Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fun With Tentacles!!

Galaxy of Terror 1981
Director: B. D. Clark
Writers: B. D. Clark and Marc Siegler
Starring Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Robert Englund, Sid Haig and Grace Zabriskie

There were many Alien ripoffs after that film became a monster success and none were more prominent than the ones done by New World Pictures, Roger Corman's film company. Galaxy of Terror is by far the best out of all of them. With a great genre cast, a quick pace, great effects and a oddly hot impregnation scene by a tentacled alien. This film is really brought to a higher level with a great cast, which includes the always great Haig and Englund. It is also helped with the sex appeal of Zabriskie and her alien rape scene, which is pretty damn arousing to watch. This film is a blast to watch till the end which gets needlessly metaphysical.
The plot basics are this, it is the far future and a lone spaceship is exploring space, the crew are surprised by encountering a strange pyramid form. The crew head in to investigate it and strange things start to happen. It as if the crew's worst fears are coming to life and gorily taking them out one by one. This all leads too the hero of the tale, Carben (Albert) to have a showdown with the creature which leads to a metaphysical ending.
This is really a great B movie. The direction by Clark moves at a rapid clip, and there is never much downtime. Only complaint I would make is that some scenes are a little too dark and confusing. The script is good and serviceable, nothing extraordinary but it serves the plot well. The cast is great, always nice seeing Haig and Englund at work and they do a fine job here. Walston is good as a clear rip off of Ash from Alien. I also loved Zabriskie, she was very sexy especially during the alien rape scene. The effects are excellent for a low budget film and the blood and body parts fly aroun quite freely. This is a good variation on the Alien type of film and everyone who was involved has done an excellent job.
This one gets 4 out of 5

The Precursor to Underworld

Full Eclipse 1993
Director: Anthony Hickox
Writers: Richard Christian Matheson and Michael Reaves
Starring Mario Van Peebles, Patsy Kensit, Bruce Payne, Paula Marshall, Anthony John Denison, Victoria Rowell and Jennifer Rubin

This was a film I had watched plenty of times in my college days. I had not viewed it in a long while, and I watched it again the other day and it is still a great action horror hybrid film, that is a film that paved the way for films like Underworld and the Blade films. It has some things that are similar too Honk Kong action films and has a great cast with a great heavy played by Bruce Payne who I have dug since Passenger 57. The film moves at a rapid click and has some great action sequences, the only complaint I would make is that the effects in the film are weak. It seemed like they did not put enough effort into this, and this is really the only thing that separates this from being a classic film.
The plot basics are this, we meet 2 cops, Max Dire (Peebles) and Jim Sheldon (Denison), who are called in for a hostage situation at a club. They end up on the roof and sneak in through the air vents, but the main hostage taker hears the creaking and shoots Jim and Max goes crazy and dives down and blows them all away. Jim is hurt badly and on intensive care and doesn't look like he will survive, but someone injects him with something and he bounces back with what looks like superhuman abilities. He doesn't handle them well though, and kills himself. Soon after this Lt. Adam Garou (Payne), who heads a special unit comes to Max and recruits him. Soon Max discovers that they are not quite what they appear but he gets pulled into them and starts to take the injections that Garou is giving his crew. Something doesn't is right with Max though and he finds out the truth behind Garou and this leads to a showdown at the docks, which takes a interesting turn.
This was a damn good film. Hickox is one of my fave genre directors of the late 80's and early 90's. He has a sure hand with the film combining action with horror effortlessly. The script is fun and the characters really come to life in the film. The cast is great, Peebles is a great hero, who struggles with inner turmoil's throughout. Payne is a great heavy and you can see how he relishes playing the villain. Patsy Kesnit as Peeble's femme fatale is quite good too, she is very sexy and nice to watch, whenever she is onscreen. The action sequences are great, I especially loved the opening and closing scenes, they were frenetic and exciting. The SFX are pretty weak and I think that mainly has to do with this being a TV production. This was a fun film that paves the way for some of the modern action horror hybrids.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Scanners 1981

Scanners 1981
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside and Lawrence Dane

Cronenberg is one of my favorite genre directors and even when he does something that is not in the horror genre I must see it. Scanners though, is my favorite film of his, it is one I never get tired of revisiting. It has a awesome premise and some awesome effects. I cannot get enough of head explosions. It has a superb villain in the form of Michael Ironside, this is my favorite performance of his after Ricter from Total Recall. He is malevolently evil and seems to relish his performance, which I absolutely love. The lead is great too but he is overshadowed by Ironside. This film was one of the defining moments in my film viewing experience, I was literally blown away by how extreme and over the top the film is.
The plot basics are this, We open with Cameron Vale (Lack), who is scavenging shopping mall for cigarettes and food. When a woman makes a remark about his look, he stares at her and he affects her and starts to maker her convulse and she falls to the ground. He then runs as 2 men chase him and one shoots him with a dart, he then awakens in a hospital bed. He then meets Dr. Ruth (McGoohan) and he explains that he is a scanner, a select few of the population that due to a drug their mothers were given during pregnancy gives them mental powers that can make peoples heads explode. The government is trying to round them up and quell them. They pick up another one Revok (Ironside) but he takes over his captors and plans to use his powers to take over the world. It is now up to Cameron and other like minded scanners to squash his plans for world domination.
This is a gripping movie that does not let go of you till it's shocking ending. Cronenberg's direction is dead on, with tight close ups and a great conspiracy feel to the entire film. His script is great as well, my favorite piece of the story has to be when Revok is taken in by the government and he slyly turns the tables on him, still one of my favorite scenes in any horror film. The actors are great, enough cannot be said about Ironside and how truly evil his character is in the film. I like Lack, but he is overshadowed by both Ironside and McGoohan. The SFX are phenomenal, the head explosions and the final battle between Vale and Revok is amazing. The music is quite fitting too it has a almost mesmerizing feel to it. This film for me, is by far Cronenberg's best film.
This one gets 5 out of 5 exploding heads

Victor is Nuts!!

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell 1974
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer Anthony Hinds
Starring Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith, David Prowse, John Stratton and Charles Lloyd Pack

This was the final entry in Hammer's Frankenstein series and I think the series ended on a high note. Cushing was at a high point in this role and was very mad and maniacal. It takes place in an insane asylum, which is a perfect local for the series. Cushing had a great foil in the form of Shane Briant. This is also the goriest of the series, with blood flying everywhere. The monster is played by David Prowse, who everyone knows as the actor who gave the commanding presence to Darth Vader. This film is tinged with many moments of dark humor, that make the proceedings even more entertaining.
The plot basics are this, we meet Simon Helder (Briant) a student of the works of Victor Frankenstein (Cushing). He is caught by a police officer and is arrested and convicted of sorcery and set to a insane asylum. He meets the director of the Asylum and finds that Frankenstein was a inmate, but has supposedly died. The director gets mad when he discovers he is an inmate and is then tortured by some of the jailers. The torture is stopped halfway through by the resident Doctor how happens to be Frankenstein, he fix's up Simon and lets him know that he has blackmailed his jailers and now is the doctor of the Asylum. He tells him, that he needs a new assistant and he shows him what he needs to do. He gets nosy and discovers that he is still doing his experiments, and he begins to assist him as Frankenstein cannot perform the surgeries anymore due to heavily scarred hands. He transplants the brain of a genius into the body of a hulking behemoth (Prowse). He goes crazy when it appears that his body parts are taking over his body and leads to a showdown with the entire population of the asylum.
Another great addition to the series, and a fitting ending to the series as well. Fisher's direction as always is taut and eerie, he really is a master at the gothic horror film. The script is great with great characters in Simon and Frankenstein. It also has great black humor spread throughout the tale. The cast is great specifically, Briant and Cushing, they play off of each other so well. The SFX are bloody and grimy, which befits the location of a asylum. The music as always in a Hammer film, sets up the ambience of the film quite well. I highly recommend this one if you are a fan of the other films.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black Humor at it's finest!!

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed 1969
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Bert Batt
Starring Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Simon Ward, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley and George Pravda

I am back again with another review of the Hammer Frankenstein films and this one is my favorite after Curse of Frankenstein. This one< I think Cushing gives the most darkest performance of Frankenstein that he has done in any of the films. He is vile and utterly amoral. What is so great though, is that the film is without a doubt his film, he carries it and when he is not on screen teh film suffers for it. The other actors are good, but they are just not of the caliber of Cushing. I do love Walters as a bumbling Inspector, who reminded me quite a lot of Holmes' Inspector Lestrade. Carlson is always fun to watch too, she was one of my favorite heroines in the Hammer films. The film is tinged with much black humor throughout too, which I love to see in my horror films.
The plot basics are this, Frankenstein (Cushing) is hunting and lops off the head of a eminent doctor, but he is followed by a curious onlooker and he attacks him but is unsuccessful. He then cleans up the evidence and looks for new lodgings. He comes across a boarding house run by a fetching young woman, Anna (Carlson). He starts residing there and discovers her fiance, Karl (Ward) works for a asylum and he discovers a fellow colleague who has the information he needs is insane and residing there. He blackmails the 2 of them to help him so he can grab his colleague so he can fix his madness and get the data he needs. There is a problem though and he has to transplant his brain to another body. He then cures his madness, but complications arise and it leads to a fiery climax.
This is a great horror film. It has a great gothic feel that Fisher really handles well, he is the best of the Hammer directors. The cinematography was great and had an awesome gothic ambience to the entire film. Batt's script is great, giving great lines to Cushing and some great black humor sprinkled throughout. The cast is exceptional, Cushing gives a bravura performance as Frankenstein and Walters as the bumbling inspector who thinks he is brilliant. The effects are bloody and fun. This is a great classic gothic horror film that I highly recommend.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Machetes Aplenty!!

Friday the 13th (Killer Cut) 2009
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Mark Swift and Damian Shannon
Starring Jared Paladecki, Amanda Righetti, Danielle Panabaker, Travis Van Winkle, Julianna Gull, Willa Ford, Derek Mears and Nana Visitor

I saw this film on opening day when it was released in theaters and I loved it. This review will be for the extended version that is on DVD. I loved the original cut, but I think I enjoyed this version even better. The pacing is more fleshed out with some great added scenes with Jason and some more gratuitous nudity. Some of the effects are much bloodier too. all things I loved seeing, this was even more fun the second time. Nispel really can make a solid horror film, his Texas Chainsaw Massacre was no fluke. He paces the film really well and sets up the kills marvelously. I have no doubt this will be a film I watch incessantly like some of my other favorite Friday films. I put this one right up there with The New Blood as one of my favorites.
The plot basics are this, We open to 1980 where a girl is being stalked by a older woman (Visitor), she wants to kill her because she blames her and all teenagers for the death of her son Jason. The girl gets the upper hand and slices off her head with a machete. Then a small form comes out of the shadows and takes the head and the machete and skulks away. Flash forward 19 years later and we see a group of teens heading to the campgrounds looking for some hidden marijuana. Soon they are all stalked by a sack wearing maniac (Mears) and are dispatched brutally except for one girl (Righetti). Forward six weeks later and we meet another group of kinds headed to a cabin and they stop at a convenience store and we meet Clay (Paladecki) who is looking for his sister Whitney. He has a issue with one of the guys, Trent (Winkle). later on he ends up at Trent's cabin and his girlfriend seeing that he is a jerk goes along with Clay to help him canvas the area looking for his sister. Soon, Jason is dispatching all the teens in gruesome ways and it is discovered that Whitney is being held captive by Jason because she reminds him of his mother. Clay finds her and rescues her but Jason is hot on their trail, and they have to find a way to outwit him.
This is still an amazing film. Nispel does a great job with the film, the pacing is great, with some awesome suspense building moments. The only complaint I would make is that sometimes the film is too dark. The story by Swift and Shannon, is great it is funny and you actually care for some of the characters. The cast is quite good, Paladecki is great in the hero's role and Mears is a awesome Jason, he is 2nd only to Kane Hodder in my book. All the women are uber sexy and most of them lose their clothing at some point, which is always good in this type of film. The SFX are great, it has a great melding of practical and CGI. The music is great too, with some nice nods to Harry Manfredini's original score. This is probably my favorite remake or re imagining since Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead. I highly recommend this to horror fans and Jason Fanatics.
This one gets 5 out of 5 bloody machetes

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wanna Date?

Frankenhooker 1990
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Writers: Frank Henenlotter and Robert Martin
Starring James Lorinz, Joanne Ritchie, Louise Lasser, Patty Mullen, Joseph Gonzalez and Heather Hunter

This is a film I have been hearing great things about for a long time and I was highly anticipating seeing this. I was also worried it would disappoint me like Suspiria did. Thankfully, that was not the case, I fucking loved this movie. It is a exercise in truly bad taste and I loved every second of it. The acting is necessarily over the top and the effects are fun and bloody/ Their is so much T & A that it will engulf you, which in my book is always a good thing. It is also a film that thrives on the excess mentality of the 80's. Hell, the music that permeates the film makes it feel like any number of crappy music videos of the era, and I so love that feel. If anyone is a fan of sleazy and grimy horror films, this is a must see film.
The plot basics are this, Jeffrey Franken (Lorinz) is a self thought doctor and is working on a brain with a eye when we meet him. Soon his fiance, Elizabeth (Mullen) comes and pulls him out to the birthday part for her father, and starts to test a remote control operated lawnmower that Jeffrey built, but she stands behind it and is turned into mulch. This drives him insane and he steals her head and is now going forward with plans to rebuild her, but where to find the body parts for her? After drilling a hole in his head, he comes up with a idea. Go to 42nd Avenue and grab some hookers. He stages a big party looking for the perfect parts. He also brings some super crack cocaine he created but it has the unfortunate side effect of blowing people up, but that works to his advantage and he gets the parts he needs. He takes the parts and builds Elizabeth the perfect body, but she has the mind set of the hookers and goes out looking for a score. This leads to a finale that has to be seen to be believed.
This is a film that revels in bad taste. It is not a film for the squeamish or the faint of heart. Henenlotter's direction as always is fun and mesmerizing, it is more out there than Basket Case 2. It has a grimy and sleazy feel through out, as if the film was filmed with a camera lens covered in semen. The script is funny and oh so wrong. I laughed too many times to count while watching it, especially during the exploding scenes. The cast is good, I loved Mullen and Lorinz especially they were so hammy and over the top, it really carried the film for me. The SFX are campy and bloody and work fantastically in the finished product. One final piece of the puzzle is the locations of the film and the music. 42nd street was the perfect locale for a film like this. The music is great too, has a very new wave feel to it. I highly recommend this film to fans of sleazy trash cinema.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hammer time again!!

The Evil of Frankenstein 1964
Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: Anthony Hinds
Starring Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe, Duncan Lamonte, Sandor Eles, Katy Wild and Kiwi Kingston

I am back on my Hammer kick and I am going through the Frankenstein films right now. After the Dracula series they are my favorite, and that is in no small part to the great acting by Peter Cushing. He is really the personification of Victor Frankenstein to me. With his films it's never about the evil of the monster it's about the evil of the creator. A man who thinks he is above god, and laws do not amount to anything in his eye. Though in this film he is not the villain, you actually root for Frankenstein. You really want to see him succeed, but in the end you know he will fail. That is what is always in the cards for him. Close to success but then like a house of cards it all comes crashing down.
The plot basics are this, Frankenstein (Cushing) and his assistant Hanz (Eles) have just absconded with a body and they pull out it's heart and are preparing to get all the necessary parts ready to build another creature. But, the resident preacher finds him and accosts him and destroys his lab so they have to leave and Frankenstein decides to go to his hometown, where he has been absent for 10 years since his first creation. He plans to get some of his valuables from his castle but sees to find they have all been taken and discovers the Burgomeister has stolen all his prized collections. He accosts him but has to leave and him and Hans follow a mute girl (Wild) up through the mountains and finds his first creature preserved there and works to rejuvenate him and the body comes to life but the brain is dormant. So, he finds a hypnotist Professor Zoltan (Woodthorpe) to reactivate his brain. But Zoltan has his own agenda and is controlling the monster. It is finally up to Frankenstein to stop the monster and his master.
This is another great addition to the Frankenstein series. The direction by Francis is well done, it really preserves the gothic feel of the series and he makes the film fly by. The script By Hinds is great as all his Hammer scripts are with some great humorous touches added with Cushing's lines. The acting is great, Cushing is phenomenal as always, with his portrayal of the obsessive Baron. I also liked Woodthorpe as the maniacal and perverted Zoltan and Wild as the mute girl was very cute and sexy. It has some great bloody effects which you always expect in a Hammer film. Finally the music is the finishing touch, with a great gothic score which permeates through every scene. Another great Hammer film that is not to be missed.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: The Devil's Rejects 2005

The Devil's Rejects 2005
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, Ken Foree, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes and Danny Trejo

Rob Zombie for me is by far the best of the new crop of horror filmmakers and thus far I feel The Devil's Rejects is his best film. This film is my favorite horror film of the 2000's and my tenth all time favorite horror film. The film has tremendous replay value and succeeds in all aspects of the film. Form story, acting, SFX and music they are all pulled off tremendously well. One reason I love this films so much is how it makes you sympathize with the Firefly clan. Something that was never done well except for the exception of Natural Born Killers. The cast really stands out, and I personally really love Moseley in this, as he has the best lines in the film. This film is just a modern classic.
The plot basics are this, The Firefly clan are sleeping when they are besieged by the police in a all out siege led by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe). The shoot out is bloody but Otis (Moseley) and Baby (Zombie) escape but Mama (Easterbrook) is taken into custody. Otis and Baby escape and steal a car and find a hotel and take a traveling country music band hostage and toy with them while they wait for their father Captain Spaulding (Haig) to meet up with them. They terrorize the group and then head off to a brothel run by a old friend of Spaulding's (Foree), but Wydell is hot on their trail and sends some bounty hunters after them to butter them up for him. Wydell tortures them and goes forward with his plan to kill them and that is where the fun starts.
Man, I fucking love this movie. Zombie's direction is flawless, you really get into the manic feeling of the world that these characters inhabit. The film really has that grainy feel of a 70's exploitation film too. His script is tight as well, with great dialogue all around. The story flies by at a frenetic pace and never really lets you relax either. The cast is phenomenal, Haig and Moseley really give their best performances in my book. Zombie is great too sexy and oh so scary too. Forsythe is really over the top as Wydell and Foree gives his best performance since Peter in Dawn of the Dead. The only complaint I have is I wish Karen Black came back as Mama, though Easterbrook did a fine job. The SFX are great as well, I especially loved the truck splatter and the mask made of Temple's face. The final great touch is the music used in the film it is all perfect and I cannot hear Free Bird without picturing the final moments of the film now. This is one of the best films of any kind in the last 10 years and I highly recommend it.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: The Hills Have Eyes 1977

The Hills Have Eyes 1977
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Starring Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, Michael Berryman and James Whitworth

Craven had already solidified himself as a new and exciting visionary with The Last House on the Left, but with The Hills Have Eyes he became a master of the genre. It is a film that takes the idea behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and ups the tension and the brutality and you have a film that really leaves you breathless. One scene that always leaves me aghast is the camper siege scene. IT is brutal and relentless and you cannot believe how brutal the monsters are. This is a film that ratchets up the suspense with each scene and you really cheer for the lead after he finally goes full postal on the family. The film is loosely based on the story of the Sawney Bean family and that is a great launch pad for this great horror film.
The plot basics are this, a family is traveling cross country and stop at a secluded gas station and ask for directions and the owner gives the father (Grieve) directions for a short cut to cut some time off of his trip. Little do they know that they are being herded to a family that lives out in the desolate dessert that survives on travelers who are corralled into this area. This cannibal family is run by the father Jupiter (Whitworth) and he controls the family with a iron fist. The traveling family camps out when their RV mysteriously breaks down and the father goes to get some help at the gas station and is attacked and we see him taken by Jupiter and burned alive. Soon, the camper is attacked and women are killed and raped and their little baby daughter is stolen for a meal. The father of the baby (Houston) goes on the hunt to find the baby and soon finds a inner strength he never knew he had and shows as much or maybe even more brutality than Jupiter's brood.
I really love this film, it is brutal and relentless from beginning to end. The direction by Craven is perfect, he ushers you into the cruelty and brutality with an unflinching eye. Craven's script is tight as well, you really loathe Jupiter and his ilk, tough you do have sympathy for Ruby. The cast is great I really enjoyed Wallace and Whitworth and Berryman are unforgettable as Jupiter and Pluto. Berryman really steals the movie. The effects are great, especially the dead dog and the attack on Pluto by the dogs. The centerpiece of this film though is the Camper attack scene, it's the scene that always comes to mind when I think of this film. When Mars rips the birds head off and drinks down its blood, that is just so unnerving. This film is a great horror film and one of the finest of the films from the 70's.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Arnold Vs Satan

End of Days 1999
Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Andrew W. Marlowe
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier and Rod Steiger

This film was really the last gasp of good Arnold films. It is not a great film, in reality Arnold was the wrong person to eschew the lead role. It seemed more suited to actors like Bruce Willis or Michael Douglas. What saves the film from mediocrity is the performance by Byrne as Satan. He really chews up the scenery and is a delight to watch. This film is another good genre piece from Hyams, who has given us modern classics like Outland and The Relic. The film moves at a rapid clip and Arnold utilizes the action pieces very well. It is just hard to by him as a suicidal and down on his luck ex cop. But the more I watch this film, the more I enjoy it. It is a good hybrid of the action and horror genres.
The plot basics are this, it opens in 1980 where a prophecy says that the girl who will bear the anti-Christ is born, the Vatican searches for her, but it is already too late she has been accosted by the dark disciples of Satan. Flash forward 20 years and we find a malevolent spirit possess a man (Byrne) at dinner and Stan is walking the earth once again. Next we meet Jericho (Schwarzenegger), a ex cop who is suicidal and a alcoholic. He works now for a security firm with his friend Bobby (Pollak). They are hired to escort a investment banker and are soon attacked by a sniper who happens to be a priest. Soon Jericho does some digging and figures out that the priest was trying to save a girl (Tunney), who it seems is groomed to be taken as Satan's bride and he must consummated before the end of the millennium. The rest of the film is a race against time and insurmountable odds to keep the girl safe and to beat back the forces of hell.
The more I watch this film the more I enjoy it. It is fast paced and suspenseful. Hyams directions is frenetic and you never see where the next scene will take you. The writing is good with some great one liners for Arnold and it combines the tropes of the action and horror film and plays with them adeptly. The cast is quite good, I always thought Arnold was miscast but the more I view his performance I feel he really pulls off the role. Byrne is great as Satan and my favorite scene has to be when he tempts Jericho in his apartment, by far my favorite scene in the film. Tunney also does a good job as the damsel in distress, she isn't your typical beauty but does a admirable job in the part. The creature effects are done by Stan Winston and as always he does a phenomenal job. This is a fun film and worth seeing for both horror fans and Arnold fans.
This one gets 3 out of 5