Sunday, October 14, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 13


Alien. I finally saw Alien today. Of all the movies I have ever meant to see, this is probably one that's been there the longest. Despite hearing good things about it though throughout the years I was still able to totally appreciate it without the desire to view it critically. It was a fun experience and kept me compelled throughout. If for some reason you haven't watched it then it's worth looking into (even if you're not a sci-fi person).

One thing I will say though is that one point jumped out at me as being ridiculous. I am of course speaking about the one character being revealed as a robot. Yes, I understand this is a different, futuristic existence but that still just seemed incredibly hilarious to me. I don't see why he couldn't have just been a scientist incredibly focused on his mission, or that maybe he had some sort of alternate memory chip implanted into his brain. Whatever, I just didn't see the need to make him a full on robot.



With one great movie down I followed it up with HellBent. This film isn't one that I've heard talked about more than once, but it seems to be a modern slasher with a different take on the genre. It's not due to any incredibly creative killer or anything, but the fact that the lead characters in the film are all gay men. I was curious as to a horror film focused on exploiting men instead of women, so I gave it a shot.

It turned out to be a very nice slasher overall and with different jokes going on than a typical one. Sure, there are still things like goofballs getting killed in the woods, stalking, and everything else, but done with a different dressing. I enjoyed the characters and their banter and was curious about why some characters did die and why others didn't. These points were explained, although not explicitly, and were reasonable enough. If you feel like watching a fun horror film then HellBent is one worth looking into.



The final film of the day was StageFright: Aquarius. With a name like that, I was curious as to how exactly the film would be presented. Would it be some sort of artistic journey? Although I wasn't quite right, the film still turned out to be a winner. As StageFright implies, it is about people working on a stage production. The production itself seems fairly odd, but quite cool too. I was a big fan of shots of the practice as well as the accompanying music.

The rest of the plot isn't exactly creative, but it resolves in an entertaining fashion. Basically, there is a psychotic killer locked away in a nearby hospital. He gets out somehow and stalks one of the dancers back to the theater. From there, he gets himself into the theater and goes around killing people until everyone finally realizes. If it weren't for the characters and style, the movie would be much less notable. Since these things are all great though it helps create a neat little experience. I could see this being a movie I watch a few times over.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 12


Deciding I had watched too many "good" films, I dug way down in the dumps of Netflix to find Cannibal Suburbia. As I expected, it turned out to be a pretty useless anthology film. The first story had no point at all and frankly amazed me at how truly useless it was. An older woman calls up a young drug dealer for some stuff, and then heads out to pick it up. Another group of people are having a party and then a boyfriend kills his girlfriend. The drug dealers happen to be nearby when someone calls the cops for the dead woman. Scared that the cops are coming for them, they hurriedly drive off, hitting the old woman by accident as they leave. The end. Was there any point? Were any characters notable? No. It's just random circumstances that were neither horrific or dramatic.

After that, the other two stories have a little more going on but really how could they be worse than the first? The acting wasn't entirely bad, but overall the film is without merit. Maybe the people making the film had fun with it but it was only a waste of time for me.



Next I watched Return to Horror High. This film fared better mostly because anything would after Cannibal Suburbia, but also because it's just plain fun. The horror comedy takes place in a high school where some kids were murdered. A film crew is there now, hoping to film a movie adaptation of the deaths. However, as you might expect, someone is in the school with them and ready to kill.

I liked how funny the film was, as well as self aware. There was an interesting segment where one of the lead actresses gets mad over the exploitation of women in films. She then delivers a speech about the significance of this and then storms off the set. Everyone recognizes she is right but then the director pushes in a different but equally exploitative scene.

It was an entertaining film and kind of weird at points, but that just makes it better. I suspect it would make for a fun watch with friends.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 11


Waxwork II was how I decided to start my morning off. Watching the original film sometime back was a fairly fun experience, although not as incredible as some might lead others to believe. It was focused around a "waxworks" (which I have never heard of used as a term before or since). Basically, it's a wax museum filled with famous people and scenes all done up in wax. When a group of dim-witted teens entered it late one night, they were thrown into the scenes where they had to play them out. It was fun.

The sequel, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, changes up the formula a bit. Instead of going into a creepy wax museum, there really is no defined set of events to occur. It feels a lot more like the teens are running through various literary or movie scenarios. This definitely seems to have been done to make it a crowd-pleasing film. It also seems like it was an expensive process. Most of the segments don't appear expensive on their own, but the whole aliens in space section probably cost quite a bit for all the effects.

It all starts out with a general horror film tone, despite a lot of goofing off, and then becomes much more of a typical Hollywood action film about halfway through. This isn't a bad thing, but it did change my emotions while watching. I liked the movie and would recommend it, but it's definitely not something to be considered horror or horror comedy. Waxwork II mostly stands as a parody piece.



Then I gave Cat's Eye a watch which was also a good time. I'm a big fan of anthology films and that's exactly what this one is, although it has a bit better way at tying the stories together. Instead of just having people tell things, the title cat happens to be around when each scenario takes place. At the end, the cat even becomes an integral part of the narrative instead of simply a watchful eye.

I really liked this movie as each of the sub stories was a blast. The last story was the weakest, I felt, but still a totally watchable thing. It was also entertaining to see a young Drew Barrymore being an excellent child actor. If you've enjoyed Creepshow or even Vault of Terror then definitely give Cat's Eye a look. The stories aren't quite as outlandish, but they still end up being strange and likable.



For the movie to cap off my night I went with The Woman. Boy did I not expect this to be what it turned out to be. With such a simple name and image I was assuming it would be some goofy little film that was trying to be scary. However, what it ended up being was completely horrific although not in the typical horror genre ways.

The film revolves around a family of a husband and wife and their three children (two girls and one boy). We're introduced to the father first as he is out hunting and discovers a "feral" woman. Although no sane person would interact with such a person, he captures her and sets her up in the shed. From there, he introduces her to the family and says he wants to teach her so she may become a normal person eventually.

Though she is very violent, the real terror comes from within the family and has nothing to do with the animalistic woman. I really appreciate where the film went in terms of plot although it was quite hard to  watch. The film wasn't incredibly gory or anything, but it was full of uncomfortable human circumstances. I'd definitely recommend it but only if you're in the mood for something more serious.

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 10


Again, only got one movie squeezed into the day. It was Black Sunday. Although feeling like watching it for a while (thanks the cover) I just forced myself into it last night. It wasn't anything incredible, but it was a decent way to spend some time. I thought the effects were pretty neat, especially for the time. There was a shot where there were worms twitching around inside a hollow eye socket and it just looked incredibly sick.I also liked the effect of the woman changing to look youthful to like wrinkled and old/dying.

Overall, it's not a movie that I'm going to remember, but it was at least something watchable. As usual, I fear movies older than a certain timeframe, thinking they'll be dull. This was not dull, but did feel like a different kind of film from what I'm used to. Timing and all that stuff were slightly different; you were allowed to wander and explore without fearing the audience would be bored in an instant.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 9



Today was a busy day so I was unfortunately only able to watch one film. It was one that just came in from Netflix today as well, so, oops about the theme nights... Regardless, it is something I thought would be an easy watch, and it was. The film in question is Ice Cream Man.

No, not Mr. Ice Cream Man or even We All Scream for Ice Cream. I don't know why the ice cream man is an apparently iconic thing to make into horror but it's been done a few times. This one certainly tries to take a strange edge, by having an old ice cream man gunned down by the mob (why?) and then having his son attempt to get revenge... or maybe the son just went insane.

Either way, the guy kidnaps kids and turns them into ice cream. This makes about as much sense as it sounds like. So basically, suspension of disbelief is pretty high here. Despite the goofy idea and all, it seems to have decent production values. If nothing else, the effects people were on the ball. Decapitated heads looked good and gory. In particular, one scene where the ice cream man serves the head of a man on a waffle cone to his lover just looks incredible (and is downright hilarious). Check it out if you're interested in something weird and goofy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 8


After a few technical difficulties (realizing that Friday the 13th series was no longer on Netflix streaming), I decided to watch Halloween II. The theme for today was to watch remakes and sequels, so this actually wasn't a bad choice. It's a sequel to a remake, after all!

I liked the film. I'm not sure how much I remember liking/disliking the first Rob Zombie Halloween, but I think it seemed mostly like a direct copy of the original. That's probably wrong, but whatever, it's been years. This sequel film though doesn't seem to bear much of any resemblance to the second film. Of course, I barely remember anything about that film either (instead I prefer to focus all my memories on Halloween III Season of the Witch). Halloween II is nice and worth checking out even for Halloween fans to see what is done with it.



All I had to do was see the opening for Friday the 13th Part VI to know that it wasn't one to be taken seriously. Instead of trying their hardest to try and replicate scary stuff in the first 5 films, this one is made to be a joke. It's meant to be a big gag of the horror world and everyone should definitely recognize this. I mean, come on, the intro is a ridiculous Bond parody scene. It was okay, not particularly good, but worth a laugh.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 7

Today was the first day I've really felt like not watching things. Oops. I can't help it that I have things to do! Either way, I still worked through three films but it was not entirely pleasant. Ah well.



The first thing I watched was The Fog because I had no clue if I'd actually seen it before. I know I have seen one version, but was it the original or the remake? Unless the remake is a scene by scene copy then it was indeed the 1980 version that I'd already viewed. Well, it's not a big problem since it features Jamie Lee Curtis, who is always worth watching.

It was much creepier than I expected. Just something about staying out of the fog lest the weird ghost pirates would come and get you was really cool. They were creepy and the fog was glowy and moving unnaturally and it was a blast. I'm glad I saw it again as the first time it was not given the attention it deserved.

Then I watched two documentaries. The first was Zombie Girl. I think it's a fine doc but the girl was kind of pleasing as well as repulsive. I don't know. She was obviously just a happy kid but it was hard to feel glad about what she was doing when you could see her mother struggling to keep up with all these demands. It's one thing to tell a kid "you can do anything" but then to front the expensive costs to make it happen? You can help with giving them a camera, or letting them download a video program, or even maybe buying some books on the subject matter... but totally letting your child run wild with money for extras and props and whatever else? Seems a bit overwhelming.

After that I checked out American Scary. Nice documentary about television horror hosts. It made me wish there was more spoken about Vampira or Elvira. Honestly there should be documentaries about each of these women, if there aren't already. I've never searched so how would I know? Either way, it seems great and just totally worth learning more about. I unfortunately have seen very little of either although a local access channel here has their own take on an Elvira-like character.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 6



I am beginning to realize that, despite thinking I'm not much of a slasher nut, that's basically all I've been watching as of late. How odd! Either way, the first film today was Humongous. Lately I've heard this movie getting praise so I decided to check it out. It was alright, but seemed to drag on for a while. This is weird particularly because the film is no longer than average so maybe there's just a fair bit of lulls in it.

I liked the introduction and was sad that the character wouldn't be a part of the cast later on. It seemed all very odd and mystical the way the pet dogs came to her aid, blah, blah, blah. I guess I was curious more how the "monster" of the film was pegged as being very near otherworldly in both power and look. Well, I guess you can't expect everything to be explained in horror films and that helps them quite often. It was an okay film overall but it doesn't seem worthy of praise over other slashers.



The Beyond was a pretty neat movie. I am not completely sure I understood what all was going on, but the basic premise came down to the fact that there is this hotel/apartment... and it's built on top of a doorway to Hell. This of course leads to a whole lot of problems for the new owner of the place as she tries to renovate it and get it ready for people to check in.

I really dug how weirdly dreamy it was at points so you weren't quite sure as to the authenticity of what was happening. There were just things that struck me as so odd, but entirely compelling. For example, a scene in the morgue: A young girl is waiting for her mother to finish dressing the father's corpse. However, even from sitting in the hall, she hears her mother yell. She hurries into the room only to see her mother's face boiling away thanks to a jar of some acidic substance that fell onto her. As her face melts away, it and the acid spread across the floor in an ever-expanding puddle. Instead of turning and leaving from the door she arrived in, the daughter simply stares at the wretched goo and tries to keep it from touching her as it continuously advances. It just felt very odd to me, especially when you had to wonder what caused the whole mess to begin with.

The movie is probably worth watching most for those who are Lucio Fulci fans. Personally, I watched it half in Italian and half in English. This was due to the fact that the subtitles playing stopped for some reason in the middle of the film. I then switched over to the English audio track to finish the film. It seems that the film was originally acted in English anyway, but I thought it would have been fun to try checking it out in aother language.



Although I wasn't really in the mood to watch anything else I checked out Mountaintop Motel Massacre. Maybe it was due to my lack of horror mood but it just wasn't entertaining. The story setup was fine though. Basically there was a woman and her daughter living alone together, but the mother had been in some mental institution years back. The daughter believed her mother to be slipping back to those ways so she tried to contact the dead father for advice. Stumbling upon the impromptu seance, the mother kills her daughter in a fury. After this, she is grief-stricken and just attempts to resume her life as a motel owner.

Of course, she can't go back to normal. Instead she hears the voice of her dead daughter calling out to her to kill people. So she does! I personally think it was kind of neat to see the fear on the mother's face when she knew what she was doing was wrong, but other than that, the characters weren't compelling. It also seemed to drag on.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 5


On the fifth day of this glorious challenge I started with Two Thousand Maniacs! The theme of the day was to get in exploitation flicks and, interestingly, I've seen a fair bit of those already. It was sort of a brief interest of mine to watch them back as a teenager. Either way, this was one of the films that was left off my watching lists at the time. Perhaps it didn't seem extreme enough, or somehow seemed to old, but yeah, just never watched it.

So how was it? I thought hte film was pretty nice. I mean, sure it isn't exactly the deepest story in the world... Some outsiders travel through a small Southern town and get paraded around as "guests of honor" for some mysterious celebration. Of course, as the film name implies, this small town of (apparently) 2,000 locals are murdering freaks who want nothing more than to kill all the Northerners they can get their hands on.

With a premise like that you can't exactly expect the movie to be serious, and it's not. The kills are ridiculous and often humorous. I thought it was a very watchable film and doesn't feel as old as it is. One thing that I really enjoyed about the film is that even with such a name it didn't delve right into the insanity of the townsfolk. Instead, you get a very long buildup (about half the film) before the purpose of the celebration is revealed  Good stuff. Sometime I'll have to watch that sequel.



Next up was Sweet Sixteen. This was just selected on a whim and didn't turn out to be that great, but it wasn't a completely awful thing either. The story revolves around a girl named Melissa who acts too old for her age of near-sixteen. As she takes interest in boys, they end up dying, and no one knows who is to blame. There's some interesting themes focusing around racism as well, which weren't expected. I'm glad that they were there though as it builds another layer into the world that most horror films don't explore.

Beyond that though it wasn't the best thing. The characters were fine and it moved along well but it felt more like a television movie. I also didn't really care for the twist ending. There was very little attention drawn to it beforehand so it really did feel like the rug was pulled out from under you, and not particularly in a good way. At least that's how I felt at the end. One plus was that the title image is totally great. It's extremely simple but effective.



Curtains is a movie I've been hungry to watch, and because of that perhaps I ended up barely enjoying it. My copy was very dark and quiet and it may have been related to my lack of watching pleasure as well. But basically, it didn't seem like it had much of a point. There were hallmark creepy things like a sad doll and old, old lady mask, but beyond that there was little heart here. The characters were nice at least, but still weren't able to save it.

Honestly there's very little I have to say about this movie and I'm sad that I wasn't able to enjoy it. Perhaps watching it again sometime (with a better copy) will make for a more pleasant experience.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 4



Here we are again and I decided to start the day off with The Cabin in the Woods. This is due to the theme today being "meta-horror". It took a bit of searching to even figure out what that meant but now I think I get it. It's basically when you've got your base genre (horror) but things happening beyond that. Something overarching in control or being spoken about for the whole situation. So things like Scream are meta horror because while it is a "horror movie" at the core it is also an obvious joke. Something like that.

So The Cabin in the Woods has been on my list for a while. Loads of people though it was great and others hated it. I wasn't sure where I was going to fall on the spectrum so instead of watching it, it simply got ignored. Either way after seeing it my feelings are rather conflicted. The film was fun, yes, as well as creative. However, I can't say that it was anything mind-blowing or completely new. I guess the basis of the plot is a little changed from other films but not as far removed as it could have been.

Having an overarching being in "control" is hardly new territory. Neither is the idea of characters meandering into their own death trap by design. So what new is being put forth? It could be the quick wit of the characters and script. Still, that's more a result of the age we're currently living in. What is really, really new? The connecting of horror and action film certainly isn't either, as it does basically become a big-budget action film halfway through. The production values were apparently pretty huge in here.

What is good about this movie? It is fun to watch, the characters are likable, and it offers something more creative than simple zombies or homicidal maniacs. Despite all the glitz of the film though it's surprising that it doesn't go further. Because of the money, I have a feeling it would have been impossible to make this film actually "scary". Either way, it's worth watching for horror fans if you feel like catching all the homages to existing horror film characters and films. I dunno, it was okay. Honestly I think the cover kind of ruined it for me. The iconic image of the cabin shifting like a jigsaw puzzle really made it seem like it was going to be a psychological affair rather than a comedic action thing.


Urban Legend was the next feature on my plate. Somehow I'd never heard of this one before (or it had such a simple name that I forgot it...), but it was a good thing it finally crossed my path. The movie is pretty fun overall and totally worth checking out if you want a movie that'll make you second-guess the killer until the reveal. For me, I changed my mind about four times and the film works hard to support multiple theories simultaneously.

This isn't the best feature of the film though. It is of course the "urban legends" which the movie is based off. Almost every killing in the film is a take off of famous urban legends and it's exciting to guess which one is coming next. Some of the legends aren't quite as famous as others, but it's still a good attempt overall. The characters were another shining point of the movie. Some were jerks, but at least they were slightly likeable. As for me, my favorite character was the Foxy Brown-idolizing campus cop. Urban Legend is just a great comedy/horror that is totally overlooked.



Tucker and Dale vs Evil was the last thing I could handle watching for the day. It's pretty recent as it just came out in 2010 but has managed to fly mostly under the radar. I'd definitely classify it as a hidden gem. If you like horror films that are plays on the genre like Shaun of the Dead or The Rise of Leslie Vernon this one is probably right up your alley.

The film starts off with a really annoying crowd of college kids who are going out to the wilderness to party, as is apparently a very popular ritual according to so many horror movies. Along their way they stop for some drinks and have creepy run ins with "hillbillies". However, as the audience, we quickly see they're just normal people and if anyone is messed up it's probably the college kids themselves. Either way, a series of huge misunderstandings cause things to get really wild (and a lot of fun to watch). This is probably the favorite movie I've seen so far for the Challenge.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 3



Today was an attempt to watch some hospital-related horrors. My first film was Visiting Hours which is rather obviously related to hospitals, although I had no idea what the story was going to be about. As it turned out, the story was quite relevant to my interests and would be an interesting film to show to people who claim horror is nothing but pandering to hot-blooded, sexist males. Sure, one film can't change an industry but still.

Anyway, the story revolves around a journalist named Deborah who is making a big deal out of a trial revolving around domestic abuse. The wife had been abused then finally fought back and killed her husband. With the strong journalist keeping this story at the forefront, the public were beginning to side with her. All except for a man who survived his own abusive father. For some reason, he has grown up with the same problems as his father and can't stand this journalist who dares say that women shouldn't be abused. As such, he stalks her and attempts to kill her. His failed attempt leaves Deborah in the hospital where most of the film takes place.

I appreciated that the movie actually had a plot to it, and a very interesting one at that. Women who speak up against the status quo have been (and still are) routinely silenced in a great number of ways. Sometimes it's just verbal, sometimes it gets physical, and sometimes much worse. Even though this movie was made in the early 80s the issues are still pertinent today. However, Deborah never gives in and I think that's a shining point of the film. She never backs down despite knowing that she is being targeted specifically.



Next up was Dr. Giggles. The name has been what has repelled it from me so far. Doctor horror stories are one thing but calling your nefarious murderer "Dr. Giggles?" It just sounded too ridiculous and not in a very good way. As it turned out, the movie at least had a reason for the naming. Of course it wasn't his real name just the weird habit he had of giggling at every awful thing that happened.

Again, the story tried something a bit different by offering up a lead heroine with a heart condition. This plays into the film because her mother died during routine surgery. Because of her own heart troubles, she is due for her own "routine surgery". Of course, she fears that she will die during the operation as well. Pair that story with a psychotic doctor and you've got an okay movie. Dr. Giggles himself tries to be a sort of witty maniac with doctor humor but it rarely is worth a laugh. The film is purely average.

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 2


Today I started off early with The Pit and the Pendulum before class.Although I had been ignoring most Vincent Price movies for years (for no real reason) I decided to give it a go to sync up with the 60s theme suggested for today via DVDTalk. It turned out to be a fairly good movie and I'm glad I watched it.

I may have not been able to appreciate Price much in the past (previous features include The Last Man on Earth and House of Wax) but this time it felt different. He seems to really embody characters. Sure, he might give them a very theatrical edge, but that just seems to be the kind of actor he is. Besides, when he's working off of Poe work like this film it makes sense that everything might be a bit grandiose. Either way, it was a fine movie and managed to be enjoyable.



After my first class I decided to give another movie a go. The selection was The Innocents and also falls into the 60s category. Anyway, something that I didn't mention previously is that movies pre 70s tend to worry me. I get scared that I won't enjoy them because they're too far gone into some form of horror that just doesn't work today. I feel the same about the bunches of famous horror movie monsters in the early years of film. It probably isn't true, but it's a feeling I hold onto and one big reason that older films are avoided.

Anyway, let's talk about The Innocents. I didn't expect to enjoy it but ended up finding it a nice film. More than that, parts of it were quite creepy and still held up to this day. There were no ridiculous monsters and not even boo moments but it managed to be incredibly good at getting you into the world and nervous about what went on. It was a success in my book, and I'm surprised that movies of the current age tend to go for cheap scares over better things like this. I guess they assume the audience wants one thing in particular even though this movie totally holds up despite being made over 50 years ago.


After coming home from school I managed to fit in one more movie. Theater of Blood was the selection, just chosen quickly as to make the best use of my time before bed. It's another film with Vincent Price in the lead and in fact seems to be one of the last movies he really was able to take a starring role in. At least according to IMDB, most of his appearances afterward were simply those on TV shows.

Because of this, it seems that the role is more fitting, as well as sadder. The film focuses on a theater performer who was ridiculed by reviewers as some overacting, pompous fool. I don't know how people took to Price's style of acting as his prime passed but it may have been similar in the 70s. However, unlike Price, the character he plays cannot stand this and seeks to kill each critic one by one in methods penned by Shakespeare.

Theater of Blood is a rather humorous affair. It was strikingly odd at first to see such humor portrayed but if it hadn't I feel that the film would have been much too dark. There were some truly scary things happening, such as a wife waking to her husband's decapitated body in her bed. If there were no laughs to be had otherwise it would have taken on a whole different feeling. Either way, I'd recommend people check it out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning


Year: 1985
Director: Danny Steinmann
Writer: Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Now I know why Friday the 13th Part 4 was called "The Final Chapter". With Part 5, otherwise known as A New Beginning, we are given the start of a new section in the series. In case you haven't seen up to the 5th film already, or don't know about it, then don't read on. At the end of the last movie we were basically treated to a very thorough and obvious killing of Jason. It has always bothered me in films when people don't go in for the kill when facing off against a madman, but in The Final Chapter it was obvious he wasn't coming back.

When A New Beginning started I kept that in mind. With the little boy all grown up now I figured every instance of Jason was a figment of his imagination, or even him acting out his worst nightmares. Although it didn't necessarily turn out exactly how I figured, it was just solid fact that the Jason everyone knew is dead and buried. I'm glad that the film didn't attempt to come up with a ridiculous reason to make him survive his last punishment too.

Instead, we're treated to a film where the little boy from the last film is all grown up and still ridiculously messed up. He stays in a home with other young patients and doesn't really seem to get along with them. Although I thought this was an interesting setup, I was sad to see that the other characters weren't really fleshed out as anything other than typical teenagers. I would have liked to see why they were also in this home.

The film then continues mostly without Tommy at all and has people slowly getting killed off. He exists from time to time to show how disturbed he is, but other than that it almost feels like he's not a big character in the film like he was in Part 4. By the end, the film does its best to remind us he exists and then give us the whole twist that we knew was coming anyway. With that, Jason has been succeeded and then I assume the other films follow down this road.

I find this unfortunate because Tommy doesn't exude "unhuman killer". Sure, Jason may have very well been a normal human being but he always felt like something much more. His hulking frame and ability to sustain major damage, not to mention his warped backstory, made him into an almost mythical figure. Tommy has much less of an effect, although he also had a tragedy befall him. Hopefully they will just continue the films as if he were a Jason figure and not refer back to his own, more human past.

October Horror Movie Challenge: Day 1

This year I'm going to be participating in my second October Horror Movie Challenge! For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's basically a little game that people on IMDB cobbled up a few years back and it has spread to other film-centric sites since. The goal, as it was initially rule, was to watch 31 horror movies in the 31 days of October. About half of them were meant to be films you have never seen before. It's a great idea and I tried to do it seriously two months back and managed to watch somewhere around 60-70 films.

Now I have more on my plate so I don't know if I'll be able to beat it, but I'd like to at least match myself. It's not as if I usually don't watch horror movies (as the contents of my blog should make readily apparent) but there's something special about watching them during October. It's always during this month that it feels like it's truly celebrated to enjoy horror.

With that, I'd like to share what I watched for day one of the change and some thoughts on them. I figure I won't be able to review each movie specifically, although maybe I will for ones that really got my attention.


First I watched Pieces which has been on my plate for a long time. A lot of people seem to find this a classic, and at first I couldn't see why. Sure, there were some gnarly death scenes but beyond that it didn't seem to lift itself up beyond everything else in the crowded slasher years of the 80s. However, as I continued watching something funny happened. I began to realize that the whole film is really a comedy, just played straight. Lines here and there are just too silly to have been meant to be taken seriously, as for other scenes. Oh, and that final scare? It's totally stupid, but also one of the most unexpected things that I've seen since the ending of Sleepaway Camp.


Then came The Funhouse. Well, initially I cued up I Know What You Did Last Summer before realizing I'd totally seen it before. Don't know how it evaded my watched list. Either way, The Funhouse is something that's been on the list for a while as well. However, I kept passing it up under the idea that it was already something I'd watched before. As it turned out, I was confusing the film with Clownhouse. Even though they didn't have similar descriptions, the amount of clown stuff advertising The Funhouse (as well as the names) made them connect in my mind.

The film actually turned out to be pretty neat, although not what I expected. The idea and cover conjured up some sort of possessed/evil carnival. That didn't turn out to be the case though and it was probably for the better. Instead we're treated to a butt ugly being and some entertaining teens. One big plus is how the film builds up for a long time (more than half the film) before anyone dies. I always appreciate when the director can keep things relatively "normal" for a long time before bringing in the monstrous elements.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blood Diner


Year: 1987
Director: Jackie Kong
Writer: Michael Sonye
Genre: Horror: Slasher, Comedy

Whenever I find a new worthwhile horror-comedy it is an amazing moment. I just watched Blood Diner and with one simple watching it has raced to a spot on my list of favorite horror films. It only ever takes one viewing for a film to cement itself there... Just one watch and I know that they'll be something I'll be happy to watch time and time again. So, how did Blood Diner manage to be such a success?

First, the plot is completely ridiculous. The story is of two brothers who have spent their lives preparing to resurrect their mad, cult-obsessed uncle. They dig up his body, scoop out his brain and eyes, and take him back to their vegetarian diner to have him lead them in their pursuit of cultish goals. Their goal is to summon an ancient Egyptian god. To do this, they work to create the god's vessel out of murdered bits and serve the leftovers to their customers.

For all the fun that the plot seems it doesn't even discuss the characters who really make the movie pop. The aforementioned brain/eyes combo uncle is hardly the star in comparison. There are two cops on the trail of these murders and of course they're dysfunctional. Instead of a buddy cop thing they're a perverted cop and serious cop. Their dealings with one another are impossible to believe and always entertaining. Then of course there are the two brothers. Though both are inept, one is more ridiculous than the other. Regardless, they work together well as goofballs who see nothing wrong with murdering people left and right.

Then there is the way that everything in the film plays out. Things are just too funny when, for example, a woman finds her best friend dead and being disemboweled. This freaks her right out and she scrambles for a way out of her situation. She grabs her purse, and everything spills out. Instead of reacting like a normal person who would just keep on running, she rushes back to hurriedly stash her cigarettes and makeup back in her bag. There are so many instances where utterly ridiculous things happen that it's almost impossible to believe. But Blood Diner does it and it all works well to be a huge laugh.

I really enjoyed Blood Diner and hope more people will give it a look. It's probably too silly for some horror fans, but for those who can take a joke it's great. This might even be a film that non-horror movie watchers would enjoy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Psycho II


Year: 1983
Director: Richard Franklin
Writer: Tom Holland, Robert Bloch
Genre: Horror: Thriller, Slasher

I don't know the history behind the making of Psycho II but I have a feeling it wasn't pleasant. The original Psycho is without a doubt a thriller classic to most movie fans. With such a well-known title it was probably the case that this sequel drew a lot of ire. Sure, modern movies get a lot of hate for remaking the old stuff, but to attempt to continue the story of Psycho must have taken guts. That, or a ton of greed.

Anyway, the film itself still has all the setpieces that made the classic - Bates Motel, home, "mother", etc. Despite all the effort to make it feel like the original though it doesn't make it. The movie seems to take cues from what the modern audience might have liked to see, instead of what made it good to begin with. It at points wants to maintain a mysterious and creepy atmosphere but then goes overboard.

For example, there is one scene that is obviously meant to play off the original. Someone is by the stairs and you know they're going to fall. I was wondering if they would attempt to replicate the creative camerawork of the original where the man fell down the stairs. However, judging that we would know this is coming, instead the character topples off the side of the railing and plummets straight down. The film is much harsher, and in fact, a bit too focused on getting the "kill shot".

This is why it feels like they were trying to appeal to modern moviegoers. At the same time though it also tries to play a straight mystery tale which may be too much for that same audience to bear. Where Psycho II finds itself is in a spot that is both appealing and unappealing to most audiences. There are parts for them to like but then others which will ruin the experience. I thought the film was fine but not worth the name Psycho.

PS: I did find Norman Bates' struggle in the film intriguing, until the film decides to take the easy road out with him. Such a shame to put all that effort to waste in the end.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter


Year: 1984
Director: Joseph Zito
Writer: Victor Miller, Ron Kurz
Genre: Horror: Slasher

I'll readily admit that I don't know much about the Friday the 13th world. As such, I can't offer up any explanation as to why this film (the 4th in the series) is called The Final Chapter. I highly doubt that they were hurting for money at the time the movie was put together, so why even give it such a name? Perhaps it was the last piece intended to be put together by the old crew? I'll look into it sometime...

I'm glad that this film exists because it turns out it's my favorite of them all so far. What makes it so different is that there seems to be more focus than ever on the story. There are some college kids heading out to have a blast in some cabin, yes, but they're not the only people in the story. There happens to be a family nearby and a camper who is also in the area. With these stories (equally as important) alongside the youthful travelers it helps make a much neater experience.

It's the attention paid to making the characters all real and likable in some way that helped the movie immensely. Because I cared and could recall who each character was it made their deaths all the more troubling. There were a few deaths that confused me because they never really had a "pay off" scene. Although, now that I think about it, it was probably due to the nature of these characters that it might have been viewed as upsetting to give them a fleshed out death scene.

Strangely, this also ended up being the first Friday the 13th film that made me nervous. I wasn't completely scared but it was all shot in ways that helped amp up the tension. For once I was actually hoping characters wouldn't die and was screaming internally for characters to just run or do anything to save themselves. It was great fun, a bit scary, and overall a good movie. Now I can only hope that there are a few more gems in the Friday the 13th series before all the goofy stuff happened.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Part III


Year: 1982
Director: Steve Miner
Writer: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson
Genre: Horror: Slasher

So, at some point I managed to watch the 2nd film in the Friday the 13th series and managed to completely forget it. Strangely, I recall formulating the post in my head but apparently that never came to be. Either way, the second film was fairly nice but I don't remember enough of it anymore. Regardless, I'm going to truck through the rest of the series...

The third film started off with a bang, mostly because I was digging the funky opening music. Apparently Friday the 13th Part 3 is also a 3D film, although I certainly didn't get to benefit from that. There were a whole bunch of funny obvious 3D segments, such as someone holding out some pot to smoke directly at the camera. It's fair to say that no other film would probably use that scene as a time to make use of the 3D effect.

Beyond that the story isn't the most exciting thing out there but it serves its purpose. It manages to get some teenagers to visit the camp. Everyone is separated, of course, and slowly killed off one by one. This is the slasher formula perfected as much as it ever will be and probably is the case for all the films. The only problem with it is that you never really see anything new. Still, for those who like a standard film this works quite well.

To be honest, I have never really loved Friday the 13th. It must be due to not growing up with it or something because I know it's a classic. Regardless, this just felt like another film and so far nothing that creative has sprung from the series. I'm hoping that later films may change my opinion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eyes of a Stranger


Year: 1981
Director: Ken Weiderhorn
Writer: Eric L. Bloom, Ron Kurz
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Eyes of a Stranger is one of those films that came out during the slasher craze but still managed to be something better than a simple body count flick. The story focuses around a woman and her sister who are living together... The local news is rife with stories of women getting sexually assaulted and then murdered. This would be scary enough for anyone living in the area, but it hits the main character especially hard as her sister was left blind and deaf after a similar attack.

Although this is easily considered a slasher the film doesn't focus on the ephemeral killer. Yes, there are some grisly kills in it (thanks to Tom Savini) but the main brunt of the film is much more focused on the struggle of the lead to find the killer. She doesn't want him around anymore and can't stand what he is doing to other women, in part because it is reminiscent of her sister's horrible experience.

When it comes right down to it, if it weren't for the fancy kills it would be a much more highbrow drama. I don't mean that as a slight against the film. What I'm saying is that if they were removed than snobbish film types would probably be really into this movie. It almost feels like something from Brian De Palma and is a great story. The lead character in particular really jived with me. I loved seeing her so driven to stop the evil she saw in her life.

If you're a slasher fan then maybe Eyes of a Stranger may feel a bit foreign, but it is a great movie all the same. It doesn't follow the same predictable patterns or focus on teens but that's hardly an issue here. I totally recommend the movie and if you're looking for more underrated slashers you should also check out The House on Sorority Row.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Murder Party


Year: 2007
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Genre: Horror: Slasher, Comedy

If you were to see Murder Party on the horror movie shelf I would understand if you skipped right past it. The name isn't inspired... many horror films fall into this category. What is a reason to watch yet another slasher unless you're a slasher fan? For both fans of the genre and people who are involved in the art scene (yes, seriously) I think this film is worth a watch.

The movie begins by focusing on a very homely, geekish man. He is going about his day when he picks up a party invitation which was blowing around. It says little aside from announcing a "murder party". Since he would have nothing to do other than watch a horror movie with his cat, he decides to go to the event. Once he gets there though he realizes he should not have taken the chance as everyone there is going to kill him - for artistic expression.

Does it sound weird? Yes, it is pretty odd, but that's what the point seems to be here. These up and coming artists want nothing more than to get grants and become famous, and so they think that this is really going to impress the art world. Why aren't they worried about cops? It's probably the delusions of grandeur clouding their heads. Maybe drugs too. Either way, the film plays out as a cruel commentary on the current art scene itself. It's often a hugely funny romp despite some dark stuff that goes on.

That's why I suggest people participating in that world check it out. I'm sure that they would be able to understand and laugh at these portrayals the best. Even without really being a part of that world it was easy for me to see what was being made fun of and criticized. I'm also surprised simply by how long it took for most of hte killings to go on. Despite that, it didn't feel like the movie dragged much so that's pretty skillful on the part of the director. Murder Party is an indie film which feels just as fun as many other slashers out there.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dressed to Kill


Year: 1980
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Brian De Palma
Genre: Thriller, Slasher

In a weird way I both highly enjoyed this movie and felt let down by it. No, I didn't go into Dressed to Kill with high expectations or any at all. I watched a few seconds of the trailer before feeling that it would reveal too much so I closed it. This was probably for the best, although I have a sneaking suspicion that the trailer wouldn't have actually revealed much of the content either.

It's kind of hard to write about the film without spoiling a major plot point as well, although I figure that probably most people were long since aware of it. I'm just really out of the circle of De Palma. As such, I'm going to discuss everything.

For the introductory part of the film we're set with our keen eyes on a seductress who is also a mother. She seems to navigate both these planes rather well, although her personal marriage suffers. She speaks to her therapist about such things before going off on another man hunt. Unfortunately for her, after her rendezvous she is killed by a woman in an elevator. It's not immediately at the start of the film and pulls the rug out from right under you. If you were ever surprised by the switch in Psycho, that's how I felt here.

It was all going very well too until the manner of the killer came to the table. The killer was a "transsexual" to use the terminology of the film. I say it this way because the term has mostly gone out of vogue to describe such conditions of body dysphoria. Either way, the transwoman character, Bobbi, is fingered as the one who committed the murder. As it goes on you do find this to be true.

At first I thought that it was going to be some sort of flip flop situation where the trans patient was actually the hero of the story. No such luck. However, there was still an interesting twist tot he matter which was that Bobbi was actually the alternate personality of the therapist himself. Or rather, whenever his masculine self was brought forth, Bobbi would come out to shove it back away. That was interesting enough but it didn't matter because it still disappointed me.

I'm tired of seeing movies where the killer is trans. While I think this was a bit more intersting use of the whole thing, it still reeked of the idea that transpeople are so mentally unstable that they just become psychotic killers. Of course, this is no more true of this segment of the population than anyone else out there. I'm sure a more clever killer could have been devised, and this was at least an attempt at something different. I also enjoyed that near the end the characters discuss some trans facts without getting all grossed out. Although, it was a shame to see that they still assumed that every person with this condition must undergo surgeries to feel complete. But this was the 80s so I'll cut them all some slack.

As a film, it was wholly watchable and captivating. I was a little disappointed overall with the murderer but really if you can get past that then this seems like another De Palma classic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Dentist 2


Year: 1998
Director: Brian Yuzna
Writer: Stuart Gordon, Charles Finch
Genre: Horror

The Dentist was an interesting experience for me when I watched it nearly a year ago now. I was only more recently made aware of the sequel. Once I heard of it though, I knew it was something that would need some viewing. After having watched the sequel I can now say that it's still a pretty nice film all by itself but pales in comparison to the original. It's still worth watching if you liked the first though.

So what is The Dentist 2 (sometimes subtitled "Brace Yourself") about? You've got the doctor of the first film who is getting psychiatric care. At least, it seems like he is until he weasels a needle he'd been hiding under his skin out during a session to escape. He flees from Los Angeles to a podunk little city named Paradise. Once there, he attempts to suppress his homicidal urges but they can't help but surface once again.

In regards to storytelling this movie is somehow even more campy that the first. It's got a huge air of impossibility around it but it still almost works since each of the characters is willfully ignorant of everything occurring. The doctor develops more of a personality in this film, although it's still not especially interesting. At least it gives you a taste of a character who isn't purely mindless.

What managed to impress me most about the first film, and this one as well, is certainly not the story though. It was the fact that the torture scenes in both hit close to home. I've never stayed in a hostel, or even moved into a dorm so all those types of stories are far away from my experiences. However, I have gone to the dentist and I do so regularly. I know what it's like to be stuck in the chair and have someone poking and prodding around in your mouth, sometimes hurting you. This film takes that familiar space and twists the person with the position of power into something menacing.

I've never had a problem with dentists, but even so The Dentist 2 manages to make me squirm. Aside from the reasons I just stated, it's also rare to see scenes of mouth/tooth torture in movies. Even though I don't mind dentists, I still wouldn't want to go see one right after checking out this movie. Overall it was a middling movie but still entertaining and plenty gross.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Silent Scream


Year: 1980
Director: Denny Harris
Writer: Ken Wheat, Jim Wheat
Genre: Horror: Slasher

With a name like Silent Scream, it's hard for a film to stand out. Although it feels more like a retro title than most, it also doesn't do much to distinguish itself. Either way, I've come to realize that name means absolutely nothing when going into a movie. All it does is possible make me go in expecting nothing and then come out with a positive opinion.

So what's the film all about? It starts us off with a college-aged gal who is looking for a place to rent out. Everywhere she looks doesn't work out though for one reason or another. SO when she finally comes across a nice house by the beach she snaps it up immediately. Of course her choice is probably the worst she could choose as there's some really messed up characters lurking in the home.

What follows is a pretty standard slasher in regards to young people, sex, and death. However, I found myself enjoying the whole movie quite a lot. It had a bit of intelligence with scares, and helped to build them up until there was finally a death. I like this method more than movies which will just do a brief build up and have the tension release immediately with a quick kill.

Something else that really stood out about this movie was simply the characters themselves. They're not particularly likeable, but they're good enough. They all seem to be real enough and have natural-sounding conversations and reactions to the events around them. I definitely always appreciate when characters don't sound like they're forced into a situation and seem removed from reality.

If you're a slasher film this seems like a simple classic with a lot of charm. It doesn't really go to any extremes and aside from a few elements is down to earth. I'd suggest watching it back to back with other under-appreciated slashers such as The House on Sorority Row.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Anime: Another

Year: 2012
Director: Mizushima Tsutomu
Writer: Ayatsuji Yukito
Genre: Horror: Thriller

Another is a 12 episode anime series which I decided to watch due to someone noting that the first death scene was horrendous. Without knowing a thing about the show I dove in and found it to be a horror anime, yes, but nothing much beyond average.

The basic premise is that this new kid comes into school and tries to befriend a classmate. However, everyone else in the class doesn't even acknowledge her presence. It's not bullying. It's almost as if she's a ghost. From then on, people start dying and a mystery as to why this all is happening is slowly unraveled.

As far as plot goes, I was a little annoyed that it was focused on ghost stories. For whatever reason, the few horror anime series' that I have seen are all ghost stories. Of course, the same is often true of Japanese film. The culture seems to have a huge interest in ghosts and ghost stories. I was looking for something a bit different. Perhaps it was because I came into it hoping for a slasher.... In a way it even is a slasher because a lot of deaths occur but the overall setup is different.

Anyway, again, the story didn't really attempt to do anything new. The visuals of death may have been "sickening" but that doesn't make the story itself incredible. For the most part the deaths weren't all that notable either, minus a few that were quite implausibly set up but neat all the same. It felt more like your average mystery but with some gore dumped on to make it feel more mature.

A lot of people enjoy Another but for me it's just another average horror show.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Unborn II



Year: 1994
Director: Rick Jacobson
Writer: Rob Kerchner, Daniella Purcell
Genre: Horror: Sci-Fi, Evil Children

The Unborn was a movie that I feel is entirely unrated. It received a remake in 2009, which I knew of, but also a sequel. The sequel was something which caught me completely by surprise. Although I didn't remember the end of the first film, it didn't seem like something that would lead into a new movie. Now I can understand what angle they took with it although there didn't really need to be a sequel to begin with.

So the story starts us off with a woman moving into a new neighborhood. Her overly cheery (and pesky) neighbors butt into her life almost immediately, pointing out the baby gear she has in tow. We knows he has a child but for some reason isn't bursting to pull out photos to show everyone. Something is wrong... but what?

We're also shown a woman who puts on some heavy sunglasses before marching up to a child on the playground and shooting him square in the face. WHAT? It's really this scene (the first in the film) which sets the tone for everything else that comes. The idea behind the story may be serious - that experimental artificial insemination might be going wrong - but beyond that it's a hilarious little film. Who really just wanders around in broad daylight shooting children between the eyes? Even if they are cannibalistic monsters it just feels incredibly hokey.

Because it does feel so ridiculous I was able to enjoy it a lot. It's a very dumb film and the twist doesn't even make sense if you really think about it. It was just put there to give you something else to worry about besides a bloodthirsty infant. But why would you even need anything else when you have that? The Unborn II made me think about a few things though despite how silly it was. For one, who are these movies about pregnancies gone wrong made for? Are they made for women to prey on their very personal fears? Or are they made for the same audiences as everything else?

Anyway, it was a truly goofy experience and would probably be good to watch with friends. The basic plot does keep in line with the original movie, so if you've seen it, you might as well give it a shot too. However, don't expect them to feel at all the same. If anything, it really feels more like It's Alive.

PS: The Unborn II's soundtrack has nothing on the first film's awesome score by Gary Numan and Michael R. Smith.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Martin



Year: 1976
Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Genre: Horror: Vampire

Martin seems like the kind of movie that I would enjoy. It is George A. Romero's take on vampires which is not in a way you would have been likely to see from anyone else. Martin may or may not actually be a vampire, but whatever he is he is far from a magical being. He never transforms into a bat, isn't repelled by the cross or garlic, and can go out in the day just fine. He's your typical guy except for the fact that he is compelled to the blood of humans.

The movie definitely deserves credit for moving beyond the Dracula archetypes. It's nothing liek them and feels much more like Ginger Snaps than Nosferatu. Still, I didn't enjoy it much at all. Overall, the film really doesn't explain itself well and it leaves you hanging in a lot of ways. Beyond that, it doesn't feel entirely cohesive. It feels more like snapshots of various times in Martin's youth, all probably very close together, but just events that occurred... Nothing is necessarily connected.

Many people seem to really enjoy Martin but it wasn't for me. His method of victim-grabbing is rather interesting though when it works (or perhaps more interesting when it fails). The idea behind the movie also seems to be some sort of coming of age thing, which works, but it missed the mark.

Although I didn't like it, Martin still seems like the kind of film that gets called a classic in certain circles. No doubt it's a very interesting take on vampire films and I wouldn't mind watching something else like it in the future.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

P2



Year: 2007
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Writer: Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur
Genre: Horror

P2 is a film which betrays nothing with a title. Unlike more descriptive, if banal, titles such as Slumber Party Massacre and Cheerleader Massacre the movie P2 is an enigma. What is the P about? Is it a sequel? Somehow, despite even seeing the cover of the film (and reading nothing of it) I had no idea what it meant. This may be the best way to go into the film but I would have probably still enjoyed it if I knew the creative location.

P2 takes place almost entirely in an underground parking garage. So, of course, P2 is one of the floors of the place. In my mind, it seemed like it would be difficult to keep a story interesting and scary when you've got such a small, and mostly empty area to make use of. Of course, other horror films have taken on much more claustrophobic sets so why not a parking garage?

If you're expecting a massively horrific film then you probably won't find it. There's still some creepy stuff going on, yeah, but nothing incredible. Part of that comes from the fact that the antagonist is goofier than he is creepy. He was obviously meant to be a crazed guy but despite the horrible acts he does... it mostly seems like he's still a goofball. In a way this makes the movie more enjoyable though as it turns into a sort of black comedy.

There's some truly unexpected gore and creative situations but beyond that the film's location really is the only stand out piece about it. I enjoyed it but it certainly wasn't a revelation. Some people have definitely gotten more out of it than me though so who knows how it'll affect you. Checking this film out with friends is recommended because of it's meta-goofiness going on and may make you at least a little bit nervous about walking through parking lots.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Blob (Remake)



Year: 1988
Director: Chuck Russell
Writer: Theodore Simpson, Kay Linaker
Genre: Horror: Sci-fi

The Blob has always seemed like something that just isn't appealing to me. Despite never seeing the original or any of either film, they both just seemed super cornball. I mean, come on, you've got a big glob of slime terrorizing a town. What is meant to be truly scary about that? It just seems too funny. Although there's nothing wrong with funny horror based on weird living/non-living entities I just wasn't ready to watch.

Grabbing The Blob I wasn't sure what version I had but popped it in and started watching. As it turned out it was the remake and while it was excellent it may have forever tainted my future opinion of the original. I say this because the remake is so fun and has great effects that the original may just seem completely dull in comparison, which is really too bad. I guess I'll find out when giving it a watch.

Anyway, The Blob is a great, goofy film. It starts out with a meteor crashing in the forest. Aliens don't pop out or anything, but instead we see some weird pink goo bubbling in the rock. A homeless man pokes at it, gets it stuck on his hand, and is rushed to the hospital by the lead teens. Everyone watching the movie knows how bad this is, but the film lets it build up for a little bit... making you wonder just when something will happen. Once it does, though, boy it lets it out.

Like I mentioned earlier, the effects are fantastic. They are so perfect and if there is another remake in the future they will probably be ruined with computer graphics. What we see from this late 80s film is pure artistic skill of putting skeletal people inside a pink blob, which is somewhat translucent. It's super effective to watch a face slide into the front of the blob, or see the remains of people terrorized by it.

As far as acting and storytelling goes it was well done too. It all helped progress the ridiculous story forward and get you into the world. The way the organism was depicted made it seem actually fearsome as well, instead of as just some funny-looking goo. I wouldn't say it was actually menacing, but there were parts that were slightly nerve-wracking. Overall, it was a tremendously enjoyable film.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Frozen



Year: 2010
Director: Adam Green
Writer: Adam Green
Genre: Drama, Thriller

Frozen is not a movie I've been dying to see for a long time. In fact, it was something that only recently came across my radar. Apparently I missed out on it completely around it's arrival in 2010. Basically, the film is about a group of three twenty something young adults who are having a day out on a snowy mountain. Between two men and one women, the men are best friends, while one of the men is dating the woman.

So, they all spend an awkward day together skiing and snowboarding then are finally ready to come on home. When they do, they somehow manage to get stuck on the chair lift back down the mountain. They came on a Sunday and the mountain won't be open again until Friday....

That's all 30 minutes in or so. For basically the rest of the movie they are stuck in a very small location. I worried that the film wouldn't be able to carry itself just on character interaction. However, it managed to showcase these three real-seeming characters who I cared at least a little bit for. Their reactions to the situation they found themselves in was the most important thing though. It's what kept me interested. If people were in this situation you might expect them to react in some of these ways.

Of course, everything goes wrong at every turn. Although it wasn't overall a gory movie there were some really intense scenes. For the first time in a while, at one point I found myself having to only half watch a certain scene. It just got into me (probably because the situation was realistic enough). I was a bit annoyed by some of the stupidity of the characters but after watching hundreds of slashers it shouldn't be surprising.

Overall, I think Frozen shared a strong experience. It's not the best film ever, or even all that great, but it makes you wonder about what could happen in all our lives. If you're someone who regularly plays around in the mountains though I would suggest you stay far away as it would probably be an especially tough film to watch.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sisters



Year: 1973
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Brian De Palma, Louisa Rose
Genre: Horror: Mystery, Black Comedy

Coming into Sisters I had no idea of what to expect other than, well, sisters. What I ended up seeing was a wholly enjoyably odd feature. However, try and tell me to peg exactly what about it was so good and it might be hard to say.

At the start of the film you see people competing in a simple gameshow. Two of the people featured in the game show decide to come home together and from that slightly unusual introduction things get much weirder. On the next day, the man wakes up to hear the gal from the show arguing with another woman. Although he wants to sneakily leave, the woman then finds him and begs him to stay, so he does. Unfortunately, he ends up being murdered by the creepy other girl. This kicks the whole film off.

What I enjoyed so much about the film was that it was hard to get a clear idea about what was even going on. Was the woman who witnesses the murder making this whole scene up or did it really happen? Are there really two girls or is there only one? Who is the other girl - is she the sister as the title suggests? Is it actually someone else who is pulling the strings? I loved being in a weird sense of reality and never being sure of what was what. Despite this description though, it was a fairly straightforward film. It wasn't all trippy or reality-shifting like some.

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about Sisters is how funny it is. There's no doubt that the desire when making this film was to have a lot of amusing stuff along a seriously messed up mystery. I consider it black comedy since it shouldn't really be as funny as it is that there was what was at one point called a  "racially-charged murder". Despite a lot of things that aren't at all funny about the movie the characters managed to be big jokes sometimes. I really enjoyed the dichotomy.

Sisters is a movie I'd happily recommend. After seeing it I now want to watch a lot more of Brian De Palma's work. Beyond this, I've only seen Carrie, Phantom of the Paradise, and Scarface.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension



Year: 1984
Director: W.D. Richter
Writer: Earl Mac Rauch
Genre: Sci-Fi: Comedy

With a massive name like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension how can you possibly go wrong? The film seems to really divide the film community and unfortunately I was not someone who will now be singing its praises. I didn't think it was awful by any means, but it just never managed to hook me in to the weird narrative.

Honestly, I'm not sure what was even going on. Despite that I still was able to enjoy the characters, costumes, and aliens. The film centers around Buckaroo Banzai (and his crew) as they fight against some alien menace. Apparently not all the aliens are bad though, as they are helped by a "Blackleckloid". I have no idea if that's the real name but that's what it sounded like they said.

So you've got some weirdly dressed men fighting against aliens who lust for some Earth technology and somehow it plays out as entirely normal. It's not really surprising that in this place that a musical star (which Buckaroo is) would be helping the government with its alien issues. Why not?

Although I wasn't grabbed by the strangeness of the whole thing I was interested in how many famous faces were a part of the film. The most surprising to me were Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd. It took me a while to even recognize Lloyd as he spent half the film in an alien mask and the other half in... human face.

I'd say it's worth watching Buckaroo Banzai because it is such an odd little film. However, it may very well be something you can't stand. On the other hand, you might be someone who will be singing its praises and quoting its goofy lines for a long time.

PS: The credits are wonderful for both the song and accompanying video. Don't watch if you don't want the purely 80s goodness spoiled!



Monday, July 23, 2012

Insidious


Year: 2010
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Genre: Horror: Possession

Insidious is exactly the kind of movie I steer clear from. First, it's modern, which always throws me into an angry fervor just because I've felt especially let down by films that everyone says are so great when they're out in theaters. It's the typical reaction for me... Don't believe the hype, in fact, don't even listen to the hype because if you do it's deadly. Even though I don't remember Insidious having a massive wave of interest when it came out, it still is a modern film so it got lumped in with all the rest. Against everything I was telling myself, I decided to watch it anyway.

With all that said I did actually enjoy the film, and much more than I expected. For about half the movie I was paralyzed on my couch. I just sat there staring with a knot in my stomach. The tension was built up quickly, but mostly free from "BOO" scares. I couldn't stand how well the film was put together and it kept me on edge completely. The people who worked on this movie most definitely have a sense of how to string viewers along without giving them relief.

You might have noticed I said for "half the movie". At some point, the film shifts in tone and it's for the worse.  Insidious is about a family who moves into a new home and feels a little bit odd about the whole place. Then, one of the children goes into a coma and things get amped up from there. It was initially a very tight work which didn't focus on showing you shocking things as much as it was about what you didn't see - it made you wonder. This was great.

Then the film starts to show you. It shows you things which are going on and explains reasons why this all is going on. Sure, it's got an otherworldly edge to the explanations, but it's still an explanation. IT's not always bad as it could have been played off as still entirely creepy but something else happened... They filmmakers started to show off what I assume they thought were their big guns and just went crazy with slamming things at the audience.

They weren't simple scares but they were just showing far too much. It felt like the movie completely shifted gears into a different, and far less subtle/frightening tone. It ruined the film for me in a way because it was just so persistent I lost all sense of fear. Scary things were going on, sure, but they weren't viewed as scary by me anymore. They were just ham-fisted and trying to get a rise out of a more typical Hollywood audience.

Perhaps they couldn't figure out how to bring the film to climax in any other way. However, I'm sure with the skill they exhibited earlier on they could have certainly done something better. Instead, they went with the easy route to shock moviegoers. I'm sure many people enjoyed it overall, but I'm left displeased. If you haven't seen the film, check it out and see how you feel. See if you sense the "shift" too or if I'm just being silly.
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