Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Suicide Club (2002)

Fear- 2/5
Gore- 3/5
Entertainment- 5/5 first half; 0/5 for the second
Creepiness- 3/5
Nightmares- 2/5

Wow, talk about a complete mind fuck of a movie. With Japanese horror movies, there are always added elements that need to be taken into consideration when watching them. Namely you have to pay attention to the subtitles explicitly as they are very easy to get lost in translation. Not too mention, it helps to know a little bit about the culture as well. Most Japanese horror films have some aspect of the culture in it or they are making a direct commentary on it. I have a cousin that lives and works in Japan so I am a little versed in the culture and its rigidity.

Suicide Club opens startlingly enough with a group of school girls, hands clasped together in a line near the edge of a subway rail. In a moment of 'red rover, red rover-ness', they each count as the train nears the station. They time the entrance of the train and each one meet their splattery demise at the hands of the steel machine. Blood is strewn everywhere and things kickoff with one of the most shocking scenes to start a movie that I've seen.

After this, everything else is one downhill slope after another. So this much can be deciphered: school kids all over are committing suicide and a mysterious website keeps the tally of boys and girls that do so. Police are dumbfounded as to why these school kids are seemingly killing themselves in such a carefree manner (some of the scenes are downright creepy, looking as if they are taking joy in what they were actually doing).

A little more becomes obvious through the movie (with the little knowledge that I have about Japanese culture and society). These kids are forming these clubs to make a statement because of the strict social lives they lead: go to school, come home, listen to the same cookie cutter pop music, be subservient to parental and authority figures, yadda yadda. What seems to work so well, and what was entertaining until about half way through, is incredibly derailed by the total left handed turn this movie makes about midway through.

Maybe its my puny mind (which could very well be the case) but when the fuck did the transvestite with mutilated bodies in a bowling alley suddenly show up and have anything to do with the proceedings? I literally thought I had too much wine watching the flick, passed out and awoke to find another movie was playing. I hit rewind on the remote to make sure and low and behold, this is how the movie actually transitioned. I could not tell if he was the mastermind behind the clubs and website (i.e. society would not accept him for who he was) or what. If any of you faithful readers have a clue, let me know. Some good gore and shocking sequences but goddamn if this movie did not end on one of the weirdest notes ever.

Cortez the Killer

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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

Uninspired take on the old "hook-on-the-car-door" urban myth. Essentially we have a group of very unlikeable teenagers graduating high school, gettin' drunk, havin' sex and being obnoxious as only Hollywood teens can. As their wild night of partyin' progresses ("party" used as a verb here) they wind up running over some guy in the middle of the road. Not wanting to get in trouble with the law they dump the body in the ocean and make a pact never to speak of the incident again. There's some mumbo jumbo about hopes and fears and dreams and shit, but I wasn't paying attention. Don't worry, you won't need to either.

One year later, they all come home for summer break and start receiving letters stating "I know what you did last summer". The rest of the movie is spent running from a man in a black fisherman's slicker as he flails a large iron hook around. Well, that and trying to get to the bottom of the mystery! Who is this person? Why is he trying to kill us? Why are there so many men in black fisherman slickers on a sunny day in the North Carolina summer? How does Freddy Prinze Jr. have an acting career? The truth turns out to be full of twists and surprises. The person they thought they killed wasn't who they thought and the person trying to kill them isn't who it should be and the dead guy might not even be dead and and and - oh it's so clever! My head is still spinning from all of the twists. It's like a less bloody version of Murder She Wrote or a live action episode of Scooby Doo.

Both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. would later go on to star in two Scooby Doo films. Mmmm, that's good irony.

Complaint Department

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Idiocracy (2006)

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

Idiocracy is the scariest movie I have seen in years. First it was the horror movie industry in America that started to churn out cookie-cutter, dumbed down movies, but now it is happening across the board.

Did you see the Transformers movie this summer? I dare you to explain that movie to someone with a straight face, especially the scene where the transformers are hiding outside the kids window trying not to be seen by his parents.

Idiocracy shows us the future, and by future I mean tomorrow when you wake up where the world has been populated by insanely stupid and lazy people who try to water plants with gatorade and the president is a WWF style wrestler and starbucks is a place that sells hand jobs. But the real first sign of Idiocracy coming true is the entertainment of the future, where movies like "Ass" win best picture. "Ass" shows an ass for 2 hours, as it occasionally farts.

But people, don't you want to know whose ass it is, and why it's farting? I used to subscribe to the whole "so bad it's good" idea, but now there is just bad for the sake of bad. Movies like Lethal Weapon or Anaconda seem smart compared to the shit coming out not.

If you need a point of reference for how terrifying the future is, go watch the Transformers, War of the Worlds (remake) and The Mist, and then watch Idiocracy. You won't be able to get out of bed. Forget the monster in the closet, the real terror is living next door and is best viewed through Fox News.

I am giving up on Hollywood, an entity I could always count on to take me away from the horrors of the world. Now Hollywood is simply a huge mirror to the horrors of the world.

- the fucking beard

* * * * *

Obviously, Idiocracy is not a "horror film" in the sense that people are killed, monsters attack major cities or powertools dismember idiot teenagers. But, as Beardo says, it is scary. I watched this enjoying how clever it was and feeling bad that it would only get bad reviews from critics. How can it not? When 99% of your cast are supposed to be one step above being mentally challenged and the central plot revolves around a society that has succumbed to the lowest common denominator, there can only be dick jokes, fart jokes, more dick jokes and more fart jokes. Case in point - there is a great scene where the passage of time is measured by how much the hamburger chain "Fuddruckers" evolves over 500 years. If you assume that NASCAR fans will overtake the world, then it's a safe bet to assume that "Fuddruckers" must become "Buttfuckers". It's a childish and lame joke - but that's why it works. It has to be childish and lame for the film's statement to work. And that's why this film failed both critically and financially. Which is too bad. It's funny, clever and, yes, scary.

Complaint Department

The Mist (2007)

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

How do you take a brilliant short story about a bunch of people in a small New England town who go to the grocery store only to have a monster filled mist roll in and turn everyone against each other turn into something that totally sucks and is painful to watch?
Well for starters replace all the monsters with this and this and this.

I know what you are thinking, these images instill terror in even the most stout hearted. But there is more. You also need to remember we are dealing with dialogue written by Stephen King, who has apparently never had a conversation with another human, nor heard one speak at all.

The characters were looked up on Wikipeida, and the actors hired to portray them phoned in their lines from Atlantic City, the only destination they could afford on their salaries.

This was painful to sit through, the original story which grabbed my attention at age 12 has been reduced to bad CGI effects, even worse acting and a horrible screenplay with the lamest twist at the end ever. The ENTIRE audience laughed through the end of the movie, and I felt embarrassed for everyone involved with making this movie.

My god if you have read the story, trust your imagination and stay away from this hunk of poop. If you haven't read the story, get it from the library and use your 10 bucks you would have spent on this film on establishing a fund to pay off King for not letting anymore of his stories be turned into films, mini-series or any other visual medium.

This one scored a 2 on gore because there are a few fun gore spots that involve people being cut in half, a 3 on entertainment because it was so bad i had fun heckling it, and a 2 in nightmares because the original story still creeps me out and makes my imagination come up with imagery 100 times scarier than this.

- the fucking beard

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upcoming dopiness

If you have not heard about the upcoming film "Teeth", perhaps you should look into it. It sounds both stupid as shit and totally awesome. It's about a girl with a tooth lined vagina that bites off pee-pees. Or at least, that's part of the story.

As you can see by the two posters here (the t-shirt one is the original used when it debuted at Sundance and the bathtub is the "new" one for wider release) it looks like it went from being a comedy to a horror movie. So maybe it's both. It went over really well at Sundance, but then, what doesn't? Those yuppie fucks will laud anything deemed "art" by Sundance.

I know nothing about the movie industry or the actual festival, but so what.

Either way, it sounds fucking ridiculous, but at least it's not a remake. I predict it will be mediocre - funny social commentary perhaps (not sure on what) and some nice cheap gore effects involving ding-dongs. But do you need anything more than ding-dong gore? Really, I think not. Bravo man-eating vagina movie. Bravo.

-Complaint Department

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kalifornia (1993)

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

Were it not for the 10 seconds of Brad Pitt's gored up and smashed face in the last scene, this movie would have scored a zero across the board. Not sure if I've ever scored so low. Hmm. Anyway, I'm not sure how I got to thinking this was a horror film - maybe because the subject matter is serial killers, maybe because it was on some show like "100 scariest films" that aired around Halloween, maybe because it was on FearNet - dunno. But, it's not. And, it's not good. Look at that fucking poster for Christ's sake. But, because I spent two hours of my life watching this, I guess I should write something.
David Duchovney (fresh off the Red Shoe Diaries) is a douchebag yuppie writer who is working on a book about serial killers. He and his douchebaggier, yuppie, artist girlfriend (who looks like she was cut from a Robert Palmer video) decide to take a trip across the country exploring the sites of famous serial-murder sites. Since he has blown his advance from the book company and his girlfriend's art is deemed "unfit for mass consumption", they need a little extra cash to help them out. So they put up a posting at the local college to get some people to share the ride and expenses with them as they head for "Kalifornia". Enter serial killer and southern stereotype Brad Pitt and his dumb damaged little girlfriend Juliette Lewis.

This movie is boring, has very bad dialogue and wooden acting from most of it's cast. About the only thing good in the film is Juliette Lewis who is mind-numbingly annoying and stupid (her character - not the real actress whom I know very little about). That's fun to watch because it's funny.

Otherwise, this movie sucked. It is not scary. And they never explained the spelling of "Kalifornia".

-Complaint Department

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

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

Dopey and unnecessary prequel to the TCM franchise released (seemingly) to cash in on the current success the horror remake field is experiencing. Features much of the same cast members from the 2003 TCM remake (not a bad film), one of whom has aged significantly since 2003 with no attempt made to make him appear younger (since the film is supposed to take place 5 years prior to the last one).

The point of the film, aside from bringing in money, was to provide some sort of starting point and explanation for the horrible family whose random and savage acts of murder and cannibalism have been the focus for all of the TCM related films. A dumb move since the effectiveness of the original film (1974) was so due to it's unwillingness to explain anything. Who was the guy in the leather apron with the skin mask? Why was he killing everyone? Why did that family eat people? What the fuck? No answers meant no way to be prepare yourself or guess what was coming next. Scary. Smart.

Another problem is that you already know how this ends. If you think about it, since it's a prequel to a film whose characters you know, there can really be only one end. And here it is - the cannibal family kills everyone. And gets away with it. Duh.

About the only thing this has going for it is gore and there is plenty of it, mainly in the form of random, unidentified blobs of meat lying around places. There are some pretty gross murders though and enough chainsaw related death scenes to satisfy anyone looking for over the top special effects, but that's about it. The lack of plot, bad acting and dialogue and terrible character development carries too much weight, not to mention the film's very existence.

- Complaint Department

Monday, November 12, 2007

Flight of The Living Dead (2007)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
Nightmares 1/5
Coming across the title of this flick at Blockbuster, I simply could not pass it up. Its like a horror movie fan's kryptonite. I mean just look at it. If its not one of the best names ever for a horror movie, I don't know what is.
Taking the idea of Snakes on a Plane and multiplying the coolness factor by 10, Flight of the Living Dead involves a zany doctor who is transporting a body that he claims to have been able to reanimate. Guarded by a dude with a machine gun, you know its pretty darn serious. Somehow they get past airport detection (so much for homeland security) and place the Ghostbuster-ish storage contraption in the main cargo hold. The final destination is Paris from L.A. and the doctor is intent on getting it back to his lab and out of the hands of the good ol' goobernment.
The cast of characters run the gamut on this plane: A Tiger Woods style golfer complete with club that he continually obsesses over (again how did this get on the plane?), a foursome of horny couples that want to join the mile high club, a police officer escorting a creepy looking prisoner, and an airplane pilot that is a dead ringer for Peter Graves in Airplane.
So naturally the airplane has to navigate through a thunderstorm and the rockin' and rollin' of the aircraft that ensues is enough to give the holding apparatus a good electrical zip a dee do dah. The zombie escapes from its holding cell and all hell breaks loose.
High on cheese, gore and every zombie cliche in the book, Flight of the Living Dead is an absolute instant classic. The most giddy as a school girl fun I've had watching a horror movie in awhile.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bride of the Monster (1956)

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

Tim Burton has made some movies that were really good (Edward Scissorhands), some that were truly lousy (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and many that are sort of "meh". Ed Wood, however, is an amazing movie. While I'm not sure what it says about Burton as a director and visionary that his greatest achievement is also his most (relatively speaking) mainstream film, I do know that everything about the film is triumphant and much of the focus of the film is on the making, financing and eventual tanking of Bride of the Monster.

A bad movie in every sense of the word, Bride not only stinks in terms of story and plot, it has bad acting, bad camera work, incredible continuity errors, and some of the worst monster special effects ever put to film. This is an experience that every movie fan, horror or not, should undergo.

Bela Lugosi, in his final speaking part (and at age 72) plays a scientist hell bent on creating a race of super humans. He lives in an old creepy house that doubles as a secret laboratory where he houses his man servant (played by Tor Johnson, a giant ape of a man) and his atomic octopus which randomly drags people into the swamp and kills them. It is scenes like this that make Bride of the Monster such a special, special film.

If you've seen Ed Wood, then you know much of the background story behind this movie - Legosi's failing mental health and addiction to opiates, Wood's recasting of the lead female role to a woman he mistakenly thought could bankroll the project (taking the role away from his girlfriend at the time), etc. etc. Whether or not any of that is true is, frankly, besides the point as Bride of the Monster stands on it's own legs as a stupefyingly bad movie and needs no help from any rumors.

- Complaint Department

Toolbox Murders (2004)

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

Lousy sort-of remake of the 1978 film by the same name. Directed by Tobe Hooper who hasn't made a decent flick since Poltergeist. He claims to have been strongly influenced by Dario Argento here, though I don't see it. Apparently rated NC-17 for it's gore and violence, I sadly, saw the R version which was trimmed and tamed down. Still, I don't think more blood would have been the cure to this film's illness. The entire film feels like an extended episode of Tales from the Darkside or something on the Sci Fi channel. By this, I mean it feels cheap and crummy and not in a fun way.

Standard horror baloney from the start - a woman and her husband move into a creepy old building and things start getting weird. She seems to be the only person who realizes that people are going missing, people are being murdered in the apartment next door, etc. But of course, every time she tries to draw some one's attention to the situation, she winds up looking like an idiot and no one believes her.

Here, we have an old apartment building that seems to have an internal set of rooms that no one knows about. Turns out it was designed by some occult-warlock type guy who covered the building in all of these wacky witchcraft symbols. These symbols create some sort of spell that keeps the occult guy alive, despite being like 150 years old or something. Why he sneaks around killing people at random with hammers, nail guns, and power drills (and why he looks like Darkman - a vastly superior movie by the way) is beyond me. It, apparently, requires no explanation - or maybe it was explained and my focus wandered because this was so fucking boring.

Anyway, the main girl finds the inner rooms, fights with Darkman, gets her husband involved and they wind up killing the bad guy. Except that he pulls a fake death and disappears at the end. There you go - I just saved you an hour and a half of your life. Thank me later.

- Complaint Department

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fido (2006)

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

A heart warming (yes I used that word on a horror blog) tale about a boy and his dog, er I mean zombie, Fido focuses on 1950's life after an atomic cloud consumes the earth. Apparently the cloud enveloped the earth, which caused dead bodies to rise from the grave. The massive number of reanimated bodies were fought back by military forces in what was called the Great Zombie war. During the midst of the conflict, a doctor developed a zombie doggie collar which rendered them docile and the obedient servants of humans and the mass production of zombie slaves was born with a company called Zomcon.

A boy, who by all accounts receives no attention or even a bat of the eye from dear old mom and dad, becomes increasingly attached to his zombie pal. After the great war, zombies became sort of the everyday worker, delivering milk, taking on the job of postal workers and also delivering the daily paper. Zombies fit into every day society and make one ask 'What would life be like without one?' Filling the role of butler, maid, and child carer, zombies are accessory items that every family had to have.

The last family on the block to obtain one (to keep up with the Joneses of course) did so to keep their lonely son entertained. Seen as more of an annoyance rather than a blessing, the little boy quickly grows fond of the zombie who ironically is more of a father figure than his own pops who acts the part of a zombie: golfing every day with his drinking buddy, pays no attention to lonely wife and son, caught up in his own life and interests, etc. When the subdued zombie goes AWOL after his collar malfunctions, and he ends up killing a neighbor, an all out village monster hunt ensues to capture him and turn him into zombie dust.

The wife, played wonderfully by the hottie boom body from
the Matrix, actually falls for the zombie as he shows more human-like characteristics and emotions than her own main squeeze. The zombie shows more interest and care for her son than she could ever hope for with her male counterpart. It is in this relationship that she herself begins to fall for the charms of this loveable creature.

Part
Edward Scissorhands, part Old Yeller, Fido is an amusing and entertaining film. Its hardly what I would call a horror film (although there are a few scenes of gore). But it is certainly charming(another word hard pressed to find on this blog) and it would definitely be a fun watch on a Friday night with your sweetie. Definitely recommended.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Last House on the Left (1972)

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

I've been curious about Last House on the Left for a long time since it's Wes Craven's first movie, and I came of age on the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Like The X-Files and BH 90210 (how often does that get name-dropped on a horror blog?), I sat through the whole damn series (even the one with Tom Arnold, and that weird "meta" Elm Street), despite myself. Anyway, I can now finally say I've seen Last House... and that's about all I can say.

The story is about two teenage girls (their innocence evidenced by a "frolicking in the woods" montage), who try to buy some weed on the way to a concert in Boston. The shifty weed dealer traps them in an apartment, where his gang of Murderers and Rapists are co-chillin (one of them's named Weasel, so he's obviously bad). The gang gets to doing what they do best (minus the murdering), and then take the girls for a joyride in the country.

Coincidence of coincidences #1: they stop off in the woods right by the girls' houses. The girls try to get away to unfortunate results, and then the gang decides they're tired and want to sleep off all the murdering and raping. Coincidence of Coincidences #2: the gang seeks refuge at the home of one of the girls. The parents take the gang in for the night, but soon figure out what they've done to their daughter, and enact sweet revenge.

Did I mention that, for comic relief, there are also bumbling cops, an Aunt Jamima type, and a cheery folk soundtrack?

I can see how this would've unnerved people in 1972. To my limited knowledge, there weren't many popular movies that aimed to shock people in such a literal, brutal way (point, Craven). I'm guessing audiences were too thrown by the subject matter to care about the awkward, low budge filmmaking? The general mood is uncomfortable, and there's one pretty sweet scene involving a severed hand. But overall, the writing and directing are really lazy, which would be fine if this was meant to be enjoyably B grade. But everyone seems to be aiming higher. Eh, kind of a mess.
Soikatron
* * * *
Fear: 2/5
Gore: 3/5
Entertainment: 2/5
Creepiness: 2/5
Nightmares: 0/5
I remember seeing this some years ago and thinking it was fucked up because the murder/rape scenes were so long and drawn. And just cold and brutal - similar to I Spit on Your Grave. Plus, the mean hippie types seemed like real (if somewhat exaggerated) degenerates. And, for a film from 1972, it's really gory and violent - chainsaws, severed body parts, intestines being pulled out, penises being bitten off, etc. So in that sense, it works - it is fucked up and it's effective at making one feel icky (because if you don't feel icky watching a naked girl degraded, raped and disemboweled there is something wrong with you). "Good-time film" this is not, and yet...
. . . Soikatron is dead on here: the execution of the film (no pun intended) is bungled. It's not that it's low budget, that's fine and can often work to a horror film's advantage, especially one with subject matter like this. It should work in this case actually. But the hokey touches and random comedy bits that are added in just don't work and are very distracting. This failure consistently keeps you aware that you are watching a bad movie as opposed to being involved in a terrifying experience. Frankly, had I not known that Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th) were responsible for this film I'd have taken a guess that John Waters was. And I'd have thought he didn't do a very good job.
And of course it is being remade.
- Complaint Department

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Captivity (2007)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
(only due to the Elisha Cuthbert factor)
Creepiness 1/5
Nightmares 0/5

A whole much ado about nothing was made when promotional posters were displayed all across L.A. months before this movie premiered in theaters. Deemed too 'disturbing' by god knows who, they were promptly taken down (this is apparently one of them). If only the movie itself could have lived up to the initial (and unnecessary) hype.
Brought to you by the same studio as the 8 Films to Die For series (so you already know that it has a 50/50 chance of suckage), Captivity centers on a kidnapped supermodel that is holed up in a concrete prison of sorts with all kinds of mazes and 2 way mirrors (think Saw). Starring Elisha 'She will be my wife' Cuthbert, the film is low on suspense and high on obviousness. Just read the press release synopsis for the film: “A fashion model and a chauffeur are kidnapped and held hostage in a small room by a serial killer. While the madman methodically terrorizes them, the victims draw strength from each other and fall in love.” Gee I wonder who's behind the seemingly out of nowhere kidnapping of a fashion queen that every girl wants to be and every guy wants to be with?
With the lack of suspense completely out of the way within the first 20 minutes of the film, there was still hope for redemption. After all, Ms. Cuthbert is ridiculously hot and the scenes in which she is mentally tortured were a little creepy. One in which (again playing into the Saw theme here where people are made to do things against their will), she is forced to decide on pulling the trigger aimed at her own head or another aimed at that of her own fluffy poodle (ok maybe not so grotesque but I love dogs so it was mildly disturbing for me). So aside from that, and another scene in which an ad hoc dental procedure gets a little extra icky, thats all this film has going for it. By this time, if you have not already figured everything out, you obviously were never a road scholar candidate to begin with. The worst part about it is that the movie plays out until the end with its 'ah ha!' moment seemingly done overdramatically just to make sure that the end is truly shocking for those who still have not caught on.
Nothing about this film is shocking or controversial (even though the DVD cover would have you believe otherwise). But I could watch Elisha recite the phone book and be transfixed for hours so I guess the film was not all that bad.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Omen (2006)

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

And the remake train keeps a rollin' on. It would be hard to screw up The Omen as long as the story was kept in tact since the original was so good. And, thankfully, the producers of the 2006 (30 years later) remake have done just that . . . which of course begs the question "what's the point then?"

The point seems to be to make money basically since the story remains almost exactly the same as the original (right down to certain scenes being nearly frame for frame duplicates). And what better movie to release than this on 6/6/06? Besides, I don't really have an opinion on the motivation as long as I am entertained and I was here.

If you are unfamiliar, the story is pretty basic: When the son of a U.S. ambassador dies at birth, the hospital priest offers to "replace" the child with an orphaned one in the hospital whose mother just dies at birth. Both children were born at 6 am on June 6th (get it?). The Ambassador, not wanting to break his wife's heart (she didn't know the child had died) accepts the offer and they raise the son as their own.

What they don't know is the circumstances surrounding the birth of the child they secretly adopted (which is really never explained in the film, though it is alluded to that the mother was an animal and not a human being). What they also don't know is that the child is Satan come to Earth to destroy mankind and usher in Armageddon. I know, I know, sounds like a King Diamond album.

It feels like there was a lot of care taken to preserve the integrity of the original plot and I never felt insulted by any attempts to "outdo" the original. Aside from a spectacularly gory beheading scene, there really isn't a lot of blood here which is good - it would have been unnecessary. I like that the people in charge realized this. There is also a great scene in a graveyard filled with fog and inverted crosses. It's spooky and has a couple of tremendous scares that work pretty well. And it looks like a Slayer album cover.

I'm not so sure I buy Liev Schrieber and Julia Stiles (who looks more and more like a Himalayan cat every time I see her), but Pete Postelthwaite is amazing as always as is David Thewlis. So overall, I dug this. Check it out.

- Complaint Dept

Monster House (2006)

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

Kind of a stretch to review this movie, given. Still, it is about a haunted house (kind of) and it has some scary moments (if you're a kid under the age of 12). But beyond that, it's simply a good movie with some really funny lines and amazing animation.

Every neighborhood has it's cantankerous old curmudgeon who confiscates kites and soccer balls that land in his yard. I remember being a small child in Carrollton, TX (where Cortez the Killer currently resides) living next to a cranky old fuck who owned an enormous trailer. I used to run around in his backyard barefoot all the time until I stepped on a board with a rusty nail poking up out of it which (I am told) was put there to intentionally keep people off his yard. Lesson learned bastardo.

Monster House starts with a cranky old man dying in his front yard as a kid tries to "rescue" his buddy's basketball. It's not after that his creaky, scary and old house begins to come to life and starts eating heshers and cops. And, of course, only a few kids realize this (as the adults simply laugh them off and then are promptly eaten). With Halloween coming up in a few days, the kids come up with a few clever ways to "defeat" the house before is eats all of the children that come up to knock on the door.

Like I said, the animation is amazing and the house is really cool when it comes to life. The acting is well done and there are some really funny lines going back and forth between the two main kids. The dynamic between these two was nice and really brought me back in a nice way. Sort of the way Superbad did except without all the titty jokes and shitty beer. Which is kind of how my childhood was anyway....So if you have kids or consider yourself a big kid, by all means check this out.

-Complaint Dept

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ghost Adventures (2007)

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

Ghost Adventures is supposedly a documentary that is very much in the same vein as the SciFi program Ghost Hunters. It's fair, I think, to call it a cheap rip-off. It's done by a couple dudes who took their camcorders and infrared cameras out to some "haunted" spots in the Nevada desert. There they "capture" proof of ghosts including an "apparition" that walks in front of their camera, a shadowy figure that peeks it's head around a corner, voices and flying objects. They also interview a lot of creepy desert people.

The success of this film (term used lightly) depends almost entirely on the audience's existing belief in the supernatural and ghosts. But it also relies heavily on the assumption that people who do believe in the supernatural are completely devoid of any reason or logical thinking. They bring their footage to a couple people whom we are led to believe are experts in their fields and who cannot disprove that the images captured are NOT of ghosts. This includes a film editing expert named Slim Ritchie and some physics professor at UNLV with an amazing bowl haircut.

Here's a bit of how the "confirmation" goes: Slim Ritchie reviews the footage of a walking apparition, runs some software that no one in the audience knows anything about and claims that the footage was not altered and that no special effects were used. This is a bit like taking a glass of cloudy mystery liquid, holding it against a shiny silver box and claiming that your "poison detector" says it's safe to drink. Very few of us regular people know what your software is Mr. Ritchie so I can't buy your claim. You might as well perform some magic tricks for me while your at it because I'm going to be just as convinced.

This is the problem with "ghost hunting" in general. For example...If you watch Ghost Hunters regularly (like I do), you know that EMF Detectors are used regularly to find where ghost activity may be. The thought is that higher EMFs are a strong indicator of the presence of a ghost. This is the thought because we are TOLD it is the thought. Had you not been told this and Jason Hawes said "Hey I'm getting a high EMF here" the audience would think "hmmm, must be near something that is producing a high EMF". In order for the trick to work, you are expected to be blinded and dazzled by the words "Electro-Magnetic Field Detector" and forget that ALL IT DOES is detect high and low EMFs. That's it. A high EMF in a particular area could be for a LOT of reasons (and giving credit where credit is due, the bro-skis on Ghost Hunters often make note of that). For example, a high EMF could be due to a light switch around the corner.

People who truly want to believe in ghosts also tend to subscribe to the following pattern of thinking: Something happens that I did not expect or that is outside of what I normally experience as real. Instead of finding repeatable ways to explain what happened using tools that are designed for that purpose, I will instead take pieces of electronics and use them in ways that they are not intended to be used and further confuse myself. Then, having come to no further conclusion, I will decide that since I cannot explain it, it must be a ghost.

THAT is the main difference between someone who is really interested in UNDERSTANDING the "supernatural" and someone who believes that the unexplained are the spirits of dead people. I fall very much in the former category which is why I found Ghost Adventures to be so insulting (as well as tremendously boring).

And frankly, I don't believe that the evidence they "captured" is real. Not for one second. I think they faked it all. Look at it like this - what if YOU captured this stuff on camera and really thought you had some great evidence of the supernatural.? Would you start working with scientists and other smart people to try and figure out what was happening? Or would you wrap your footage up in some nifty packaging, sell it as a DVD, manufacture other merchandise to go with it (T-shirts, hats, etc.) and get people like Robin Leech and Maury Povich to pitch it (go to Ghost Adventures MySpace page to see more of this)?

Bottom line: this is either a totally fake mockumetary (in which case my opinion is totally different) or it's just the same old bullshit charlatans, fakes, psychics, mediums and other con-artists have been pushing for hundreds of years. Either way, I want that hour and a half of my life back.

- Complaint Department