Friday, August 31, 2007

Halloween (2007)

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


I won't blabber on and on about how the first Halloween re-invigorated the horror genre, how it single-handedly invented another one, or how amazing it was in all its Hitchkockian intense build-ups, camera angles and overall suspense. We all know how incredible the original was and how much it continues to send shivers down our spines. Turn out the lights, put on this flick, and you can't tell me its not one of the most unnerving films you have ever seen--much like Psycho, no matter how many times you see it.

Rob Zombie's 're-imagining' of this classic film focuses on what the first one didn't. Namely, how Michael was raised, tormented by his mother's abusive boyfriend and daily tauntings from the kids at school. He escapes his daily torments into a world in which he kills small animals (the film never fully explains why) and this is what alarms his teachers and a mother that is initially in denial. Combined with his tortuous home and school life, Michael lashes out, killing one of his classmates and then turning his violent rage onto his family.

Upon killing his sister and mother's boyfriend, Michael is shipped off to an asylum where he is analyzed and 'befriended' by Dr. Sam Loomis (played very well by Malcolm McDowell). No one can seem to break into Michael's mind as he finds comfort in making masks out of paper mache and wearing them to hide what he calls 'his ugly face' (the masks bearing striking resemblance to those worn by the shit nu-metal band Slipknot). Fifteen years pass, Michael does not utter a word and he ends up breaking out of the asylum and returns back to his home town of Haddonfield.

That's the basic gist of the background that is supposed to justify Michael's psychopathic behavior. I got picked on a shit load when I was a kid, always the smallest kid in my class growing up and I know plenty of kids that were verbally abused by parents that turned out alright.

Getting down to it, this was a movie that did not need to be remade. The suspense of the original is completely lost and is instead traded in for Mr. Zombie's brand of brash brutality which the movie certainly had a ton of. But after about scene 10,000 of brutality (enough already, I fucking get it Rob) it starts to wear thin and this one trick pony needs to be taken out to pasture. Not only does he bastardize an original classic (oddly enough, much like the remake of Psycho), he actually alludes to Myers having some semblance of humanity left. What made the original so great is that we knew Myers was a psychopathic killer with 'devil's eyes' that had shown no humanity and THAT's what made him frightening. Zombie instead dumbs him down, no matter how much brutality is shown on screen, in the single moment in which he shows Myers attempting to reach out to his sister. The horror was completely sucked dry and we are left instead with a truly brutal film but hardly resembling anything like its predecessor.

I don't know what was more disturbing about this film. The fact that it was remade or that some parents at the theater dragged their 5 year old son to watch it with them. My nominees for parents of the year right there. The kid was screaming during certain parts and the father covered the kid's mouth. Truly horrific. I saw this once and can say I did but this will not get a repeat viewing, ironically enough, like the Psycho remake. And it's the original Psycho which clearly influenced the original Halloween, giving it inspiration for intense build-ups and creepy camera work. Sadly enough, the same influence did not carry over with this boring and lackluster remake. Mr. Zombie, I appreciate that you are a fan but please, stay as such and don't dumb down another franchise.

Cortez the Killer

* * * *

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

Being neither a fan of Rob Zombie's music nor his two other films, and the fact that Halloween is one of my all time favorite films, it's safe to say that my expectations were very very low for this. For starters, I agree 100% with Cortez on the fact that remaking a classic like John Carpenter's 1978 independent masterpiece is completely unneeded and, maybe even slightly insulting and cocky. It's like saying, "yeah, that Mona Lisa painting is pretty good, but I bet I could do it better." And given Zombie's track record I have to say it's a fairly baseless boast. House of 1000 Corpses was a cheap, weak and dull "homage" to 70's schlock-shock and The Devil's Rejects was just as pathetic (Beard will totally defend that film to the death, but this is me talking here). So, yeah, I went into this expecting a stinky turd burger.


Well surprise surprise, not only did this exceed my expectations, I actually really liked it. All of the above stands true, but I think Zombie's "re-imagining" was enough that it felt like a familiar, but totally different movie than the original. The story line is creative (if not a little obvious at times) and it is certainly violent. A lot of people have been talking about how gory the movie is, but it really isn't. There is certainly a lot of blood, but gory...not really. It is, as Cortez notes, pretty brutal, however. The body count is pretty fucking high in this and the murders are generally drawn out and lengthy which makes it a little hard to watch at times. But then, this is a horror movie and that ickiness makes it all the more effective.

The big difference here, aside from the copious amount of blood (the original is, essentially, bloodless) and the fact that, except for Dee Wallace and Scout Taylor-Compton, all of the female characters wind up naked, is that the focus of the character development is on Myers and Dr. Loomis. Loomis, played marvelously by Malcolm McDowell, is no longer a wacky doctor who, despite being 100% correct, comes across as a weird kook that no one should believe. Instead, he seems to know what's up here. The Laurie Strode figure is almost an after-thought, just another victim who just happens to be Myer's sister (everyone knows that right?). This is kind of cool as, again, it feels like a new movie and not a remake.

There are some cool cameos from older horror films too - Brad Dourif, Clint Howard, Udo Kier, Danny Trejo, Sybil Danning, Adrienne Barbeau, and for some crazy reason,Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees. Trying to spot all of these people is part of the fun. And Myers is played by the hulking Tyler Mane who played Sabretooth in the X-Men films. Finally, of course, nearly the entire cast of both 1000 Corpses and Rejects (yes, including Sid Haig) are here too.
The films starts well, gets a little plodding in the middle, but then picks up big time in the finale of the film where things get really intense. There were a lot of "surprise" scares that made me jump and laugh out loud and Zombie successfully worked in a lot of "no-way-out situations" that were clever and scary.

Overall, this was really good and I really had a good time. So, without further adieu, I am happy to announce that I finally like something by Rob Zombie. Well done. Now, just stop playing music.
- Complaint Dept

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

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5

It's a given that this "re-imagining" was needless. Like him or not (I personally do), Rob Zombie was setting himself up for failure from the moment he signed on to do this. But we here at planet of terror have beat this point into the ground, so let's look at the film for what it is.

Almost every aspect of this remake has a good and bad side to it. The backstory showing Michael's "tortured" (I'm with Cortez here, it wasn't like the kid had the worst childhood, it was no picnic but it didn't warrant turning out as a psychopath either) past does in fact make you feel more connected to the "character" of Michael, but that was one of the things that makes the original story so frightening is that that entire portion is missing. It was not knowing what had happened to Michael all those years in confinement, and only Loomis' impression of why we should be scared that made the story work so well. There was power in the not knowing. Still, the interactions here between Loomis and Michael were interesting.

Zombie explores some interesting ideas with the masks. The idea that Michael needs to wear masks to become someone else, someone capable of killing is interesting, but do we really need to know that about him to be afraid of the dude the in the mask with the big knife? Perhaps Zombie was really focused on the humanity and struggle within Michael, and bringing that out so that the audience connects with him, which I think worked to a degree. The scenes before he breaks out of the hospital were some of the most frightening as Zombie does close up shots on the eye holes of Michael's mask where you know that somewhere in there is a person instead of the relentless killer from the original franchise.

Then there were the things that were just silly. Honestly, Michael sitting on the sidewalk forlorn while "Love Hurts" plays in the background was just fucking stupid, and yet, a highlight of the film. Also, Zombie takes great pains to remove any ambiguity about the connection between Laurie Stroud and Michael. Thanks dude, I get it. Sherry-Moon Zombie was atrocious, and the young Michael made me shiver. BUT, I was honestly surprised and relieved that the score was the original one done by John Carpenter, and not a Nu Metal version redone by Zombie. I all but expected that.

The saving graces were the performances of
Brad Dourif and Malcolm McDowell. Both were spot on. Also, my movie-going experience was priceless. Folks in Long Beach take their horror movies pretty seriously, and we had a peanut gallery of about 200 obnoxious people who held no restraint in screaming out such gems as "bitch got some flat ass titties", "look at that broke ass old cracker" "RUN BITCH RUN", and other beautiful moments such as the group of four ladies responsible for all of the above statements leaving during the climax of the film, only to scream, wave their hands int he air and literally run out of the theater after the false ending gives way to the obligatory second climax. What was once a respected and cherished genre of film has been reduced to a madhouse in Long Beach, but I'll be damned if it doesn't make for an enjoyable evening.

The real question here is should you see this. And honestly, I can't make a definitive statement on that. At best you will still most likely just be asking yourself why it was made in the first place, and that's just not a good sign. It's like trying to find the specific combination of scents that makes poop smell bad; sure it's a good thing for someone to explore and to know the answer, but in the end it doesn't really matter cause you already know poop smells bad. I suppose if you don't care that much about the original, and you thought that the Texas Chainsaw remake as good as or better than the original, then sure go for it. But if that's the case, why are you reading this blog? And if that isn't the case, odds are you already threw down 10 bucks to see it opening night (as apparently all of planet of terror did) and left the theater asking yourself: "why"?

- the fucking beard

Dead Clowns 2007


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

Goddammit, I can't believe I rented this movie. O.k., it was done so without my intention. I was perusing the list of horror flicks on 'In Demand' and saw the title of this movie so I clicked on the 'View Trailer' button. The screen froze, and when it came to after hitting my remote multiple times, I had inadvertently purchased this pile of steamy cow dung. Reading the movie synopsis, I thought 'Hey, this looks like it might have potential':

Fifty years ago, a bridge collapsed in the small coastal town of Port Emmett, plunging a circus train into the water. The clown car was never recovered. As a hurricane approaches, zombie clowns emerge from the bay, seeking revenge.'
Sounds brilliant right? Alas, I was so pissed off after watching this, I did not have the strength and muscular fortitude to pick up the phone and call the cable company, only to be put on hold for 2 hours, to receive a refund of $3.99.
So basically the synopsis is all you need to know about the plot. The film itself is so low budget that it reminded me of watching family home movies that my dad used to make using a VHS camcorder. The most annoying part was that the dialogue was so badly dubbed that about half of the movie you don't hear any of it because the music score is totally fucking blaring over what the characters are saying on screen. I had my 5.1 Dolby Surround sound cranked and I still couldn't hear a fucking goddamn thing.
To top it all off, this movie is the WORST rendition of zombies I have ever seen committed to film. They are zombies in only the vaguest of terms. Instead of lumbering, rotting corpses, you get burned to a black char skeletons that look like they just came off a barbecue grill (chicken anyone?). And to put the finishing touches on this shit cake, there is minimal blood and gore which is just an absolute sin and a sure fire way to piss off the most ardent of admirers of this genre of horror films. There is however one decent scene which involves a meat thermometer and an eye gouge. But that's about it folks.
I know horror movies come off the assembly line like bleach blond, siliconed girls in California, but come the fuck on. Put a little bit of effort into something THAT could potentially be phenomenal. Zombie clowns? Seriously? Tell me who would not want to see a band of Krusty's ripping people limb from limb. If this is all that it takes for someone to pick up a tab for someone's idea of a 'good' horror film, someone give me a ring. I've got a decent script ready.
Cortez the Killer

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Valerie On The Stairs (2006)

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

Absolutely fucking terrible. It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone that was rejected by the producers when it was revealed to have been written by a middle school student. Except that it's based on a Clive Barker story. Which is kind of the same thing.

Struggling writer moves into a building . . . oh why waste my time? Here's the plot as summarized on Wikipedia: "Rob Hanisey is a new tenant at a large apartment filled with unsuccessful writers where they can live rent-free until they make their first publication. During his stay, he witnesses disturbing visions of a beautiful, naked, and slime-covered woman named Valerie (Clare Grant) who calls for his help from a flight of ghostly stairs. It is revealed by other writers in the building who say they have written Valerie into the confines of the beast."

No really, there is a "beast" and it's played by Tony Todd, the ding-dong who played Candyman. In this go round, he's all decked out in a cheesy rubber "demon" costume with some neato pointy teeth. And yeah, he's the product of all of the dreams and energy poured out by these frustrated writers. And yeah, the protagonist finds out that he too was written into the story and at the end he disintegrates into a pile of book pages that float through the air.

This was so bad, even the pointless nudity couldn't peak my interest. Even the gore was boring. So by the numbers. This was like eating mushrooms cooked in pee-pee. It was like plucking every beard hair out of my face one by one.

Written and directed by Mick Garris who also wrote *batteries not included and directed a few made for TV Stephen King adaptations. He's no Mick Harris, that's for sure. That guy was the Human Tornado.

-Complaint Department

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Return of the Living Dead (1984)

Fear 1/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 1/5
Nightmares 1/5
80's Punker Mayhem 5/5

If you've never seen Dan O'Bannon's incredible film The Return of the Living Dead, then the words "send more cops" mean nothing to you. If you have, you're probably smiling right now. ROTLD is, maybe, the greatest zombie film of all time - I know, I know, that's a bold statement. But I think I truly believe that.

Starting at the very beginning of the film with a statement explaining that all of the events, names and places in this film are true, it is obvious this movie is going to be fun. The story revolves around two guys who work in a medical supply warehouse. While showing the ropes to the new guy, the old timer explains that the weirdest thing he has ever seen on the job is the canisters downstairs containing the bodies of the living dead. It turns out that Night of the Living Dead was based on real events. The Army was conducting tests with chemical agents and something went wrong as the dead suddenly came to life and attacked everyone. After cleaning up their mess, the military heard George Romero was shooting a film based on the events and coerced him into changing the story around so that the real events would never be exposed. Meanwhile, the remaining zombies were rounded up and stored in airtight canisters that were promptly shipped to the wrong location by accident.

This all makes for a fun little story until the old timer brings the new kid down to show him the canisters. When asked if they could possibly leak, old timer says "Hell no son, these were made by the Army Corps of Engineers!", kicks the side and is promptly sprayed with lethal toxic gas as the side of the canister ruptures. Cue opening credits.

There is so much that went RIGHT with this movie. The special effects, even 23 years later, are top notch with some excellent gore effects and fantastic zombies. 80's scream queen Linnea Quigley arrives on the scene and within seconds is totally naked...and stays naked for the entire movie. The script is smart, funny and grim with great dialogue and tons of creativity. The soundtrack is equally great, a real treat for fans of 80's "death rock" (45 Grave, The Damned, The Cramps, TSOL, etc.).

And for those of you who think that zombies were all slow and lumbering until 28 Days Later rolled around, think again. The zombies here are not only fast and very (re)animated, but can use tools (like winches) and can talk - the zombie interrogation scene where the half-bodied zombie lady explains why they eat brains is a riot. Oh, and unlike the zombies in every other zombie movie, they can't be killed. Not even if you take out their brain. They just keep going. It's fucking fantastic. Throw in some ridiculous postcard-punk characters with bad mohawk/mullet wigs and names like "Suicide" and "Trash", add a smattering of the word "rad" every now and then end it all with a big bang and you've got one hell of a zombie movie. Like I said, maybe the best ever.

- Complaint Department

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bad Reputation (2005)


Fear 0/5

Gore 3/5

Entertainment 3/5

Creepiness 0/5

Nightmares 0/5

Rip Off Potential 5/5


Bad Reputation is a revenge horror themed slice of pie much like I Spit on Your Grave minus the all-too-real brutal and graphic content. It focuses on a girl that is an outcast of her local high school (think Carrie) that is one day out of the blue 'befriended' by the big man on campus. He tries to woo his way into her underpants by coaxing her into going to a party that is being held in honor of cool kids everywhere. The girl, never one to be invited to anything or even so much as acknowledged at school, becomes a goofily giddy gal and can't wait to participate in the evenings festivities.
After school, she makes a mad dash to prepare for the evenings events, stopping by the store on the way home to buy the necessary 'hey look at me I'm a teenage gal in much need of attention' dress. She returns home and tells her mom the exciting news only to be cursed for buying a whorish dress and wanting too much to try and fit in with all the cool kids (again, think of the crazy mother in Carrie). She tells her mom off and gleefully exits the house, frolicking into the night and on her way to her first experience of adolescent partying and partaking of excessive chemical consumption.
She parties with the jock, becomes incredibly intoxicated and it is at this point in the movie, that you know exactly what is going to happen next. Mister big shot on campus slips her a roofie, whispers sweet nothings and takes her into his room with his buddies that trail close behind. They have their way with her while she desperately tries in vain to ward off all attempts. Afterwards, she is further humiliated when the school douchebag tells everyone that it was her that came onto him and all the kids hog tie her to a tree. The next day at school, it becomes apparent that she is no longer Miss Sally Goody Two Shoes and she is now out for blood.
This movie contains so many elements of both Carrie and I Spit on Your Grave that its hard to decide if its actual worship of both of these films or just a blatant rip off. As a result, its hard to get into this movie because there are so many blaring similarities. Its definitely entertaining to watch and there is a fair amount of gore. But what this movie fails to do is to completely deliver on both its shock value and its ability to totally disturb you for weeks. Entertaining? Yes. Original? Not by a long shot. Go see the aforementioned flicks before even touching Bad Reputation if you have not already done so. But good gracious the female lead in this movie is totally gorgeous. Sweet Jesus.

Cortez the Killer


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pulse (2006)



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

The idea with Pulse is interesting: While working on a telecommunications project, someone found an unknown frequency that opens a door between the living and the dead that cannot be closed. The dead, in the form of thin pale creepy-eepies, begin to make their way into our world through the Internet, cell phones, and other forms of technology we use to communicate. Once they arrive, they steal the "will to live" from each person they encounter resulting in an epidemic of suicides and, ultimately, the end of mankind.

This is a remake of the 2001 Japanese film Kairo which was, like many J-Horror films, somewhat creepy and unsettling, but ultimately baffling in terms of plot and meaning as the social commentary was specific to events occurring within Japan and not elsewhere. The American remake, like many remakes of Japanese horror films, is much more coherent and easy to follow, but less of a social commentary and more of a straight forward fear film. Depending on what you are looking for from a horror movie, this is either good or bad.

The film stars Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars fame along with some other relatively attractive young Hollywood types. It was originally to be directed by Wes Craven who bailed on the project early on. He was replaced by some other guy who also bailed, declaring that the film was too much like the US version of The Ring. Additionally, the movie was set to be released in the US in April of 2006, but was pushed way back to August. The trailer (available on the DVD) contains a few scenes that never appear in the movie, and also has some footage from the original Japanese version. Once the film opened, it disappeared from theaters quickly and flopped with critics.

This is unfortunate because, despite it's flaws and struggles, Pulse is not a bad movie by any stretch. It has some very effective effects (as well as some bad CGI effects to be fair) where the ghosts are seen, but not fully. There are some inventive scares and atmosphere and the script (co-written by Craven) is solid. It's a nice cross between a teen horror film and a smarter sci-fi film that occasionally devolves into some technological mumbo-jumbo to try and explain things, but, for the most part, does what it's supposed to do: scare and entertain.

As an added bonus, the DVD has a featurette examining the film's relationship to and portrayal of ITC that included interviews with Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters.

Despite it's poor reception and box office earnings, two sequels are, apparently, in the works. So I must not have been the only person who was surprised by it.

- Complaint Department

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007)

Fear 1/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 1/5
Nightmares 0/5
Originality 3/5

Behind The Mask is a clever and funny mockumentary exposing and exploring nearly every cliche and hook used in slasher films. It does this in the same way that This is Spinal Tap did: a film crew follows a masked serial murderer around for a few months documenting his daily actions as he prepares for his big kill. He talks with admiration about his idols Freddy Kreuger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees who, in the film, are not fictional characters but real people. We learn the tricks of his trade from booby-trapping weapons so they will fail to kill him to intense cardio workouts so he can learn to move quickly while giving the appearance of walking slowly.

The concept of a mockumentary about the daily life of a serial killer is not new. Man Bites Dog, a Belgian film from 1992, is pretty much the same movie but without the humor. That film, while occasionally disturbing, was generally dull and a little too arty for me. Additionally, it was about a serial killer that could exist while Behind The Mask is about a serial killer that could only exist on the big screen. This is where the humor comes in as the concepts that are explored are obviously silly, but don't need to be played up for laughs. The killer is well played by Nathan Baesel who manages to be both annoying in a Michael Keaton kind of way and believable in ways that fits the character well. And finally, throughout the entire running there are numerous subliminal references to classic horror films from the 70's and 80's that slip by if you're not watching for them.

About 3/4's of the way through, the film switches gears from a mockumentary into a straight forward horror film and the ending is kind of iffy. It's slightly clever, if not a little obvious, and fun and entertaining. Expect very little scares and bloodshed. While both come in the end, the first part of the film has already exposed every trick that horror screenwriters have. So when things jump out at you or things suddenly happen, you've been well "trained" to expect them. Still, it's fun.

Aside from the cameo from Robert Englund who, as always, is stiff and cardboard in his role, Behind The Mask was a pretty good movie.

-Complaint Department

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5
I was totally expecting this to be like eating a bag of my own shit, but surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed this. While it didn't bowl me over with it's originality or superb production values, I was amazed at how little my intelligence was insulted by a ding-dongy movie aimed at teenagers whose central character is a monster guy with bat wings, an axe and a trenchcoat.
Plot goes like this - The dude from the Apple commercials and his sister are coming home from spring break and see a guy dumping what looks like a body into a big drainage pipe. When they check it out, they find hundreds of corpses in various stages of decomposition sewn together, all missing limbs or organs or random stuff like that. They run off to tell the cops and eventually are chased by the killer who turns out to be the bat-winged fella mentioned above. Why he drives a truck is a mystery. Throw in a kooky psychic who reveals that the bat-guy is a monster who is free to eat for 23 days every 23 years (where these numbers came from is a mystery too) and only eats the body parts it needs to replace on it's own body and you have a complete film. It's gloriously retarded, but so much fun.
Apple guy is not a bad actor and the script is, like I said, not insulting at all. It's actually kind of crisp and funny at times with dialogue that doesn't seem forced at all. The effects are top-notch with very little CGI and the monster dude is shown in shadowy ways that hide his ridiculous get up - a tried and true horror trick that the makers of Dog Soldiers, Alien and Halloween knew very well.
And while I'm not comparing Jeepers Creepers to those films at all, I will say this - when you're on a business trip and stuck in Orlando Florida for two weeks and Jeepers Creepers comes on Showtime, it seems like a mighty fine film.
P.S - Victor Salva, director of the film, is a douchebag.
-Complaint Department

The Hamiltons (2006)

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

Disappointing story about a group of "young adults" whose parents are killed in a car crash or something and are forced to fend for themselves and grown up a little sooner than expected. Early on we are given the impression that there is something "odd" about the members of the family and the rest of the movie is spent exploring their weird behavior and the fact that they kidnap and torture young, attractive women in their basement.

Despite what the above sounds like (cliched and non-original), the previews made this look interesting since it seemed that the family were, aside from the murdering, relatively normal. A neat concept that could have been scary in a "they could be anyone - even your next door neighbor" kind of way. And while the dialogue and acting are amateurish at best, I was willing to put that aside since it is a low budget independent film.

Sadly though, it becomes too silly about halfway through as the writers decided that it would be more effective to make the family members obviously weird and not just in a hidden kind of way. So the twins indulge in a little incest, the oldest brother turns out to be gay (which I'm not sure is really all that "weird"..actually a little offended that I'm supposed to be bothered by it) and the youngest sibling is locked away in a room and fed scraps. Occasionally he tears into an arm or threatens to break down the door while screaming in horrible agony. It's intended to be disturbing (I THINK) but it's all just kind of goofy.

And here's the big spoiler for you (meaning, this is the "twist" of the film) - it turns out they're not murders, but vampires. Yup. Dumb.

While I respect the fact that the people involved with the film tried to make an innovative and smart movie about a subject that is way too often completely botched by bad goth-shit and erotic douchebaggery, I am disappointed to break the news to them that they tried a bit too hard and wound up in dopeyville. Better luck next time.


- Complaint Dept

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Game Box 1.0 (2004)

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

Gamebox 1.0

File under "so bad it's kind of awesome", Gamebox 1.0 tells the timeless tale of a video game tester who is tormented by the death of his girlfriend at the hands of a junkie cop. Things seem hopeless for our nerdy friend until a new video game system is mysteriously delivered to his house. Apparently this sort of thing happens all the time when you are part of the fast paced world of video game testing, so the dude assumes it's just another game he's supposed to test.

BUT! This is no ordinary video game system, the Gamebox 1.0 is a virtual reality system where you take pictures of your friends with the supplied digital camera, and one of your most hated enemy as well, and the system applies these images to NPC's in the game, and your enemy in real life becomes your foe in the game world.

As our hero begins with the first of the three games available, "Crime Spree" (GTA inspired) , he soon finds that he cannot control when he plays the game, and that getting hurt inside the gameworld means that he actually gets hurt. When his beloved dead girlfriend shows up as a main character, he gets truly sucked in as the game switched to it's other other two games, one about zombies and one called "Alien Planet". All the while he is stalked by the computer generated enemy of the very police officer who killed his real life girlfriend.

This flick is interesting because there is no gore, it's not scary and the effects and acting are TERRIBLE, but it's still kind of cool. If you were 13 and saw this it might be one of those movies you were stoked on for the rest of your life that you try and show to your friends. Kind of like Phantasm. This one isn't going to blow your mind, but it might keep you entertained for a while. I should say though that I watched it in a hotel room in Sacramento when my only other choice was 5 sports channels on Tv and the internet was out, so maybe it was only entertaining because it was my best option available.

- the fucking beard

I kind of have to agree. It's certainly not a horror film and really only qualifies as "scary" because there are some zombies in it, but it was mildy entertaining. Yet it sucked. It was nerdy and didn't really make much sense and the ridiculous rendered backgrounds were annoying as shit, but still, I watched the whole thing and didn't think it was all that bad. How is that possible?

- Complaint Department

Ginger Snaps (2000)


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

Maybe my fellow brethren on this site will weigh in, but is there any genre of horror that is as hit and miss as the werewolf? I personally, think not. You either get a phenomenal flick (Dog Soldiers) or a smoldering piece of doggie doo doo (The Howling II). But when its done right, damn is it friggin' good.

Ginger Snaps is the story of two out of place teenage sisters that are obsessed with death and the occult. For fun, they stage and photograph their own 'suicides'. They come up with new and inventive ways to do so, only to shock the piss out of their high school classmates in their photography class. They are truly the outcasts of the school and make no apologies for it. The sisters are fiercely loyal to each other, quick to defend and come to each other's aide when the preps and cheerleaders come to do their requisite bashing and taunting.

In the midst of providing the back drop on the sisters, their relationship and their outright detachment from suburban life and surroundings, we come to learn that an unknown animal is on the prowl, killing off the fidos of the neighborhood. Dogs are being devoured left and right, all the while the sisters have a feeling that something else is going on.

Strolling through the park late one night, the girls get an oompa loompa vibe that someone is watching them. Out of the darkness, one of the sisters is attacked by an 'animal' and the other desperately tries to come to her rescue. The unseen force, releases her and the sisters begin to high tail it through the woods and onto an interstate were the persuing beast is subsequently splattered across the grill of an oncoming truck. The sisters retreat home and as the next few days pass, things begin to get a little hairy.

The sister that was attacked slowly shows signs of becoming a werewolf. What makes this overall story so unique is that she does not know what she is becoming (well at least initially) and it is this, coupled with her teenage adolescence, that makes the story so interesting. Its her coming of age as a strong, independent, don't-take-shit-from-anybody gal, that begins to meld with her transformation into something that is greater than herself. She soon learns that she has these incredible powers as a werewolf and she can use them to manipulate those who have harmed her in the past. It is in this power that she starts to feel invincible, as if nothing can do her any harm.

Beautifully shot, executed and with pretty awesome special effects, Ginger Snaps is one of the most original werewolf movies that I've have seen. Just when I thought I was going to get into another teeny bopper-ish horror flick, this movie completely turned me on my head. Not to mention the ending was a real downer. Completely unexpected and it left me wanting more. If the other movies in the series are this good, I'll be in for a real treat.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Covenant (2006)


Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5
Probability of self-inflicted face punching: 10

Great mother of god, this is one fantastically laid turd of cinematic filth. Four teen boys with 'extreme' powers, come from a bloodline of witches in The Covenant. Their respective families long ago made a pact to blend in and become normal functioning members of society. This 'secret', is what has kept them relatively hidden for generations, despite their unique powers and abilities. Apparently, there is a fifth family that no one new about and its the spawn wonder boy of this family that gets a thirst for taking over and assuming even more power.

So the four boys live a pretty normal life as the cool kids of the school, using their magic to amuse themselves. They sometimes push their limits and almost risk being exposed. But with their power comes a price, the more they use it, the more it weakens them and ages their body. To add to their teenage wiles and arrogance, each teen becomes a super witch and they 'ascend' at midnight on their 18th birthday. This further tempts them to explore the boundaries of their power. Yes, this script was written by a 10 year old.

So the fifth annoying teen comes along, mr johnny badass, trying to blend in and become friends with the group. From the get go you know what he's up to and there is absolutely no mystery as to why he's there. He killed off his family, received their powers and wants to take the power of the main leader of the gang of four on his 18th birthday.

I've tried to make this mess of a plot sound somewhat interesting, but for the life of me I cannot. The funniest part of the movie was the final throwdown between bratty teen who wants to be all powerful and the gang of four kid turning 18 who tries in vain to rescue his lady. The kids tussle, each hurling their mystic water balloons at each other and each one that is flung, sounds like a fireball pluck pluck from Super Mario Bros.

The Covenant? More like The Convent. This was a shithouse of the highest order. Only watch this garbage if you want to punch yourself in the face at the end for wasting an hour and forty minutes of your life.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005)

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

Conceptually, you’ve seen this film a hundred times before. A guy driving through a remote area is stuck when his car breaks down. He finds a local inn run by a lonely old guy who seems nice at first but soon starts to get a bit screwy and events take a turn for the worst. It’s an old story that’s been used numerous times. The triumph of the Belgian film Calvaire, however, is in its simple and straight forward execution.

There are no teenagers, no kids, no damsels in distress and no cheap scares. There are no flashy camera shots, pricey CGI effects or montages shown over a blaring soundtrack of goth-rock-nu metal. Even the credits are more like a Woody Allen film than a horror film. The film is simple in its production and doesn’t rely on any unneeded plot twists or moments of “aha!” Instead, the story is told in a linear fashion that makes the whole thing seem all the more frightening because you know what’s going to happen next. The it happens and it’s just as gruesome as you expected.

There are two things that really make this movie effective – and by “effective”, I mean creepy and disturbing. First is the near total absence of any kind of soundtrack. The only music in the film is the music that the main character performs (he is a lounge singer). Soundtracks can be a great tool to add atmosphere and tension to a film, but when there is no background music at all, at anytime, the horrible situations before your eyes seem much more real and immediate.

The second thing that works really well is the subtle approach to the gruesome events that occur in the movie. There is no splattering gore, no close ups of guts and brains and the camera often pulls away before the violence depicted can be shown. You know what is happening and that is enough because the events taking place are awful enough without needing to really examine them in gory detail. And believe me, the events in this film take a wrong turn about halfway through and get really creepy and icky. And just plain weird at times. Think Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but done by Belgians.

The film ends with no real resolution and leaves a lot of questions open – specifically the ones around motive and purpose. There is also a lingering question about the reality of the characters ordeal – his “Calvaire – that leaves you wondering yourself about what you just saw. This sort of ending can be maddening to some, but in this case it’s all part of the package where things are a little too real.

Complaint Department
.....................................................................
I'm not sure what to make of this movie after watching it yesterday. Was it disturbing? Partially. Left of center? Completely. The dancing jig in the bar is going to give me nightmares for weeks. But there is something missing and I'm not quite sure why I can't get too overly excited about this flick, at least not yet anyways. Maybe I need a few days to let this one marinate.
The end WAS maddening and maybe its the lack of closure that is bugging me a little right now. I have my own interpretation, namely that the main character, because of all the trauma that unfolded, actually started to believe that maybe he WAS the long lost love of the innkeeper. But not having this validated is probably what is making me more frustrated than anything. That's the only way that my feeble mind can interpret the end of this movie.
Do I recommend watching this? A resounding hell yes, but I'm not sure I am able to add it my list of favorites yet. Maybe I need a repeat viewing.
Cortez the Killer

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Messengers (2007)

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

After some family problems, a suburban family moves out to the father's old family farm to "start anew". The kids have some emotional problems, there is some tension between each family member and the new environment is kind of creepy to these city folk. Oh, and the family farm is haunted.

How many times has this movie been written? How many times do we need to be subjected to the same old tired teenage-marketed, PG-13 poopfest? Sure, some of the CGI effects are kind of cool, but so what? Gimme a new storyline, people.

The fact that Sam Raimi's name is attached to this should tip you off that this will suck it - remember Boogeyman? The fact that the Pang Brothers directed this is just sad given that The Eye is a classic ghost film that transcended most other Asian ghost tales. The fact that I paid $2.99 to see this bums me out as well since that's $2.99 I could have spent on donuts or taco sauce. Shit man.

Complaint Department

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

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

Dear Hollywood,

Please, no more movies about ghost kids. The premise has lost it's shock value and has become boring.

P.S. Same thing with shock endings, M. Knight Shamalamadingdong and that effect where when something only marginally scary happens on screen you pump this shrill sound into my ears. It doesn't make me scared, it makes me bleed. From the ears.

What I found funny about this movie that with Rami's name attached to it, it gave the appearance that he was actually ripping himself off from earlier movies. Hmmm, let's see, Sam Rami, and decomposing ghouls coming out of the earthen floor of the cellar to attack our hero. Fuck, sounds kind of familiar.

Oh yeah, I kind of liked Boogeyman.

- the fucking beard

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Suspiria (1977)

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

Undoubtedly the best film Dario Argento ever directed, Suspiria remains one of the most artistically pleasing films I've ever seen, horror or otherwise. From the incredible sets and magnificently vivid use of color to the morbid and influential soundtrack (think Einsturzende Nuebauten or Controlled Bleeding way, way before those bands existed), there simply is no other movie that looks or sounds the way Suspiria does.

Set in Germany, the story revolves around a young student who enrolls at a prestigious dance school only to find that there are some very weird goings-on happening there. There is murder, mayhem, and mystery, always a good combo, and it's pulled off very well.

Upon it's release in 1977, the film was both lauded for it's artistic vision and genuinely scary moments and panned for it's remarkably complex and detailed death scenes that were viewed as both ultra-violent and misogynistic.

Argento's previous films had been much more rooted in the Italian Giallo style of mystery and Suspiria was his first legitimate "horror film". The movie is, supposedly, the first in a trilogy entitled the "Three Mothers" about three separate witches, all related through some common thread that is set to be fully explained in the upcoming film The Third Mother. The film was shot with anamorphic lenses allowing for incredible wide screen shots, particularly towards the film's finale. The lighting is deliberately vivid and overblown, creating a surreal and creepy look in nearly every scene, though none more so than where the students are set to sleep in the school's gymnasium. As the lights go out, the entire screen is bathed in dark red light and the tension becomes taunt based only on that simple trick. Amazing.

Being 30 years old, the film's special effects hold up remarkably well, though this is probably due more to the strength of the overall production than any technological wizardry. It's ability to scare comes not from any sudden surprises, but the ever present feeling of dread and tension. It is an incredible film that should be required viewing for any horror fan.

Complaint Dept

Friday, August 3, 2007

Drive Thru (2007)

Fear: 1/5
Gore: 5/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Creepiness: 1/5
Nightmares: 5/5 (if you are scared of clowns)


I can not write a serious review of this movie, no matter how hard I try. Because you know what? This movie does not take itself seriously at all. Instead what you get is a paint by numbers slasher flick that is high on cheese, gore and ridiculously bad acting--and it makes no apologies for it.

Drive Thru is set in a fictional, Orange County-style city amusedly called Blanca Carne (I'm sure even the most primitive of Spanish language understanding readers can translate that one). The teens that rule the town, the hipsters, the stoners, the wanna be gang bangers, are all being hunted by the mascot of their local, favorite fast food chain called Hella Burger. What is the name of this killer mascot? Wait for it-------Horny D Clown. Yes kids, watch out, Horny D Clown is on the prowl and he looks like a cross between Bozo and a Power Ranger.

So why is this beloved mascot running around town, killing off the teenagers of a group of parents that all used to be friends in high school? Pretty obvious midway through the movie as this and other slasher cliches are dispensed throughout. But what makes this movie so great, from the opening scene, is that you know straight from that start it is not taking itself seriously.

So sit back, relax, be ready to laugh your ass off and rejoice in the bloodbath that is Drive Thru. A lot of fun to watch, some ingenious methods of victim disposal, and a funny cameo by this dude.

Cortez the Killer

Horror News Story of the Day

Sadly, there are no pictures from the scene. Gnarly indeed.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2004092008,00.html

Cortez the Killer