Well, September is winding down…bout damn time too. awful month, HORRIBLE month. With October looming, Halloween is right around the corner. As has become my custom, every day in October, I will watch at least one Horror movie. This year I thought i might do something different and write a review of each of these films…or i may get bored with the whole thing and abandon it before it’s complete. That’s why they call it “trying something new” though…guess we’ll see how it goes. I should probably get a disclaimer or two out of the way in advance. I may tag certain people right off the bat, I may add others over time, and i may un-tag people if they choose to voice their opinions in a way that i find annoying. Also, I will have a pretty broad spectrum of what i feel would qualify as a horror film. Monster movies are obviously in, Paranormal/Demonic films are in, so-called “Torture Porn” is in, Exploitation films are in with discretion (as awesome as it is, “Dolemite” is not going to make the cut, while “I Spit On Your Grave” will), Psychological thrillers will definetly be included, Horror-Comedies…FUCK YES! If for no other reason that i can’t help but laugh at most horror films anyway. When i review a film that might be considered a questionable choice, I will include my reasons for includeing it.
Now on the subject of “Slashers”. I had recently been involved in a debate with a fellow movie buff/horror hound (christ, why do i wanna kick my own ass for having used those terms?), about whether or not Slashers are truely horror films. Her arguement is that because the characters are usually “cookie-cutter” cliches, the plot predictable, The killer almost never runs, and the victims are dumb and unlikeable, that there is no connection with the audience, thus no Horror. While i do not disagree with these points, I can’t leave slashers out because I imagine for most people of my generation that slashers were either their first, or very nearly their first intriduction to Horror films. Sure, they might not be enough to give us a fright anymore, but they are fun nonetheless. Fuck it…it’s my blog, and I’ll watch what i like!
Enjoy, and feel free to comment
First review coming Oct 1!
October First: Return of the Living Dead (1985):
My first selection was begun at the stroke of midnight. I wanted to make sure i kicked off the marathon on a high note, and I feel that this film is a perfect example. The orphan sequel to Night of the Living Dead, it rarely gets the credit it deserves. Everyone knows that George Romero is the Godfather of Zombie films, but what not a lot of people know is why only one of his films bears the moniker “…the Living Dead”, and the rest are simply “…of the Dead”.Night of the living Dead was written by George Romero, and a fellow named John Russo. Sometime after the release of NOTLD, Romero and Russo had a falling out, and Russo retained the rights to any titles featuring “Living Dead”, and Romero was free to create his own series of sequels. Romero churned out Dawn of the Dead, Day of the dead, Remake of the Dead, Premise of the Dead, etc… Rewind back to 1985, And Russo was set to make Return of the Living Dead, originally a vastly different film than was eventually released. It was slated to be directed by Tobe Hooper, but he Backed out, and Dan O’Bannon came on board. O’Bannon insisted on drastic re-writes to distance the film from Romeros works…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!The film begins at a medical supply warehouse (of all places). We meet Frank, Freddy who is a new hire, and Bert, the Boss. Frank decides to be a hotshot and mentions to Freddy that Night of the Living Dead was based on true events. Inspired by a chemical spill that made corpses jump around as if they were alive. He goes on to explain that the US army covered it up, and in what Frank calls a “typical Army fuckup”, shipped the contaminated bodies to their warehouse by mistake. When Frank takes Freddy for a look-see, they accidently rupture the canister the body is contained in, and a toxic gas leakes out, starting the outbreak, and signalling the coolest synthesizer opening credit music of all time! This movie is cheesy, not scary at all and in the case of dialougue, occasionally poorly written…but it is still fucking great! This is the first film where Zombies specifically eat brains, and not just human flesh in general. The make-up effects are great, if a little dated, and the “Tar-man” still holds up! As a teenager this movie was everything i wanted to see, Punks hacking up Zombies, Zombies eating punks, Linnea Quigley doing a full frontal strip tease in a graveyard(#FuckYeahDude!), Inventive kills, Slapstick humour, cheesy oneliners that would go on to become Genre classics, all set to an awesome Punk/Deathrock soundtrack. While it spawned severl sequels of far lesser quality (Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave was called “the worst cinematic atrocity to wound your retinas” by Rue Morgue magazine), this film still stands as a fun classic that is forever etched in my memory
October 2nd: Prince of Darkness (1987):
“Satan has returned…and this time he has the physics to prove his existance…and he’s PISSED!” Ok, so maybe that wasn’t the tagline for this film, but dammit it should have been. John Carpenter does it again with another horror masterpiece! It opens with the ever incredible Donald Pleasence going through the personal effects of a recently deceased fellow priest. He learns the deceased priest(that would be a cool name for a metal band) is the last surviving member of a secrect sect known as “the Brotherhood of sleep”. They had been charged with watching over and guarding aswirling vat of green liquid. Through his research, Pleasence discovers this vat contains a timeless evil the defies comprehension. In a surprising move from anyone of the clergy, he brings in a team of Physicists, Chemical Engineers, and other such Scholars. Its actually kind of cute “Ok…so our arcane faith has been refusing to aknowledge your works as truth…but now we need your science to prove that our story is true…truce?) I very badly want to get into more of the synopsis, but i will keep this review relativly spoiler free. However i will tell you that Alice Cooper plays a homeless schizo! Oh yeah, the sentient Satan slushy gimmick can control the minds of lesser organisms…like insects…and the homeless. Don’t ask questions. Homelice Cooper kills a dude with a bike. doesn’t run him over, doesn’t even hit him with it repeatedly…stabs the guy through the middle! With a Bike! Because FUCK YOU! John Carpenter does somethig really special in this film as he creates a genuine sense of dread with very few actual scares, and a ton of atmosphere. The score is awesome and is almost a character in and of itself. If you want to see an awesome horror film that is a true original, check this one out!
“You will not be saved by the Holy Ghost, You will not be saved by the Gog Plutonium, In fact…YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED!”
October 3rd: Zombieland (2009):
This film answers the question that Horror geeks and Zombir enthusiasts have been asking themselves for years: What would you do in a Zombie apocolypse? Hell, I know plenty of people who are actively planning for this, all with their game plans that seems fantastic on paper, but are sure to crumble and fall apart just like a perfectly grilled Goetta sausage with a fried egg on top with two slices of cheddar cheese between two pieces of sourdough toast…fuck you, i skipped breakfast. This film explores the absurdity of the situation. Make no mistake about it, it IS an absurd situation…everyone you know is either dead and eaten, or has turned into a zombie, civilization as you know it has ground to a screeching halt, and against all logic you…YOU of all people are somehow still alive and have had to become a multiple murderer merely to stay alive. If that isn’t Daffy enough to get a chuckle out of you, you may actually already be a zombie. The characters in this film aren’t identified by names, because as “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) explains, “keeps us from gettin too Familiar”. Rather, characters are identified by places the identify with them. Tallahassee is the token badass of the film with the most deranged, creative and charismatic Zombie kills, and is on a never ending quest for Twinkies. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a Neurotic bundle of OCD and phobias, who has come up with a very anal retentive list of rules for survival, that somehow allows someone who would be considered a weak link to have the best shot of survival. Wichita (Emma Stone…mmmmmmm sooooo much with the Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abbigail Breslin, yes, the goofy lil chubby girl from Little Miss Sunshine) are sisters who have had no other family presumably long before the outbreak, and are used to relying solely on themselves. Together these four make up a fucked up little makeshift family unit just trying to find a new place to call home in Zombieland, and to enjoy the little things along the way. The outbreak was even caused by a mutated strain of mad cow disease, which i thought was a nice little twist, and that logic even extended to the design of the Zombie make up. These aren’t re-animated Romero Zombies, these are violently sick human beings. The FX crew researched viral infections of all sorts when designing their makeup, and it shows! Bill Murray pulls off the greatest cameo of all time, Woody Harrellson and Jesse Eisenberg have great chemistry as a comic duo, and in addition to being laugh out loud fun, this movie actually has some deeper aspects to it and a real emotional depth to it. But who cares about that shit? You just want to see Woody killing Zombies while he is riding around on a roller coaster and cackling maniacly!
Columbus: You know there’s a place untouched by all this crap?
Tallahassee: Back east, yeah?
Columbus: Yeah. Yeah. You heard the same thing?
Tallahassee: Out west, we hear it’s back east. Back east, they hear it’s out west. It’s all just nonsense. You know, you’re like a penguin on the North Pole who hears the South Pole is really nice this time of the year.
Columbus: There are no penguins on the North Pole.
Tallahassee: You wanna feel how hard I can punch?
October 4th: Slumber Party Massacre (1982):
Ok, so when I was a wee lad, browsing the aisles of Double K video, or even Movietown before it went tits up, I remember marveling at the cover art for 80’s VHS tapes. Keep in mind, i was too young to be allowed to rent horror movies, despite my constant begging to my mom. The cover art of these films was vivid, and eye catching to a dgree rarely seen today. Cover art promised violence, terror, tits and good times! It was in later years that i found out that these movies were rarly as awesome as their cover art implied…but still pretty awesome. Exploitation at its finest! Slumber Party Massacre was one of the films that i remember catching my eye. A bunch of scantilly clad babes at the feet of a drill weilding psychopath, cowering in mortal terror and possibly somewhat aroused… Come to think of it, this goes a long way towards explaining some of my kinks…but thats another story for another time. The plot is somewhat predictable, barely dressed teens have a slumber party where they smoke pot and talk about boys, psycho lurking about, psycho slaughters the many. But This film had a tone that always struck me as somewhat different, and is funnier than most slasher fare. Both of these quirks can be attributed to the fact that the film was written by Rita Mae Brown. Its rare enough that a slasher film be written by a woman, rarer still that Brown is an Author and Feminist Activist. She originally wrote is to be a parody of slasher films, but producers decided to make it a straight genre flick. In a fairly unique move, the killer is identified as an escaped mental patient, names him as Russ Thorn, and leaves him unmasked, showing his face the entire film. This movie became so much more interesting to watch once i had learned of its Feminist roots, I started seeing many many metaphors. The killer is clad in blue jeans and a denim jacket, an everyday male kinda look for the 1980s, He lunges at his prey with a phallic symbol in a huge drill, mostly stabbing at them in an apparent rape metaphor. In the final battle, one of the more fiesty girls lops the drillbit off with a machete, metaphoricly castrating the rapist. Even promo spots for the film are dripping with metaphor. One in particular shows one of the girls huddled in a corner in that familiar scared/turned on manner, the killer stands in front of her , and our point of view is between the killers legs where slowly the drill bit is lowered into frame, hanging at an angle that Freud would cream his couch over, and reved menacingly. Ultimately this movie will never be remembered as an artistic classic, and it doesn’t have much in the way of charm. What it does have is a lot of screams, blood, boobs, and good times!
(girls are examining the body of the dead pizza delivery guy)Girl1: He’s so…cold…Girl2: Is the Pizza?
October 5th: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), and Moon of the Wolf (1972):
First up today is The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Hammer Films 8th Dracula film, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Made in the Early 70s, it still dripps with a 60s vibe. The plot concerns a Satanic cult, which we learn is controlled by Dracula, using their influence on prominent members of Brittish society into helping Dracula with a global death plot. Dracula has HAD IT! It used to be, his whole motivation was “oooo, I want that girl” or “hmmm, I want that Abbey in London”…this time Drac says “Fuck…EVERYBODY!” Its fairly evident that the Dracula franchise had pretty much run out of steam over at Hammer Films by the time this little nugget was churned out. Dracula winds up meeting his end after getting stuck in a hawthorne bush(…yes…he got tangled up in abush and was left helpless), which apparently is harmful to the undead because of some gimmick involving Jesus and a crown of thorns, and then staked by Van Helsing. For some reason the hencemen of the cult all wear similar rawhide and lambswool vests, with trademark 60s groovy beading sewn into them. These vests are so out of place with their otherwise black attire, that I cannot watch this movie without wondering what logic went into greenlighting THAT as a costume choice. Professor Van Helsing wins the award for best comedy moment when he double bitch slaps the germ engineering doctor, as if he were challenging him to a duel. It’s done so casually and with such a straight face that i wound up watching that clip over and over. If you have never seen any of the Hammer Horror films, do NOT start with this one as it is far from their best work, but it is still worth a viewing.
Nexy up, we have Moon of the Wolf
A small Bayou town is terrifed when local girl, whom we later learn was a total floozy, is found dead. Foul play is immediatly supected and most of the plot plays out like a “whodunit”. The only hint of something supernatural is the crazy old Cajun dude screaming about the Loup-Garou…but he’s the crazy old Cajun dude, so nobody knows that the fuck he is saying. Eventually the red herrings are killed off by the wolf, the wolf’s identity is revealed, and we have the standard 3rd act that we’ve seen in pretty much every werewolf movie. Oh, and just wait till you see the werewolf make up! Imagine a 3rd grader deciding he wants to be a werewolf for Halloween, we’ll call him Junior. Now Junior wants the best costume possible, but his folks are very poor. They surely can’t afford to go buy some fancy shmancy getup, but Momma does love him…and she was always pretty crafty. So Momma makes lil Junior the best Werewolf makeup possible, and while it is modest, it was made with love, and certainluy enough to win first prize at the school costume contest. Yeah, picture THAT, but on a grown man, and used in a movie. Im not sure why, but on some level i love this movie, yet i can’t pick out any specific quality i like about it. Nevertheless, if you like cheesy horror movies this is a good choice.
Oct 6th, Grizzly (1976):
Did you see Jaws? Did you wonder what that movie would be like if it were to take place on land, and featured a huge killer bear instead of a Shark? Well, wonder no longer, because that film exists in Grizzly. There is not much i can say about this films plot other than it is Jaws but with a Grizzly bear, but i don’t want that to give a negative impression by any means. The thing with creature features is that there are immediatly some people who wont get it, and will not enjoy whichever film it may be. Fuck those people! Grab a beer, sit back and enjoy a movie that doesn’t need much of a plot, and the experience is simple. Where this film is somewhat unigue is that unlike a lot of Giant creature films, The size of this bear is plausible. The Bear is described as being around 15 feet tall and weighhing roughly 2000 lbs. While this is extremly rare, bears can indeed grow to that size due to natural size variation within the species. Its similar to on occasion seeing a 7ft tall human. The film benefitts from the most unintentionally hilarious finish that i have seen in quite some time. I won’t spoil it for you, but i WILL say that i laughed so hard i nearly passed out, and kept rewinding that scene for about a half hour or so. If seeing a Ginourmous bear fuck shit up in a National Park, by tearing apart cabins to get to his prey, and making the mountain streams run red with blood seems like a good time, Then definetly give Grizzly a view.
Oct 7, My Bloody Valentine (1981)/ The Loved Ones (2009):
First off, I need to give a special shout out to someone who is pretty much the COOLEST PERSON TO EVER LIVE! Mr. Tom Pavlovic. Tom makes promo videos for ECCW wrestling, and does an incredible job! In addition to his love of wrestling, Tom shares my love of Horror movies. He had heard on Twitter, that i had been having a hard time finding My Bloody Valentine on dvd, and decided to Gift me with a spare copy that he had in his possession. As If that wasn’t cool enough, he sweetened the deal by throwing in DVDs of “A Blade in the Dark”, “Macabre”, “Basket Case”, “Basket Case 2”, “Nail Gun Massacre”, “Whodunit”, and “Junior…a cut above”. All out of the goodness of his heart because he knew these would make me happy. If anyone EVER says a bad word about Tom P, I will fucking fight you! Yo Tom! Much Love, Brother! Ok, so on the the blood and guts! My Bloody Valentine is a Canadian made slasher film, continueing on the tradition of centering the carnage around a Holiday. The plot entails a local tragedy that led to the birth of an urban legend. Valentine Bluffs is the setting, and as you can imagine, Feb 14th is kinda a big deal ’round those parts. Years after a series of brutal murders occured on Valentines day, the shaken Mining town is finally ready to move on and celebrate its namesake holiday again, only for a Killer to return and begin the slaughter once again. The use of the score, the naturally creepy setting of the mines, and the ominous mining suit worn by the killer make this a creepy afair. The story is compelling, with lots of subtle complexities…and C’mon…He kills people with a Pick-Axe…how fucking Badass is that? Upon its relese, this film was heavily censored due to studio backlash concerning the release of Friday the 13th, as well as pressures put on all film makers at the time to cut down on the violence in the wake of John lennons death. How do ya like that? Horror Movies had to suffer just because some asshole read a boring book and decided to shoot a musician.
Next up, We have The Loved Ones. This film will stick with you for awhile. It is one of a few films that upon viewing i spent equal time cringing in reaction to the over the top violence and sadism, and exclaiming with zeal and the levels this movie goes to. Make no mistake, This Movie Takes It FAR! We meet Brent, who politely turns down a request by Lola to go to the dance, only to find himself abducted by Lolas father. Brent is subdued and tortured into participating in a “homemade” prom set up by Lola and her father to enact a sick romantic fantasy. We very quickly find out how warped and damaged both Lola and her Father are, as the violence and insanity escalates further and further. Feet nailed to the floor with knives, throat enjected with bleach to prevent screaming, Lobotomies performed with Drills and boiling water, the list goes on and on. Lola is deliciously depraved and manages to pull off the kind of Crazy that is also incredibly sexy. Her relationship with her father is disturbing as well, with strong implications of incest. Her father watches her changing clothes, knows he should look away, but not being able to…Lola boldly looking right at him as she disrobes, daring him to look and enjoying that he does. Overall I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It is Incredibly twisted and violent, Original, and oddly erotic all at the same time. Enjoy, you sick fucks 😉
Oct 8, A Blade in the Dark (1983)
Thanks again go to Tom P for hooking me up with this one. The plot follows a composer who is working on the score for a mysterious new Horror film. As he is working on his composition, he is watched by unseen eyes and becomes involved in the slaying of several people in the villa he is staying in, as the details of the real murders bear a startling resemblance to the details of the film he is scoring. What is really interesting is that the Score being composed within the film, is played back onscreen and serves as the score for the actual film. It is well written and clever, very eerie and full os slow build creepiness. There is more i could say about this movie, but I strongly recommend you see it for yourself, as this Italian gem will not disappoint. Just remember to ignore the bad dubbing and the fact that nobody even considers calling the police when faced with the prospect of murder most foul.
Oct 9: Pumpkinhead (1988):
Legendary Special Effects Guru, Stan Winston directs this story of backwoods revenge and Demonic revenge. After his boy is accidentily killed by a group of city folk, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen…fuck yeah!) is enraged and asks a local witch to help him get revenge. The witch uses the blood of Father and Son to summon an ancient demon called Pumpkinhead to exact revenge on those who killed the boy. Ed finds that as the creature goes about its work, that he can see through the demons eyes. Pumpkinhead and Harley are linked in their vengence. Obviously the movie has top notch creature effects, but the real heart of the movie comes from the relationship between Ed and his son. This movie has been one of my favorites for years…so good that the Misfits even wrote a song about it! One bit of caution though…stay well away from the sequels…and this is coming from someone who loves shitty horror movies.
Oct 10th, Dead Silence (2007) /the Thing (1982):
Dead Silence is a movie I often wonder about, in that I wonder what it COULD have been. James Wan and Leigh Wannel (creative team behind SAW and Insidious) have been pretty upfront about their frustrations with this film stemming from meddling from the studio and script doctoring. Any time these two are left to pursue the film that they want to make, it always ends up being one of my favorites, and I’m convinced this film would have been no different. On the serface, this is a Ghost story where e vengeful spirit returns from the grave for revenge on those who had done them wrong…But at it’s heart, this movie is really all about how creepy Ventriloquist dummies are. The back story is pretty standard fare, Local child goes missing, town vigilantes blame the local weirdo and kill said weirdo violently, dead weirdo rises from the grave with murdery intentions and some kind of supernatural gimmick that is both creepy as well as an ironic nod to the circumstances of their death. Add creepy music, jump-scares, and a few holy shits, and you’ve got yourself a movie. Where this film really succeeds is in the little details. The sets, the props, the score all are incredible and without fault. The main dummy used in the feature is named Billy in a subtle Homage to the Puppet in the SAW franchise, and succeeds in being one of the creepiest things i’ve seen in quite some time. He is by no means realistic looking, but when he is looking towards the camera, or his eyes move, I always get chills. I just realised i keep referring to Billy as “He” and not it…take that for what you will.
The Thing (1982) should be on everyones watch list for the creature effects alone. The plot concerns a Parasitic Alien that assimilates other life forms, and imitates them perfectly. The creature infiltrates an Arctic research station, imitating some of the crew, and creating distrust and paranoia in an already hopelessly isolated and hostile environment. In the creation of the creature, the concept of an “alien” life form was fully embraced. Earth life as we know it is characterised by many cells making up a single organism, whereas every cell of this creature is its own seperate organism, allowing for limitless replication and splintering. Whenever someone or something “Things out” on screen, pay very close attention to the innovation and imagination of the design and the visual effects mastery. Because the characters are isolated in extreme elements, their natural dynamic is tense and irritable, and the threat of cabin fever always around the corner. Add the creature into the mix, the distrust goes through the roof as the hopelessness takes hold. The men do not know who they can trust, as any number of them could be the Thing, and i can’t help but wonder…since the Thing perfectly imitates its victim, both physically, vocally and in mannerisms, would they imitate their thought process too? If you had been imitated, would you yourself even be aware of it?
Oct 11th Nightmare on Elm St 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985):
Wes Craven never imagined or even wanted Nightmare to become a franchise, but studio execs with dollar signs in their eyes had other plans. Set 5 years after the events in the first film, We meet a teenaged boy named Jesse, whos family has just moved into Nancys old house. Jesse begins to have nightmares about a dirty old man trying to get inside his body and use him to kill. Jesse starts going crazy, people start to die, He ignores the hot Ginger girl who wants him, Freddy takes over Jesses body and slaughters teens at a pool party, beauty kills the beast…blah blah blah, its a shitty story. This is an example of why you don’t fuck with what works. This is a fairly unique slasher film in that is has a male protagonist, albeit a somewhat effeminate one. This film has huge gay or at least bisexual themes and imagery. Jesse’s manner of speech and some of his actions, the interactions with his friend Grady, Ignoring the hot ginger girl who is obviously crazy about him, all contribute to this. Jesse expresses fear of “something inside of me”, a frightening man coming after him and forcing himself inside of his body (can’t paint much more of a vivid picture than that), and that he is not himself. Wandering around one sleepless night, Jesse finds himself wandering into a “queer S&M” bar(Seems legit to me…) frequented by his Gym Teacher who is favours grueling physical punishment. After Jesse is forced to runs laps by the sadist, he transforms into Freddy in the Showers, restrains the teacher in the hower with skipping ropes, strips him nude and snaps him in the ass repeatedly with towels, only to slice him across the back and kill him. Jesse is distraught after a failed sexual attempt with the hot ginger girl, and flees to his friend Grady, sneaking into his room and asking if he can sleep there. Watch the movie for yourself and ask: “Is this an uninspired slasher flick, or a milestone in gay cinema? Or somewhere in between?”
Oct 12th, Dog Soldiers (2002):
Easily one of my favorite Werewolf films, The plot follows a platoon of Brittish soldier on what seems to be a training exercise against a special forces team. When the special forces team is found slaughtered with one survivor mumbling cryptic clues about what happened to them, the platoon is then “attcked by huge fuckin ‘owlin things!”, and retreat to a country house to make a desperate stand. A great deal of time is spent with the soldiers before the slaughtering begins, so we are treated to their dynamic, and their personalities. Their dialogue is priceless, as the mojority of the platoon is cockney as all get out, and can’t help but crack jokes even in bleak situations. Creature effects managed to produce a very unique looking werewolf design, and over the top gore. At one point, the Sarge has his guts literally ripped out, only to have his second in command stuff them back in and field dress the wound. Once the soldiers are boxed into the house, the tone becomes very tense. They are cut off, no way out, limited ammo, no idea how many Werewolves are out there, and no idea if they can even be killed at all. I love the tongue in cheek approach this movie takes, and the top notch cinematography. If you are a fan of Werewolves, slaughter, and Cockney Rhyming Slang, you have no excuse not to see this film. If you still need convincing, see it for the following scene: One of the soldiers(named Spoon) is battling a werewolf in the kitchen, he is totally unarmed, but will not go down without a fight. He attacks the beast with fists, feet, and whatever he can get his hands on, ultimately bashing the creatures brains in with a frying pan. As Spoon yells in primal triumph, he is seized by another wolf. Seconds away from being devoured, Spoon snears at the wold and says, “I hope I give you the shits, you fucking WIMP!” CLASSIC!
October 13th, Chillerama (2011):
Are you a purist? Do you wish the days of genuinely scary films that had a lasting effect on you would return? Are you offended easily, or even at all? Then do not watch this movie. Everyone else, come along for the ride. Chillerama is a 4 part anthology made by 4 friends who fancy themselves elite horror directors. In truth, it’s 4 somewhat known directors who have made horror films, but hardly Elite. All turn in a short piece that cares nothing for scares, and focuses on fun. The first piece is called “Zom-B Movie”, concerning the last night of an old drive-in movie theater. The old man who runs it(Diabetus Walrus!!!!! fuck yeah! *see picture above*), has lost his beloved wife a few years back, leaving him nobody to talk to but his old Orson Welles poster. As he laments losing his “Rosebud”, and the death of his Drive In, because of the advent of streaming video and On-demand cinema. As he swigs on whisky and pounds back pills (fuckin rockstar), he pledges to go out with a bang(literally) on his final night by showing 4 rare horror gems. Meanwhile, his sleazy handyman finds himself the carrier for a zombie strain that not only transforms the infected into undead flesh eating Zomies…but HORNY FLESH EATING ZOMBIE! MWA-HA-HA-HAAA! All hell breaks loose, as we see true love finally realised between two movie geeks, and Diabetus Walrus kicks some serious ass while shooting Zombies with his implausibly hidden and unnecessarily huge arsenal. Foregoing creative dialogue in favour of some of the best movie quotes of all time, like any real movie buff would do! “Nobody puts Baby in the corner! *BLAM* What we have here, is a failure to communicate! *BLAM* Goonies never say Die! *BLAM*”. As one may imagine, this is the frame piece of the feature, using the Drive in format to provide the means that we see the other pieces, then cutting back in between films. Next up is “Wadzilla”, a spoof on 50’s era giant monster films. It sees Miles Munson try an experimental drug to raise his sperm count, but instead causes his lone sperm to grow to monsterous size and attack New York. The sperm jokes are understandibly dripping from this piece(See? See what i did just there? huh? huh? C’mooooon ;p ). Highlights include the statue of Liberty finally dropping her robe and danciong like the Floozie she is, and The sperm beiong blwon up by the military, triggering a city-wide money shot. The next short in line was originally supposed to be two seperate films titled Werewolf of Alcatraz, and I was a Teenage Vampire, respectively. But filming on Alcatraz was both unlikely and expensive, and everyone knows that Teenage Vampires are bullshit. Eventually the idea came about of: What if you take I was a Teenage Werewolf, but have it starring a Zac Effron looking teen idol type, who discovers he is gay, but much more than that, when he is aroused, he transforms into a big hairy leather-daddy…thus, “I was a Teenage Werebear” was born. In a surprising move, this short was made a musical, with such gems as “Purge this Urge” and “Love Bit me on the ass”. Rumour have it is that this section was so well received that it is being turned into a full length stage musical…couldn’t make this shit up if i tried! Finally we have definitive proof that even Adolf Hitler can be hilarious! “Diary of Anne Frankenstein”…Oh yeah, they went there! Turns out that Anne Frank’s family had a secret. Their long lost relative who brought shame on them and caused them to shorten their name to Frank, was the infamous Dr. Frankenstein!!! *cue organ music and lightning effects* Hitler decided to use the notes of the long dead doctor for his own means, breaks into the Attic hiding place of Anne Frank and her family, engages in silliness, and then kills them all. He then hands a blank diary to one of his SS officers and says in questionable German, “Here, fill this will depressing stuff as if you were the little girl, and then after the war we will sell it and make Millions!” As soon as you seen Joel David Moore (Grandmas Boy, Hatchet, Avatar) as Hitler, it immediatly makes it clear that nobody can possibly be offended by this movie, as it is impossible to take seriously! The entire cast speaks in German, with English subtitles…except Hitler, who has his scripted dialogue subtitled below…but he spews gibberish that he assumes sounds like german. Its over the top, silly, fun, and leaves you saying “what the fuck am i watching”…but in a good way. Overall, Chillerama is a shit movie, But it was made with love, and is a rare treat for genre fans. If you are able to find a copy on DVD or Netflix or whatever, have a few friends over, have a few drinks and watch this film. But most importantly, have fun 😉
Oct 14 The Barrens (2012):
I have mixed feelings about this one. I am a huge fan of Cryptozoology, and avidly watch any documentary or film i can find on the subject, particularly the more fantastical creatures such as Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster, The Mothman, Michigan Dogman, etc… Naturally i was quite excited to find this film about an family who goes camping in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and finds themselves in the path of the Jersey Devil. At this point, i’m going into full blown spoiler mode, so fuck it. The father apparently saw the Jersey Devil when he was a child, and the memory has haunted him ever since, He feels like now that he is back in the Barrens to scatter his Fathers ashes, that the beast is stalking him. His behaviour becomes more paranoid and erratic as the film progresses…because it is revealed that he was bitten by the rabid family dog over a week earlier and for some unknown reason sought no medical attention or even cleans his wound. We are left to draw the conclusion that he is hallucinating all the hints and eventual appearances of the devil…Only for it to actually show up in the final few minutes completly ruining the psychological terror setup the film spent 80 minutes building. I would have liked this movie so much better if they had either just made it a straight up creature flick, or had no creature in it at all and kept it as a psychological thriller using the legend as a backdrop. I wish i could comment on how the creature looked…but we barely get to see the damn thing! Still, at the end of the day, It is a decent film and would likely be more enjoyable if i hadn’t gone into it with such high hopes.
Oct 14, Die You Zombie Bastards (2005) /Sinister (2012):
Die You Zombie Bastards…Words fail me. The tag line is: “The worlds first ever Serial Killer Superhero Zombie Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie Romance. It hurts my brain, but i love it so much! Watch the trailer:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZPeSDoOoKENow go watch the movie. Its ridiculous even by my standards. Enjoy…good luck!
Went to see Sinister in the theater tonight, and was treated to a very rare experience, I had the entire screening room to myself. The experience was made all the creepier for it. When i first got wind of Sinister, all i saw was an ominous motion poster of a child smearing blood on a wall, and an ominous looking face taking shape within the streaks of blood. It is made by the same production team behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious, so immediatly I knew that i wanted to see this movie. If a film becomes anticipated with no knowledge of the story, it is usually because one is a fan of the actors, or maybe the Director. How often is a film anticipated for the Producer? Jason Blum can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. The film sees Ellison Oswalt, and family move into a new home, and through exposition, we kearn he is a true crime writer, who’s glory days are likely behind him. He has moved his family to this house so he can write his next book about an unsolved murder of a local family (he deliberatly doesn’t tell his family that the have just moved into the Victims house, and that they were in fact hung from the large tree in the backyard). As Ellison begins unpacking and setting up his office, he finds a mysterious box of innocently labeled Super 8 films and a projector in the attic. Upon watching the films, he discovers they contain the brutal and shocking murders of the very family he is writing about. More fil reels show different families, all murdered in grisly fashion. As Ellison is horrified and revolted by the images he sees, he cannot look away, as he feels that these leads could give way to a career landmark book. The Oswalt family is on the verge of falling apart before they moved, and things are worsening as Ellison begins his new work. He finds himself absorbed in his work and with drawing from his family and straining his marriage to the breaking point. As the films are scrutinised closely, Ellison notices a common symbol painted at the crime scenes, as well as a nearly hidden pressence of a mysterious and Sinister looking figure. The further Ellison immerses himself into his research, the more he feels an erie pressence in his home, and that he and his family are no longer safe. No further spoilers. I greatly enjoyed this film! It managed to use “found footage” in a way that differs from the trend of recent years, and manages to increase the fear of the audience through mood and score rather than direct actions on screen. The father comes off as incredibly selfish and self motivated, almost to the point of making him a secondary villain. The score is subtle, and serves to build tension in the perfect way, subtle flourishes, and uncomfortable sounds. As Ellison’s mind begins to unravel under thew weight of his experiences, he begins to hear noises and detect a pressence in his home, which he chooses to seek out. Because he himself is unfamiliar with his new surroundings, I thought that came across the screen quite well, as i couldn’t help but feel just as lost and unsure of myself as the character must have. This film is by no means the best horror film ever made, but it doesn’t have to be. It succeeds on enough strengths that any flaws are easily overlooked. Sure, there will be a few people who point out some of less believable aspects of the story, and just aren’t able to surrender fully and let themselves enjoy the ride. Piss on those people, they will be left behind. On a final note, I would love to hear the reactions from others who have seen this movie, particularly those with children and are cool enough to let their kids watch too…I have a suspicion that this movie will severly fuck up little kids…but not in the bad way. In the way that happened to each and evey one of us when we were kids, that led to us loving horror films so much in the first place. 🙂
Oct 15, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971)
How does one review this? I freely admit that I watched this dvd in the early hours of the morning hopeing to get past another bout of insomnia, and didn’t think much of it as far as how i would review it. Not really much plot to speak of, but it is full to the brim with camp. Saturday mornings need something like this again!
Oct 16th, Hellraiser (1987):
Adapted from a novella called “the Hellbound Heart”, written by Clive Barker, Hellraiser is a rare case in that the screenplay was done by Barker, who also directed. It is fairly safe to say that his vision of this story was left fairly intact, and any changes made would have met with his approval. We meet Frank Cotton, a lifelong Hedonist who has grown tired of earthly pleasures. He buys a mysterious puzzlebox rumoured to open the door to pleasures unknown. Upon solving the box, a gateway to hell is opened and Frank is ensnared by the Cenobites. Described as “Demons to some, Angels to others”, and referring to themselves simply as “Explorers in the further realms of experience”. These Cenobites take those who solve the puzzle to a world where pain and pleasure are indivisible, and time is infinite. Visually, the Cenobites are stunning. Wearing long black leather robes, and grisly self mutilations, they are both beautiful, and terrifying. To say that this movie is a BDSM wet dream is an understatement! So much of this movie has been subtley fetishised that once you start to notice them, it’s hard to ignore them. Themes of bondage, submission, domination, obiedience, servitude, dicipline, as well as good old fashioned leather fetishes abound in this fim. The score for this film is grandiose and epic, making use of an ominous orchestral score composed by Christopher Young…but it almost wasn’t. Originally, Barker was collaborating with Industrial music pioneers, Coil to produce the score. Unfortunately Barker decided that the end result was “Bowel Churning”, which he apparently meant as a compliment. The central question asked by this film is “How far would you go in the pursuit for a thrill?”, and it succeeds in painting a frightening image of what such pursuits could lead to.
Oct 17, Curse of the Werewolf (1961):
Another entry from Hammer films sees a decidely unique film portrayal of the Werewolf legend, one that is a bit more in line with folklore rather than Hollywood. Set in 18th century Spain, a good deal of backstory goes into this film, and happens at a fairly brisk pace. A Beggar is imprisoned by a cruel and sadistic Marques, his only human contact for years is the jailer and his mute daughter. Years later, the jailer is dead, and his daughter grown (TITTYYYYYYYYS!!!!!!!), she rejects the advances of the aging Marques, who has aged into an almost goblin looking old man. As punishment for haveing the gall to refuse his regal thrusting, the mute woman is thrown into the dungeon…where she is raped by the now mad and somewhat feral Beggar. After doing the dirty deed, the Beggar dies (yeah, i dunno either), just in time for the Mute to be brought once again to the Marques chambers to see if she has “learned her manners yet”. If by “Manners” you mean stab the Marques to death with a wall mounted candle sconce, then yup, she learned ’em! Escaping to the woods, she is found and cared for by Don Alfredo Corledo (a Gentleman-Scholar, no less) and his housekeeper. The House keeper is superstitious that because the child is the product of rape, and that he will be born to an unwed mother on Christmas day, he will be cursed. The mother dies during child birth, leaving the child to be raised by Corledo and his housekeeper. As clues to the boys cursed nature begin to become apparent, Corledo consults a local priest who is aware of the circumstances of the boys birth. He informs Corledo that an evil spirit inhabits such cursed children at birth, in this case the spirit of a wolf. His whole life will be a struggle between the boy’s soul and the spirit, with the wolf spirit untimately triumphing, and the now grown man transforming into a savage Werewolf. What i wouldn’t give for there to be more werewolf films that portrayed something other than the whole “get bitten then turn” scenario. This film delivers in that regard, and manages to stick close to European folklore as well. This was made during the height of the Hammer era, and is nothing short of a classic.
Oct 18, Freakshow Apocalypse: The Unholy Sideshow (2012):
Holy FUCK! Never in my life have a encountered this. I actually did a “Rage Quit” before finishing a genre movie!(If you don’t know, google Rage Quit, or better yet, youtube it and get perfect examples). This is the official synopsis for the film, word for word:
“A brand new epic myth of our modern apocalypse. The Order of Mystery, a secret society of necromancers dating back to ancient Sumeria, control the fate of the world. It is their duty to push back the armies of the abyss every 200 years through a series of ritual sacrifices. The Unholy Sideshow, a family of serial killer, black magician sideshow freaks, are next for the job that has prevented the coming of the dead for thousands of years. A bitter feud between Malerkus and Lazari, two mad scientist black magicians, causes the ritual to be delayed, setting off the balance of the living and the dead. It is up to The Amazing Barry Silver, a young magician and fakir, to stop them. With the help of The Enigma, a gum-shoe detective and guardian of The Order, Barry must stop Malerkus and Lazari before time runs out. As society has grown weak and deceitful so has the Order of Mystery. Witness the beginning of this action filled saga where evil battles evil while the fate of mankind lies in the hands of the twisted and deranged. If the ritual is not set in motion, and the Unholy Sideshow is not up to the task, the gates of the abyss will cover the earth in darkness. In a world of fire breathing vampires, modified killers and an onslaught of zombies, no one is safe. When it’s evil vs. evil who can you trust?”
I read this before, during and after watching this piece of shit…AND I STILL COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT THE FUCK WAS GOING ON!!!!!!!! This movie is shittily shot, shittily acted, shittily designed, shittinly conceived, and fails on every level. When i bought it form HMV, i take it home and unwrap it, and am greeted by a peculiar smell that i can’t quite identify, and i instantly associate with “fresh printing”. The printing on the disk, and the blue tinged underside immediatly scream “bootleg”, which i didn’t care about as i had paid $5 for the disk, but i later came to learn that EVERYTHING from Chemical Burn Entertainment comes like this. The star of this film is clearly The Enigma…yeah, thats his name. He’s a carnival freak with horn implants, and a blue puzzle tattoo covering his whole body. It also features several other freaks doing extreme sideshow gimmicks on camera, but the context they are used, and the frequency of them burns you out quick and leaves you with nothing but the horrible acting, the bad score, go-nowhere story, and the shitty cinematography. At about the 60 minute mark, which felt like the 7 year mark, in a fit of frustration and rage, I ejected the disc, took it out into my drive way, smashed it into bits with a brick, and pissed on the pieces, the whole while screaming vulgarities and profanities.
Oct 19 House of 1000 Corpses (2003):
After the abomination of yesterday, i knew i needed to cheer myself up, so i went with House of 1000 Corpses. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I don’t know why we’re friends. In fact, we probly aren’t friends. But that might not neccesarily have anything to do with you not seeing this movie. I am a bit of an asshole afterall, and who knows, you could be incredibly annoying. For all i know we could have been involved in some Bizarre Love Triangle that ended badly. Yes, I capitalize Bizarre Love Triangle. Mainly because it is an awesome some by an awesome band. Back to the matter at hand. This film follows a group of roadtripping friends who run afoul of a family of twisted and perverted murderers. Not much else of the plot is neccesary because this movie is Rob Zombie’s personal love letter to his favorite horror films, primarily Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is over the top, violent, funny, gory, and to my eternal dismay, critically despised. Anytime i read overwhelming negative reviews of films that i love, I’m often left wondering what they missed. I guess its as simple as that I am 100% the target audience. The characters in this movie are perfect examples of rooting for the bad guy despite basic human nature recognizing them as monsters. Here’s a hidden easter egg. Pop in the dvd, and just let it chill out one any of the various menu screens for awhile…you’ll be treated to either Captain Spaulding, Otis, or Baby sauntering onscreen to yell at you and babble on complete cod shit untill you pick an option. An early example of Zombie’s film making style, it is clearly before he got comfortable in the directors chair, but I feel that winds up helping the film more than hindering it. The end result is a bleak, nightmarish head trip that somehow manages to be disturbing, and fun all at once. Cheers Zombie!
Oct 19, The Exorcist(1972):
In many ways the High King, Holy Shit of horror films, the Exorcist is nothing less than Iconic. Nearly everyone i know has seen this film and comments that it is one of the scariest of all time. For a film made in 1973, it still holds up incredibly well, and I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at a Midnight showing tonight. Now, I’ve watched this movie enough times that I know it back to front and front to back, I even know when those creepy flashes of the Demon face pop up, so by all rights, i shouldn’t be scared at all. But something about seeing it all so huge, and in such clear and crisp sound, I couldn’t help but shiver in my seat several times. I could feel myself contorting and tensing up as the scarier parts came up, and even though i was very much being scared by the whole ordeal, I could not drag my eyes from the screen for a second. Masterful work. Since it’s release, theis film has grown and grown to legendary heights, rumours of the production being cursed by fires and accidents, even leading to priests being brought in to bless the sets, being the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture, The re-release of the “Version you were never meant to see”, all the way up the multiple pop-culture references. Once a movie has reached the level where it can be quoted completly out of context for the sake of comedy (ex: In Austin Powers, Dr. Evil is at the mercy of a malfunctioning mechanical chair, he exclaims “I need and old priest, and a young priest…THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELLS YOU”), then I find i will burst out laughing when seeing the original work. Its almost like the impact and momentum of those lines has been stolen and now belongs in the realm of pop-culture reference, Not so with the Exorcist. It remains as impactful as ever, and still scares me to my core. Do yourself a favour, watch this film is surround sound, with the lights dim, and have yourself a good old fashioned scare. Even if you are one of those cynics to is too cool to let themselves be scared by a movie, at least watch it so you will know why whenever someone is acting very strange we are waiting for their head to spin around and vomit pea soup.
Oct 20 Snowbeast (1977):
It’s amazing how many films take their basic plot from Jaws, but once you start to notice it, the list seems to go on forever. In this film, the setting is a beautiful Colorado resort that is gearing up for its annual Winter Carnival. Everything appears to be going well, it may even be their best Carnival yet…but then all of a sudden, out of the frozen wilderness comes a murderous Sasquatch to fuck up everyones plans. One of the things i really liked about this film is that the roar of the creature sounds like it could also be a very fierce mountain wind. Im not sure if this was done intentionally or not, but I will give the filmmaker credit and assumed he did. I can only imagine what it would feel like to be all alone on a snowcovered mountainside, and to suddently get the feeling that something isn’t right, that something is watching you…then to hear that chilling roar! Or was it a roar? It could have just been the wind. As you try to sort out in your mind exactly what it was you heard, all of a sudden a huge hulking hairy mass burst from the treeline and mauls you to a bloody pulp. Your last thought is “…yup, that was a roar”. The acting is pretty flimsy, and the story is pretty much “SnowJaws”, but it still stands up as one of the better Sasquatch films out there. Part of that is likely due to to us never getting a particularly good look at the creature. At one point the creature attacks the Carnival itself and terrifies a roomfull of pageant queens as it leers and eventually breaks through the window. In the shot that is supposed to show the collective fright of the girls, One of them noticibly breaks character and is seen trying to hold back a laugh. I can tell i watch far too much pro wrestling, more specifically botchamania, when my first reaction is: “Beauty Queen corpseing? SEND FOR THE MAN!” (To those of you who aren’t wrestling folk, you likely wont get it, even with the example im posting, but trust me, it’s funny!( http://youtu.be/sffoSIcmXZU ))
Oct 21, Nail Gun Massacre (1985)
Another thank you goes out to Tom P for this film. The tag line for this movie was “It’s cheaper than a chainsaw”, and truer words were never spoken. The film starts off with a brutal rape of a girl by a gang of construction workers…cuz, y’know… construction workers are obviously uneducated slime who wouldn’t care about the morality of randomly gang raping a girl just for kicks. Then slowly, the construction rapists are picked off by a revenge seeking killer dressed in camo fatigues, a biker helmet with a taped off visor (apparently tape is cheaper than tinted visors), and a pneumatic nail gun. Now, if you know your nail guns, you may be asking yourself how this thing is supposed to operate since it is powered by compressed air…well, the killer has a gi-normous yellow tank of compressed air strapped to his back! Apparently the Bike helmet also has a voice modulator installed to deepen the speakers voice and add a bit of a Darth Vader quality. The killer cracks one liners so over the top that Arnold Schwarzenegger himself would bow to their cheesy might, and punctuates it all with maniacal laugh, “Mwa-Hah-Hah-Hah-Hah-Haaah!”. Even the inept sheriff had a sorry excuse for a gun holster. Its just a short belt slung over one shoulder, and another strapped across his chest to hold it in place (Its cheaper than a real holster, notice a theme?) The scare factor in this “slasher(?)” is understandibly low, but the laugh factor is high. If you want an easy laugh at an ridiculous piece of 80’s video trash, check this out (It’s cheaper than something highbrow)
Oct 22 The Entity (1981):
In the wake of Paranormal Activity taking the place of Saw as the Annually released franchise that fans like clockwork, will chime “uuuuh, aftar thuh Uhriginal, it goht ahlll laaaameh”, yet will still see every installment of. With that in mind, I will be seeing Part 4 Tomorrow evening, and thought i would go for another ghostly classic today. This film is allegedly based on true events, which if I’m basing my assumption from other “True Events” films, means that the basic idea may have had some factual basis, but all the details are made up for dramatic effect. We meet the Moran family, and in particular, single parent Carla. right from the get-go she is violently raped by some unseen force, and then Ghosty activity increases around the home. As Carla seeks answers to these strange occurances by seeking out a pyschiatrist, the question of their reality is brought up. Is it all in her head? Has she created these as delusions because of past trauma? Eventually a supernatural explaination is sought, leading to a somewhat odd approach melding science and paranormal studies. The thing that always got me about this film is how convincing the the ghostly activity always seemed, and also the nature of the attacks. The idea of being raped in ones own home is horrifying enough as it is, but imagine being raped by something you can neither see, resist, or in any way identify. The FX department earns top honours in particular for one gimmick in particular. Carla is topless on the bed, as unseen hands knead and fondle her breasts. Just think about that for a second…imagine the work that had to go into creating that shot, and having it look believeable, all while having a live actress on the screen! It’s something that has given me chills for years, and is definetly in my Top 5 all time scariest films.
Oct 23 Paranormal Activity 4:
Ok, so here comes some controversy. Despite what seems like negative reviews across the board, I actually liked this movie, but not for the reasons that you think. By now, you’ve probly heard that the movie is pretty boring up until the last 10 minutes, and I can’t particularly argue that. My enjoyment came because i only paid $2 to see it, and because I sat in a row of all frightened girls who screamed and freaked out at the slightest provocation, leading to me laughing my ass off as they got more scared and upset. The other thing is that after a film breaks out of being a trilogy and officially becomes a franchise, my expectations are lowered. I’m not asking to be scared, or for them to break new ground, I’m asking them to continue the story. Granted, the continued story swerved us because the mysterious kid we all thought was Hunter is still a question needing to be answered…which i assume will be addressed in Paranormal Activity 5, which has just gotten the greenlight. My fellow Horror reviewer Carolyn clearly doesn’t share my view on this film, and thats cool, but i think we both appreciated the references to the Shining(Wyatt riding around on his big-wheel) , and Poltergeist (Dining room chairs being moved by an unseen force, and children talking into the Xbox Kinect as an update from the TV ;). If i had to rank it, I would say this is the worst of the series, but it did its job effectively. What people need to realise is that it’s job is no longer to scare your pants off, it’s to continue the story and draw money. It’s done that, so this ride is not over.
Oct 24 Dracula(1931)/Frankenstein(1931)
Universal Pictures is commiting to restoring and preserving several selections of classic cinema, which had led to a digital version of these nearly century old films being screened. Before the feature began, I was treated to a short documentary about how these films are being restored, and what sort of work is neccesary to the process. The quality of the film, and sound is drastically improved from the grainy, shitty VHS versions i had seen in years past. Im sure that damn near everybody knows the story of both of these films, and if not, there is little I can say about them aside from saying that they are classics for a reason. Both films were inspired by Bestselling books, but were adapted from the stage play version of the story due to budget cuts made during the depression. Universal’s adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula was not the first film adaptation of the famous book, but it was the first legal one. Nosferatu(1922) was an unauthorized adaptation with several changes made to avoid lawsuits, Universal later acquired the film rights from Stokers widow. Originally, Univeral Pictures wanted the great Lon Chaney to play Dracula, but his death prevented this. Bela Lugosi had been playing Dracula a lot in the stage version, but was never considered for the film role. He had to actively campaign for the roll, even offering to take a very low salary of $500 a week. Eventually producers relented, and Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Count Dracula went on the international fame that has survived to this day. When production began on Frankenstein, it was intended to be another vehicle for Bela Lugosi. Legend has it that Lugosi passed on the role of the monster due to his vanity, not wanting to be hidden under so much makeup, and in a non speaking role. In actuality, the working version of the script portrayed the monster as a mindless killing machine. Rather than turning down the role because he was being a dick, Lugosoi was turning down a bad part. By the time Boris Karloff was considered for the role, the director James Whale had other ideas for the character, and saw something in Karloff’s face that he could exploit. The script was then re-written to make the monster more sympathetic. the combined box office earnings from these films save Universal Pictures from financial ruin during the depression, and have created a legacy unlike anything else in horror, or in film history. Try this little experiment, ask anyone to draw you a picture of a Vampire. I bet that most people will hand you back something that looks a lot more like Bela Lugosi than some sparkly ladyboy with stupid hair.
Oct 25, Begotten(1990):
Where to begin? This is a grainy, black and white brilliant of a mind fuck. It’s difficult to figure out what is going on in the film, but it seems to center around a brutal re-imagining of the story of genesis. heavy on metaphor, harsh imagery and graphic depictions of human suffering. The opening scene depicts God disembowelling himself with a razor, only to be essentially raped by Mother Earth, produceing a son. The Son of God and Earth is abandoned and left to his own devices, encountering a group of faceless beings who both torture him, revere his “gifts” (he vomits up some organic matter), and sacrifice him. The resurrected son of God and Earth encounters his mother again, leading him back to life, where she is rewarded by being raped to death by the faceless entities. Her corpse is dismembered, and then the Son suffers the same fate. Their remains are buried and spring forth into flowers. If you are artsy enough to get all this from watching it, and even more so to understand and appreciate the metaphor, then good on ya. Most however will see this as a creepy movie that seems like a nightmare they are compelled to keep watching.
Anyway, where was I? …
Oct 26, Braindead/Dead Alive (1992)
It’s not two seperate movies, it’s the same movie, with two different titles due to international releasing shenanigans. Whichever you choose to call the film, you’re sure to have a grand time. Peter Jackson is easily best known for his incredible work directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which won him scores of awards. But everyone has to start somewhere…and where Peter Jackson started was making ridiculous genre movies in New Zealand. How could one of the highest acclaimed directors of all time be responsible for what is dubbed “The goriest movie of all time”? Simple, because everybody knows that Kiwis are Damned Perverts, and Filthy Degenerates. In other words, they are my kind of people! This movie makes Evil Dead 2 look like Titanic, take a minute to ponder that…yeah, it’s THAT over the top. We are setup with a quick story of the capture of an exotic Monkey, which is shipped to a New Zealand zoo, the Sumatran Rat-Monkey. Supposedly the result of “Plague Rats raping Monkeys”. Of course it is. How else would you get a Rat-Monkey who’s bite turns victims into Zombies? We next meet Lionel Cosgrove, who lives with his domineering mother. Lionel is a nice enough sort, caring for his mother, awkwardly persuing a “romantic entanglement” with a local hotsy-totsy of ambiguous heritage (not important really). Mom gets bit, Zomie this, zombie that, fuck/shit, gore gore gore! I wont give any more of the plot away, as even though it’s all very simplistic and somewhat predictable, the execution of it is pure comedy gold. Every ridiculous gimmick and gag that can possibly be wrung from the story is exploited to the highest level. Best of all, it never feels like they are trying too hard or reaching. It’s all done so well that no matter how silly and fucked up the situation we are viewing is, it seems perfectly logical and appropriate. Sure, some people may be put off by the sheer amount of gore, by the lawnmover assualt scene(fuck yes! greatest gag ever!), the Kung Fu fighting priest( “I kick arse for the Lord!”), the merciless violence inflicted on a baby(calm the fuck down, it’s a zombie baby!), the gross out gags, the bowel-puppet, or the Freudian un-birth by the Mother monster(Go watch the film, no explanation will ever paint the picture correctly), but to everyone else with a sense of humour, and without a stick up their ass, do yourself a favour and WATCH THIS MOVIE!
Oct 27, Trick ‘r Treat(2007):
Why this film isn’t mandatory annual viewing for every Man, Woman and Child who celebrates Halloween will forever be beyond me. Things will be changeing once I am made King, just you wait. * Cue Lion King Soundtrack* It is an anthology film dealing with 4 stories all taking place simultaneously on the night of Halloween. The one common element of the stories is the appearance of a creepily cute little imp of a Trick or Treater named Sam (Presumibly last name is Hain…Sam Hain…Samhain? No? Nothing? Fuck you! Go read a book sometime! But then watch this movie). Sam is almost like a twisted little Halloween Angel sending reminders to everyone to respect the traditions of Halloween. To those who break the traditions, come great consequences. Each segment is cast, shot, performed and generally pulled off incredibly well. They each manage to be creepy, yet fun. The most interesting aspect, for me at least, is that each segment has a drastically different feel, evoking different types of horror films. We have elements of slasher films, Ghost stories, Creature Features, Revenge Thrillers, and even a segment that feels just like an episode of Tales from the Crypt. There is literally no weakness in this movie that I have been able to find. All roles are played to perfection, it is well shot, each story has a nicely interwoven continuity with the others, The make-up and creature effects are great…The only thing about this film that I view as a negative, is that a sequel has not been generated yet. HURRY UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! I MUST HAVE MOOOOORE!!!!!
Oct 28 Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf(1988):
Yeah, it is a kids movie, and i make no apologies. I remember watching this movie back when it was still pretty new, back in the vhs days (Double K video, represent!). The story is pretty simple. Dracula is having an annual Monster Road Rally for all the monsters in his realm, with first place being the Monster of the Year trophy. Since every monster must be represented, Drac finds himself in a tough spot when the Werewolf retires from racing. Drac must consult an ancient book which tells him that he can create a new Werewolf, and that the next person in line is Shaggy Rogers, who as luck would have it is a race car driver in his day to day life. Shaggy is transformed and forced to race, under the condition that if he wins, he will be transformed back to human form, and that he, Scooby, Scrappy, and his girlfriend Googie are allowed to go home. It’s a 90 minute episode of Scooby doo, so expect lots of lame gags, food jokes, and references that are often lost on kids. It’s fun, and was a nice little Nostalgia bomb.
Oct 29th, Suspiria(1977):
Dario Argento is a disturbing Italian bastard. Not only does he craft truly wicked films, but he renders the horrible images so beautifully that we cannot tear our eyes from the screen. He has a particular penchant for depicting very beautiful girls being savagely killed. It is terrible, yet beautiful. His style is perfectly suited for horror. The colors are more vivid, the visuals intense, and somewhat surreal, leaving us feeling as if we are in some kind of nightmare. The soundtrack to this film is haunting, and hypnotic, almost pulling you deeper and deeper into the nightmare. Make no mistake, I am deliberatly using the term nightmare, because that is exactly what this movie feels like. The plot concerns an exclusive ballet accademy where strange noises at night, and unseen killers abound. Students began disappearing and strange noises and occurences crop up more and more. all the while, the score serves to ramp up the tension higher and higher. A perfect example of stylized horror.
Oct 30, Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
How do you make a film where all the threat exists within a dream, and still make it scary to the audience? That was the main question posed by studio execs while Wes Craven was shopping the script for Nightmare around. Ultimately the film was picked up by New Line Cinemas, and Film history was made. Craven introduced us to Freddy Krueger, a severly burned child molester and murderer who had come back to life to haunt our dreams, stalking his victims with a glove with long razors for fingers. The Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs taps into our most primal fears, evoking an instinctual fear of clawed beasts, and thanks to elements of Vaudeville incorporated into the portrayal, even has elements of the cruel clown. Most, if not all of the success of this film can be attributed to the on screen chemistry between Freddy (Robert Englund) and Nancy (Heather Langenkamp). It’s almost a classical metaphor for the battle between good and evil, of young versus old, of innocense versus perversion. A kind of Cocteau Beauty and the Beast story. We don’t quite want to see Freddy and Nancy hit the skins, but there almost seems to be the threat of him forcing a kiss on her. Robert Englund is a classically trained actor who brought such flare to the role that even as elements of the character descended into camp (especially in the sequels), He still had an incredible pressence and charisma that was both haunting, and allowed you to want more. No matter what happens though, Freddy will always come back. Later some of the sequels went into very questionable territory to explore the concept of what could be done within dreams, but the original still stands up as not only one of the scariest and iconic horror films of all time, but also due to the scares, and the predatory sexual tension between Freddy and Nancy, it is a perfect Date Movie.
Oct 31, Halloween(1978/2007)
When John Carptenter first began work on this classic, the film was called “the Babysitter Murders”, and it was certainly never the intention for the film to kickstart a franchise, let alone introduce such a lasting icon to the Horror genre. Both stories concern a young boy named Michael Myers who kills his big sister Judith, by brutally stabbing her on Halloween, then years later escaping from a Sanitarium to return to his hometown and begin his murder spree all over again. Where Rob Zombie most noteibly differs from Carpenters film is that he shows a flashback to the days when Michael is young, before the murders. He gives us a glance behind the mask, and offers hints towards what may have led to him becoming a monster. Which film is better? Both are incredible in my opinion, but go very different ways. Do you prefer the killer to be a mysterious “Shape”, displaying no emotion, and betraying no motives for his slaughter? Or do you prefer a hulking mountain of rage created by family dysfunction and abuse, manifesting in a murderous rage from which it seems no-body is safe? The original mask used in the 78 version is a modified “Captain Kirk” mask, and was hardly the first choice. The other leading candidate was a clown mask that was by all accounts, terrifying. On a whim, the Kirk mask was tried at the last minute, and all in the room felt a chill creep up their spine. The absence of emotion and expression, and with very few features, the mask allowed all who saw it to project their own feelings and fears into the image. Many people will watch Carpenters film and swear that several different masks were used, because it seems to change expression. It doesn’t. The mask is just THAT creepy. In Zombie’s version, the original look of the mask was faithfully preserved, and a backstory is given to why Michael wears masks, “It hides my ugliness”. Is Michael expressing self concious feelings brought on by the mental abuse of his tormentors? Or is he hinting at something terrible deep inside of him, a monster waiting to be set free? Carpenter keeps Michael very mysterious, omitting his name for the most part, he is simply referred to as “the Shape”. His motivations for killing are left for the audience to wonder, but are later revealed in the sequels. Zombie depicts a young Michael killing those who he perseves have done him wrong, and as an adult, he expands to those who get in his way. His methodoligy is more savage, letting out grunts, and growls of rage as he butchers his victims. Both versions of the Iconic killer are nearly unstopable, mysteriously able to withstand severe physical damage. They seemingly cannot be killed, and are an unrelenting silent force. The Boogeyman incarnate. As with most slasher films, there are metaphors towards morality (promiscuous, substance abuseing teens are doomed, while the well behaved teen survives to be the “final girl”), Misogyny, Rape imagery, etc…but the real kicker of both films is the main theme song. You’ve heard it, you love it. It’s my ringtone. Tonight is Halloween, the night HE comes home.