Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Thaw

TITLE: The Thaw
SCORE: 4 out of 4

My first perfect score goes to the best horror film I've seen all year and possibly longer. It is simultaneously bleak and inspiring, its level of suspense, squick, angersome blood is intense -- those with hypertension beware. The Earth is thawing out -- and some very old things are waking up.

If you are afraid of bugs and/or disease, this movie should do a fairly good job of completely scaring the shit out of you. My hats off to the Lewis Brothers for a fine production -- rarely a forced line or moment lacking realism, and the shock and awe tactic of barraging the audience with a digital-media channel surf (complete with buffering) is clearly a homage to Romero but is done so amazingly well I had the tendency to forget it was fake.

Once the movie gets full steam ahead it never lets up, and it doesn't disappoint. From egg sacs in flesh to thousands of bugs devouring a corpse in a gigantic frenzy -- the imagery will stick with you. I dare not give to much about the plot away save those tantalizing clues. The film revolves around the concept of unforeseen consequences, in many ways. Its not just industrialization that will sting you in the ass but unprotected sex, not following lab protocol to the letter, not being paranoid enough...

Secondarily it focuses on the validity of ecoterrorism and thus on a broader scale the use of political terror in general.

And on a subtler note - perhaps the explicit theme is reinforced by the level of care put into this movie to make you squirm and scream. Is terror the only cure for nihilism? While the ending monologue cares to differ; me - I'm not so sure.

If terror it must be, then long live the guillotine!

Monday, September 21, 2009


TITLE: Dismal
SCORE: 0 out of 4

Dismal is an apt title for this horrible waste of (digital) film. You would think that after 5 different Texas Chainsaw Massacres, 2 different Hills Have Eyes and 1 Deliverance, the makers of this here movie would realize that crazy hick cannibal/torturers is worn quite thin as a theme for a thriller.

Apparently director Gary King felt he could add something to the subgenre. Unfortunately, he was quite wrong - he's a terrible director and I have no idea why he has a career in film. If he wants to vomit forth worthless rehashings perhaps he should try and get a job as a bulimic at Denny's.

The surprise twist seen from a mile away, the completely god awful cg effects (Quadrahelix should close up shop doors as their "FX" are utter shit), the obnoxious characters I was glad to see killed, major plot holes (the cell phones don't get service, until suddenly they do!), and editing that equals the skill required to make a youtube poop -- these all chalk up to one thing: one worthless fucking film.

The first half of the movie appears to be a study in exactly how annoying you can make stock "to be killed" college kid characters, and the second half is a less-than-tepid deep-south gorefest that is about as thrilling as a long wait in the DMV line. If you've ever seen even one horror movie in your life you can predict exactly what will happen moment by moment. Actually, the DMV line is even more unpredictable than this film -- sometimes it moves faster than you ancticipated!

No, "dismal" is actually too nice of a term to describe this movie - something like "road apple" or "used condom" is a better descriptor of what to expect from this film.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Dunwich Horror

Title: The Dunwich Horror
Release Date: August, 2009
Score: 2 out of 4

This is not a good film. This is a very poorly edited mess of footage, consisting mainly of either a very poorly executed flashback and/or apparition plotline and a contemporaneous present-day plotline, the main one we're supposed to be following, I guess -- they seem to merge -- or do they??? Wooouhouhhgh!

It follows the major plotline of the story by H.P. Lovecraft to more or less a fair bit, and the script is peppered with enough Cthulhuh mythos lore to keep avid Lovecraft fans fairly engaged.

That's really all I can say about it with any due diligence. The sets were atrocious, costuming, make-up -- the entire production seemed willfully careless towards any sense of verisimilitude. Almost all aspects of the film appeared as though a small high school drama team were required to furnish everything for a whole 90 minute film, yet the acting unfortunately did not aspire even to secondary education level heights.

The movie was heavily bogged down in a formulaic rhythm of terrible and garish melodrama, followed by staid academic potboiler, it seemed to go on for hours with little to no regard for standard or even any entertaining style of pacing.

The film is thoroughly lacking and yet it delivers too much of a bad thing: a cheapened and whorish docudrama-like rendering of the backstory of the tale, executed by z-grade actors in laughably bad performances.

I would give it a 1, but, unlike so many tangentially Lovecraft-related films of recent day, the screenplay is much more closely aligned with its source material, so it gets bonus points for not butchering a great story.

If you feel the need to suffer through every film someone makes based on a Lovecraft story, I suppose you'd better watch this. Otherwise, this is not a portal you need enter.

PS: I could not locate any poster art for this film.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Return to Sleepaway Camp

TITLE: Return to Sleepaway Camp
SCORE: 2 out of 4

Daaamn! Issac Hayes is looking good these days. I mean, physically. His role in this movie isn't exactly a stretch: he plays "Charlie, the Chef" at a summer camp full of many types of kids: psychotic, deranged, evil, candy-assed, prepppy, homicidal... the usual range. Most of the supporting cast are really bad actors, however, and it leaves an artificial taste in the mouth. I think they even fucking overdubbed the live talking parrot.

Fortunately suspenseful deaths and mystery soon visits the otherwise obnoxious din of badly written teen dialogue. The death scenes are fairly clever and there are nice subtle touches to some shots. However the cinematography in general is lackluster and does little to conceal the constraints of the film's budget. The producers of this movie, as Hayes' character in this film would say, appear to be "tight-ass motherfuckas."

I like the obvious Satanist Teen in the popular clique. He really makes this movie for me. Although he should have been wearing an Ankh. Also weird lines like "Its weed, Shmeckel!" were interesting amusements. Schmeckel? WTF?!? No one who says things like "Lets fuckin' smoke weeeed" also uses words such as "Schmeckel," I'm pretty damned sure about that, mothafuckas.

However the film does posit a fundamental and essential question:
"How many joints can we smoke in one night?"

The world may never know...

This supposed sequel to Sleepaway Camp is hard to peg. It revolves around the camp having a major hate-on towards one, horrible wretch of a camper named Alan. Sure, it starts out with the horseplay, but soon enough -- things get serious. And that's when knives and blood make a prominent appearance into the film. I enjoyed it fairly well; time will show if it ages into cult status, but I doubt it. The lack of any actually humorous scenes generally precludes entry into the category. While most of the actors who played campers were vapid insipid cunts playing vapid insipid cunts, there were a few glimmers of real potential amongst the cast. Lindsey Hiltzi ("Toby") is especially good for a complete unknown.

Unfortunately this movie is more than just a bit lackluster. They should turn it into a franchise where Angela goes from summer camp to summer camp just knocking off bullies for a bit of the ol' revenge fantasy ultraviolence. Perhaps this film is the possible set up to that scenario...

As it stands, however, this movie feels way too long and the dialogue is just atrocious. And c'mon, the yget Issac Hayes to actually play a fucking chef and he gets like 3 minutes of screen time?! WTF?! Come back with Sleepaway camp that's not so sleepy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Haunting In Connecticut

Title: The Haunting in Connecticut
Release Date: 2009
Score: 2 out of 4

This film is blighted by Hollywood necessity, brought on by a distinct choice to develop the screenplay for this too closely to the statements of the family members describing the events.

The Hollywood neccessity is to provide tractable film space in which to cram about three different films and a multitude of themes, which of course left for shoddy development of the themes, and lengths of plot and action which seem to include either "yearning/struggling" scenes far too often and in a perversely extensive length or exposition given much less time than its relative importance seemed to dictate.

It also didn't help that it was a completely modern shoot that is ostensibly a mid-80's period piece. It seems like the costuming and set design departments pegged 2007 instead of 1987.

This film is a failure on many levels, but it does deliver haunted house frights, even though they are eventually overshadowed by a bunch of dumb shit that happens, and the transmutation of the film from a haunted house flick into what is basically a "special/magic/gifted child must fight an evil no one else can face" type of movie.

Let's face it, Hollywood has no idea how to make a scary movie anymore. If they had stuck to one concept they could have had a good shot. But no, this isn't just a movie about a haunted house full of creepy thrills and jumps. It has to be a discussion of religious experience, and of course a film about the suffering of a dysfunctional family -- which never really reaches any kind of frightening heights in tension or suspense. There is, in a way, a lack of "infernal piping" that drives the dynamics of the family into insanity -- they remain sub-acute, with minor ridiculous outbursts, which rather than crackle with uncomfortable waves of mania, merely the stretch credulity of viewer.

Oh yeah and its also about alienation, loneliness, honesty. Its also a historical true crime thriller. And did I mention a commentary on the obliteration of family due to overconsumption and an economy of debt? I guess that was a huge issue in the fucking mid-80's!

Anyway, this film really has no idea what is wants to be. It is mediocre and jumbled, yet also full of tiresomely slow-moving filler which apparently are supposed to contain "pathos." It has a few cheap scares and as a fairly mind-numbing supernatural mystery adventure it isn't actually terrible, but it is not what it purports to be -- A fucking Haunted House movie!

Its certainly no Amityville Horror (the 1979 film based on the book by Jane Anson, of course). Do yourself a favor and just rent that instead.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Skeptic

Title: The Skeptic
Release Date: 2009
Score: 1 out of 4

After an obnoxiously long and boring white text on black screen opening credits bonanza featuring an uninspired theme for a looong fucking time we are treated to some in media res - a cop trying to locate a woman in her dark, seemingly empty house... you get the idea...

We are soon introduced to our jackass "atheist" skeptic. His friend "Sully" is a superstitious paranoid played by Tom Arnold. Tom Arnold is difficult to deal with, as his presence in the film is noxious and nauseating, yet he becomes the essential forwarder of plot throughout the first part of the movie. I assume he is the ghost, with his presence driving the skeptic further towards insanity. Or at least that is what would happen to me if my friend was fucking TOM ARNOLD!! Christ why would you cast him in a horror movie? In any movie?

Unfortunately Mr. Skeptic is pretty boring throughout his haunted house existentialist breakdown, although the scenery is pretty and very chilling. Still, Tim Daly displays little depth in his acting, giving only occasional glimmers of technical excellence.

Daly also has little to work with, the dialog is banal and cheap. His possession and the progression of the ghost house trappings come along so slow that he generally just comes across as a violent creep, rather than a creature worth pitying.

The film is actually quite boring for most of the time. It doesn't really shape up high in any area, except for "crazy" points and "psychic" points or whatever. Actually from my own knowledge of general ghost theory, this movie is rather inaccurate as to how a parapsychologist and even a genuine skeptic would act in such situations they are found in.

Like the sleep lab psi op being run by the creepy parapsychologist, the whole movie is a machination of torture; it punishes the viewer at every turn with terrible lines, bad sets, and a girl who randomly shouts and shit. The basic gist is the concept that repressed memories cause psychokinetic outbursts -- or is it something else?!? Something more supernatural or worse, more psychopathological? What should be days in movie time is hours in this. The plot is like a short story lengthened to its breaking point and the payoff is hardly worth it... pretty boring actually.

I would avoid it, its pretty much pure shit. Bad writing, bad acting, and its not scary. Booooo! Go watch Shock Corridor instead! At least it has some laughs in it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Laid to Rest

Laid to Rest
Release Date: 2009
Score: 3 & 1/2 out of 4

This here film is the kind of movie that Rob Zombie wishes he could make. A funny, white trash gore explosion with likable characters, memorable scenes, and a fucking awesome metal/industrial soundtrack. Mr. Zombie should watch this movie and take some notes. Or better yet, he should just stop making movies, cause this low-budget digital video made by nobodies knocks anything he's ever made out of the water.

Not that producing a better film than Rob Zombie is any hard task mind you, I merely make the comparison because of the presence of white trash characters and extreme metal and industrial music. Industrial noize d00d Deadbox provides a kicking score, especially for the opening credits. Now, while Rob Zombie likes to exploit white trash and put them on display as a freakshow of sorts and made complete caricatures, in Laid to Rest they are presented basically how they tend to really be: not too bright, Christian, and like living way the fuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Before I get ahead of myself concerning the characters and the plot, let me congratulate Robert Hall for doing a decent job writing/directing this film. He is best known for kick ass special effects, and that is one thing that is top notch in this movie. The gore is extremely realistic and fantastically executed. Dismemberments, eviscerations, decapitations... even a complete head melting; and all of them as real as the surgery channel. BUT, the biggest kudos go to developing a plot that had me entertained and held in suspense throughout the film and characters that were relatable and likable, a rare commodity in today's horror flicks.

(That said Robert, you should be ashamed of yourself for taking part in the blasphemy that is the remake of George Romero's paranoia classic The Crazies. Shaaaame!!! Breck Eisner and Scott Kosar are both complete tools and talentless assfucks who'll ruin the film no matter how good your effects are!)

Anyway, so we have a girl who wakes up in a coffin with amnesia. She busts her way out and has to get out of a creepy funeral home, in which she encounters our almost-impervious-to-everything slasher, nicknamed Crome Skull. He wears a silver mask to hide his identity and has a small camera attached to his shoulder. Apparently, his "thing" is to POV film him killing his victims and then mail the tapes to the police. He's shot at least three times, stabbed with various things more than I can remember, but of course, he's all pumped up and evil so these things don't bother him. Even though he is thoroughly, irrevocably dead at the end of the film I have no doubt for a "Return of Chrome Skull" if the DVD sales are good enough. In fact I anticipate it with glee!

The character that really steals the show, however, is occasional soap star Sean Whalen, who plays the character of Steve Dave. Ok, its just Steve, but he is a serious Steve Dave. Nerdy, cowardly, yet downright lovable, Whalen's character is like a Steve Buschemi who is able to occasionally not come across as creepy. Also, he delivers one of the best lines I have heard in cinema for at least a couple years: "Uhm, no... I do not have what you would call a typical land line, per se..."

If you like a good Slasher flick (and who doesn't?!) then this will surely satisfy. It has a minimum of our protagonists doing dumb shit, which is nice, while it has plenty of dumb assholes getting gutted in many imaginative ways, an abattoir filled with corpses in various states of dismemberment, a serial killer with a car he has programmed from his phone, and a few choice running gags (tire sealant, for instance).

I have to take off a half point for continuity errors, characters being dumb in some instances, dialogue being not exactly exemplar, and the use of a computer from 1996 in 2009. Aside from this though, its pretty great for what it is.

Personally, if you have money to buy DVDs in this shithole economy, I recommend this for purchase. If anything, just to spite that piece of shit Rob Zombie.

Explanative Metapost

So, I have had finals and a bout of what I still mantain to have been swine flu which kept me from putting up reviews during the late April/early May time frame. With the summer comes more freedom, so reviews will be more frequent and there will be more of them.

You can be sure that this is not, as of yet, a failed movie review blog.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Midnight Meat Train

The Midnight Meat Train
Release Date: Aug 7th, 2008
Score: 3 out of 4

Well, based on the title of the film I was expecting a dumb-but-fun gorefest but this movie is nothing of the sort. Aside from the opening sequence, which may force you to lose a few sanity points, there is very little gore within the majority of the film.

Ok, well there's a fair amount of trains (well... subway cars) but this film is basically a pot-boiler serial killer chase-down, based on the short story with the same unfortunately dumbass title by Clive Barker - once known as a great writer even outside of the horror genre; these days known as the guy who writes blurbs on the back of dust jackets proclaiming some young hack to be "the new face of horror" every other month. Oh, and when I say pot-boiler, I mean it in the way someone puts a pot of water on the stove-top for 1/3rd of a film before remembering to turn the burner on.

There is blood and guts, of course, just a lot less that you would expect from a film that, judging by title alone, is about an evil train made of meat that rides at midnight. The tone of "TMMT" is genuinely unsettling and after a slightly sluggish start it picks up momentum and kept me rapt in suspenseful attention. The score and flickery-lights effects help (god knows why I still get spooked by flickery lights).

The film centers around the affable but self-esteem lacking photographer named Peter Parker --- I, I mean Leon. His name is Leon (played by Bradley Cooper). He is an aspiring art photographer, but is relegated to selling crime scene photos to the local dailies to pay the bills. Also he has a hot but annoying girlfriend (Leslie Bibb). To my utter disbelief, Stan Lee had nothing to do with this production.

Leon's big break comes when he snaps some pix of a girl being harassed by street thugs at a subway stop, and convinces a capricious art dealer played by Brooke Shields that he can capture the seedy, "true" side of New York City (the Green Line logo is prominently displayed inside the subway scenes). Unfortunately, this model is then quickly dispatched with by our serial killer once she gets on the train. Soon after this we meet our Midnight Meat Train Murderer face to face, played by Vinnie Jones (aka the big scary dude in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). He is a butcher of cows by day, a butcher of men by night.

Leon sets out to hunt him down and he quickly becomes obsessed photographing/capturing the midnight train riding meat-loving murderer -- because, obviously, an amateur photographer can catch a twisted killer much more easily than a homicide department. Again, I assure you Stan Lee had nothing to do with this movie!

It rapidly develops into a cat-and-mouse game, then shit just starts to get crazy. And that's as much as I can tell without ruining the movie. But I will tell you that I found the ending both awesome and unexpected.

All in all this is a tight, well done film. Slow stretches of filler aside, it succeeds in suspense, squick, and general creepiness. Vinnie Jones delivers an amazing performance, especially considering his character says maybe two words throughout the entire film.

I recommend it, I wouldn't personally buy the DVD but many Clive Barker fans might want to, as this is the best adaptation of a Barker story I've seen in years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Uninvited

dont watch meeee!

The Uninvited
Release Date: 2009
Score: 0 out of 4

This film gets no points at all whatsoever. None of the characters were in anyway believable, did anything in a manner any human being would go about things, nor was there any reason for about half the fucking movie other than to set-up things around a highly contrived bullshit plot that wasn't even good to begin with.

Then they have a twist ending that feels completely tacked on after making you wait a full hour and fifteen minutes before something interesting happens, and instead of being scary or even a mindfuck - it's a trite little turd and an unnecessary bummer.

The movie is trash. Dreamworks is trash.

No fucking point to the movie but, hey, plenty of shots of supposedly young teenage girls in bikinis and short shorts and revealing skimpy dresses! I assume what directors "the Guard brothers" were trying to say with all that footage is that they're pedophiles.

Whoever cast fucking Elizabeth Banks as a cold-blooded psychopath needs to be out of a fucking job -- possibly euthanized. I don't know how much research or preparation Banks put into her role but it doesn't take a fucking Special Agent at the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit to know her performance was completely flat and unbelievable.

As for David Strathairn, I hope he is ashamed of himself for the complete phone-in he gave for this film.

Altogether worthless. I have no idea why it currently has a 6.8/10 at IMDB. Oh wait, unfortunately I do. Its probably the disgusting horde of perverted old fucks who masturbate to Emily Browning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Title: Bled
Release Date: 2009
Score: 1 out of 4

After a series of spots as an extra in such terror-filled television shows such as Alley McBeal and Malcom in the Middle, Christopher Hutson decided to become a filmmaker. After Dark Reality, which I haven't seen but appears to be nothing more than insipid torture porn, he turned his attention towards bloodlust and vampirism.

Although he as able to secure apparent elder god/rivethead Sxv'leithan Essex to write the script, the dialog is stilted and forced. That wouldn't mean anything, of course, if the movie had a good plot and plenty of scares. Unfortunately it slowly meanders and the fear level never rises above "slightly creepy." The production itself is lush and the score is well done, however this only makes me wonder why they could put together good sets and nice film effects but only seemed able to take a runny shit on a piece of paper and call it a screenplay.

The film centers around four artists living in a Los Angeles apartment, and focuses on rising art princess "Sai," played by Sarah Farooqui. Her love interest, Royce (Chris Ivan Cevic) is a dud throughout the movie. Although the script doesn't give much to work with, Cevic delivers a performance as stirring as week old oatmeal. Eric (Alex Petrovitch), the trashy womanizing flatmate is a much more interesting character and thus is given much less screentime.

There's also a second woman Kara, who unfortunately suffers from a common affliction for female characters in horror films; she is compelled to act completely irrational and be a major fuckwit.

The film starts with Sai being introduced to a "creepy" German traveler (Jonathan Oldham) who loves "the darkness and lust" of her art. Its hard not to laugh at Oldham's performance, in which he is obviously attempting to match the accent and inflection of Hannibal Lector. It doesn't help that he delivers the lamest and most purplish lines I think I've witnessed from a villain in quite some time. This is pretty sad, actually, because Oldham shows glimpses of impressive acting, and his performance improves later in the film. It seems likely that his actual talent is blunted by the piss-poor directing and writing.

Anyway, he buys some of her art, and gives her some tree bark that he says will trip her out hardcore (or "deliver her to a land of dark mystery" or whatever) and make her an even better artist. To use it, one is supposed to heat up the bark's sap in a spoon like its fucking smack or something and then freebase it. What mystique!

Unfortunately, the stuff, "Stregohe," is not only addictive but it slowly turns Sai into a morbid lust vampire. Then some more stuff that doesn't make much sense and is never explained happens, and we learn that Renfield, the Hannibal impersonator, is actually some kind of vampire who needs to get people drugged up in order to call forth a demon, I guess. It really doesn't make much sense and the end, accordingly, doesn't tie anything up.

This is one of the least scary movies I've seen that purports to be a thriller or a horror film or whatever its supposed to be. Instead of building suspense, it builds boredom and confusion. The demon (which makes its first appearance two minutes into the film) is laughably hokey -- they could have stood to put more money into make-up effects than on fancy camera filters. At least then they would have had something in the movie that was genuinely scary.

If you have a big crush on Sarah Farooqui you might have a reason to watch this, otherwise I recommend avoiding it like you would bark-acid given to you by a lame ass dude trying way too hard to sound creepy. Just say no!