Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Death Row (2006)

Jake Busey gets top billing on this flick, so I guess we know what type of movie Death Row is.  Originally premiered on the Sci-Fi channel, you now access this one on Netflix instant.  I can't say no to a movie that involves Danny Trejo, so on a lazy afternoon I decided to give this a shot.

So there's two sets of people in this movie, both unfortunately involved with a haunted prison.  Apparently some guards went nuts one day and started shooting at the inmates of the prison.  Then, in a strange turn of events, they opened all the cells and let the inmates out.  Of course, a bloody battle ensued, leaving, presumably only one survivor.

A documentary crew is interviewing the survivor to get his story on what the hell went down.  He tells them the story and shows them his stumps, which are a result of him having to (literally) hack his way out of the battle to save himself.  Not satisfied with simply the interview, the crew decides to check out the abandoned prison.

On the other hand, we have a group of cons on the run.  They've robbed a jewelry store, and with one of their group wounded by a security guard, they rush to safety.  Apparently the closest safe place is the prison, where they plan on holing up for the night.

Of course, none of this works out as planned, as both crews encounter each other and discover that the prison is haunted by the ghosts of the inmates and guards.  From the first awesome death of a guy being squeezed through a chainlink fence, this movie pretty much goes downhill from here.  People argue, they wander around the prison, and badly rendered ghosts provide half-assed threats.  There is some T&A, when the "hot chick" of the group uses the bathroom, is promptly covered in feces, and force to take a shower.  I think they could have squeezed the sex element in here in a more enticing manner, but this movie doesn't really make much sense anyway.

Danny Trejo, apparently on his quest to be in the most movies ever, is in the flick for about three minutes, playing a laughable priest that only made me think of Machete.  Jake Busey seems to be adapting the same batshit crazy look of his father, so maybe his career in horror will work out after all.  Skip this one though.  It was born on the Sci-Fi channel, and probably should have stayed there.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Screwfly Solution (2006)

I haven't watched a Masters of Horror in a while, but I only had an hour to squeeze in some gory goodness tonight, and luckily The Screwfly Solution was the perfect fit.  Also, horror with Jason Priestly?  Bring it on.

This episode of MOH was actually based on a 1977 science fiction story of the same name.  I've never read the story, but apparently the episode differs a bit, by expanding single lines into entire scenes. 
So this one time there were bugs called screwflies.  They infected a bunch of livestock and animals and such, killing many.  Scientists eradicated them by capturing male flies, sterilizing them, and setting them back into the wild.  After a couple of generations, they were pretty much dead.

Now it's regular times and we have a bit of a problem.  Apparently men are becoming sexually aroused and then crazy violent, killing women that get in their way (or turn them on?).  The theory is that someone has removed the mental/physical link between sex and violence in men, and now they just go straight from horny to homicide.

Women start getting all panicked and requesting female-only flights and rushing to overcrowded women's shelters.  Alan (Jason Priestly) is involved in the search for the cure and warns his wife Anne (Kerry Norton) and daughter Amy (Brenna O'Brien) to get the fuck out of Dodge before it's too late.  Of course they can't travel without running into trouble, and life changes for everyone.

I liked this episode altogether but I found the ending kind of meh.  Although I try not to, I find myself comparing many episodes of MOH to my favorite, Imprint and they never quite measure up.  Although I'm not typically a science fiction fan, I did enjoy this one overall and would say it's one of the better episodes.

Run by Blake Crouch

In one of its reviews on Amazon, Run was compared to "Stephen King meets Cormac McCarthy."   I would say that's right on the money.  That statement drew me to the book, and the story kept me glued to it for days.  This book was sort of The Stand meets The Road meets 28 Days Later.

Run is about a sudden event, which causes people to get ridiculously angry and kill those around them.  The "affected" read off names and addresses of the "unaffected" on the radio, which was particularly chilling to me.  Jack Colclough and his family are on the list, and therefore they go on the run.

Armed with only one gun, and dwindling supplies, Jack and his wife Dee, and children Naomi and Cole, are faced with a violent and bleak world.  Cities are burned to the ground, and people who appear normal are driven to inflict torture and death.  The family is faced with trying to hide from psychopaths that are becoming more organized, while trying to outlast hunger, thirst, and the rough elements they are traveling through.

I'm such a sucker for apocalypse and survival stories, and Run did not disappoint.  Although a little slow at times, the story was great, and the descriptions really pulled the reader into the story.  I really liked how the story came full circle in the end, which is something you don't get in all horror novels.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

Hate on hateerrrsss.  I liked Cabin Fever 2 so much that I'd watch it again.  After a really stressful week at work, I was looking for a garbage movie to take my mind off of things.  Cabin Fever 2 beckoned, and I ended up making a great choice.  Much like Cabin Fever before it, the sequel does not take itself too seriously, which is very important in the realm of B-horror.

Eli Roth wasn't involved in this one, but we get treated to Ti West instead.  Not too shabby.  Apparently both Roth and Adam Green were involved at one point, but due to drama over at Lions Gate, it got sent in an entirely different direction. 

We pick up right where we left off in Cabin Fever, when Paul was left to expire in a stream where a bottled water company was gathering their supply.  In Cabin Fever 2, the bottled water gets shipped off to a local high school where everyone is prepping for prom.  Of course they are unaware that a deadly skin disease is in store as they figure out their dates and outfits.

Just in case everyone wasn't drinking enough of the water on their own, someone makes punch for the dance with the infected water, and someone already infected urinates in it.  Did I lose you yet?  Ha.  Infected people are having sex with non-infected people, and after a short time, pretty much everyone is losing their skin.  When authorities get involved, the teens are left to battle the man, the disease, and each other.

This movie was gory, gross, and totally fun.  The skin disease was just as cringeworthy as the original, although it's a little hard to beat that shower scene.  Teenage drama + sex in high school bathrooms + shop tools being used for amputation = win. 

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Do you love Oldboy?  Ichi the Killer?  Then waste no freakin' time in getting your hands on I Saw The Devil.  I love Korean revenge/vengeance films and this one is no exception.

I was excited to see Min-sik Choi from Oldboy in this movie, and Byung-hun Lee is excellent as the heartbroken fiance out for revenge.  The story is simple enough -- Kim Soo-hyeon's beloved is the latest victim of serial killer Kyung-chul.  But instead of waiting for the police to sort things out, Kim takes things into his own hands, seeking out the killer on his own.  With help from his future father-in-law, the local police chief, Kim finds out the suspects in the case and goes after them, one by one.

His interrogation tactics are violent and painful to the point that people will confess to crimes they didn't even commit.  When he finds the actual murderer, he sets an extended plan into motion.  Feeling that just killing Kyung-chul would be letting him off way too easily, Kim begins a process of physical and mental torture in order to make the killer suffer as his fiance did.

I saw tons of similarities in this movie to favorites like Ichi the Killer, Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Lady Vengeance.  The subject matter is often pretty stomach-turning and the story definitely objectifies females in a way that these other films do not.  This didn't bother me exactly, as it was essential to the storyline as it revolved around a serial killer stalking young women.  The blood and gore was absolutely on-point and there were several times that my husband and I would yell, "ohhhhh!"

The ending fell a little flat for me....I actually thought it was going in the direction of Lady Vengeance but then it just sort of ended with a bang (chop?).  I loved the movie overall and will definitely watch it again.  I Saw the Devil really lives up to the hype.  I see lots of people comparing this to Seven.  I don't personally see the relationship, but to each their own.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Booley (2010)

Booley is the debut feature film for writer/director Christian Grillo and Potent Pictures.   I was lucky enough to get hooked up with this movie, being told that it's much like Falling Down.  I've never seen Falling Down but the IMDB summary tells me that it's about a guy who's having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Angus Booley, on the other hand, is having a series of pretty crappy days.
Angus (Tom Detrik) just wants to live a quiet life in the suburbs, but things are just not going so well for him.  His wife is cheating on him, his daughter Rose (the lovely Carmela Hayslett aka Roxsy Tyler) is getting bullied at school, and his job is outsourced to India.  Unsure where to turn for a solution to his problems, he starts watching self-help videos by the eccentric Jack Harrington (Christopher Mann).  For some reason, these videos reminded me of Tappy Tibbons from Requiem for a Dream, in a good way.  Although the videos are supposed to boost his confidence and help him progress into the next stage of his life, Angus uses them as a catalyst for revenge.

His newfound set of cajones allows him to confront all who have wronged him, and even some random people as well.  This movie is light on the blood, but solid on the creepiness, especially the scene with the dog mask.  The acting is surprisingly good for an independent flick, and the camera work was stylistic, albeit sometimes a bit confusing.  The editing was really spot-on, and I loved the music choices, which really fit in well with the storyline.

Overall, I thought this movie was great.  It definitely wasn't a throwdown, drag-out slasher, but I love a thriller/horror comedy as much as I love decapitations.  The cast is a fun and campy combination of actors, from porn stars to horror hosts to Howard Stern Show regulars.  Booley is a diamond in the independent horror rough.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Movie News: The Lords of Salem official synopsis

I really want to like this movie and get excited about it.  I'm such a Rob Zombie fanatic and I'm usually so psyched for what he has coming out.  But I just can't get into this movie for some reason.  It just seems...sort of lame.

Here's the synopsis from Dread Central:

"Heidi, a blonde rock chick, DJs as a local radio station, and together with the two Hermans (Whitey and Munster) forms part of the "Big H Radio Team".

A myserious wooden box containing a vinyl record arrives for Heidi, "a gift from the Lords". She assumes it's a rock band on a mission to spread their word. As Heidi and Whitey play the Lords' record, it starts to play backwards, and Heidi experiences a flashback to a past trauma.

Later, Whitey plays the Lords' record, dubbing them the Lords of Salem, and to his surprise, the record plays normally and is a massive hit with listeners.

The arrival of another wooden box from the Lords presents the Big H team with free tickets, posters and records to host a gig in Salem. Soon Heidi and her cohorts find that the gig is far from the rock spectacle they're expecting: the original Lords of Salem are returning, and they're out for BLOOD."

Maybe it's because I can't get into the story, which sort of sounds like The Gate gone awry.  Maybe it's because I know that Sheri Moon Zombie has probably already been wrongly cast as the star of this movie.  Maybe it just seems sort of out of touch with the times.  Who sends records?  Who even listens to the radio anymore?  I haven't heard the radio since I was riding in my mom's SUV around Christmastime.  I'm just feeling kinda meh about the whole thing.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Alive or Dead (2008)

The cover and description for this movie sort of drew me in.  I ignored the downright horrendous reviews on IMDB and Netflix and decided to watch it anyway.

Now I've seen a lot of stupid beginnings in horror movies, but this one is really up there.  What could be a better way to get yourself killed right off the bat than having phone sex, complete with vibrator, while driving a Geo Tracker through the woods?  Apparently the power of Maria's (Ann Henson) rock hard and abs and ridiculous belly ring allow her to live, and she happens upon an abandoned school bus with the words "help me" scrawled on the windows.  She hangs up on her lame phone sex buddy, and decides to investigate, getting two flat tires in the process.

When investigating the bus, she finds a blindfolded (masked?) girl (Sarah, played by Angelica May) who is absolutely no help at all except to babble incoherently and answer none of Maria's reasonable questions.  The girls are then transported back to some sort of castle in the desert.  And that's where this movie pretty much loses me.  The girls traipse around the castle, running into hillbillies and cannibals at random, while never really attempting to leave.  They try to start the bus and say things like, "I think you're flooding the engine.  I mean, that's what my dad would say."  Some kid with his face covered in blisters runs around offering a ring like it's his precious.  Oh, and there's also monks.  As if this movie could make less sense.

The "twist" was silly and the cliched ending just made me chuckle.  I'm not really sure what this movie was even supposed to be about, as it presented many questions as to what the fuck was happening, but no actual answers.  The repetitive dialogue and nonstop shrieking was horrendous, but I'm sure dudes might not mind checking out Ann Henson's hot body for an hour or so.  Also, in this movie, people can get stabbed, beaten and mutilated more than Jason Voorhees and just keep popping up all over the place.  Skip this.

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Desert Places by Blake Crouch

I got turned on to Blake Crouch while reading J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn's array of extreme horror novels.  He collaborated with Blake Crouch on Serial and after I plowed through all the books he had to offer, I knew Crouch was next for me.

Desert Places is the first in a series of Andrew Thomas novels, Thomas being a writer and the main character in these books.  Desert Places starts out hard and fast -- popular horror novelist Andrew Thomas checks his mail one evening to find an interesting piece of correspondence.  It states that there is a woman buried on his property, covered in his blood and killed with a knife from his house.  At first, Andrew dismisses this as a crazy piece of fan mail, but decides to check it out, just for fun.

What he finds is that there actually is a woman buried on his property, and as he follows the other instructions in the letter, he digs himself a deeper and deeper hole.  He meets the writer of the letter, and finds out that this is no psychotic fan.  This person's interest is even more complicated and close to home.  The two will go on a journey...even when they are not together.

Although not as truly sick as Kilborn/Konrath's works, this book was exciting and demented, and left me wanting more.  There were some truly scary parts of the book (the HI MOM! one being the creepiest for me)  You'll be glad to know that there are at least two more Thomas books, which extend this exciting story.

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Husk (2011)

How is it that this is the SECOND movie I've watched recently about cornfields?  And there's a third one waiting on my instant queue.  How random is my life?

Husk is about a group of five friends on a roadtrip, headed for partytime at a lake house.  While driving through some cornfields, their car gets mysteriously attacked by some wayward birds.  This causes them to careen off the road, crashing and rendering the car useless.

In a move of genuine horror stupidity, one friend takes off by himself for a nearby farmhouse.  When he doesn't return after a while, two others go looking for him.  And finally, when all three don't return for a while, the remaining two abandon the car and head for the house.  Now all are stuck in a Texas Chainsaw-esque house surrounded by creepy scarecrows.

Through attacks and visions, the outsiders learn that the scarecrows are actual psuedo-zombies, created by the haunting resulting from a brotherly feud.  The zombies are people who died, pounded nails through their hands, and sewed masks for themselves before jumping up on their crosses and posing as innocent scarecrows.  At first, I wasn't sure about the nails on the hand thing, but apparently they are lovely weapons a la Freddy's fingers. 

This whole concept sounds a little lame, but this was actually a pretty good movie.  Sure, it was pretty rife with horror cliches, and I won't be racing out to buy it anytime soon.  Nothing was really resolved in this slasher, and the ending definitely left it open for a Husk 2. 
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Last Resort (2009)

The Last Resort had the basis to be a pretty decent movie, but it fell apart pretty freakin' quickly.  I didn't expect much from a flick that barely got a 2 on both IMDB and Netflix, but the concept of a bachelorette party horror movie roped me in.

A group of 20-somethings traipse off to Mexico for a week of sun, fun, and booze before their friend gets married.  The future Mrs. is a total bridezilla and makes it clear from the beginning of the trip that she is in charge and this week is all about her.

The ladies go out partying, and one girl ends up going home with a hottie from the bar.  She oversleeps at his place, and gets a bitchy phone call in the morning that everyone is leaving on a sightseeing trip, and they will meet up with her later.

Obviously these girls have not an ounce of sense in their heads, and they go on a "sightseeing tour" with two dudes in a van.  This is not a tour, of course, and the girls end up in the desert handing over their jewelry and cash.  With one girl injured, they hoof it to a nearby ghost town, and set up camp in an abandoned church.  Shortly after arriving, they start to get irritated and violent with one another.  Is something in the church causing them to act this way?

The acting in this movie was pretty horrible, and although there were a few creepy scenes in the church, the whole thing was kind of a wash.  Guess those 2 out of 10 reviews were right on the money.

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