Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday the 13th (2009)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Creepiness 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Useless Remake Factor: 5/5

I predicted this film would bring a fat satchel of suck. In the end, it was a mixed bag. Mainly of douche.

This 're-imagining' of Friday the 13th makes no bones about who the star of the film truly is. Jason is front and center the entire film, disposing of more douchey American Eagle teens than you can shake a stick at. It opens with the death of his mother by the last remaining camp counselor who has managed to survive the mothers quest for vengeance. As the counselor lops off mommy's head, little Jason bears witness. His mother encourages him to carry on her work, killing all who let him drown in the infamous Crystal Lake.

Fast forward 20 years or so, the first group of Abercrombie douches arrive on the scene and decide to camp near the lake after a day of hiking. Why are they hiking you might ask? Is it their love of the wilderness and mother nature? The love of being out in the open, camping under the stars and enjoying the elements perhaps? Nope, this group of kids is looking for a secret garden of marijuana. Yes kids, they are traversing through the wilderness looking for some mary jane. So naturally, they set up camp for the evening, one of the douchey kids tells about the story of Jason and his mother which of course conveniently sets up the next 10 minutes of the film where he comes along and starts hacking away, killing them off one by one. Kudos for the scene in which Jason encloses one of the gals in a sleeping bag, ties a rope by her legs and strings her up over a tree branch and sets a bonfire underneath.

So after Jason dispenses of the first group of douchenozzles, another group drives out to a cabin near the lake. This group is even douchier than the last. King douchebag is the leader of the group, being overly douchey in his demeanor and ordering his group of friends around like a sandbox bully. Driving into town, they meet a guy who is looking for his sister (who was in the first group of half a dozen douches) as he passes out missing fliers.

The kids make it to the house, where they hole themselves up and fall into all the trappings necessary for a slasher flick: drinking, drugs and sex. And all the other elements are also there: super douchey guys, a nerdy sidekick cohort, and a sweet, innocent girl. But for some reason, you just don't give two shits about a single one of these characters and the whole film you find yourself cheering for their timely deaths. I got the feeling the director completely intended this.

Anyways. the big guy comes along and starts killing off the kiddos in pretty standard fashion: chasing them through the woods, slinging hatchets and machetes, flinging arrows. Standard Jason fare. The guy that is looking for his lost sister by this time has met up with the group. Oh yeah, and the guy finds his sister who Jason has kept around because she looks like his dear ol' mum. She uses this against him in the end, toying with him and his emotions. The film ends with the same sort of ending that its predecessor did only you were totally expecting it to happen. And in the end, I was left saying 'why?'. Another in a long line of remakes, re-imagingings, whatever you want to call it, that did not need to be done. So you shot the film from a different perspective? Whoopty fucking do. Like the Halloween remake, I won't be seeing this again. Unless I want to view a character study on douchbaggery.

Cortez the Killer

* * *

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

That remaking this was pointless is a given. That this would be, as Cortez puts it, a big bag of suck was not. The story being as simple as it is left a lot of room for creative "reimagining". But instead of upping the ante and making this scarier, utilizing today's technology to make this gory as all get out, the producers opted instead to just make it dumb and barely teetering on Pg-13 territory.

To be 100% up front, I'm not a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise. It's just never done much for me. I enjoy the first one and some of the subsequent "sequels" are vaguely entertaining, but for the most part I just can't force myself to buy into any of it. Oddly enough though, I enjoyed Freddy vs. Jason. So maybe I'm just a dork.

Anyway, this remake isn't just bad, it's insulting. Cortez does a pretty solid job of calling out what's wrong with this in a detailed way, but the broadstroke, high-level view of this can be summed up in this way: much, much more attention was paid to developing douchebag characters that you are supposed to either root for or hate than to being a decent horror film.

Low levels of blood, cheap scares and an almost total lack of cohesiveness make this nearly unwatchable. It's not even bad in a fun way or even in a way I can make fun of. It's just a shitty movie. Skip.

-Complaint Dept

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Horror Remix

A couple years ago, me and a friend of mine were talking about our mutual love for horror movies at a backyard barbecue. We talked about the fact that you have to get through about 30 or so flicks before you find one truly awesome gem. It was during this discussion that he mentioned to me his idea for an evening of gore-tastic, so bad its good fun. It would be essential for it to contain a bountiful plethora of t&a and enough (un)intentional humor and ridiculous dialogue to keep the audience rolling for hours. Afterall, the horror genre is filled with movies like this and campy dialogue and theatrics are pretty par for the course. What if I spliced and diced each movie? He asked. I bare the brunt of the burden in watching all of these really aweful movies so that the audience doesn't have to and then I only show them all the good meat and potato parts. Horror Remix was born.
Last night was his best yet, intermingling some of the worst films ever committed to celluloid involving dolls and puppets. I'm not going to give a blow by blow review of each (check out his website you dummy). However, he truly saved the best for last. Never was there a better definition of low budget than the masterpiece that is Black Devil Doll From Hell. And the doll does the nasty with a gal that is way too into bumping uglies with a ghetto Pinocchio. Yes you read that right. A girl has mind blowing sex with a puppet. Just imagine for a moment what that looks like on screen. It was like a really bad 70's porno flick.
Going on for about two years now, running his own blog, podcast, and various shows at movie houses, EJ Anttila has created something unique and all its own. He's even won a Best Of award from the Dallas Observer. Do yourself a favor and check out his website. And if you are ever in Dallas, Houston or Austin, maybe you will be lucky enough to catch one of his shows. Combining 3-4 movies, interspersing it with an awesome sound track and additional visuals, and wrapping it up with a nice bow with his hilarious duo of puppet reviewers/commentators, a night of Horror Remix is definitely a great night of fun and escapism. He truly out does himself with each and every event and I have no idea how on satan's green earth he finds some of these films. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review: The Zombie Survival Guide

The totally tongue-in-cheek but written in 'all seriousness' book The Zombie Survival Guide, is a really fun read. Part 'fiction', part military strategy and suvival guide, the book provides common sense and rational considerations if an outbreak of the undead were to ever occur and it contains many helpful hints and lessons.

What sort of topography is best to stave off a large scale invasion? What sort of weapons are lighter when carrying but make more sense for the rapid disposal of rotting, worm-ridden, mindless killing machines? If you happen upon a group of survivors, what is the best way to evaluate the talents of each individual (i.e. forraging for food, building shelter, hand-to-hand combat experts, etc.) to make sure you aren't bogged down with talentless hacks who will only slow you down come get the hell out of dodge time? What sort of things do you need to consider once you and a small group of survivors are the only ones left and you need to rebuild the world? Hopefully, if such a thing were to occur, it would just be me and Scarlett Johansson.

A great read for anyone (horror fan or not) with lots of laugh out loud moments that are probably not intended to be as such. Afterall, surviving a full scale zombie invasion is serious business. If one were to ever occur, this book just might save your life.

Cortez the Killer

Microwave Massacre (1983)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Creepiness 3/5 (but only because of the actors)
Entertainment 2/5

Jackie Vernon, who plays the main guy in this "film", also did the voice of Frosty the Snowman in the cartoon we all grew up watching every December. You remember -  "Happy Birthday!" Here, he plays a hen-pecked construction worker who loses it one day, kills his wife, chops her up and starts cooking pieces of her to pawn off as lunch meat to his work buddies. 

Thus ends anything even remotely interesting about Microwave Massacre. The description above is far more graphic and horrifying than anything in the movie. When I say there is no gore, I'm not kidding. Were it not for several boob scenes, this could easily run on ABC every Saturday morning. 

Ok, maybe not. I think it's probably safe to say the deeply disturbing ugliness of the people, set design and music might scare some people off. Though this was released in 1983, it definitely has a strong 1978 vibe going: mustaches, butterfly collars, big wide ties, pumpin' disco and not a bra in sight. I think one of the characters drives a burgundy van as well. 

It starts out ok - you quickly catch on that there are no production values here at all, there really isn't much of a script and the dialogue and acting are so bad it's funny. In fact, it' easy to be lulled into thinking that you are about to be treated to a night of Mystery Science Theater goodness. You are wrong. After the first 15 minutes which includes lots of boobs, lots of bad dialogue, and lots and lots of fugly people, it never goes any further. That is to to say - there is never, at any point, a "massacre". There is no blood. There is no gore. In fact - the blood you see in the trailer below- THAT'S IT. There is nothing scary happening. And without that added in, this is simply shit. 

If you want a really awesome MST3K movie from the 80's check out the incredible Hard Rock Zombies. It is far superior...relatively speaking.....Happy Birthday!

- Complaint Dept

Monday, February 23, 2009


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

The hype around this was that someone involved with the production of Pans Labirynth was involved with this. That should have been my first sign that this was going to be be a dud (not because PL is a bad movie, it's not at all, just that hype is always "just hype"). The poster also has "creepy" small girl with white eyes, another sign. As we've pointed out several times on this blog, the fine folks at PlanetOfTerror are not really big on children as horror props. It rarely works despite the general population's infatuation with the subject matter. Maybe it's because none of us have kids. Maybe it's because none of us really like kids. Dunno.

Anyway, the basic premise of Eskalofrio is kind of weak to begin with: This teenage kid has a strange disease that makes him break out in a rash when exposed to sun (apparently a real condition - yikes) and is bullied around in school because of this. His mother moves herself and the kid out to this remote village in Northern Spain that is situated at the bottom of a valley that is nearly 100% covered in fog and mist. Sunlight allergy solved. Hooray!

However, it turns out that the kid continues to get bullied around because, apparently, he's also just a dweeb (cut to several shots of him reading comic books). Meanwhile, out in the woods, "something" is killing off sheep and, from time to time, kids who bully the dweeb around. The remainder of the film is spent following the dweeb, his Jack Black / Hesher buddy, and his sort-of girlfriend as they attempt to solve the mystery. It's a bit too similar to Scooby Doo and, in fact, at one point one of the "grown ups" says something pretty much along the lines of "and it would have worked if you meddling kids hadn't of stuck your nose into things."

P.S. - the mystery is that it's a feral child. Running around the woods naked killing sheep and people. And it develops a totally unexplained attachment and fondness for the dweeb. Dumb. Not scary. Dumb. Oh, and the ending - uh, even dumber.

There is a nice scene where the feral kid is sneaking around the house that is kind of scary. Kind of...barely. Not really.

- Complaint Dept

Friday, February 20, 2009

Terror Train (1980)

Fear 0
Gore 0
Entertainment 0
Creepiness 0

Some tool bag over at
IMDB described this film as 'Halloween on the rails'. Nice try dickwad, but this is no where near the same level of film nor does it bear any qualities of its ridiculously awesome forebearer.

Terror Train kicks off with a Frat party that (of course) involves a bunch of drunken college boys and girls. A group of kids decide to play a prank on a nerdy dude that is coming to the party. The guys of the frat house tell him there is a 'surprise' waiting upstairs for him and the kid obviously thinks he's gonna get some sorority sister sex pleasures coming his way. He makes his way upstairs and is coaxed into sitting on the edge of the bed by what appears to be a naked woman. The girly prank wanksters hiding behind the curtains, call out sweet nothings and the kid proceeds to take off the bed sheet that shrouds the seemingly naked girl. Instead of a hot, supple, young sorority piece of meat, he instead finds a rotting corpse (where these silly pranksters got one, who knows). So the dude freaks out, jumps up on the bed and gets entangled in the bed curtains that hang down from the canopy. This supposedly scars him and he gets committed to a nut house. Lame.

Flash forward a couple years and the kids decide to throw a big New Year's Eve costume party on a train (who the fuck does this?). Their in-train form of entertainment as they ride into the night? A ska/reggae outfit and David Fucking Copperfield. Yes kids, everyone's favorite anorexic magician comes on board to entertain the kids with his illusions and wizardry.

Naturally, the dude comes back to avenge the foul prank, coming on board the train and picking off the kids who devised the plot years ago. The problem with the film is that there is very little blood or gore and the film is only a slasher in the vaguest of senses (most folks tend to lump this in to the genre for some reason). There is no real thrills or scares in the film as it relies heavily on suspense and build up but there is just no punch come go time. Instead what you get is an hour and a half movie about David Copperfield and some band playing really bad ska. Seriously, after about 45 minutes in, I thought I was watching a completely different movie: 'David Copperfield and the Dance Hall Crashers.'

Avoid this film at all costs. Not even having scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis was enough to save this train wreck (hehe, get it?) of a flick.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Zombie Diaries (2006)

Fear 2
Gore 3
Entertainment 2
Creepiness 2

Not to be confused with the Diary of the Dead (the last sucktastic film directed by George Romero), The Zombie Diaries follows in the same vein of 28 Days Later. In style, shot and execution, this grainy film centers on the intermingling stories of three groups of people that travel the countryside in England, as the country faces a viral outbreak and legions of the undead begin to roam about.

The film is set-up with a group of reporters that have escaped the city and are attempting to meet up with a farmer who claims to know how the outbreak started. The group gets to his farmhouse and can find no one that answers at the home or anyone in the surrounding village. The same sort of isolated type of fear as 28 Days Later (think the openining scene where Cillian Murphy's character wakes up, stumbles out of the hospital, and through downtown London) is conveyed here, as they walk through the town and then head back to the farmhouse. They enter the house and stumble upon a zombie who's feasting on the remains of one of the inhabitants of the home. This is pretty much the only shot in the film that instilled any sort of shock or fear and it was executed quite nicely.

The rest of the film hops around, exploring the experiences of 2 other groups. You have numerous casts of characters within the groups, non more annoying than the 3rd with its pseudo gangster (as in rap) pair of dudes that are the more irrational type that want to take control of the situation with their straps because, afterall, they're gangster right? Anyways, I suppose my main point is that the real problem that plagues the film throughout the rest of the running time, is its lack of focus on the actual people involved. Because there is no real character development (albeit, its on a very superficial level) it becomes really hard to give two shits when one of them is killed by a group of flesh eating, walking corpses.

When the film ended, on an OK but not surprising note, I just shrugged my shoulders and turned off the DVD. Certainly not the worst zombie movie I've ever seen but its definitely not one I will ever go back to again. Overall, a very boring flick that had loads of potential and in the end, it just plain fell flat on its face.

Cortez the Killer

Friday the 13th -- 'Re-Imagining' Rant

So I haven't seen this yet but I have a feeling that this is going to bring the suck. I haven't read any reviews yet nor have I consulted the almighty Rotten Tomatoes. The reason why I feel that this will suck is the inclusion of one or more of the following elements:
1. Jason figures to be more prominent in this film. As we all know the mother was the killer in the original and the shock of this, is what really unnerved some movie goers. Guaranteed this 're-imagining' will shock no one.
2. OK so #1 is a tall order to fill. Let's be more realistic here. Michael 'Explosions Go Boom' Bay is directing this. Guaranteed the horror elements of the film will be ruined by overproduction, over the top special effects and an explosion or 10,000. Bank on it.
3. From previews I've seen, it looks like the first person perspective which made the original so terrifying and unique is also absent.
4. So far, each reincarnation of the big three slashers (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street) has sucked. OK, so maybe there is only a sample size of one, but the remake of Halloween sucked donkey dingus. Not to mention that the iconic Robert Englund is not even involved in the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, is enough to make me believe this will be another steamy pile of shiznit.
5. Did I mention that Michael Bay directed this?

I could be wrong but I doubt it. And just like the good horror geek that I am, I'll still go see it. I'm actually more intrigued by the Last House on The Left Remake (trailer below).
Cortez the Killer

Automaton Transfusion (2006)

Fear 2
Gore 5
Entertainment 5
Creepiness 2

Blockbuster Video has this new line of horror films under the title of Dimension Extreme. From what I've seen so far, most of the flicks have been fairly solid. And this is a pretty good addition to the line.

Automaton Transfusion is a standard run of the mill zombie flick: town deals with zombie infestation, group of teens band together to fight them off, the government is somehow involved and there are plenty of scenes of over the top gore. Should be a recipe for success for most zombie movies but even though this seems fairly simple in execution, most just don't cut the mustard. Definitely not the case with Automaton Tranfusion.

So there are really no additional details to expand upon regarding the plot elements of the flick. What really carries the film is the originality is some of the zombie kill scenes. Zombies dispense of people in pretty ingenious ways and the same can be said for the same disposal of these walking carcasses. In one pretty brazen scene(as in 'holy shit, I've never seen that done before') a zombie shows up at some dudes house party, a pregnant woman answers the door (what she's doing at a teenage house party, who knows) and the zombie proceeds to rip out the unborn fetus in brutal fashion. And to top it all off, the zombie consumes its newly found meal in front of the screaming woman. Absolutely genious and brutal.

The only bad thing that can be said about the film is the ending. Overall, its a pretty low budget flick and you get the feeling that maybe the makers ran out of coin. Or maybe they have an idea for a stellar sequel. Either way, zombie flicks are (mostly) good, mindless fun. This movie has lots of servings and some overall really awesome effects. Great popcorn movie for a Friday night.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Handy Guide to Ghost TV

I'm not a skeptic when it comes to the spirit world, I'm an unbeliever. I believe that some people see things they cannot explain and that seem to be ghosts. I don't doubt that for a second. I just don't think that it's ghosts and I assume there is some better explanation - something grounded in reality that, given the right exploration, can be explained away as something very much "normal" and not "paranormal". My wife does not share this belief with me 100%, instead believing that ghosts and spirits may exist, though more in the form of energy and not as conscious, intelligent beings that are stuck between life and the afterlife. She's seen things that have scared her to death that she cannot explain and that seem VERY much to be paranormal. I have not, so I state my belief with a certain amount of humility and respect, knowing that had I seen the things she had, I may be singing a different tune. 

I may be in the minority when it comes to these beliefs given the popularity and success of the recent explosion in "reality" shows about the paranormal. Or maybe not when one takes into account that the top four shows about "ghost hunting" are far more entertaining and dramatic than a show grounded in physics, cosmology, biology and/or chemistry might be. Were there a program where a group of brilliant scientists entered someones home to explain the bumps in the night and dark shadows being seen, the results would likely be pretty unremarkable. So maybe we all recognize that there is a certain amount of belief that must be suspended to enjoy these shows. Blah blah blah - let's take a look at the top four:

Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel. First clue that this show may be strictly entertainment: it's on the SCIENCE FICTION channel. Second clue: the dudes going around investigating the goings-on are not trained experts, but plumbers. They are joined by some volunteers who hunt apparitions in their spare time. They go into each investigation with the expressed purpose of "debunking" everything they can. I don't like this approach. It seems to me, that if you really want to get to the bottom of something, you go in with a wide open mind seeking to explain what is happening, not to debunk it. The other problem I have with the show is that when they can't debunk something (debunking usually boils down to high electromagnetic fields emanating from a fuse box, or a set of pipes banging against the basement floor) then the only other explanation they have is that "it's a ghost". Still, they seem to approach things with more of an open mind than some of the other programs, and I appreciate their attempt to keep things at a scientific level.

As a television program, it's pretty well done. I've found, after several seasons, that I've grown to really like the people on the show. Jason and Grant seem like good guys - guys who need a lesson or two in the art of shaking hands, but good guys nonetheless. Steve, the main "tech" guy, seems like a decent, if slightly simple fella and his goofy banter with fellow investigator Dave Tango (yes, always by first and last name) is mildly entertaining. And, I will admit, they have captured some things on audio and video that - IF REAL and that's a big fucking IF - are pretty creepy and weird. See video below as an example. 

There is a new spin-off called Ghost Hunters International (or GHI to those who like to use acronyms). GHI is basically the same schtick as the original show except they travel all over the world instead of sticking to the U.S.  The people on the show are not as likable, but are just as entertaining in a strange way. For example, Barry, the Irish dude (already like the guy) seems to have some sort of "experience" every single episode that no one else could ever prove - "Something is touching my leg" "The room just got much colder where I am standing" " I just heard the voice of a child say 'get out'", etc. etc. 

I have to admit, however - I'm hooked on both shows and never miss an episode, despite the fact that I know everything that is going to happen and the constant, never-ending, non-stop marketing that takes place during each show. Seriously people, is there something in the contract between TAPS (the Ghost Hunting Group that all of these people work for) and SciFi that states "all of our people, whenever they are on screen, must wear some article of logo-emblazoned clothing that is sold online"? I also still watch even though I doubt the sincerity of the people on the show. Do they really believe what they are doing - is this real or is it part show? I don't know. Maybe maybe not. Does it really mattter? Regardless, it's damn entertaining and I continue to enjoy both shows. Sue me. 

Paranormal State, on A&E and produced by the same people who brought you some lame MTV shows, centers around a group of Pennsylvania college students who, in between classes, drive around to investigate haunted locations. Much of the same techniques are used by these kids as are done on Ghost Hunters - EMF detectors, infrared cameras, digital recorders, trying to provoke a response from "spirits" (always a favorite), etc. The big difference here is that they bring in a psychic who 'reads' the locations. They have a few stock peeps they bring in, but it's mainly Chip Coffey, a 'well-known' psychic who is the grandson of another 'well known" psychic....I don't know psychic culture so this is really up to interpretation I suppose. 

There also seems to be a big emphasis on religion on this show - specifically Catholicism. Exorcisms have taken place and houses have been "cleaned". It's sort of like Scooby Doo with a dash of Jesus tossed in.  

PS is the least entertaining of the four. It's not that it's kids investigating these things, it's not that their Occult specialist is named "Elfie", it's not that the people who request their help will say or agree to anything that the kids tell them, it's not that there seems to be an abundance of "indian burial grounds" at these locations, and it's certainly not the "clients" themselves who are often some of the scariest people on Earth - no, it's that nothing ever happens. Evidence is rarely captured and the entire program feels much too over-produced and scripted. And poorly acted at that. In a word, Paranormal State is a "dud". 

Next up, Most Haunted, on the Travel Channel -  the granddaddy of the shows, the one that made it cool. A UK import, MH has a team led by Yvette Fielding who seems sincere enough. That is to say, the people investigating the locations seem to really buy into what they are experiencing, and there are generous moments of "freaking out" that are always entertaining. 

The best part of Most Haunted, however, has been missing for some seasons now which is a shame. This would be Derek Acorah. Derek is an ex-Footballer turned psychic medium. For a while, it was guaranteed that he would wind up possessed and speaking with some dopey accent while he went nuts and had to be "brought out" of his trance. Eventually, rumor has it, this became too much for the producers of the show who decided that he was too great of a charlatan to be taken seriously - or, I suppose, for the general audience to take seriously. And they surely did not want to lose viewers. Derek went on to have his own program for a bit, but ratings were poor and it eventually faded away, like a misty figure in a dark room....

Most Haunted is interesting because it is from the UK, where interest in the paranormal is significantly greater than it is here in the U.S. And yet, as a population, the UK is much less religious and superstitious and more inclined to agnosticism than the U.S.  I don't really know what that means. Maybe nothing. Maybe I'm over-thinking what is basically a ding-dongy show about spooks. 

The last show to make my top four is, arguably, the best and, alternately, the worst. Ghost Adventures on Bravo, is a spin off from the "documentary" released some time ago (see review here). Imagine, if you will, a fat guy with a goatee whose lexicon is limited to "dude" and "duuuude", a skinny guy whose vocab is slightly more extended, and steriod-rage-fueled douchebag from Las Vegas who dresses like a poor man's Bret Michaels and fits better on VH1's Tool Academy than a show about the paranormal  - and voila! You have Ghost Adventures the show. 

The premise for this show is simple: the three Bros will be locked into a haunted location for one night, armed only with their cameras and tape recorders. Before being locked in, we are treated to a cursory, and often incorrect history of the location (the Edinburgh episode was terrible) complete with interviews. Often the people interviewed are random people pulled off of the street ("yeah, I heard it was haunted, but I ain't going in") and the stories told almost always illicit the same response from Roid-Rage: "Whoooooaaaa. No waayyyy!"

Once locked in, the three jerks, basically, attempt to bully and kick the ass of the spirits. Like Paranormal State (and Most Haunted for that matter) there is rarely any compelling "evidence" caught. The only good part of the show is how deeply terrified these guys get. A tape recorder will tip over on the ground and they will jump 5 feet out of their chair, screaming like 8 year old girls. Do steroids turn guys into total pussies while making them huge? Dunno. Either way, this show is poop. Although, I must admit that Roid-Rage is endlessly entertaining. I mean, he wore a bowler hat in one episode . . . 

- Complaint Dept

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let The Right One In (2008)

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

Vampire movies suck as a rule, but then, there are always exceptions. Sweden's Let The Right One In is the big exception to this rule. Absent are the black leather clad, nu-goth metal douchebags, writhing in faux erotic ecstasy against a bumping techno background. Absent are the medieval weenies brandishing crucifixes and garlic, fangs popping out of mouths like cheap Halloween costumes. And, absent are the old men, lurking in dark corners with capes and greasy hair, terrible Eastern European accents and a deep dark desire to seduce blonde babes who remind them of poor Elsa, the one true love that died away all those centuries ago. 

Let The Right One In, instead, treats it's audience like grown ups by dishing out a story about children that's modern and familiar while being amazingly original. I promise, you've never seen anything like this story. 

Oskar is a geeky 12 year old living in Sweden circa 1980. He is tormented and bullied around by a group of kids at his school, but he won't fight back. He just keeps taking it. A young girl moves in next store and they quickly become fast friends, maybe even a bit "more than friends". She begins to open up to him and he to her. That's the basis of the film. The only spoiler I'll give you is that one of them is a vampire. But you probably figured that out. 

This is a great film and in a strange way I left feeling touched. It has some really creepy scenes - both visually and thematically - and some decent gore, but again, this stuff seems sort of secondary to the connection between the two characters. There is so much in this film that I could relate to and I found myself feeling very drawn to both Oskar and his new friend.  This was actually one of the creepiest aspects of the movie. 

By the end of the film I was left unsure about how to feel - was I happy how things turned out or sad? Hard to say. I feel like I came away with a moral conundrum to solve - issues around who people really are and what it means to trust someone come into question. "Good" and "Evil" blur between each other, often becoming one and the same. This is not something I am likely to get from the Friday The 13th remake. 

Aside from the gore and the requisite chills and thrills (and this film delivers these to be sure), the excellent story and the wonderful acting, the film simply looks incredible. Grey, dark, gritty, cold and not at all inviting. There is a starkness and emptiness that follows each scene, the sad story being told feeling and looking completely as it should. Despite one scene involving a very poor choice of CGI, the film could not have had a better feel to it. It's grim, but very human. 

This movie is fucking freaky and insanely good. Easily my favorite vampire film ever. Maybe my favorite film of 2008. 

- Complaint Dept

Zombie Strippers (2008)

Fear 1
Gore 5
Entertainment 5
Creepiness 1

The name says it all. Ridiculously fun and over the top. See this. The end.

Cortez the Killer

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

Fear 0
Gore 2
Entertainment 0
Creepiness 0

This is the worst slasher film I have ever seen. The House on Sorority Row centers on a group of sorority sisters that play a prank on the old woman who lives in their house and watches over them (resident advisor I guess??). The prank goes wrong and they end up mistakenly killing the old bag.

The old bitty comes back, exacting her revenge and killing the kids with her cane (lame). There is little gore and worst of all, a cardinal sin is committed. The T&A factor is non-existant and the girls that live in the sorority are butt fugly. Not a single one of them is attractive. The best part of the movie is the totally aweful and hilarious (unintentionally?) band that plays at their parties.

Stay away from this one at all costs. No redeeming qualities at all, save for the hilarious house party band.

Cortez the Killer

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Fear 2
Gore 5
Entertainment 5
Creepiness 2

The most fun I've had at the movies in a long time. Period. End of story. My Bloody Valentine 3D is a freakin' hoot.
Following some of the story elements of its predecessor (dude with a pick axe, killing kids on Valentine's Day), the film involves a group of kids that work in a mining factory in a small town. As the story goes, on Valentine's Day 10 years ago, there was an accident in a mine shaft that trapped a bunch of workers, cutting off their air supply ('I'm so out of love, I'm so lost without you'). Anyways, one of the miners kills off the rest of his coworkers so that he conserves air. He goes nuts-oid after being rescued and is institutionalized ('All I wanted was a Pepsi, just a Pepsi'). He escapes and 10 years later, he comes back to town to kill off the new group of kids working for the mine.
I wouldn't say this movie is a complete remake. The story and plot elements are different (the Valentine's Day holiday is more of a back drop in this film where it was front and center in the original). I missed the element of the dance the kids attended in the original and the sheer terror that the wielding pick axeman was inflicting on the town.
However, what it lacks in original story elements it more than makes up for with scenes of incredible gore. Obviously the way the film was shot was meant to capture the entire capabilities of the latest in 3D technology. And boy does this film deliver in spades. Heads flying into the audience, axe tips coming straight at you, its truly an awesome movie watching experience.
So go see this with a group of friends. Guaranteed good times. Who cares if the plot is a little shaky. Its all about the bloody goodness.

Cortez the Killer
* * * * *
Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 1/5
I didn't shit my pants over this the way Cortez did, but I did enjoy it. Had I had a pair of 3D glasses, I think I would have really dug it. The creative minds behind this did a really solid job of doing everything they could to make this "pop" out at you - pick axes, tree branches, cars - hell, even a guys ripped out jawbone - all come flying at you in (what I imagine to be) gloriously cheesy 3D action.
The story is pretty similar to the original except that it's set in Pennsylvania instead of Canada. And I have to admit, I miss the thick accents the original had going for it. If you've seen the original you know what I'm talking about. It's like a cast made up of the Toronto Maple Leafs ("run eh!"). Or Bob and Doug McKenzie.
I love you Canada. You brought me Loverboy, Rush and Triumph back in the 70s. Later you'd bless me with DOA, Subhumans and VoiVod. But I digress.
Anyway, what makes this film fun isn't the well crafted story (ahem), the awesome acting (ahem) or the twist ending (ahem). It's the gore that starts almost from the beginning of the movie. Sure, it's almost all CGI and the effects that are latex are extremely fake, but I'm telling you - every time something "gross" happened I laughed out loud. It was, plain and simple, fun. And while I don't know that I'm as big a fan of nakedness as Cortez is (I am like 100 years old after all) I have to admit that 5 minutes of full frontal nudity is a bit of a rarity in an R rated film.
Point being, if you're looking for a goofy movie that's in 3D, gory as hell, lots of boobs and other naughty bits and that you can sit back and laugh at - this is your flick.
Not too bad - Complaint Dept