Monday, September 28, 2009

One, Two, This Trailer's Coming For You

Making the rounds on the interwebs pages, is the new trailer for the Extreme Makeover of everyone's favorite cheeseburger faced slasher. Definitely looking darker and less slap sticky than most of its predecessors, everything about this screams super duper creep-a-fied (right down to the more burn victim-y look of Jackie Earle Haley).

A Nightmare On Elm Street opens on April 30, 2010.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review: Hammer Glamour

In both words and photographs, Hammer Glamour paints the history of this once proud studio. From the height of the studio and its molding of future leading ladies to its slow descent from something wholly original to something entirely cliche.

Nonetheless, it accomplished things never before seen in studio production history. Creating a mold and a formula that, arguably, has not been seen since.

Admittedly, I haven't seen all of the films in the studios rich history. However, the films in the Dracula series are some of the finest that the horror genre has to offer. From Ursula Andress to Raquel Welch, to (my personal favorite) Madeline Smith, this book captures the beauty and essence of the Hammer formula.

A must have for any horror fan, Hammer Galmour is the quintessential coffee table book. You can truly tell that this was a labor of love for author Marcus Hearn, with his fine research and attempts to track down every Hammer leading lady for their personal story and quips.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Madhouse (1981)

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 3/5

The film centers around a woman who teaches at a school for the deaf. Its nearing her annual celebration of her birthing, when she receives a call from her uncle who's a priest. Uncle priesty encourages her to go to the hospital to visit her lonely twin sister. When she arrives, she finds that the serious skin disease that is turning her into Pizza the Hut is only getting worse and she has very little time to make amends with her for past trangressions. Upon entering her room, she walks over to her bed only to be run out by the sister's screaming claims of 'I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too', minus the little dog part because she doesn't have one. But the whacked out sister certainly does!

Lemme explain (as best as I can anyways because the plot is a little muddled). She begins to tell her boyfriend the terrible history between them both, saying that her sister put her through all kinds of torment growing up (putting out matches on her, jabbing her with needles, you know, normal kid stuff). She could never stand up for herself for fear of being attacked by her evil sister's watch/attack dog and it wasn't until her sister became sick and confined to a hospital, that she could actually escape the neverending torment. And why might you ask was the evil sis tormenting the seemingly sweet, school for the deaf teacher? Because she didn't like sharing her birthday with her, duh!

The evil sis blows the popsicle stand (aka hospital) and her dog assistant promptly shows up. Wow, all those years and the dog knew EXACTLY where she was hiding out. Amazing! How this dog came to be in the care of the evil sister is never really explained but the fact that it hangs with her only lends more creedence to her being one whacked out bitch. The dog carries out the dirty work of the crazed sis, killing friends, and setting the stage for a pretty creepy ending. The canine killing machine rips off limbs and tears out necks in pretty brutal fashion and the scenes are gorifically delightful. The only kill doled out by the nutty sister is the superintendant (who's given every Asian stereotype in the book) who's come by to do work on her sister's pad.

Between all the killings, the good sis makes it out to church to hear one of her uncle's sermons. He goes all fire and brimstoney, telling all in the congregation that if you have a younger sister (nevermind whether or not you have a brother, pfffttttttt....), you should cherish that relationship and do all that you can to be there for her. Guess who he's talking about?

The film closes out with a planned 'surprise birthday party' in the basement of the sister's apartment, orchestrated by the cuckoo sister, her killer dog and guess who? That's right, uncle priestly decides that the Lord's work extends to offing folks in the name of sisterly bondage. Or something like that. He helps set up the party, tying all of the dead victims together and positioning them around the table, party favors and all. The sister is lead downstairs to join in on the festivities and the sister again lets into her with 'I'll get you....' blatherings while the uncle prances around singing nursery rhymes. Creepy indeed. The boyfriend crashes the party and has to fend off the canine guardian who goes after him, taking a power drill to the dog's noggin'. Blimey! The girl escapes in a fairly anti-climactic fashion after her sister and uncle are deed (::said in a Scottish accent::), and the film abruptly ends.

A very entertaining and at times, completely ridiculous mess. Other than sharing a birthday, why was the sister so cracked out? No traumatic childhood or familial molestings to speak of, she just plain did not like sharing her birthday. What a self-centered brat. Anywhos, the soundtrack is pretty stellar, the doggie kill scenes fairly gnarly and the villains ooze Velveeta shells and cheese. Dig this one up if you can find it. This movie is prime USDA grade remake material.

No trailer for this one. It was removed from YouTube. Poop. But our friends over at Tower Farm Reviews also liked it. And they know good cheesedick horror.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nightmare City (1980)

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

I watched this under the assumption that it had to be awesome since it was Italian and made in 1980, was about zombies and was directed byUmberto Lenzi who is reponsible for both Eaten Alive (not the Wes Craven one) and Make Them Die Slowly. I have never seen these two films since I am led to believe animals were actually killed in them which I can't support. But they are notoriously gory and hideous so I thought this might rank up there, just without the real murder.

Sadly, this failed on all counts except for that. It's kind of a zombie film, though not really. The plot is super simple: a plane lands at the airport (literally "the airport" as the newscaster covering the event refers to it. Apparently the city or name of the airport does not matter. Where this occurs there is one airport and it is referred to as "the airport"). A reporter who looks like a cross between Dan Haggerty, Michael McDonald and Ricardo Montalban is sent to meet the scientist supposedly on board. Instead a pile of dudes come busting out armed with knives and guns. They appear to be wearing Lucha Libre masks, but as it turns out they are actually "zombies" with really, really bad makeup.

The movie never really explains this, but the handy synopsis on the Netflix envelope points out that the plane flew through some radioactive waste or something and caused all of the guys on board to become mutants. The rest of the movie is spent running from and fighting the gun toting mutants.

There is surprisingly little gore in this film. The effects are really bad, laughable at times, and the three true gore scenes are hokey and even more laughable. Still, like nearly every other Italian horror film released between 1972 and 1983, there is a decent eyball gouging scene. So there was one expectation met for me.

Nightmare City could serve as a definition for B-Movie. I can't say I wasn't entertained, but I can say that most of the entertainment came from my wife and I pulling off endless Mystery Science Theater riffs while we pointed and giggled at what was supposed to scare us. Oh, and there is this endless philosophical mumbo jumbo going on about how the "evil" that's been unleashed is the product of mankind, not science. And if you watch the 13 minute interview with Umberto Lenzi that's part of the extras, you'll come to learn that the "message" being given here is very important and very much based on reality. In other words, if we don't stop polluting the earth, we're all going to be murdered by enraged mutants. So . . . let that be a warning.

It was kind of like Godzilla. Except with Italian boobs and lots of body hair.

- Complaint Department

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Grace (2009)

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

There was (and continues to be) so much buzz around this film that I've been waiting with mucho anticipation for it to be released on DVD (thank you Anchor Bay!). You see, I had tickets to the premiere at the Dallas American Film Institute (AFI) Festival back in March of this year. But my body's immune system had other plans and I got terribly sick and was unable to attend. The hoopla surrounding the film continued to build after subsequent premieres which increased my burning desire to see it. So was it worth the painstakingly 'long' wait? Read on.

Before the opening credits, the film begins with a husband jackhammering away on his wife and she is visibly not interested in the boom boom sexing that is going on. After the deed, as she lies on her back, the wife bends her legs and brings them in towards her stomach, attempting to increase her chances of conception. After the opening credits, we see the now pregnant wife at a dinner table with her husband and his extremely neurotic and overbearing mother. Its revealed that the wife is a hardcore vegan and that she's disenchanted with modern medicine. Instead of a traditional doctor and hospital, she convinces her husband that hiring a midwife is the way to go. In total disagreement, the mother-in-law suggests that they consult the family doctor but the wife strongly refuses.

After dinner one night, the wife begins experiencing severe chest pains and the husband rushes her to the ER. Upon arrival, we find the family doctor the mother-in-law suggested waiting. He quickly diagnoses her and says they need to induce ASAP, despite the fact that she is only 18 weeks pregnant. The husband calls the midwife and she arrives before the baby is extracted. She demands to see the chart and quickly reviews her vitals. She re-diagnoses the pain as gall stones, and when its confirmed after scanning the aforementioned chart, she saves the baby from unnecessary extraction.

Driving home from the hospital, the husband and wife are nearly run off the road by a crazed motorist. The car emits a hissing noise after the husband swerves and recorrects on the winding road. The airbag unexpectedly deploys which causes the husband to lose control of the vehicle and it careens and slams into a tree off the side of the road. Authorities arrive on the scene to find the husband slumped over and expired. As they round past the driver's side, they come upon the wife who's sitting near the base of the tree. She proclaims that the baby isn't moving as a stream of blood flows from her groin area.

Recovering from her injuries at the home of the midwife, she insists on carrying the baby to term despite that its obvious to all that its dead. She soon leaves the midwife's care, continuing with her preparations for the arrival of her baby and goes shopping for clothes. When normally the water breaking would signal the message that its baby go-time, a gush of blood spews forth instead. She passes out, waking up again at the midwife's home in a shallow delivery pool. She gives birth and as she holds the fetus in her arms, she call's her her saing Grace. The midwife insists that the baby can not be willed back to life but the singularly minded mother believes otherwise. Literally coaxing the baby to life, the elated new mom leaves the midwife's care once again.

Settling in at home, the now glowing mother carries on as though nothing out of the ordinary happened, expecting to care for a normal and healthy newborn. Her world soon unravels as we find out that something is not quite right with Grace: flies like to encircle her room, the family cat is acting strange, and even more telling, she spits up her mothers milk while feeding. When she doesn't get what she needs, Grace digs in and takes a bite out of mommy's ta tas, preferring blood for sustenance over milk. The mother eventually becomes anemic after so many feedings, opting for the meat counter at her local supermarket. Grace regurgitates the drainings and mom returns to using her blood supply as her baby's main nutritional intake.

Her overbearing mom presistently rears her ugly head when she learns that her daughter in-law actually has a living, breathing baby. When attempts are ignored for her to come over and see her new grandaughter, she takes matters into her own hands. She has the family doctor show up at the house to check on mother and baby. After the doctor checks out mom and deems her horribly anemic and in need of serious medical attention, he hears the groans of the baby through a monitor in the kitchen and he promptly heads upstairs. Mom heads him off at the pass, striking him over the head and he crashes hard into a desk in the hallway and lands with a resounding thud. Presumably dead, she drags him into the bathroom and proceeds to drain his blood into a bottle. Mom soon arrives on the scene and attempts to forcefully take Grace. Her efforts are thwarted, and both mother and daughter die in their ensuing struggle. As the film ends, Grace comes into the care of another and we find out that she has moved on from blood as her main intake to something else entirely.....

Overall, the adult characters provide the more disturbing moments throughout the film. True, the delivery of a stillborn baby, its resurrection and need to constantly feed on human blood to survive is inherently disturbing. But its those characters that are far more disturbing than the images of a blood sucking infant. The overbearing, neurotic mother-in-law that plots an eventual kidnapping of her grandaugther (she even uses a breast pump and the mouth of her subservient husband to keep her breasts stimulated in preparation for taking over care). The midwife who actually lets the stubborn mother carry the baby to term and by film's end, you get a sense that maybe she had an ulterior motive all along. And finally, we have the mother of Grace. So singular in her focus that not once does she ever mourn the passing of her husband. Despite all reason and logic, she brings the 'dead' baby to term, continuing to modify her life for the needs of her child, no matter what the cost, including the possibility of her own life.

A true horror film in every sense, Grace is an incredible film and achievement for first time feature film director Paul Solet. Despite some plot holes (after the mother passes out at the store, she wakes up at the midwife's house; how did someone know to call her and not 911?), Grace does brilliantly well where other horror movies fail. Namely, successfully turning the focus off the focal point (Grace) and instead, re-directing it to the downright despicable characters that surround her. By film's end, you actually empathize with Grace and her condition and start to feel sorry that she lives in a world of people that need some serious medical help. Where some reviews devote more column space to the horror of seeing a blood sucking baby, I'll go on record as saying that its the characters onscreen that provide the brunt of the horrifying movie watching experience that is Grace.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Plague (2006)

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

Another in a string of Clive Barker adaptations that didn't get the mainstream attention it deserved, The Plague is an interesting take on the zombie film (if you can call it that, as some elements are more zombie-like) that is ultimately mired (or plagued, ah cha cha cha) by a terribly convoluted ending. Despite its flaws, its still a satisfying film, one deserving of much more attention and fanfare than the direct to DVD treatment it received.

The film starts off with a frenzied enough pace, with families rushing their kids to the emergency room. It seems as though young ankle biters the world over are going completely comatose, just before they hit the ripe ol' age of 9. As the parents crowd the emergency room of a small town which is the film's main focus, they lie their kids down on the floor when they start to spaz out, all of them going into convulsions and foaming at the mouth. Truly creepy stuff from the onset and it only gets more so later.

Flash forward about 10 years and the same kids are still in a state of being conked out. In the gymnasium of the local high school, beds are lined on either side with kids hooked into IV's and wearing the requisite hospital attire. Looked on by attending nurses and their doctors, no one can figure out why these kids continue to be in a coma despite being in tip-top shape.

The story continues as one of the former townsfolk has come back after being released from jail (played by none other than Mr. Dawson's Creek himself, James Van Der Beek). Now I know what you are thinking, 'The F-ing Beek?' This guy loses all cred. He's really not the real star of the show anyways. Anywhos, he comes back to town to make amends for what he did (we learn that in a drunken rage, he killed a man at a local bar) and he shows up on the front door step of his uncle's home. He invites him in and leads him upstairs where his son resides. He also fell victim to the random coma virus but his father refused to hospitalize him, instead caring for him at home. As the film continues to evolve, we come to find out that Van Der Beek isn't the only one hiding or trying to make amends for a shameful past.

Inexplicably, one day all of the kids just decide to wake up. In one of the most spine tingly shots in a film that I've seen in recent memory (the other being the initial home invasion sequence in Inside), the attending nurse is at her desk in the gym, filling out paperwork. She gets the heebie jeebies and almost expects the kids to be awoken from their slumber when she pops her head up, but nada. As she puts her head back down to continue her work, she again gets the willies and when she lifts her head a second time, the camera pans to show all the kids lined up, staring at her. I think I just peed myself again.

The kids start to run amok through the town, wiping out everyone for what seems to be no rhyme or reason. And its not just standard zombie ripping limbs and eating guts here folks (although there is some of that shenanigans). These kids are hell bent on doling out some pretty brutal vengeance and they do so in spades--breaking necks, choking until eye balls pop out, etc. So why exactly have the kids decided to awake after 10 years and why are they intent on killing nearly everyone in the town? Well, I'm still not entirely sure why. Its a little confusing and hard to follow near the end and you kind of get it, kind of don't. Apparently the director's cut of the film has additional footage. I don't know if it will provide more answers but I will more than likely seek it out.

From my breadth of horror movie watching experiences, this film is wholly original. Some pretty intense moments with enough Night of the Living Dead crossed with Children of the Corn heebie jeebies to leave you thoroughly creeped out. The Plague was incredibly entertaining despite its flaws at the end. It may piss off most who watch, but overall, the film is still better than most of the schlep thats released nowadays in theaters. Can someone give Clive Barker's work a break? Is this dude plagued or what? OK, I'll stop now.

Cortez The Killer

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last House on the Left (2009)

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

I was thinking of how to justify giving this 4 out of 5 on the entertainment score. What does it say about me that I find a movie about rape, torture, murder and revenge entertaining. Best not to explore it I suppose and be happy with the anonymity the Internet provides me. Suffice it to say, as I have said many times here - horror movies should horrify.

Anywhooo...I had low expectations for this. Despite it's flaws, I still consider the original Last House on the Left to be a sleazy and disturbing masterpiece of true horror. To me, it kind of goes along with Night of the Living Dead, Altamont and Black Sabbath as a general death knell for the hippies and all of their lofty, but naive ideals. Maybe not art, but close enough to make a solid statement on things.

So I was apprehensive about the updated version which, should one choose to believe online rumors, was made solely for the sake of money. I also had this feeling that the filmmakers would tame it down a bit and go for more style than substance - you know, slo-mo shit, big rock soundtracks, all blue lighting, the typical bullshit that parades around as big studio horror these days.

I was wrong. Some horror movies are designed for dates. They're fun, kind of scary, kind of gross, but mainly just fun and goofy. 2009's updated Last House is every bit as sleazy and disturbing as the original. Don't expect to get any after this one. Obviously the gore is much more grim, but so is everything else. By removing the slapsticky parts and focusing on the nasty bits a little more, the filmmakers here really made this an unpleasant film.

There is a long and drawn out rape scene that is intense and truly awful. There are situations that are absolutely "no-win" and choices are made. There are scenes where you might think "oh come on, just shoot the guy" except here, you get it - it's real people put into unreal situations and who knows how one would react. In fact, that's one of the creepiest things about this movie. Like 28 Weeks Later, the "good guys" do some very bad things to the bad guys, and it's done with thought, planning and agony over the moral questions. This is no mindless slasher romp, it's unnerving.

A well made, gruesome and very affecting film, I hesitate to say it since I may get crucified by the hardcore fans, but this is every bit as good as the original. And take my word - if you watch the unrated version, it's fucking grim.

- Complaint Department

Night of the Demons (1988)

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

Definitely the kind of movie that is better when watched with a group of like-minded and sarcastic friends, Night of the Demons is a hokey, low budget zombie romp that's low on the blood and high on the cheese. Sadly, and I'm sure many will disagree with me, it's kind of a stinky cheese, not the kind you want to eat.

Starring the always naked Linnea Quigley, Demons is straight forward in it's story - dopey teenagers spend the night at the "old haunted house" and one by one become possessed by the demons that inhabit the place. Possession involves pointy teeth, grimy, gross skin and a deep death metal voice devoted almost entirely to witty one liners. The cast is made up of a jock, a punk rocker (I think that's what he's supposed to be - hard to say as his mullet conflicts with his circle A shirt), a goody two shoes chick, a black guy (who breaks tradition and manages not to be the first killed), a goth chick and a slutty Asian chick. The acting is atrocious, the dialogue dim-witted and the action slow until the last 20 minutes or so.

Those twenty minutes are inspired (read: "rip off") by both Demons and Evil Dead 2, but much less fun and much less gory. Yeah, we get a severed arm, a decent eyeball gouging and some general bloodletting, but it's not nearly enough to justify investing much time into this. Though I'll say this - there's this scene where Linnea Quigley manages to make her lipstick disappear into her boob and I really can't figure out how they did it. Must have been demons.

Scores right square in the middle of "meh".

- Complaint Department

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Retardead (2008)

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

Before the film starts, a faux 'Let's All Go To The Lobby' song kickstarts the wackiness that is echoed in the forthcoming feature. After a normal list of concession findings are listed, a voice over asks 'Do you want something black inside of you?' while at the same time, showing a cartoon afro-ed likeness of an African American male. 'Then come get some of our fine coffee!' Next, a suggestively animated female grips a hot dog and puts it into her mouth as the voice over exclaims 'Suck down one of our fine hot dogs.' A duo of fake trailers also follow, with each film promising to provide scenes of 'pants-shitting terror.' I laughed myself silly within the first five minutes of putting on the DVD and I hadn't even reached the start of the film! Brilliant!

The movie begins with a little girl telling her father about a series of recurring dreams she is having about a mad doctor who is moving from town to town experimenting on its inhabitants. The police swear that he is dead, killed by one of his own previous concoctions. But in fact he is very much alive, still performing experiments that attempt to increase the intelligence of the brain with a special serum. The only side affect: the serum causes the brain to swell and eventually, turns its guinea pigged host into a cannibalistic crazed zombie. Egad!

On the run from law enforcement, the mad doctor hides out in a small California town and seeks to continue his experiments. Where exactly can he continue to practice on folks while at the same time, hiding out in the least likeliest of places to be discovered? Well at the fine institution of higher learning for the mentally handicapped, of course!

Upon interviewing with the head principal (never mind the creepy look of the doctor complete with eye patch!), the doctor easily convinces him that he is the right man for the job as its high time for the world to no longer underestimate these people. He quickly goes to work on the kids, injecting them with the serum. After a few days, the kids are building robots, solving algebra equations and reading Tolstoy. Much to the delight of their parents and the staff, the kids are now seemingly cured of their mental maladies.

Things get a little out of control when the doctor's subjects start to exude some of the same symptoms as his prior test subjects. Trying to hide the transforming patients, he locks them up in a downstairs storage room. All hell breaks loose when one of the faculty suspects that he is up to no good and opens up the door leading to the storage room. The zombified mentally handicapped go on a rampage in the school, eventually escape, and a city wide alert is issued by the mayor (cameo courtesy of Mr. Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra).

The local police and FBI band together and catch up to a group of rampaging deadites (their numbers have grown, afterall) for a final standoff. After slaughtering the entire group, a 'shockingly' hilarious conclusion ensues as we find out from a radio broadcast that the serum was only a 48 hour flu bug and that everyone has returned back to being normal. They all throw their hands up and howl ironically in laughter. H-O-L-Y shit. The girl concludes the story and her father claims none of it was actually real. Its only in her dreams. Or is it?

This is one of the funniest horror comedies I've ever seen, loaded with a neverending amount of dick and fart jokes with equal parts bad taste and sleaze (not like this though). As the zombies rip through town, no one is safe. Not even babies. OK, so they ate what was plainly a plastic one but it was still pretty gnarly. This is a great indie, low budget, so-bad-its-good, gorefest. Definitely check this out.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

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

Starring the irrepressible Vincent Price, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is one of my favorite horror films from the 1970's (and of all time for that matter). Price plays a whacked out doctor who's a jack of all trades: organist, theologist, inventor, as well as daft applicator of ingenious killing methods. You see, a few years back, a few of his colleagues were tasked with saving his wife from a horrific disease and when they were unable to do so, he swore revenge. And how you might ask does he plan on carrying out his oath? By killing all the doctors involved according to the 10 Plagues of Egypt of course!

The tone is set from the word go with a cloaked man banging away on his organ a la Phantom of the Opera. After he plays his little number, a ceremonial loading of his car takes place involving him and his sexy female assistant (who chauffeurs him to and from the crime scenes throughout the film). There are multiple drawn out scenes like this during the flick which gives it a very stylistic feel while at the same time, adding to the overall sense of Phibes being one seriously deranged doc.

As the body count mounts, the police are left with nothing but one, initially unbelievable conclusion: that the series of murders are being orchestrated by single individual, one that has intimate knowledge of his victims. When the last doctor on the kill list reviews his history of cases with the investigating police officers, they talk about Dr. Phibes and the tragic case of his wife. They deem him as the prime suspect and along with another investigator, piece together the biblically tinged killings. With one of the last plague killings needing to be completed (an offing of the first born), a mad dash to Phibe's house ensues in order to save the son of the last remaining doctor.

This movie has everything: great atmospherics with equal parts tension and camp, some pretty inventive means of killing victims (including a masquerade ball scene which could quite easily have been ripped off by the first Saw film) and of course, Vincent Price. I think the most remarkable thing about this film is that not a single word of dialogue is uttered from (arguably) the most recognizable voice in horror within the first 30 minutes. Its at this mark that we hear him speak for the first time through an electric chord and voice box (wratching up the creepy factor). Just his mere presence on screen was enough to create an extremely sinister vibe.

Hands down, one of the most perfect horror films ever made. And the tagline on the theatrical poster is pretty darn funny too.

Cortez the Killer

Full Moon Roadshow

The goofy and zany peeps over at Full Moon (admit it, you loved Gingerdead Man) are embarking on their 2009 edition of their popular roadshow with the legendary Charles Band. Its been described as one part variety show and one part horror and Halloween-palooza.

Check out their site (clicky here!) and the trailer below for more information.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Sell The Dead (2009)

Fear 1/0
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 1/5

Hard to turn down a film that boasts the little Scottish guy from Lord of the Rings (Dominic. . .something or other. . . is he on Lost as well??), Angus Scrimm and the always awesome Ron Perlman. Honestly, if you have not seen City of Lost Children you are really depriving yourself.

Anyway, I Sell the Dead is that rarest breed of film - the successful horror-comedy. Few films make it out of this no-man's land alive and I Sell The Dead admirably pulled through. Bravo.

If you are familiar with the story of Burke and Hare you'll immediately like this film. If you're not - well here: educate yourself. I Sell the Dead takes the idea of graverobbing for profit one step further and introduces the idea that while a dead corpse might have fetched a few farthings from the University back in the mid-19th Century, the body of the UNdead would fetch considerably more.

The story revolves around one of the graverobbers telling his tale to the priest sent to document his confession. What comes out is a tale of poverty, drunkenness and graverobbing as a means to survive. What started as simple commerce in the corpse trade soon ballooned into something far more grim, exciting and, well - comical. The two graverobbers get wind of a body recently buried outside of the cemetery and at the crossroads of town. Not really thinking much of it, they head out to snatch the corpse from the grave so they can sell it to the mean and cantankerous doctor at the university (played with tongue firmly in cheek by Angus Scrimm). Turns out there was a reason that body was not buried in the cemetery. And there's a reason the body has a large wooden stake stuck in it's chest.

I Sell The Dead is stylish, well executed, well acted and very inventive, if a little rambling and untethered in it's delivery. It's funny, has some solid jolts and a couple of really fun zombie scenes. The ending is a little iffy, but by the time it rolled around, I was already enjoying myself too much to really be bothered by it.

- Complaint Depart

Mark of the Devil (1970)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5
Grooviness 3/5

Rather than actually write out a review here, I thought it might be more fun to just copy my raw notes from watching the movie. And yes, I take notes while watching some movies. I'm a fucking pro buddy.

Some of these won't make sense unless you're watching this.

  • Oh, I guess we’re starting - ok
  • udo kier's ridiculous face
  • dude with hitler mustache?
  • bizarre teutonic folky soundtrack - mixed with psychedelia and erinco morricone (sp?)
  • dubbed- one of whom sounds like the awkward white neighbor from the Jeffersons
  • continuity errors - scar comes and goes on "albino"s face
  • running along in a field and laughing hysterically- running is so funny!
  • These hippies – sorry, I mean witches just want to live life in freedom
  • witch hunters as a metaphor for the "man"
  • one actor’s last name is “fux” and one is “fuchs” huh huh huh
  • violent- torture, stabbings, burning, stretching, chopping off fingers, tearing out tongues – nice
  • god, stop screaming already
  • oooh- eye gouging!
  • Is there a script?
  • really - udo kier is fucking weird looking
  • lecherous old men - really gross, sweaty etc.
  • message... jesus is mean

-Complaint Department

Halloween 2 (2009)

Fear 1/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 0/5

I’m rooting for Rob Zombie. I really am. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews of his films, he seems like a good guy. But his band was terrible and his films have been, so far, really poorly written and executed. That is, until his “reboot” of the Halloween franchise which was surprisingly not-sucky. “Good” would be stretching it, but I’m not afraid to say I dug it. So I approached Halloween 2 with some hesitation, but a little bit of hope as well. In fact, shortly before heading over to the theater, my lovely wife and I read a review that made the film sound like his best yet. Something along the line of how House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were awful and that Halloween was a substantial improvement. He then went on in great detail explaining all the little things that made this such a good horror film – it was described as “dark” and “disturbing” and something that would appeal to hardcore horror fans as opposed to general slasher film fans. "Sign me up" I said.

It started well. The first 15 / 20 minutes are pretty awesome. . . predictable, maybe, but tense and filled with jolts (not quite ‘scares’), creepy images and some really violent killing scenes – not the kind you watch and laugh or cheer at, but mean, brutal and nasty death scenes. Here Zombie succeeded in capturing that gritty, grimy early 70’s feel that he’s been striving for since House of 1,000 Corpses.

Ah, but guess what? This entire sequence, all 20 minutes is just a dream. That’s right – it was all just a dream. From this point on, the film takes a nosedive, devolving back into the kind of filmmaking that Zombie is comfortable with: slow-mo shots galore, flashy 90’s video-shoot strobe imagery and dopey, inane and just plain lame dialogue. And while the level of violence is high, the gore is top-notch and there are a number of jolting scenes (again, not scary – you’re just surprised) – it’s all much too cartoony and ridiculous. At one point, Michael Myers flips a car over with his bare hands. I mean, come on, he’s a slasher, not one of the X-Men. . . which I suppose he is since he's played by Tyler Mane.

The characters, unlikable and annoying as they are, also difficult to swallow – especially if you are a 38 year old punk rocker who is, admittedly, a bit of a music snob. The Laurie Strode character sports a Government Issue shirt, hangs out in coffee shops that crank out MC5 and Motorhead tunes, lives in a house plastered with Kiss and Alice Cooper posters – agh, it’s too much. And what year is it supposed to be anyway?

Maybe to mainstream, middle America, this is just background that further illustrates how “damaged” she is, but I just find it distracting and stupid. At one point, a farmer decked out in flannel shirt and everything else you’d expect comes driving along the road and rescues Laurie. In his car, roaring out of his speakers is legendary DC hardcore legends Void. Fucking Void for Christ’s sake! I want to know where these girls were when I was their age? In my day, members of that subculture were almost exclusively male, and the few girls in the scene were most definitely not these air-heady cheerleader types, slumming it in Black Flag shirts. They were rockin' Whitesnake and Crue shirts at best. Maybe things were different for Rob Zombie.

Now get off my lawn you rotten kids!

Then there is this confusing, muddled psychological thread that weaves its way through the entire movie where Myers’ mother, played by the always wooden Sherri Moon Zombie, is portrayed as a glowing white queen with an enormous white horse – think Cate Blanchett in Lord of the Rings. It’s supposed to symbolize some sort of psychological mumbo jumbo. It’s pointlessly “artistic” in a film that’s about a maniac that hunts teenage girls with a big-ass knife. Unnecessary.

Overall, a disappointment that only gets worse as the film moves forward, building to an insipid and uninspired end. Blech, I should have listened to my gut on this one.

- Complaint Dept

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

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

Totally disposable turd of a movie that makes Sleepaway Camp 2 look like . . . well less turd-like I guess. Both movies are turds, but this one is slightly turdier due to the absence of gore. And a few more boobs and punk rockers and heshers. It also has a pretty sweet cock rock soundtrack that includes the Canadian 'eavy me'al band Anvil.

One of the heshers, in a scene designed to illustrate the rebellious nature of the dude, cries out "teenage wasteland!" for no reason at all while vandalizing a tent with spray paint. It's that kind of a movie.

The plot this time around is that a group of goody two-shoe kids from the suburbs are bussed in to camp with a group of leather jacket wearing toughs from the wrong side of the tracks. They bicker, insult each others class and race and eventually sleep with each other before being killed off one by one by Angela, the same killer from parts 1 and 2.

The only remotely creepy part of the film is where Michael Pollard gets it on with one of the top heavy, naked bimbos in the tent. Made my skin crawl slightly.

So, yeah. If you've seen Sleepaway Camp 2 then you've seen this. The only difference is that part 2 has some fun, if cheap and dopey, gore. Part 3 has almost none. This movie sucks.

I'd rather date one of the Jonas Brothers.
I'd rather eat my own boogers.
I'd rather watch Forest Gump.

Skip. Turdy.

- Complaint Depart

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Devil's Rain (1975)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

When the always amazing Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl described the titillating cinematic experience of The Devil's Rain as 'satantastic' and that Ernest 'The Fucking Man' Borgnine would be sporting (sprouting?) goat horns, I immediately updated my NetFlix queue and promptly pushed it to the top of the heap. During the opening credits, over ominously toned music mixed with phil-humonic (AKA human) screams, coupled with some Paradise Lost-style art, one is giddied with glee upon finding out the guilty parties involved: William 'I like to break up my vocal delivery with unnecessary interstices' Shatner, Tom 'I once made out with Drew Barrymore in the rain' Skerritt and John 'I must have made this before I went cuckoo for Scientology Puffs' Travolta. If that buffet of manliness wasn't enough, creative direction and oversite is provided by one Mr. Anton 'I have a direct line to the guy who lives south of heaven' Lavey. Yes, I know what you are thinking. How come I haven't heard of this gem before? Anywhos, let's hop to it.

A stormy night in a worried household leads to The Shat coming home, telling his mom that the bridge leading out of town is wiped out and his father is nowhere to be found. The caretaker of the house tries to calm them both down when there is an unexpected noise that comes from outside. Tearing out of the front door, Willie boy discovers his melting faced dad with hollowed out eyes. His father claims that 'they have found us' and all must be done to safeguard 'the book'. He then does his best impersonation of the Wicked Witch of the West. The mother claims to of had a series of dreams over the past couple of nights and that a man named Corbis who's in search of the book has taken residence in an old mining town nearby. Taking an amulet his mother gave him (subsequently finding out that the book is being kept hidden within the floor boards of the house), The Shat heads out in search of this Corbis character.

So The Shat reaches the mining town and upon stopping in front of an old church, he comes upon Borgnine who immediately claims to be Corbis and promptly asks for the book. When Shat refuses, he challenges him to a duel between both of their gods and leads him into the church where a group of robed peeps with the same hollowed out eyes are chanting Kalimah!! Kalimah!! Oh wait, wrong flick. Any who's it, basically it boils down to which god exists? Your god that protects you with an amulet or mine that dwells in darkness and can turn said amulet into a snake? Given that Lavey is providing creative direction, guess who wins out?

Doctor Skerritt (who we come to find out is a brother to The Shat) likes to experiment on his wife along with his partner, putting her into various states of psychosis. In a moment of deep meditation, his wife screams when she sees visions of the church and a robed Ernie Borg. A particularly silly scene ensues when Skerritt leans over and says 'Something has happened to my family' and they quickly skedaddle. Screw your crazy visions, its go time! They then head on out to the mining town to see what's the dillio.

Getting into town, they investigate the house where mom and pop lived. The sheriff exclaims that the terrible storm the night before must have dragged dear ol' mum away as she can't be found. Skerritt says, 'F-that' and decides to do some detective work of his own. He and his wife head out and start to investigate the inside of the church, only to be startled by the sound of their car bursting into flames. Upon exiting, they are almost ran over by a maniac driving the same car that Shat drove into town with. They watch as the car crashes into the front porch of a nearby house and then follow the driver who's left the car and ran into the home. Skerritt enters the house and runs up stairs, engaging the man at the top, and both of them tumble downwards. The wife meets them at the bottom and she is instantly hypnotized by the man's eyes that are hollowed out. As she becomes transfixed, a series of flash backs occur, revealing that the book Borgnine is seeking contains the names of all the people that he converted to satanism back in the days of Quaker Oats (AKA pilgrims). The book has all of the names written in blood and with the finding of the book, the souls (which still inhabit the earth) that belong to Satan, can finally be released. You with me?

After telling his wife to get the hell out of dodge, Skerritt disguises himself as one of the robed satanists and follows the group out to the desert where they are planning to sacrifice The Shat. In an incredibly laugh out loud moment, Borgnine summons his powers and calls for the lord of darkness to consume him, turning him into a billy goat gruff face.

Skerritt thwarts the attempt to kill Shat and is chased back to the church. His partner doctor friend has by this time met up with him to find out what all the hububb is about. They both uncover a hidden latch in the floors of the church which gives way to a secret storage where all the souls are kept. The actual container looks like a cross between one of those cheap character statues you find in Tijuana and a chiminea. So of course Skerritt's partner has the good sense to bring the book with him and when goat faced Ernie asks to give it here, it prompts one final standoff with Borg and the rest of the hollowed out eye clan.

All in all, a pretty mind numbingly dumb affair but the actors are so ridiculously committed (especially with The Shat and Borgnine giving waaaaaaaay over the top performances), you can't help but love this film. The dialogue and exchanges between the both of them were hysterical. Oh, and I forgot to mention the flashback scene which showed the origins of the book and Corbis as he was set up to be burned alive at the stake. He goes into this long dialogue about how the sun sets, the moon rises, the sun rises again, the cock crows, but evil will always remain, and May the Force Be With You. OK, nevermind that last part. But the scene was uproariously funny. The special effects that are used when the father and the rest of the hollowed out eye clan start to melt in the rain, are right up Mr. Sam Raimi's alley. Maybe the film influenced him? Highly speculating here. But I digress.

Rent this or steal it ASAP. This movie is pure cinematic gold.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From Zomcoms to Vampcoms?

Since the well is running dry on the recent zombie comedy trend, its only natural to tackle vampires again (i.e. Vampire in Brooklyn, Dracula, Dead and Loving it, etc.), right? Given the plethora of vamp themed stuff and the upcoming 7th sign of the apocalypse (aka the next Twilight film), this seems pretty fitting.

Transylmania comes out Dec. 9th.

Cortez the Killer