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


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


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


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. :)
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