APRIL 30, 2007


Does it count as a coincidence if both Hellbent and yesterday’s movie both had a gimmick that doesn’t even come close to sustaining itself throughout the running time?

Probably not.

Both were set on Halloween too, for the record.

Anyway, this barely feature-length film (75 minutes without credits) is commonly known (to someone, I am sure) as the “Gay slasher movie”. And while you might think that’s a bit homophobic, it is sadly the ONLY way to describe it. You couldn’t say anything else about Hellbent to set it apart from the laziest Friday the 13th sequel. Apparently, the creators assumed that by making everyone in the film a homosexual, he wouldn’t have to bother adding much else to the proceedings. Even the killings kind of suck (the killer cuts all their heads off, which gets old after… one time).

Not helping matters is the movie’s insistence on saying that Joseph Wolf co-created (or at times, on the overlong featurette, simply ‘created’) Halloween (it's also claimed as much on the DVD cover). Fuck him. He didn’t create a goddamn thing. He was partnered with Irwin Yablans, who ran the company that distributed the film (and Yablans was the one who actually did that) AFTER it was completed, and he exec produced Halloween II and III, and that’s his only tie to the series. John Carpenter and Debra Hill created Halloween. Bob Clark co-created Halloween when he discussed doing a Black Christmas sequel set on Halloween with John Carpenter. They were the creators. So he can shut the fuck up (actually he’s dead now, so I guess he’s already doing that). I have no respect for anyone taking credit for someone else’s work, especially my beloved ‘ween.

And if I were a rich man, I would buy every digital camera in the world and break it in half. If this led to one less movie being shot on DV, it would all be worth it. Jesus asschristing fuck, when will people learn that DV looks like shit? Let’s list every movie ever made (not counting documentaries) that benefited from being shot on DV:

1. Blair Witch Project
2. N/A

(Note - I am not in any way against digital FILM. Robert Rodriguez (everything he’s done in the past 4-5 years) and David Fincher (Zodiac) use digital film, and it looks beautiful. But digital VIDEO always looks like ass.)

But in the end, none of that would matter if the script had more meat to it. I was expecting that the movie would have something new to offer besides simply having an all male cast. Like, if the guys WEREN'T gay, and two of the four main characters were females, what would this movie have going for it? Not much that I could see (though to be fair, I seem to be in the minority - the film has a decent enough rating for a modern slasher on the IMDb). Apart from the DV, it's technically proficient and all that, and the opening sequence is terrific (it involves a car overflowing with balloons), but I've simply seen too many slashers at this point for one as standard as this to really resonate.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pitch meeting at Dimension concerning my script SWEET TOOTH, which is a complete rip-off of My Bloody Valentine, but every character is diabetic.

What say you?


Night of the Demons

APRIL 29, 2007


I didn't think Night Of The Demons would have anything in common with The Marsh, but oddly, both films feature a scene with door hinges coming out by themselves. Sadly, both films are not also 'good'.

Much like The Burning, I think I would have had to see this one "back in the day" to enjoy it as much as the people who told me to watch it do. Or gotten drunk first. Which is a shame, because I was a big fan of Kevin Tenney's Witchboard as a kid and when I revisited it a few years ago, I found I still liked it. But then again, Tenney wrote and directed that one, whereas Demons was written by another guy.

And, to be fair, the idea is great: stick the tongue right through the cheek and make a haunted house movie set on Halloween. Perfect! But the problem is, when nothing funny is happening, there is little concern with what is happening. By introducing the comedy (and taking half the film to get to the first appearance of the demon), the suspense is deflated.

The best part of the movie is the old man character who bookends the film. He plans to put razors in apples. And at the end, his wife makes him a pie with the apples, and he dies. Hahahah. Too bad there's a middle of the movie with very little to care about.

Sure, there's a line here and there that's worth the time you spend watching it (my favorite, when a young kid spying on his sister undressing exclaims "Bodacious boobs, sis!"), but otherwise this one bored me to tears. I should also note the 80s soundtrack is often quite delightful, with one song strangely bemoaning the troubles of computer dating (the one 80s song to be AHEAD of its time?).

Also, the film features the worst stunt double wig in history. Our final girl has dirty blond, messy hair, the stunt double has platinum blond, perfectly combed hair. Excellent work.

I should note that the only reason I watched this today is because Blockbuster sent me the god forsaken 2005 Boogeyman instead of the 1980 The Boogeyman that I asked for. Assholes.

What say you?


The Marsh

APRIL 28, 2007


I had a chance to see The Marsh in October of last year as part of LA's Screamfest, but I opted not (actually I may have been working). It was actually one of maybe 5 movies (out of about 20) that I missed during the entire fest. Now I regret it, as this would have been one of the best films I saw there (the others, for the record, would be Hatchet, Behind the Mask, Gravedancers, Automaton Transfusion and Frostbite, a Swedish vampire film that I believe has been released on DVD in the US).

In many ways this film reminds me of the recent Sarah Michelle Gellar film The Return, a film which only two people in the world liked (One was me. The other wasn't you). A young woman is plagued by nightmares and visions, which leads her to a small town, and she attempts to understand why she's seeing these things. And she's really hot.

It's nothing groundbreaking (the direction is pretty generic, for starters), but the acting is quite good, the film moves along at the right pace for this type of film, and the big reveal is actually pretty disturbing (and even better: doesn't cheat the audience). More importantly, it's written well, in that we don't have too many occasions where characters are explaining everything to the audience. Like I've said before, film IS a visual medium, despite the efforts of some (24, as entertaining a show as it is, has quite possibly the least amount of respect for the audience's intelligence I have ever seen on a show or film, with characters re-reciting every plot point every 5 minutes), so it's nice to see a film that trusts the audience to pay the fuck attention and understand what is happening through the magic of imagery, without the screenwriter putting loads of exposition into someone's mouth.

Also, no one turns out to be dead the whole time, so there's something.

Another reason why I wish I saw this in theaters (and really, not that its a cinematic classic, but it really does not deserve to go direct to video. If goddamn Wind Chill (which, thankfully, this film had nothing in common with other than ghosts) can get 40+ screens, Marsh should get at least 5x that) is that the DVD has a fairly weak video transfer, at least color-wise. The blacks all look like bluish-gray. Check out the pic:

It's pretty sad when an extra feature has better color. This isn't the best example (you are losing the background when it's darker), it's more of a problem in scenes without a background anyway, like when they are in the car or whatever, but it was the only one I could take from the making of, which for the record, was terrible. Film clips were re-used, it jumped from topic to topic without any rhyme or reason (with a segment on both actor and the character they were playing, even though they were saying a lot of the same things). However, the audio on the film is superb, one of the more involving 5.1 tracks I have heard for this type of film (i.e. slow, not much action, etc.).

I am sure I am in the minority (indeed, most of the comments by the film scholars on the IMDb message boards are negative), just as I was for The Return, but I was impressed, and I hope at least a few people check this one out.

What say you?


Wind Chill (2007)

APRIL 27, 2007


Anyone want to take a guess why Wind Chill is only playing on 49 screens? Here's a hint: because it's a huge waste of time.

Oh crap that was the answer. Oh well.

Many times in this blog I have said that a movie would have been a better 15 minute short film. I could say the same for this, but only if someone went back and inserted 15 minutes worth of interesting material into the film. As it stands, there is precisely ONE nice shot (an almost subliminal wide shot of the snowbound car and a ghost guy with his back to us) and ONE sort of horror-y moment (a ghost opens his mouth and an eel falls out for some goddamn reason). The rest of the movie is of our two leads sitting in a car bickering or talking about random things. Occasionally they see a ghost and walk around a bit before returning to the car, but it's never even remotely suspenseful, scary, or even interesting. Also, the movie laughably attempts to make the song "Walking Around The Christmas Tree" scary by playing it whenever the ghosts are around, but its a moronic idea and a completely failed one at that, to put it nicely.

HAHAHAHA I have to inject here - in the middle of writing this I got up to use the can, grabbing a Fangoria on the way. I happen to flip open to the Wind Chill story and right there, the first 3 paragraphs are basically about how disappointed the writer was to not see anything interesting during their set visit. Don't worry, whoever wrote it, you weren't being given the short straw, for it would have been impossible to see anything interesting during the entire shoot, since no such things occur in the film!

Anyway, what little enjoyment the film offers (besides Clint Mansell's score, which is great, like many of his scores are) is wondering why anyone would want to spend a whole movie with these people (the characters have no names by the way. The credits list them as Guy and Girl). We meet her first, and she's highly unlikeable. But she needs a ride home to Delaware (look, how fucking half-assed does a movie have to be to make goddamn DELAWARE the primary destination of your main character? Jesus.). So she meets the guy (I'm sorry, Guy) via rideshare at the college, and as we find out, he doesn't even live in Delaware. He set up the whole rideshare thing as an excuse to spend 6 hrs with the girl (I mean, Girl) because he thinks she's cute. Later, he reveals he also somehow found out what all her favorite foods are. So our hero is a creepy stalker and our heroine is a snobby bitch. Yay!

The film is also Poseidon-esque in revealing the character's (numerous) previous jobs, allowing them to know how to dress wounds, how FM radios work, etc. And the dialogue is random enough to amuse (at one point, they argue about lasik eye surgery, of all things). But unless you are like me and think people talking about olives for no reason is funny, I can't see why this film would possibly entertain anyone (and it barely entertained me, olive discussion or not).

Most puzzling is why the film goes out of its way to rip off Carnival of Souls and then not bother to deliver the ending. Neither of our characters are dead, despite strange dialogue about how he is stuck in a repeating cycle and she appears to be invisible to every character besides Guy. But I guess revealing one or both of them have been dead through the whole movie would have taken some sort of "cinematic highlight" and thus it wouldn't have fit with the rest of the movie.

And for the love of the game, the film can't even be bothered to earn its R rating! No gore. No nudity. No profanity. The one moment of violence occurs when Guy swings some sort of metal pole at a ghost. This results in them being back inside the car with the pole stuck to his hand. Whatever, movie.

What say you?


Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985)

APRIL 26, 2007


Yes, the dog in Hills Have Eyes Part II has flashbacks. So what. No one cared that Rose was somehow able to recollect Jack’s poker game and his time locked up below deck. At least the dog was actually there for his flashbacks. So just shut the fuck up about it.

This sequel has been maligned for years for a myriad of reasons, so I was expecting the worst. But no, that is still Cursed. But also, throughout his career, Craven has had his ups and downs, so I really shouldn't EXPECT anything to be good or bad. Unlike Carpenter (his closest peer), he didn’t have a great period and then a shit period (i.e. if you watch anything from Carpenter post Mouth of Madness... yikes). Instead, he has always had hits and misses (more hits than misses, obviously) - hell, he followed Cursed with Red Eye, one of his better films (and also his biggest non-Scream hit).

Anyway, this wasn’t nearly the disaster I was led to believe. The script is pretty decent, even if it has little in common with the previous film. This is more a straight ahead slasher, albeit with (rare for the 80s) a pretty likable cast. Not that I am sad, per se, when any of them die, but I’m not rooting for the villains either.

The real problem with the film, apart from completely abandoning the point of the original, is that it honestly looks like it was filmed over a weekend. It’s almost like Wes went back to his porn days when blocking, staging, etc. Everything is just sort of there, with zero visual flair throughout the entire film. Setting early scenes in the San Fernando Valley helps bring the porn association to full fruition.

In one of the most curious screenwriting decisions this side of Best Defense (look it up), the film begins with Bobby (the kid from the original) recollecting the tragedy that befell Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother Frank- I mean, his family, in the first film. But then we are given cinema’s flimsiest plot contrivance in cinema history (I didn’t say the script was perfect) and Bobby is never seen or spoken of again. Yes apparently Bobby has created some racing fuel, and knows someone in our real cast, so he gives it to him (off-screen) and they are off to the desert to try it out with their motorbikes, leaving Bobby safely behind in the prologue, never interacting with another character. It’s as if they made the film and then decided to throw Bobby in but didn’t have the money, time, or concern to show him ever interacting with another character in the movie. For all I know, this is exactly the case, in an attempt to bridge the films together in a better way (as said, they’re not even the same subgenre of horror movie). But the real part of the film has several other characters from the first film, so why this would be necessary is beyond me.

I also fail to understand why Bobby’s dog lives with a woman near the desert, instead of with Bobby (and furthermore, how all the dirt-bike kids seem to know the dog and treat him like a human). Whatever, movie.

Look it’s still not a very good film, I would never say otherwise unless I was being sarcastic (which, to be fair, I’m sure I will). But Craven has made worse (with more money). It’s basically an average Friday the 13th sequel (complete with Harry Manfredini music that doesn’t even ATTEMPT to distinguish itself from his F13 scores. It’s even got a “ki ki ki ma ma ma” sound effect!) set in the desert. Albeit with dog flashba- DAMMIT! It’s impossible not to mock that in a review!

What say you?


Metamorphosis (1990)

APRIL 25, 2007


“You promised me there would be no strings attached!”
"No one wants to attach strings.”

Dialogue exchanges like that run abound in Metamorphosis, to the point where I began to think that the script was run through a babelizer for a while before filming began.

This one could almost count as a remake, since it copies Cronenberg’s The Fly almost verbatim at times. The Eric Bana-y scientist/monster kicks some ass at a bar, there’s an ex-lover/scientific rival (a guy who looks like Billy Crystal) who the main girl goes back and forth with, a final transformation complete with the “Don’t look at me!” theatrics, etc. David should sue, but I’m sure he’s got better things to do, like appear in Jason X.

Yes, once again, a visionary scientist is in danger of losing his funding, and thus tries his highly experimental (and so far completely unsuccessful) serum on himself. Do these people live in cities without homeless people? “Spare some change?” “No, but look: I’ll give you a hundred bucks if you stick this needle in your eye.” Done and done.

However, some of the low-budget charm is… charming (wow, lazy). The university is clearly a high school (maybe even grade school), the dean’s office looks like a receptionist’s cubicle, and the final stage of monster makeup… well, look.

Awww, he’s cute. And there’s even some admirable attempts at levity (such as when a guard is seen reading Crichton’s "Terminal Man", in a scene that would have been better if it had included a drum sting). The film also features the most aggressive college slut in film history. Whores are always good for a laugh!

But perhaps the writer thought the film may have been getting too light, as the poor lass is beaten and raped later on in a “Monster does something he can’t remember the next morning” sequence (and upon figuring it out, Bana II goes nuts and beats her again. See? Not EVERY part of the movie is quite so “charming”). Actually, now that I think about it, it’s also a lot like Track of the Moon Beast, except there’s no Johnny Longbone character to teach us how to make stew.

It’s kind of sad when a needlessly mean-spirited attack on an innocent slut is pretty much the most exciting part of the film. But it seems most of the movie is designed to hide the fact that they didn’t have any money. They don’t even kill anyone! Such as the bar scene: the one woman in the place (OK?) turns out to be a woman that our “hero” raped and beat the night before (not the slut mentioned earlier; apparently, he only blacks out and attacks women). Um, shouldn’t she be dead, like this stock character from a million other monster movies usually is? Oh well.

In addition, some of the plotting doesn’t really make any goddamn sense, such as when we are treated to a scene of him playing racquetball. “Let’s show how strong he’s gotten by having the ball rip through his racquet as he hits it!”, the writer said to himself. Well, in thoughtless theory, that’s fine, but if you think about it, all this really does is let the audience know that the BALL is stronger than before. Or that his racquet kind of sucks.

It also strangely reminds me of Devil Fish for some reason. That, if you weren’t sure, is not a compliment.

What say you?


Bell From Hell

APRIL 24, 2007


I haven’t the slightest clue as to what the hell was going on through about 90% of Bell From Hell. Part of the problem is the muffled audio (which was an English dub of a Spanish track to begin with), which consistently sounded like the movie was coming from another room.

I can tell this much though: just like yesterday’s movie, this one had some incest. Main dude fools around with TWO of his cousins (even making out with one in front of their mother; his aunt). I guess such things are acceptable when you’re a… whatever the hell these people were. They have a castle though.

I THINK that the movie was about a guy who was attempting to get revenge on his aunt and her daughters, and also a guy played by the creamily named Alfredo Mayo. Why he needed revenge, I do not know, but I do know his plans are way too elaborate. Why does he put himself in a full body cast and make a guy help him urinate? Why does he make some woman think he raped her? Can’t the guy just kill them? I half expected him to put a fake fire hydrant near one of their cars so they would get a ticket.

It’s certainly a moody, atmospheric film, the acting is fine, and other than the audio (which is likely the fault of the budget pack company, Mill Creek, than the production of the film/track itself), it’s technically professional. But my inability to follow a lot of it left me feeling bored, sad, and a bit hungry (he works in a slaughterhouse for a while, foreshadowing that he has “learned enough” - an ominous threat that only mildly pays off).

Sadly, the director jumped (or just fell) off the eponymous bell during the last day of filming, and the film was finished by someone else. I can think of many directors who I wish would follow suit, but alas.

What say you?


Naked Massacre

APRIL 23, 2007


Nelson Muntz (upon exiting a theater showing Naked Lunch): “I can think of TWO things that are wrong with that title!”

Well, Naked Massacre has both nudity and a massacre, but it’s still a much more serious film than the title suggests (maybe that’s why it’s titled Born for Hell sometimes). With that trashy title, I was expecting something like Slumber Party Massacre, but instead it was like a Richard Speck docudrama crossed with Patriot Games.

Things start off promisingly, however, with two characters who admit to having incestuous relationships (the killer with his sister, and a hooker with her son). So far, so sleazy, so good. Then we get a scene with a woman trying to hook up with her female friend. Heyo!

But then the guy starts raping/killing everyone and it’s just not as fun. Or any fun, at all. It’s deadly serious, but it’s still not very good, so you’re not left with much to recommend. I mean, there is SOME fun to be had, such as some bizarre editing choices that leave the end of sentences up to the viewer’s imagination so we can cut away to someone else doing something, and what appears to be an English dub over the people who were likely speaking “Irish”, and things like that, but otherwise this is a depressing, somewhat disturbing, but ultimately lousy film. It’s worth watching for the extremely clever way one girl manages to survive (she… wait for it… hides under the bed!), but otherwise I am sure we all have better things to do with our time. Well, I don’t, obviously, but I hope you do.

What say you?


Pulse (2006)

APRIL 22, 2007


Pulse is the type of movie that is less a movie and more just a collection of scenes.

Pulse is the type of movie that makes you wonder why anyone bothered making it at all, let alone releasing it to theaters. In typical Dimension fashion, both the character and plot scenes have been edited out to keep the movie “fun”, yet all of the death scenes were also trimmed of anything worth seeing to keep it PG-13. So what’s left? Nothing. Garbage. Even the kids didn’t bother, despite coming out in the summer. It’s pretty sad when even a 14 year old girl looks at a trailer for a horror movie with TV people (and even an R&B singer) and says “nah”.

Pulse is the type of movie where someone meets someone else under strange circumstances and yet they are best friends in about one day’s time. Veronica Mars meets Boone because he bought her ex’s computer, and they are antagonistic toward each other. Yet the next day, after they meet again in a more civil manner, he’s the first person she calls when her friend disappears (and hilariously, he actually seems to know who the hell she’s talking about). And he’s determined to save her, a total stranger, and never seems concerned about his own friends and family.

Pulse is the type of movie that would introduce a seemingly benign form of protection (like garlic with vampires, or sodium with horrors of party beaches) and never bother really using it for anything. Here, red duct tape is the key to saving yourself. And with the exception of one character who uses it on every inch of his apartment, it’s never really utilized (as for an explanation – look elsewhere. This IS a Dimension movie). And in the film’s stupidest moment, one character goes about sealing his doors and windows with it, only to run out with about 6 inches of doorframe unsealed. So you think, “Oh shit, after all that it’s gonna get through the 6 inches of doorframe!” Nope. The fucking idiot REMOVES TAPE FROM A SEALED AREA AND LOOKS OUTSIDE. Then gets killed. What???? Why bother having him use the tape at all???

Pulse is the type of movie that knows it doesn’t make any goddamn sense, so they don’t even bother writing a climax, resulting in possibly the most half-assed lazy piece of shit ending in cinematic history. They don’t stop the ghost/monster/whatever the fucks they are, even though Boone uploads a virus that supposedly will stop them (I guess if that worked, then one scene would lead logically to the next, and thus the idea would not have fit in the grand scheme of things that is Pulse). No, instead they just go to Nebraska or some other wasteland where there’s no cell phone service. The climax is literally close-ups of a cell phone losing signal bars. The end. I’ve shut off movies halfway thru the first act that had better resolutions.

Pulse is the type of movie that would have Brad Dourif show up for one scene, spouting crazy talk, and then vanishing. How does he know what’s going on? Is he a part of it? And throughout the movie, we are told about some guy named Zegler or something who can help. Could it be Dourif???

Nope. He’s… some guy. Dourif never returns.

Look, if you have a character you keep mentioning but never seeing, and then you finally see him, he damn well better be some kickass character actor or at least SOMEONE you can say “oh cool, him.” Instead it’s just some no-name douche. They did the same thing in Snakes on a Plane. They kept mentioning some legendary snake expert guy, and you’re expecting like Christopher Walken, but it's no one. It’s the casting equivalent of blue balls.

Pulse is the type of movie that is best watched when you are drunk. And deceased.

As for the DVD extras, I don’t know. I got the HD DVD (hey its garbage but it looks real nice) and didn’t have time to watch them, since I usually watch the extras at work (where, shockingly, I don’t have an HD DVD player laying around).

Wes Craven supposedly wrote some of this. If any of the resulting film is his, then he’s approaching modern John Carpenter levels of mediocrity. At this point, I’d rather he went back to torture movies, like Music of the Heart.

What say you?



APRIL 21, 2007


It's tough being a sucker for brunettes such as Kate Beckinsale, the beautiful star of Vacancy. You end up seeing scores of crap (well, considering the nature of this blog, I guess that's unavoidable regardless of my hair color preference). Just about all of her films: Underworld, Serendipity, Click, Van Helsing, even Pearl Harbor (forget not: I am a lifelong follower of the church of Bay/Bruckheimer), take incredible patience. I can't deny it makes sense. Why waste a good script on someone who will get my ass in the seat either way?

Luckily, for once, this is a Beckinsale movie I can get behind (ironically, she was a replacement for Sarah Jessica Parker, an actress who could star in my own biopic and I wouldn't want to see it). It's sort of strange to see A-list actors going through the standard survival/breakdown motions, but that is actually part of what makes this one a cut above the other recent studio films in the subgenre.

Nimrod Antal is a first-rate director. That much is clear 5 minutes in. And the script is tight, with little to none of the usual crap that gets in the way of other films (though, of course, there is a backstory tragedy to contend with, but its given roughly 17 seconds of screen time). Even the title sequence is impressive (ironically, the DP on this film is Andrzej Sekula, who directed Cube 2, where the title sequence was the ONLY good thing in the entire movie). The obvious Psycho reference is pretty subtle, and we are even spared the 'opening kill' that just about every movie of this kind has. They knew that the bad guys would be identified to anyone who saw the trailer (this didn't stop half the crowd from gasping when Wilson tries to call 911 and it's Frank Whaley on the other line though), so no time is wasted in trying to make Whaley's character trustworthy, and the trouble begins less than 5 minutes after Wilson and Beckinsale check into the motel. It may be a short film (80 min) but not a minute is wasted.

The one flaw is pretty omnipresent in these films, so it's no surprise, but given the other ways that Antal and writer Mark Smith circumvent clich├ęs, it was still disappointing. See, in these movies, we are always given the impression that the bad guys have been doing what they have been doing for God knows how long and never been caught. Yet, our heroes manage to stop them by not doing anything special. Beckinsale and Wilson are average, regular folks, just like the others we see in the snuff films, but they still manage to turn the tables on killers by.... hiding for a while. And running fast enough to lock a door. None of the dozens of previous victims could manage to come up with that? I'd like to see one of these movies where the would-be victim turns out to be Spider-Man or something. Hahaha, they go to kill him and hes like "you dumb bastard, I'm fucking Spider-Man!" and shoots a full cartridge of webbing down his throat. Or maybe they could do one where the group is on their first attempt (hey, they had to start somewhere) and both the good and the bad guys are equally incompetent.

Or fuck it, just do one where the good guys all get killed, once again.

But its still a good movie, even more of a surprise considering it comes from Uber-crap production company Screen Gems. Granted, the idea of putting Kate Beckinsale inside a seedy motel could have been better utilized, but take what you get.

What say you?


Scream Bloody Murder

APRIL 20, 2007


I LOVE MY BUDGET PACK! I really should just confine myself to watching the entire 50 movie set before bothering with anything else. I have yet to be disappointed.

Scream Bloody Murder starts off with a kid named Matthew (which the film is sometimes titled) running his dad, and then himself (?) over with a tractor. He survives, but his hand is now a hook. 10 years or so later, he is released from the hospital by what would have to be the least competent doctor in history. The rest of the movie concerns his trials and tribulations as he attempts to rid the world of men and women who enjoy touching one another. I could watch it all day long.

The sound design on the film must be seen to be believed (hey that makes no sense). There’s a scene early on with 3 people in a car, chitchatting. But the dialogue is cut together without pause, so people instantly have responses to questions. It’s like: “Whereyoufrom?I’mfromBoiseOhmyuncleisfromthere.” There are also bizarre sound effects and grunts and groans from our characters during kill scenes that are obviously dubbed in later. And the music is almost never appropriate to the scenes, which just makes it all the more enjoyable. If you're like me and are endlessly amused by incompetence.

The ending is what earns the film its “Weird” status. Matthew kills the final girl after apparently teleporting outside to meet her at the door she is trying to escape from, then he drives around until he begins seeing visions of his mother. Freaking out, he runs into a church and a group of mother-visions apparently come into reality, and then he slashes his belly with his hook, which kills him. Huh?

But it’s a great deal of fun throughout. There so many highlights during the film, I wouldn’t even know where to end. Let’s see, there’s an old woman duel-wielding canes; another woman reacting with borderline nonchalance to seeing her husband all chopped up (on their wedding night no less); a pair of honeymooners offering Matthew a ride when he’s not even hitchhiking; Matthew killing a dog for no apparent reason… all of this in the first half hour!

But, like Cathy’s Curse, the true highlight of the film is the strangely angry tone in much of the dialogue. Lines like “What do you think of this? A steak! Well who else ever bought you a steak before, huh? NOBODY, that’s who!” are delivered with such intense hatred, one has to wonder what the hell the writer’s problem is. Why would someone assume no one has ever bought another person a steak? Another gem: “See what I do for you? I get you groceries and clothes and art stuff and kill people!” is delivered in a whiny tone, making it all the more hilarious.

It should be remade, however, due to the instant dating of the film that occurs when a character gets “2 dollars of gas”. Today, that will take him approximately 4 miles.

Sadly the lead actor has never made another film. He’s kind of an emo version of Kevin Bacon, and his performance is Oscar-worthy (that is, if they awarded Oscars based on actual entertainment). If anyone knows where he is, tell him to get back into the pictures! Or, at least, grab a beer with me.

What say you?


Masters of Horror: Pro-Life

APRIL 19, 2007


Another Emmanuelle Vaugier movie! But that’s not the coincidence, because I knew that she was in Pro-Life. But what I DIDN’T know is that both movies would have a hilariously goofy looking monster that had its own little spider-baby. Huh. And as I learned in the commentary, Joe Bishara (who composed Unearthed) had a hand in mixing the score. Goddamn these random ties!!!

This is also another Masters of Horror, which I added to today’s viewing because halfway through watching Unearthed I remembered that I promised to watch something that was officially released. If you promise something on a blog, and no one bothers to read it, does it make a difference? Probably not, but I still had an hour to kill before work, so Pro-Life went in the player.

I wasn't a big fan of the group’s previous MoH entry, Cigarette Burns. It was better than some of the other episodes (Tobe Hooper's Dance of the Dead, for example), but I wasn't big on Norman Reedus' character, and he was front and center for the whole thing. Plus it was a bit too similar to In The Mouth of Madness at times (with some Ninth Gate mixed in). It had great moments, and Udo Kier's death scene was AMAZING, but I felt everyone could be doing better.

This one looked to be an improvement for the first 20, 25 minutes or so. In fact, it’s only when the actual ‘horror’ elements start to come into play that it starts to go off the rails. The demon birth is sort of creepy, but the ridiculous sound it makes is laughable. Ever play with Popoids as a kid? That’s what it sounds like. In addition, the ‘father’ monster looks like the Devil at the end of End of Days, but even sillier. And in what has to be the silliest goddamn scene in recent cinema history, Ron Perlman, who is so hellbent on saving his daughter’s baby before it is aborted, stops to talk to the abortion clinic’s owner for a while, then castrates him. One would think perhaps he would, I dunno, stop the abortion first, and THEN go play Bond villain?

I had a great time with the commentary track though. The highlight is when Carpenter realizes it’s been 20 minutes since he’s had a cigarette so he has to leave. You can hear him put on his coat or whatever he’s doing away from the microphone saying “No go ahead guys, you’re doing great.” Hahahaha, God bless him. Be even funnier if he never even bothered to come back (he barely seems interested anyway, offering mainly “yeah”s for insight while the writers take charge).

It's not a total loss though, because Cody Carpenter’s score is quite good, Carpenter seems a bit more into it this time, and like I said, the first 20 min or so are pretty interesting. But the monster stuff sort of lost me (though the spider-baby has a human baby head, which is torn apart by a bullet, so there’s something). Apparently, the original script had no monster, it was a straight siege story. The supernatural angle was added in later, so I am curious how it all ended up before this was added, and if the changes were for the better or not. Either way, it's an improvement to be sure, but still, given the pedigree, I'm disappointed. Maybe in Season three the trio will knock it out of the park.

What say you?


Unearthed (2007)

APRIL 19, 2007


Another unreleased movie. Coincidence? I dunno. I’m sure if I dig I could find something else to tie it together with yesterday’s movie. But it’s really not worth thinking about Unearthed for that much time. There are blades of grass to watch.

Matthew Leutwyler’s previous film, Dead & Breakfast, was a spirited but ultimately failed attempt at making an Evil Dead 2/Brain Dead type film. There were hints of brilliance here and there, but for the most part, it was a waste of time.

This film isn’t as good.

And I am even more disappointed with it than I normally would be, because this film has a bigger budget, more professional actors, and one would assume he would learn from his mistakes on the first film for his second. Instead, he has seemingly taken a step backward as a filmmaker.

For starters, the monster is awful. It’s kind of a bad sign when your monster movie has a shitty monster. It’s a terrible CGI creation that, when you can actually focus on it in the few instances Leutwyler actually stops using a blender to edit the film (one assumes to try to hide the bad CG), looks exactly like Giger’s Alien (even its blood when looked at in a microscope looks just like something out of Giger’s art. I hope he sues.) There are occasional “man in suit” appearances, but they are few and far between, and never used long enough to make an impression. The monster’s origin is somewhat interesting but it’s barely addressed, since Leutwyler is far more interested in putting his actors in uninteresting locations that are apparently lit with Smurf lights. In fact, considering how bad the monster looks, this may be the only monster movie in history that would have worked better if the people just kept talking about it.

The monster isn’t the only problem. His direction is piss-poor throughout the film, again even worse than D&Bs. There are occasional freeze-frames for no reason, nonsensical cutaways in the middle of scenes to other characters doing nothing, and he apparently has it in his contract that the audience can never be allowed to tell where any character is in relation to the others. Though one should also blame editor Shawna Callahan for these crimes (cinematographer Ross Richardson can be forgiven, since this is his first feature).

There’s other nonsense in the script (which he also wrote), like when we get a pottery lesson for no goddamn reason, and some half-assed backstory about Vaugier killing a kid, but not really (they never bother explaining it fully, but it has no bearing on anything anyway so it doesn’t matter)… whatever. Speaking of Vaugier, she has the film’s single best/stupidest moment, when an explosion causes her to not only fly back, but do about 3 backflips through the air as she does so. Nice work.

It’s not a total loss. Joe Bishara’s score is nice and unobtrusive (one cue in particular has a great Carpenter style atmosphere), the actors are good (M.C. Gainey!!!), or at least familiar (Charlie Murphy), and the practical makeup effects are all great. But their contributions are all but completely obliterated by the inept direction, writing, editing, and CG effects. As it stands, the film does rank slightly above other Sci-Fi Channel Premieres (which I assume this will be) based on those aforementioned highlights. But replace those elements, and you have one of, if not THE lamest of its type I have ever seen. And I’ve seen the Tremors sequels.

I should have known better when I spied a co-star’s name among the producer credits. When someone you have never heard of produces and stars in a film it’s almost never worth your time.

What say you?


God of Vampires

APRIL 18, 2007


Technically God Of Vampires shouldn't be included in this blog, as it's kind of hard to expect anyone to discuss a movie they almost definitely did not see yet (since it is unreleased and still without distribution) but since no one is commenting anyway I guess it doesn't matter.

Also in the interest of full disclosure (to... someone) the writer/director, Rob Fitz, is a friend of mine, and my best friend did the makeup effects (and cameos as a guy who pusses out of a fight! Lame!). I had a small role as a corpse but it was edited from the final print, hence why the movie has yet to be distributed.

Hahaha sadly that is not true (if anything it should improve its chances). To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why no one has picked the film up yet. Rob wrote a fantastic script that would likely run a 20-30 million budget at a studio. Rob did it for around 30-40 thousand bucks. And while the limitations of this are sometimes obvious, it's still a kickass ride that I hope people can get to check out sooner rather than later. The vampires in this film are almost like zombies (hence the zombie tag) which was interesting, as I dunno about you but I am sick of euro-trash vampires and the like. These guys are BRUTAL. And there's surprisingly a great deal of dark humor in the film that is nicely implemented.

The only real problem with the film is that it takes some patience. Not that the story is lacking at the beginning (though there is a subplot about the lead guy taking care of a young kid that is completely dropped after the first 10 minutes, and I would suggest dropping it entirely to help move things along), but some technical issues (some bad dubbing/syncing) might irk some. Luckily, once the vampires come in and our core group is formed, the movie takes off and never loses steam again. There are times you will forget you are watching an independent film, which is pretty goddamn impressive.

The website is up at Myspace if you want some more info, I believe there's a trailer and such. Rob is looking into having a table at some upcoming horror cons, so keep your eyes peeled for the guest lists of your local cons.

What say you? (prob nothing, doh. Tomorrow's movie will be one you might have seen though!)


The Fog (2005)

APRIL 17, 2007


Oh boy.

OK, no, let’s be fair: the remake of The Fog isn’t QUITE as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’s bad, yeah, but I’ve seen far worse, even from John Carpenter himself (Ghosts of Mars). It’s the worst Tom Welling movie, but that’s about the only ‘worst’ honor it earns. And in all honesty, it starts off fairly decent for a PG-13 film. But around the 40 minute mark or so, they just give up entirely and the film just gets stupider and stupider until the final, Village-level idiotic ending.

You might wonder why I didn’t just label it crap, and rightfully so. But the ‘crap’ subgenre is reserved for those films that have no redeeming value whatsoever. And that is not the case here, because Selma Blair has never looked more attractive in a film, and thus it IS indeed worth watching, for at least her scenes. She’s in the Adrienne Barbeau role, and just by being hot and, unlike everyone else in the film, acting like she actually gives a shit., she manages to overcome cinema’s worst introduction in history (she is supposed to be playing this sort of anti-establishment DJ who doesn’t play what corporate radio does, yet the first song she plays is that goddamn “Sugar” song from Fall Out Boy. *sigh*) to almost single-handedly redeem the film.


Everything and everyone else is basically pointless at best and mind-numbingly stupid at worst. Why is the town having a big statue dedication ceremony at 9 o’clock at night? Why do we have some of the already bloated screen-time (this film is 15 min longer than the original, despite having less plot, less characterization, less kills, and less suspense) devoted to the mayor discussing which character in the statue should be holding the spyglass? Why do all of the windows on Welling’s car blow out? Why do they suddenly reappear later? Why, after discovering 3 bodies on the deck of a boat, would someone go below deck (the only place the killer could possibly be)? And why do we need to automatically make our ‘hero’ a scumbag by revealing in his 2nd scene that he cheats on his girlfriend (especially since she never finds out, and he and the mistress have exactly one scene together, where their affair is barely even hinted at)?

I say ‘hero’ in quotes because, much like Tom Hanks in Da Vinci Code, Welling doesn’t fucking DO anything in the entire movie. He’s top billed (why, I have no idea, since Selma Blair has the most screen-time yet she is given the ‘and’ credit*), and he’s fucking Superman for Christ’s sake, yet his biggest (practically only) action in the entire film is getting his car started.

At least he is consistent with his half-assed character. The ghosts seemingly do whatever they feel like doing. Sometimes they are see-thru ghosts, sometimes they are solid figures, and other times they just use telekinesis or something rather than appear at all. They can throw people through windows and knock over bureaus, but they can’t get through a few pieces of scotch (why not duct!?!?!) tape under a door. The fog can be seen melting iron statues, but other people walk through it with no problem. And at one point, they even turn a corpse into a zombie, just for the hell of it. They’re also kind of shy, as they show up during the opening, kill a dog and some kids, then take a breather and leave for a day or two. Hilariously, on the DVD extras, the writer says the studio kept making them cut back how much the Fog did as a ‘character’. Since he reveals that the studio also originally didn’t go for the idiotic ending, I’m guessing that, for once, the studio should have trusted. We might have gotten a better movie.

Speaking of the extras, it’s sort of ironic that the one area that Rupert Wainwright managed to live up to Carpenter’s legacy is on the commentary track. Like Carpenter’s solo tracks, most of the time he’s either describing onscreen action (best bit: “..the Fog man appears. Aargh!”), repeating dialogue for no reason, talking about lighting, or just watching the movie in silence. He occasionally points out some plot holes and what is added to this ‘unrated’ version, but it’s not worth sitting through the entire film again to hear it. Speaking of the ‘unrated’ stigma – nothing he ever points out is anything the MPAA would have given a shit about, except at the very end when a man we are supposed to dislike (but the film never gives us any real reason to) is shown burning to death. Apparently, the MPAA made him cut the sequence down, and it should have stayed that way, as now it’s just too damn long. Then again, what is the correct length of time that should be given to watching an old man (who never did anything wrong) burn alive? There’s also a deleted scene in which a fireball seemingly immolates the ENTIRE cast (yay!) but then it flames out and they don’t have a mark on them. Why, I have no idea.

But I don’t want to give you the impression that the extras are entirely worthless; indeed, the clips from the original sprinkled throughout the featurettes have more suspense and entertainment value than anything in the remake, even without the aid of context. And it’s always nice to hear Carpenter admit he’s just doing this shit for the money.

So basically, just watch Blair’s scenes and some of the extras, and ignore the rest.

What say you?

*Even odder, Rade Sherbedgia is 3rd billed and doesn’t even appear until the film’s final 15 minutes. What sort of moron put this list in order anyway? If I was a credit creator I would never allow such tomfoolery!


Masters of Horror: Pelts

APRIL 16, 2007


Not enough movies feature Meat Loaf. And certainly not enough of them feature Meat Loaf doing whatever he can to fuck a stripper in the ass. Or magical raccoons. But that’s why we have Dario Argento. He will do what others will dare not (we are also treated to the sight of Loaf without a shirt, and then without skin, though somehow that’s not as disturbing as the former), as is plainly evident in his second season Masters of Horror episode Pelts.

The Masters of Horror series gets a bum rap I think. Sure, there are some stinkers (Tobe Hooper’s Dance of the Dead from the 1st season ranks as one of the absolute worst things I have ever seen, in any format), but I think folks expect the same level of greatness they get from the directors’ full length films. As talented as Argento, Carpenter, Landis, etc are, there’s no way they can pull off Suspiria, The Thing, or American Werewolf with a limited budget and even more limited time (and, to a lesser but still important extent, at least for Carpenter and Argento: without the ability to shoot in full 2.35:1 scope). So you gotta take them as what they are, which are episodes of a TV show.

Either way, so far, at least of the ones I have seen, Season Two has been a pretty big improvement over Season One. Hooper’s episode was a million light years ahead of his first one (though still the weakest of the half dozen I have seen), and Argento’s is stronger as well. The music is fantastic, the story is strange enough to hold my attention, and the murders, while lacking the suspense one would expect from him, are bloody as hell and extremely disturbing.

I haven’t mentioned it yet here, but Meat Loaf is my favorite musical artist, in particular the 1st and 2nd Bat out of Hell albums. So I always check out his films, though I have never been particularly amazed with his acting (that's not to say I don't enjoy seeing him onscreen). His musical persona is just too larger than life; I cannot mentally remove that aspect in order to accept him as a character most of the time. Also, most of the movies just suck (and yes, I include Fight Club in that list). But he’s surprisingly pretty damn good here. I’d rather he was making better albums (Bat 3 was disappointing) but hey, if Dario Argento wants you in his movie, you damn well better say yes. I would. But I’d also say yes to whoever the hell directed Boogeyman, because I need money.

It’s a shame this was just an hour long, as, unlike many of the MoHs, this one could have been its own full length movie. John Saxon’s character isn’t in it enough, and some of the death scenes come too quickly. Some fleshing out and this could have been one of Argento’s better movies from the last 20 years. So I definitely recommend the DVD, as it includes some decent featurettes. The commentary track, however, is entirely worthless. It’s just the writer, and he alternates between narrating the onscreen action and kissing everyone’s ass (including his own). Worthless. It would have been nice if they included the short story the film is based on, but alas.

And yes, obviously it doesn’t count as a “coincidence” that I watched two Argento movies in a row, since it’s not like I was surprised to learn that. But just like Deep Red, a person who is apparently sans bones is killed with an elevator. So there ya go.

What say you?


Deep Red (1975)

APRIL 15, 2007


As I said way back in my Opera review, I am certainly no scholar of Italian horror. I remain very impressed with each one I see, but they are few and far between, and I fear that the more I see, the less I’ll enjoy them. But should the day come where I downright hate one, at least this blog will be the better for it. It’s more fun to write bad reviews.

Anyway, Deep Red (Italian: Profondo Rosso) is considered Argento’s best film by many, though not by me. I prefer Suspiria, Opera, and Phenomena to this. While those films are near flawless to me, this one seemed very uneven at times. Some scenes go on far too long (do we need to see Hemmings scratch away every bit of wallpaper covering the drawing on the wall?) and many of the “light” scenes with Daria Nicolodi could have been trimmed or removed entirely (apparently, the US version does just that, so maybe I should seek it out). Also, though it’s no fault of anyone involved as far as you know, the dubbing is incredibly lazy. Half the time they are still speaking Italian. Normally with a foreign film I would watch the original language with subtitles, but this, like many of Argento’s films, half the people are speaking English anyway, so there’s gonna be dubbing either way. You might as well watch in English as much as possible so you can actually focus on the images.

However, for whatever faults it has, the robot puppet alone makes the film worth watching. There’s also a character who toasts the possibility of someone being raped. Nice.

Coincidence – much like yesterday’s Dracula II, this film features wire-based beheadings (whip in Dracula, a necklace here). Do these characters not have skeletons? Here, the necklace severs a head like butter. I would expect the SPINE to give it some trouble but nope, goes right through it (why the necklace doesn’t just break entirely is beyond me). But it doesn’t matter, the film has follows dream logic and thus things like this are common. And nothing will ever be as incoherent as the helicopter in Demons (a film Argento produced, for the record) so it’s fine.

What say you?


Dracula II: Ascension

APRIL 14, 2007


"Wes Craven presents". When will I learn? No film featuring that moniker has ever been any good. The previous film of this series, Dracula 2000 (at least, I THINK this is the sequel to that film. This film practically goes out of its way to ignore it) was no classic, but had decent production value and a more or less enjoyable manner. This film has absolutely nothing going for it (for starters, most of it takes place in the exotic locale of... an abandoned school!), apart from the personal joy of seeing the film's 'badass vampire hunter' driving a 1992 Chevy Corsica. Those who know me (which constitute the entire readership of this blog thus far. :() know I once owned a Corsica and loved the thing to death. So to see one be used as a transport device for a vanquisher of evil was empowering. Or retarded.

Some of the dialogue in this film ranks as the absolute stupidest I have ever heard. For example: "My mother always said it takes one person to do something stupid, but it takes a few people to do something REALLY stupid!" (which is actually true, for example, this film had more than one writer). There's also half-assed dialogue such as "Whatever happens.... happens." and "How bad?" "Bad." sprinkled throughout the film.

Craig Sheffer, king of STV sequels (he's also in Hellraiser 5 and Turbulence 3), plays some sort of professor who turns out to be the villain. One might expect, I dunno, DRACULA to be the villain of a film titled DRACULA II (hilariously, the character's name is actually "Dracula II" in the credits), but no. Drac just sort of hangs out on a makeshift cross for most of the film untying knots and counting mustard seeds (...), only to bite a guy's face off in the end and fight Lee for a bit before heading off to be replaced by Rutger Hauer in part III (which was shot at the same time as this, and actually has some connection to this one, which gives them one over the original film. Maybe I'll watch it next week or so, just for closure). Whatever.

And how's this for half-assed? Dracula is never referred to as Dracula in the entire film. There's a brief mention of how he is 'not like other vampires' (and, in the one link to the first film, the Judas connection is brought up again), but that's it. Looking nothing like the previous film's Dracula (he's sort of a young Jeremy Irons wannabe), I wonder why they bothered calling it a sequel at all. Were they afraid the film wouldn't fly on Jason London's name alone?

However, the main girl looks like Kate Beckinsale, which I have no problem with.

What say you?


Funeral Home

APRIL 13, 2007


It’s almost not entirely fair to call Funeral Home ‘crap’ (UPDATE: "Crap" tag rescinded! Read my new Blu-ray review to find out why). Maybe I should make a new category simply called “Boring”. It’s not that the film is wall to wall awful like the other movies in the crap subgenre (such as Blood Trails or Cube 2), it’s just boring as a dog’s ass. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if it was really a horror movie (actually, I’m still not) until someone finally got killed around the half hour mark. Some of the movies in my budget set (yep, this is another one, folks) are just filler and can’t be considered horror.

This one manages to classify as horror via a few slasher style sequences (including one that is 99% exact to Steve Christy’s murder in Friday the 13th, I’m not sure which movie came first but considering today's date I consider that pretty coincidental) and the film's 'scary' title, which is also misleading since it takes place at a hotel (which USED to be a Funeral Home, but that'd be like calling Planet of the Apes "Earth"). There's also the ending, which reveals that the killer (the owner of the hotel) has a split personality and keeps a corpse in the basement. Which is a great idea, but it’s just sort of botched in this film. Imagine what someone like Hitchcock could do with this concept!

Jokes aside, the movie is so intent on ripping off Psycho, it even features action over the end credits! But it one ups Psycho by actually having characters provide the epilogue/exposition while we learn who the key grips and assistant directors were. Lazy Hitch just had a car get pulled out of a lake.

Back to the coincidences though, I haven’t mentioned it, but it’s strange how often a film will share some random thing in common with the film I watched the day before. For example, both Ginger Snaps and Cutting Class were on pan and scan, featureless DVDs. And both Cutting Class and the previous day's The Burning were 80s slashers that featured (now) highly respectable people making their debuts. And now today’s movie, just like yesterday’s movie Devil Times Five, features a brunette woman cruelly attempting to “seduce” a retarded man. What sort of surprising connection will tomorrow’s movie have with this? Maybe it will also happen to feature scene after scene of the obvious villain claiming not to know where the victims “disappeared to all of a sudden” every 10 minutes or so.

Speaking of the retarded man, consider this charming line of dialogue: “He’s not very bright, so I let him have the shack around the back of the house.” This comes courtesy of the owner of the hotel, which has plenty of empty rooms. It’s really endearing when a character we are supposed to like is treating some poor sap like a dog because he doesn’t know any better.

My favorite shot in the film.

And in keeping with the theme of learning things from low budget movies in the public domain, I leave you with this chilling fact (a cop says it so it must be true): “Do you know how many people go missing in America every day? Thousands!” Wow.

What say you?


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