known actor that gets a decent chunk of screen time is Sean Whalen (Frogurt from LOST). It could have been good if it were made better. The occasional stabs at comedy are okay but not enough to save it. 

While the Director tried, and the movie had its moments. The poor just outweighed the good. I appreciate low-budget movies that pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But movie is not well executed. Maybe Robert Hall will get it right for the sequel. Check this out if you are looking for something to watch and you feel like seeing just about anything. 

Director: Robert Green Hall
Producer: Chang Tseng and Bobbi Sue Luther
Writer: Robert Green Hall
Starring: Bobbi Sue Luther, Kevin Gage, Sean Whalen and Johnathon Schaech
Studio: Dry County Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: March 18, 2009
Country: United States
Did ya know: When Tucker and Steven print off the information about The Girl they use a laser printer, but the sound is that of a matrix style printer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Uncanny (1977) - Claude Héroux

Cats are strange creatures. While I love my cat a lot. She is very lazy and expectant. She doesn't do much outside of eating, sleeping and getting belly rubs. But I have this sneaking suspicion she is planning my demise. This movie only affirms such behavior. The Uncanny is a French-Canadian/British anthology horror movie consisting of different cat themed tales.

The interweaving story is a series of true stories that Wilber (Peter Cushing) is trying to sell to his publisher. While Wilber tells these stories, he seems to grow more and more nervous about his cat "speaking" to other neighborhood cats. They are all mingling about taking the human species out.

The stories comprise feline revenge tales. Our initial tale has a woman trying to rob an old cat lady. It so happens her cats don't like that. They rip her apart. Quaint little jazzy tunes play in between stories, it breaks up the atmosphere. A lot of films from the seventies made that mistake. Like directors didn't know how to direct the soundtrack.

The next story is about Lucy, a young girl who moves into her aunt's home after her mother's death. The young girl has books on Witchcraft and also has a stereotypical black cat. Thus she begins her journey on a satanic lifestyle much to the chagrin of her oppressive aunt. Lucy shrinks her bully cousin during a dark ceremony. She shrinks her down to the size of a mouse. Perfect for the cat to bat around. These scenes are entertaining. It's fantastic when the cousin meets her horrific demise.

The last story is about a rich asshole (Donald Pleasence) in Hollywood that murders his wife on set to give the part to the young lady he is having an affair with. She's not so great either. He treats his wife's cat like shit. He is constantly yelling at it and stomping at the poor thing. So, like the other felines it tries to kill them and succeeds.

The actors performances are cheap. Typical from a movie from the late seventies. It has its moments. Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence and Ray Milland all do fantastic. But the rest of the cast is stuck churning out daytime television performances. The segment with satanic Lucy was my favorite. And the overarching story was great. There could have had better quality picture and better dubbing. Those are my only gripes.

The Uncanny was enjoyable. It was cheap but charming. It's one of only a few movies that shine a light on the common house-cat's true intentions. Something that is respectable. All joking aside. I would recommend this movie. It's not something that a casual horror fan would enjoy but more for the horror lover. Especially if that horror lover is a fan of Hammer pictures or just British horror altogether. 

Director: Claude Héroux
Producer: René Dupont and Milton Subotsky
Writer: Michael Parry
Starring: Peter Cushing, Ray Milland and Donald Pleasence
Studio: CineVideo, TOR and Rank Films
Release date: August 26, 1977
Country: Canada/Britain
Did you know: Peter Cushing was third choice for author Wilbur Gray.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Stand (1994) - Mark Garris

The Stand is a phenomenal Stephen King novel that was adapted into a pretty decent TV movie of the same title. It was released in 1994 and boasted a huge cast of stars and cameos. I had always been hesitant to see this film since it was a made-for-television picture. However, after watching Stephen King’s IT my hang-ups were put to rest. What I discovered is a movie that is charming, thought provoking and a bit unnerving. While it isn’t without it’s own issues. The Stand turned out to be a pretty great picture. 

A super-virus is released on the world that wipes out millions of people. This horrific act summons the demonic Randall Flagg to kick start the Apocalypse. However, there are a large number of those that were immune that are not going to let the world burn. They form a resistance and vow to take a stand against the evil forces of Flagg. 

The narrative interweaves the individual stories of a lot of different characters. The most impressive part of this flick is the huge cast. Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Corin Nemec, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Adam Storke, Rob Lowe, Bill Fagerbakke, Max Wright, Shawnee Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Joe-Bob Briggs, Stephen King, John Landis, Sam Raimi, Tom Holland, Kathy Bates and Ed Harris all round out characters and cameos. 

The movie isn’t made very well but has a large interesting story that makes up for the weak direction. Poor editing and lame acting are all factors. But like I said, the story is so epic, none of that matters. Jamey Sheridan did an amazing job as Randall Flagg. He was completely evil and it was glorious. He was definitely my favorite character. Well, it's a toss up between Flagg and Lloyd Henreid. Both are awesome. I just couldn't get behind the good guys. I took issue with most of them. I didn't much like the musician or Gary Sinise. 

The Stand may not be as overt as religious movies like the Left Behind series it still has huge overtones. Nick not being seduced by the Julie character is a scene that comes to mind. Or even Randall Flagg being the embodiment of a Demon or Satan. The good thing about this movie is that it doesn’t come off as preachy. It's more subtle. 

I genuinely liked this movie. I didn't find it scary in the conventional sense. However, the finality of the the world and the battle of good versus evil on the eve of the Apocalypse is upsetting. The Dark Man, Randall Flagg is the scariest part of the picture. Unfortunately, his demonic figure gets overused toward the end of the film. But it was still frightening. If you are a Stephen King fan and you haven't seen The Stand. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It's really long but worth dedicating some time. 

Director: Mick Garris

Producer: Stephen King
Starring: Gary Sinise, Jamey Sheridan, Rob Lowe, Laura San Giacomo and Miguel Ferrer
Studio: Laurel Entertainment and Greengrass Productions
Air Date: May 8 – May 12, 1994
Country: USA
Did ya Know: Mother Abigail's house and cornfield were constructed to full scale on a soundstage. Corn stalks were flown in from Florida for the sound-stage cornfield. By the time the corn got to the set in Utah, it was dead. Fake corn was constructed instead, costing nearly 80,000 dollars. Actors initially considered for the part of Randall Flagg: Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and James Woods. Ultimately, it was decided to give the role to a lesser known face.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Lamp (1987) - Tom Daley

The Lamp or The Outing, is a low budget horror flick released in 1987. It is the only film to have been directed by the late Tom Daley and it falls into a very small genre of horror dealing with Jinn and Jinni. It’s a surprising movie because it’s actually pretty decent but nearly forgotten. I had never heard of this movie until I was browsing around on the web and stumbled across it. It looked really interesting and I loved Wishmaster so I thought I would give it a try. 

An evil lamp that’s possessed by a demonic jinn had made it’s way into the United States. It was awakened and unleashed by thieves. Then repossessing the lamp again it’s transferred to a Natural History Museum where it peaks the interest of more attractive victims. These victims happen to be some of the teenagers from a local school. One of the teenagers is Alex Wallace the daughter of Dr. Wallace of the Museum. The teens decide to stay overnight in the Museum when things start to go wrong. 

It was really ambitious for Tom Daley to make a movie with a strong supernatural antagonist during a height of slasher movies. But he did a good job of melding both subjects. The killings all have a slasher vibe even though the jinn is using magic and pretty lights. I didn’t mind as long as the damn teenagers were punished for their mistake of thinking they could have a fun night. 

The actors are not very good and the writing is pretty rough. Scenes are commonly out of focus or poorly dubbed. Others are not constructed properly or very well at all. However, I still found it to be pretty redeeming. I enjoyed it quite a bit more on a corny nostalgic factor. 

The Lamp is really surprising. It's far more interesting than I had thought it would have been. I don't know why I hadn't heard of it before. The eighties flair is in full effect. The music, the hair, the style and most importantly, the practical effects. This movie has a ton of really gory special effects. They are pretty awesome.

Director Tom Daley
Producer: Warren Chaney
Writer: Warren Chaney
Starring: Deborah Winters, James Huston, Andra St. Ivanyi, Scott Bankston and Red Mitchell
Studio: Moviestore Entertainment
Release Date: September 11, 1987
Country: United States
Did Ya Know: When Bob the security guard is impaled, in the first shot, the spear enters his chest. In the next, it is stuck in his abdomen.