Friday, January 29, 2010

Messiah of Evil--AKA Dead People (1973)

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

This is an interesting film that completely took me by surprise. Part artsy grindhouse, part zombie affair, I came across it in a collection of films that I bought on the cheap but have never gotten around to seeing. Silly me. This is truly an underappreciated gem that you should add to your collection, ASAP.

A woman ventures out to a California town in search of her father who's heavily involved in the arts. He's been incommunicado with her and she's worried by claims of the city falling victim to scores of flesh hungry people. Apparently, they come to life under the spell of the moon which turns a shade of red at night. When she arrives, she's met by a cross-eyed albino character that instantly gives her the heebie jeebies.

She proceeds to an art gallery where her father is known to have carried his work and the proprietor mentions that he hasn't seen him for days. However, he sold some of his art to a trio of folks that were fanatical about his work and advises her to drop in on them to see if they may have a clue as to his whereabouts. She leaves the store and finds them--1 guy, 2 beautiful girls, whadda lucky guy!--holed up in a motel. After listening to a drunk that came off the street to warn them about the people who come out at night, she convinces them to go to her father's house as it will serve as a better safe haven.

One of the gals in the group becomes disenchanted when she finds the guy hitting on the artist's daughter. She decides to leave the house and try to make her way to San Francisco where its said to be safer, far away from the madness that occurs every night. At first, she tries to hitch a ride and is picked up by our albino friend. When he starts eating live mice that he's brought like a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, she promptly hops out of the ride. She then decides to stop at the local grocery store when she sees a group of other people piling in. She immediately wishes she hadn't when she sees them huddled around the meat display.

After she becomes their next meal, the film continues as each member of the new household decides to venture out, each falling victim to complete illogic when they do so at night. The 2nd female of the original trio decides to get out for an evening on the town to get away from it all and heads to the local theater. In a brilliantly shot, executed and ultimately creep-a-licious scene, she's oblivious to the scores of flesh eaters taking seats behind her. When she finally realizes whats going on, she tries to make a mad dash to the exit but is met with the group of singularly minded meat munchers.

The end of the film sees the revelation of why this little town has become the way it is. As legend has it, a dark suited man who is the lone survivor of the Donner Party made it out west. Under the cover of night, his spell is cast and the disease which afflicted that group years ago continues. The traveling daughter escapes but is committed to an insane asylum when she comes back home and tries to warn others about the horrors that have manisfested in the town.

This is a brilliant low budget grindhouse affair and from what I've researched, an oft overlooked film at that. The supermarket and movie theater shots alone are worth the price of admission. And the set of films that I got on the cheap can be had for about $10 (see here). How can you go wrong? Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

No trailer for this one. Instead, check out the clip of the aforementioned theater scene below.

Cortez the Killer

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Children (2008)

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

I'm going to preface this review by saying that I am absolutely terrified by the prospect of having kids. I'm getting married in about 3 months and the soon to be missus wants to have a little ankle biter in about two years. Not only is the world a fucked up place right now, I just can't stand them. Yeah they're cute and what not but have you SEEN kids today? I want to dole out haymakers left and right. The way they treat their parents, their me first attitudes and sense of entitlement. Not too mention, they are each mini versions of you and me and have their own potential for proclivities as it relates to beng evil. Which brings us to this film. It is my worst nightmare times a thousand.

A family is getting together in the Enligsh countryside for their annual Jolly St. Fatass celebration. Complete with their band of rugrats, they settle in to the cozy cabin-like home out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and snow. Its not long before a couple of kids start coughing and puking up some phlegmy stuff. The parents don't seem to pay any mind and despite the kids and their wildly erratic behavior, they just turn the other way until things go to 11 and they start getting increasingly more violent. And you know that shit is about to go down when you see them dish out CareBear stares:

So the kids start off their assault on their family members by sending their uncle down an embankment on a slead, coming to a stop when it runs into one of their Radio Flyers that has a pronged garden hoe affixed to it. His head splits open, he bleeds to death, while the kids stand around and continue to stare. From here on out, the kids get more and more vicious and nasty using the lure of their perceived innocence to reel in their family only to brutally trick, maim and murder them.

Throughout the film, you are left wondering what is it exactly thats infected these kids and made them go all haywire. Its never fully explained but there are a couple of interesting things that make you wonder. For one, one of the fathers works at a lab so maybe you think that he brought something home with him. Secondly, as the film nears the end, you see other kids in the woods, staring down a pair of family members who are trying to make their escape. So there is a thought that maybe it has something to do with the woods themselves. Lastly, different character flaws are revealed about each parent, from the uncle who wants to get into the knickers of his niece to the sisters that squabble and claim each other as being unfit mothers. You get the sense that maybe the kids are on some kind of fucked up mission to right the wrongs of their parents.

Even though nothing is ever explained, this film is edge of your seat, pulse racing madness. Its absolutely brilliant. And its also an incredibly terrifying movie watching experience altogether. Not only because of the creepy kid factor (cliched yes, but it works here to great effect), but also because of the brutal and mean spirited ways in which they off their family members. Fuck having kids, I'll stick with dogs.

Cortez the Killer

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bloody Disgusting's Horror Blogger Awards

We are humbled and honored to be even considered for this fine award(s). And to be included in such esteemed company (many of which we respect and admire) means a lot.

Vote for the horror blogger you deem most worthy. We aren't panderers around here however, all voters of PoT will get a $100 check in the mail from Complaint Dept. (just kidding). We are completely thrilled to have been nominated.

Cortez the Killer

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Witchboard (1986)

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

What do you get when you combine what you'd expect from a good ol' 80's schlockfest along with Tawny Kitaen, a whacked out psychic that looks like a cross between Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper, and an evil demon who rivals the creepiness of The Tall Man in Phantasm? Why you get this delightfully delectable dish of ding dongery of course.

The film kicks off with a group of friends at a party. And nothing quite says party time like a healthy debate about the existence of God and the universe. Yeah, sounds like a real rager. One of the friends claims that the only thing thats real in this world are spirits. And what better way to prove his point than to bust out a ouija board. Nothing says a party like a ouija board! He claims to have a relationship with a 10 year old boy's spirit and that he can summon him via said board. Apparently, inappropriate relations with minors doesn't apply to the spirit world. Anywhos, he contacts the boy and releases his agitated spirit, the ouija board flying out of the hands of its owner. And on his way out of the casa, the spirit slashes the tire of the guy's car parked outside. That little ingrate bastard! But we find out that its not actually the little boy at all. Instead an evil spirit that has been dormant for years is playing a clever ruse, pretending to be the little boy in order to get into the pants of Ms. Whitesnake.

The redheaded, car hood humping Kitaen starts becoming obsessed with the board, spending all her days talking to the evil spirit which is posing as the little boy. As she becomes increasingly more involved, strange things begin to happen: her boyfriend's buddy at work is killed after an accident on their construction site, a knife inexplicably falls off the kitchen counter in her apartment, landing right side up with a gushing bottle of ketchup adding some extra emphasis. In addition, she's having night terrors and has developed a severe case of sailor mouth. When she tries to divorce herself from the board completely, the spirit starts in with more violent attacks. The boyfriend gets the ouija toting friend to invite the aforementioned punk-ish psychic into the home of his girlfriend in order to expel the spirit. Little boy posing baddie plays along and it appears that he's vacated the premises until he follows the psychic home that night.

After a news report hits announcing the death of the psychic, the boyfriend and the ouija board wielding friend decide to come together to save the girl whom they both love. Apparently, the latter previously had a fling with her and he still holds out hope. He asks him exactly what is it that she see's in him. To which he replies 'I make her laugh.' The unleasher of spirital portals replies 'But I make her laugh too.' The boyfriend retorts 'Yeah but only in the bedroom'. Oh snap! Together, they track down the history of the little boy at the local library and put a face to the name of the evil spirit after visiting a local shop that specializes in the macabre.

The end sees our heroic boyfriend battle it out with the spirit who's now manifested itself inside of Ms. 'Here I Go Again'. He destroys the ouija board which (presumably) sends the spirit back to the nether regions, er I mean world. But not before he is hurled out the bedroom window and we see the most ridiculous falling sequence to ever grace the silver screen.

Chock full of 80's sleaze and cheese, Witchboard is a mindlessly good time. My only gripe is the T&A factor could have been a little higher.

Cortez the Killer

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Irreversible (2002)

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

I'm going to go ahead and declare the 2000's as the decade of the French. Well, at least in terms of horror movies that is. One may argue that Irreversible is not a horror film or that it straddles that line from time to time without completely venturing into the realm. But once you see it, you'll rank it high on the list of notoriously 'classic' rape/revenge films.

Playing much like Memento, the film is shown in a backwards chronology of events leading up to a confrontation between a pair of buddies and a man who raped their female friend. Both men have a current relationship with their victimized female counterpart: one as current boyfriend and another as ex; a good friend but obviously clinging to the off chance that she will dump her current beau and get back with him. The film shockingly starts as both men track down the assailant at a gay club (appropriately called Rectum) where they exact their revenge in a brutalized fashion. With the current boyfriend momentarily disabled, the more awkward and unassuming ex repeatedly beats the man with a fire extinguisher with such fervor and reckless abandonment that to start the film off in such away, immediately and emotionally connects the viewer.

'Oh great', you say. 'Thanks Cortez, now why should I watch the rest of this?' Interestingly enough, it keeps you on pins and needles as you want to know why these two men are hellbent on exacting their revenge. From the trek through town in search of the club, to their wild and crazy party leading up to the rape, and the rape itself, its an interesting weaving of a tale that asks the all too important question thats necessary in a film like this: 'What would you do?' The unfolding of the relationship between all three friends gives such depth and gut wrenching weight to what was viewed at the beginning. And the most shocking element that I found was not the rape itself (although it was incredibly disturbing), it was the unassuming, self-deprecating, still sticking around in the hopes of getting back together ex who actually ended up being the more malicious and relentlesss of the two.

A hard one to recommend for sure but ultimately, I do. As mentioned, the rape scene is entirely disturbing (its about 20 minutes long and rivals that of I Spit on Your Grave AKA Day of the Woman). But if you can get through that, there is a lot more going on with this film. And the surrealist way in which some of the scenes were shot adds another level of depth. Almost like you were inside the minds of the characters as they went through a sort of uncontrollable, completely out of their mind, experience.

An incredible movie it will stay with you long after the credits roll. I'm still trying to figure out if they killed the right guy or not.

Ed. Note: I've re-watched the film and in fact, the wrong guy was killed. This leads me to believe that overall, the director is making a direct statement about revenge and how it lacks any merit.

Cortez the Killer

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Hell Night (1992)

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

Initially looking at the 'artwork' to this film, I thought that maybe the filmmaker was about 4 years late on the bell curve of slasher mania. Well to some extent it is, but Happy Hell Night has a nice bit o' twist that's different than your average straight-up slasher fare. Oh don't you worry, there's plenty of cheese dick ding dongery on display and the film is anything but 'good'. But oh the places you'll go!

A bunch of frat brothers are plotting and scheming for their annual Hell Night, a night in which they get their pledges to do all kinds of whackadociously crazy things in order to gain entry. Hanging out in their basement turned bar, their college radio jockey friend recounts the legend of a demonically possessed priest who hacked up a handful of students in a cemetary years ago. Supposedly the evil-y inhabited man of the cloth is enjoying a room of four padded walls in the local insane asylum. The ring leader of the fraternity thinks it would be a great idea to get photographic evidence of said rumored padre and nominates his brother after he finds out that he is banging his girlfriend. Bro's before ho's beotch!

Along with a friend, the kid brother breaks into the asylum and heads to a secluded area where the demonically challenged father is shackled up. They break into his cell and sure enough, El Padre ain't none to happy-o, promptly ripping off the arm of the brother's friend. Broheim exits stage left and rides out of dodge on his trusty motorcycle. Padre Demonico (who looks like he just stepped out of a Tool video) takes care of one of the nurses on his way out. And so begins his murderous spree, complete with one liners which he dispenses as a counter to whatever action the onscreen characters are currently engaged in. Your're watching too much of the boob tube? 'No more TV!' You've finished banging nasty bits? 'No more sex!' Each utterance sounding like a fucked up E.T. as he lays waste to each victim.

So as the party goers on Hell Night all start falling victim, the father of the ring leading frat boy and his brother returns to his alma mater to set things right. And who do you suppose comes to save the day? Ralphie's dad himself, Darren 'The Night Stalker' McGavin. Apparently, he's been hiding a secret all these years. Having made a deal with the demon priest to make him a successful and wealthy man, he's come back to right his wrongs before the priest can add to his death toll. Along with the slutty girlfriend and another non-demon priest, they lure the goofy line delivering, other wordly possessed padre, back to the cemetary where they perfom a ritual to expel the demon.

The ending is a little lackluster but overall, this is a trashy slasher classic through and through. And there is a particular scene that is totally golden. One of the victims is strung up on a cross inside of the local church and hung upside down. So fucking metal! \m/

No trailer for this one. Instead, below are some rando clips of the film with hottie Jorja Fox.

Cortez The Killer

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Evil Things (2009)

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

We are late on the gravy train of this micro budgeted horror film that has been passed around the blogosphere like the head cheerleader to (and through) the varsity football team. Thanks to our buddy over at Freddy In Space, the irrepressible Johnny Boots for alerting us to this one.

Evil Things is a found footage horror film about a young group of five friends (one of which is an aspiring filmmaker that brings along his camera, hence the found footage) that drive out to the countryside for a weekend of fun and celebration as its one of their birthdays. I don't know what it is about the employ of the found footage format that gets me hooked but I'm a total sucker for them. As a matter of fact, yes I do know why. There is a sense of immediate realism to them, a draw of putting you front and center to the experiences that the onscreen characters are going through. In order for the format to work, it must execute on multiple levels to be effective and to that end, Evil Things mostly succeeds.

As the friends drive out to their weekend destination, they come across a dark van that initially, they pull around while driving along a winding road. For awhile, it follows them and at first its laughed off as mere coincidence. Stopping multiple times along the way, the van continues to make an appearance and what was first shrugged off as complete happenstance immediately turns to worry and increased anxiety. The kids continue along undeterred, the van folllowing but soon turning off to follow a different road. And it appears that they will be having the fun filled weekend for which they initially intended.

Getting to the place where they will call home for the weekend, the friends settle in, sing the requisite birthday song to their friend and stay up late, hanging out and knocking back a few cold ones.

The next day, they head out and hike through the woods. Time flys and it starts getting late, and the friends soon find themselves lost. As frustration mounts due to their lost sense of direction, strange noises are heard. First shunning the notion of the mysterious van and its occupant, its instead deemed an animal as it couldn't be anything else. Or could it? After stumbling around they come upon the house and re-enter. But its not long before a rapping at the front door starts in and they find a package which contains a video. They pop it in and it shows someone filming them as they hang out and actually inside the house when they sleep at night. After the viewing, the film is thrown into hyper drive, wratcheting up the anxiety factor which remains all the way until the frantic end.

As mentioned, in order for the found footage format to work, the film needs to execute on a few key levels. The most important of which is the acting which is superbly done by the onscreen actors. Nothing felt forced and their interactions were exactly like hundreds of ones I had with friends in high school and college. When they got anxious, I got anxious and when that happens, you know the director has done a fantastic job of drawing you into their world. The other important aspect which is key is atmospherics. The feeling of something happening but not, that anything can jump out of the background at any given moment, is key. And it was played to great effect, even when there was no perceived threat.

The only issue I had was with the ending. After such a slow burn thats built it feels a little rushed and it doesn't quite have that shock value that both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity had. Is this comparison unfair? Perhaps. But when you are talking about a film like this, you can't help but do so and the end just did not have that same sort of emotional resonance.

Thats not to say the film wasn't fun or completely thrilling. It certainly is. Definitely a good one to watch in a group setting to see the reactions of everyone else.

Cortez The Killer

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Final Exam (1981)

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

Upon first impression, this slasher appeared to have all the staples of a classic. A guy and his gal are out in the woods, getting frisky in his parents convertible. The girl complains about him spending all of his money on beer when they could be getting it on in a nice, 'fancy' motel room. In defense, he blurts out 'You weren't complaining when you drank most of it!' Oh snap, baby likes some brewskis. After the girl tells him to put the top back up, they return to their suck face fest. Only to have it ruined moments later when some dude jumps on the roof. As they attempt to speed off, the man cuts through the vinyl roofing, pulls the boyfriend out through the top, slams him down on the hood of the car and repeatedly stabs him. Not a bad way to start things, eh?

Cut to exams week at a college and reports swirl of multiple murders across the area and other college campuses. A group of friends lament as one of the professors really had it out for them and scheduled a final exam on the weekend. Get it? Its final as in finals week and final as in it will be the last test some of these douche faces will ever take. Oh those crafty filmmaker guys!

The test putting a damper on their frat activities, the broheims scheme a way to get one of their buddies out of it. So what do you suppose they did? Pull the fire alarm, setting off the sprinklers? Call in a bomb threat? Nope, they jump out of a moving van, wearing face masks, and start blasting away with mock AK-47's.

For a moment, you think that maybe you're watching a completely different film or that the script writer said 'Fuck it, we're going Arnie Schwartzenheimer commando now.' If you were high as fuck, you'd be flipping your shit. Or in my case, drunk and hitting the rewind button multiple times to ensure the validity of my eye holes and what they were seeing. Kids fall to the ground and are shown to be 'bleeding.' Overall, a fairly well orchestrated and convincing affair. Only to discover that it was all just a joke and they coordinated the whole thing with other students on campus!

Sadly, its all down hill from here folks. The sheriff lambasts the kids for such a stunt and tell them to mind their p's and q's for the rest of the weekend. The killer at the begining of our film stalks, stalks, and does some more stalking. He hangs out on campus, heads to the lunch room, checks out the cafeteria kitchen. In between the painfully slow stalking, are the kids talking about who they have a crush on, how their going to score more drugs, who they are going to play a prank on next, yadda yadda. But nothing EVER happens.

So when the kills finally kick in about another half an hour later, most occur offscreen, with very little fanfare or worse yet, nearly zero blood. After some more painfully slow stalking, the climax with the final girl happens, and some random hillbilly shows up with a bow and arrow. But instead of saving the day, he gets waxed by the killer. The girl then knocks the killer over the railing at the top of a flight of stairs. Game over. So who's the killer you ask? Who the fuck knows, its NEVER explained. I re-wound the film to see if I missed anything in my semi-conscious, drunken state and I didn't. This slasher film missed the mark after starting off so promisingly. Balls.

Cortez the Killer

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The Final Destination (2009)

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

If you've seen one Final Destination movie, you've seen this one.

The End.

Cortez The Killer

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interview: Alex Horwitz, Writer/Director Alice Jacobs is Dead

A few months back, our buddy Jeff Atencio (the main proprietor of awesome that is The Jaded Viewer), posted a trailer and synopsis for a short indie horror film called Alice Jacobs is Dead. After viewing and reading both, needless to say, I was incredibly intrigued.

I then reached out to the director and he graciously sent me a screener copy of the film. After watching it, I was impressed, as it was something wholly original and truly unique (see review here). Never having exposed myself to short films, I was amazed at just how much could be accomplished and conveyed in such an abbreviated running time. At its heart, Alice Jacobs is Dead is a zombie film, but there is so much more going on. Whereas most focus on the hsyteria behind an outbreak, this film instead looks at things on a more human level. Namely, that of the unflinching love between a man and his wife.

I recently interviewed Alex Horwitz, the writer and director of the film. Here's what he had to say about his idea for the film, how he managed to score the talents of both John La Zar and Adrienne Barbeau, and his reaction to the sub-genre being widely considered as on its last leg.

Cortez The Killer: Where did the idea for Alice Jacobs is Dead come from? Its incredibly original in that, for the most part, most zombie films don’t focus on actual relationships between people. At least not to the depths that you explored.

Alex Horwitz: I’m certainly not the first to wed zombies and character, and I’ve always found that the best genre films have real emotional resonance. There are so many horror films that are slick and scary while you watch them, but utterly forgettable five minutes later. My original concept was a bit more like that, a sort of mad-scientist-loves-his-zombie-wife schlockfest. But I decided that a quiet, somber relationship drama that just happens to be a zombie story would be a lot more memorable, and in turn scarier. After all, I think there’s only a fine line between romance and horror. Both make you queasy, and both have the potential to rip your heart out, one way or another. Casting had a lot to do with shaping the film’s tone. I lucked out beyond belief when both John La Zar and Adrienne Barbeau agreed to do the film.

CTK: How did you manage to score the talents of both La Zar AND Barbeau?

Alex: I was a huge fan of John from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Deathstalker II. A few years ago, I sought him out and struck up a friendship, with both of us saying that we'd love to work together one day. So the script started as a La Zar vehicle. I wrote with Barbeau in mind to play Alice, sent her agent the script, and completely lucked out when Adrienne said 'yes.' Peter Cambor, who plays George, is an old friend from college who's now on NCIS: Los Angeles. It's uncommon to get all your first choice actors for a production this size. I'm very fortunate.

CTK: Why did you choose a short film over its lengthier counterpart? Any plans to potentially make it a full feature?

Alex: I just finished a treatment for a full-length version of the movie, though I originally conceived it as a short. Before Alice, I spent a lot of time working small jobs on big movies, and while I learned a lot doing that, I wanted to make my own films, and I knew that I could make a stronger film by concentrating my resources on a short, rather than spreading them thin over a feature. The tricky part of making the feature will be staying true to the core of the short – an intimate story of one couple, not the chronicle of a zombie holocaust. If it gets made, I think it still will be set in the calm after the storm, but with some glimpses of 'The Scare.' We’ve all seen the zombie outbreak movie so many times, so I want this to be different.

CTK: I love the genre nods in the film and in particular, the scene in which Alice is watching White Zombie on the ol’ boob tube. What are your favorite zombie films and why?

Alex: I can’t imagine a better movie to be playing onscreen in that moment. That’s always been my favorite scene in the film, and it happened to be a constructive, story-driven way for me to wear my geekiness on my sleeve. I prefer it when film references within films enhance the scene, rather than just feel thrown in. The character names, certainly, are nods to some of my favorite zombie films. For me, it still doesn’t get any better than Romero’s first Night of the Living Dead. It’s all writing, very little spectacle. All he had was some poor man’s lighting tricks and a killer script. But I also love Resident Evil and Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, which are pretty slick stylistically, but also well-written. It’s so easy to throw a horde of zombies in the direction of some frightened people and call it a movie. It’s much harder to make us care about the people, and in my favorite zombie flicks, the humans are more memorable than the monsters. I have to throw Shaun of the Dead in here. Just like my film tries to be equal parts horror and love story, Shaun is as effective a comedy as it is a zombie film. I hate it when people only expect one thing from a film. Genre categorization is for wimps.

CTK: Our friends over at All Things Horror brought up an interesting thought that had not occurred to me while watching the film. They likened Alice’s ‘condition’ and her frustration with it to that of an allegory of someone who’s afflicted with some sort of terminal illness. Was that feeling a conscious effort on your part?

Alex: It wasn’t entirely premeditated, but yeah, it was on my mind. Ben and Alice are characters of a certain age, so scenes of degenerative illness, even if that illness is zombism, will inevitably relate to real-life scenarios. One friend told me that the scene of Alice throwing up was very difficult for him, because it brought back memories of watching his mother deteriorate from cancer. I don’t want to upset people, but I’m glad if I can make something as absurd as a zombie hit home with people in a very believable way.

CTK: I said this in my review and I’ve seen it repeated in a few others online, your film did more in its short running time than those with twice the amount. How do you ensure that you get the most out of your actors for that brief amount of time? Is the film making process any different?

Alex: Thanks, I’m glad you think so. I don’t know that the process is much different, it’s just more concentrated. With a short, you want to tell as much story as efficiently as you can. I’d have liked to have spent a little more time exploring the post-disaster world of the story, but then I’d be in the weird limbo length between short and feature. It was just an exercise in editing, at all stages. I trimmed a lot of fat from the first script, then in rehearsal and on set we’d cut a line here or there. The final film is very close to the shooting script, but we did lose some touches. Regrettably, I cut a monologue by Ben in which he explains to George exactly how Alice got infected. It was nice backstory, but it made the film drag. You have to kill your darlings, as they say. But hey, it gives you something to look for in the feature.

CTK: Some believe that the zombie film is on its last leg or that the well of ideas has run dry. Do you think there is more that can be explored within this sub-genre?

Alex: Well, even when a zombie’s last leg snaps off, he’ll keep coming (ed. note: 'wakka wakka wakka'). The old cliché is that it’s always getting harder to be original, but exceptions always come around now and then, and those are the movies we remember twenty or fifty years later. Look, the golden age of the great Hollywood musical died at least fifty years ago, but every once in a while, a Cabaret, or All That Jazz, or Pennies From Heaven, or even Rocky Horror or Little Shop of Horrors comes along. I think it’s safe to assume that we’re going to see a few dozen craptacular, forgettable zombie films for each memorable one, but that’s true of every genre. It’s worth waiting for the good ones. There will be peaks and valleys for every genre, but I Love Sarah Jane and even Zombieland are proof that zombie movies still have some tricks up their sleeves. I haven’t seen Dead Girl or Zombie Honeymoon, but I hear that they’re new takes on the undead as well. There’s always something new, you just have to wait long enough for it.

CTK: You had mentioned to me that the film is still making the festival rounds. Any upcoming screenings that you’d like to mention to our faithful readers?

Alex: We’re waiting to hear from nearly thirty festivals right now, and that number will likely grow. That doesn’t mean we’re in them yet. We premiered at Comic Con’s film festival, and won Best Horror/Suspense Film, but since then, the festival submission calendar saw a lull, so we hope for a big surge in 2010. I hope to be able to announce some screenings soon, which we’ll do on our website. We’re also looking into some online distribution, so hopefully everyone will be able to see it within the next few months.

CTK: What horror film are you most looking forward to in 2010?

Alex: Wow, let me think. I’m such a sucker for the classic Universal horror cycle, so I have to admit that I’m a little excited about The Wolfman. Also, although it won’t be in 2010, I am as excited to see Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel as I am nervous about it. The first three Alien films are sacred to me, as is Blade Runner, so Scott’s return to sci-fi horror is a big deal in my book. Then again, it’s been a long time since Scott hit anything out of the park for me, so I’m on pins and needles. It doesn’t get any better than that series though. I will fight anyone to the death in defense of Alien 3. I wrote an epic blog entry about it, if you’re looking to kill the time before the new one comes out.

CTK: We love supporting indie horror. Anything that we should look out for or be aware of that’s up and coming?

Alex: You know better than I do. I need sites like Planet of Terror to sift the good stuff out for me. I’m really impressed with what Larry Fessenden does. Larry did a cameo role in a feature I co-produced called House of Satisfaction, but he’s best known as a writer, director, and producer of really cool independent horror. The Last Winter was a really memorable, elegant horror film, and I know he’s always scheming and working on new stuff. Also, you’d think with the amount of vampire stuff coming out these days, there’d be more good stuff, but most of it’s so blah. Let the Right One In was such a beautiful film, but nothing else is even coming close. I guess we just have to be patient. Something brilliant will come along.

CTK: Speaking of Fessenden and vampires, have you seen Habit (see our review waaaaay back when here)? A great romance/trip out vamp flick.

Alex: I have, yeah. Actually, Jesse Hartman, the writer/director/star of House of Satisfaction, also has a role in Habit. New York film is a small world. I love Larry's approach in Habit, which is basically 'What if John Cassavetes made a vampire movie?' Let the Right One In is sort of the same exercise, but with Bergman. These are movies that don't rely on balls-out scares, but they get under your skin somehow, and they stick with you. If I did my job well, Alice Jacobs is Dead does the same.

CTK: Well I think it certainly does. Thank you Alex, I really appreciate your time.

Alex: Thanks for your questions and for doing a piece on me. As always, I'm truly thankful for the attention bloggers like you have given Alice.

For more information regarding Alice Jacobs is Dead, check out the film's site.

Cortez The Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dead Alive (aka Braindead) (1992)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5 - but seriously, this one goes to 11
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 1/5

In 1992 I turned 21. Like most people in their early 20's my life was hopelessly confusing and frustrating. I was lonely despite myriad acquaintances, I was busy with numerous artistic projects and spent whatever spare time I had left from that working at a pizza shop and at the YWCA as a day care counselor, yet I was unfulfilled and longing for something I couldn't explain or even identify. And I was dead broke all of the time. In fact, looking back from the plush couch of my suburban life I'm a little surprised that I survived. I was sick all of the time which I now recognize as being a combination of self-induced insomnia and poor (non-existent) nutrition. By the end of the year I would have experienced more changes in my life than any other time before. It was also the year I embarked on an 8 week tour as a temporary guitarist for a band I sort of liked. That gig lasted til 2000.

My point in all that rambling is that I had no time for horror movies, or movies of any sort. None.

So I missed this one and did not see it until I lived with The Fucking Beard in 2000. And I felt like I had wasted my life not having seen it.

Make no mistake, this is not a good movie. It's a B movie by every possible definition. It's goofy, poorly acted, poorly scripted and cheap. And yet, it shines like a diamond thanks to the creative genius of Peter Jackson - you know, the slovenly dude behind the Lord of the Rings movies. Jackson managed to squeeze and milk every last ounce of workable entertainment from his limited budget and gave birth to a splatter classic, years after the splatter craze had died down.

Dead Alive is a zombie movie that takes it's cues from both Evil Dead and Return of the Living Dead. That is to say, it's more Three Stooges and Looney Tunes than George Romero. And by exploring what would happen if an anvil really did drop on a person (metaphorically speaking) it manages to be one of the goriest, splashiest bloodfests of all time.

Babies in blenders, sentient viscera chasing down victims, lawnmower as crowd control, heads being punched off, pus squirting into soup - you name it, Dead Alive has it. Fuck, it even has giant naked puppets and some crappy (read: awesome) claymation in it. Not once, but twice.
I like 'em gory, I like 'em excessive and I like them gross. Dead Alive manages to make me feel slightly queasy at times and that's no mean feat. I mean, really, once this film kicks in, it is relentless.

This movie rips it up. That's right. It "rips it up". It also "shreds" and is "rad". It's the Citizen Kane of splatter, the Rashomon of gorefests. (Insert additionally ridiculous comparisons here). End of story.

- Complaint Dept.

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More Love

I want to thank Mr. Brian Solomon (B-Sol, if you're hip to it) over at the Vault of Horror for his own Fantastically Frightening award and shout out to our blog today. Here is what he had to say:

The Best Blog Not in the LoTT-D: Cortez the Killer spouts off his horror movie reviews from the esteemed Planet of Terror, a blog which deserves far more recognition than it already receives. Hopefully 2010 will be the Year We Make Contact, AND the Year of PoT.

For someone who has such a huge following, its pretty amazing to see just how much he does for his fellow bloggers. Believe me, I've run into some folks who act to cool for school. But for him to show the love constantly to us and other horror bloggers, well I think it says a lot about his character and make up. We truly appreciate your support.

We also received the Shit Eatin' Palance (seriously, who thinks of these things?) award from Jayson over at the Basement of Ghoulish Decadence. He shares my unabashed love of all things trashy and sleazy. Here's what he had to say:

'Great, easy-readin' randomized horror blog that approaches blogging in a similar style as BoGD and I personally find his taste agreeable to my own, hope that's not too much of an insult! I'm unsure what this Cortez is crusading for, but you can count on my steel.'

I wish I could say Complaint Dept and I are tired of the attention but we're not. We weren't popular in high school, so fuck it. But sincerely, thank you to all that have awarded us and continue to support us. We look forward to what 2010 brings.

Cortez The Killer

Eden Lake (2008)

Fear 4/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 3/5

Exhibit 1A why I am scared to death of having mini-mes: they can turn out to be total psychopathic A-holes like the soccer hooligan kids in Eden Lake. Goddamn this movie was depressing as shit.

Eden Lake is an English film set in a rural countryside where a young couple decides to get away from it all and spend a quiet weekend together. They set up camp near the towns crowning jewel: a sprawling lake. Settling in, its not long before they run into the town's hyper douchier version of the Little Rascals. They chase off another kid, let their rottweiler run unleashed and blare the most annoying music not called emo crunk: English hip-hop. Enough to piss anyone off, the man walks over to the kids and instead of saying the 'magic word', he calls the kids dicks and tells them to pipe down. Well thats not a good way to win friends and influence people.

Waking up the next morning, they find their tires slashed. After fixing their ride, they head into town for a little morning tea and crumpets at the local diner. The waitress meets their inquiry (as they try to find out who's responsible for the demon spawns) with an immediate and resounding 'Not mine.' As they drive back to their camping spot, they see a collection of bikes out in front of a house and the boyfriend immediately suspects its them. He gets out of the car while his girlfriend stays behind and he decides that he's going to confront the kids and hopefully, a parent thats home. After no response is had at the side door which happens to be open, he heads in. A drunken father of one of the boys comes home and the boyfriend narrowly escapes being discovered as he makes his way out from a second story window.

They head back to their encampment thinking its the last they'll see of the pint-sized fuckwads. Not so as they wake up the next morning to find their car stolen. The kids tear through the woods, joy riding in their SUV and almost run over the couple in the process. Being so far removed from the city, they are unable to call for help and are essentially stranded in the completely isolated woods. They eventually come across the group later that evening as they've now set up their own encampment. Things escalate quickly when the boyfriend asks for the car keys back, the dog attacks him and one of the boys pulls a knife. In deflecting the attack, the boyfriend stabs the dog and its all down hill from here folks.

The couple attempt to flee the scene and the kids wage an attack on their car when it gets stuck in a ditch. They are able to dislodge the car but end up crashing into a tree nearby, the boyfriend becoming trapped on the drivers side. The boyfriend yells at his gal to run for help and it initially appears that she's off to the races. However, she stays behind only to witness the kids tie him up and take turns stabbing him in a forced right of passage. The boy who lost his dog, becomes the ring leader, forcing all the boys (there is one girl who records video of everything that is going on) to partake. They discover the girlfriend and chase after her, the bloodied and massively bleeding boyfriend freeing himself and escaping during the process. They both find each other running through the woods and from here on out, its a dangerous game of cat and mouse all the way up to the gut wrenching and absolutely bitter end.

It doesn't get much worse than this one kids. The scene where the boyfriend is stabbed is only the tip of the iceberg. Sure, the couple had multiple opportunities to get away from the situation and really, its pretty hard to ignore this fact. But once you get past it, you see that these are two seemingly good people who are completely undeserving of the acts committed upon them.

Its really hard to recommend this. As mentioned, its incredibly depressing. No happy or 'they got what was coming to them' ending to be found. But it does what every horror movie should do: completely shock and terrify the piss out of you. Just have your dog (or insert other type of earthly creature here____) close by to hug afterwards.

Cortez The Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Righteous Award!

First, I'd like to say that the horror blogosfear is an amazing collection of people who do what they do for one purpose and one purpose only: for the love of the genre. Sure, some folks might make a few bucks in the process (we don't, BTW), but at the end of the day, its all about the love, man.

The incredible and illustrious BJ-C over at Day of The Woman, has bestowed upon us probably the raddest honor ever, The Fantastically Frightening Award. It has skeleton hands and boobies on it. How can it not be?

Plus she said some pretty cool things about us:

'The most underrated blog on the interwebz: PLANET OF TERROR! I stalk out blogging worlds all the time and I've been seeing a lack of love for this one. I think it's brilliant and yet forgotten. only 75 followers? What is wrong with the world. Do yourself a favor and FAVORITE this one asap.'

We are honored, humbled and so appreciative of BJ-C's support as well as that of all of YOU. Complaint Dept. and I started this blog about 3 years ago and even though we neglected it like a redheaded step child back in '08, (we both work corporate day jobs and at the time, we were in the process of moving to different states), we persevered and will continue to post as long as we are physically able.

And because we believe in passing things around like a scorching case of herpes, here is a variation of the award for some other well deserved blogs, worthy of your attention.

Midnite Media
The Horror Effect
Tower Farm
In It For The Kills
Midnight Confessions

Cortez The Killer

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

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

What? What's that you say? A Halloween movie without Michael Myers? Poppycock. What are you trying to pull here? Despite a pretty ridiculous plot construct, the film is fun albeit incredibly goofy.

A doctor is seeing an influx of dead bodies running through his hospital, all with Halloween masks either affixed to their face holes or being clutched in their hands as they ramble on about some sort of horror that was exposed. When strange dudes in suits that look all Matrix agent-y like come by his hospital and start trying to dispose of the evidence, he knows something ain't quite right. Along with a girl who's father owns a toy store in town and has gone missing, they decide to go all Hardy Boys detective style. They head out to the Nor Cal countryside to investigate the little town and its manufacturer of said Halloween masks.

Driving through town, they get those 'Them folks ain't from around these parts' types of stares as they cruise through the middle of town. Driving through, they notice the logo of the manufacturer is plastered everywhere. Shacking up (and I mean shacking up because they get to bumping headboards pretty quickly) at the local motel, they are told what a revolutionary and genius inventor the owner of the Halloween mask producing plant is. The doc runs into a drunk who warns him of the evil that goes on in the plant and promptly buys him some booze to get him to cough up more details. After spilling the beans, the drunk heads home and is met by a duo of Matrix agentys. And they promptly perform a head removal service free of charge:

As the doc and lady friend start to investigate more, they find out that.....dun dun dun.....the old man who owns the plant is manufacturing masks that will explode the noggin's of kiddos everywhere on Halloween night. Running commercials every day, the goal is to get as many kids as possible, wearing the masks and sitting in front of the TV for a 'very special' program which will air on said night. Why exactly does the devious developer of ghoulish masks want to off little ankle biters everywhere? Apparently he wants to replicate an ancient Celtic ritual and kill as many of the boogers as possible. Um yeah, that's the ticket. What this has to do with witches is anyone's guess.

So the doc and his female counterpart get captured and are separated by the mad genius inventor. After a demonstration of this fully operational battle station, the doc sneaks out, gets the girl, and heads the fuck out of dodge. But he finds that she was turned into an assassin robot by the mad inventor and she tries to wax him. Not so, as he fends her off by doling out a head severing wicked backhand:


The end sees the doc desperately trying to stop the show from going on and save the kiddos. So does he? Well here is his 'Oh no's' face. You be the judge.

Aside from its silliness, the film is a lot of fun and its a shame that so many people have denounced it (presumably because of Mikey's absence) over the years. Any of our reader faithful care to explain why this wasn't a stand alone titled movie? Carpenter's name is affixed but seems to not have had much involvement by way of writing or production.

Cortez The Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Awards Season!!

This humble blog has been bestowed with two awards, the Kreativ Blogger (yes, that's creative with a K minus the E) and the Lovely Blog (sounds so frilly, like lace and doilies). They were respectfully given to us by our fellow broheim in crime Mattsuzaka over at Chuck Norris Ate My Baby and Mr. Chuck 'you know my stance on the debate from my blog title' Conry over at Zombies Don't Run. Muchas gracias mis amigos!

Now to dish out BOTH awards to a group other deserving blogs. Yup, there are separate rules for both but I'd probably overlap anyways so fuck it. We won a similar award last year, The Honest Scrap. So click on the link and be transported to the 7 (or in this case 10) random things that are supposed to be posted about us. Thats if you are just dying to know some random shit about the two of us yahoos.

Here are our award winners (wieners?):

1. Heart in A Jar: Hands down, the best new horror blogger of 2009. The quality of Steven Senski's posts are bar none and he wrote my favorite blog post of 2009. Doing a bit of investigative work, he uncovered the hard knocks the film Silent Night, Deadly Night went through along with the two pea brained women who stopped at no cost to strong arm theater owners and distro companies (check it out here). I can't wait to see what he has in store for 2010. Simply put, you need to be reading his blog.

2. Chuck Norris Ate My Baby: The funniest guy in the blogging world, horror or not. Mattsuzaka's blog is just plain fun. With posts that range from horror news, to reviews, with also a focus on action films and classic westerns, Matt's posts are top notch, informative with an infusion of goofy ding dongery. Not too mention, he has the two best weekly series on the interwebs: Freddy's Friday Night Dance Party and The Horror Hangover. Also also not too mention, the dude is 9 times out of 10 living in my brain. I think we may have in fact been separated at birth.

3. All Things Horror: Mike Snoonian and Chris Hallock are a dynamic duo of awesome (although I'm sure they'd argue over which one is the caped crusader). Well thought out critiques on horror films, I always search their blog to see how their assessments stack up against my own. Plus, they received my respect and admiration for putting on a film festival in their hometown supporting indie horror filmmakers. Mad respect yo!

4. The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense: Emily over at the longest named horror blog ever, makes quality posts about a vast array of topics, all of which are horror related. From reviews to stories to tidbits about her childhood to REALLY uncovering the horrors behind the Christmas holiday (see here), her wit, humor and writing style is truly unique.

5. The Jaded Viewer: Our other brother from another mother, Jeffrey Atencio is a critic like no other. Don't let the name fool you, he's as objective and fair as they come. Focusing on the finest and not so finest of the horror, grindhouse and exploitation cinema world, he breaks down each review and doesn't get too bogged down with meandering thoughts or incessant ramblings. Straight and to the point, his analysis of each film should leave no doubt in your mind whether or not you should waste that precious NetFlix queue position. Not too mention, his patented ratings system should leave no question as to how serious he is about the films he reviews and covers. Watch out for flying spinkicks!

6. Zombies Don't Run: Our newest friend Chuck posts about anything his little zombie dragging feet desires. From topics ranging from the de-evolution of horror cover art to the death of video stores to his own commentaries regarding what he's seen (both old and new horror films), Chuck does his darndest to provide a wide array of posts that will appeal to every horror nerds heart.

7. Dinner With Max Jenke: Jeff Allard's posts are nothing short of perfection. His analysis of film is impeccable and his knowledge is equally unmatched. His review of Avatar singlehandedly convinced me to give the movie a shot. Sorry Jeff, aside from the effects, I had major issues with it. Regardless, if a review can change your mind about a film you had altogether written off, I think thats a testament to one's writing and influence.

Congrats to all and keep up the amazing work. Now here's your totally gay JPEGs:

Cortez The Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!