Monday, January 31, 2011

Saw 3D/The Final Chapter (2010)


When I was waiting for the Blu-Ray of this movie to load (seriously I love Blu-Ray but why does it take FOREVER to load?!) I thought back to when Saw was first released in the theaters.  How freakin' awesome was that?  I saw that shit like three times in a row.  When he stood up from the middle of the room, when Dr. Gordon hacked his foot off, when he slams the door shut...there's no denying that Saw broke new ground in horror movies.

But now we're on #7 and I lost track of the sequels back when Donnie Wahlberg was balancing on that block of ice.  It's my personal belief they should have just left it at the first one, but I give them credit as it had become the most successful horror franchise of all time.  I hate to see Jigsaw beat out Freddy and Jason, but such is life. This movie has the most traps of any Saw film (11) and the most deaths at a whopping 27. 

Saw 3D/The Final Chapter is trying to revisit its roots.  It's like they know everyone has gotten bored and confused as fuck with the sequels, so they revisit Jigsaw's old traps through most of the movie.  I will admit, this stuff was pretty awesome.  The trap in public, the Linkin Park dude glued to a car seat, and a revisit the reverse bear trap.

Although most of the story revisits old traps that we didn't see previously, there is an actual story to this.  Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery) is a Jigsaw survivor who now makes his living working the talk-show circuit, writing inspirational books, etc.  He gets a bunch of survivors together for some publicity nonsense, and Dr. Gordon shows up.  Everything is creepy and weird and the ball starts rolling.  Bobby and his ever-supportive wife get kidnapped, but why?

I really did enjoy the visits back in time to the other traps but the "current" story that they worked with was kinda blah.  It was pretty much a replica of that one where Jigsaw is dying and needs his head cut open (I told you I lost track, dammit) and they really just went all out with the gross-out factor.  The end was pretty sweet in a 360-type of deal but nothing you wouldn't expect.  If you were even a mild fan of the franchise, I'd say check out this one in the hopes that it's over.  But they definitely left it open for another one.  God help us all.

Piranha 3D (2010)

After a year filled with disappointing remakes and me immersing myself in deep and disturbing foreign horror movies, Piranha 3D was just what the doctor freakin' ordered.  I laughed, I screamed, I smacked my husband for drooling over copious amounts of boobs. This movie was like the fun, cheesy topless-fests that saturated the 80s, with ridiculous actors and unbelievable plots.  And I loved every bloody, limb-chopping minute of it.

Piranha is about a quiet lake town that gets overtaken by spring breakers each year.  There's wet t-shirt contests, people driving boats who really shouldn't, and just general debauchery everywhere.  Elizabeth Shue is the town sheriff, Julie.  Let me just take a moment out to ask God to please let me look like her when I am pushing 50.  Damn, mama.  She has two little tykes, and a high-school age son, Jake.  Jake is supposed to be watching the kids, but he gets propositioned by Derrick (Jerry O'Connell) to join him on a Girls Gone Wild-type shoot all over the lake.  Of course, Jake can't resist, and he pays the little brats off so he can out for the day.

Whilst everyone carouses on the lake, danger lurks below.  An underwater earthquake has set free a large colony of cannibalistic piranhas hungry for human flesh.  The drunken co-eds ignore all warning in order to keep partying, and let's just say they get a little injured in the process.

This was ridiculous, gross, and totally hysterical.  The piranhas were super-realistic and not a penny was spared on the gore and special effects when it came to the attacks.  People were cut in half, decapitated, limbs removed, everything you could think of.  And for you guys out there, this movie had boobs, boobs, boobs for all the times it made sense, and some times that it didn't.  This movie was a blast to watch and I'll say that I haven't had this much fun watching a movie since Machete.  Grab a couple of brews and watch Piranha.  You won't be sorry.


photo source

83 Hours Til Dawn (1990)

I will admit that I solely was made aware of this movie after reading the IMDB page for Buried after watching it the other night.  That made me think of one of my childhood traumas (I have to write to Kindertrauma!) which was Carly from Days of Our Lives being buried alive by her sadistic aunt, or whoever it was.

Anyway, all of this led me to the early 90s made-for-TV gem, 83 Hours 'Til Dawn.  This movie is based on the true story of Barbara Jane Mackle, an heiress who was kidnapped in 1968 and hidden underground in a fiberglass box buried in a Georgia forest. 

83 Hours is basically a retelling of this story, with Peter Strauss looking creepy and Robert Urich looking super-serious.  The story is told through the setup of a doctor examining Wayne Stracton (Strauss) to see if he can be declared clinically insane for his upcoming trial. So he recalls everything in flashbacks until the doctor makes his decision regarding the sanity of this man.

Julie Burdock (Samanthis Mathis) is a rich young college student, who has come down with the flu.  Her mother comes to pick her up and bring her home to recover, but they must stay the night in a motel first.  Posing as police, Stracton and his galpal (disguised as a young man) enter the room and kidnap Julie.  She is buried in a box with only 83 hours of oxygen, and the ransom demands are made.  Bradley Burdock (Urich) is torn between going vigilante and tracking down his daughter, or following the police protocol.   

I thought this movie was pretty exciting and interesting, but then again, I'm a sucker for Lifetime-esque reenactments of real-world events.  I thought the shots inside the "capsule" were well done and Strauss was effectively creepy.  Ulrich was dripping with early 90s cheesiness, but I can't fault him for that.  I liked it, and it's available on Netflix instant!

photo source

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boot Camp (2008)

I have to admit, I actually really liked this movie.  The promo shots and cover art make it look pretty cheesy, but it was a good flick.  I love Mila Kunis, and Dino Velvet from 8MM is the drill sergeant/protagonist.  Score!

Mila Kunis is Sophie, a spoiled rich bitch who lives to piss off her mom and stepdad since her father passed away.  She throws fits in stores, embarrasses her mom in front of guests, drinks, does drugs, etc.  Her boyfriend is Ben (Gregory Smith).  She confides in him about her hatred for her stepdad and begs him to marry her so that she can get the F out of there.  Just as they begin to discuss this, Sophie is dragged away by a couple beefcake guys into the night.

When she comes to, she's on a crappy boat headed for a remote island in Fiji.  She's with other people, including one poor guy who is detoxing from a heroin addiction.  They get to the island, where they get filled in on what's going on.  Their parents think they are problem children and therefore they have been sent to the Serenity (ha!) Camp to get help.  They spend their first night chained to a cement block as the tide comes in, nearly drowning them. 

The next morning, the head of the camp, Dr. Hail (Peter Stormare) comes to pick them up and explain how the camp works.  You start out wearing a black shirt, which means that you are the lowest on the totem pole.  You can then get promoted to yellow and then white.  Once you have your white shirt, you're on the road to getting the fuck out of there.  The whole process takes about two years.

It doesn't take long for Sophie to realize that this place totally sucks ass.  The participants (inmates?) are worked like dogs, fed barely anything, sleep in the elements, and are constantly abused by staff and fellow campers.  Apparently this is all part of Dr. Hail's philosophy of rehabilitation.  Luckily for Sophie, Ben finds a way to get into the camp, but will they be able to escape?

I just really liked this movie.  It was a new concept, and it's fairly timely as many of these "boot camps" and "rehab camps" have been under investigation.  I actually just saw an episode of Intervention the other day where the person was all messed up because of the couple of years she had spent in a Jamaican "reform camp."  This hasn't really been addressed in horror before and I thought this flick was interesting and exciting.  I recommend.

American Grindhouse (2010)

When I think "grindhouse," I think biker movies, blaxploitation, and super-gory horror movies.  But according to this documentary, there's so much more than that.  To be honest, I don't think anyone making the movie could really agree on what grindhouse actually comprises.  They cover everything from Mom and Dad to Shaft to Planet Terror.

American Grindhouse covers so-called "grindhouse" movies all the way back to the Edison-era, when people were being filmed stripping or having sex on film.  Then came medical-type films such as Mom and Dad and Because of Eve, which were important at the time, as it was difficult to obtain information about sexuality, venereal diseases, and childbirth.  Next came nudist camp movies, inspired by nudist camp trade publications, which people were obviously looking at just to see naked people.

After the nudist camps came bikini movies, which were meant to appeal to teenagers, but actually ended up capturing an older audience.  Therefore, filmmakers started churning out films directed at teenagers, such as I Was a Teenage Werewolf.  The 60s brought biker films, which led to the success of the flick representative of the era, Easy Rider.  With the 70s came Blaxploitation and the proliferation of horror, kicked off by The Last House on the Left.  They didn't have too much to say about the 80s, 90s and 00s, but they did touch on the possible resurgence of "grindhouse horror" as marked by the double feature Planet Terror/Death Proof and the spinoffs of the films fake trailers.

It was cool to see the seedy Times Square of back in the day, and clips from movies that seemed so controversial then but wouldn't make anyone blink an eye nowadays.  The interviews were a little "meh" and they were kind of repetitive since they only had about 7 or 8 people to interview for the documentary.  I did enjoy the discussion of LHOTH with David Hess, the appearance of Fred Williamson, and John Landis was pretty entertaining throughout.

This isn't the best movie documentary I've seen, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in the genre.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)

I've always liked Blair Witch 2.  It has an interesting cast -- Jeffrey Donovan made it big in TV over the last few years, and Erica Leerhsen went on to become a bit of genre actress, appearing in flicks such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn 2.  

BW2 catches up with the town of Burkittsville, Maryland after all the hype created by The Blair Witch Project.  Burkittsville has now become a tourist attraction for people looking to see if the witch is real.  Locals are cashing in by selling rocks, twigs, and dirt "associated" with the witch and the landmarks mentioned in the first movie.

One especially entrepreneurial gentlemen, Jeffrey (Jeffrey Donovan) sells Blair Witch memorabilia on the internet, and has started organizing Blair Witch tours.  On his inaugural tour, he has Kim (Kim Director), Erica (Erica Leerhsen), Tristen (Tristine Skylar), and Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner). 

The first stop on the trip is Rustin Parr's house, where the group decides to set up camp for the night. They smoke and booze heavily, and wake up in the morning to their camera equipment and belongings destroyed.  They assume that they blacked out for several hours during the night, and rely on the tapes from the evening to piece together what happened.

They return to Jeffrey's house to watch the tapes, but quickly realize that all is not what it seems.   They all start seeing and sharing strange visions, and begin to turn on each other as they become more and more paranoid. 

I know this movie gets a pretty bad rap, but I actually really like it.  I think the story is pretty cool and the ending is interesting.  There were several really creepy moments in the movie and I think the actors carried them off pretty well.  I know I'm probably going to get crucified (or disemboweled at Coffin Rock...ha!) for liking this movie, but I'm sticking to it.

Contest Time: Autographed Saw The Final Chapter Poster



Yay, giveaway time!  In celebration of the release of the DVD/Blu-Ray, I'm giving away an autographed Saw 3D/The Final Chapter poster.  This poster is signed by Cary Elwes (Dr. Gordon), Costas Mandylor (Hoffman), Betsy Russell (Jill) and director Kevin Greutert.

Here's a couple photos from the signing:



Want to win it?  The rules are simple.  Email aubrey@thescreamqueen.net with your favorite Saw trap.  Deadline is January 31st, and I'll pick a winner at random.  Good luck!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Buried (2010)

I am a claustrophic individual and this movie pretty much gave me a panic attack.  I was a little wary going into a movie that is pretty much 90 minutes of one person.  I mean Ryan Reynolds is smokin' hot but I didn't know if I wanted to hear him whine and yell in a box for that long.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find this movie was a fast-paced little thriller.  Basically, Buried is the story of an American truck driver (Paul Conroy) who is contracted to work in Iraq.  He knows the dangers of the job, but is desperate for money to support his family.  One day, his convoy gets attacked, and he ends up buried alive by insurgents/terrorists/criminals/whatever.  It's not much of a spoiler that he ends up being trapped in the box with a phone, so I don't feel bad including the above picture.

The people call on the phone to demand $5 million by 9pm, or Paul is going to be left to rot in his coffin.  This movie is really irritating at first because everyone he calls for help on this phone are pretty much the most annoying and unhelpful human beings on the Earth.  You would think that a movie full of someone calling different people from underground would be boring, but the script kept it exciting.

Ryan Reynolds isn't going to win an Oscar or anything for this flick, but I think he handled this role really well.  The angles and cinemotography was great and really makes you feel trapped even just watching it.  The end was pretty jarring and the whole thing gave me the willies.  I thought this was a good movie.  I recommend it.

photo source

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lady Vengeance (2005)

I've now seen all three of Park's "revenge trilogy" and I'm still sticking with Oldboy as my favorite.  However, although Oldboy had a better story (in my opinion) than Lady Vengeance, this was a much more stylistically beautiful movie with incredible cinematography and daring shots, such as the one with the little girl in the living room of her parents' house (if you see it/have seen it, you'll know what I mean)

Lady Vengeance is the story of Geum-ja, who is known both as "the kind-hearted Geum-ja" and "The Witch."  She was thrown in jail at age 19 for kidnapping and killing a young boy.  She served 13 years in prison, making both friends and enemies along the way.  Essentially, she was planning her revenge all this time, and was alternately forming and breaking relationships with women who could help or hurt her. 

When released from prison, she kicks her plan into motion, all while searching for the daughter she had to give up before serving her sentence.  She gets a job at a bakery, where people are both horrified and intrigued that a child murderer is making their cakes and confections.  Prison has turned Geum-ja cold towards the outside world, and she behaves rudely and disrespectfully to others.  She wears blood-red eye shadow, which causes many to observe that both her style and attitude have changed drastically. 

I don't want to give too much away about the movie.  As with all of Park's movies, there's twists and turns and multiple plot points and it's hard not to reveal too much in a review.  Those unexperienced with Park's prior works may find the first half of the movie confusing.  It jumps back and forth between current life and the people Geum-ja met while she was in prison.  I also felt that Geum-ja had deeper-lying issues than just her quest for retribution.  She had a few scenes where her propensity to violence and anger was uncessary, such as the one outdoors with the puppy.  But I suppose that's all part of Park's storytelling, which often contains symbolism that not everyone (including myself) catches onto.

Overall this is a beautiful and gripping movie.  I would definitely recommend it to fans of Park's other works. However, if you're just getting into them, I would start off with Oldboy.

photo credit

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hit and Run (2007)

In case you didn't get enough drunken car accident revenge in I Know What You Did Last Summer, then I have just the movie for you.  Hit and Run is about a girl, Mary (Laura Breckenridge) who goes out to the bar with her friends, is "really exhausted" and drives an inordinate amount of time back to her house.  It's hard to sit through the first 15 minutes of this movie, because it consists of a Jersey girl taking shots, driving a Jeep, singing along to Modest Mouse, and making herself throw up.

Butttt, stick it out and you'll see that she swerves to miss a box in the road and hits a guy instead.  Somehow he stays under her car all the way back to her house, and she gets in bed with her teddy bear before she hears his cries for help.  She seemingly attempts to help, but doesn't call 911 and beats dude senseless when he grabs her leg.

Much like her tipsy counterparts before her, she hastily buries the body and tries to get on with her life.  She hits a tree repeatedly in order to cover up the bumper damage and scrubs the garage floor clean of the buckets of blood.  She almost immediately confesses to her boy-toy and she obviously not cut out for the whole killing and burying and never talking about it thing.

So as we know, people die in car crashes every day, but not in horror movies where they get buried or drowned or whatever and always live.  Mary begins to be stalked by her bipolar killer, who doesn't just send her notes and chase her around a beauty pageant, but has bigger plans.  The guy is seriously creepy and has some weird intentions and songs to sing as he goes about his little torture games.

This movie was decent.  I wouldn't put it up there with I Know What You Did... because I have a special love for that movie and all the teenage horror that came out in that era.  But this was a pretty good flick, except the ending was soooo freakin' dumb.  Worth a watch, but I'm glad I didn't grab it from Best Buy when it was on sale for $10.  Netflix instant, FTW.

photo credit

Case 39 (2009)

I was kind of wary going into this movie because I really don't like Renee Zellweger.  I mean, I'm sure she's a very nice person, but I find her kind of annoying as an actress.  I also am tired of seeing Bradley Cooper and his weird beard everywhere I turn.  But I heard good things about this movie so I decided to give it a shot.

I liked Case 39, man.  If you liked Orphan or even Hide and Seek, this movie is definitely for you.  Creepy children seriously scare me and this girl was badass.  She had such a unique and exotic look, so I checked out her bio to find out that she is a Canuck!  Interesting.  Anyway, back to the movie. 

Case 39 is about an overextended social worker, Emily (Renee Zellweger) who is already overloaded with 38 cases when she gets another one dropped on her desk.  She begs to get out of it, but it's a no-go.  The subject of the file, Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) shows all the typical signs of neglect.  The school has notified social services that she's lost weight, falls asleep in class, and her grades have dropped significantly.

Emily visits the house and definitely finds something amiss.  The parents are seriously whacked and Lilith seems terrified to be in the house.  However, she has no solid reasons to remove her from the house as of yet.  She consults her friend/maybe-lover Doug (Bradley Cooper) and her cop friend Mike (Ian McShane) and they can't help.  However, when Lilith calls her one night in a panic, Mike agrees to go with her to the house and see what's up.

They approach the house to Lilith's screams and break down the door to find her being attacked.  Obviously the parents are arrested and Lilith gets popped into the system.  She begs to come and live with Emily, who she believes saved her life.  Emily petitions for temporary custody and gets it, and Lilith comes to live with her.  Meanwhile, she gets a variety of psychiatric help, including meetings with Emily's close friend Doug.  Yet, Lilith may not be what she seems.  Over time, she seems to turn from the innocent and abused girl into something more...sinister.

I've definitely said enough and I don't want to give the twist of the movie away.  I really liked this movie, although the numerous jump-scares did start to get on my nerves.   But this girl was genuinely creepy, it was an interesting concept, and the plot moved along at a solid clip.  I know I usually stay away from mainstream horror, but I think this one is definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Movie News: Rob Zombie Starts a Film Blog

I follow Rob Zombie's blog...kinda.  Honestly, it's a pain to load because of the 23048904 huge pictures at the top before you even get to the latest post.  And typically the posts are just pictures from his latest concert or whatever, which is cool, but does not affect me in the realm of horror movies.

However, Twitter notified me today that Rob Zombie has a blog specifically for movies.  Yay!  The address is http://rzfilms.blogspot.com/ and right now there are only three posts, all of which I believe are video.  The design is still a pain in the ass though.  Who the F is rob's web designer?  I'm viewing it on IE on a PC right, now so I'll hold my tongue a bit until I can get home and check it out on Firefox on my MacBook Pro.

No cool content yet, but I'll definitely be following this one, especially for updates on Lords of Salem.

Update: I viewed this website on Firefox and it is still no bueno.  The layout sucks, in my opinion, but I'll be looking forward to some good posts :o)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Troll 2 (1990)

Hearing that something is literally the worst movie of all time is really just a challenge to me.  Troll 2 was made four years after Troll and was apparently aiming to capitalize on the success of the first movie.  However, it has nothing to do with the original plot and contains no trolls whatsoever.  Challenge accepted, Troll 2.  Let's do this.

The "plot" of Troll 2?  A family is recovering from the loss of their grandfather.  Their son is struggling the worst, still often imagining his grandfather reading stories to him about creatures and goblins.  In order to recoup and take a break, the family decides to do a house exchange with some people in the country.  They haul out to Nilbog, a town of only 26 people in order to get away from it all.

However, when they arrive, the boy is plagued by visions of goblins forcing him to drink green goo.  He sees his family eating all of their food covered in the stuff, and he refrains from eating.  This causes his father to go on a weird rampage and declare a hunger strike as well.  Meanwhile, another woman gets infected with green slime and her a a nerdy guy go running into some sort of weird castle-type thing for help.  Soon we learn that the people of Nilbog are all some sort of plant-eating goblins and OMG, NILBOG IS GOBLIN SPELLED BACKWARDS!!1!!!11! 

The battle ensues between the vegetarian goblin residents of Nilbog and the human visitors.  It's silly and crazy and just all-around terrible.  I was bored.  I forced myself to sit through it until the ridiculous end.

The acting in this movie is truly horrendous.  It really sounds like the people are reading directly off of a piece of paper, with absolutely no feeling or inflection at all.  The plot made zero sense and I was never really sure what was going on.  I obviously knew this was going to be bad, but I'm sad to admit that I didn't put it in the "so-bad-it's-good" category.  I just found it to be annoying and boring, and I don't even think the Troll 2 drinking game could help me watch this one again.

Troll (1986)

How is it that I've never seen Troll?  What a crazy mishmash of 80s craziness.  Julia Louis Dreyfuss's film debut, a guy named Harry Potter, Sonny Bono in a pink robe, and a creepy little girl growling like The Exorcist.  I'm not sure what sort of audience this was intended for, but since it's a Charles Band production, I guess all rules are out the window anyway.  All of the gooey 80s cheesiness you could ever imagine is wedged into a glorious 82 minutes for your viewing pleasure.

The basic plot?  A family moves into an old apartment building that is inhabited by a creepy growling troll.  The little girl of the family, Wendy, comes in contact with the troll and is attacked.  The troll uses it's green ring to capture Wendy's form.  Wendy obviously starts acting possessed and crazy, but her oblivious family attributes her behavior to the stress of their recent move.  However, her brother (Harry Potter, Jr. LoL) realizes something is up, and seeks solace in the friendship of the building's elder resident, Eunice St. Clair.

Meanwhile, the troll, posing as Wendy, enters the apartments of the other residents.  She then transforms into the troll and attacks, changing their apartments into a lair for various little creatures.  HP Jr. steers clear of his newly possessed sister, and learns that his new friend Eunice is a witch.  She explains that she was once in love with a wizard name Torok, which is why she became a witch.  A war erupted, and the humans won.  Torok was then transformed into a troll as punishment.  Eunice has been standing watch for all these years, waiting for Torok to challenge the balance of things once again.

Of course, the "challenge" is happening now, with the residents of the apartment building being changed into creatures one by one.  It seems that Torok plans on creating a paradise full of his otherworld friends, taking over the apartment building from the human residents.  This leaves Eunice and HP Jr. to battle the new regime that is threatening to take over.  Will they be successful?

This flick was more fantasy than horror, but I figured I had to watch Troll before the more horror-centric (and hysterical) Troll 2.  This was definitely good for what it was meant to be, a fun fantasy romp from the decade that brought us terrible acting, corny synthesizer music, and dozens of creatures to give us nightmares in elementary school.  Man, I miss the "creatures" of the 80s movies.  Sure the effects were pretty subpar, but they just don't make 'em like the Gremlins anymore.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Movie News: Night of the Little Dead

This isn't even on IMDB yet, and the website says "coming soon" but luckily for us, Bill Moseley is an avid Twitterer.  This has been filming outside of LA for about a week now, and boy does it have a hodge-podge cast. 

This flick stars Bill Moseley, Erica Taylor, Gary Morgan, Adam Savage, Penn Jillette, Martin Klebba, and James Hurley.  There's not much on the plot yet, but the tag line is "It's the little things that getcha."

This movie is coming to us from Ghost Works and you can follow them on Twitter @NgtofLtlDed and like them on Facebook at Night of the Little Dead.  I'm excited for more to come on this one!

The 8th Plague (2006)

The "locust god of darkness?"  Ooooooh, sounds terrifying.  NOT.  If you'd like to see a bunch of Grudge-looking people terrorizing some poor saps running around an abandoned prison, then The 8th Plague might be for you.  The tagline, "it doesn't matter if you believe in hell, because hell believes in you" just makes me think of Mother Abigail pointing at Nick in The Stand.  I've obviously seen that movie too many times.                       The 8th Plague is about a women named Launa who is expecting to meet her sister Nikki at their parents' gravesite on the anniversary of their death.  When Nikki doesn't show, she goes into a panic and tears up their apartment looking for clues to her whereabouts.   She remembers that she is camping, and that the last she heard from her, she was talking about visiting some abandoned prison.  Let me tell you, if my little sister called me about visiting some old jail while camping, I would literally choke her right through the phone, but that's just me.
So she and her roommates take off at first light into the woods to find the campsite.  They find it alright, but no one is there.  They go to the local sheriff's office, which is straight out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where some old dude cutting his nails informs them that you can't report a person missing until they're gone for five days.  Especially if they are college students and could just be off on a drunken binge somewhere.  Nice job protecting the community, good sir.
Some poor deputy gets stuck hauling the kids up to the abandoned prison to see what's up.  On the way there, he picks up a guy who used to work at the prison, who he thinks can help out.  When they enter the prison, madness ensues, and the next 30 minutes is a mishmash of cannibalism, eye gouging, and speaking in strange languages in a droning Evil Dead-type voice.  The former prison employee confesses that he was aware that the prisoners were worshiping some "locust god of darkness."  He thought it was just a way to pass the time, but oooooops, they were serious.
So it seems the cause of all the craziness is that if you look at some weird symbol drawn on the wall and you go all bananas.  It's never made entirely clear what this is all about or why, which is pretty much why this movie fell pretty flat.  I'd pass this one up if I were you.





Movie News: Everyone looking sexxxxayyyy on the poster for The Victim

Is that Danielle Harris on the right?  Meeeeeoowwwww.  If they were looking for sex appeal on this poster, they got it.  Not sure why my fave scream queen doesn't get her name in the bright lights, but I love ya, girl.

We've got an updated synopsis that's a little clearer about the plot than the previous one I posted.  From BeyondHollywood.com:

"Good time girls ANNIE (Jennifer Blanc) and MARY (Danielle Harris) went into the wilderness looking for a good time. But when Annie witnesses a violent act at the hands of two Sheriff’s Deputies, she is forced on the run and stumbles across KYLE (Michael Biehn), a recluse living in the woods. Two worlds collide in this psychological thriller that will make you question your trust in mankind. WHO IS THE VICTIM?"

The trailer is all over the net, and let me tell you, I love the Grindhouse-y 80s vibe they're going for with this one.  We've got the B-movie deep voice announcer, and 2 minutes chock full of doggy-style sex, requests to see penis, and crow bar package burning.  I'm still not entirely sure what this movie is going for, but I can't wait to find out.

No official release date on this one yet, but let's cross our fingers for at least a small theatrical release and not straight-to-DVD.  

Death Proof (2007)

Like very few people, I saw this movie alongside Planet Terror when Grindhouse was released in theaters.  Then, when it came out on DVD, I saw them both together again.  I admittedly never really liked Death Proof.  I really tried to like it.  I tried to see it through a Tarantino lens and like it.  A couple years later, I've become much more of a Tarantino fan.  I liked Inglorious Basterds and after a couple viewings, I "got" Reservoir Dogs.  With this in mind, I decided to give Death Proof a rewatch when it was playing on Spike last night.  The verdict?  I still don't freakin' like this movie.  I'm sorry, Quentin, it's boring.

Death Proof is kind of two separate stories -- each focusing on a group of gorgeous girls out for a good time.  The first group is some ladies in Austin, Texas, headed by local DJ Jungle Julia (played by the smoking hot Sydney Poiter...yes, his daughter)  They're going out for a party night, on the hunt for some boy toys.  They go out for some Mexican food and to a local bar to let loose.  There they meet Stunman Mike (Kurt Russell) who wants to hang out with the ladies, however they are uninterested.  But he gives a ride home to Rose McGowan, who serves no purpose in this movie except to talk in a baby voice and have RIDICULOUS hair.  He explains that his car is a stunt car built for a movie, and that it is "death proof", meaning that it can crash into a brick wall and the driver would live.  After he dispatches with Rose, he chases down the ladies to get payback for his rejection.

Months later, and we meet some ladies in Tennessee.  They're eating some breakfast and plotting to test-drive a Dodge Challenger that is for sale a couple of towns over.  Two of the ladies are planning on playing a game where they drive at a high speed while one lies on the hood of the car hanging on with a couple of belts.  Of course, this situation only draws in Stuntman Mike, who terrorizes the ladies as they fly down the road, trying to escape.  

I understand what Tarantino was going for with this.  The old-school grindhouse car chases and a movie chock full of sexy girls.  But I agree with the general criticism of the movie that is LESS TALKING MORE BLOOD AND ACTION.  I understand Tarantino's love of dialogue but it just falls flat here.  As my husband said at one point while watching, "no girls talk like this."  And being a girl, I agree.  No one talks like this, and no one should write an entire movie about girls having ridiculous dialogue and a couple of badass car chases.  Sorry, Death Proof but it's three strikes and you're out.  You and I are just not meant to be.

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars (2010)

Believe it or not, I'm an avid reader.  Especially when it comes to Stephen King.  I've read all of the books he's written (save for the Dark Tower series, which I just can't into) and I own most of them, although they're currently residing in my parents' attic in upstate New York.  A Manhattan apartment doesn't bode well for the bibliophile.

Anyway, when I was in graduate school, I really got off track with my reading.  It was just too hard to keep up with reading articles and textbooks for school, along with pleasure reading.  But alas, I've gotten my degree and now I have more time for reading.  I also got a Kindle for Christmas, which I'm totally obsessed with, and the reason I got to read Full Dark, No Stars.

Although I love King's longer works (a la The Stand) I do think he really excels in the novella length story.  Full Dark, No Stars reminded me of Different Seasons both in the length of the stories, and the darker, dramatic, and non-horror-esque feel.  And let me tell you, this book is DARK.  It was hard for me to read at some points, and I saw a lot of reviews on Amazon complaining about the subject matter.  This is definitely a bit of a departure for King.

The first story is 1922, which is a story of a family living on a farm in the 1920s in Nebraska.  The wife, searching for a better and richer life, wishes to sell the land, which belonged to her father, and move to the city.  Her husband is not having this, and conspires with their teenage son to kill her.  Although they are successful, haunting and terrible bad luck results.  One thing about this portion that made me really sad is animal suffering,  I know that sounds strange, but I am a crazy animal lover, and lots of animals have issues in this book and that made me kind of blue.  But overall, this was a great story, with King's classic weaving style.

Second we have Big Driver.  This was sort of an interesting twist on the rape-and-revenge story, which focused on a female writer traveling to a nearby town to do a presentation at a library.  On the way back, the library's director leads her to a shortcut, which unwittingly puts her right in the hands of a serial rapist.  She survives the attack, and instead of going to police, plots her vigilante revenge.

Third is Fair Extension, which profiles a father and husband who is rapidly dying from cancer.  One evening on a drive on a quiet road, he comes across a man selling wares.  Further investigation yields that man sells extensions -- on penis size, height, love, and even life.  The payment?  15 percent of his yearly salary for the rest of his life, and a small token from the house of his enemy.  As it so turns out, the man's enemy is his best friend, who stole his girlfriend in college and married her, has more beautiful children, is rich and successful and has a generally better life.  Thinking that 15 percent of salary is a small price to pay for life, the man is cured and goes on to keep living.  But little does he know the price that his friend/enemy will pay.  I found this story to be the most disturbing, and really sort of sick in a way.

Finally, we have A Good Marriage.  I really thought this was a pretty awesome for a story.  A woman recounts the history of her marriage, from the time of meeting her mild-mannered accountant husband, and spending 25 years of her life with him.  But one fateful day, she goes looking in the garage for batteries and comes across some questionable magazines.  Further investigation reveals evidence that could point to unspeakable crimes.  I don't want to reveal too much more and give it away but it's a pretty wild ride of a story.

Overall, I really liked Full Dark, No Stars.  However, I have to make the observation that I held back on when reading Under the Dome.  Mr. King has fallen out of touch with the times a bit, and he's a little out of practice with how anyone that's not his age thinks and talks.  In Under the Dome, it was the teenagers, who he scripted in an unbelievable manner that seemed like he's never met a teenager before.  And being a woman, I found the inner dialogue in Big Driver to be a bit bizarre, and inaccurate to how a "real" woman would think.  And then just random things, like the woman walking home from the rape who couldn't get cell phone service.  She walks to a pay phone to call a car service.  If I approached a pay phone nowadays, I would not even know what to do with it.  But apparently this woman has her calling card number memorized.  Calling card number memorized?!?!?  The last time I even had a calling card in my possession was Spring Break 2005, when my mom made me bring one to the Bahamas and the damn thing never worked anyway.  I'm nitpicking a bit, but you get what I mean.  I love you, SK, but catch up with the times a bit, and maybe sit down and have a conversation with the subjects of your story before writing a book about them. /endrant

In conclusion (finally, sorry) I really liked this book overall.   I flew through it and it was definitely a page turner.  I recommend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nine Dead (2010)

Melissa Joan Hart starring in what appears to be a Saw series ripoff?  Sold!  Nine people are kidnapped by a masked man and chained to some poles in a basement.  The mask is seriously hysterical and looks like a combination between the Blue Man Group and that guy from When a Stranger Calls Back.  

All of these people are told that there is a timer set for ten minutes.  They have this time to figure out what the nine of them have in common, or a person will be killed every ten minutes.  These folks really are a motley crew, from a district attorney to a cop to a child molester to an insurance claims supervisor.

They do a whole lot of arguing which seems to prevent them from figuring out what they have in common.  Every time they start to get on the right track, they go on crazy tangents and start insulting each other.  Obviously a few die before they figure out what the hell is up.  This guy has really no sympathy, because at some point they pretty much figure it out, but apparently he needs the whole story, or he's not putting down the gun and calling this thing off.

This movie gets totally slaughtered on IMDB but I actually thought it was relatively decent.  It was pretty fast paced and it kept me watching the whole time without playing with my cats or checking Facebook.  But there was one thing that drove me freakin' bananas about this movie.  Every time before the guy killed someone, he whispered in their ear the reason why they were there.  Then he stepped back and got all dramatic and the people begged for their lives or told him to just fuck off.  OMG why the hell didn't you just say the reason out loud to everyone?!?!  Stupid.

Three Extremes (2004)

Three Extremes is a compilation of three mini-movies from directors Fruit Chan (Hong Kong) Changwook Park (Korea) and Takashi Miike (Japan).  I am a big fan of Park and Miike, but I have never previously seen any of Chan's work.  Looking forward to it.

Dumplings is from director Fruit Chan, starring Bai Ling as Mei (the cook) and Miriam Yeung as Mrs. Li, a retired actress looking to regain her youth.  She hears that Mei makes delicious and expensive dumplings that help women to look younger again.  She tries them, and does start to look a little younger, but the results are not fast enough for Mrs. Li.  As it turns out, her husband is sleeping with a much younger and more fun-loving woman, and Mrs. Li is looking to get back into his heart.

Mei insists that she has a better and more potent ingredient for the dumplings, but that Mrs. Li will have to wait until she is able to obtain it.  She does, and Mrs. Li snarfs them down in hopes to go back to the days of her youth and beauty.  But of course, these things have consequences and Mrs. Li finds herself dealing with a domino effect that she has created.  I definitely don't want to give away the dumpling ingredient, because it is pretty twisted.   I definitely liked this one.

Changwook Park's contribution is Cut, which is about a successful movie director who is filming a new movie about vampires.  However, there is an extra from all his movies who is out for some sort of revenge.  Apparently he's pissed off because this director is rich and successful with a beautiful wife, and the extra is poor and miserable and beats his family.

So he locks the director and his wife in a room, him tied to the wall, and her strapped to the piano.  In Saw-like fashion, he tells him that he will let his wife go if he kills someone in the room.  Unfortunately for him and his conscience, the someone is a little girl tied up on the couch.  The director and extra go back and forth for a while, making threats, confessions, and the like.  Park's signature twists are here as always, and this surprise is a good one. 

I'm starting to thing that Asian people are very afraid of children.  I'm not trying to make a broad generalization, but it just seems like are creepy children in so many Asian horror movies that I watch.  They crawl out of TVs, they make sexual advances at their fathers, they wear freaky paper bunny masks, and they yell Japanese at you through a staircase.

In Takashi Miike's The Box, Kyoko is a shy writer, who keeps having recurring dreams about being buried in a box.  She revisits her childhood, where she and her sister were contortionists in a circus.  Leading their act was a creeper in a Phantom of the Opera type masks.  One night after a performance, the creeper comes in to congratulate Shoko on a great performance and he gives her a necklace.  He walks past Kyoko, saying nothing.  Well, for childhood Kyoko, that is e-fucking-nough already.  It's insinuated that 10-year old Shoko and the man have a deeper relationship than just performing (Miike films have strange sexual undertones).  Kyoko decides to finally get her revenge.

Like most Miike films, this thing was really trippy.  This guy's got some kind of imagination, I will say that.  In my opinion, this wasn't as extreme as his other short, Imprint, and I didn't like it as much as his other full-length films.  It was just too weird and random and I sort of didn't know what was going on most of the time.  But it had beautiful shots and cinemotography, I just wish it would have gelled together a little more.  I think that's Miike's style though...always keeping you guessing.

Overall, I really like this compilation.  I would have to say that my favorite was Dumplings, followed by Cut, and then Box.  I read that they've made Dumplings into a full-length movie and I would definitely like to check that out.  Who knew that Bai Ling was a good actress, since she's such a joke here in the U.S.?  

House of Fears (2007)

My husband is not a big fan of horror movies, but he especially hates the cheesy B-movies that I live for.  House of Fears has glorious horror garbage written all over this spastic poster/DVD cover and I cannot wait to watch it.  I love Funhouse and I'm hoping this will be much like it, although they probably can't pull off that laughing fat lady and the crazy Frankenstein guy.  That's Tobe Hooper's territory. 

We begin in Africa, where some excavators dig up some haunted relics that cause them all to die an untimely death.  Some time later, one of the relics gets mailed to the House of Fears, a haunted house in Oregon.  A bitchy chick (Hailey) drags her stepsister (Samantha) to a house party full of stereotypical douchebag guys.  The sisters hook up with a couple of dates (rightfully named Zane and Carter) and pick up another couple (Candice and Devon) and they head over to the House of Fears for a pre-Halloween sneak preview.

They break in (sort of, because they have keys) and start exploring the haunted house.  They, too, find and touch the freaky relic but it does not cause their immediate demise.  However, it does make the electronic residents of the haunted house come to life.  Dun dun dunnnnn.  The teenagers are generally having fun, fooling around, playing tricks, switching dates...you know, typical high school stuff.  But when the haunted house comes alive, it becomes a fight for their lives!  (I could really write the copy for these low-budget flicks)  They're each faced with their worst fears, one of which is a scarecrow.  Seriously?  Anyway, I think we've seen the "dying from your fears" plot working a little better than it does here.  They spend the last portion of the movie running around the haunted house like chickens with their heads cut off and it gets a bit tiresome.

This is a pretty predictable horror movie overall.  There's actually very little gore, and the cheesy characters get kind of annoying after awhile.  I really wish that low budget movies would start going outside the casting box a little.  Once again, we're stuck with the formula of the cute/shy girl and the jock hero, the sex kitten and her token black boyfriend, the bitchy chick that no one wants to date, and the loud-mouthed dork chasing all the girls.  Would it take too much to think of a group of teenagers beyond this structure?  If you want to see kids stuck in a ride/haunted house, see Funhouse.  And even The Fun Park and Dark Ride is better than this flick. 

The (A?) Severed Arm (1973)

Netflix and IMDB can't seem to agree about what this movie is actually called.  Netflix says A Severed Arm and IMDB says The Severed Arm.  Since I'm laid up on the couch all weekend due to a severed foot (see how I played that?) I think it's only apt that I start my weekend movie marathon with this nonsense.

I've seen lots of revenge movies but I don't think any have dealt with someone coming back for revenge after his friends chop off his arm and snack on it.  But such is this movie.  A group of middle-aged weekend warriors go off exploring an abandoned mine.  The mine collapses and the men are trapped inside.  Fast forward and we discover it's been seven days that they are trapped.  Another flash forward, and it's been two weeks.  I'm finding this slightly unbelievable already, because they mentioned at the start that they had very little water.  So I'm not sure how it would have lasted for two weeks, but whatever.

Anyway, they decide that the best way to survive would be to eat only pieces of each other instead of an entire person.  So they draw straws to see who the unlucky bastard to become the first course will be.  The guy who gets picked cries and whines so much that they decide to put the operation off for another couple of hours.  But finally they hold him down and go for it, when ironically help shows up right after they hack it off.  They make up some story about the person losing his arm in the cave-in, claiming that he is delirious and making up stories about them trying to eat him.  As he's lifted in the ambulance, he claims, "I'll never forget."  And so it begins.

The remaining survivors of the cave-in are being stalked by an unknown person (or people mwahahaaha) and they are trying to solve the mystery without involving the police.  The "stalking" is really not that scary at all and pretty much involves notes on the bathroom mirror and half-assed phone calls.  The "twist" is pretty predictable but the ending pretty sick and almost Saw-like.

The acting in this movie is pretty horrendous and it's dark for pretty much the whole time, making it hard to see what the hell is going on.  There was pretty much zero gore in this movie...in terms of the deaths and "attacks," the camera just kind of cut away while they were doing it.  The electronic music gets super-annoying after a while, but hey, that's the 70s for you.  I won't say that this movie is as awful as some people make it out to be, but I wouldn't recommend it.  It definitely had a lot of potential, but unfortunately could not follow through on it.