Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One week until The Ghost Hunters season premiere

. . . and I'll be cycling through King City California or some other little town in the middle of fucking farmland. Hmm, bummer. Still, both Hex and the Fucking Beard are huge fans of the show and I expect solid reviews to come. So don't miss it. June 6th.

The Thirst (2006)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 3/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 2.5/5
Nightmares: 0/5
T&A: 3/5

Well, with cover art like this and a review from Cinefantastique that reads "Requiem for a Dream meets Near Dark", I have to admit I had low expectations. Truth be told, the whole goth-erotic-vampire (vampyre?) scene really does nothing for me. But this turned out to be better than I thought . . . well, ok, not really, it's fucking terrible, but it was stupid enough to keep me entertained.

The Thirst stars Jeremy Sisto (the kid in Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna take It" video, Clare Kramer (from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer - of which I have seen not a single episode thank you) and Adam Baldwin, whom I always associate with both Full Metal Jacket and, of course, My Bodyguard. Plot goes like this: Stripper girl, dying of cancer, meets a strange woman who visits her in her hospital room. She dies (stripper girl) and becomes a vampire. Her boyfriend, he of the leather jacket, motorcycle and accountant haircut, mourns her by growing a phenomenally fake beard and hiding out in his apartment. Blah blah blah, some cheesy goth club, blah blah blah and the boyfriend becomes a vampire too. After a few scenes, the boyfriend and stripper decide to kill off the vampires that "turned them".

Throughout the movie there is copious boob-age (expected) and truly horrific dialogue. I mean really bad. The actors are cardboard and the story is just plain dumb. But what's really bad is the way these people talk to each other. Everything is so urgent, nothing is ever spoken as much as it is spat out or screamed. It's called melodrama and overacting and it's right at home here. And can they please decide which fake accent they are going to use? Why did they sound Russian at times, Texan at others and English from time to time. Annoying.

Still, between the boobies (no complaints) and "acting" are some really bloody death scenes including having a night lamp rammed down a throat, gut-munching, poking a pointy vampire finger into a guys head, brain eating, and lots and lots and lots of excessive arterial spray shots.

Somewhere along in the third act there is a weak attempt at making an analogy between drug addiction and vampirism, but why bother in a film so gloriously wallowing in silliness, hooters and blood? It's not needed and the attempt to redeem itself as an artistic statement is distracting. Just shut up and keep the blood a-flowin'.

I see the analogy between Requiem and Near Dark (a lousy film by the way, don't believe the hype. . . or anything Bill Paxton says), but I think this more accurately compared to Return of the Living Dead, what with it's kooky kids and bad goth-metal. Except The Return of the Living Dead is balls out awesome and this is just a fun distraction on a day off work. I wouldn't, like recommend it or anything.

- Complaint Dept

**************************************

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 3/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 4/5
Nightmares: 5/5*

Please let me start out by saying that I have no real idea why I liked this movie so much. Everything Complaint Dept. said about the dialouge and acting were true. You can tell from the production value that this is barely a step above a Trauma flick, but for some reason, I had a really good time watching it. What's more, while all of the relationships in the film made no sense, I liked watching the two main characters interact. For as lousy as the acting was, I liked watching the main guy suffer after his girlfriend dies. I didn't like it because it was good in any way, I just liked it.

The thing with Jeremy Sisko's accent was weird, and obviously intentional, but completely nonsensical. Clearly the film-maker was trying to make some sort of statement with this, but you are never sure what it is. What is even less clear is that an hour (exactly) into the flick, there is a scene where the main character is having sex with/converting into a vampire some girl and as he bites into her, you can CLEARLY see on his back a plastic tube, filled with fake blood, and a piece of tape that is flapping around. I can't imagine somebody just overlooking this big of a goof, so was it an intentional way of showing how cheeky the whole film was? I would honestly hope this later were true before the former, and it would sort of go along with the needless shifting of accents. Hmmmm....

The last thing that makes very little sense is a pair of Asian zombie/vampire girls who babble and chatter all the time and only serve the purpose of occasionally getting naked. Kind of annoying, and totally pointless. At any rate, as campy and bad as this was, I enjoyed it and I am not one who enjoys campy Trauma-like films.

* Based solely on the possibility that there was a computer generated beard, which will haunt me until the day I die.

- the fucking beard

The Return (2006)

Fear: 1/5
Gore: 0/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Nightmares: 0/5

To judge by the packaging of Rogue Pictures' 2006 horror film The Return, one might think that a truly terrifying ghost story was lurking within. With a tagline that reads "The past never dies, it kills", cover art of pale ghosties with emaciated arms reaching out like some two-bit Black Metal band's promo photo and a synopsis that states the film is a "shocking, non-stop, supernatural thriller unlike anything you've ever experienced before", why would you think otherwise? But that's not all as the DVD bonuses include an alternate ending "too shocking for the big screen". Holy moley, sign me up!

In reality, The Return has nothing to do with any of that and I wonder if the filmmakers were disappointed in Rogue's decision to market what is, essentially, a smartly done (though not too terribly original) whodunnit into a Silent Hill-esque terrorfest.

Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Freddy Prinze Jr. fame), The return focuses on a lonely saleswoman haunted by a fuzzy, but traumatic childhood experience that she can't quite recall. When a sales trip to a small Texas town begins triggering painful memories and frightening visions of murder that she can't explain, she begins to investigate things a little more deeply and soon discovers that she has some ties to this town that are more than just coincidental.

Essentially, The Return is a horror film, though not the kind with slashers chopping up big breasted teens or ghosts that return from the grave. The violence and mayhem is restrained and the pace of the film is slow and well planned. This works well in the film's favor as the scary moments are built more on suspense and apprehension rather than cheap "jump out at you" type thrills (though, to be fair, there are a couple of those too, and they work just fine thank you).

There are some things that are hard to swallow, particularly how some of the open questions are resolved in a truly coincidental way and there are some plot lines and characters that simply go nowhere and have no resolution. So a little editing might have served this picture well.

Still, I was scared a couple of times, I enjoyed the story, I thought the ending was fun (even though I saw it coming about 45 minutes into the film) and I found myself pleasantly entertained at the end of the movie. Lastly, and this is rare, the alternate ending wasn't as good as the ending they went with which was ambiguous and open-ended rather than definitively closed. Nice touch.

-Complaint Dept

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hell Night (1981)

Fear: 1/5

Gore: 1/5

Creepiness: 1/5

Entertainment: 2/5

Nightmares: 0/5

T&A: 0/5


As a means to initiate all new pledges, a fraternity and sorority makes four kids stay in an old abandoned mansion with a troubled past in Hell Night. For reasons unknown, a man murdered everyone in the family except for the son who ended up bearing witness to the grisly acts and watched as his father hung himself. The son, who also happens to be horribly disfigured, is rumored to be still residing somewhere within the large mansion.

The group of college kids picked to stay in the house are the typical types for this horror genre. Lets list them:

1. the slutty gal that puts out for everyone

2. the surfer/party dude that has the slick one liners

3. the unassuming, naive guy who tries miserably to save the day

4. the shy gal that rejects male sexual advancements and keeps enough sense and wit to ward off the evil threat when everyone else is drunk and high

The kids start off the night with some heavy drinking, pounding some quaaludes, and partake in the requisite exchange of love making fluids. What had started as a raucous party, soon devolves as they are stirred by the sounds of deafening screams that are pumped into the house. Prior to the kids shacking up for the evening, speakers were wired in various rooms of the house by the fraternity brothers (oh those cheeky bastards). So after a little fun, they realize what is happening, cut the cords and thats when things go slowly (and I mean ever so freaking slowly) downhill as the kids begin to get picked off by the current resident.

This movie is so ridiculously painful to watch not because of crazy scenes of inexplicable terror or over the top gore. No, the build up in every scene leading up to something 'scary' was overly drawn out and heightened with the most annoying usage of a synthesizer in an 80's horror flick. Every single scene before something happened (someone dying, the disfigured dude chasing someone) had the same build up. This movie could have been an hour instead of an hour and forty minutes had the melodramatic element been completely removed. In addition, the DVD cover states the film as having one of the highest body counts of any 80's horror movie. I counted 6 and 3 of them were off screen. If you are going to spend the better part of the movie building up each scene, at least have the damn nerve to execute and show something worthy. It was really mind numbing after a certain point, and after scene 10 of drawn out walking, creeping along, cue synthesizer, do some more walking, turn a corner, go down some stairs, 'oh no, LOOKOUT!', that's when I checked out. The end was o.k. with said disfigured dude getting a good impalement job but even that could have been done better.

The only semi-redeeming quality of this flick was
Linda Blair as the heroine. Her wonderful bosoms kept me captivated more so than anything else that was going on. I was hoping for any sort of mammary respite from the tight corset she was wearing. It certainly would have made for a more interesting film. And that's another thing, an 80's horror film with drunken college kids and no T&A is an automatic failure in my book. The sex scene earlier on was a total let down as there was nary a boobie in sight. Where the heck is Linda nowadays?

Anyways, there are much better films from the 80's with the same sort of premise and set up (
April Fool's Day, Night of the Demons ) and they are far less annoying. Only watch this film if you want to yell 'GET ON WITH IT!!!' every 10 minutes.

Cortez the Killer

The Marsh (2006)

Fear: 1/5
Gore 0/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 2/5
Nightmares: 0/5

Hex and I agree that Forest Whitaker must have owed someone a favor to star in this slow moving, generic Canadian ghost story.


Mr. Whitaker plays a "paranormal consultant" brought in by a children's author to examine the house she recently moved into after seeing the ghost of a little girl running about. The bulk of the film is spent trying to unravel the history of the house and it's former inhabitants, as well as to restore the fuzzy memory of the author who, apparently, had some sort of accident that wiped a large chunk of it clean. Sound familiar?


I counted 17 separate fake-out scares, nearly all of which involve the use of overblown sound effects like thudding drums, tinkling door chimes and laughing children. The dialogue is bad ("Do you have any idea what you're dealing with?" and "Noooooo" are both used more than once), the townspeople are mysterious and unfriendly and the story plods along slowly with the climax coming without any real impact to this viewer.


Maybe this is because I don't really believe in the paranormal, or have much respect for those who claim to be able to explain things that go bump in the night without any kind of scientific studies, but the denouement of the film is a little on the "mumbo jumbo" side of things. That being said, I could easily see douche bags like Jon Edward or Sylvia Browne using similar explanations on their latest episode of Montel Williams.


The Marsh isn't a bad film. The effects are decent and the acting is, for the most part, pretty solid. It's just that 30 minutes into it I was bored and it never won me back.


-Complaint Dept

Night of the Living Dead 3-D (2006)

Fear: 1/5
Gore: 2/5
Creepiness: 1/5
Entertainment: 2/5
Nightmares: 1/5

Yet another instance of Fangoria pumping me up for failure. This "re-imagining" of Romero's classic was supposed to be great, so I made a point to go see it in the theater during its one week release last year. Man, what a bummer. This film looks like it was made for 5 dollars, all of which went to buy Sid Haig a cheeseburger, and the rest of the crew had to rely on their family for props and costumes. But I digress..

This remake begins just like the original, except Barbara flees the cemetary after getting a text message "comin 4 u barb" and heads straight into the woods as corpses are stumblign out of Sid Haig's funeral home where he has been stockpiling bodies to save some money, as opposed to embalming them.

As Barbara is about to be attacked by zombies, our wrong side of the tracks, dope dealing hero shows up to save the day in what proves to be the only worthwhile scene in the entire flick. He comes tearing up on his motorcycle and holds his fist out straight in front of him and uses the bike to power a punch straight to a zombie's face, knocking him out. Barbara gets on and they head out to a farmhouse where the hero has some hang out buddies (i.e. pot smoking hipies) with whom our heroes will hold up as the zombies lay siege.

For the next hour or so, it's bad effects, worse 3-d effects and a lot of really AWEFUL dialogue. Sig Haig shows up, and is creepy, until he winds up being the bad guy and his whole funeral home scheme is unearthed.

Honestly, this movie was slightly better than if the crew here at Planet of Terror had made this movie, and that's only because 3/4 of us are legally blind and have never made a movie before in our lives. The only reason it scores any marks at all is because it contains zombies, which are inherently scary and nightmare inducing. Unless you think that 3-d effects of a stoner blowing out a cloud of weed into your face is the most clever thing you've ever seen, don't waste your time with this one.

- the fucking beard

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Updates

The review of Takashi Miike's Imprint has been updated.

The trailer for Severance is getting a lot of airplay and the film opens in the U.S. pretty soon. I've heard mixed reviews, but I'll check it out.
Here's the trailer.

And the remake machine rolls on. This time around, Rob Zombie has remade Halloween. Being very disappointed by both House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, I have low low expectations, especially when the trailer says it "reinvents" a screen legend and uses the word "extreme" more than once. There's no need to remake it. It's a flawless film and what makes it so great is that it is NOT extreme. It's, esentially, a bloodless horror film that made up for it's low budget and lack of special effects by using subtle ways to scare. And it's fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. So we'll see, but I'm already saying Zombie's "renivention" sucks.




Finally, while we're speaking of remakes, how the hell did I miss this??

- Complaint Dept

C.H.U.D. II - Bud The C.H.U.D. (1988)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 1/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 1/5
Nightmares: 0/5
Mullet-Jean jackets: 4/5

The fondest memory I have of the original C.H.U.D. is that I used to know a guy whose nickname was "Chud". That's really about it. I remember seeing the movie in high school and thinking it was pretty cool, but I have not seen it since then.

I certainly didn't know there were sequels, but thanks to the wonderful "Grindhouse" series on IFC I was able to catch this little turd of a film.

Having, apparently, nothing to do with the first film, C.H.U.D. II's plot is best summed up by the description that popped up when I pressed the info button on my remote control: "Teens free the corpse of a CHUD called Bud." I could give you more details, but what's the point? In the first CHUD, the zombie monsters looked like this. In CHUD II, they look like this. This really should sum the film up for you, but I'll continue since I actually took notes during this. What's wrong with my life?

P.S., in case you are not aware, a "chud" is a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.

Bad movies are good when they attempt to be good, but fail miserably. When a movie intentionally strives to be bad in some sort of ironic and clever way, it's usually just bad. Such is the case with this bloodless combination of Day of the Dead and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And, I can't explain why, but I kept thinking about Cannonball Run while watching this. Maybe it was due to my spotting actors that would later on do better things (such as the guy that's in the Del Taco commercials - yes, that's a better thing than CHUD II) or actors who had already done much better things (Norman Fell, aka Mr. Roper and Robert Vaughan of the Magnificent Seven) and, of course, Rich Hall who wrote the Sniglets series of books.

Here are some other highlights:

* 80's dance rock / glam rock song with lyrics that go "Bud the Chuuuuuuud, Bud the Chuuuuuuuuuuud"
* Military guys who arrive at a woman's home and announce "We're from the government"
* Several impressive mullet / jean jacket combos
* The main zombie having a crush on the main actress, cornering her at the top of a high school high dive platform and saying "Hi"
* Zombies being knocked unconscious by hay bales. Yes, unconscious, because they're not the living dead or anything
* Not a single scare, good special effect or disembowelment that MUST be in any zombie movie

CHUD II is not a horror film, it's a teen comedy that is rated R, but I can't figure out why. Perhaps because the word "fuck" is used once? Dunno. Don' care. As the credits rolled by at the end I noticed that someone had been in charge of "business affairs" and there were Apprentice Editors. I felt bad for those people. Then there was a special thanks to Millers Outpost and I felt even worse.

- Complaint Dept.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Ghost (2007)

Fear: 2/5
Gore: 0/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Nightmares: 0/5
"The Grudge meets Dark Water" is how the cover of the DVD describes this film. Fair enough. The story is not new and the scares in the film have been done (to death at times) so don't go into this expecting anything innovative or groundbreaking. The film makers are clearly cashing in on the current trend among Asian horror producers to continue using the same formula over and over. Sometimes it's very effective, and sometimes it's just a dud.
In the case of The Ghost it's really kind of neither. The entire film was, as Lisa Simpson would put it, "meh". The story revolves around a college girl suffering from disassociative amnesia impairing her ability to remember anything from over a year ago. As she slowly begins to put the pieces together of her past, her friends around her start dying off by drowning in their own homes away from any water. Yeah, it's really similar to the US version of Ring in that sense. As is the ghost. As is a lot of it. But aren't they all? Anyway, she soon understands that her past is not a pleasant one and that she is not the person she assumed she was. Enter "The Ghost".
There is a decent twist at the end, but nothing that really makes the film worth seeing again. The background story between the main girl and the guy she hangs out with is nice and well done. The acting is decent. The look of the film is fine. One or two creepy moments, a scare or two. . .and that's really about it. Not a bad movie, but not one that really knows where it stands.
Complaint Dept

The Mad (2007)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 1/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 0/5
Nightmares: 0/5
Fast Forwarding to the end: 5/5

The Mad? More like “The Bad”. A Canadian zombie film starring Billy Zane…do I need to keep writing? Isn’t that enough o get you to move on to the next movie on the shelf?

Ok, where to start . . . I actually like the concept: a cattle-farmer passes his beef off as organic to turn a profit, but is cheap and lazy continuing to feed them chemically-fueled food that give the animals mad cow disease. Ignoring the fact that this is not how mad cow comes about, I liked the idea of people eating the burgers and developing “mad-people” disease. This is an actual condition called kuru, though, again, eating mad cow burgers doesn’t turn one into a cannibal. But fine, the science is bad, I can deal with it. What I can’t deal with is that this is nothing more than a dopey slapstick comedy with a storyline that wiggles around going nowhere, bad acting and a very cheap look that is completely devoid of any sense of style.

The Mad?? More like “The Had”, as in “I’ve been had”. First and foremost, The Mad breaks the cardinal rule of every zombie movie: it must be gory. It’s a mortal sin that cannot be forgiven. The special effects boil down to a spritz or two of blood across BZ’s face once or twice and a CGI hamburger that bubbles and pops before flying across the room to attach itself to people’s faces. I know what you re thinking right now – this sounds like a good time, the way some bad movies are actually awesome, but it’s not. It’s just crappy. Good Burger was a better hamburger movie (Good Burger is actually a great example of a bad movie that is awesome) and Better Off Dead had better living hamburger special effects. So don’t be fooled by the big splashy “Unrated” that is plastered across the cover of the DVD. I suspect that all it means is that it was never submitted for a rating. Had it been, it easily would have been PG-13, possibly even PG.

The Mad??? More like “The Sad”. Billy Zane…I know the name, but honestly, all I can picture him in is Zoolander where he played himself in what I assumed was a bit of self-mockery. Well, he was also in Titanic but I don’t remember that movie because I fell asleep during the middle and never regained any sense of interest when I woke up. I think a boat sank at the end? Oh, and he was that super hero guy who wears a purple diving suit and rides horses. I think. Regardless, he sucks it in this movie.

The Mad???? More like “The Glad”. As in “glad I did not pay to see this”. I suggest you follow my lead.

Complaint Dept.

The Guardian (1990)

Fear: 0
Gore : 0
Creepiness: 0
Entertainment: 0
Nightmares: 0
24 Fanboy Factor: 3/5

Man, I'm so glad that I don't have children. I don't have to worry about finding a nanny from an agency only to have a witch pose as a representative of said agency and worm her way into my home, only to kidnap my child and feed it to a tree that is protected by wolves.

However, there would be a few perks. My wife and I would get to throw her out of the house after the most convoluted of circumstances that is more dull than a butterknife leads us to understand what is going on with our nanny. Then we would get to chase her down and ram a jeep into her, crushing her against her baby tree. Sure that would traumatic, but when we go to the police station we would be stoked to learn that Xander Berkeley (AKA George Mason from 24) is our lead investigator on the case. I might just be so stoked I could forget all about the fact that a witch just stole my baby to feed it to a tree.

But still, probably better that I don't have kids. Cause I don't need that kind of shit hanging over my head.

the fucking beard

Monday, May 21, 2007

Murder Set Pieces (2004)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 2/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Entertainment: 1/5
Nightmares: 0/5
T and A: 4/5





File this under shit sandwich with a side of filthy rotten pickles. Murder Set Pieces opens up with interesting footage shot of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (why this was chosen to open up this shitfest is beyond me). A young female voice then croons, 'Just you wait a little while, the nasty man in black will come. With his little chopper, he will chop you up.' Interesting way to start the film for sure and it definitely peaked my interest (aside from the claim on the good ol' video box of it being one of the most 'disturbing' films released in the last 10 years). The only thing disturbing about this flick is how fucking retarded and insulting it is to the slasher genre. This movie irritated me on so many levels its not even funny.

This pile of steamy shit involves a German fashion photographer who, for reasons unknown and not explained in these crap frames committed to film, has a penchant for killing his female subjects. Photograph nude ladies, hack them up after making sweet intercourse (I just watched Borat, sue me), rinse and repeat. That's the basis for this movie. And what starts off as being perceived to be the worst German accent you've ever heard, becomes even funnier when you find out (through a little research on the interwebs) that the lead actor is actually from Germany. Either its the shitty writing that lends itself to the over pronunciation of this fine accent, a really bad director, or both. I'm going with both. To top it all off, there is a reasonable amount of blood (always good) but the most poorly shot scenes that I have ever witnessed when it comes to slasher films. There are a lot of scenes that imply the gory details of bodily desecration but never show the mess as it ensues. Poorly shot camera angles plus jerky movement, minus zooming in on the bloody goodness equals the final ingredient in this shit stew. Even the T and A was awkwardly shot for fuck sakes. Yes, the fundamental centerpiece of every slasher film is the inclusion of some good ol' boobies. What was set up as this guy being touted as a 'serious' fashion photographer immediately illicited side splitting laughs from this reviewer when we catch a glimpse of his first photo shoot. The way that these overly siliconed, bending over like a porn shoot, women were being photgraphed was anything but fashionable. On second thought, these were probably the best scenes shot in the movie as they are fucking hysterical.

I hate sounding like a 3rd grader that just discovered cuss words but this movie is really fucking terrible. I can take a bad horror movie when it is obviously intended to be bad but I become thoroughly irritated when, for all intensive purposes, it presents itself as being serious when in fact it should not have been. Avoid this at all costs.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Fear: 3/5
Gore: 1/5
Creepiness: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Nightmares: 2/5
After being subjected to the poo-poo platter of Slaughter Night (my review will appear shortly on Splatterfilms.com) I was very happy to sit down with this fine film. A Tale of Two Sisters is based on a very old Korean folk tale which has, apparently, been made into several films, though I couldn't tell you which ones. The storyline is essentially this: Dad and step mom live in a big creepy house with dad's two daughters. The girls neither respect nor like their stepmother and there seems to be some unresolved issue between the three of them. Dad is emotionally detached and really seems to exist in his own little world paying very little attention to his children or stepmother. The house may also be haunted housing more than one unhappy spirit.
Don't expect action or thrills. Like a good mystery story should, the movie takes a while to unwind and the plot moves forward slowly and in bits and pieces. This is fine with me as it allows the characters to really stretch out and become recognizable as real people. When things begin to get weird and frightening you are given the ability to really feel for the two daughters and truly despise the stepmother. When things get really nasty (and they do) you are drawn in and concerned about the actor's fates.
There are some very scary moments in this film, none of which involve high-tech special effects or splashy gore. Instead, director Kim-Ji Woo relies on the tried and true method of Hitchcock styled suspense and deliberation. There are two scenes that really jolt, one of which is an obvious homage to Ringu (in the use of the now ubiquitous Onryo ghost), the other to Audition, as well as surreal scenes that beg the viewer to rewind and ask "wait, did I just see...".
This movie is amazing to watch. The cinematography and use of color is excellent and is a pleasure to watch. Director Kim-Ji Woo has a knack for taking mundane objects and making them menacing and beautiful at the same time. There are scenes where the background is nothing more than patterned wallpaper, but it's astounding to watch. His style reminded me of Stanley Kubrick at times and, oddly enough, Wes Anderson at others.
The only complaint I have is that the twists and turns the film takes towards the end are a bit much and the story becomes a little hard to follow. Like much Asian horror, this is probably a deliberate attempt to allow the viewer to draw their own conclusion, but it left me unsatisfied. I'm just not that smart I suppose. Or resourceful as numerous Internet searches for "A Tale of Two Sisters EXPLANATION" left me still confused.
Still, I really liked this movie. It's scary, subtle and very well done.
- Complaint Dept

Friday, May 18, 2007

Slaughter Night - (2006)


Fear: 2
Gore: 3
Entertainment: 2
Creepiness: 1
Nightmares: 0
Sniff, sniff. What stinks? Oh! Slaughter Night. First of all, humor me - name your favorite horror film from the Netherlands. Quick! Don't have one? Try naming A horror movie from the Netherlands. Never heard of one? Neither have I. But now we can add one to our list, although just because there is only one doesn't make it a fave.

Here goes the plot...taken from Amazon.com, "Before the death penalty was abolished in the Netherlands in 1860, convicted killers were used in mines to detect dangerous gas leaks and then set them off. If they survived the explosion, they would be pardoned. No one ever survived. Years later, a group of friends enter these mines and awaken their angry spirits and unleash a night of mayhem and murder. Tonight will be slaughter night." So, it sounds cheesy, right? Now let me REALLY lay it out for you...

The film starts out with some poorly done video of what occured in the 1860's - looking TOO done. The make-up is too obvious, the clothes, the fake mustaches, etc. There's a guy (Andries) who kills little girls and decapitates them, sticking their heads on stakes. He gets convicted and chooses the mines for his punishment. He covers himself in wet rags and meets his maker, so to speak.

Now we cut to present day Netherlands. There's a club, some nnzs, nnzs, nnzs music and the boy who likes the girl who just likes him as a friend. Ugh - if you're not Jim Halpert, I can't be bothered with this. Then there's a car accident and the main girl's dad dies. It ends up Dad was writing a book about Andries, the girl and her friends go to the mine on a tour while in town picking up the book. One girl is into voodoo, Dad leaves behind his Ouija board and off they go into the mine on a tour with some other kids where they of course get stuck.

While in the mine, there are approximately 1.3 billion cheap scares, which don't actually do their job. The most fun in the movie involved cuss words. Apparently in Dutch, they don't have cuss words, so they were spoken in English and Dutch people sound funny. Ummm. Let's see. There was some Ecstacy involved (it's a prerequisite for people who listen to nnzs, nnzs, nnzs music) and some decent gore - lots of decapitations (some with shovels - that's fun). Of course, the ghost of Andries starts picking off the kids one by one - trying to get into hell because his parents are there and he wants to find out where his inheritance is? Also, there was some communication with dead Dad via the Ouija board. Another awesome thing is that the ghost possesses the kids as they die and then goes off to kill the others and each time the person has pointy teeth a la Christopher Walken in Sleepy Hollow. How does that happen? And another thing to note - main guy throws his gun in the water, takes off, hides and has his gun again, ready to shoot. Ugh.

I did alot of talking during this movie, which means one of two things - I'm either scared or bored. In this case, it was the latter. Go see 28 Weeks Later, Slaughter Night is a stinker.
- Hex

**********************************************************

Fear: 3 (i'm kind of claustrophobic, so underground things make me uncomfy)
Gore: 4
Entertainment: 4
Creepiness: 2
Nightmares: 1

Hex pretty much nailed all the details in her review, and I don't have anything specific to add that was omitted. I can tell you that I had a very different reaction to the film though.

I felt like the pacing, acting and story were actually great in this flick. Maybe when people are speaking Dutch you can't tell that their acting is bad, I dunno, but I mostly thought this one was a lot of fun. The gore is fantastic, and it's great to see kids who have to cut their friends heads off with a shovel and don't really stop to question what is going on.

I have seen some stinkers, but I thought that the production on this was great. Sure the story had some holes, but what movie doesn't? What makes those holes work is the suspension of disbelief that comes from how fun or how much you can identify with a film, and a flick where the old men who tend to this now defunct mine, save to give tours to kids so to entertain themselves they have fake scares built into the mine ala dummies dressed up as the infamous Andries, now that speaks to me.

One thing I don't get is how Slaughter Night translates into the film's subtitle of SL8 N8. I mean, wouldn't that be more like Slate Nate? Maybe it's the Dutch translation. Oh yeah, and the girl on the front of the box isn't in the flick, but the shotgun she is holding is.

Anyways, maybe don't expect this one to change your life, but I'd say it's definitely worth spending a few hours on the couch with.

- the fucking beard

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dracula (1931)

Fear: 1
Gore: 0
Entertainment: 3
Creepiness: 3
Nightmares: 1

Some might think that older movies won't be accessable by younger viewers. I think that's hogwash, and if the kids can't appreciate this 1931 classic, in Bela Lugosi's own words "fuck those little bitches".

The set designs in this baby are amazing. I think that the money they saved from buying plastic spiders and bats all went into fake stone and cobwebs. The overall atmosphere blows the sphinctor off of the 90's remake, although I will say that Gary Oldman is slightly more interesing as a Dracula than Bela Lugosi. The close up shots of Lugosi staring at his victims are a bit campy, but there are some moments of real creepiness like the use of shadows to show the dead bodies impaled on the ships steering wheel as it arrives in London. And while not really creepy, the use of animals like opossums and armadillos in Dracula's castle are all but priceless. The real star of the show though is Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing with his shortly cropped white hair and his tough as nails face, this dude is enough to make any vampire pee a little bloodspot in their chonies.

If you have an hour and fifteen minutes to spare some night, curl up with your honey and make sure you stare at her as much as you can. Girls love that sort of thing.

the fucking beard

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Funhouse (1981)

Fear: 0
Gore: 0
Entertainment: 2/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Nightmares: 1/5

Ever wondered what would happen if John Carpenter invaded the body of Tobe Hooper and made him walk around, going to film meetings and pitching ideas until he finally gets to make his own movie with Tobe's body? No? Me neither but I'm pretty sure that's what happened with this little gem. It's not all bad, there are some genuinely creepy scenes in the funhouse itself, and the main monster is truly gross. But Tobe Hoopers finest, it aint.

We start off by ripping off the opening scene from Halloween where a kid sneaks into the shower to "scare" his big sister by wearing a frankenstein mask and fake stabbing her with a fake knife. Genius, why didn't I think of that? She's too overcome with joy at not being REAL stabbed to think about her kid brother looking at her nakedness.

I'll get to the point: goody two shoes girl has annoying little brother and over-protective parents. Little bro wants to go to the carnival, but little miss has a hot date with "Buzz" who is 40 years older than her, at least.

And where do they go? The carnival. Only this isn't the carnival we grew up with, this one has exotic dancer peepshows, mutated animal freakshows and of course a funhouse run by a dude in a Frankenstein costume, who turns out to be horribly disfigured. So much so, that the Frankenstein mask he wears all the time, is much better than his real face.

So the couple, and their friends (double date time!) after sneaking into the peepshow and getting kicked out of the fortune tellers tent for being too rowdy, decide to stay the night in the funhouse, which is apparently is as easy as deciding it's what you want to do.

While they snuggle down for the night, they realize that the Frankenfreak lives under the funhouse, as they see lights come on through the boards below them and they hear voices. Frankenfreak is trying to have sex with the fortune teller for a hundred bucks, but she backs out on the deal, so of course he kills her. In comes Dad who is going to cover up the crime, until one of our teenagers drops something through the floor and the Dad picks it up. Uh Oh! The gig is up!

Now father and freak son use the terrors of the funhouse to disorient the teens until they can be picked off one by one. Or, until the teens fight back and kill the father and son duo. Who will win? Enter the funhouse if you dare to find out!

the fucking beard

The Last Supper (2005)


Fear: 2/5
Gore: 4/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Creepiness: 4/5
Nightmares: 2/5


The Last Supper is a Japanese horror flick centering on a surgeon with a lust for female flesh. He is so consumed with his desire to eat a consenting lady figure, that he goes to great lengths to quench his immediate hunger until he finds someone who is openly willing to fulfill his smorgasbord of bodily delight. He raids the hospital morgue to hack up body parts, steals fat from people he has performed surgery on, takes female dates to his apartment and they become unwilling victims, all to satiate his ever growing appetite. But eating certain parts is just not enough. His ultimate goal is to get one consenting woman to agree to his demands, to be a willing victim that he can prepare and eat like a fine steak.

The Last Supper is a beautifully shot horror movie and continues in the line of other recent Asian horror flicks that are truly shocking and just plain disturbing. Instead of scenes of unrelenting torture (see Audition, Imprint) The Last Supper focuses on a man and his lust for female flesh. He believes that to truly love someone, you must consume them (literally). So instead of the torture scene, we are treated to straight out, old-fashioned cannibalism that would make Hannibal Lecter proud. He works to appear normal, convincing willing eaters about the 'rareness' of the meats he prepares and they lust after these perceived rare delicacies. What becomes the great 'secret' of the movie is how the viewer is obviously clued in as to what is going on but none of the onscreen participants are aware of the origins of the doctor's prepared meats until the very bitter and shocking end.

A true gross out flick in every sense of the meaning, this movie will leave you with plenty of 'yucks' and doubled over reactions, while making for one original, sick and twisted, horror watching experience. Truly a unique horror flick and an overall good story that does not get lost in translation. Do yourself a favor and watch this, just don't have a dining experience while doing so.


Cortez the Killer

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hard Rock Zombies (1984)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 1/5
Creepiness: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Nightmares: 05

Somehow I ran across this unknown gem on Netflix (I think by doing a search for "zombies") and the reviews were so incredible that I had to check it out. Make no mistake, no one on this planet will ever say this is a good movie. There is nothing good about it except how unbelievably bad it is. Saying this is a shitheap is akin to saying the Holocaust was "unfortunate". Words cannot do justice to this film's remarkable numb-nuttery.


I choose the example of the Holocaust as an analogy because Hitler is one of the main characters in this film, along with a werewolf in a wheel chair, a dwarf with an eye patch who likes to watch his grandpa and grandma have sex, a dwarf in some truly bad makeup who later devours himself, scores of big haired metal babes, a bald dude who kills people with a weed wacker and, of course, an unnamed power ballad band who possess the ability to resurrect the dead.


Story you ask? If you must: Unnamed hair band are scheduled to play some hick town in California. The town is home to a scary family who kill long haired dudes for sport as well as a bunch of rednecks who don't like "the rock and roll". The band arrives, are taken in by the family and are eventually killed by them. A young groupie girl with enormous eyebrows plays a cassette recording of the band's theme song which resurrects the band who then kill the family off and then bail to play their concert. The evil family, as in all zombie movies, then come back to life and turn the entire town into zombies.


Here is some dialogue - rocker dude is in jail talking to a groupie girl who has come to visit:


Rocker Dude: "You're neat."


It has more to it, but really what's the point in elaborating. I was amazed at how bad this movie was. I can't explain it. It's so bad. So so so bad. I rated it high on the creepiness scale simply because it creeps me out that people would spend money to create this, let alone, market and show it in theaters (note this was before direct to video releases). I paid for it through Netflix so I guess that either says something about me being creepy myself, or the genius of the film makers. Hopefully the latter.


Here's an amazingly LONG overview of this film. They do it way more justice than I ever will.
Finally, please note that this is tagged as both a shit-sandwich AND recommended. That's right.

- Complaint Dept

Sunday, May 13, 2007

13 Ghosts (1960)

Fear: 0/5
Gore: 0/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Creepiness: 0/5
Nightmares: 0/5

Well, another William Castle film made it's way onto FearNet and so, having a couple hours with nothing to do, Hex and I sat down to watch this one.

The storyline goes as follows: Poor family inherits a creepy old mansion that was previously owned by a creepy and reclusive uncle named Plato Zorba. Plato, it turns out, was a gifted scientist who managed to find a way of "collecting" ghosts and his home was filled with 11 of them. He then died, became the 12 ghost and left a cryptic book written in Latin that (towards the film's finale) eluded to an unknown 13th ghost. Meanwhile, the dead uncle's lawyer is intent on finding a wealth of cash that he knows is hidden in the home. The only other person who knows about this is the maid that comes with the house, played to full camp-perfection by Margaret Hamilton of The Wizard of Oz fame.

Like most of Castle's B-horror output, this one had gimmicks galore. 13 Ghosts' gimmick was "Illusion-o", a process similar to 3-D filming. The ghosts would appear on screen only when the viewer (prompted by the main character on screen) would put on a special set of glasses given out at each theater. Without the glasses, the ghosts were blobby messes of blue and red (the film is in black and white), but with them, they "came to life".

13 Ghosts is a fun premise, but it lacks the crisp dialogue of "The Tingler" and the strong story line and sets of "The House on Haunted Hill". It's fun and I enjoyed it, but had I watched it by myself, I may not have even finished. The ghosts are ridiculous, and I can't imagine they were scary even in 1960, but then, I don't know that the point was scaring people as much as just having a good time. And a good time was had. It's certainly better than the terrible remake that was forced upon us a few years back.

- Complaint Dept

28 Weeks Later (2007)


Fear: 3/5
Gore: 5/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Nightmares: 2/5

28 Weeks Later is the sequel to the amazing British film 28 Days Later that took the zombie film and turned it on it's head in a few different ways. The story is pretty straight forward, being devoid of any unnecessary twists or pointless character background. The virus that infected the English population in the first film has been eradicated and London is being slowly, and carefully, "re-populated". Unfortunately, the virus proves to be more difficult to wipe out than originally thought and it re-infects the population. The U.S. led NATO force occupying London tries to contain the spread, but eventually has to resort to "Code Red" and things get nasty really quick as a small group of people who managed to avoid being infected has to find a way out of London before the entire city is "cleansed".

This movie surpassed my low expectations on so many levels. What I expected to be a by-the-numbers action movie with ridiculous CGI effects and story lines involving hackneyed child characters was, in fact, one of the smartest films I've seen in ages. Extremely dark in nature, apocalyptic in a very literal sense and brutal in ways that are far too realistic, 28 Weeks Later is easily the finest horror film I've seen since The Descent. This is to say that there are scenes of violence and bloodshed that are both grotesque and frightening, but also truly heart wrenching. Too often horror films emphasize the brutality of death and violence and lose sight of the impact it has and how it affects people. The horror becomes nothing more than a cheap entertainment gag and an exercise in technological wizardry. 28 Weeks Later is certainly a special effects triumph and there are plenty of jolts and scares. However, it also maintains the ability to keep the viewer very aware that the point of a horror film is often to horrify rather than just scare. There are scenes where the violence is truly over the top and grotesque and the viewer is not disconnected from it they way one might be in, say, a low budg' slasher movie. There are very bad things happening on the screen and there's nothing fun about it.


The reviewer at Bloody Disgusting makes a great point that I want to reiterate. Part of the downfall of most Zombie movies (or horror movie in general) is that there are always "heroes" and "villains" among the humans. Dawn of the Dead had the macho security guards, Night of the Living Dead had the disruptive and paranoid guy in the basement, Day of the Dead had the overzealous and power hungry military guys as did 28 Days Later. The "non-infected" people in 28 Weeks Later are not one dimensional and take actions that are understandable no matter how the audience may feel about them. Again, it's the lack of disconnect from the film that makes this a truly horrifying movie. You are not given the chance to think "well, you had that coming because you did this or acted this way or are like this...." because if put into the same situation, you'd most likely do the same thing.

The military theme is an interesting one as well. An English film directed by a Spanish director, the movie could easily be seen as a statement on the current American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. While things probably won't get out of control the way they do in the film (uh, duh), you can see the parallels easily which, once again, makes scenes involving the "justification of extreme measures" all the more disturbing.

All that being said, this isn't a flawless movie. There are elements of the movie that are a little hard to swallow, but it's important to remind yourself that a) this is a movie about crazed cannibals and the nihilistic destruction of all humanity and b) the movie does, after all, strive to entertain. So some of the questions one might ask -why does that one particular zombie always manage to find the good guys - are easily answered with "because it makes the movie that much more scary".

Quick note - Yes, I know that the zombies are not actually "zombies" in the strict horror purist sense. So don't waste your time trying to explain that to me. I get it.

28 Weeks Later is a gruesome, remarkably gory and violent horror movie that is able to make a statement without being ham-handed about it. The acting is top notch, the story is simple and well done and the characters are multi-dimensional. It certainly made an impact on me and left me in what I call a "movie coma" where I sat thinking about it for a couple of hours afterwards. This movie is fucking awesome.

- Complaint Dept.

Fear: 3/5
Gore: 5/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Nightmares: 1/5

Owa Maya Gawd. I had low expectations going into this movie. I really liked 28 Days Later. I mean, really liked it. And don't even get me started on my love for Cillian Murphy. What I'm usually not a fan of is sequels. So, was I excited about seeing a sequel to an already great movie minus my boyfriend in it? Not especially. I knew I was going to see it, but never expected to freak-out fall in LOVE with it. I cannot even begin to explain my love for this movie.

My favorite genre of Horror movies are zombie flicks. Plain and simple. Now, I realize 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later aren't actually zombie flicks, but they are the next best thing - cannibal flicks! Sign me up!!! I absolutely love them and the more blood, the better. This movie has some of the coolest gore ever. I mean blood and guts and heads and limbs and mouths full of blood and eyes full of blood. It splatters, it drains and it's amazing.

The blood isn't the only good part about this movie. It's scary. Genuinely scary. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll keep it at that. The acting is good (come on - Begbie is in it!), the characters are well-developed and not over the top (like in the Dawn of the Dead remake) and they are human. They do shitty things in the movie that suck, but then make you wonder what you would do in the same situation and chances are - you would do the exact same thing they did.

I cannot say enough good stuff about this movie, so I'll stop. I will tell you this though - 2 minutes into the movie I thought to myself - I don't care what happens in the rest of this film, I heart this movie. And that's that...I heart 28 Weeks Later and you should too or else you're dumb.

- Hex

Fear: 2/5
Gore: 3/5
Entertainment: 3/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Nightmares: 2/5

While I cannot say that my first instinct about this movie was true, it turns out it was closer to the truth than I would have wished. Like Complaint Department, I thought that the movie was going to be a bad CGI wasteland offset by feelgood "kid" actors. Once I started hearing reviews and talking to people though, it seemed like my expectations were based on a poorly-made trailer, and not a poorly-made movie.

It took me a few weeks to get around to seeing this, but by the time I managed to get to the theater my expectations had shifted from thinking it would suck, to thinking it could be really good. Boy was I let down.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!! This film has been out in the theater for about a month, if you haven't seen it by now, be warned that I will address specific things in the movie that might spoil it.

Complaint Department concedes in his review that there are elements that are hard to swallow, and unfortunately for me I just can't get past them. The first 15 minutes of the film are amazing, and I was truly sweating in my seat wondering if this could in fact be one of the greatest horror films ever made. And then, like so many other films, 28 Weeks Later seemed to give up on its audience, and itself. A list of crummy things:

- Daddy zombie showing up EVERYWHERE was insulting to the audience.
- The main characters did turn out to be little kids. Boo.
- Said little kids break out of quarantine just to go get a picture of their mum, and in turn cause a whole new outbreak. Stupid.
- Um, why does Daddy zombie tear out Mommy half-zombie's eyes?
- When your horror / drama film has an action climax that is half looney tunes out of control firehose and half stolen from Planet Terror with a helicopter taking out a horde of zombies, you know your film has issues.

There were parts of the movie that were well done. I too really liked the military aspect of the film, probably more than any other aspect. I liked how they focused on the U.K.'s proliferation of video surveilance and showed it being used to keep tabs on the population. I also really thought that the opening sequence was amazing at setting the mood and upping the adrenaline for the film. Finally, the scene where the group moves through the subway and you can only see through the rifle's night vision scope as the kids fall over bodies that lay strewn all over the ground was truly one of the most claustrophobic and terrifying pieces of cinema I have seen yet.

But in the end I think that this was a movie that went nowhere. I felt no connection to ANY of the characters, and there was never a sense of purpose in them getting from point A to point B. It seemed like they wandered around for an hour and then stubled into a stadium where the rescue chopper sits waiting for them. 28 Weeks Later copped out in too many ways for me to walk away feeling anything but distaste for it.

- the fucking beard

Friday, May 11, 2007

Office Killer (1997)


Fear: 2
Gore: 4
Creepiness: 5
Entertainment: 5
Nightmares: 2

Talk about a pleasant surprise. For the longest time I've wondered why I've been wasting my money on premuim cable channels (i.e. HBO, Showtime). They always play the same five movies all month long. Most of the time its garbage but every now and then there is that hidden gem.
Office Killer stars Carol Kane (When a Strangers Calls) as Dorine Davis, a quiet loner who works as a proofreader for a magazine company. She comes in, does her job, and no one seems to acknowledge her existence. She lives with her mother, pulling double duty as caretaker and maid. By all accounts, she is truly a lonely person. No friends, no social life and the only thing that she has to live for is her job. Even though she does not have any real social relationships with the people that she works with, it seems that her working relationship that she has with them is what gives her comfort.
Take away the one thing that keeps everything together for her, and all hell breaks loose. She loses her grip on reality when she loses her job due to company downsizing. She does not know how to cope with this loss and she begins a downward spiral after accidentally killing one of her coworkers. One by one, coworkers, cub scouts, people that she meets, all become unsuspecting victims. To help her cope with her loneliness, she stores the bodies in her mother's basement, reattaching limbs and taping open wounds.
What makes this character so frightening is just how quiet, soft spoken, and unassuming she is. Have you ever had a work place conversation about that coworker who keeps to themselves? Have you taken bets on who would be most likely to show up with an AK-47 if they were ever to be fired? What becomes truly disturbing is how she interacts with the group of corpses that she keeps in the basement and the great lengths she goes to when trying to keep them intact as they slowly begin to rot. This flick became an instant classic with me and just redeemed Showtime a little more in my book. Definitely check this out.

Posted by: Cortez the Killer

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Night of the Dead (2006)

Fear: 0
Gore: 5
Creepiness: 1
Entertainment: 5
Nightmares: 0
Directed by one of the Masters of Horror series directors, Night of the Dead focuses on a doctor obsessed with re-animating dead tissue and bringing stiffs back to life. After losing his wife and daughter to a hit and run accident, he has dedicated his life to figuring out a way to bring back the dead through the creation of multiple serums. He uses his concoctions to bring back his wife and daughter who are now locked up at his facility. Even though he now has his wife and daughter back, he can not quite make them happy as they are tired of the 'table scraps' of his experiments and they yearn to see the outside world again (even though it is obvious that something just ain't right with them). Things change when a couple brings in their ailing daughter, having mistaken the facility for a real hospital. The daughter, through a series of blood transfusions and injections of the serum, becomes a zombie of sorts and runs amock through the hospital.
A side story that plays out through the course of the flick keeps you guessing all the way until the end. The doctor's nephew helps him run the facility, slicing, dicing and poking and prodding the lifeless bodies. The nephew keeps his pregnant wife holed up in her room at the facility, giving her 'vitamins' to make the baby 'healthier'. He continuely tells her that the facility is the best place to give birth and not a real hospital. She is told that no family can be present for the birth and that she can never leave her room. Only in the end, does it become apparent as to why she was held like a prisoner.

The cover of this movie boasts it being more shocking than the Re-animator. I would'nt call it very shocking in as much as it is extremely gory. This is probably one of the goriest movies that I've seen in a long time. The acting is totally campy but its to be expected with this type of movie. Overall its very entertaining and if you love a copious amount of blood and guts as much as I do, there is enough here to make you happier than a kid in a candy store. Its fun, its silly, its way over the top in gore factor, and its a perfect popcorn movie for a Friday night (unless of course you have a light stomach).

Posted by: Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Deathwatch (2002)

Fear: 1
Gore: 2
Creepiness: 2
Entertainment: 3
Nightmares: 0

Generally speaking, horror movies fall into a few standard categories. There are films made simply to make money as there are always dopey teenagers willing to shell out money to see the latest installment of I Really Still Know What You Did Three Summers Ago or Final Destination 18. These films are cheap, formulaic and a fun way to pass some time with your girlfriend. There are also films made that aim to really just shock people or gross them out. Hostel, Nekromantic and the Saw films are like this. There are the social statements like Romero's films, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and 28 Days Later.

One of the most difficult kinds of horror to pull off is the kind that strives to be artistic. Deathwatch, despite it's dopey title and poster art has these sorts of aspirations and, for the most part, succeeds. Depending upon your temperament, or current mood, the open interpretation of what actually is going on with the story can be something fun to ponder or simply annoying.

Deathwatch centers around a small group of soldiers fighting in the trenches during World War I. During a nighttime attack, the soldiers are gassed and many die. The ones who are quick enough with their gas masks survive to find themselves wandering about a foggy landscape where the night has ended abruptly and far too soon. They soon run across a German post that seems to be completely abandoned save for 3 remaining enemy soldiers. Soon enough, however, they discover that the trenches of the post are littered with dead German soldiers who appear to have killed each other. Things get weird from that point on as the protagonists (including Jamie Bell who played Billy Elliot and Andy Serkis, best known as the Lord of the Ring's Golum) begin to realize that something is "wrong" with the trenches as nasty things begin to happen to them...or maybe they are just imagining them.

A British film released in 2002,there are a lot of similarities to Neil Marshall's excellent Dog Soldiers, but only on the surface. The movie is intentionally vague and makes no attempt to explain any of the strange goings on that begin to take place. Are there ghosts? Are they all going insane from the gas? Is the place "evil" as one of the captured enemy soldiers explains to them? Are they dead and in Purgatory? Director Michael Basset has made no attempt to step in and clear things up, instead preferring to leave the audience's interpretation of the film an open debate.

I enjoyed Deathwatch, though once was probably enough. The sets and photography are great, especially for a lower budget film. The war scenes are frightening and the use of CGI in some of the gore effects is controlled and tasteful. The acting and script are well done and there are some very creepy and genuinely gross moments. I also did not mind the vague nature of the story. And while I didn't lie awake that night pondering what was really going on (it's not THAT deep a film), I did come to my own conclusion which I am satisfied with. Maybe you will too.

- Complaint Dept.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bloody Reunion (2006)


Fear: 3
Gore: 5
Creepiness: 5
Entertainment: 5
Nightmares: 3

Bloody Reunion is a Korean horror flick centering on a group of young twenty some-things, who reunite with their elementary school teacher at her country cottage. The first half of the movie is slow to build, focusing on the individuals who have come to this cottage and how life is treating them post graduation. As it is revealed, each one of these students in one way or another, has been adversely affected by the way the teacher treated them. The teacher, who is now gravely ill and confined to a wheel chair, does not even seem to remember many of the accusations the students make. Each student was somehow ridiculed by this teacher, and it is with this ridicule, that they blame her for not being able to live normally functioning and productive lives. Even in life, she raises a disfigured child in the basement of her home, never acknowledging its existence and keeping the child locked up from the outside world. By all accounts, she is an evil woman even though she can not recall much of the events that the students speak of due to her illness and weakened state.

So what starts as a slow build up, ends in one of the best slasher flicks that I've seen in recent memory. Calling to mind some of the great slasher films of the 80's, Bloody Reunion has some very ingenious methods of victim dispensing including inventive usage of school supplies as torture devices. The movie keeps you guessing throughout as to who the actual killer is and the ending has a great twist. Bloody Reunion does not fall into any of the cliched elements that many recent Asian horror flicks have fallen victim to. No ladies with long black hair, arms outstretched or eyes peeking through strands of said hair. Instead the film is a good old fashioned slasher flick with some familiar elements and new twists on the overall genre itself.

Posted by: Cortez the Killer

* * * * *
Cortez pretty much nailed it here. Bloody Reunion could have easily been an American slasher film from 1983 had it not been Korean and 2006. It's superbly gory and certainly made me cringe a few times - eyeball gore ALWAYS nauseates me and there are two pretty gnarly scenes here. The torture scenes are, easily, as gruesome as anything in Hostel, if not more so. I remember being in 3rd or 4th grade and playing the "gross out game" with friends". Which would you rather do: be force fed razor blades or have your eyelids stapled open? Bloody Reunion helps you answer these questions by showing you what you might be in store for.

Cortez is also correct when he points out how the film avoids so many of the cliches that Asian horror seems to stick to. But there is one thing that it has in common with most of them: elegance. Even though this is a gritty film about revenge and torture and blood and guts, it just feels more elegant than most American horror films. The photography, lighting and music are all much more...grown up I think is the word I'm looking for. As though the film was treated like an important piece of art. I get that from a lot of Asian horror and wish it was something US filmmakers would try.

- Complaint Depart.

Blade (1998)

Fear: 0
Gore: 2
Creepiness: 0
Entertainment: 1
Nightmares: 0

Imagine two fat virgins who listen to bad goth and techno working 20 hours a week at Hot Topic and then blowing their paycheck on comic books. Now imagine that they write a movie where a musclebound and armor-plated pseudo-ninja with an Arsenio Hall hairdo and bad tribal tattoos fights a big ole' mess of vampires who also, strangely enough, like bad techno and shop at Hot Topic. Let's say they have a proposed budget of $45,000 and that $10,000 of it is set aside for bad CGI effects like splashing blood and subway trains that run people over. Then imagine that New Line Cinema reads this script and says "it's a winner! We'll give you a budget of $100 million dollars - but use that to get us some top notch actors, not on special effects. Someone like, say, Kris Kristofferson. Did you ever see Convoy? That was GOLD!"

Now imagine that you've just fished a big turd out of your toilet and set it on a silver platter. You've then taken a toothpick and a post-it note and fashioned a little flag out of it. The flag reads "Blade". I challenge you differentiate between the two.

Blade is a person. He's half vampire, half human. He knows karate. He carries a sword and wears sunglasses. He's tough. He drives a 1970s Dodge with an engine that goes "vrroom". He's sort of like Rambo and Wolverine if they had a baby who liked Nine Inch Nails. He spends his time killing vampires. He lives with Kris Kristofferson who wears a leather vest and smokes a lot. They have a lot of neat guns and stuff. The vampires have a truce with the humans, but recently that truce was broken by a rebel vampire played by Stephen Dorff (whose resume includes episodes of Different Strokes, Empty Nest and Roseanne). Dorff is a bad guy. You can tell by his haircut. Dorff wants to kill off the vampire council and resurrect the "Blood God". He needs to get Blade's blood to do this because Blade is a "daywalker". There's also a hot doctor who gets bitten by a vampire, but is saved by Blade. She concocts a cure for vampirism after borrowing some stuff from the hospital she works at. This takes about a day. Blade and the doctor are captured by Dorff and Co. Blade nearly dies but is saved by the doctor. Dorff becomes the "Blood God" and he and Blade have a funny sword fight that includes a lot of kung-fu. Blade kills Dorff. The doctor goes home to cure herself and Blade goes to Russia to fight more vampires.

Aside from the really bad special effects and dopey characters, Blade provides the opportunity to ask "why didn't they just..." more than any other movie I have ever seen. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but this movies is a shit sandwich. And that's the truth.

- Complaint Dept.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Fear: 1
Gore: 1
Creepiness: 1
Entertainment: 3
Nightmares: 0

An aging millionaire recruits a team of paranormal investigators to investigate the famed Belasco House, known as the "Mount Everest of haunted houses", aka "Hell House". The previous owner was, legend has it, a maniacal genius who indulged and imbibed in pretty much all of the dark arts, though details are sketchy since he was never found after a massive massacre occured within the house.

The team consists of a skeptical physicist, his wife, a "mental medium" (psychic) and a "physical medium" (spoon bender basically). The spoon bender, played by Planet of the Ape's Roddy McDowell (also of Fright Night fame) is the only survivor from the last investigation, though he never really explains how he survived. Anyway, they set up camp inside the house for one week and if they can refute or prove any evidence for the afterlife, they will each receive 100,000 pounds.

Tensions rise between the team as their differing opinions create plenty of opportunities for heated debate. A seance is conducted and the evil spirits begin to act very much like the ghosts you find in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. In fact, one could argue that the house itself was modeled on Disney's famed attraction which opened in 1969. This is actually a good thing as it adds to the campy fun of the movie which is short on scares, but long on cheesy atmosphere.

Soon enough, the investigators are each possessed and attacked in various ways, none of which carries much punch in terms of scare. A couple of them are picked off and the film ends sort of abruptly after the (obvious and eventual) resolution.

Like I say, there's not much that's going to scare anyone here, though the house is sufficiently creepy and there are a couple moments involving ghostly shadows that are fun. The story, aside from some deep plot-holes, is fun and the dialogue is melodramatic in a good way, not an over the top kind of way. So I liked it.

The films starts with the disclaimer that while the events portrayed in The Legend of Hell House are fictitious, the psychic phenomena shown is not only possible, but likely. This pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the film as the pseudo-science and Victorian age spiritualism presented is done so as matters of fact. And while normally, horseshit like ectoplasm, electro magnetic field disruption and psychic possession would be annoying in the context of Hollywood "scientific investigation", this is exactly the kind of dum-dummery that takes place weekly on the Travel Channel's "Most Haunted", one of England's most popular programs.

The mediums here are goofy and superstitious relying on things like being taken over by spirits and speaking for them in scary deep voices. The science used to debunk the haunting is creaky and out of date at best and just plain stupid at worst. Case in point, a giant boxy machine is rolled into the house near the end of the movie that will emit massive anti-magnetic fields or something retarded like that. The thought being that this will negate the energy that fills the house, thereby clearing it of any ghosties. If that sounds ridiculous, spend an hour with Derek Acorah and the gang one evening and see what it looks like in action. Today. in 2007.

Legend of Hell House is ok, not great. It's certainly no classic, but should be lumped in with the entertaining, lazy-weekend fare of any Hammer Film. It is PG, so don't expect anything scary or gory in the least, but if you like older ghost movies, it's not too shabby.

-Complaint Dept.