Bride Of Frankenstein

FEBRUARY 28, 2007


One of the first DVDs I bought was Gods and Monsters, a fantastic docudrama about James Whale, director of Bride of Frankenstein. I have no idea why, as I never saw any of his films, wasn’t really a big Ian McKellan fan at the time, and the only movie I had seen from the director was Candyman 2, which I hated. But it’s a great film, and a good companion piece to Bride, which, almost ten years later, I finally got around to watching. I’m nothing if not lazy. But not as lazy as whoever titled the film. It should really be Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster, but whatever.

Speaking of the title, I’d like to offer another “Horror Hypocriticism” anecdote here. Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is maligned for many things, and rightfully so for the most part. But one in particular is that Jason does not show up in Manhattan until the last 3rd of the film. Well guess what, horror snobs: the “Bride” of the title doesn’t show up until the last goddamn scene of this film. And it’s considered one of the best horror movies of all time. So shut the hell up and leave Jason alone. Besides, compared to the three that came after it, Jason Takes Manhattan is a minor masterpiece.

Anyway, this film is far superior to the first Frankenstein (and its respective cereal). But since it picks up immediately where the first left off it’s best to see the first film before Bride. Hell, they’re so short, if you haven’t seen either of them, make it a double feature! Either way: its one of the best old school Universal horror classics, if not THE best. And the DVD looks pretty damn good considering the film is almost 75 years old.

Speaking of, the best thing to come out of 2004’s CG film Van Helsing was that Universal released 2 disc sets focusing on all their classic monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, Invisible Man, And Creature) in order to promote it. All of the films in the series are included (Frankenstein’s set, for example, has 5 films), and they are usually no more than 20 bucks. Few DVD sets are easier to recommend.

What say you?


Dario Argento's Opera

FEBRUARY 27, 2007


One of the reasons I started doing this movie a day thing is that I am WAY behind on foreign horror. I’ve probably seen less than a dozen films from Bava, Fulci, and Argento combined. That’s a disgrace. To someone, I guess.

Luckily, like anything, the more you see of them, you’ll start enjoying them less and less, so I guess that’s OK. Because so far I have yet to dislike any of the ones I’ve seen. Opera was no exception, even though connoisseurs of the subgenre consider it a disappointment. Apparently it was a troubled production, with relatives dying, people getting hurt, familiar American actor William McNamara apparently turning into an Italian guy whenever he had to speak... it must have been torturous.

But as far as I am concerned, which isn’t very far, it was all for the best. I dug the film a lot. The raven/crow sequences were insane, the lead girl was cute as hell, and the killer’s identity was disguised better than most films of its type, with enough red herrings to keep it from being a simple “well everyone except _____ is dead so it must be him” process of elimination (of course, a film can always cheat, like they did in I Know What You Did Last Summer, but Argento isn’t a fucking asshole).

I must point out the hilarious reaction (or lack thereof) of the main girl, Betty. Her boyfriend is killed, horribly, right in front of her, and when she gets herself free she just sort of walks around his corpse (not even a “NO! NOOOO!” and/or some fruitless corpse-shaking here), walks briskly (not runs) out of the room, then gets in a car with her friend and... dries her hair. She pretty much forgets all about him. It’s hilarious. I hope, if I am ever stabbed through the neck right in front of my wife, that her primary concern is catching a cold.

It’s ironic, I’m really not a big fan of the original Phantom of the Opera story, and I wasn’t overly impressed with the Chaney film (and the Schumacher film fails on pretty much every level of filmmaking), but I love the “inspired by” movies. The further the film strays from the source material, the better it is, far as I’m concerned. This film is great, the Robert Englund one is a pretty good for a Globus movie, and Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is the best mall set film ever (sorry, Wynorksi and Smith).

Of the four Argento films I have seen, it’s definitely in my top five.

What say you?


April Fool's Day (1986)

FEBRUARY 26, 2007


April Fool’s Day was the first movie I didn’t like. When you’re a kid, or an idiot, you tend to like just about any R rated movie. But I can recall being 7 or 8 and watching it for the first (and until today, last) time and disliking it, due to the ending (which will be spoiled, duh).

But that was then, this is later on, and since the ending was the only thing I remembered, I figured I’d give it another shot. And I was surprised to find I actually enjoy the film quite a bit. The ending is still a bit of a letdown, but in retrospect, it goes along with the goofy charm the rest of the film has.

Unusual for a slasher film, all of the characters are not only rich kids, but they’re also all likable. And well played by the mostly (then and still) unknowns, along with F13 Part 2 heroine Amy Steel (who I usually refer to as “Walk Like A Man’s Amy Steel”, but since this is a horror site I’ll be more relevant) and Biff himself, Thomas F. Wilson. Also along for the ride is Griffin O’Neal, who is more famous for being punched or shot at by his dad than he is for his acting, which is too bad, because he’s pretty entertaining. In fact, there’s a bit of unintentional metahumor early on in the film, when his character relates to another that his father doesn’t love him. Zong! He also has what may be the funniest line in the film: When the ferry arrives on the mainland to bring them to the island, he mutters “I call shotgun.” Jokes are always better in a film when they sound like something a human being would actually say. Also, calling “shotgun” when it doesn’t really make any sense is always hilarious. Try it!

I love how the ‘survivors’ don’t seem to mind being psychologically tortured into thinking their best friends were dead, as their reaction is basically “Oh, HAHA. Real funny, jerk!”, much like you would react to a friend who puts on a mask and jumps out at you. Assuming you are a character in a slasher movie, like I am.

As a result, the movie isn’t very scary, since no one ‘dies’ onscreen, and there’s no gore either, except on the mannequin heads or whatever (the first victim is revealed to be a special effects artist who has helped her. He’s pretty damn good too! Fooled me for 80 minutes!). But the movie’s just so goofy and charming I can’t help but like it. And, unlike Return to Horror High or Cry_Wolf, the “cheat” ending actually holds up to scrutiny, more or less. So that’s cool.

I must point out that Wilson’s character is the most delightfully homoerotic dude in cinematic history. He rolls around with his male friend on a bed, talks about nailing another male friend, all in good fun. Again, he (and the other characters) act more like actual human beings (except for the ending) than 99% of any other slasher characters of the 80s. They make fun of each other, say things under their breath, etc. So that way, when the ending comes along, they should have earned enough goodwill to keep you from getting mad. Unless you’re 8 years old.

Also, April Fool’s Day shares something with another holiday slasher, My Bloody Valentine, and that is an AMAZING end credits song. MBVs was a wonderful little ballad about the murders/curse in the town. AFD’s is a 50s style pop song about being crazy. Someone should compile all these songs onto a CD. Not me though. I have to watch (or rewatch) a horror movie every day of my life.

What say you?


The Abandoned

FEBRUARY 25, 2007


(Note: this one is more of a regular review, albeit in my own way. As usual, there are spoilers and such, but they have context for once).

For the third day in a row I went to the movies. Outside of a film festival, I can’t remember the last time I did such a thing. Usually there aren’t three movies playing I’d even want to see. But since I paid to see Ghost Rider, adding to the film’s unnecessarily high box office take, I owed it to the genre to support a real horror film, i.e. one that was rated R and would not have a bunch of kids in the audience. But since that film was The Abandoned, there was almost NO ONE in the audience. It’s opening weekend, and there were only ten people there, including my friend and I. And one dude walked out. Though I’m not sure why; up to that point the movie was pretty good. Maybe he knew better, because the last half hour was one of the most incoherent things I’ve ever seen that didn’t have David Lynch or Joe Chappelle in the credits.

The movie, I think, is about a woman named Marie who returns to Russia, which is where she was born, in order to check on a house she inherited. An opening scene reveals that forty years ago, two babies were driven to a neighbor’s house by their mother, who is bloody and dying. So she’s one of the babies. That much I figured out. Anyway, as is the norm whenever someone returns to a home, it’s haunted. But in a cool twist, the ghost/zombie thing haunting the place is actually her, or a very good stunt double. Her long lost twin brother, Nicolai, shows up, and he has his own ghost too. They discover that any injury they inflict on the ghosts will also inflict them, so they can’t just kill the ghosts. So they try to get away from the house, but they end up going in circles, sort of like Blair Witch or that one area in Final Fantasy VII (a game that’s about to celebrate its 10th birthday and I still haven’t finished it).

Now, all of this is the coherent part. THEN it gets confusing, comparatively.

Anyway, they figure out that the house is being haunted by their father, who was trying to kill them all forty years ago, so he wants to bring his whole family back so he can finish killing them, on their 42nd birthday (we know it’s their birthday because it is mentioned in a completely unsubtle and unnatural way early in the film). But to do this, he has to clean the house (?), and they have to die the same way; Marie by drowning, Nicolai by getting eaten by pigs (??), and it already all happened (???). Yes, a scene that occurs early on, when Marie brushes up against another woman, is replayed near the end of the film, only now we see the other woman is in fact her own ghost (but not the ghost that haunts the house). What?

Look the incoherency doesn’t bother me, and I am sure with another viewing or two it would make more sense. The problem is it’s not scary. Ever. There’s certainly the opportunity to be scary (dark house in the middle of nowhere, zombies of yourself, the usual strange haunted house occurrences) but every one of those opportunities is wasted. So all the movie had going for it was the story, and by the third act that story was increasingly (and needlessly) hard to follow. For example, during the aforementioned ‘clean the house’ scene: the two leads are terrified, but why? All that’s happening is the house is cleaning itself. Broken dishes are becoming whole, loose floor boards are put back, etc. What the hell is scary about that? To be scared is to feel you are in danger. But the ghost is just tidying up. It’s pretty generous of him, if anything. If I come home and my sink is cleaning itself, sweet. Thanks, ghost! I’m not gonna cower like a baby because of it.

Also the R rating is pretty much earned via profanity. There’s some nudity near the end (and even that is confusing) but it’s on a cold and deadish woman. Plus, Titanic had nudity and that was PG-13. The violence is minimal and the gore is practically non-existent, so it’s hardly an answer to recent PG-13 fare like The Messengers. Again, none of these things are necessary for a film to be good, but it certainly helps when you’re spending the rest of the time going “hmm?”

The film was originally released in theaters last November as part of the After Dark festival. I didn’t see them all (but one of those films, called Dark Ride, is one of the worst films ever made, for the record). But one I DID see was Mike Mendez’s The Gravedancers, which was a damn good film, and a lot of fun to boot. It had good performances by the leads (even Dominic Purcell seemed to be trying more than usual to look like he’s interested in what was going on), a pretty unique twist on a ghost/haunting story, and it was beautifully shot by Dave Armstrong. Why didn’t that film get the same treatment Abandoned has? It is infinitely more deserving. Oh well. That’s Lions Gate’s loss, as I am sure it would have opened better than Abandoned did (it didn’t even clear a million in its opening weekend). The point is: I urge all of you to check out Gravedancers when it comes to DVD later this spring.

All in all, Abandoned isn’t a terrible movie by any means (Abandon, with Katie Holmes, IS though. Just saying.), but it’s a highly disappointing one. It’s never scary, the story gets needlessly confusing, and it was originally released along with a much more deserving film. Supposedly Abandoned won the ‘audience award’ at the After Dark festival. As an attendee, I am curious as to where exactly we were supposed to vote for this? I never saw anything about it (as I would have made sure Dark Ride got no more than negative fourteen votes). And besides, many of the people I have talked to about Abandoned say the same things I did (except for the Abandon reference. No one mentions that movie, ever, and for good reason). So who the hell voted for it?

I should also mention that if any of you are in the LA area, I urge you to avoid the cinema inside the Beverly Center. It’s highly uncomfortable and they are the only theater in the world I have ever been to that actually enforces the ‘don’t bring outside food’ rule. The whole point of that is that they want you to buy their overpriced food and drinks. Fine. But if I am not going to buy their food or drinks, why the hell does it matter? I tried to go in with a soda I had from my lunch. I might have bought a snack to go along with it, but now you’ve pissed me off, so I definitely won’t buy anything, whether you make me throw my drink away or not. Idiots.

Speaking of snacks, the director’s name is Nacho.

What say you?


Ghost Rider

FEBRUARY 24, 2007


Today I sat down on the couch, prepared to watch April Fool’s Day, but then I saw a TV spot for Ghost Rider that reminded me that the film was rated PG-13 for ‘horror violence’ and disturbing images. I’m at a loss as to how violence can be classified as horror or action or whatever (I'm pretty sure there’s one for every movie genre, except for musical, and I hope Darren Bousman’s Repo! remedies that). So while I would never consider it horror myself, I am not a faceless and basically ridiculous corporation with no apparent standards or precedent, so who am I to argue? It had a chance of being better than watching a bunch of people not really die (I’ll do that on Monday I guess).

I’ve never read the comic religiously; I read a few issues in the 90s but mainly for crossover purposes. And that was the Danny Ketch character anyway. The film goes with the story of the original GR: Johnny Blaze. I must note though, I was happy to see some of Clayton Crain’s art in the opening Marvel logo, as he is one of my favorite modern comic artists and as of this writing, he is doing the art for a new GR miniseries called Trail of Tears or something to that effect, if anyone is interested.

Look, it doesn’t matter. What matters is this. This is a thoroughly stupid film, but luckily, Cage is either aware of it too, or he’s just gone batshit insane. Either way, he kept (most of) the audience from walking out with his off the wall antics when he’s not replaced with CG. He eats red and yellow jelly beans out of a martini glass. He listens to the Carpenters (specifically, Superstar, a song which to me will always be known as ‘the original version of that creepy ass Sonic Youth song they used in the High Tension trailer’) and gets angry if anyone tries to talk to him while it’s on. He is obsessed with the type of TV shows they watch in Idiocracy. He laughs maniacally when people hit him. And so on. It’s pretty much the single greatest performance I have seen since Billy Drago in Imprint (it may not surprise you to learn that I am no fan of subtlety).

I’m not sure who was more awful: Eva Mendez, or Wes “Plastic Bags Are Beautiful” Bentley. I think I’ll call it for Mendez, since she causes a good chunk of the movie’s problems, playing a love interest that is obviously ten years younger (supposed to be same age), acting with as much conviction as anyone else from Urban Legend 2 could manage, I guess.

The movie has been in development for years and went through many scripts and writers, some of whom are given an executive producer credit for their trouble. And like Freddy vs Jason before it, one really has to wonder how fucking bad those other scripts had to be if THIS script was the one that finally got things moving. It’s not the worst Marvel movie (though a “wow, 4lre4dy?” sequel to th4t one w4s thre4tened in the tr4ilers) but it’s certainly disappointing.

Speaking of trailers, there was also one for Resident Evil 3, a film I otherwise wouldn’t be less interested in, but it was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who directed the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart, which is more terrifying than GR and (likely) RE3 put together. Anyone seen it? Bonnie Tyler’s running around some building that reminds me of the school in Slaughter High for some reason, some dudes with lights for eyes are yelling TURN AROUND BRIGHT EYES!, some Asian guy is throwing birds, some acrobatic fencers show up… it’s pretty much the best video ever. Also: Highlander.

Oh, and the MPAA promised “horror violence”? Uh… let’s see. Ghost Rider whips a guy made out wind and he disappears. Ghost Rider stares at a guy and he goes into a coma or something. Ghost Rider stares at another guy (who is made out of water) and he sort of dissipates. There’s like 12 action scenes in the film and none of them last more than two minutes. Ghost Rider either stares at or whips a guy (it’s not as homoerotic as it sounds, sadly) and that’s that. Then he turns back into Cage and eats red and yellow jelly beans.

Half-assed. That’s the best way to describe this movie. Other than Mendez and Bentley, nothing is totally awful, but nothing is very good either. It’s just sort of there, and you just sort of watch it, and then you go home and your jelly bean flavors are plentiful.

You know how some of these movies I have seen but since it’s been like 10 years or whatever I have forgotten most of what happens in them? Using that same criteria, tomorrow’s movie could very well be Ghost Rider.

What say you?

P.S. I kind of like (Johnson's previous film) Daredevil, for the record. I think the Affleck-hate gives the film a bum rap. It’s certainly better than Hulk, GR, F4, Punisher, or Man Thing.


The Blob (1988)

FEBRUARY 23, 2007


Today was another “it’s been awhile” film, 1988’s The Blob. I used to watch this movie all the time when I was a kid, but sometime around 1992 I stopped for some reason. I probably accidentally taped over it with Dr. Giggles or some shit. But it had come up at a recent party when a friend and I were discussing how we both used to watch it all the time to ogle Shawnee Smith. Certainly that’s not a bad reason to watch a movie. So I “top of the queue”d it the next day.

My fondest (and pretty much only, at this point) memory of the film was that it taught me what a condom was. There’s a pretty good gag of a kid buying condoms from a pharmacist who turns out to be the father of the girl he’s about to take out (I know that’s not accurate but to explain it properly would be just confusing. If you’ve seen it, you know what part I mean). I was 9 years old and didn’t understand what he was buying or why the father would be angry, so I had it explained to me. I related this anecdote to Ms. Smith at a horror convention some years later. It came off as creepy. I hope she has forgotten it.

It’s not a straight remake, though it’s closer than many. This time around, the meteor was actually a government sanctioned test of a biochemical weapon. It went bad, so a group of hazmat guys come along to clean up the town and cause more headaches for our heroes. The original had none of this. And I’m not sure it was necessary. I don’t need everything explained. And “Evil Government Guys” are never as exciting as filmmakers think they are. Luckily, it doesn’t detract from the monster action.

None of that matters though. What matters is this: Kevin Dillon’s hair. It’s a bizarre mix of a mullet and a perm. I can safely say without hyperbole that it’s the greatest haircut in film history. Steve McQueen may have been a cooler guy overall, but his hair was pretty lame in the original. When I watched the original, I wasn’t even aware he was a badass for a while. But Dillon, you know right from the start that he’s ‘trouble’. He later licks Paul McCrane’s face, which if nothing else partially explains the perm.

Speaking of Paul McCrane, does the dude ever live to the end of a film? And his deaths are always so colorful. He was mashed by a car in Robocop, sliced up by a helicopter on ER (where he had previously lost a hand to another helicopter. Or maybe it was the same one, finishing the job), and tortured by his brother then poisoned by his father on 24. Here he is bent in half and sucked through a doorway, similar to the way that one girl was killed in Ryan Schifrin’s Abominable, only he's less hot.

Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont perfectly balanced the fine line between intentional silliness and genuine suspense. The concept is ridiculous, but the characters aren’t in on the joke. The gore is excessive and thus part of the fun. And yes, a child character is eaten by the Blob. I think it’s sort of a clear indicator that a film is meant to amuse when a kid is killed off. If the filmmakers wanted you to take them seriously, the kid would live. Even more amusing is that the kid went on to be the dude that accidentally shot himself on an early episode of 90210.

Sadly, the film was a dud when released in the summer of 1988. Looking back, it’s not a surprise: 1988’s top horror film was Nightmare on Elm St 4 (useless trivia: the Blob team were behind the previous Nightmare film, Dream Warriors, which is by far the best sequel). Clearly the audiences wanted their stupidity in a non-intentional way.

And for the record, I look forward to the remake. Why? BECAUSE THIS WAS A REMAKE. So what is the argument this time, remake haters? “Why can’t people just watch the original that was a remake of another original”?? It’s what I call a “Horror Hypocriticism”. Remakes are hated right off the bat, just on principal, when three of the best horror films (inclusive: remakes, sequels, originals) of the 1980’s were in fact, remakes. So just shut up until you’ve seen it.

What say you?


Stay Alive

FEBRUARY 22, 2007


There’s a pretty hilarious article on the Onion about Catwoman, I think it’s called “Movie Praised For Not Being As Awful As It Could Have Been”. It goes on to discuss a few moviegoers who were surprised to discover that a couple brief moments of the film were actually pretty good, and, in my favorite part, one guy says he expected to ask for his money back, but afterwards decided he only wanted SOME of his money back. Good stuff.

I was reminded of this particular article when I watched Stay Alive, because my expectations were so abysmally low (in fact, the only real reason I wanted to watch it was for Sophia Bush) that I was shocked to discover it was actually a pretty decent movie, considering its pedigree. I don’t think any film in history had so many strikes against it right from the start:

- It was PG-13
- It starred Malcolm in the Middle
- It was from Hollywood pictures (“If it’s the Sphinx, it stinks!”)!
- It was released the same time as Slither, a great movie that got its ass kicked at the box office by this one.
- It’s a video game movie not based on an actual game. Like Brainscan!
- Sophia Bush does not shower, shoot a man in the face, or jump out of a car that had previously exploded, as she did in another film I saw only for her: The Hitcher (and that one was better than I expected too. Maybe it’s just her).

Now that first bit, about the rating: For all I know this movie is unwatchable in its PG-13 form. I won’t be bothering to watch it. This is based on the unrated cut on the DVD, which, for once, is actually a stronger film. There is no way the film presented here could ever be PG-13. At least a dozen F-bombs, a head being torn apart, other assorted gore, some nudity... it won’t ever be mistaken for Saw or Hostel, but I can’t imagine how badly the film had to be edited in order to secure the PG-13. So in a way, it’s unfair to lump it in with The Grudge or Pulse or whatever other recent PG-13 “horror” movies are out there.

The acting is mixed, Sophia Bush and Jimmi Simpson (playing her brother) fare best. Bush plays a goth-y chick who is constantly rubbing the main dude’s back, but I’m pretty sure they are just friends. I wish I had friends that looked like Sophia Bush that would rub my back every 5 minutes or so. Oh well. Simpson plays an obnoxious character but he gets a few laughs (his comparison of beta testing to cunnilingus is one highlight) and also sings an Air Supply song (NOT “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” though, dammit), which automatically endears him to me. Malcolm in the Middle is kind of annoying, and he doesn’t die (what kind of slasher movie lets two of the DUDES live?) so that was disappointing. Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia shows up as a guy named Loomis who is the first one to die.

Speaking of “Loomis”, all of the people in the movie have really stupid names. Loomis, Hutch, October, Fin, Swink... the only normal one is Abigail, a girl who’s NOT a gamer, thus putting her in the standard role of the “This movie is about something some people might not be familiar with so we need you around through the whole movie to say exposition-ish things to for the n00bs in the audience” person.

The Breckin Meyer-esque Jon Foster plays the lead role, and he’s OK I guess. I personally dislike him because he dates Sophia Bush in real life. Dick.

All in all, I wouldn’t go running around telling my hardcore horror friends to watch it (because, unlike me, they’d worry about looking dumb for saying they liked it. I, on the other hand, have no shame.), but I WILL stick up for it if someone knocks it without having seen it. It won’t win any awards, but it’s a solid little “horror lite” movie that doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with its tween-thriller brethren.

...again, for the hell of it, I’d like to say: Sophia Bush.

What say you?


Dead and Breakfast

FEBRUARY 21, 2007


One day my wife said “Hey I came up with a good title for a horror movie: Dead and Breakfast.” Being the kind, supportive husband I am, I immediately replied “Yeah too bad someone else already used it, dummy.” Maybe if I had already seen the movie at that point I could have came off nicer (or not have slept on the couch) by adding “but they wasted it on a lame movie."

Not that the horror comedy ever really holds much promise, but this one squandered more opportunities than usual for the subgenre. The horror stuff is fine, if nothing special, but almost NONE of the humor works (the commentary track, including cast members like Ever Carradine and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is infinitely more amusing). There are amusing bits/kills here and there, but so many others fall flat (especially some PAINFULLY bad self-referential jokes) it’s not enough to save it.

There should be a rule that no film kills off Jeremy Sisto until at LEAST the halfway mark, if not closer to the end, if at all! He’s usually the most colorful guy in a movie, and this film is no exception. But he’s killed a third of the way into the film. More disappointing, he doesn’t turn into a zombie like the other characters, instead the main zombie uses his (awfully fake) head as a ventriloquist dummy for the rest of the film. Oh well.

Also, if a huge evil force is trapped inside a box, why couldn’t someone just have put it away in a sock drawer instead of on top of a bureau where anyone can knock it over? I guess it’s none of our business.

I will admit, however, the bizarre rap/dance number that occurs about an hour into the film is AMAZING. It’s worth watching the film just for that. Throughout the film, this guy comes on (transitioned with some really good artwork) and sings a little song that reminds you of what’s going on. Usually it’s just a little acoustic ditty (sort of like in There’s Something About Mary, another unfunny movie) but for whatever reason at this point they decide a full blown rap would suffice. It makes no sense, sure, but the non-dancing characters actually SEE IT. Usually in a musical, whenever people sing/dance, no one else seems to notice. I loved that. For two or three minutes, the film is everything it should have been. And I suspect the director (or whoever the guy who cut the trailer was) knew as much, since the trailer makes the film look totally serious until the very end, when a brief snippet of the dance number is shown.

Obviously the influences here are Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive (yes, aka Brain Dead, before a horror nerd calls me out), and that’s OK, but someone behind the scenes didn’t have the ability to pull it off. They follow the “rules” for these types of films: weird things being used to kill zombies, the gore is excessive, etc. Speaking of which, along with antlers, a chainsaw, and hedge trimmers, the characters use homemade shotguns? Apparently the bed and breakfast the characters are trapped inside was once a Home Depot, considering all of the tools and hardware they find. I know the movie isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, but it still should have some sort of interior logic.

But regardless, the humor ruins just about everything. Take the scene (please) where one character tries to run away from a corpse, but he keeps slipping on the blood. I guess the director and editor thought it was funny, hence why it runs for some thirty seven hours (complete with ‘zany’ Looney Tunes style music). But, it’s not, and its excessive length just makes it more annoying.

Matthew Leutwyler has since made another film, called Unearthed, that sounds similar but less comic, so hopefully it will be more successful. He’s also writing a Creepshow remake; thanks pal.

You know, just once I’d like to see a film where a group of kids go somewhere, and their car breaks down, so they’re forced to spend the night somewhere creepy. But nothing happens to them. Then the next day the car is fixed and they get to their wedding or concert or wherever the hell they were going, and everyone that was already there is dead, from a natural disaster or something. And they realize that their lives were spared. The rest of the movie is about them driving home, pondering their fate and the existence of God. Then they get home and are all hit by cars.

What say you?


Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

FEBRUARY 19, 2007


I’ve heard about it for years, but until now I have never seen Two Thousand Maniacs!, which is legendary low budget splatter maven Herschell Gordon Lewis’ most famous film (it’s even been remade!). To me, it just sounded like something that would grow tiresome, not to mention feel incredibly dated.

And I was right! The kill scenes are fun (love the barrel roll) and some of the music is enjoyable, but otherwise it’s a snoozefest. Horrible actors playing southerners that drink moonshine and wave the confederate flag make up the bulk of the film. There’s very little excitement to any of it, even when our two leads make their escape attempt (which includes tricking a little kid who spends almost all of his screen-time throwing a tantrum – I wanted to kill the little shit after 30 seconds).

But what really sinks the movie is how fucking STUPID the characters are. It’s one thing for the redneck guys to be slow, but why are the out of town “city folk” so gullible as to climb inside barrels or lay under giant rocks? “You’re the guest of honor!” they are told, and that’s pretty much all of the convincing they require. Morons. And why do they go to all the trouble? Just shoot them in the head and be done with it.

Unsurprisingly, it’s hardly a technical masterpiece, either. Muffled or slowed down audio is frequent, shots randomly jerk up or down to get things in frame, etc. It’s sort of charming, but at the same time, it’s annoying. The basic concept for the movie is great, but it’s ruined by just about everything. I know folks will say that’s part of the point, but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to watch (at least, by myself; I’m sure if I was half drunk and at the New Beverly in Los Angeles that I’d be enjoying it more). Hopefully the remake will improve matters (it certainly has a better cast – Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, etc). I’ll try to check that out soon.

This was the first Lewis film I have seen – any suggestions? I’d like to see Blood Feast, but if it’s the same shit I’ll just pass for now; even watching a movie a day has its limits!

What say you?


Dead Mary

FEBRUARY 18, 2007


A lot of horror movies combine a (better) horror movie (in this case, The Thing) with Lawrence Kasdan’s A Big Chill. It’s not a bad idea; many horror films are criticized for their lack of character development, so starting things off with a group of friends talking and bonding before the killing and what not begins can only help, right? Well if the characters are all unlikable assholes like they are in Dead Mary, I don't want to wait to see them get killed. In fact, I’d be fine if the movie began with them being killed and spent the rest of its running time showing the scenery.

In this amazingly bad film, there are seven characters, four girls and three guys. The three guys are all jerks of varying degree. One girl is an idiot. Another is stuck up. A third is a slut. Then there’s Dominique Swain (the only recognizable face, though the slut girl looks sort of like Jensen Dagget from Friday the 13th VIII), who just comes off as a bitch. After 40 minutes or so of us getting to know these people no one would want to know, they play Bloody Mary (excuse me, sorry, ‘Dead’ Mary, it's TOTALLY different). But instead of bringing some ghoulish figure or ghost to life, it just possesses a couple of them, and they go on to.... mainly just talk more about what assholes they are. The slut slept with the bitch’s boyfriend. Jerk #2 cheated on his wife (the idiot), so the idiot slept with Jerk #3. Then they all kill each other.

There, I just saved you an ungodly 110 minutes.

To be fair, some of the makeup effects are good, and since they have no weapons, they improvise and make some with garden tools and things like that, wrapped with duct tape. Any movie where duct tape plays a part in saving your life is automatically kind of OK. But that’s all this movie has going for it. If you’re not a fan of industrial adhesive, there’s precious little in the film that will hold your interest.

What say you?


The Hitcher

Good, but not so good that the recent remake deserved to be roasted for "ruining". Full review soon!



Ah, February 16th, 2007. The first and so far only day I have ever missed watching a horror movie since I began. :(


The Host

The best Asian monster movie I've seen! Full review soon!


The Bat

Price is the only good thing about it. Full review soon!


The Number 23

FEBRUARY 13, 2007


I nearly shat myself when I first heard about The Number 23 (which was a few years back, actually). You see kids, for nigh on a decade I have been obsessed with the frequency of the number 23 in movies. It was pointed out to me by a friend, but over time I became much more interested than he was, I think. Some examples: The villain’s floor in Toy Story 2 is 23 (and the floor number is bigger and brighter than the others), the character of Johnny 23 in Con Air, the number of Brill’s in the phone book in Enemy of the State, the number of years the Jeepers Creepers monster sleeps before awakening for… 23 days, etc. It’s pretty interesting, to me anyway.

So the fact that an entire movie based around the concept was being made was pretty exciting to me. Sort of like, made me think I wasn’t batshit insane (at least in that department). Unfortunately, the film would be directed by Joel Schumacher, so any chance that the film would actually be GOOD went right out the window. Schumacher, much like John Carpenter, decided years ago that making a good film was no longer a valid option for him, and now just churns out a never ending series of shitty films. Oh well.

The film isn’t QUITE as bad as it could have been; its crime is that it’s nowhere near as good as it SHOULD have been. I was hoping for a Da Vinci Code style grand conspiracy, instead it’s a movie about a guy who forgot that he killed someone and spent a while in a nuthouse. The amount of “please just accept this” revelations in the film’s conclusion is far beyond any other film I have ever seen.

The other problem is that there is never any real danger in the film. Carrey goes a little nuts, but there is no “villain” per se, other than the number itself. But it’s not like a 23 is going to come out and stab him (which would have been AMAZING, for the record).

And Christ almighty the guy is a slow reader! It takes him almost the whole movie to read what looks like 150 pages, tops. You would think, if he was so obsessed with the book and the number, that he might, I dunno, take the time to read the whole book ASAP. But instead he treats it like a model kit, allowing himself one tiny bit per day. I know when I become obsessed with something, I read everything I can, as soon as I can.

Either way, the film is worth watching for this line, which Virginia Madsen says near the end, in an attempt to mock Carrey who is contemplating a murder: “Look around at all the beautiful 23s! You wouldn’t want to disappoint them!” Amazing.

I saw this at the film's premiere, at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA. Now of course, no one ever goes downtown unless they absolutely HAVE to, or if there is a free premiere. But this theater is the absolute most uncomfortable in the entire world. I highly recommend never setting foot in it.

What say you?



Top notch. Full review soon!


The Roost

FEBRUARY 12, 2007


There must be a lot of empty seats at the weddings of unseen movie characters. That’s the destination of our four heroes in Ti West's The Roost, and like all of their cinematic ancestors, their car breaks down on the way (the filmmakers obviously couldn’t afford to actually wreck the car so this scene is hilarious). Seeking help, the kids go to a barn that is loaded with killer bats. If they are bitten, they turn into zombies. After a few deaths, the survivors find a means of escape, only to get to the edge of town and find their route blocked. They get out of the car and get killed too. The end.

That’s it. That’s the whole movie. It could be 15 minutes long, maybe 20. Instead, it’s 80. The other 60 minutes are filled with long pauses between dialogue, cutaways to things like empty doorways, empty hallways, and empty driveways, and a Zacherley-esque horror host who, at one point, interrupts the film to express his dismay with the current scene, then rewinds the film and has the characters do something else. Whatever.

It could have been a really great short horror film. The idea is great, the acting is fine (Wil Horneff!!! Ghost in the Machine for life!!), the main girl is hot as hell, and the 16mm film looks sweet and totally appropriate for the retro feel. But by needlessly padding the film out to (barely) feature length, it often becomes a chore. Perhaps it should be used as the basis for an AVID exercise given to first year film students. “Here kids, here’s 80 minutes of film (well, actually 70, with about 10 for credits). Cut it down to 15-25 minutes.” There are a few technical problems as well (muffled audio, confusing blocking, etc), but none of that would have mattered if director/writer/editor/etc Ti West kept the film going and knew when to trim his shots. Hopefully his Cabin Fever sequel, if nothing else, will utilize better editing.

And it’s a giant missed opportunity that the DVD has no commentary track, since the film would be useful to film students and the like. Padding or not, West still made a full length film with a small crew and little money which led to him directing a major horror film, which is to be lauded and respected (regardless of how the original film actually turns out), and he could have offered advice, anecdotes, tips, etc. Instead, there’s a half hour making of that doesn’t offer much insight, though it does have often unreadable titles (drop shadow those mofos!).

I should point out that even if I thought the film was the greatest movie ever made, West would still be an enemy of mine for bashing Halloween III on the making of. That will not fly with me. “Stonehenge!”

What say you?



Not very good. Full review soon!


Hannibal Rising

I don't like the Hannibal movies much, so this is no better or worse than the others, far as I'm concerned. Full review soon!


Near Dark

Damn good. Full review soon!


Return To Horror High

The inaugural HMAD movie!!! Full review soon!


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget