#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 18

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 16

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Right, so this film is terrible. I think we can all agree on that. The only reason I watched it again is I saw this as a HUGE wasted opportunity for Universal pictures. Originally intended to be a sort of reboot of the classic Universal Monsters line-up for contemporary audiences, the release also coincided with DVD reissues of the original films as well.

We meet the infamous Van Helsing, an enigmatic Monster Hunter in the employ of the Catholic Church. Van Helsing is played well enough by Hugh Jackman, but anything he may have done well is overshadowed by the seemingly endless piles of shit littering the film.

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The creature designs for the Vampires and Werewolves look decent enough, but they fall apart once rendered in this films flagrantly over-used CGI. They are left looking like something out of a particularly cool looking cartoon. Post-Interview with a Vampire, pre-Twilight, Vampires were still pretty popular and had not worn out their welcome yet. Still, somehow Van Helsing manages to give us some of the most insufferable Vampires ever depicted. OK, its kinda cool that when they Vamp out they turn into a kind of Demonic Bat Human hybrid…but was it really necessary to depict the Vamps cloaks/dresses morphing into their wings? What happens if they are naked? Do they still get wings? Fuck sakes… I can’t remember who played Dracula, nor do I care to look it up… It felt like the dude was trying very hard to imitate Bela Lugosi, and as you can imagine, he fails. Dracula is one of the most famous characters of all time, if you are going to portray this character effectively, you need to bring something special to the role. Also, one of the Brides is far too tan, Ginger, and big-titted for me to ever buy that she was once a Romanian villager.

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Yup…that’s how they’ve decided Frankensteins monster looks now. It’s like Frankie just decided to stitch on extra muscles when assembling him. The one thing about this abomination of an abomination that I enjoyed is the idea of the Monster being a tragic, misunderstood, and sympathetic character…even if he was overly articulate. Its not all bad though. The visuals in the film as stunning. Everything from the set design to character design(apart from the silly looking Frankenstein) looks fantastic. I’ve already mentioned Jackman doing a good job, but Kate Beckinsale deserves praise here too, although if she hasn’t already planned on fighting Vampires and Werewolves while wearing a Corset, I really have no idea what else she would do with her time. My favorite character was sadly killed off early on. The Creepy Undertaker.

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He had a presence about him that made me want to know what that creepy lil fuck was up to. He distrusts outsiders, Morbidly goes about measuring them for caskets during conversations, and even tries to kill Van Helsing, simply stating “It’s my nature”. I would have enjoyed the film far more if he were tagging along with the hero’s the whole time, working towards the same goal of killing Dracula, but still taking any opportunity to cause trouble and sew dissent.

If you have no particular affinity for the classic Universal Monsters, or aren’t much of a fan of Horror films, then this film actually works fairly well as an action/fantasy film. Its got all the right ingredients to succeed with mainstream audiences, except for heart. As we’ll discuss in later entries, the re-boot train has not stopped rolling, but does appear to be riding much more smoothly. Ultimately, Van Helsing was ambitious, and had some great ideas…but I think it stands as an example of what NOT to do.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 15

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The works of Takashi Miike are frequently peppered with sadistic torture, extreme gore, and graphic violence. For this reason alone, I feel that this Japanese gangster flick qualifies as a horror film. Miike’s unique ability to shock audiences shines through in this, his most ambitious and wildly beloved cult classic. Ichi premiered to a packed house at a midnight screening during the Toronto International Film Fest, and in a stroke of marketing genius, attendees were handed promotional barf-bags.

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Inspired by the eponymous Ichi The Killer manga, the story follows Kakihara’s search for Boss Anjo, who is believed to be either dead or to have run off with a girl and 3 million yen worth of the Gangs money. Kakihara believes a rival gang is responsible for the disappearance, and carves a bloody swath through the criminal underworld to find Boss Anjo. Then we meet our Hero(?), Ichi. Bullied from a young age, Ichi remains reserved until his inner rage bubbles over, transforming him into a sobbing juggernaut of violent rage. Erupting in a frenzy of flying kicks and bladed heels and leaving a sea of blood and entrails. How these two story paths interweave and collide is for you to see. This Masterwork of violence has to be seen to be believed.

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Everything from the costume design to the swirling camera work paints a stunning picture for the viewer, a strangely beautiful and artistic picture drenched in buckets of gore. Miike’s grue-infused sensibility casts a very big shadow over any future Japanese film makers, and any of his works are well worth the time to check. While a dubbed version exists. I cannot recommend strongly enough to watch the subtitled version. You’ll never look at Tempura the same way again….

#31DaysOfHorror : Oct 14

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1981 was a pretty awesome year for fans of Werewolf films. Both The Howling and An American Werewolf in London saw their release, making use of groundbreaking special effects that still hold up to this day. Both films managed to take old legends and stories, and bring them into the 20th century, and still stand as two of the best werewolf films ever made. In addition to these 2 classics, Wolfen was also released. Based on a novel by Whitley Strieber, the film is not about Werewolves as such, but evokes many of the same fears, while conveying a unique message.

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I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, because I think EVERYONE should see this film, so please bear with me. The plot follows New York cop Dewey Wilson investigating the suspicious murder of a wealthy land developer. Strange hairs are found at the scene what experts determine are the hairs of a wolf, but not any of the 50 know subspecies. Whomever or whatever is doing the killing seems to have a humans cunning with an animals savagery. Dewey finds himself desperately seeking answers, even considering the possibility of shapeshifters after talking to a group of Native Americans.

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If you’ve ever seen a full grown Timber Wolf angry, you know how terrifying it is. This film delivers some fantastic shots of truly beautiful creatures in ways seldom seen outside of Animal Planet. The film also offers an interesting look at trying to stay connected to the natural world while still within a suffocating concrete metropolis. Wolfen is most certainly NOT a Werewolf film, but still has that familiar feel to it. It examines the relationship between man and beast in a way that Horror films rarely see, while still giving us the tension and dread we so crave.

” In arrogance man knows nothing of what exists. There exists on this earth such as we dare not imagine; life as certain as our death, life that will prey on us as surely as we prey on this earth.”

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 13

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Jason Voorhees is my favorite monster. There, I said it! And y’know what? I’m not the least bit sorry!  I freely acknowledge that several(some would say all) films in the Friday the 13th series are pretty hokey, but I love them anyway. Maybe I can relate to Jason, the shy kid who was picked on for being different only to grow up big and strong and capable of removing heads from bodies. Maybe its that I saw most of the franchise during a particularly awesome summer of my youth and feel a connection to those special times. Realistically, it doesn’t matter to me why…just that I never get tired of these films, and Friday the 13th part 6 is one of my favorites!

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Subtitled “Jason Lives”, this is the film where Jason rises from the grave after being killed by Tommy Jarvis in Part 4.  Part 5 was intended to be the start of a new direction for the franchise, but things just never seemed to work out, so producers decided Jason would live again! I’ll discuss this 3 film arc in greater detail in the much delayed part 2 of Return to Crystal Lake(part 1 found here: http://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/return-to-crystal-lake-the-legend-of-jason-voorhees-pt-1/ ). This time around, producers embraced the fact that movie-goers had for better or worse, effectively embraced Jason Voorhees as the Machete weilding anti-hero of the franchise. By no means is he performing heroic deeds, he’s still up to his usual brand of slaughter, but now it’s being carried out with more black humor and style. Audiences didn’t want to see teens escape their grisly deaths, they want to see Jason kill them in increasingly violent and inventive ways. Check out the James Bond homage in the title shot. It’s clear who audiences were rooting for.

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This is also the film that debuted the iconic “Zombie-Jason”. An unstoppable, partially decayed corpse, somehow reanimated to cave in your fucking skull with an Axe! The reanimation scene in the cemetery calls to mind elements of classic Gothic films of yesteryear. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the Frankenstein similarities. As with so many films, cuts demanded by the MPAA have greatly cut down on the bloody fun that COULD have been contained in this film, but it’s still a fun ride full of lots of laughs, subtle fourth wall jokes, 80s cliches, and wonderful bloody Murder!

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 12

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“All right Booger-lips, it’s time for Troll Squish-Kebob!”

If you’ve ever seen an Ernest movie, you know the kind of daffy bullshit to expect here. By no means do I consider this a Horror film, or even a GOOD film for that matter. It is however a Nostalgic Halloween staple at the Havok Hideout. My parents gave me a pirated VHS copy (they probably refused to pay money for Ernest, totally understandable) and I watched that thing over and over again, countless times, regardless of the season. I guess I identified with the kids, Kenny and Elizabeth (Fuck Joey! I always hated that little shit! ), two kids who just love Halloween.

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Decades earlier, Trantor the Troll was terrorizing Briarville Missouri. Abducting children to use their souls to resurrect his wicked race, before being stopped by the reverend Phineas Worrell, who manages to stop the Troll and entomb him beneath an oak tree. As he’s being buried, Trantor prophesizes that one day a descendant of Worrell will release him. This is easily the heaviest plot ever found in an Ernest movie, but fear not, we’re jumping forward to idiocy right quick.

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After building a treehouse with Kenny and Elizabeth, Ernest let’s loose the troll to wreak Havoc on Briarville once more. Naturally, it’s up to Ernest and the kids to stop the Troll along with the help of local crazy, Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt). The plot is very kid-friendly, and Ernest’s antics are bordering on the cartoonish…but goddamn it this movie is fun. I’ll post a link to the full film below, so you too, can take a journey down guilty pleasure road.

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