Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Life Form Or Clever Viral Campaign?

The internets.com is a flutter today over a mysterious video posted which shows a camera as it captures a series of pulsating, Contra boss-like larvae sacks, lined on the walls of an underground sewer system.

Real or just a clever marketing scheme? Various interwebs message boards have comments that seem all too strangely similar, word for word even. I'm guessing viral campaign vs. alien invaders.

Nonetheless, the video is pretty creepy.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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

Zack Snyder directed this remake of the 1978 zombie and gore classic. I liked 300. It was violent, entertaining and both manly as hell and queer as a $3 bill. Sort of like Manowar. He also directed Watchmen which I liked. It was entertaining, fairly true to the original story and was neat to look at. His first directorial effort, 2004's Dawn of Dead however - well I love it. In fact, it's better than the original.

Oh calm down Comicon nerds. If you're having a conniption fit right now, you need to stop complaining about my Ghost Adventurer's post and face the facts.

I'll review Romero's original film at some point, but for now let's all admit the following - despite it's groundbreaking gore effects and clever satire of American culture, it's poorly acted, poorly scripted and way too long. And really, the satire isn't all that clever really. It's not as clever as Night of the Living Dead was.

The remake has lots going for it. For one thing, it's exciting. I know some "purists" are not fans of the fast zombie, but you have to admit that it's always been a little goofy that people couldn't outrun flesh-eaters with a top speed of 2 miles per hour. I happen to like the fast zombie - it's much scarier to me. And there are some undead dudes here who are fucking fast AND creepy. The zombie with one arm sprinting towards the protagonists - yikes man!The legless dude who comes swinging down on the one guy - double yikes!

The script, while pretty faithful to the original concept, is also much better. It was mainly handled by James Gunn who also wrote and directed Slither. And he was married to Jenna Fischer. For one thing, the dialogue lacks the wooden and forced qualities that the original has. It's also kind of funny at times, and occasionally, a little sad. It has some fun twists, but they're not ridiculous - the concept of the entire population turning into man-meat gobbling goblins is ridiculous enough. Basically, the writers knew when to push things and when to pull their punches.

And while both films are uber-gory, the gore in the remake is more "painful" to watch. The exploding head scene that kicks things off in the original is amazing, but there is something more awful about the remake's scene where the truck overturns and the chainsaw winds up in the woman's shoulder. It's just mean.

It's not a perfect film. The characters are a little . . . well stereotypie - the ultra serious cop, the power-trippin' redneck mall cop, the clean cut good dad, the little blonde nurse who surprises everyone with her resilience, the gangsta dude with the heart of gold, etc. etc. The zombies sound like cheetahs for some reason. And the zombie baby scene, well that's just fucking stupid and totally unnecessary.

If you like zombies, gore, action, fun stories and have a love of nihilism, check this one out. Then go back and watch the original. I'm telling you, it's better and that's NOT a knock on the original. It's just a damn good horror movie. And has a cool soundtrack as well.

-Complaint Dept

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Burrowers (2008)

Fear 2/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 2/5
For some reason, hearing the name of the film and then finding out that it was a western horror flick, instantly conjured images of the film Tremors. Well, I got the monster part right, but without the cheeseball antics and a whole lot of bacon. Kevin that is. The Burrowers is an interesting take on the monster film and is propelled by some fine acting. But ultimately, its hindered by a painfully slow pace and far too much dragged out tension.
The film kicks off with a family out in the ol' west, hanging out one night in their farmhouse only to be interrupted by screams and gunshots outside. They quickly exit stage left and head for the basement below their home. Screams are heard and as the family huddles together, a strange rustling outside begins and something breaks through their basement door. When day breaks, a group of locals including the future groom to be of one of the girls in the family, inspect the house only to find a pool of blood and no one around. Assuming the work of indians, the group gets together along with a tracker and a U.S. cavalryman and his soldiers and head out in search of the injuns who have taken the family prisoner.
As they traverse the landscape in search of the band of indians, they come across one, capture him and toture him into revealing the name of the tribe that attacked the family. He only utters the name 'burrowers' and the search party deem it the name of a tribe they've never heard of. As the night progresses, members of the group get picked off one by one. Strange noises are heard during the night and of course, like any 'good' horror film, they need to be investigated, by golly. When they wake up the next morning, they find their group noticeably thinner and the group of locals along with the groom to be, break off from the U.S. soldier and his men as they feel they would best be served by splitting up.
This is where the movie begins to drag. Another day of slogging through the plains, random blatherings about women and the ol' west, and another camp set-up at night which gives way to more strange noises. We FINALLY see what the monsters look like (think those weird, vagina face looking things in Roger Corman movies), goofy CGI and all. The band of rag tags fend them off and as the morning dawn comes to save the day (and only one of the guys make it through the night), we find out what the creatures are susceptible to. Lame.
As mentioned, the acting is mighty fine and you will immediately recognize the bit actors who star in it but probably can't call them out by name. They carry the film for awhile and lend credibility to the tension and drama as it initially builds. But the slow and dragged out pace, coupled with the less than great reveal of the actual creatures themselves (not too mention the hokey ending), is ultimately what leads to a big fat bag of fail. Although I would personally like to see more western themed horror films.
Cortez the Killer

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Box: Trailer

From Richard Kelly, the guy who brought us the phenomenally weird Donnie Darko, comes this film about a down on their luck couple who receive a strange box one night and an indecent proposal. A couple interesting things:

1. Its going head-to-head, opening on the same date (10/23) as the latest Saw flick. Hasn't this franchise pulverized a dead horse enough?

2. The trailer even uses the SAME exact grandiose soundtrack as the Saw films which is basically signaling a big 'F-you, our film is going to be better' type of stance.

Regardless, the film looks really interesting. Even though I can't stand Cameron Diaz.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, June 22, 2009

Best Horror Movie Without A Mainstream Release?

I've been reading about Trick 'R Treat for awhile now on the internets.com and from everything I've heard (including from the tough but always fair Horror Movie A Day), this film is an instant classic. Aside from a few child killings (as noted by the aforementioned site), there is no other reasoning possibly given as to why this film has not received a proper theatrical release.

Posted below is a 9 minute clip from the film that has gotten me all revved up. Apparently, Warner Bros. has been sitting on this film since 2007 and it will finally see the light of day with a DVD release coming this October. You would think since it stars the ever more increasingly hot Anna Paquin, and because of the fact that True Blood is the most popular vampy thing this side of Twatlight (I can't take credit for this amalgamation of words, but this fine young lady can), that it would see a proper release. But I guess that's what makes this far more intriguing and tingly in my man parts. I'm definitely looking forward to its release, one way or another.

Cortez the Killer

P.S. more reviews coming soon. I was visiting future in-laws in Philly (who's residents have accents EXACTLY how you would imagine them to be) and taking some much needed time off.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Zombieland Trailer Is Here!

Lots of much ado about this movie but mainly because Woody Harrelson went nutzoid towards a paparazzi, mistaking him for being one of the undead. Later he went on to state that he was still in character (no joke).

Check out the trailer for the new flick below. Explosions, zombie kills, hot girls and Van Halen. My head just exploded.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laid to Rest (2009)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 1/5
The hype around this movie was literally almost enough to drown me in a sea of over gushing praise and glowing adjectives. After my extremely disappointing experience with Hatchet (Complaint Dept. and I had differing opinions, see here), which was positioned in much the same vein as this flick, I was pretty hesitant. However, the endless heaping on of praise (damn you marketing!) as being one of the best and most original slasher films released within the last few years certainly piqued my interest as I am a huge fan of the genre no matter how much its been riddled with self-parody and endless copycats. So does this film deliver the goods? Read on.
The film starts off with a woman who wakes up inside a coffin in a funeral home. She stumbles through the joint in a haze, clearly not knowing where the heezy she is. She makes her way into an embalming room and promptly locks herself inside when a masked man appears at the door. He briefly goes away as the caretaker of the place unlocks the door and she hysterically claims there a strange dude is roaming around. As the caretaker opens the door, the masked man (which is a chrome skeleton face, bling bling) comes back into view and quickly dispenses the caretaker with some sort of spear-like device. The woman runs out of the room and through the front door, and begins a mad dash down the road leading away from the mortuary. She runs into a guy riding along in his pickup truck and he takes her back to his pad.
The man (who gets around by cane) along with his religious rabble rouser of a wife, take her in and let her get straight. She has a crazy flashback episode while she's in the shower and the man goes into the bathroom to calm her down. The wife chimes in with claims, yelling at her husband that the women is no good and that she's probably a whore. Now there's a way to win friends and influence people! The chrome face covered dude (who's now wielding a Rambo-like knife) tracks them down and as the loony wife tries to hop out a bedroom window, he shuts it on her waist high and hackety smacketys off her head. This kicks off a cat and mouse game for the rest of the movie between the killer, the old hobbling man, coffin girl, and milk commercial guy (read on).
The hobbily man and coffin gal escape from the house, driving along the road and stopping at a house that is lighted and deemed safe. They ring the doorbell, and then, holy fucking jesus! Its that kid from the milk commercials during the early 90's ('Aaaaron Burr!'). Except he's now aged about 20 years and looks even fuglier than before! He lets them in claiming he doesn't have a landline phone with which to call authorities but he does have a computer with internet connection and they can send an email! WTF? He sends one off to the local po po station and advises that they head to the station themselves. They get there and the killer has already waxed the sheriff and he's waiting for them. Its off to the races again until the very end when they have a final standoff with the killer at the local gas station.
Some incredible gore scenes notwithstanding, the really bad acting and just way too silly and implausible scenarios (you have a computer and full internet access but no phone whatsoever, puh-lease!) contribute to an overall lackluster feeling. The cool thing about the killer is that he has a video camera affixed to his shoulder and he tapes the brutal mauling of his victims. This concept is never really explored much further and it would have been really awesome to have shown some of the kills from the perspective and eye of the lens. So why is the killer so intent on getting to coffin girl? Well apparently she IS a whore afterall and as camera footage shows, the killer is trying to make some sort of example of her, making her realize the error of her ways. A slasher movie with a conscience? Lame. In the end, not worth the hype but definitely worth its weight in gore-ific-ness. A big resounding 'meh' overall.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chopping Mall (1986)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
T&A Factor 5/5

Anyone who reads this here interwebs blog knows of my affinity for cornball, cheese dick-a-licious 80's horror flicks. Horror movies from the 80's range from genre defining to downright awful to so bad its good, like going on a candy binge when you need to have a severe root canal. Painfully aweful yet oh so sweet. Chopping Mall definitely fits into the later category.

A high end robotic security team of Johnny 5's (think a bastard, stubby Ewok-a-fied version of the robot from Short Circuit), are dispatched nightly at a local mall to scan the various levels and be on the lookout for any bad dudes. One night, a storm hits and a bolt of lightning is sent through the engineering room, zapping the little robots and making them go cuckoo nutzoids.

A group of kids that work in the mall decide to lock up shop and then head over to the furniture emporium to shack up together for the night, indulging in the typical excesses that are a hallmark of 80's horror: sex, booze, etc. I love 80's horror movies for mainly 2 things: T&A and the ridiculous characterization of dopey and douchey teens. Somewhere in the mix is of course, blood and gore, but the way these characters are written and the mozzarella cheese uttered in just about every line of dialogue is simply amazing.

The robots start picking off the kids and janitors who are cleaning up the place for the night and the remaining kiddos band together to fight off the wacked out Johnny 5's. They raid a sporting good store in the mall which just so happens to stock military assault rifles (seriously?) and they devise ways to kill off the crazed tin cans on mechanized wheels.

This movie has it all: robots, lazers, sex crazed kids, cornball dialogue (one of the girls grabs a gun from one of the dudes when he can't shoot straight and after she hits her target says, 'My dad was a marine'-- what a freakin' coincidence!) and one of the raddest head exploding scenes I have ever seen this side of Scanners. See this 80's classic if you haven't already.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, June 12, 2009

Horror Remix Presents 'Shopping'!

Our good friends over at Horror Remix are at it again. They've explored the fears of the holidays, the heebie jeebie creepies of dolls, and the ghoulishness of zombies. Taking the unnecessary schlep in 'so bad, its good' horror films and condensing it down to about a half-hour or so of caramel nougaty goodness. Yum.
Now they are exploring the creepy confines of every teenager's reason for being: the mall. Check out the trailer and of course, the free show.
Cortez the Killer

Horror Remix Presents... SHOPPING from Edward John on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Is Some Creepy Final Destination Shit!

Woman who missed Flight 447 is killed in car crash

An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident. Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31. All 228 people aboard lost their lives after the plane crashed into the Atlantic four hours into its flight to Paris. The ANSA news agency reported that the couple had managed to pick up a flight from Rio the following day.

It said that Ms Ganthaler died when their car veered across a road in Kufstein, Austria, and swerved into an oncoming truck. Her husband was seriously injured.


Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Wizard of Gore (1970)

Fear 2/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5
I'm hooked. I'm professing my love for Herschell Gordon Lewis's films. Goddamn his formula is so simple yet effective: have an over the top and insanely kooky main character, have him dispense cornball dialogue and have his co-stars equally match wit and snappy one liners, and show as much blood and guts spillage as humanly possibly. A thinly masked plot is somewhere in the mix but who gives a flying fuck. Its all about fun, gore and taking a psychedelic trip-hop man. You dig?
The Wizard of Gore centers on a magician who specializes in 'illusions' that involve cutting up audience members who have come on stage to 'volunteer'. The creepy magic guy initially employs the tired hat trick of sawing a woman in half but instead of hiding her body behind a box, we see all the gory details as she's hacked into and her innards are exposed. As the film progresses, his act gets more and more elaborate as he seeks to shock his audience with contraptions like a hole cutting machine. After the gory display, you see the volunteers, completely whole and with no visible effects. Until the next day when their body inexplicably separates as they go about their daily bidness. Yuckos!
A reporter and her guy friend are hot on the trail, looking to expose the magician for what he really is: a mind controller and sadistic murderer, not an illusionist. The magician lets the both of them into his world, continuously inviting them to his shows. He tells them that he wants to perform his 'master trick' in a live studio setting, and with her being a reporter and all, she obliges and think its the perfect opportunity to expose him for what he really is.
Blood abounds in buckets, cow and pig organs spew forth, this film is a gore hounds wet dream. And again, the snappy and hilarious one liners that are dispensed throughout make for an even sillier and cheesedick-a-fied affair: 'He's no magician, he's just a master technician!' It's hard to rock a rhyme to rock a rhyme that's right on time its tricky.....I digress. I've yet to see a bad movie from H.G. Lewis. If you haven't checked out any of his films, do so ASAP.
P.S. the movie posters and trailers for his movies continue to be nothing short of amazing with their incredible usage of hyper adjectives.
Cortez the Killer

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trick Or Treat (1986)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 0/5
Metal Factor 5/5

Is there any better combination in the world than horror movies and metal? Peanut butter & jelly, beer & pizza, Italian food & red wine, tequila & Mexican food. I think not. Chances are, if you aren't in love with both, you won't really dig this film.

Trick Or Treat stars that nerdy dude from Family Ties who's obsessed with all things metal and in particular, one guy who looks like a cross between Tommy Lee and CC Deville. He's the a-typical outcast at school, bullied by the jocks. Ironically enough, the movie reminds me of my buddy and fellow writer on this here interwebs blog, Complaint Dept. He told me about the douchey jocks at his high school and how they all frowned upon heavy metal but at the same time, 'jocked' Guns N' Roses. Yeah, these guys kind of fit that mold.

He wakes up one morning finding out that his rock hero was killed in a hotel fire. Totally bummed, he visits one of his only buddies, a local radio jockey (played by the over marketed, dollars constantly in his eyeballs, douchebag extraordinaire, Gene Simmons--I've never liked KISS, btw). The jockey tells him that he has the only copy of the last record made by said rock dude and he plans on playing it at midnight on Halloween. He gives the record to the nerdy kid as he's already made a taped version.

So nerdy kid pines for the one girl in his school he knows he can't have. She invites him to a late night pool party, and he's promptly thrown into the pool with a weight that's been tied to his backpack by one of the jock-a-roos. He's rescued from the pool by the girl, he storms out, and vows revenge. He goes home that night, plays the record and of course, by spinning it backwards a message is revealed and the rocker dude comes back from the grave.

A ridiculously silly affair, virtually no blood or gore, but high on the metal and rock out factor, I can't totally recommend this unless you are a huge fan of metal. If you just like horror movies, you are going to think this is an absolute stinker. But I love every minute of this flick. Everyone's favorite and now infamous money grubbing icon, Ozzy Osbourne also makes an appearance as a TV evangelist, talking about the sins of listening to rock music. Oh the irony!

As I type this, I'm listening to the most recent Mastodon album 'Crack the Skye' for the umpteenth time. Fucking brilliant.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dead & Buried (1981)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5
A surprisingly original tale, Dead & Buried centers on a weird small town that kills off it's out of towners and visitors. They come back to 'life' within a few days (not zombies per se) only to assume new names and become a part of the townsfolk (working at the local gas station, showing up as students at the local school, etc.). All the while, no one asks 'hey who's the new kid?' or 'you ain't from around these here parts, are you?' This adds to the overall creepy, oompa loompa vibe that permeates throughout.
As the string of murders continue, the local police officer is on the case, frantically trying to figure out what the hey is going on. As he begins to scour high and low for clues, he stumbles across some teaching materials that his wife plans to use for her class. It's a book of withcraft and a large dagger that he's found, hidden in one of their bedroom dresser drawers. This tips off the officer that maybe something far more sinister is at work and he begins to suspect that his wife is hiding something from him. However, the idea of withcraft is immediately shot down as his wife explains to him that she's using the book and dagger as a way to tell her kids a good scary story or two. The copper chalks up his jump to conclusions from added stress but he still suspects that she's hiding something from him.
She asks him to take a roll of film to a friend of hers (which was supposedly shot by one of her students) but instead, he takes it to the local film developer store guy. The developer acts a little strangely and you get the sense that everyone in cookytown is in cahoots with each other, all knowing full well what is going on.
The local mortician (who's a little surly and initially unsuspecting) stops by the police station one day, claiming that he 'lost' one of his cadavers. The cop thinks something is up as surely corpses can't come back! In the previous scene, you are shown how the moritician re-crafts his cadavers to a creepy almost life-like state, putting his humpty dumptys back together just as good as they were before they kicked the bucket. As the end of the film approaches, its revealed why the moritician takes such a particular interest in his crafstmanship and why folks are being killed and willed back to life.
Not the best horror movie I've ever seen but definitely fun, entertaining and more importantly, original. There is not much by way of blood or gore (which is really bad if you don't have a decent story to keep things rolling along), but there is one particularly gnarly scene at the end in which our hero cop guns down ol' morty and he takes a pair of embalming needles and tubes and jams them him into his jelly belly. The film also features Robert Englund (albeit in a bit part). I'm convinced that the dude has never had a good looking day in his life.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frontier(s) (2007)

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

Frontier(s) is a splashy and painful gorefest with little else going for it. The storyline is much too familiar - wild young kids with bad luck and hard lives head out for the countryside for some R&R (though in this case they are runnin' from the law). They wind up at a B&B run by some inbred cannibals with mutant children crawling around the abandoned mine that the B&B is built over. The inbreds humiliate, torture, kill and eventually eat the young kids. The female lead manages to kill them all and gets away.

So you've seen it a few times before. The twist here is that it's a) In French b) Set in the future and c) involves Nazis. Otherwise, there is very little to set itself apart from the other so-called "torture porn" films that have been popping up lately.

Well, I suppose that's not entirely true. Frontier(s) does manage to set itself apart in that it tries WAAAY to hard. The victims are remarkably resilient and tough, therefore requiring quite a bit of abuse. The settings and locations are extremely dark and spooky, the killers ridiculously sweaty, mean and one-dimensional. The situations are far too nasty - swimming through pig shit, tunnelling through teeny tiny crawlspaces ala The Descent, navigating one's way through an enormous maze of corpses hung up like sides of beef. And the gore is very over the top - melting faces, exploding heads, circular saws through the skull, wire cutters through the Achilles tendon, etc. etc. And gallons and gallons of blood.

So while gorehounds will be interested - I was for a while - eventually it becomes too much. Some restraint is required for this to be anything other than ridiculous and a spectacle of silliness. Which makes it all the more strange that this was awarded (slapped with?) an NC-17 rating. Maybe I'm too sophisticated or maybe I'm too callous and immoral, but I fail to see how anyone could take this all that seriously and be offended by it. Grossed out, sure, but a 16 kid would laugh at this and giggle along with the special effects.

Decent, but not great. A great film for those interested only in gore, but the lack of style and direction coupled with the just plain silliness of the whole thing might result in a "meh" for others. Still. . . when selecting tags below, I have to admit, this one kind of covered it all.

- Complaint Department

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pontypool (2009)

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

Very cool Canadian film that proves a big budget, splashy special gore effects and a pile of boobs is not required to make an entertaining and effective horror film.

The premise of Pontypool is very basic - it's essentially a zombie film with very few zombies. You know the drill: some sort of virus starts to infect the townspeople and they start turning into murderous and mindless killing machines. Eventually everyone in the town has "turned" except for a small group of people holed up in (insert remote and dangerously underdefended location here). In this case, it's a radio station.

Pontypool differs in that none of this is actually seen. Instead, it's described over the airwaves by the cranky morning DJ as news reports start coming in from various sources (except for actual news sources). At first, the phone calls and "eyewitness accounts" start to seem incredible - too incredible to be real. Bodies being torn apart by family members, mortally wounded zombie folk making eerie (for real) "baby sounds" into the phone, army trucks arriving in town, etc.

The film almost operates the same way that the original War of the Worlds broadcast did way back in the early part of the 20th century (that's fun to say). And while the film starts slowly (it almost has to in order to be believable) it eventually becomes very taut and tense. There are some creepy-eepy moments here, even though there is relatively few "scares" and blood. Lastly, the virus itself, how it operates, is kind of cool as well. Not to spoil anything, but it attacks people through the way they process information in their heads. It's weird, but kinda neat. In a dorky sci-fi way.

And when the scares and blood do arrive, they do so with tasteful restraint, but enough punch to really be effective. The one "gore" scene is far more effective than the thousands in Hostel or Dawn of the Dead.

Pontypool is a great movie. It's funny, clever, very smart and scary in an unconventional way. Watch it. It's been a while since a saw a film that didn't suck balls. Good job Canada.

- Complaint Dept