Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Excision (2012)

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

It's been a full 48 hours since I watched Incision and I'm still not sure what to make of it. Sure it's very reminiscent of the fantastic coming of age film Carrie and it has interesting and striking visuals (a la Kubrick). But I'm still not entirely sold on it's premise nor its rhyme or reason. But if you like your horror films left of center with a whole lot of 'What the fuck did I just watch?', you could do a lot worse.

Excision centers on a young teen girl name Pauline made to look ugly and awkward but in real life (and in dream sequences during the film), she's one super duper hottie! Pauline is bound and determined to lose her virginity any way possible but the only problem is, well, she's not attractive and she's an uber weirdo. But like any warm blooded, horned up male at that age, they'll stick their dick in anything and she approaches a male counterpart at school with an offer and he eventually obliges.

Back at home, mom is an overbearing shithead who derides Pauline at every passing opportunity. But the why exactly is never fully explained. There isn't religious fervor in the household a la the aforementioned Carrie nor is there a feeling that mom just doesn't approve of her daughter's unsightly look. Although that's what can be implied in certain sequences and from mom's appearance herself (she's played by former adult film actress Traci Lords). Rounding out our dysfunctional household is a meek and spineless father who also comes under the frequent chastising of his wife and Pauline's younger (and surprisingly) sane sister Grace who's suffering from a form of lung disease.

Along with Pauline's yearning for losing her virginity (while on her period I might add), she also has these strange dreams where the not so ugly version of herself is seen doing everything from dissecting human subjects to bathing in pools of blood. What this means exactly is anyone's guess although she seems to be happiest after having woken up from one of these fucked up and demented dreams. How this shapes who she is and why she is so weird remains to be seen.

So after doing the dirty deed with her school mate and having some more messed up dreams, Pauline takes it upon herself to cure her sister of what ails her. Her dreams become a reality in one chilling scene that's altogether gory and confusing as our tale abruptly ends with no real resolution or finality.

Excision is a frustrating work in that it feels like parts of other films but never really like it's own beast. Throw in no real exploration of why Pauline is who she is and you have one confounding flick. Credit must be given to some great visuals and practical effects that are on display. But overall, it's not something I would revisit.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Citadel (2012)

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

Citadel is a unique horror film that is unlike any you've seen before in terms of both style and subject matter. It's engrossing, captivating, and ultimately, downright horrifying. Especially if you're easily unnerved by the creepy kid style of genre film. But what makes Citadel so unique is it's focus on real world fears, in particular, those that pertain to a young man and his need to be the main protector of his family.

Tommy is a young father, recently widowed after a group of hooded kids injected his wife in their apartment complex with some sort of unknown substance which placed her in a comatose state. Why they singled out this woman in particular isn't known until much later in our story. Luckily, before she completely went comatose, doctors were able to extract their very soon-to-be birthed child. But Tommy has to make a painful decision as doctors inform him that his wife won't be getting better and he needs to pull the plug.

As a result of the attack on his wife, Tommy is now extremely fearful of leaving the house. Not only because of the hooded menace that may lurk around the corner, but because he lives in a really shitty neighborhood to begin with. His extreme agoraphobia leads him to a specialist who helps him. After receiving some intense counseling, he's sent back home and he attempts to lead a normal life, caring for and raising his daughter in the process.

Tommy's worst fears come back to haunt him and the hooded kids can be seen roaming his apartment complex halls, looking for a way to get in. But these aren't your garden variety creepy kids. They're the city's lost and more or less disaffected youths who've gone feral. A much bigger issue looms as they're kidnapping the local's children and have their sights on Tommy's daughter.

Tommy of course can't deal with the horror but finds an ally in the local priest who knows where this menace is hiding out. He becomes both a partner and therapist for Tommy, getting him to face his worst fear head on and then teaming with him to raid the neighborhood of this predatory disease. As you can imagine, Tommy's daughter gets kidnapped and it's up to the priest, a young boy in his care, and Tommy to take down the animals once and for all.

Citadel is one of the more unique horror films I've seen this year and it's beautifully composed and shot. The cinematography is gorgeous and the scene where the group raids the high rise where the feral kids are holding the locals captive is nothing short of creepy and terrifying. And the angle taken, of preying on one's worst fear as a parent and then taking it to the extreme, is nothing but absolutely nerve racking.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hypothermia (2010)

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

The cheesy, B-movie, monsterfest is quite frankly a lost 'art' form. Oh, bring me back to the days of Roger Corman and dudes stomping around in rubber suits! Enter Hypothermia, a fun-filled flick that harkens back to those days and it features some neat practical effects to boot.

A family of three are out vacationing on a secluded frozen lake. Their time honored tradition of ice fishing is the main reason why they've come together. Led by dear ol' dad (Michael Rooker), the gang can't wait to get started with what seems like a miserable event. People actually do this? At the same time, they're celebrating the college graduation of their son and his girlfriend who is also tagging along.

Ice fishing is in full swing but their peaceful day is interrupted by a trailer towing madman who's blaring heavy metal music and driving like a maniac on the ice which has already revealed some soft spots. The middle aged man is out with his older son, boozing it up and looking to catch some fish themselves. But they aren't roughing it quite as much as our family as their trailer is fully pimped out with custom mechanized drills and fishing lines. The pair make friends with the family despite being a little obnoxious.

Of course our happy fun times are spoiled by the arrival of a creature who's residing within the frozen lake. At first, a few darts under the ice and our patient fishers think it to be nothing more than a 'big' catch. But then the monster attacks and lashes out, severely wounding one of the group members and sure enough, all hell breaks lose. To further complicate matters, this thing leaves one nasty bit of itself behind every time it attacks and toys with an injured victim. As our story progresses, tough decisions need to be made as our group gets thinner and thinner and someone needs to get back to the family's cabin to call for help.

Combine great practical effects, solid acting (read: it's not your typical b-movie goofiness), and a pretty cool creature design, and you've got a recipe for a great time. And to top off the sundae with a nice cherry is a well timed scare you don't see coming. What more could you ask for in a fun monster flick? Sure some might find it all a bit cheesy, but they just don't make films like this anymore. So kudos to filmmaker James Felix McKenney (Satan Hates You) for taking a big risk. It pays off.

The film is currently available through Dark Sky Films (The Innkeepers, Stake Land) and through the filmmaker's website:

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

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

After the commercial failure of part III (which has become a favorite among many genre fans, including yours truly), the news of a part 4 was met with feelings of immediate failure. Especially so when considering that the slasher genre was on its way out by the time it was released. But it performed fairly well at the box office even though it seems to be a mixed bag for many critics. For me, it's one of the best in the series and for my money, one of the best horror sequels of all-time.

Ten years after the events in parts 1 and 2, Mikey Myers is in the process of being transferred to another psychiatric care clinic. He happens to overhear word that he has a niece who happens to be living with her aunt and uncle in good ol' Haddonfield. Of course, the transfer doesn't go as planned and Michael makes his way back for some sweet revenge.

Laurie Strode's offspring, Jamie, is a sweet girl who's haunted by dreams and visions of a psychopath uncle whom she's never met. The family who's brought her in has been as much of a family to her as they possibly can but she yearns for the feelings that can only be satisfied by the love and care of blood relatives.

Enter Michael who has anything but sympathetic feelings or the need to bond with this little girl. He only sees red and is hellbent on killing Laurie's brood and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

What makes this installment so intriguing, is the fact that Jamie survives the ordeal but becomes the heir apparent to Michael. She becomes the opposite of who she was at the beginning and takes up the psychopath of the family mantle. It seems like her visions were more of portend of what was to come than a series of nightmarish episodes.

Unfortunately, the rest of the series went downhill from here. But this installment stands tall with parts I and II. Check this one out if you haven't done so already. It's great Halloween viewing.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5
T&A Factor: 2/5

Confession time: I recently received a screener copy of the soon-to-be released Wrong Turn 5 (holy shit there are 5 of these!!). I haven't seen parts 2-4. Taking to Twitter, I announced to one and all the same. I was immediately bombarded with comments all saying the same thing: you need to check out the utter insanity that is part 2. AND it stars Henry 'The Fucking Man' Rollins (I'm pretty sure that's his middle name). So I did and boy am I glad that my followers did not lead me astray. This one's a lot of ridiculous fun.

We all know the basic set-up of these films: a group of people get lost in Po Dunk Nowheresville, USA population full of mongoloid hillbillies. Said people get hacked and slashed and become that night's meal. Some escape and some don't. The end. Well that's pretty much the case here but there's a lot of gusto here and its chock full o' retardedness to boot.

A group of reality T.V. show contestants head out to backwoods county for a battle of wills, strength, and endurance. It's like Survivor on crack as they have to face a post apocalyptic world. The group is an interesting cast of characters: a former marine who happens to be a hot lesbian; a former high school football star; an X Games skateboarder; a vegan, angry goth chick, and....oh who I am kidding. NONE of these characters are interesting in the least bit and they're all just fodder. Lead by the host of the show, a retired Marine Colonel (Rollins), the group has the opportunity to win some big money should one of them outlast everyone else.

So the games begin and of course our group (after some minor exposition showing just how retarded they all really are), starts getting picked off one-by-one by our dirty, sister fucking, hillbilly nasties. An all out gorefest ensues when the shit hits the fan and it's Colonel Badass to the rescue with Rollins channeling his inner Schwarzenegger (and literally so in one scene that is ripped straight from Predator). The Colonel storms the hillbilly compound and all hell breaks loose. Some die and some escape. The end.

Sure this one is loaded with every cliche in the book but as mentioned, there's a lot of gusto and some really great practical effects on display. And Rollins just nails his performance. Oh who am I kidding, he's playing himself really. But he's a total badass and he makes the entire film. He really needs to be in more genre films.

Thanks for the recommendation faithful followers! This will be in my rotation for years to come. Hoo-raah!!

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Enter Nowhere (2011)

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

Enter Nowhere has three bad things going for it: 1. It most definitely is not a horror film even though it is heavily marketed and categorized as one. 2. It's not even a serviceable thriller as it's about as suspenseful as your Aunt Edna's inevitable holiday fruitcake and 3. It's a poorly titled film in that, well, it goes nowhere. 

Rising genre star Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers) plays Jody, a drifter who gets lost while driving along a country route to meet up with her equally useless boyfriend.  Her car is run off the side of the road and becomes immobile when it gets stuck in a ditch. Seeking help, she comes across what seems to be a deserted cabin but quickly finds that someone else has taken up temporary residence there.

The young man who's currently calling the place home, tells her that he was on a cross country trek to meet up with some friends and became stranded. At first, Jody is cautious but she eventually believes the man and his story. Together, they're not sure what to do or where to go as, well, there's that title again: they're in the middle of nowhere.

Things become all the more weird when another young woman joins the group, her car broken down and in need of some service. The three find it odd that they have all come together under similar circumstances (i.e. traveling across country to meet someone) but aside from that, don't make any plans to venture out beyond the confines of this small cabin. Things slowly, and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y begin to reveal themselves as we see that all three of these people are from a different era through both articles of clothing and from events that are discussed.

Eventually, the past and future collide and one super convoluted reveal occurs in which the relationships between all three characters come to light. It's clunky, it's confusing, and mostly, it doesn't make a lick of sense. What little sense is made doesn't make for a compelling feature as nothing about these characters is remotely interesting. Worse yet, the heavy usage of CGI in the final moments further dulls the film but that's something that I can get get over if the preceding moments in the film were genuinely interesting. Clearly, they were not.

Not horrifying enough to be a horror film, not suspenseful enough to be a serviceable thriller, Enter Nowhere instead plays like a really bad episode of the Twilight Zone. Skip. Pass. Next.

Cortez the Killer