Friday, December 30, 2011

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland



Year: 1989
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Writer: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher, Comedy

Somehow I managed to make it to the 3rd Sleepaway Camp film. Although the first never really struck a chord with me, the 2nd was pretty fun and so of course I had to keep on going. This film seems to finish off the original trilogy, even though later there was a "fifth" film that came out in the 2000s. Yeah, fifth after third. Apparently there was a 4th film in production but it got scrapped before getting anywhere important. Because of that, Return to Sleepaway camp has the alternate title of Sleepaway Camp V even though 4 is nebulous and incomplete. Apparently you could have nabbed it as a special gift from Best Buy some years ago but now your best bet is eBay. Doesn't seem too worth it though.

Anyway, in regards to Sleepaway Camp III it's an alright film. I certainly didn't enjoy it as much as the 2nd but it was alright. Angela is still a pretty cool girl although she seems to have jumped further into the deep end now (yes, even more than she had in the previous rendition). Murders seem less and less important and just there to fill the quota for dead bodies.

Still, I liked the movie. I like Angela even if I don't fully understand her motives and am happy to watch annoying teens get knocked off one by one. There's probably a lot of other slasher films you could spend your time with though. I wouldn't really suggest checking this one out unless you've already gone to the trouble of seeing other films in the series.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers



Year: 1988
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Writer: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Here we go again. I didn't really love the original Sleepaway Camp too much but the famous ending certainly stuck with me. Later I realized that there were sequels to the film and wondered what they brought to the table, if anything. So here I am, slowly watching through each of them.

I liked this movie a lot more than the first. The characters felt more alive to me (certainly more annoying). There's something about annoying characters though... You just know that they're going to get it and keep watching to see when and how. I felt myself really digging the killer too, which certainly isn't the normal passing of events when watching a horror film. Usually we're made to fear or despise the killer. In this case, it felt like she was simply taking out the garbage.

Something I didn't enjoy was the first few minutes of the film where they basically rehash what happened in the first. Honestly, I'm glad they explained it because it was quite contrived in the original. Either way, I didn't like that the characters were poking fun at the possibly trans status of the killer. It seemed odd though, since the characters suggested the mother of the killer simply dressed her boy up as a girl since he was 3. Even if that were the case, if he still felt he were fully a boy inside he wouldn't be happy about the dresses and stuff his mother forced him into. So, that seems an odd way of describing his growing life. I guess there's not really much that can be said though since certainly most people of the 80s probably had no clue about the existence of transgender people beyond their awkward and psychotic depictions in media (which, of course, this film continues).

Getting past that stuff though it was a cool movie. I'm happy that I watched it and can't wait to see the third. I've heard that the 3rd is done on even more of a shoestring budget than this one. Personally, I couldn't tell that this was a low-budget flick any more than all the other low-budget horror films I'm accustomed to watching. Since the original film's story is summed up in the sequel you probably don't even need to watch or re-watch the first to have fun with the sequel. However, if you were crazy about the first it's entirely possible this version might not do it for you, since it definitely changes the reasons for killing.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chillerama





Year: 2011
Director: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Writer: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Genre: Horror: Anthology

Chillerama is a recent horror anthology effort. I've been a fan of anthologies since I first saw Creepshow and am always interested in seeing new ones. Some are certainly hit and miss but at least every collection usually has at least one good short. This film contains four shorts: Wadzilla, I Was a Teenage Wearbear, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, and Zom-B-Movie.

Of the four, I really enjoyed three of them. The final one in particular is not just a short but basically the wraparound story which contains the other segments. It's probably the best overarching story I've seen for an anthology yet. Although I didn't much care for the Wearbear flick I could see where they were coming from. Each film has it's own thing going on and I like that they all take on different timeframes and ideas. The Frankenstein film takes place during the WW2 era while Zom-B-Movie brings us right up to the modern day.

The anthology clocks in around 2 hours. If I could make a suggestion I would say skip past the werewolf-style flick for something else. I found myself on an enjoyable ride with the other films but that one just seems to slow it down. Maybe that's just me though. So, I guess actually watch them all and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thankskilling





Year: 2009
Director: Jordan Downey
Writer: Jordan Downey, Kevin Stewart
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Animal attack

I'd been avoiding watching Thankskilling for a while now. There was just something abot it that seemed like it was attempting to be too campy and I was worried. Either way, over Thanksgiving I decided to give it a spin since it fit the theme of the week. I'm glad  I did.

The movie is tremendously low budget with nobodies left and right. Still, it's never taken exorbitant amounts of money to make a good feature and this proves it. Well, it's not "good" in the typical sense but it's good for some silly, dumb laughs. The film pokes fun at horror tropes and is completely unbelievable. For example, there is a part when the teenagers are vigilantly seeking to stay far away from the vile turkey, but fail to notice that he is actually in their house, just wearing a mask.

The movie is supremely dumb but somehow it becomes endearing because of it. Everyone who was involved in this movie must have known exactly what they were making and so it exudes fun. The characters aren't all wonderfully likable but you're still interested in seeing what they get up to. They're a motley crew to be sure and not one really ready to go up against a demonic bird. I think it's their sheer incompetence at stopping the turkey that helps make it even more fun.

It probably isn't to everyone's tastes but if you're looking for a very simple, silly film this might satisfy you. Definitely watch it if you've got time on a future Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Stepford Wives (Remake)



Year: 2004
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Paul Rudnik
Genre: Thriller, comedy

I don't know what Frank Oz was thinking when he made this movie but I can attempt to guess at it. It's the 2000s and feminism is over and done with. Women are completely equal. Actually, women might even be more powerful now and are definitely wearing the pants and asserting it. So, let's make fun of that! Even the original movie was pretty hilarious! Men wanting their wives to be subordinates to them? Naaaah that's so dumb we've got to ratchet it up times a million now! That's what I think he was thinking and it just not work for me.

You see, in this take of the film, Joanna is no longer a sort of meek feminist. She's now a powerhouse media icon along the lines of Oprah. She has tremendous power and only loses it when one of her TV shows causes far too much of a ruckus for the CEO. They fire her, and in an attempt to make her feel better, her husband whisks the family away to the gated community of Stepford.

One of the things I don't like about this film is that it immediately presents the women as 100% warped from the get go. There's no question as to the fakeness of them and maybe they figured everyone already knew. Still, that basically kills off all potential growing drama when there's nothing to wonder about. Beyond that, Joanna is tremendously unlikable. She is what I imagine a lot of men view feminists as. They are always stiff and unfeeling in their dark power suits and have nothing but disdain for most around them. Since I believe the point of the original The Stepford Wives is still pertinent I find this version to be mocking the mere notion of it.

Anyway, beyond that the movie is actually very different from the original film. It takes mostly a life of its own by injecting some new characters and changing around the big reveal. I guess that's cool because then it would give people more of a reason to see the new film. There's nothing more useless than a remake that is a carbon copy of the original. Still, I'm not sure the changes that were made were for the best. I guess there's nothing I can do about it now though except wait for the eventual remake of this remake to come out down the line.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Stepford Wives

Year: 1975
Director: Bryan Forbes
Writer: Ira Levin, William Goldman
Genre: Thriller

I went into The Stepford Wives with little interest or knowledge of the film. I knew that there was something wrong with the Stepford women, of course, but that's all. Beyond that I've managed to avoid most analysis or spoilers of the story all this time.

Basically the story starts off with a husband and wife who are moving to the small, kindly town Stepford. It seems like a real taste of the country when they speak to neighbors who seem completely radiant, polite, and proper. Joanna quickly makes friends with a couple of the women but finds the others are wholly impenetrable. All they seem to want to talk about is housework or other simple things.

Joanna and her newfound friend Bobbie attempt to start a consciousness raising group because there is obviously something a little dated about the women inhabitants. From there, things slowly become more chilling and weirder. The story is wound tight and as it continues you can almost taste the tension getting tighter and tighter until it finally snaps.

I absolutely adored this movie. It isn't technically horror but it honestly might as well be for anyone sitting down and watching it today. While we have come pretty far thanks to the feminists movements of the past The Stepford Wives is still insanely pertinent. While the "truth" behind the story may be goofball, it certainly doesn't diminish the point of the film (although it does diffuse a lot of the tension of the climax). There's something about Ira Levin that I really appreciate. He might not have a knack for believable endings, but he seems to really have an interest in women and the world and rights they have.

Definitely check this one out. Now I need to hurry up and read the book so I can see if that's even more enthralling than this brief film affair.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bloody Reunion



Year: 2006
Director: Dae-wung Lim
Writer: Se-yeol Park
Genre: Horror: Thriller, slasher

Also known as To Sir With Love, Bloody Reunion is a pretty sweet movie. That is, sweet as in good not as in sweet as sugar and candy and things. In fact, it's probably as far from anything nice as can be, and that's just the reason I like it.

In Bloody Reunion we are being told a story from an older, sick woman in her hospital bed. She recounts the tale of when all her old students came to visit her in her home. She had been an elementary school teacher back when she was healthy and just wanted to see how everyone turned out after all those years. Each of the small class of students appears at the reunion to recount older times.

Unfortunately, the old times aren't so shining like the teacher might have remembered them. From there, the story slowly breaks down all pretense and gets down to business. Obviously I won't delve further into that but I did quite enjoy the movie. It also felt a bit awkward and worrying to watch like how I felt when seeing Meet the Parents for the first time. I'd say it's definitely worth watching this movie if you've got the stomach for some really unfortunate scenes.

As I'm writing this review over a week after watching I've honestly kind of become blurry as to what the reveal in the ending was. However, I would still like to mention it as it struck me when I was watching. This paragraph is definitely a spoiler so just skip over it if you're not interested. Apparently, the shy "turtle" boy was not ever a boy at all but the daughter of someone (adopted by the teacher?). I'm left really unsure when or why they then started presenting themselves as male. Or did they never and that is just the level of insanity of the teacher who perceives her own child as just a shy boy? From what I gathered, it seems they were always a shy girl, but decided to present as male after horrible events in her life. It was a new self to protect her from those old memories or something but she still had her female identity - presented as the teacher's nurse - to finally seek revenge. Anyway, whatever the root if they were presenting as an alternate gender it makes me a bit annoyed to think that's the way the writer went with it. I'm tired of movies where a mentally unstable character is also trans, both genders, or gender-nonconforming. Yeah, I'm looking at you Sleepaway Camp and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And others.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa's Slay



Year: 2005
Director: David Steiman
Writer: David Steiman
Genre: Horror: Holiday, slasher

When I first decided to watch this one I was unaware it was so recent. To me it seems like most of the original holiday slasher films were left to the 80s and 90s, not so much now. Apparently I was wrong though and I'm glad I did decide to give it a watch. Unfortunately, it has since gone off Netflix streaming but it's probably available in those cheap horror compilation DVDs found in stores everywhere.

The first thing I honestly noticed about this movie is that it has a brief Fran Drescher cameo in the beginning. I was worried that this was going to be an otherwise subpar film which spent the majority of its budget to get her to appear. Thankfully that didn't turn out to be quite the case although I'm still confused as to why or how they had her in there at all.

Anyway, the film is based around the idea that Santa is actually a terrible demon. He has only been spreading joy and presents for the past 2,000 years because he lost a bet to an angel. The 2,000 year bet is up this Christmas though so Santa finally reverts back to his murderous ways in a small town named Hell. Fitting.

While it's not the smartest movie out there I found it pretty fun to watch. That's often how I feel about holiday-themed horror but maybe that's due to having such low expectations every time. Either way, it's really great to see Santa as some huge, biker-looking guy. There's some really dumb and random humor at parts of the film but I'll let that slide too as who can really take a movie about a murderous Santa Claus seriously?

I've Started Writing Amazon Reviews


Seemingly out of nowhere I decided over the weekend that I wanted to start writing user reviews on Amazon. I think it was due to the fact that I was using them to try and determine which headset I wanted to buy. Some reviews were completely useless but others were just what I needed to hear. It's actually probably related to that which spurred me to write my own.

What does that have at all to do with this blog? Well, my main focus of reviews for Amazon is going to be movies. Well, that and games. As I don't think it would be very helpful or allowed to just copy and paste my content I am figuring on writing up wholly new blurbs for Amazon. They'll be lacking my random talks and tangents and stick to the films at hand. I think it's a fun idea and already put up one for The Crush. Interestingly, it took 3+ hours for the review to go live although apparently many go up instantly if they are free of certain flagged words. Obviously Amazon can't have humans check over everything.

I'm hoping mostly that the delay was due to it being my first review on the site. Hopefully future ones will go up sooner because it's really fun to go to the product page and see it there. Although apparently if you write a review that everyone marks as negative or bad then it will get taken down. Hopefully no fans will attack my reviews enough to get them pulled, but I think I'm pretty levelheaded with reviewing.

I'm just curious - do you ever review products on Amazon? What has your experience been like?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some Movies I Watched

I can't always post up a little blurb about the movies I see. Mostly, I tend to not talk about documentaries much. I'm not sure why but it just is often harder to formulate something about them. Anyway, here's some films I have watched over the past month or so but won't be having their own posts.
  • Blair Witch Project
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • L.I.E.
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Trust
  • Catfish
  • Lisa
  • A Certain Kind of Death
  • Aladdin
  • Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
  • Page One: Inside the New York Times
  • Nightmares in Red, White and Blue
  • Reel Injun
  • Just Ask My Children

Going to Pieces and Nightmares in Red, White and Blue are both some nice horror movie documentaries. I can't remember which one it was but one of them also doles out a lot of spoilers, so watch out. I'd seen most of the movies it spoiled, thankfully, but there were a few surprises I didn't want to see!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hatchet



Year: 2006
Director: Adam Green
Writer: Adam Green
Genre: Horror: Slasher

There are a lot of modern horror movies which try so hard to cash in on the timeless popularity of slashers. Many follow the old tropes and load up a bunch of drunken and lusty teens together to all get slaughtered. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that but it's a bit dull. Hatchet keeps things fresh by giving an interesting sort of premise for the death as well as a decent cast of characters. You don't really hate any of them, whereas in certain horror flicks, you're apt to hate absolutely everyone.

Hatchet is extremely enjoyable. The film starts off with some Mardi Gras celebrations going on. Our main character, however, is completely unamused by the goings on and leaves the festivities. Annoyed, his best friend follows and they both end up taking a boat tour since that sounds much better. The boat is loaded up with quite the cast of characters from a lovely older couple to a pornographer and his two actresses. As one might expect, the boat tour is a horrible idea when they cross into the territory of a murderous man.

From then on the film manages to showcase a lot of gory effects and keep you laughing all the way. It's not completely stupid like some teen or youth focused films which really helps to keep you interested too. I was really pleased with the wit demonstrated in the script as well as some creative kills.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who enjoyed it as Hatchet II came out in 2010. I've yet to see it but it's high up on my list after the fun that was Hatchet. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Terror Firmer



Year: 1999
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Writer: Patrick Cassidy, Douglas Buck
Genre: Horror: Comedy

Here's yet another one of those movies I've been meaning to watch. Terror Firmer basically shows the world what it's like filming a Troma movie. As one might expect, it's extremely irreverent and comical.

I'm pleased that no matter the decade that Troma always seems able to pump out films of similar low quality. It does seem that this may be a bit on the higher end of low quality though, which is a bit odd. So the film is basically about the cast of a film crew working on a Toxie project. As it proceeds, people begin to die. What a shocking plot, right?

Anyway, most of the movie's fun comes from the cast who are all equally unusual. From the character who slowly transforms from man to woman throughout the feature to the handsome pickle canner, there's enough strangeness to go around. Although it's filled with pretty lowball humor I still had a ball with it. There are times when these kind of movies really hit the spot.

It's hard to think of what to say about this movie aside from the fact that I really enjoyed it. The effects are pretty good and the laughs are creative as well. Overall I'd love to recommend this movie to everyone but certainly some just won't like the humor. If you have liked other Troma comedy films though maybe this will be right for you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Home Room



Year: 2002
Director: Paul F. Ryan
Writer: Paul F. Ryan
Genre: Drama

It is probably strange to say but I have quite an interest in school shootings. It is not some sort of crazy death-chasing thing but I am very curious about what kids may have to go through to end up taking such extreme actions. Or, I'm curious about what minds might be fundamentally damaged to lead to events like that. Then I am curious about how teenagers cope after having to live through it. As such, I've devoted a lot of time to watching movies on the subject matter over the years.

Home Room is a pretty good movie mostly because it takes a different angle on school shooting. A lot of films have bravely (or stupidly) attempted to share the stories of the ones who commit the crime. That's fine to do of course but in this film we are instead treated to how characters are dealing with it after the fact. It may be more powerful this way.

One preppy popular teen was grazed by a bullet and is now recovering in the hospital. Another girl, one who has been held back and is anything but preppy, is forced into spending time with her. If not, the principal would just hold her back another year. The two are extreme opposites but slowly bond - but they can't talk about "it". The two seem like nicely realistic characters and because of that I found myself bonding to both of them with ease.

I would have honestly liked there to be a bit more to the film. The characters had such a nice back and forth that there could have easily been a bit more scenes. As is though the film feels mostly perfect in execution. I think at a part near the end of the film it gets a little ham-fisted, but beyond that this is a film worth checking out if you're at all curious about the subject matter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Enter the Void



Year: 2009
Director: Gaspar Noe
Writer: Gaspar Noe, Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Genre: Drama

I'm not really sure what I can say about Enter the Void. I wholly enjoyed my experience with it but I'm pretty sure everyone's mileage will vary. This was honestly my first film from this director (which is probably blasphemous to even say) but whatever. I've wanted to go and watch I Stand Alone and Irreversible for a while but it seems you need to be in a specific mood to enjoy them. As is, I don't think I've been in the right kind of mood yet for many months.

Anyway, onto Enter the Void. It starts us off in the world of a young man who's doing some drugs. Apparently he's a small-time dealer in Tokyo. Everything seems to be fine but when he goes to drop something off it turns out to be a sting operation. He's chased into the bathroom, shot, and killed. From there the movie really begins and we see his life leading up to this moment and what transpires because of it.

I thought it was a really cool film overall. I'm always a fan for neat cinematic effects and obviously a film about life, death, and drugs would have some cool visuals. It was very nice although I was worried I might have my first seizure during an almost two minute long sequence of a flashing white light. Either way, it was a pretty cool adventure, although not something I would probably watch when just feeling bored.

For one, it's over two hours long which may be too much of a time investment. It's also not an easy movie, necessarily. It feels harsh at times and you have to be at least a little dedicated to the world to enjoy it. Honestly, I don't know what to say other than it was pretty neat but not for everyone. Like, for me I was not a fan of the whole ending sequence for 2001: A Space Odyssey the first time but only because I was watching it for an assignment. Had I been given free run to discover the film on my own and watch on a quiet evening it would have been much more enjoyable.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat



Year: 2002
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer: W. Boyd Ford
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Slasher

I still haven't seen the original Blood Feast (as far as I remember, anyway) but this one was on streaming so I decided to give it a look. After all was said and done I'm really glad that I did give it a look although hopefully the original will show up for me to watch soon too.

Blood Feast 2 is pretty awesome. The story starts us off with a man moving into a small town. He wants to start up his catering business there but then is shocked to find that his grandfather had done the same but then was found out to have murdered 3 women. Because small towns have long memories almost nobody is willing to visit the shop. Although the young man initially seems to know nothing about it, he quickly is swayed to the dark side just as his grandfather had been. Oh no.

I like the movie because it's pretty funny. In the first few minutes it seems stupid funny and I was worried the whole movie would be that way. Thankfully, it gets better as it goes on. The humor is still pretty dumb but enjoyably so. Then there's the gore effects which is where the movie shines. With all the slasher and gory films I've seen it is hard to surprise me with effects. In this film however things were just shown in such a way I was psyched and honestly a little grossed out. But this is a good thing! I think.

Cannibalism is something that's always been pretty gross in my mind. In case you can't tell by the title of the film, this movie has a lot of cannibalistic things going on. My reaction to the gore and all may have been due to this. Either way, the  movie is a pretty good comedy and probably better than it should be. What's strangest is that while the film was made in 2002 it feels like an 80s film. Blood Feast 2 is quite the fun movie. Just be sure not to watch it right after a big meal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thomas in Love



Year: 2000
Director: Pierre-Paul Renders
Writer: Philippe Blasband
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi

I didn't know what to expect when plunging in with Thomas in Love. The cover looked kind of odd and I worried it was going to be some cheesy Y2K-type romance movie. However, as soon as it started up I was immediately left speechless by what was happening on screen. Every once in a while movies can throw me for a loop within the first five minutes (the closest thing coming to mind right now being Barbarella). Anyway, the movie was pretty weird but I enjoyed it.

Basically the film focuses around a man who is an agoraphobic. This means he can't leave his apartment and also doesn't want anyone ever entering it. Since this is a vision of the future he is able to communicate with services, insurance, and his therapist over videophone. His therapist decides to thrust the man into a dating club and from there the lead character Thomas is introduced to some women.

Although the movie is focused around a then pretty modern concept of video chat it never attempts to play it up. Where some movies would scream about how COOL and FUTURISTIC everything was, this movie plays it straight. If you were living in a world with these devices they would be entirely commonplace and that's how everyone treats them. Of course, now Skype and other programs make Thomas' reality all the more relateable.

I wish there was more to the film because I really did like seeing the world through Thomas' eyes. Basically every second of the film is from his perspective. As such, we're treated to many videophone conversations and left to imagine basically everything else about the apartment and even Thomas himself. This movie probably won't appeal to a lot of people but it'll be a perfect match if you're anything like me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Body Melt

Year: 1993
Director: Philip Brophy
Writer: Rod Bishop, Philip Brophy
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Body Horror

For some reason I kept avoiding Body Melt. Something about the title repelled me and made me feel like it was going to be cheesy and worthless. I was so wrong and I'm really glad that the time was finally taken to watch it.

Body Melt is about some sort of health research company thing who is trying out their latest "stuff". It's supposed to make you feel amazing, I suppose, and maybe keep you looking good too. It could be some sort of miracle drug but now the time has come to run human tests. Instead of getting people to sign off on waivers and test things though the company has instead built up a nice little suburban area. Basically everyone on the block gets these interesting tablets and packets delivered to their house and for some reason they ingest them no questions asked. From there, the company tracks their reactions to the chemicals secretly. If nothing else the plot is certainly creative.

As one might expect, the drugs bring about unforeseen complications. The biggest side effect is that eventually your body melts. Like, completely. It's pretty gnarly honestly and that is the word I thought of when looking at some of the effects. It's disgusting, but almost cool to see some of the creative things happening on screen.

The movie can be compared to Bad Taste in regards to budget, but Dead Alive in regards to creativity. It's a highly creative and entertaining film. It's also pretty disgusting but if that's what you're into then this is the ticket. Overall I found it very enjoyable and I wish there were more movies out there like this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Aerobicide



Year: 1987
Director: David A. Prior
Writer: David A. Prior
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Also known as Killer Workout, Aerobicide is a silly little film. It takes the 80s obsession with aerobics classes and spandex and uses it as the backdrop for a slasher flick. Because of that it's extremely easy to date this movie although it does have more to it than simply lots of shots of girls exercising.

The murders are particularly unusual. If you don't want to hear about the murderer's signature weapon then skip past this paragraph. For some reason the murderer has decided the best course of action is to stab people to death with a large safety pin. It definitely seems that would hurt, especially since he doesn't tend to go for the kill blow straight away. Why this is selected as the best option instead of something actually gym-related is strange, but whatever I guess.

While the murderer doesn't kill with gym instruments very much they do kill specifically within the gym, hence the title. Word gets out quickly that people with memberships to this gym are dying but somehow most of the members keep coming in anyway. Why they do this is completely unknown and laughable. This must be one of those times they want you to suspend your disbelief for them to make a point.

Even though the film is pretty dumb the reveal is at least halfway unexpected. It got past me anyway even though I could tell the movie was trying to point me in one distinct, wrong direction. It might make a decent little popcorn flick if there's nothing better on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Body Parts

Year: 1994
Director: Michael Paul Girard, Jan Marlyn Reesman
Writer: Teri Marlow, Dick Monda, Clement von Frackenstein
Genre: Horror: Possession

I came into Body Parts not expecting much at all. I knew it was something put out by Troma but beyond that I wasn't sure. Besides, there are Troma films out there that I don't like (Mothers Day). So, with a bit of worry I watched it and quickly fell in love. Or perhaps it's better to say I fell in "like" with it.

The movie is your standard tale of a psycho killing strippers. What isn't standard about it is the cast of characters. Everyone is ridiculous but in a mostly believable way. However, the longer the movie goes on the more times the believability is stretched thinner. By the end we've thrown it completely out the window and are experiencing something absurd. I for one liked the gradual climb from semi-realism to hilarity over the hour and a half.

Some instances of silliness are like when the cops are chasing a suspect. As they pass through a back yard with a dog the dog is never their concern. Instead, they tiptoe and weave over the many dog poop pieces strewn about the yard. It's dumb but made me chuckle all the same. Then there's one character whose persona is Marilyn Monroe. Probably unlike Marilyn though she is a complete and utter dunce. When it is her time to shine on camera she really does shine. I couldn't stop giggling at her ridiculous antics and lines like "If I'm ever reincarnated I wanna come back as Vanna White."

There's actually not much murdering in the film beyond the start. As such it's a bit of a stretch to call this a horror film since it's not very scary either... Still, I think it fits in especially since there is possession involved as well. Regardless of the genre this is one awkward film which deserves a watch.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blood Freak



Year: 1972
Director: Brad F. Grinter, Steve Hawkes
Writer: Brad F. Grinter, Steve Hawkes
Genre: Horror: Monster - Mutation

Man, I knew Blood Freak was going to be a weird movie when I saw the cover but I didn't know just how weird. Or how dull. The film focuses on a man who is friends with two sisters who apparently both want a piece of him. One is hyper-religious and the other is a no-rules kind of gal who's into recreational drugs. While at first he seems ready to stick with the first he becomes swayed by the other sister. This is important somehow.

After he smokes some weed he gets a job with an animal testing lab. He is simply to eat the genetically enhanced chicken meat and see if it affects him any. For some reason, this makes him grow a chicken head and become a bloodthirsty maniac. From then on lots of murdering ensues.

The story is mostly cobbled together out of nothing. The whole drug thing really doesn't seem to relate to the chicken bit and yet ends up being a very big part of the finale. Overall it seems like the movie wants to have an anti-drug message (quite a statement in the 70s) but I don't see how the chicken thing works into it. It seems like perhaps they used the guise of a crazy horror film to lure teens in only to bombard them with a message by the end. How sneaky of them!

The murder isn't even all that interesting anyway. For one, every female has the same canned scream when she dies (apparently the men also only have one scream variety). I've never been sure why people use canned screams but maybe it helps keep the actor/actress throats safe. Anyway, it's not very gory aside from a little blood and mostly is really goofy. I think that has most to do with the chicken-headed man but the victims also look and act silly.

I'd avoid this one unless you're in the mood for a shoddily-produced dull movie. Or if you're terrified of chickens, maybe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Feed



Year: 2005
Director: Brett Leonard
Writer: Kieran Galvin
Genre: Thriller

There are some movies out there that make us question our humanity. Then there are movies that attempt to disturb us with the furthest reaches of humanity. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. In the case of Feed I'd have to say they don't succeed at all.

If you've ever seen The Human Centipede and liked it then this movie may be for you. For me though I hated the film. It seemed to focus too deeply on how gross the concept was rather than actually formulating anything solid for us to watch. I feel much the same way about Feed except that the idea behind it didn't really bother me at all.

In Feed, the story is based around romance, I guess, and the different ways people express it. In one relationship, the man is completely jealous and also violent. In another that is touched upon, one of the lovers wants to be fried up and eaten by the other (this is no secret, happens in the first few minutes). Then the focus of the story is the relationship between one man and woman where the man fattens her up to some 600 pounds.

I'm not sure what about this is meant to be so shocking. There are all kinds of people out there and at least in the case of these two it seems to be a consensual deal about being fed. Despite this, some Australian cop freaks way out and comes all the way to America to try and stop this evil man from his consensual but odd relationship. I don't understand the point and none of the characters are likable. It's a very dumb film focused on how HORRIBLE and GROSS and WEIRD this TOTALLY IS. Eh, it's mostly silly in its over-exaggeration. For some reason there are a lot of explanatory monologues too. The film really would have done better without attempting to throw all the logic behind these things at us.

So there you are. If you liked The Human Centipede then you might very well like this too. Beyond that though I'd say skip it. It's weirdly preachy and ultimately has no good point.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies



Year: 1999
Director: Jack Sholder
Writer: Jack Sholder
Genre: Horror: Fantasy

Because I felt I hadn't suffered enough I took the time to watch the second Wishmaster film. As it turns out, it's better than the first. For one, the massive over-reliance on CGI is mostly gone. There are some new gross gore scenes, and generally the movie just makes a bit more sense. I still didn't really like it but it was an improvement.

This time around the evil genie man gets sent to jail. With all the murder he was committing in the first movie it really only was a matter of time. It's in jail where he gets to grant the wishes of may convicts. They seem to take things in stride even if people are getting screwed up left and right. Just pass him a pack of cigarettes and it's about the same level of dealings that these guys were used to before.

Beyond that there's some sort of story going on with the lead woman but really it's the genie who is the star. His slick demeanor drives everyone nuts except the viewer. It's entertaining to watch him work his magic on unsuspecting victims.

Still, the movie seems to rely too much on the coolness of how wishes can be mistranslated rather than any true story. Sometimes it's fun when there's no real story to have to focus on but in the case of Wishmaster 2 I mostly fell asleep. It might be a good time for some people though.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wishmaster



Year: 1997
Director: Robert Kurtzman
Writer: Peter Atkins
Genre: Horror: Fantasy

Wow. Have you ever wanted to see the epitome of 90s movie fads in one feature? If so, Wishmaster is for you. If you're instead looking for a serious look at "evil" genies then please proceed elsewhere. This movie is laughably bad.

I recognize that CGI was coming into its own during these years and people would use it gratuitously thinking it looked godly. These types of movies never age very well, but this one is particularly bad. CGI is so extremely overused it feels like a commercial for a digital arts college. Not only it is overused it seems to be the only thing the movie relies on. Serious plot? Who needs one when we've got these fancy graphics!

Despite the mass of CGI silliness there is still nice makeup and gore effects going on. Some are particularly gnarly (enough so that I still remember them). That's a plus, but beyond that the movie is pretty dumb. You've got a genie who grants wishes to people... but he's not very nice in the way he grants them. While the story could have blossomed into something legitimately neat it mostly seems an excuse to make cool things happen on screen.

If it weren't for some of the extreme gore this would be about as thought provoking as a children's movie. Well, I mean, the gore keeps it from being for children but beyond that it seems like it could be. Why do I say this? Well, for some reason whenever a weird murdery wish is granted it causes an explosion. Oh, so you've turned some guy into ice? He's gonna explode! Oh, you've re-animated a statue? Make it explode! There are at least 4 unexplained explosions which only seemed to be there because it was "cool".

So yeah, I'd advise against staying far away from this movie. It rubbed me in completely the wrong way and I don't wish this atrocity on anybody.

Here's a nice clip from the movie:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II



Year: 1987
Director: Bruce Pittman
Writer: Ron Oliver
Genre: Horror: Possession

Prom Night is one of my favorite alternate-to-Carrie high school horror flicks. I really love Jamie Lee Curtis in that movie and overall it was a little too 70s/80s but that made it better. Because of my attachments to the original I was curious how I would or would not like Prom Night II. As it turns out, it's still a pretty fun movie although it's not really attached to the first.

In this film there is basically an alternate past made up where a young slutty high school girl gets burned to death by her scorned lover during the prom queen crowning. From then on her spirit has been contained in a costume trunk (horror movie logic!). Of course, some drab girl unwittingly opens it and gets herself possessed by this powerful personality. It's a neat little story and definitely fun to watch the character that was set up as meek become so completely wild.

I liked it a lot more than I expected myself to. Much like the remade Prom Night I can't place my finger on why these movies even share the same title. They are mostly singular entities not connected by any story. It must be due to the ability to market things best when they are from established franchises. Either way, don't look at this as a sequel but just as a cool teen horror flick.

Incredibly, the Prom Night series spawned two more features after this. I've not seen them yet but am hoping to pick up the double feature DVD soon. Although somehow it is easy to assume they won't be anywhere near the quality of this one...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dracula 2000



Year: 2000
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writer: Joel Soisson, Patrick Lussier
Genre: Horror: Vampire

Dracula 2000 is right up there in cinematic worth aside Godzilla 2000. Seriously. The "2000" of the film is that it's a modern take on the whole Dracula tale. There's not a thing wrong with that in theory and it actually starts out kind of cool. We begin the movie in some crazy bank vault with a man who appears to be the grandson of Van Helsing or something of that sort. A troop of highly trained men crack into Van Helsing's safe one night (despite having no clue what's inside it). Apparently, anything worth that much security must be worth zillions of dollars. So they get in there and extract a coffin because they're certainly not going to leave empty-handed. I'm sure you can assume what the coffin contains.

From then on things descend quickly into silliness. Really, the best thing about the film is that we have a hunky Gerard Butler playing Dracula. Beyond that though the film is nearly pure teenage Hollywood drivel. That's not to say there are not things to like about it. For one, it is kind of cool how the characters were modernized. However, the film also seems to be plagued by the worst product placement ever. It seems that stuff was really vile in the late 90s/early 2000s. Virgin Records is pimped so damn much in the movie for no good reason you'd almost think this was a commercial.  Honestly, when Dracula gapes in astonishment at the store for 30 seconds you tend to notice.

If you're just looking for a very simplistic and flashy vampire romp it's not so bad. I doubt the movie was ever really intended to be taken seriously (like say, Bram Stoker's Dracula [1992]). Especially with a name like Dracula 2000 it seems targeted squarely at the kind of audience who goes gaga over graphical splendor and sirens. So, overall the movie wasn't for me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pinocchio's Revenge



Year: 1996
Director: Kevin Tenney
Writer: Kevin Tenney
Genre: Horror: Evil dolls

If you think about it, Pinnochio's Revenge is a really funny name. The movie has nothing to do with the "real" character of Pinnochio or anything. So the name is basically just for a doll which apparently is having his revenge. Weirdly enough, although there is a backstory in the movie it is never truly discussed. Because of that, we don't know exactly what he is getting revenge for anyway.

Let's talk about the movie though. We've got a single mother and her daughter. The mother is a lawyer and seems caught defending a lot of people who won't win in court. Her latest case deals with a purported child murderer who only stopped after he killed his own son. Also buried with the son was the Pinnochio doll.

So while working on this case the doll somehow makes it to her car and then into the hands of her daughter for her birthday. It all seems good and fine until bad things start happening. Why you would let your child play with a piece of evidence in a murder is beyond me, but apparently it wasn't a big enough deal. So yeah, basically there is something mysterious and bad about the toy. Or maybe there isn't. You've got to watch to find out!

Whenever I start to watch an evil doll/toy/puppet/whatever movie I worry that it'll be a rehash of Child's Play. Thankfully this is not the case. It kind of reminds me of the movie Magic which also featured a puppet in a creative manner. The movie isn't incredible by any stretch but it's decent. When you're low on puppet-related horror this should take of things.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Poltergeist III

Year: 1988
Director: Gary Sherman
Writer: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Genre: Horror: Haunting

Poltergeist III takes the road less traveled in sequel land. Instead of attempting to further string the same old story out it basically is a brand new film. In fact, the entire family of the original (minus Heather O'Rourke) is absent. She is living with her aunt and uncle for some undisclosed reason in a giant business building. As one might expect, the building becomes haunted due to the young girl having some sort of spiritual connection to the other side.

The film is interesting for the huge leaps of faith it took to create. Who would think it could be creepy to have a giant corporation skyscraper being scary? How does that work? The film handles it very well. Although it sounds hilarious on paper I became very drawn into the story. However, it still falls into a bit of Hollywood excess with some effects. The film could have done without these egregious attempts at "creativity" but whatever.

The creepy guy from the last film returns as he is harassing our heroine. Although, it's a new guy since the previous actor died. The whole Poltergeist curse thing seems mostly silly, but it is creepy to think about the fates of some of the actors in these films. This was Heather's last venture into the Poltergeist world as she died the year it premiered. In fact, I think you can tell that she is not entirely well throughout the film, which makes it a lot more of a depressing watch (if you think about it, anyway).

But then you realize what a strong actress she was. For such a young person she was able to pull out intense scenes and emotions that many adult stars cannot work out at all. Overall, the film is pretty good as long as you don't try judging it against Poltergeist. But since there are almost no connection points between them there's no need to compare anyway.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Poltergeist II: The Other Side



Year: 1986
Director: Brian Gibson
Writer: Michael Grais, Mark Victor
Genre: Horror: Haunting

Poltergeist is a classic modern horror film. While there are two more films in the canon, neither of them work out as well as the original. Because of that, it's hard to really judge Poltergeist II all on its own. It mostly stands as a "part 2" to the first, but the first movie never needed a second part.

In it, we see the family has moved to a new home. Things get stirred up almost immediately when some creepy old man makes contact with our young heroine. I don't recall him being anywhere in the original film so I feel like this was just a new way to bring the scariness to the film. Anyway, he's bad news and at least everyone recognizes him as such.

The movie feels kind of disjointed. Around the same time the creepy man appears there is also a wise Native American who comes to aid the family. His Native American heritage somehow makes him a very spirtiual man with knowledge the "white family" does not yet understand. Over the course of the film he teaches them and whatnot. It reminds me a lot of Walker Texas Ranger.

If you were a huge fan of the original movie I would not suggest watching Poltergeist II. There's really no need to (although there are a few wicked effects). However, I might recommend watching the 3rd film. I'll talk about that one next and to why it is a pretty good movie.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Night of the Demons



Year: 1988
Director: Kevin Tenney
Writer: Joe Augustyn
Genre: Horror: Demons

Night of the Demons is a pretty average horror feature. You've ogt your standard group of teens or twenty-somethings (you can never tell) who go out to a mansion. It's Halloween so they're having a party in an abandoned spooky house, of course! Things get weird when one of the girls becomes possessed... Although nobody realizes what is happening for a while.

This is basically one of those throwaway horror flicks for teens. There's nudity, gore, and all that stuff kids are supposed to be into. Because it's not very interesting I'm surprised to know that there was even a Night of the Demons 2 made. Then of course there was also a remake done in 2010 for some reason. The movie isn't all that creative though so why spend so much effort on it?

Some of the effects are kind of cool at least. I've never seen someone press a lipstick container into their breast, for example. Very odd. The ending is also rather odd in the horror canon. There are unlikely survivors, I guess I'll say. Not only that, but there is an interesting final joke to the story. It's not really a twist but just an overarching story bit that is tied up nicely. I had a laugh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Curdled



Year: 1996
Director: Reb Braddock
Writer: Reb Braddock
Genre: Black Comedy

Initially a 1991 short film of the same name, Curdled is an interesting movie. It basically tells the story of a woman who is fascinated by death - in particular murder scenes. She is so invested in them that she even keeps scrapbooks with gory newspaper clippings. Her main interest in particular is the Blue Blood serial killer who is striking woman after woman in her area.

Her interest in crime scenes leads her to work for a company that cleans them up. Pretty dirty work, but she is enamored with it. In fact, she's so bubbly and talkative about it that her partner is driven up the wall by it. Still, you can't fire someone for enjoying their job so she stays on. Her life takes a turn for the exciting when she is given the chance to clean the scene of a Blue Blood murder.

I thought this was a fun movie. It's got this interesting Spanish charm about it which gives it a little bit of magical realism. It's very odd but somehow that works in the confines of the movie. Despite liking it fairly enough it doesn't really feel like a movie. It feels like only a few things happen over the span of it... like it still carries too much of the short film in it. I'm not disappointed they didn't add more to it, but it ends up feeling more like a TV show than anything else.

The movie also threw me off a bit when the girls would pause from scrubbing up blood to eat lunch with their bloodied gloves. That, or clean without any on. It was slightly jarring but overall not a big deal. It's worth a viewing and comes with a lovely soundtrack.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Descent: Part 2



Year: 2009
Director: Jon Harris
Writer: James McCarthy, J. Blakeson
Genre: Horror: Monster

Watching The Descent for the first time a few years ago it was all a big blur. I remember paying a lot of attention to the lively female characters right up until some incident with a zipline. After that, it all washes together and I have no real clue what happened. So, starting up Part 2 could have been a chore for my forgetful brain but thankfully it lets you know what happened prior. Basically, one of the girls got out of the cave and the rest are still down there.

The woman who made it out is then forced back down by an investigative team because they figure she'll be able to guide them. She can't really remember what happened though over her days in the cave so why they brought her is beyond me. I felt a lot like her as the movie began because neither of us quite knew what state the other girls were in, although it was presumed they were probably not all still living.

So the go down and then things get ugly. What else would you expect? I like the character progression of the main girl but also one of the cops who escorted her down there. It's nice to see strong female leads that aren't sexied up. Of course, near the end of the movie you could say this happens but it's not that bad.

Again, I sort of faded in and out of the movie. I'm not sure what causes this but maybe I just am not a fan of cave exploration. I didn't like that there was more screen-time for the cave monsters though. I don't think there was nearly as many clear and long shots of them in the first film. Okay movie but I don't think we needed a tidying up of the story.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Craft



Year: 1996
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writer: Peter Filardi
Genre: Horror: Witchcraft, Teen

I've been ignoring The Craft for a while now. With a tagline like "It's Clueless meets Carrie!" I wasn't quite sure I wanted to touch it. Overall though the movie wasn't bad at all so I'm happy to have watched it. Basically everything starts off when a new girl enters the school. In this high school is a group of three friends who are the "weird" kids. I'm sure there are other weird kids but the point of the movie is this particular set, so there you go.

Anyway, nearly immediately new girl is told by a handsome young guy to stay away from them. Then, for whatever reason she ends up befriending them anyway after the said handsome guy proves himself to be a jerk. The girls aren't weird, per se, but they certainly have interests outside the realm of normal teenagers. They're involved in witchcraft and want the new girl to be their "fourth" as they call it.

With the fourth girl exhibiting natural magical powers she and the others have a lot of fun. Being teenagers though they do a lot without thinking of the repercussions of their actions. Then the film gets a little preachy about it, but not too much. The theme of magic is more realistic than fantasy (although there are certainly some fantastical elements in it).

It's a fine little adventure of a film but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. Still, if you are a fan of Clueless or Carrie maybe it is right down your alley. If nothing else, it's more of a respectable film than the typical teen drivel.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Demonic Toys



Year: 1992
Director: Peter Manoogian
Writer: David S. Goyer
Genre: Horror: Evil Toys

I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into with Demonic Toys. I figured Full Moon already had an "evil doll/toy/puppet" film series with Puppet Master, but they must have felt they were needing more. In fact, this movie came out right between Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge and Puppet Master 4. I'm guessing they could tell that franchise was beginning to slip (although they would still go on to make many more versions) and wanted a fresh new start. I know they eventually had a mix of the two toy worlds with Puppet Master VS Demonic Toys but beyond that I don't know if this one really became a series.

Okay, so let's talk about the movie. It starts off with a man and woman in a car in a dark alleyway discussing their relationship. Shortly, we discover that the two are police officers and their reason to be in such a creepy place is because a sting operation is about to go down. As things proceed, many people are wounded - one crook in particular who slowly bleeds out after crawling into a toy factory. At this point I figured the movie was going to be a huge rip off of Chucky, but that doesn't happen.

Instead, the toys feed off his blood and are able to animate. There are a great handful of toys. A few of them are "characters" but many others are simply there for show which end up dying off in quick bursts. What's most interesting to me is why Full Moon seems to always need one supremely annoying toy which makes horrid and loud noises. In Puppet Master world it was the leech lady and here it's this damned jack in the box.

The movie isn't very deep but it is better than it has any right to be. Still, people seem to die off a little too easily and overall the story dips into shades of A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (which means it is a little silly). Anyway, it's okay if you're really in need of an evil toy flick.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cecil B. Demented



Year: 2000
Director: John Waters
Writer: John Waters
Genre: Comedy, Crime

It feels like John Waters has lost his edge. Or maybe it's that media has become so edgy that there's really nothing he can show that would drive moviegoers mad anymore. I'm not sure, but his older features definitely exuded an insanity that is not reclaimed by this picture at all. It tries, but is a more manufactured insanity, if there were such a thing.

Cecil B. Demented is still an awesome movie though. We first are shown this famous star Honey Whitlock who is at her latest film premier. While she wouldn't think a second of it, it seems that her career is on a downward slope. Anyways, during the premier a bunch of "cinema terrorist" come and take her away to their movie studio lair. Why? They want her to star in their movie of course.

The characters are all quite aptly "characters". Each has their trademark weirdness and they all seem crazed. Perhaps it's all that cinematic passion burning within them. That, or drugs. So as the renegade filmmakers that they are they only take one shot of each scene. They also tend to jump out of their van and videotape wherever they so please. Random bystanders get caught in the middle and are often punched, pushed, or used in some other fashion for the take.

What I enjoyed about the movie was how fun it is. The characters were all entertaining and went to such wild lengths for their vision that I was happy to be along for the wide. Honey's progression from haughty Hollywood to cinema underground is great as well. Overall, I recommend this movie but it may be a little too silly for some people.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Misery



Year: 1990
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Stephen King, William Goldman
Genre: Thriller

First things first I went into this movie without ever reading the original Stephen King work. I'd like to at some point, but basically I've seen every King item before ever attempting to read it. Anyway, so here's Misery which I believe was a hit when it came out.

The story is based around a successful author who has been writing a series of novels. He'd like to finally break away from the series though so in his latest book he kills off the main character (it is not yet published he has just written the draft). As he drives on a snowy road back from his writing retreat, he loses control and crashes off the road. Someone finds him and nurses him back to her house to continue to care for him. This woman happens to only be his biggest fan. But unlike when most people say it, she is truly devoted to the series and its characters.

If you know nothing about Misery then it's probably best you continue to know nothing about it because then the movie can lull you in. You feel like there is something very sweet going on between the author and his caretaker. She is a little awkward, but there's nothing wrong with that. All she wants to do is care for her idol and she's doing an amazing job at it.

Obviously, things can't stay all rosy for this story sprang from the mind of King. The spiraling down to worse and worse moods and conditions is pitch perfect. I wouldn't have sped up or slowed down the progression of anything. It seems perfect. The movie was quite enjoyable and I'm glad to see it was able to become a movie so readily. It seems normally a story focused on two characters alone in a house would be hard to keep interesting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Being John Malkovich



Year: 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Genre: Comedy, Drama

For anyone who hasn't seen this movie yet, I suggest you do soon. In this post I desire to talk about elements of the movie which are spoilers so I certainly don't want to ruin any of that for you. Suffice it to say, the movie is a very odd romantic triangle, or maybe even a quadrangle, but probably just a triangle. While there are tons of movies like that out there not many of them approach the whole deal the way Being John Malkovich does.

The film starts us off with a very unusual couple. The woman is a caretaker of animals and the other is a puppeteer, at least he wishes to be. As there is no real interest in puppets in this day and age, he finally forces himself to get a not "dream" job, which is office work. However, at his office he discovers a small door behind a filing cabinet, goes inside, and is transported into the mind of a man - John Malkovich. Okay, from here on out is spoiler territory.

I really was confused by the idea of a portal to someone's mind just being in an office, but it's the reality of the movie. In a way, it reminds me a lot of magical realism, where everything is just up front no matter how crazy it may otherwise seem. It became very strange and almost disturbing when they abused their ability to have Malkovich as purely a vessel. I quickly got over that though as the actual Malkovich character drifted into the background as he was overrun by the main character and his wife.

I was mostly interested in the relationship between the leading man Craig, his wife Lotte, and the business partner Maxine. Through the proxy of Malkovich's body, Maxine falls for both Lotte and Craig. What most intrigued me was the point when Lotte realized why being in Malkovich pleased her so - that she felt the strong desire to be male. Whether this was a valid thought or mostly just one of her little flings is unknown, but it certainly seems true she loved Maxine. And of course, Maxine loved her... but through Malkovich. I don't know. I just really loved the weird genderplay and relationships going on. That, both the husband and wife would lust after the same woman certainly isn't the usual story in movies so I appreciated it.

Interestingly, none of these characters are really appealing. They all have their problems and all do terrible things at points in the film. Of course, in all actuality, Maxine is probably the worst by never really being a reliable person but both Craig and Lotte adore her all the same. Anyway, the characters are all generally screwed up but it was still an enjoyable movie. It's hard for me to say I usually like movies where every character is one you'd like to yell at to stop doing what they're doing.

So there's some brief thoughts on the film. I really love the weird love triangle and unusual story. I'll probably watch it again soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eyes Wide Shut



Year: 1999
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Stanley Kubrick
Genre: Drama: Mystery

I wasn't sure what to expect when watching Eyes Wide Shut. At over 2 hours long I thought it must be some sort of twisted epic... some sort of exciting sensual ride which I would emerge confused from. What the movie actually is is a pretty straight forward dramatic mystery. While I'm sure it titillated and disturbed audiences to me it seemed a rather dull exercise. Or, perhaps a very grandiose attempt to tell a simple story.

That doesn't mean I don't like it. In Eyes Wide Shut the main character is having a nice married life with a young daughter. However, things change as one night she reveals how much she had desired to cheat on him once, but didn't. The thought festers in his mind as he obsesses on it throughout the day. He comes across an old friend of his who inadvertently lets him in on a very secretive party he will be at. For some reason, this becomes the main character's obsession - to break into this party.

From then on things get all mysterious and creepy about the party and what happens to those outsiders who infiltrate it. Personally I don't quite get what the point of the story was. It all comes to pass one way or another and we are left back in the very plain husband and wife world. What was the point of showing such grandiose things? Why all the decadence and secrecy for something which we will never truly know? Maybe that's the point of it, but it just seemed to end on a very dull note.

Still, the characters are compelling and I was drawn into seeing what would happen. It's an okay film but not really worth watching unless you're having a Kubrick-athon or have read the novella it was based off (Traumnovelle).

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Video Dead



Year: 1987
Director: Robert Scott
Writer: Robert Scott
Genre: Horror: Zombies

The Video Dead is one of those movies that I've been intending to see for a good few years. It's been on Netflix streaming for a while, I think. Because of my impending termination of Netflix subscription I've been trying to clear up my streaming queue before it's gone. Anyways, let's talk about the movie.

The story starts off with a man, living alone, who one day receives a package he didn't send for in the mail. It is a TV set. Disgruntled and confused about who could have sent him a TV, he plugs it in all the same and watches it. The only channel that works is one showing a zombie film. While he drifts off late at night with the TV still on zombies from the film make their way out of the set and into his home. The poor man dies (this all happens in the first 5 or so minutes of the film) and then the house is emptied, ready to be sold to a family.

So basically we know what the TV is capable when a teen boy and girl hop into the house before their parents get there. What happens from there is a very strange story in which no character is safe from the grasp of the video dead.

I thought this movie was better than it was expected to be. The premise is silly and in fact comes a year after TerrorVision which also had monsters escaping from televisions. It seems that theme wouldn't be revisited again until Ringu/The Ring years later. The movie also comes up with some really unusual situations regarding the zombies. Sometimes they are shambling and seem stupid but they really appear to be sentient. There are also only about 6 or so zombies so you get to see the "character" of them.

If you're hankering for a zombie film that's stuck in the 80s then this is a good choice. It kind of reminds me of Night of the Creeps too somehow, but this one isn't played quite as a comedy/parody.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spookies

Year: 1986
Director: Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran
Writer: Thomas Doran
Genre: Horror: Zombies

I came into Spookies with no real idea about what I was set to watch. As it turns out I probably should have done some research as it was a complete waste of my time.

This movie is extremely dull. The story is a little creative though. Basically, there is this monstrous spirit man who is haunting a mansion. He wants to bring back the woman he loved but to do that he requires sacrifices. So he lulls passerbys into the home and kills them off to get their souls for his beloved.

The people who get stuck in the mansion for the duration of the film are all different characters, but nothing really special. They basically are a group of stereotypes who don't have much going for them. Because they're all pretty dull it's not worrying when they begin to die off.

There is some good to Spookies however and that is the zombie and monster effects. They are rather creative and grotesque. Aside from that there's not much to congratulate the movie about so it's better to leave it be.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Brood



Year: 1979
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Genre: Horror: Evil children

The Brood has been on my watch list for a few years now. Finally I decided to give it a look and I'm mostly glad I did. For me, I have a really strong interest in horror films revolving around children, or more so, pregnancy. Not sure what that says about me...

Anyway, The Brood takes us into the world of a single father. His ex-wife is confined to a mental institution so he mostly lives as if it is just him and his daughter. After coming home from a visit to her mother, the daughter has marks on her body which the father reads as abuse. From here on, he tries to get sole custody of his daughter. It's too bad that there is a lot more at play in the story than this.

People begin to die around the small family and so the father must figure out what is the root of the matter as well as protect his child. I like seeing father/daughter films because it isn't as popular. I like to see fathers be protective but also loving and sweet to their children. So back to the film then. It is a nice mysterious drama that gets weirder the longer you watch it. Seriously, even after you find out who is doing the killings things continue to get stranger.

I liked the movie. It kept me interested throughout and especially grossed out during the finale. There will probably be a remake of this one day (if there isn't already) and I doubt it will be able to capture the pure disgust I felt during this one. Good stuff.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monkey Shines



Year: 1998
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Genre: Horror: Drama, animal attack

Monkey Shines is a weird movie. It all starts out one day with the camera following a man who seems to have it all. He has a gorgeous girlfriend and pictures around his home of him winning what looks like marathon races all around. This man is in prime physical shape and seems to be heading places. On his morning job though his fate is changed when he is hit by a car which paralyzes most of his body.

Because he becomes so reliant on others, his brother sees it fit to get him a helper monkey, sort of like a seeing eye dog. The monkey is issued commands and does whatever he can to aid his human companion. The little capuchin is cute and things all seem to be looking up. But then people start turning up dead.

Honestly, the movie sounds like a big joke when being described. Somehow though it all feels rather believable and it's still easy to get sucked right into the wild situation. It is a bit annoying though how the film ends. I don't know, maybe I just don't like happy endings.

If you've ever wanted a pet monkey maybe this movie will make you think otherwise. I've always wondered why this certain type of monkey was banned from ownership in certain states and it would be laughable to think it was in any way due to this movie. There are probably other reasons, but with all the other crazy things that someone can own - why not a little monkey?

If you're in the mood for strange monkey/human interactions I'd recommend Altered States. It's kind of strange how similar the movies are for one base feature of them, but nothing else. Altered States is definitely the much weirder of the two films though, and not recommended if you don't like trippy things like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Has Arrived!

With my taste in films it shouldn't be such a stretch to realize October is probably my favorite time of the year. It's that one month that people are excited to do scary things or generally embrace horror. It's loads of fun to go to a haunted house or have a nice Halloween party too.

Anyway, it has become a tradition in my life to always try and watch as many horror movies as possible during this month. It started with watching things just through TV which often has special Halloween programming for a few weeks. Then when that wasn't enough (and TV airings became boring) I just decided to spend the rest of the year gathering up movies to be ready for the time.

So here we are again and I'm set with a good deal of horror. There are no real rules for the month of horror aside from, well, that I need to watch horror movies. It's possible I'll watch something entirely out of the genre, but it won't count toward my goal. To me, "thrillers" count as horror if they have any horror elements. So, a regular crime thriller wouldn't be horror but one with someone mass killing could be. I'm not fussed with particulars. Horror parody counts as well. Anything that is "horror" is enough for me.

So there we go. Last year I took down about 60-70 movies in the month so I really would love to be able to beat that. However, doing a little math makes it apparent you have to watch two movies a day to make that possible (at least). Now, last year I had no job and a few other things which made constant movie-watching easy. With a few more things on my plate this year I'm not sure I'll be able to pass that number, but hopefully at least I can get near it. What would be ideal is to reach it again.

That's my plan and I'm very excited for it. I hope that you all have a great month. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Matinee



Year: 1993
Director: Joe Dante
Movie: Charles S. Haas
Genre: Comedy

Set near the end o the Cold War era, this is a strange little movie. Jon Goodman plays a Hollywood wannabe hotshot who is making sci-fi pictures. I say "wannabe" because although he thinks he's better than Hitchcock he really only succeeds at making 50s era-style silly sci-fi movies. His latest creation, "Mant", is about to play in a small town.A young teen boy widly devours everything sci-fi, so he is excited as can be that the famous director of these movies is coming to his city. From there, things get goofy.

Matinee is a sort of treasure. I'd generally have never picked it up but it's kind of a cute love letter of sorts to the eras gone by. I'd love to sit in a theater with a movie in Smell-O-Vision, Shock-O-Vision, Scare-O-Rama, or anything like that. But obviously those things were never meant to catch on which is why we're mostly done with that dumb stuff today (well, maybe 3D can be classified the same way much of the time).

The movie is strange because there are multiple layers of reality going on simultaneously. It's nothing deep like Inception, just that there is the reality of the movie plot, the character's in the  movie theater plot, and the overarching Cold War scare. It's silly and cute.

Strangely though the whole movie seems to be parodying the fact that people were scared at all for these events. Sure, ducking and covering wouldn't have done any good but still, there was certainly a legitimate reason for people to be scared out of their minds at times. Well, I suppose it was a nice message for the time anyway. Overall the movie is nice PG fare with a fun sci-fi twist. Besides, Mant is a hilarious movie and worth watching all by itself.
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