Monday, March 30, 2009

Teeth (2008)

Fear 0/5
Gore 4/5
Creepiness 3/5
Entertainment 2/5


There was something vaguely Canadian about this strange little film, so I was surprised to find out that it's a product of the American South. Teeth wins by simply having one of the ickiest concepts ever for a horror movie - one that could only be explored in a B movie setting.

Dawn is a sugary sweet high school student who spends a great deal of time promoting the importance of chastity, purity and true love. She's a member of the local high school's abstinence club (high school is a lot weirder than I remember it being) and spots a red "purity ring" - not unlike the Jonas Brothers. She spends even more time and effort suppressing her natural urges - like swimming at the local pond with the hunky new guy who joined the Jesus Club earlier that week.

Oh, and she apparently has a vagina lined with razor sharp teeth - but that comes later on.

Her step-brother is a bong hitting, tribal tattoo wearing Pantera fan who spends most of his time banging his girlfriend and punching guys out. He also wants to get hot and heavy with his step-sister (Dawn - aka Shark Vag). Her mom is dying of some disease and her step dad is a wussy do nothing who is about as useful as a six pack of non-alcoholic beer.

As Dawn goes about her perky little life, she begins to have all of her doubts and fears about sex and men affirmed for her. Hunky Jesus guy turns out to be a douche in emo guy's clothing and tries to rape her, only to have his knob sawed off. And yes, there is some good pee-pee removal gore scenes. A couple other dudes try the same thing and there is copious amounts of spurting blood and severed wieners.

So - if you came in expecting genital torture and gore, you won't leave disappointed. I'm not sure if the scenes here rival Hostel II, but they're pretty gross. And honestly the scene where the gynecologist tries to molest her is pretty funny. Sounds terrible, but it's funny - you'd have to see it to get it.

But other than that, there's not a lot being offered here. Which is a disappointment because there's a lot, conceptually and philosophically, that could be explored other than "man bad, woman get revenge". If that's what I was looking for I'd watch I Spit on Your Grave again. Or, now I guess, this.

Good concept and a big fucking A for effort, but the execution kind of fell flat. I enjoyed this a little, but only because the idea of having my willy bitten off makes me cringe - and that, of course, is the main job of a horror movie. Still - I wish Teeth had a bit more...well teeth.

- Complaint Dept


Twilight (2008)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0.5 / 5
Creepiness 0/5
Entertainment 1/5

I went into this knowing that a) my expectations could not have been any lower b) I was not paying for this and c) the "novel" was written by an active member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Now, to be clear, I'm not knocking the LDS religion or any member of it's faith. But let's also be clear that one should not expect anything even resembling a decent horror film from that sort of background. I say this having a somewhat close relationship (or at least understanding) of the LDS faith.

So, knowing I was not going to like this, how did it fare? Mmmm, slightly better than "unwatchable" and slightly worse than "awful".

For those not in the know, who have, perhaps been residing in the International Space Station for the last year or so, Twilight tells the story of a teenage girl who falls for a teenage vampire. The vampire is part of a "family" of other vampires who have chosen to refrain from drinking the blood of humans. There is also a rival gang of vampires that has chosen to follow their natural instincts, bloodlessly dispatching victims off screen or in scenes cut and chopped to avoid anything slightly frightening. Inevitably the two groups clash (in the middle of a vampire baseball game by the way - seriously one of the dumbest fucking scenes ever filmed) and one of the bad vampires (the "tracker") starts to hunt down the human girl. This, of course, requires her bloodsucker boyfriend to defend her and protect her.

And here lies the draw of this film - it is specifically aimed , targeted and marketed to clean, wholesome 14 year old girls longing for some big haired, intense looking dude to swoop in and carry them off in his burly arms - kind of like a pseudo-goth version of nearly every Disney cartoon. The only thing missing here is a herd of ponies. The only think tying it (ever so tenuously) to the horror genre is that vampires are involved.

If you are a squeaky clean pre-pubescent girl, or work with computers for a living, you may enjoy this fluffy feel good piece of shit.

I am not and I did not.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blood Feast (1963)

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

Herschell Gordon Lewis is often credited as the progenitor of gore in horror films. Not copious amounts of blood (although he employs a large amount of that) but full-on innards being exposed and subsequently ripped from body and limb. His first film (and my initial exposure to his work), Blood Feast is certainly a delectable delight of a film.
The film centers on a bushy browed man who is terrorizing his town, killing off women and removing their body parts and vital organs. He happens to own a specialty grocery store that sells different foods from around the world. We come to find out that he has an obssession with an Egyptian goddess and he's created a life-like shrine to her (which is altogether cheesy as its just a mannequin with gold spray paint and a funky plastic headdress). A woman comes into the store claiming that she wants to throw a birthday party for her daughter (who also happens to love Egyptian culture and myth, what a coincidence!) which will be the toast of the town and our caterpillar eyebrowed maniacal man has just the solution. He wants to prepare a 'special' feast that was enjoyed by the goddess over 3,000 years ago (or something like that).

So the evil eyebrowed dude who has a little shop of hidden horrors in his store's back room continues his murderous spree. Its revealed that he is collecting all of these body parts and organs to create a stew which will summon the spirit of the goddess and bring her to life. And guess who has the final component of his special Campbell's Thick and Chunky soup?

What makes this film altogether fun is that it does not take itself seriously. The gore is surprisingly realistic for its time and the dialogue and cheese employed throughout the film is just classic (i'm pretty sure I caught one of the actresses reading from a cue card off camera). And the one liners being dispensed were classic. Check out this nugget (when the police catch up to the killer in a landfill and he's chased into the back of a garbage truck that starts its trash compactor): 'Well he's exiting the world just like he came in, as trash.' Brilliant!

The gore is well executed, the story over the top and silly and the dialogue and acting also follows suit. Blood Feast is altogether fun, sleazy and a gory good time. I can't wait to see what else is in store in Lewis' series of films. Oh and check out the trailer. Apparently before each of his films a special disclaimer was given. Freaking awesome.

Cortez the Killer



Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Fear 5/5
Gore 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
Entertainment 5/5

Based on a short story written by Clive Barker, The Midnight Meat Train has to be one of the best modern horror movies I've seen over the last couple of years. The film focuses on an aspiring photographer who is obssessed with trying to capture that one photo or series of photos that will land him on the map.

An art gallery dealer (played by the still hot and sexy Brooke Shields) encourages him to keep shooting in the hopes of finding some gems for her art exhibition that is a few weeks away.

The photographer spends his time shooting things during the day and at night; landscapes and every day human activities. But he just can't seem to find anything satisfying. One evening, in a fit of frustration he leaves his apartment that he shares with his girlfriend and heads out into the night. He runs into a group of thugs trying to harass a woman in a subway station and he begins snapping away photos which deters her assailants. He hops on a train, proud of the pictures he's captured, unaware that his would-be prized pictures are just around the corner. In a gruesome act, he stumbles upon a large and intimidating man (played to perfection by Vinny Jones). He watches the nicely suited man as he takes a rather large meat tenderizer and proceeds to bash away at an unsuspecting passenger. This starts a long and obssessive relationship between the photographer and killer, who brutally takes the lives of his victims every night aboard the late train.

The photographer begins to stalk the man, from home, to work (he works at a meat packing plant) to the late night train every night. Every night his killings involve more and more people and they become increasingly more brutal. The scenes are altogether disturbing and graphic. As the photographer becomes even more obssessed with the silent attacker, we begin to wonder if he has lost his way and if he is projecting his unfulfilling life onto that of the killer who seems to have some purpose, some goal in mind. What makes the film altogether suspenseful, is we have no idea why this man is on the train every night, killing innocent people and carving up their bodies in horrific ways.

The photographer starts to lose his grip on reality and we begin to feel as though he wants to be in the role of the killer. At least he has some sense of purpose, some end state that he is working towards, night after night. The end of the film brings the man and killer face to face and we find out why he rides the train every night, leading his life of complete silence and why he brutally attacks, kills and strings up his victims to the ceilings of the train cars.

Altogether shocking, brutal, suspenseful and more importantly, original, The Midnight Meat Train is one of the finest horror movies I've seen in quite some time. Rent it, steal it or buy it now.

Cortez the Killer

* * *

And now for something completely different. . .

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

One thing Cortez and I agree on is our different tastes in music and movies. I'll skip the plot rehash since Cortez covered it pretty well. I'll say this though - this was not good, not all that fucked up and mostly like everything else Clive Barker has done: muddled, amateurish and generally kind of dumb. Cortez, you owe me an hour and a half of my life back as I only watched this based on your review.

This movie made little to no sense for nearly the first 7/8ths of the runtime. And, then, when the explanations came, they were simplistic, incomplete and goofy. The gore was 80% CGI and was poorly done at that. And really and truly, I am supposed to believe that Bradley Cooper could kick Vinnie Jones' ass?

My assessment is that this straight-to-cable / DVD movie is to be skipped. It's not good. It's not scary or disturbing, it's just silly and I'm slightly angry that I watched it all the way through. When Cortez and I disagree with stuff I often e-mail him a sweet photo of Pantera when they were all glammed up. He's a Pantera fan and I am not. I like to be a dick and rub it in. If I had something similar in regards to this movie I'd post it. Instead:



- Complaint Dept





Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Fear 0/5
Gore 1/5
Creepiness 0/5
Entertainment 1/5
Goddamn, what a fucking terrible movie. There is nothing good about this cheap-ass, creaky dumb and, frankly, insulting movie.
Here's what you get - It's the future and mankind has colonized Mars. So far all we've been able to do is "mine" things...rocks and dust I think. There's also a prison there...or something. Ice Cube is there for sure, and he's dangerous as fuck! Look out. Oh and women run the world now, an interesting plot twist that, ultimately has nothing to do with anything.
So, some cops are sent to pick up Cube and bring him back to . . . uh, another prison I think. Pam Grier is there, Jason Statham is there and the man-lady from Species is there too. They all suck shit and their dialogue is atrocious. I mean really terrible. So they get to the town where Cube is cold chillin' and immediately have to start fighting a mob of zombie miners who have been possessed by the ghosts of Mars' previous civilization. I think, I don't know. All I could gather was that there was a lot of face paint, a lot of self-mutilaton, a lot of leather, and some metal lookin' dude that was the leader who roared a lot. Like a lion. Oh, and some other criminals that run with Cube - a Hispanic guy, a Black guy and a Native American. Good to know that even in the future people of color can still only get roles as criminals. I was surprised by the absence of a Little Person dressed as a dwarf. Good one John Carpenter.
The movie ends like this:
Man-Lady stands up and shows us her underwear. She answers the door and it's Ice Cube with a shiny, plastic gun. "You'd make a good crook" he says. "You'd make a good cop, " she replies. Cube laughs. "Let's just go kick some ass!" Man-lady smiles "It's what we do best". Cue the nu-metal soundtrack.
After watching this I gouged out my eyes with a letter opener.
- Complaint Dept

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Trifecta of Slasher Sleaze

Ah, the 80's. A great time for the emergence (and subsequent fall as well documented in this film) of the slasher genre. Seriously, has there ever been a genre of horror films that was more oversaturated than this? One may make a case for the rampant rise of teen horror flicks in the 90's and the 10,000 sequels promoting I Still Really Really Know What You Did Last Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. But those came and fizzled pretty quick. The slasher genre was able to sustain itself for most of the decade and boy, were some painfully awful to watch. But despite this, each one had their own charm, bolstered by the culture of the time. The bad fashion, music, and awful hairdos truly made these films memorable and hilarious. Here are some favorites that I've watched recently.

The Burning:
Fear 3/5
Gore 5/5
Creepiness 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Arguably the best slasher film ever made, The Burning centers familiarly enough on a group of kids at a summer camp. A caretaker of the camp falls victim to a prank gone wrong and ends up being burned alive (or so it seems).
The caretaker comes back to the camp to exact his revenge on the counselors (who fall victim to the normal trappings of slasher flicks: sex, drugs, etc.) and the poor little camp kiddos. What makes this film so much more different than most slashers is its seemingly more realistic and gorrific death scenes, courtesy of one Mr. Tom Savini.
Great fun all around and perfect for a Friday night. Jason Alexander and a barely recognizable Holly Hunter pop up in this one.



Aerobicide (AKA Killer Workout):
Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Creepiness 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Bad hair? Check. Leg warmers and spandex? Check. Lots of T&A and painfully aweful dialogue? Check. Really, really terrible 80's soundtrack? Check and double check. This movie takes the cake when it comes to 80's cliche.
A girl who's left on a tanning bed for too long, gets fried and takes her revenge on a group of owners and coworkers at the neighborhood gym. And what weapon of choice does she decide to wield as she carries out her horrific scheme of revenge? A mighty machete? A head severing axe? A knife that would make Johnny Rambo jealous? No kids, she dispenses her victims with the all too terrifying oversized safety pin. Yes, you read that correctly. A fucking safety pin. But the movie works despite this and little gore. But its mainly the aforementioned over the top cultural 80's elements that spew forth in the film that makes it all too entertaining. I mean seriously, it has everything you could ever want: bad clothes, hair, music and copious amounts of Members Only Jackets. The guy that plays the detective also doles out some pretty choice lines. And dude, 10 people have already been killed at the gym. Why haven't you shut the place down?
Grab a group of friends, a six pack or 10, and some popcorn. Guaranteed laughs. Hard to find on DVD but our fine folks at Cinemageddon have come to the rescue. A true masterpiece.



Graduation Day:

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

A high school female track star collapses during a race and dies from a heart attack. Her boyfriend becomes traumatized (as we come to find out, he was supposed to get married to her after dun, dun, dun: graduation day) and goes on a killing spree, knocking off everyone that's on the track team including her over demanding coach.
Again, this film has it all: bad dialogue, hair, clothes, and music. The kill scenes are also pretty awful (the killer is on the fencing team and uses his lame little sword to poke and prod), with little blood. A cardinal sin in slasher films, I know. But the way the killer offs his victims is altogether silly and comical (in one scene, he affixes the sword to a football and throws the pigskin at one of the star football players). The ending is particulary funny, with an epic foot chase as the sister of the dead girl (who has come to find out the identity of the killer) runs a marathon in high heels and the killer is ironically killed by the corpse of his dead girlfriend. I'm not making this up
For better or worse (and more oftentimes than not, worse) this has become one of my favorite genres of horror films. Altogether fun, mindless and absolutely entertaining.
Cortez the Killer

* * *
Complaint Dept here: It was bound to happen - we've reviewed the same movie twice now.
You want perfection? Go rent Action Jackson.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Christmas Evil (1980)


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

The film begins with a kid who is overly obssessed with all things Jolly St. Nick, sneaking halfway downstairs with his brother and mom to catch a glimpse of the rotund mound of overly cheery delight on the eve of Christmas. Crowding the staircase of the home, the mother tells the little boy that she thinks she hears old Sainty Claus coming down the chimney. Sure enough, everyone's favorite rosy cheeked fat bastard comes sliding down, dropping off the kid's presents and promptly scaling back up the chimney. The mother tucks the kids into bed and the boy's brother remarks that it was all a crock of crap as the costumed bringer of Christmas cheer was actually dear old dad. The boy tells his brother that he is full of it, springs out of bed, and runs downstairs in a fit of fury. He stumbles upon his mom and dear old Santa, with mommy kissing and fondling his no-no parts. Cue kid being traumatized and messed up good for the rest of his life.
Flash forward 30 years or so and we see the guy leading a pretty quirky life. Carrying on his obsession of all things Christmas: adorning his house with Christmas decorations, blaring holiday music 24/7, and even dressing up as St. Nick himself in his house and prancing about. He even works at a toy factory, coming full circle in his cycle of weirdness. He refuses to show up to his brother's house (he still harbors ill-will towards him for his grand revelation of St. Nick being a sham) for Thanksgiving day dinner, as he is transfixed by the Macy's parade and its main attraction: guess who?
His over the top obsession with the holiday also translates into his meticulous crafting and judgment of the quality of the toys he and his coworkers produce. He lashes out at them when their output is not up to snuff and lambasts coworkers who trivialize the work that they do. The straw on the camel's back comes at the company holiday party and one of the execs tells him that none of the kids at the local hospital will receive toys this year in an effort to cut costs.
Coupled with his stewing hatred of his brother, this final act pushes this weird, deranged, introverted, St. Nick dresser over the top. He goes on a killing spree through the town, saving only children whom he befriends, giving them presents from the factory. He feels that they deserve them after all the hard work he's put into them. In his reign of terror, the townsfolks go on a Frankenstein-like manhunt, chasing him through the streets. He gets away in his cargo van that has a sleigh painted on the side (another overlooked element of his creepiness). And then the film abruptly ends in one of the silliest ways imaginable.
Despite that, the film is altogether creepy and disturbing on multiple levels. Christmas Evil was not what I had expected at all. Not overly gory or bloody but that doesn't matter as the real story is the seriously deranged central character. He is horrifying enough. Overall, a solid horror flick, save for the silly ending.

Cortez the Killer


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Backwoods (2006)

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

Snoozy little Spanish movie that proves big talent doesn't always equal big entertainment. I love Gary Oldman and I think Paddy Considine is awesome (see "In America" -his Irish brogue is very convincing) but this is a dud. Just dull and boring.

Story is a familiar one - two couples having marital troubles decide to chuck the city life and move out to "the backwoods" to get away from it all and. . . fuck who knows- rekindle their romance or something? It's never really made clear. Anyway, the city folk start clashing with the country folk who are portrayed as dirty, toothless inbreds who'd just as soon shoot you as welcome you in. The two dudes go out hunting while the two ladies start taking of their clothes for no reason. And pouring water across the front of their t-shirts.

Okay okay, I know, this sounds like a good movie. And so far it's mildly intriguing. But then the two dudes stumble across an old house and decide to bust in the door because. . . uh well it's not really clear. Anyway, locked inside they find a little girl covered in her own filth and sporting two foam rubbery clubs for hands. She also grunts and squeals like a little pig. Please note this is the second Spanish film I have seen in two weeks about feral children. What the fuck is going on in Spain?

So the dudes decide to take the girl and get her to the cops. Meanwhile, the toothless country folk come around looking for the missing girl and things deteriorate into a second rate and European version of Deliverance - minus the man-love.

But here's the thing - this could have been interesting and could have been good. All the elements are there, but somehow this just comes across like a flat Coke. All syrup and no fizz. The ending, in particular, is very disappointing. It leaves you feeling like you just wasted an hour and a half of your life. Which I did. But I'll give them this - that kid is one ugly little runt.

Suck it Jim Gordon.

- Complaint Dept