Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Butcher (2006)

What a strange cast of characters in this movie.  We have a douchey layered polo wearing meathead, an idiot who suggests shortcuts to Vegas through the woods, two lesbians with bad boob jobs, a chick in a wedding dress, a girl missing her tongue, and the requisite blonde who doesn't have enough sense to ditch the Abercrombie model.

These recent grads are headed on a road trip to Vegas, where apparently the one in the wedding dress has plans to have a 72-hour marriage Britney-Spears-style.  The douche with roid rage seems to have trouble sharing the road with others, especially a Jeepers Creepers -type truck they encounter during their trip through the woods.

After an accident involving one of the passengers, they're left stranded in the woods as their Escalade won't start.  They go wandering off in the direction of some smoke to find some help.  Every horror movie ever created would tell you that all the events leading up to this are cause for immediate death, but these idiots press on.

Pretty predictably, we then get treated to the next hour of these morons running around an old farmhouse while being trapped and chased by some psychotic backwoods hicks.  Nothing new here really, just corpses in random places, Leatherface-style butchering on dining room tables, and bear traps and razor wire galore.  This movie has pretty much nothing but bad acting and cliches.  It also includes ripoffs from every flick from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to House of 1000 Corpses to Wrong Turn to Rest Stop.  We get deformed inbreds, incompetent cops, and cheesy lines such as "It's harvest time!!"

I checked the date on this and remembered that the mid-2000s were a time of much copying of horror movies and I should have assumed this one would be similar.  But of course, with my goal in life being pretty much to watch every horror movie in existence, you watch the good with the bad and the scary with the downright hilarious.

Cropsey (2009)

This documentary focuses on a boogeyman-type legend of "Cropsey," a story with many variations that was popular with the
children of Staten Island throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  Two filmmakers search to find the origins of the childhood story, and discover that it is very much real.

Staten Island, New York is an odd place.  Barely settled until the 1960s after the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the island is probably most famous for the Fresh Kills Landfill, which was once the largest landfill in the world and is rumored that it can be seen from space.

In addition to the dump, Staten Island also housed a large facility for the mentally disabled, the Willowbrook State School.  The horrors of this facility were exposed in an investigative report by a young reporter (at the time) named Geraldo Rivera.  It was shown that residents were horribly abused, starving, and left naked in their own filth.  Several years later, the school was shut down, with residents dispersed to different places, or left to fend for themselves.

Confused and searching for familiarity, many former patients returned to the ruins of the Willowbrook State School, taking up residence in the system of tunnels that existed beneath it.  One person who lived there was Andre Rand, a sex offender and previous employee of the Willowbrook State School.  When children began disappearing across Staten Island, police initially had no clues.  By the time several children had gone missing, pieces were put together and Andre Rand became a suspect, and later went to trial.

This case was so interesting in the fact that only one body was ever found.  And that Andre Rand seemingly "got away" with a series of wrongdoings over the years, including loading a bus full of low income children and driving them to Newark Airport without any sort of permission.  Over the years, Rand has been convicted of two kidnappings/murders, and the others remain a mystery.

This was a really interesting documentary on a totally bizarre case.  I'm really glad I came across it because I find these kinds of situations completely captivating.  Residents of Staten Island still search for the bodies of the other missing children, but until this day, nothing else has been found.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)

This was a solid, albeit spastic, documentary on the history of slasher movies.  They have some pretty great interviews with the regulars like Tom Savini and Wes Craven, as well as some obscure people such as the now-rabbi director of Graduation Day.  However, I do wish they would have included more actors/actresses....they basically were only able to get Angela from Sleepaway Camp and Betsy Palmer from Friday the 13th.

This doc covers slasher flicks starting with Psycho and moving up through The Devil's Rejects.  It is a bit biased in the fact that it spends lots of time on some movies, and then very little on others that you would think deserved covering.  It was clear that they got certain permissions, and favored the interviewees by focusing a little more on their movies than others.

There wasn't a ton of new information here for true horror fans, although I definitely learned a few new things.  I was an infant when the Silent Night, Deadly Night protests took place, and it was pretty interesting to see all the 80s moms out picketing a killer Santa.  It was also pretty cool to see all the obscure nonsense horror movies that came out when slasher pics were at their prime in the 80s.

A word of warning to possible viewers: make sure you've seen all the "classics" before watching.  This documentary spoils a bunch of slashers including Sleepaway Camp, April Fool's Day, Prom Night, and Happy Birthday to Me.

Definitely a cool documentary to check out, but just don't expect to find a wealth of information, especially if you have seen Never Sleep Again or His Name was Jason.

Random: STFU, Jennifer Aniston.

I was watching Leprechaun over Halloween, which got me thinking about Jennifer Aniston.  Leprechaun was her movie-acting debut in 1993.  From then on, she's expressed nothing but embarrassment regarding her role in the cult horror classic.

Nothing bugs me more than when actors act all ashamed and "what was I thinking" about their beginnings in horror.  I happen to like Leprechaun and I think that most of what Jennifer Aniston has done recently on the big screen are steaming piles of crap as compared to her being chased around a farm by Warwick Davis.

And as it turns out, I'm not the only one that thinks this way.  If you head over to Rotten Tomatoes you will see something quite amusing.  While Leprechaun has a rating of 30%, let's check out some of JA's more mainstream flicks:

  • The Bounty Hunter - 8%
  • Love Happens - 17%
  • Rumor Has It - 20%
  • Derailed - 20%
  • Along Came Polly - 26%
  • Til There Was You - 7%
So my conclusion to this is STFU, Jennifer Aniston.  Rotten Tomatoes has 22 movies of you rated, six of which are rated below Leprechaun, and several others that are rated pretty close. (Such as The Break Up at 33%)  Maybe you should embrace your horror roots and maybe even think about making a bloody comeback.  I don't think these rom-com roles are really doing you too many favors as it is.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Splice (2009)

I'm not usually much for sci-fi, but this was one cool movie.  Splice is about two scientists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who have made a scientific and pharmaceutical breakthrough.  They have created two nasty-looking creatures, Fred and Ginger, that have the ability to make this protein that will help create useful medicine for animals.

The pharmaceutical company is impressed and wants to move to "phase two".  Unfortunately for Clive and Elsa, phase two means working on synthesizing the protein so that the company can make big bucks on drugs.  They on the other hand, want to try out mixing human DNA with the creatures. 

They decide to go rogue and secretly create a little project of their own.  They use the DNA from Fred and Ginger and splice in some human DNA.  They stick it in a little incubation chamber and out comes Dren.  They believe that she was born way too early and is strangely deformed.  Although initially they plan to kill her, Elsa begins to bond with Dren and pushes Clive to keep her.

Dren ages rapidly and the couple struggles to keep her hidden while maintaining their jobs.  They both find it difficult to draw the line between child and subject when it comes to taking care of Dren.  Additionally, as the creature continues to change and evolve, they are faced with some crazy challenges and situations.

I think the acting in this flick was pretty good.  Although I'm not the biggest Adrien Brody fan, I've always liked Sarah Polley and I think this was a good part for her.  The actress who played the adult Dren, Delphine Chaneac, really did a lot with a mostly non-speaking role.  Yes, the end of this movie was sort of crazytown, but I did really like this overall.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Albert Fish (2007)

I am SUCH a dork for documentaries.  The hubs and I watch all kinds of crazy docs.  I understand that this movie is sort of a docu-drama, which I don't appreciate as much but it's about serial killers so I'm diving in.

Albert Fish got into my head lately because I did a recent rewatch of House of 1000 Corpses.  The name got into my head and I remembered what a f-ed up case this whole thing was.  Anyway, to the movie.

First off, I'm a resident of New York City, so it's really awesome to see the old photos and footage of early 1900s NYC.  The Unsolved Mysteries type reenactments are really not my jam though.  I'd rather have a straight documentary with old recordings and current experts on crime and such.   They had several actors doing replays of Albert Fish at different times in his life.  These portrayals were pretty exaggerated and overboard, and in my opinion, kind of took away from it a bit.

Anyway, although I've read the Albert Fish section on Wikipedia and Crime Library and such, I did learn some new facts from this faux-ish documentary.  Mostly on the gory details of the murders and Fish's various wild sexual escapades.  This man was seriously bananas.  I do agree with other reviewers though that they went kind of overboard on the religious aspect and corny interim shots of red paint being thrown on the walls and such.

If you've already read a good amount about Fish, you're not going to get TOO much new information from this docu-drama.  But it was pretty decent to watch...I just wish they would have focused more on the docu and less on the drama.

Sympathy (2007)

What a crazy little movie this was.  Rumored to have been made for $6,500 and edited on a Mac, this is the kind of low-budget independent horror that the fans want to see.  Sympathy is getting compared to Hitchcock and Tarantino, and I would say this definitely has a Reservoir Dogs type vibe.

Sympathy takes place solely in a seedy motel and only has three characters.  It kicks off with Sara (Marina Shtelen) being dragged into a hotel room by bank robber Trip (Steven Pricthard)  But it seems the little lady is not getting tied up that easily and she puts up quite the fight, both physically and mentally.  Trip doesn't seem like the most seasoned bank robber/kidnapper and fumbles around making rookie mistakes.

Meanwhile, the duo gets a visitor in the form of recently escaped prisoner Dennis  (Aaron Boucher).  He sees what's up here -- feisty hostage and idiot captor - and decides to take over.  I have to say that the scenes between Sara and Dennis were both chilling and strangely sexy.  The two actors had crazy chemistry (if that's the right word) and delivered exactly what you were looking for in this situation.

I don't want to give too much more away about this movie, but there's definitely some wild twists and turns along with blood, gore, and even a touch of cannibalism.  Director Andrew Moorman really looks like her has a promising future ahead, and I would say the same for the actors.  I'd really love to see Marina  screaming through a few horror movies as the final girl.  Watch out, Danielle Harris ;o)

Blood Creek (2007)

This was my husband's remark after watching this movie: "You make me watch a lot of crap.  This is probably the worst movie I've ever seen."  And I pretty much agree.

Not to be confused with the Nazi-ish movie of the same name (which was also garbage) Blood Creek kicks off with a group of friends drinking beers and goofing off in their backyard.  In fact I'm pretty sure someone actually filmed this whole thing in a friend's backyard.  They play truth or dare, they go swimming, blah blah blah yawn.  Later on that night, a creepy lady with a baby stops by, ranting some nonsense about "disturbing her rest."  They think she's just pissed about the volume of the party and they go on with their evening.

The next day, the crew takes off for a camping trip.  One of the girls is particularly fixated on taking pictures, and asks that they pull over at an old barn on the way for a photo op.  Later, she looks at the picture, and there is no one in it.  Soon enough, they learn that the barn holds a creepy legend.  A farmer hung himself, leaving his family alone, and specifically his older daughter alone in the dark of the barn.  (Why she couldn't just open the barn door and leave is never explained)

They continue on to the camping, set up the tents, pop some brews and settle in for the evening.  However, one of them has the idea that they should go back to the barn and perform some sort of stupid ritual.  Conveniently enough for him, he will wait outside and keep watch, declining to participate in his own stupid idea.  Things go vaguely awry from here, in the sense that they get sort-of stalked by the ghost of the dead man and the lady with the baby.  But mostly they just wander around drunk and pick on each other. 

This movie was just so stupid.  The editing was horrendous and you could see little blips while characters were talking.  The story was just so lame....ooooohhhhh a farmer killed himself....and now he haunts a whole area?  There was no wrongdoing to get revenge for, dude.  This flick is not worth the DVD it was printed on, and thank goodness for Netflix so I can just put this in the envelope and send it back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Video Blog: Horror Movie Drinking Games

Yayyyy, my first video blog!  This is a short one since I'm still a little new at this.  My sister visited for Halloween and we discussed the rules for some fun and tipsy horror movie drinking games.  Enjoy :o)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Phone (2002)

I've been on a serious Asian horror kick lately.  I feel like I got turned off of Asian horror for a while because of all the crappy American remakes.  But Korean horror has seriously been my jam lately.  I like to read so I really don't mind watching things with subtitles, so that adds to my appreciation of foreign horror.

Phone is a pretty awesome flick.  Ji-won is a journalist who recently wrote a series of articles exposing an underage sex scandal.  She starts receiving strange phone calls, and assumes them to be from one of the defendants she exposed in the articles.  Frightened for her safety, she confides in her friend Ho-jeong and her husband, Chang-hoon.  Chang-hoon insists that she stay in a larger house he recently finished building nearby.

Ji-won somewhat reluctantly agrees, and moves into the house until things settle down.  Meanwhile, she is continuing to receive calls and the phone company can't seem to straighten anything out.  One day, when at a museum, Ho-jeong's daughter, Young-Ju answers the phone when one of the disturbing calls arrives.  Let me just take a moment to say that this little girl is so freakin' awesome.  She is one of the best little kids I've seen in a horror movie in a longgg time!  I wish I could find a good picture of her being all scary and badass.

Anyway, I digress.  After hearing the call, Young-Ju starts being a bad little girl.  She's acting in a very disturbing manner and Ho-jeong cannot figure out why.  Meanwhile, Ji-won continues to investigate the phone calls, and discovers some very crazy information as she goes along.  She discovers that many are in danger, in addition to her.

This movie gets like Susan-Lucci soap opera crazy by the end and I loved it!  I love this Korean movies with so many twists and turns and general awesomeness.  Definitely check out Phone.

An Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I've really been trying to be an objective horror movie reviewer lately and trying not to write things off as total crap before I even see them.  I believed in my mind that the NOES remake would be a pile of steaming garbage just on principle but I very honestly sat down with an open mind and tried to like this movie.

This movie was so completely horrible.  There is a reason that all of the posters show Freddy with his head down or from far away.  That is because Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy looks like a freakin' alien from outer space.  Seriously, that's the only way I can describe it.  I hated how he delivered the classic Freddy phrases with such a deadpan inflection.  It just bothered me so much that they took a classic character with a distinctive personality, which has always been played by the same actor, and made him basically a parody of himself.

Let's start from the beginning.  The remake had the same general cast of characters.  A bunch of teenagers, including Nancy (played by Rooney Mara this time) are having difficulty sleeping, nightmares about a creeper in a striped sweater, etc.  A friend dies, which leads Nancy to discover a childhood photo in which she is present.  However, she does not remember meeting this person until high school.  She does some digging and finds out that she and her friends have more in common than they realized.

I will admit that I did appreciate the backstory in this version of NOES.  I found it to be interesting and fairly well-explained.  It also kind of answered the question we all were probably always thinking, which was whether or not Freddy was also a child molester.  It was also a nice tie-in when they figured out how they knew each other.

However, there were just too many other flaws.  Even if I could pretend Robert Englund/real Freddy never existed, JEH's portrayal of the character was just awful.  Zero personality and a voice that was annoying as hell.  The acting wasn't 80s cheesy, it was just downright freakin' awful.  The dream sequences and general order of the story were spastic at best.  They used the classic/awesome lines and scenes from the original NOES  and made them ridiculous.

I just really couldn't stand this movie and I am just so tired of remakes.  Hollywood, horror fans beg of you, make some original movies!

Dead Tone (2007)

I actually liked this movie.  It was a fun throwback to the 90s slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend.  The movie opens with a group of kids at a sleepover making prank phone calls.  It's all in good fun until the kids dial a recipient who is not too thrilled with their little game.  So upset, in fact, that he comes over and murders all of the adults in the house.

Fast forward 10 years later and a bunch of kids are having fun at college.  Finals are over, and a rich guy is planning a blowout bash at his secluded family mansion.  He invites "The Crew" (a group of friends) to come along, and they are more than happy to oblige.  They all take off for a weekend of booze, sex and fun times, not knowing what might await them.

Meanwhile, Detective John Criton (Rutger Hauer), unable to crack the original case, is searching for the now-adult survivors of the attack.  Lo and behold, a couple are dead, one is missing, and several are at the party as we freakin' speak.  The Crew shows up to the lavish abode, which is chock full of attractive, drunk twenty-somethings, and outfitted with video cameras throughout every inch of the house.

Stupidly enough, someone suggests that they play the exact game that got them all nearly killed in the first place.  Somewhat predictably, horny college lushes start getting hacked left and right.  The twist to this movie was actually pretty good and the deaths were pretty gory and fun.  This flick isn't reinventing the wheel but I found it to be a fun ride.

Thirst (2009)

I watched this movie on the recommendation of my awesome hairstylist, Jamielynn.  Of course she was correct in the fact that this movie is totally kickass.  Thirst comes to us from the writer of Oldboy,  Chan-Wook Park.  I feel like Park's movies are either love 'em or hate 'em type of affairs with their complicated concepts and extended lengths going over the heads of some viewers.

Thirst, like many Korean horror movies, has a lot of ins and outs and what-have-yous.  A devout Catholic priest, Sang-hyeon, volunteers for a risky medical experiment.  The experiment infects the subject with a deadly disease and then attempts to cure it with a vaccine.  However, the experiment is not so successful, and everyone dies, except for Sang-hyeon.  Welllll, he almost dies, but receives a life-saving blood tranfusion.  In the form of vampire blood.  And so it begins.

The priest returns to his town and congregation bandaged due to the blistering effects of the disease.  However, people become convinced that he is a healer and miracle worker due to the fact that he was the only one who survived out of all of the test subjects.  He is continually badgered to pray for and heal the sick and dying, including a childhood friend, Kang-woo.

After praying for Kang-woo, his mother becomes convinced that he has been completely cured.  She invites Sang-hyeon to visit with them, where he re-acquaints himself with another childhood friend, Kang-woo's now-wife, Tae-ju.  He starts to become close to the family, meanwhile struggling with issues of his sexuality, his faith, and his need to consume blood for sustenance.  What path will this lead the troubled priest down?

If you love movies like Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, you will love this flick.  It has so much going on, and is so full of awesome, that it's hard to tear yourself away from it.  I love Chan-Wook Park's incredible storytelling ability, along with the excellent acting and atmosphere he brings to his films.  This is definitely one to check out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Infection (2004)

I've been in the serious mood for some Japanese horror lately.  I've been running my mouth about Ichi the Killer ever since I saw it, so it was time to get another dose. 

Infection is about a hospital in Japan that is short staffed and very low budget.  They're taking care of a few patients, utilizing a very exhausted staff.  At the same time, a patient in critical condition arrives in the ER, and a long-time burn patient flat lines.  The staff races to the burn victim, but a minor mistake in vocabulary leads to his demise.  The staff rushes to cover up the mistake before the health officials become involved.  Meanwhile, the critical patient has been left in the ER, unattended.

The doctors return to the ER to find the patient afflicted with a crazy virus that is causing his organs to liquefy.  Some of the staff wishes to call health officials, but others think they can solve the problem and become medical heroes.  As the infection begins to spread, things get out of control and turn from diagnosis to survival.

This movie was seriously creepy, and definitely fast-paced for an Asian horror movie.  The only thing that threw me off a little was the ending.  You need to do a little thinking about colors and dream infections and all of that before you'll truly get it.  This is part of a series of movies and I'm excited to check out the rest.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Random: Chiller Theatre Convention 2010

I went to the Chiller Theatre convention in Parsippany, NJ on Friday and it was an awesome time.  Chiller is a little more on the small side, but I had a total blast.  The only general disappointment was the fact that EVERYONE was charging heavily for autographs and photos.  I mean, seriously $25 for a picture with the lady that played Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show?  $30 for a photo with Lita from the WWE?  This was a little surprising to me.

Anyway, no one can stop me from taking my own photos and offering color commentary.   First off was the best part of the convention, which was the fact that I met Bill freakin' Moseley.  I barely remember this momentous event because I was insanely nervous.  Full disclosure -- I did pay $25 for an autographed poster and a photo op, but it was well, well worth it.  I was too nervous to say anything I planned on saying, but there's always next time.

Things of interest: Bill Moseley is incredibly nice and down to earth, and he is also left-handed.  He volunteered to write "there's no ice cream in your fucking future" without me even suggesting it.  He also is pretty damn smart, and I did read somewhere that he went to Yale.  He was so awesome and I would love to talk to him again.

Also freakin' awesome as hell?  WILLIAM FORSYTHE, man.  We barely saw him at first because he somehow got seated in between Ralph Macchio and Linda Blair, while all the Devil's Rejects/House of 1000 Corpses cast was in one general area.  We walked up to him, had a chat about The Rig and told him we missed him at the Comic Con.  He informed us that he finished filming Infected just that morning.  He was so cool when I asked him for a photo and didn't charge me a cent.  Also, please excuse the fact that I am beaming like a complete dork in the photo.

Who else was there from the horror universe?

 This is a close as you will get to taking a photo of Tom Savini.  In fact, if you look at Tom Savini for more than a few seconds, his handler will tell you to move on.  He's charging $30 for autographs, ONLY on the merchandise you buy from his table.  Sorry, but he seemed like kind of a jerk.

Irwin Keyes from House of 1000 Corpses.  He expressed much interest in doing a prequel.

 Ginger Lynn from The Devil's Rejects.  Did you know she was a Penthouse model and a porn star?  She had a LONGGG line at her table.

Linda Blair.  I was supposed to get an autograph for my mom.  I texted her and asked if she wanted to give me $25 for it and she said no way.

Fred Williamson of From Dusk Til Dawn fame.

I also stopped by the table for Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, a local NYC show I reviewed recently.  The actors/actresses are beyond awesome, and let me take some photos after we chatted about my blog/review.

Chiller Theatre was definitely worth the trip, especially if you are looking for rare DVDs, memorabilia, etc.  However, do not be disappointed (like I kinda was) that nearly every celebrity was charging a mint for autographs or photos.