The First Power

MAY 31, 2007


Like whatever I watched yesterday (I don’t have time to scroll down), The First Power is another killer back from the dead movie. It doesn’t count as a coincidence, because I knew that. BUT, both movies had vague hints at father-daughter incest! Heyo!!

I actually saw this movie when I was 11. But all I remembered was that I considered it a Shocker ripoff. Well, it’s not. Stupid 11 year old me! I’ll kick your ass!

While there are surface similarities (a satanic serial killer comes back from the dead and takes control over other bodies) it’s not really anything like Shocker at all. First of all, Shocker is a comedic horror movie, while this is more of a supernatural action movie. Lou Diamond Phillips spends 90% of the film either waving his gun around (a fact someone actually comments on), driving recklessly, or jumping/diving through the air. So it’s more of a Cobra ripoff, except it takes far too long for the leads to hook up (1:20 into the 1:35 movie!!!).

Strangely, in another similarity to Shocker, they are both filmed in the Silverlake/Echo Park area of LA (Shocker was supposed to take place in Ohio though), which is the same area where previous Horror Movie A Day entries Gacy and Gamebox 1.0 were filmed. I’ve got some friends who live there, and the idea that a satanic serial killer running around stealing the bodies of transients, a child molesting clown, and a bad video game are in the area really isn’t that farfetched.

It’s an OK movie. It could have been a lot better. Part of the problem with the film, much like other films I’ve reviewed recently, is that the supernatural element is totally inconsistent. Sometimes they see the person the killer has possessed, sometimes they see the killer. He can appear wherever he wants, but sometimes he chases the people anyway. And then, halfway through the movie he suddenly develops wire-fu powers and begins flip-kicking and what not.

Luckily, the last half hour of the movie strangely includes some humor. If the whole movie was like that, it would be a lot better. There’s a hilarious bit where Phillips and the love interest (who displays “Wes Craven Presents” levels of blandness) stop to have the “What the hell is going on?” scene, only they are right next to a hot dog vendor, who just looks totally baffled. Then another guy comes out of nowhere and quite rudely orders him to give him a hot dog. It’s so out of place I couldn’t help but laugh. There’s also a nun with a crucifix knife! Oh and Bill Moseley shows up as a bartender who waters down his scotch. Hey Bill!

It’s strange to see a hero smoke. One of those ‘you don’t miss it until it’s gone’ traits of cinema. No one smokes anymore. Even Bruce Willis refused to have McClane smoke in the new alleged* Die Hard movie. But Lou begins nearly every scene with taking a long drag and then tossing his butt to the ground (he needs his hand free to draw his gun). He also wears a trenchcoat at all times, loses his partner, fights with his chief… even though it was released in 1990, it’s the 80s-est movie ever made.

But for whatever faults it has, there are two moments in this film (other than the hot dog vendor) that make it a must-see. In one, the killer rips a ceiling fan down and then turns it on (just go with it), wielding it like the guy with the lawnmower in Dead Alive (it even makes lawnmower sounds) as he chases our heroes (who then run into a room and move a bed, with someone in it, against the door!). The other is a nice bit of clever sound editing. Sticking to car chase tradition, at the moment where the car is somehow launched 50 feet into the air, the soundtrack goes mute. Like always. But hilariously, when one of the hubcaps comes off (another staple), it hits the ground first, and we hear it! So it’s all quiet, and then we hear this little tiny “clink” before the GRRRRRRRRSHHHHHHHHH! sound of the car hitting the ground. I love that!!!

What say you?

*Part of why I don’t have time to scroll down – my part-time job as some sort of movie website writer has scored me a seat at a press conference with Mr. Willis himself tomorrow. But since they apparently haven’t finished neutering the film to ensure an 11 year old who knows Willis only as the voice of a raccoon can go see it, Live Free or Die Hard isn’t finished yet. So instead of the usual media screening of the whole film prior to the press day, we are seeing 20 whole minutes of it later today. Oooh! That’s like, 4x as long as the trailer!! Wheeee!

Oh I see it now: Tamara


Tamara (2005)

MAY 30, 2007


Another day, another ‘Oh shit we accidentally killed someone let’s cover it up uh oh they came back and now we’re all dead, fuck!” movie. Though Tamara has 2 things going for it that IKWYSLAKHUDJHI whatever the hell part 3 did not:

  1. It is NOT the 2nd sequel to a mediocre movie
  2. It is far easier to acronymize. “T”.
However it’s not much better. There are some interesting ideas (hints at incest are always a creepy plus) and setpieces here and there, but I get the impression the script required a bigger budget and less bland actors to be more successful. And it certainly would help if it wasn’t shot in Canada. Look, no one is being fooled anymore! If you’re shooting in Canada, just say so! Don’t pretend it’s in Boston or NY or LA or Ohio or Illinois or anywhere else! It’s fucking Canada!!!

Things don’t start off promisingly, with TWELVE executive producers and a few other regular producers listed in the opening credits. The director and writer point this out on their commentary, but it’s still annoying. That many people dictating how the film should be will always result in, if nothing else, an uneven film. Actually, the commentary is better than the film itself, as they both seem to realize the film didn’t live up to its potential and take a few shots at it, and also explain some muddled story points that a better director would have been able to film properly the first time.

Actually, a better director could have improved things across the board. The script has some good ideas, but the direction is so bland it betrays them. One thing I did like was rather than Tamara running around with the ax she has on the cover and killing everyone herself, she makes them kill themselves (or each other). Some of the deaths, cheesily shot as they may be, are quite awesome, such as when she makes a guy think he was buried alive or makes another literally puke her guts out. Sweet!

Also, I’d like to share a baffling dialogue choice (I should really make this a regular portion of my writeups, seems every movie has one line that just really makes me wonder if anyone bothered saying it aloud before filming): A jock meets a guy for the 1st time and invites him to a party. At the end of the conversation the jock says “I’ll call you later with the address.” They just met and the other guy is new in town, so how’d he get the number? And why can’t he just tell him? It reminded me of a friend of mine. You call the dude up and say “Hey wanna go see a movie later?” or whatever, and his response will always be “Yeah that sounds good, let’s talk later and make plans.” WE’RE ALREADY TALKING NOW, ASSHOLE!

Whoever the hell plays Tamara is pretty hot. Sort of a cross between pre-Cruise Katie Holmes and whatshername from That 70s Show.

What say you?


I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

MAY 29, 2007


At long last, I can bring closure to the part of my life that felt empty by not knowing how the I Know What You Did Last Summer series turned out.

Who the fuck asked for I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer? The first one was a hit, but isn’t really fondly remembered by anyone. I recall attempting to watch it 2 years ago and being bored out of my goddamn mind. But, unlike many slasher films of the past ten years, the film had a relatively low body count and most of the characters were actually well developed (I was actually sort of sad when SMG’s character died, and that entire sequence is pretty top-notch), so I have some mild appreciation for it. However, the end of the film is a total cheat and complete bullshit. You can’t have a whodunit and not actually introduce the fucking killer until the reveal! Assholes.

The 2nd film was universally hated by all, and rightfully so. It’s complete shit. It was one of the first DVDs I bought (a blind buy) along with the Carnival of Souls remake (also blind buy), and I returned them both, vowing never to blind buy again (a vow I continued to hold for close to a week, when I bought Pi, a film I still haven’t watched! EIGHT YEARS LATER!).

So needless to say, a 3rd film wasn’t high on my priorities. But since the last few films I watched have been quite good, I rented it in order to restore balance. Sadly, it wasn’t horrible. It certainly wasn’t GOOD, but its miles ahead of the last one and there are shades of actual talent to be seen (or heard – the score is quite good, if basically stolen from Explosions in the Sky) here and there.

Things started off promisingly, with the Destination Films logo. I thought they had gone the way of Savoy and Largo! Hurrah!! But it quickly went downhill once we meet our male lead, the sadly named Colby. This guy is the worst actor I’ve seen in ages (not to mention has one of the worst lines in recent memory: “He’s like Jack the Ripper only he never got caught!” Oh for the love of…). Not that I expect anything from a DTV 2nd sequel to a bad film, but come on. Actually, on the subject of the actors – whoever cast this thing was clearly following a guidebook handed out by the makers of The OC – We have a blonde ‘hunk’, a sort of ‘cool’ dork, a hot brunette, and a vapid dirty blonde haired girl. Great. If anything, I would LOVE to see the four of those douchebags (especially Adam Brody) get diced by a guy with a hook, but getting their 2nd rate clones doesn’t quite fit the bill.

From then on it’s more or less OK though. Had the editor not been a fucking douche obsessed with Avid farts, the film could almost be considered “good”. The DP has got a great eye and the overall look of the film is pretty impressive (again, considering what we are dealing with here), and pulls off some really nice compositions. But the editor fucks them all up with his idiotic jumpcuts and superimposed images. I’d usually blame/praise the director, but since he’s a guy who will apparently direct whatever he’s offered (his next film was Stomp the Yard) I’ll just ignore him entirely.

UPDATE - I watched the commentary and he actually takes credit for the avid farts. According to him, they "emphasize the angst and panic" of the characters. Well, fine, but no, they don't. He also talks like he invented horror movie clichés, saying things like "See, what I did here was let the audience think everything was OK, and THEN I bring out the danger." Wow! If only the directors of every goddamn horror movie ever made hadn't thought of that first, you might be some sort of visionary! Fucking tool.

The only other major problem with the film is its idiotic conclusion. Clearly the writer has some clever ideas (I loved the bit with the note the main girl gets), but, much like the first film, the ending is totally bullshit. Despite giving us like 10 red herring characters, the real killer is… the same guy from the first two! Except now he’s a zombie. What? Who the fuck thought that would be a good idea? And not just any zombie – he’s the type that can take like 10 shotgun rounds without flinching but yet a hook in his foot makes him pause and howl. And much like The Burning, if his identity isn’t an issue, why does he wear a mask? Answer: to mislead the audience. It benefits no one in the context of the film, it only serves to keep the people at home guessing. Sort of like The Village, where they only talked like they were in the 18th century so as not to spoil the “surprise”. Well fuck you. There are also some other script issues that bugged me, such as early on when they are in the ‘it was an accident!” scene and someone says “Was it?” while they focus on another character. Ooh, did they intentionally kill the kid for some reason? Were they ex-lovers? Or ex-Nazis? Or anything???? Well who knows, they never address the issue again. But maybe the mongoloid who edited the film removed those scenes because he couldn’t figure out a way to superimpose images of ski lifts during them.

And not that I am sticking up for I Still Know… but when they look at a newspaper article about the events of that film, the headline reads “FOUR TEENAGERS KILLED”. A lot more than four people died in that movie, and many of them (Jeff Combs, Jennifer Esposito, Bill Cobb) were adults. Let’s stick to the facts (however idiotic they may be), people.

In closing, I would like to say that if you plan to watch this film because you think the girl on the left side of the cover is hot, don’t bother. She’s not in it. There are only two females of note in the film (and they are also on the cover). Weird. And in another DVD oddity (though one I rather like): When you stop the DVD, rather than see a blank screen or the DVD player's screensaver, the name of the film appears. I like that! Sometimes I hit stop on a DVD and don't come back for days, and then I'm all "What the hell was I watching? I don't want to hit play to find out!"

What say you?


The Fearless Vampire Killers

MAY 28, 2007


In 2003, a musical called Dance of the Vampires opened on Broadway. It was an Americanized version of a German musical named Tanz Der Vampire. Both were based on Roman Polanski’s film The Fearless Vampire Killers, and the songs were written by none other than Jim Steinman, who, as I’ve said previously (maybe even to you) is the greatest songwriter of all time. I even gave his webpage a link on the right, so you know I consider him as worthy as the IMDb and Wrong Turn 2.

Unfortunately, the show closed by the time I finished reading the article about it opening. It remains the biggest failure in Broadway’s history (it should be noted Steinman himself disowned this version, as it was completely rewritten and overhauled to suit the tastes of Michael Crawford, who played the lead role). Had I actually gotten to see the play, I am sure I would have checked out the source material sooner, but alas. But after finally seeing it, well...

To be fair, it’s not a horrible movie. It’s just not funny at all. And it’s supposed to be. I think I laughed like 3 times, and offered a few “heh”s throughout just to be polite. The final chase is fun, and the ending is darkly humorous, but it takes too long to get there. Spoofing vampire myths (and previous films) is certainly a valid idea (Dracula; Dead and Loving It notwithstanding) but Polanski failed to milk the material for what it is presumably worth. First of all, the Dracula-ish Krolock is barely in the film, and when he is he’s not really doing much. Instead, a full third of the film seems to be people tripping or getting hit by a bag full of vampire hunting tools. Not funny the first time, not funny the 100th. Maybe little kids would like it, I dunno. Then again, I still pay to see Chevy Chase movies that were made past 1989, so what the hell do I know from funny?

I never saw Sharon Tate before watching this film. Man, Charles Manson is a total fucking asshole. Not that I had any sort of reverence for the guy like some assholes do, I just didn’t care. But no, he’s a fucking asshole (read: she is amazingly beautiful). Oh well.

What say you?


Cujo (1983)

MAY 27, 2007


I can’t recall if I ever saw Cujo in its entirety. It seems like some scenes I have seen like 20 times (particularly the one where Ed Lauter and his Ricky Jay-ish friend get drunk and scare Cujo), while other parts I felt I had never seen at all (like Dee Wallace’s affair with the handyman). And still other parts I wish I still hadn’t seen, like the one where the kid attempts to cheer up his parents by making Jaws references. Not cute, guys.

But I know for sure that it was the first time I saw it projected in someone’s backyard.

Yes, a friend of a friend has his own little backyard theater, and I tagged along for a viewing of the film. The print was quite well preserved (though it was cropped to 1.33:1) and had a trailer for REVENGE of the Jedi attached to it! Sweet. It made me think of a certain section in Kevin Murphy’s outstanding book “A Year at the Movies”, which chronicled his attempts to go see a movie every day for a year. One might assume I stole the idea for this blog from him, but I would like to point out that A. His experiment was only a year, whereas I intend to do this until I die or forget to do it., 2. All of his movies were theatrically screened or at least seen in some sort of public space (like an airplane), and D. He would see the same movie multiple times. I think I counted like 9 screenings of Jurassic Park III alone. Also he charged people for his stories/reviews! The bastard! Then again, if I was even a tenth as funny as he was I’d probably be in a position to charge for this too.

Anyway, back to Cujo. It’s definitely one of the better King adaptations (that did not involve Romero or Darabont), so there’s something. I never read the book, but I do know the ending was changed so as not to be awesome (i.e. the kid now lives). I also know the book was partially told from the dog’s perspective, a strange idea which Lewis Teague make a valiant effort to retain. Maybe I’ll read it over the summer.

Several times during the film, I found myself wondering if the film was actually directed by Victor Salva. Throughout the running time, no less than 4 male characters are seen shirtless (including the young kid, who also goes sans pants for the final third) and yet during the sex scene, Dee Wallace is not only not nude, but actually wearing a GIANT RED SWEATER. Given that a major plot point hinges on the fact that it’s the peak of hot summer, why the hell she would have a sweater on is beyond me.

But whatever minor problems the film may have, at least Cujo always looks threatening once he is rabid, unlike the barely interested and occasionally happy looking dogs of The Breed.

In closing, I would like to say that I wish all films featured subplots about ad campaigns for breakfast cereal.

What say you?


Bug (2006)

MAY 27, 2007


Before I begin rambling, I'd like to offer you, dear reader, a bit of dialogue from Bug that I particularly liked (and have probably misquoted):

“Don’t kill crickets, it’s bad luck.”
“Who said that?”
“I don’t know, probably a really smart cricket.”

I love lines like that.

William Friedkin gets a lifetime pass from me. Not because of The Exorcist, a film I’ve never loved as much as a horror fan “should”. No, because he made one of the small handful of Chevy Chase films in which he actually had to ACT a bit. That film would be Deal of the Century, a 1983 comedy/drama about arms smugglers. Chase is more or less the straight man in the film, and is pretty good actually. As the world’s number 7 or so fan of Chevy, I appreciate when a director takes a chance on Chevy as an actual actor (coincidentally, one of the others is John Carpenter, who, like Friedkin, is forever coasting on his 1970's horror classic) rather than just have him fall down and act like a moron.

Deal was a dud in its day, probably because it was marketed as a regular Chevy comedy. I bring that up because, well, I like to reference Chevy whenever possible, but also because Bug is also being totally mismarketed. It’s barely a horror movie at all, it’s a psychological thriller. So if you go in expecting a full blown horror flick about bugs, you are bound to be disappointed (though there is a scene that rivals anything in Hostel or Saw for extreme “GAH!”-ness). Also, be warned: the film is based on a play.

A Few Good Men. And uh… that might be it for films based on plays that are actually good (not counting musicals). So many of them fail to actually make their film CINEMATIC, which is the entire point of taking them off the stage and onto the screen in the first place! Bug mostly fails to do this either. The film only has about 6 scenes in it, all in one room, where characters come and go. I didn’t even know it was based on a play, but I successfully guessed it was less than halfway through. Friedkin and DP Michael Grady pull off some effective and interesting camerawork, considering the obvious limitations, but as a whole, the film fails to escape its stage trappings.

Not that it’s bad, not at all. The acting is great (been a fan of Michael Shannon since Pearl Harbor, which is a real testament to his acting ability and screen presence), the story is interesting, and the uncomfortable nature of the film, particularly in the first hour, is top notch filmmaking. But it sort of unravels near the end, with the actors delivering nonstop monologues that are probably exhilarating on the stage, but onscreen they just drag. And the lack of answers in the end is a bit frustrating. Whether you think he really is bugged or just plain crazy is up to you, and the film offers more or less equal evidence for both. But there is no dual explanation for Dr. Sweet, or the helicopter that occasionally makes the room look like it is the victim of a localized earthquake.

Oh well. I still recommend the film. I can guarantee it’s the only film this year that will offer Ashley Judd’s breasts AND Michael Shannon’s bush.

What say you?


Mimic (1997)

MAY 26, 2007


I recall driving to the theater to see Mimic during its theatrical run in the summer of 1997, because my friends and I made plans earlier in the day to see it. But they didn’t show, so I called them from a payphone and found out they had decided to do something else, but since I was out they couldn’t get in touch with me. Yes, none of us had cell phones back then. Feel old? Oh wait, that makes me old. Not you.

Anyway I never got around to seeing it until today. Granted, since then I have seen and loved all of Guillermo Del Toro’s other films (especially Devil’s Backbone), but none of those films were from Dimension, ruiner of all things… well, of all things period. Del Toro has more or less disowned most of the film (he said about 40 minutes or so are HIS, the rest is ‘ruined’), so I never really had much interest. But… as you know, this thing is all encompassing; if I haven’t seen it, it gets queued without prejudice.

And shockingly enough, I really dug the flick. One can sort of tell where the Weinsteins were calling the shots and when they were leaving Del Toro alone, but it still works as a whole. In a way, it’s sort of the exact film I would love: it’s half “film” and half “movie”, to use vague terms. When I watch a Del Toro movie, I expect great visuals, a sense of genuine love for the art of filmmaking, and a sort of dreamlike, lulling quality (which is why I prefer his Spanish films to his American ones, which are often wall-to-wall action). And when I watch a Dimension movie, I want a few gory deaths, a brief appearance by a screen legend* mixed in with a bunch of younger, “hip” folks, rapid fire editing, and the feeling that what I am watching was written and directed by a robot. Mimic offers both!!!

There’s also a hilarious inadvertent sort of passing of the torch from F. Murray Abraham to Mira Sorvino – both of whom are Oscar winners who never again came even remotely close to scaling that wall again. And it’s sort of weird to see Jeremy Northam as a CDC bigwig, since he plays the exact same guy in this summer’s god awful Invasion.

Plus it’s got an autistic kid who is an expert on shoes.

What say you?

*Peter O’Toole – Phantoms. Roy Scheider – Dracula II. Nick Nolte – Nightwatch. Etc.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon

MAY 25, 2007


In honor of Star Wars day, I decided to watch a movie with rape (you figure out the connection).

Actually that’s not entirely false. What happened was, I was gonna watch a movie called Slashed Dreams, which from the description on the sleeve (this is from the budget set, naturally) sounded like a decent (read: awful) enough rip-off of Last House on the Left. But then I glanced at the other side of the disc and saw Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (aka Mansion of Madness), which was described as a “sanitarium that gets overtaken by the inmates” movie. Sounded like it could be a gory romp.

Instead, it was sort of like Barry Lyndon by way of Calvaire. The nuts aren’t really that violent, they mostly just wear colonial clothing and put on plays. But at one point, one of them rapes a minor female character, but it’s ‘tastefully’ done, as we hold not on the rape but of another inmate with a hat made of branches laughing at it.

Naturally, some fun can be had at the mockery of mental illness. Lines like “You have three shadows even if you refuse to believe me!” will always elicit a chuckle from me. I was also amused by the repeated mispronunciation of sanitarium (sounding like ‘sanitorium’). Also, the main chick is quite hot. But it’s not enough to recommend the film, unless you are a die hard fan of watching guys in powdered wigs run around a forest. The weirdness grows tiresome after awhile, and you want something to just HAPPEN. Which it never really does.

And if anyone can explain why the opening and closing of the film was seemingly shot through a Nintendo Virtuaboy, by all means explain it here.

I can feel my neck and back hurting all over again!

What say you?


Fright Night

MAY 24, 2007


As previously stated (somewhere, not necessarily here), in my (increasingly rare) spare time I write a cartoon about horror movies. Each episode follows the plot of a well-known (or not) horror movie, but is also about that horror movie. Sort of like that South Park episode where they go on a journey to return Lord of the Rings to the video store (an episode I did not see prior to developing the concept, not that I can prove it). Anyway, one of my favorite ideas was to do a Fright Night episode, where one of the main characters would be convinced that (Fright Night star) Chris Sarandon has moved next door to him and needs the help of one of the other characters, an expert on 1980’s cinema, to prove it. But the episode has not yet been written, because, sad is it may be, I hadn’t seen the film since I was seven years old.

As you can probably tell from the frequency of subgenres, I am not a big fan of vampire films. Slashers and zombies are more my will forte. So even during the late 90s, when I began buying scores of 80s era horror movies, Fright Night was not one of them (and still isn’t, as the DVD is bare bones and has pitiful 2.0 sound!). But watching it again now (via Netflix), I can definitely recommend the film 100%. Though not a perfect film (the subplot about Amanda Bearse’s character being a dead ringer for one of Dandridge’s lost loves is underdeveloped to the point of “why bother?”, and there’s a completely ridiculous plot hole regarding Charlie’s knowledge of vampires), it’s definitely one of the best of its kind. Lean and refreshingly uncomplicated (even at 1:45, this film flies by), Fright Night remains just as effective today as it was in the height of the 80s. There are no attempts to circumvent traditional vampire lore, nor does it present its vampires as some sort of power hungry gods. Instead, everything is direct, to the point, and FUN. More importantly, other than the outfits and occasional soundtrack choice, nothing is dated, which is a real rarity for the time. And I defy anyone to find a (non porn) film that offers two gay icons for the price of one!

Strangely, one of the films Charlie watches is Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. So, had I watched this recently enough to disqualify it for HMAD, I wouldn’t have recognized it. Good timing on my part! The film also pays homage to horror hosts, something I addressed in my Deathdream review. I tell you, these bizarre coincidences never cease to briefly amaze.

What say you?


House of the Dead (1978)

MAY 23, 2007


I’m starting to remember why I rarely watch anthology movies (and further, why they are so rare): they suck! There’s a handful of good ones, sure, but most of the time, it’s usually one entry that anyone remembers and the rest of the stories are completely forgettable (i.e. the Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror).

Well House of the Dead, much like Nightmares, was terrible all around. Nightmares didn’t even bother with a wraparound, but here the wraparound was almost the only story that lasted more than 10 minutes. We start off great, actually, with some people fucking and then the first line is “Sometimes I feel bad for your wife.” Wooo, affairs!! But then things quickly go way south, as soon as the guy pulls out and attempts to go back to said wife, and instead winds up at a mortuary.

Unsurprisingly, all of the stories are about the new “arrivals” at the mortuary, which is a fine setup for a anthology, even if the conclusion is immediately apparent once you realize all of the characters in the stories are, like our lead, total assholes. The first is a teacher who hates kids. She goes home, hears noises, freaks out a little bit, and then some kids with wax lumps for teeth attack her using the “Invert Solarize” filter from After Effects. Then there’s a guy who tortures women and videotapes it, thus inadvertently providing evidence to convict/hang him. The 4th story is about a guy who falls down an elevator shaft and nearly dies a couple times, until someone gives him some wine. Then he leaves. The end! We don’t even see his death; instead, the mortician guy just says “Oh he died later of liver problems.” I swear I didn’t quickly sum up any of these stories. That’s really all there is to them.

The 3rd story is the only one comprised of more than 2 or 3 scenes, with two criminologists (hilariously profiled, according to them, in Rolling Stone (!!!). I didn’t know they had time to rank the nation’s criminologists in between articles about Hinder and George Clooney) attempting to outwit each other, Prestige style. It’s not much better, but at least there’s a story that couldn’t be shown its entirety in between commercial breaks. And one of them calls the other “The Master of detection”, which brought to mind the appropriate "Resident Evil" dialogue.

That story also contains the only actor in the film I recognize: Bernard Fox. He is one of the nicer rich folks in Titanic. And like Titanic, the film is narrated by someone who wasn’t fucking THERE for half the stuff we see! At least Titanic wasn’t as laughable, since Rose was at least a character in the events, and maybe Jack took the time to tell her what he was doing while she was elsewhere. But how the fuck does the mortician know what happened in scenes where the only person in them is now dead? I was expecting perhaps he would turn out to be the devil (or maybe an alien, which would explain the movie’s sometime title Alien Zone), but no, he’s just a guy who rides shotgun in an ambulance. OK.

At the end, the main guy is shot by the husband of the girl he was nailing at the beginning, thus providing the only part of the movie where there was any sort of justified conclusion.

The best thing about this movie is that it was listed as 100 minutes but only ran about 76 (thus somewhat evening out the Alpha Incident running time snafu). Maybe there is a longer cut which adds things like ‘characterization’ or ‘plot setup’ to the stories (all of the stories seemingly begin 5 minutes in. For example, why not have a scene of the teacher in her class, yelling at the kids, rather than simply giving her a permanent scowl to let us know she’s a be-yotch?), but I certainly hope not. 24 more minutes of this movie is more than any man, woman, or kid with wax teeth should endure.

What say you?


Deathdream (1974)

MAY 22, 2007


During the first week of this whole ‘Horror Movie a Day’ thing, I looked at my Tivo “Horror” wishlist and saw that Bob Clark’s Deathdream (also known as about 900 other titles) would be airing. Naturally, I… did whatever you do to schedule a Tivo recording on your wishlist (seriously, it’s like a 9 step process. "Record?" Badoop! "Confirm?" Badoop! "OK, it’ll record." Badoop! "Go back?" Badoop!)

Anyway, after it had recorded, I sat down to watch it and saw that it was actually airing as the movie for a sort of syndicated horror variety show called "Horror Kung Fu Theatre". At first I was quite excited, as I am a big fan of Zacherley, Elvira, etc. and frequently bemoan the seeming demise of “Horror Hosts”. So I began to watch. After a few minutes I realized that these guys lacked the charm and talent of Elvira and such, so I mentally (or maybe verbally; with me it’s a strong possibility) thanked them for their effort and fast forwarded to the start of the actual movie. After 20 minutes of “Kung Fu” elements, Deathdream finally began. Five minutes in, they went to commercial. When they came back, it was the Kung Fu people again. After another 10 minutes of their shtick, they went back to the movie. Having never seen it, I wasn’t sure if the film was just poorly edited or if the Kung Fu folks had just skipped a chunk, as everything seemed to be further along in the story. Not thinking much of it, I continued to watch, when all of a sudden, mid-scene, they faded to a bad magician. What the fuck?

Make a long story short, this continued throughout the entire film. All in all, maybe 25 minutes of the 80+ minute film was actually shown. The rest was commercials and skits. Even the ending of the movie was cut out in order to show a ninja singing or something. Needless to say, I was appalled. Smoothly cutting out a scene or two to fit a two hour block w/commercials and host segments (like MST3k does) is forgivable. Cutting away in the middle of scenes (and bizarrely, sometimes they would cut away from their ‘talent’ in the middle of their performance and go back into the movie!!!), removing entire 10-20 minute chunks of the movie with no rhyme or reason, and cutting out of the movie for good with 10 minutes left is just asinine. Via their Myspace, I emailed the show host and fairly politely asked why they bothered showing a movie at all since they were clearly more interested in showcasing their friends, and he berated me and more or less told me to fuck myself. Well hey, who am I to question a singing ninja who airs at 2 in the morning.

Luckily, the New Beverly showed the film in its entirety last night, so I was able to see the whole thing. And I liked it a lot. While Joe Dante’s Homecoming episode of Masters of Horror basically remade it with better makeup and a shorter running time, it’s still an effective and quite depressing film about the effects of the Vietnam War on the average American family. Sure, being a Clark film, there’s a lot of offbeat humor, but it doesn’t take away from the impact. The ending, which the singing ninja deemed less interesting than him and his friends goofing off on sub-public access quality video, is particularly haunting/sad.

I urge everyone to seek out and watch this film. Some of the titles it may be listed under are The Night Andy Came Home, Dead of Night, Night Walk, The Veteran, Whispers (???), and Soif de Sang. Whatever the title, just be sure you don't watch it on anything involving a ninja.

It’s a shame Bob Clark focused more on comedies (and then, family comedies) in his later years, as all three of his horror films are highly entertaining and completely unique (at the time anyway). I would have loved to have seen more from him. But alas.

Eli Roth is supposedly involved in a remake of this. With the current political nature (whatever it may be) the film could be quite interesting, as long as Eli retains the (subtle, unlike Dante’s film) social/political angle in lieu of exploiting Jordan Ladd (whiich I don't have any problem with otherwise, for the record). Clark himself was planning on a remake of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, so I have no idea if that is going forward, but that too could be hilariously updated for today. Have a group of interpretive dancers get killed by zombies! I’ll love it!!

What say you?


Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)

MAY 22, 2007


As previously reported here (and, presumably, legitimate news sources), director Bob Clark was killed earlier this year by some douchebag drunk driver. Last night, on his birthday, the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles paid tribute to the man by showing two of his three horror classics: Deathdream and Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (Black Christmas was shown, in an amazing coincidence, at Christmastime, with Clark in attendance. Sadly, I missed it, and now I am even more upset about it). They also treated us to a few trailers from his career, including Porky’s and Rhinestone (sadly, no Karate Dog). Some of his collaborators from both films were on hand to talk about working with him, and the raffle prizes were mostly Clark-related. It was a great time. And luckily for me, I hadn’t seen either film, so I get two HMAD entries out of the deal!

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, or CSPWDT as it’s more commonly known in my head, is a strangely appealing movie. It should be awful. Nothing happens for over an hour, as a theater troupe just sort of hangs out on an island pretending to raise the dead. Then, with little warning, the zombies finally rise with 15 minutes to go in the film, at which point Clark and co. just rip off Night of the Living Dead (a fact co-writer/star Alan Ormsby freely admits). But yet, it’s far from boring. The characters are so delightfully wretched and dumb that nearly every action and line elicits a laugh from the crowd. My favorite is “Your vilification of Satan is rice pudding!” I haven’t the slightest goddamn idea what the hell that is supposed to mean, but I love it so. Other choice bits: “The dead are losers. If anyone hasn’t earned respect, it’s the dead,” “Man is a machine that manufactures manure,” and this exchange:

Man: “I peed my pants!”
Dress wearing woman who hasn’t even moved throughout the scene: “We all did.”

Additionally, there’s a moment late in the film that ranks as one of the all-time best moments in any zombie film. Our lead throws his girlfriend to the zombies, to improve his chances of survival. As expected, the girl gives him the “you asshole!” look, but then, ONE OF THE ZOMBIES DOES TOO!!! Even a brain dead zombie is like “Dude, that’s a real douche thing to do.” Then, he eats her.

Of course, enjoyment of this film is probably determined by the company you’re with. Seeing it with 300 like-minded folks will be much more preferable to watching it with say, my wife (who thought I was going to a “Bob HOPE tribute”).

Hey wait a minute… What the hell are you doing watching obscure 70s horror with my wife, asshole?

(Note - While the title offers sound advice, there are no children in the movie. For years I thought this was about zombie kids.)

What say you?


The Alpha Incident

MAY 21, 2007


You know, if I never see another Bill Rebane movie in my life, I'll die a happy man. But I don't plan to watch another one by next week so I guess it's a safe bet.

The Alpha Incident is by far his worst movie. A group of people are exposed to some alien virus and are quarantined inside a building. What could have been a great, Thing style claustrophobic chiller is instead a boring mess. Instead of anything interesting happening (contrary to what the composer tries to make us believe with his nonstop ominous loops), we get four folks (five if you count Buck Flower (!!!) who wisely exits halfway through. We're with ya George!!!) sitting in what looks like a regional car insurance office for 80+ minutes (more irritation - the DVD listed a running time of 86 minutes, but it was actually 95) talking about amphetamines, glucose, radios.... it's as dreadfully boring as it sounds.

Speaking of the music, you know that sound you hear if your video camera is hooked up to the TV and you point the camera at the TV? That sound plays over an entire scene for some reason, only to randomly cut out at one point. OK.

Sometimes we cut to a "lab" (read: high school science room) with "scientists" (Rebane's friends) "racing" (looking at microscopes) "against" (uh... opposed to?) the clock to cure the quarantined leads before they fall asleep and die. These scenes are as boring as the others, but at least it's a different room. There's also some sort of head doctor guy who occasionally calls the main folks to update them on the status of a cure. Or not. At one point he calls to simply say "I just talked to the lab. No progress." Then why the fuck did you call at all?

And, you know, no one expects a technical masterpiece from Rebane, but here he doesn't even seem to be trying (to fail). There's a scene early on of two people talking for what seems like seven and a half hours, and they are both looking screen right as we cut back and forth. Unless the characters are Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling, this is a giant cinematic no-no, and the fact that the scene goes on and on just makes it worse. Course, the only other angle of the room is an angled down one from a corner in the office, presumably achieved by placing the camera on top of a filing cabinet, so it's not much of a surprise.

The ending, as is typical of Rebane, can't be bothered to involve any sort of actual climax, with our lone survivor being shot (I think) and the movie freeze frames with him looking down at his "wound", roll credits. Whatever.

Sample dialogue: "I think it's time we took amphetamines." Me too.

What say you?


The Convent (2000)

MAY 20, 2007


Though I have yet to see them all, I have gone on vinyl as saying that Mike Mendez’s Gravedancers was the only really good movie to come out of the After Dark festival (certainly better than “festival winner” The Abandoned). Soon after seeing it, I placed his previous film, The Convent, on my Blockbuster queue. Where it remained (on top) for some 4 months before they finally sent it. Apparently, they only have one copy. The one I got looks like someone raped it. Both sides of the DVD are scratched, fingerprinted, and “scuffed” to hell. I am amazed my DVD player played it at all. What the fuck do people do to these goddamn things? How difficult is it to put the disc back inside its case/envelope when you take it out of your player? Christ, from the looks of this disc, it would actually take MORE effort on your part to fuck it up so much.

Anyway, while not as good as Gravedancers, it’s still an enjoyably silly gorefest. It’s very similar to Night of the Demons, but the difference is Mendez knows how to keep his movie moving. Most of our cast is demonized by the 40 minute mark, which is about when Night of the Demons gave us our first kill. And our opening scene features a woman shooting and immolating a bunch of nuns and a priest. As an 8 year veteran of Catholic school, I have the utmost appreciation for this sequence. Who hasn’t fantasized about killing all the nuns who told you that you were inferior because you used your left hand (to write)? Mendez (who reveals he spent TWELVE years wearing the ties on the DVD extras, the poor sod) realizes this dream for all of us, without the stigma of facing a possible fifty dollar fine for such actions. Behold the magic of cinema!

Also, those of you who were wishing that SNL’s "Goth Talk" sketch got made into a movie, this will be as close as you get. There is a group of fake devil worshipers in the convent, providing a few laughs (“No, you work at the Dairy Queen.”) in the same manner as good ol’ Azrael Abyss.

And while I could have done without the “cute” joke of Coolio talking about the evils of marijuana, he makes up for it by yelling “BE GONE EVIL DEMON!” or something to that effect and shooting at our Final Girl for no real reason. Coolio’s partner is played by Bill Moseley, in one of his last appearances before he turned into a horror convention staple, charging poor kids 20 bucks to sign their Devil's Rejects bullshit.

Speaking of horror conventions, this past weekend was the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors (hence these somewhat “late” entries). A grand old time was had by all. I met Frank Darabont, Neil Marshall, and Max Brooks ("World War Z" is the best book I have read in the past 3 years, during which time I have read some ten books). I also bought a Bava box set for the criminally low price of 25 bucks, a Halloween III shirt, and won a DVD of Mountaintop Motel Massacre (!!!!). The only bummer was my friend Ryan, who was supposed to moderate a few panels, getting a collapsed lung the night before and missing the whole thing. Oh that and the fact that Rob Zombie couldn’t even be bothered to show us a clip of Halloween (despite Fango promising us one). Instead, he acted like he hated being there, giving all of his answers in “Yes” or “No” format (a real problem when you couldn’t even hear what was asked in the first place), and literally running out of the auditorium after his panel. Way to win over everyone who thinks you’re the goddamn devil for remaking the greatest film of all time, asshat.

In start contrast, Joe Lynch (and two of the cast members), who directed Wrong Turn 2, won the entire place over by A. showing clips from the movie, 2. acting like he actually wanted to be there, and D. sticking around to talk to each and every fan. Even Eli Roth, who had to be somewhere after his panel, did his best to try to sign for everyone in his line. Dude was literally signing shit as he headed out to wherever he had to be. That is the type of guy I support. And you could see the impact it had on the fans: On Sunday, folks were still grabbing the WT2 posters (the pins were long gone), but not a single person mentioned Zombie’s Halloween other than to express their dismay about what a shitty panel it was. The whole point of the panels is to get people excited for the films, which is exactly what Lynch (and Hatchet’s Adam Green, and shockingly, Postal’s Zach Ward, subbing for director Uwe Boll) did. Hatchet has been drooled over for a while now, so that wasn’t as much a surprise, but who the fuck thought an Uwe Boll film and a DTV sequel would garner more of that “Whoa I gotta see this” feeling than Halloween or Doomsday (Neil Marshall’s new film, a panel which was also sans… everything). Kudos to the participants of all three panels for providing the fans with actual excitement for their respective movies. Especially nowadays, when horror films are tanking left and right, it’s kind of stupid to actually LESSEN fan’s interest by treating the whole thing like a chore.

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh, right, The Convent. Adrienne Barbeau! Good stuff.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Dead Heat (1988)

MAY 19, 2007


I somehow never got around to seeing Dead Heat as a kid. It seems like the type of movie that Cinemax would have aired every night at 10 or so, but somehow it always eluded me. I am ashamed.

Here’s a film that SHOULD be remade. Williams is fine, but Piscopo is pretty goddamn annoying. Maybe in 1988 his endless string of puns and mugging was amusing, but today it’s kick-in-the-face-worthy. A remake, with Nathan Fillion in the Williams role (fitting, since Fillion basically played Williams’ Deep Rising character on Firefly) and someone actually funny, maybe from Apatow/McKay’s crew (Rogen?) in the Piscopo role, would be one of the best horror comedies in ages.

Till then we have this, which despite the painfully 80s décor and characterizations (best: the police chief who yells at our heroes’ penchant for parking tickets and doesn’t seem at all concerned that about 30 cops were killed just hours before) still works. Any movie with Vincent Price is automatically at least somewhat awesome (Dick Miller was in it too for extra points, but the scene was cut), and the butcher shop sequence alone is worth the price of Netflixing the movie.

Bizarrely, Shane Black (who appears in the film, which his brother wrote) took whole elements from this film for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. There’s a scene near the end of KKBB with Downey Jr, Kilmer, Corbin Bernsen and a few of his goons that is lifted almost verbatim from this movie. Very weird.

Joe Picardo is also in it.

What say you?


The Breed (200?)

MAY 18, 2007


I have no idea what year this movie is technically from. The DVD says 2005, the IMDb says 2006, and it was released in a couple of theaters and on DVD in 2007. At any rate, I am referring to the one about the killer dogs who never actually appear threatening and starring that one guy from Black Xmas.

A few reviews back I pointed out a line that was just as useless as "He'll be unstoppable, unless we stop him." I forget which movie it was (probably a Rebane one) but it doesnt matter, because The Breed had one that topped em both: "He wouldn't be caught dead dying." WHAT?

There is also a 10 minute segment of the movie consisting of nothing but foreshadowing: from the car that doesn't always start, to the fact that one of the guys is handy with a bow and arrow, to the fact that the house has a zipline. It's borderline parody.

The level of dog violence is impressive: shot with arrow, slammed into tree, a couple get run over... the dogs settle for just biting the humans. But it's not enough to keep the movie from earning the increasingly common "Crap" label.

And fear not! The movie carries the fine "Wes Craven Presents" tradition of hiring a complete vacuum of screen presence as the lead (this time, uber bore Michelle Rodriguez, an actress whose appeal will never make the least bit of sense to me) and a much more interesting actress (Taryn Manning) as her friend. But then again, nothing about this movie really bothers to be different so I guess it's no surprise.

What say you?


The Devil's Den

MAY 17, 2007


The biggest war in the world is not in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s in the credits of The Devil’s Den. According to the IMDb and most reviews, the film is directed by genre fave Jeff Burr. On the DVD label, the director is listed as Andrew Dunt. And then on the film itself, the director’s name has changed to Andrew Quint. Look, can I get my name in there too? Why not? I put a lot of effort into watching the movie, since the moron at Blockbuster couldn’t be bothered to remove the security strip thing that prevents you from opening the case, so I had to go back to the store and get it removed. Then again, I should have checked, since the guy was a total idiot during the entire transaction (he called me to the counter by saying “Are you ready?”, even though he obviously wasn’t since I spent another minute at the counter waiting for him to take the movie from my hand. Then I asked him what I owed for Willard since I decided to keep it, and it took him about 4 minutes to solve that complex puzzle. Christ.).

Anyway, seeing that level of incompetence and bearing the obvious stink of a director taking his name off the film, one would expect the worst. But Devil’s Den wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t great by any stretch, but all I ask from a direct to video Devon Sawa movie is that I don’t spend the whole time looking at the ‘time remaining’ display on my DVD player (which is exactly what I did for most of They, by the way). Speaking of Sawa, dudebro needs to lay off the Doritos.

As any other review will tell you, this movie is basically the same as From Dusk Til Dawn (right down to a Dawn of the Dead cast member as the bar’s bad-ass), only… well, cheaper. And that’s fair, but it’s not like it’s the only film to ever copy another. And I can think of many worse ways to spend 85 minutes than watching Kelly Hu kick some ass. And all 3 principal cast members work well together, delivering many unexpected good lines and random asides (such as Sawa’s fear of squirrels).

Much like Burr’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Ken Foree demonstrates a remarkable ability to survive certain death. In Chainsaw he got half his head cut off by a damn chainsaw, only to come out at the end with a minor head wound, yelling “I made it!” (though to be fair that was a studio re-shoot, he died in the original ending). Here he is viciously attacked and repeatedly bitten by a vampire, but it amounts to him basically being out of breath (and totally healed a few months later in the film’s sort of pointless epilogue). God bless him.

And the completely lazy individual in me can’t help but have a little love for a movie in which its would-be hero (Sawa) spends the entire climax sitting on the ground watching Hu fight the big bad vampire. And Burr/Quint/Dunt/Me/Whoever adds to the hilarity by holding on him even when the fight goes out of frame. It’s hilarious. Then again, maybe Sawa SHOULD have fought a bit, and got some exercise.

What say you?


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

MAY 16, 2007


I saw Mary Shelley's Frankenstein when it first came out but I think I fell asleep. And either way, I didn’t know who John Cleese was at the time, so it’s certainly eligible for this thing.

Whenever DeNiro (in one of the last films in which he actually played a character) is on-screen, the movie is great. The sequence of him living in the barn is top-notch, as is his one on one talk with Branagh in an ice cave. He’s so good, he gets top billing even though he’s on-screen for less than half the film (he doesn’t even appear until the 30 minute mark or so). Unfortunately, all of the parts without him (i.e. with Branagh) are pretty much a bore. First of all, he’s like 45 playing 25 or so, which is ridiculous enough, but I never once buy his obsession. Aidan Quinn pulls off the parallel character in less than 10 minutes of screen-time, maybe he should have played Victor instead. Still too old though.

Like Coppola’s Dracula, the set design and makeup effects are the most interesting thing about the film. While I’m not quite sure why Vic cuts both DeNiro and Carter’s lips open just to sew them back up, it’s still a great appliance. Some of the compositing is terrible (the shot of the Monster’s hand bursting through the ice at the beginning looks like something out of Evil Dead), and there is a completely idiotic fire effect near the end (where walls burst into flames before the source of the fire even reaches them) but otherwise the 45 million it cost is well spent.

But for whatever faults it may have, the movie is automatically worth watching for the following line, which I am guessing is rarely spoken on-screen or off: “Brother and sister no more. Now we are husband and wife.” Well then!

What say you?


They (2002)

MAY 15, 2007


When I watch a movie for Horror Movie A Day, I keep a piece of paper nearby to write down things in the movie that I want to address (read: mock) later on when I do my little write up. After watching Robert Harmon’s They, my paper only had one thing written on it: “Embry!” (actually “Emby!” I write sloppily). For 95 minutes, the only thing in the entire movie that jogged my interest enough to pick up a pen and scribble was the fact that it had the guy from Freakylinks in it.

Needless to say, the movie was garbage. But it’s unfair to call They a movie (and the stupid title is really fucking with my grammar check). It is not a movie. It’s the filmed remnants of the production of a movie. A movie was written, sure. And people were hired to crew or star in the movie; that much is certain. One may even get the idea that the film is about a legitimate reason to be afraid of the dark, thus treading the same ground as those cinematic classics like Darkness Falls and Boogeyman. But somewhere in between the “let’s make this movie!” point, and the point of its theatrical (!!!!) release, the Bermuda Triangle or something came along and wiped out all traces of that. All that is left is… well, Ethan Embry.

Actually, a force of mysterious evil more sinister than the Bermuda Triangle can be blamed: Dimension films. While the credits are strangely missing the usual culprits (i.e. the Weinsteins), it nevertheless bears the mark of a Dimension production. While we’re on the subject, I should point out that the credits are probably the most fascinating part of the film. The poster and ads proudly claimed that Wes Craven “presented” this nonsense, but his name is nowhere to be found on the actual film (though it retains the “Wes Craven Presents” trademark – a wholly uninteresting female lead that has a hot friend/sister). The sole credited writer (a rarity for ANY horror movie, especially a Dimension film) is Brendan Hood, yet his script (available online) bears no resemblance at all to the film we are seeing other than two or three character names and a scene in a subway (he estimates his script was rewritten by no less than 10 writers, including uber-Dimension stooge Joel Soisson).

Whatever. The whole movie plays out like the first 15 minutes or so of a possibly interesting movie, stretched out to 95 minutes. You know you are in trouble when there are only 20 minutes of a movie left and the main character is still in the ‘I think I saw something’ stage. The ending comes and goes out of nowhere and makes no goddamn sense at all, though at least we can definitively say that the film has progressed (to being over) as a result. Bizarrely, the film includes a superior alternate ending (the only extra, not surprisingly) that almost validates the whole thing. In the alternate ending, the whole movie is revealed to be the psychotic delusion of the lead character. Normally, the “It was all a dream” style ending is a sure way to piss the audience off, but in this case, since there was nothing about the movie anyone would actually give a shit about, the fact that none of it actually happened would be perfectly fine by me. Plus it would make more sense that the film didn’t make any fucking sense. But no, they went with another ending that stayed true to the movie’s theme of being stupid and pointless.

There is absolutely no reason that this movie was released at all.

It’s funny that I decided to watch this film today though. The men’s room at my work has 4 lights with 2 fluorescent bulbs each, for a total of 8 bulbs. Since I would guess September of last year, the bulbs have been going out but no one has replaced them. We were down to 1 bulb, so if that one went out, it would be total darkness in there. Someone finally took the time to replace them all, so now it’s like walking into the goddamn sun because it’s 7 new bulbs. “They” won’t get me now!!! Anyway. Thought I’d share.

What say you?


House Of The Dead II

MAY 14, 2007


I usually defend the good doctor Boll, but even I fail to enjoy much of the first film in this series. There’s some insane charm to be found here and there, but for the most part it’s just an exercise in endurance. His subsequent films have been better, however. And bless him, he's just so batshit insane that I can't help but love the guy.

But since the first one actually went to theaters (and made a bit of money to boot), the fact that House of the Dead II went DTV gave me the impression that it was a true travesty. Shockingly, that cannot be further from the truth. Not only is it much better than the original, it’s better than several other, non-Boll related zombie movie as well. Realizing no one expected much from them, Director Mike Hurst and writer Mark Altman really stepped up to the plate here (not to mention that the DP on the film is none other than Ray Stella, who was camera operator on a little movie called HALLOWEEN. You can’t get higher genre cred!). It’s no Dawn of the Dead, but goddamn if it isn’t one of the more entertaining recent zombie films. The acting is more or less decent, the story is fast-paced (though not to the point of confusion, as in the first film), and the zombies actually act like zombies.

Strangely, it plays out like a video game! There’s a prologue that you don’t really need (I have noticed that many games, including the zombie-heavy Dead Rising, only show their prologues if you neglect to hit start right away), little bits of story delivered in between fairly non-stop action, a door that is blocked, human villains… the only thing that’s missing is a big boss.

But actually, what makes the movie work is the humor. There is some truly great stuff in here. A rather mean attack on the first film is one highlight (“Your boyfriend saved you with an immortality serum? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”), and an A+ (and somewhat subtle) Cheney joke is another. And most of the characters are likeable, especially Ed Quinn’s hero. Even Sticky Fingaz is pretty good (in his transformation scene he displays some pretty damn impressive pantomime). And Emmanuelle Vaugier… is not much of an actress, but that’s not why she keeps getting hired for horror movies.

There’s also a hefty bit of randomness thrown in throughout the film. Why does the entrance to the football field have a huge sign reading “NO SUNFLOWER SEEDS”? Why does everyone call Ellie Cornell (who apparently survived the first film) ‘Sir’? Why would a modern dorm room have a Static-X poster??? But it all adds to the movie’s unexpected charm.

Look, it’s not going to win any awards (unless there’s an award show honoring 2 year old straight to video sequels), but you can certainly do worse. I can think of at least 5 other recent zombie films, theatrical and DTV, that a lot of people really like and yet don’t have half the zombie action as this one. Kudos to everyone involved for taking what may have been the least requested film of all time and making something pretty good out of it.

What say you?


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