Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boobs and Blood

Humanoids From The Deep 1980
Director: Barbara Peters
Writer: Frederick James
Starring Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Pena, Denise Galik and Lynn Theel

Boobs and blood. That is the first two things that come to mind when you mention Humanoids From The Deep. The film is kind of a hybrid between Alien and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Albeit, much sleazier than those 2 films ever tried to be. From the opening attack to the ending this film pulls no punches. It is easily one of the sleaziest films that Roger Corman has produced and that is a great compliment, as I love my low budget horror film the sleazier the better. It has a great cast which is headed up by the always fun to watch Doug McClure and the brooding Vic Morrow. They really make the film even more enjoyable and give it some depth past the gratuitous sex and violence. What is amazing too, is that such a macho centric low budget horror film was directed by a woman. Seems that whenever there is a chance to rip a female's clothes off they do not miss one opportunity. It really is not a film for the squeamish or the easily offended.
The plot basics are this, we come to a Pacific Northwestern fishing town who's fishing trade is under extinction due to a salmon cannery that is opening and will be putting most free fishermen out of business. But with all the work that has been done in prepping the cannery it is discovered that fish have mutated into humanoids bent on killing everything in sight, except for the women who they use to breed with. Jim Hill (McClure) along with Dr. Susan Drake (Turkel) discovers the humanoids and tries to warn the town the night of the annual SalmonFest, when the humanoids attack killing every man they find and raping every woman they corner. It all leads to a bloody ending that ends with a horrific ending.
This is really a fun movie. Peters' direction is good, at times campy and at other times very sensationalistic. The film really has a pulpy feel to it. If it was a story in Weird Tales, you could just picture the cheesecake cover that would accompany it. The script is good, nothing groundbreaking, but for the story it is given it does a good job. The characters are all the stereotypes you see in genre films such as this. From the stoic hero, the racist jerk and the scientist who knows all about the problem and has all the answers. Not a story you have not witnessed before but still enjoyable to experience. The acting is good, McClure is at his usual best, but the best performance has to go to Morrow as the racist defender of the cannery. He just chews the scenery up with every scene he is in, and it is a fun ass time watching him do so. The SFX in the film are quite good, very bloody and realistic. The final scene in particular, as that is one of the gore scenes I remember most, it really made quite a impression on my psyche. This is not a film for the faint of heart or the easily offended. But, if you love your genre films sleazy and unrepentant as hell, check it out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The House That Dripped Blood

The House That Dripped Blood 1971
Director: Stephen Duffell
Writer: Robert Bloch
Starring John Bennett, John Bryans, John Malcolm, Denholm Elliot, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Joss Ackland , Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt

This film is one that brings back fond memories. I believe it was the first anthology film I ever saw. It has a great framework for a horror anthology and some very memorable stories. That credit really goes to the great work that Robert Bloch wrote, one of my favorite writers. The cast is above complaints too, with great genre stalwarts like Lee, Cushing and Pitt. The film captivates you from the beginning and doesn't let go until the frightening finale. This was the first in a series of Anthology films that Bloch wrote, like The Uncanny and Asylum. I really enjoy those, but this is by far the best of the bunch.
The plot basics are this, A famous actor has disappeared after renting a house and a police inspector (Bennett) is investigating his disappearance. He talks to the realtor of the house, Stoker (Bryans), who begins to tell him about what has happened to previous tenants of the house. First he recalls the story of a writer (Elliot) who's imagination seems to give life to a murderous strangler. Next up, a retired business man (Cushing) who discovers a wax museum with a deadly secret. Next is a widower (Lee) and his daughter, he does not let his daughter any outside human contact. Which at first seems strange until the girl's nanny and teacher discovers how evil the girl really is. Finally. he recounts what happens with the actor (Pertwee) who last rented the house and he buys a cloak that seems to have supernatural powers. This leads to the inspector going into the house and discovering how real everything Stoker has sad really is.
This is really a great anthology film and is my favorite after Creepshow. The direction by Duffell is very good and it really has a E.C. Comics feel to it. It has a wry sense of humor to it and many characters seem to get what is coming to them. Bloch's script is very tight, the stories only go on as long as needed with no padding in the film at all. The suspense and terror in the film gets palatable with every story. My personal favorite scene is when Cushing is getting chased by a axe wielding maniac, your fists tighten up as you experience his dilemma. The cast is great, with genre stalwarts like Lee and Cushing, but it also has some great performances by Ackland and the lovely Pitt. There isn't much use for SFX or makeup effects in the film, but what there is of it is handled very well. I highly recommend this film to fans of the horror anthology film, you will not be disappointed.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Psycho

Psycho 1960
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Joseph Stefano
Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire and Simon Oakland

When one says psycho, the first thing that comes to most peoples minds is Norman Bates, it has made such a indelible impression in our brains that we cannot think of slasher films in the horror genre without this film being one of the first films that comes to mind. It is still a film that every time I watch, that I still get goosebumps. The sense of doom that pervades this film just permeates throughout your entire core while you are experiencing this film. It just shows what a master of the craft Hitchcock was that his film can still hit all your nerves in just the right way, no matter how many times you see it. This is just a case of everything coming together perfectly to make one of the greatest horror films ever made.
The plot basics are this, Marion Crane (Leigh) is a bank secretary who is in love with Sam Loomis (Gavin) a Hardware store owner and has financial issues so they are unable to get married and Marion wants that to change. She goes to work and a situation comes up where she gets her hands on 40,000 dollars and instead of depositing it, she runs off with it. She comes to her senses and plans to return the money, but she is tired and finds a motel on a little use highway and stops for the evening before she decides to go back and face the results of her action. The motel is run by a slightly bizarre and sheltered young man, Norman Bates (Perkins) who lives at a house behind the motel with his invalid mother. Marion has a light dinner with Norman and they have a strange conversation and she then leaves to her room to take a shower and the mother attacks her in the shower and brutally kills her in the shower and Norman discovers the body and cleans it up. Soon, Marion is noticed missing and a private investigator (Balsam) comes to investigate and meets a bad end as well. This leads to Marion's sister Lila (Miles) and Sam come to investigate themselves and it all ends with a rather shocking twist ending.
This is a film that still amazes me every time I see it. Hitchcock does a excellent job setting up the story, for the first 3rd of the film you just think it is a personal drama. But, then he pulls the carpet out from under you and it is now a murder mystery. The shower scene is probably one of the most famous film scenes and it still amazes me how well it works. The script by Stefano based on Robert Bloch's book is very tightly written with great emphasis on the character and some great dialogue for the character of Norman Bates. The acting is great, especially Perkins as Bates, he really commands the screen with his presence every moment he is on screen. Leigh is also quite good and you really feel for her during her predicament and you are quite shocked and saddened when she is killed. The SFX are great for the time, the blood in the shower scene feels very realistic. I cannot finish talking about the film without mentioning the score by Bernard Herrmann, his score is evocative and chilling. When you hear the first few chords you know that this will be a creepy film and the music cues all the dastardly acts that happen in the film. This is one of the best horror films and for me Hitchcock's best film.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Real Mind Fuck

Header 2006
Director: Archibald Flancranstin
Writer: Michael E. Kennedy
Starring Jake Suffian, Elliot V. Kotek, Dick Mullaney, Tara Brooks, Jim Coope, Melody Garren and Jim Coope

This was a film I had heard a lot about and had been wanting to see, since it was written by one of my favorite horror writers Edward Lee. This one has been getting a lot of interesting word of mouth. Many have said it is the sickest and vilest film they had ever seen, and those are strong words. Some of my favorite films fall into that category, films like I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust. This film lives up to film of that caliber, it is sleazy, vile and perverted and left me with a bad taste after I watched it. But, like those other films I liked it. I guess it is just the cruel side of my nature. Now, this film is not for everyone and will probably shock and offend many viewers but I love just how intrusive and foul the whole affair is.
The plot basics are this, we meet Stewart (Suffian) a ATF agent who is crooked because of his sick girlfriend, Kathy (Garren) and her expensive medicine. He has been helping moonshiners with their deliveries and soon gets a offer to help a drug dealer transport his heroin through the County. We also meet Travis (Kotek), who has just got out of a lengthy prison stay and goes to live with his grandfather Jake (Mullaney), who lives out in the backwoods. He reminisces with him and then his Grandfather tells him about a header, which is the vilest and sickest thing you can do to someone who has wronged you. Travis then decides to round up the kin of anyone who has wronged him and his family and commits this atrocious act to them. While, Stewart investigates this rash of bodies that are horrendously violated, while still trying to juggle his crooked dealings at the same time. It all leads to Stewart finding Travis and Jake and ending their crusade of terror, but not without damning himself in the process.
God damn, this was one fucked up film. The direction is very sleazy and grimy and it definitely has a Backwoods horror feel to it like Wrong Turn or something of that variety. The film has a real grainy documentary feel to the proceedings. The script is very tight too, everyone is sleazy and has something wrong with them at some level and really none of the characters are very sympathetic, yet you still like watching them. The actors are very good, especially Mullaney as Grandpa Jake. He really has a Walter Brennan feel to his acting style. I also thought Suffian was a great lead, though he does many horrible things, you still hold out hope that he will turn things around for himself. The SFX is really quite bloody and very realistic and at points can make you sick to your stomach. Not many films can get that reaction out of me anymore, but this one did and I applaud that. For genre fans looking for something that is more out there and off the beaten path, I highly recommend this one. But if you are the type that is very squeamish or the faint of heart, stay far away from this monster.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bikinis and Zombies!!

Onechanbura: Samurai Bikini Squad 2008
Director: Yohei Fukuda
Writers: Yokei Fukuda and Yasutoshi Murakawa
Starring Eri Otoguru, Tomohiri Waki, Taro Suwi, Manami Hashimoto, Chise Nakamura, Ai Hazuki and Sari Kurauchi

The title of this film tells you what you are getting into, a samurai chick in a bikini killing hordes of zombies. That makes sure this film only attracts fans of one kind, video game fans, and guys who like hot chicks. The film is pretty much a mindless popcorn type of film, and if you are searching for any deeper meaning in a film of this variety , go watch a Merchant Ivory production. This has lots of bad CGI, crazy and colorful characters and lots of gratuitous T and A. I got exactly what I was looking for in this film, a diverting 90 minutes filled with crazy fight scenes and gloriously bodacious babes, and I was not disappointed.
The plot basics are this, it is a near feature and we meet a samurai sword wielding women wearing a cowboy hat and a furry bikini, Aya (Otoguro) is searching for her sister. She is hunting her sister (Kurauchi) who helped kill her father and along the way is killing every zombie she sees. The world is overrun by zombies and it is a ongoing to battle to survive in this harsh landscape. Aya soon finds another zombie fighter, Katsuji (Waki), dressed all in leather and her weapon of choice is a shotgun. They team up and head to the secret lair of Doctor Suguti (Suwi) who has created all the zombies and needs the blood of Aya's sister to complete his evil scheme, and now it is up to Aya and Katsuji to stop him.
This was a very fun film. The direction by Fukuda is very good, he paces the action scenes well with the obligatory character exposition scenes. The script is decent at best, it is really a mediocre story and you really only enjoy it because of the visuals and definitely not the writing. The acting is decent for what it is, but nobody really stands out. The actresses are quite striking to watch, but that is really all I can say for the film. The SFX for the film is pretty cheesy and laughable, but still fun to watch as long as you are in the right mood. The film is really a one of those bad movies that are great to watch with a bunch of friends, but it is not a film you should take seriously.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Sleepaway Camp

Sleepaway Camp 1983
Director: Robert Hiltzik
Writer: Robert Hiltzik
Starring Felissa Rose, Jonathon Tiersten, Karen Fields, Desiree Gold, Christopher Collet, Mike Kellin and Katherine Kamhi

I had heard a lot about this film and what is funny is I saw the 3rd sequel before I saw this film. I did really enjoy that one, but this is where it all started and I am glad to have finally viewed it. It is a great slasher film, that at first makes you think it is just another knock off of the Friday the 13th variety. The ending of the film though, throws all those ideas through the window and really leaves an impression in your head. This film would not work though, without the charisma and bravura acting of Felissa Rose. You are mesmerized by her anytime she is onscreen. I am not going to talk too much about plot, because if you have not seen the film, it really should not be spoiled for you.
The plot basics are this, we meet Angela (Rose) as a young girl and a horrible boating accident and she then goes to live with her weird and strange Aunt Martha (Gold)and her over protective cousin, Ricky (Tiersten). Years later, Angela is a withdrawn and lonely girl and she gets sent to Camp Arawak along with her cousin Ricky. Not long after she arrives bizarre deaths begin occurring. This leads to a investigation on who is behind these deaths and the shocking climax is one that will keep you thinking long after the film is over.
This is really a great slasher film, that is done very economically and is pulled off flawlessly. The direction is quite good, at first the film likes a comedy in the vein of Meatballs, but soon evolves into a bloody slasher fest. The script also by Hiltzik is great, you really feel for the character of Angela and hope she survives all the trauma that she endures in the film. It is also a pretty funny film that balances the laughs with sheer moments of terror. The acting is very good for a film of this caliber, and most of the praise goes to Rose, she is magnetic and really brings great pathos to the character of Angela. The SFX are really quite realistic and will leave people faint of heart quite queasy. This is a must see for fans of the slasher genre and I don think anyone will be disappointed.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We're British, You Know

Horror Express 1972
Director: Eugenio Martin
Writers: Arnaed d'Ueassu and Julian Zimet
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvio Tortosa and Julio Pena

This is a film I had heard many great things about, so I finally set aside some time to view it and it did not disappoint. This is a great little B horror film, with some A list talent. With a cast that includes genre stalwarts Lee and Cushing , you know you are in for a great time. But, what is surprising is how Telly Savalas steals the film and in the minor 8 minutes he is stealing the entire film. The monster is a bit on the hokey side, but you can get past that with the great cast and a really genuine and original story. The mood really helps the film too, it reminds me of a horror version of Murder on the Orient Express.
The plot basics are this, it is the year 1906 and Professor Alexander Saxton (Lee) has discovered a ancient fossil in Manchuria and is transporting it on a passenger train through Siberia on it's way to Shanghai. Unbeknownst to him, though it is actually a dormant shell of a alien life form that can suck the knowledge out of anyone's mind by staring at them and making their eyes bleed and then go opaque. The alien takes over a Police Inspector (Pena) and it is up to Saxton and his colleague, Dr. Wells (Cushing) to put a end to this monstrosity before he completes his plan to escape and build a rocket to get back home.
This is a very gripping film. Martin's direction is very good, at times moody and at others sprinkled with dry humor. He also films the dark attack scenes very well. Even though the monster is rather laughable to look at, he balances it with the perfect mood and it is still rather creepy. The script is good too, the plot is rather creative and the script is peppered throughout with great one liners by Cushing and Lee. The cream of the crop though, has to be Savalas' character Captain Kazan. I was howling with laughter, while he was commanding the screen. The acting is top notch, other than the aforementioned actors I really enjoyed de Mendoza as Father Pujardov, who has a real Rasputin feel to him. He was genuinely creepy. The SFX is good, the creature effects are bad, the monster looks like he was created with dried oatmeal, but the kills are done very effectively. This is a highly effective film that really works well within the claustrophobic locale of a passenger train, and it will be one I will revisit again.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scared Stiff

The Gorgon 1964
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: J. Llewellyn Devine and John Gilling
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelly, Michael Goodliffe and Patrick Troughton

Time for another Hammer classic and this one is one of my favorites of their lesser films. IT is still one of my favorites, one of the few where Cushing and Lee's roles are reversed, for once Lee is the hero. While Cushing plays the villain of the piece, and he does it remarkably well. It also has a great monster in the Gorgon, this film always creeped me out as a kid and it still has that sense of foreboding and menace watching it now. It is a great horror film in the classic gothic sense and it also has a touch of tragedy to it, which the best gothic horror films have too. It is directed by Terence Fisher, who is for me, the finest director Hammer had and he does a exemplary job here.
The plot basics are this, It is the early twentieth century and local villagers are scared stiff of something that is permeating at a nearby abandoned castle. A young artist's girlfriend is found dead, turned to stone and he is believed to be the killer but he is found dead, a apparent suicide. His father, Professor Heitz (Goodliffe) comes to investigate he finds that everyone is keeping some deep dark secret, especially the medical examiner, Dr. Narnaroff (Cushing) and as he investigates he checks out the castle and sees something that begins to turn him to stone and before he succumbs to it he writes a letter that he leaves to his son, Paul (Pasco). He shows up to investigate and comes in contact with the same thing but, narrowly escapes death and then his colleague, Professor Karl Meister (Lee) arrives to assist him and he soon extrapolates that a Gorgon, a creature from myth is attacking people and is inhabiting the body of someone within the area. The question is who is it, and that is what they discover in the nail biting conclusion.
This is a great film. Fisher's direction is very atmospheric and moody, a perfect choice for this film. The script is great too, with great characters in Narnaoff and Meister. The acting is great Lee, is great as the absent minded professor who saves the day. Cushing is great too, not really evil just wrongly protecting someone. Barbara Shelly is great too, very sexy and tragic at the same time. The SFX is good for the time the film was made and is very creepy. The music is also really important to the ambience of the film and James Bernard gives us a great score that really adds to the dread that the viewer feels while watching the film. I highly recommend this one for fans of classic horror.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: An American Werewolf In London 1981

An American Werewolf In London 1981
Director: John Landis
Writer: John Landis
Starring David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, John Woodvine, Lila Kaye and Brian Glover

Before, I get on with my review, I just wanted to tell everyone this is my 100th post on this blog. I never thought I would make it this far and I want to thank all of the readers for their support and I hope that I have steered you onto some good films or steered you away from some of the bad ones. Thus, ends my little interruption, now onto the review.
I am a big Werewolf movie fan, and this is one of my favorites and in my top 3 of all time werewolf films. It is a film that really balances humor with horror. It has some great funny moments and also some really tense and suspenseful moments. My personal favorite scary scene is when the subway passenger is being chased, it is an excellent use of suspense and terror. The comedy is great too especially all the banter between Naughton and Dunne. This is just such a well made film and definitely my favorite of Landis' film.
The plot basics are this, David (Naughton) and Jack (Dunne) are backpacking through Europe and are currently going through the countryside of England. They stop at a Pub and everyone inside acts bizarre and has superstitious things all over the wall. It freaks them out and they leave, and one of the patrons tells them to stay off the moors, but they do not listen and end up on the moors and begin to hear a howling and it freaks them out and they start running. Then, Jack is attacked by what appears to be a wolf and then jumps on David and is killed by the pub patrons. Before David passes out he sees the wolf change to a human. David wakes up in a hospital in England and begins to have horrible nightmares and begins to see his dead friend Jack, telling him he will become a werewolf. At first he doesn't buy into it. But, when a full moon comes he transforms and goes on a rampage. This leads to a final werewolf attack in London which ends tragically.
This is just an amazing film. Landis' direction has a perfect balance of humor and horror. The script by Landis also balances those two subjects well, and all the characters are fully realized and never seem to be stereotypes. The acting is great I, I especially love Naughton and Dunne and how they play off of each other. I loved Agutter too, she is very sexy and a very sympathetic heroine. The SFX are great and Rick Baker definitely deserved the Oscar for his work. To me, this is still the best Werewolf transformation yet put to screen. The gore effects are great, especially the slowly rotting Jack. One final great addition to the film is the music and all the songs that have Moon in the lyrics. I can never hear Creedence Clearwater Revival's without thinking of the transformation scene now. If you have not seen this film, you are doing yourself a disservice as a horror fan.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cowboy Killer

Cowboy Killer 2008
Director: Jason Baustin
Writers: Jaymes Carnery and Ben Solenberger
Starring Paul Bailey, Jaqueline Turner, Michael P. Strassbender, Ben Solenberger and David Buckler

I rented this one because the setup sounded like a pretty cool flick, and at first I was worried as it was a very low budgeted independent film. It was shot on digital and they seemed to have pulled it off well. The film really feels like a drive-inn movie from the 70's and I think that adds charm to the film. Also, the actor who plays the titular Cowboy Killer, he is a hoot to watch and was especially fun with his delusional fantasies and whenever he utters the words "you are in for a treat", you know someone is going to die horribly. This was definitely one of the more entertaining low level slasher films I had seen in awhile.
The plot basics are this, we meet Roy Thompson (Bailey) who seems to be a unhinged psychopath, who believes that he is a cowboy. He comes across this girl, Ashley (Turner) who is waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up for her homecoming dance, and he is late. She allows Roy to give her a ride, but it soon turns bad and he kills her and decapitates her and begins to romance her head. This was just the latest in a string of murders that he is guilty of, anyone he doesn't think is following the cowboy way he kills. Soon, a motley crew begins to from, all wanting to catch Bailey and stop him before he kills more people. It all leads to a bloody and bizarre showdown.
This was a fun little movie. The direction by Baustin was very campy but it all worked in the film's favor. The writing is very quirky and funny and sort of has a feel of a Kevin Smith film. The acting is done well especially Bailey as Thompson, he really commands the screen whenever he is onscreen. I also enjoyed the 2 cable guys who really played off like Jay and Silent Bob form Kevin Smith;s films. The SFX and the makeup effects are passable at best and never seem very realistic but I think that was a intentional part of making this film. This is a fun film that hearkens back to the drive inn era of horror films and I really appreciated that.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boot Camp

Boot Camp 2007
Director: Christian Duguay
Writers: Agatha Dominik and John Cox
Starring Mila Kunis, Gregory Smith, Peter Stormare, Regina Nehy, Alejandro Rae, Christopher Jacot and Tyghe Runyan

I rented this one because it sounded like a very interesting premise and I like Mila Kunis and Peter Stormare. Though, this really isn't a horror film, it is a horror film if you consider a film like Midnight Express a horror film. But, as I was watching the film you really felt the hell these kids were being put through and by the end it sort of turns into a variation on Lord of the Flies. The story really propels the conflict and the action the main characters face and you really hope they will survive the extremities of their situation more or less in one piece. If there was one problem with the film it plays more like a movie of the week than a actual film and it would have helped if the film had been more extreme.
The plot basics are this, Sophie (Kunis) is a troubled teen who has issues with her stepfather, who she resents because her father is dead. She causes scene after scene and finally her stepfather and mother decide to put her in this "tough love" boot camp, which is run by Norman Hail (Stormare). He teaches them to rely on their inner self, but not without berating them and at times physically abusing them. Sophie's boyfriend, Ben (Smith) finds out where she is and gets himself sent there so he can rescue Sophie. He breaks her out but they are found and taken back and soon it all begins to unravel for Hail and leads to a mob mentality breakdown from all the kids that ultimately leads to the dissolution of the camp.
This was a pretty good little film. The direction by Duguay is quite good, he ratchets up the suspense well and you never feel that the film is going down a preordained path. The script is good too, all the characters are fully realized and never seem to just be superficial. The acting is good, I especially enjoyed Stormare as Hail, he really played him as a misguided motivational speaker. Also of note was Runyan as Logan, a almost R. Lee Ermey type of drill sergeant for the camp. The film really plays upon peoples fear of what happens in boot camps like this and you always feel for the kids over anyone else in the film. This is definitely worth a watch.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Monday, September 7, 2009

Watch Out For Flying Pickaxes

My Bloody Valentine 3D 2009
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writers:: Todd Farmer and Zane Smith
Starring Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe

The original My Bloody Valentine is my favorite non franchise slasher film, so I was highly skeptical that this could be a good film. But, it does what few remakes really are unable to do, add to an existing story and make it their own. It also has the best 3D effects I have seen in a film yet. This film has everything a fan could want in a slasher flick, nice kills, gratuitous nudity and a great villain. An added bonus is the casting of The Man Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe, who I have not seen since Roadhouse. This was a fun film and definitely one of the best horror films I have seen this year. It really impressed me with all the stuff it was able to pull off and it really feels like a 80's film. It really has the 80's style charm to it that many of the other remakes are missing.
The plot basics are this, in the mining town of Harmony there is a horrible mining accident and everyone is killed except for Harry Warden who is found in a coma and all the others are killed by what appears to be by pickaxes. It is concluded that Harry killed them to conserve oxygen. Harry wakes up out of his coma and goes back to the mine where some friends are going to have some fun and Harry shows up and kills a girl and almost kills one of the guys, Tom(Ackles) until the sheriff (Atkins) shoots him and he runs into the mine. Flash forward 10 years later, where Tom comes back to Harmony and is closing deals to sell the mine which his family owned. He finds Sarah (King) his ex flame who is now married to Axel (Smith) who is now the Sheriff. Not long after he arrives in town people start getting killed and everyone thinks Harry Warden is back. Axel believes Tom is the culprit, but Sarah doesn't know who to believe. This all leads to a twist that culminates in the mine, where all of this began 10 years ago.
This was a great little horror film. Lussier does a great job of directing, with a great eye for the kills and really uses the claustrophobic feel of the mine very well. The script is tight as well, the characters are very well rounded and you never feel that any of them are cardboard cut outs. The cast is great too, Ackles is a commanding lead and I loved seeing both Atkins and Tighe work their magic again too. The SFX was great, with some great gore scenes and the 3D effects were awesome as well. I never felt that they ever looked anything but real throughout. This is a film I will be watching numerous times, as it was really a very well done slasher film.
This one gets 4 out of 5 pickaxes

Friday, September 4, 2009

Zombie Fumbles the Ball

Halloween 2 2009
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton, Danielle Harris, Chase Wright Vanek and Caroline Williams

This is one of the films I had been highly anticipating all summer along with G.I. Joe and I was hoping it would exceed my expectations like that did, and I will say it came close but ultimately it is a weaker entry than Zombie's first film. I think it was a very strong film, with powerful imagery and good acting, but the characters were lacking I think, as you really had no sympathetic characters in the film to root for. A lot of the imagery just seems to confuse the viewer and the film really would have benefited with a supernatural element, as Zombie expects you to take a lot of things on faith and his story just doesn't warrant that. It seems he wanted to make a story about the passing of the torch of evil and it just didn't come together, because people want to see Michael Myer's not his drug dependent and mentally scarred sister and that is ultimately where the film fails.
The plot basics are this we open with a flashback between Michael as a kid (Vanek) with his Mom (Zombie) with allusions to a white horse and how it will comfort him. We then flash forward to the ending of the last film, after Laurie (Compton) shoots Michael, she is found walking in the middle of the street holding the gun limply and Sheriff Brackett (Dourif) comes to her and takes her to the hospital. She is patched up but then Michael somehow comes to and comes to the hospital killing everyone in his path and killing her it seems, and then she wakes from a dream about a year later. She is a harried and broken soul at this point. She is seeing a psychologist and living with the Bracketts and as Halloween quickly approaches Michael is on his way back to Haddonfield killing anyone in his way while the spirit of his Mom urges him on to get the family back together. While all this is happening Loomis (McDowell) is back on the book circuit with a new book with many revelations that Lori does not know about. This all leads to a bloody showdown that does not end the way you expect it to.
This was a gripping film, even if you did not always understand what the hell was going on. Zombie's direction was good, but sometimes he was not clear enough about what was happening. His script has the same problem, he tries a metaphysical touch and it just doesn't work and also, the characters are not very approachable or likable and that is another fault the film has. The acting is very good, but there is only so much you can do with the characters. The best performances are by Mcdowell and Dourif. Loomis is made into a real asshole, and I commend that approach as McDowell could never duplicate or equal Pleasance's performance so he goes in a completely different direction. Dourif seems to me to be the anchor of the film, he is the only one you feel for during the film. Compton was good as Lori but she was out of her element, she really doesn't have the acting chops for this type of role and it shows. The SFX by Wayne Toth were great, very bloody and excessively gory, definitely one of the high points of the film. Finally the music is great as always in a Zombie film, and I especially loved the music by Captain Clegg, especially Honky Tonk Halloween. Though the film had numerous faults I quite enjoyed it and if you are a Zombie fan definitely see it, but if you did not like the first film I do not think this will be for you.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Halloween 2007

Halloween 2007
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring Malcolm Mcdowell, Sheri Mon Zombie, Scout Taylor Compton, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Daniellle Harris, Brad Dourif and William Forsythe

Rob Zombie is one of the modern premier horror filmmakers in my book and I was ecstatic when I heard he was tackling the remake of Carpenter's seminal classic. Zombie has yet to disappoint me and he did not do that with this film either. It is totally different from Carpenter's vision and there is really no comparison to the two films. Other than them both being about a psychotic killer named Michael Myers. Where Carpenter's film is a suspense filled Hitchcockian type of film, Zombie's is a high octane white trash tinged horror film. I do love Carpenters film, but I think Zombie's film surpasses him with the caliber of acting that he gets. People like Dourif, Wallace and Mcdowell really bring it up a notch. That is why I really consider this film a modern classic that I never get tired of revisiting.
The plot basics are this, we meet young Michael Myers (Faerch) who is growing up in a dysfunctional white trash family. He has issues at school where he is picked on by bullies and at home, his abusive stepfather (Forsythe). His mother (Zombie) is called into school for a meeting and meets the school psychologist, Doctor Loomis (Mcdowell) and she discovers that Michael is torturing animals and Loomis is worried that this could lead to a larger problem. Michael is then found to be stalking the school bully and he beats him to death wearing a clown mask. This leads to him going psychotic on Halloween night and killing everyone in his house except for his baby sister. He is institutionalized and slowly hides within himself and just lives through masks he creates now. Flash forward 15 years later and he breaks out and heads back home to reunite with his sister, Laurie (Compton) and he begins to kill anyone who gets in his way. Loomis comes to hunt him down which leads to a dramatic showdown between Laurie and Michael that will only end badly.
This is a phenomenal film. Zombie directs with a deft touch, really making you feel the isolation that young Michael is suffering through. The script is great and alot of people complain about the language, but that is how people who grow up in a white trash community talk, and being from that demographic I totally related to it. The cast was great, especially loved Compton and Mcdowell. They really brought a new feel to the characters of Laurie and Loomis. I also loved Zombie, she showed she could play something other than Baby. The gore SFX were great in the film and quite realistic. And you cannot talk about a Zombie film without mentioning the soundtrack. As always, it is a perfect soundtrack to the images you see on the screen. This is a great horror film and one that will be re watched for many years to come.
I give it 5 out of 5

Urban Legends: Final Cut

Urban Legends: Final Cut 2000
Director: John Ottman
Writers: Paul Harris Boatman and Scott Derrickson
Starring Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Jospeh Lawerence, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes and Jessica Cauffiel

The first Urban Legends was the last of the 90's glut of the modern self aware slasher films that began with Wes Craven's Scream. I have always enjoyed the original Urban Legends especially for killing Tara Reid. However, I never got around to seeing either of the sequels. But, while I was on vacation I caught the first sequel on cable and finally watched it. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a solid sequel, it did not really add anything new to the formula but was a very competent and serviceable slasher film. It had some good acting with Morrison, Devine and Bochner and the film moved quickly and had some nice grisly kills. It also had a nice nod to the original with it's ending. It had some nods to other seminal horror films, which was fun to pick out as I watched it.
The plot basics are this, we meet a group of college students who are going for their filmmaking degree at Alpine University. Amy Mayfield (Morrison) is having trouble figuring out a subject for her thesis film and she finally figures out one when the security guard at the campus (Devine) tells her about a case where people were being killed off using the mode of urban legends. As she begins to film her film strange things begin happening and she soon discovers someone is killing her cast and crew. She digs around and discovers that someone is angry and killing off anyone who worked on another student's film, who had recently died. This all leads to a suspenseful ending where she discovers who has been killing off everyone.
This was a good little slasher film. The direction by Ottman is good and he keeps the suspense intact till the end, as you think the killer is someone else, but it is someone completely different. The script is good and competent. It moves the story along well with no boring stretches during the film. The cast is good, I especially liked Morrison and Devine. Devine was just as fun as she was in the original Urban Legends. The SFX are great, the kills are grisly and fun to experience. My Favorite had to have been the death of Cauffiel which was well executed and also funny as hell. This is far from a classic , but it is a very entertaining addition to the slasher genre.
This one gets 3 out of 5