Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Exit Humanity (2011)

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

Wanna know one of the best things that I love about horror? When I've grown tired of a particular sub-genre, ready to write it off with any mention of the word 'zombie' or 'vampire', a film comes out of left field to smack me over the head. This fine period piece zombie epic missed my radar and it was a wonderful surprise. No way this film escapes my year end 'best of' list. It's that fantastic.

Exit Humanity focuses on a civil war vet named Edward (please don't get visions of Twilight in your head) who has to contend with a deadly zombie outbreak. The film does a wonderful job in the early goings, intertwining the histrionics along with the plague and bringing us to the current predicament of our war vet. This man has lost his wife to the rotting hands of the undead and his son is nowhere to be found. He sets out to search for him but becomes painfully heartbroken when he finds that he's become one of their numbers and he reacts quickly by putting him down.

The crux of our story involves Edward as he travels by foot, taking the ashes of his son to a special location that he promised to bring him to one day. His dedication and narration of events (as told through his journal) which accompanies the whole of our film is both heartwarming and sad. Along the way, he meets a man who is fending for himself and looking for his lost sister. They decide to join forces and offer to help each other out.

Along the way, they come across a group of rogue former soldiers and their leader, a General Williams (played by genre vet Bill Moseley). I have to say this is the best performance I've seen from him since, well, The Devil's Rejects. He's not just collecting a paycheck here. He plays the General with such cruelty and lack of compassion and his 'me first' attitude shows with every word that is spoken. We find that the sister is being held by the group and as our story unfolds further, she comes to play a pivotal role in the film. Not only in gaining the affection of Edward, but also becoming the focus of what General Williams and his men are actually looking for.

Make no mistake, even though this is film heavily driven by it's characters, there is plenty of gore here and some really great practical effects. But the story of one man's journey, his goal of obtaining inner peace with what is going on around him, and ultimately his rebirth, is really the main driving force behind the film and what makes it unique. It stands head and shoulders above most zombie films. In fact, this is the film that The Dead wishes it could be.

Check this one out ASAP via various VOD services. Scratch that, pay an extra $5 and just buy it now on sale at Amazon for $10.95. Link

Seriously, this one is not to be missed. I know this term gets thrown around a lot and it's a bit silly, but this one is an instant classic and essential viewing for me. Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the cinematography. Absolutely gorgeous.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, June 25, 2012

Entrance (2012)

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

Entrance is a slow burn thriller but not the good kind. It does absolutely nothing to enlighten the viewer on the frustrating life of the main character even though we are supposed to empathize with her boring, going nowhere, everyday life. Because of this, the film is a long exercise in tedium and it's one prolonged fit of fury as the plot goes nowhere and is ultimately pointless. When the real horror hits, it's too little too late. And even that (and why it's happening) is a muddled mess.

The film focuses on a young woman as she goes about her every day life: working as a barista, walking her dog, expressing her frustrations with her roommate and living situation, rinse, repeat. The vast majority of our film is a lot of boring nothing. We're supposed to empathize with her going nowhere, stagnant life but the film does nothing to shed light on the character (i.e. who she is, where she's from, etc.) we are supposed to have a vested interest in.

Our plot doesn't really go anywhere until she finds her dog missing one day. OK, that's not entirely true as she notices a car following her on some of her evening strolls with her canine companion. But these moments along with the missing dog are really the only semi-interesting ones and are meant to create tension and drama but don't because by this time, you've already checked out.

Things culminate in a goodbye party for the woman as she's ready to move out of her current living situation and, hopefully, start fulfilling her dreams (whatever those are). Our film goes from a boring dramatic thriller to home invasion flick with a purpose and rationale that makes absolutely no sense. It's enough to royally piss you off as you've sat through the long, drawn out proceedings and the payoff is equally if not more frustrating than anything that came before it.

Entrance fails at everything that it tries to be: it's not a good thriller nor is it an effective character study. Avoid this at all costs unless being bored to tears and watching pointless, directionless films is your thing.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I realized something today: in all the time that I've been doing this blog, I haven't done a very good job of following up with you, my dear planeteers, on indie films that have been released and where you can buy them. Sure, I post the occasional press release. I also link to the film's website in my reviews (hoping you bookmark it for future reference). But I don't let you know where exactly you can purchase the film or even better, when it's on sale through the distributor or an online retailer. For shame!

Well that is all about to change as I'm starting this here feature around alerting YOU when the price of a good film has dropped or if a particular distributor is offering a super mondo, fantabuloso deal on some bangin' horror films. And if you think of a better name for the series than 'DVDeals', there just may be a free film or two coming your way.

The first 'for less than two extra value meals' film is The Bleeding House which premiered at last year's Tribeca film festival. Taken from my year end 'best of' list from last year:

A family looking to start anew in a small town out in the middle of Nowheresville, USA, is slowly revealed to be harboring some dark secrets. Initially, not a whole lot is known about what it is they're actually hiding. But everything is brought out into the open when an unexpected visitor, sporting some white threads from head to toe and speaking in a distinct southern drawl, comes knocking on their door. At first unassuming and charming, he soon reveals his true nature and intentions. The Bleeding House is a great psychological/home invasion thriller.

The film is currently on sale at Amazon for a measly $14.77. The packaging and artwork alone is worth the price. Dig it:

The super over-the-top and whacky in it's fucked-up-edness feature The Taint, is available through the film's website in multiple formats (digital download, DVD, and even VHS) starting off at the incredibly low price of $5. FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS! Go buy it now or I will send one of the perverted engorged penis killers in the film after you.

Absentia is one of the best horror films made in the past 10 years. Right that down. It plays so well and it gets only better and better with each repeat viewing. Taken again from my aforementioned post:

A film that fantastically combines both the supernatural and the surreal, Absentia will be heavy in my re-watch rotation for years to come. A woman decides to stop the search efforts for her husband after years of looking for him with nary a trace, sign or reason for his disappearance. No one knows why he suddenly up and left one day. Moving into her home is her kid sister, a recovering addict who's looking to start over. On the kid sister's morning jogs, she makes her way through a tunnel which runs underneath a freeway and out to another thoroughfare. It's soon revealed that something inhabits the tunnel and has long pulled lives into its grasp. And when the woman's husband unexpectedly re-appears, after the point he's declared legally dead, this thing comes looking for him. Part supernatural thriller, part Lovecraftian monster tale, Absentia is a unique and classic piece of filmmaking.

You can purchase the film at everyone's favorite mega retailer Walmart for the paltry sum of $9.96. It's not even $9.99. You get a super cheap-o priced flick AND you save fucking 3 cents. Want proof? Here is my camera pic:

Well that's all for now kids. Keep your peepers peeled for another installment of DVDeals (or insert better name here _______).

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

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

While not a horror film in the truest sense, there are plenty of moments in We Need To Talk About Kevin that will induce cringes and make you want to bring your knees up to your chest while you sit on the couch and wonder 'How the fuck can one person be so messed up?' The film takes the creepy kid in horror or dramatic thriller to a whole new level. Kevin makes Damien look like a saint.

Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a woman who at the onset of our film is living alone and being terrorized in her day-to-day life. From blood red paint being strewn across the front of her house to being sucker punched in her work parking lot, she obviously did something to draw the ire of the townsfolk. As our story alternates between time periods, we see just what happened to this simple, quiet, but strangely reserved woman.

We go back to where Eva and her husband Franklin (played with goofy but likeable aplomb by John C. Reilly) welcome their son Kevin into the world. From the beginning, the kid gives Eva fits as she stays home with him as Franklin works a day job. From standing in front of a construction worker's jackhammer to quell the incessant screams to getting indignant stares after being asked to roll a ball during his early development, this is a history which is beginning to be painted as very troublesome.

Flash forward during his later adolescent and teenage years and things have become that much more concerning: Kevin has mastered the art of manipulation to get what he wants, he makes no apologies for random acts of destruction and violence, and he even subjects his sister to his sick, twisted, sociopathic ways. This is one demented kid with no real rhyme or reason for being the way he is other than having a mother who probably should have done more to keep this kid in check (read: slap the shit out of him).

Things eventually become worse as a wedge is driven between husband and wife. Dad is completely oblivious despite mom's claims that something is wrong with Kevin and that something needs to be done about his behavior. Dad continually waves her off and actually adds fuel to the fire as he enthusiastically supports his new found love of archery. Our film eventually concludes in heartbreaking fashion and our monster shows absolutely no remorse for what it is he's done.

This just might be the type of film that encourages more vasectomies in men or tube tying in women. If you are on the fence about kids, you may say 'No thanks. I'll get another dog.' This film is unrelenting disorder and unprescribed chaos from beginning to end. Despite the wife's meek and un-confrontational nature, this family was not deserving of the horrors which befell them.

With fantastic performances and one gut punching finale, We Need To Talk About Kevin is a phenomenal film and character study. How can one person be so morally bankrupt? Is it a natural antithesis to being born to such a quiet and reserved mother? I shudder when I think about the prospect of people like this existing in the real world.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Pact (2012)

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

 The Pact is a fantastic little chiller. It's the kind of film that leverages location and space to generate atmosphere with great effect. It does have its moments where it reminds you of other films (I'll refrain from mentioning because I don't want to be spoiler-y) and you will no doubt notice just how much it's like other films of similar ilk. But it does what it does really well. And it also does something that all great horror films should strive to do: show me a scare or two which I've never seen before.

Annie has recently returned to her childhood home after her elderly mother has passed away. We quickly learn that she is there to pick up the pieces and get things squared away with a home that is fully furnished and looks like it's still being lived in. Her sister wants to have absolutely nothing to do with the place much less be an attendee at her mother's funeral. Annie is reluctant (to say the least) about being there. It seems that neither her nor her sister had the best home life growing up.

It's not very long into the proceedings that we start hearing strange noises in the home. We also see a dark figure lurking about the house. Things take a turn for the much more strange when Annie comes home one day to find her sister's car parked out front, her cellphone in the hallway closet, but no sign of her. When her cousin disappears at the hands of the dark figure while staying with her after the funeral and Annie herself is accosted by an unseen force, she enlists the help of a local police officer and medium to find out what is going on.

Our film takes various twists and turns along the way, giving you bits and pieces about Annie's past but not showing all of its cards until the very end. I don't want to get into any of the specifics because the success of this film relies on the fact that you don't know too much about the back story of the family going in. I'll only say that a transition from the supernatural to the very real occurred which was handled very deftly and it could have easily crumbled and rendered the preceding hour and 20 min or so completely pointless.

And egads! Back to the scares. I won't go too much into them--I'm not really giving you a whole lot right now, am I? You'll know them when you see them. Let's just say one uses modern technology in a brilliant and innovative way and is pulled off with such perfection. It gave me chills, chills I say! It was a great move by the filmmakers and it actually fit into the overall storyline. Absolutely genius and stunning.

This was a neat, bone chilling haunter. And despite the fact that it will remind you of more than one genre film, the inventiveness of the scares are worth the price of admission alone. But the acting and overall quality of the film were pretty top notch too.

The Pact is currently available to rent via various VOD services from IFC Films.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, June 8, 2012

Remakes And The Like

This post isn't an angry diatribe against remakes. Well sort of. It's more frustration than anything else. The hate train left the station a long time ago with me. I'm resigned to the fact now that they're going to happen.  Remakes are as inevitable as my San Diego Padres sucking or the Chargers being a monumental let down year in and year out.

Don't get me wrong, I like some remakes. I still think the Last House On The Left Remake is better than the original and I'll have civil (but poo flinging) words with anyone that thinks otherwise. And the Dawn of the Dead (2004) is one of my favorite modern horror films as it explored different concepts than the original. It truly did some unique and original things.

And I understand why they continue to happen. With remakes, there is an established property. Studios don't have to try very hard and there is instant name recognition. By mere title alone it's guaranteed to put butts in the seat, regardless of how well it does or the quality of the film itself. The risk factor is very low and the reward potential is very high. Plus you have suckers like me: loyal fans that will check it out because curiosity is a real bitch. I always love asking filmmakers and actors that I interview this very question: 'To remake or not to remake, that is the question.' By and large, they loathe them and it incites such an impassioned response. I digress.

What I really wanted to comment on with this post is a potential trend that I hope never happens: the proliferation of the remake on the small screen. Just a few weeks ago, multiple sites reported that Martha Marcy May Marlene (AKA the greatest film tongue tie of all-time) writer and helmer, Sean Durkin, is set to write and direct a TV mini-series entitled The Exorcist. This mini-series would focus on the lead-up to the events within the story as well as the aftermath. Some sites reported that there will also be a focus on the back stories of both Fathers Merrin and Karras. 'But Cortez', you say. 'They already remade Carrie for the small screen, and it didn't spawn a slew of remakes for the boob tube!' Indeed, that is true. But we are talking about the mother of all horror films. A film that has singlehandedly defined a sub genre of horror, hell even the genre itself in some people's eyes. The film that EVERYONE uses a reference point when talking about other films that focus on the dealings of the man downstairs.

And why does it have to be called The Exorcist? Why can't it be entitled Before The Exorcism or something to that effect? I like the idea of exploring the priest's back stories but wasn't that already done with Exorcist: The Beginning? I honestly don't think that that film is as bad as everyone says it is. I digress yet again. There is just so much weight behind that name. If it's terrible, it will do more harm than good. But such is the case with remakes and the aforementioned name recognition.

It took me awhile to be at peace with remakes being on a steady stream within theaters. But what about the thought of them being a constant on the small screen? Well intelligent and original TV shows are pretty much non-existent anyways so would it really be that much of a surprise? Ah, but just like the sucker I am, I'll most likely check it out.

So what say you loyal readers? What are your thoughts on this announcement and the idea to remake yet another 'sacred' classic? Would you mind if remakes became regular on the small screen?

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Boogeyman (1980)

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

Jumping jehosaphat kiddies! This is one insane slice of 80's demonic slasher pie. That's right kiddos, you get TWO horror films for the price of one. It's like a cross between Halloween and Exorcist except way more cheesedick and downright idiotic. But it's just oh-so-bad-but-sugary-sweet goodness.

Jake and Lacey are brother and sister, as close as close can be as far as two siblings go. They pretty much have to raise each as their always shit faced mom is a total inattentive whorebag. One night, they see her mackin' (and soon to be skin smackin' it) with her boyfriend on the couch, the two of them exchanging swigs from a whiskey bottle during the process. Little Jake gets disgusted and decides that he's had enough and takes a kitchen knife to his mom's boyfriend. Lacey turns away so as to not witness the entire ordeal but she can't help but catch a glimpse of the massacre through a large bedroom mirror which directly faces her.

Flash forward a few years and we see the pair (now in their 20's), living with a good God fearin' family out in the middle of who knows where. By all accounts, the kids are happy and things are going well for them. However, something strange is never explained during the course of our film. What is that you ask? Oh I don't know, like maybe HOW THE FUCK DID THEY GET AWAY WITH MURDERING SOMEONE??!!

However, Jake and Lacey aren't without their problems: Jake has strangely taken on a vow of silence and flies into a violent rage when women make sexual advances; and Lacey is going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as she sees the dead spirit of her mother's boyfriend trapped in a mirror inside the family's house.

Things take a turn for the whole lot weirder as the mirror breaks one day and the evil spirit is released. Here is where the stalk and slash comes in: the spirit terrorizes the inhabitants of the house including their non-adoptive kids as well as some dopey teenagers that are camping out at the nearby lake. From charcoal grill skewers to flying off the hinges medicine cabinet doors to self-induced suicide, this maliciously mischievous spirit is resourceful in his vengeance.

Along with a pastor and psychologist, the family decides to fight back as the demon comes to manifest itself in human form. A valiant standoff ensues as the demon's efforts are thwarted but not until after an amazing (read: cheap and ridiculous) sequence occurs in which only the best in Atari 2600 special effects are used.

The Boogeyman is the absolute finest vintage of cheesdick 80's horror and it's a lot of ridiculous, the script writer had to be fueled by coke (and I'm not talking about the beverage), over the top, insane fun. You can do no better when it comes to painfully bad but oh so good horror.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pretty Dead (2012)

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

It's not very often you get a high concept indie film that attempts to do something different with two distinct sub-genres. Pretty Dead does just that as it uses found footage to document the story of a woman who's afflicted with a unique form of zombism. But does it succeed? Yes but mostly no. However, it's not due to the shortcomings of the concept itself.

A young couple, a paramedic and his newly made doctor girlfriend (and soon-to-be fiance), are having one last hurrah before they succumb to the demands of the 'real world.' Along with a group of friends, they take over a corner of a local bar and enjoy as many excesses as they can possibly handle (of course, one of them is documenting it via a video camera). Our young doctor takes one large snort of nose candy and becomes sick. She exists stage left to the woman's restroom and all hell breaks loose. She has to be taken to an emergency room as she's lost consciousness and the group almost loses her.

In the coming days, she's extremely lethargic and her boyfriend takes it as a side effect of being well, almost dead. But lethargy gives way to skin legions and an appetite for raw meat and other substances which are normally not consumed by humans. When she starts to bring hazardous bodily waste back home from work, things turn a bit weird for our good looking young couple.

So our doctor (and by the way, the videotaping at this point has shifted to the couple themselves who, of course, need to document EVERYTHING) does some research on her own and comes to the conclusion that she has a unique form of zombism that is brought about by a specific occurrence in nature. This occurrence, as it is explained, is plausible and it makes for the most interesting part of the film.

What makes the entire affair wholly unbelievable is not ONCE does this couple seek a medical opinion about anything that's going on. It is so odd and the couple essentially laugh off the entire proceedings (seriously) as just a new 'version' of this woman even though she's clearly not her former self. Had the couple sought out help or guidance and in their arrogance as professionals in the field of medicine ignored it, it would have made for a much more compelling film. As such, the film just came off as completely unbelievable and just downright silly. Never mind the interspersed scenes of the fiance at an asylum (in the present day) as she recounts what happened as professionals begin to diagnose her as a paranoid schizophrenic.

I appreciate that the film attempted to do something different with two sub-genres that are well worn and borderline exhausted. But there just isn't enough here to make for a good story. And not only is the acting shoddy at times, but the character's themselves (and the choices that they make) are absolutely annoying.

Cortez the Killer