Pages

Friday, March 30, 2012

THE HORROR SHOW (HOUSE 3)

I didn’t want to write a full review of House 3 the same way I wrote one for House 1, 2, and 4. Why? Because this isn’t really a House movie. It’s a title-grabbing cash-in, and I’ve always felt a little angry at this movie, because it throws off the numbering system of the entire House franchise. (Much like the Italian Zombi movies, which either skipped number one or number two, depending on how you look at them.)
     
 So yes, as you can tell, I am very boring at parties.
       
 But the point is, I finally sat through House 3 yesterday (or at least the first two thirds, before Netflix decided to lay a big old fart on my Internet connection). And my verdict: pleasantly surprised. I was expected a straight-up horror movie, which would go against the horror-comedy spirit of the other two installments. But this was actually kind of funny. Or at least it tried to be. The ghost (because this movie has a single ghost) terrorizes our poor main character, but he actually has a sense of humor about it. There were a few scenes in this film that actually reminded me of the similarly overlooked Shocker.
      
No, I don’t recommend this. But I’m glad I saw it. Not bad, Mr. Cash Grab. Not bad.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

JACK-O

  
Fun Fact: Jack-O is one of the worst horror movies and best first ladies of all time. I am, of course, more inclined to write about the horror movie than the first lady, because I have seen the horror movie three times under various levels of intoxication. (And I have seen the first lady zero times under zero levels of intoxication. Man, this blog is getting weird.)
  
Anyway, Jack-O is an ultra-low-budget Pumpkinhead story from the early 90s. (There are no pill-box hats in sight.) I was planning to write up a blog post about this movie after I watched it last year, but I honestly could not think of anything clever or interesting to say about it, so I just let the memories fade into the back of my pumpkin head.
  
Today, when I was cleaning out my computer and looking at all my random saved photos (Hello, Eartha Kitt from Ernest Scared Stupid!), I came across the above picture. Now I honestly could not remember if this was a screen cap from Jack-O or an episode of Goosebumps. I believe it is actually from Goosebumps. But the fact that there was ever any doubt really says a lot about Jack-O. And basically, what it says is please do not watch Jack-O.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

PROPHECY

STATS:
1995
Written and Directed by Gregory Widen


WHA’ HAPPENED?
Angels try to kill humans. It’s a lot like Legion, except Paul Bettany is now Eric Stoltz and the story actually makes sense. But it basically comes down to the merry fact that angels are messed up. Also, Christopher Walken is Gabriel and he wants to destroy Heaven. I believe the entire story is based on the Book of Revelations by Michael Bay.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This is a fairly well regarded horror-action movie. It spawned four sequels (according to the bargain bin DVD set I got at K-mart for 99 cents and a ball of twine). I actually have never seen this movie, though I have seen the little-loved Prophecy from the guy who wrote The Omen. That was about a killer bear mutant, and it somehow didn’t include a scene where Christopher Walken lights Eric Stoltz's head on fire. So… Basically what I’m saying is that I really needed to see this movie.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
Lots of accidental homoeroticism, thank you very much, courtesy of the amazeballs sexual tension between TMNT's Casey Jones and LOTR's Aragorn. (What fan fiction!)

There are so many back rubs in Hell.

…AAAAANNNNNNDDDD…. Let’s look at that from another angle, shall we? This is hilarious.

Front rubs, too.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
It’s interesting to watch a movie with a very, very evil Satan as a key supporting character, and yet he is NOT the bad guy. I guess even Satan isn’t as wicked-awesome as Christopher Walken, Gigli-notwithstanding.

There are clever touches amidst all the dumb-headed voiceover that adds absolutely nothing to the story. (Seriously. Where’s Angela Chase when you need her!) But the story moves along quickly and Virginia Madsen is beautiful as ever. I can see why this has a cult following, and while I’m not quite ready to drink this particular brand of Cool-Aid, I did have a good time.

Here is Satan, walking into the sunset.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

DRACULA 2: ASCENSION


STATS:
Dracula II: Ascension
2003
Directed by Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry! My Bloody Valentine 3D!)
        
WHA’ HAPPENED?
People find Dracula’s corpse and try to bring it back to life via blood, because what’s the worst that can happen? Spoiler alert (because this movie is stupid): the entire thing was orchestrated by a rich guy who’s slowly dying of [insert random disease here] because he wants to harness the power of Dracula blood. He’s basically the mad scientist of the movie.
                                        
It’s my strong hand.
   
WHA’ HAPPENED?
People find Dracula’s corpse and try to bring it back to life via blood, because what’s the worst that can happen? Spoiler alert (because this movie is stupid): the entire thing was orchestrated by a rich guy who’s slowly dying of [insert random disease here] because he wants to harness the power of Dracula blood. He’s basically the mad scientist of the movie.
   
ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
I’m a fan of the cheesy original, starring Gerard Butler as a too-screamy Dracula and Vitamin C as a look-this-was-filmed-in-the-late-90s vampire bride. This one, however, has none of that. But the leads are uniformly hot and the story looks basic and diverting.
   
SHIRTS AND SKINS:
We have the always welcome Jason Scott Lee (Lilo and Stitch, Ghoulies III, that Jungle Book live-action movie from the 90s) as a bad-ass action priest, which is the best kind of priest. We also have one of the London twins (I didn’t care enough to Google which one, because they are, in fact, twins), and this was filmed pre-bloat, apparently.
      
BLOOD AND GUTS:
Where, there is blood. Lots of blood. So drink up!
    
Heeeeyyyy you guuuyyyyssss!
         
FINAL THOUGHTS?
Not bad. It’s not the time capsule awesomeness of the original (Did I mention Vitamin C?), but it’s a fun, actiony movie taking place mostly in an old abandoned castle. The first movie was in New Orleans, I believe, but the characters in this one apparently drove from there to Romania. Or at least they traveled by map, Muppet-style!

Filmed at Grey Gardens.
    
Anyway, a solid, entertaining film, though not solid enough to bring me back for Dracula 3: Chipwrecked.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES


Ray Bradbury is a genius. I’ve read several of his books, and while I appreciate his stories more than I actively enjoy them, he does know his way around some killer concepts: the idea of a dark carnival is quite bad-ass, indeed.

I have not read the story this movie was based on, but I used to catch it on the Disney Channel every year around Halloween time. They don’t play it so much, mostly to give extra time to wacky sitcoms. But also because HOLY CRAP this movie is terrifying. The spider lady, the aging backwards, the showdown in the library, the amputee footballer, the horrible parades… Watching this movie is like watching a perfect old-timey town slowly being taken over by something dark and horrible. The story doesn’t always fit together, and plot points crash into each other without the slightest bit of connective tissue (…uh, something, something lightning rods…). But coherence is overrated, and this film succeeds in being creepy as hell. Check it out the next time it’s on TV. You’d be surprised what they could get away with in a kid’s movie. There isn’t anything overtly gory or gross, but the tone is creepy and curdled and so, so good.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

PRINCESS OF MARS

Yowza.

Is it weird that I was rooting for the bad guys throughout this movie? I mean, they were represented by the hot, semi-nude, and bitchy Traci Lords, while we were supposed to feel sympathy for the tusked green natives who talk in fakey accents and gesture a lot. That doesn’t sound like much of a competition to me. Give me Traci Lords any day.

Yeah, I said it.

And give me this low-budget train wreck over the high-budget train wreck of John Carter any day. While that movie is chock-full of loudness and wall-to-wall CGI, this one is the kind of simple, dunderheaded mess that is much more fun to watch. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the big-screen version, because I don’t want to contribute to our blockbuster lets-watch-anything culture. But when I inevitably catch it riddled with commercials one late night on FX, I know what to expect: the same story as this film, just without any sense of real joy or adventure.

Does that make this movie good? God no. It’s a mess. But I think, deep down, it knows it’s a mess. After all, it stars Antonio Sabato Jr. alongside green guys with tusks.

CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL


I am fascinated with low-budget independent musicals. There is just something grand and epic about the musical genre, so watching something grand and epic rendered on a tiny, do-it-yourself scale is unlike any other type of indie. Indie musicals are special. Case-in-point: I just saw Colma the Musical, which has some gay interest but very little in regards to horror, so it probably would not be a good fit for this website. But watching it inspired me to check out a few more cheapie musicals, specifically this one. Cannibal!

I caught it back in the late-90s when my brother and I were obsessed with all things South Park. We worshipped Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And, unbeknownst to my brother, I had the biggest effing crush on Trey Parker. I mean, look at him. He looks so wholesome and so...


Well, maybe wholesome is little off. But rewatching this film was a lot of fun mainly because it was an opportunity to remember my schoolboy crush on this guy. The songs were good, and a lot of the humor worked. Some of the jokes... not so much. Maybe I have since grown out of the rhythm of this kind of humor, because there were specific moments in the film that I found hysterical the first time around that now left me... well, not laughing.

Here is an example:



Still, Cannibal! is a solid movie and an admirable effort for a low-budget student film. It definitely shows off the glimmers of talent that Parker and Stone will eventually display. But, like I said, my favorite part was spending some time with a long-forgotten crush.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GATE 2: TRESPASSERS


I’m a huge fan of The Gate. I always have been. Any movie with hordes of stop-motion mini-creatures invading late-80s suburbia is right up my alley. I like Gremlins, and I love Ghoulies, and I tolerate Munchies. Plus, it had a young Stephen Dorff, the pocket hunk from Blade, back when he was a little kid with the exact same head as his adult version. Oh yeah, The Gate was a fun ride.

So I was always curious about The Gate 2. I enjoy tracking down little-seen, little-loved sequels to horror classics (Fright Night 2: The Squeakquel), and there are fewer movies less seen and less loved than this one. It was one of the few films, along with Saturday the 14th and The Bermuda Depths, that I regularly looked for on Netflix Instant. But when Netflix failed me, Youtube delivered. Check out all ten parts of this movie as soon as possible; otherwise you just might miss it.


Gate 2 is totally Dorff-less, and instead focuses on his creepy William Finley-looking best friend who tries to open the same gate and unleash a bunch of demons because his dad is alcoholic or something. There’s also an unearned romance with Pamela Segall, because there has to be a romance, right? I’m not going to focus too much on the story, because it feels like a lame version of the original, and comes across as centerless and weirdly short, even though its runtime is roughly the same as the original. (Such is the power of Dorff, I guess.) I will say that the goofy mini-creatures are back, and the effects are still a lot of fun, and there is the added twist of our main characters crossing over into the other side. (In this movie, WE are the Trespassers. Apparently.) But all that adds up to a competent, enjoyable ride that you’ll probably forget in the near future.

I would like to mention, though, that I experienced a very specific thrill watching this movie that I didn’t understand at first. As the credits began, I was genuinely excited about what would happen next. And even when the reality of this movie slowly deflated my excitement, there was still something there, thudding away in my little fanboy heart. Long after the movie was over, I finally figured out what that feeling was: the excitement of tracking down a rare movie. In the post-Netflix age, there really isn’t such a thing as rarity anymore. Everything is at your fingertips, and everything is equal. That’s definitely a good thing. But at the same time, it’s not. Without the need to track something down, to stumble across the rare VHS or DVD in some bargain bin, nothing feels special anymore. Not in the way it used to. Tracking down this movie somehow made it more special to me, even though the movie itself was underwhelming and passable. I have a feeling this will be one of the last movies that gives me that kind of thrill. And for that, I definitely treasure my Gate 2 experience.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: Collection Completed


What I Thought It Was About: A madman rounds up humans to assemble the perfect wife or something. He only needs one body part left—let’s say the eyes—when he picks a donor who knows how to fight back.

What It Was Actually About: Beloved character actor M. Emmet Walsh is such a douche to his animal-loving wife that he taxidermies her pets. So she taxidermies him. The last shot of the show (before the Cryptkeeper says a bunch of stuffing puns) is his sewn up, bloated corpse. The end.

Adorable. He looks like a bumbling sheriff from a mid-60s Disney cartoon.

Was It Good? Well, it was a shocker. As far as nasty little two-person plays go, this one wasn’t too bad. I just wish both characters were slightly more likeable. I mean, they HAVE to be jackasses. The ending wouldn’t make sense if the husband and wife were better people. But the audience has to sit through a lot of sniping and complaining to get to the twist. I get the distinct impression that this kind of story works much better as a 6-page comic than a 22-minute TV episode. It’s less annoying that way.

Speaking of taxidermy, this story was directed by Mary Lambert of Pet Semetary.

Friday, March 9, 2012

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: Lover Come Hack to Me


What I Thought It Was About: The very special Valentine episode about a woman who suspects her husband is a serial killer, but then you find out that they’re BOTH serial killers or something. (See! I can totally write an episode!)

What It Was Actually About: A husband plans to murder his new wife (for money, of course). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the tables will be turned and the wife will murder the husband. Especially because that wife is played by crazy actress extraordinaire Amanda Plummer.


Was It Good? Sure, as far as these things go. It’s basically a two-person play that slowly reveals more and more craziness about the wife. The acting is solid, and you can’t go wrong with Amanda Plummer wielding giant axes and whatnot.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: Dig That Cat... He’s Real Gone


What I Thought It Was About: A hipster who gains the power of invisibility and goes about spying on people, until he gets his just desserts.


What It Was Actually About: Joey Pants gets a cat gland that gives him nine lives. He uses it to make a bunch of money, working closely with that guy who played Arliss. Remember Arliss? That was a good show. Unfortunately, Joey Pants kills himself one too many times and dies for good. Wakka wakka.

Was It Good? As good as anything involving cat glands can be. The ending was nasty and fun, and I very much liked watching Joey Pants sweat things out. But yeah, Arliss was a good show.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: Only Sin Deep


Fun Fact: Howard Deutch, the episode director, is also known for directing Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. So… yeah…


What I Thought It Was About: An aging model uses a potion to regain her youthful face, but it turns her into a snake monster.

What It Was Actually About: Lea Thompson, a prostitute, sells her looks to some magic somebody so that she could use the money to catch a rich bachelor. I believe things backfire for her.


Was It Good? Yeah, it kind of was. Lea Thompson is always a likeable actress, even when she plays horrible characters. And this character is horrible. But she’s fun to watch. Sure, the twist can be seen from miles away, but oh well. (For future reference, when you find yourself in an episode of Tales from the Crypt, don’t make any deals with anybody. They will not turn out well.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS


Reason #7 to watch Night of the Creeps:
I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.
Whats the bad news?
Theyre dead.

Monday, March 5, 2012

DYING BREED


STATS:
DYING BREED
2008
Directed by Jody Dywer (Is that the world's worst pen name, or the world's best real name?)
Starring Leigh Whannell (Insidious, Saw) and Nathan Phillips (Wolf Creek)

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A researcher disappears in the Tasmanian jungle looking for some Tasmanian Tiger thing, so her sister and a few friends follow her footsteps to try to figure out what happened. And what did happen? Cannibals. A well organized network of local cannibals that might be related to a historical serial killer and (bestiality alert) the Tasmanian Tiger itself. Freaking Australians.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
I wanted to watch this movie because of my love-hate relationship with Australian horror cinema. (For your homework assignment, watch Razorback, Rogue, Wolf Creek, and Dead-End Drive-In and try to figure out which movies go in the love column and which go in the hate column.) I also knew this one involved cannibals, so it could be glorious or awful. On a scale of Wrong Turn 1 to Wrong Turn 3, I had my fingers crossed that it would end up being closer to Wrong Turn 1.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
No nudity of interest. Whannell and Phillips are both handsome, by the way, in an off-kilter kind of way.


BLOOD AND GUTS:
Fingers get bitten off. Whannell gets all bloodied. And there are computer animated dingo things. Nothing to write home about.

POSSIBLE DRINKING GAME:Take a shot every time someone mentions The Pie-Man. You will get DRUNK. And not at all scared, because holy crap that is a stupid name for a mass murderer.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
This isn’t horrible, but I was hoping for something ape-shit insane, like the Down Under version of The Hills Have Eyes Part II. Instead, I got something that was a little gory, a little creepy, but none too memorable. That finger-eating girl was pretty scary though. And the scenery makes me really want to visit Tasmania. With a large group of people, of course.

ARGH! PIE MAN!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TALES FROM THE CRYPT: And All Through the House



What I Thought It Was About: A killer Santa.

What It Was Actually About: I was right! A woman kills her husband and tries to ditch the body when she gets attacked by a killer Santa played by the Downs syndrome guy from LA Law.

Was It Good? Hell yes. This is the first episode ever filmed, and it was such a good way to start the show off right. It was scary and funny and holy crap Larry Drake is a good killer Santa.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III


STATS:
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
1990
Directed by Jeff Burr
Starring Viggo Mortensen (!)


WHA’ HAPPENED?
Leatherface kills a bunch of people by the side of the road. Hilarity ensues.

WHAT YOU SAY?
There’s road kill all over Texas.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
This is sort of the forgotten sequel in the original Chainsaw series. It’s not the original, obviously. It’s not known as the funny one. And it’s not the god awful one that nearly derailed Rene Zelwegger's career before it even started. It’s just that other one, the one in the middle that has Viggo Mortensen in it, but no one can remember what happens.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
Sure, it’s graphic. This whole series is. But a lot of the violence is so quick and badly lit, it was hard to even keep track of who was still alive and who wasn’t. Not much of a ringing endorsement, huh?

PLOT HOLES AND CRAZINESS:
I’m not an expert on chainsaws, but I don’t think they’d still be running as they slowly sink into a lake. Just saying.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
There’s a reason this movie is a footnote in the franchise. After watching it two days ago, I honestly don’t remember most of what happens. I remember the gas station craziness at the beginning, and the roadkill, and the big fight at the end. But whole chunks of this movie just aren’t that memorable. Say what you want about the wacky antics of part two; at least that movie sticks with you. After sitting through this one, I feel like I’ve just watched the original over again, but I was slightly drunk at the time.