Friday, February 29, 2008

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)


Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 0/5
Disappointing "homage" to schlocky 70's films that comes across as just a bad Texas Chainsaw remake, but corny and dopey. When I saw this in the theater I left joking about the movie being "House of 5 Corpses" and generally bad mouthed the film to everyone I met. I was hoping a second viewing would improve my 'tude, but, alas, I still think this is a stinker. Although now that I recognize Rainn Wilson as being Dwight from the American version of The Office, I did enjoy it a tad bit more.
What sucks about this movie? Well for starters it's shot like a bad TV show with these goofy in-between scene shots that are intended to be corny and funny (I guess) but are simply annoying as hell - think Austin Powers or the Batman program from the 60s, but with overexposed technicolor shots of people being tortured. Which brings me to another problem - this was hyped as being a really fucked up film and it's not. Half of the gore and violence is completely hidden away through the use of overexposed film and monochrome over coloring - and when something gruesome does happen, it's often just alluded to or shown for a brief second. It's as though Rob Zombie was either afraid to go the extra step, to give it that little push o'er the cliff as Nigel Tufnel would say, or the censors really clamped down on the filmmakers. Either way, the House of 5 Corpses joke lives on.
It's also just an annoying film in general. I get that it's totally tongue in cheek and I get that it's supposed to be silly, but that kind of stuff can be done in ways that aren't dopey and dumb. Here, everything just comes across as cartoony and ridiculous. The level of reality here is very low - grown men in 24 hour clown makeup for example. Cyborg monster serial killers that look like a Voi Vod album cover and live in underground caves is another.
Where Texas Chainsaw was so effective because it felt so real (many have compared it to a documentary) House of 1000 Corpses feels like a live action version of Scooby Doo but with boobs and cussing.
I like Rob Zombie as a guy - every time I see him interviewed he comes across as a genuinely good guy. But his film making needs work. This was followed by The Devil's Rejects which was an improvement and his remake of Halloween which I actually enjoyed. So maybe this is just a case of "first timers" or something. I dunno, I just think this movie sucks.
- Complaint Dept

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Invasion (2007)


Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5
Worthless Remake Factor: This Shit Goes to 11


Pure contemptible wrath and seething fury is what I was feeling after watching this film. If I was strong enough, I would have picked up my 51 inch TV and thrown it out the god damn window. Absolute cock knockery was to be had in this film and I feel like I was flim flammed.

Thinking this film was completely original I rented it, hoping it might be a taut thriller, a new spin on the age old story of alien invasion and the taking over the minds of helpless earthlings. Much to my dismay, I found out that it was just another in a long line of worthless remakes. This immediately irritated the shit out of me and I almost decided not to watch it based on this fact alone (before I popped the DVD in, I read the back cover to find this out, Doh!).

I won't even bother with the story as it pretty much follows the course of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a brilliant, original and for its time period, a pretty scary flick that I reviewed a few months back (looky here). This movie is a complete and utter shell of that film, eschewing its simplicity and genuinely creepy moments for some semblance of 'originality' and modern Hollywood bravado.

What this film attempted to do was to be 'original' in its twist on the original film by revealing a resolution. What made the Invasion of the Body Snatchers so effective was that there was no real resolution, no Hollywood happy ending and that people actually believed that something like this could happen when they exited the theater. Not in this complete turdfest, oh no no. A boy with super immunity from the chicken pox (yes, the fucking chicken pox) is also found to have immunity from this disease that infects people as they sleep. So a scientist takes his blood, creates a serum, and YAY, happy ending as the world is saved!

This movie will give you a case of tourette's and make you hold back the desire to throw a blunt object through your television. But hey, at least the director found a way to make Nicole Kidman look somewhat attractive and less like a walking version of Skeletor.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Omen (1976)

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

Excellent film that rounds out the big three Satan films from the 70's (Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist being the other two). The Omen is kind of an anomaly in that it succeeds in hitting it's goal while going about it in the wrong way. Generally speaking, horror films with big budgets, big name actors and directors and long running times fail to scare, gross out or even entertain. The Omen does all this and more.

The story is a familiar one, especially for the 70's. It's a little complicated, but here's the dumbed down gist of things: A wealthy politician and his wife have a child who turns out to be the Antichrist. There are a number of things that occur that begin to indicate this and eventually it is beyond a doubt and something has to be done. Simple.

The Omen boasts a strong script and great performances, feeling, for the most part, like a very taut thriller and drama rather than a horror film. So when the really bad things happen in the film, they feel really bad and can be pretty effective. The death scenes in The Omen are powerful and jarring - there is a decapitation scene that is tremendously gross and unexpected. On of the most gruesome ever created on film.

Things that, these days, seem cliched and overused originated here and are done so in subtle and crafty ways. The pictures taken by a photojournalist for example, showing the same weird distortion in recurring patterns when taken of certain individuals - this has since been used in nearly every J-Horror film that fuses horror with technology. The menacing animals that guard the son, the smiling and creepy suicide scene, the terrified animals that attack Damien and his family in the car, the freakout scene as the family tries to go to church - all done so well here and used, afterwards, in countless other films about the supernatural.

The film's willingness to challenge accepted Hollywood taboos works to it's advantage as well. While it, again, seems cliched today, the choice to make the villian be not only the ultimate villian, but a child, was pretty bold. The child himself is fantastic - a creepy and threatening looking little kid whose cuteness often does create conflict in the viewer: how could he be so evil? Look at those chubby cheeks and that cute lil' hat he wears. Additionally, the film's creators do not shy away from the fact that God and good in general are ill equipped to fight the evil being presented here. Priests are dispatched in nasty ways, a statement that indicates that no matter the depth of your faith, you're going to lose. That should, and I think did, scare a lot of people - especially in the Bible Belt.

And what review of The Omen would be complete without mentioning the soundtrack, possibly the finest in horror film history. Truly chilling and satanic sounding choral arrangements with verses in Latin that translate as "Sanguis bibimus, corpus edimus, tolle corpus Satani" (Latin for "We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan"). YIKES.

A classic.



- Complaint Department

Damien: Omen II (1978)


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

If you get about an hour into this and start thinking "have I seen this before?", rest assured you're not nuts. You have seen it - it was called The Omen. This is just the same movie rewritten with an older son of Satan, new parents to off, new disciples to be protected by and new ways to kill people. There are times when it really feels like the writers just erased a couple lines from the original script and added in slightly different ones. It's not a bad movie, but you have seen it and the lack of creativity is disappointing.

When we last saw Damien, aka the Antichrist, he was smiling a satanic grin back at the audience while attending his parents funeral. Now, a grimy little pre-teen with a sweet bowl haircut, Damien lives with his rich uncle and aunt in Chicago where he also attends a military academy. The rest you can figure out.

People begin to get wise that Damien is the spawn of Hell and they each try to warn Damien's uncle (played by William Holden) and aunt. Their claims being seen as crazy and outlandish, they are mocked and scoffed, and eventually die off one by one is a series of "mysterious" accidents. Meanwhile, some of those around Damien, begin to understand who he is and begin working to protect him. Lance Henriksen makes an early appearance in one of these roles.

Eventually, Damien's uncle "sees the light" and attempts to kill Damien himself, but is killed by his own wife who says something along the lines of "He's always controlled me" or something like that. Damien, being pure evil, winds up killing her as well - just for the hell of it (pun totally intended BWAAHHAHAHA).

Sound familiar?

Really, the only new twist is the struggle Damien has with his own destiny. It's short-lived however. After he runs a couple miles to wind up alone on a serene lake's dock, overlooking the sunset, he screams "Whyyyyyyy meeeeee??" and then, for the rest of the movie, is totally ok with his Satanic self.

Damien: Omen II could have been a great movie likes it's predecessor, but it's lack of originality, lack of creative kill scenes, lack of enthusiasm - general LACK OF everything brings it down. Still, watch for a great death scene involving Meshach Taylor, (yeah, the dude from Designing Women) the film's only real highlight.

- Complaint Department

The Prophecy (1995)

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

So-so Satan flick that is not to be confused with the low budget deformed-bear movie from 1979 that scared the pee pee out of me when I was eight. Or, at least the commercials did, I've actually never seen it...Netflix I hear you knockin'. Anyway, this one is different.

Conceptually, The Prophecy is kind of fun: a group of rebel angels lead by Gabriel has been waging war against God and his loyal angels for around 1000 years or so. The rebel angels are jealous of mankind because God loves Man more than he does the angels (he gave them souls which really pissed some of them off). Now, in 1995, angels start showing up on Earth fighting each other and leaving behind weird corpses that have two sex organs and whose ages cannot be determined (among other things).

The prophecy that the title refers to is a missing chapter from the book of Revelations that reveals the reason these angels are now showing up. The chapter states that a dark soul can be found on Earth, one so evil and awful that it eats the souls of other men increasing in power each time it does. Sort of like when you zap Godzilla with nuclear weapons. Or eat a Powerbar.

Obviously this is something Gabriel (played to cheesy perfection by Christopher Walken) would like to get his hands on if he intends to overthrow God. The "dark soul" turns out to be - no, no, not Hitler, not Stalin, not Pol Pot, not any of the other guys you may normally associate with "ultimate evil", but some army general who passed away a few days ago in a little town in Arizona.

Evil you say? Yes, "EEE-VEL!"

Meanwhile, Lucifer (an early role for Viggo Mortenson) is not having any of this. He's pissed that there could be two Hells now, two Lords of the Underworld. Being a jealous guy (he is the king of vice after all) he shows up to offer help to the puny humans who are trying to fend off Walken and his band of goofballs.

So, conceptually, it's ok. It's creative and I'm a sucker for satanic stuff, always entertains me - I mean, I saw End of Days in the theater, I can't figure out why I never saw this. But the execution, like most 90's horror films, falls on it's face. The plot is overburdened with unnecessary stuff - there's the spiritual crisis the main protagonist is undergoing, the Native American religions vs. Western religions, the possession of a little girl, the comic relief of having wise-cracking reanimated corpses do the dirty work for Gabriel (he can't drive for example) - all too much and too silly.

Additionally, there are too many "big name" actors in here. Walken I can handle, he's creepy enough in real life for me to accept. But Eric Stoltz, nah. Virginia Madsen, naaah. Adam Goldberg, Amanda Plummer - see, these are the tell tale signs that a horror movie is going to be lame.

There's some decent gore, but there's also some cheesy and very poorly done CGI effects. There's some fun and creative elements, but then there's the melodramatic, neo-noir dialogue. There's Steve Hytner, aka Kenny Bania from Seinfeld ("It's gold Jerry - GOLD!"), but then there's Eric Stoltz, aka the dude from Mask.

A heavy contender for the definition of "meh". But that's just me - it has four sequels so someone must like it.

- Complaint Department

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Abnormal Beauty (2004)

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

The Pang Brothers scored a big and early hit in their career with The Eye which saw an American remake hit (and split from) U.S. screens last month. They also missed the mark altogether with their America debut, the Sam Raimi produced The Messengers. Abnormal Beauty falls somewhere in between.

A young (high school maybe?) art student becomes disinterested in the art she is learning about and producing. She happens to witness to a car accident where a pedestrian is killed and is inspired to take some photos. Back in her photo lab, she begins to see "abnormal beauty" in the death she captured on film and begins to actively seek out more carnage for her art. This starts with her paying the local butcher to allow her to film him slaughtering chickens (a mean little scene that I could have done without since I think the chickens are actually killed) but eventually escalates to her taking road kill home to photograph. From here she begins staging and photographing death scenes to the dismay of her cousin who she may or may not be having a lesbian affair with.

Which brings up an interesting sub-plot. Early on we are lead to believe that she was gang raped by three male cousins of hers when she was a little girl, the effects of which have turned her into a lesbian. Not totally outside of the pale I guess, but, were I a lesbian, I think I would be able to find something offensive about that. Having known several very nice, very well adjusted lesbians, I feel confident in stating that it doesn't take gang rape to turn one into a lesbian - sometimes it's just the way things are. Anyway, enough soapboxing....

Abnormal Beauty is, frankly, pretty fuckin' boring for the first 3/4s of the film. The subtitles appear to have been poorly done, or else the dialogue and story are just a tad confusing. The pace is slow and not a lot happens. There is an obvious effort to "westernize" the whole thing with it's slow-jammy soundtrack and music montage film editing. Isn't there enough of that coming from Hollywood already?

Where the film really feels like an Eastern import is in the final quarter where things take a sudden turn for the very bad and no punches are pulled. It gets mean and it gets icky. Had the first 3/4 of this been as intense I'd be raving about this. But it wasn't and I'm not.



Complaint Dept

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eaten Alive / Death Trap (1977)

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

Eaten Alive is generally regarded as Tobe Hooper's "other" classic horror film from the 70's. And while it doesn't pack the punch that Texas Chainsaw Massacre does, it still hits it's mark pretty well.

What Tobe Hooper did so well back then, and what he lost as soon as he began working with larger budgets, was to create an atmosphere that was sleazy and uncomfortable. It may not have been scary in the sense that things were jumping out at you, but it was unnerving, surreal and realistic all at the same time. Using garish and gaudy colors in nearly every scene, Eaten Alive looks menacing and fucked up, if not cheap and grimy. The soundtrack is a series of electronic squeals and grinding sounds, mixed in with proto-industrial noises that are jarring and ugly. But it's not just the soundtrack that works - it's the sound in general. There seems to always be some sort of background song being burped out of the AM radio, mixed with screams and grunts and the nonsensical ramblings of lead actor Neville Brand (who is amazing in this). The sound often comes in cascading sheets, wave after wave so that the rare occurrences of silence are kind of freaky.

Soooo, yeah, there is a mechanical crocodile here, but it's rarely seen and isn't really the scary part of the movie. Like Texas Chainsaw, the scariest and freakiest thing happening are the people themselves. We are treated, again, to some inbred, backwoodsy East Texas types who all appear to have eschewed both bathing and laws. The plot is remarkably simple: a young prostitute is kicked out of the brothel she lives in and checks into a motel run by a creepy old coot named Judd, who, as we quickly learn, has no love or tolerance for the prostitutes who work up the road. He quickly realizes her (ex) profession and quickly kills her off with a large garden tool in a scene that is violent and bloody. Disposing of the evidence is easy: chuck her over the side of the railing into the pond inhabited by a large hungry crocodile. The problem is that people keep showing up to his motel one after the other, all kind of inquiring about the last person there - so, of course, he has to kill them off. Or beat and torture them. Or molest them. He just kind of loses it and goes bonkers.

Somehow it works. It's gritty and nasty without being gory, fucked up and weird without being a bloodbath. From here, however, it was all downhill for Mr. Hooper. His next two films - TV's Salem's Lot and 1981's The Funhouse were both sort of on the "meh" side of things. Then came films like Lifeforce and The Mangler. Hmmm.

- Complaint Dept

Friday, February 15, 2008

Equinox (1970)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5
Claymation - This goes to 11

Not knowing a whole lot about the film industry and it's machinations, when I hear "student film" I assume it's analogous to "demo" in the music world. My take is that a student film is rough, unrefined and cheap because it has to be, the point being to develop the skills and vision required to make a "good" film. One may find themselves saying "that was great" or "that was really impressive", but invariably, those statements are always followed by "...for a student film."

Equinox is a student film that a cheapo film producer saw and enjoyed enough to tack on some additional scenes and roll out in drives ins across the U.S. in 1970. Legend has it that the bulk of the film was actually shot in 1967, the remaining scenes done later which explains the weird continuity errors, odd fashion changes and horrible sound dubbing.

Being a student film, it's very safe to state that this film sucks. It's ok to say this because the expectation is that it will, so in that sense, mission accomplished. It's baffling to me that this would be mass marketed however and distributed as a "real life" motion picture - by Janus Films no less! And, if you are interested, you can find the Criterion Collection version of this on DVD. So someone out there, probably much more knowledgeable about the film world than I, seems to think this is a classic film. Again, equating all of this to what I know and understand - the music world - I say "fair enough". I own the ZZ Top box set so I get the general idea.

Equinox stars Frank Bonner, who would later find fame and fortune as the tacky and crass Herb Tarlek on WKRP in Cincinnati. It also stars a dude with enormous eyebrows, two blonde girls who are absolutely defenseless and weak (pre-women's lib I guess??) and tons of claymation, including a kick-ass claymation Satan who flies around picking people up with his devlish talons.

An obvious influence on Evil Dead, the storyline follows 4 students who head out to the remote wilderness of the San Bernardino hills to meet up with the geology professor for a picnic. When they arrive, they find his cabin destroyed and are met by a satanic looking park ranger who tells them the Professor hasn't been around for weeks. The students head off to enjoy their picnic, spot an old castle and wind up in a cave fighting with a creepy old man. The man gives them a leather bound book and runs off, laughing like a little girl. The book, it turns out, is 1000s of years old and includes all kinds of spells and evil stuff.

The popularized flirtation and fascination that the late 60's and early 70's had with Satanism and the Occult is abundant here - the Lord's Prayer is read backwards and it opens some sort of portal for example. And, as we soon discover, the park ranger with the evil eyebrows, who is also named "Mr. Asmodeus", turns out to be Satan himself. He starts cornering the girls and forcing himself upon them, as well as fist-fighting the two dudes. Seems he wants the book for some unspecified reason and, being the Lord of the Underworld, an angel cast out of heaven, apparently has no other means of taking it from 4 young kids than by fist fighting them and sending claymated beasts after them.

Don't see Equinox because you think it will be awesome. See Equinox because it is as far from awesome as one can get. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 rating is high here - you can literally make fun of every second of this movie. And the claymation is tremendous...for a student film. Admittedly, I fell asleep during the middle and missed about 10 minutes. I don't think it mattered.



Complaint Dept

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Murder Party (2007)


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

What an unexpected surprise this little number was. Glaring at me from the endless walls at Blockbuster, it screamed 'Rent Me!' as my eyes scanned the never ending sea of faux wooden display cases. A dude in a cardboard knight's suit wielding a bloody, double wammy delight of chainsaws? Count me the fuck in.

A lonely guy runs into a mysterious party invitation on Halloween as he comes home from another day of getting shat upon as the local parking cop. Enticing him to join in the evening's 'exclusive' festivities, the man runs home to whip up a costume for the evening. Taking cardboard to new heights, he fashions a silly (and awesome) knight's costume and decides to get into the mood by making a loaf of pumpkin bread for the party goers.

Upon entering an abandoned factory, he comes to find out that the other party peeps have plans for the dude who seems to be the only invitee. As they indulge in sex, booze and drugs, we learn that they are all aspiring artists and our main character, is going to be the main subject in their masterpiece of artistic expression. Each of the costumed artists (we have a werewolf, 80's jazzerciser, a dude in makeup and baseball outfit a la The Warriors, a cheerleader and another clown dressed as a pseudo Heffner), bitterly bicker over how to kill the guy and in their own drunken, drugged up and psychotic moments, they accidentally start killing each other.

I can't tell if the commentary of this film is set out to make fun of artsy, pseudo- intellectuals or not but it sure seems that way. The dialogue is truly awful but the moments of gore between the cheerleader getting knocked upside the head, werewolf dude getting lit on fire (and his face subsequently turning into pepperoni pizza) were pretty icky. The highlight of the film, after all the twisted, artsy fartsy party goers off themselves, involves our hero (the knight dude) finally getting away from his captors and being chased by the only guy still left in the mix--the Warriors baseball guy. Hunting him down and stumbling into a new art exhibit (oh the irony), the grand finale has enough motorized carnage that would make Tobi Hooper jealous.

Fun, silly, over the top and gorrific-ly delicious, Murder Party is golden. Grab a bowl of candy corn and enjoy.

Cortez the Killer

Troll (1986)


Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 0/5
Puppets and Claymation: 5/5

Truly awful film. I mean a shitfest to end all shitfests, and yet, it completely held my attention because of how bafflingly terrible it is.

Troll is amazing for several reasons. First, it's about a wizard who was changed into a troll back in the middle ages who now haunts the laundry room of a San Francisco apartment complex. His goal is to change all of the inhabitants into trolls like him so he can take over the world. He does this by pricking them with an enormous green ring he wears. This not only puts them through a gooey metamorphosis into a pod that pops open to reveal little puppety trolls, but also turns the apartments into miniature forests covered with pot plants. It's mind blowing. If Sid and Marty Kroft had made a feature film in the 1980's, this would have been it.

Second, the main characters are both named Harry Potter (Sr. and Jr.). JK Rowling claims to have known nothing about this when she started her series and I believe her. I just don't see her as a big "Troll" fan, but who knows.

Third, the cast is fantastic: Shelly Hack from Charlie's Angels; June Lockhart from Lost in Space; Sonny Bono from crashing into trees; Noah Hathaway from The Neverending Story (one of the creepiest films I've ever seen); Michael Moriarty from Law & Order; Gary Sandy from WKRP in Cinncinati; and of course, in all of her partially nude forest-hippie glory - Julia Louise Dreyfus aka Elaine Benes.

Fourth, and finally - Dad (Michael Moriarty) performs this lewd/awkward air guitar dance to Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" that must be seen to be believed.

Worth seeing once. But never again. . . Ok, I'd watch it again.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Fear 1/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 4/5
Grisly and disturbing film that really defines what "horror" means. No monsters, no goblins or ghosts, no chainsaws and masked slashers. Just a couple of white trash dudes who grew up abused and molested living in the sprawl of a decaying Chicago who have no conscience and no sense of wrong and right.
There is plenty to get disturbed by here - rape, incest, random and gruesome violence, and some pretty nasty gore scenes that had me cringing. I remember seeing this when it came out and being slightly bored, but later feeling really gross. With the film's 20 year release anniversay coming soon I have to say that the second viewing was the one that really got me. Maybe it's because I'm older and have a wiser, more seasoned look on things. Maybe I appreciate life more and don't have that indestructible outlook that an 18 year old has. Whatever it is, this film was effective and freaked me out.
There are a couple of scenes in the film that are especially fucked up, particularly, a scene where Henry and his screwy pal Otis attack a suburban family, raping the mother, killing the son and torturing the father, all while videotaping it. It's hideous and vile and much too realistic. No exaggeration here - this movie has a high "bummer" potential meaning that if you are not prepared, this one will ruin your night.
Of course, this is the triumph of the film - it's awfully awful and painful. The script is good, the acting solid (the Otis character is very well done and Michael Rooker is great as Henry) and the overall tone of the film is dark and sleazy, it's backdrop being one of urban decay and destruction. It makes you feel icky to watch these two carelessly murder over and over without any sense of remorse.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer remains one of the most effective horror films ever made. I wouldn't recommend it as a date flick - stick with the Screams and Friday the 13th films - but I will recommend it as an example of how well done art can shock audiences by being nothing more than a reflection of what could be happening at this very minute. When you walk out of a film like Dawn of the Dead, you feel like you've had fun. The stuff you just saw can never happen. After Henry, however, you should be a little wary about your neighbor or the quiet dude that works in the mail room. I know I am.
- Complaint Department

They Live (1988)

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

John Carpenter's ham-fisted statement on multi-national corporate mind control lacks the subtlety required to make it's point, but certainly entertains in a goofy way. The film is obviously influenced by the likes of 50's Sci-Fi, the Twilight Zone and George Orwell and when it really tries, it looks fantastic. 

The basic plot of the film is that the world is being secretly run by aliens who control all of the media and, to a certain extent, financial institutions. They maintain this control by broadcasting mind-altering signals that work to mask their real identities (they look like skeletal monsters) as well as their real intentions (billboards that advertise perfume are really plain white boards with messages that read "Obey", "Consume", "Marry and Reproduce", and my favorite "Do Not Question Authority").

Some people (people meaning, in this sense, "puny humans") get wise to what's going on and develop sunglasses that allow the wearers to see things as they really are. This is where 80's wrestling star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper comes in. Looking like a blond headed Glen Danzig, Piper plays an out of work drifter who's come to own a pair of these magical glasses and immediately starts fighting and gunning down as many aliens as he can. In addition to his barrel chest and arsenal of automatic weapons, he's armed with one liners that are so painfully bad that one can't help but laugh - "I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick some serious ass....and I'm all out of bubblegum." Even the Governator himself could have crafted better lines.

It's evident from the way the film moves and looks that it's not just an homage to 1950's paranoia films, but it's meant to be silly and ridiculous, much like Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. The commentary on class war and greed takes a lot from George Romero as well, who gets a shout out later in the film. 

They Live is not a bad sci-fi / horror / action flick, but it falls short of it's potential. At times it's very well done - especially the black and white scenes of "reality" that are seen through the glasses. But Piper was a bad choice for leading man, his acting clumsy and forced, his dialogue cheesy and painful to listen to. There are times when his Saskatoon accent is so thick I found myself asking "what did he say?", but that's only a minor distraction.  The same could be said about his flowing river of mulletude. 

Fun and mindless (which may be a disappointment to Carpenter who might have really been trying to make some sort of political statement...) but I'll stick with Invasion of the Body Snatchers for my dose of American Paranoia. 


- Complaint Dept

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Madman (1981)

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

Madman is so by-the-numbers, so generic, that's it's a wonder people still have an interest in it. Like The Burning and countless other slasher films from that era, Madman centers on a group of camp counselors being stalked and picked off one at a time. The originality meter reads 0 on this one.

Maybe it's the fuck-awful dialogue and acting. maybe it's the incomprehensible script. Perhaps the brilliantly choreographed "love" scene that involved synchonized swimming in an enormous hot tub. It could be that the actors and actresses are not simply "unglamorous", but ugly. I'm not sure, but it all added up to a great movie for me to mock and talk back to.

There are some fun slashery kill scenes - beheading by car hood for example. And it ends rather grimly, another plus, but aside from the fact that you can really and truly point your finger at this and laugh about 75% of the time, it doesn't have much to offer. And yet, I was totally and mindlessly entertained. Maybe I've seen too many of these.....



- Complaint Dept

Race With The Devil (1975)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5
PG Rating 5/5

Uninspired 70's flick that cashed in on just about everything the 70's had to offer: dirtbikes, RVs, butterfly collars, car chases, kickin' ass, paranoia and, of course, Satanic cults.

Two manly dudes and their submissive, pansy-ass wives take off on their dream vacation which consists of driving an RV from Texas to do some skiing. They camp out one night and witness a Satanic cult murder (sacrifice) a young and very naked (presumably) virgin around their raging fire. Oddly, the boobs and stuff are all blurred out, but this wasn't on network TV or anything...oh yeah, PG.

The folks hightail it outta there and are chased across Texas by the cult members. There's zero blood, zero scares and a whole lotta car chasin' and motorcycle ridin'. And the two guys are tough as nails while the woman (literally) make dinner in the kitchen of the RV and refuse to drive (that's men's work). Weird.

If you're looking for a kick ass Satan movie - this isn't it. If you're looking for a horror movie - this isn't it. If you're looking for Peter Fonda looking a LOT like Jarvis Cocker - ok, you found it.

I've placed two of the same trailers below. If you start one just after the other, it's really groovy. Just like the 70's.

- Complaint Dept








Friday, February 1, 2008

Stay Alive (2007)

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

Stay Alive is a movie about "kids" (like the ugly one from Malcolm in the Middle) that are dying and realize that their deaths occur because of a video game. If they die in the video game, they die in real life.

I definitely played Solitaire the whole time I had this movie on, but I'll give you this: you've seen it. It was called Final Destination, but instead of "evil" killing the teens of, it's the ghost of Elizabeth Bathory, but she's in a video game. It's not mind-blowing. It's dumb. And there's very little blood. And Final Destination was better, so watch that instead.

BUT - it looks like it would be a fun videogame, so maybe they will base a videogame off of it? Or maybe they have - I don't really care all that much.
If you're still thinking about watching it - know this: there is a gothy type (of course) in the movie and her name is October. Just puttin' it out there.

-Hecubus