Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another Vacationing Couple In Peril Film

Eden Lake 2008
Director: James Watkins
Writer: James Watkins
Starring Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Tara Ellis, Jack O'Connell and Finn Atkins

The couple in peril while on vacation sub genre of the horror film is a popular one as of late in films like Storm Warning and Timber Falls. While those films I feel are modern classics, Eden Lake falls a bit short in this category. The Lead male Fassbender was just written to stupidly, and the ending should not have ended the way it did, it felt like a cheat to everyone who has been invested from the film in the beginning. I did enjoy it though, except for those 2 points. The writer and director is also the writer for the upcoming Descent 2, so I hope that turns out better than this film did. IT has some great tension and some nice bloody moments but, it just does not come together at the end.
The plot basics are this, Jenny (Reilly) and Steve (Fassbender are going on a weekend getaway where Steve plans to ask Jenny to marry him. They go to a secluded area in Eden Lake, and everything is fine at first, till they run afoul of some hoodlums led by Brett (O'Connell) and they end up stealing their car and Steve confronts them and accidentally kills their dog, this pisses Brett off, and now the 2 of them are running for their life. The rest of the film is basically a variation on The Most Dangerous Game, that does not end prettily for either Steve or Jenny.
I really dug this movie till the last 10 minutes and then it just fell apart. The direction by Watkins was intense and suspenseful, and you never felt what was around the next corner. I thought the writing was good except for the stupidity of Fassbender's character and the ending that felt it was made shocking just to be shocking, and really had no place in this film. The acting By Reilly and O'Connell is really what saved the film. Reilly you really felt for and sympathized with and O'Connell you just hated and wanted him to get his comeuppance. The effects in the film were quite good, especially the damage of Steve and the foot wound of Jenny's. This film just felt oddly uneven with the ending so, I can only mildly recommend this one.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Phantasm 1979 Review

Phantasm 1979
Director: Don Coscarelli
Writer: Don Coscarelli
Starring Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, A. Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury

This is one of the creepiest films ever made, in my eyes. I first saw this at the Drive Inn when I was 8 years old, and I immediately latched onto this gem. Everything about this film works, from the eerie music, to the sinister portrayal of Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man. Whenever he speaks, it sends chills down your spine. IT is a film more about mood and atmosphere, than a coherent and linear plotline. It plays like it is someone's fevered nightmare. And too many that is your experience as you watch the story unfold.
The plot basics are this, Jody (Thornbury) is in town for the funeral of his friend Tommy and to look after his young brother, Mike (Baldwin). As Jody and his friend Reggie (Bannister go to the funeral, Mike watches them from a distance and after the funeral he sees the funeral director a tall man (Scrimm) pick up the coffin like its a paperweight. Soon, he is investigating the Morningside cemetery and sees strange things and believes that the Tall Man is doing something to the bodies. He now has to convince his brother, that something is out of whack here, and then try to stop the Tall Man before he destroys everyone in this town.
I still get a kick out of this film every time I watch it. Coscarelli, did a great job on directing and writing this film and I am still amazed how it creeps me out every time I watch it. His direction is solid and you never know what is awaiting you around each corner. The acting is great too, especially Scrimm as the Tall Man, still one of the most memorable and defining horror icons of the last 30 years. I just get chills, whenever I hear him yell "BOY". The effects in the film while limited, are really done well, and the film relies more on mood than trying to gross you out.The music is really the defining characteristic of the film too, I believe without it this film would not leave such an indelible mark on our psyches. This film is a true classic of the modern horror film and if you have not seen it yet, what are you doing reading this review, go and see it.
This one gets 5 spheres out of 5

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lee Kicking Ass Yet Again!!

Dracula 3: Legacy 2005
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writers: Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier
Starring Jason Scott Lee, Jason London, Roy Schieder, Rutger Hauer and Alexandra Wescourt

This is the third and final film in the Dracula trilogy that was produced by Wes Craven and which began with Dracula 2000. This film picks up right where Ascension left off, which is fitting as the films were shot back to back. This was fun series and I think this was a great ending to the series. It would be nice if they did pick it up where the film end as I would have liked to have seen the continuing adventures of Lee's character. These films are gory, have a nice sense of humor and are action packed. I was just sorry to not see this one and the previous one in theaters, as I would have loved to have seen it on a big screen.
The plot basics are such, Luke (London) and Uffizzi (Lee) are still hunting down Dracula (Hauer), and after they get a location of his whereabouts, Uffizzi goes to see the Cardinal (Schieder) for some help he finds that they want him to stop so he leaves the priesthood so he can hunt down Dracula. They head to Bucharest, as that is where their information has lead them and they face numerous hurdles trying to find him, running into flesh traders and rebel factions. They finally make it to his lair and that is when things start getting dicey, as a reporter (Wescourt) that Uffizzi has fallen for gets into the mix and Luke finds Elizabeth, but not as he hoped. Everything ends but not se well for some, and a new beginning for others.
This is a fun vampire film and this final part of the trilogy, seems to remind me a lot of Full Moon's Subspecies series. Lussier does a great job as always, I have yet to see him direct a bad film. I even dug White Noise 2. The cinematography is sharp and the action is clear and well defined. The script is good too, you can really feel the inner turmoil that Uffizzi feels during the story. The actors were great too, loved the banter between Lee and London, and Lee shined in the action scenes as he always does. Hauer was a great Dracula too, just wish there had been more of him in the film. The effects were great, the blood flies quite frequently in this film. This was a great end to the series and I highly suggest you sink your teeth into this one. Though if you haven't seen the first 2 I would say watch them first.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Raimi is back, Baby!!

Drag Me to Hell 2009
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam and Ivan Raimi
Starring Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Paymer, Lorna Raver and Dileep Rao

Sam Raimi, his name is one that is synonymous with horror when it comes to your mind. Though he has not dabbled in it since the Gift. I am happy to say that Drag Me to Hell is a return to form for him and he has lost none of the magic in making a horror film. This is the scariest horror film I have seen since Dead Silence. It grabs you by the throat from the beginning and never lets up until the end credits roll. Raimi deftly controls the suspense in the film and you are tensed up throughout the entire film. You feel the film is going to end one way and it totally turns you on your head and leaves you gasping in shock when the credits start.
The plot basics are such, Christine (Lohman) is a loan officer at a bank and is gunning for a promotion to assistant manager. She wants to prove she has the nerve for it to her boss (Paymer). She has a old gypsy woman (Raver) ask for an extension on her mortgage but she denies her and the gypsy begs but she refuses and she lunges at her and is escorted out. Then on the way home she ends up in a brutal battle with the Gypsy, where the gypsy rips a button off her coat and curses her. At first it seems fine, until she starts being attacked by unseen forces and she seeks the help of a psychic (Rao) to stop what is attacking her and she finds out that in 3 days she will be dragged to hell. What follows is a battle to save her soul and she will be surprised to how far she will go to save herself.
I was expecting this film to be good, but it really blew me away, it's a phenomenal film. Raimi has lost none of his artistic touches when making horror. He works wonders with the PG-13 rating, and makes a cringe inducing horror film. The writing is great too tense and spooky when needed, action packed at others, with great humor sprinkled throughout. The acting is great you really feel for Lohman and she transforms into a character of Ash proportions by the end of the film. Long does great as the boyfriend who believes her unquestionably too. Raver as the gypsy woman is eerily scary throughout the film too. The effects by Greg Nicotero are great as well, I never doubted any of the effect scenes for a second. This is a film I highly recommend and any tru horror fan is doing themselves a disservice if they don't see this because it's rated PG-13. This film will make you change your underwear.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Another zombie crapfest

Children of the Living Dead 2001
Director: Tor Ramsey
Writer: Karen L. Wolf
Starring Tom Savini, Marty Schiff, Damien Luvara, Jamie McCoy, Sam Nicotero and A. Barret Worland

Zombie films, there seems to be a new one coming out every week, and many of them are pure trash, but sometimes you get a gem out of the trash. I am sorry to say Children of the Living Dead is not one of those. Other than a brief performance by Tom Savini, this is a pretty forgettable film. It is very cheesy and doesn't try to be professional at all. This is probably the worst one I have seen since the remake of Day of the Dead. It is poorly done and doesn't even try to make it seem a competent and enjoyable zombie film.
The plot basics are this, A small Midwestern town is besieged by a zombie plague. We meet Hughes (Savini) an ex Deputy and now a survivalist is clearing the town of zombies. He runs into his ex partner (Schiff) and they go to check out a barn and find a group of kids from a field trip and they pull them out but Hughes is attacked and has to be put down. A little while later we meet a group of teens, who are heading to a concert and they see a lumbering zombie and causes them to drive off a cliff and they die horribly. A few months later we meet Matthew (Luvara), whose father has bought the land the zombie siege took place on and is building a car dealership there. Though, strange things begin happening and you hear about the man who owned the land Abbott Hayes (Worland), and how he was a killer and sent to death row and was murdered there, but now has somehow come back to life as a ghoul and is controlling the zombies.
This was a really bad film. It was poorly done and the effects were just laughable. The direction was really bad, with poorly executed shots, and a rather pedestrian pace for the film. The writing is very pedestrian and predictable, it is like the writer seemed to just have cribbed everything from all the great zombie films. The acting was pretty bad, the only saving grace was the far to brief role by Tom Savini. All the other actors seemed like they were from a bad summer stock play. The effects are really bad, and the main zombie Hayes looks like the creep from Creepshow 2. This was just a bad film on all levels, so I would bypass this one and save yourself some grief.
This one gets 2 out of 5

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dracula Done Right

Dracula 1979
Director: John Badham
Writer: W.D. Richter
Starring Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Kate Nelligan and Donald Pleasance

Dracula is probably the most famous and beloved of modern horror film icons, and he has been portrayed from everyone like Bela Lugosi to Gerard Butler. When I think a perfect two names come to mind, Christopher Lee and Frank Langella. They both made him sinister and yet alluring and regal as well. They never tried to wink at the audience or make the character a joke, and that is one of the things I find most refreshing about their portrayals of the Count. In my book Lee and Langella are leaps above all the other actors who have taken over the role. Langella really embodies the role and you believe he is the Count. The film is very Gothic and it plays up that atmosphere without feeling hokey or campy in the slightest.
The plot basics are such, It is the late 18th century in England, and there is a horrible storm and a huge ship crashed on the beach. A clean up crew arrives in the morning and finds everyone dead with horrible marks on their necks. This is where we meet Dr. Seward (Pleasance) who runs the neighboring mental hospital, we soon also meet Jonathon Harker, a solicitor for Dracula, who was a passenger on the ship and he seems to have arrived intact and safely. In the evening we meet Dracula (Langella) at a dinner at Seward's house and he is charming and regal, but behaves strangely. Mina a girl living with Seward and his daughter Mina (Nelligan) dies mysteriously the next morning with 2 marks on her neck. Seward calls her father Van Helsing (Olivier) to come at once and he arrives, and makes the accusation that Lucy was killed by a vampire, he talks Seward into digging her up and finds her missing, but then finds her in the mines below the graveyard, alive or un alive as it were and Helsing has to put a stake through her heart to put her at peace. Now with proof they are all steeled to destroy Dracula before he takes Mina as well. There are many battles that lead up to a rousing climax on a ship, with a great demise for the Count.
This is my second favorite Dracula film after the Horror of Dracula. Badham does a great job with the direction, their is great use of fog, and also the muted color in the film gives it a perpetual gloominess, that keeps it moody throughout the film. The script by Richter is great too, Langella performs with relish, and his confrontations with Olivier are especially sweet to watch. Also, Pleasance is great as Seward, He is a little hammy, but not too much that it derails the film. The effects are minimal, most of them during the great mine sequence with Lucy and the death of Dracula at the end. This is also, one of the most faithful translations of Stoker's book too, leaps and bounds over the highly overrated Bram Stoker's Dracula. I highly recommend this one for fans of Dracula or the vampire genre in general.
This one gets 4 out of 5 bats

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sadism, Depravity and Grue

Cat in the Brain 1990
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci and John Fitzsimmons
Starring Lucio Fulci, Brett Halsey, David L. Thompson, Jeoffrey Kennedy and Malisa Longo

Lucio Fulci, to many he is one of the premiere names when someone thinks Italian horror. To me he is the only one when I think of Italian Horror, I would rather see a Fulci film over a Argento or a Bava film. I had heard a lot of good things about this film, so I was really anticipating this film and I am happy to say that it failed to disappoint. The film is drenched in gore, sadism, and graphic nudity, all things that are a must for a great grindhouse experience to me. This film plays with the film within a film subject and really works well. It's also great to see FDulci play upon his notoriety has a creator of horror.
The plot basics are this, Lucio Fulci (Fulci) is a horror director who is starting to get affected by all the depravity he is filming and he is starting to hallucinate that horrible things are happening to him in reality just like in his films. He is worried that it is really affecting his life and his job, so he goes to a nearby psychiatrist (Thompson), to see if he can help him. But, the doctor has a wife (Longo), that is testing his limits and his rage is building up and decides to use Fulci's neuroses to cover his plans and hypnotizes him and tells him that he will think he is committing horrible acts of murder, while he is actually doing it. As the story progresses Fulci's hallucinations get worse and he really begins to question his sanity/ This all leads to a bizarre climax that ends with what seems Fulci finally succumbing to his madness.
This film was a delight to watch. As usual, Fulci's direction is great as he leers like a demented peeping tom on the gore and nudity. The writing, which was never a strong point of a Fulci film, does its job well enough, as I actually think this is one of his most lucid plots. The acting was good, Fulci was great playing himself, if he went insane. Also Thompson as the maniacal doctor is fun as hell to watch and the scenes within the movie with Halsey as the killer is great as well. The gore in this was insane and Fulci really seemed to revel in the sheer depravity of it. I also think this film other than the New York Ripper has the most blatant use of sexual depravity too. This is really a film for fans of grindhouse sex and sleaze. I would say casual film watcher should stay away as they will be easily offended.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Chainsaw Is A Girl's Best Friend

Chainsaw Sally 2004
Director: Jimmyo Burril
Writer: Jimmyo Burril
Starring April Monique Burril, Gunnar Hansen, Mark Redfield, Alec Joseph and Kristen Hudson

This is a film I had been hearing a lot of great things about it, and I am happy to say this didn't disappoint, in fact it exceeded my expectations. Chainsaw Sally is a great horror comedy hybrid, which had me rolling on the floor laughing my butt off. April Monique Burril was amazing, she really was the glue that held this film together. You just couldn't stop watching her whenever she was on screen. The gore and effects were pretty awesome for a low budget independent film.
The plot basics are this, Sally (Burril) is the town librarian in the small town of Porterville, and she seems quite normal, but at night she goes hog wild and kills people who have wronged her, or she doesn't feel they are contributing to society. We move to a town meeting where a land developer is planning on building condos and high rises all through the town. He meets wit Steve (Redfield), who owns a big patch of land he wants to develop on. Unbeknownst to him Sally and her brother (Joseph) live on the land, and will do anything to make sure that nothing happens to the land. It all leads to a bloodbath of an ending that will leave a shit eating grin on your face.
I fell in love with this movie, and I am now kicking myself for not having seen it sooner. The direction by Burril is great, he has some great homages to films like Jaws and Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the film, and they flow together so well. The writing by Burril is flawless too, the humor just comes out so naturally and it never seems faked or forced. The acting in the film is good, but this is really April's show and she shines whenever she is on screen, I also love the bit Part Gunnar Hansen had too, he was great with what little screen time he had. I also have to comment on the scene with the town council, where they have a guy speak, who is clearly modeled after Quint from Jaws and he does a flawless job. The gore and effects were great for a film of this scope. I highly recommend this to horror fans with a sick and depraved sense of humor like me.
I give this one 5 twirling chainsaws out of 5

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Re-Animator 1985

Re-Animator 1985
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writer: Dennis Paoli
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbot, Barbara Crampton, David Gale and Robert Sampson

Lovecraft, when you think of that name and when I think of Lovecraft films the team of Gordon and Combs comes immediately to mind. Re-Animator was their first commingling and still by far the best. This is my 3rd favorite horror film of all time. It is just one of the most perfect blends of horror with comedy. A great film with greating performances by Combs and Gale. The humor in this film is really in the form of bad taste and it works so well in this film. I think if any other director had tired this it would come out feeling forced, but Gordon really makes it feel like a natural part of the telling of the tale.
The plots basics are this, we open in Switzerland, where a experiment goes horribly wrong. This is where we meet Herbert West (Combs), a brilliant scientist who has discovered how to bring life back to the dead. He arrives in America at Miskatonic University and is introduced to Daniel Cain (Abbott) another promising mind and he rents a room from Cain. West also meets the resident professor in neurosurgery Dr. Hill (Gale) and they do not get along well. Soon, Cain discovers what West is doing and begins to help him, which starts a domino effect rippling throughout his life. Hill soon discovers West's formula and steals it but not before he is killed, decapitated and brought back to life. He then abducts Megan (Crampton), Dean's girlfriend and this all leads to a insane showdown at the morgue.
I cannot rave about this film enough. Gordon's direction is tight as always, but this film is definitely his masterpiece. The writing is excellent, with great one liners for both West and Hill. It is a really subversive script and it plays with the dark humor really well. The acting is great especially Combs and Gale. My favorite scene with West has to be when he confronts Gale at the end of the film and just lays insult over insult. And what can be said about Gale's Coitus scene with Crampton, I still laugh my ass off whenever I see it. The effects in the film is phenomenal too, for being low budget it all looks really believable. I also love Richard Band's score, which was a riff on Psycho's score while still being original. This is a classic genre film and if you have not seen this yet you are really missing out.
5 dead cats out of 5

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Which Witch Is Which?

Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 2000
Director: Joe Berlinger
Writers: Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger
Starring Kim Director, Jeffrey Donavon, Erica Leerhsen, Tristan Skylar and Stephen Baxter Turner

The Blair Witch Project is one of the most famous and popular horror films in the last few years, though I am not one who shares that sentiment. I just did not like much of anything form the original film. I feel the characters were annoying and unlikable and the scares were non existent. I really enjoy the sequel though. It has a great atmosphere and some characters I can actually care about, specifically Erica and Kim. Also, it plays on 2 levels as a straight up horror film, and also as a suspense film, as you can view the film in both of those ways and still enjoy it. I really think this film gets an unwarranted bad rap.
The plot basics are this, Jeff (Donavon) has started a Blair Witch Tour, to cash in on the popularity of the film the Blair Witch Project. He brings along 4 other people, a couple writing a book on the phenomena, a Wiccan (Leerhsen) and a Goth chick (Director). They camp out where the original tapes were found but when they wake up their equipment is all trashed, along with the couple's writings. Though, they find their video tapes and they are missing 5 hours of activities. They go back to Jeff's place to look into the videos and that is when bizarre and strange stuff occurs. As the story progresses, they start to see hallucinations and Erica ends up disappearing. Tempers run high and it all leads to a tragic ending, where no one is who you think thyme are, and makes you wonder if it was a supernatural phenomenon or people who just snapped.
I think this film turned out really well, I was expecting to hate it the first time I saw it, but with every viewing I appreciate it more. The direction is creepy and atmospheric, with a little sexiness thrown in there too. The writing is good too, as it flashes back and forth from the past to the present as it tries to put together the pieces of what happened. The actors were great, I especially loved Leerhsen and Director, they were sexy and believable, you actually felt their dilemmas, and they really conveyed their tenuous grip on reality. The effects in the film was quite good and believable as well. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack, it really seemed to fit the mood of the piece well. I would say if you didn't like the first Blair Witch, give this one a chance and you will be pleasantly surprised.
I give this one 3 out of 5

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Deathdream 1974
Director: Bob Clark
Writer: Alan Ormsby
Starring John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus, Henderson Forsythe and Anya Ormsby

The Monkey's Paw is probably one of the most well known horror stories and is always ripe for retelling. It really brings home the phrase "be careful what you wish for", because you just might get it. This version also plays on the feelings of people at the time of the Vietnam War and what it felt like to lose a loved one during this turbulent era. It was brought to life by the team of Clark and Ormsby, who already did great work with Deranged and Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. This film really touches on the obsessive love some mothers have for their children that they will overlook anything, no matter how heinous.
The plot basics are this, Charles (Marley) and Christine (Carlin) are missing their son who is in Vietnam and Christine, keeps praying for him to come home alive and safe. One night he arrives home, but all does not seem right with him, he is pale and doesn't interact with anyone much and doesn't want anyone to know he is here, and he spends all the time in his room, with it dark and rocking in a chair. There also seems to be a killer running around the neighborhood ripping up peoples throats and injecting them with a syringe. Charles suspects and gets the town doctor to check out his son, and it doesn't end well for the good doctor. This all leads to a tragic incident at the drive-inn and Andy (Bachus) runs home to Mama but the police are closing in and he is quickly deteriorating, and this leads to a tragic and sad ending to the story.
Clark and Ormsby have created another classic. Clark's direction is great, he plays the film out like a gothic horror film and it works really well. Ormsby's script is grim and really quite a despondent piece. The acting is good, especially Bachus as the soldier coming home with a thirst for blood. There is not much gore, until the end when you see how Andy has decayed and that is done very well. I also thought the soundtrack was excellent, it was so gothic I thought I was watching a Poe film. The film has a grim inevitability to it, and you feel as no one in the film is going to survive unscathed. Not a pleasant experience, but still one that is well worth watching.
I give this one 3 out of 5

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not Your Everyday Kind of Parents

Mum & Dad 2008
Director: Steven Shiel
Writer: Steven Shiel
Starring Perry Benson, Dido Miles, Olga Fedori, Ainsley Howard and Toby Alexander

Evil and sadistic Parental units, have always been a popular villains in genre pieces for a long time. Whether it be in Parents or People Under the Stairs. The new British horror film Mum & Dad is no exception to that. It has a heavy undercurrent of sleaziness throughout the film, with some very darly humorous scenes tinged throughout the film as well. This film was a real surprise, it was grim and bleak as hell, a trait I really enjoy in horror films. The film has an unnerving feel throughout and you feel as something horrible will hapeen at any second. The film always seems to be on the cusp of dementia and that's what makes the film standout over other genre pieces that I have seen lately.
The plot basics are this, Lena (Fedori) isa newly hired worker at the airport and meets Birdie (Howard) who she is working with, and they strike up a friendly relationship while working. At the end of the day Birdie forgets her phone and runs back into retrieve it and this makes Lean miss her bus, when Birdie comes back she apologizes and says if she comes home with her, her dad will take her back home. She goes with her and as she waits for her to find her dad, she hears a noise and is hit with a syringe and is knocked out. When she regains consciousness she finds herself chained to a bed and hearing ungodly screams from the room next to hers. She is soon introduced to Mum (Miles) and Dad (Benson) and soon discovers that if she doesn't do whatever they say she will pay for it severely. She then tires to listen, while trying to find a way out of this madhouse, and the more she discovers the more insane the people seem. This all leads to a brutal bloodbath of a climax.
This was a sleazy grindhouse style of a film and it kind of made you feel dirty after watching it. The direction was very good, he really knew what to show you and what not to show you. The writing was also good, very sick and twisted along with some really morbid humor. The actors were all great, especially Benson and Miles as the title characters. Fedori was quite good too as she had to remain silent throughout most of the film and had to rely on her facial expressions to convey her feelings. There were some quite gross gore effects throughout the film, that were handled really well. An especially good scene was one involving the kissing of a decapitated head. This film reminded me a lot of People Under the Stairs, and that's a good thing. This film takes it in a different direction though, and does it with a mean spirited glee, it almost has a EC comics style to the whole thing. I highly recommend this one, but only if you are not easily shocked or disgusted.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shades of the Thing

Alien Raiders 2008
Director: Ben Rock
Writers: Julia Fair and David Simkins
Starring Carlos Bernard, Matthew St. Patrick, Rockmund Dunbar, Courtney Ford and Jeffrey Licon
The Monster hiding within a human host, is a old Horror plot that has been mined well many times before in classics like Alien and John Carpenter's the Thing. It always seems to work well, cause it dives into the fears people have of what is unknown. This is done well in the latest version of the story Alien Raiders. It is a tense and claustrophobic film that moves at a frenetic pace and you never know who is safe at any given point in time. It definitely surprised me being a low budget film it used its limited resources rather effectively.
The plot basics are this, it is closing time at a local grocery store, when a group of what appears to be robber lay siege upon the store and start killing people but only after they have one member of their group lay their hands on the hostages heads, for what reason it is not known. Then after a cop is killed, they turn out all the lights and cut the phone lines and corral the hostages in the warehouse area. Soon the police are there and they bring in a hostage negotiator to try to work it out with the lead criminal (Bernard). As the story progresses it seems that Ritter (Bernard) is hunting aliens that infect a human and can only be found by cutting a finger of the host and putting it in ice to see if it reacts violently to it. As the evening progresses things get worse and they are besieged by what they think is the alien that started it all and Ritter teams up with the negotiator (St. Patrick) to kill the monster and hopefully end its reign of terror.
This was a great claustrophobic siege film that did not pull any punches. The direction was tight as hell, though some scenes I felt were way too dark, but still fun. The writing was good, you got a definite feel for all the characters and really felt the emotions of what they were going through. The acting especially by Bernard and St. Patrick was excellent, they really played well off of each other and you had a feeling they would have to up aside their problems to deal with the threat before the film was over. The film also had some great gore effects, which were pretty gruesome. This film really reminded me a lot of the Thing and in a good way. Definitely seek this one out if you like films like the Thing or the Hidden.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Old Yeller Ain't What It Used To Be

Quarantine 2008
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Writers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle
Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez and Jonathon Schaech

Infection and virus films seems to be all the rage now with many a modern horror film taking on this subject. And with the ongoing threat looming over our heads of biological attacks, this threat seems all too real, so it makes for an excellent subject for a horror film. Quarantine is a film that definitely falls into this category and I think was pulled off ably well. I have yet to see (Rec) the Spanish film on which it is based on, but if it's half as entraining as Quarantine, I am sure its a great movie. This was a creepy and scary little film and finally a film that uses shakie cam to it's best advantage.
The plot basics are this, Angela (Carpenter) and Scott (Harris) are a reporter and cameraman for a local news station and they are doing a segment on spending the evening with a fire station. Everything starts off pretty mundane and safe, until they get a call to help an elderly woman who has befallen something in her apartment building. Angela and Scott go with the Firemen and it soon becomes clear that this is no normal emergency, as the elderly woman goes crazy and attacks a policeman by feasting on his neck and another cop has to put her down. They all go downstairs to get him help, but soon find themselves barricaded in the apartment building by the Police and CDC. As the night progresses it appears there is some biological variance of Rabies infecting the building and the government is just going to let it run its course in the building and then clean it up.
I really enjoyed this film quite a bit. I thought the direction was tight and the writing was deftly handled as well. There was enough time set aside to get to know the leads before they are thrust into the hellish evening they are about to endure. The cast was great, especially Carpenter and Hernandez. It was great seeing Carpenter being totally together and then toward the end just going completely insane, due to what she has experienced. There is some great gore scenes in the film too, with quite a few times where I went, WTF. A word about the camera work, I usually do not like the shakey cam style, but it was used really effectively for this film and didn't bother me in the slightest. This was a film that really surprised me.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'd Give you My Arm...Wait A Minute!!

Body Parts 1991
Director: Eric Red
Writer: Eric Red and Norman Snider
Starring Jeff Fahey, Kim Delaney, Brad Dourif and Lindsay Duncan

Horror films that deal with a body part that semms to be possessed with some inherent evil are almost as old as the entire genre itself. The first film that comes to mind is Peter Lorre's Mad Love. Ever since that film, they have continually been a part of the horror genre. Body Parts is one of my personal favorites form one of the under appreciated minds of horror in my book, Eric Red. He really put together an amazing film, it has a great cast, a tight story and some great effects that really bring the story to life.
The plot basics are this, Bill (Fahey) is a psychiatrist trying to understand the essence of evil and while on his way to work one day he has a horrific accident and loses his left arm. The doctor (Duncan does a new procedure where she grafts a arm from another person onto his shoulder and it seems to be a resounding success. Though as he gets accustomed to it, the arm starts taking on a mind of its own hitting his son and almost strangling his wife to death. He then finds out his arm belonged to a mass murderer. He then finds other people who had parts of him but they seem to be doing fine. Suddenly the other recipients start getting killed and the transplanted parts end up missing. It all leads down to a bloody showdown with the insane doctor and the killer who is somehow still walking around.
This is an awesome film that I love rewatching. The direction is tight, it is a tense film throughout with some great horror moments and also some intense action scenes, especially love the car chase scene. The story is great as well, it flows really well from the believable to the fantastic. The cast is awesome, this is one of my favorite performances by Fahey and I also love Dourif in the little time he is onscreen. The gore scenes in the film are brutal as hell and a delight to watch. It is a tight film in all respects and flies by at a frenetic pace. I highly recommend this one and would have to say this is one of my favorite horror films from the 90's.
This one gets 4 arms out of 5

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Halloween 1978

Halloween 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: John Carpenter
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Nancy Loomis, P. J. Soles and Charles Cyphers

Halloween, to many it is the holy grail of slasher films the one that started the whole avalanche that began in the 80's. To many it is the progenitor of the slasher genre, though Black Christmas did it first, but that is more of a hidden cult classic, so when people think of the origins of the slasher film they think of Carpenter's seminal classic. This is my 2nd favorite horror film not far behind, Dawn of the Dead and I think I have watched it at least as many times as Dawn and it just gets better every time I view it. It has great performances, a great deliberate pace and the greatest horror film soundtrack in my opinion.
The plot basics are this, A girl after having sex with her boyfriend is brutally stabbed to death by her little brother. Flash forward 15 years and we meet Dr. Loomis (Pleasance who is picking up the said killer, Michael Myers for a patient evaluation, but he escapes and steals a car. We then move to Haddonfield, where the killing took place and we meet Laurie (Curtis) a shy introverted teenager who plans on babysitting for Halloween night. Loomis comes to the town to warn the police and to hunt down Myers, there is not much luck and as the night progresses Michael stalks Laurie and her friends, killing her friends and then going after Laurie. It leads to a dramatic climax with Loomis and Myers, that ends very creepily.
I cannot say enough about this film. The direction by Carpenter is tight, you always feel as if something bad is about to happen. The writing is good as well, with believable characters you actually care about. The acting in this is great and a special nod goes to Pleasance, he just steals every scene he is in, and has the best lines in the film. I also loved Loomis and Soles too. There isn't any gore in the film its more about mood and atmosphere and that technique works really well. The real star of the film though is Carpenter's soundtrack. The theme is both haunting and hypnotic. Halloween is a true classic and I highly recommend it.
I give it 5 out of 5

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hot Lesbian Zombie action!!

Dead Moon Rising 2007
Director: Mark Poole
Writer: Mark Poole
Starring Jason Crowe, Erica Goldsmith, Mike Seely, Tucky Williams and Gary Williams

It seems like every week a new zombie film hits and most of them are interchangeable with each other, but every now and then a fresh and exciting one comes along. Dead Moon Rising is one of the latter, thankfully. This is a very low budget indie movie, but its fun as hell, it has the feel of Shaun of the Dead meets Airplane. The acting is decent and the eye candy is quite fun to watch and it has some touches of lesbianism which is always nice. This is just a fun little flick and one I think I will be revisiting.
The plot basics are this, Jim (Crowe) and Nick (Seely) are bored guys working at a low rent car rental place, who find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The story is narrated by Jim who has some issues with guns that fall back to a girl humiliating him as a kid. They meet a lot of disparate people along their journey and the fun is seeing all the squabbling between the characters. There is also the burgeoning romantic tension between Jim and April (Goldsmith), and the tension that arises when the girl (Williams) who humiliated him shows up. It all leads into a crazy finale, that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
I would classify this film as a guilty pleasure, it is one of those so bad it's good type of films. The director and writer are one and the same and he does a great job with the material. The direction is good and the writing is tight and funny as hell. The actors are good especially Crowe, Seely and Tucky Williams. They are fun as hell to watch. The effects are decent, but since this is an ultra low budget film, don't expect too much. The effects are more done in a fun and campy style. I would recommend this if you love zombies and sarcastic comedies.
This one gets 3 zombies out of 5.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jane get me off this crazy thing!!

Dante 01 2008
Director: Marc Caro
Writers: Marc Caro and Pierre Bordage
Starring Lambert Wilson, Linh Dan Pham, Samona Maicanescu and Dominique Pinon

The mingling of science fiction and horror is always tricky, for every Alien or Event Horizon you get something like Virus. Dante 01 I am sorry to say falls in the latter category. Its a hodge podge of films like Event Horizon, Alien 3 and 2001, and it still does not equal a good film. Another problem was the very heavy handed Christian symbolism that you are subjected to throughout the film. The film starts off strongly and has some great visuals and decent actors but it flounders after the halfway mark and never finds its footing again, ending with a wtf moment.
The plot basics are these, it is the far future and the location is a prison space station and we come to meet the latest arrival of the prison, designate Unknown (Wilson), along with a new doctor Elisa (Pham) who has brought him onboard to run some scientific experiments and to study theses events. They put Unknown in with the other prisoners and he seems to be in a fugue state. Soon one inmate tries to stab him but he turns the tables on him and cuts his throat, but instead of dying, he does something to his victim that miraculously cures him. Soon, some of the inmates think he is the messiah, while Elisa just wants to dissect him. But this changes when another prisoner has hacked the controls of the ship and is hurtling it to crash into the nearby planet. Everyone tries to work together now, but will it be too late to save them? Only time will tell.
This was an interesting film to watch, at first it started off promising but then got bogged down in Christianity complexes and had an ending that left you confused. The direction was good halfway through then it just disintegrated into senseless imagery. The writing was not much help either this would have worked better if they had decided what kind of film they wanted, a hard edged sf horror film or an existentialist drama about dogma. The actors were good for what they had to work with, but nothing remarkable. The effects were good, but it wasn't very gory so, that didn't come into play too much. This film really comes down to be an interesting failure, if you are into sf and horror check it out, but otherwise I would steer clear of it.
This one gets 2 out of 5

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yet another asian horror remake

The Uninvited 2009
Director: The Guard Brothers
Writers: Craig Rosenberg and Doug Miro
Starring Emily Browning, Arielle Kebelle, Elizabeth Banks and David Stratham

A lot of modern American horror films lately have been remakes of Asian horror and some have been excellent while others not so much. I am sorry to say the Uninvited falls in the latter category. It is an entertaining movie, but if you have seen the Korean original A Tale of Two Sisters, it does not add anything new. I could see every plot twist coming around the corner. It has a great cast and is directed well but if you have seen the original it holds no surprises at all.
The plot basics is this, Anna (Browning) has been in a psychiatric institution for a year and is finally cleared to come back home. A year ago her mom died in a horrible fire and she kept having nightmares about it and tried to commit suicide. She arrives home with her dad (Stratham) and finds that the nurse, Rachel (Banks) who was caring for her invalid mother is now involved and living with her father. She then meets up with her sister, Alex (Kebelle) and she tells her how Rachel is becoming part of the family and talks Anna into looking for evidence that she had something to do with their mother's death. As she digs in more and more it seems that Rachel is not who she says she is and this all leads to a bloody conclusion where everything is explained, just not in a manner anyone expects.
This film was done expertly well, it just rang hollow, since I had already seen the original. The direction by the Guard Brothers was excellent, it was very moody and had some genuinely scary moments. The script was good it just held no surprises. The cast was good, I especially enjoyed Banks, she really was fun to watch as this was the first performance I saw her in where she didn't play either the hot girl or the nice girl. There is little to no gore in it so, the effects work is minimal. I would say check this out if you have not seen A Tale of Two Sisters, but if you have just pass on it.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Idle Hands

Idle Hands 1999
Director: Rodman Flender
Writers: Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer
Starring Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Eldon Henson, Jessica Alba, Jack Noseworthy and Kelly Monaco

The evil hand that destroys everything in its path, is a sub genre that has gotten a lot of play over the years, be it The Crawling Hand or the Hand. But Idle Hands is the first horror film to do it with a great sense of humor and style. This is just a fun as hell movie to watch. It has been a long ass time since I have seen it and it is hard to believe the film is 10 years old now. It is also the first time I ever had seen Jessica Alba in a film and she made quite an impression. The humor and terror in this film make an excellent combination and I really think Seth Green steals the film with his one liners and sarcasm. This is a movie that gets better with each viewing.
The plot basics is this, Anton (Sawa) is a slacker who sits around all day and smokes pot and watches TV, and the film opens with his parents who are mysteriously attacked and brutally murdered by an unseen assailant. Anton goes to hang out with his buds Pnub (Henson) and Mick (Green) to score some pot but then sees his neighbor a girl he has been pining over for years, Molly (Alba) walk by. She drops a book and he goes to return it and then he goes back to his place and hears something and stumbles over 2 Halloween decorations which he finds out are his dead parents. He calls his buds over, and it soon appears that Anton has killed them, and he notices his hand acting strangely and it kills his friends. But they come back from the dead to hang out cause they thought heaven looked lame. Anton cuts his hand off but that doesn't stop it and now its after Molly and he has to stop the hand before it kills her at the school dance and along the way many people will die horribly.
This movie is a blast to watch. The direction is great, at first it starts as a slasher film and then for a bit it seems to be a teen sex comedy, but then turns into a over the top horror comedy. The writing is solid too, with great suspense and some great jokes, especially the ones delivered by Green. The acting was great especially Green and Henson as Sawa's stoned buddies, they really steal the film. Also Fox as the witch chasing the evil and Noseworthy as the head banging neighbor helping her were great as well and had great chemistry together. A final shout out goes out to Alba, who is drop dead sexy and mesmerizes you every moment she is onscreen. The effects by Greg Cannom are great too, always great to see practical effects done so well in this modern age of CGI. This is just a great flick and definitely in my top 10 of best horror comedies. Highly recommended.
This one gets 5 killer hands out of 5

Thursday, May 7, 2009

9 and a Half Inches of Terror

One Eyed Monster 2008
Director: Adam Fields
Writers: Adam and Jordan Fields
Starring Ron Jeremy, Amber Benson, Veronica Hart, Charles Napier and Jason Graham

Horror and sex can sometimes go hand in hand and nothing prove this point more than One Eyed Monster. This is a fun horror flick that is parts Night of the Living Dead and Scream. It is a horror satire, that still plays the horror for real but has great moments that pay homage to films like Jaws and Evil Dead. Its especially a fun film if you are a fan of porn. It is always great to see Ron Jeremy in a new film and Amber Benson is delightful to watch as always. There actually is not a lot of gore or sex in the film, the movie more works through the way the characters interact and how they deal with the conflict that has arisen.
The plot is basically this, A porn film crew is heading high into the mountains to film a movie in the dead of winter, with a nasty snowstorm heading their way. Everything is going well till Ron (Jeremy) goes outside and is hit by something from the sky that absorbs into him. He goes back inside and begins his sex scene with Veronica (Hart) and he passes out and tears up her vagina. The crew gets to Ron and they notice his penis is missing and they check the video and see that it somehow came off of him and walked away. It now looks as if a 9 and a half which penis is running around the cabins killing the guys and trying to impregnate the women. The rest of the story deals with how they combat this enemy and who dies in the process, and the out of the world ending they come up with.
This was a fun as hell movie. Great direction by Fields, that is very reminiscent of the Evil Dead films. The writing is smart and funny too, especially loved the scene with Napier telling a story not unlike Quint's speech in Jaws. The cast is great Benson was amazing as the heroine who has a crush on Ron and wants to save his mutated penis. Graham is a great hero too who reminds me of Ben from Night of the Living Dead. Jeremy and Hart are great as the porn veterans which they are and the climax with Hart at the end is just priceless. And a special shout out goes to Napier as the grizzled mountain man, he was just awesome. There isn't ,much gore but what there is was done really well. Only one gratuitous nude scene as well, which you think a film of this caliber would have more. But, It works in the films favor, this film is smart, scary and funny. Definitely worth digging up.
This one gets 4 monster cum shots out of 5

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sometimes Broken things stay broken

The Broken 2008
Director: Sean Ellis
Writer: Sean Ellis
Starring Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins, Asier Newman, Michelle Duncan and Melvil Poupad

Finally I am at the last of this year's Afterdark Horrorfest films, and I wish I could say I save the best for last, but sadly that is not the case. Now mind you, it wasn't as horribly confusing as Voices, but it was still bad nonetheless. This film was an interminable bore and it is a shame, since it cribbed from 2 great genre films Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Mirrors. It just seemed to prolong beyond needed every scene, just to make sure you got the point they were trying to bash into your head. It seemed to me that the film was a lesson in futility, especially the viewer who is subjected to it.
The plot setup is this Gina (Headey) is at a birthday celebration for her father (Jenkins) and she goes home and starts hearing and seeing odd things. As she is out on the street she sees someone driving a car who looks exactly like her. She is spooked so follows her into her apartment and sees a picture of the woman with her father, she hears footsteps and runs out and is driving along when she gets into a bad traffic collision. She doesn't remember anything but as she gets better the people around here start changing their personality dramatically, and she feels they are not who they purport to be. This all leads to a finale where all her questions are answered whether she wants them to be or not.
God, this film was an insufferable bore. The director really was a problem he liked to dwell on scenes for way too long a time, and for many times for no discernible point. The writing is just as bad, boring as hell and it seems to drag on forever. Only bright spot is the actors, I always have liked Headey and she does a fine job. Jenkins is superb as always too, they just cannot carry the film on their own. The effects are minimal at best, and there is a little T & A but not enough to entertain you. I just think this film is a failure on all counts and really one to avoid.
This one gets 2 out of 5

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oxygen tanks are not good for your skull

Autopsy 2008
Director: Adam Gierasch
Writers: Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson
Starring Jenette Goldstein, Michael Bowen, Robert Patrick, Jessica Lowndes and Ross Kohn

Here I am back again to do my reviews of the last 2 of this year's batch of Afterdark Horrorfest films, and one of these is actually quite good. Thankfully, it is Autopsy a spooky hospital where patents keep disappearing scenario at the crux of the story. This one was fun had some great gore effects and some great genre actors in the villainous roles that really pushed the material over just being adequate to being damn good. To be honest I was not expecting much from this one , but I was pleasantly surprised.
The plot setup is this a group of friends after some hard partying in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, are a little too wasted and hit a tree head on. Everyone seems fine but within minutes a EMT vehicle shows up and picks up what appears to be a man they hit and takes them all to the hospital to be checked out. Once they get there it seems as if the hospital is deserted except for a perpetually cheery and odd nurse (Goldstein) and as they start being called to be checked out, they start disappearing. So, Emily (Lowndes) hunts for her boyfriend and discovers some strange and horrifying things happening at this hospital, it seems the head doctor is harvesting organs to keep his near death wife alive. Now its up to Emily to somehow survive and outwit the sadistic and brutal hospital staff.
This was a fun film that didn't waste any time delving into the meat of the story. The direction was very tight and Gierasch really made the most of this imposing and spooky location. The writing was good nothing stellar, but it told the story well. The acting was great especially Patrick, Goldstein and Bowen as the creepy hospital staff. This film had some awesome gore moments, the best I think of any of this years Afterdark films. The best one I believe was the head pummeling with a oxygen tank, it was quite brutal and sick. This one gets a hearty recommendation from me.
I give this one 4 out of 5 holes in the head.