Friday, September 30, 2011


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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Year: 1989
Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Genre: Horror: Clowns

I came into Clownhouse expecting a pretty terrible movie. I mean, what is that name supposed to imply? The house of clowns? A house made of clowns? It just doesn't sound very scary. The movie doesn't end up ever being too frightful anyway, but that doesn't make it a fine film.

Clownhouse would never win any awards for doing something entirely new. It's basically a very simple story. There are three brothers and the youngest one is afraid of clowns. The older two goad him about this a lot and have decided to take him to the circus anyway. At the same time, a group of mental hospital patients have escaped nearby. They end up killing and dressing up as clowns and cause a lot of trouble for the three boys.

The first thing that caught my attention was the teasing, ridicule, and generally perfect capturing of brotherly behaviors. It also struck me that there were three. In many movies there is a focus on two siblings, or just one child and parents. It was a nice view on the story and it worked well.

There's not very much gore and there's basically no sexuality either. I'm very appreciative of horror movies that don't rely on either to draw in an audience. Clownhouse isn't for kids either though. Well, it could be but it would probably terrify the child for a few good nights.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Year: 1977
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Genre: Horror: Thriller, vampire

Being one of Cronenberg's first feature films, it should be recognized that this is not a Hollywood-class movie. Of course, he never really was in the market for making things with mass market appeal, but his technique definitely has become refined over the years. For reference, Scanners and Videodrome came in the 80s.

I'm not sure how I feel about Rabid. I liked the premise, but I didn't feel very interested in the plight of any of the characters. They were nice and alive-feeling, but I didn't care much whether they lived or died. If I had cared however I think it would have felt more dramatic and enthralling. As is, I felt myself losing concentration again and again as the film went on.

The story is a little creative. A woman and her boyfriend are going out for a joyride on their Harley and get in a horrible crash. The boyfriend is mostly alright but the lady is left to sizzle under the heavy hot metal of the motorcycle. She gets rushed into a plastic surgery clinic (apparently they're the closest hospital) where they perform a new skin graft technique on her.

She lives and seems to have healed up excellently. The only problem is that while the skin graft succeeded, it requires sustenance to stay living. So, the girl ends up having to feed much like a vampire would to survive. Again, if this character had been portrayed differently I really would have cared but I don't. It doesn't even feel like she struggles with the matter of attacking people until it's all too late.

The movie is kind of a zombie-flick too. Although the people are "rabid" and not undead, brain-crazy freaks. Still, I was almost willing to classify this as a zombie flick as well. Anyway, it's an okay movie. Best to watch this one if you're a Cronenberg devotee. For a better skin graft-related film I'd suggest Eyes Without a Face.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Rage: Carrie 2

Year: 1999
Director: Katt Shea
Writer: Rafael Moreu
Genre: Horror: Thriller

If someone ever approached me to make a sequel for a Stephen King book-based movie I'd probably die. Of course, nobody would ever propose such a thing from me but I'm just saying. I can only assume that Katt Shea was impossibly pleased when offered this chance. Probably pretty terrified too.

The movie is interesting because in a way it is a remake. Or, not so much a remake but a re-imagining. Remake or re-imagining though, that would not count as a true "sequel". However, the movie has the title Carrie 2 because it is a sequel. It takes place 20 or so years after Carrie and with a new lead. However, she goes through a lot of the same style of experiences as in the first film.

However, the circumstances are definitely different. The lead is not a terribly meekish and unloved high school student. She may still be somewhat of an outcast, but not nearly to the degree as Carrie was. It's nice to see that this girl can stand on her two feet slinging insults with the rest of the teenage crowd. Because she is not Carrie it helps set a different tone for the movie as well as keep things interesting. You basically know that something has to happen to set off the climactic sequence, but getting there is a lot of fun. Unfortunately I don't think any climax could top the famous pig blood scene of Carrie, but that's okay. I won't hold it against Carrie 2.

Some people may not like this movie because the character is not a Carrie clone. However, I like it exactly for that reason. So, if you're in the mood for a better than average sequel this is a fine choice.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poison Ivy

Year: 1992
Director: Katt Shea
Writer: Andy Ruben, Katt Shea
Genre: Drama: Femme fatale

Recently, I was browsing around online and found an article interviewing Katt Shea. I'd no idea who she was prior but during the course of that interview I became very interested in her work. Right after finishing the article I widly searched online to discover and secure my own copies of the majority of her films. It seems kind of silly, really, to become the owner of movies that I really knew nothing about simply because an interview I read excited me. Either way, that's what I did. So slowly I am going through some of the films from Katt Shea's career.

Poison Ivy is about a loner rich girl and a trashy but sweet poor girl, basically. The two talk first in the school office and quickly find themselves liking each other. As the story progresses it seems that both of the girls benefit from their new found friendship. As things go on though, we start to see that the sweet poor girl Ivy may be hiding dubious intentions behind her beautifully placid face.

I like that this movie took a look at a relationship between two girls that seemed mostly casual - real. It's sort of the style that male directors will do when creating stories of boyhood adventures... It often feels more nostalgic than real. At first, I was getting that similar nostalgic feeling from Poison Ivy but it quickly grounded itself in a more real world. They weren't complete party animals or anything like that, but they sounded and acted like they were coming of age in the 90s.

The drama gets a little melodramatic, but I think that was the effect Shea was going for. It's not a completely real story. Even with believable and human characters they were all wrapped up in something supremely abnormal. It was pretty cool.

I didn't learn until recently that Poison Ivy was based off a story. Maybe the book was even more melodramatic than the film portrays it. There is also a series of Poison Ivy films that have come out over the years. I intend to watch the rest even if they aren't as nice. That right there should tell you that this was a good enough film for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Year: 1986
Director: Stephen Herek
Writer: Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir
Genre: Horror: Comedy, monster

Critters is a distinctly 80s movie. That's probably the first thing I noticed. I got that feeling as soon as I saw the father walking around in a shirt parodying Ghostbusters and a moment where a "critter" went face to face with an E.T. doll. There's nothing wrong with the 80s of course and in this case it didn't really hurt the movie.

The movie itself is a pretty enjoyable ride. If you've seen and enjoyed Attack of the Killer Tomatoes this is probably right up your alley. In that one, the implausible killer tomatoes made everything absolutely hilarious. Here, the "critters" appear as weird little furry balls. They roll around like fuzzy tumbleweeds and devour everything they can. It seems funny to be scared of furry balls with mouths but that's part of the reason the whole thing is so enjoyable.

Each and every character realizes these monsters are ridiculous, but they respond in terror all the same. Wouldn't you, if you were faced with a furball launching itself at your brother or sister and taking a chunk out of them? The aliens themselves talk to each other occasionally and it's always for an extra laugh. I can expect that in the sequels the critters become more of a character instead of focusing on those being attacked by them.

I liked the movie. It's not very important in the canon of cinema but you could find worse things to do with an hour and a half.

Oh Netflix

Netflix, why after years and years of service have you decided to change everything up now? It almost makes me laugh as how I only signed up about a month or two before they decided they would hike up 1 DVD + streaming prices up 60%. It seems I really should have hopped on board at the start. There were still price increases, but I think somehow it would be easier to deal with than all this change at once.

If you haven't heard yet, Netflix will soon be splitting their company into two entities. "Netflix" will become only streaming. The company as a whole is going to continue to offer DVD-by-mail but now under the brand "Qwikster". This means there will be two sites and two bills. Two sites... that will not sync with each other beyond the initial launch, or so they say. All the movies you rate on one site will not show up on the other. Movie listings will never again be able to tell you if they are available for DVD or streaming if they are on the opposing site. Aka, even if Mother's Day is available on streaming via, you won't ever know simply by browsing Well, we don't know this yet but they basically stated as much on their most recent official blog entry. This is going to be hugely inconvenient for many users, not just high-frequency users like me.

While no prices have been detailed, it looks like both sites will retain the most recent pricing models. So if you were a member of both services at their basic levels you would be spending the much as you are currently on Netflix's plan. That's not a bad thing. What is so bad about this though is basically everything else.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Christmas Evil

Year: 1980
Director: Lewis Jackson
Writer: Lewis Jackson
Genre: Horror: Holiday

Also known as You Better Watch Out, Christmas Evil is an example of one of the best Christmas horror films.  Of course, the pedigree of most holiday-themed slashers isn't very high, but Christmas Evil is pretty exceptional.

The movie starts us off with a lovely family Christmas Eve. One young boy thinks he hears Santa so he descends down the stairs to check. Unfortunately, he comes across a mentally-scarring scene instead which haunts him for the rest of his life (well, into his 40s or so which is when the film takes place). Despite this scene etched into the back of his mind, he has come to love Christmas and even works for a toy company.

Our lead is so ultimately pitiful that's it kind of hard to feel for him. Still, it's fun to watch his antics and try to get an idea of what he's thinking. For a Christmas horror film it's not nearly as slasher-tastic as others tend to go (I'm looking at you Silent Night, Deadly Night). It's dark, sure, but in a more believable way than most. When watching it I was struck at the fact there was even a cohesive plot in it and not just an excuse to have a guy in a Santa suit slash up pedestrians.

It's rare to find a holiday horror film that's actually decent. I'm happy to have watched it and suggest maybe viewing Trick 'r Treat alongside it. I'd have said Black Christmas (1974) instead but that's not nearly as Christmas-related as this, nor as "friendly" a horror film.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boxing Helena

Year: 1993
Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Writer: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Genre: Drama

If you've never seen Boxing Helena I will suggest you never do. That is, unless you're a fan of terrible films. Why would I make such an accusation? One simply needs to watch the film and will probably be left feeling much the same way. Let me elaborate.

First off, Jennifer Chambers Lynch is the daughter of David Lynch, which is quite a name to live up to. I'm not sure if she wanted to be a director or just wanted to try her hand at it. Certainly she probably had seen all her father's films and they must have left some sort of impression on her. I feel like Boxing Helena was her own attempt to create something unusual to leave a mark on American cinema-goers. I'm sure it left a mark, but not the predicted one.

The film takes us into the world of a man who is married but longs for another woman - Helena. Apparently he had only been romantic with her once but that was enough to have him obsessing and yearning way after the fact. Despite knowing better he invites her to a party just to "see her again" and things spiral quickly downward for everyone involved.

It's a weird movie but not in a Lynch way. It's weird for the plot which is very simple to comprehend but not understand. Why would people behave in such a way? Why would horrible acts be treated as great? And who on earth thought the ending (which I will not spoil) was clever in any way? It's weird, dumb, and cumbersome. This is all my opinion, of course, but I'd strongly advise from wasting time with it.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Year: 1989
Director: Bob Balaban
Writer: Cristopher Hawthorne
Genre: Horror: Black comedy

Parents is a very odd sort of movie. In a way, it feels like we're transported to another time period outside of our own. It's like were back to the 50s when a family was really together and strong, or at least that's what TV shows from the time period always presented. It feels "normal" but only briefly before slowly descending into a horrific realization.

I like this movie because it plays on stereotypes of the wholesome American family. You see the movie mostly from the understanding of a young boy and so his perceptions filter ours as well. There are times you don't know if he is simply a whacked out child or if there really is something wrong.

I'm not sure what I can really say without spoiling things, but it's pretty cool. It's not extravagantly produced or anything and I like that. It might be dull for some watchers, but for those who like a slow and off-kilter movie this might be for you. Meet the Hollowheads would be a good film to pair with this one.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sleepaway Camp

Year: 1983
Director: Robert Hiltzik
Writer: Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Sleepaway Camp is your typical teen horror slasher flick. It's got predictable deaths that come to sexual or cruel teenagers just like you'd expect. Basically, the whole movie is pretty average except for a twist ending. Presumably, the twist ending was meant to bring more value to the movie as a whole but it fails completely. All the ending does is make you go "what?" before going off to watch something actually good.

Well, that might be a little cruel. The movie is relatively interesting to watch. A brother and sister are sent off to a summer camp. The sister is painfully shy and will barely talk to anyone at all. Her brother is super protective of her and he's got a lot to protect due to many campers making fun of her awkward ways. Then, people who mess with her begin to die...

There's nothing much beyond that in the movie. There is a strange attempt to make a twist ending but, again, it seems to be there just to be a "twist" and makes no sense at all. The twist ending doesn't even resolve anything. It just comes out of nowhere like "yes this is the murder but OH HEY how about we reveal this random fact instead?" It's certainly unexpected but useless. Honestly, it might be worth watching the movie just to have your jaw drop at the completely nonsensical conclusion.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scream 4

Year: 2011
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Scream is one of the more creative horror series out there. I really enjoy how the story continues from movie to movie and even plays in a sort of dual reality... Like, in Scream the Stab films are based off the "true story" in Scream and it's just really cool. Anyways, it took me a while to finally see Scream 4 but now that it's on DVD I couldn't hold back any longer.

Even though the advertisements for this latest movie sort of obscured the fact that this is the 4th film in the series, it is definitely a sequel and not a reboot or anything like that. But then again, it nearly could be because it introduces a new cast of characters alongside the old ones. Either way, it's 100% sequel with some new things to say.

After the events from the previous movies everyone thinks things are finally done. It's been 10 years and blah blah blah. As per horror movie conventions though all is not over as someone new dons the Ghostface mask and starts killing.

The movie is pretty good and definitely fun but it's a little weird in parts. There is a lot of discussion about what needs to happen for a horror movie to be successful these days. It was all about how things need to be reinvented and updated for modern teen tastes. I could understand what they were saying but it sounded like they were trying to sound "hip". I don't know...  It would have been very easy to convey the messages of this movie to a teen audience in a more normal way but everything was talked about in an educational sort of tone. I really can't explain it but it just felt really odd at times the way the movie tried to be inventive but did so while pointing out "look how modern and cool I am!".

Overall, Scream fans definitely need to check it out and everyone else might want to stick with the trilogy first.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Year: 1998
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Joseph Stefano
Genre: Horror: Mystery

Everyone and their mother knows Psycho. Being one of Alfred Hitchcock's seminal pieces is certainly no small matter. From what I know, when Psycho came out in 1960 everyone was stunned when the heroine was killed about halfway through the movie. That shower scene has gone on to be one of the most famous and recognizable moments in any film. With a movie as important to the genre as this it seems strange anyone would even dare to remake it.

However, the remake did happen and it follows the strict plot of the original. If you were to play the original alongside it most aspects would remain unchanged. Because of this, the movie is quite good. It's a testament to the original's story and method of storytelling that it still works well today. But then, if the original was such a good film then why waste the time remaking it?

There's a saying that if something isn't broke then don't fix it. Psycho wasn't broken and there was no need to go in and spice the film up with more current actors. Sure, they fulfilled their parts well but why watch this? The original is perfectly watchable today. Unless someone can't view the black and white version it is silly to need to watch this one. Even the shower and stair scenes are replicated as best as possible. They were made to look just as hokey as they did back then.

Basically I feel that there's no reason to watch this movie. If you're going to check out Psycho you should go with the original.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Child's Play 3

Year: 1991
Director: Jack Bender
Writer: Don Mancini
Genre: Horror: Evil doll

Child's Play 3 is a pretty fun movie. I didn't expect by the 3rd time around that there would still be much left for Chucky to do, but there was! The movie is meant to take place 8 years after the events of the last. By this time, Andy has just been sent off to military school due to a screwed up life (thank you Chucky).

Somehow our favorite doll has come back yet again and still urges to find him. However, he ends up just wanting to kill the kid at this point. During this film things took on a more Hollywood action movie flair. Most moments of tension that used to exist are long gone. By now we are all familiar with Chucky and his antics... but not enough so that he's worn out his welcome just yet.

I'm curious what happens between this and the later films. I know at some point a woman gets pregnant by Chucky but I can't even begin to guess how that works out. Either way, it seems like everything devolves into a full-on comedy with murderous tendencies.

Child's Play 1 to 3 are pretty nice though as they are. If you've only got time for one then just watch the first, but there's something fun enough about each to watch them all.
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