Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

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

The buzz around this movie has been building like gang busters for the past 2 weeks. Reading early reviews on other horror sites and blogs, rekindled my interest in the film. I guess now that I'm older, I've gotten a little curmudgeonly averse to new mainstream horror movies coming out as the never ending slew of remakes continue to parade theaters. Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of hope (initially) for the film. So did Raimi's new pic deliver the goods? It sure did and it gave a much needed shot in the arm to the horror genre (at least in terms of big studio, produced for the masses horror films).

From the trailer alone, one can decipher the synopsis: a loan officer is looking to make a name for herself as she desperately wants to obtain an assistant manager position within her branch. Her boss basically states that she needs to have some more cajones and begin to show that she can make the 'tough' decisions. A little old lady comes in, on the verge of losing her home and is seeking an extension on her payments (oh what a sign of the times!). The loan officer denies her extension, the old bitty puts a curse on her, and its all fun, honest to goodness jolts, and well executed laughs from here on out folks.

Naturally the rest of the movie is spent with the loan officer being tormented by a demon that is sent along to carry out the curse. She basically has 3 days to live, with each day becoming increasingly more and more violent. In order to enact the curse, the old woman had to take something of hers (in this case a button from her coat) and pass it along. As it goes, the demon comes to take the button as its now his property and in the process of claiming it, she would be taken to the land down under.

What is so original and refreshing, is not only the story, but the comedic timing and all-out, good ol' fashioned scares that Raimi so adequately dispenses and employs. My 34 year old buddy who saw it with me was jumping in his seat right along with me. And the theater goers followed suit and simultaneously laughed aloud and groaned during certain scenes (I'm looking at you, corpse vomiting!).

The only knock on the film that I can give is some of the CGI used (especially at the end). But overall, a great effort and return to form for Raimi. Welcome back good sir.

Cortez the Killer
* * * * *
Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 0/5
Well, I can't say that I am surprised that Drag Me To Hell is more Three Stooges and Looney Toons than it is "a return to horror" as the marketing for this would have you believe. Most of his films are pretty slapsticky and cartoony. I can say that I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would and that, somehow, I actually felt concern for the main character who has a series of just really bad days. Maybe it's because there's some cheese going down at my job that I am not into, but I was truly hoping that things would work out for her at her job and in her life.
So, as Cortez mentioned above, this is really more a comedy film than a horror film and I generally don't like horror-comedy. And like I say, it's very cartoonish, and I don't mean the copious and slightly cheap use of of CGI - I mean that there is a scene where and anvil is dropped on someones head with comic results. But it mostly works and there are some good, if expected cheap scares, a couple of icky scenes (mainly involving corpses as stated above) and I laughed a few times and jumped a bit from time to time.
I like the way Raimi's films look - he has a style that is unique and Drag Me To Hell is classic Sam Raimi in terms of aesthetics. The jumpy cameras, the quick close-ups, the floating gymnastic demons, etc. etc. Sure, you've seen most of his tricks already and he's clearly recycling what's already proven successful for him - but isn't that the draw?
Overall, a fun movie with some cheap scares, some cheap laughs and a decent amount of cheese slathered over the top. Put it this way - if you're more partial to nachos as an appetizer than, say, marinated Spanish olives - you'll really dig Drag Me To Hell. I like 'em both.
- Complaint Dept


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sheitan (2006)

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

I'm not purposefully watching and reviewing every French horror movie made in the last couple of years just because I've been so damn blown away lately. For some reason or another, that's just the way my NetFlix queue has shaked out. Unlike Inside and Martyrs, this film is a little harder to digest. And when you start to dwell on it more and more, your brain will start to hurt.

Sheitan (aka Satan in French) starts off in familiar territory: a group of young twenty somethings are partying it up late one night in a club. One of the dudes falls head over heels for a girl he meets and she invites him and his cohorts to her home in the countryside for a little after party. Uh oh spaghetti-o's!

So of course the guy is jonesin' with a major hard on and let's his wee wee lead the way. The group of friends drive out and along the way, run into the caretaker of the estate/farm. He's tending to a herd of goats and one of them particularly sticks out like a sore thumb, looking like it leaped off the cover of a Venom album (foreshadowing???).

They drive up to the house and head inside, noticing that there is a vast array of dolls strewn about. The girl explains that her father was a dollmaker. The house itself is pretty creepy with long and narrow hallways but the group of kids never seem to be bothered by the looks of it. They sit down with the caretaker, the girl, and her mongoloid little brother (again, the group of kids aren't fazed a bit) and the caretaker begins to tell them a story about a guy who was rebellious and carefree just like them. He knocked up his sister and at the stroke of midnight, a 'special' baby was born.

After the telling of the story, the film takes many twists and turns and has about 2 subplots going on. All of which are difficult to follow and understand. We meet the other members of their family, all are deformed and inbred, one of which is also pregnant. The only logical explanation that I could come up with was that the caretaker was actually referring to himself in the story and that he had knocked up his own sister. The clock strikes 12 at the end of the movie and we are lead to believe that the woman gave birth to little baby Lucifer. But in between, there is a dream sequence in which one of the club kids thinks the whole happenings weren't real and another subplot involving the caretaker and his hellbent obsession with wanting to gouge the eyes out of one of the club kids to make a doll for the newest member of his brood. All of this leading to one hell of a convoluted mess of a film.

Upon doing some research on the film, the director was heavily influenced by his use of LSD and reading of comic books. That explains a lot! This movie had loads of potential and did a good job of creating a creepy atmosphere. But ultimately it fell flat on its face with its own lofty ambitions (whatever that may have been). A real head scratcher for sure.

Cortez the Killer



Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hand (1981)

Fear 0/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5
Michael Caine's Pageboy Haircut: 5/5

Not sure if this Oliver Stone's first major film or not and I am too lazy to dig any deeper. I do know this - it's not his finest work and that's saying a lot because I think Stone is a hammy ding dong whose movies are overrated and kinda poopy. Natural Born Killers? The Doors? Talk Radio? Born on the Fourth of July? Come on.

It stars Micheal Caine in what must have been either a favor or a lost bet. Caine is a self absorbed comic book artist in a loveless marriage. His wife is no longer interested in him, though she is smitten with the hippy dippy yoga instructor whose tight and short shorts are spectacle to behold. As is Caine's hair. It's sort of a cross between He-Man and Gene Wilder, but looks as though he combed it with a pork chop.

Caine loses his hand in a car accident and becomes depressed as his comic book writing days come to an end. As he allows his life to spiral out of control his severed hand comes back to start killing those with whom he is pissed at. This includes the grimy hippy chick he hooks up with and the grimier hippy dude who also hooks up with the grimy hippy chick. The hand eventually kills his wife and then goes after Caine himself.

But - surprise surprise - it was all in his head. It was HIM doing the killing, not the hand. He was just crazy! What a twist! I was stunned. It was like Fight Club and Evil Dead rolled up into one poop flavored burrito that I was force fed. . . well, ok, to be fair I was not waterboarded into watching this, I actually added it onto my Netflix and chose to watch it. But yeah, it's no good.

The severed hand is even a disappointment. Being 1981 and being so obviously influenced by The Evil Dead (or maybe the Addams Family) I was really, REALLY hoping for some kick ass claymation. But nay, I was only treated to a sub par mechanical, latex hand.

But man, Caine's hair is dy-no-mite! Oh, and there is a really ugly little girl in it as well. That was kind of scary.

- Complaint Dept.

Dexter -- Season 4 News

Word on the street today is that John Lithgow is joining the cast of Dexter as a serial killer. See here.
I love the show and I can't wait until the new season. The whole concept of a serial killer that only kills bad guys and trys his darndest to fit in with the rest of society and appear 'normal' is just brilliant. But the characters and writing are what really drives the series (as it should be). This is probably one of the best character written shows I've seen in awhile. Its difficult to not get ingrained and truly care about each one.
If you've seen Cliffhanger, you know that Lithgow can play a true baddie. Regardless how you feel about the film itself, there is no denying his ability to play a truly ruthless and amoral villain. September needs to get here already dammit!

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Martyrs (2008)

Fear 5/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
Jesus H., what the hell is in the water in France? I'm oblivious to cultural politics and goings on but I'm starting to think that maybe they must be going through some sort of awakening. Being at the epicenter of some of the best metal released within the last 5 years (see here and here) along with some of the most terrifying horror movies (mira), France seems to have come completely out of left field. For a country high on keeping its culture pure and without a lot of western influence (most oftentimes at the expense of coming across as snooty and self-righteous), they sure are churning out some of the most brutal music and films that have assailed my sensories.
Martyrs centers on a girl who's escaped an abondoned factory that's been converted into a torture chamber for young women. She escapes her captors and comes across an orphanage. The proprietors take her in and she quickly becomes friends with another girl. They grow up together in the orphanage, promising to always remain friends and stick together.
Fast forward about 10 years or so, and the girls have grown up and left the orphanage. The girl who was held captive in the old factory has vowed to seek revenge on her captors and her friend agrees to help her carry out her mission. Only she doesn't think she will go through with it.
The former captive finds the family who was responsible for torturing herself and other young girls. As the family is enjoying breakfast, she enters the house with a double barreled shot gun and opens fire. An absolutely brutal scene ensues in which mom and dad get it along with their teenage son and young daughter.
The girl who has sought revenge takes her own life as her friend who doubts her comes to the home and questions her reasons for killing the family. Because of her already weakened mental state, she offs herself as her friend persistently question her reasonings. She believes her vendetta is unfounded and most of what she clings to isn't real and that she's completely wacko.
So now the friend is left in the house, full of corpses and now trying to figure a way out of the mess. She stumbles upon a bookcase in the house that slides away from the wall and a passageway that leads to an underground area of the home. She discovers that her friend was right all along as she comes across another woman who has been severly beaten and chained together with a mask that is stapled to her head.
As she attempts to rescue the woman, the house is invaded by a group of heavily armed men. An old woman then closes in behind the group. The rescued woman is promptly shot in the head and the other is lead back down to the chamber of horrors under the house. We come to find out why these women have been held captive and why this old woman leads her group in torturing and brutally maiming women in some of the most horrific and agonizing ways imaginable. This revelation is all too shocking and gut punching. I can't imagine that it didn't piss off a lot of religious types. And do you know what the best part of it is? You don't see it coming, not for a second. If you do, then you must have some psychic powers and I demand that you tell me this week's winning Lotto numbers.
Some of the comparisons I've read to Hostel are wholly inaccurate. Whereas Hostel had no other purpose but to be an all out gorefest and mostly pointless affair, Martyrs actually has a method to its madness. And again, when you find out the reason behind the tortures the impact is much more lasting than that of any torture related film I've ever seen. Score another one for the Frenchies.
Cortez the Killer
* * * *
As expected, my opinion differ's from Cortez's.
Comparisons to Hostel are actually not that inaccurate. Martyrs, despite it's somewhat philosophical ending, is basically torture porn ala Hostel. And, actually, I found Hostel to be a much more interesting movie if only because it had a narrative to it whereas Martyrs spends a full 25 minutes on nothing but kicking a girl's ass over and over and over. I get it. She's being tortured. So am I. Boring.
The biggest flaw - and it's a big flaw - is howI found myself saying over and over again "why are you doing that?" "Why aren't you doing this?" For horror to work ("work") you have to buy into the scenario. So when the girl comes in and knocks off the family, spending the next three days at the crime scene is not only absolutely retarded, it's remarkably annoying as any sane and smart person would be asking WHY. And from this point the film spirals out of control into a series of dumb-fuckery that completely ruins the film: "Oh, the sledgehammer I used to bludgeon this lady just disappeared into a hole in the wall. Since I've been sleeping in this house now for 5 fucking days, I might as well see where it went. Oh look, a secret door that leads into an underground bunker filled with computers, cells and creepy photos of dead people. I'd better investigate before the cops arrive. It has been, after all, 5 days. Hmmm, a locked trapdoor. I suppose I have to beat the lock off and climb down...." I mean for fucks sake. The whole premise is beyond implausible.
Towards the end I found myself so bored that I was MST3K'ing the movie to amuse myself.
I am not impressed.
- Complaint Department

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Final Destination (2000)


Fear 5/5 - Mainly because I HATE flying
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 2/5
Everytime this movie comes on cable TV or one of the premium channels, I can't help but watch. Call it a guilty pleasure. Is there anything better than watching a bunch of douchey teens being dispensed in cool and inventive ways? I think not.
Long story short, a dude gets a premonition right before his senior trip. He goes nutso in the airport and it spooks some of the kids when they head on to the plane, just before take off. They freak out and hop off. The plane done gets blowns up as soon as it takes off and the handful of kids that stayed behind survive. But then, death comes back to knock on their door.
So the absolute fun in this film is seeing how the kids get offed and the carnage that ensues. I've seen all of the films in the series and the plots are so thinly veiled: one had to do with a horrible traffic accident and the other had to do with a rollercoaster at an amusement park that goes haywire. Overall, it makes me giddy with delight to see dorky kids knocked off in over-the-top and silly ways. Plus Stiffler gets shit canned in this movie, having his head removed by a piece of shrapnel that is ran over and sent airborne by a passing train (seriously, is there not a better example of a dude that will forever be type-casted by one role than this guy?).
Apparently, there is a 3D sequel coming out called The FINAL Destination. How clever.
Cortez the Killer

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Inside (2007)

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

From the first scene to the last, this movie is absolutely relentless. A flying off the tracks freight train of sheer terror that's completely gut punching in every way. I don't think I've seen a more shocking and truly horrifying movie in the last 10 years. This one is still haunting me days later.

Inside starts off with a pregnant woman who awakens from being unconsious as a result of a terrible car accident. She quickly finds out that her soon to be husband is dead and that she is the only survivor. Or so it seems.

Flash forward a couple of months and the pregnant woman is set to give birth just before Christmas. She's still mourning the loss of her husband and is clearly not looking forward to her upcoming delivery. In a way, it seems as though she resents the baby. When her doctor asks what will be the name of her new spawn, she lays in complete silence while the doctor finishes her sonogram. The doctor lets her know that she should come by the next morning as labor will more than likely be induced. She then talks to a coworker and he agrees to take her to the hospital the next day.

She decides to stay in on Christmas eve, ignoring requests from friends and family to come out and celebrate. As she settles in for the evening, the door bell rings. The female voice behind the door announces that her car has broken down and that she needs to use the phone. The pregnant woman feels a little uneasy, saying that her husband just went to bed and she doesn't want to disturb him and that she should go to another house. The voice responds 'I know your husband is dead' and its all down hill from here.

The pregnant woman calls the cops when she sees the woman standing outside, banging her head against the dining room window. They come over, tell her that the woman can't be found and that they will be by later to check in on her. After talking to her friend about the experience (we now see that the woman is in the house, her ghostly looking figure standing in the study) she decides to go to bed. The intruder is now exposed as dark haired, wearing a long black dress. She grabs a hefty pair of scissors and heads upstairs. As the pregnant woman sleeps, she straddles her and proceeds to stab her but instead only grazes, as the woman wakes up. They have a brief struggle and the pregnant woman heads into the bathroom where she locks herself in. The intruder makes it clear that she's not leaving the house until she gets her baby by any means necessary. This statement leads into a series of absolutely brutal killings.

The friend who is supposed to pick her up the next day comes over to check in on her and mistakes the intruder for the pregnant woman's mom. As he's talking to her, the pregnant woman's real mom comes over to check up as no one is answering the house phone. The intruder promptly disposes them, hacking away to death with her trusty pair of scissors. The cops also come back that night, and all 3 of them fall victim to the attacker. And with each passing kill, we are left with little hope that the pregnant woman will be spared. Its evident that the intruder is completely hellbent on achieving her end goal and nothing will stop her.

This movie works on multiple levels in creating a tense and altogether terrifying movie watching experience: the relentless nature of the woman, we have no idea why she wants the pregnant woman's baby (the director does a good job of throwing off the viewer when the cops come over for the 2nd time and you notice '666' is her address, but the man downstairs has nothing to do with the intruder), the totally brutal killings, the atmospheric soundtrack, and the 'real person' aspect of it. Do you ever watch a horror film like a Friday the 13th or Halloween with a Michael Myers or Jason and feel like the character is completely invincible? What played to such great effect in this film is the fact that the female intruder actually gets hurt during her spree. A slash to her arm, a knock over her head from a lamp, she even gets a gnarly a burn to her face. And she continues her quest with a focused determination as she fixes her wounds or puts an ice pack to her head. Her vulnerability makes things that much more terrifying. Not too mention the fact that all of this is happening to a pregnant woman. Why this isn't used more often in horror movies (and I have a feeling it might, see here) I have no idea. But the simple fact that this is happening to a pregnant woman who's carrying an innocent life automatically connects the viewer and emotionally invests them from the word 'go'. If you're not with this film, you don't have a pulse. I have nothing left to say other than this is a classic horror film and probably the best one I've seen in the last 10 years.

Cortez the Killer


Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Remake Rant

God damn the never ending shit storming slew of remake announcements is really getting me fired up. I mean are there no original ideas anymore? Scrap that, there are (see here and here) but they are getting pushed down and largely ignored (by mass audiences) by money hungry, mainstream movie production companies. I guess the arguement could be made that good horror is underground and has that following (kind of like heavy metal) and thats how we like it. But its bad enough that the big time production companies are telling us which TV shows from our childhood we WILL like on the big screen. And don't think for a minute that that is not their agenda. But now they are dumbing down some of our most beloved horror films for a mass appeal. I have to admit that I was vaguely intrigued with the announcement of Jackie Earle Haley as the next Freddy Krueger (mainly because of his badass portrayal of Rorschach) but then hopes were dashed immediately when I read that Freddy would be 'accidentally' killed by the townsfolk and Nancy is now a misguided goth chick. Jesus Christ. Even the child killer moniker is being dumbed down so that it appeals to a 'broader' audience. Great, thats all I need, a horror movie that appeals to the Sunday church crowd.
Today comes the announcement of a Fright Night remake. And the 'intention' is to keep the horror-comedy angle in tact. Thanks fucktwits, I appreciate the consideration. Look, I'm all for bringing a younger generation into the fold when it comes to horror movies and I feel that in most regards, that is why these movies are being remade. But a cheesy slasher is a cheesy slasher. Why do they need to remake old, beloved classics? I mean the formula is pretty simple. Group of douchey kids, some psycho maniac that has some sort of mommy or daddy issues, hacks them to shit by any means necessary, rinse, repeat.
When done right, the remake can be serviceable (see the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead). But by and large, most have sucked donkey nuts mainly due to the director's own dick stroking wankery. Complaint Dept. said it best. Its like saying, "Yeah, that Mona Lisa painting is pretty good, but I bet I could do it better." Such arrogant horseshit. The reason why some of these movies fail so miserably is that they try and put a new 'spin' on the character, somehow thinking the previous great incarnation just wasn't good enough. We have to dumb them down by exploring their 'human' side or recast a group of completely unlikeable kids that are hip with this generation to appeal to a new audience (and we don't give a shit about a single one of them when they get offed). Are you exhausted yet? Because I sure as fuck am.
Cortez The Killer

Drag Me To Hell TRAILER / PREVIEW

Initially, I was totally stoked to hear about the triumphant return of Sam Raimi to the world of horror. One could argue he already had with the making of Spiderman 3 (holy emo Peter Parker, swoop haircut!).

Anywhos, I was severely disappointed to find out that it was rated PG-13 and I immediately thought that this would be a mall rat, teeny bopper, Hot Topic produced for the masses pile of schlep. But my hopes were restored by the always reliable Final Girl. Check out her post here.

And for any of you miscreants who haven't seen the trailer, please see below.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday!

It's that time of the week kiddos. Get some!

Hysterical Psycho: Looks like B-Movie greatness!




The Tenant: DNA experiments gone amock!




I Sell The Dead: Grave Robbers, Ghosts and Zombies. Oh my!




Plague Town: Diseased, homicidal maniacs. Wowsers!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Favorite Horror Movie Musings: The Shining (1980)

Fear 5/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
After all these years of watching horror films, there are a few that I come back to time and time again. 'Old Mr. Reliables', I like to think of them. A guaranteed spook, a guaranteed scarefest worth its weight in jumps and looks over your shoulder to see if there is anything in the room. With each repeat viewing, I know that it will continue to terrify me. The type of film that truly catches you in mental self-talk, proclaiming 'Its only just a movie...its only just a movie....' The Shining is one of those films. Gripping and engrossing from start to finish, it will haunt you long after the credits roll.
Before I get into why this movie is so spectacular and truly nerve rattling, let me first talk about horror movie watching experiences now compared to when I was younger. Do you ever think back to when you were younger and remember the types of things that scared you and wonder now why you aren't afraid of them anymore? Why was sleeping alone in the dark so terrifying as a kid? Is it because you aren't sleeping near dear ol' mum and dad and you're in your own room, somewhat isolated and detached from the watchful eye of your guardian protectors? Is it because of the things that go 'bump in the night' and that one time your father 'accidentally' let you crawl into his lap while he was watching Hammer Film's Dracula or the first Nightmare on Elm Street? I remember being so terrified at the sight of a bloodshot eyed Dracula and a knife hand wielding psychopath that those imposing figures haunted my dreams for years. Nevermind the fact that when I went to a friend's house for a sleepover that the first thing we did when we went to the local video store was snatch up every Nightmare on Elm Street in the series. I believe that when you are younger, you are typically fearful of things that could be manifested into a single character: an imposing dark figure who sucks blood, a brimmed hat, Christmas sweater wearing knife finger guy, and of course mom and dad. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a kid more than a pissed off mom or dad.

So now, those figures aren't so imposing anymore. Certainly The Shining has at it's core the element of one (played so maniacally well by Jack Nicholson). I suppose as you get older you start to distance yourself from some of those figures who once struck fear into your heart. Maybe its the fact that you're older and more self-actualized now, standing on your own two feet, a decidedly stronger individual. As a kid, the only sense of identity that you have is tied up in your attachment (or in some cases, non-attachment) to your parents. Those once imposing and fearful figures are now no longer frightening, and in the case of one Mr. Freddy Krueger, they are now just downright comical.
What makes this movie a continually arresting affair psychologically, is the fact that horror is now defined for me as more of mental thing rather than a manifestation of a single person or character. I suppose now I'm worried about different things as an adult: my job, my house and now with being engaged, potentially taking care of a family one day. And now that I'm at the ripe ol' age of 30, my own mortality. Anything that has to do with a lost sense of self or worse, losing complete control over your mental faculties (I've seen multiple people fall victim to Alzheimer's over the last couple of years and its not pretty) is an extremely frightening prospect. The great fear of the unknown I guess you would call it. This movie wraps up all of my fears (both childhood and adult) with one big bow of holy fucking scary.
If you've never seen the film before a brief synopsis: a husband, wife and son move into a Colorado hotel during it's off months as the husband is offered a job as the main caretaker. Prior to posting up residence, the hotel owner tells the husband the story of a prior caretaker who went batshit crazy after being holed up for so many months. He took an axe to his family, killing his wife and two daughters. It doesn't seem to bother the man as he accepts the job. He thinks the isolation, peace and quiet will work wonders as he's a writer and could use the time for his work. After the family moves in, the husband begins a gradual descent into madness and the family's little boy (who has an 'imaginary' friend), meets the hotel's other residents.

The movie employs so many tactics in creating a truly visceral and disturbing movie watching experience. The oft cliched creepy kids are there in spades. The cheap carnival haunted house jolts are there as well. Even the looming specter of a fortress-style home and its visual feelings of impending doom can be found. What the director employs so well throughout the film is the fear of the unknown. The constant feeling that something is lurking just around the corner and that at any moment, something will happen and you have absolutely no control over it, is the single most terrifying aspect of the film. Even when nothing happens, its still pretty damn scary. Its this constant fear or unseen threat that is played like a country fiddle throughout most of the film and its heightened to such great effect with a discordant soundtrack that pierces your ear drums and makes you jump in your seat with every note.

The film is truly a horror movie in every respect and is my all-time favorite fright flick. The fanfare may always be tied up in Jack Nicholson's performance or Stanley Kubrick's direction. But for me, it will always remain the things that you don't see along with the constantly imposed feelings of dread and uncertainty.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dark Corners (2006)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5
Proof that anyone can make a movie as long as they have access to money, Dark Corners is about as turdy as a horror film can get. Here's why:
Thora Birch - She's wooden and lifeless and a little weird looking with her tiny little doll head (that's totally out of balance with her Tyra Banks sized forehead). This girl cannot act.
"Clever" plot twists: Oooooh, is it all a dream? Is she crazy, is it all in her head? Is this the dream or is her real life the dream? Blaaaaaghhh, fucking spare me the 11th grade mind-bender shit. Either scare me, gross me out, or disturb me. I don't need a complex and, ultimately, pointless story to muddle up my horror movie experience. 
Dialogue: It's important to be able to forget that the people on screen are actors and that what they are saying is scripted. And it's important to make these people seem like everyday, normal people with everyday normal lives. But the endless banter and cutesy verbal vomit between Birch and her husband, along with all of the other dialogue in this poo-bomb, is beyond bad. It's awkward and weird. it's as if the writer has never had a real relationship with anyone in his life.
Cheap Gore - I've no problem with cheap gore actually. But when you work with a low budget, there is an art to hiding the fact that your resources as limited. You don't flaunt how rubbery your prosthetics are or how thin and watery your pink blood is but putting it right in the cameras face every time you can. It becomes a 1970's Godzilla film. 
Dark Corners sucks. What's it about you ask? I don't know. Blonde Thora Birch might be dreaming the life of black haired Thora Birch, or maybe it's the other way around. One lives in a sanitary and clean happy world, the other in a dark and sinister world. About 3/4s of the way through I started fast forwarding so I can't really say. I suppose I didn't give this film a fair chance. Well, life isn't fair. It is, however, short. So I didn't want to waste my time. I suggest you do the same. 

- Complaint Dept

Iced (1988)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
T&A Factor: 5/5


Oh my fucking ridiculous. I saw a snippet of this at the tail end of '08 when my buddy premiered one of his first Horror Remix shows (see here) and had to get my hands on a copy ASAP (OK so it took me awhile, I do have a day job afterall). Much like most of the slasher films from the 80's, it could only be found on VHS. Until that is, the genius of the internets.com and Cinemageddon came along.

Iced kicks off with a group of friends that are out on the slopes, hitting some powder (no, not nose candy although there is some of that shenanigans going on later). One of the douchey 'I want to show off my manhood' guys challenges his buddy to a race down the slopes. Apparently the buddy bragged about skiing down the Swiss Alps and its high time to challenge the dude and really see what he's made of (because that's what douchey guys do). They race down the slope and douchey guy cuts off his friend and he wipes out. Bogus!

So bruised ego Swiss Alps skier laments his loss in the ski lodge's bar that night, getting shitfaced. He heads back to his room to find the girl that he came with hooking up with one of his friends. He's like 'What the hey? You came with me.' And she's like 'We are only just friends.' And he flips his shit. He then decides to hit the slopes for a late night run and ends up sliding off a side of an embankment where he crashes into a rock below and dies. Or so we think....

Five years later, the same group of friends are personally invited by the owner of the ski lodge to stay for the weekend. The rag tag bunch are composed of some really interesting characters: an overly lovey dovey couple, their coked out, paranoid friend, one horned up girl who's looking for love in all the wrong places, another couple that is trying to rekindle their love, and a sporty spice girl who loves to randomly workout around the house, oftentimes lifting weights in the kitchen while her friends cook. I'm not making this up. She even thinks a rolling pin is an appropriate hand weight.

So we think that Swiss Alps friend has come back for revenge as the friends start gettting picked off one by one. Some pretty cool scenes including a ski pole through the neck and the slutty girl getting electrocuted in a hot tub. Come to find out that its not the Swiss Alps friend at all! No, no, if that revenge scheme doesn't seem plausible enough how about this one: apparently the owner of the lodge was best buds with the Swiss Alps dude and the night he decided in a fit of fury to traverse down the slope in the middle of the night, he went out looking for him. When he reached the site of his injured friend, he too crashed and severly broke his leg and it had to be amputated. He would have been a world class skier by golly and now its time for the bastards to pay!

High on everything that makes a so bad it's good slasher great: cornball dialogue, some cool kill scenes (although not a lot of gore but the camp more than makes up for it), and T&A galore. And the ending, I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at the end of a horror movie. The lovey dovey couple survives, have a home in the mountains, and are outside making a snowman with their little ankle biters. As they put the finishing touches on the snowman, blood starts coming out of one of its eyes and the killer busts out of it! Booyah! I'd like to shake the creative dick who came up with this one. My god this movie is so ridiculous. And bad. And good. This is getting 'shit-sandwich', 'cheesedick' AND 'recommended' tags. Check out the hilarious wrap-up from Horror Remix's resident puppet commentators, Thunderclap and Cheesecake below.

Cortez the Killer



Friday, May 8, 2009

Quarantine (2008)

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

Quarantine is a fun and entertaining, if imperfect remake of the Spanish film "Rec" which I have yet to see, but have moved up in my Netflix list. The premise is simple and has been done before, but it's still a good one. The film is designed as "footage" that was found after the "incident" that is on the film, in this case, a fledgling reporter and her cameraman getting quarantined in a building filled with people infected with a nutty strain of rabies. You've seen the "found footage" idea in Blair Witch, or the god-awful Cloverfield, but it's still novel enough to feel somewhat original.

The film itself has a nice pace, starting as a bouncy and somewhat slow fluff piece on life inside the local firehouse. The kind of "news story" that would normally air at the tail end of the late night news before Letterman comes on. As the location changes to the building that the fire crew has been called to, and the film's subjects start to realize that they have been locked in, it starts to feel less bouncy and more frantic. Once the building is locked down and the trapped people become infected one by one, the pace quickens, the tensions rise, the voices grow in volume and the film soon becomes a trip to one of those cheesy haunted houses that pop up near outlet malls or at Knott's Berry Farm on Halloween. That is to say: FUN.

So in one sense, it's a modern "zombie" movie ala Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later. The infected are raging, nearly indestructible and totally out for blood. At times, they are scary and the gore is pretty icky - man walking on broken leg. Ugh. And even when some of the carnage is off screen (man attacked by rabid dog in an elevator) it's still effective.

The best scene in the film, by far, involves killing one of the infected with the camera. As a friend of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi once said while Evil Dead was in production "Fellas, no matter what you do, keep the blood running down the screen." The best scene in Quarantine, by far, involves killing one of the infected with the camera and I think it's safe to say the film makers took that advice to heart.

Having the entire movie be filmed from the viewpoint of one guy's handheld camera gives it a nice feel overall. If you allow yourself to stop being distracted by the fact that NONE of this could ever happen, you might find yourself looking at it in the first person which makes it all the more fun.

But that's the bummer of the film. It doesn't do a great job of suspending belief. There is a lot of "why are they doing that" moments - you know, like when the kids sneak off to do exactly what they've been warned not to do, even knowing they might DIE. Or when the cops and firemen start freaking out and trying to get out the building - freaking out more than the tenants. In real life that probably would not happen. But maybe it would. I've met some cops that were real pussies.

But regardless, it's a safe bet that rabies that turns people into gut eating, murderous monsters certainly would never happen. So take it all with a grain of salt. I found myself letting go and having fun. . . until the end. It gets a bit stupid at the end. A little too over the top. See it and you'll know what I mean.

Still, I enjoyed this, warts and all. Recommended....maybe not 100%, but I'd certainly rent it. It's much better than most remakes, that's for sure. Is it better than the original? No idea. Let me get back to you on that.

- Complaint Dept

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Black Christmas (1974)


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

A group of sorority girls field obscene phone calls late one night with a man on the other end being overly perverse and sexual in nature. At first the girls laugh it off, thinking that its just one of the fraternity houses playing a prank. When the man on the other end starts talking maniacally in different voices, the girls freak out a little and hang up. With far more on their minds, they return to their holiday partying, where mass quantities are consumed and libations abound.

One of the girls walks upstairs to retire early for the evening. As she heads into her room, we notice that her closet door is ajar. She hangs up her coat and as she turns to walk away, her head is enveloped by the plastic wrap that is used to house her dry cleaning. After being suffocated, her body is dragged upstairs into the attic where its promptly placed into a rocking chair. And the dirty phone calls continue.

The real highlight of the film are the girls. The always beautiful Olivia Hussey plays a girl who's recently got knocked up by her boyfriend and has broken things off with him. On top of that, she's told him that she is going to have an abortion and that he has no say whatsoever in the proceedings. Margot Kidder plays the alcoholic comic relief and dispenses great lines left and right. Just check out this tasty bit (in a totally random conversation when she's drunk): 'Did you know, this is a very little known fact, but... did you know that there's a certain species of turtle that... there's a certain species of turtle that can screw for three days without stopping. You don't believe me, do you? Well, I mean, how could I make something like that up?' Genius.

So after the umpteenth phone call and after the caretaker of the sorority house has also gone missing, the police begin to think that the ex of the girl who's knocked her up is their prime suspect as he's been extremely ticked off since the break-up, not approving of the abortion and all. One night, as the girl returns home, she's alerted by the police that the ex is on his way over to the house. She arms herself with a fireplace poker and ends up killing him when he breaks into the house. She goes into shock and is carried upstairs by the police where she's laid into bed, completely comatose. The camera pans out, we see the sorority sister with the plastic bag around her head rocking back and forth in the chair, and as a cop stands post outside, the phone rings.....

Not much by way of gore or blood (in fact there is very little blood) but high on the tense and emotional thriller factor, Black Christmas is an effective and subtle horror movie. Much like Halloween, its first person point of view is what really creeps you out as the viewer and the fact that you never find out who the killer is, is also pretty terrifying. Often credited as the grand kick-off of the slasher genre, Black Christmas is truly a masterpiece. Well written, well acted, and just an all around spooky good time. And the multiple scenes where you see the girl who's head is wrapped and she's rocking back and forth in her chair, are also extremely effective and creepy.

Cortez the Killer



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monkey Shines (1988)

Fear 3/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
What a sweet little nugget of goodness this was. One of those movies I've heard of just never seen. Doing some research, it seems like this is an under appreciated gem of a film (weird considering that George Romero directed it so you would think there would be greater fanfare). Well kids, I can definitely say that indeed, this is a fine little slab of horror/thriller mania.
Monkey Shines opens up with a young man being hit by a truck as he's jogging around his hood. He's rushed to the hospital and emergency spinal chord surgery is performed. Nothing can be done and he's resigned to come to grips with the fact that he will be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. On top of that, his own girlfriend dumps him. Talk about kicking a man squarely in the nuts when he's down!
Quadriplegic man's buddy is a researcher, studying monkeys and injecting them with human brains cells to make them smarter (uh oh, this can't be good). One day he and his hot foxy blonde assistant come over to his buddy's mother's house (seriously, not only does your woman leave you and your're a quadriplegic ,you also have to move back in with mom at the ripe old age of 30 something? Holy fuck!). Anywhos, they bring over one of the cute little monkeys and the monkey shows of its skills: fetching things, turning things off and on around the house and the man becomes ecstatic as he's grown tired of the nurse being his slave.
Quady forges a special bond with the little monkey as its there at all hours to take care of him, never putting up a fuss or leaving him for a doctor. Did I mention that? So we come to find out that the doctor that performed surgery on him botched it ON PURPOSE so he would be stuck in a wheel chair for the rest of his life AND shortly thereafter he made a move for his old main squeeze. I'd be hollerin' 1-8-7 with my gat! Bitch-ass muthafucka!
So anyways, little monkey brains starts waking up in the middle of the night, roaming the neighborhood. Because of their special 'connection', quadriplegic sees what the monkey sees when he's asleep and dreaming. Little Davy Jones goes into the house that his ex and her doc pal are shacking up in and sets it on fire, killing them both. Que lastima!
Quadriplegic man begins to suspect something is up and his friend finally spills the beans about the experimental monkey that he's lied to him about the whole time, saying the behavior and over-protective antics of the monkey were normal (jesus did this guy get the raw end of the stick and a shaft with no lube or what?). The buddy makes a stand in the house with the monkey and tries to kill it with a poison injection only the monkey steals it like a hot banana and injects him instead!
I'm surprised this flick doesn't garner much more fanfare. An insanely intense affair all around, Monkey Shines delivers the goods. I was trying to figure why Tom Savini was involved at all as there was little blood and no gore throughout the movie. Well quady finally gets the surgery he needs done (right this time) and as he's in la la land after going under, he envisions himself on the cutting room table and little funky monkey pops out of his back a la Aliens style. Spectacular!

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday!

Looks like a potentially delicious slab of movies are coming out soon. 2009 has already started off with a bang for the horror genre. Can't wait to see these.

P.S. The website Trailer Addict, allows you to choose the size of your embedded videos so that it doesn't run over your Blogger template and push down your profile info. and side margins (unlike YouTube). Bravisimo!

Cortez the Killer

Pontypool:

Looks to be a welcomed new take on the zombie genre.



Doghouse:

The Hills Have Eyes meets small town England.



Orphan:

Egad, a creepy kid. Run!!



Primal:

This looks brutal. Like a cross between The Descent and The Ruins.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cradle of Fear (2001)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
Shameless Band Promotion: 5/5
Starring everyone's favorite vampiric black metaller, Dani Filth, Cradle of Fear is a surprisingly fun and over the top gorefest. At times I was mildly annoyed, feeling like I was watching a Cradle of Filth infommercial and the mere fact that they didn't make Dani look any different than his dolled up, corpse painted, silver clawed ring wearing stage persona, was also irritating. But all the metal band promotion aside, the film still delivers a goofy and insanely fun movie watching affair.
The film itself focuses on 4 different stories all interconnected by main characters that had a hand in sending a child killer to prison. Namely, they all served on the jury that convicted him. The child killer practiced satanism and while in prison, he uses fellow friend and satanist Filth (known simply as 'The Man'; I mean really?, couldn't you think of a more creative name?) as his vehicle to commit revenge.
People die in all kinds of gnarly ways the craziest of which, Filth presides over himself (rather than killing them via various satanic rituals or mind controlling practices). A gothy girl eyes him up and down at a local club (in which everyone looks like a cliched douchey Hot Topic kid) and she gets him to take her into a back room. He starts to munch down on her no-no part when this crazy, tentacled looking monster comes out of him. She wakes up after blacking out, starts seeing demons as she's walking home (thinking its all just a bad acid trip or something) and crawls into bed when she gets back to her apartment to sleep off whatevers left in her system. She wakes up in the middle of the night when she feels something moving in her belly and thinks that Filthy boy has impregnated her with something, and she starts hacking away at her belly with a pair of scissors. Sure enough, a little spawn pops out and its basically a baby fetus with four spider-like legs sticking out as appendages. After the host kicks off, it goes after her roommate and mauls her face. Cue Cradle of Filth soundtrack.
The rest of the stories follow suit in equally graphic and over the top ways none more silly than the actual finale with Filth and the cop that's been trying to catch up with him. Gore hounds will love this one. A totally mindless film thats a lot of fun. Now if Filth (and his band members) would just stop playing bad metal, the world would truly be a better place.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, May 2, 2009

This Film Just Might Piss Off A Lot of Christians....

Anti-Christ poses the question of 'What if Satan, not God created the world as we know it?' Wow, this movie looks terrifying and original. The end of the trailer sends shivers down my spine. Premiering at Cannes this year, I'm wondering how film and audience reactions will pan out.

Cortez The Killer

Lars von Trier's Antichrist - Official Trailer from Zentropa on Vimeo.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bruiser (2001)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5
This is a follow-up review to one posted waaaaaay back. Complaint Dept. does a short and sweet (and hilarious) review that's hard to argue against. So if you'd rather see that, look here. Otherwise, read on....
Directed by George Romero, Bruiser is an interesting character study that ultimately gets weighed down by its own lofty goals and misdirection. Bruiser's main character is someone that most people can relate to as they have either been that person or have known someone just like him at some point during their life.
Henry is a mild mannered guy who works for a maniacal manager (played at varying levels of success by Peter Stormare) at a publicity agency. Always the type to please, Henry does everything he can to make his egotistical and just down right douchey boss happy. He always does his best to placate him only to be torn, built back up and then crushed again by his unreasonable expectations and flamboyantly crazy attitude.
Invited to a company get together over at his boss's house, Peter and his wife enjoy the over the top flaunting and brash party that's thrown by the main proprietor. He's close friends with his boss's wife (who also works at the agency) and she shows him her collection of painted masks.
She gives him one that is completely white and asks him to paint his own. In a way, symbolizing his own lost identity, Peter can't think of anything to paint. He then returns to the party where he notices his wife fondling the man parts of his boss.
He confronts his wife on the way home and she lashes out at him telling him that he's a nothing of a person and she thought she had married someone with greater aspirations than being the bitch and whipping post of his boss. She then leaves him after her brutal demeaning.
When he wakes up the next morning, he notices the unpainted, white mask has 'permanently' been affixed to his face. He gets ready for work and is ready to head out when he notices his maid stealing money out of his wallet. He flies into a rage, knocking her down to the ground with the swat of a silver candle holder, bashing her head in and killing her. Its this single act that sets him off as he no longer wants to be a person thats taken advantage off.
His downward spiral continues as he follows his wife who's meeting his boss for a conference room rendezvous at the agency. As the boss's wife catches him in action, and takes a couple of photos for divorce evidence, the dickwad boss runs out of the office to chase her down. Peter confronts his wife, gives her a neck tie party, using a coiled extension cord spool attached to a chair, he then kicks it out of the window which overlooks the street below and strings her up, breaking her neck.
Peter's cathartic release continues as he kills his best friend who's been stealing thousands of dollars from him over the years. He then begins to contemplate the death of his boss. The long drawn out plodding of this and his dialogue with the boss's wife who pleads with him to stop, starts to become a bit of a mired mess. Its almost as if Romero didn't know what to do next and his teetering between an all too certain resolve with the 'will he have a change of heart?' is kind of what kills the momentum. The thought of a faceless man who has lost all previously believed identity is a terrifying prospect and this was a film that could have been carried over the top. But in the end, it falls flat when it loses what should be its sole focus and intent. Not too mention Stormare's performance of the baddy boss becomes almost too over the top and comical and in the end, his death is something that you really don't give two shits about. I guess that is the main intent but it leaves the end feeling really hollow and devoid of any real closure.
Unlike Complaint Dept., I think this movie had loads of potential but ultimately, it just crash landed after a really great takeoff. I guess I've seen worse but on the whole, a bit of a let down.

Cortez the Killer