Friday, July 31, 2009
I want to preface this review by mentioning a few things. I have always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument (preferably guitar) and I've always wanted to write a screenplay and hopefully have it made into a feature film one day. But for some reason or another, when I start out in trying to accomplish both, my ADD ass can't seem to conquer either one. I even went as far as buying a real guitar, thinking my air guitar skills would translate into being able to do the real thing, but as I type this review, I stare at it, sitting in the corner of my office collecting dust. Kudos to anyone that puts pen to paper or fingers to guitar and makes shit happen.
Hell House: The Book of Samiel starts off in familiar territory. A group of goofy kids are out in the middle of the country, knocking back a few and telling ghost stories. Meanwhile, a local news team is headed out their way, seeking to cover the anniversary of a gruesome discovery. It goes something like this: a boyfriend and girlfriend head out to the area one night for some good ol' fashioned neckin'. Of course, the father of the girl does not approve of the relationship. He meets up with them and in a fit of fury, shot gun blasts the both of them and lights them on fire. Thanks pops! Its been said that when folks come out to the area, their car is inexplicably pushed towards the house at the end of the road. The house also happens to be haunted.
So naturally, the kids coax each other into staying at the house one night. This is where things start to get weird and a little convoluted. They head on out to the house and stop by the dwellings of a local soothsayer (why they decide to stop there or how they know of the gal is never fully explained). She tells them not to go up there but like the douchey teens that they are, they blow her off and head up there anyways.
The kids get to the supposedly haunted home and settle in for the night, partaking in the hallmarks of what makes a teenage horror flick, well, a teenage horror flick: drugs, sex, more sex, even lesbian sex, AND a visit is also paid by every woman's favorite mechanically enchanced device. As the night progresses, we come to find out that demons haunt the home and an ancient evil is trying to pass over into our world and needs a sacrifice. That sacrifice is one of the guy's in the group, who happens to be a virgin. The soothsayer teams up with the group and like a super hero sorceress, she wields her Super Mario pluck pluck fireball magic and fends off a random dude (also inexplicably thrown into the mix and its not clear as to why he's there) and some of the kids who are under the spell of the demon invaders. Nothing is interconnected and by this time, I had a hard time piecing this whole mess together.
The big 'shocker' of the film comes after everyone is able to escape and the presumably dead girlfriend of one of the dudes comes back to life, fulfilling the virgin sacrificial need and (I assume) it allows the demon to come over into their world.
This film suffers greatly from a multitude of things: a copious amount of plot holes, the soundtrack is overdubbed and at times, its hard to hear the dialogue and the banter dispensed was also rather head scratching. When one of the girls in the group tells a story of her grandmother dying at a hospital, she mentions that she was asleep at home, woke up at the exact moment that she died, saw the figure of dear ol' gran' mum, looked away for a moment, it disappeared and ultimately she deemed the figure as 'evil'. Huh?
Overall, this was a truly mind boggling affair. At times, I felt like I was watching two different movies. The story of the father killing his daugther and her boyfriend never really fit into the entire mythos of the film and the demons and their reasonings for haunting the house were never fully explained. I can't entirely recommend this although there were some decent story ideas and production values. But on the whole, it was a total mess.
Cortez the Killer
Monday, July 27, 2009
Taken straight from the headlines of the evening news (see here), Stuck tells the story of a girl who strikes a transient with her car on the way home from partying it up at a club (which involved lots of adult beverage drinking). The man becomes lodged head first into her windshield and she drives home with the man still affixed. Pulling into her garage, she lets the man sit for days as she contemplates what to do next.
Mena Suvari (AKA the fish face girl from American Pie) plays a corn row sporting nurse who's a little caught up in her work and lifestyle. Namely, coming home from her nursing job, doing drugs and fucking the shit out of her drug dealing boyfriend. Oh yeah, and she does all of this repeatedly while the man is still 'stuck' in her windshield. A real piece of work for sure. I mean seriously, just look at her.
As she figures out what to do with the man, she is given multiple opportunities to do the right thing. After she presumes that he's dead, she pays him a visit and finds out that he is anything but. Looking at him, facial lacerations, glass shard impalements and all, you wouldn't think for a second that he could still be alive. Even her thuggish boyfriend suggests that she call for help but his plea falls on deaf ears. The epitome of self-centered egoism, Suvari's character goes one step further and convinces her boyfriend to shoot the man and dispose of his body. Luckily for us, the boyfriend is only thuggish in appearance and his claims of killing people before turn out to be complete bullshit as he can't pull the trigger on the man come go time.
The homeless man is eventually able to pry himself out of the vehicle and what works to such cringe inducing effect is the sound affects. The crinkling of the shattered glass and the squishiness of the sounds of it digging in and out of his skin as he moves and contorts his way out of his entrapment, really got to me and was incredibly icky. As he plays dead in front of the boyfriend, he uses a pen that he grabbed from the car to gouge out his eye. In doing so, the boyfriend fires off his gat. The homeless man grabs the keys to the car and in his attempt to leave, is met by the girlfriend one last time and the incredible climax to end the film found me cheering for Suvari's death. It helped that her character was completely contemptible and had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
This was a surprisingly great film that should have garnered more fanfare. The performances by Suvari and Stephen Rea (as the homeless man) were absolutely superb. Rent this, ASAP.
Cortez the Killer
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I almost passed on this and figured if anything, Orphan would be a rental. The creepy kid schtick has, quite frankly, worn out its welcome with me. But I couldn't help but buy into the hype machine that's been building for this film over the last couple of weeks. No, I'm not talking about the crazy peeps that have been getting all in a tizzy over the marketing of the film and it being construed as negative towards the adoptive process. What I'm talking about is the early reviews giving high praise and making me curious as hell to find out just what Esther's secret is.
Orphan starts off with a bang with a husband and his pregnant wife arriving at a hospital. She's starting to have labor pains and as she's carted off by wheelchair, blood starts spewing from her hoo-ha. She's taken into the ER where more blood starts gushing. The doctor delivers the baby, and its presented to mom and dad as a bloody stillborn. The wife then bolts straight up out of bed as she wakes up, finding it only to be a bad dream.
We quickly learn that the baby she dreamed of died before childbirth due to mommy's constant hitting of the bottle. She's lived with the guilt and along with her husband, they've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since. They have two other kids (a deaf younger daughter and her older brother) who have also felt the affects of mommy's disease. Despite this, you feel as though they are a family that have come through the worst of things, putting themselves back together. As such, they are exploring the possibility of adoption and head out to a girl's orphanage to take a pick of the litter. The husband stumbles upon a girl sitting by herself in a classroom, painting away and singing. He instantly falls in love with the girl and as his wife enters the room, it becomes apparent that this little girl has a way of casting a spell.
So the husband and wife decide to take her home with them and she's instantly met with resistance by their older son. Just as quickly, she bonds with the younger daughter, learning sign language and charming the pants off of her. They soon become friends and totally inseparable, even to the point where the younger daughter sacrifices her own sense of right and wrong to protect her.
After a few days at school, it becomes more and more obvious that something is just not right with Esther (nevermind the fact that she wears Victorian style clothes everyday which is entirely creepy altogether). She flips out at school when the class bully smacks what looks like a bible out of her hand and one day at the playground, she exacts her revenge, pushing her off the top of a slide, causing her to fall and break her ankle. The coup de gras comes when the nun at the orphanage shows up at the house. She's concerned and believes a mistake has been made and that something may be terribly wrong with Esther. You see, the orphanage which she supposedly came from in Russia, has never heard of her. The father thinks nothing of it and finds that everything that has happened up to this point to be completely circumstantial. As the nun leaves, Esther along with the younger daughter as an accomplice, cause her car to careen off the road when Esther pushes the daughter into the middle. When the nun exits the vehicle to check on the deaf daugher, Esther proceeds to bludgeon the heck out of her with a hammer she took from the house. As they drag the unconscious nun off to the side of the road, she starts to come to and Esther repeatedly bashes her head in (in front of the little girl no less) to finish her off. Absolutely brutal.
Despite the strong case his wife builds, the husband remains in complete denial, thinking that she is going cuckoo. He also starts to think that maybe she's hitting the bottle again. After we find out that the original orphanage has never heard of her, tension begins to mount as it becomes apparent that Esther is plotting something, starting with the setting of the older brother's treehouse on fire with him trapped inside.
And what exactly is Esther's secret? I'm not giving it away, silly. However, its easily one of the most original plot twists I've ever seen and you don't see it coming at all. Not for a single minute. This movie is altogether brutal, relentless, tense and at times, funny. Not in a Sam Raimi goofy way but wit is dispensed at just the right time to make this an altogether satisfying movie watching experience. I was rolling when Esther threatened to hack off the son's little willy. The acting is also incredibly stellar all around.
Definitely watch this at a theater and moan, groan, laugh and cringe right along with the spectators. I know I did. Just when I thought the well had run dry on mainstream horror, a film like Orphan comes and smacks me upside the head. Apparently the guy who directed this also helmed the House of Wax remake that Complaint Dept. swears by. I swore to never watch it but now I think I just might. This movie is brilliant.
Cortez the Killer
Friday, July 24, 2009
Being completely unschooled in the art of film (hence the blog) I'm not going to elaborate too much on why The Virgin Spring is or is not the masterpiece that it's touted to be. I'll leave that to the ding dongs that are paid to do this sort of thing.
I'll say this though - for a film from 1960, it's remarkably unnerving. It goes without saying that this film would never have come out of Hollywood circa 1960. Set aside the idea of a 13 year old girl being raped and killed, actually putting this on film is gnarly even today.
What I found so effective about The Virgin Spring is that it's very straight forward in it's narrative. You're not force fed any sort of background story and you're not subjective to pointless character development. It's basically this: It's the 13th century and a pretty pre-teen virgin is on her way to church to deliver candles. Along the way she is raped and murdered by two young men and a young boy (the actual rape and murder is undertaken by the adults). The three guys wind up at the home of the girl they murdered and ask to have shelter for the night. As an offering of thanks they give the woman of the house some fancy clothing that they claim belonged to their dead sister. Of course, the clothing belongs to the dead child and the woman is her mother. She informs the father (played by a creepy looking and YOUNG Max Von Sydow) who locks himself in a room with a knife and the three guys and then kills them one by one.
Obviously this was the inspiration for Last House on the Left and even, to an extent, I Spit on Your Grave. But the straight forward, instinctive nature of how the people behave in this movie is much more frightening than in either of those films. The rape is undertaken coldly and with nearly no emotion at all. And when Sydow kills the three guys (including the child whom he lifts over his head and violently throws against the stone wall) it's done with little to no thought at all - it's simply what one does when they find out that their daughter has been murdered by someone. In a way, despite the questions raised about the nature of God and the importance/futility of religion, the main thing I took away from this was that regardless of how civilized we like to think we are, at our core , we're all animals and should retain some level of fear of each other.
No problem there.
Not to be confused with the demonically awesome rock n' roll fest that was Trick or Treat (peep here), this film is an absolute snorefest. A total paint by numbers horror flick that even in the end, the director realized he couldn't get that right and a random 'surprise' is thrown in to try and save face.
The film starts off with a married couple lounging poolside enjoying their morning breakfast. The doorbell rings and the wife answers. Two dudes in white jump suits are standing at the front with some loony bin jackets and the wife leads them to the back patio. They approach the husband who's like 'What the hey?' and as he attempts to run off, they go after him and all three fall into the backyard pool. The loony bin guys subdue and bind him and haul him off to the crazy place without any particular rhyme or reason.
Flash forward a few years and the wife has remarried and they have a little rugrat. Its Halloween night and the wife and husband (played for a mere 5 minutes by David Carradine) are headed out for a night on the town. Awkwardly, the husband makes a sexual advance towards the babysitter and as the wife enters the living room, he tries to coyly play it off. They then leave and the babysitter is left with one mischievous little duder who's been instructed by his mom not to go out for Halloween. Geez, first you put your old husband in a loony bin for no apparent reason and then you don't let your kiddo go out for Halloween? I'm pretty sure you are Satan incarnate. The kid plays prankster all night long, driving the babysitter batty as he pretends to kill himself (fake drowning in the pool, slitting his throat, you know, normal kid stuff).
Split away and we find the locked up old husband talking about his situation to one of his loony friends at the sanitarium. He vows to get out and says tonight he will be 'Adios A-Mi-Go.' Get it? So he busts out after posing as a female nurse, wig, uniform and all, and heads to his old digs. By this time, a friend of the babysitter has come to the house and the ONLY kill in the movie is hers. Because of the absolute poor quality of the film and with barely any light in the house, we don't even see how he kills her. The goofy kiddo has a real working guillotine (what kid doesn't?) in his room, he trips up the guy, he slips in and the kid hacks off his head. This movie is so low budg' they don't even bother to show that! Lame.
By the end of the film its like the director realized he had one turdtastically plated piece of shit and decided that maybe a complete 'shocker' of an ending would be a saving grace. After the killer is waxed, the babysitter gets on a phone to call her friend (really, who does that? you just whacked someone for Christ's sake). As she begins to tell her friend about her horrific night, the little rascal she's been watching jumps over the top of the living room chair, is freeze framed mid-air, screeching music blares, fade to black.
I think this beats out The Majorettes for worst horror movie I've ever seen. At least that flick had some Karo syrupy blood to go along with an absolutely ridiculous plot. This movie is so shitty I couldn't even find a trailer for it.
Cortez The Killer
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Cortez the Killer
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Talk about the most deceivingly shot cover for a horror movie ever. It would lead you to believe that hot and sultry evil baton twirling vixens dispense justice at their school, whipping the shit out of douchey kids, all the while (hopefully), getting shit-faced, high, and banging the heck out of the entire football team. Sounds like the perfect set-up to the raddest slasher, T&A infested, sleaze soaked film ever right? Loaded with red herrings and even a complete shift in plot direction midway through, The Majorettes is anything but.
The film starts off with a really long and drawn out dance sequence. After seemingly 20 minutes of prancing around and having their pictures taken by the AV club head nerd, the girls head to the gym showers where the janitor of the school has a little hole in the wall staked out for a peepfest show and he takes pictures as they shower and change. After said shower scene, one of the girls heads home to her grandmother's. She's an invalid being cared for by a nasty nurse that demeans her every chance she gets. In words and actions, it becomes obvious that she is waiting for the old hag to kickoff so that she can collect all of her goodies (she's uber rich). And her son also happens to be the peeping janitor.
Another majorette in the group goes out on a date that night with the AV geek. They pull up to a local make out spot and as she attempts to get into his knickers, she stops herself in a moment of conscience play. You see, she's preggos and she was hoping to sleep with the dude and then pin the pregnancy on him. Apparently her former boyfriend who is a drug dealer and in a satanic biker gang (no joke) completely ditched her and she was hoping to use this poor kid. Whore! Just then, a figure leaps on top of the car, making growling noises, cloaked head to toe in camouflage gear. The figure takes a hunting knife to the top of the roof, ripping through and killing both teens.
This act sets off a string of some of the most boring kills I've ever seen in a horror movie. As the majorettes keep getting picked off one by one, you are led to believe its one of 3 peeps orchestrating these amazingly dull offings: the peeping tom janitor, the nurse who's hoping to collect from the old lady's estate or the drug dealing, satanic biker gang dude. But none of these 3 are the killer at all kiddos! No, no. Its the local sheriff who's a wacko religious type who wants to cleanse the soul of the whorish miscreant majorettes! After he kills each, he performs a ritualistic baptismal and pours water over their heads.
After the killer is revealed at about an hour in, the head quarterback goes on a Rambo mission to avenge the death of his girlfriend, taking out the hideout of the satanic, drug dealing biker gang as he believes they are to be held responsible. At this point in the movie, you begin to think that the script writer just said 'fuck it'. Well you know what, now I am too. Avoid this piece of shit at all costs.
Cortez the Killer
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
For your viewing pleasure:
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
From the writer of Juno and starring Megan Fox (wowwee wow wee whoa whoa), Jennifer's Body:
From some dudes that directed some Saw flicks. An evil dude setting traps in a house? Not much of a stretch, but looks interesting nonetheless. The Collector:
A college student channels messages from the dead. Carved into his body. Ouch. Clive Barker's Book of Blood:
Vampires have to farm humans for blood. In the future. Promises to make up for Twilight. Daybreakers:
Monday, July 6, 2009
Cortez the Killer
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Ridiculous Silliness Factor 5/5
My gravy list of slasher films continues to grow thanks to the seemingly neverending amount of small budget films released during the 80's that didn't receive as much fanfare as the Freddy's and Jason's of the world. Not too mention the fine flick 'Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film' (reviewed waaaaay back when, here) dispensed a whole slew of others I had never heard of. And since I love these films, I will continue to seek out all variations of this 'love it or hate it' genre in horror as it never ceases to amaze me the levels a script writer and director will stoop to bring the utterly dumb and retarded to life on the big screen.
Women attending a local night school begin getting waxed one by one during their normal day jobs by someone riding a motorcycle, wearing all black leather and a helmet, using a curved, sickle-like knife as the primary means of deploying death. A 'too much smarts for the rest of the police depatment' lieutenant heads up the case, interviewing the school teacher and believing that he's the prime suspect. You see, the teach happens to have a reputation for romancing and sexing his way into the knickers of his students (which for some reason ALL happen to be female AND attractive). As the bodies mount, the lieutenant gets more and more frustrated as his partner believes its a reclusive, peeping tom guy who washes dishes at the local diner. You see, one night, the assistant to the teacher (who also happens to be an attractive female, what a lucky guy!) stops in for a bite to eat and is followed home by the peeping tom dish washer guy. She gets the heebie jeebies and follows up the next day with the po-po's.
Bodies continue to pile up and the kill scenes are less than stellar. Very little blood is dispensed and there is no gore. The kills themselves cut away to something that represents it in mere image alone (i.e. where you would see the knife cut into the neck and blood would spurt, it cuts away before the act and instead a fade-out occurs, showing a person walking, wearing a red sweater). Lame-o maximus. But that's not really the star of the film here. Nope. When blood and gore are missing, and virtually no T&A factor is present (I know, I know, that's enough to shut down even the most diehard of slasher fans), in my opinion, the saving grace HAS to be the cornball delicious dialogue. One of the girls who works at the local aquarium feeding sharks (holy random day job. Batman!) returns to the women's locker room to change after her shift and is attacked by the killer. Again, the cutting away method is used (as her head is lopped off, it cuts to a turtle eating some plankton, how cute!) and the killer dumps her head into the aquarium. In the next scene I've extracted the exchange with the lieutenant and his partner from IMB:
Judd Austin: Don't you ever take your job seriously?
Taj: Come on, Judd. If we did that we'd end up in the funny farm!
Judd Austin: [they arrive at the car and get inside] Duck ponds, bucket, now a fish tank. [pause] Judd Austin: 'The hell are you eating?
Taj: A sandwich. Want some?
Judd Austin: [after a moment's pause] Yeah, give me some. [Taj hands him half the sandwich and he takes a bite out of it]
Judd Austin: What kind is it?
Taj: Tuna fish.
So with dopey and silly exchanges like this occuring almost ad nauseum throughout the flick, and with a clever throwing off of the senses of who the real killer is, the film ultimately works for this here slasher film enthusiast. I can't completely recommend this to most horror fans or even the casual watcher, as most will think its dull and boring (mainly due to the absence of blood and gore). But if fun, outrageous silliness is the name of your game, then Night School has got it for you. In spades.
Cortez the Killer
P.S. I searched high and low but no trailer to be found for this one. So you will have to take my word for it. I did give it 'Shit-Sandwich' AND 'Recommended' tags. You have been warned.