Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

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

I saw Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep when it premiered in 2002 and found it enjoyable, but ultimately kind of a let down. This is because I went in with the wrong expectations. I assumed that because it was written and directed by the guy that did Phantasm and starred B-Movie king Bruce Campbell that it would be, essentially, a horror movie with some weird little quirks. Having watched it a second time I've come to understand that this is absolutely the wrong way to approach this movie.

Bubba Ho-Tep is a horror movie, but only in the most rudimentary of ways. Beyond the "scary" aspect, it is a smart, wildly creative, funny and clever look at growing old and what one's life ultimately means. The central plot revolves around a group of thieves who steal a priceless mummy from a museum in the hopes of ransoming it off for a huge payoff. The truck they are driving however, runs off the road and winds up at the bottom of a pond where the mummy is jolted out of it's sarcophagus after thousands of years living under a curse. The curse now broken, the mummy must feed on human souls to sustain itself and it moves to the easiest target it can find - an rest home for the elderly.

Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley who, back in the mid-70's, pulled a "Prince and the Pauper" deal with a convincing Elvis impersonator to escape from the fame and fortune that had left him feeling empty and completely out of control of his own life. Now a feeble and cantankerous old coot who relies on others to help him piss and shit, he "lives" in the old folks home where everyone assumes he is just another crazy old man who thinks he is someone else. This isn't helped by the fact that his best friend is a septuagenarian Black man who claims to be John F Kennedy (played so wonderfully straight by Ossie Smith). JFK, already paranoid because the CIA stole part of his brain and replaced it with a bag of sand (they also dyed him black) is the only person who seems to understand that the old people who are dropping like flies are not dying natural deaths. He's seen the mummy and knows what's going on and enlists The King to help put an end to it.

You're immediately led to believe that Campbell is actually Elvis and that Smith is, obviously, not JFK. But there's really no evidence to support this other than The King's own vivid (but possibly false) recollections of his own life. So when Elvis is lamenting being a bad father, being old and useless, and never living up to the heroic image his films portrayed, it's totally possible that he's simply a sad old man who's life was so uneventful and pointless that he has now resorted to living through an imaged life. Campbell is astounding in the role. He is both hilarious and touching while being utterly convincing. It makes me sad to see that this did not result in bigger and better roles for him.

This is a fantastic movie with great funny dialogue, wonderful characters and a real sense of humanity to it that left me with a warm feeling inside. I wouldn't be surprised if this movie goes on to be one of those revered cult classics that becomes regarded as an independent classic like This is Spinal Tap or even Napoleon Dynamite. How often can you say that about a movie where a living corpse that does battle with the King of Rock and Roll and Black JFK? See this film.

http://www.bubbahotep.com/

- Complaint Department

Ghost Story (1981)

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

Ghost Story is what happens when you try to "class" up a horror movie by focusing way to much on the wrong things. What could have been a creepy and scary tale about revenge and guilt instead became a slow and, ultimately, dull exercise in standard "thriller" fare. This is not to say that there were not moments I truly enjoyed - John Houseman's overbearing and hammy presence is always welcome in my book. There are also some truly gruesome corpse-effects happening as well along with one or two scares that are pretty effective. And, of course, with a cast made up with older actors whose best work was in the 1940s and 50's, you can safely assume that the acting is well done.

Ghost Story is based on a Peter Straub novel which, right from the top, should give you some insight into the creativity of the tale. Straub, who is sort of a less annoying and slightly more literate Stephen King, is known for horror novels that are well done, but, like this film, kind of dull and lacking any twists that might liven things up. And so it goes with Ghost Story: Four crusty old guys who make up the last members of the "Chowder Club" ("Society"?) are being haunted by nightmares brought on by the guilt of an event that happened 50 years ago. Each is being picked off by the ghost of a woman who shares in their dark secret.

It's obvious that the men have done something bad that resulted in her death - this is made clear from the first ten minutes of the movie - and the majority of the film is spent rewinding and telling the "dark secret" they share. And this takes way too much time in an attempt to be "literate" and pay homage to the older suspense films that the actors would otherwise be associated with (Fred Astaire excluded). The major problem with the film (aside from the incredibly annoying and ever present soundtrack) is that it's unsure of who it's audience is. There are some pretty gross scenes where the rotten corpse of the victim shows up to kill people, which, even by today's standards, is pretty icky. And there is plenty of nudity and nasty sex to keep any teenager happy. But the main characters and pace of the film seems directed towards an older audience which creates a weird kind of conflict and lack of continuity in what you're watching. One minute you're watching two ugly 70's people engage in acrobatic sex, the next a dapper young man is singing songs from the 1930's in soft focus to a wishy-washy soundtrack. It's a mess.

- Complaint Department

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Host (2006)

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

Despite the ratings above, this is not a bad movie by any stretch, though I'm not sure why it garnered an R rating. With a huge budget (by Korean standards - not American), The Host is an impressive sci-fi film about a monster that is created when an American scientist forces his direct report to dump an enormous amount of formaldehyde into the Han River rather dispose of it in the proper way. Like the original Godzilla, there is some strong social commentary going on about the United States that is not explicitly anti-American, but certainly critical of certain things- the least of which is that the formaldehyde scenario was inspired by real events.

The star of the film is the monster itself that, despite the limitations of the budget, is really not that bad. And you have to hand it to the filmmakers who chose to go for broke and show the monster, from the start, in full view, in broad daylight and for extended amounts of time. Initially, this doesn't work as it looks kind of goofy, but after a while, you get used to it and no longer think about the effects. It simply becomes "the monster". I don't know if that was the intent of the filmmakers, but it worked.

Despite the monster being the star and focal point of the film, the story actually revolves around a family of misfits whose youngest member is snatched up by the monster. Assuming she is dead, they later receive a cell phone call from her where she is pleading for them to come save her from the sewer the monster has stashed her in. The members of the family seem plucked straight out of a South Korean version of The Royal Tennebaums, each member a little quirkier than the next. The dynamic between the characters is well done and at times, touching, at others very funny.

It would be unfair to judge the movie against the hype that surrounded it. The DVD box has glowing quotes from the NY Times, People Magazine and other mainstream periodicals, though I suspect there is some sort of patronization going on there. "Astounding...for a lower budget South Korean film" for example. Judged by straight forward monster movie standards, The Host is very good, entertaining and well executed. It's not the greatest monster movie ever, but it's a winner.

- Complaint Depart

Resident Evil (2002)

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

Deep within the Earth lies a hidden lab run by "The Umbrella Corporation" where genetic research and experimentation is being conducted. Suddenly, one of the viruses the mad scientists have created is accidentally set free and the entire lab is sealed off by the master computer to prevent the virus from escaping. It seems as though everyone in the lab dies.

Meanwhile, super model Milla Jovovich is waking up in the shower where she fell unconscious. She putters around the house a bit, apparently with no memory of what happened. As her home is raided by masked mercenary types guys with rifles and gas masks, we come to learn that she is some sort of super operative whose job is to protect the "Umbrella Corporation's" "Hive" - the lab that has been sealed off.

Blah blah blah - zombies show up, Michelle Rodriguez shows up and cusses a lot and looks likes a dude, little to no blood is shed and there is little action save from a few nude scenes of Ms. Jovovich towards the end.

What a fucking rip off. A zombie movie should be bloody and gory, bottom line. I don't care about characters and plot and sci-fi bullshit when it comes to my zombie movies. I mean, if you can pull it off, awesome, but don't spend your entire budget on set design and then stop short when it comes to the gore. It's a zombie movie - when you show the trigger get pulled on a gun, the next scene is an exploding head. Period. Not here though. I'm not even sure why this got an R rating.

And who gave the thumbs up to that pathetic, awful CGI doggie-monster thing? I understand that this is based on a video game (where it should have stayed) but that doesn't mean that every piece of it had to be placed into the film. This was as bad an idea as the DOOM movie. This spawned two sequels? Suck it.

- Complaint Dept.

Carved (2006)

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

Adequate, if uninspired, tale about a Japanese urban legend passed around by school kids. The story goes that there is a "fiend"called the slit-mouthed woman who goes around snatching up little kids. Suddenly, kids start to actually disappear and it turns out that the story may not be such a fairy tale.

Aside from some fairly impressive special effects that are used sparingly and effectively, there is little to be had by horror fans here. The story is relatively simple and lacks any real twists or innovations, the finale taking no chances or straying from traditional horror cliches. And, despite being a Japanese film, there feels like an awful lot of American horror staples being utilized here. I can't quite pin it down, but the whole thing just felt like it was trying to create a new "supervillian" franchise along the lines of a Kreuger or Jason, which we all know we really don't need. About the only thing that really felt like I was watching a Japanese film (aside from the language) was that children were murdered on screen rather than off which would never fly in the U.S.

I think there is supposed to be some social commentary about child abuse and how the cycle of violence continues from abuser to victim to abuser and so forth, but it was kind of lost in translation and overshadowed by the blandness of the whole thing.

- Complaint Dept.

Fear No Evil (1981)

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

According to my digital cable, this film was produced for around $150K. I'm not sure if I am supposed to be impressed by that or surprised that it cost that much. I'm going with the latter.

With special effects that rival anything Sid and Marty Krofft came up with (or possibly the wizards behind Xanadu), Fear No Evil is the story of Lucifer reborn into the body of an effeminate young weirdo who looks an awful lot like Quentin Tarantino. Three arch-angels are chasing him down, but can't seem to all get born at the same time so, consequently, Lucifer remains one step ahead.

Meanwhile Lucifer, in front of a soundtrack containing The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Richard Hell, Talking Heads and others, is busying himself with appearing in the nude a lot, making out with Vinnie Barbarino wannabes in the gym locker (he later makes the guy grow a set of boobs) and killing fellow students with red rubber balls while doing push-ups (yes, it's true). He also, towards the end of the movie, manages to raise an army of zombies from their graves and kill a number of innocent people who are enjoying the annual Easter play put on by the church (in the summer). This includes the guy playing Jebus who suffers from a spontaneous and deadly case of stigmata.

It's an extremely weird movie with more "dicks and ass" than "tits and ass" (hence the tag of D&A below) and very little blood. Still, the melodramatic acting and effort that was put forth into this thing is worth something and I was definitely entertained...if only because there were so, so, SO many MST3K moments to be had.

Excellent party film with a great soundtrack. Terrible horror film though.

- Complaint Department

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vacancy (2007)

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

Surprisingly well done despite the fact that it has two major Hollywood wieners in it - Luke Wilson...who I actually have no beef with, and Kate Beckensale who...well no beef with her either because I'm not sure what else she's been in. So never mind. Anyway, it's good.

Wilson and Babe are driving through the night and they get lost. They pull over at a gas station and get directions only to break down a mile or so up the road. They bicker and snip at each other the whole time which is uncomfortable for me because I don't like confrontation (or so I've been told, I didn't want to argue). BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!

They make their way back to the motel next to the gas station, meet the creepy dude running the place and get their room. Standard "remote location" / "Fear of country folk" fare so far right? Wait, there's more. Flipping through the channels with nothing to watch, Super-jaw pops in one of the blank video cassettes lying around and soon realizes he's not watching a cheapo horror movie, but a snuff film that was shot in the room they are in.

From this point on the film kicks into gear with little more than a straight-forward and linear storyline. There is no unneeded twists, no stupid special effects or things to blow up, no super-human killers, just Wilson and Babe trying to outwit three dudes who want to kill them. Yeah, it sounds dumb and it is, sort of, but somehow it works. I think because it's so no-frills. It never gets ridiculous and it seems like the kind of thing that could happen.

Not terrifying, but somewhat scary. Not gory, but kind of icky. Overall, not great, but really not that bad. Had I have paid to see it in the theater, I would have been happy when I walked out.

-Complaint Dept

The Fly (1986)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 2/5
Nightmares 1/5

The Fly is classic Cronenberg "body horror" at it's peak. Taking the concept from the 1956 Vincent Price film, about the only thing that remains intact is the fact that it takes place in Canada. Otherwise, it's pretty much a different movie.

The hair in this film is outstanding with Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum competing for best mullet and most destructive use of hairspray. And Goldblum is as creepy as always. And he's naked a lot which makes him even creepier.

Goldblum plays a scientist who, while trying to impress a cute reporter, exposes his secret project which involves teleportation. The reporter, played by Davis, quickly realizes that this could be her ticket to fame and is convinced by Goldblum to stick by him as he works out the final kink - the inability to send living matter through without killing it or rearranging it.

As a relationship between the two develops, Goldblum eventually figures out how to send animate objects through and then sends himself through. Little does he know that a fly has gone into the pod with him and the computer has fused Goldblum and the fly together at the genetic level. This, of course, is the central plot of the first film, but instead of having a flys head and a man's body, the new version seems fine at first...aside from his ability to do incredible gymnastics and lift hundred of pounds. His sexual appetite grows as well and he soon becomes very aggressive and irritable.

The special effects are, still, impressive and disturbing. If you have ever broken a limb, the arm-wrestling scene will make you nauseous. It might even if you haven't. And, like most Cronenberg movies, the gory sequences have more to do with the body "revolting" or "changing" on the main character and much less to do with any actual violence. This makes things all the more creepy and icky and there is a lot of that to go around here.

The story is very well done with a nice pace to it and Goldblum and Davis are very capable in their roles, despite how creepy they both are in real life (both are MENSA nerds apparently and were, for a time, actually married). Sadly, the end of the film ends with Goldblum transforming into a creature that's just too much and it gets a little silly, but hey, it's not supposed to be a masterpiece.

Hex says, "Get the flypaper out, this one sucks". But then, she rented "Music and Lyrics" on Netflix so...there you go.

- Complaint Dept

Feast (2005)


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


The winners of the third season of Project Greenlight (brought to you by those douchebag schmucks in Good Will Hunting), got to make their little flick into a full fledged movie offering in Feast. More like a full fledged offer of donkey doo doo. Oh, and Wes Craven 'executive produced' it which is an automatic shit stamped seal of approval. Its more like 'Hey, I don't have time to write, direct or produce this steamy pile of filth but let me attach my name to it and hopefully you get some notoriety from it.' 'Any time I attach my name to something, its pure gold.' Cue Christopher Walken, Blue Oyster Cult making hit records, and putting pants on '...one leg at a time.'

Feast features a seething denizen of no good, dirty rotten, filthy miscreants holed up in a roadside bar (think From Dusk til' Dawn) that come under attack from a band of inbreeding alien beasts. Or so you think at least. The movie is never really clear. What you get is some dude, running into the bar, screaming holy hell that some monsters are coming, everyone holes themselves up and get prepared for their impending doom (a veritable smorgasbord of wondrous feasts perhaps??). The perceived hero, is offed in the first 10 minutes and the remainder of the movie shifts focus from person to person. Who out of this rag tag bunch is going to save our ass now? Enter thespian extraordinaire Henry Rollins.

The dialogue is truly awful, the plot line paper thin, and there is absolutely no suspense whatsoever. Despite A LOT of the shortcomings of this flick (if you can get through them all) the one saving grace, is the copious amounts of splendorous gore. Some really awesome gore effects that are nicely done and pretty much run the length of the film. From start to finish, the gory goodness oozes through but that is pretty much the only going for this film. Watching good ol' Henry try to act and be funny, uh yeah, I'd just rather have a root canal. I know its supposed to be campy, but jesus he was awful.

Come for the camp, stay for the gore (if you can stomach the abundance of absurd dialogue and dumb as nails plot line), Feast is a little fun but hardly worth any hard earned spent dollars from renting or buying it. Steal it instead.

Cortez the Killer

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

Ok, for the most part, Cortez is pretty on the money here. A good flick, this is not and everything that he pointed out as being shitty here is correct. Here's what I thought was good, however.

Rollins isn't all that bad and honestly, the scene where he sports the too-tight, pink sweat pants was pretty funny.

Yes, the dialogue is bad. But at times, I found myself laughing. The main guy's insistence on giving each character a nickname was kind of funny. "Cocoon" for example.

A child is devoured by the monsters in a bloody and violent scene. A woman is face-fucked by one of the monsters and spits the ejaculate out. I'll always tip my hat to American horror film producers who can push the envelope, no matter how ridiculous that envelope's contents may be. At the very least, you've made an impact (negative as it may be) on someone watching.

And yeah, the gore is pretty good - if not a little baffling at times. What was up with all of the maggots? And, for the record, though I'm no surgeon, I don't think anyone's eyeball is attached to a long sinewy strand of muscle. I could be wrong.

Otherwise, yeah, this was a turd burger.

- Complaint Department

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2006)

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

Out in the desert in an area called "sector 16" some Army dudes have been building some stuff. Doesn't really matter what, it's just fluff. Sector 16 is out in Nevada or someplace. They used to test atomic weapons there and now there's some creepy mutant guys roaming around killing people. The Army guys get killed and some Army privates who are failing in boot camp are sent in to investigate. So already, this movie is off to a bad start since that would never happen. "Oh shit, we've lost Bravo company - who should we send in? Rambo? The Terminator? Hell no, let's send in the guys from Stripes. They'll take care of things"

This is pretty much how the entire movie runs. Nothing makes much sense and the people are so one dimensional, the situations so ridiculous, that it doesn't matter. You don't care. Well, ok you do a little because the characters are so loathsome that you want them to die. The kind of characters that always do the wrong thing. Like clockwork. You know the kind.

Luckily for you, they do die and in gruesome and gory ways. Which is about all this movie has going for it. Plot - no need. Action - seems like there would be plenty in a movie about Army guys, but no, there's not much of that either. Just gratuitous blood and guts.

Normally, an overdose of the red stuff would be a fun way to spend the evening, but something about this movie bothered me. Not in a "disturbing" kind of way, I'm an adult and am able to tell the difference between make believe and reality and, besides, I've seen movies way more fucked up than this. No, it bothered me that it was insultingly bad. Aside from the great detail given to the special effects, everything about this movie seemed phoned in as if plot and background, acting, script and style were all totally unnecessary. As a horror fan, I object to the stereotype that all a horror movie needs to be successful is blood, boobs and boozed-up teenagers.

So suck it Hills Have Eyes 2, I liked House of Wax more than I liked your sorry ass.

- Complaint Dept

Sunday, September 16, 2007

House of Wax (2005)

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

Oh Jebus, I wanted to hate this so bad. I wanted it to suck so so bad. It stars Paris Hilton - need I say any more? And yet...ugh, like a moth drawn to a flame...ugh...I slightly enjoyed it.

I guess it's a remake of the two House of Wax films that came before it (1930s and 1950s) but if so, it's pretty liberal with it's interpretation of the story line. Here, a group of snotty teenagers are on their way to some football game in (we are led to believe) Florida (though Florida is devoid of the hills and trees shown here, but whatever). They're kind of a hodgepodge (shocker) - there's a princess, a jock, rebellious tough guy, a dopey dude who just wants to party, a sweet nice guy type and Elisha Cuthbert who is sort of holding it all together. Sort of like the Breakfast Club, except... not. They camp out overnight where they encounter a big 70's truck that shows up glaring it's high beams at the kids until the rebel dude throws a bottle at the truck which causes it to leave. Oh, but don't worry, you'll see that truck again. Uh - DUH.

Morning arrives and the nice guy's shiny, flawless 1972 Dodge Charger has had it's fan belt cut. Oh no! Now they'll miss the game! No worries, we'll figure it out, we're smart college kids. How about this, after we run across a pit full of rotting dead animals and a creepy hillbilly unloading more dead animals into the pit, you guys can all leave and me and Cuthbert will get a ride into town with the hillbilly. You'll catch the game, I'll get the fan belt I need and all will be happy. See? Smart college kids.

From here things become remarkably implausible and very very dumb, but just entertaining enough that I kept watching. Admittedly there are some cool ideas here. For one, the House of Wax each dopey teen invariably runs across is pretty cool, if only because it's made of wax itself which turns out to be a fun idea in the film's finale. Also, there are some pretty gnarly death scenes that are worth sticking around for - especially when Hilton gets it. Her death scene is fantastically gory. Yaaay!

Overall, House of Wax delivers what one would expect it to, given it's intended audience. It's a teen-horror for sure, a genre that demands certain cliches and plot lines, all of which are in full force here. By no means is it a good movie, but it's ok for what it is.

I do wish the people at Dark Castle would stop ruining classic films though. But then, I wish Paris Hilton would remain in prison for the rest of her life. And obviously that isn't going to happen any time soon.

- Complaint Department

Dead Silence (2006)

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

This one had a lot of strikes going against it before I even hit play on the DVD player. It's about dolls which is a losing cliche every time and frankly, from the previews, it looked straight outta the Tillamook cheese factory.

But it actually started out to be pretty good. The story was a very simple "ghost wants revenge" tale with all of the classic American Horror accoutrement that goes with it - misty graveyards, creepy abandoned buildings, whispers and shadows, etc. The ghost is shown sparingly allowing her to remain slightly spooky throughout and there is some interesting gore effects and really good visuals going on.

For a movie based on scary ventriloquist dolls (obvious teen-horror fodder), Dead Silence kind of skimped on the teen cliches which was good. Yeah, the protagonist is a hunky young dude who drives a pristine 70's muscle car and, generally, thumbs his nose at authority, but otherwise it's devoid of screaming bimbos,cheesy nu-metal soundtracks, or even gratuitous CGI gore. Instead, the peripheral characters are Donnie Wahlberg (who continues to play the same character he played in Saw 2 basically) and some random old people. All of which keeps things interesting and had me won over.

That is, until the last 2 minutes when the surprise ending comes around and totally fucks the movie up. It's one of those ending where you think everything is over (which I was totally happy with) and then throws in the last twist to answer all of the remaining questions. The ending is terrible, stupid, and completely unnecessary. Way to go douchebags.

- Complaint Dept

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Event Horizon (1997)

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


I've heard about this movie many a times over the years but for some reason or another, I never got around to watching it. A horror film in space just sounded like an immediate recipe for disaster and when I found out that the incredibly one dimensional Laurence Fishburne was in it, it turned me off even more (seriously, does this man have any tone of voice other than slow and methodical?). So was it worth all the hype that I've heard, being an incredibly great meld of Sci-fi and horror? For the most part. The concept of a horror film in space was still a bit odd off as I have never seen it pulled off well (Jason X anyone?)

The movie stars Sam Neill (the head paleontologist dude in Jurassic Park) as a doctor who has constructed the perfect ship. Able to beat the speed of light, the Event Horizon can tear a black whole into space, catapulting the ship into its far reaches which were nearly impossible to get to before. Upon its maiden voyage, all contact was lost and no trace of the ship could be found. For years, questions of what exactly happened to the ship remained a mystery until one day, the doctor received a strange communication at his space research station.

Navigating their way through the outer limits, the doctor joins a rag tag crew of space explorers to retrieve and find out exactly what happened to the ship. The crew is atypically characterized (think The Matrix) in its range of personalities with Larry Fishy playing the hard headed and cynical captain.

Upon discovering and exploring the remains of the abandoned ship, weird goings on begin to happen. The doctor and members of the crew start to have visions and strange occurances begin to lead them to believe that the ship is a lot more alive than they thought it was. One by one, the ship begins to consume and destroy its newest crew members.

A cross between Solaris and Hellraiser, Event Horizon does a great job of creating atmosphere, claustrophobic uneasiness and just some overall good spooks. As the drama unfolds, we find out about the personal histories of the doctor and the crew, with the new lifeforce of the ship preying on their minds and fears. Are they trapped in some sort of hell? Is the ship now a real-life, living and breathing organism? What exactly was brought back when the ship tore its way through space? These questions and more, the viewer begins to ponder but they are never fully answered by the end of the film. A little frustrating as there is no clear cut closure and A LOT of the picture is open to interpretation. The dialogue is certainly campy but the overall story is so interesting that I side stepped it easily. On the whole, a film worth seeing with some genuine scares and lots of gory nuggets of goodness.

Cortez the Killer



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Godzilla Final Wars (2004)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 0/5
Nightmares 0/5
70's Prog-Rock Moog Soundtrack 11/5

Released as the "final" installment of the Godzilla series by Toho and marking the 50th anniversary of the great green giant, Godzilla Final Wars boasts the largest budget (and I would guess longest running time as well) of any previous Godzilla film (not counting the American mistake). The majority of this money went towards beefing up the special effects which are, at times, kind of impressive given the fact that it still revolves around grown men in rubber suits.

I love Godzilla. I love that he's a metaphor for the United States: a nuclear powered, lumbering beast stomping it's way around the world. I love that there is always a city being trampled to rumble and people fleeing in terror. I love his radioactive death-breath and I LOVE the fact that it's grown men in rubber suits fighting with each other.

Here's a quick synopsis for you: like most Godzilla films, the story line is not connected at all to any previous film. This time around, we are led to believe that Godzilla was "defeated" in the 1960s, frozen in ice somewhere in Antarctica. Many years later, there is a sudden epidemic of monster attacks - Manda, Rodan, Anguirus, King Caesar and others - which the Earth Defence Forces (Is this a Canadian film?) are hopelessly fending off. The EDF are led by a "crack team" of "Mutants" who seem suspiciously like a cross between the X-Men and the Power Rangers. Suddenly the monsters all vanish when an alien ship arrives and sucks up all of the monsters.

The aliens, who say things like "Greetings Earthlings", have come to warn us all about our impending doom - a rogue planet hurtling towards Earth. But it soon becomes apparent that they are liars! They are really here to subjugate and eat us all! Gasp! "To Serve Man"... it's a cook book! Soylent Green is people! IT'S PEEEEEEEOPLE! Once exposed, the aliens unleash all of the monsters once more and mayhem breaks loose. Soon the EDF is overwhelmed and has no choice but to unfreeze Godzilla so she can fight all of the monsters.

Despite how fucking retarded this all sounds (and you have no idea how retarded it actually is) it's enormously entertaining. . . to me at least, Hex read a book and fell asleep in the middle. Every cliche you can imagine from every American action movie is included here. There are scenes that are total rip-offs of The Matrix, Independence Day, Star Wars, X-Men and even some older Japanese stuff like Battleship Yamato. There are scenes so dopey they defy logic - King Caesar kicking Anguirus like a soccer ball as Godzilla makes a goalie dive to "save" him for example. Long drawn out karate fights between two armored dudes with crazy anime hairdos on motorcycles.

It doesn't matter. In the end it all boils down to Godzilla destroying shit and she does so big time against enemy monsters that have not seen screen time in years. Sadly, because so many monsters are included and so much time was spent on the karate shit, the fight scenes between Godzilla and the other monsters are truncated and somewhat unsatisfying. Until the end comes and Godzilla fights it out with Gigan and Monster X (with some help from Mothra of course). And yes, not to spoil anything, but Monster X does morph into a pissed off King Ghidorah at the end and the fight gets tough.

Stupid? Of course. Ridiculous? Like, to the max. Bad? Ok sure, it's bad. But so so satisfying.

-Complaint Department

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Demons (1985)

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

Seriously, if there was ever a movie that deserved the description of "rad", it would be the 1985 Italian splatterfest Demons. Aside from the blood, guts and gore that you should expect from any fine Italian horror film with the names Bava and Argento attached to it, Demons offers a cornucopia of mullets, bad German-fashion and dancy synthesizer music (as well as a soundtrack boasting the likes of Motely Crue, Saxon, Pretty Maids, Accept and, yes, Rick Springfield). It's a dream come true for those who love bad movies.

The story, should you choose to call it that, is simple - a guy in a metal mask is wandering Berlin handing out free tickets to an unknown film at a new theater called the Metropol. People show up to the theater and are greeted by a woman in a bright neon green dress who may or may not be directly responsible for global warming given the amount of hairspray she has going on. There is also a red motorcycle on display with a mannequin in a ninja outfit on board holding the same mask that the guy handing out the tickets had on. You following me? Two Black women and their pimp (I guess) arrive and one of them puts on the mask, cutting her face in the process. I point out that they are Black because the dialogue they are given (which is then dubbed over) goes kind of like this: "Shiiiit. Daaaammmmnnnnn. Mutha-fuckah! You crazy! Shiiiiit." Apparently the only exposure Italians have to African-Americans is through the Shaft film series.

Anyway, the film starts and the people settle in to watch. It's a horror film about some teenagers riding motorcycles into a graveyard. They find Nostradamus' tomb and uncover the same mask that is on display out in the lobby (and that the free ticket guy was giving away). They read some prediction he made about "cemeteries becoming their cathedrals and tombs their cities" and that's when the mayhem starts.

The girl with the cut on her face goes to the restroom to check it out. As pus begins squirting out of it, she screams and turns into - you guessed it - a demon. Fangs, red eyes, gross skin, the whole bit. From here on out, it's essentially a zombie movie with demons in place of the walking dead. And that's the plot - stay away from the demons as they start munching on people.

Very gory (all latex and corn syrup thank you) and chock full of incredibly bad dialogue (I mean BAD), Demons is a total cheezefest with Mystery Science Theater moments every 5 seconds or so. Mindless, vapid and relatively short (less than 90 minutes), Demons is an excellent party film for those who enjoy both the 80s and excessive violence. Bravo. Bellisimo.

- Complaint Dept

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Eye 2 (2004)

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

Not really sure how this is a sequel to The Eye since it really has nothing to do with the first one. I can only assume it was to increase the hype around the film.

Directed by the Pang Brothers (as was The Eye), The Eye 2 revolves around a woman who, after breaking up with her third boyfriend in a matter of months (or something like that), tries to kill herself. After downing three bottles of pills, she begins to drift off into the land of no return and starts seeing ghostly figures in her room. Then she awakens in the hospital, saved by the staff of the hotel.

What she does not know is that she is pregnant and that for some reason she is now seeing ghosts walking among the living (this is about the only similarity to the first Eye film). She soon starts to understand that the ghosts are not after her or even interested in her, but in her unborn baby. She seeks the counsel of a wise Buddhist monk type guy who explains that the ghosts mean her no harm, they are simply waiting to enter the baby at the moment of birth to be reincarnated.

The Eye 2 starts out a little on the slow side and doesn't really begin to gain momentum until around the third act. But it's consistently smart and very creative, weaving in bits of Eastern philosophy with Western ghost concepts (the Onryo ghosts threaten to make an appearance from time to time, but are mainly just regular looking people, only slightly more pale). Though the film lacks the hyper-inflated budget of a Hollywood churned Stephen King adaptation, the special effects are decent and do what they are supposed to - enhance the story rather than compensate for the lack of one. And the story is good with a nice twist that really surprised me, but made perfect sense.

Chalk up another Asian horror triumph. Interesting trivia: There is an Indian remake of the original version of The Eye named Nania. I've seen very few Indian films, and none of them were horror films. I may have to check this one out.

- Complaint Department

The Cradle (2007)

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

Not a bad movie, but certainly not a great one. It's mainly just boring. Not much happens and when it does, well, it's still not much.

Man and wife move out to the country to start anew after the birth of their son. Man is played by Lukas Haas (whose most memorable role is still as the child in Witness). The house they move into is, of course, creepy and run down and, of course, possibly haunted. Wife suffers from post-partum depression and refuses to touch or sleep in the same room as the new born. A nice touch, but very little is done with it in terms of scares and creativity.

Dad starts seeing things and is suffering from sleep deprivation so you're never sure whether he is being haunted by something (or someone) or whether it's all in his head. He seeks answers from the crazy old lady who lives up the road, but doesn't really get anywhere other than learning than her baby sister was buried alive by accident. So maybe the ghost of the baby is haunting him?

When the climax of the film occurs and the twist is twisted out of the story, it's neither exciting or even worth your attention. The story moves along at such a leaden pace that by the time the big ending comes around, you might be fighting to stay awake.

And that hand on the DVD cover never appears. That would have been too exciting. Sorry Canada, I love your national sport, but not your horror movies.

- Complaint Department

Monday, September 3, 2007

One Missed Call (2004)

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

Takashi Miike is well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to his film making. Whether it's uncompromising gore and violence or just plain weird and awful stuff that makes even die-hard horror fans cringe, he has developed a reputation, for better or worse, of creating films that demand your attention. However, when one looks at the sheer volume of work that he has pumped out in the last 16 years, you can't expect everything to be controversial and/or disturbing.

This is the case with One Missed Call, an entertaining and often genuinely frightening ghost story that, despite its solid storyline and effective scares, just can't quite escape the fact that in concept, twists and plot it is nearly identical to the American remake of Ringu (The Ring). Maybe this was done to cash in the success of The Ring (2002), who knows.

So yeah, the plot is pretty similar: Young college students begin receiving phone calls on their cell phones from their own number. The ring tone is not one that they have every heard and when they listen to the voice mails left (no one ever actually answers any of the calls) the call is from themselves, a couple of days in the future at the moment of their death. One by one the students start to die off until we are left with the "final girl" and male protagonist who are both scrambling to unravel the mystery that reveals the origin of the calls. There is a child involved who seems to have been murdered, but maybe not. Then it's possibly the child's mother who "wants to be found", etc. etc. - are you getting this? Because if you've seen The Ring you know how it winds up (more or less). It even has a false ending like The Ring.

If you can deal with the lack of originality and simply sit back and enjoy the show, you'll probably enjoy One Missed Call. It's very well executed and written, makes more sense than most J-Horror Onryo tales and has a few scenes that are absolutely creepy as hell. The corpse-ghost near the end is especially gruesome and genuinely scary.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed this, but was disappointed both by how conventional it was and by how unoriginal it was. But it has some great scares and certainly kept my attention throughout. Worth a free viewing on Fearnet if you have access to it, that's for sure.

It has two sequels and it also slated for an American remake to be released in 2008. Of course.

- Complaint Department