Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Slasher Mania

(in case you missed the dancing predators video i posted last year here it is again)

Happy Halloween folks!  We finally fuckin’ made it.  This season I seem to have watched more than my fair share of different and interesting horror pictures.  It’s always a mixed bag but I did well this round.  I hope that doesn’t mean next year is gonna suck.   Anyway, some other notables that I didn’t get to write about that I recommend are Brain Damage (nothing’s gonna beat Frankenhooker but Frank Henenlotter is the fucking man), The Stuff (from director Larry Cohen who did It’s Alive and wrote the Maniac Cop series), Bride of Frankenstein (very sequel-ish and I don’t get why a lot of people think this is better than its predecessor but it’s still a cool continuation of the story) and Demons 2 (not as good as the first one but still very fun and worth checking out).  Now on to Slasher Mania (and be sure to check back for Vampire Mania in the next couple of days).

Bloody Birthday

I liked Bloody Birthday and I wonder why this isn’t more well known.  It’s a great twist on the slasher genre with children being the killers instead of an adult or even a teenager.  Don’t worry, you know this from the get go so I’m not spoiling anything.  It was smart to not focus on the whodunit part and instead make it more about just how evil these kids are.  I was kinda mesmerized throughout the whole thing wondering how they were gonna kill their next victim, how far they were gonna take this shit, who was finally gonna have to take these sonsabitches down and does that mean children are gonna die on screen at the end of this?  That’s ballsy man.  This will really make you hate kids if you don’t already.  Check it out guys this was a cool one.

Side note: Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja) has a small part in this but I didn’t spot him.

Dr. Giggles

Slasher 101.  You got a dude out for revenge against a group of people, a gang of teens fight the good doctor (that was sarcasm, he’s bad really…actually he’s not a doctor at all), there’s a female protagonist, a fake ending, and puns.  Holy shit are there a lot of puns.  Every single doctor phrase that you’ve heard in your life is in here.  They do “you might want to get a second opinion”, “take two and call me in the morning”, “the doctor is in”, “is there a doctor in the house” and a million others.  I have to admit I was impressed that this film managed to cram so many in and ok, it was a little funny sometimes, but if you don’t like that shit then stay away.

Overall this one’s just ok.  The ending is cool and I especially liked the part where Dr. Giggles says “it’s time to do what doctors do best” and pulls out a golf club to use as a weapon.  Oh and get this, he really does giggle a lot.  The filmmakers showed restraint by not having the doctor spill over into full blown laughter.  Good for them.  But come on guys, that’s a silly fucking trademark and title to give your serial killer.          

Eaten Alive

This was the very next movie Tobe Hooper did after Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s surprisingly not horrible.  I’m not sure if it’s good really but there’s a little something there.  The story is real simple involving a redneck Texan hotel manager (Neville Brand (Birdman of Alcatraz)) that kills his guests and feeds them to his crocodile.  Brand does a good acting job ‘n all but his character isn’t scary or even very interesting.  He’s just kind of a crazy ol’ coot that can’t control himself and acts on his urges to murder folks.  Not much else to say.

The thing that makes this just a tad interesting is that it can be pretty damn trippy at times.  The whole film is fairly cartoony but that cartooniness gets out of hand sometimes.  Like this incredibly vivid bright red lighting is used for a while towards the beginning, this one family’s reaction to a croc attack is a little bizarre with the father becoming unhinged and there’s other shit.

According to IMDB Hooper had, you guessed it, creative differences during filming so who knows how much weirder this piece would’ve been.  He seems to not get along with anyone on anything that he works on.  As for Eaten Alive I don’t think you really need to see it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Celluloid Bloodbath: More Prevues from Hell

More horror prevues from the 60’s and 70’s.  The format has changed a little from the last one though where instead of all bad jokes and zombies crashing an empty theater the filmmakers got horror film fanatics and actors to say a quick little something every two trailers or so.  Happy the zombie puppet is back but he’s barely in it so don’t even worry about it.  Overall I like the approach they used here better but most of the blurbs are uninteresting.  A bunch of them are as lazy as something like “the next prevue is [insert movie here] which was shown at drive-ins”.  For me the most interesting segment was definitely William Forsythe’s (Out for Justice, The Devil’s Rejects).  He talks briefly about how he doesn’t care for horror pictures but loves thrillers.  Finally, the trailers are categorized this time (vampires, supernatural, etc.) which works fine.

There were a lot more movies I had heard of before and seen in this installment: The Exorcist, Suspiria, The Gore Gore Girls, Cannibal Holocaust, It’s Alive, They Came from Within (aka Shivers), The Crawling Hand, The Horror of Party Beach, Squirm and Monster A-Go-Go (those last four I saw, as I’m sure most of you did, through Mystery Science Theater 3000).  Some trailers were way weirder than what they showed in Prevues from Hell.  Like there’s The Baby that involves a grown man that acts and gets treated like an infant from his abusive mother and The Worm Eaters where it looks like people ate actual live worms for this fucking flick.  Also I didn’t know that the Crispin Glover movie Willard was a remake of a 70’s picture of the same name.  So you may be familiar with more of the trailers in this one but the strange ones are fucking out there.

If you liked Mad Ron’s Prevues from Hell then you’ll like this.  More of the same.   

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mad Ron's Prevues From Hell

Trailers are a class unto themselves.  There’s an art to making one and it sounds harder (on paper at least) than cutting together the actual film it’s representing.  Now I’ve never put one together so I’m just speculating but you need to find some of the best moments (and even some dull ones to use as filler), string them together in an exciting way, decide what you want to disclose and keep secret from the audience, set it to music, insert title cards, etc.  It’s gotta be hard to make the movie seem enticing and convey basic plot elements while avoiding making the whole thing seem like a total mess of scenes reedited in a chaotic and incoherent manner.  Plus this piece needs to be like two minutes or less.  Maybe someone can enlighten me.  Is this shit easy or difficult?

Anyway if you’re a trailer buff then you’ll enjoy this compilation of horror pictures from the 60’s and 70’s.  Some I knew about, a couple I’ve seen (just the really popular ones like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, Last House on the Left and Black Christmas (although here it’s called Silent Night Evil Night)) but most I’ve never heard of before.  A bunch have the ol’ “just remember it’s only a movie” or “we can’t show you scenes from this film because it’s too horrific” gag.  They do seem to get a little crazier as the collection progresses and they’re all good fun to watch.  None made me want to check out the pictures I hadn’t seen though.  I like to think I know better than that.  A few may be decent but it’s a long shot that there’s a hidden gem.  When it comes to horror movies in the era covered here nine times out of ten the trailer is better than the feature itself.

At the beginning, the end and every so often we’re given a break with ventriloquist Nick and his zombie dummy Happy.  Nick isn’t the best at speaking with his mouth closed as Happy’s voice sounds muffled most of the time and he seems to have particular trouble with the letter f.  Oh and they’re not funny.  Cheesy bad jokes and lame banter abound.  But I get why the filmmakers wanted to have wrap arounds because seeing all these trailers is kinda like eating a bowl full of Lucky Charms marshmallows that you picked out from the other tan crap that nobody likes to eat.  It sounds like a good idea but it quickly becomes apparent that what you’re eating is too sweet and a bit gross.  You need that filler shit made from oats to balance things out and make the meal satisfying.  Just watching trailers that show nothing but action and the best bits is exhausting and pretty saccharine.  So I agree with having breaks, however it’s unfortunate that the non-trailer parts are not very well written, staged or shot.

I recommend this though.  If you dig the idea of nothing but trailers, especially horror ones which make for the best viewing in my opinion, this works well enough.    

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ghoulies II

It may not be the best…uhh…anything out there but this one has some good moments especially if you like cheesy 80’s shit.  The atmosphere is on the lighter side with the creatures behaving sorta silly like gremlins.  I like the bigger monster that emerges at the end because it kinda comes out of nowhere and its death is priceless.  And with that “motherfucker” in there exclaimed by our hero it’s a touch weird that this got a PG-13 rating.  But the toilet scene is what anyone remembers this thing for.  Hell, they put it on the cover.

From what I remember this one is better than the first but that’s not saying much.  One kid says this is “better than EPCOT Center”.  What more do you want out of a recommendation?  I wonder how good Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (I shit you not, that is the real title) is.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Hunger

R.I.P. Tony Scott.  Even though I don’t think you made the greatest movies I love you man.  You could’ve called if you wanted to talk.  I was here for you Tony.

This one was Scott’s first film and it’s really interesting.  There’s this vampire named Miriam (Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion)) who has a lover, also a vampire, named John (David Bowie (music shit)).  They’ve been together for hundreds of years but suddenly John ages decades in a single day.  Miriam puts him away in a box (coffin?) because he’s gotten to the point where he can’t really move much but he’s still alive.  In order to get a new companion Miriam goes after Sarah (Susan Sarandon (The Client, White Palace)), a doctor specializing in accelerated aging.

So we’re really at a transition point here and for most of the movie I thought it was an odd yet fascinating position to tell this story from.  Usually with these vampire flicks one blood sucker turns someone at the beginning (Interview with the Vampire) or attempts to put the bite on their target at the end (Dracula) so we have a whole picture with these characters.  Here the second most important role gets switched half way through.  But it’s not disappointing or awkward.  Instead it comes off refreshing.

However the story isn’t exactly the most important thing with this one.  I know that sounds pretty fucking stupid but just hang on a sec.  This is a mood piece.  The cinematography is some of the best I’ve seen and it was done by Stephen Goldblatt  who did Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, Young Sherlock Holmes, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin and Striptease.  Jesus, that’s a resume.  But of course it’s all under the direction of Tony Scott.  He definitely took some heavy influence from his brother Ridley.  There are tons of shadows, creative lighting, plenty of smoke and haze, dull blue and black colors with splashes of bright red thrown in for wonderful effect, great imposing and also personal camera work.  Scarves, birds, cages and other shit are put directly in front of the camera layering your view and there are good performances all around from the cast.  Scott and Goldblatt paint a beautiful picture for us to look at.

And also the editing is fucking crazy.  The first ten minutes or so are especially off the wall.  Almost Terrence Malick-y.  It’s more about a feeling and how the images add up as a whole than one particular shot and I dig that.

The music and sound design is yet another awesome feature of this movie.  The song played at the beginning, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, is the perfect way to set this thing up.  It’s washed out, punkish and pretty gothy.  The rest of the soundtrack is either classical or sound effects and it all works surprisingly incredibly well.

I don’t want to leave out the makeup effects either or “make up illusions” as it says in the credits.  Holy shit do they look good.  They nailed the aging Bowie and rotting corpses.  Miriam with her pale complexion, vivid red lips and gold blonde hair is treated with just as much care.      

The ending was really great too.  This is where those make up effects blossom fully into damn creepy imagery.  It was totally not what I expected and badass.  Well except for the very last scene which the studio forced Scott to put in but the rest of the picture was so good that I can overlook it.

I liked this one a lot but this is definitely not for everyone.  In fact there’s a good chance that a whole bunch of you won’t be into it.  It’s slow and extremely moody.  Pretentious?  I would say yes except that it’s Tony fucking Scott.  The man went on to do Top Gun after this and Beverly Hills Cop II.  This is one of his best in my opinion and unlike anything else he would ever do in the rest of his career.  I never would’ve pegged him as such an arty fuckin’ guy but he created something special with this piece.

I’ll miss you man and take a moment of silence to pour one on the curb.  You were a good one.        

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Warlock: The Armageddon

The best new (to me) horror flick I saw last year was Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth so it made me want to check out what else director Anthony Hickox has done.  Truth be told this was the real reason why I watched Warlock.  Luckily everything turned out alright.  This one wasn’t bad either.

Julian Sands (The Medallion, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)) is back as the warlock and this time he’s looking for six stones that will, you guessed it, bring the end of the world.  We have a team of Druids battling him this round, namely Chris Young (PCU, The Great Outdoors), Paula Marshall (Hellraiser III), Steve Kahan (The Captain that tries to keep Riggs and Murtaugh in check in the Lethal Weapons), Charles Hallahan (The Thing (1982), Dante’s Peak), Bruce Glover (Hard Times, Chinatown) and R.G. Armstrong (Children of the Corn, Predator).  Quite an eclectic cast.

The thing that’s confusing is we don’t know if the warlock in this picture is the same one from the first installment or a totally different one that just looks exactly the same.  I mean I guess it doesn’t really matter because this is completely separate from the previous film but it took me until about half way through the movie to finally let it go.

Whatever, you don’t need to have seen Warlock to understand what’s going on.  In fact it seems like they go by a different set of rules here.  Like the warlock can fly without making a special solution from a small boy’s fat, the Druids don’t attempt to use salt as a weapon which was very effective last time, the warlock uses a skin map instead of someone’s eyeballs to show him where the shit he’s looking for is and the good guys use magic of their own which kind of makes them non-evil witches I think.

The tone and look is darker than the first which I dig.  This one actually feels R as opposed to the preceding movie.  The warlock does some nasty shit like he’s birthed as this slimy mound out of an innocent woman, he rips the hair off of a hitchhiker lady, drops someone from hundreds of feet up through a glass skylight and others.  However to counteract this more gruesome path the non warlock stuff is cheesy and bland.  Our young hero goes through magic training but it’s really lame, he’s in love with a girl and her father forbids the relationship, the boy hero’s father is a corny dad/sensei that knows in his heart that his son can rise to the challenge, etc.

One particular part that came out of nowhere though that perked me up was when our hero’s father shoots him with a shotgun.  To turn the boy into a fighter and in order to give him magic powers he must die first.  But we’re not told this until after the fact so when it happens it’s like, “what the fuck?!  Did he just fuckin’ plug his own son at point blank range?  Is he really a bad guy?  Where the fuck is this going?”

The warlock does some weird things in this one that kind of don’t make sense.  It’s mostly the references he makes.  When he turns one guy into a living piece of art he says, “Picasso.  Definitely Picasso.”  I don’t think he’s supposed to know who Picasso is.  I mean he calls a car a “carriage” after he’s born and goes outside for the first time indicating that he probably has a seventeenth century mindset like the last movie.  But he also refers to California as “the wild west” and pretends to whip out a gun from his hip while saying “happy trails pardners” like he’s familiar with the American west.  The filmmakers decided to go for the puns instead of keeping it in character which I’m not totally against because hell, we’re talkin’ about a magical horror movie here.  One last thing, I don’t understand why the warlock drives across the country when he can fly.  Maybe flying drains his powers or something but it’s not explained.     

Most of the special effects are on par with the first one.  The exceptions are the parts where objects float or soar through the air.  Man does that shit look fucking terrible in this.  The dagger that our hero and the warlock mind battle over at the end looks like a fucking cartoon.

With that said overall it was pretty good.  I’m not sure if I liked it better than Warlock though.  The Armageddon was definitely more horror-ish with a badass villain but the protagonist stuff sucked.  Warlock was less bloody and the bad guy wasn’t as sadistic but it was a more balanced film.  I guess they kinda even out.  Good job Hickox.  It’s no Hellraiser III but it’s solid.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Warlock (1989)

Didn’t quite know what to expect out of this picture from Steve Miner, the director of Friday the 13th Part 2, 3 and My Father the Hero, and writer David Twohy who penned The Fugitive, Waterworld and Pitch Black.  It turned out to be damn fun.

So in seventeenth century Boston a warlock (Julian Sands (Arachnophobia, Leaving Las Vegas)) escapes through a time warp along with his arch nemesis, witch hunter Redferne (Richard E. Grant (Dracula (1992), The Age of Innocence)).  They show up in 1989 California with the bad guy looking for Satan’s bible or some shit and Redferne hot on the trail.  Also, Redferne’s liaison to the 20th century is Kassandra (Lori Singer (Footloose, Short Cuts)) and she’s your typical ditsy young’un.  Normally in this setup these two would fall in love but I don’t think they do.  It’s more like they finally fully respect each other in the end.    

If there’s such a thing as a horror adventure movie then this is it.  The story is simple and it moves well, there are a lot of nifty special effects, the bad guy’s pretty evil, the good guy’s pretty likable and you feel he can get the job done, there’s magic ‘n shit and the characters travel across the country chasing after the warlock so the scenery changes often adding to the sense that you’re on a journey.  Plus thankfully the fish out of water stuff isn’t the most horrendous shit you’ve ever seen.

One weird thing though is that this is rated R but it doesn’t feel like it at all.  I don’t remember there being language or particularly gory scenes or anything.  To me this seemed just as edgy as Temple of Doom so I don’t quite get the rating.

Anyway, I enjoyed this one quite a bit and I recommend it.   


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Tall Man

Just to clear things up this is not about the dude from Phantasm played by Angus Scrimm.  Although that would be cool if he got his own devoted movie. 

Anyway, if you haven’t seen The Tall Man and don’t want to read the spoiler filled paragraphs below then I guess I recommend it.  I’m really on the fence about it though.  Once you finally get the full picture it’s kinda disappointing but the journey there is interesting.  I like to think of it more as an experiment in storytelling.  It’ll hopefully make for some good conversation between you and your buds.

Spoilers from here on

Still here?  Ok.  The payoff doesn’t make sense.  The idea is to take children away from their shitty homes and parents and give them better lives, right?  As Jessica Biel puts it: to “break the cycle”.  But what couple or adult would go with this program?  Why not adopt a kid from an orphanage?  I mean it’s not like they’re living the sweet life over there.  But then I know you’re gonna say, “well maybe the people who applied got rejected and couldn’t adopt so they had to go this other route”.  I think that’s bullshit though.  If an adoption agency thinks a couple or a person’s home is unsuitable for a child then why would this secret organization give them a kid either?  The point is to greatly improve the child’s situation and not just transfer him/her from one shitty family to another.  This underground group has dignity.  They don’t steal children and give them new lives for money.  It’s a cause for them.  But how could you look at adopting a child from an orphanage as not helping?  Those kids need good homes too.  So I don’t get it.  Who the fuck would use this secret society?

Laugier certainly tried to make something different here and he succeeded even if it doesn’t quite add up.  He labors so hard to make you think you’re watching a typical horror/thriller picture but then when he turns the tables on you and you see it from this different angle it doesn’t really work.  It’s too messy.  Like one mother convinces half the town that Jessica Biel stole her child even though she has no proof and Biel seems like a nice and very pleasant person, the kid that Biel steals seems really happy and doesn’t appear to be frightened or confused which you would think would be the case ‘cause he was like taken from his mother and home, and why did Biel feel she needed to stay behind and take the heat?  She could’ve disappeared with her husband and be off in some other part of the country continuing this kidnapping gig which she believes strongly in.  She had plenty of time to get away.

I think the thing I found most disappointing was that this isn’t a horror movie.  Once the twist was revealed I thought Biel was the one chopping these kids up.  And I think I would’ve found that more satisfying than this convoluted adoption scheme.

Like I said, if anything this one makes for some interesting conversation.  If this was reworked and simplified it has the potential to be a masterpiece, Hitchockian in its inventiveness with the thriller genre.

Well I look forward to Pascal Laugier’s next movie.  He’s got some good ideas on how to freshen things up in these typical ol’ stories.  He just needs to give the secret society thing a rest for a while.            

Monday, October 1, 2012


Pretty wild, pretty nasty, pretty fucked up and pretty bad-fucking-ass guys.  The less you know the better.  It does get a bit comical at the very end but don’t worry about it.  You’ll be into it.  It takes some horror subgenres and turns them on their heads.  Very cool.  I can’t wait to see Pascal Laugier’s latest movie, The Tall Man, now.