#31DaysOfHorror: Oct23

0

image

I must confess, after watching the original, I waited until after the stroke of midnight to watch the 1990 remake, Directed by FX legend Tom Savini. Part of the reason was that I was truly feeling bored after viewing the original, and also because I feel the remake is the superior film. Now before all you Zom-aniacs get your corpse paint in a bunch and shamble over here to moan your displeasure, chill the fuck out and read to the end of this entry.

image

The story is largely the same as the original. Barbara and her brother Johnny make a long drive from…somewhere…to lay flowers on the grave of a deceased parent(this time their Mother), Johnny is killed in the graveyard by reanimated corpse, and Barbara is chased into the woods, finding refuge in a house. The weak-willed and prone to hysterics Barbara finds more reanimated dead are coming for her, but just as she’s about to give up, reinforcements arrive as Ben, a tough black man arrives seeking gas for his truck, or shelter. Later the two discover more people hiding in the cellar, and tensions rise as the group battles to overcome their own fears while realizing that as they fight to keep the monsters out, the real monsters might be themselves.

image

Savini knew that the story wasn’t broke and didn’t need fixing, yet still added depth to all characters, particularly Cooper, Ben and Barbara. Cooper is portrayed with largely the same qualities, but he seems to be meaner, nastier, and a bit of a drunk in this version. Ben is portrayed by Tony Todd, who not only brings his amazing voice to the role but adds a soul to Ben not seen before. Todd’s Ben would never hit Barbara if she got hysterical, but instead helps her come back to reality and fight for her survival. Even his confrontations with Cooper seem to have just a little bit extra venom dripping from them. The biggest change is in Barbara.

image

In the original, Barbara served no purpose other than being the pretty woman in peril who screamed a lot. She contributed nothing but hysterics and pretty much got in the way all the time. Patricia Tallman starts the film off as a useless ball of hysterics just like the original. After facing the legions of the Undead with the help of Ben, she begins to find her strength and a determination to live through the chaos. This strength goes one step further as her transformation from Milquetoast to badass is complete in the 3rd act. She ditches her feminine attire for functional garb, arms herself and gains a killer instinct. Its for these reasons I feel this is the better version. The characters are far more engaging, the cinematography is better, the action seems to flow better, and since the Director is a FX legend, you know the Zombies are going to look sick!

image

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 22

0

image

Very few films transcend the Horror genre and even fewer kickstart a Global Phenomenon. Night Of the Living Dead was groundbreaking in it’s time and forever changed the landscape of fright films. Look no further than the success of properties like Resident Evil, Shaun Of The Dead, the Walking Dead, and Zombiewalk to see that The Living Dead are here to stay.

image

In plan on doing a very in depth review of NOTLD in the future, so I won’t get too deep into things just yet. Just know that a commentary on the themes of civil unrest, racial tension, and subversion will be made. I’ll also examine the lineage of NOTLD, its various sequels and spin offs, both official and unofficial. Trust me, it gets convoluted!

image

On this fine evening, I saw NOTLD presented by the Gentleman Hecklers. This is a local collection of 3 comedians who screen films, then sit in the front row with live microphones and talk shit about the film while it’s playing. Sort of a live version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, if you will. Something occurred to me that hadn’t during any other viewing of the film. It’s really boring at times! Don’t get me wrong, I still love the film, but having the Hecklers point out how much of the running time is taken up by absolutely nothing happening was somewhat of a revelation. How often do we, as devout Horror fans excuse “Nothing Happening” for a slow burn or atmosphere? I’m gonna say it goes both ways, it really just depends on how you view it. If you are by yourself or with other Horror Fans, lack of action can easily be nailed down to slow-burn psychological terror…but if you’re with your buddies and in the mood for a good time, then it won’t be long before someone yells “Boooooring! Let’s drink til Barbara gets naked!”

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 21

0

image

Chillerama – OFFICIAL TRAILER: http://youtu.be/pGUCX53u90I

Ah Chillerama…the Bible of Bad Taste! Here we have another film that I’ve reviewed before. As was the case with Pieces, this is another film I watch seemingly constantly. The biggest difference is that Chillerama fully intends to be cheesy as fuck.

image

image

image

image

Adam Rifkin and Tim Sullivan originally intended this project to be an anthology piece called Famous Monsters Of Filmland, based off the magazine of the same name. After shelving the project, the duo met Adam Green and Joe Lynch. Finding that the four shared a love of Horror, the project was revived as Chillerama. Lynch helmed Zom-B-Movie, while Rifkin directed Wadzilla, Sullivan directed I Was A Teenage WereBear, and Adam Green directed The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, these titles alone should tell you that this is required viewing. No spoilers! (My previous review of Chillerama is pretty spoiler heavy)

Do yourself a favor, go find this movie, grab a 6-pack and watch it with friends. True, there may not be a single fright to be found within this film, but it is a cinematic experience lovingly crafted by some wonderfully inventive directors who undoubtedly have a special place in their hearts for our favorite genre.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 20

0

image

I reviewed Pieces last year, and I’ve likely watched it at least 8 times in between then and now. Any film with the balls to carry a tagline like “You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre” deserves to be viewed as often as possible.

It could easily be said that Pieces is a train wreck of deficient characters spewing brainless dialogue in a wretched execution of filmmaking chock full of horrendous acting, atrocious dubbing, arbitrary situations, excessive nudity, and sexual overtones topped off with gratuitous bloodshed with the most painfully obvious red herring in film history…and you’d be totally right! That’s the charm of this prime piece of Grindhouse shit, it’s horrible in almost every way you can measure but thats what makes it so goddamn fun!

image

Young Timmy is painstakingly assembling a puzzle showing a naked lady, before his Man-hating domineering Mother puts a stop to this while cursing he and his Father before him for being dirty little penis monsters or something. Timmy reacts how any kid would and hacks his Mom up with an Axe, then finishes his puzzle, hides in the closet, and blames the murder on…some guy…it’s seriously the flimsiest of alibis. Fast forward 40 years, and we are introduced to a mysterious figure clad in black and dismembering co-eds with a chainsaw. Timmy seems to be all grown up and back to his murderous ways…but who is “Timmy” now?

image

What follows next is a string of awkwardly dubbed, clumsily acted and hilariously written scenes depicting idiotic police work allowing the campus Casanova to assist the investigation by teaming him up with a famous female tennis player who also happens to be a police officer, an inhumanly strong groundskeeper, and the most random Asian stereotype in history. I could try to describe more of the plot, but since it’s all nonsensical… Why bother? Whether it was intentional or freak happenstance, Pieces reminds us that sometimes being entertained by erratic fun is all you need, just as “The most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time”.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 19

0

image

The stink of Van Helsing pretty much put the kibosh on Universals plan to reboot their classic monsters. Dracula films always seem to pop up every few years, and most are hunks of shit. It should be fairly obvious to my regular readers that I fucking love Werewolves, and am predisposed to liking their films despite what can sometimes be glaring flaws, so hearing that Universal was releasing a dedicated reboot of the Wolfman, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

image

What we got was a somber, moody, dare I say Gothic interpretation that draws from greater influences than just its original source material. The story is largely the same, Lawrence Talbot becomes cursed after a cruel run-in with fate. He will become a savage beast with the rising of the full moon…and just as before, the Gypsies know EXACTLY what is happening to him and do nothing to stop it, just spew exposition. That part always bugged me.

Drawing influences from Jack the Ripper, The Hound of The Baskervilles as well as Werewolf of London, the film feels like a completely new experience while maintaining an iconic familiarity as well. Hugo Weaving is perfectly suited in his role of Inspector Aberline, and Anthony Hopkins, though restrained, is amazing as Sir John Talbot. His muted and sometimes lifeless portrayal fits that of an aging man who has been afflicted from Lycanthropy for years, has had it take his loved ones from him, and who now only lives for when the Moon is full. As much as I usually love Benicio del Toro, I found his portrayal of Lawrence Talbot to be odd. The Lawrence from this version has been in an asylum from a young age, and has spent much of his adult life as an acclaimed actor. It’s established from early on that Lawrence has a troubled relationship with his father, stemming from the night his Mother died. Any interaction between the two as adults is tense, cold and usually slows the pace of the film right down. Ultimately, I think it works though. The eerie setting of Talbot hall provides a creepy backdrop for these damaged characters to explore the tragedy of their lives. One criticism is that nobody really has big reactions to anything, but it kind of makes sense. Sir John is distant and aloof and has been ever since the death of his wife. “Look into my eyes Lawrence. You’ll see that I’m quite dead”. For Lawrence, the death of his brother basically sits on the surface, “I’ve missed his whole life”, and discovering that both he and his father are Werewolves feels to him like he is relapsing to his “delusions” as a child. He knows them to be true, because the insane don’t know they are insane, yet the insanity is real…making him  sane after all. Maybe I’m reading too much into it and it’s just shitty acting/writing. OK, enough bullshit…WHAT DOES THE FUCKING WEREWOLF LOOK LIKE?!?

image

I like the design, it feels like an updated/more fleshed out version of the iconic Lon Chaney Jr. version. Making good use of both practical and CG effects, and the creature runs both upright, as well as on all fours. FX legend Rick Baker lent his mastery to the project, although I was disappointed the transformation scene was CGI, instead of letting Baker dazzle us with another groundbreaking scene. Is the film perfect? Fuck no. But it hits all the needed requirements for an excellent fright Flick. Now if they would just make good on the tease of a sequel starring Hugo Weaving, I’ll be happy.

I’ll leave you with words from The Man himself, Sir Anthony Hopkins.  http://youtu.be/z98S-o2Oy2E

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 18

0

image

And so, we come to the third and final film in the Gates of Hell Trilogy, and as is becoming a trend with the films I review, I fucking hate the small child in this film! I can’t decide if I hate his face, his horribly dubbed voice, or his horrible portrayal/dialogue the most. Don’t get me wrong…I normally like kids. But stupid children in Horror films just really seem to piss me off lately. Every time this little shit said or did anything, I found myself yelling at the screen. “Shut the fuck up Bob! With your stupid little haircut and your dumb face!” , or “Fuck you Bob! Making those stupid truck driving noises with your mouth! You’re not cool, you little asshole!” Seriously. Fuck that little blonde haired git.

image

Now then, I suppose I should talk about the film a little bit, huh? Lucio Fulci is in fine form once again, crafting a film that is more accessible than The Beyond, but still rife with chilling atmosphere. And of course, the gore we’ve come to expect is still there as well, however this outing felt a bit more restrained and effectively used…Except for the bat-killing thing. That took way too long and used so damn much blood that it became hilarious.

image

The plot concerns the Boyle family, Paul and Lucy with young son Bob (FUCK YOU BOB!!!!!!), who move to Massachusetts so Paul can complete the work of a deceased professor who met a somewhat shady end. The move into Oak Mansion, the last home of the late professor, though the locals know it as “the Freudstein place”. Strange occurrences and ominous presences about as it becomes more clear that something sinister took place within these walls…and may still lurk within. That’s it! No spoilers! This is another must-see film directed by a Master of Horror!

image

As with the two previous films in the trilogy, the atmosphere is creepy as hell and has a surreal, dreamlike quality. There are a few plot-holes, but nothing so large as to derail the film. One of the best scenes of the film should reinforce a fear of basements for any child who dares to watch the film…but it also depicts Bob in mortal danger and scared out of his mind. Naturally, its my favorite part. No Halloween Horror marathon should do without the Gates Of Hell Trilogy!

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 17

0

image

After the last film, I felt completing the Gates Of Hell trilogy would be just the thing to get me back on track. I’ve already reviewed the film in my Let’s Get NASTY series ( http://wp.me/p3tjV6-mt ), so I won’t go back over old territory. I will however reiterate that this film still fills me with dread. There is something unearthly about the atmosphere and tone, something almost dream-like.

image

And of course, being a film by Lucio Fulci, it is dripping with Gore. Originally Fulci intended to make a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel that was built atop one of the Seven Gates Of Hell. This story focused on the dead leaving Hell and entering the Hotel, with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together. Zombies were still popular in Europe and interest in Haunted House films was non existent, so Producers and Distributors persuaded Fulci to give them something more like his other Zombie films. Revisions were made to the final product such as adding Zombies, and completely changing the final act to include the Hospital shoot-out. What we’re left with is a fantastic film that I consider one of Fulci’s best. Full of dread, gore, shocks, and a rare dream-like incoherence.

image