Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fright Night (2011)

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

Here is my bottom line on remakes: if you're going to be behind the production of one, at the very least, you have to capture the spirit and heart of the original. Despite some solid performances, Fright Night (2011) doesn't do that. And as a result, in my humble opinion, it's a complete dud.

Teenager Charley Brewster and his mom live in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Charley is your average teenage kid and despite the temptations of the City of Sin, he's by all accounts a pretty good kid. He's well known and liked and he has a beautiful girlfriend to boot. Much to the chagrin of his former buddy Ed, he's popular and runs with the cool kids. He has no time for make believe and Dungeons and Dragons bullshit anymore.

Charley, his mom and his girlfriend meet his newly moved in neighbor one day, a good looking man named Jerry whom his mom is instantly hot in the pants for. He charms them all immediately and tentatively makes a date for drinks and get to know you chit chat over at his house some time soon.


 Mom implores Charley to reconcile with his old buddy Ed. What has been disputed about or why they are at odds is never really explained but it's assumed that Charley's too cool for school attitude has something to do with it. Charley agrees to meet up with Ed at the house of a classmate who hasn't showed up to school for a few days. Ed proceeds to tell Charley that his neighbor is really a vampire and that he needs to be concerned for the safety of his household. Why or how Ed knows that Jerry is a vampire is also never explained. When Charley exits stage left due to the absurdity of it all, Jerry confronts Ed and we don't see Ed for the vast majority of the rest of the film.

So Charley gets a bit suspicious when Ed doesn't come to school one day and when Jerry comes knocking on his back door that night in order to borrow some beers for a hot date. Charley doesn't invite him into the house and makes his way to the refrigerator with the door wide open and all eyes on Jerry. When he hears screams in the house, he goes investigating and sure enough, discovers the truth about Jerry. This review is getting harder to write as I go along as, well, it's just 'blah.'


OK, so Charley doesn't know who else to turn to and seeks to the guidance and hopeful aide of one Mr. Peter Vincent, a Vegas performer who's supposedly an expert in the paranormal and supernatural. By far the best performance of the whole affair, as David Tennant plays a cross between Criss Angel and Russell Brand. After an initial reluctance, Mr. Vincent agrees to help. A standoff happens with a now damned Evil Ed and eventually, a final one (with some really absurd CGI) with Mr. Danridge. The. End.


Look, I'm not one of the bitter monkeys who instantly cries foul every time news of a remake occurs. That ship sailed a long time ago with me. I just kick back and accept the fact that they are going to get churned out. But as mentioned, the end product still has to have heart. The relationship between Ed and Charley was such an integral part of the first film and it's almost non-existent here. You can tell Farrell and Tennant really relished their roles but decent acting does not a good film make. Overall, Fright Night was a tougher remake because of the fact that the original was such a product of its time. Peter Vincent originally being a TV horror host and lamenting about slashers and how he was being run out of a job was just so indicative of the times. And the ironic thing is here was this vampire film that became a hit in the midst of all these Freddy's and Jason's of the world. This rendition of Fright Night makes a lame attempt to be relevant with a crack that Ed makes about Twilight.

Overall, this is one you can skip and not feel like you've missed anything. However, your mileage may vary. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

P.S. The fact that Fright Night (2011) pulls up as a first search result in IMDB when you type in 'Fright Night' is a fucking travesty.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, January 27, 2012

Megan Is Missing (2011)

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

Many thanks to my friend, the illustrious BJ-C over at Day of the Woman for turning me on to this film that has one humdinger of an ending. It is of the found footage variety but with multiple videos strung together that are also interspersed with some 'real' news footage. It tells the story of two girls who are far too carefree and trusting of those whom they meet, especially online. And some subtle commentary of teens today plays out as we go along.

Megan and Amy are two seemingly normal teenage girls. They like to talk about boys and videotape themselves being silly and doing, well, normal silly teenage girl things. But that soon gives way to a wild side which is shown about Megan. Sure she likes to participate with Amy in the silly girly shenanigans. But when other 'friends' come-a-calling, and the night falls, she becomes someone entirely different. A girl much too footloose and fancy free for someone being so young. She is not at all under the care and watch of involving parents.

Much to her reluctance, Amy is dragged out to one of Megan's outings one night. Cameras shift perspective as we meet a party organizer who's videotaping the whole affair, having invited a bunch of these young adults over for a good time (AKA drugs, booze and sex). Amy is the outcast as not only does she not participate in anything that's in front of her, but she's met with instant disapproval among the party goers who think that she's just one big fat loser.


But despite a terrible night and her friend going down on some random guy to score drugs, that doesn't deter Amy. She still loves her best friend despite her reckless and uncontrolled ways. Mommy and daddy have bought her a new video camera which she uses to continue to document just how silly but normal a teenager she is: interviewing mom, bugging dad, giving a tour of her house, etc. Pretty harmless stuff. However, things take a turn towards the dark when she interviews Megan and she breaks down about her current home life and what actually occurred in the household wherein she grew up.

The revelations which Megan gives on camera is just the tip of the iceberg. She soon tells Amy of an interaction she had with a man online and her desire to meet him because of a supposed 'connection.' Amy is at first suspicious but when a 'real' photo of the skateboard loving dude is produced, her concerns are eased. But when Megan doesn't return home after a planned encounter, she becomes worried. Further interaction with the online man only furthers her concern and she eventually alerts the news and local authorities.


As things play out in the media, here is where our subtle commentary takes place: Megan is painted as the picture of the All-American girl. Smart, beautiful and popular, she's the type of girl you'd want your son to date and your daughter to emulate. It's so eerie that you start to wonder 'Is this the picture of every missing teenage, white, middle-American girl that is painted and are they incredibly far off from reality?' Our story turns to the all-out grotesque as Amy is taken by Megan's captor and the true horror that has happened to her is revealed and innocent Amy endures the same.

Megan Is Missing is one kick you in the gut film even though you may see the ending coming from a mile away. However, nothing can prepare you for what you'll see. Despite some glaring logic gaps (why would Amy's parents continue to let her go out by herself even though they knew a kidnapper was loose?), the realistic story is gripping and compelling. And it's not something that's too far off from something you'd see plastered on the front page of the morning paper. And my god, the 'barrel scene' (you'll know it once you see it) is enough to bring most genre watching vets to their knees.

Megan Is Missing is currently available to stream via NetFlix.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)

Fear 2/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
 
Some Guy Who Kills people is an indie pic that I've been hearing about for awhile now. Festival goers and film critics 'in-the-know' have raved about this very character driven horror comedy. Through the magic of the interwebs (thanks Twitter!) I was able to connect with the film's writer and he obliged with a request for a screener copy. So is the film any good? A resounding 'Hell yes!' from this humble little corner of the blog-o-sphere.

Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) is what many would call a loser. He's a thirty something who's recently been released from the loony bin after a failed attempt at suicide. He's also landed a job at the local ice cream parlor (much to the reluctance of the establishment's owner). To top it all off, Ken is the constant recipient of snide remarks courtesy of his roommate: his mother (played with a bit of relish by Ms. Karen Black). Despite all that, Ken is a pretty talented comic book artist. So what drove this man to want to commit suicide? Years prior, he drew a book which mocked his high school basketball team. The 'perfect' guys at school. They banded together to teach Ken a lesson, taking turns taunting and shaming him in an old abandoned house.


Despite his awkwardness and aversion to really socialize with anyone, Ken continues on, practicing his craft, working at his measly and unappreciative day job and he even catches the eye of a cute blond. However, just when you think he's back to having some sort of semblance of a normal life, we see his drawings and just how violent they are. Is this his way of expressing his emotions or is he the one involved in a series of murders that involve the former members of the local high school basketball team?


To complicate matters further, his young daughter has entered the picture, wanting to meet her real daddy as she's found out that mom has been less than truthful about his history and whereabouts. Ken is at first incredibly awkward and unsure of how to act around her. But he slowly comes around and the two begin to form a bond. There's real heart and warmth here, despite how goofy and awkward Ken is. Despite all of his anxiety, awkwardness and just plain weirdness, the guy is a decent enough man who knows he should be more open to relationships but just doesn't know how to (a funny scene occurs when the daughter has a mock date with him and he doesn't have any clue what to do).


But it's all ready to come crashing down when the body count continues to pile up and Ken finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. All these years of being locked up and consumed by his hatred, letting it spill out on the page when he draws, being released and then finally seeing the light of day, is he so consumed by his hate that revenge is now the order of the day? Or is it someone else? Someone closer to him whom no one suspects.

Some Guy Who Kills People is a horror film with a lot of heart. There is a decent amount of gore soaked goodness here for sure. But the real achievement is the rich story and really hilarious, deadpan, gallows humor. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the performance of the great Barry Bostwick who plays the town's sheriff and love interest of Boyd's mom. He almost steals the show and his one liners are a thing of beauty.

For more information about the film, check out its website: http://someguywhokillspeople.com/index.html
While you're there, I encourage you to sign up for the email newsletter so you can stay up-to-date on the film's release and (hopefully) VOD availability. This one is not to miss folks!

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kill List (2011)

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

Kill List is an utterly shocking film and one that will swirl around in your head for days as you try to figure out the meaning of it all. It's essentially a film with three sections that play out in succession with just a bit of interconnectedness to hold everything together and not make it feel like one big mess. I imagine (and hope) this is a genre film that will be talked about quite a bit once it gets a more widespread release.

Meet Jay. He is a retired special forces member or at least that is what he'd rather have you believe. Apparently, a botched assignment led to an early exit along with his best friend Gal. He's had a hard time readjusting to normal life, getting back to being a husband and father to his beautiful wife and young son. Tensions are soon seen within the family as money issues are discussed and dad needs to find something else to bring in some much needed coin.


One night, Gal and his new girlfriend (a skinny, tall, dark-haired woman) come over for dinner with tensions between husband and wife already at a high. Friendly conversation soon gives way to an uncomfortable shouting match at the dinner table as money talk breaks out and the wife's bitterness towards her husband's former profession rings through. Husband and wife carry it over into the kitchen and Gal's new girl heads upstairs to compose herself as she's visibly shaken. Gal then takes Jay out to the garage to cool off. There, he tells him that they both need to get back into 'the game.' What game is that exactly? Jay and Gal were actually contract killers. After a little prodding, Jay agrees and it's off to see a man about a job. But before we get to that, the new love interest of Gal draws a strange symbol in the upstairs bathroom.

The next day, the contract killing duo arrive at a sprawling mansion and upon entering the house, are instructed to meet the proprietor in his main study. Not much is said between the man and the pair but a hefty some of money is sent their way along with a list of people who need to be placed six feet under. No background is given on each one. All they have is a list. And so begins the life that Jay once knew and has chosen to throw himself back into: one that's on the road and away from his family.


After getting settled into a hotel which will become their base of operations, the nasty and sometimes brutal killings commence. The first being a priest who is taken out in his natural setting just as he enters his sacristy. The second, a child pornographer is assaulted in his home. Before Jay can deliver the death blow with a hammer, the man bizarrely smiles and acknowledges the fact that he knows what Jay is.

The pair continue on, going down the list with Jay as the main perpetrator and Gal as his driver. Being on the road begins to take a toll on Jay and it becomes obvious that things are not well back home. He becomes haunted by visions including the tall, dark-haired gal pal of Gal, standing across the street from his hotel one night. Is that really her he's seeing or is this latest job blurring the lines of reality?


Despite wanting to give up, they forge ahead with the last remaining kill being closer to Jay's home. Here is where the last act of our film goes completely fuck nuts crazy: the pair head out to the woods, seeking a strategic position to pick off their next target. After setting up camp, they see a parade of masked, torch bearing people. The group encircles a girl who is set to die by hanging. After interrupting the ceremony, Jay and Gal are chased by the group. I'll stop right here because I don't want to give the rest of the film away. What I will say is that the cult makes their way to Jay's home. Jay is lead back out to the field and one of the most shocking endings I've ever seen to a film takes place.

Simply put: you need to see and experience this film.

Kill List is currently available to rent via various VOD services. It's also in the middle of a limited theatrical run. I can't recommend this one enough. http://www.kill-list.com/

Cortez the Killer


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kidnapped (2010)

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

Had I seen this film earlier, it probably would have been in my list of top 10 horror films of 2011 (it was released stateside last year despite being released in Spain in 2010). Frightening, brutal and all-too-real in a ripped from the headlines sort of way, Kidnapped focuses on a well-to-do family as they suffer through one night of total hell at the hands of masked men who've broken into their home. At first, it seems like they'll get out unscathed if they just listen to the men and their demands. But that notion becomes dispelled as things play out and we're exposed to some incredibly brutal and downright disheartening scenes.

The film begins with a man who's lying on the ground, bound and wearing a plastic bag over his head. At first, we presume him to be dead. But he soon gasps and manages to make it to his feet. What plays to such great effect in this scene is the fact that you're put on edge very early on in the proceedings. You find yourself asking 'What's happened to this man and how did he get there?' Limping along, he comes into contact with a passing motorist who lets him use his cellphone so that he can warn his family. After getting someone on the other end, he realizes that it's much too late.


We proceed on to our main story as a family (mom, dad, and daughter) begins their move into a new home, a large mansion that is located in a gated community. From the looks of it, dad is a successful businessman who has many valuables in his possession including some that he keeps hidden behind a safe. Despite the upscale nature of the family, they are still relate-able. Their first night in the new house, mom and dad want to spend some family time together but the teenage daughter wants nothing to do with them. She'd rather hang out with her friends instead of spending time with dear ol' mom and dad. After all, that's just so lame.

Plans for the evening are quickly derailed as three masked intruders break into the home through a side window. The occupants are rounded up and ordered to sit on the living room couch. The masked men promise that no one will get hurt as long as they do as they're told. The family obliges with their demands, forking over their cellphones and debit cards and pin numbers. After one of the masked men grabs dad and instructs him to drive to the nearest ATM, it seems like the whole ordeal will be over before dinner time.


Things unravel when dad becomes testy with the man who's driven him to the bank and a couple of people  stop by the home to check on the family and they get caught up in the madness. First, a young man who's come by the house to pick up the teenage daughter followed then by the gated community's rent-a-cop. Bloodletting takes place after their arrivals but things take a markedly sharp turn for the worst with a vicious rape of the daughter. This action is followed up by a prompt one of retribution as she takes a decoration piece and uses the blunt object to smash her attacker's face in. Our story culminates with dad coming home only to be faced with far more worries. A bloody standoff takes place which will absolutely suck the life out of you.

This isn't a happy one folks. Despite the family's detachment from about 99% of the rest of the population (not trying to make a political reference here, but you get the idea), in all meaningful home invasion flicks, you still want to see the captives make it out alive. Kidnapped is one gut punching film and it will leave you feeling breathless and empty.

Cortez the Killer


Thursday, January 12, 2012

True Nature (2010)

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

True Nature is a fantastic thriller. A thriller who's true horror lies within the revelation of a broken family unit. A family so morally bankrupt, so oblivious to their actions that it almost costs them the life of their daughter. When their daughter goes missing and then inexplicably comes back after all presume her to be dead, mom and dad carry on as if nothing ever happened. The latter is exposed for the sellout he truly is. And eventually, all hell breaks loose.

Our story begins with the meeting of the incredibly rich and well-to-do Pascal family. Dad is a high powered business man, shrewd but flawed in that he's just made a really bad and shady business decision. Mom is completely controlling over her student athlete daughter, wanting her to act and be a certain way. She's entirely dismissive of her relationship of her boyfriend and wants her to have absolutely nothing to do with him. How this young woman has survived for so long in a controlling, manipulative and dishonest family is anyone's guess.

Just after the father's shady business dealings and subsequent disappointment with people who, quite frankly, shouldn't be disappointed or crossed, our daughter mysteriously goes missing while on a late night run. She isn't seen for over a year until she shows up late one night on the family's doorstep, visibly bruised and scarred. After a few days of trying to adjust, it's right back to the life she knew before. But some internal affects are soon revealed.


Dad is still the ever busy business man. With the daughter trying to reintegrate back into a 'normal' life, it's dear old mom she has to deal with on a day in and day out basis. Mom is still the ever controlling force and she does not want her to reunite with her boyfriend at all. But it's mom's complete obliviousness to the fact that something is 'off' about her daughter that makes things so infuriating. She so wants her daughter to reintegrate back into this life, to so easily be submissive to her wants and desires in terms of how she should behave and live her life that she completely misses the fact that something is deeply wrong with her. At first, we see the daughter as she sleeps at night, a believed to be supernatural presence looms over her as she does. It soon becomes apparent that this entity is more a representation of her fractured and damaged psyche. One that knows full well what dear old dad did and one that can't take another moment of an overbearing and unconcerned mother.


And she begins to push back. At first through words but then through action. Literally, as vengeance is the order of the day and bloody and brutal it turns out to be. The chicken has come home to roost.

The real-life horrors presented in True Nature is what makes it so compelling. Instead of her family looking out for her and protecting her, dad basically sold her up the river and mom could have cared less about whatever was affecting her emotionally when she came back and tried to reintegrate. A fantastic job by the filmmakers to ensure there wasn't a sympathetic bone in our bodies for the husband and wife when the bloodletting commenced. It's these types of films that provide the best horror: the ones rooted in reality.

For more information about the film, check out it's website: www.TrueNatureTheFilm.com

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Final Destination 5 (2011)

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

If you've seen any of the films in the series, then you've seen this one. Oh but there's a 'twist' on how you can really confuse Mr. Scythe Bearing Deathy Pants. And a neat-o scene at the end that references the first film.

It also contains one of the best death scenes in a horror film from the past year. Bummer on the dismount!
The End.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rage (2010)

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

Confession time: I don't always like a film the first time I watch it. Such is the case with Rage. Upon first viewing, I felt like the filmmakers didn't know what they wanted it to be. Is it a thriller? Is it pseudo-grind house? The acting in parts was awful and the soundtrack was grating. I was ready to give this a scathing review. But for some reason, I decided to re-watch it, compelled by the ending which I perceived to be, quite frankly, bullshit. Had I actually missed something? Upon said re-watch, it dawned on me. I caught on to the dark humor and the overall point to the madness. Enough of my blabbering, on to the review!!!

Meet Dennis. He's a squirly, meek-ish, mouse of a dude. A struggling writer who can't come to terms with the fact that his wife is the main bread winner. Despite her support of him (both monetarily and career-wise) he felt compelled to pump his man seed into another woman. After promising to go in to town and get her 'something nice', he instead heads in to break things off with his fling. A moment of hilarity ensues as the French-y accented woman tells him he basically had no issues with putting his purple mushroom into her axe wound and he's one no good jackhole for breaking her heart. Upon exiting stage left, he notices a leather clad, dark helmeted, crotch rocket riding dude trailing him as he heads out of the down town area.


And from here on out it's a cat and mouse game. Dennis is trailed by the biker, taunted and even comes into direct contact with his car as the biker scrapes the side of it. Initially blown off as just another douchey roadster, irritated indifference soon turns into full on paranoia. Before he heads completely out of town, he has a lunch date with his buddy. After recounting the whole break-up and talking about his tremendous guilt, he heads back out and is still trailed by the biker. He takes shelter in a nearby parking garage, hoping the biker would pass up and leave him be. Upon dozing off and waking up, he finds the biker nowhere to be seen and decides to head home.

After getting home and making up an excuse to his wife as to why he was gone for so long and why he has a welt on his forehead (from slamming on the breaks and hitting the steering wheel after one close encounter), he heads upstairs to indulge in some whiskey and a nice, hot, warm bubble bath. What guys doesn't do this?


As you can imagine, Mr. Biker shows up at his residence and it's all downhill from here. Thriller turns into home invasion and Mr. Biker exacts one mean, brutal and vicious plot. Just to back up for a minute, Dennis thought the whole time that the boyfriend of the dumped girlfriend was after him and throughout this entire affair he tried to frantically call her to get him to call the dogs off. After a brutal scene in a bedroom with him and his wife, the still helmeted biker sets his sights on an annoying neighbor and his wife. Here's where dark humor and faux-grindhouse comes in: the elderly wife dials the wrong number to 911, chainsaw deaths are dispensed left and right and the entire affair wasn't perpetrated by a pissed off ex. It was....well, you'll just have to see.

As mentioned, what initially bothered me about the film was that I felt like it didn't know what it wanted to be. Moving from thriller to grind house-y, coupled with goofy dialogue and a Lifetime movie of the week soundtrack, I asked myself  'What the hell is this?' But after that re-watch, I thought to myself it must have been all by design. At least I think so. Regardless, this is one to watch. If it made me want to re-watch it, (keeping in mind the scores of crap I watch) that has to to say something.

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hostel III (2011)

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

I had absolutely no desire to see this. No Eli Roth + straight to DVD = a sure to be disaster. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. Respected horror critic after respected horror critic (and some assholes who illegally downloaded a copy of the film before it was released), said it wasn't half that bad. Entertaining even. Well, lack of desire turned to curiosity in about 2.5 seconds and after watching the film, I'm glad I did because it was a hoot!

Bringing the Elite Hunting organization stateside, Hostel III sees a group of guys celebrating their buddy's impending nuptials via a wild and crazy bachelor party weekend in Sin City. Toning down the irritating characters (especially the ugly Americans in part I), this sequel sees us identifying a bit with this group of guys. Sure, they want to take part in the requisite debauchery that is a part of this ritual. But they are a normal group of guys and their depictions are such that they're probably not too far off from friends that you may call your own.


Anywhos, it's not long before they come into contact with a pair of penile uplifting hottie boom botties. They tell them about a super awesome private party that you can only attend if you're 'in the know.' Of course they're thinking with their lower extremities guys and immediately jump at the chance. They cab it out to the locale which is located down a dark alley. This can't be good. But just when you think it's a set-up for what will be the trapping of these lads and subsequent sale of them to the highest bidder, it's actually all a planned party for our bachelor, the girls being strippers and in on the whole gag.


So the boys get to partying with the ladies and go a little too overboard. Drink after drink is consumed, some pass out, some attempt to make boom boom with the ladies. Other people are watching with vested interest and are keeping a close tab on that night's proceedings. The group wakes up the next morning only to find them minus one: a broheim has gone missing. Texts are exchanged just like in prior films and the text-ers lure them to a secret compound.


The film follows suit just like the first two in terms of one of the friends escaping and surviving the whole affair. But there are a couple of interesting things going on that make this one different than prior installments. First, instead of the hunting club members just killing them in gruesome ways (there is still plenty of that), there are viewers behind a one way glass mirror, placing bets on the whole thing. What are they betting on exactly? Why things like 'When will the victim cry about having a wife and kids?' Or 'How many arrows from a fired crossbow will it take to kill them?' Pretty fucked up and it adds a neat-o twist to the whole demented affair. Second, is the main twist itself as the boys learn....well, I don't want to spoil the whole thing for you now, do I?

If you're on the fence about Hostel III, don't be any longer. It's a lot of fun and interesting enough that I'm actually intrigued to see where they take this series next. Well done Mr. Scott Spiegel, well done indeed.

Cortez the Killer