Monday, June 25, 2007

Big Bad Wolf (2007)

Fear: 3/5

Gore: 5/5

Creepiness: 2/5

Entertainment: 5/5

Nightmares: 2/5

Sweet Sister Mary Francis this is one badass werewolf romp. Big Bad Wolf opens with a couple of hunters in Africa on a safari. When a howling cry is let out into the night air, the hunters sense that something is just not quit right. The rest of the hunters from their encampment radio in on the ol' walkie talkies to check in and then total madness ensues. A quick flash of the screen, one decapitation and leg being torn from a body later, we find both hunters laid waste quicker than you can say 'great googly moogly.' Cue the opening credits.

After the wonderful start to kick things off, a young lad and his fraternity cohorts are shown packing an SUV full of goodies for a weekend trip out to a cabin in the woods. This weekend is supposed to test the young buck's mettle for being able to stick it out with the fraternity brosephs complete with drinking challenges and sexual conquistador innuendos. To round out the group (already numbering 5), he invites his motorcycle riding former flame who looks like a girl that probably listens to Slipknot and shops at Hot Topic. She's the 'rebel' of the group and she expresses her immediate distaste for the frat dudes and the bimbos they've dragged along. Oh, how edgy.

So off they head down the interstate to start their weekend escapades. Apparently the kids got bad Map Quest directions and they decide to stop by the side of the road to talk to a guy who's truck has broken down. Low and behold, the man with the broken down truck just happens to be the infamous Clint Howard. Yes kiddies, the poor guy thats made his buck in cameo appearances and is more oftentimes than not, casted when they need a hideously ugly fellow. He warns the kids 'You don't want to go there. You shouldn't thank me (when referring to the directions given), you should go back to the city. But if you do find it, stay indoors.' Meanwhile, NOBODY in the crew asks 'why?' They just nod their head in unison just figuring this is some old crazy dude. Ah, the irrational thought of young dunces in horror flicks prevails once again.

The kids make it to the cabin, booze it up and of course, some sexy time kicks in. We come to find out that the smarmiest of the dudes is fed up with his girlfriend that does not put out. He expresses his frustration to his buddies and this sets up the pinnacle of awesomeness in the flick. After some rumbling and grumbling, the werewolf promptly makes his presence known with a knock at the door and exclaims 'Little pigs, little pigs let me in.' He then crashes through the front door, lays waste to one of the guys and beelines it to the bedroom. The boyfriend rushes to the bedroom to save his gal only to find her bent over with wolfie doing the dirty deed. The boyfriend shouts 'You animal, she's a virgin.' To which wolf dude retorts 'She's not anymore.' The werewolf slits her throat and says 'I'm sorry, was that your bitch?' Wolf man jack then proceeds to hoist the boyfriend up, wonderously states 'Let's see if you have the nads kid' and promptly rips off his twig and berries. Fucking brilliant.

What's that you say? A wise cracking, talking werewolf in a movie? Yes kiddos, and for as silly as it sounds, it really works in this flick and makes the werewolf one truly badass motherfucker. Everytime he dispenses his victims, another wise crack would ensue and it tickled this reviewer with glorious giddiness. I prayed and hoped after the scene described above that the movie would not let up and it certainly did not. The gore in this movie is aboslutely brutal and top notch.

We then come to find out that the werewolf is the stepfather of the young kid trying to make it good with the fraternity. He is one dirty and despicable chap which makes the character of the werewolf that much more interesting. I don't want to spoil the rest of the flick but the showdown at the end between the boy, his Hot Topic gal pal and the werewolf is pretty sweet.

This movie delivered on so many levels that I could not even begin to write this review until today. Funny, smart, brutal and just an overall damn good time. I choose my words wisely as I have been known to over hype movies, but that's what makes horror movies so great. They are totally subjective to the person watching them. I can, without a doubt, say that this is one of the finest werewolf movies that I've seen.
Cortez the Killer

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

Fear: 0/5

Gore: 3/5

Creepiness: 0/5

Entertainment: 4/5

Nightmares: 2/5 *

* Only because I was camping by myself in the high Sierra Nevada mountains and I had several large deer around my camp, which I thought might be large were-mitches.

I too 'flixed this one based on Cortez's suggestion. Since he did a great job with the synopsis, let me just add a few points:

1. I couldn't get past the low budget. The effects were really bad, although the gore was decent.
2. The main werewolf "Mitch" was none other than Buddy Revell, the high school bully from Three O'Clock High. He turned into a fucking creeper.
3. The main Hot Topic chick looks like the junk lady goblin from Labrynth.
4. While most of the truly bad parts seemed self aware, I just couldn't swallow the punchy one-liners from the werewolf.
5. For my money, I'd still always go American Werewolf or Dog Soldiers, but neither one of those had a teenager blowing a werewolf for a DNA sample. You make the call.

- the fucking beard

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mindhunters (2005)


Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Creepiness 0/5
Entertainment 1/5
Nightmares 0/5
Having grown up as a child and grandchild of FBI agents, I have a hard time swallowing actors acting like FBI agents. I mean, we had agents at our house all the time as well as police officers and detectives and not a single one of them looked or acted anything like characters in movies do. They're not cool. Most of them have mustaches and none of them look like Denzel Washington, Christian Slater, or better yet, LL Cool J. My dad, for instance, likes Sci-Fi movies, has had a mustache for as long as I've been alive (although there is some photographic evidence of a short stint sans mustache sometime in the 70's - made up for by a wicked pair of bell-bottoms and a too-tight polyester shirt) and he enjoys martinis.
Another problem I have with FBI movies - especially ones with any type of profiling is that I was studying to hopefully become a profiler. And then I was told in a classroom by a visiting profiler that our chance of being struck by lightning was greater than becoming a profiler. So on to Forensic Anthropology I was and then I turned to Apes. Anyways - the point is that I spent a huge chunk of my life reading books about profiling, being obsessed with serial killers and why they killed and talking to any agent who would listen about my becoming a profiler for the FBI. According to this movie though, there are tons of opportunities within the FBI to become a profiler and who better to do it than Val Kilmer? Or maybe Christian Slater? Or even Jonny Lee Miller? No wait! LL Cool J!!!
On to the plot...there are a group of young FBI students undergoing training as profilers who are known as the "Mindhunters". Val Kilmer, being a legendary profiler himself, sends them off to a training facility that happens to be on a small island and leaves them there (supposedly). All forms of the government use this island and it's set up as a fake town. Their job is to profile a serial killer who has committed a murder there. Each Mindhunter is young, fairly attractive and has their own unique personality that will make them the best Mindhunter ever. Of course, there is an actual killer on the island and he starts killing each one of them. First death...Christian Slater...yesssss. He gets liquid Nitrogen sprayed all over him, freezes, and breaks into large chunks. However, it's not as cool as it sounds. I actually laughed heartily out loud. So, the killer continues to kill each one of them and all their deaths are related to their personality and there are messages left at each crime scene so they can profile the killer and stop the insanity. It's ridiculous. Although, not as ridiculous as Jonny Lee Miller's fake American accent. Ugh.
It's the most ludicrous movie about agents I've seen so far, but I did sit through it, so maybe I shouldn't be as hard on it and I was. If I were you though, I would pass it up and go for 2001 Maniacs. Now that shit's funny.
Hex

2001 Maniacs (2005)

Fear 0/5
Gore 3/5
Creepiness 0/5
Entertainment 3/5
Nightmares 0/5
2001 Maniacs is a cheesier remake of an already cheesy film, the 1964 splatter prototype 2000 Maniacs. So know that going in - this is not going to win any awards. Eli Roth is one of the producers and has a small cameo early on and, as noted on the packaging at left, Robert Englund of Freddy Kreuger fame, is the main star.
Plot - dopey college kids get lost on their way to Daytona Beach for spring break and wind up in a podunk little town called Pleasant Valley, population 2001. The town's residents fall into two categories: large breasted women in tiny outfits and sheep-molesting men with weeds poking from their teeth. Turns out the residents are cannibals and the college kids start dropping off one by one in complex, yet inventive ways (drawn and quartered, swallowing acid, skewered through the anus and out of the mouth, smooshed under a giant pressing machine, etc etc.).
2001 Maniacs is entertaining in that you find yourself laughing out loud at the stupidity and ding-dongery. There is no attempt at art or anything even resembling statement and that's just fine. It is what it is and makes no apologies. It's a fun way to spend a lazy evening with your significant other when you're both tired and want to turn your brains off. Rumor has it that a sequel is in the makes. Sure, why not.
Complaint Dept

Repulsion (1965)

Fear 2/5
Gore 1/5
Creepiness 4/5
Entertainment 4/5
Nightmares 1/5

The English-speaking world's introduction to Roman Polanski was 1965's Repulsion, a creepy and often jolting tale of sexual repression, violence and mania that, 42 years later (!) managed to not only entertain me and impress me, but freak me out at times as well. No small feat.

Catherine Deneuve is fantastic (and totally hot) in her role as the too-quiet, withdrawn and detached main character who lives with her "free-spirited" sister in a small London apartment. Deneuve's character is, from the first scene, obviously unstable as she spends the bulk of her time in a daze that is either daydreaming or just totally checking out. She is tirelessly courted by an overbearing suitor who consistently winds up getting nowhere with her and her evenings are spent trying to drown out the sounds of her sister's orgasmic romps with her sleazy and pushy (and married) boyfriend. When her sister leaves for an extended trip to Italy with her (married) boyfriend, Deneuve is left alone and quickly falls completely apart.

Part of the success of the movie is Polanski's willingness to go to extremes (in 1965 especially). Denueve's rape hallucinations are frightening to witness and made even more terrifying by the minimal soundtrack. However, the main triumph is Denueve's incredible performance and the script's refusal to separate fact from fantasy. Her violent outbursts, followed by total calm and withdrawl are interspersed between scenes where her mind creates everything around her (hands reaching through the wall, imprints remaining in items she touches). All of this happens with no explanation so that you are left wondering what was really happening and what was imagined.

I would imagine this film was pretty shocking when it opened in 1965, and I was thoroughly impressed with it's ability to freak me out even after all of the "shocking" stuff I've seen. A really great movie.

Complaint Dept

Friday, June 22, 2007

Maniac (1980)

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

Ahhh Maniac, the notorious little indie film that earned an X rating for it's graphic violence. The movie that was nearly universally panned as beyond moral value (Gene Siskel walked out after 30 minutes).
The same Maniac that continues to live up to it's legendary status amongst horror fans. The same Maniac that effectively hammered the last nail in the coffin of sleazy, nihilistic quasi-porn-horror that writhed around the underground grindhouse cinemas of the 1970s. Released unrated instead of with the original X rating it was granted by the MPAA, the film remains one of the most fucked up horror movies of all time for a number of reasons. Here's two:
1) The Violence and Gore: Churned out for less than a million dollars (which is nothing in terms of film production, even in 1979), the special effects in this movie are top-notch for it's time, though maybe a little cheesy by today's multi-billion dollar standards. Still, Tom Savini's effects are so over-the-top, so bloody and so gruesome that it's hard not to cringe when people's heads are blown off in long drawn out slo-mo. Plus, it's not just that it was gross and bloody -there were far bloodier films out there - it's that it was so intense and malicious. The victims in the film don't stand a chance and are disposed of in such an expendable, care-free and detached way that it's just icky to be witnessing it. It's emotionless and disturbing.

2) The Lack of Statement: Writer (and lead actor) Joe Spinell and director William Lustig were not striving for art here. There is no social statement being made, no commentary on things. Maniac is designed to disturb and ruin your evening. If it's entertaining, you should wonder why. I do. This is what bothered so many people when it was released - it just seemed to be a spectacle that made you question yourself for spending money to see it. And no one likes to question things. This is why Bush was re-elected.

Spinell is so creepy, ugly and sleazy as the killer in this film, sweating, grunting and mumbling through the entire running time, that even without the blood and mayhem it would be scary. And scary it is. This is an intense film in many ways and the suspense is often hard to sit through.

There is, basically, no storyline in Maniac, hence no little synopsis for me to write. The acting is terrible, the dialogue awful and the set design and visuals cheap and amateurish. Some of this can be chalked up to the low budget, but some of it is just poor film-making. This just makes things all the more ugly and horrifying because that amateur feeling straddles the "snuff" line a little too closely for some.

So the question is, why would you want to see this? You might not. If you go to horror movies to get a thrill and have a laugh at the end, maybe this isn't for you. Maniac is, if I may be so bold, the kind of "art" that belongs in the same category as works by transgressive artists like Richard Kern and Nick Zedd. It's success lies in it's ability to shock and outrage.

Why see Maniac? Because you appreciate GG Allin, because you like Chuck Palahniuk, because you think Female Trouble is a great movie. But mainly because you think a horror movie should horrify you.

Complaint Dept

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oh the Horror!

Real life horror news of the day:

http://www.wlky.com/news/13547817/detail.html

I'm not sure how I feel about this yet but I will more than likely see it. I enjoyed Cusack in Identity immensely.



Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Red Shoes (2005)

Fear 4/5
Gore 3/5
Creepiness 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Nightmares 2/5

Outstanding ghost film from South Korea based loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name. After catching her distant husband cheating on her, a woman takes her young daughter and moves into a shabby run down apartment to start life anew. One evening, while sitting on the subway home from work, she finds a pair of striking pink shoes that she takes home with her. Soon, she and everyone who comes into contact with the shoes begin to see eerie visions of (you guessed it) long haired female ghosts with heads bowed. But they also begin to lose a grip on their personalities becoming consumed by greed and jealously and acting violently towards one another.

Hye-su Kim, who plays the lead role, is astonishingly good as the manic and confused mother trying to both protect and abuse her child. The film boasts a strong script with some good dialogue (even through the translation) and takes its time unwinding the story. The pace is deliberate, but never dull and never too slow.

As with much Asian horror, the visuals are stunning and the cinematography is excellent. At times, there is such a strong Dario Argento influence in some of the death scenes that one might be tempted to call it an "homage". Some of these scenes are so remarkably complex and elaborate that the comparison is almost funny.

But there is also a older 1960's vibe, especially when the main character on screen are the shoes themselves. The angles get jaunty and twisted, the music altering between church organ and staccato electronic sounds. Very cool.

And despite the fact that you've seen these ghosts over and over and over, it totally works here. The final scene is truly amazing and terrifying as Hye-su Kim convincingly moves into a trance of absolute fear upon meeting one of the most gruesome ghosts I've ever seen on film (despite the fact that it kind of looks like the dude from Satyricon).

Great film.

- Complaint Department

Gangs of the Dead (2006)



Fear: 1/5
Gore: 4/5
Creepiness: 1/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Nightmares: 0/5

On the eve of one of their biggest deals, two rival L.A. gangs throw down with a legion of zombies in Gangs of the Dead. The movie starts off with a meteor hurtling itself towards earth. A homeless proselytizer spews out bible blatherings about the coming of days as the meteor crashes into a bridge near his encampment. All the vagrant dregs quickly become the walking dead as the meteoric contents escape and consumes them. They soon run amock (or should I say walk ever so slowly?) in the hood, causing chaos for all the vatos and homies.
This movie has it all, cheesy dialogue, gore galore, and just some overall really dumb 'why did you do that?' types of questions that plagues all good zombie movies (and most horror movies for that matter). Case in point, the two rival gangs, one Mexicano and the other African American, meet up in a warehouse to exchange their goodies. All hell breaks loose when the police set-up goes awry and the hoards of zombies ambush. You think to yourself, 'Hey these are some dirty, mean and gritty gang bangers out of South Central.' 'They should have mad straps and should be able to mow down these zombie biznitches like nobodies business.' Ah, but the painfully obvious proves to be too much as you come to find out that ALL of them left their guns in the cars outside. Whoops. Looks like we are gonna have to baricade the wherehouse and find a way to get to them. Infighting ensues between one gang that thinks they are 'badder' than the other (really dudes, why did you leave your gats in the car?) which makes for some equally hilarious moments of who can out gangsta the other.
Did I mention the thug-tastically plagued dialogue that only heightens the amusement factor? There was plenty of that to be found which made for more scenes of sheer and utter ridiculousness. Awfully bad dialogue is the hallmark of all good zombie movies (can anything top the madness in Dead Alive?) and this film certainly has its fair share. I loved this tasty line of scripted genius: 'Yo homie, the bums are eating the cops'. Classic.
An overall great flick (did I also mention gore galore?) and a new twist on the zombie genre. It never ceases to amaze just how much new spins and angles can come with an overall basic and simple story. Something infects people, they turn into blood thirsty minions of the undead, they cause chaos, blood and gore ensue, rinse, repeat. The only thing that would have made this film even better if there was a soundtrack that included Eazy-E and NWA. 'Boyz in the Hood' blaring over their warding off of zombie advancements would have been fucking stellar.
I can't wait for this movie to come out.
Cortez the Killer

Monday, June 18, 2007

Arang (2007)

Fear 1/5
Gore 1/5
Creepiness 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Nightmares 0/5
Nothing new here, though not a particularly bad film. Arang is yet another vengeful ghost story where the spirit seeks both revenge and some sort of resolution to her (always a her) mysterious death.
This time around, the ghosty is attacking the four men who, long ago in their wild youth, gang-raped her and left her and her unborn child for death. There is a smart-alecky detective trying to figure out how these guys keep dying and her inexperienced rookie seems to be be more on the ball than she is. This might be due to the dark secret she carries with her that keeps her from focusing as well as she could.
Aside from a nice twist at the end, there is nothing you have not seen before. The scares, the effects, the sound track, the story, all done to death. Like most Asian horror, it looks great. It's well scripted and performed and the effects are decent, if a little cheap, but the originality is so lacking that I just couldn't buy into it. Had I never seen any of the hundreds of Asian ghost stories that preceded it, I might have thought this was much better. But I have.
P.S., at the end of the film is a written piece called "The Legend of Arang" but it was not translated. So other than being a city in India, I have no idea what "Arang" means. And I wasn't interested enough to watch the DVD extras that might spell it out. I honestly don't care.
Complaint Dept

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hostel II (2007)

Fear: 2/5
Gore: 5/5
Creepiness: 4/5
Entertainment 4/5
Nightmares 1/5

Eli Roth certainly doesn't pull any punches and really knows how to do things all the way. So I give him props there. However, I didn't walk away from 2005's Hostel with much more than an appreciation for his ability to shock and horrify and Cabin Fever felt like it was almost there, not quite getting to what it could have been.

Hostel II surprised me. It's actually quite good and much smarter than the first one. No doubt, people will be talking about the incredible violence and gore, especially in the final scene, but that's only part of what's so disturbing about the movie.

For those unfamiliar, the plot of both films is essentially the same. The wealthy and powerful elite pay an enormous sum of money to join a secret society. They come to a hidden and highly fortified location in Slovakia to torture and murder innocent people. There you go. The films are supposedly a commentary on rampant and out of control consumerism. A graphic warning that power and influence come with a price.

The first Hostel was too extreme in every way. The Eastern Bloc Europeans were portrayed as filthy, sleazy, leather jacket wearing scumbags who will do anything for money, the women being insanely beautiful but dirty dirty dirty. The American college kids were about as obnoxious as could be, running with the "ugly American" shtick until exhausted. And the torture and gore were so grotesque as to lose effectiveness and become nothing more than an exercise in barf-bag effects.

Part II is much more clever and effective. The "victims" are less loathsome so you can begin to empathize with them as fellow human beings. The "killers" are also given faces and histories which really ups the ante in terms of being disturbing. There is a scene where various people of wealth and influence are shown calmly bidding online to kill the college girls. It's so cold and grim that it might be the scariest thing about the film.

In fact, in giving the killers a voice and background, Roth has made the film 100% more believable. Case in point - the two main killers are these wealthy American guys who have just joined the society and are tough-talking their way into actually getting up the nerve to go torture and kill the victims they have "purchased". As they go for their morning jog around a quaint Slovakian village in their $200 track suits, they talk about how they will now be feared by their co-workers and clients. How they will have gone to the next level in terms of power and influence. This scares me to no end because, working in corporate America, I know people who think this way - power and success, wealth and influence, these are the ultimate goals. And what could be more powerful than having the ability to and experience of torturing and killing others because you have the money? Creepy.

Then there is the gore and violence. Part One seemed to switch gears about halfway through it's running and became a non-stop spectacle of blood. Part II's violence is, well, not toned down (at ALL), but there is less of it so it's not overwhelming or numbing. Again, the final scene (well, near-final scene) is so gnarly, I'm surprised to hear that Roth really didn't get much guff from the MPAA about it. It certainly made me cringe and the 14 year old boys behind me who snuck in, each let out a collective gasp and groan.

Still, there are some scenes that are a little corny, one in particular involving a naked woman writhing in a fancy marble-tiled bathtub as she bathes in the blood of the dying girl strung up above her. It easily could have been a Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth video.

Speaking of naked girls strung up over bathtubs, the big shock for me was that Heather Matarazzo was one of the main stars. So, if you've ever fantasized about Dawn Wiener from Welcome to the Dollhouse being naked, tortured and killed, well, here is your chance. Just don't ask to be friends with me because, while I'm a pretty open minded guy, that's just fucking weird.

-Complaint Dept

Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain (2005)

Fear 1/5
Gore 4/5
Creepiness 1/5
Entertainment 3/5
Nightmares 0/5
T&A 3/5
Pornstars w/ Fake Irish Accents 5/5

So the story goes that Cristian Viel's film Samhain, completed in 2003, has been so butchered and mangled by Lionsgate, bowing to the whims of the MPAA, that he insisted it be retitled and has disowned any association with the finished product. So I'd be interested to see the "director's cut". but only a little interested.

Regardless, this is still a fun little splatter film about a group of loud and brash American college kids who take a trip out to Ireland (which looks a hell of lot like British Columbia, but hey, who's gonna notice the lush forests and mountains?) for...some educational reason. There they run across a couple of deformed cannibals who begin picking them off one by one.

The acting is atrocious which should be no surprise given that Jenna Jameson is given top billing (despite being in the film for about 2 minutes) and sleazy (and possibly slightly retarded) Richard Grieco is the big cameo. In fact, the film stars 4 porn actresses, including Taylor Hayes (star of "Asshunt" and Giant Links") and 80's porn legend Ginger Lynn who speaks in the worst Irish accent ever captured on film. Obviously boobies abound in this so if you're 16 years old, you'll have a blast (no pun intended - eeeewwwwwww).

Despite being cut and edited to death, the movie is still really gory in an over the top and campy way and doesn't skimp on the violence. There are guts galore, lots of splashing blood and even the nasty removal of Ms. Jameson's breast implants - along with a gruesome dead baby. Yeah, it was actually really gory now that I think back. Lastly, there is a great monster towards the end that looks like a floppy rubber hybrid between The Toxic Avenger and Sloth.

Good movie? No. Good horror film? Well, sure. I watched the whole thing, let's say that. A fun time? Totally.

Trailer Park June 17, 2007











Friday, June 15, 2007

Horror News

This is a really interesting article that I found on MSNBC yesterday talking about horror movies becoming more popular with women and being the new 'chick' flick.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19099975/site/newsweek/

I've known plenty of lady friends that have always liked horror movies so this really isn't news for me. However, the article is interesting in that it talks about how some movies can be seen as very empowering to women (a la 'I Spit on Your Grave' and more recently with 'Hostel II' and 'Captivity'). Excuse me if I never caught onto this idea in horror films and pass me another bowl of stupid. But the article is really interesting and if it helps ladies gain more confidence, and influences them to go to horror flicks more with their main squeeze, then I am all for it.
I'm currently reading this book. Expect a full report in the coming week.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, June 14, 2007

When A Stranger Calls (2006)

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

Plot goes like this: Babysitter is babysitting the kids and keeps getting creepy crank calls from an unknown person. After a while the caller begins to talk to her (the voice is Lance Hendriksen's, though he never actually appears in the film) and she realizes the stalker guy can see her. Then he breaks in and tries to get her. Then the cops come and everything is ok. The end.

This is a dopey, dull and pointless remake of a much better film, originally released in 1979. The original, starring Carol Kane of Taxi fame, was not the first to use the "the call is coming from within the house" schtick, but it was still fresh enough to have some effectiveness. And Carol Kane was great.

This time around, the star is younger and "hotter", the story is considerably different than the original and the internal-phone-call schtick isn't even used, opting instead to rely on caller ID ("Tiffany, I can see it's your phone", "This isn't Tiffany!" Blaaaugggh!).

The pace of this film is so slow it's maddening. The script must be about 5 pages long total: "Jill walks very very very very slowly towards the door. She slowly turns the knob. But only half way. Then pauses. Slowly. For like 5 minutes. Then she slowly opens the door and enters the next room. Then nothing happens. For a really long time".

Once the stalker/killer dude arrives, the scenes are totally blown as the babysitter character suddenly becomes very very dumb. Example: The killer is reaching around a door that she has locked with a chain and instead of hitting his hand, breaking his fingers, biting his arm or anything else one might do when forced into a situation like that, she stands around and screams with her hands at her side. Example number two: She hides in the pond out back under the walk way and when the killer starts reaching under to get her she simply moves a few inches back and forth doing nothing to defend herself. This sort of cliched horror bullshit never fails to infuriate me as I don't ever feel scared for the protagonist. I simply want them to get killed ASAP so that the film will end. It's a cheap way to build suspense and it always fails. Why it continues to be used in nearly ever teen slasher flick is beyond me. Maybe I'd be scared if I were 15.

Stinky Doo Doo.

- Complaint Dept.

Torture Garden (1967)

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

Cheapo little film cranked out in 1967 that "stars" both Burgess Meredith (who seems to be stuck in his Penguin character from the Batman series) and Jack Palance. The film is similar to films like The Illustrated Man and Creepshow in that they are four separate tales connected by the person telling the story, in this case, the fortune reading carnival barker played by Meredith.

The four stories involve a mind-controlling kitty cat, youth-obsessed actors made of metal, a jealous piano that scoots around killing people and a book collector who has an unfortunate run-in with the living corpse of Edgar Allen Poe. The only real fun part of this movie is the cameo by Peter Cushing who is creepy in a distinguished way as always. Even the screenplay, written by Psycho author Robert Bloch, sucks.

Otherwise, there are no scares, the stories are stupid (all you need to do is re-read the previous paragraph for that) and the pace is slow and plodding. Torture Garden is unfortunately, stuck in that time period (the Flower Power age) when US and UK horror films were making the transition from being cheap and campy, marketed almost exclusively to teenagers to something a little more frightening. Night of the Living Dead would be released the following year, and Repulsion was already over a year old. Torture Garden was simply no match and should remain buried.

-Complaint Dept

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Creature Feature Weekend (2007)



















This weekend was spent viewing some of the finest (and cheesiest) creature films the silver screen has to offer. Nothing overtly gory, scary or disturbing can be said of any of these movies. Rather one can marvel at the primitive special effects, ridiculously aweful dialogue, and just have some good ol' fun watching these simplistic, silly, and totally classic films.


Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959):


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

A great entry into the zany catalogue of Roger Corman, Attack of the Giant Leeches focuses on a big game warden in a small town in Georgia. He desperately tries to warn everyone of monsters that are lurking in the neighboring lakes. Why they decided to take up residence there, one can only guess. Most folks laugh off the warden as he tries to warn everyone of the dangerous monters that call the lake home.

The 'special' effects that carry this movie are absolutely hilarious. What is first perceived as something close to resembling a squid or octopus, slowly gives way to a monster that looks like one large walking vagina.

And the dialogue, just feast your eyes on this wonderous statement of put down-ery: 'Why don't you go soak your fat head' in lieu of 'Go fuck yourself.' This movie is the reason why films like the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra get made.


The Giant Gila Monster (1959):

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

This flick centers on a group of teens that are obesssed with building and racing hot rods. They are labeled as the 'rebels' of the town and are given an especially hard time by the sheriff. The sheriff is looking for a young missing couple that usually hangs with these kids that were killed at the beginning of the flick. Ahhhh, what a great scene of cinematic genious that was. A large, clearly rubberish, reptilian hand came crashing down on a couple making out in a car which then cut to the opening credits. Classic.

So the actual monster itself is clearly a gila monster and not some dude in a suit (see Leeches) and all of the scenes of action and rampage were clearly super imposed. It was funny to see this thing slink around, not incredibly fast, and most victims (who totally could have run away) were simply shocked at the sight and quickly became disposed as a result.

The dialogue was also top notch in this flick as evidenced by this tasty bit of Confucius style wisdom: 'Having a car is like getting married or going to New York: everyone ought to do it at least once, but never twice.'

The climax of this film was classic as one of the hot rods was catapulted into the monster, complete with loaded nitro glycerin. The ensuing destruction was tantamount to the Death Star exploding (o.k., maybe not as dramatic but still pretty damn funny).

Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (1967)

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

The silliest entry by far into this weekends movie watching extravaganza has to go to this wonderful Japanese film that is very much in the vein of Godzilla.

This film features a group of explorers that have been sent out by a magazine publisher to find rare animals that will be used as main attractions in a new zoo. The publisher, named 'Playmate' (no lie), sends the group out to an Island in the South Pacific. The explorers get there only to be met with initial displeasure by the islands inhabitants. The natives take them in, grow to like them, and let them know about Gappa, a 'god' that they worship and do their best to keep happy.

The explorers soon come across an egg within the islands volcano. The volcano soon experiences activity and the egg hatches into some weird looking bastard love child of Godzilla and Howard the Duck.

So the monster is then captured and shipped back to the main land. It soon escapes and mommy and daddy come looking for him. The funniest scenes in this movie are when the bird lizards fly in mid air. They sound like rocket jets when they take flight and the scenes make this reviewer laugh like a school girl.

Remarkably silly, never scary, and overall just some good old fashioned fun. I highly recommend all 3 of these flicks.

Cortez the Killer

Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

Fear: 3/5
Gore: 1/5
Creepiness: 4/5
Entertainment: 4/5
Nightmares: 3/5

Filed under "They Don't Make 'Em Lime They Used To", "Let's Scare Jessica To Death was a sweet little treat to stumble upon. Released in '71, this film had very little to draw on for good ghost story movies. While it is every bit as scary as The Haunting, "Jessica" brings in an element of mental illness that is so well done that it is truly the beginning of the golden age of horror films.

Jessica, her husband and a friend are on their way to their new country house outside of New York in a hearse after a hinted at stint of institutionalization for Jessica. Only a few minutes into the story we find out that Jessica may not be fully recovered as they stop off a small cemetary to do wax paper rubbings of gravestones and Jessica hears voices calling out to her in whispers and sees figures darting about in her peripheral vision. This stylistic storytelling sets the stage for the main plight of the movie as the group arrives at the homestead and Jessica is bombarded with sounds and images that she cannot ascertain whether she is experiencing reality or a relapse of her sickened mental state.

Only a few years after the hight of hippies in America, the film does several things to portray the lifestyle as mellow, carefree people into experiencing life in whatever way it comes. This is most obviously contrasted with the state of the world that we currently live in when the group arrives at the farm house for the first time and Jessica thinks she sees someone at first on the porch, and then dart into a room upstairs. As the trio runs about looking for a person, they find a young woman who has been squatting in the abandoned house, and in true hippy fashion they ask her to stay with them.

As the group sets about getting to know each other for the night, we are in store for a few great scenes that this film has to offer. The first uses sound to distort and warp as the newcomer plays guitar and sings to create a truly frightening atmosphere, and later as the group decides to hold a seance to speak with any spirits who may be existing in the house, again Jessica is innundated with whispers and strange noises that create such an uncomfortable atmosphere that I actually found myself curling up into a ball with a blanket.

I won't give away details of the mystery of the film, but I will say that music and sound in general play a huge role in the atmosphere of "Let's Scare Jessica To Death". While not totally relying on sound, the few images of terror that are presented are done so in mere glimpses of people who may or may not be there, dodging through fog or swirling about underwater in the lake outside the farmhouse. The Sound, minimal imagery and well done portrayal by the actors as to whether any of the events are indeed happening or are simply the product of Jessica's imagination, all combine to make this one of the creepiest movies I have seen yet.

- the fucking beard

Agreed - a very fine film. I second all that you said.

- Complaint Dept

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ghost Hunters Season Premiere (2007)

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

Let's just assume that you are reading this because you have seen the Sci-Fi original series that for three seasons now has focused more on the Ghosthunters bickering amongst themselves more than it has on hunting ghosts, so let me just jump to the highlights:

Steve Gonsalves had to stay behind in the states due to his fear of flying. This is unfortunate seeing as how he is the only member of the team besides Grant Wilson who doesn't make me want to punch myself in the face.

Case #1 - Lisheen Ruins - Ireland

A nice little site of ruins out in the Irish countryside that is basically a hollowed out, overgrown with ivy stone structure. The ruins are supposedly a site full of fairies, which in Ireland aren't the nice cute little "Fern Gully" type, they are more like what we would call goblins. Mean, evil little dudes.

- Grant sits in an area of surrounding forest called a "wrath" and when he thinks he sees objects appear around him says "my first thought was 'Am I experiencing fairy activity?' - I don't know".

- Brian Harnois goes underground beneath the structure and proceeds to absolutely freak out about spiders.

- Grant and Jason train the Thermal Camera on Brian and another investigator walking through the Wrath and pickup first one, then three human shaped heat signatures following behind the team. Ghosts? Um, how about people walking around in the woods messing with them? Strange that they don't even consider this possibility.

- The crew picks up audio of heavy shoes walking on a wood floor in the ruins, which is interesting since there is no wood anywhere, only stone walls remain.

- The crew also caught an image on camera in the woods that they say is a face, but I can't make that out at all. They are really stretching things these days.

Case #2 - Viaduct Tavern - England

For our second case the crew goes to an old tavern that was built over a 18th century debters prison. You got a basement full of bankrupt ghosts and a third floor with a resident hooker ghost. Sweet.

- The crew seems to have picked up on calling each other "Bro" in England.

- While exploring the old debters prison in the basement, Grant climbs into the tiny 2x3 foot cell (that's right, 2 by 3 feet) and makes his second brillian quote for the evening with "I can't imagine why if you were dead you would hang around in an area like that", referring to the awful conditions in the basement. So, by that logic then Hawaii should be chok-full of ghosts and Florida, Debt Prison basements and all Waffle Houses should be devoid of spirit activity.

Not much came from this investigation other than Brian getting chastized for being too gruff when talking to dead English hookers.

Stay tuned for next week! And also check out the show "Destination Truth" that comes on after Ghost Hunters, because the guy who hosts it is the biggest pop-culture slinging douchebag cryptozoologist ever. It's totally fantastic.

- the fucking beard