Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fright World (2006)

Remember in college when you'd be partying in a frat house, and somehow you'd end up in that douchey blacklight room?  With the Bob Marley posters and light that made your clothes look dirty?  Well put that experience together with a long and horrible Marilyn Manson video and that's pretty much what you get with Fright World. 

I really have no idea what even happened in this movie.  It appears that there was a super-tacky theme park that was at one time operating and popular.  It got closed down and some sort of killer moved in.   His killing appeared to be limited to a chick in a large bra, but you know, tomato, tomato. 

Years (a year? it's hard to tell) later, some investor buys the park and decides to reopen.  But in the meantime, he invites a bunch of his goth friends over to play around.  Everyone basically drinks, smokes pot, and bangs, all while horrible metal wannabe music plays in the background.  We get glimpses of enough boobs to get my husband to hang out in front of the TV for a few minutes, but nothing to write home about.

Apparently this place is haunted by the spirit of Vernon Fell, the murderer of Fright World.  I didn't see too much murdering...mostly just scared goths running through a series of rooms, with horrible cinematography, lighting and editing.  Seriously, the filming of this was so bad that it's actually blurry throughout most of the movie.  This was far far far too long for a low-budget slasher.  I was hoping for a Funhouse ripoff but I got something that could have been made in my backyard.  Fail.

















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A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

I'd venture to say that Nightmare on Elm Street: Part 2 is probably the most talked-about of the series.  Its homoerotic subtext has long been debated, and in the documentary Never Sleep Again, screenwriter David Chaskin acknowledged that the gay undertones were intended and even the casting of Mark Patton was on purpose.  Patton was openly out at the time and apparently perfect for the role of Jesse.

NOES 2 starts several years after the original NOES and another family has moved into Nancy's house.  The parents are almost caricatures of Leave it to Beaver types and their son Jesse is an awkward teenager who is plagued by nightmares and often wakes up screaming.  Contrary to initial appearances, Jesse drives a really cute rich redhead to school every day, which sparks rumors of them banging.  However, she seems to sort of get a clue when she comes over to hang out, and is faced with probably the gayest of all horror movie scenes ever.

It's rumored that this scene is often played on TV screens in gay clubs.

Jesse starts to dissect his dreams when he and his somewhat girlfriend Lisa read Nancy's diary and dig deeper.   They (surprise!) discover the truth about Freddy and attempt to fight him.  Easier said than done when Freddy is trying to gain control of Jesse's body, even interrupting a hot makeout sesh with his nasty-ass rotting tongue.   Jesse continues to battle Freddy, trying to save his girlfriend, family, and friends.
This being the "gay Freddy movie" actually has nothing to do with the fact that this really doesn't fit in with NOES franchise.  This movie just has an entirely different tone, and actually doesn't involve Freddy nearly enough.  The scenes that do involve Krueger are sort of half-assed and lame, except for that one where he jumps out of Jesse's body, which is pretty freakin' sweet.

I don't think this is a horrible sequel, but it just doesn't fit in with the general vibe of what we know and love about NOES.  There's a surplus of 80s hair and overacting, but not enough fun Freddy catch phrases or gory death scenes.  Funny to think this lead to #3....probably my favorite NOES!

P.S.  A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 remake coming next year?!  C'mon people!  Lame!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fear Itself Episode 7: Something with Bite

Aside from Ginger Snaps, I'm not a huge fan of werewolf movies.  So I was a little wary going into an episode about a veterinarian that turns into a werewolf, but I'm not skipping any episodes, so there.

Wilbur Orwell (the forced irony of that name seriously bugged me) is a chubby vet that seems to sorta care about his job and be more concerned about eating donuts.  One day, a gigantic animal that was hit by a car is dragged into his office.  As he tries to save the creature, he is bitten, and the animal dies.  Wilbur begins to show strange symptoms and as we already know from the one-sentence description, he is becoming a werewolf.

He struggles with his transition from man to beast, and seeks solace in the parents of the creature that was brought into his office.  Meanwhile, animal attacks are running rampant in the area, and Wilbur worries about the culprit, especially when his beloved office assistant is attacked.  He goes on the hunt for the beast, with surprising results.

This episode was a little corny and the werewolf effects were super-lame, but it wasn't entirely horrible either.  The characters kind of confused me, between the endlessly horny wife, the ditzy, bumbling office assistant, and the half-assed cop, so that sort of threw the episode off a bit.  But I did sit through it and didn't complain much, so there must have been some redeeming value.  This certainly isn't one of the better episodes of Fear Itself.

















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Fear Itself Episode 6: Family Man

This little girl actually didn't have a huge role in this movie, but this scene really creeped me the hell out.  I always liked that song "I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee..." and this little ankle biter kinda ruined it for me forever.

Anyway, back to this episode.  The beginning was kind of like Ghost, if Patrick Swayze had switched bodies with his killer instead of just making pottery and being friends with Whoopi Goldberg.

Dennis Mahoney (Colin Ferguson) is a good Christian and a loving husband and father.  He gets in a tragic car accident, and is in the hospital at the same time as Brautigan (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who we soon find out is a prolific serial killer.  They are both essentially dead, but are somehow able to come back to life after switching bodies.  I take a moment to wonder if I could finagle this situation so that it occurs between me and Olivia Wilde.

Anyway, "Dennis" wakes up in Brautigan's body and is hauled off to jail to be charged for dozens of murders.  Poor Dennis is not prepared for the abuses and loneliness of prison and is slowly losing his shit.  "Brautigan," meanwhile, is enjoying his time in Dennis's body, banging his cutesy wife and plotting the future torture of his children.

Instead of just giving into his obvious fate, Dennis is a fighter and is determined to get his body back from Brautigan and be reunited with his family.  But there are plenty of obstacles in his way, and things may not be as they seem.  There was a really cool twist at the end of this episode, and the whole tone of it was seriously and effectively creepy.  Definitely a winner in this season.

















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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Insidious (2010)

I'm going to be totally lame and admit that jump scares get me every freakin' time.  I get so stressed out that something is going to pop out from somewhere and I'm never quite prepared.  Also creepy imagery a la The Cell really makes me lose sleep, and this flick really had a lot of it.  Scary kids also flip me out, so when I realized this movie was going to be about creepy children, I was already super stressed going into it.

Insidious is a strange and freaky love child of The Haunting in Connecticut, Poltergeist, and A New Nightmare.  It's about a nice and happy little family: Josh (Patrick Wilson), Renai (Rose Byrne), Dalton (Ty Simpkins), Foster (Andrew Astor), and Cali (who is a baby, and therefore not listed on IMDB)  Dalton is playing around in the new house when he falls off of a ladder, bumping his head.  The parents think that all is well, and they put the kid to bed.  But the next morning, he doesn't wake up.

Doctors determine that he is in a coma, but unlike one they have ever seen.  Their advice is to run a bunch of tests, and hope that he eventually comes out of the coma.  Meanwhile, things that go bump in the night are constantly invading the family's home.  They keep seeing visions, people, and all around scary shit.  Josh is in denial about the whole thing, but Renai is very convinced that their house...and lives are haunted. 

When they bring in a medium of sorts (unfortunately not Tangina, but Lin Shaye) things go all kinds of crazy, and Josh and Renai learn that Dalton's supposed sickness runs deeper than they ever could have imagined. 

I wouldn't say this movie was super-original, as it was obviously heavily influenced by Poltergeist.  But it's been a while since I've seen a supernatural movie that actually scared me, even though much of it is because I am such a huge baby about jump scares and freaky looking people.  But I thought this movie had a good story, some great scares, and if you liked any of the aforementioned ghost movies, then you'll like Insidious.
 















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Monday, July 18, 2011

Fear Itself Episode 5: In Sickness and in Health

Ooooohhh, wedding horror.  I can't say I've seen too much of this before.  In what seems to be a habit of casting look-alikes in this series, the star of this hour could pass for a young Kristy Swanson.  Well either way, this is pretty much the worst wedding ever.  Samantha is about to marry Carlos, who she has only been dating for a short time.  Everyone seems to be against the wedding, and she doesn't really seem to be too thrilled about it herself.

Right before the ceremony is set to begin, Samantha receives a random note, apparently passed via the priest.  She reads the note, and is shocked to see that it says "the person you are marrying is a serial killer."  Although she doesn't reveal the contents of the note to her friends, they are already pretty wary of Carlos and only need a small excuse to just halt this whole business.

But the wedding goes on, with no one too enthusiastic or happy.  When everyone should be headed to the reception to indulge in copious free booze, everyone appears to be wearing winter coats and traipsing about the church and streets.  Samantha seems to be hiding from her apparent serial killer husband, and their family and friends are hiding from both of their crazy asses.

After much cat and mouse, there is a fun twist to this story that I appreciated.  This whole episode actually reminded me of John Landis's episode of Masters of Horror: Family.  It had sort of the same creepy, eerie vibe.  This episode was effective in the beginning and end, but sort of lagged a bit in the middle.  Not a throwaway episode, but not the best either.


















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Fear Itself Episode 4: The Sacrifice

My first thought upon seeing the ladies in this movie?  Who are these girls, and why do they all look like slightly different versions of Melissa George?  A group of cons is on the run, with an injured friend and no where to go.  Doesn't this sound like another movie I just watched?

The guys locate homestead in the woods, only to discover it's inhabited by several beautiful women that are living an Amish lifestyle.  Apparently they seem well-equipped to take care of the injured amigo, and the boys are encouraged to eat some stew.  The female residents focus on seducing the men, but why?  Oh, because they have a vampire living among them, to whom they offer visitors as food. 

Of course, no one wants to be someone's lunch and a battle ensues.  The girls are concerned about keeping themselves alive and the vampire fed. But obviously it's not going to be that easy as everyone fights for their lives.

This episode was a little bland, and fairly unbelievable.  I mean, maybe I'm sort of vampire-d out, but this was sort of like someone escaped from 30 Days of Night and landed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.   The acting and effects weren't horrible, but the the story just kind of fell flat.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fear Itself Episode 3: Community

Now this is an episode I can get behind.  I'm currently apartment hunting, although certainly not moving to the suburbs.  Bobby and Tracy are living in the city, but Tracy desperately wants to have a baby in a home with more space and such.

She seems to pretty much force Bobby to move into a development called The Commons, which has the best of everything, as long as you follow the rules.  And rules, there are.  However, these dumbasses never really read the contract they're signing, and move in quite naively. 

Things are strange from the start, when neighbors seem to bombard them with niceties and gifts.  They soon become even more suspicious as the neighbors are all up in their biz about the state of their marriage, and when they're going to get pregnant.  One night, they're flipping through the channels and see that the neighbors actions are being broadcast.  They witness infidelity, and later, the punishment.

Soon, Bobby and Tracy realize that their neighbors are more serious about the "community" than they ever could imagine.  The rules in the contract are non-negotiable, and the punishment for breaking them is severe.  They try to fight back, but will the neighbors wear them down?

This episode was seriously creepy and definitely my favorite so far.  You never do really know about your neighbors, and this plot really takes it to the extreme.  I saw that the director of this episode also directed American Psycho and that tone definitely came through here.  A keeper for sure, pig masks and all.



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Fear Itself Episode 2: Spooked

I found this episode to be a bit hard to follow.  Harry Siegal (Eric Roberts) is a cop who has questionable interrogation tactics.  He believes that his methods of beating a confession out of a suspect is for the greater good, since the case often gets solved.

In this particular case, Harry relentlessly abuses Rory over the case of a missing child.  Finally, the man confesses, and the child is found in a hidden room upstairs.  Rory eventually dies, but not without first promising Harry that he will never let him forget this infraction.  Because the rescued child is the son of a senator, Harry gets off relatively easily -- 100 hours of community service, and the loss of his badge.

Fast forward 15 years and Harry is now working as a private detective.  He mostly catches cheating spouses, so it's no surprise when Meredith requests his services to catch her philandering husband.  Harry uses the abandoned house across the street as a stakeout spot, but doesn't seem to find any real action.  Instead, he sees ghosts and aberrations and just all kinds of freaky stuff.

He tries to get out of the job, but to no avail.  It seems that the skeletons in Harry's closet have come back to haunt him, and this new job just might have a hand in it.  There was lots of crazy imagery and overlapping stories, and I sort of got confused and lost a few times.  I would rate this episode as just okay.
















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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fear Itself Episode 1: The Eater

Between work, outdoor boot camp, and marathon training, I have been busy as a bee.  A sick and demented bee, but who's counting?  I missed Fear Itself the first time around and this crazy busy time in my life (and the glory that is Netflix instant) is giving me the chance to take a look at the series three years after the fact.

I loved Masters of Horror, and though this seemed to be conceived in the same vein, it was aired on network television, which always makes a difference.  It seems I'll be reviewing these a little out of order, since Netflix and maybe the DVD lists them a little differently than they actually aired. 

The big star in this episode is Elisabeth Moss, now of course famous for her role on Mad Men.  She's a rookie in the police force that has just arrested a serial killer called "The Eater."  Not an incredibly creative name, as the dude pretty much kidnaps women and eats them.  He seems to know some sort of black magic, and is seen chanting, mumbling, and thrashing around in his cell.  It sort of reminds me of Child's Play for some reason.  No killer doll in this one though.

Possession and cannibalism are always a good time, and who knew the NBC would feature both of them in one flesh-chomping hour of television.  I have no other episodes to compare this to at this point in time, but I thought this was a pretty good episode.  For some reason it sort of reminded me of Fallen...you know, in terms of the body inhabiting, and the fact that the one cop appeared to be a body double for John Goodman.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dolls (1987)

I remember seeing this movie on the shelves at the old-school video store in my neighborhood.  My mom never let us rent it, but fortunately, this is 20 years later and I can watch it on Netflix.  I had no idea this was a Charles Band movie, but it only makes sense.

My husband actually summed this movie up pretty well: "This is the most ridiculous movie I've ever seen.  But I cannot stop watching."  And that's pretty much what I think anyone would feel about this movie.

In a scene vaguely reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a family is stranded by the side of the road in the middle of a torrential rainstorm.  There's a mom, dad, and a young girl (Judy)  The parents can't seem to stand their young daughter, and seem satisfied to just leave her on the side of the road.  But the trio treks up to a looming mansion, where they find an elderly couple living alone.  As it so turns out, they are custom dollmakers, and their house is filled with the fruits of their labor.

As they get settled in, some more stranded guests arrive -- this time two trampy hitchhikers and the ultra nervous guy that picked them up.  This old couple seems to love having guests (or victims, whatever) and invites these three to join in on the fun.  Of course, as we know from the movie cover, the dolls are very much alive and out for blood.

The 80s truly were a wonderful era of all things creepy crawly.  From The Gate to Gremlins to Troll, there really hasn't been an influx of such a variety of creature-type slashers since that glorious decade.  Dolls is no exception in the realm of wonderful cheesiness, good effects, crazy acting, and a fun storyline.  This flick is currently available on instant Netflix, which we all will appreciate when they raise their prices come September.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vipers (2008)

Oh, Tara Reid.  I wonder if you hadn't fucked up your career so badly, you could have actually become a successful horror actress.  You looked super cute in American Pie and your looks coupled with your throaty bedroom voice could have carried you through a few dozen slashers and an early retirement.

Anyway, I digress.  I'm strangely drawn to horror movies that involve Miss Reid and Vipers is no exception.  In this movie, scientists find out that a specific type of viper can be used to cure a deadly form of cancer.  However, unbeknown to the sponsors of the project, some scientists are pumping the vipers full of accelerators and they've gotten out of control.  Now they can chomp up entire people at once, and just generally wreak havoc.

After a situation in the lab, the vipers escape.  Another side effect of the enhancement is that the vipers want to do it like bunnies and multiply like crazy.  They slither off to a remote island and start attacking everything in sight.  The main players on the island are a retiring doctor, an ex-Marine, a bitchy teenager, and Nicky (Tara Reid) who runs a greenhouse where she also grows pot. 

Everyone tries to escape from the snakes, as the National Guard plans to gas the whole island, leaving both snakes and humans incapacitated.  I feel like I'm in a giving mood today, but I actually liked this movie.  Sure, the snakes were CGIed to death (or life) but I mean, come on.  You can't train vipers to act for the camera.  Tara Reid appeared to be sober, and the other actors were passable.  Although I'm not a huge fan of creature features, this was not a bad way to pass 90 minutes of my life.


















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Final Stab (2001)

I think we've heard this premise before, but I have over 200 movies on my instant queue and I have to start somewhere.  The movie cover would make you think that this is a Scream ripoff, but it's really more reminiscent of April Fool's Day.  

Kristen is a rich bitch who has absolutely no regard for other people's feelings.  Under the guise of wanting to reunite with her sister, Angela, she stages a murder mystery game at an isolated house.  She completely disregards the fact that Angela's boyfriend Charlie is completely messed up in the head due to witnessing his parents' murder as a child.

Everyone in the house is playing along with the murder game, except for Angela and Charlie, who have no idea what's going on.  The fake murderer is an actor wearing a lame mask, and kind of half-assing the whole performance.  However, there's a real killer lurking and he's killing people...for real.

I mean, sure, this was nothing original, but this wasn't a terrible movie.  The kills weren't that bloody, but the killer was sort of a surprise.  The ending sort of left it open for a Final Stab 2 but I'm pretty glad that didn't happen.  The acting was pretty standard for a B-grade slasher, and I wonder if they were going for an 80s-esque feel with the whole thing, because that's how it came across.  Not a classic, but not a horrible waste of your time either.















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Thursday, July 7, 2011

When a Killer Calls (2006)

When I first started watching this movie, I had to double-check IMDB to make sure it wasn't from the 80s.  The video quality is so shitty that I thought it couldn't possibly be from this decade.  After checking that, I had to make sure that this wasn't made by my little cousin and his FlipCam.  Another negative, so although you wouldn't have guessed it, this movie is made by actual filmmakers, less than 5 years ago.  Moving on.

We open on a brutal scene of bondage and stabbing, including doing so with kids.   He captures it all on his cellphone, presumably to post to Facebook and tag friends.  Or Twitter?  I don't know how this dude rolls.  After a pretty cool knife death, we switch up the setting.

Trisha is a babysitter.  An extremely irresponsible one.  Basically, the parents lay down some pretty basic rules for her: no visitors, no ice cream for the kid, and bed at 9pm.  She breaks all of them in record time, making me wonder why anyone entrusts their kids with this stupid chick.  She spends the majority of the babysitting time on the phone with her boyfriend.  Soon enough, she starts receiving creepy calls on her phone from a "restricted" number.  In the vein of the many babysitter movies that came before it, the mystery man calls repeatedly, alternately wanting to chat and reminding Trisha to check on her babysitting charge.

Predictably, she finally gives in and calls the police, where they direct her on how to trace the call.  Their directions actually seem to make zero sense whatsoever, but I'm too concerned with waiting for the moment that they tell her the calls are coming from inside the house.  Guess I'm a traditionalist.

However, the calls decline and the douche factor rises and we get stuck in sort of a non-scary holding pattern for a bit.  But then my patience pays off as we're treated to an ultra creepy killer and some pretty solid death scenes.  This movie was actually not so bad overall.  It certainly wasn't in the realm of When a Stranger Calls or even Babysitter Wanted, but it wasn't completely horrendous either.  The picture and sound quality was pretty bad, and the acting is about what you'd expect.  The killer's motivation was actually pretty original and although the ending was "meh," at least they didn't drag this shit out and leave it open for "When a Killer Gets a New Cell Phone" or some crap.

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