Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shutter (2006)

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

Tepid, uninspired and boring, Shutter may be the last Asian ghost film I will watch for a while. I just can't be objective anymore. There are so many of these and they all have the same story and ghost in them. I mean, don't audiences get tired of this shit?

Man and woman run down a woman late at night and drive off. They are then haunted by the woman. There are some plot twists that sort of explain things, but not really. And the storyline is a little hard to follow and some of it doesn't make sense - are you getting the picture?

In the interest of full disclosure, I as drunk when I watched this. So maybe it rules. But I doubt it since I like everyone and everything when I am drunk and this did not pass my test. Blah.

- Complaint Department

Night of the Creeps (1985)

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

The obvious inspiration for Slither, Night of The Creeps is directed by the same guy that made Monster Squad. So it's no surprise that it's a little tame for a zombie movie, though there is still a fair amount of blood and exploding heads to have kept me happy.

I think the main guy also played Rusty in European Vacation. And the guy that plays the tough talkin' detective overacting his cheesy, hammy ass all through the film has been in some other stuff as well.

Night of the Creeps starts in the 1950s when a meteor crashes to Earth and a bunch of enormous slug things come crawling out of the crater and begin to start burrowing their way into people's brains - turning them into flesh craving, murderous zombies. Flash forward to the 80s where the preppy students of some college chug beer, comb their enormous blond hairdos and conform to every stereotype ever written in the book of John Hughes. Two dorks are having a hard time fitting in, one of whom, in an attempt to woo a dopey girl, talks the other one into trying to join a fraternity.

The jocks in the frat tell them that they have to steal a corpse from the medical lab and leave it propped up somewhere that'll freak people out. So, the two dorks wind up in the lab where they run across the frozen body of some dude in his choneez, encased in a glass pod straight from an Ed Wood film. They immediately thaw him out and run in terror when his hand grasps on to one of the kids legs. From here, all heck breaks loose.

As zombies start running around town, their heads splitting open to release slugs that fly through the air into people's mouths, the cops call in this haggard old detective who dealt with this exact same stuff back in the 50's. Eventually, Rusty from Euro Vacation and haggard alcoholic copper team up for the big show down that includes a zombie puppy, a flame thrower, a healthy dose of claymation and some kick ass 80's synth pop.

Yes, it's a winner. The alternate ending can be found on YouTube and frankly, I like it much more than the original ending. In fact, I think the entire movie might be on YouTube.

- Complaint Department

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

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

It would be a lie to say that Sleepaway Camp is the worst movie ever made. There are far worse out there. But I feel safe and secure stating that it may be one of the worst MADE films around. This is one cheap-ass movie, even by 80's Slasher B movie standards.

Sleepaway Camp was churned out in the early 80's when the Halloween and Friday th 13th franchises were at their peak. It would have been pretty easy to crank this puppy out with the standard slasher-hacking-up-teenagers ala, say, The Burning. It probably would have made it's money back as well, but alas, the producers were aiming for originality here and, man, did they succeed.

Story sans spice: Kids and teens head off to summer camp where they frolic around in teeny tiny shorts, wear the ugliest clothes ever made and cuss like world champions. The story focuses on two kids in particular, cool and popular Ricky and his weird and silent cousin Angela. While Ricky is good at sports, draws the attention of teenage girls who appear to be 30 and has a filthy mouth (it's seriously awesome), Angela is taunted and teased, pushed around and made fun of. Soon someone starts going around and killing campers one by one - a stabbing in the shower, a grody drowned body found on shore, a pile of torn up children in the woods. Who's killing everyone off? Standard slasher fare right? Think again chums & buddies!

Now the spice: Angela has this weird thing with sex. Seems her father was gay and she and her (dead) brother caught them in the act of, as the Good Book says, "Knowing Each Other". It's also alluded to that she may have "known" her brother as well. It's all very strange and handled so awkwardly that it's much more creepy than it was intended to be. And the abundance of dicks and man-ass is a little out of the ordinary as well (allowing me to use the much coveted "D&A" label below!).

And while I won't ruin the end for you, let's just say this movie has one of the goofiest, and yet, fucked up endings ever. It's hard to describe just how bizarre it really is. Not fucked up like you'll have nightmares or need to take a shower. Fucked up like you'll look at the other people in the room and go "what the fuck"?

Filled with horrendous acting by a cast straight from the worst parts of New Jersey, dialogue that sounds as though it were penned by a mentally challenged child, special effects that are cheap and hokey and some of the ugliest human beings ever, Sleepaway Camp has earned, through sheer entertainment value alone, a place in my hallowed halls of excellent movies.

Followed by a bazillion sequels.

- Complaint Department

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Strangers (2008)

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

Surprisingly this did not suck. I say "surprisingly" because I just wasn't swallowing that Liv Tyler would be in a decent horror flick, though I can't say why I felt that way. Maybe because she was in Armageddon? probably not fair to her. Sorry Liv.

The Strangers does quite a lot of borrowing from other films. I don't mean that in a bad way and it's not to imply that the film is derivative in any way, just that its not entirely "original". First off, the storyline borrows the old "true story" bit from films like Texas Chainsaw. It also has a similar tone and plotline as "Ils", a French horror film from a couple of years ago.

But the biggest, um, "inspiration" has to be from Halloween (78 version). There really is no getting around the fact that the cinematography, lighting and overall feel of the film is direct from John Carpenter's notebook. Menacing images slowly materialize into view at times, sinister villians gradually appear in the background, never quite in focus and never doing much more than staring, head slightly bent to one side ala Michael Myers. And it totally works.

The Strangers is a scary movie - it's tense and has a lot of "jump out at you scares" that are never "just the cat". The plot is mindless and simple to the point of stupidity: a couple is spending the evening at home when three masked strangers begin terrorizing them with the intent to kill them. Simple. And while critics have been quick to point this out - the lack of social commentary, the lack of "reason" and "resolution", the lack of motive, etc. - the fact that the movie is so linear in it's approach and so hell-bent on simply being scary and icky makes it succeed. Unlike some films of late that have tried to recapture the gritty grindhouse feel of 70's sleaze-horror, The Strangers pulls it off by simply dumbing it all down and not thinking too much. Well played, sir.

- Complaint Department