Sunday, April 15, 2012

Absentia (2011)

Interesting premise for a movie and I've been looking forward to seeing it.  Absentia is about a woman Tricia (Courtney Bell) who's husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) went missing seven years ago.  Since the statute of limitations has passed, she has decided to file a death in absentia in order to obtain a death certificate for her husband.  Meanwhile, she's pregnant, apparently by the detective on the case.  Her sister, Callie (Katie Parker) comes to visit and help out with the paperwork, moving, packing, etc. 

Callie immediately starts experiencing strange things in her sister's neighborhood.  She especially experiences weird situations in the tunnel near her house that leads to a park.  Tricia hallucinates her husband appearing in dreams, and during her meditation periods.  Meanwhile, just as Callie encourages Tricia to go on a date with her detective boy toy, Daniel stumbles into the front yard, bloody and confused. 

Of course, this can't be a happy ending, and there's a bunch of nonsense that Tricia wants to blame on Callie's drug use, but I think it's actually happening, or maybe it's not?  There's a lot of background about other people going missing from the neighborhood, and does it all have to do with the weird tunnel?  And missing animals and jewelry?  Or not?  Ahhh, brain overload.

I have to agree completely with The Horror Digest on this one...there's so much awesome and creepy about this movie, but there's just not much to say about it without saying everything, or maybe nothing at all.  For the first time in a while, I feel lost for words.  Some people will love this movie, and some people will hate it, but I really enjoyed it overall. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

There's something I've always liked about Jennifer Jason Leigh, beginning from her badass-ness in The HitcherDolores Claiborne is classic non-supernatural King, weaving an intricate and believable story throughout 30 some-odd years of a woman's life.  In my opinion, the movie was cast well, with King-favorite Kathy Bates and the worn and troubled Dolores Claiborne, and Leigh as her bitter and jaded daughter Selena St. George.  With a solid supporting cast, this makes for a good King adaptation, albeit a bit long-winded.

Dolores Claiborne is one of those movies where something happens in the present day, and then we get a bunch of flashbacks and memories as the main character explains what led her to this point.  In this case, Dolores Claiborne is being investigated for the murder of of a cantankerous old woman, Vera Donovan, whom she's worked for over many years.  To make matters complicated, she has always been suspected in the mysterious death of her husband, Joe. 

Her daughter, Selena returns to her hometown on Little Tall Island (off the coast of Maine) to help her mother with her criminal/legal issues.  While she is there, Dolores recounts numerous stories about Selena's childhood, refuting events that she believed to be true for most of her life.  Basically, Dolores's husband and Selena's father was an abusive alcoholic who molested his daughter.  Of course, this is something Selena blocked out for years, believing her mother to be a cold bitch who made her father's life hell.

Dolores also speaks of her time spent with Vera Donovan, a rich woman for whom Delores worked as maid.  Vera was horribly mean and abusive, and fired numerous staff, but for some reason, kept Dolores on over the years.  The two had a special relationship, dysfunctional as it may have been, which ended in Dolores being accused of murder.  Meanwhile, Selena is shocked as she recalls her past, realizing that her mother did much more to protect her than she could have ever thought.  

This is an interesting and well-acted movie which follows the book closely.  Set in a beautiful and haunting island Maine location, it is disturbing at times, but also enlightening.  Kathy Bates did not win an Oscar for this performance, although some believe she should have.  Definitely an excellent drama/horror/thriller from the mind of King.

"Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto."

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999)

You thought they were going to stop at #5 didn't you?  Clearly the people that keep making these movies couldn't resist the chance to do a "666" sequel.  Because that pun certainly isn't overdone at all.  So what do they do to keep things relevant?  Let's bring Isaac back!  Didn't he die though?  No, silly horror viewers, he's been in a COMA for the last nineteen years!  In a random hospital with a bunch of weirdos wandering around.  And who is our heroine this time?  A young woman named Hannah (Natalie Ramsey) was apparently born in Gatlin (to a child bride, perhaps?) and adopted by a family in California.  She returns to Gatlin to go searching for her birth parents, and Isaac randomly awakens at the exact time that she enters the hospital.

Also strange about Hannah's visit to Gatlin?  Everyone seems to know exactly who she is!  Creepy.  Apparently she is the first born child of the original Gatlin corn cult.  From the original movie, I think?  It's not entirely clear.  Oh!  And her mom is still alive.  And Isaac is ready to lead the cult again, making Hannah the head of the "new generation of the chosen."  Did anyone ask her if she wanted to be?  Just wondering.

So basically everyone running around in this movie are children of the original people in the corn.  And there's some sort of prophecy that the first born child (of the corn?) is to return on the eve of her 19th birthday to lead a new generation of followers to "He Who Walks Behind the Rows."  Apparently she will become the mother of a superior race.  Um, okay.

A battle in the corn ensues, with lots of arguing, and one cool full-body slice.  Also, is the the first actual sex scene in a COTC movie?  Surely, this banging would upset He Who Walks Behind the Rows.   Then in the last few minutes, it sort of all comes together.  A sort of lame attempt at a twist, but obviously sets up it for yet another sequel, Dream Child-style.

What's confusing about all these movies is why these people keep sticking with this nonsense.  Seriously, what does this corn god do for them?  And before it was only children, but then since the last movie, it involves adults as well?  The fact that this religion charade keeps going for 19 years is really what is even more unbelievable than Isaac being in a coma all this time.  

There's some pretty cool violence and deaths in here that aren't as graphic as in other COTC sequels.  Fun fact -- with all these Children of the Corn sequels, John Franklin is the only person to appear in more than one.   Pretty hard to believe I've got three more of these to watch!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eaten Alive (1977)

I have a vague memory of buying this movie one time at a dollar store and watching it.  I don't know what happened to that DVD, or why I never wrote a review of it, but now it's on Netflix Instant and I'll finally be able to give my opinion on it.  Tobe Hooper has a funny style that not everyone is on board with.  I liked Texas Chainsaw Massacre even though not everyone found it scary, and I love the nonsense campiness of The Funhouse.  As with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this flick is loosely based on an American serial killer -- in this case, Joe Ball aka "The Alligator Man," who killed several women in the 1930s and fed them to alligators.  

As was the trend in the 70s and 80s, well-known actors got top billing on these B movies, when they really only played smaller supporting roles.  Such is the case in Eaten Alive for Carolyn Jones and Mel Ferrer.  The main parts are played by Neville Brand (psycho motel owner Judd), Marilyn Burns (wife and mother Faye), and William Finley (husband and father Roy).  There are also appearances by Roberta Collins, Kyle Richards, Janus Blythe, and a very young Robert Englund.

Eaten Alive is about a strange man who owns a dilapidated hotel in backwoods Louisiana.  He has somewhat of a menagerie on the property, with the star attraction being his pet crocodile.  Clara (Roberta Collins) appears new to the hooker business, and after scaring off regular customer Buck (Robert Englund), her madam Miss Hattie (Carolyn Jones) boots her out of the brothel.  She treks down the road to Judd's (Neville Brand) hotel, and after learning of her profession, he stabs here and feeds her to the crocodile.  Meanwhile, a family -- Fay, Roy, and little Angie (who later played little Lindsay Wallace in Halloween) arrive with their dog Snoopy.  The crocodile still needed a snack after his hooker meal and he chomps up the dog as well.  

Everyone is understandably shaken, but guests still arrive to the hotel.  Harvey Wood (Mel Ferrer) and his daughter Libby (Crystin Sinclaire) are looking for their daughter/sister Clara, who was obviously already eaten by the crocodile.  Judd mentions offhand that he's seen her at the brothel, and they take off to investigate.  Meanwhile, there's a battle at the hotel, as Judd sets out to capture the young family staying there.  A lot of running, screaming, scythe-swinging, and croc-chomping ensue.  

It's always hard to follow up the success of a popular flick like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so Tobe Hooper obviously had an uphill battle from the start.  Eaten Alive isn't a terrible movie, and it has it's place in horror history.  It's certainly not as good as TCM, and Hooper was not able to achieve the general eeriness and vibe that we all loved so much about his first movie.  It drags at points, but I find that to be true of a lot of older movies, since my generation has become ADD about pretty much everything.  But a weird backwoods hotel owner and a hungry croc aren't the worst thing to ever happen to a horror movie and this one is definitely a B classic.  Also, it's it weird to think Robert Englund was kinda sexypants?  Maybe I've been watching too many movies this weekend, but he does has a couple sex scenes in this movie if that's your kinda thing.

"I'm Buck, and I'm here to fuck."

Candyman (1992)

It's hard to believe I've never written a review of Candyman.  I'm definitely not a Clive Barker fangirl (I actually dislike Hellraiser) but I've always loved Candyman.  It's a perfect movie in so many ways...great acting, especially from Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen, a great urban legend background, badass cinematography, and general creepiness about the whole thing.  Back in the 90s, this was one of those movies everyone was talking about in school -- those who were brave enough to watch it, those who lost sleep over it, and those who weren't able to sneak it past their parents to ever see it at all.  My parents kind of indulged my love of horror from an early age (my mom's favorite movie is The Exorcist) so Candyman was definitely part of my horror repertoire from a young age.

For those who haven't seen Candyman (blasphemy!) this is the basic story.  Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her friend/schoolmate Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons) are doing a graduate thesis on urban legends.  Helen's husband, Trevor (Xander Berkeley) is a professor at the school.  Although they're covering all urban legends in their study, they begin to focus on the legend of Candyman, which they're told lives in a nearby housing project, Cabrini Green.  Against the advice of pretty much everyone (including her friend Bernadette), Helen deeply investigates the Candyman legend, returning many times to Cabrini Green, putting herself in grave danger.  Meanwhile, Candyman has set his sights on Helen, stating that unless she becomes his victim/prodigy, he will select an infant instead. 

This is truly Tony Todd's standout role, although he's made quite a splash (splatter?) with the Hatchet movies over the last few years.  Madsen is innocent, yet saucy, and the supporting actors all play their parts perfectly, being memorable enough to not take over the story.  The creepy music and overheard shots in this flick are truly awesome.  And the scenes like Helen climbing through the face, her standing in her bloody clothes, and the fire burning outside the projects are the type that make this movie so memorable.   The score is incredible, and aside from some cheesy moments, this flick has really held up over time.  Also, now I kind of want to watch Urban Legend!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pet Sematary 2 (1992)

Remember Edward Furlong?  What happened to him?  Looks like he's been in some horror lately, including the Night of the Demons remake, so I'm not sure how I've missed him.  Pet Sematary was a movie and book that both freaked me out, so the sequel's gotta be awesome, right?  Please imagine this statement laced with sarcasm. 

OMG so many cute animals in this movie!!  Kittens!  Bunnies!  Husky-esque mutts!  The premise?  Jeff's (Edward Furlong) mother Renee, an actress, dies in a freak accident on set.  His father, veterinarian Chase (Anthony Edwards) takes him from LA to live in Maine, right near where all went awry in Pet Sematary.   They move into a house with a built-in vet's office where they find some cute little abandoned kittens.  In the meantime, local boy Drew (Jason McGuire) brings in his dog to be examined.  It's obvious that his stepfather Gus (Clancy Brown) is a huge douchebag who will prove to be more so as the movie progresses. 

The other kids at school don't take kindly to Jeff, and are mean to him, even stealing his kitten :(  However, Jeff befriends Drew, and helps him bury his dog Zowie when his asshole stepdad shoots it.  Of course, they don't bury Zowie in the regular Pet Sematary, but in the one that brings everything back to life, either evil or stupid.  Let's guess how the dog turned out. 

After Gus the douche interrupts the boys' Halloween party, Drew's dog attacks Gus.  Panicked, the boys bury him in the Indian burial ground in order to avoid trouble and blame.  Gus returns, first stupid, but then evil.  Chase starts catching on to the mysteries of the Pet Sematary, while Jeff becomes obsessed with bringing his mother back to life.  Although Edward Furlong's acting is pretty meh through most of the movie, he does a 180 and goes total creepshow in the last 20 minutes.

This movie has a lot of corniness in it, from the random music to the lame dream sequences.  Stephen King sequels generally have a curse of being really horrible, and this one is pretty much no exception.  The original Pet Sematary is a pretty cool movie, and they should have just left it at that.  The repeating of the first movie's line, "sometimes dead is better" is totally ineffective and dorky.  The end of this movie hinted at another sequel, which thankfully stayed buried. 

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Someone called in a LOT of favors for this movie. The cast includes Eva Mendes, Ahmet Zappa, Kane Hodder, Fred Williamson, David Carradine, and Alexis Arquette.  For the fourth sequel to an average movie?  Seriously? 

Apparently before the days of GPS, when people had to drive in different cars on a roadtrip, they leave blowup dolls at different landmarks, pointing in the right direction.  That seems both expensive and inefficient.  The couple in the leading car stops to hang another blowup doll and encounter the creepy children from the corn!  They dispatch with the couple quickly, and the following car continues on, not realizing what has happened to their friends. 

The second group, consisting of two guys and two girls, are apparently carrying someone's ashes to an unspecified place.  They get into a little fender bender and hike into town to try and find a tow truck.  A local bartender (Kane Hodder OMFG!) tells them that the tow truck is unavailable, and they learn of a local weirdo housing a bunch of kids and preaching "He Who Walks Behind the Rows."  Allison (Stacy Galina) realizes that her brother is somehow involved with this strange cult, while Kir (Eva Mendes) becomes interested in one of it's members, and sees truth in the "teachings." 

Allison digs further in order to save her brother, and the group gets split up, leaving Allison to fend for herself.    Kir becomes strangely attached to both the religion and a cute guy in the group.  I honestly think this whole storyline was contrived to make Eva Mendes climb a long ladder in an incredibly short dress.  A battle ensues and it appears at first that they have a little bit of a better chance than previous people stranded in the corn have had.  They find barns, cars, etc. and put up quite the fight.  There seems to be more drama and emotion in this installment than in previous ones, and of course, the ending leaves it open for yet another sequel. 

The problem with extending these sequels on and on is that they get farther and farther from the actual premise of the original story.  So a weird religion that started out with some psycho kids first spread to Chicago, now back to somewhere in Nebraska, now being led by some old dude?  WTF. Wasn't the point that the whole thing involved only kids?  The more of these I watch, I think they could have been better as just standalone movies unrelated to corn but focusing on creepy religious hicks. 

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

It's Easter weekend, and strangely enough, I am not visiting my family this year.  However, most of my friends are, and Scream King is hogging the TV with the (stupid) Masters tournament.  Therefore, I'll be spending a lot of time in the second bedroom with the Apple TV and a 250-strong instant queue chock-full of horror movies.

This weekend, I examine why in God's name people thought we needed numerous sequels to Children of the Corn.  Sure, the short story was awesome and the movie was pretty creepy too, but I'm pretty sure the world would have kept spinning if we just stopped right there.  But here we are on Children of the Corn IV (aka The Gathering) which managed to wrangle together a couple of solid actors, including Naomi Watts and Karen Black.  I always love seeing mainstream stars in horror just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

This installment of creepy kids in fields takes place not in Gatlin, but in another bigger town in Nebraska.  Grace Rhodes (Naomi Watts) has returned to her hometown from college to assist her ailing mother June (Karen Black) and young siblings.  Also, random, but there are TWO people from House of 1000 Corpses in this movie: the aforementioned Ms. Black and Harrison Young, who plays a drifter.  June Rhodes has gotten a little loopy as of late, becoming increasingly paranoid and having vivid nightmares of creepy little children coming into her house.

While back at home, Grace takes a job at the local medical clinic.  She hasn't been there long before scores of children are filling the waiting room with some sort of strange virus.  They seem to get better after a couple of days, but seems they all spoke too soon.  The children are better in the physical sense, but they've apparently becoming randomly possessed by a child preacher named Josiah.  They start to take on names and personalities of kids who died in the town, confusing and frustrating their parents.  Oh, and also they become murderers.  Because in the Children of the Corn movies, kids can never stop themselves from killing.

I think every one of these sequels kind of left the ending open just in case someone wanted to make another movie.  Wouldn't want to take that choice away from horror fans, right?  Also, apparently this movie, even though numbered as a sequel, was thought to be a standalone film, since it had absolutely nothing to do with the previous Children of the Corn installments.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

At the beginning of Friday the 13th Part 2, we're treated to a recap of the ending of Friday the 13th via Alice's (Adrienne King) dream, and in case we all didn't remember the infamous ending to the first movie.  Mrs. Voorhees is clearly dead, and seemingly possessing no supernatural powers, we assume she is gone for good.  Did you know that Adrienne King specifically requested to be killed off quickly in this movie due to fears over an obsessive fan?  She actually avoided on-screen acting for many years after her appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2.

As you could probably tell from something as simple as the trailer, Alice gets slashed pretty quickly, and we move on to five years later, where a group of twenty-somethings are opening a camp near the now off-limits Camp Crystal Lake.  As per Friday the 13th franchise usual, they've established quite the motley crew of characters, including the requisite saucy heroine Ginny (Amy Steel) and prepster camp head Paul (John Furey), as well as a decidedly un-Franklin like wheelchair bound gentleman, the token bookish girl, the gorgeous sexpot, and the douchey ex-frat boy.  All are welcome in Friday the 13th sequels. 

Friday the 13th Part 2 is, of course, the first movie where Jason himself kills, but is also the one where he wears a bag over his head instead of the iconic hockey mask.  This sequel also causes us to ask wtf Jason has been doing all this time.  Was he dead and brought back to life?  Did he just sneak away to the woods and grow up there like some sort of deformed hermit?  The backstory gets so convoluted over the course of all the sequels that I guess we'll never know.  Also, why was Jason deformed?  Do they ever say that?  Was it before the drowning, or as a result of living in the water for however long?  I think it was before, but I'd like to know why.  I'm really just talking myself in circles. 

Of course, the fun of the F13 movies is watching idiot teens/20 somethings be picked off one by one, and this time is no exception.  We get nine deaths total, in typical Jason-style.  The highlight of this sequel is the scene in the abandoned house where Ginny pretends to be Jason's mom and there's the severed head, and OMFG so much awesome.  Mostly all of the F13 movies are fun, save for Jason Goes to Hell so I was glad to see this one on Netflix instant.  Catch it before they take it off for some sort of studio agreement issue.

Inkubus (2011)

I first heard about this movie at Comic Con 2010  and it took an awful long time for it to come out on DVD.  Maybe they were planning a theatrical release?  I was reminded of the movie again at this month's Monster Mania, and it's finally out on DVD.  Yay, Robert Englund and William Forsythe!  And, um, Joey Fatone?  Okay.

So, a la Assault on Precinct 13, a police station is closing, and there is only a skeleton crew left in charge.  Joey Fatone (Detective Tom Caretti) obviously made an agreement that to toss any money or time at this movie, he would need a sex scene with a cute girl.  The sex looked awful, and involved some random choking.  Hot.  So there have been some murders lately, including a young lady named Jenny Garrison.  A frightened young lad comes into the station, covered in blood, claiming that a creepy dude came and decapitated Jenny while they were hooking up, and then jumped out the window...the fifth floor window.

Shortly afterwards, Inkubus (Robert Englund) shows up to the station carrying Jenny's head.  He claims to be a nearly 100-year-old demon-type creature, and admits to a bunch of murders.  He demands his one phone call, which he makes to retired Detective Gil Diamante (William Forsythe).  Apparently the two had a bit of a run-in 13 years ago.  He traipses over in a hurry once he realizes that it really is Inkubus.  They lock Inkubus up, but he just basically toys with the staff, getting into their minds and making them literally run in circles.  We're supposed to attribute this to magic or somesuch thing. 

As it turns out, Inkubus really has a thing for this Detective Diamante, although we never fully know why.  But he hates the guy enough that he rapes his wife (he claims she enjoyed it) and kidnaps his son to raise him in evil a la Storm of the Century.  All because the guy maybe-almost caught him?  WTF?  

Robert Englund could play pretty much any villain in existence, so I really can't fault his performance.  William Forsythe always slips easily into the weathered cop role, and this time is no different, although the dramatics over his wife seem forced.  However, Joey Fatone was pretty laughable as the secret lover and tough-guy detective.  It seems like this movie really wanted to go somewhere, but it couldn't figure out it's path.  I really wanted to like this one, but just found it boring and silly.  Englund and Forsythe could do way better...I won't say anything about Joey Fatone ;)