The Manitou

MARCH 31, 2007


Holy shit this movie is hilarious. Much like this week's Killer Shrews, the dialogue in The Manitou has that little special something that makes almost every line a howler, for example: "Normally I wait three risings of the sun before I take on a job." Me too. Tony Curtis in particular is worth the price of admission alone (I got in for free but that's neither here nor there).

There's also off-kilter little touches throughout, such as when Burgess Meredith, looking for a spell book or something, picks up and considers a wig for a few moments for no real reason. And during an argument, a doctor storms to his liquor cabinet, which is typical movie behavior, but then offers Curtis one (while still yelling) and Curtis yells back "Please!". Oh man, I could go on and on, but I won't.

The end is stolen from 2001 in parts, although Kubrick, for whatever reason, declined to feature a naked woman shooting beams of energy at a naked midget Indian that looks like the doll from Trilogy of Terror.

I saw this film as part of the SBIG (So Bad It's Good) festival in LA at the Vista theater. And while the Vista can and should be lauded for being an old school theater that has plenty of leg room, the seats are still very uncomfortable, and also the theater seems to slant upwards. Very strange. But I am a full supporter of this particular festival, even if I believe that it may very well be impossible to find a better film for the event than this.

It is EXACTLY for movies like this that makes this whole 'movie a day' thing worthwhile.

Note: As relatively obscure as it is, the film is actually going to air on TV this week, Thursday April 5th, on the FLIXw channel. Check your digital cable for it, I had no idea I even had the station until the other day.

What say you?


Dracula (1931 Spanish Version)

MARCH 30, 2007


I wish all movies had superior Spanish versions filmed alongside the English originals. Think of how many awful dubs would never have come to be, and then we’d also have two perfectly awesome versions of Con Air and Mighty Ducks 2.

Anyway, as far as Dracula (Spanish Version) goes, I like it one more than the Lugosi one, though the acting of the guy playing Dracula is Bumblebee Man-esque at times. The Eugene Levy-ish Van Helsing doesn’t look like he can kick any ass whatsoever, but he’s still good.

I do, however, miss the armadillos.

I dunno. Not much to say about this one, since I watched what was basically the same movie a few weeks ago and wrote about it. Kind of lazy on all fronts I guess.

What say you?


Toolbox Murders (2004)

MARCH 29, 2007


The front of Toolbox Murders DVD says “A Tobe Hooper Film” AND “From The Director of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE”. Let’s point out all of the things that are stupid about this:

  1. If the name Tobe Hooper means anything to anyone, its because of Massacre. No one reads “A Tobe Hooper Film” and thinks “Oh sweet, he’s the guy who directed Mangler!” So having both is just redundant.
  2. He did NOT direct “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Michael Bay did and called himself Marcus Nispel. Tobe Hooper directed “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. It’s empty space, but it’s important.
  3. Chain Saw is 30 years old. It’s basically calling attention to the fact that everything he has done since doesn’t measure up. “From a guy who has consistently disappointed you for 30 years now.”
  4. Dammit, Word, there is no 4! Stop auto-formatting this shit.

That said, it’s probably one of the better Hooper films in the past 20 years, perhaps even THE best (I have skipped many, but the ones I have seen have been at best a disgrace and at worst “Dance of the Dead”). Much like the execrable When A Stranger Calls remake, this one remakes the first 20 minutes or so of the original since that’s the only part anyone cares about. But this time it works, more or less. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but when you consider his other recent output, it’s refreshingly un-awful.

In fact, Hooper’s revived direction skill even earned the film enough goodwill to not make me want to throw it through the window when the killer is revealed to be… some guy! Not only that, a guy with fairly interesting mutant/monster-y makeup. So why cover it up with a ski mask other than to reference the original (or pre-reference the recent ads for that stupid looking FX show with Eddie Izzard)? Was he worried about his appearance freaking out the people he’s about to kill? If I’ve said it once I’ve said it three or four times: If it’s not a whodunit, then there’s no need for a mask! Especially when the killer is awesome enough to jump four stories, as he does during the finale.

One of the writers plays a red herring named Ned, who is also the building’s handyman. He resembles the killer in the Tourist Trap remake that they inexplicably named House of Wax, so there’s something.

I also must point out the completely horrendous titles at the end. A borderline unreadable font complete with what looks like every single option on Photoshop's "Layer Styles" checked on with default settings. Glow! Bevel! Emboss! Probably even Drop Shadow even though it’s over black. Hideous.

But seriously tho, the movie’s pretty good. It’s just possibly the only DVD/movie in existence that would work best if someone gave you a bootleg of it with just the movie (no credits, no idiotic box art, no DVD extras…) since all that stuff weighs down what’s otherwise a surprisingly decent slasher.

What say you?


The Brain That Wouldn't Die

MARCH 28, 2007


You know you’re in for a treat when the title of the movie changes from beginning to end. It starts as “Brain”, at the end it becomes The Head That Wouldn’t Die, which is actually more accurate. Whatever.

The biggest laugh in the film (it’s not a comedy) comes early on, when two characters who have been at each others’ throats the entire film so far reveal themselves to be father and son. There are also some off kilter line readings and bizarrely half-assed dialogue (“I’ve been working on this for WEEKS!”… are we supposed to sympathize? I’ve been trying to finish Final Fantasy VII for 10 years).

That said, it’s a strange and engaging little movie, complete with gore (an arm ripped off) and populated entirely with unsympathetic characters. The husband is a murderer, the wife is a manipulative bitch, the monster is a monster… It also carries on the fine tradition of ending the film precisely at the second when the bad guy dies. Epilogues are for sissies. He’s dead, let’s move on.

This makes the 2nd film this week that’s better known as a MST3k episode. I need to improve my standards. Or stop memorizing the MST3k guide.

What say you?


All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

MARCH 27, 2007


All The Boys Love Mandy Lane has yet to be released yet, as far as you know, so it’s sort of pointless for inclusion here, as the whole point is to be able to discuss the movie after (via the comments option). But since only one person has posted anything so far, I guess it doesn’t matter.

I got this from a friend who raved on and on about how great it was and would make 100 million dollars when released. With those rather underwhelming impressions in mind, I decided to give it a spin.

Well it is pretty good, but 100 million is about two zeroes too high. With no stars (other than Anson “Urban Legend 2” Mount), a soundtrack that has not one Fall Out Boy song, and a relative lack of eye-catching visuals (the killer’s costume will not be a Halloween staple), I can’t see the film being the type of hit Scream was, especially when another great modern slasher with no real marketing appeal, Behind the Mask, completely tanked in theaters just this past month (and so help me god, if Hatchet doesn’t match the screen average of the last Saw film, I will declare every supposed horror fan in the world a fucking douchebag).

But it’s still a solid film, a little gift to slasher fans that are sick of all the folks in slasher movies talking about better slasher movies. There is no Scream-style winking here, instead it’s a very low key ol’ fashioned ‘Lets go to a barn in the middle of nowhere and not notice when every 10 minutes another one of our friends disappears’-style slasher.

Back to the soundtrack though: it’s terrible. Fall Out Boy would actually be welcome. The first 20-30 minutes have bad indie bands running nonstop (including a particularly execrable Norah Jones-y cover of America’s “Sister Golden Hair”), and then they are sprinkled throughout the rest of the film, even when there’s no electricity and it sticks out like a sore thumb (Hey composer: COMPOSE, damn you!).

There are also occasional (and unfortunate) avid farts and strobe edits, and one sequence looks like Tony Scott directed it while on break from Domino. More baffling, the characters in the scene do whippits, much like not a single person has done in the past fifteen years or so.

Otherwise, it’s a refreshingly enjoyable slasher film, with some moments here and there that made me incredibly happy. For example, the phone is dead, of course. A character picks it up and listens for the dial tone. Not hearing it, she says “It’s dead” and puts it back. YES! She doesn’t tap the cradle 20 times like every other character in horror movie history has done, to no avail. And, apart from the aforementioned avid farts and such, it’s directed well. No one demanded a cut every second or so, which was nice to see. One scene in particular, near the end, where the killer is chasing one of the girls in a car, has a nice shot that follows along for what seems like two or three whole minutes. Like I said, it’s not necessarily visually impressive, but it’s visually correct.

I have no idea when this is coming out, if it’s going direct to DVD or if it’ll play theatrically, or anything, but when it does find its way to you, I highly urge any slasher fan to check it out. It’s got a nice 70’s sensibility to it that has been altogether absent from modern slasher films.

And a guy gets blown and then refuses to return the favor for the girl. Then SHE gets killed. Hahahahaha. Yeah!

What say you?


The Killer Shrews

MARCH 26, 2007


Most people probably think of MST3k when they hear the name The Killer Shrews, unless some shrews killed a relative or friend of theirs. I fall in both categories.

Actually I’ve never seen the MST3k episode, making this film only the second in MST history that I have watched prior to seeing it butchered on the show (the other being Squirm). And I’m not even sure it NEEDS Joel and the ‘bots, as the movie is pretty damn funny as it is. Whether it’s intentional or not, I have no idea, but there is no way to hear lines such as the following without laughing out loud:

Doctor: “They won’t get in through the floor, it’s tile.”
Hero: “But the walls are ADOBE!”

Hahahaha what???? Amazing. The last line of the film is also a howler, as the hero exclaims he’s not worried about overpopulation right before kissing the girl. Hurrah for sterility I guess?

The shrews are ably played by a bunch of dogs. I have no idea what a real shrew looks like, but I am guessing I wouldn’t want to pet one.

Like many of the older films I watch, this was part of my 50 movies for 20 bucks set (not the "Chilling" one I push all over the site, but rather the more generically titled "50 Horror Classics"). These films always have the most rancid transfers imaginable, but this one is surprisingly decent. I could make out all of the images, understand the dialogue… I was impressed, comparatively.

I highly recommend the film. It moves along quickly, it balances campy nonsense with a decent enough story, and features welding.

What say you?


The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

MARCH 25, 2007


This review will not contain any jokes about the lack of canine flashbacks.

Lots of folks are complaining that Hills Have Eyes 2 is the same as the first movie. And to them I say: have you ever SEEN a sequel? All sequels have the same basic synopsis: new folks come along and the same killer or killers as before kills them. Sometimes there’s a new location.

They’re also wrong, at least compared to many sequels. The first film (though not so much as the superior original) dealt with families doing what they had to do to survive. This is simply a bunch of people. They are supposedly an army (or marine, or national guard, I already forget) unit, but they have little to no real attachment to one another. Two or three of the guys give the ‘fuck you, I’m out of here, I’ll send for help!’ speech before eating it. Semper Fi! Or whatever.

Kudos to the Cravens and whoever got credit for directing it for casting not a single recognizable person in the film. At least, not recognizable to me. I must say I enjoyed the performances of the Tim Olyphant-ish main guy and the Kristen Wiig-ish main girl (who was also cute as hell). The rest: eh. Actually now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure one guy was on Smallville. Step up, or step down? Time will tell…

Probably a step up.

As remakes of sequels go, it’s not terrible, but it’s still pretty half-assed. But unlike the original remake, there’s no idiotic flag waving and “you created us!” nonsense, which is a relief. Here, the jingoistic elements are more subtle: one of the guys shoves his rifle into the main mutant’s head.

Hills III is set up at the end. Hopefully it will turn into Mind Ripper II by the time it comes out.

What say you?



MARCH 24, 2007


My ass hurts. Make sure you see Grindhouse in the most comfortable theater you know of. Or just leave for about 20 minutes when Tarantino's film begins.

I assume that its because Tarantino has more geek appeal that his movie plays second. Had it played first, I think it would play better. The problem is, Rodriguez' is so nonstop, so gloriously gory and violent, that when Tarantino's comes on, it's like the movie grinds to a halt, even though technically it has just begun. Not that its a bad film, not at all, but when you see something as amazing as a guys dick melt off and Bruce Willis turning into a giant Pizza the Hutt type monster (after revealing that his soldier character has indeed found and killed Osama Bin Laden!), suddenly watching 3 girls sit around and talk for 20 minutes straight about obscure bands and how they can obtain some pot just isn't very exciting.

Even by itself, the pop-culture talk in this goes beyond excessive. In Pulp Fiction it was hilarious and fresh, and just plain interesting, to think that even lowlife hitmen talked about hamburgers or whatever. But these girls are regular folks, so it doesn't serve much purpose other than reminding us how much QT knows about obscure bands and 1970s cinema/TV. Once it gets going, it's great, but it takes some patience to get to, and since you've already been in the seat for close to 2 hrs at that point, it's asking a lot of the audience.

It's common knowledge that Kurt Russell's role was originally to be played by Mickey Rourke. It remains unknown why Russell wore Rourke's hair.

The fake trailers are fun, tho Rob Zombie's is by far the weakest. I guess he was too busy trying to figure out the best way to film Michael Myers pissing on a corpse. Edgar Wright's, on the other hand, is worth the price of admission alone.

Also, earlier in this blog, I bemoaned the lack of Jeff Fahey in modern cinema... he's here! He plays the brother of Michael Biehn in Planet Terror, and he's great. He also appears in Rodriguez' fake trailer for Machete, which apparently will now be a real film. Hopefully Fahey will be in the real one as well.

Anyway, the film is a blast, and even if I said it was one of the worst movies ever made it wouldn't stop anyone from seeing it. So ill just remind everyone that Dark Ride is in fact, one of the worst movies ever made.

What say you?


The Demon (1979)

MARCH 23, 2007


The Demon has inspired me to add a new category to my subgenres: Weird. Also, while we're on the subject, I'd like to point out that, if you haven't noticed, you can click on a genre at the top or bottom of a review (where it says labels) and it'll bring up all the reviews for that sub-genre. Neat!

Anyway this is possibly one of the strangest movies I've seen in quite some time. For the first hour or so, there is not a single scene in the entire movie where I had any idea how it related to the scene before or after it. But then our main character is hilariously shot to death, and his plot threads/tangents end, allowing the movie to focus on a couple of broads, one of whom is dating a guy that looks suspiciously like Borat.

The final girl spends half the end battle topless. That has GOT to be a first. Can you imagine if Amy Steel ran around nude for the last 20 minutes of Friday the 13th 2? Can you imagine that?? I know I can. And do.

Mmm, Steel.

Anyway, back to The Demon. Since it stars Cameron Mitchell, it's a foregone conclusion that it's not going to be very good. But the baffling manner in which the movie unfolds makes it hard to completely dismiss. Also, the director's name is Percival Rubens. I cannot fathom the idea of a guy named Percival making an effective horror film.

Also, if anyone understands why the final girl empties a bottle of shampoo on the floor at the end, feel free to explain here.

What say you?


Blood Trails

MARCH 22, 2007


Blood Trails: Yet another mind-numbingly awful pile of shit from Lionsgate.

LG is a strange company. They are probably the best studio for horror (Saw, See No Evil, US release of The Descent,) but they are also responsible for (or distribute) the most rancid shit imaginable. Dark Ride, for example, is quite possibly the worst slasher movie ever made. Now we have this, the worst “survival” horror movie ever made.

Note to writers – if your lead cheats on her boyfriend, she’s not sympathetic, especially when the boyfriend is a pretty nice dude who makes her a mix CD. OK so maybe he’s a lameo, fine, but still. I’m rooting for him, not his whore girlfriend.

But he gets killed by a bike tire slashing his neck.

...not a typo.

Shot on gloriously awful, flat, lifeless, cheap, ugly, and lazy digital video, the film has precisely one shot that was interesting: the whore has a piece of broken mirror (the mirror breaks when she tries to escape, she hits the wall and it falls off and hits her in the head. This movie is pretty goddamn hilarious actually) up to the killer’s neck, so we get a little dual vision of his neck. But, like every other “violent” moment in the film, we see nothing except blood after the fact.

Speaking of blood, I will say the film has the most accurate title in history, as 50% is the whore riding her bike around (TRAILS!), and the other 50% is the blood (BLOOD) that sprays all over the place after a kill that we don’t really see. I dunno if they couldn’t afford prosthetics, or if the director just didn’t want to show it, but either way, if you removed the blood this would be the tamest “survival” movie ever. It’s like TV movie editing. He raises the knife, we cut to a reaction of the whore, then we cut back to a dead guy bleeding all over the place.

Back to the director: he’s terrible. The script was generic, not awful, but the direction singlehandedly ruins what little promise the film has. Shots are meant to look hand held, but they are clearly shot from a tripod with a loose handle. Zooms come out of nowhere, simple dialogue scenes have camera motion that even Michael Bay would find excessive… it’s filth.

I got this movie for free. So I want someone else’s money back.

What say you?


Silent Night, Bloody Night

MARCH 21, 2007


Silent Night, Bloody Night, not to be confused with Silent Night Deadly Night (one of the finest films ever created), came out the same year as Black Christmas, so the similarities are worth noting, and even a bit puzzling. Both have POV camera for the killer (at the time, this was pretty much unheard of), the killer makes strange phone calls, stays hidden in a house… someone ripped the other off. Or it’s just cosmic coincidence, like that year we had two movies about Steve Prefontaine, whoever he is.

Unlike Black Christmas though, SNBN, as it’s not known to anyone, is not very good. There are some creepy moments here and there, and it’s certainly not the worst Christmas horror film (hey there, Silent Night Deadly Night 4!) but it’s very uneven and disappointing. And the print I saw was filthy. There was a good 3 or 4 minute chunk where I had zero idea what I was looking at. Probably something else done better in Black Christmas.

On the other hand, it features a no good real estate lawyer nailing some woman (after calling his family to tell them he misses them) and then getting chopped up with an axe, so I guess it’s certainly worth watching. But, like Legend of Lucy Keyes proved to the world (or at least, viewers of the Lifetime network), in the end, real estate and horror do not mix.

I’d also like to point out it takes place in Arlington, Massachusetts (hey, Lucy was Mass-set too. Is “Massachusetts Based Real Estate Horror” a subgenre?). I lived in Arlington for a couple years. We did not have an institution, or farmland, or axe murderers. I would not judge Arlington based on this film. I WOULD, however, judge it on their decision to allow Dane Cook to film part of his god awful HBO show there. Christ.

What say you?


Alone in the Dark

MARCH 20, 2007


Usually I defend Uwe Boll. I don’t think his films are particularly good (though each one has been better than the one before), but mainly because I’m a root for the underdog type guy. Also he’s batshit insane, which is endearing.

But one thing that pisses me off is that THIS movie titled Alone In The Dark is actually quite good, and it’s fairly obscure. And if you bring it up, you always have to say, “No, not the one where Tara Reid plays a scientist and fucks Christian Slater while a song about racial oppression plays in the background.” Thanks Uwe.

THIS film has Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, and some other dudes no one has seen since. Pleasence is the head of the institution and is just as loony as the patients. I particularly enjoy when he gives Landau a match, knowing perfectly well Landau’s character is a known arsonist. Immediately, Landau sets his shirt on fire and begins waving it around while Pleasence comforts a patient who believes she is being turned into porcelain.

Note - I’m pretty sure it’s OK to laugh at the various mental illnesses on display here. If not, well, reason #486 why I’m going to hell.

The film cemented its place in horror’s hall of fame when Jamie Blanks paid homage to it in his 2001 slasher opus Valentine, an underrated little movie that tried to bring holiday horror back where it belongs: existing at all. The killer in that film bled whenever he killed someone, just like a character here, whose face we never see. Could he turn out to be the random stranger the family meets downtown?


This is brought up on the commentary, but the asshole moderating it makes it sound like they were ripping it off. If he took the time to listen to the Valentine commentary, he would know it was an intentional homage.

Also, the full scale riot that occurs when the electricity goes out is a marvel of illogical but hilarious writing. Does the power go out so infrequently in this town that the residents feel the end is nigh when faced with the prospect of their frozen foods going bad? I usually just listen to my Ipod. But they didn’t have those back then, so maybe their reaction was appropriate.

And for the hell of it, I’d like to mention that there is a female character named Bunky.

Anyway, I highly recommend this underrated little gem. But I also recommend Boll’s film, so I dunno.

What say you?


The Thing From Another World

MARCH 19, 2007


God bless the existence of this film. Since it's a horror movie that exists, it was "remade" (I'm of the opinion that Carpenter's film is not technically a remake, as it was merely a more faithful adaptation of the same short story that this film loosely based itself on, but for the sake of argument, fine). And that remake was so good, it gives the go-ahead for every remake since. "Remakes suck!" people yell. "What about Carpenter's The Thing?" is the response. "Fuck!" is their counter, and then they shut up for a day or two.

And while Carpenter's is superior in every way, The Thing From Another World is no slouch either. It's disappointing that it completely abandons the shapeshifting abilities of the thing, but it's still a thoroughly enjoyable film. I particularly like the reporter, who at no time seems the least bit frightened or concerned about anything that's going on. He's always standing around, cracking wise and smirking... so he's basically me. I enjoy being portrayed on film, even when said film predates me by 30 years or so.

In fact, most of the characters seem more bemused by what's happening than anything else. In just about every scene, most of them are smiling, being sarcastic, trading quips with their teammates... in fact, the one guy in the whole movie who takes it seriously (the scientist/doctor guy) is hilariously smacked over the head and thrown away by the monster (sulking, expressionless pseudo-cowboy James Arness). That's what you get for being concerned, jerk!

Anyway, highly recommended.

What say you?


Bloody Birthday

MARCH 18, 2007


I like to imagine that John Carpenter and Harry Manfredini went to see Bloody Birthday together, and then flipped a coin to see who got to sue first, but the coin landed on its side so they just shrugged it off all together. The music is stolen almost directly from Friday the 13th (they change a note or two to spice things up), and a scene early on between our two female leads (one of whom is even the daughter of the sheriff) echoes Halloween so closely I’m pretty sure it’s even the same block in Pasadena (I can’t find any info as to where the film was shot so I dunno).

But don’t let those things fool you: this film is completely classless. And hilarious. The scene where the cop comes to the school to talk to the kids features what may be the most uninterested performance in film history. He’s sort of looking off into space (or his cue cards) and speaking monosyllabically. It’s almost as funny as a few minutes later when they beat him over the head with a shovel a few times and tell his wife he ‘fell’.

Killer kid movies are at their best when they don’t try to make any point or include any symbolism. These kids just kill for the hell of it. Since they were born during an eclipse, they have no souls (possibly the most ridiculous exposition in a film up until 1989, when Jason Takes Manhattan had us believe that the sewers of New York were flushed out with toxic waste every night), so they go about killing their parents, a teacher, and a seemingly endless supply of horny teens.

Also, I most note that the kid with the glasses is the most terrifying killer kid I’ve ever seen in a film.

Sadly, they do NOT rip off Carpenter in the most important department: killing off other kids. While the three of them have no trouble beating a sheriff to death, they can’t manage to kill the neighbor kid. Lame.

Julie Brown gets naked. I’m pretty sure it’s against the law to discuss the film without mentioning that.

The film is relatively obscure, but I hope someone else has seen it. It’s too reprehensible a film to go otherwise unposted about. Also it helps smooth things over when you try to play “Ambulance” with the person next to you on the bus.

What say you?


Deep Rising

MARCH 17, 2007


Because it is St Patrick's Day, I decided to watch Deep Rising, a film where two of the main characters are named Finnegan and Mulligan, which are among the most Irish names ever.

This is of course, complete horseshit, as I didn't know their names until they said them in the movie and I forgot it was St. Patrick's Day until I had to look at the date to write this. Still, nice coincidence I guess. If I had remembered when I woke up I might have watched Leprechaun 6: Leprechaun in the Hood 2.

Anyway, despite being his first film, Stephen Sommers already displays all his trademarks here: Kevin J. O'Connor as comic relief, unforgiveably bad compositing, and characters that usually can't be bothered to act like human beings. But unlike his other films, here it actually works, as the film is a damn fun timekiller. Everyone seems to be having fun, and watching bad guys team up with good guys is always enjoyable. And there are only 11 better things one can do with their time than watch Famke Jannsen run around soaked and shooting.

Speaking of Famke, Claire Forlani was originally cast in her role, but she left for creative differences. I've met the lass, and she's pretty much a bitch, so I'm guessing its not a blight on Sommers' character. Unless the argument went like this:

Forlani: Stephen, for Christ's sake, it's so blatantly obvious that this is a composited shot. the background isnt even the same color!
Sommers: CG! YAY!
Forlani: Fine, I quit!

Yeah that's probably what happened.

Also I should note that the DVD is non-anamorphic, which means if you have a 16:9 tv you have to zoom to watch it at the correct ratio. Fucking Disney. According to Wikipedia, a 2 disc special edition and/or HD-DVD is in the works. A complete dud of a film from 9 years ago that has little following? Well hey, if it's in Wikipedia it must be accurate.

What say you?


Horror Express

MARCH 16, 2007


Inspector Mirov: The two of you together. That's fine. But what if one of you is the monster?
Dr. Wells: Monster?? We're British, you know!

Hahahaha, A+.

Horror Express is a perfect example of a film that should be remade. It's a great idea (a fossil thought to be the missing link is actually an alien who is souping up world history by looking into the eyes of victims, which kills them), and train-set movies are always good for some thrills (I will punch anyone who says Under Siege 2: Dark Territory isn't amazing). But the production quality is so poor it lessens the impact. Everyone looks like they were dubbed, because the movie was shot mostly without sound and they did their voices later. Also, the editing is pisspoor at best. One scene clearly shows a non-moving background out the window despite the sounds of the train zipping along being heard.

And drink one tiny sip of beer (yes, beer) every time they cut to an exterior of the train (sometimes real, sometimes a miniature, sometimes its so dark i cant tell if its a train or perhaps just a sandwich). You will die of cirrhosis before the credits roll (which, on my DVD, they didn't at all. the music played but the screen was black. who was the key grip? we may never know). With all of these blemishes fixed, this would be a first rate thriller. But its definitely worth a watch anyway. Telly Savalas alone, apparently not even aware of the type of movie he is in, makes it an automatic worth-watcher. And it's always nice to see Count Dooku and Grand Moff Tarkin together.

I should note I own Horror Express as part of a budget set that provided me with 50 "chilling" movies (on 12 dvds) for the cost of 20 dollars. The films all appear to have been filmed with a lens made out of root beer due to the awful transfers, the chapter stops are randomly placed through the film, the audio is atrocious, etc... but its still worth every penny. Some of these movies are otherwise not available on DVD, and who the hell is going to hook up their VHS to watch something like Haunts? Certainly not I.

What say you?


Dead Silence (2007)

MARCH 15, 2007


"Not bad. Not bad at all."

Of course, the comparisons Dead Silence will get to Saw are unavoidable, since its the same director, writer, and producers. Yet it's entirely different, and in a good way. I dunno about you, but I am more creeped out by puppets looking at me than I am by the hitman from The Firm lying on the floor.

It's also a film that gets me excited that HD DVD is so strongly supported by Universal, as it is a beautiful film. Everything is blue tinted (which doesn't make sense in the opening scene, but that's OK) and high contrast-y. Stuff like that is why HD was invented (that, and making sure I am proven wrong, as I once said that DVD was "clearer than life" and now i think it looks like shit in comparison).

Maybe it's because they are sinking their money into providing everyone with the absolute highest quality version of 3 Fast 3 Furious or whatever the fuck that they apparently ran out of money to market Dead Silence. In fact, drink a bottle of beer for every poster you see for it while driving around your town. This will in no way endanger anyone, you won't drink a sip (alternately, throw said undrank bottle at every poster you see of Abandoned, which is long gone). And that is a goddamn shame. But I'd like to think horror fans are smart enough to know that it's out anyway and go support it. And hey, the puppet thing from Saw even shows up in a little throwaway cameo. So pretend its Saw 4 , that'll drive the grosses up near 100 million.

What say you?


Prey (2007)

MARCH 14, 2007


Why are so many fucking movies named Prey? Didn't Sony try to sue Dimension for naming a moving Scream when they had a movie named Screamers (hey, that starred Peter Weller too!)? There's two "Prey"s already just this goddamn year.

This particular Prey begins, as many films do, with real footage of a zebra being eaten by a couple of lions. But what starts off as a decent ripoff of Cannibal (Holocaust, Ferox, whatever) soon turns into one mindless puddle of pee.

Never in 20+ years of horror watching have I seen such a stupid character as Bridget Moynahan's in this film. After finally getting their car started, does she bang a U-ey and head back to the main road? Nope, she drives straight, further into the vast nothingness, finally careening down a hill and breaking the car for good. And this woman is to produce 2030's NFL Rookie of the Year, Tom Brady Jr?

They also have at least two bottles in their car that can be used to hold water. Yet when they leave the car and find a source of water, more time is wasted while "something to hold the water" can be located. Nice writing.

The "POV" shots are hilarious too. We see things from the lion's eyes, and he's looking at possible victims... who are looking elsewhere. I know when I am in Africa about to be mauled by lions, I tend to look directly at them, not a few feet to the left. Hey guys, sometimes it's OK to look into the camera.

Also any film that casts Peter Weller is automatically given props. Any film that subsequently gives him absolutely nothing to do is automatically given a swift kick to the cock. His biggest moment in the film comes when he looks thru some binoculars. Go Robo!

It's almost worth watching for the annoying daughter's reaction to being offered some warthog to eat: "I don't eat any characters from The Lion King. Especially not Pumba." *

But it's not.

What say you?

*I'd like to point out that while I was watching the film, I was likely eating one or two characters from Finding Nemo.


The Town That Dreaded Sundown

MARCH 13, 2007


The 2nd best thing about living in LA is the quality revival house, aka the New Beverly Cinema (1st best – the hilarity of watching everyone panic when it rains. Snow would probably lead to mass suicide.). Every couple nights they change their programming, showing usually two (sometimes three) films from the same director, or of a certain theme (recently, they showed Metropolis with Dark City! A+), all for a total of seven dollars.

The popcorn, however, is godawful.

Anyway, this month, to celebrate the release of Tarantino/Rodriguez’s “So Anticipated That If It Sucks It Will Take Five Years For Anyone To Admit It” Grindhouse, QT is lending them prints (from his own collection) of films that played in original grindhouses back in the 70s/early 80s. Granted, most of them are awful, but it’s still a superb promotional tool for film fans. Tonight’s theme was Texas, I guess? We got Rolling Thunder and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Rolling Thunder is not a horror film but it’s highly recommended. I know it’s on video, not sure about DVD.

As for Sundown, I recall seeing the video in a dump bin in the mid 90s at my local Suncoast. And rightfully so. Chuck Pierce seemingly wanted to make a documentary, a slasher film, and a slapstick-y comedy, but couldn’t afford to make three films, so he combined them into one. We have a narrator explaining everything we see on screen (including dates) in between the murder scenes, some of which are fairly impressive (the last one in particular). Then there’s also the police investigation team, which includes Pierce himself as a Barney Fife-esque idiot nicknamed “Sparkplug”. The film jumps around the three styles with little to no (mostly no) rhyme or reason.

Thrill as the killer plays a deadly trombone! Laugh as Sparkplug drives the car directly into a swamp during a pursuit of the suspect! …Listen (I guess?) as the narrator tells you what people are doing as they do it on screen!!!

The final scene is one of the most hilarious meta scenes in film history, with the killer (who was never caught, or even identified, but we know it’s him because of his shoes) attending a screening of… The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Ha.

I can’t not recommend the film, because it’s so hilariously odd and disjointed, but since it’s fairly hard to find on video (no DVD as far as you know) it’s probably not worth the trouble. It’s probably best remembered as an awkwardly implements David Arquette line in Scream.

What say you?


Body Parts

MARCH 12, 2007


Another one I hadn’t seen since I was like 11. And I remembered it totally wrong. I thought the dude reclaiming the Body Parts was a bigger part of the story. But no, it’s actually incredibly brief and entirely out of nowhere. For a good hour or so, the movie is about how Fahey’s arm is doing things on its own, culminating in a bar fight where he beats the piss out of everyone until the cops come. Then, out of nowhere, we cut to one of the other guys (the one who got the legs), who’s being stalked by the body parts’ owner. Back to Fahey, who is just hanging out in his hotel room instead of being in jail for beating the piss out of an entire bar. Its like the entire third act of the film was grafted on from another film, much like Fahey’s arm…. OHHHHHHHHHHH. I get it! I think.

My favorite part of the movie is when Fahey comes home and his son, who looks like he's about that age where he starts to hate his dad (13 or so), goes “Yay! Dad!” or something to that effect and basically tackles him like a little kid would. I’m quite certain if I was like 13 and tried to tackle my dad when he came home from work, I would a. fail and b. be punished. Instead Fahey laughs and they wrestle for awhile. Awww. Then the kid accidentally hurts the arm so Fahey clocks him on the jaw. Awwww.

What the hell ever happened to Fahey anyway? He’s got crazy Cillian Murphy eyes, so he should be in more stuff, so that Cillian Murphy will be in less. Christ, he even turned down Lawnmower Man 2. I remember he had this action drama show for a while about a bounty hunter or something. One episode was basically Die Hard in a supermarket, and the title of the episode was “Buy Hard”. I remember that, but I can’t remember the name of the show. Oh well. It didn’t last long.

What say you?


Rinne (Reincarnation)

MARCH 11, 2007


With the notable exception of Gravedancers, were ANY of the After Dark festival movies really good? Jesus Christ. While we (or, I) are (am) on the subject, are there ANY good films that detail the account of a film crew attempting to make a film on the site of some previous murders?

Reincarnation certainly isn’t in either case. I hoped that the two concepts would cancel each other out, but no. If anything, it made it 2x as bad. Takashi Shimizu took a rare break from remaking one of his Ju-On movies again to helm this, but like those and roughly 460% of all other Japanese imports, we still have little girls with long black hair popping around in the background while the main girl tries to figure out some old murders.

The opening scene either has the worst translation errors in history or the writer is clearly deranged, as it makes not one iota of sense (but its hilarious). There's also a creepy doll, who's also the ugliest doll since Dolly Dearest.

And there you have it: all the film has going for it.

And since the site of the old murders is a hotel, do we get any Shining references?? Oh yes we do! The most excruciating is when the main girl follows a ghost around the hotel. She comes to room… wait for it… 237!!! WOW! GENIUS! But then, a twist! She goes into room… 227! Which confused me, since 227 is a lesser number than 237. Shouldn’t it be 247, as if to say, this is MORE than Shining? Or are they just admitting that their film doesn’t hold a candle to Kubrick’s?

Incidentally, if I were to grade the Shining a 10/10, my rating for Reincarnation would be about 10 less too.

What say you?


Body Snatchers

MARCH 10, 2007


Here’s another I hadn’t seen since DVD came along. In fact I saw Body Snatchers so long ago I didn’t even remember it had Gabrielle Anwar nudity (I think? I’m no expert but I don’t think they had facial replacement CG back then to put her head on a body double. Anyone?).

Good flick. The credits would lead you to believe otherwise, what with 6 CREDITED writers (including Stuart Gordon), but I think it turned out OK, if too short. The idea is so good it’s been remade twice (three times if you count this summer’s Nicole Kidman thing) and each version has its merits. Rarely does a remake hold any sort of reverence unless the original was sort of lousy. And then, sometimes remakes suck as much as the original, like Amityville.

There’s a hilarious greenscreen mistake near the end, when Anwar throws the kid out of the helicopter. His legs disappear. I rewound it a couple times and laughed heartily.

I’d like to point out that I watched the film as part of a BODY trilogy that aired on the HD movie channel. Bodys’ Parts, Double, and Snatchers. Excellent trilogy!! Also, it’s great that they show the film in HD as there is no HD DVD available as of yet (and likely, never will be, since the film is pretty much forgotten now as it was when Warner Bros. ‘released’ it on like 100 screens in 1993).

Dear Meg Tilly, please come back to movies. I am sick of your sister.

What say you?


Cube 2: Hypercube

MARCH 9, 2007


The first Cube is a solid low-budget film, and a must own for DVD fans. It was a simple idea executed almost flawlessly, there were some fantastic deaths for Paul Anderson to rip off, and the commentary track is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

Cube 2: Hypercube is also a low budget film. That’s about all it shares. Now it’s a complicated idea executed terribly, with absolutely no interesting death scenes (unless you count the two who die while spinning around and fucking, which is hilariously stupid as it sounds), and I wont even bother with the commentary. Life's too short to watch the commentary track on a movie subtitled Hypercube.

It makes more sense to just watch the ‘making of’ on the DVD than it does to watch the film, since it’s an hour shorter. Not only do they reshow the only good part of the film (the title sequence), but they explain everything that made zero sense in the film due to poor writing/directing. When you have to watch the “making of” in order to understand the concepts behind the film you just watched, you are either a complete idiot, or the filmmakers failed at their job. In this case, it’s probably both.

Hilariously, one of the writers is interviewed here, and begins everything by saying “In the original script by Sean Hood, the cube (blah blah blah) but then when Andrzej* Sekula came on he wanted (blah blah blah).” So what the fuck did you do, buddy? Why aren’t we talking to them instead?

Sean Hood also wrote (or rewrote, or was rewritten, I dunno) Halloween: Resurrection, which of course is the bane of my existence. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he also wrote Crow 4. Crow 2 and Crow 3 are two of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Crow 4 wasn’t as good as those. Stop ruining franchises, dude.

I hear Cube Zero is much better. The same folks tell me getting a hand job is better than getting your genitalia torn from your body.

What say you?

*Tom Servo: “That’s not a name, that’s a bad Scrabble hand!”


Fear No Evil

MARCH 8, 2007


It’s good fortune that I chose to watch this relatively obscure movie today, on the eve of the release of 300. 300, as you can tell from the trailers, is pretty much the most homoerotic movie ever made. 300 dudes with no clothing running around in slow-mo for 2 hrs? Heyooo! The pilot from Airplane! must be in heaven.

Fear No Evil makes an excellent appetizer for 300, since it also revels in homoerotic under and overtones. For example, the shower scene, where the school bully taunts the emo-ish devil by… making out with him. Hmm. Later, the bully grows a pair of tits. He reacts by… once again making out with the devil.

The commentary track is one of the most boring I have ever listened to. Like, “Carpenter without Russell” bad. “The film stock was 7324, 100 ASA…” yeah, awesome. I’ll write that down. WHERE THE HELL DOES THE INSANE DODGEBALL COACH SCENE COME FROM???

Frank LaLoggia’s only other film, Lady in White, is a minor masterpiece that scared the bejesus out of many a kid. This one’s not scary, but the weird homoerotic stuff that comes and goes out of nowhere, the hilariously pansy Devil, and the first rate soundtrack (Boomtown Rats!) make it worthwhile. And it’s worth buying solely for the end credit song, which rivals My Bloody Valentine’s for eyes-widening, jaw dropping hilarity.

What say you?


Drive In Massacre

MARCH 7, 2007


“He’s what you’d call a perfect asshole.”

I usually just call people asshole, with no adjective added. Now I realize that their level of perfection is left vague by my insufficient description. Thanks, Drive In Massacre!

The title is misleading, as there is no “massacre” per se. Rather two murders every couple days. If all the murders were on one night I could see why folks were there, but why they keep returning to the theater night after night is beyond me.

The film was co-written by none other than Buck Flowers, who should be familiar to John Carpenter fans. He’s also the guy playing the red herring that comes out of nowhere and grinds the (already slow) film to a halt. The other red herring halfway through the film also stops the film cold, but at least he shouts “I just wanted to beat my meat!” or something to that effect.

I urge everyone to buy the film, so that the director can afford a light meter next time he makes a film. Even Peter Hyams would consider the film too dark.

But technical, story, and acting problems aside… oh wait that’s everything a movie contains. Oh well.

What say you?


Dead Ringers

MARCH 6, 2007


There are two types of David Cronenberg films. Some are high concept films, the others are character studies. Most of the former came in the early part of his career: The Brood. The Fly. Shivers. Even Dead Zone ranks as one of the better King adaptations. But ever since then, the other type is more predominant, which is kind of a shame because the concepts behind the aforementioned films were great (I didn’t even mention Videodrome). Starting with Dead Ringers, the films are more subtle and personal, with plots one could hardly consider exciting. For example, History of Violence, for all its acclaim, was basically:

Ed Harris: Hi Joey.
Viggo: My name’s Tom.
Ed Harris: No it’s not.
Viggo: You’re right. (shoots everyone)

Dead Ringers falls in that category. It’s an actor’s piece, and a phenomenal one at that, but story-wise it’s very thin. Give me “A series of murders committed by mutant children leads a man to uncover the secret behind his wife’s shady psychiatrist”!

Irons is great, I dare anyone to say otherwise. Crossing Jordan shows up as one of two twin “entertainer” sisters (sadly we see none of their performance). Also considering the age (pre CG), the scenes of the two Irons interacting are a marvel.

Those who like latter day Cronenberg (and I am not saying I am not one) will love the film, and rightfully so. Those who prefer his high concept stuff might long to rewatch one of those instead. And yet still others might mistakenly believe they are about to watch a film based on the Meat Loaf album Dead Ringer. God only knows what they’ll think of it.

What say you?


The Wolf Man

MARCH 5, 2007


It’s kind of sad that so many movies have ripped off (or in some cases, fine, “paid homage”) to the original Wolf Man film that despite having never seen it, I knew exactly what would happen, and when, every step of the way.

But it’s still worth watching for a few reasons. One being that Larry a.k.a. the Wolf Man (he is hilariously credited only as "The Wolf Man", so I guess his human form of Larry is otherwise not worth noting) has an extremely bizarre manner of hitting on the love interest. After spying on her with a telescope, he goes to the store she works at and asks to buy the earrings he saw on her dresser? She is flattered. I’d call the cops, but I’d also wonder why a long dead horror icon was spying on me. And why I had earrings.

It’s also a rare film, as far as you know, that features three of Universal’s monster actors. In addition to Chaney, Claude Rains (aka the Invisible Man) plays the father of Larry, I mean, The Wolf Man, and Bela Lugosi (Dracula), plays a guy named Bela who gives Chaney the werewolf curse. I guess Karloff was too busy marrying someone to stop by.

Like last week’s Bride of Frankenstein, this DVD was released in 2004 to tie into the release of Van Helsing, a colossal piece of garbage that I can’t wait to buy on HD DVD because it will look/sound amazing. It is my belief that with a proper home theater, you indeed CAN polish a turd.

What say you?


Calvaire (The Ordeal)

MARCH 4, 2007


Holy shit Calvaire is awesome. I don’t want to spoil it though. I can say “there are spoilers” and you will read them, and you shouldn’t. Just go rent it.

I will let you know that the main guy’s car breaks down, so you know he’s gonna run afoul of something, but exactly what is what should be kept a mystery. Don’t even read the back of the DVD, as it gives away things that occur more than halfway through the film (it is my belief that a synopsis should never include things that occur past the halfway mark in a film).

What I liked most (well, until it becomes hilariously weird) was the relatively slow pace. A lot of breakdown/survival movies reveal who is the bad guy early on. But here, we are kept in suspense for a good chunk of the film as to whether or not the guy who takes in the main guy can be trusted.

Also, early on, a woman of about 85-90 years old attempts to seduce the lead, who is about 30. HOT.

I should note that it’s French. And today is my birthday.

What say you?


The Legend of Lucy Keyes

MARCH 3, 2007


In 2004 my best friend told me that they were filming a movie called The Legend Of Lucy Keyes in the downstairs part of the house she was renting (she had the top floor). So I went down and watched a small crew do their thing. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but how many people do you know have had a film shot in their house? Five, six tops.

And yet, it STILL took me over a year or so from its debut (on the Lifetime network, which should be the only clue you need to know that the film is crap) to finally watch it.

I should have waited longer.

Less a ghost/haunt movie than a drama about real estate shenanigans, it’s a real piece of crap either way. And as a former Massachusetts resident, I was offended. The family acts like they live in the middle of nowhere, “in farm country” or something. Yet we are told flatout that the town is Princeton, MA, which is roughly 10 miles away from Worcester, one of the biggest urban cities in the state. That is hardly in the middle of nowhere, and certainly not farm country. But whatever. They have moved to town so the husband can develop wind power for the town. If you are a windmill fetishist, this is the movie for you. There are more shots of windmills in this movie than there are shots of anything cinematically interesting. But there’s some opposition from some old woman who declares that the land on which the windmills are to be built (yeah, they are not built yet, so why they cut to windmills every now and then is beyond me, and certainly beyond the film’s location) is historically sacred. Way to ramp up the excitement.

Every now and then, Delpy remembers not to use her French accent, so there’s something. And if anyone understands why the big set piece of the ghost scaring the little girl is shown twice, once at the beginning of the film (before we know who these people are, or even see a production company logo), and again in context later in the film, they are a better man than I.

Also, I guess the human villain's neck is made out of balsa wood, since it breaks from a 2 foot fall.

Apparently the film won the audience award at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. I can only assume no other films were in contention.

What say you?


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