Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Resurrection

Halloween Resurrection 2002
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Writers: Larry Brand and Sean Hood
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, Katee Sackhoff, Bianca Kajlich, Brad Loree, Sean Patrick Thomas and Daisy McCracken

This is by far the worst in the franchise's history, even Rob Zombie's recent Halloween 2 is better than this. Everything that could go wrong with this film did go wrong. I knew this film was going to be bad once they ret conned the ending of H20 and decided to kill off Laurie in such a arbitrary and cruel way. I had such high hopes for this film too, I loved Rosenthal's previous entry in the series, Halloween 2. But if you look at his output since then, he did a lot of TV and the horrendously awful The Birds 2: Land's End, I should have definitely seen this coming. I think the capper of the travesty that this film is would be having Busta Rhymes having a kung fu fight with Michael. That was just utterly laughable. This also by far has the worst rendition of Michael Myers and his mask. Also, unlike the other films, this one is very dated, with its plot concept of a reality show. No matter how bad any of the other films are, they could always be seen as timeless horror films, that is not the case with this one.
The plot basics are this, After killing what she thinks is Michael, Laurie (Curtis) she is put in an asylum. It seems though that Michael switched bodies and comes after her and finally takes out his sister and that would seem to be an end to his killing or is it? We then meet up with Freddie (Rhymes) and Nora (Banks), are reality TV programmers for a web site called Dangertainment and are going to send 6 kids in the Myers house, they have installed cameras all over the house and once they put the teens in there that is where the fun will begin. But, unbeknownst to them all is that Michael has come back to his home and he does not care for interlopers in his lair. It is not long before Sara (Kajlich) is the only survivor and it is a cat and mouse game, that is until Freddie decides enough is enough and decides to face off against Michael, but is he able enough to stop him?
This is a very poorly done horror film. Rosenthal's direction is very amateurish and hammy throughout the film. It is staged too much like a TV show and does not seem to be a film that is well suited for the cinematic experience. The kills are very clumsy and you are never in any suspense about what will happen. The script is downright juvenile, the worst example of this is the way they just toss out Laurie in the beginning, completely disregarding the excellent ending of H20. It also seems all the characters are your basic stereotypes in a slasher film. It is almost as if this is a comedy, though it is not supposed to be and that's what makes this film all the worse. The cast does not fare much better. Rhymes is a joke and Kajlich is like a cipher, you could interchange her with any of the other characters and no one would notice. Curtis is good as always, but ultimately is wasted here. I did like Sackhoff here too, it is interesting to see her as the dumb blonde considering how we see her now on Battlestar Galactica. The SFX is bad too, the only scene I actually liked was the one decapitation, all the rest seemed liked they belonged in a Troma film. The score is not much better, does not add much and does not use the original score to the effect it could be used. On all counts this is a bad horror film and should only be seen if you are a Halloween completist.
This one gets 1 out of 5

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween H20:Twenty Years Later

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later 1998
Director: Steve Miner
Writers: Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Jody Lynn O'Keefe, Janet Leigh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Nancy Stephens

After the huge misstep of Halloween 6, the series found its footing again with this superior sequel. This is the best one featuring Michael since Halloween 2. They went back to the roots in bringing back Laurie and it relied more on suspense than just plain old gore. It also grabbed a great horror director with Steve Miner, who had directed 2 of the best Friday the 13th installments, parts 2 and 3. It is a solid installment in the genre and one that gets better with each repeated viewing. I also think that this one would have been the perfect capper to the series if not for the abysmally horrible Halloween Resurrection. The ending really ends everything as it should, and the only fault this film has is that Donald Pleasance had passed on, so there was no way for Dr. Loomis to make an appearance. But, looking past that, this is a great addition to the series.
The plot basics are this, we open in 1998 and in a small town we meet up with Nurse Marion (Stephens) again, and her home has just been broken into and her office ransacked. It seems that her file on Laurie strode has been taken. It then becomes apparent that Michael has returned and he dispatches her and then proceeds to find Laurie (Curtis) who has faked her death and is living a new life as the Headmistress of a private prep school. She also has a son, John (Hartnett) and it is Halloween and everyone in the school is planning on going on a camping trip to Yosemite, but Laurie has issues she is still dealing with due to the attack by Michael 20 years ago. She is very over protective but finally acquiesces and allows John to go on the trip. He has other plans with his girlfriend (Williams) though. John, his girl and 2 other friends decide to stay and have a romantic Halloween party and everything is going well, until Michael sneaks his way in and begins to dispatch his friends. Laurie knew this was coming and she rescues John and his girl and rushes them out while she plans to finally end her ordeals with her brother once and for all.
This is a tense and fright filled horror film. Miner's direction is taut and suspenseful, he opens it really well with the cat and mouse attack on Nurse Marion. He also sets up all the scenes very well, it is very reminiscent of Carpenter's classic, but he still makes it his own. The script is very good too, the character arc of Laurie and how she is so emotionally scarred from that attack years ago, is really very well fleshed out. I also liked Ronny Jones, he was very cool and funny. Will Bennett is a very good romantic foil too Laurie, but you know he is ultimately doomed. The cast is great, spearheaded by a bravura performance by Curtis, she really amps it up past the 10 mark in hysterics here and does it wonderfully. Hartnett is good as her son and Arkin and LL Cool J are great as the ancillary male leads too. They support Curtis well, but still give her the room to steal the film. The SFX is quite good my favorite kill in the film is when O'Keefe gets it and is suspended with a light through her stomach, still a shocking scene. The score by John Ottoman is very good, it is used very well through all the chase scenes in the film and is different enough that they do not rely on Carpenter's theme too much. This is a great film in the series and one all Halloween fans should see if they have not already.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (The Producer's Cut)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (The Producer's Cut) 1995
Director: Joe Chapelle
Writer: Daniel Farrands
Starring Paul Rudd, Donald Pleasance, Marianne Hagan, Mitch Ryan, Kim Darby, Bradford English, Leo Geter and George P. Wilbur

The theatrical version of Halloween 6 is one of the biggest train wrecks I have ever seen , so when I heard there was a producer's cut, I had to seek it out. And after viewing it, I will say it improves some things but it still stands as a film that never should have seen the light of day. It brings to light more of the plans they had with the cult that seems to be behind of all of Michael's raging massacres. Though I think it has its moments it still fails as a Halloween film, just by trying to explain everything, and the series always worked better when there was no rhyme or reason for Michael's attacks. Pleasance does give a great final performance and I also really like Rudd as the adult Tommy Doyle. The deaths are also done very well. It is just the convoluted plot that really needed some help.
The plot basics are this, it is 1995 and we open to Jamie Lloyd who was taken by the same group that broke Michael (Wilbur) out of jail at the end of Halloween 5. She is pregnant and has a baby and she gets help to escape from the underground cult that is keeping her, but Michael is soon chasing after her. She calls a radio show at a bus station asking for Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) to help her, but Michael gets to her before anything can happen. But she is able to hide the baby from him. Tommy Doyle (Rudd), a survivor of Michael's initial attack is now an adult and is now obsessed with all things pertaining to Michael and he figures out where Jamie was and rescues the baby and is watching over it till he can get Loomis to help him. Tommy lives across the street from the Myers house and watches the house and is drawn to Kara Strode (Hagan) and her son. Soon, he pulls them away and tries to protect them, while the mysterious cult around Michael grows closer and now it is up to Tommy and Loomis to put an end to this once and for all.
This is a flawed but entertaining film. Chapelle does a decent job of direction, but there are times where you are not sure what is going on, because the film doesn't seem to have been lit properly. He does set up the kill scenes very well though. The script by Farrands has some good points, the characters of Tommy Doyle and Loomis have some good character arcs. But, the character of Doctor Winn just seems totally unnecessary to me. It just makes a ludicrous plot development seem even more pointless. The whole explanation of runes and how it pertains to Michael and what he does just seems like they were trying to over explain everything. The cast is good, especially Rudd and Pleasance. Rudd does a good turn as the hero and it seems as if they were going to try and make Doyle the new hero, taking over for Loomis. Pleasance gives another great turn and as usual he amps up the hysterics to the nth degree, which is always the way you want to see this character. Mitch Ryan is good as the ubiquitous Dr. Winn, you think he is on your side, but it is clear that he has some kind of hidden agenda as the film progresses. The SFX by John Carl Buechler is some very solid work and all the death scenes are handled splendidly. The score is what you would expect, they basically just use Carpenter's score for most of the film, and it does help it feel more like a Halloween film and less like the abortion it is. If you are a Halloween fan, I would recommend checking the Producer's cut out over the theatrical, as it makes the end product a bit more palatable. But the fact is when you shine a piece of crap, at the end of the day it is still a piece of crap.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers 1989
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Writers: Dominique Othenin-Girard, Michael Jacobs and Shem Bitterman
Starring Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasance, Ellie Cornell, Don Shanks, Beau Starr, Wendy Kaplan and Jeffrey Landman

After the success of Halloween 4, the producers started right away on a sequel and for being so quickly rushed this sequel hit all the right notes. Unlike 4 this film has some genuinely scary moments and is staged much more like a horror film than a action film. With a even better performance by Harris, especially since she cannot actually speak for much of the film. Cornell is back a, albeit briefly and Pleasance lets Loomis go completely mad in this film. The kills are all quite good and very bloody. It also seems that the director borrowed some visuals from films like Friday the 13th part 2. Like towards the end when Jamie discovers in the attic all the bodies of Michael's victims. It is a tense and scary film, and the only complaint I would make is the unnecessary addition of the man in black. This series has never needed to be explained as it works better with no explanation and that's what makes it all the more terrifying.
The plot basics are this, It picks up immediately at the ending of 4 and as the police shoot up Michael and he falls in a shaft and as they toss a grenade down there he escapes and flows down the river and is discovered by a mountain man. Michael rests for a year. We flash forward to a year later and Jamie (Harris) is in a children's care center and she now has a psychic link to Michael (Shanks), so whenever he does something she can feel it. Loomis (Pleasance) who has her under his care and he tries to force her to help him hunt down Michael. Michael is now tracking Jamie and killing everyone in his path and eventually Jamie agrees to help Loomis and they have their ultimate showdown with Loomis going berserk. It all leads to Michael finally being caught, but for how long?
This is a very well executed film. The direction by Othenin-Girard is done expertly. He uses the dark very well and establishes the kill scenes great. He also really can pull off scary scenes. The best example of this is the attack on Jamie in the laundry chute, by far my favorite scene in the film. It is very tense and harrowing. The script is good too, though it could have done without the man in black stuff, omitting that would have made this a much stronger film. But, the character evolutions of Jamie and Loomis are spot on and very compelling. The cast is great, Harris delivers an even better performance in this one, especially since she has to act out most of her scenes rather than vocalizing them. Pleasance really amps up the overacting in this one and it pays off in spades. Especially when he opens a can of whoop ass on Michael. Shanks is a great foreboding menace as Michael. The SFX are done by KNB and they do a great job, especially loved the pitchfork death scene. Alan Howarth does another superb job on the score, really fleshes out the horror of the film. This is a great film in the series and would be flawless except for the tacked on ending. If not for that, this series would have ended on a high note instead of leading into the next films idiotic idea of a conspiracy.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers 1988
Director: Dwight H. Little
Writer: Alan McElroy
Starring Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, George P. Wilbur, Michael Pataki, Beau Starr and Sasha Jensen

It took the producers of the Halloween series to come back with a sequel after Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. The time they took on it seemed to work in its benefit. It is a solid film and a great addition to the Halloween mythology. With Donald Pleasance back and the addition of Danielle Harris they have all the ingredients of a great slasher film. It all seems to gel together well. The only complaint I would make is that they should have gone with a director more well versed in the horror genre than a director who is more comfortable in the action film genre. As, there are several scenes in this film that seem more at home in a action film than a horror film. To cite just a few of the scenes I would point out the gas station explosion, the chase on the rooftop and Michael's assault in the pickup truck. Those scenes aside it is a solid film with some great kills and some great acting by Harris and Pleasence.
The plot basics are this, it is 10 years after Michael Myers (Wilbur) attacked Haddonfield and tried to kill Laurie Strode. He is not dead but in what seems to be a catatonic state and is being moved back to Smith's Grove Asylum. But, for some reason he reactivates and kills his handlers and is now on his way back to Haddonfield. It seems that Laurie had a daughter, Jamie (Harris) and Laurie has been deed for almost a year. With Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) hot on Michael's trail. Michael makes a bloody path to Jamie and her foster sister, Rachel (Cornell). They are on the run with Michael right behind them and it seems as if nothing will stop Michael's rampage.
This is a solid and fun slasher film. Little's direction is very good, but as I mentioned before it is choreographed like a action film rather than a horror film. There are thrills in the film but really not many scares. Little does have it move at a frenetic pace and that works in the films favor. The script by McElroy is very good, you really care for Jamie and Rachel and you can start to see how his chase of Michael is driving Loomis mad. That is most telling in the scene where Loomis hitches a ride with a crazy preacher. The cast is great, Pleasance and Harris really carry and shoulder this film. Pleasance really owns the role of Loomis and you want him to succeed. Harris is great as the increasingly neurotic Jamie and unlike many child actors she never annoys you. That is a tough thing to be able to pull off. Cornell as the strong heroine is very good, especially during the rooftop scene. The film has the requisite sex appeal with Kinmont too, I have always liked seeing her in horror films. The SFX is good my favorite kill has to be when Kinmont gets it. It was very brutal and a shock to see. The music by Alan Howarth is great, he uses Carpenter's score but made it his own and the score is very eerie and haunting. This was a fine addition to the series and well worth seeing if you are a fan of the series.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Halloween III: Season of the Witch 1982
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer:Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring Tom Atkins, Stacy Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy, Michael Currie, Ralph Strait, Jadeen Barbor, Gam Stephens, Nancy Kyes, Al Berry and Wendy Wessberg

When a film series veers off it usual path, many people seem to hate it just on general principle. Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday is a perfect example of this. It changed the mythology of the series and many people did not like that. Halloween III is another perfect example of this, it has no sign of Michael Myers unless you count them showing clips from the original film on various TV screens. Many people loathe this film for that very reason, but that is one of the reasons that this is my favorite sequel in the Halloween franchise. It is very original and creative, with a great hero and a diabolical Bondian villain. The gore in the film is amazing too, by far the best effects work in any of the Halloween films. This is just a fun film and one I seem to revisit every year around this time.
The plot basics are this, It is 11 days before Halloween and a desperate man (Berry) who is running by a mysterious car that is chasing him. He beats one of the assailants and escapes to a gas station where he is taken to a local hospital and he is clutching a Halloween mask and yells at the Doctor (Atkins) who is treating them that they are going to kill them all. Not long after he is killed by a strange man who then runs to his car and immolates himself. This all seems rather bizarre to Doctor Dan Challis (Atkins) and along with the old man's daughter, Ellie (Nelkin) starts investigating and they discover her father went to a small town to pick up some masks at the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company. They go and the town is like a ghost town with cameras everywhere and they meet the enigmatic owner of the company, Colin Cochran (O'Herlihy). Dan soon discovers a diabolical plan to kill millions of children around the world using their masks at approximately 9 P.M. Halloween night and now Dan must find a way to stop his mad plan or millions will die.
This is just a flawless horror film. Wallace direction has just the right mood of both whimsy and dread. The suspenseful tension that permeates this film is very palatable. The script by Wallace is great too, the characters are fully realized and have motivations that everyone can relate too. I especially liked How the hero, Dan Challis is a great hero but is not without his own weaknesses. Those being he is a womanizer and a boozer. Colin Cochran is a great villain as well he has a very dastardly motivation and you cannot help but grin as he explains it. The cast is great, Atkins as always is the man and this is by far my favorite performance of his. He is likeable, witty and a bad ass when needed. Nelkin is good as the romantic interest and O'Herlihy is a delight to watch every scene he is in. My personal favorite is after Dan attacks his base of operations he applauds him, I loved that. The SFX and effects in the film are very gory and brutal, which I loved. My personal favorite was when the family is used as a test and when the kid's head oozes out bugs and snakes. That is still one of my favorite gore scenes from any horror film. The score by Carpenter is great as always and the Silver Shamrock Jingle is so damn catchy you cannot stop singing until days after you see the film. This is by far, the best Halloween sequel and is a film I never get sick of revisiting.
This one gets 5 out of 5 bug infested Jack O'Lanterns

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween II

Halloween II 1981
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Writers: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers, Lance Guest, Jeffrey Kramer, Leo Rossi, Pamela Susan Shoop, Gloria Gifford and Nancy Stephens

John Carpenter's original Halloween is a classic and was very popular. So, it was inevitable that there would be a sequel and luckily this is one of those sequels that holds up with the original but does not surpass it. I think they made a very wise decision to make it a direct continuation of the first film. The way it was executed is that it feels like an organic continuation but it definitely has its own flourishes as well. With Friday the 13th coming out the year before, this series needed to up the violence considerably and actually show some of the kills and they do a good job here. The film has some great memorable kills that I always remember fondly. The cast is quite good to with Curtis and Pleasance leading the charge, but I also though Guest, Rossi and Shoop did a great job too. This is one of the top tier sequels that the Halloween franchise has had.
The plot basics are this, moments after Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) shoots Michael Myers and Myers somehow survives Laurie (Curtis) is rushed to the local hospital by a pair of paramedics (Guest, Rossi) and is patched up and put on the mend. While Loomis along with Sheriff Brackett (Cyphers) continues to look for Myers. Michael finds his way to the hospital dispatching anyone in his way and sneaks into the hospital knocking off anyone in his way between himself and his intended victim, Laurie. Loomis finds out that Laurie is actually Michael's long lost sister and he heads to the hospital to end Michael's reign of terror once and for all.
This is a expertly well crafted film. Rosenthal's directions is very tight and suspenseful. He does it in the vein of Carpenter, but also brings his own flourish to the film. The attack scenes are quick and vicious. The script by Carpenter and Hill is a great one and they make great use of the characters of Laurie and Loomis. It was also a great idea to have most of the film take place in the setting of a hospital. The cast is very good too, Curtis is very good as the distraught Laurie trying to survive intact, and keep her sanity at the same time. Pleasance as Loomis ramps up the over acting even more for this film and it is much appreciated. Guest as the paramedic who starts falling for Laurie is very good too and as far as eye candy in the film Shoop is great as the sexy nurse who gets naughty with the other paramedic. The SFX is quite good, I especially loved the hot tub death of Shoop, her makeup effects after her demise were excellent. Rosenthal also uses the same music as the original and he uses it expertly in the film. I also loved the use of the "Mister Sandman" song. It bookends the film very well. This is a great follow up to the original and I had just wished Rob Zombie's follow up had flowed as effortlessly as this film does.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween reviews starting tomorrow

Just wanted to let everyone know that starting tomorrow I will be taking a break from my regular reviews and I will be reviewing Halloween films, starting from Halloween 2 and going till Halloween Resurrextion. since I have already reviewed the original and Zombie's 2 films I will be passing those over, and I hope everyone enjoys them.


Revisiting Buffy

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 1992
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Writer: Joss Whedon
Starring Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherlnad, Rutger Hauer, Paul Reubens, Hilary Swank, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Stephen Root and Candy Clark

I am a big time Buffy fanatic, the TV show is one of the few shows I have the complete set on DVD. I had not seen the original movie though, since I saw it in theaters in the summer of 92. I remember it really being the only film of that summer that was really good. But, after watching the show it always felt like I was cheating by going back and watching this. I am sorry I took so long, because I think the film has aged very well. It has bits of flourish that remind me of the show, but it really is a completely different animal. And I think that is a good thing, it separates it from what the TV show was. It is a light, fun and campy film, which works better in a film than it would on a TV series. The cast is very good and the script is funny and flies by at no time at all. Though, I would have liked to have seen what Whedon's original script was really like. This is probably the last vampire film I really enjoyed until 30 Days of Night.
The plot basics are this, Buffy (Swanson) is your typical high school cheerleader, flighty, ditzy and more caring about her fashion sense than anything else. She goes through life as usual until she meets Merrick (Sutherland) a strange man who tells her that she is the chosen one, the Slayer and she has a destiny to slay the undead, otherwise known as vampires. He instructs her how to kill vampires and warns her of the coming of Lothos (Hauer) a ages old vampire who has killed many slayers and Buffy keeps having dreams about him. She soon meets Pike (Perry) who has seen the vampires and soon becomes an ally with her. It all leads to the school dance where Lothos attacks and Buffy must stop him once and for all.
This was a good film. The direction by Kuzui is very well done, it is directed with a very campy feel throughout the entire film and it really works with the material. The script is great, Whedon has a great feel for great dialogue and it shows very well in here. There is much humor in the film but it is more from the situations than the characters, which is always a better route to go. The cast is great, Swanson is a very good protagonist and is very likeable. Sutherland is great as the wise mentor and Hauer is a great main antagonist, he just oozes wickedness. Perry also does a good job as the romantic interest, but I think the best performance is Ruebens as Hauer's lackey. He steals every scene he is in and I loved his death scene. The SFX and the action sequences are done quite well, and I especially love the siege at the dance, that was pulled off really well. This is a campy little horror comedy, that definitely improves with age and if you want to see how the show started you should see this film.
This one gets 3 stakes out of 5

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: The Amityville Horror 1979

The Amityville Horror 1979
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Writer: Sandor Stern
Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger, Don Stroud, Murray Hamilton and Helen Shaver

This was one of the first haunted house films I ever saw, the third if I recall. After Burnt Offerings and The Legend of Hell House. I think that is why this is still one of my favorites. This film has a lot of great things going for it, a great cast, some excellent atmosphere and a great musical score. The film is rather eerie and creepy and when I hear the music I know exactly what it is from. If there is any downside to the film it is very much a 70's film and I think anyone who did not grow up in this era and view the film back then will not appreciate it as much as someone who lived through this era. It has some scenes that still stick with me and when I think of memorable moments in horror films I can think of a few that come immediately to mind. For instance, the scene with the toilets shooting black bile, the attack on Steiger and Brolin's frantic search for that check. The unease and increasing feeling of terror that the characters go through is very palatable throughout the entire film.
The plot basics are this, George (Brolin) and Kathy (Kidder) Lutz have just bought a house in Long Island NY and at first everything seems perfect. Though horrible things have happened in the house and that is disclosed to the Lutz's they buy it, as they believe a house is just a house. But, then bizarre and frightening things begin happening. Kathy is not too sure though and brings a Catholic priest (Stieger) to exorcise the house but he is attacked by the evil spirits that are contained within the house. Soon, it begins to get worse with their babysitter being attacked and soon the spirits are influencing George and it seems are driving him to become a homicidal maniac. It is up to Kathy to try and save her family before the house destroys George and her entire family, but will she succeed or be killed like the previous owners?
This is a classic film and I think one of the best horror films of the 70's. The direction by Rosenberg is very good, he stages the scenes well and has a great sense of atmosphere. The best example of this is the attack on Steiger, it slowly amps up until it becomes unbearably horrifying. The script is good too, based on the supposedly True book based on the account of the Lutzes ordeal, it is turned into a far better film than the book had ever aspired to be. The cast is great too, with the best work done by Brolin and Steiger. Brolin really amps up the emotions needed to slowly go insane and does it superbly. Steiger is great as the priest and has the best scene in the film I believe. Kidder is great too, but she is over eclipsed by those two. The SFX is nominal but is very effective when it is used. The best example of this was the bile erupting from the toilets. The score by Lalo Schifrin is a integral ingredient to why this movie works as well as it does too. Anytime you hear that eerie music you expect something bad to happen and it always does. This is one of the best haunted house films and well worth re watching.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fulci Gets Catty

The Black Cat 1981
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci and Biogio Proietti
Starring Patrick MacGee, David Warbeck, Mimsy Farmer, Al Cliver, Dagmar Lassander and Daniela Dora

Poe has always been a inspiration to many Horror filmmakers over the years. From the classic Corman/Price collaborations to Stuart Gordon's The Pit and The Pendulum. It is a mine that is well mined and has made some excellent films. The Black Cat by Lucio Fulci is the latest one I have sen and it is a good one. It has the usual flourishes a Fulci film has, with some spectacularly grisly deaths and as always a nice musical score. The film takes it's inspiration from Poe's The Black Cat but forges it's own story from that seed and makes that kernel its own. It has a solid cast with some regulars of Fulci and a great maniacal performance by Patrick Macgee. The most memorable scene in the film has to be the torching of the grieving mother, that one is expertly done a very melodramatic and I loved it. This is one of Fulci's lesser classics, not quite as good as House by the Cemetery but much better than some of his later work like Demonia.
The plot basics are this, Robert Miles (MacGee) is a psychic who has a rapport with cats and seems to be able to control them and have them do his bidding. He uses his cat to take vengeance upon the people he believe has slighted them. People start ending up dead and a visiting Scotland Yard investigator (Warbeck) and a photographer (Farmer) starts to investigate and the photographer begins to see that all the victims have cat scratches on them and slowly she begins to piece the puzzle together and she finally confronts Phillips, but he overpowers her and entombs her in a wall and it looks as if he will get away with his crimes but will he succeed?
This is a great film. Fulci's direction is very atmospheric and all the scenes with the cat on the prowl is very eerie and creepy. He sets up the tension that permeates all throughout the scenes before the cat attacks and you are dreading and anticipation it at the same time. The script is good, the character of Phillips is a hoot to watch, you can tell he is a madman but you cannot turn your eyes away from what atrocity he will perform next. The cast is great, and the finest example of that is MacGee, he relishes this role of menace that he permeates the screen with every scene he is in. He is supported by great work by Cliver and Warbeck as well. They always are a great to watch in any Fulci film they are in and this one is no exception. The SFX is very good, especially the deaths in the boathouse and the arson fire that the cat causes, I delight in re watching that scene again and again. The final piece of the puzzle for this film is the music by Pino Donaggio, it is haunting and at some times almost whimsical, which fits the film very well. This is a definite must see for both Fulci and Poe fans.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slasher Satire Done Right

Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon 2006
Director: Scott Glosserman
Writers: Scot Glosserman and David J. Stieve
Starring Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund, Scott Wilson, Zelda Rubinstein, Bridget Newton and Jenafer Brown

The parody and satire of the slasher genre is something that is the subject of many a horror film, to the excellent Scream series to the abhorrent stuff like Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Summer. Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is the finest example of this specialty sub genre. I really love Scream, but this film is smarter and much more clever than that film ever aspired too. It does not take itself too seriously but when it is time to ramp up the tension and the scares it does so with gusto. It is helped by a great scrip, some excellent direction and a phenomenal cast that carries the film to its brilliant ending. It uses some great genre talent in the likes of Englund, Rubinstein and a nice cameo bit with Kane Hodder.
The plot basics are this, a documentary crew is following around Leslie Vernon (Baesal), who is a burgeoning mass murderer, following in the footsteps of Freddy, Jason and Michael. The documentary crew is headed up by Taylor Gentry (Goethals). He takes them through his planning for his big night and introduces them to his survivor girl (Brown) and his "Ahab" (Englund). But, as they delve deeper it seems everything is not as it appears and Taylor finds herself fighting for her life when she becomes the subject of Leslie's murderous rage.
This is a amazing film that gets better with each viewing. The direction by Glosserman is great. He balances it between biting satire and a tense and scary slasher film with equal aplomb. The script is great too, I really enjoy how it takes place in a reality where Halloween, Friday the 13th and a Nightmare on Elm Street all exist. The characters are very well rounded too you really like Leslie and Eugene and cannot get enough of watching them. The cast is superb, Baesal is very quick witted and funny. He is also very good when he turns the switch and becomes the murderous psychopath. Wilson as his mentoring killer is a hoot too and I cannot mention the cast without talking about Englund as Doc Halloran, a great nod to Donald Pleasence's Doctor Loomis from Halloween. He really gets into the manic obsessive role of that character. There is not much SFX in the film, but that works in it's benefit, the appeal of this film is more the cerebral aspects than the visceral ones. Some people complain how this is two movies and it doesn't mesh together well, I have to disagree. This film is a hybrid of satire like This is Spinal Tap with a classic slasher film like Friday the 13th. And I think they mesh together perfectly and there are hints throughout the film that it is turning into a slasher film. This is a far superior film to Scream and if you see one slasher satire film this is the one to see.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The Thaw 2009
Director: Mark A. Lewis
Writers: Mark A. Lewis and Michael Lewis
Starring Val KIlmer, William B. Davis, Martha MacIsaac, Gary Chalk, Peter Kelamis, Anna Marie Deluise, John Callander, Kyle Schmid, Steph Song and Aaron Ashmore

Ecological Horror is not a subject that is broached much in horror films and it is refreshing whey you see a horror film that tries to tackle this subject. The Thaw is just such a film, it is a smart and thought provoking horror movie that makes you think, while at times makes you flinch in horror. The film is a combination of The Thing, Slither and Cabin Fever and it is a combination that really works. It has a great paranoia feel to it that is palatable throughout the entire film. The feeling of isolation permeates the entire film and it also has a great feel of unease and disgust with the sexual unease the film carries within it too. The film does not take the easy way out and for that I applaud it. It is also great to see such a great actor as Val Kilmer playing such a pivotal role in the film.
The plot basics are this, in a remote Antarctic research station four environmental ecology students go to study with a eco friendly research scientist Dr. David Kruipen (Kilmer). Kruipen's daughter (MacIsaac) is one of the students that comes along for the ride. They arrive and see that it is deserted and soon one of his research colleagues arrives and she is sick and tainted with something. They soon discover That Kruipen unearthed a wooly mammoth and inside the mammoth there are eggs hatching inside that are parasitic and take over the host body. It is then a race against time to insulate everyone from the parasites and along the way they discover Dr. Kruipen's insane plan to save the eco system.
This was very good film. Lewis' direction is tight, he has a great paranoia and claustrophobic fell throughout the entire film. He sets up all the intense face offs in the film very tensely and you never know which way the tide will turn. The script is great as well, I really like the characters of Dr. Kruipen and Federico. They are fully fleshed out characters and you really feel their motives and why they act the way they do. The cast is very well chosen too. Kilmer brings a great gravitas to his role and Schmid is great as the paranoid Federico. I also enjoy MacIsaac, she really has a great grasp on her role and you feel her panic throughout the film. The SFX is very good, a lot of the scenes are reminiscent of Cabin Fever. Of special note, is the arm amputation scene, it really makes you uncomfortable as you experience it. This is a really thought provoking horror film and when you watch it you think if Al Gore made a horror film, he would make something like this.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nausea Inducing Horror

Seventh Moon 2008
Director: Eduardo Sanchez
Writers: Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash
Starring Amy Smart, Dennis Chan and Tim Chiou

Blair Witch Project. This gets varied reactions from people, some think it is one of the greatest horror films, while others believe it is one of the most overrated piece of fluffed up horror films ever made/ I definitely fall in the latter. Eduardo Sanchez, one of the co directors of the BWP and that film is Seventh Moon. I was hoping he was on the upswing after the pleasant surprise, but Seventh Moon is another failed disappointment just like BWP. IT has another limited cast and some very confusing and poorly lit camera work. The only good thing I can say about the film is that I always enjoy seeing Amy Smart in a film, and she is the shining moment of this film. This film was just poorly executed and not fun at all to sit through. It is like watching someone else play a first person shooter video game like Doom. It actually made me kind of nauseous.
The plot basics are this, Melissa (Smart) and Yul (Chiou) are newlyweds having their honeymoon in China and they are on their way to meet Yul's family and they have a cabbie, Ping (Chan) driving them through the countryside. Ping gets lost and stops at a village to ask directions but after an hour or so he never returns so they go to search for him and they cannot find him and discover a man who looks half dead and then a group of creatures chase them and they then run back into the car and tries to get away. Soon they discover that there is a Hungry Ghost festival and the festival is all too real as the villagers leave sacrifices to appease the ghosts. Soon they discover it is real and are being chased by the hungry and angry ghosts and it is now a race for survival for the 2 newlyweds.
This film was really an exercise in futility. Sanchez direction is pretty much letter for letter the same as in BWP and it doesn't work for this film either. Most of the time it is so dark you cannot tell what the hell is going on, and the jarring hand held camera techniques just make trying to pay attention to the story almost impossible. The script is not much better, Melissa is really the only fully fleshed out character. Yul is just a badly drawn caricature of a stupid young man that makes all the stupid decisions. Ping is basically just the device that gets the story going and is also used as the exposition. Smart is really the only bright point in the cast, she carries her role well, but it just is not enough to make this a fond viewing experience. Chan and Chiou are serviceable at best and at other times down right frustratingly annoying. The SFX is not that great either, but that is mainly due to the blurring camera work in the film that never lets you get any good views of the creatures. It seems like Sanchez suffers the Star Trek movie curse, where only the even numbered films of his are good, so I am hoping his next film is not such a pain to suffer through.
This one gets 2 out of 5

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: The Fly 1986

The Fly 1986
Director: David Cronenberg
Writers: Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg
Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, George Chuvalos and David Cronenberg

Very few remakes are able to surpass the original and Cronenberg's the Fly is one of the few that is able to pull that feat off. It belongs in the same category as John Carpenter's The Thing and Chuck Russell's The Blob. Films that are vastly superior to the original material. What makes this film so much better too is how Cronenberg treats the material. Because his Fly is more than just a horror film, at it's core it is a tragic love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet. With fate and Mother Nature as the Montagues and the Capulets. This film also would work great as a 2 person play, but not as a opera as they tried to do awhile back and failed miserably. The film is really pulled off thanks to the great story, acting and some great effects that really pull everything together.
The plot basics are this, we meet Seth Brundle (Goldblum) who is at a part and meets a science magazine reporter, Veronica Quaife (Davis) and he strikes up a conversation with her and tells her about a teleportation device he is creating. He brings her back to his apartment and tests it for her and she is excited enough to write a piece about it. She brings it to her boss and ex lover, Stathis Boranis (Getz) and he tells her to go for it. Brundle comes to the office and begs her not to write it and he will give her exclusive rights to it. Due to the fact that it cannot teleport organic substances yet. She agrees and they fall in love and because he is too impatient he thinks he perfects it and transports himself, but unbeknownst to him a fly gets in the mix and is integrated with him. He feels revitalized but it soon becomes apparent that the fly is taking over and Victoria tries to talk sense into him but it is too late for that. He is devolving and he has grown fixated on her and he has plans for her, ones she wants no part of, but Seth will not take no for an answer.
This is a great film. Cronenberg's direction is solid. He builds up the romance between the two leads quickly and makes it all the more tragic as the story takes it's darker turns. He sets the stage well for ever scene, and my personal favorite is when Seth is in the bar drinking and he challenges one of the roughnecks to a arm wrestling match to woo his floozy off of him. It is a powerful scene that shows you how mad he is becoming. The script is great too, the two leads are very well structured as well as the character of Stathis, he at first plays out like the atypical jealous ex lover, but he really fleshes him out into a solid character. The cast is great as well, Goldblum and Davis have great chemistry and bring great depth to their characters. Getz is great also, he really solidifies the trinity of characters within this film. The SFX is amazing, Chris Walas, has some of the best creature FX I have seen in any film, and I still marvel at it every time I watch it. This is a defining film of modern horror and one of the true classics. Definitely seek it out if you haven't witnessed this masterpiece.
This one gets 5 out of 5 inside out baboons

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut

Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut 2008
Director: Amy Lynn Best
Writer: Mike West
Starring Amy Lynn Best, Tom Sullivan, Debbie Rochon, Elske McCain, Nikki McCrae, Rachelle Williams, Alyssa Herron and Tiffany Warren

The film within a film idea is a tried and true subject that has been used in many types of films, not just the horror genre. Splatter Movies is another solid addition to this subject and it would have been great if I had not first seen Brutal Massacre: A Comedy first, as that film really rolled with the topic and made something very memorable and funny as hell. This film though, has a excellent cast and some fine direction by Best. It just could not surpass some of the acting in Brutal Massacre. Though, this film is more a slasher film than that was, but the films are too similar for me to discount their connecting subject matter. There is some fine work in this one, the way it is shot is very similar to a Troma film and they use the killer POV to great advantage throughout the film.
The plot basics are this, we open with a speech by Amy Lee Parker (Best) a film director and she states that she has just killed 22 people as she was filming her new horror film to prove that she is the greatest serial killer of all time. We then cut to some time before that as Amy is getting ready to film her new horror movie and has a documentary crew following her and her cast and crew around so they can document what goes into the making of a horror film. While the movie gets filmed someone in the killer's mask starts killing cast and crew members left and right. This all leads to a shocking ending where you aren't sure what is real and what is celluloid.
This was a very well done independent film. Best's direction is very good, she does the killer POV expertly and is also very adept at getting you to follow some red herrings. The script was quite good too very funny with some nice characters peppered throughout the plot. The cast was good too, I really enjoyed Best as Parker, she brought a great authentic feel to the character. Sullivan was very good too and especially loved the scenes with Rochon and McCain. I would have loved to have seen more with both of them in the film. The SFX was very good for a low budget film and I especially loved the death of McCain and Williams. It had a nice phallic overtone to the whole proceedings. It was very over the top and funny as hell. Though I prefer Brutal Massacre this is still a fin horror film satire and very much worth pursuing. Definitely see it if you like films in the vein of Terror Firmer.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gut Munching Fun!!

Offspring 2009
Director: Andrew van den Houten
Writer: Jack Ketchum
Starring Art Hindle, Jessica Butler, Leigh Feldpausch, Stephen Grey, Amy Hargreaves, Erick Kastel, Spencer List, Pollyanna McIntosh, Ahna Tessler, Andrew Elvis Miller and Tommy Nelson

Jack Ketchum is my personal favorite Horror writer, he has usurped Stephen King and Clive Barker as the best horror writer out there. Finally the film world has seen how awesome Ketchum is and has been pumping out many of his books are being adapted and so far there has not been a bad one. Offspring is the latest and the best so far. I was really impressed by this film and it will definitely be making my top 10 of horror films of this year. It was unflinchingly brutal and is a truly faithful adaptation to the book. This is helped by the fact that Ketchum himself wrote the script. The film is short and to the point, but with a story like this any lengthening of the story will just hurt it in the long run. It makes some great twists and turns along the way and you are never sure who will survive and who will die.
The plot basics are this, in the backwoods of Maine David (Miller) and Amy (Hargreaves) Halpern are video game programmers who live a isolated life away from civilization and they have a soon to be divorced friend (Tessler) and her son (Nelson) coming to stay for the weekend. But, unbeknownst to them there is a marauding group of feral cannibals living off the coast and they just attacked and killed a mother, her baby and her babysitter. They soon get their on the Halperns and their newborn and they are soon besieged and are abducted and tortured by the cannibals. While a retired sheriff (Hindle) hunts them down and tries to save the women. It all leads to a big battle at the end and the young boy will have to discover the savage in himself if he is to survive in one piece.
This is a brutally unflinching film. The direction by van den Houten is flawlessly intense. The film is shot beautifully with tense chase and fight scenes sprinkled throughout. The script by Ketchum is the novel brought to accurate life. It was as if the words on the page were just fully realized and brought to life. The characters in the film are fully realized and very three dimensional. I especially liked how the Second Stolen (Feldpausch) is given some very humanistic moments and that at times you think she is going to change. The cast is great, was really nice to see Hindle again, he has not lost his touch from classics like The Octagon and The Brood. Hargraves and Tessler are great as the women who are besieged on all fronts and are able to find the inner strength to fight back. Kastel is great as the conniving soon to be ex husband of Claire's too, you really hate him and want him to die in a big way. McIntosh is really great as the Woman, the leader of the cannibals she is very menacing and brutal, and at the same time eerily sexy. The SFX is great, very bloody and realistic, loved the beheading and the blood drinking from the stump and when they attack Tessler and give new meaning to eating a woman out. This is a high watermark for the horror films that have been released this year and I highly recommend horror aficionados seek this one out.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Children of the Corn 2009
Director: Donald P. Borchers
Writers: Donald P. Borchers and Stephen King
Starring David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Daniel Newman, Preston Bailey and Alexa Nikolas

I am a big fan of the original 1984 film, but I am a even bigger fan of the short story that the film was based on. The story is one of King's most grimmest and bleakest stories and definitely not a story that is for everyone. I think that is why I enjoy it so much, it pulls no punches and refuses to wrap up things in a nice and happy package. The film has the imagery I always imagined when I first read the story. Another thing that is great and very timely about this story is how it touches upon religious zealotry at it's most extreme. I T does not paint a pretty picture about religion and some of it's cultish figureheads. Me being a atheist I really felt and appreciated what the film had to say.
The plot basics are this, a traveling married couple, Burt (Anders) and Vicki (McClure) are on the verge of a divorce and are continuously arguing. While they are in a heated argument, Burt takes his eyes away from the road and hits a young boy who comes running out of the cornfield. They go to check on the kid and upon closer inspection they see that his throat was cut. They pick him up and put him in the trunk and look for some local law enforcement to report this crime. They are able to find nothing and then they enter the small town of Gatlin and find nothing. Burt goes to check a church while Vicki waits in the car, when a group of children led by what appears to be a cult leader (Bailey) and he urges his flock to attack her. Burt arrives too late and is now being chased by the children and he runs into the corn as they lead chase and he tires to outwit the kids while fighting off Vietnam flashbacks.
This was a tense and solid horror film. Borcher's direction is very tight, with many tense claustrophobic scenes. It is also great how he uses atmosphere rather than showing "He Who Walks Behind the Rows". The script is very good too, the characters of Burt and Vicki are pretty hateful and you really do not have much sympathy for them and that was the way it felt in the short story too. The cast is good, Anders and McClure really relish their roles as hateful partners who cannot wait to be rid of each other and you can see they would not mind seeing each other dead. I also loved the scene where Anders goes all Rambo on the kids, nice to see they did not sugar coat that. Bailey and Newman are very good as Isaac and Malachai but they are too overshadowed by the overacting of John Franklin and Courtney Gains in the 1984 version. They are just too hard to top. The SFX is quite good, especially the boy who gets killed in the beginning and the bodies that are crucified. This film did a lot of things better than the original. The spirit of the story is intact and the imagery that is in the story is here for all to see in it's bleakness. It also does a great job of denouncing religious idolatry and zealotry, without being too heavy handed. It is also great how you never know for sure if the kids killed them or there actually was a god they have to appease too. The major complaint I have with this version is that the chase scenes in the cornfield is way too padded. If you are a fan of King's work and want to see a very faithful adaptation seek this one out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, October 12, 2009

Watch Out For Crazy Old Men

The Shortcut 2009
Director: Nicholaus Goossen
Writers: Dan Hannon and Scott Sandler
Starring Andrew Seeley, Shannon Woodward, Dave Franco, Katrina Bowden, Raymond J. Barry, Wendy Anderson, Nicholas Elia and William B. Davis

This is one of those films that looked interesting but it just seemed another by the numbers backwoods horror film. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this was a original and surprising little horror film. If anything this film is like a combination of Wrong Turn and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. It is low on the gore, but makes up for it in mood and characterization. This is the first film by Scary Madison, the new horror film company spearheaded by Adam Sandler. It is a film with a slow burn on what is happening but once it gets going it doesn't let go till the shocking ending, which I did not see coming but there were hints all through the film that it was ending this way.
The plot basics are this, Derek (Seeley) has moved into this small town along with his little brother (Elias) and his mom (Anderson). He is trying to acclimate himself and he has some friends, Mark (Franco) and Lisa (Woodward). His little brother takes a shortcut due to peer pressure and discovers a mutilated dog and a weird old man (Barry) finds him and threatens him. He tells Derek and he goes to investigate it with the help of his friends and a jock who thinks the mutilated dog is his. Slowly, he finds out that no one uses this shortcut because of some horrible things that happened years ago. Derek ropes a girl (Bowden) into helping him pursue what is going on and things keep getting weirder and more diabolical. It all leads to what is behind all the disappearances of dogs and people and Derek will not like what he discovers and who ends up dead along the way.
This was a great little horror film. The direction by Goossen is great, at times it is very funny and at other times downright tense and suspenseful. He lays out the action scenes flawlessly. The script is good too, I like how it is inter cut with flashbacks on what leads up to the main story. You really get a feeling for the villains and have sympathy for them. Except for Derek and his brother none of the other characters are very sympathetic so, you know they are fodder for the killer. The cast is very good, Seeley and Elias really perform well and a special shout out goes to Barry who gives a great performance of dread and pity at the same time. The SFX is very well executed, nice dead dog scene and the neck breaking scene was bad ass. The ending of this film will make you go whoa and that is something I rarely see in horror films nowadays. Definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vincent At His Best

The Abominable Doctor Phibes 1971
Director: Robert Fuest
Writers: James Whiton and William Goldstein
Starring Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Virginia North, Terry-Thomas, Sean Bury, Susan Travers, David Hutcheson and Caroline Munro

Vincent Price, this is one of the names that comes to mind when one thinks of master actors of the horror genre. The Abominable Doctor Phibes is one of his finest films, only overshadowed by the incomparable Theater of Blood. This is a great example of grand guignol horror, with a great flourish of E.C. comic's style to it. The film has a very neo gothic feel to all the proceedings and that really works in the films benefit. It is a old school style horror film with some modern sensibilities. Price gives one of his best performances and has a great foil in the persona of Cotten. The deaths are both grim and amusing and this is a film I marvel at every time I revisit it.
The plot basics are this, Doctor around London are being picked off in bizarre ways that mirror the nine plagues God used against the Egyptians in the Bible. It seems that these murders are being committed by Anton Phibes (Price) a celebrated doctor and extraordinary organ player, but this seems to be impossible as he died in a car crash a while back. It seems all the doctors collaborated with a Doctor Vesalius (Cotten) on the surgery of Phibe's wife, Victoria (Munro). Which was botched and caused her to die. It seems that Phibes somehow survived the car crash and his now orchestrating his own bloody revenge with the assistance of his mute nurse (North). It all leads to his final attack on Dr Vesalius, and will Phibes be victorious or finally be thwarted in the end, only time will tell.
This is a excellent film. Fuest's direction is great, has a very gothic feel to it with some nice E.C. comic's twists to all the proceedings. The script is very funny in a very blackly comic way and Phibes is a great character. It is easy to see why he is one of the most well remembered of all of Price's roles. The cast here is great too, Price steals the show anytime he is on screen. I also enjoyed Cotton as the protagonist, who had his own faults, a very god like complex when he was operating. Terry-Thomas as one of the bumbling Scotland Yard Inspectors was a hoot to watch as well. The SFX in the film were excellent, I have always liked the prosthetic work on Price's visage in this film, definitely one of my faves. The music by Basil Kirchin is the final touch this film really delivers on, the somber and operatic tone of the music really amps up the tragic feel that Phibes personifies throughout the entire film. If you are a Price fan or just a fan of pulpy and gothic horror film, definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 5 out of 5 plagues

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bad Taste Lite

Evil Aliens 2005
Director: Jake West
Writer: Jake West
Starring Emily Booth, Jamie Honeybourne, Sam Butler, Jody Shaw, Peter O'Connor, Nick Smithers and Norman Lovett

This is a film I had many great things about and a lot of it seemed to be hyperbole, so I decided to check it out for myself. I was able to keep an open mind and enjoyed it quite a bit, but it was always gnawing at the back of my mind I had seen this before and done much better and then it hit me. This is really just a inferior version of Peter Jackson's classic Bad Taste. It even has the same type of hero a geek or nerd of sorts and you follow this characters trials and tribulations until the way over the top ending. I did really get a kick out of this film, but I was always comparing it to Bad Taste, never a good thing to do to a film. It is always better to judge a film on its own merits, but when it is so similar to another film it is impossible to do that.
The plot basics are this, a couple are having sex in a farm field when they are both abducted by aliens, and the male is killed and the female is impregnated with something. This brings a sensationalistic tabloid TV show Weird World hosted by the sexy Michelle Fox (Booth), who is hoping this is the real thing and her ticket into the big leagues. She goes to do a story on this girl with her crew and a nerdy UFO expert, Gavin Gorman (Honeybourne). When they get there and Emily discovers that aliens have actually landed, she investigates hoping to find her way to fame and glory. Soon, the aliens start attacking and it is a ongoing battle between the humans and the aliens to see who will prevail.
This was a very tongue in cheek, bloody and fun film. West's direction was very campy and acerbic at times and that really worked for the best in this film. His script was good too very funny, but one main problem with it was except for Gavin none of the characters were sympathetic enough for you too root for. The cast was good, Booth was very sexy and funny at times, and Honeybourne reminded me very much of Peter Jackson in Bad Taste. The SFX and gore was really bloody and over the top, the anal drilling at the beginning and the impregnation scenes especially. They were a delight to watch. I think people will enjoy this film much more if they have never seen Bad Taste, but it will still be enjoyable to horror fans who have seen that classic already. You may be able to distance the two films from themselves more than I was able to do.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mom Goes Nutso

Baby Blues 2008
Directors: Lars Jacobsen and Amardeep Kaledeka
Writer: Lars Jacobsen
Starring Colleen Porch, Ridge Canipe, Joel Bryant, Kali Majors, Holden Thomas Maynard and Gene Witham

This was a film I had many interesting things about, so I thought I would check it out. It is quite a gripping and frightening film. It said it is based on actual events, I do not know what it is based on, but the incident it seems most familiar too is the Susan Smith case that happened in Texas a few years back. The film was very harrowing at times and it at times sort of reminded me of Charles Laughton's classic suspense film Night of the Hunter. It deals with the same issues a young child having to defend himself and his siblings from a adult that has gone amok. Though in this case it is the mother that went batshit crazy instead of a interloping step parent. It is a child's worst fear that one of their parents will change and become something irrevocably evil.. That is what this film really plays upon. It also deals with the very real threat of post partum depression and how it can change a woman's personality and fracture her psyche.
The plot basics are this, on a secluded farm a young mother (Porch) who has four children is collapsing due to stress of raising her children and not having the support with her husband (Bryant), always away working as a truck driver. It falls upon their eldest son (Canipe) to be the man of the house. But it seems that the mother is having a mental breakdown, due in parts to post-partum depression and the stress of keeping the family together. She begins to hear voices and soon, she goes into a dementia state and drowns her newborn baby and sets her sights on the rest of the family and it is up to the eldest to save them and to try to outwit his mother, who he loves deeply but has to fight her to save his life and the lives of his siblings.
This was a really tense and suspenseful film> The direction was tight, very claustrophobic at times and it was really great how they filmed the quickly dissolving mind of the mother. The script was very good too, the characterization was minimalist, but it worked very well for the film. It set up everything perfectly and you knew from the get go that something was wrong with this family. The cast was very good, it is really anchored by Porch and Canipe as the mother and the son fighting off her madness with only his smarts at his side. The gore is limited but done very effectively. The ending is quite good, with a nice twist. I cannot end the film without speaking about the scene in the bathroom of the house, it was very reminiscent of the bathroom attack in The Shining and Porch really brings the spirit of Nicholson in that scene. I highly recommend this to people who love suspenseful films that keep you on the edge of the seat till the nerve wracking climax.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Unborn

The Unborn 2009
Director: David S. Goyer
Writer: David S. Goyer
Starring Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandel, Meagan Good, Idris Elba, Jane Alexander, James Remar, Carla Gugino and Atticus Shaffer

A few people I know had said this was a good little horror film, so I decided to roll the dice and check it out. And I am glad I did. It was a very original take on the demonic possession genre. Some people look at it as a Jewish knock off of the Exorcist, but I did not find it to be like that. I thought it was original and really creepy. It had some genuinely scary moments and some great performances by the female lead, Oldman and Alexander. The only complaint I had with the film is that it has some similar themes to Drag Me To Hell, which is a far superior film. It still does not take away from my enjoyment of the film, but I did leave a gnawing at the back of my head that this all seemed familiar.
The plot basics are this, Casey Beldon (Yustman) is being tormented by horrific dreams of a strange and ethereal child stalking her. She baby sits for some friends and is hit in the face by a mirror by their son (Shaffer), things begin to happen. Her eyes change color and she seems to be having the nightmares during the daytime too. It as if something is rising up to attack her. She goes to a doctor and finds out she had a stillborn twin that died when she was born and now the spirit of that unborn child is attacking her hoping to take her place. She goes to talk with her recently discovered grandmother (Alexander) and she tells Casey that what is stalking her is a ancient Jewish demon called the Dybbuk and it wants to usurp her life. Casey gets a ancient book written in Hebrew that has the right words to expel the demon and asks a Rabbi (Oldman) to perform the exorcism. He gets together various friends of his and they begin the proceedings and from then its is a battle between good and evil and to see which is the strongest to prevail.
This was a really well done movie, that was entertaining as hell. Goyer's direction was tight, very moody and claustrophobic with some very well staged and scary scenes. The script by Goyer was also very well done, the characters were fully realized, especially the character of Casey. She was by far the strongest and most important character in the story and you were always rooting for her. The actors were superb, Yustman did a great job, portraying the woman in peril who still has the inner strength to fight this thing attacking her from all sides. With a great supporting cast with the likes of Oldman, Remar and Alexander. The SFX was minimal but done very effectively. This was a film that really did work best as a PG-13 horror film. Anything harder and that would have been pushing it. It was more about the story than the effects. I really enjoyed this film a lot and will be revisiting it again.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wrong Turn Wannabe

Albino Farm 2009
Directors: Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen
Writers: Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen
Starring Tammin Sursok, Chris Jericho, Richard Christy, Duane Whitaker, Sunkrish Bala and Alicia Lagano

I had rented this film cause it looked pretty good and it had wrestler Chris Jericho in it. It is a backwoods horror film in the vein of Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes. Suffice to say it borrows too much from those films and fails to create a identity of it's own. Not to say the film is not entertaining, it really is. Just do not expect anything new and different from the experience. The shining point of the movie is really Chris Jericho, he steals all the scenes he is in. Another problem with this film a lot of the horror scenes were way too dark and you could not see what the hell was going on. This was also a film that needed a lot more gratuitous T and A than it showed. It seemed to promise a lot but failed to make good on those promises.
The plot basics are this, four college students are on a road trip researching local legends and seeing if they can prove or disprove them. They stop at a gas station due to a flat tire and the blind gas station's owner tell's them about something called the Albino Farm, where freaks and rejects of the area live. They decide to check it out and the deeper they get into the legend the more screwed up things get. They find the Albino Farm and are soon attacked by the sadistic freaks within the Albino Farm.
At the most this is a competent film, but not a very memorable one. The direction is adequate, but sometimes it is confusing and hard to figure out what is going on. Some scenes are way too dark and you are completely lost on what is going on. The script is not much better, all the characters are pretty much the stereotypes you expect to see in this type of horror film. Except for Chris Jericho's character none of the other characters left much of a impression on me. The cast is decent, but ultimately all throwaway characters, with the exception of Jericho. He really makes the film watchable any time he is on screen. The SFX are quite good, if hackneyed. One example would be the one girl who is killed by the tree which seemed ripped off from Emmanuelle Chriqui's death in Wrong Turn. I would only recommend this film to fans of Chris Jericho, but if you want a better backwoods horror seek out Wrong Turn instead.
This film gets 3 out of 5

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Nightmare On Elm Street

Nightmare On Elm Street 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Starring Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Ronee Blakely, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, Charles Fleischer and Lin Shaye

After watching the trailer to the upcoming remake of this classic, I thought now would be a great time to revisit this classic horror film. This film is still a movie that gives you chills, from the opening scene where you see Freddy making his claws to the final nightmarish scene this is a film that preys upon your fears and nightmares and you are happy to experience it. The visuals in the film are striking and the entire film has a dreamlike surreal feeling to the whole affair. It has a great eerie feel to everything and is really helped with the sinister presence of Freddy Krueger and the haunting music that permeates the entire film. This is the film that spawned a franchise which is still going strong to this day and watching this film it is easy to see why.
The plot basics are this, We open to a boiler room and see someone working with metal and soon discover he is creating a glove made with razor blades as fingers. We then meet Tina (Wyss) who is walking around in what appears to be a boiler room and we meet the gloved maniac chasing her (Englund) he grabs her and then she suddenly wakes up and realizes it was a dream. She goes to school the next day and begs her friend Nancy (Langenkamp) to spend the night with her because she is afraid to sleep because she fears that this blade wielding maniac will kill her in her dreams. Nancy agrees but something happens and Tina is horribly butchered while her boy friend watches and can do nothing. Soon Nancy discovers that this maniac is real and can attack her and her friends through her dreams, so she decides to fight back and bring him out. One by one her friends are killed and she is the only one left to battle the killer. This leads to a blood drenched and nightmarish climax,
This is a exceptional film. Craven's direction is taut and creepy. The entire film has a surreal dream like quality to it and that really works well for the film. The lighting of the film really works in it's favor as well. The script by Craven as well, is exceptional. Krueger is one of the most well defined movie maniacs of all time and the character of Nancy is fully realized as a strong female character. The cast is great, Englund really inhabits the role of Krueger and he owns it body and soul. Langenkamp is great as Nancy at times fearful and when needed to be very strong, ingenious and capable. The cast is rounded strongly by Blakely and Saxon as Nancy's dysfunctional parents. The SFX and Make up effects are outstanding, my favorite the death of Johnny Depp and the phone tongue sequence. These scenes are still so shocking and effective, to this day. The final piece of the puzzle is the music by Charles Bernstein, it is so very haunting and evocative. You know from the very beginning that this is a horror film and the music stays with you long after the film is over. I cannot recommend this film highly enough and if you are a horror fan and have not seen this film yet, stop reading and seek it out.
This one gets 5 out of 5 razor sharp claws

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Creepy Yet Sexy

Book of Blood 2008
Director: John Harrison
Writers: John Harrison and Darin Silverman
Starring Jonas Armstrong, Sophie Ward, Clive Russell, Paul Blair, Romania Abercromby, Simon Bamford and Doug Bradley

Right now is a great time to be a Clive Barker Fan. First with The Midnight Meat Train and now with Book of Blood and soon to be on the horizon The Damnation Game. Barker has always been one of my favorite horror writers, he took over from Stephen King after I read the Damnation Game and I make sure I see any film that is based on his works. This adaptation takes the framing sequence from his first Book of Blood and the story "On Jerusalem Street" and combines them into one cohesive story. I really enjoyed this film, it was a very slow burn but the payoff was well worth it. It has the feel of Hellraiser but combined with the Entity and The Haunting. The film is very atmospheric and you are quickly pulled into the story with some dynamic characters.
The plot basics are this, We open in a diner where we see a hooded young man eating and he looks like he was horribly attacked with a scalpel. He leaves the diner and a man who has been following him picks him up and ties him to a table, because someone has paid him a lot of money to cut his skin off of him. Before he does the deed he asks the boy to tell him his story and he does. We meet him a little before this where he is a college student and his name is Simon (Armstrong) and he is attending a class by a paranormal expert, Mary Florescu (Ward) and she is working on her next book and has found a house that horrible things happened in and she finds that Simon has a empathy with spirits. They move into the house and start a study of the phenomenon and Mary starts to feel a magnetic sexual attraction to Simon, which slowly envelopes her. It looks as if Simon was playing her, as much of the phenomena he created, but soon the house get's angry and takes it's toll on Simon and that is when they discover the house is a intersection for the dead and the dead come here and intersect with the living and use Simon to tell their stories written on his skin in his own blood.
This is a haunting film that grabs a hold of you from the beginning and holds on tighter until the WTF ending. The direction by Harrison is top notch. He amps up the atmosphere with each moment of the film and really brings forth the sense of dread and sexual depravity that is a major strength of Barker's work. The script is great as well, It is a great melding of the 2 works of Barker that makes a complex and cohesive product. The cast is great, with a special acknowledgement to Sophie Ward as Florescu. She reminds me very much of Clare Higgins as Julia in Hellraiser, she has that frothing at the edge sexuality that Higgins had and is very hypnotic to watch. Armstrong is quite good as the lead too, but I think Ward really overshadows his performance. The SFX is great very bloody and realistic, I especially loved the face peeling scene. This is a definite must see for Clive Barker fans and fans of haunted house films too.
This one gets 4 out of 5