Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Masters of Horror: Pro-Life



In this second season episode Pro-Life, John Carpenter again brings his horror directorial chops to the series. This evil embryo story was penned by 'Cigarette Burns' writing duo Scott Swan and Drew McWeeny. The second season was far less superior to the first, and this episode is a prime example of why. Bad acting, awful writing, and at times comical effects make for quite a bad episode.


                         Alex tries to explain he's a doctor, not an exorcist.


The story follows young Angelique (Caitlin Wachs) as she escapes her religious zealot father Dwayne (Ron Perlman) and tries to rid herself of the unborn child she carries. She's thoroughly convinced she carries a demon child inside her. Should could have gotten that idea because she was pulled down into the earth and raped by the devil as she recounts later in the story. Maybe? Luckily she literally runs into Dr. O'Shea, who just happens to work at the abortion clinic down the road who nearly runs her down with his car. She is taken to the highly fortified clinic to have a checkup after nearly being turned into a pancake by the kind doctor. Alright, just go with it. When her ecclesiastical father (who is no stranger to the abortion clinic) arrives, he is none too happy about his daughter being in the place he considers an unholy abomination. With God's words mysteriously ringing in his head, he and his three sons proceed to assault the clinic with weapons in hand to get Angelique back. Rational religion at it's best people. The clinic wont go down without a fight though, as the head of the clinic Dr. Kiefer (Bill Dow) will see to. Due to numerous harassment's and threats from Dwayne, the clinic is stocked up with guns and ammunition to deal with imminent threats such as the one being played out now. Bullets will fly and people shall die my friends, oh I promise you that. All this is going down while Angelique's accelerated and very evil pregnancy results in the quite comical and gory birth of some sort of mutant demon baby. Maybe something the clinic is not used to? All of these events culminate into an all out war. Complete with some brutal deaths, a lot of unnecessary screaming, and possibly the devil himself. What more could you want? Well let me tell you, a lot more my friends.

                          Dwayne wants in the abortion clinic it seems.


I must say this episode was a bit of a chore to sit through. The acting for the most part is terrible and or mediocre at best. Ron Perlman as the religious nut Dwayne is the only saving grace. No pun intended. He doesn't have too much scenery to chew on, but when he is on screen he always manages to command attention. Mark Feuerstein as  Dr. Alex tries to be believable as best he can, but in the end it just doesn't work for me. All Angelique does is scream and look scared. When she does speak, it's almost cringe worthy.

         What this is, not sure. It's supposed to be a demon baby me thinks.

Now the terrible dialogue might have something to do with the wooden acting. A major step down from the terrific 'Cigarette Burns' script. The lines are delivered with gusto from some of the actors, but not even the fine resume from Bill Dow can save his portrayal as Dr. Kiefer from being down right laughable. The directing from Carpenter is fine, but nothing special. Unfortunately his experience can't even garner decent performances from most of the cast.

The practical effects at times can be somewhat laughable. This is due to fake looking prosthetic and a rubber suit. The CGI effects are alright for the most part, but nothing really special. I did quite enjoy an inventive scene involving an abortion machine and a male recipient courtesy of Dwayne. The episode does show some blood and guts, while trying to gross out in others, but it all feels very contrived.

All in all it's one of the weakest episodes of the entire series. It's one of those stories that with the right time, actors, and writing could have been awesome, but it just failed on too many levels here. I can't recommend, but watch if you must. And if only for a few laughs. 1 1/2 skulls.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns


John Carpenter directs the 8th episode from the Masters of Horror series, Cigarette Burns. A reference to cue marks in a film reel in case you didn't know. You tend to have high hopes when Carpenter is attached to anything horror, and fortunately in this case he does not disappoint. The episode concerns the finding and viewing of one of the most infamous movies of all time. La Fin Absolue du Monde (Translated: The Absolute End of the World). Legend has it that anyone who watches the movie goes mad and becomes enraged with the desire to kill. Others or themselves. The insane don't discriminate. Sounds like a fun time over some popcorn.
 
                                                See much sun creepy guy.

The episode follows movie aficionado Kirby (Norman Reedus) on his quest to find the mythical movie for the rich and spectacularly eccentric rare movie collector Mr. Bellinger (Udo Kier). Eccentric in the way that has you chain up what looks to be a wingless angel in your house and claim it is a prop from the film.Yeah, that kind of eccentric. Kirby is deep in debt to his late wife's father and in order to keep his struggling movie theater afloat he requests 200,000 from Mr. Bellinger to find the lost print. He is very skeptical about the movie, but he soon learns that he is in for more than he could have ever imagined. He begins having strange visions of his late wife and seeing cigarette burns randomly. Or he took too much DMT. Either or. It's revealed that his wife and him were junkies at one point and she committed suicide for some reason. A damaged survivor from a screening who is writing a 10,000 page (there's just too much to say) review gives him a recording of an interview he did with the director regarding the movie. Things only start getting stranger and bloodier for Kirby. It seems strange (or maybe not so strange) that nobody wants him to find the movie and these baddies attempt to stop him by whatever means necessary. He blacks out and some people end up very dead. He finally does find the last surviving print with the help of the late directors wife Katja. Hell, she wasn't to get rid of the cursed thing. Can you blame her? He delivers it as promised to our crazy friend Mr. Bellinger. The rare movie buff and apparently the weird butler make the unfortunate choice to ignore the talk of death and view the bizarre film. At the behest of Mr. Bellinger, Kirby returns to his house and sees the aftermath and carnage of his ill advised venture into movie madness. In the end it all culminates into more brutal deaths, surreal visions of the dead wifey, and an interesting ending involving the pale and strange wingless being we see earlier in the episode.

          Kirby sees a cigarette burn while listening to some smooth jams.

John Carpenter directs the episode well enough and I quite like what he did with this episode. The theme of watching or reading something that will make you insane is very lovecraftian and had previously surfaced in his brilliant film "In the Mouth of Madness". He captures such madness from his characters and many scenes have an eerie surrealism vibe going on. Is it a dream? Your not quite sure what's going on until the end, and even then you can't be sure. All this while still throwing in some nice gore and bloodletting. this episode is more creepy than bloody, but there is a particularity nice beheading scene in the last third of the film. I have to applaud Mr.Carpenter for combining all of those feats very well.

                         Kaspar gets up close and personal with Kirby

I must say Norman Reedus's performance as Kirby was just ok for me. I loved him Boondock Saint's, but here the acting is just mediocre and somewhat bland. I know he can do better though. Fortunately it takes nothing away from the story or my interest thereof. The lovely Gwynyth Walsh as the infamous director's wife was pretty good. Not too much screen time though so I can't say too much. The two standouts for me were the over the top Udo Kier as Mr. Bellinger and Taras Kostyuk as the psycho director Kaspar. Udo Kier is basically awesome in almost anything he does and his accent only adds to his lovable eccentricities and odd persona. Here he plays very well wit the material and has and underlying tone of creepiness. His death scene is just pretty funny as well. Then you have Taras Kostyuk. The (german?) weirdo, s&m maybe, psychopath director of in the moment death and extreme images. He too has a love for La Fin Absolue du Monde, and even has some stills from the movie which he shows Kirby after filming a brutal death of his own. Even though he is only on screen for a short time he makes the best of it and delivers some good lines and exudes a strong on screen presence.

                                    Kirby is looking a little out of it.

All in all I thought the episode was very solid. One of my favorites from the series. It was definitely an interesting premise I must say. Angel mutilation, a movie that drives you insane, and throw in a little human guilt. It surprisingly all works very well together and kept me captivated throughout. I highly recommend to horror fans of all creeds. 4/5 skulls

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Masters of Horror: Sick Girl


A disturbing tale of two lovelorn ladies and a parasitic and deadly bug is told in this Masters of Horror installment Sick Girl. "May" director Lucky McKee is on to direct this time and brings on the star of that film Angela Bettis. She wonderfully plays the quirky and awkward entomologist Ida. The episode is based off of a short story written by Sean Hood who did the screenplay for Halloween: Resurrection. Ok, so not his finest moment, but this story is well crafted and interesting. Plus anything with bugs and horror usually creeps me out, as well as many others.


                                     Ida looks dumbfounded by a bug.

The story follows the bug obsessed entomologist Ida and her problems with love. She soon has a new problem though. A mysterious package has arrived at her apartment with a new exotic and aggressive insect species. While she aims to learn what this new bug is and who it came from, she keeps it locked up in a container. Unfortunately not well enough because the insect (which she named Mick in a nod to series creator) escapes and turns a neighbors dog into lunch. It then uses the remains as a nest inside Ida's pillow. Ummmm......bugs in beds gives me the creeps! She finally does meet her true love in the quiet and shy artist Misty (Erin Brown). Misty has been drawing pictures of Ida as a fairy in the lobby of her work for some while. No, not creepy at all. Things start getting stranger and stranger. Misty's behavior is becoming increasingly erratic. Could this have anything to do with her disgustingly infected ear? Nah. Ida still can't find the escaped bug Mick and is becoming more and more disturbed by Misty's strange behavior. Something strange is afoot. Meanwhile Ida's landlord doesn't approve of her lifestyle and her obsession with bugs. So things are getting a bit out of control for our female lead here. In the end Ida does find out who the bug came from and what it is up to, as well as what is wrong with her lover Misty.......the hard way.


       Ida and Max discuss her love problems. What about the escaped bug?


Angela Bettis is great in her role here as the serious and unloved scientist Ida. A stark contrast from her starring and creepy role in director Lucky McKee's film "May" (which I also loved). She manages to capture the emotions of the sad loner very well, while still maintaining a humorous cynicism to her. I've heard some people say that her voice is annoying, but it didn't bother me a bit. I thought it was perfect fit for the her character. Erin Brown as Misty exudes tons of sex and seductiveness in her role as Ida's shy lover. She is a veteran of soft core films so it's not a stretch. Given that, she also has no problem with nudity as seen in this episode. I thought she was very good and played shy, sexy, and crazy all equally well. I also quite liked Ida's colleague Max, played humorlessly by sex minded Jesse Hlubik. He's always asking for details about Ida's sex life for his pleasure. Although he affectionately gives her the advice...."Babes or bugs. You can't have both" in an effort to help her get a girl. Landlady Lana Beasley (Marcia Bennett) does a fine job as well playing the wicked old woman, who in some cases you almost feel sorry for. Don't worry, she gets hers.


                                                Misty is not looking good.

While not a particularly gory episode, there are some funny scenes and a few creepy parts, so in that way it worked great. Merging comedy and horror is no easy task. Just ask other writers and directors from the Master of Horror series. This episode will give you the willies frequently, and especially if you don't like bugs, particularly killer bugs for that matter. The insect design was well done and the CGI worked fine in the parts that it was used. I was a little disappointed with a death at the end in terms of makeup and gore, but the other parts involving Misty's ear makeup were very well done and pretty gross. The story will keep you invested and guessing until the end. The twist, which is par for the course in any horror anthology series, was pretty cool as well. I would definitely recommend this episode. 3 (1/2) / 5 skulls.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Masters Of Horror: Jenifer




From the canceled too soon horror anthology series Masters of Horror, Italian king of blood Dario Argento directs the scares in the lovely episode "Jenifer". Steven Weber who stars in this episode adapted the tale from a "Creepy" comic book story originally written by Bruce Jones. This episode is one of my favorite episodes due to the interesting story, subject matter, gore, and use of liberal nudity. Jenifer's terrifying allure will keep you thoroughly captivated and the ending twist will leaving you wanting more.


                                       Those eyes are just damm creepy.


Our tale starts when Detective Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) happens upon a man leading a tied up young woman to a secluded location for who knows what. The disheveled man lifts a meat cleaver to end this woman's life and Frank is forced to shoot him. Before the man dies he utters the words "Jenifer". Those words will turn out to be quite prophetic as our lead will find out. Frank unties the woman and is greeted by her horribly disfigured face. Huge black eyes, a huge deformed mouth filled with sharp teeth, and yet the body of a goddess. A strange mixture indeed. This is Jenifer (Carrie Anne Fleming). Frank is disgusted but seems somehow intrigued. Jenifer huddles against him and whimpers as if some innocent thing that has been abused. We soon learn that Jenifer is more than we know or may ever know. Frank soon becomes obsessed with thoughts of this strange woman and is ultimately consumed by visions of her day and night. He takes her from a mental institution and has her stay with him and his family. People do that right? Things starts to go very bad for him and others when Jenifer starts craving an appetite for flesh. People and animals will fall victim to her and we find that nobody is safe. He tries to get rid of her time and time again after each bloody event but he just can't seem to do it. She has this sort of dark enchantress vibe going on and she has no qualms about using sex to her advantage in this situation. Frank is helpless to her sexual overtures and ends up losing his family, job, house, and possibly his sanity all while Jenifer gleefully murders and devours victims. A true love story right.....Will Frank be able to break the spell and release himself from this succubus, or wil he end up another one of her victims?


                                      Jenifer finds herself a midnight snack.


Steven Weber did a great job here with his slow descent into near madness and alcoholism to cope with the madness going on around him. He really makes you believe his plight and I hope to see more of him in horror films in the future. Carrie Anne Fleming as Jenifer I must say does a phenomenal job here. While she isn't able to do much with her face due to the makeup, she makes up for with raw energy and body movements. Very cat like I would say. Carrie is able convey a lot of emotion with very little effort and that's quite a feat given she doesn't speak one word. There are some other minor characters that are fine, but they are all pretty much all interchangeable due to Carrie and Steven strongly carrying the episode.


                             Jenifer and Frank having an intimate moment.


Dario Argento does a good job with directing this episode. He brings us back to what he knows best. Blood and gore. He doesn't pull any punches here. The blood and intestines flow frequently from everyone and everything. He also manages to capture great performances here by Steven and Carrie, although he does that well most of the time with his actors. Steven Weber did also did a good job with adapting the story to a teleplay. The story moves quickly and keeps you involved to the very end. While there are no particular kills that stand out because you really only see the aftermath, they are all well done and gory fun. Most people are a little disturbed by a particular animals death, but I find it a fitting start to the bloodshed. Unfortunately there was also a scene cut out involving some castration that peaks interest, however you can see it on the DVD.

                        Jenifer left a little leftovers for Frank. How nice.


Overall this is one of the best episodes from the entire series in my opinion. We get a good story and direction, plenty of blood, some beautiful nudity, and good acting. What more can you want? Argento did return for the second season to direct "Pelts" which is a good episode as well. Though it would have been nice to see him return for a third season, but alas, maybe another time and place. Be sure to check this one out my friends. 4/5 skulls.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Movie Review: The Beyond




Here we have the second movement to gore master Lucio Fulci's death trilogy symphony. The Beyond takes us into a world of ghosts, zombies, and to the gates of hell itself. How's that for a vacation? The film delves beyond (no pun intended) the zombies and gore itself and tries to tell a story about the fine line between life and death , although the blood does flow frequently as well. The film has gained cult status from gore hounds since it's bloody inception even though it was heavily censored on the original US import in 1983. Blood and guts aficionado Quenton Tarintino acquired the distribution rights from Grindhouse Releasing and in 1998 re-released the film here in the US uncensored for midnight showings. Nice. In 2000 it was finally released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment for your viewing pleasure.

                                       Not creepy at all. I'd stay there.......


The beginning of the film starts in 1927 Louisiana at a desolate and creepy hotel. An angry mob of locals shows up and accuses the local warlock Schweick (Antoine Saint-John) of cursing the town forever. Every podunk town has a crazy warlock right? As the mob unmercifully beats him he explains.."He's the only one that can save them from the gates of hell". We learn later in the movie that the hotel was built over one of the seven gateways to hell, so his statement makes a little more sense. Sounds like a nice place to live. His cries fall on deaf ears because they drag him to the basement and crucify him. He's ultimately and mercifully killed when they pour boiling hot paint (?) on him. This scene is inter cut with a young woman (Cinzia Monreale) reading a book named "Eibon" in what looks like the living room of the same hotel. I think. If so, she was oblivious to a murder going on in close proximity. Nice girl though. As she reads the passages, the book explains...."Woe be unto him who opens one of the seven gateways to Hell, because through that gateway, evil will invade the world" before shooting a flame out of the pages into her face. And yes, you can expect this confusing stuff throughout the whole movie.

                        The undead warlock Schweick looking pretty creepy and kind of undead.     


We then cut to modern day (1981) Louisiana were our female lead Liza (Catriona MacColl) has inherited the cursed hotel. From who you ask? Who the hell knows. She's a tough New York broad though, so she can handle a hotel of death right? Strange things starts happening and people start dying very fast after the plumber accidentally opens the portal to hell by picking away a piece of the basement wall. Good to know all that separates us and the fiery pits is some water logged wall that you can tear apart with your bare freaking hands. Curiosity killed the cat...and not surprisingly Joe the plumber as well. After the maid finds his mutilated eyeless corpse, she also find the water logged Schweick floating there. He looks surprising well for a almost 60 year old corpse. They both end up in the creepy and well lit morgue which is the setting for various cool scenes later on. The male lead Dr. John McCabe is played here by the charismatic David Warbeck. A young Jack Nicholson look a like and exudes a similar confidence. He has to handle all of these corpses that are piling up and while he's at it starts up a flirtatious friendship with Liza. We're introduced to the strange yet pretty blind girl Emily (Cinzia Monreale) who has strange yellow eyes and roams around with her dog. She routinely plays creepy songs on the piano and tells Liza constantly to..."leave this place". We later learn she is some kind of ghost stuck in purgatory or something. Alrighty then. To go along with all of the madness you have a creepy maid who spends a lot of time in the basement lurking around and her creepy son who sniffs Liza's panties. This town is fucked up.The undead warlock Schweick keeps showing up in various places throughout the movie but he doesn't do much except if you go in his room. He doesn't like that. Wasn't he supposed to be the only one that could save us? Then you have the creepy ginger daughter of the dead plumber Joe. She doesn't have it easy in this movie. Her dad dies and then she gets to see her mothers face melt off in a scene that makes no sense but is pretty cool. The mom screams and next thing you know she's lying on the ground with acid dripping on your face and blood flowing everywhere. Did the warlock possess her? What the hell is going on here? After the funeral she ends up with yellow eyes just like the blind girl. Ok. In the end her face gets shot off by the doctor in one the best death scenes of the movie. Poor girl. After a few strange deaths and happenings Liza and Dr. John find themselves back at the hospital fighting a horde of zombies and eventually end up in hell. Purgatory? Your guess is as good as mine.

                                      Someone's going to need a face transplant.


This movie is just as "beyond" comprehension as the title suggests. Fulci does go into some surreal imagery and the movie ultimately takes on a dream like state or maybe bad acid trip, but it doesn't add anything to the movie except confusion. The plot makes very little sense and the ending makes even less sense. The acting is horribly wooden and the dialogue is just god awful. It is however good for some unintentional laughs. After a painter falls off a scaffolding early in the movie he deliriously exclaims..."the eyes, her eyes, the eyes." We got it buddy.....eyes. The camera work is ok but spotty at times and the lighting is no better. One saving grace may be the relentless gore. Most of the deaths are bloody and fairly well done. The best scene being when Emily gets her throat ripped out by her own dog. I guess the warlock possessed it? Buckets of blood flow as her neck is ripped out. Nice. Although the scene in which Liza's designer friend Larry (Anthony Flees) get's it is just pure comedy. The spiders that take him out are just way too fake looking and the scene goes on way too long. A few seconds less might have helped and this is coming from a major fan of gore. The other Thing I liked was the dream like and desolate landscapes. Everything seemed so empty and alone at times. The hotel, the hospital, and at the end you see real emptiness.

                            Emily isn't too happy here about something.


I really wanted to like this movie because of Fulci's other works but I just can't quite get there. It seems like the movie isn't sure where it's going. Is this stuff being made up as it goes along? Is it a zombie film, a film about death and hell, ghosts and possession, all of the above? For me it just doesn't work ultimately. You're left with far more questions than need be for any horror movie and almost nothing is explained. I would recommend this one to only die hard gore and horror movie fans. 2 1/2/5 skulls.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Movie Review: Piranha 3D




Gore connoisseur Alexandre Aja of High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes (remake) fame brings us his latest opus of blood, Piranha 3D. The film, as the title suggests, has 'prehistoric' piranhas as the death dealers in this horror story remake. The dormant piranha are released from their subterranean lake prison via an earthquake. It is explained later by the eccentric fish expert Henry (Christopher Loyd) that they must have been surviving in there underground lake for millions of years by cannibalizing each other.Ok, why not. The veracious horde of piranha then pour into Lake Victoria (Lake Havasu in reality) causing mayhem and horror for spring break party goers and townies alike. Few will survive and many will die. Not a scientifically plausible scenario, but does a horror movie need to be? The acting is decent and the gore is surprisingly excellent. I'm not a fan of CGI or 3D for the most part in horror movies, but it works well here with the death scenes more so than with the actual piranhas. But hey ,just go with it.


                            Red eyes? They found some weed maybe?


The film mainly follows Elizabeth Shue as the tough town sheriff Julie and her slightly emo and lovelorn son Jake (Steven R. McQueen) trying to stop and survive the onslaught respectively. Mrs. Shue is pretty good in her tough woman role, but she isn't on screen too much until the end where she is rescuing pedestrians from the lake and her children. I would've thought given her acting caliber that we would see more of her, but no. Maybe it was her gargantuan breasts that were distracting people. Who knows. Her son Jake played by Steven R. McQueen is ok as well. Nothing special here. He spends most of his time trying to pretend that he's not in love with his friend Kelly (Jessica Szhor). I must say her acting is mediocre at best. The role is kind of annoying and almost pointless. Just a plot device to have a love interest for the young buck Jake. He finally does man up near the end of the flick. So instead of pining for Kelly the whole movie he actually saves her from certain piranha death. Good job buddy. Adam (Novak Radzinsky) shows up kind of late in the movie as the lead seismologist investigating the eathquake and underground lake. He does a good job as a quasi hero and has a bit of charisma to go with it. Also we have the hilarious and intense Jerry O'Connell as Derrick Jones. He plays the over the top and slimy Wild Wild Girls director loosely based on Joe Francis. He enlists young Jake to show him around the lake on his boat while he films his two starlets Crystal and Danni. He has some pretty funny dialogue and he steals most of the scenes he's in. After he's eaten up from the waist down he exclaims "They got my dick" to Jake. Good stuff. The two porn starlets are quite sexy and pretty much half or fully naked the whole movie. Fine by me. The gorgeous Kelly Brook plays Danni, but doesn't have too much screen time. What time she does get she only exudes seduction. Ving Rhames as deputy Fallon also isn't on screen too much, but when he is, he lets those pesky flesh eaters have it. In a cool scene he takes the motor from a speedboat and starts tearing up some piranha in an effort to save dying teens.


                                   My boy Ving is going to do some choppin.


There are some fun cameo rolls by Richard Dryfuss of Jaws fame. He basically reprises his role from Jaws in the beginning of this movie. Even going as far as to sing "Show Me the Way to go Home" song before the piranhas make him lunch. Did he just need the money? Apparently famous producer convinced him to do the role for a higher salary which he then donated to charity. Next there is Eli Roth who plays the emcee of the wet t-shirt contest. He plays the role well as a typical douchebag with high powered water guns in hand(He's not in real life). He meets a gruesome end after the ensuing mayhem of a piranha attack and boat decapitates him. I love the fact that he's willing to do various cameo's in horror movies. Finally there is Christopher Loyd as Henry the local fish expert. Of course you need one of those in this movie. He plays his typical eccentric role here. Not too over the top and it's not overbearing.


         Crystal and Danni getting friendly with each other. This is half of the movie.

The CGI for the film is pretty good all around. Though I don't really care for the scenes were you see too much of the piranhas. The strictly underwater sequences stick out as not particularly great, but the creature design itself is pretty cool. However, the gore effects are actually surprisingly very good. So for fans of blood and guts, you will have plenty to keep your eyes busy. I particularly like the scene in which a girl gets her head stuck in a motor propeller. Her face and scalp are promptly ripped off. Sweet!

                            O'Connell getting taste tested by the little bugga's.


The plot line and scientific data here is paper thin and the editing can be a little choppy at times as well. Not a big deal because the film works on that basic level of an human ancient fear. What's in the water? It's a simple formula that can work well if executed properly though I think this film only half got it right. The soundtrack was probably the most annoying thing about the movie. We get it, it's supposed to be hip.......or something. Only problem is that it fails miserably. All in all not a good horror film, but not as bad as I was expecting. Due to the success of this film there is a second on coming. Maybe second times a charm. Feel free to watch it for some bloody fun, but don't expect to leave feeling extremely satisfied. Again, just have fun with it. On that level it works extremely well. 3/5 skulls my friends.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Movie Review: Hatchet




Thanks to the horror movie gods, Adam Green's sick mind was unleashed upon the world. His 2006 film Hatchet, which he wrote, directed, and produced was a welcome change to the slasher film genre that at the time was severely lacking something. Balls. This film helped introduce new fans to some good old fashion gory fun and give us older fans that which we desperately desired in a horror flick. It was so gory indeed that the MPAA slapped it with a NC-17 rating. Thanks to some nifty editing by Green and co. it was dropped to R. It's also quite interesting to note that it was filmed on location in Louisiana and one of the last films to do so before hurricane Katrina. Though the film didn't make much during it's very limited theater run, it's become a cult hit and the DVD has grossed over six million dollars. There are also some funny little guest appearances from Tony Todd and Robert Englund to add to the old school flavor presented here.

                                                    
                             Victor uses his favorite tool on director Adam Green.
                       


Hatchet starts off with Sampson (Robert Englund) and his dopey son Ainsley fishing for gator. There is some funny back and forth dialogue from them before our main antagonist Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) shows up to set things straight. We learn later in the film that Victor was accidentally hit in the face with a hatchet by his father in an effort to release him from a burning house. Presumed dead, he was left in the swamps to terrify and terrorize any who cross his path. The ridiculously giant and mutated hillbilly Victor tears them literally limb from limb in some of the best gore in an opening horror movie sequence I've ever seen.The film cuts to Joel David Moore of Avatar fame as Ben, the nerdy dork trying to get over his girlfriend at Mardi Gras. That's a good place to get over the cheating ex right? He decides to ditch the group and go on a haunted boat tour. Maybe not such a good idea.  Along for the ride is the token black guy and comedy relief buddy Marcus (Deon Richmond). Tony Todd briefly shows up as the decked out and overacting Reverend Zombie. He was the first choice of the duo to take them on a tour but he is out of business and directs them the hopelessly inept tour guide Shawn. They soon find themselves off on the haunted tour much to the annoyance of Marcus. Along for the ride are two ditzy porn stars Misty and Jenna with their scummy director Shapiro. We then get the amusing Mr. and Mrs. Permatteo as the know it all straight laced out of towners. We then meet the mysterious, tough, and quiet female lead Marybeth played by the beautiful Tamara Feldman who's only along to look for her lost father and brother (the now very deceased Sampson and Ainsley). The tour soon goes awry with the boat sinking and now the group is at the mercy of the bloodthirsty Victor Crowley. In the tried and true slasher formula the group is slowly picked off one by one in some of the most awesome and bloody death scenes ever filmed. You'll have to watch the rest of the film to witness a fun and gore filled ride, but please don't take it too seriously. Just have a good time with it over some booze with friends.

                                   They've witnessed a death you must see!



The acting is pretty good for a slasher flick and nothing much to complain about here. No need to have particularly spectacular acting in this genre of horror movie though. Kane of course did what he does best in the homicidal maniac role and gives off great presence as Crowley. He also plays the father of the younger version of Victor pretty well with what little time he's on screen. Joel David Moore plays the role perfectly of the geeky and nice guy, but he gets down and dirty when he needs to. I found myself laughing quite a bit at Deon Richmond's dialogue and facial expressions, but he usually brings the laughs to any role. Tamara Feldman brings the screams and toughness to her role. She's just not a pretty face here. I was surprised at Richard Riehle in his role as Mr. Permatteo. His veteran acting brings laughs and he plays the straight guy perfectly. Just think Office Space without the broken neck. Well in this movie I'm sure that's all he wishes he got. Everyone else is fine but pretty interchangeable in my opinion.

                            
                      Crowley gets up in Ben's face here for some lip action.


The special effects are top notch for these kills. John Carl Buechler really pulls out all of the stops for this one and we see some brutal deaths thanks to him. We really get some gushers here. A particularly memorable death is Mrs. Permatteo who gets her face ripped in half. That's got to hurt right? That's Kane again for you though. Using his bare hands in his kills seems to be a trademark. There's also a nice scene where one of the porn stars gets a belt sander to the face and mouth. Clean that dirty mouth out woman. I don't think I've quite seen something like that in a while and it's about time! The makeup for Victor is pretty decent but nothing special. I've heard some people really complain about it, but I really didn't see anything too bad about it. I've seen worse and still been thoroughly entertained.

                                         Open up wide for Dr. Crowley!


The film works well for a couple of reasons. It doesn't take itself too seriously and it keeps the formula simple. Blood, tits, and a homicidal maniac running around the woods murdering people. Add the fact that it's executed quite well and we have a very memorable and fun film. More films should take a page from this film. The films running time is another plus as it clocks in at a brisk 84 minutes. I recommend all go out and buy or rent this film immediately!

Monday, October 11, 2010

10 WTF! moments in Friday the 13th history

Throughout the Friday the 13th franchise history there have certainly been many memorable moments. From over the top gruesome kills, to funny and ridiculous dialogue. However, there are some moments in these movies that are either so over the top, unbelievable, or just plan weird, you have to ask yourself "What the Fuck!?. What just happened here?" The scenes I will present to you here are those such instances that really stick out in the history of Friday the 13th franchise as what the fuck moments.

10. You can get to the Atlantic ocean through Crystal Lake now?

Seems a bit large for a lake, but ok.














In part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason has been resurrected when an anchor rips open a power line in the Lake and shocks him back to life. Was that necessary? No. Did it make sense? No. Jason can come back to life whenever he wants and for whatever reason. He climbs aboard the boat that helped bring him back to life (death?) and proceeds to thank the passengers by killing them. That was nice of him. The ship somehow manages to "drift" back into the harbor right before the SS Lazarus departs for New York. Did he pilot the vessel back to the dock? That's a whole other question. Anyway, he proceeds to climb up the the SS Lazurus's anchor and on board he goes. The ship takes off to Manhattan New York. Now the question is when did Crystal Lake become attached to the Atlantic Ocean? The answer is it isn't and can't be. The term lake is defined  as "On Earth a body of water is considered a lake when it is inland, not part of the ocean, is larger and deeper than a pond. This is just a moment of why did they even have to go there? It's just a lazy plot hole in the movie conjured up by bad writing. What the hell man? What the hell?

Hi Ho Silver away!!!
















09. Toxic waste turns Jason into a child?

Someone's had a little too much to drink.














Back to part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan, Rennie and Sean are on the run from Jason in the sewers of New York. Rennie takes some toxic waste that' apparently just lying around in the sewer and chucks it in Jason's face. He inexplicably takes off his mask and starts screaming in pain. I don't think I've seen him scream like that before, but ok, he never had toxic waste thrown in his face either. However odd that might seem, it pales in comparison to what happens next. As Rennie and Sean climb a ladder to try and escape to the streets above, Jason attacks, grasping at their feet. As explained by the now deceased sewer worker guy, "the sewers are flooded out ever night with toxic waste at midnight". Alrighty then. So the toxic waste overtakes Jason and he is somehow transformed into a boy. What the fuck? And not the mongoloid version of the boy we all saw and love from the first one, or the one that Rennie has an encounter with at Crystal Lake. Just a regular looking kid. Ok. And apparently toxic wastes melts away your body in just minutes. In your face science!


Behold the miracles of toxic waste exposure. A mongoloid no more!















08. Jason taking off his mask for shock value?

How you doing??














Now to Friday the 13th Part III my friends. Chris, the main female heroine, is being chased around a ratty old barn by Jason. She doesn't take to kindly to that so she cracks him in the head with a shovel and knocks him out. You go girl! She has the forethought to tie a noose around his head and hang him from the rafters. Of course he revives and briefly takes off his mask before taking off the noose. He then looks like he 'smiles' to her before putting the mask back on and continuing his rampage. What the fuck? It wasn't necessary to do this to take off the noose alone. He's almost fucking with her psychologically by showing off his ugly mug. He does this again in Part VIII right after he kicks a group of punks beatbox. They go to fuck with him and he just lifts up his mask as if to say "Bitch, look at how ugly I am! You want to mess with this?!" Of course they run off. It's just out of character for Jason to do this and makes you scratch your head. The whole reason he has a mask on is to prevent people from seeing his face. He's ashamed, but apparently he uses it to his advantage in those scenarios. Or it's just a cheap plot device for the audience to see his face. Yeah, that's it. Still, there are better and smarter ways to accomplish this.

What? You want some?














07. Jason can teleport now?


haha. Beat you to the top!















Again to Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan. I'm seeing a pattern here. Rennie's uncle Charles is being chased down by Jason. Good, the guys a prick in this movie. It appears that Jason is behind him when he starts running. Charles runs into a building and up to the second floor. Apparently Jason is already there waiting for him and proceeds to throw him out the window and out to the street below before killing him. What? Now I know Jason is a bit of a speed walker and quite stealthy. No matter how slow he seems to walk, he always seems to catch up to his victims (usually by their bumbling). He almost never runs or moves quickly, and even if he did, he's still going to have to come from behind Charles and it appeared there was only one way into that building. So maybe he has a link with the enterprise? Some would argue he's supernatural at this point so he can do that. Since when did we go from bullets not being able to stop him to appearing wherever the hell he wants almost instantly? What's going on here?

06. Homoerotic Shaving?

There's just a certain look in his eyes.














Now this bizarre moment was mentioned several times in the "His Name was Jason" DVD documentary about the Friday the 13th franchise. I too always thought this scene was very weird, but I really couldn't picture the movie without it. So the possessed coroner Phil kidnaps officer Josh and takes him to the old Voorhees residence. Jason needs a new host to go into and officer Josh fits the bill I guess. Phil straps the now buck naked Josh down to the table in a bondage like way. Phil sharpens the razor blade on the leather strap with a lustful look in his eyes. Back and forth, back and forth. He then lathers Josh's face up with shaving cream and proceeds to shave his face. This is how bad porno movies start. Huh? Why the hell does Jason need a clean shave before he transfers bodies? I guess Jason doesn't like mustaches? He did have a beard in part II didn't he? Secondly, there is some sort of strange homoerotic undertone going on here with Phil and Josh. The way he decides to tie him up. The look in Phil's eyes. Something very odd is going on with this entire scene. But hey, it works I suppose.

This isn't at all odd for Jason. Is it?















05. Jason climbs trees and waits for unsuspecting victims?


Surprised?!.....me too.

















In part VI Jason Lives we have Mr. Voorhees apparently doing some people watching up in the trees surrounding Crystal Lake. We have Larry, Stan, and Katie out in Camp Blood on a business retreat shooting paintballs at each other. I guess that's what some business types did in the eighties to relieve stress? They might have been better off just doing some coke like everyone else did in that decade. Unfortunately they picked the wrong place to have some fun. Jason apparently catches wind of them and decides to hide up in a tree and pounce at the exact right moment. When they are all distracted talking to each other, Jason leaps from the tree and decapitates them all with one fell swoop. Nice. Wait....what? He leaped from a tree like a cat? That's a first. How the hell long was he waiting up there for them to pass by? The jump looks like about 7 or 8 feet straight down and maybe higher. It seems a little odd because Jason is usually a sneaker from behind than reigning death from above.Maybe he was up in the tree trying to get some bird eggs or some shit for lunch when he saw an open opportunity. Who knows. Either way it always glaringly stuck out to me.

04. Jason's now afraid of water?


I don't even know what's going on with this picture.














So in Freddy vs. Jason it is presented that one of Jason's fears was of water. Jason is injected with a sleeping agent and passes out. Freddy is pissed that Jason is off killing his targets and slips into his dreams. He does what he does best and takes Jason's supposed "fear" of water against him. Jason freaks out and succumbs to the water where Freddy tries to drown him. Ummm huh? Since when the hell has Jason ever been scared of water? Sure he "drowned" in water as a child because he wasn't strong swimmer, but he wasn't scared of it. He has been shown going into water purposefully so many times throughout the series it's pretty much established that he is not afraid of it whatsoever. Hell, he pretty much damm near loves the water, and gleefully kills in it whenever he gets a chance. He should be used to water as well considering the amount of time he spent locked up in the water. Overall this moment is in complete disagreement with established canon. What the fuck man? Oh well.

03. Jason somehow finds Alice's house in the city and travels there to kill her?


Hmmm.....I wonder what's for dinn........ahhhhh!















Friday the 13th part II takes place 5 years after the events of the first film with Jason looking to get some revenge in. Our heroine from the first film, Alice, is living alone in what appears to be a house or apartment and trying to put her life back in order. She goes to the fridge to get something to snack on where she finds Mrs. Voorhees severed head. It looks remarkably good for five years of decomposition. Just then someone grabs her from behind and puts an icepick in her temple. What the fuck? Now the scene doesn't show who the perpetrator is, but one can only assume if he is in possession of Mrs. Voorhees head that it would be Jason himself. Well maybe Jason loaned her head out to another killer? If we assume the logical choice that Jason is the killer here, then we can move on to the other what the fuck questions. How did he find Alice's house and how did he get there? Did he look her up and drive there? Walk? Plane? Nobody notices a giant hillbilly maniac roaming the suburbs with a potato sack over his head right? It's never explained where she lived so it's not out of the realm of possibility she lives in a nearby town to Crystal Lake. But in the first movie she says "....I might have to go back to California......" implying that's where she's from. Another strange scene we will probably never get an explanation on. What can you do?

02. Tommy beats the living hell out of Junior with his...... MMA skills?


Looking ugly is Junior's only real fighting skill.
















Tommy is back and crazier than ever in Part V of the franchise. He has been in various institutions over the years and finally comes back to Crystal Lake via Pinehurst halfway house to try and recover. Good idea? I don't think so, but alright. So Tommy pretty much loses it whenever he's provoked and proceeds to go ape shit on the unfortunate morons who test him. He does this early in the movie to Eddie after being pushed. He performs a beautiful fireman's carry and slams Eddie through a table followed by some nice ground and pound. Now Tommy really loses it when the resident hillbilly Junior messes with him. In the best non Jason fight sequence, Tommy proceeds to unleash hell on him. Head shots, head kicks, body shots, joint manipulation, and a groin shot to top it all off. What the fuck? I don't know what he was doing in those institutions besides making masks and being disturbed, but it's pretty evident he was training some MMA in anticipation for fighting Jason again. Unfortunately he freezes up when confronted by Jason so he doesn't get to test out his new skills. This fight scene is just unique in the series in that it actually displays some real martial art techniques. Gotta love it.

01. Jimbo's (Crispin Glover) crazy dancing.




Now we come to part IV, The Final Friday. Crispin Glover plays Jimbo, the nerdy and awkward guy. He just wants to screw Tina, which he does eventually get to do before he meets his gruesome end. While the kids are partying in the living room and getting wasted, Jimbo asks Tina to dance with him. Little did the group know what they would witness could not be unseen. What occurs next is the most awkward, insane, and yet awesome dancing portrayed in a horror movie. Ever! Jimbo proceeds to basically spasm and jerk his body as if being controlled by some otherworldly entity. What the fuck? I'm not sure how much drugs Crispin might have been on in reality, but whatever the case, it's comedy gold and there is no need to stop.This scene will live on forever in the annals of Friday the 13th what the fuckness! However, according to Crisping Glover, they filmed the scene playing "Back in Black" by AC/DC, but they dubbed "Love is a Lie" by Lion over the final version. Either way, it would still be considered an insane dance routine by any music standards. Not me though. I wouldn't have it any other way Mr. Glover.


Some of these moments are scenes in which maybe the franchise could have done without or they possibly make the movie that much better. I'll leave that for you all to decide.

Movie Review: Re-Animator


Dan Cain: He's dead?

Herbert West: Not anymore.


In 1985 a little horror movie came out called Re-Animator. The movie is loosely based on the H.P. Lovecraft story "Herbert West Re-Animator". It was originally envisioned as a stage piece and then as a miniseries with 13 episodes. Due to budget constraints it was settled on as a movie. The film mixes comedy and gore to great effect while still managing to tell a very compelling story. It was shot on a relatively small budget (900,000), but still manages to capture some great performances and special effects on camera. Not to mention it contains one of the most famous sex scenes between a zombie head and a woman....or the only one. Nice.


                                                           Let's get it on!


The movie stars Jeffrey Coombs who magnificently plays Herbert West in this tale of the undead. West comes to America from Switzerland after the death of his mentor Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry) where he was studying on how to cheat death with a secret serum known as "reagent" that re-animate the dead. West ends up renting a room from his schoolmate Dan (Bruce Abbott). The nice and innocent jock type that was common in many horror movies of this era although he plays the role very well. Dan ends up becoming an unwitting accomplice to West's hunger to make his serum work. Much to the chagrin of his beautiful and suspicious girlfriend Megan played by Barbara Crampton. She is none too happy about West living there and doesn't trust him once bit. To top off this trio is the the devious and creepy Dr. Hill (David Gale) who teaches at the medical school where West and Dan attend. He and West have an instant grudge together due to West's belief that Dr. Hill stole much of his late mentors research as his own. These tense scenes between them are quite well acted and very funny. Dr. Hill also has quite the fascination for Megan and in the end will stop at nothing to get her. All of these characters and scenarios lead to corpse stealing, corpse re-animation, gore, lot's of nudity, comedy, and some head giving head action. Yep you heard that right. Can it get any better. No not really.

                           
                                          Dr. Hill just wants a little kiss is all.


Jeffrey Coombs as the reclusive and eccentric Herbert West is part of what makes this movie works so well. Actually he does whatever role he's in proud. See "The Frighteners" and Deep Space Nine". His acting is top notch in this film and he doesn't miss a beat. He can hit those serious parts as well as some funny lines such as his explanation of Dan's dead cat. "I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know and what would a note say, Dan? Cat dead, details later"? Lol. The second part of this formula that makes the perfect mix is the late David Gale's performance as Dr. Hill. As the alive version he plays the perfect combination of  staunch and gaunt, well respected, and yet has this underlying creepiness. As the disembodied head and quite dead version he hams it up terrifically and just goes straight over the top. He's not afraid to go there and that's really needed for any mad scientist role. The beef between him and West is priceless. They go at it a few times and each time Dr. Hill is getting more and more angry at the antagonistic West. You could cut the air with that tension in the room.The other supporting roles of Barbara Crampton as Megan and Bruce Abbott as Dan are fine and fairly well done. No complaints, but nothing really sticks out from them either. I must say kudos for her to for having so much on screen time being naked. Definitely no complaints there. Megan's father Dean Halsey played by Robert Sampson does a fine job of playing zombie I must say. Overall the acting is quite good on all fronts.

                                           West is in for a little surprise.



The makeup and special effects are mostly top notch in this flick thanks to John Naulin, Richard McGuire, and Anthony Doublin. The animatroincs for Dan's resurrected dead cat are quite comical but still pretty freaky. The makeup effects for the zombies are well done, but get far more extensive for the undead version of Dean Halsey and Melvin the muscle bound meat head. The gore however, is sublime! The effects for Dr. Hills decapitation are great as well as the aftermath of the body carrying around the bloody head. There's a nice little scene of Melvin getting it through the back with a bone saw from West as well. Plenty....Plenty of blood and guts for you gore hounds to revel in.

                                          The infamous head giving head scene.


In conclusion, if you love gore, blood, t&a, comedy, and zombies, then you will have it in droves here. But you also get a well acted and put together horror movie that breezes by in slightly over and hour and a half. I would highly recommend this film and you should all go watch it now!