Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!


The ninja zombie and the cheetah hope everyone's Halloween was full of super scares and yummy candy!
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To the Devil . . . A Daughter

(1976) *** 1/2

Having never seen a Hammer Movie before in my life, upon reading the promise on the DVD cover that this flick delivers "Hammer Style," I'll have to admit I was a little confused.

I grew up completely uninterested in religion, with one parent so disillusioned with organized religion (the other apathetic towards it) so movies that threaten satanism or the occult are purely entertaining/fictional for me, "Yay, another pentagram!" To the Devil spins a tale about a religion focused on finding one young woman chosen to birth the devil. "Yay, matriarchy!" I exclaimed.
At its center is Catherine (Kinski), a sheltered nun-in-training whose father has gone to great lengths to keep her away from Father Michael (Lee), whose superior command of witchcraftery is bound to get the better of them. About 75% of the movie is spent with Father Michael trying to get Catherine to come to their church so they can perform the ritual, 15% is crazy Pagan gimmicks involving snakes or fire, and the final 10% is Richard Widmark (from Kiss of Death) filling us in about poseur Satanists and "real" Satanists.

I thought the movie was promising, the casting is great and hallucination sequences have the intended chilling effect. I would recommend this one for the watching -- if it hasn't already been recommended by Octopunk, JSP, Catfreeek, or Abduscias.

Secret Window

(2004) **** 1/2
Johnny Depp gets away with looking beautiful and wearing the most tacky outfits in the film adaptation of Stephen King's Secret Window. The plot is something only a writer could conjure as horrific: plagiarism!

The best looking man with the most vomit-inducing name, Mort Rainey *gag*, is looking for inspiration for his next novel amidst an ugly divorce and the presence of John Shooter (portrayed by John Tuturro), a backwoods hick from Mississippi who accuses Rainey of stealing his story.
If Mr. Shooter sees the '94 magazine in which Rainey's story is featured, he will leave him alone. Sounds easy, right? Well, Secret Window falls under the same premise as many movies, at times to a fault, of the antagonist posing a reasonably low threat. The goal seems like a piece of cake but so many personal conflicts -- between Rainey, his ex-wife, and her new fiancee -- get in the way from Mort accomplishing this.
I want to plagiarize that knit sweater by re-creating it.

I give this such a high rating because it's something that I occasionally throw in the DVD player year after year and there are still little details that I notice, as well as the excitement that goes into the creative process. Even though Depp has reached a point in his career where you can't see past him to see his character, he still brings the necessary depth to make his involvement in the story believable. I love stories like this because it provides a template that can be expressed through many creative media. Secret Window is a story constructed such that it would work perfectly well without gore, or as a two-person play set in one room. The message would be just as effective regardless of the number of players or the degree of violence.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

 (2012) **

Well as I feared the second film did not measure up to the first. Rose is now out of the picture so we join a teenaged Sharon and her father as they are just moving into a new house in a new town. They apparently have had to keep moving because not only are they fugitives from the police but unbeknownst to his daughter a bunch of evil dudes from Silent Hill are trying to lure her back. Sharon is being plagued by nightmares that she doesn’t understand and the visions are starting to merge with the real world. Her father is suddenly abducted and the only clue is a bloody message on the wall telling her to go to Silent Hill, the very place her father warned her never to go to. Of course she decides to go there to rescue him and she reads a box full of informative letters and notes from her father that clue her in on the truth about her past and her connection to the town. Once she arrives she must endure a whole mess of weird creatures and horrors untold if she wants to save her Dad.

 One of the redeeming scenes in the film involved an outstanding but far too short lived performance from Malcolm McDowell in the insane asylum.


First of all there is way too much focus on trying to startle the audience with 3D in your face monsters, this was cheap and ineffective. There is far too much dialog in the film, all the constant filling in of back story and explaining why Sharon is such a hot commodity in Silent Hill just makes it boring. It took way too long for them to actually get to Silent Hill and by the time they do I had pretty much lost interest. The atmosphere is all wrong, it just doesn’t feel at all like the game. That apprehensive, dark, what is coming for me around the next corner feeling just wasn’t there for me. I played these games and where the first film was able to capture it so brilliantly this sequel falls flat on it’s 3D face. The main villainess looks more like a cenobite from Hellraiser than a creature from Silent Hill. I did give it a full two stars for the beautiful 3D effect of the continually falling ash that floated around in front of me and the creativeness in some of the creatures (e.g. the spider creature). Worst part for me was that it just wasn’t scary, not at all. Sigh, life truly is full of little disappointments.

Silent Hill

 (2006) ****

When her adopted daughter Sharon is continually plagued by nightmares of the town, Rose takes her to Silent Hill to find out why. Rose crashes her car at the town line to avoid hitting a figure in the road and is knocked unconscious. She awakens to find Sharon has gone missing so Rose must search the abandoned town full of unspeakable horrors to find her.


I love this film and had to rewatch it in preparation for Silent Hill: Revelation, which I am excited and apprehensive about. I really wish that Christophe Gans who directed this film had directed the second then I would have more faith because he really gets it. Not that I wish to condemn Michael J. Bassett who may very well live up to his predecessor, I will find out very soon. My opinion of Silent Hill could be biased since I played the games and knew the place well before the film broke ground. Christophe  Gans paid specific attention to the little things that only a gamer would appreciate as well as making the film scary enough for mass appeal. It’s the little details like Rose dropping a tool after using it so she can’t use it again, this is right out of the game. When I would settle in to play Silent Hill I became totally immersed in that world. When Rose first exits her car in the ash gently snow falling all around her it brought me right back into that world. As a rule I am not a fan of films made from video games, they often play out as campy or disjointed. The only two that I can think of at this moment that really got it right were Silent Hill and Resident Evil. As I think of it the same goes for video games made from films, most of the time they don’t work very well either. If you want a better in depth on this film I will refer you to these reviews by Jordan, Octo and 50P.

Happy Halloween!

 Well it's been a busy month with movies to watch, weddings to perform and fun places to go, I feel like I haven't stopped! Wait, did I pay my bills this month?

Abduscias sends her regrets that due to major computer issues she has not been  able to post any reviews this year as yet. Rest assured she has still been watching massive amounts of horror and has been lurking on the blog via iphone.
That said;
We kicked  off the season at the awesome pumpkin spectacular at Roger Williams Park, the theme this year being "All the World is a Stage". Here are some familiar faces.




 Then mid-month we were off to Rock n Shock to meet some of our favorite celebrities.

 Danny Trejo was so much smaller in person, but what a nice guy.

 Tony Todd, the Candyman such a cool dude we wanted to party with him.
 Laurence Harvey (Martin from Human Centipede 2) is the sweetest, cuddliest guy you ever want to meet. He has an adorable British accent and a wonderful sense of humor. I could have hung around with him the entire day.
 and he signed his picture like this. Hilarious!
 Michael Berryman kinda looks like he's made of rubber.
Doug Bradley, not so menacing out of Pinhead gear.

And who are these two guys? Why my son Paul and his buddy Brian. Their band had a gig in Boston and I contributed my make up skills to their zombie Blues Brothers theme.
If we don't get rained out, Halloween photos will be up tomorrow. 
Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eyes Without A Face

(1960) ****

A renowned surgeon kidnaps and removes the faces of innocent women in an attempt to mend his daughter's facial disfigurement. He is riddled with guilt since he was driving when the accident causing her condition occurred, her face is virtually skinless and she is forced to wear a mask to hide it. He attempts numerous times, without success, to perform a facial transplant and as the bodies add up the law begins to get suspicious.


I reviewed Mansion of the Doomed in 2008, a film I had seen many years ago at the drive-in. Now I see where they got the plot for that film. The main difference being the daughter in MotD was blind and needed her eyes replaced where as in EWaF her eyes are perfectly in tact but the face is destroyed. This would be the superior film, well-acted and very graphic for the era. The daughter knows what is going on here and accepts it because she is desperate to be normal again. It poses that moral question, how far would you go? I also want to note that if Billy Idol drew any inspiration from this film for his song of the same title, it was purely only in title because I see no other connection in relation to his lyrics. Damn you Billy, I haven’t been able to get your song out of my head since I watched this!

The Raven

(2012)**

Edgar Allen Poe is a disturbed, brilliant, alcoholic author living in 1840s Baltimore.  A serial murder kills his victims exactly as identified in many of Poe's stories.  When the police figure this out, they enlist Poe to help them solve the crimes.  The crimes become more personal when Poe's fiancee is kidnapped. 

The plot is similar to an old Vincent Price film, Theatre of Blood.  In that one, Price was the serial killer, and he murdered his victims in ways identical to those enacted in Shakespeare's plays.  That wasn't a great movie, but Vincent Price helped make it very decent.  Check out Catfreek's review in the Monster List.  I was hoping JOhn Cusack would save this one.  He didn't.

The premise is kind of neat, and the director does a great job of making this look, visually, like one would expect an Edgar Allen Poe story to look like.  The biggest problem, surprisingly, is John Cusack.  I really like John Cusack, but he doesn't play Poe as a disturbed, brilliant, tortured alcoholic.  He mostly plays this one as a slower, angry Lloyd Dobbler.  Can't you just picture this guy holding up a stereo playing Peter Gabriel?

ants!

(1977) **1/2



I watched this one at the beginning of the month and if I wait one more day to write this review then all traces of it will be forever erased from my memory. For a brief period I entertained the notion of devoting my October to killer insects and arthropods but I aborted the idea after a train wreck called Camel Spiders. Ants! is a passable TV movie that adheres to every cliché in the 70’s man vs. creature playbook. The cover art would lead you to believe that Suzanne Somers’ breasts are the stars of the movie but this is simply not the case.

The villain of the movie is Gerald Gordon, a typical rich tycoon who likes to buy up businesses to turn into parking lots. He’s a complete ass but fortunately the predictable blueprint dictates that the ants will get him in the end and when they do it is satisfying indeed. In a role that couldn’t have been too challenging, Suzanne Somers plays his busty and bubbly blonde assistant.

Toxic waste causes the carnage and conveniently furnishes the ants with deadly venom and aggressive behavior. Their attacks are especially menacing because they are accompanied by intense violin music. Though far from scary, the movie did give me the willies on occasion as ants are hideous creatures. In the end it delivered exactly what a expected - a fun but skippable romp.

Sorry to interrupt, but, WOW!

From ew, The force is strong with Mickey Mouse.
The Walt Disney Company announced on Tuesday that it is purchasing Lucasfilm in a stock and cash purchase valued at $4.05 billion. The deal includes plans for Star Wars: Episode VII, aiming for release in 2015. Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced in a shareholder conference call that the studio also plans to release Episode VIII and Episode IX. “Our longterm plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years,” he added, noting that the deal came with “an extensive and detailed treatment for the next three movies.”
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Star Wars creator and Lucasfilm CEO George Lucas in a statement. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Veteran producer Kathleen Kennedy, who recently became co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become the studio’s president, reporting to Disney studios chairman Alan Horn. She will executive produce the future Star Wars films, with Lucas serving as a creative consultant.

Excision

 (2012) ***1/2

Pauline is a young woman with dreams of becoming a surgeon. She is brash and rude, socially awkward and just plain weird. Her classmates hate her, her teachers hate her and her Mother isn’t very fond of her either. She does seem to get along well with her younger sister Grace who has Cystic Fibrosis and is in need of a lung transplant. In Pauline’s dreams she is committing the most gruesome surgeries combined with twisted sexual overtones, you just know this girl is not right. But she will stop at nothing to see her dream to the end.

This is one twisted flick, first released in 2008 as a short film. It received such acclaim that Richard Bates jr. made it into a full-length picture. Pauline’s weirdness is uncomfortable to be around, I cringed every time she was about to interact with others. John Waters also appears in the film and I have to say I wasn’t surprised to see his face show up in such a strange and twisted tale, it suits him well. This is one of those films that make you wait for the eventual shock that comes at the end. It’s different and AnnaLynne McCord is simply amazing in the lead role as the dementedly awkward Pauline.

It’s hard to believe this beauty:

 Transforms herself into this:

Not a film for the squeamish but definitely interesting and well worth the wait.

This year's models


In my opinion you just can't fail when photographing jack-o-lanterns. Left to right that's Frankenstein Witch Ghost.


Scary ghost was Zack's pick. He was very agreeable to all my changes.


My Frankenstein ('s monster) suffered a bit in the illumination department because of this large forehead, but this angry Tiki god shot is my new desktop image.


Julie didn't specify witch but it was her idea to have the stem be the nose. I just took it from there.


This pumpkin also turned out to be oddly thin-skinned and permeable by light, to which I say bravo, pumpkin patch.

I've thoroughly enjoyed all the shenanigans this year, folks. Good stuff, and I look forward to the next two days. I'm probably not going to post a review in that time as I'll be doing what I can to cram in those last couple of flicks. But I am pumped to keep the reviews flowing in November. Also I caught up on comments tonight going back to JSP's Coffin Joe review.

Horrorthon!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Poughkeepsie Tapes


(2007) ***1/2

Done in the style of a documentary, director John Erick Dowdle combined found footage from a serial killer and interviews with police and families of the victims to create a harrowing and exhausting movie that I would recommend only to those of you who enjoy nightmares. Dowdle’s dirty work served him well as he would go on to helm higher profile movies Quarantine and Devil, both of which are about as scary as a Scoobie Doo cartoon by comparison.  
The killer in The Poughkeepsie Tapes takes great pleasure in torturing his victims and he is exceptionally careful about covering his tracks. The abduction scenes are brutally convincing and the tone is so grim that any hopes of a happy ending are obliterated within the first 15 minutes. The victims that are murdered in cruel and humiliating ways are lucky compared to high schooler Cheryl Dempsey. After butchering her boyfriend, the killer chains her up in his basement and crushes her spirit by terrorizing her into thanking him for killing her family. The poor girl has no choice but to assume a role as his personal slave and is then doomed to years of psychological, physical, sexual and relentless torture. She is also forced to bear witness to and participate in a number of atrocities. Does this sound like your kind of movie? If so you're either deeply disturbed or you go by the name of Catfreeek or Abduscias. 
Just writing the synopsis made me depressed. My October Horrorthons would not be complete without a movie that legitimately frightens me and takes me out of my comfort zone. That said, I couldn't wait for this one to end. 

Little Deaths

 (2011) **1/2

This sexually themed horror anthology is strange and disjointed. The film is composed of three unrelated short episodes, the first of which is the only one that has any merit.

The first segment involves a rich couple who enjoys luring in homeless girls so they can have their way with them. They make a fatal error when their latest victim, after being bound and raped gets revenge in a most satisfying way.

You can't see my four foot schlong in this picture
but believe me it's there alright.
 The second episode was the cause of a huge embarrassment for me. My son Paul decided to stop by with his girlfriend and I happened to have this movie on. After making them dinner as we were eating I unpaused it figuring what the hell, its just horror. Well, this nonsensical short which was extremely difficult to follow suddenly shows us a weird horrific guy chained up with a mask over his face. The camera then pans down showing us his yardstick long, thick as a forearm heavily veined monster cock just flopping around like it’s nobody’s business. The room went silent and I wanted to crawl under my chair. Thanks so much for that Little Deaths, sorry Erin & Paul.

The third is a story of revenge involving dogs and a guy who acts like a dog. He even gets naked, puts on a dog mask and lifts his leg to pee on everything.

So, the first tale is really the only reason to watch this unless you really want to see that enormous schlong.  Venture if you must but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Barking Dogs Never Bite

 (2000) ***1/2

A man who is losing sleep do to his neighbor’s noisy dog decides to kill the dog to put an end to it. He snatches the little mutt and takes it to the basement of his apartment building but finds he doesn’t have the balls to kill it in cold blood so he just locks it in a cabinet. A few days later he sees a missing dog flyer with a picture of the pooch stating that the dog has a throat condition and can’t bark, he took the wrong dog. He runs to the basement only to find the janitor happily making a stew from the dead dog. He then finds the offending dog who belongs to a little old lady in his building so he must devise a plan to snatch it. He does so and pitches the pooch off the roof this time but a couple of neighbor girls spot him and try to chase him down. He gets away only to find his pregnant wife at home with a brand new dog that she just bought. Resigned to his fate he takes the dog for a walk in the park and accidentally loses it and now must find the dog before the janitor or the homeless wanderer decide to make a meal out of it.

More dark comedy with horror undertones, the film states before it begins that no animals were harmed in the making of it but I’ll be damned if those scenes didn’t look real to me. This film really hits close to home for me, I have a new neighbor who is also my friend. I love her to death but she has two pint-sized mutts that yip all day long. I can truly feel for this guy because that high-pitched barking can grate on the nerves like nails on a chalkboard. Now I have gone a more conventional route, I bought a dog whistle and when they go off I blow it. Doesn’t always work but most of the time it shuts them up. Still it was fun to watch this and fantasize about how quiet it would be if they were gone. What’s the life expectancy of those little dogs? Just wondering so I can start counting down the years. I may be a crazy cat lady, but at least my cats are quiet.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coffin Joe: At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

Original Title: A Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma
(1963) **** 1/2
All I wrote in my notes was "Bad Assery" associated with the first in this CJ trilogy and I meant every syllable of it, though it doesn't help me much to write a legitimate review. I love it when old black & white flicks can pull off an enjoyable ensemble of two-dimensional characters. Jose Mojica Marins not only conceived of this character, but also directed and starred -- every ounce of his alma is present in each scene as he terrorizes the locals, ridicules their religious practices, and lusts after fertile women.
This guy is into some kinky stuff...
The plot for Midnight was covered thoroughly via memorable quotes by Johnny Sweatpants earlier this month, and by Catfreeek two years ago. I am jumping on the CJ bandwagon and can't wait to watch the next installment! I would recommend this to anyone -- and outside of the Horrorthon circle I know nobody who enjoys horror movies -- because despite its qualification for horror in the form of gypsies and corpses and the Day of the Dead, it is rather tame.
Only this bruja has the upper hand on CJ!

When I first heard of this title last year reading Catfreeek's reviews I couldn't help but conjure up a villain of my own: Coughin' Joe. Despite JSP thinking I'm a weirdo for being entertained by homophones, it brought back memories of one of my favorite movies, The Court Jester, and one particular [short] scene where Danny Kaye coughs uncontrollably.

The Haunting

(1999) 1/2 star

How am I the first moron to have sat through this idiotic piece of A-list garbage? Oh, forget it, I know how.

Saturday morning, I woke up at like 5:30am for some reason with insomnia. After putzing around for a while, planning to read some more of Justin Cronin's The Twelve (sequel to The Passage, which I've recommended to some of you before), I turned on the tv and this was just starting at 6:10am on Showtime. I figured it would probably be lame, but an easy way to start the day out by knocking off another thon entry. Jesus was I wrong. On the plus side, insomnia cured!

I got about 44 minutes in before I nodded off, but as it quickly dawned on me how terrible and boring it was, I knew I wasn't going to make it. However, the thon forced my hand to hit the "Record" button so I could finish it later properly caffeinated.  So that happened.

So what's it all about? A doctor is doing an experiment on fear under the pretense that he's studying sleeping disorders. He gets 3 subjects to spend the night in a massive baroque mansion, and then prods them with hints that the place has an unsavory history. Of course, the place does turn out to be haunted, so his experiment goes to shit and Owen Wilson gets decapitated.

Oh, did I mention the crappy cast? I don't hate any of these actors in most of their other stuff, but man they were all so miscast and annoying as a group. Maybe it was just the shitty paint-by-numbers script that seemed like some undergrad workshopped drivel, but they all give what I think are career worse performances. When Owen gets decapitated, Liam's face is fucking priceless. He's sort of wincing, but can't seem able to even muster real terror, and I swear it seems like he's just wincing at A) how stupid that death just looked,and B) how craptastic this movie he's making is turning out. Like he's thinking, "God this is embarrassing."

The looks on their faces here totally capture how crappy this movie is.


Lili Taylor is doing her annoying breathy earth mother routine here, and Zeta Jones is hamming up her typical Type-A hottie narcissist. Both strike totally offkey tones, just as Wilson's predictable goofy charm is way wrong for the movie. Ugh, but that's not even the worst thing here.

The worst is certainly that this attempt at making a scary haunted house movie, indeed remaking THE haunted house movie-prototype is almost completely void of scares. And I don't think any blame can be put on the PG-13 rating. Maybe the witless director was saddled with that as a demand, given the A-list cast, but damn Poltergeist was hella scary. This is just silly.

I think one problem is that this was made at the dawn of the bigtime CGI era, and clearly they seem to have thought they were onto something big. There's lots of CGI ghosts (mostly kids faces), but the problem is that the technology just wasn't where it needed to be yet. Or maybe their CGI guys were just the worst in the business. Actually, it looks like they just hired the guys from the Keebler commercials, as I kept thinking the ghosts were chocolate elves. So yeah, it was television commercial level special effects.

All that said, I do have to say one thing I liked--they chose a really cool looking building to film in. The exterior shots in particular are amazing, and caused me to look the place up. It's called Harlaxton Manor, in England.



What's really cool is that Evansville now owns it as the home of their study abroad in England program. How rad is that? You sign up for a semester abroad, and you get a room and take all your classes in this crazy old ornate castle? Totally envious of those kids.

Check out this write up from wiki
:
"Presently, Harlaxton Manor is known as "The British Campus of the University of Evansville." It is an American owned and operated college which is home to students and professors seeking a global education each academic semester. During the summer the site is often used for various meetings, social gatherings, international conferences and private functions such as weddings. Begun by Stanford University before the University of Evansville took control in 1971, it is one of the oldest international educational programmes
While teaching classes or studying abroad for a semester, or longer, visiting instructors and students live in either the manor house or its accompanying carriage house. Classes are held, and offices sited, in many of Harlaxton's baroque or rococo ornate gilded rooms, former bedrooms, and the dining room."