Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Toolbox Murders (1978)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 3/5
T&A Factor 5/5

Hands down, The Toolbox Murders has to have one of the best opening sequences to any horror movie that I've ever seen. From a first person point of view, we see a man enter into a woman's apartment wearing a black jumpsuit, carrying a toolbox. As the female resident bitches and moans about things not being fixed in the apartment, you understand that this is not an unwanted visitor. The guy is someone she is obviously familiar with as she has let him willingly into her home. Bad mistake. The fixer upper (i.e. a presumed superintendent) reaches into his box and takes out a cordless drill. Country music blares from a record player and it serves as a backdrop for the terror that he is about to unleash. Advancing on the woman, he pins her up against a sidewall of her apartment and starts in on drilling into her arm. As he extracts the drill from her punctured arm, small pieces of flesh fly off as he continues to pull the trigger, the drill bit spinning at a frenzied pace. As she stumbles and fumbles her way down the corridor leading to the bathroom, she smears an ample amount of blood onto the walls and unleashes multiple blood curdling screams only to have them drowned out by the loud music which continues to play. Closing the door behind her, her attacker drills through it. In a mad dash, the woman flings open the bathroom door and tries to escape. He jets across the living room and jumps on her back, pinning her to the ground where he finishes the job with one final drill to his victim's back.

Continuing his murderous rampage (now wearing a ski mask he's taken out from inside his box), he knocks on the front door of another woman's apartment and pulls her outside when she answers the door. As she struggles, he punches her, knocking her unconscious. He carries her over to the top of a stairwell and lays her down. Reaching into his dispenser box of death, he pulls out a hammer and proceeds to use the pronged end to repeatedly bash her head in. After a barrage of swipes, he picks up the girl's body and takes it back into the apartment and lays her down on living room floor. Not locking the door behind him, a female neighbor enters the apartment to see what all the commotion is about. Taking out a screwdriver, the man makes quick work, killing her and placing her body next to that of the other woman.

The police are called out to the apartment complex the next day as residents makeb the grisly discoveries. They begin to interview the superintendent, and he tells about the women in the complex, not knowing them completely but rather on a more superficial level (one was divorced, another a model, etc.). You begin to think that maybe its him but quickly dispel that notion as it would be all too obvious. A slasher flick with a suspect that's front and center? Nah, couldn't be. Or could it?

So the masked man continues his work, but instead of delving into his handy box of horror, he instead uses a nail gun. He enters the apartment of another woman who's having a finger-banging good time in her bath tub. Again, country music blares as she's having fun in the tub, caressing her no-no parts. Upon entering the bathroom, she immediately leaps out, running through the house butt nekked. He stalks the woman around the apartment, clumsily falling over himself and missing his mark time and time again with the nail gun. Finally, he's able to put one into her stomach and she slumps down on top of her air conditioning unit. He finishes her off by putting one more through her head for good measure.

This is where the plot completely diverges and after an incredible start in the first 45 minutes, the film unravels into a bit of a muddled mess. A girl in the apartment complex goes missing and her kid brother sets out to try and find her. He runs into the nephew of the already suspicious superintendent as he's cleaning up the mess the killer has made of the apartments. He offers to help him out and they both head to the uncle's house to pick up some cleaning supplies. Upon entering the garage, you see a toolbox in the corner (dun, dun, dun). As the kids leave, the camera shifts to the inside of the house where the uncle has the sister tied up in a bedroom. The killer IS the uncle/superintendent! Even more telling is the rationale for doing so. All the tenants he disposed of where doing 'unnatural' things to their bodies. He spews random bible quotes and says that the sister whom he's tied up is the only left that's pure. The girl also reminds him of his own dead daughter, even going so far as to call the imprisoned girl by her name.

When the kids come back later to get more supplies, the brother who's looking for his sis sees the box, opens it and finds the blood stained tool set. Immediately blaming the uncle for the series of murders, the nephew states that 'my family can't go down like that yo!' and he throws gasoline on the kid and sets him on fire. The nephew then enters the house and finds out what his uncle has been up to. Upon entering the room of the girl, he immediately grows found of her as she too reminds him of his dead cousin. The nephew becomes jealous of the relationship between his uncle and the 'new' daughter and takes a kitchen knife to him. When the nephew gets cozy in bed with the girl (its implied that he used to have sexual relations with the deceased daughter, yucky!), the girl reaches over and grabs the knife that was left bedside on the night stand. Cut away to the girl walking bloodied through a parking lot and this explanation:

Had this been revealed at the beginning of the movie, the transition midway through may not have been as clumsy. But then again, that may have been the intention all along. Had it been revealed at the beginning that this was based on 'true events', the opening sequence may not have been as shocking. Despite the awkward shift in the middle and slow build at the end, the film is still very effective and an overall damn fine slasher film. Definitely recommended.
A crummy remake came out a few years back.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Could It Be, Could It Be?

A return to good ol' fashion, 80's inspired cheesedick horror? If not, well at least its a valiant attempt. The trailer (see below) oozes 80's campy sleaze and the artwork is nothing less than stellar (in my humble opinion, I think the horror movie poster is a lost art form). Not too mention the inclusion of Tom Noonan automatically wratchets up the creepy factor.

Check out The House of the Devil on October 1st when its released through Amazon, Video On Demand and select theaters.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Alive (1973)

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

After watching this film, I was truly shocked that I hadn't seen this gem before. A perfect blend of campy schlock and horror, It's Alive could very well have been made by Herschell Gordon Lewis if he were asked to make a monster flick rather than a beatnikery gorefest (don't fret though, there is an ample amount of gore-y delight here too).

The film starts off with a happy family who is eagerly anticipating the birth of their 2nd child. The husband and wife playfully joke about the newest spawn while in bed one night. As the wife leaves to go to the bathroom, she starts to complain of contraction pains. The husband springs out of bed as the mention of said pains makes him think its go time. They pack up, hop into their ride and set off, dropping their son at a family friend's house on their way to the hospital.

After receiving confirmation that it is indeed baby delivery time, the husband works to get his wife situated in her room. Once that's done, the husband then heads to the waiting room. Proudly lighting a cig, he starts into conversation with a couple of other men who are also sharing temporary residence. They all start trading pointless jibber jabber, one remarking about the lack of air quality in the city of LA and the other lamenting about his troubles working in pest control (this scene alone pulling directly from the H.G. Lewis handbook of dopey banter). After the husband grows tired of the bitter gents, he exits the waiting room, quickly learning that mom is ready to give birth to the 11 pound bun thats in her oven.

Anxiously awaiting outside, the husband sees a nurse stumble out of the delivery room and collapse to the floor, a healthy gash showing on his neck. Rushing to the side of his wife, he opens the door to the room only to find that all of the doctors and nurses have been sliced and diced. After getting his wife out, the police arrive and interrogate the husband and wife, immediately laying claim that the wife gave birth to an animal. Checking out the wife's medical records, the po-po's learn that she looked into an abortion a few months earlier. The husband claims that they were just trying to cover all their bases, admitting that they didn't really plan on 'this' pregnancy. Relenting, the husband comes to terms with the birthing of something not quite USDA-grade human and it kicks off a city-wide manhunt for the mutated monster tyke which looks like this:

The little monster kiddo escapes the confines of the hospital and begins to go on a killing spree, stalking people through the lenses of his hazy, drunken eye vision.

In one particular scene, he follows a milkman as he's making his daily deliveries. Hitching a ride aboard his truck, the little guy begins to screech and claw around in the back (freakin' backseat drivers!). As the deliveryman leans in through the window leading into the refrigerated section of the truck, he's attacked by the ghastly little dude, pulled into the back, breaking milk bottles and sending contents spewing onto the street below. In a well executed shot, blood spills out of the back of the truck and it mixes with the milky trail, blending together like some sort of grotesquely infused creamy cocktail.

So the wife eventually comes home and starts to go cuckoo crazy as her maternal instincts kick in. She takes in the mutated new born (like all good animals, it finds its way home), vowing to do whatever's necessary to protect it. When the husband figures out what's going on, he confronts the wife, and learns that she's been keeping the little killing machine locked away in the basement.

The older son grows tired of staying at the home of the family's friend and does a marathon run home and upon arrival, sneaks into the house through the basement. He comes across the scared little guy and tries to coax it out from its hiding place. The father barges in, armed with a pistol he keeps in the home and fires away, striking the nasty little bugger. It then scurries out the back door that leads into the basement and it meets the friend of the family at the top of the stairs (he's now arrived on the scene to see what all the fuss is about). He immediately becomes a casualty of the mutant spawn as it hilariously sails into the air and takes a sizeable chunk out of his neck (I didn't draw the Microsoft Paint arrows in the pic below, BTW).

The end of the film sees the diminutive pint-sized tyke of terror finding refuge in the underground sewers, as dear old dad and the rest of the LA police force track him down. Dad begins to have a change of heart and when he runs into his wounded son, he attempts to try and rescue him. Upon exiting out of a large sewer drain, he comes face to face with a group of officers with their guns drawn. The father then has to make a decision to either save himself or his mutant son. He prefers the former, throwing his blanketed boy at one of the detectives. The police officers promptly open fire, killing both the detective and the little bundle of horror. Geez, thanks dad. First you want to kill me, then you want me, and then you REALLY do kill me. No Christmas card from Hades for you!

As the husband meets his wife in a squad car that awaits them, news comes over the radio that another mutant baby was born in a nearby state. You see, we come to find out about midway through that the wife along with scores of other women, had been taking an experimental birth control pill and now a number of mutated monster tykes are being plopped out of vajay-jay's across the country. ZOINKS!

An instant classic with yours truly, It's Alive is an absolute hoot. Definitely check it out if you haven't done so already. Oh, and apparently there are sequels.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Who Can Kill A Child? (1976)

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

Starting with brutal stock footage from Auschwitz, Vietnam, the Korean War and the mass starvation in early 70's Biafra, Who Can Kill a Child immediately sets a tone so grim and depressing that it can only go one of two ways: tasteless exploitation or heavy handed and misguided message. Sadly, we get a bit of both, though mainly erring on the side of "moral" which is that war and greed are bad and that children are usually the biggest victim. According to the director, the film is a portrait of what could happen if the children of the world ever got their revenge.

So, the premise (and shock value) behind 1976's Who Can Kill a Child is that a couple of tourists wind up on a small island off the coast of Spain where all of the adults have been killed off by the children. To survive and get off the island, the protagonists will have to do the unthinkable - kill their way past the gun packing, knife wielding children hellbent on killing them off first. Sounds easy enough except "who can kill a child"?

A neat premise that, in 1976 at least, could pack a bit of a punch were it not ultimately crushed under the weight of it's own hamfisted message and faults, two of which are far too annoying to overlook. First off, their are two main characters who are fighting to survive: a husband and his pregnant wife. The problem is that this being 1976, feminism and women's lib have not really set in all the way. This being 1976 there is also a distracting lack of bodily hygiene, but that's a whole other story.

So what we have is a a guy struggling to make all the right decisions to keep he and his wife alive and a woman who trips, bumbles, whines and screams all along the way like a 3 ton anchor dragging him down. She is so pathetic and clueless, weak and pointless that you can't help but wind up rooting for her demise (which is kind of cool actually). At one point, while on the Spanish mainland, the husband thanks a guy he's been talking with and ends with "gracias". The wife says "Gracias? Is that how you say 'Thank you'?" I mean, c'mon, really?

The second fault is that the guy isn't trying all that hard to get them out of this situation. He witnesses a group of children using a hanging corpse as a pinata and an enormous scythe as the stick. Instead of gettin' the fuck outta Dodge, he heads back to his wife and assures her that nothing is going on. When they stumble across the last surviving adult, they hang out with him for a bit discussing what's been going on. At this point, were it me, I'd have said "corpse pinata = time to go".

Obviously these ridiculous situations are a standard in most horror films and are usually overlooked. But because Who Can Kill a Child tried so hard to break stereotypes and be inventive (and to be fair, it is a few times) it just can't overcome them.

Still, it's not all that bad a film and it is fairly effective. Were I a parent or even just someone who does not loathe the sight and sound of children, I'd probably be a bit shocked to see rows of children bloodily gunned down, a cute 5 year get his head blown open and a grown man attack groups of kids with knives and clubs. What makes it slightly more unnerving is that there is no real effort to make the kids scary or excessively cute. They just seem like kids. . . well, actually. come to think of it, they do end the film with one of the kids asking another "do you think other kids will want to play like us?" It might have been more fun to simply assume the kids "went evil" instead of "just playing". I don't know, kids in horror movies generally don't do much for me.

The director described Who Can Kill a Child as a mix of The Birds and Night of the Living Dead. This is pretty accurate, though both movies are far superior.

- Complaint Department

Sleepaway Camp II (1988)

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

I know people love the Sleepaway Camp series, but I'm not really one of those people. I mean, I get that they're bad movies - "campy" haha - but this one is really bad. Not MST3K bad, just bad. Cheap as fuck with a completely by-the-books script and very bad gore effects, SC2 couldn't even get the original actress to play the lead killer - which says something when you have too much class and integrity to star in something that is not up to the standards of Sleepaway Camp.

Luckily, however, Bruce Springsteen's sister had no such qualms about taking on the challenge. And man, she sucks.

You don't need to have seen SC 1 to know the drill - campers mixed with pot, booze and excessive boob exposure face off against a homicidal maniac. And, like in most camp killer movies, the campers lose for the most part. The only really difference here is that (sorry to spoil this for you) the maniac manages to actually kill off everyone in the camp. Everyone. One by one without anyone catching on to what was going on. It's pretty dumb.

But I mean, duh, right? It's the sequel to a movie that ended with the female maniac standing naked with a severed head in her hand and revealing her wiggly, hairy little penis - that was enough to sell me on Sleepaway Camp 1. It's so ridiculous and so over the top that you can't help but dig on it. SC2 however - no over the top shocks like that. Just the Boss' sister sleepwalking her way (no pun intended) through one of the most redundant and dopey horror films out there.

Hit the snooze button on this one.

- Complaint Department

Saturday, August 22, 2009

They (2002)

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

Not to be confused with Them!, They Live, and Ils (AKA Them), this film starts of in interesting enough territory: a little kiddo is lying in bed at night, freaked out by the opening of his closet door and the sound of something rustling and screeching. A dark mass bolts out from the shadows, grabs the kid and the picture fades to black with him screaming. Who can't relate to that when they were little tykes? Being scared of something grabbing you in the dark or the boogeyman showing up bedside (that thought alone kept me up many a times).

Fast forward to present day and a female psychology student is visited by her best friend from childhood who's been going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. They meet up in a diner and he begins to tell her all kinds of nonsensical babble about creatures that are lurking in the dark, just waiting to pluck him from this world and drag him into theirs. He relates to their experiences as kids and his gal pal (being all smarty farty psychological now) totally blows him off, claiming all that happened before was just kids being afraid of the dark, you know, normal kid stuff. So after her non-supportive ass shrugs him off, guess what he does? In a diner full of people he promptly whips out a revolver and blows his head off. That'll show her!

She goes home that night and starts experiencing the same freaky deeky things that he was (ha, told ya beotch!). After hearing the little screechies in her closet, she enters the bathroom to get ready to go nighty night. She looks into the mirror on her medicine cabinet and becomes entranced. She reaches into it, which has now become some kind of other worldly portal, and pulls back an oeey gooey, black tar-like substance with her hands. She flips the fuck out, her boyfriend rushes in, and aides by helping her get a grip (AKA shaking the shit out of her).

The next day, she attends the funeral of her old friend who blew off his cabeza (that was quick!). She runs into two of his friends (one a goth-y looking gal and another an artsy fartsy painter guy) that had been looking after him as he descended further and further into nuttiness. As they reminisce about the friend and talk about the events leading up to his suicide, the psychology student remarks 'Wasn't he on some kind of meds?' To which the painter dude remarks 'Uh yeah, that sure did a lot of good, didn't it?' Way to be an insensitive prickwad, you a-hole face.

So anywhos, as the three dimwits band together, each one exposing their own recent experiences with the little screechy monsters, they begin to get picked off one by one in the most boring-est of fashions: one while swimming, all the lights inexplicably turning off in the gymnasium, which allows the little buggers to appear (they never show up when any light is present, BTW). The other, gets trapped in his studio elevator and as the electricty shorts out, is besieged by the screechies. Never showing exactly what happens to them, each presumed kill or dragging off to Never Neverland is shown as a cut away. Lame-O-Rama.

By the time we reach the climax, in which we see the psychologist girl chased out of her apartment and into an underground subway, you really don't give two shits about what happens. The acting is so terrible that you never feel a genuine sense of fear at all and no one perpetuates this lack of fear more than the female lead. Throughout the ENTIRE film, she has one look and one look only. That of complete and utter dumbfounded-ness:

Its hard to take her seriously and even that much harder to empathize with whatever 'terror' she is bearing witness too. And because of the constant cut aways and herky jerky way the monster scenes are shot (not to mention the really terrible lighting) you never get a close glimpse of the creatures themselves. I had to head over to Google just to find out what the hell they looked like:

No blood, no gore, and no honest to goodness scares to be found at all. You also never find out why it is these monsters are after them and ONLY them. This film lacks in so many areas its unbelievable. At least with some folks (see here), they are actually making an honest attempt, even if they do miss the mark. I'm surprised Wes Craven attached his name to this shit heap (albeit from the standpoint of 'Wes Craven Presents'). The says the script was re-written 10 times after the original was drafted by the director. If I was the director, I'd be a little pissed and the film definitely had a feeling of 'Oh well, fuck it'. Even finding pictures from the film via aforementioned search engine was difficult. Maybe everyone that was involved have done their damndest to distance themselves from it. I sure would.

Cortez the Killer

P.S. Apparently no trailer exists for the film. I'm sure I could dig some more but I don't really feel like it. The End.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prince of Darkness (1987)

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

Sporting a pretty decent ensemble cast, Prince of Darkness is an original (albeit somewhat goofy) take on the guy who lives south of heaven. The film opens with a priest who is on his deathbed, clutching a metal box which contains a key. Another priest (played by Donald Pleasance), soon inherits the little box and its contents after the previous owner quickly kicks off. We quickly learn that the key unlocks the doors of an old church. As the opening credits finish, we see a band of homeless dregs gazing skyward, transfixed and hypnotized by some unseen force.

Father Loomis approaches a renown physics professor at a local college, pleading with him to round up a group of his students to solve an ancient mystery. Taking him to an underground, carved out area of the run down church, he expounds upon the existence of a secret order of priests that have been guarding a secret for centuries. Upon entering the area which is heavily adorned with crosses, a swirling large vat of green glop is located, front and center near an altar. The large cylindrical enclosure is apparently the Emeril Essence of Satan himself.

Along with another group of students (made up of biochemists), everyone shacks up for the night. Found next to the cylinder was an ancient text, written in a weird form of Latin that needed to be translated. A couple of kids are tasked with deciphering it. It becomes a fairly painstaking process as its revealed that whoever constructed it, also went to great lengths to make sure that folks weren't able to accurately translate it. Why even create it in the first place if the goal was to keep people dancing in the dark regarding Satan and his secret?

Anywhos, as the night wears on, each member of the group starts to come under the power of the evil which continues to swirl inside the tube. One of the gals thinks it a good idea to get as close as possible to the vat of goop. The green goop launches into her mouth and turns her into a glazed over, wandering zombie. She passes along the goop to the remaining members of the crew like a highly contagious case of the clap. The infected members each start going wacko including one that has a severe case of 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy', as she repeatedly types on her Apple II keyboard the phrase, 'I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm alive!'

By films end, just about half the crew has been either killed or has come under the spell of the evil green goopy cylinder. As the translation of the text comes down, we learn that Satan himself buried his own son in the desert before he was exiled to an alien planet. Jesus was later sent to warn us of the evil that was buried but everyone thought he was a cuckoo nutzoid and instead of heeding his word, they strung up and waxed him. For centuries, the order of priests had kept the secret hidden in the carved out dwelling underneath the church, well secured from the outside world.... until now that is.

At the films climax, one of the girls is infected by the gobbily goop but instead of turning into a zombie, she's instead inhabited by Satan's baby boy herself. In a Carol Ann drawn to the light scene, she attempts to pull dear ol' dad through a full length mirror. As she clutches and pulls pop's arm through (which looks incredibly like that of the devil-like creature from Legend), one of the girls valiantly sacrifices herself, tackling the impregnated girl, pushing them both through the mirror thats serving as a portal. Father Loomis takes an axe and breaks the glass, presumably ending the threat. End of story, hooray!

Aside from a fairly anti-climactic ending and a silly take on a bible-like story (which come to think of it, isn't really all that silly considering most in the 'good' book are downright goofy), Prince of Darkness is a fairly effective film. Some decent gore, loads of funny, head scratching situations (like why physicists and biochemists? why not mathematicians and historians? and did Apple make a program that deciphered ancient pseudo-Latin text back in 1987?), and some really effectively creepy and atmospheric moments.

But by far, the raddest scene in the film occurred when one of the biochemists tried to exit stage left and return home. He's met in an alley by everyone's favorite shock rocker extraordinaire, Alice Cooper. Alice plays a bit role as one of the derelicts who's come under the spell of the evil goop. He takes a discarded half of a cycling bike thats lying in the alley and impales the kid with the side that's missing a handle bar and front tire. Whoever was in charge of sound effects made his paycheck in just this scene alone. Blood spurts out the back side of the kid and he sqweakily rests right side up, the other end of the bike propping him up and making him look like a twisted ride at Disneyland.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, August 14, 2009

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (1973)

Fear 1/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

Brought to you by Lorimar Television Productions (AKA, a made for TV horror movie) Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a simple and silly, yet effective little flick. Its not gory or bloody in the least or even all that scary. OK, apparently this scared our friend B Sol over at the Vault of Horror when he was a kid. I don't ever remember seeing this, but other folks I have talked to relayed the same story that upon viewing the film, it kept them up for weeks when they were wee ankle biters.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark follows a couple who have just moved into an old mansion which they inherited from the wife's father who kicked the bucket. Upon the films start, you hear little midget-like scraggily voices asking to be let out from the house. This can't be good. As the wife gets the house situated, she stumbles upon an old room downstairs which has a fireplace that has been sealed and bolted up. She asks the groundskeeper why the fireplace is soundly shut and he exclaims 'Some things are better left alone.' Rut-ro. Doubly no good Shaggy!

Her curiousity getting the better of her (totally playing into the dumb 'why did you do that?' woman role that is pervasive in horror cinema), she unbolts the seal, opening up the fireplace, initially finding nothing of consequence. She goes to bed and wakes up in the middle of the night when a drinking glass inexplicably slides off her nightstand and breaks on the floor below. Zoinks!

The next day, as she's still clearly spooked, she tells her husband the story and he makes nothing of it. He instructs her that he is having some coworkers over that night for dinner and that she needs to shape up and be on her best behavior (i.e. stop being a crazy bitch). So the suits come over that night and all is going well until this peeps out from behind a potted plant:

She's goes nutso and freaks the shit out of the party goers and her husband is assuredly denied a promotion because his wife is a stark raving lunatic.

An interior designer shows up the following day to do well, whatever it is interior designers do. As the designer is leaving for the night, the wife notices a rope at the top of the stairs and finds a couple of little oompa loompas at the end of it. He trips, falls down, breaks his neck and promptly expires. When the husband comes home, she again tries to convince him that something evil is in the house and he suggests that its time for some crazy pills.

The rest of the film is spent with the little buggers (demons with conical heads that vaguely look like those silly hats a la Devo) tormenting her and chasing her about the house. We never really find out why they were there to begin with, just that the house is evil and that 'Some things are better left alone.'

All in all, the flick is simple and fun, with some pretty creepy and well done atmospherics thrown in for decent measure. For true gorehounds, this may be too slow moving and boring. But I think its totally a must see. I can see how this would scare the bejesus out of little kids when it came out. And apparently its getting the Extreme Makeover Horror Film Remake Do-over from Guillermo Del Toro. Color me interested.

Cortez The Killer

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Legion Trailer

I just finished putting my exploded head back together after watching this trailer. Sweet Lucifer's pitchfork this looks intense. In Legion, the whole of humanity is being exterminated after finding out that God does in fact hate us all. Count. Me. In.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zombie Ninja Gang Bangers (1997)

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

'To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits while watching one of my films, it's like getting a standing ovation. But one must remember that there is such a thing as good bad taste and bad bad taste.'

- John Waters

I post the above quote before my review of this film because I actually agree with dear ol' Johnny boy here. And this film definitely fits into the later description of what constitutes as a truly bad movie with extremely bad taste.

This movie is set up for one purpose and one purpose only: to see a woman raped (and repeatedly so) by a zombie or in this case multiple members of the undead. Never mind the physiological limitations that one would think comes with being a member of the undead (i.e. a non-existant willy). This movie has little or no thought behind plot construction and at the end of the day we are left with a one trick pony.

I'm going to give a long and short of it here as I think if I spent too much time, I would in some way justify the existence of this piece of shit. A stripper who becomes a lady of the night after her shift to make some extra coin is raped by two zombies on her way out to her car one night. She calls her friend and talks to a police officer the next day, both of which chalk it up to her being a drugged out crack whore.

After another night at the club, she is thrown out in a severly drunken and rambling state and is again raped by zombies. Grown tired of the multiple rapings, she bands together with a kid who was attacked by the zombies on the way home from school one day. They find the mad scientist behind this mess, he has 'retired' as the owner of an indie movie video store and they beg him to make them a ninja version of the walking dead to protect them. No shit. He messes that experiment up too and when this zombie (who's wacked out, dressed like a court jester, and makes really annoying jokes) also tries to rape the girl, she freaks out, runs into a horde of zombies who inexplicably show up, she's killed instead of raped, the-fucking-end.
Ok, so I do have to admit that there were two pretty funny scenes. When she first meets with her friend to tell her about the raping, she gets severely frustrated by the fact that her friend isn't taking her seriously and exclaims 'You don't know what its like to be raped. By zombies.' The timing was hilarious. The other was during the 2nd rape scene and a Japanese tourist (the film is set in LA, BTW) starts snapping away pictures as the deed is going down. One of the zombies bowls him over and starts ripping him apart. I'm not trying to make light of rape here folks, but its funny.

If you can stand all of the aforementioned, in the end, its just not worth the last two scenes described. Oh, and the guys that were dressed like zombies, had shoe polish on their faces and growled and grunted like gorillas. They couldn't even get the characterization of zombies fucking right. This flick is the epitome of a shitty film coupled with extremely poor taste.

No trailer or clip for this one. Just do yourself a favor and avoid it.

Cortez the Killer

We've Won An Award!

Cue the spotlight, an acceptance speech that includes the mention of our savior and with him all things are possible, Satan, and a grand pronouncement of 'I'm king of the world!' But seriously peeps, the Honest Scrap award has been bestowed upon us by our friend J Metro over at Midnite Media.

Here's how this gets passed along:

1) Link back to the awarder's site-- Finito!
2) Pass the award on to 10 other blogger sites that are deserving --See below
3) Spit out 10 honest things about yourself-- I'll do 5 for me and 5 for Complaint Dept.

Here it goes:

10 totally awesome sites:
  • The Vault of Horror: B-Sol over at the Vault is a totally down to earth dude and his site is great for all things horror related. I don't know how he does it between work, managing two blogs, Twittering, AND providing the horror nerd community with top notch interviews and news stories. I'm convinced that he's cloned himself with someone 1/8 his size. MuahHaHahaha.

  • Day of the Woman: Ditto with Ms. BJ-C. She's totally down to earth and gut bustingly funny and brash (something we love and appreciate here at Planet of Terror). A blog that promotes the feminine side of fear. She also coined the phrase 'Twatlight'.

  • Tower Farm Reviews: A duo of goofy brothers, their reviews are always hilarious and top notch. They spend way more time with a shitty movie than I would but their attention to detail ensures that we won't make the same movie watching mistake that they did. Unless of course the movie was actually good. Like Beyond the Door.

  • Musings Across A Continuum: Ms. Harker writes about anything horror related that tickles her fancy and does so with great eloquence and grace. And sometimes with a tad bit of ickiness. The best Australian export since Crocodile Dundee.

  • The Beyond: Soap Magic over at The Beyond is not your typical 13 year old. While most teenage dudes his age are worrying about their swoop haircuts and girl jeans, mastering the latest Rock Band 27, or starting a really bad emo crunk group, he is reporting his results on watching the latest and all-time greatest horror movies while also sharing with us his own original ideas for potential horror films. Bravo kid!

  • Monster Land: Monster Scholar writes about her love of monsters in horror films and books and does so with incredible knowledge and finesse. Seriously, its insanely ridiculous how much she knows about monsters, their mythos, and where they fit into the overall bodies of work in both cinema and literature. Test her knowledge, I dare you.

  • Final Girl: What's there left to say about this amazingly awesome blogger that hasn't been said before? She's almost done conquering the penultimate goal of any horror nut (making her own movie, see here). How she manages to continue to make nothing but quality posts on her own blog AND write for American Movie Classics AND film her own movie, I'll never know. Maybe her and B-Sol share the same clones.....

  • Horror-Movie-A-Day: Always great reviews that also touch upon the production values of the films themselves (which he is fully capable of speaking about since its kind of his day job), BC has made it his personal quest to watch at least one horror film a day. I could spend hours finding movies (and their reviews) on his site that I have never even heard about. I still wonder how he comes across the gems that he does.

  • Midnite Media: J Metro has his own hip and beatnick persona that is fully displayed with equal amounts of wit and sarcasm. Reviewing just about anything and everything that he fancies (with more of a nod towards horror), his writing is top notch. You dig?

  • Latin Horror: Blog of Pheare: Last but not least, a blog dedicating itself to exposing us to the latest and greatest in Latin horror cinema. Much like the French and Japanese scenes, the Latin one is burgeoning with new talent and great films. Mira pronto!

OK, so now 10 things about us:

Cortez the Killer:

1. I'm extremely scared of spiders and won't hesitate to scream like a girl if I encounter one.

2. I once let my two little cousins watch Poltergeist when they were each about 6 or 7. Apparently this gave them nightmares for weeks and they are still scarred to this day.

3. I really do have a dog named Ozzy. I love heavy metal and will probably listen to hesher tunes, even when I'm 70.

4. I could eat mexican food 3 meals a day and I miss the hole in the wall joints from my hometown of San Diego. Go Chargers!

5. My first concert experience was Billy Ray Cyrus. Not by my choice, however.

Complaint Dept:

1. In addition to his fondness for horror movies, he has a varied and eclectic taste in music. Its amazing how much he knows about music and how awesome his taste is.

2. He has the raddest high school year book picture. Ever. I'm not posting it, you will just have to take my word for it.

3. Also a fellow hesher and punk rocker, he's been in a handful of really awesome and influential bands. He's a pretty modest dude but I'll tell you that he's made some really incredible music.

4. Has some of the most amazing stories that involve going to rock n' roll shows, including one about witnessing Henry Rollins throwing some dude across a floor.

5. Was once hit on by Rob Halford of Judas Priest. No joke. He was so star struck that it didn't register what was happening until he invited him to a little soiree with some friends of his.

OK, that's it for now. Thanks to all our readers and fellow blogger friends. You keep on a readin' and we'll keep on a postin'!!

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Zombie (aka Zombi 2) (1979)

Fear 1/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 1/5

Despite the fact that this film is truly a bad film, I love it to death. This may be due to the fact that underneath the cheese and goofiness, the glaring continuity errors, the poor dialogue and the general overall ugliness of the film, it's remarkably entertaining. It is, after all, an Italian gorefest from the 70's, so really, it couldn't fail.

Lucio Fulci became an icon of the horror world after this film hit theaters - in some places at least. It was banned in a few countries for the violent content and ridiculous gore. Fulci would go on the direct a few other notable horror classics ( The House by The Cemetery, The Gates of Hell, The Beyond, etc.) but none would pack the punch that Zombie did.

Story wise, Zombie is pretty straight forward: A reporter with an awesome comb-over and whose office is an historical artifact of it's own - desks with ashtrays where computers should be - joins a woman in search of her father who was last heard from doing research on a remote island in the Caribbean. They catch a ride out to the island with a bearded Gordon Lightfoot looking dude and his wife who spends half of the movie naked. They find the island, but find that the woman's father is long dead and that most of the island's population has also passed on. Or so they think. They soon learn from the other doctor working there that most of the dead are coming back to life. Oh, also, the boat they arrived in has a busted crankshaft or something and they can't leave. There you go - Night of the Living Dead, but on an island instead of in a house.

A few notable scenes:

1) There is an amazing scene where a zombie wrestles and starts to eat a shark. Though filmed in a salt water tank with a shark who was given sedatives and fed a pile of food before hand, it's still pretty crazy that a man in zombie makeup actually fought a live shark. He's got no air tank and the shark appears to have a real set of choppers. After seeing actual footage of a guy getting his calf bitten off by a shark on the Discovery Channel the other night (who doesn't love "Shark Week") I have to say, that scene alone is priceless.

2) The infamous eyeball scene. Simply put, a woman's head is slowly pulled into a chunk of splintered wood and her eye is brutally, slowly and painfully stabbed and pulled out. For latex and syrup styled effects, it's pretty effective. I've seen this movie maybe 10 times and I still cringe. . . and laugh.

It's not a flawless film. In fact, it's overflowing with them. The doctor's beard flips from 5 o'clock shadow to full and thick from scene to scene. Great effort appears to have been spent on realistic gore effects like the afore-mentioned eyeball scene, or the scene where the zombies are gut-munching on the torn apart remains of the doctor's wife: both truly gruesome. And some of the details are pretty icky too - zombies rising from the ground with live worms crawling in their eye sockets. But at other times, the effects almost feel like an afterthought. Bullets to the head of the zombies are nothing more than slight splatters of red on their foreheads. And the majority of the zombies seem to just be covered in some crunchy looking fake skin and raspberry jam.

Still, perfection and quality take a backseat when you come knocking at Zombie's door. Boobs, eyeball gore, gut-munching mania and pure, squirmy, dumb-ass entertainment are what you're going to get.

I'll say it, I'll say it!! One of the greatest zombie films ever. There. Suck it.

- Complaint Dept

Friday, August 7, 2009

Deadly Friend (1986)

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

From Director Wes Craven, comes this silly and fun tale about a whiz kid who's new to town along with his single mother. He's there to study robotics and human brainwave emulation at the local college. Along with his robot pet he's constructed called Beebee, the next door neighbor girl he falls for (played by the OG Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Kristy Swanson) and a local kid who has a delivery route in the 'hood, all four become close friends. Beebee is the protector of the group, warding off the local street gang and the nasty hag of a neighbor who keeps her home gated off and locked down like Ft. Knox.

After awhile, you gain a sense that something just isn't quite right with Beebee. He gets Predator vision when he sees something he doesn't like (the neighborhood bullies, the old bitty, etc.). Beebee looks similar to the Robie toy I used to beg my parents for when I was a kid and he sounds like a cross between a yub nub Ewok and one of the nyuck nyuck 3 Stooges.

Anywhos, one day the kids decide to play a prank on the old hag (portrayed by the mind blowingly ugly and 12 pack a day sounding Anne Ramsey) on Halloween night. Beebee breaks the lock to the fence that lines the perimeter of the house which gets the kids in. Buffy trys to partake in a little door bell ditching action but instead, sets off an alarm on the front porch. The inconceivably ugly hag whips open the front door, busts out her double barreled shot gun and unloads a few caps into Beebee, blowing the bleeping and blooping robot to bits.

The whiz kid holds onto the microchip that ran his tin can friend and lazily mopes about for the next few days. Buffy comes over to hang with him, despite the constant dismay of her alcoholic and abusive father. Along with his mother, he invites her over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. Her father had passed out on the couch anyways so no worries right? Big mistake. She comes home after dinner and the father rants and raves, calling her a slut and straight up launches a right hook at the top of the stairs. Upon impact, she tumbles all the way down and is knocked completely unconscious.

The kids and mother rush to the hospital only to find that her brain is hemorrhaging pretty badly and that there is virtually no way to save her. The doc instructs the whiz that he is going to have to take her off life support later that night. The whiz goes back home and sneaks out later, returning to the hospital with the chip that powered Beebee. He does a little slice and dice action and implants the chip into Buffy. As anticipated, she comes back, just not as he had expected.....

This movie is a lot of fun and surprisingly, it contained a couple of really awesome gore scenes. One of which includes the best head explosion this side of Scanners. Buffy goes back to the old bitties house to exact revenge and lazer fires a basketball that she had stolen from them and her head explodes like a William Tell arrow through an apple.

In addition, many scenes during the film were reminiscent of Craven's other work, A Nightmare on Elm Street. A dream sequence that plays out in the beginning is overly bloody like the one in the original ANOES and when Buffy comes back to beat down dear old dad, his head gets burned to a fiery crisp a la you know who. After all, like the film's tagline goes: 'Not all nightmares happen on Elm Street'.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Collector (2009)

Fear 1/5
Creepiness 2/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 2/5

I can't remember the last time I walked out of a movie theater more pissed off. If there were babies around, I would have been doling out haymakers left and right. That's how much this movie incensed me.

First things fucking first: a home improvement guy has been staking out the house of a family that has moved out to the sticks. He's been casing the joint as the husband is a rare jewel dealer. He's gotten close to the family, earning their trust and the sexual advances of their slutty teenage daughter. We learn that the home improvement, soon-to-be robber guy's wife owes some loan sharks about 30 G's or so.

So home improvement now turned robber dude comes back to the house late that night as the family had planned on leaving for a good ol' fashioned family vacation. What should have been a pretty easy grab and go job turns into a nightmare as home improvement robber guy finds out that someone has made it to the house before him, except his intentions are far more sinister.

As robber dude makes his way throughout the house, he finds that the guy who's already there has set up an intricate maze of rigged traps (think Home Alone but way more deadlier and elaborate). I need to rewind a little here. This movie was made by two schmucks who also directed the last 3 or 4 films in the Saw series. Don't ask me which ones because I stopped giving a shit after number 3. Other review sites have noted that the comparisons are far too much to avoid and that this film failed for them at this point. The comparisons can be made for sure, but these traps are not meant to house people, make them find a cruel and often punishing way out, and ultimately, see the error of their ways. Its obvious that this guy has absolutely no intention whatsoever of letting anyone out of the heavily rigged home.
After we see the husband and wife strung up and hog tied, the next hour or so of the film is a total cat and mouse game: between the home improvement robber dude, the family as he tries to help them escape and the masked man who's set up the series of intricate traps. All the while you are constantly left wondering what the hell is the motive behind all this?

What is a great series of thrills and up until a certain point an entirely original affair, got me pissed off in more ways than one by the end. Not because of the similarities to Saw, not because of the constant cat and mouse games that seemed never ending, but for the sheer act of bravado and arrogance on the part of the directors at the end: no resolution to the film occurs and the SOLE purpose for its existence is setting itself up for a sequel and/or series like the Saw films. Way to be original fuckwads. You never understand why it is this guy has planted the maze or more importantly, why it is he is 'collecting' people. At about the midway point of the film, the home improvement robber guy runs into a box that is being stored in a closet. He opens it and the contents spill out, revealing a guy who has been chained together. The chained guy babbles on about the masked trap setting guy and how he collects people and if you are deemed unfit, he kills you. Um, OK.

So the only other conclusion that my feeble mind could come up with is that you find out that the masked trap setting guy was also casing the joint as a pest control exterminator. Could this be a man that is collecting people much in the same way people collect, poke, and stick bugs onto cork boards? He does have a certain fascination with bugs in the film. This is the only modus operandi that I could come up with after I downed about 4 beers to calm my angry nerves. Fuck this movie and the arrogant ass directors that helmed it. I really hope the vast horror populace out there truly sees this movie for what it is. What an insult.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dead Snow (2009)

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

High up in the mountains of Norway lie the buried corpses of hundreds of Nazi soldiers waiting to come back to life and chow down on some cheesy teenagers. "How can this go wrong?" I said to myself. " I mean look at that fucking poster for crissakes!"

Much like The Mother of Tears, this movie packs in it's share of ridiculous gore (two bodies torn in half by zombie hordes, maybe 5 scenes involving intestines, a brain being ripped from a head) and a totally over the top premise that, on paper at least, cannot fail: Nazi Zombies.

But, sadly, like The Mother of Tears, much MUCH too much time is spent on having the actors talk to each other, ride snow boards and party down. As we used to say back in the glory days of hardcore: "Cut the shit, start the pit!"

I'm not sure if it's because the version I saw was dubbed, but the dialogue is unbelievable - and by that I mean atrocious and totally forced. But also awkward and kind of strange. Maybe it's the translation, but I think it's more that it's Norwegians who are just weird to begin with. After all, they gave us this music scene.

A good example - despite the high level of gore, the grossest scene in the movie has to be when the fat guy heads out to the outhouse, drops his drawers and takes a shit only to have one of the three ugly women in the cabin pop in on him, drop her drawers, and start humping him immediately after he has wiped his ass and is still sitting inches above a mountain of poo poo. What. The. Fuck.

Terrible movie. Predictable, stupid and a total waste of time.

- Complaint Dept

The Mother of Tears--AKA La Terza Madre (2007)

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

The third film in Dario Argento's Three Mothers Trilogy (Suspiria being the first and Inferno the second), focuses on an escaped spirit who is the last in a trifecta of ancient evil witches. The third, called The Mother of Tears, is able to manipulate human behavior, causing mass suicides and murders across the city of Rome. Its up to a museum curator who comes from a line of witches, (and subsequently is unaware of her powers until things get a little hairy), to find the witch and kill her, hopefully, putting an end to her reign of terror on the city.

The film begins with the unearthing of an urn that has been strapped to the coffin of an unmarked grave in a cemetary near the Vatican. A priest takes in the urn, interpreting the engravings and he begins to get the heebie jeebies. Becoming increasingly aware of what's inside, he calls a friend of his who is the head curator of a local museum. He wants his friend to validate his conclusions and he sends the urn to the museum for further inspection.

Upon arrival, one of the museum aides opens up the urn to find an ancient talisman, 3 carved stone figurines, and a large dagger. Along with our eventual witch heroine (who's played by the saucy vixen Asia Argento), they immediately deduce that all were involved in the occult. When witchy girl leaves the room for a brief moment, the contents that were placed in the urn come to life, slice her open with the knife, spilling out her entrails and they start playing an icky game of jump rope.

After she's investigated by the police (as she's the only other person in the musuem), all hell begins to break loose in the city. The aforementioned suicides and killings, people begin believing that they are possessed by the devil and need an exorcism, and ritualistic church burnings become the news stories of the day. Our witchy girl begins to investigate what's going on, which leads her to an encounter with a priest (played by the 'hey we need a creepy old guy with an eastern european accent, lets get him' standby, Udo Kier) who tells her the story of the three witches. In a 'it's your destiny' sort of speech, she is told what it is she needs to do.

As she tracks down the witch who has taken up residence in an old mansion, she's being hunted by every Broom Hilda that's invaded the city. You see, with the reemergence of the third witch, broom toting hags have been flying into the city to partake in the death and destruction thats being doled out in spades. The end goal, is to channel the power of the talisman, making every witch supreme rulers of the earth. Throughout the film, our heroine slowly comes to grips with who she is and it all leads up to a last stand with the Mother of Tears which happens to be one of the most anti-climactic that I have ever witnessed.

All in all, an uber boring affair. Some really great gore scenes including a spear that is used to invade the nether regions of a woman who's being pinned to the ground and another in which a mother goes Hannibal the Cannibal style and munches down on her baby. But aside from those two pretty gnarly scenes, the film drags and suffers from an extreme case of dialogue-itis. Not too mention the fact that Asia Argento is one terrible, terrible actress. And what was up with the shower scene? Can you say awkward? Her pops was the director, what did he say to her, 'Show more titty honey, yeah that's good right there'.

Cortez the Killer

* * *

Fear: 1/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5

Aside from some pretty decent gore effects, there's little to recommend here. Asia Argento might be one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. I mean, really, how is she getting into movies aside from her willingness to get naked at the drop of a hat. . . oh, well, there that.

Anyway, there was a time when a Dario Argento movie was stylish, unique and inventive. Even when the script was bad (it often was) and the acting was wooden (it nearly always was), the feel, look and style of the movie often made it ok, if not awesome. Those days appear to be well behind Argento as The Mother of Tears has all of the downsides but none of the style. It looks and feels like any generic Hollywood horror film which means that the flaws and silliness cannot be overlooked.

Cortez was pretty spot on with his synopsis so I'll simply add an additional vote for "meh".

Green Day is on Saturday Night Live right now. Man, that song sucks and those dudes should never attempt guitar solos. Ever. Nice make up too. They're "punkers". Hahahahahaha.