Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bucket of Blood

(1959) **1/2

Walter is a busboy at a 1959 beatnik coffehouse/haunt.  He loves the beatnik culture, but his boss is always yelling at him, the poets and musicians are snobbish to him, and the one girl that's nice to him is out of his league.  Walter wants to be a sculptor.  So, after work one day, he goes home to try to work with his clay.  He can't make anything real well, and he keeps thinking about the slights he receives at work.  On top of that, his cat won't stop meowing.  So, in a rage, he accidentally stabs and kills his cat.  Then, Walt has an epiphany: clay + dead cat = artistic genius!

Walter begins to have success in the art world, but a la house of wax, all of his clay sculptures are just corpses covered in clay.

Dick Wilson (the old man from the Gremlins movie) is the lead playing Walter here, and his desperation and descent to madness are done very well.  The beatnik setting really adds something to this movie as well, because it's a contemporary riff on beatniks.  Rather than everybody just wearing black and smoking, this movie has some fun characters that look less like anachronistic stereotypes, and more subtle, realistic counter-culture types.  Also, Walter, even though he is a killer, is portrayed sympathetically, so that, in a way, we're rooting for the killer.

This is a Roger Corman film made for $50,000.  The low budget is obvious and the plot is extremely unoriginal.  During all the tense scenes the musical accompaniment is free-style jazz, which makes sense given the setting but is very out of place given the moood.  Still, at 65 minutes, this one's a good way to pad the horrorthon score.   

World War Z

(2013) ****

This one has already been reviewed a few times this month, so I’ll be brief.

Plot: Zombies attack everyone, yo!

Pros: Them zombies are vicious, yo!

Cons: Whole story is a little too episodic, yo! I feel like the movie was trying to set up a prequel AND a sequel.

Final thought: Watch it! It alternates well between horror scenes and action scenes.

Postscript: Sorry for the “yo’s”. We’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad recently.

Amityville Asylum

(2013) **

“Teenager” Lisa desperately needs a job and despite flubbing her interview at the newly erected High Hopes Psychiatric Hospital she is hired as a janitor to work the night shift (of course!).  Her excitement over landing the job is short-lived as she begins to see strange things around the hospital.  She has a conversation with a distressed woman in a hallway and later learns that the woman had died earlier in the day (!) and she helps a 13-year old girl back to her room and is later informed by staff that the hospital does not have any teenage patients (!!).  You might think that this would be enough incentive to quit her new job however you are forgetting that we are dealing with an Amityville story here.

Nonplussed by her encounters with apparitions Lisa begins to dig into Amityville’s colorful history.  Apparently she is the only person living in Amityville who has never heard of any of the town’s many horrors; Lisa learns that that the psychiatric hospital, no doubt breaking numerous zoning laws in a residential community, was built on top of the iconic house.  Adding insult to injury she also learns about a Native American cult that practiced witchcraft in order to summon “The Dark Master”, or something like that (give me a break I watched this 3 weeks ago).

Amateur, low-budget, and shot in the UK (one of the characters kept referring to the town as “Uh-middy-ville”), the glacially paced Amityville Asylum will try your patience.  Seriously, when Lisa is first hired at the hospital we are held hostage to long descriptions of her job duties such as this, “The steam is super-heated to 180 degrees and delivered at seven point zero bar pressure.  It can produce 115 liters of super-heated steam per minute … For concrete, mix in one to four parts water.  Brush or spray it on with the equipment here then leave to set for five to ten minutes.  But for those stubborn … marks, use this neat.”  Still with me?    Like most of the Amityville films there is no reason to see this (although I’m still charmed by the Patty Duke installment -  watch it, it’s on You Tube!).


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The ABC's of Death

(2013) ***

Twenty-six directors each assigned a letter of the alphabet and given $5000 were asked to create a story about death without any restrictions.  The wildly uneven results typically found in an anthology film have never been more apparent than here.  For every good short there is one that is mediocre and one that is just awful.  Some are just plain disgusting or offensive.  Still, even after suffering through a bad one (they are only 5 minutes in length after all) you will be optimistic that the next one will be better.  The 5 minute length lends itself nicely to getting other things done around the house.  Watch a short; throw your clothes into the laundry machine.  Watch a short; vacuum that rug you've been meaning to get to.  Watch a short, put away the dishes.  You get it.  Although only about 1/3 of the films are any good, I still recommend checking this out.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

2005  **

Here's my advice for an exorcism movie trying to make its way in the world:  be 1973's The Exorcist or forget about it and go home.  There just isn't anything else to bring to the table.  The only new idea they thought to bring to the exorcism scene in this movie was "what if she... runs out to the barn for part of it!?!"  And run she does, after jumping through a second floor window, just like in... The... never mind.

Who knows?  Perhaps I will be proven wrong at some point, but besides the Big E I've never seen a possession story that could hold my interest, at least whenever the goal is to rid the possessee of the foul intruder.  Evil Dead style possession is more like demonically-based zombification and is therefore awesome.

I'd pretty much written off this movie as a don't-bother, but then I watched Dexter and became a fan of Jennifer Carpenter and had to check it out.  You know those three horror movies in your Netflix queue that you mean to screen for the 'thon but you keep not getting around to, and they spend the off months buried under a bunch of other genres?  This one's been in mine for a couple of years now.  In terms of Jennifer Carpenter being amazing as a crazy possessed woman, this totally pays off.  In all other ways I call it a massive dud that actually pissed me off more the more time I had to think about it.

The problem with practically every single Faith vs. Facts story is that Faith always has to win because it's the more narratively compelling option.  Emily Rose's arena is the courtroom, the freedom at stake is that of the priest who performed Emily's unsuccessful exorcism and who is held responsible for her death.  There follows a lot of hoo-ha that clumsily head-bumps these Big Issues together like a four-year-old making Ken and Barbie kiss.  It's good actors and good production values and you don't notice right away that the script is bunk, but soon you do notice and it's bunkity bunk.

Because of COURSE agnostic defense attorney Laura Linney has her sense of the world tested by a series of things she just can't explain.  (And here's where religious horror movies can be great -- what could be scarier than God actually existing, right?)  So what are these unexplainable things?  She wakes up at 3 am a couple of times and smells something burning -- but there's nothing burning.  The door to her apartment is open.  I don't mean it opens, I mean it's already open and she notices and shuts it.  Also she finds a locket with her initials in it.


In all fairness I should mention the other strange phenomena during the trial.  The priest is plagued nightly (at 3 am, wooooo) by a figure in a hooded cape, or maybe a burka... heck, it might just be a guy in a blanket, he's just a silhouette and he's way over there.  One guy sees something scary (that the viewer doesn't see) and backs into traffic (oh what would you do without traffic, Forces of Darkness?)

That's pretty much it.  Super boring stuff that totally sqanders any chance at scary, and they keep it that way on purpose to illustrate some high-falutin' Unknowability.  "Was it demons or was she crazy... only YOU can decide."  It's a style I hate.  If a movie doesn't frame an issue this large with some intelligence, banging on the Infinite Mystery drum is just lazy.  In the end the priest reads a letter from Emily about how the Virgin Mary told her that her sacrifice would be meaningful because people would hear about it and believe in God more.  The characters give their all so that story can get out and oh gosh how great, but I just saw a sad victim of the universe's most vicious marketing department.

The most interesting part of The Exorcism of Emily Rose is Emily's point of view as her brain totally turns on her; going crazy would indeed be terrifying.  Everything else waffles between annoyingly wishy washy and preachy.  Not recommended.

On a side note, I'm happy to report that I did screen a Faith vs. Facts movie in which Faith takes it on the chin, and that's It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  From beginning to end, Linus never loses faith in the Great Pumpkin, and he gets completely screwed over.  He misses Halloween, he's derided by his friends and family, he loses the girl, he gets faked out by a dog AND he's abandoned by his god, left shivering alone in the dirt during the first cold hours of November.  The next day you get the cognative dissonance; Linus goes off about how great next year will be while Charlie Brown just sags against the brick wall.  And you can take it either way, you can bask in the Linus's innocent belief or observe Chuck's face and know that innocent belief can be a big pain in the ass for everyone who's around it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vincent Price double feature

House on Haunted Hill
(1959) ***
Vincent Price stars as millionaire Frederick Loren, who on a whim, anonymously invites five guests to spend the night in a haunted house for $10K each, provided that they survive and stay the entire night. Along the way, scandal, mystery, and terror ensue. A secretary who is the sole breadwinner of her household is constantly terrorized by ghosts and two other guests, driving her nearly to the brink of madness. VP's wife Annabelle is noticeably the most miserable person of them all but their mutual hatred of each other is played out well and didn't bore me for a minute.

Eight years ago JPX reviewed this and I more or less agree with him on the plot: it's a guaranteed entertaining film to throw on from time to time and the ensemble are all believable characters with an ulterior motive. I found it especially amusing at their different reactions at seeing dead bodies: Nora, the secretary, sees a floating ghost and shrieks. Test pilot Lance, a man's man, sees a decapitated head and promptly grabs it by the hair and walks with purpose out of the room to show other people.

The Last Man on Earth 
(1964) ****1/2
The first of three films based upon Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend, the last man is portrayed here by VP in the perfect role: a miserable sole survivor of a bacteria outbreak that left many dead and then re-animated as "zombies." I watched the most recent incarnation of this film starring Big Willie himself (Will Smith), but the two can hardly be compared save for the fact that they are the last men on earth and every day consists of surviving. Because each version takes place in the present day it has its own flavor, which makes for a successful adaptation in each case. Anyway, here VP goes through several phases of emotional being each day: complacence, duty (doing what has to be done), and the occasional dozing off in the middle of a graveyard.

It all caused me to wonder, who would survive as the last person on earth? What type of profession would they have had to give them all the necessary skills? What reasons to live would motivate them to awaken every morning and to continue the struggle? Wouldn't most have already given up by now?
 The past reviews of this film are surprisingly thorough: JPX, Octopunk, and 50PageMcGee all delineated the plot better than I can at this point in the month (I swear I can squeeze in ten more before Thursday!).

There were some surprising things that came out of this movie and it's "zombies," but I don't want to spoil them. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen for a moment until the very end, when I had to backtrack the final minutes because I couldn't believe the ending. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic, dreadfully depressing and hopeless features, you'll dig The Last Man on Earth.

Night Of The Living Dead

 1968 *****

When I chose to take on classics this year this film was actually not on my list. Clearly I love it but I'm a bit spent on zombies recently and having seen that NOTLD has been reviewed by multiple Thonners I intended to skip it. All that changed with one phone call from my neighbor. My neighbor who is about 12 years my senior and a retired reverend called to ask if I had the original NOTLD and if so, could she come over and watch it with me because she's never seen it. I immediately said yes! What a rare and wonderful opportunity to be able to see a persons fresh and unbiased reaction to this iconic film.

Since I was a child when I first saw this, sneakily watching from the back of my parents station wagon at the Seekonk Twin drive-in, I can only recall the vague memory of being awakened by nightmares for weeks afterward. It still gets my haunches up a bit when the hoard is descending on the house, but I have surely been jaded by the countless hours of horror these eyes have taken in. I couldn't wait to observe her reaction. She first felt the tingle of goose flesh when Johnny & Barbara encounter the zombie in the graveyard, from this point on she was glued to the screen. Hearing my neighbor gasp and warn the characters on the screen while watching a film that was created over 40 years ago really drove home the realistic terror this movie brought to the table. About mid way through she said, "I was expecting a cheesy, poorly written silly film with bad acting but this is really good." She went on to say the story had a sort of Tennessee Williams feel to it.

Indeed, NOTLD was well thought out and well executed, how impressive it is to see this film still stands up after all this time. Now if your thinking that my neighbor is a lightweight horror virgin who would get scared by a Disney villain you couldn't be more wrong. This is the same woman that accompanied me to the theater when I saw Sinister and Mama and Paranormal Activity 4, along with a few others that slip my mind at the moment. She digs horror and has proven time after time that she is no biddy. This is why I have to give it a full five star rating, any old film that can still raise the hairs of a viewer accustomed to modern day horror deserves a standing ovation. I am thrilled to be able to say that I, in 2013 was able to share this film with a person who had never experienced it and that they loved it and said it was really scary. Enough said.

Amityville Curse

(1989) **

A priest is murdered in his confessional booth.  Twelve years later his house is purchased by Marvin and Debbie with a plan to flip it.  It’s a large house in disrepair so he enlists the help of 3 friends (their names don’t really matter) to help with the renovation (it’s not clear what they get out of it).  As they begin (randomly) tackling various house projects (separately), the trademark Amityville movie franchise stuff starts to happen.  Candles extinguish by themselves, doors close, water faucets stream blood, and there are the requisite spooky sounds.  In one sequence books begin flying off a bookshelf, sailing across the room.  No one suggests leaving, of course.  Eventually the (annoying) former housekeeper of the house shows up to add (way too much) exposition (I was so happy when she died).  We eventually learn [SPOILER] that they house they are renovating used to be a rectory where the priest at the beginning of the story was murdered.

What a strange entry for the Amityville series.  Completely disconnected from the famous house and history, Amityville Curse is set in Amityville but that’s about it.  A throw off line in a bar alludes to the “other” house.  There is nothing remotely scary about this movie and, quite frankly, it’s a bit plodding.  The characters are all unlikable, especially the psychologist, who attributes all the obviously crazy stuff going on in the house to “mass delusion”.  I should add that he has the world’s thickest neck.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to locate a picture online (turns out I wasn’t) so I snapped one with my phone.

Amityville Curse is the perhaps the weakest sequel to the series which is not saying all that much given the low bar set by the original.  Slow, generic, and scare-less with un-relatable characters makes the target audience unclear. 

Finally, a comment on home renovation; I spent the entire weekend renovating my bedroom.  I replaced a ceiling light fixture, replaced the outlets, sanded the walls, spackled any imperfections, painted an undercoat and painted one coat of my new color (linen white if you must know).  With the aid of my father this took approximately 10 hours across 2 days.  My bedroom is 12’ by 14’.  In Amityville Curse the house is ENORMOUS and the five people renovating it did not appear to have any specific plan on how to tackle the numerous projects a house of this size would warrant. Characters are randomly shown taking on major projects, alone, which would take an army to complete.  Also, no one is dressed for home renovation (as indicated in the picture of fat neck above). Perhaps my frustration with losing my entire weekend to painting caused my irate transference.


(2012) ***

Elvis and Leo clean up dead bodies and crime scenes for a living.  While the duo cleans out the home of a recently deceased elderly man they stumble upon a secret door.  Navigating through a labyrinth of rooms they find what appears to be a laboratory containing a bathtub filled to the surface with a milk-like substance.  Peering into the tub they are startled when a strange, slightly inhuman woman suddenly sits up with a tube inserted into her mouth.  Once they remove the tube she begins to go on a (nude) rampage.  After calming her down they begin to put the pieces of her captivity together and they learn that she has been separated from her people for half of her life.  The woman does not speak but through a series of cassette tapes Leo finds in the room they come to understand why she was captured and what experiments have been done to her.  Meanwhile a paramilitary group is on its way to recapture her.

In the vein of Rare Imports and Troll Hunter, Thale is another whimsical Norwegian offering.  It lacks the ambition and weight of the former films but at 74 minutes you will remain interested in the outcome.  The brief glimpses of Thale’s people suggest a larger story and I hope it gets told.  Although there are some moments of gore I believe the Horrorthon biddies would enjoy this one.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ankle Biters

I think my wax fangs have fused together.
 2002 Zero Stars

"Three feet tall with two inch fangs and an undying thirst for blood."

Oy Vey! Where do I begin?
My first impression was that it looked and sounded like a bunch of high school kids got hold of a camera and decided to make a film. My next immediate thought: How did they get all these little people to agree to this schlock? Seriously, gansta midgets wearing plastic fangs that don’t fit their mouths. They couldn't even talk right with the fangs in. The film tries desperately to be SBIG (so bad it’s good) but actually it’s just bad, really, really bad. In fact this ranks among the worst films I’ve seen right up there with The Item and Slaughtered Vomit Dolls.

We have a gang of dwarf vampires who get possession of a sword that gives them the power to turn one big guy into a slave vampire to do all their heavy lifting. Then we have their rivals, a Blade-like hybrid vampire dude and his tiny sidekick who have come to exterminate the vermin. Sounds like it should be a blast but its nothing of the sort.

This gang would be more frightening

First of all, the sound keeps getting loud and soft, truly maddening, not that the dialog itself is worth a good listen. I spent most of the film adjusting the volume to accommodate the crappy sound editing. Makes me wonder if the director even previewed the film before distributing it. The fight sound effects are so lame they are laughable, about the only laugh the film delivers. The fight scenes themselves are ridiculously bad, the punches clearly miss and you can see the other non-fighting characters waiting around for their turn to be on camera.

Pig pile on JPX!
When the dwarf vampires attack it looks more like a pig pile then an actual attack. There are blood smears on the victims but never a bite mark or wound to be found. The length of the film is padded with long scenes of people driving around and the soundtrack is an atrociously annoying mix of death metal/punk/country badness. I’m thinking since JSP enjoyed The Item oh so much it is my civil duty to mail Ankle Biters off to California next year so he can partake in the glory of it as well. Don’t worry JSP, it’s only an hour and a half of your life.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay)

 2010 ****1/2

When Papa dies unexpectedly Alfredo, being the eldest child, must take up the responsibilities of his father.  Alfredo combs the city nightly hunting for opportunities while unbeknownst to him a police investigator is watching his every move.

After JPX glowingly reviewed the 2013 We Are What We Are I intended to add it into my queue but found it was unavailable. I did however find this film of which the 2013 film is based. As I understand it, with the exception of the core plot premise the two films are very different right down to the setting. However, judging by JPX's review of the English speaking film and my viewing of the Mexican original I'd say that both films are a sure bet. I cannot wait to see the remake. A smart film with a solid plot and good acting.

Bitty Warning: pretty graphic and full of realistic gore.

Woo HOOOO!!!!

I'm interrupting Horrorthon momentarily to give a shout out to my lady Julie, who just won FIRST GODDAMN PLACE at the Austin Film Festival for her comedy pilot screenplay.  So gratifying to see her hard work and talent get recognized like this.  Woo!

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

(1984) Cult film/B movie ****

Japanese-American neurosurgeon rock-and-roller Buckaroo Banzai and his hard rocking, crime fighting team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, create a rocket car that can break the sound barrier, and with the aid of their secret oscillation overthruster, propel the car and its occupant through the 8th dimension.  But this success creates an opportunity for evil Red Lectroids, led by insane Lord John Whorfin, to attempt to escape their imprisonment in this dimension on Earth and return home to Planet Ten.

It's really hard to rate such a beloved and oft-watched film.  The cast is amazing, there is plenty of action and tongue-in-cheek humor, dated 80s garb, throwaway one-liners and tiny comic touches, and it really gets better with multiple repeat viewings; however, on first (or enforced) exposure, it can be confusing or frustrating, and not everyone likes it (Mr. AC fell asleep watching it last night) .  I saw this in the theater the year it came out and did not especially like or get it then, though now it is one of my go-to happy-making movies. Hopefully some of you guys love it too, but I'm open to hearing from anyone who doesn't (JPX, perhaps?).

Friday, October 25, 2013



Macbeth opens with three witches vandalizing the various monuments and sepulchers in a cemetery.  The scene then flashes over to Macbeth, a member of an organized crime unit.  When a deal goes bad, a massive gunfight ensues and Macbeth emerges the victor.  Upon celebrating at the hangout/nightclub, Macbeth turns on the fog machine and is suddenly met by three private school girls who foretell that he will soon be the "King" of the organized crime family.  Macbeth and his wife soon decide to become pro-active in making this premonition come true.
In case you're wondering, yes, he does end up having an orgy with the witches.
This Australian film tried to do for Macbeth what Baz Luhrmann did for Romeo & Juliet.  It's a noble goal.  Romeo & Juliet was a success.  Ethan Hawke did a modern-day Hamlet that also turned out well.  I had thought for years that Macbeth could be great as a horror movie.  Witches, lots of murder, it'd be perfect.  This interpretation though, mixed up the formula in a couple ways.  First, genre - it really couldn't decide whether it wanted to be horror or drama.  There are some disturbing images with murders and witches, but then they tried to dramatize the gangsters in a Godfather type of vibe that didn't really jive with the rest of the film.

Second, while most modern day versions of Shakespeare can utilize the text in a contemporary setting, this film seemed afraid to do so.  So, what we end up with are exceedingly long stretches where there is zero dialogue, and the actors just pantomime (mostly through serious expressions), what is supposed to be going on.  

It's cool to see Sam Worthington in a pre-avatar/perseus/terminator role.  And, all the supporting actors are very capable, they just aren't given much of an opportunity to work with the dialogue.  


(1958) ****

Though it was initially dismissed by critics and moviegoers alike, Vertigo has been reappraised over the years to the point of where it is now deemed a classic. Here marks the last legendary collaboration between Alfred Hitchcock and dorky/wholesome James Stewart. Though an undeniable chemistry exists between Stewart and lead actress Kim Novak, Stewart was criticized for being too old to play her love interest. It's a fair criticism in my estimation. He was 50 at the time while she was 25. This would not be the last time an aging, slightly grandfatherly actor would play leading man to a much younger female. 

 He sure is a charming fellow but his dwindling hair distracts from this bug-out scene. 
Stewart plays "Scottie" a detective whose fear of heights arguably led to the death of another police officer, leading to his retirement. A friend of his named Gavin Elster hires him to follow his wife Madeleine (Novak) because he is worried about her increasingly bizarre behavior. 

In the scenes where Scottie follows her around the city we are guided on a gratuitously thorough tour of the streets of 1950's San Francisco. It's fun to identify the various landmarks although one should be prepared to endure multiple shots of James Stewart paying attention to the road.  

"It would behoove me to switch lanes at the next safe, available opportunity." 
Multiple iconic locations are either shown or name-dropped including Golden Gate Park and the bar at the Top of the Mark. Market Street actually looks like a vibrant street with markets instead of today's sketchy blend of tourists, commuters and resident addicts.  In one famous scene the Golden Gate Bridge is captured in all it's glory, its beauty exploited for everything it's worth in this extended lingering shot: 

Yeah, we get it, San Francisco is a beautiful place to be.
Madeleine is strangely obsessed with a portrait of a woman who committed suicide and it becomes clear that she has suicidal tendencies of her own. Scottie rescues her after she jumps into the bay (she jumped, like 10 feet into the water = whoop-tee-freakin'-doo) and the two go on to develop a strong bond. I won't go any further with the plot summary because half the fun is bearing witness to the several swerves that ensue.   

Vertigo has all of the elements of a classic Hitchcock film including innovative scares, unexpected storyline developments, a murder plot and a romance that binds it all together. The romantic aspects are way too sappy for my blood but Hitch was in top form when it came to the scares and the overall dark, foreboding mood.

I wavered between ***1/2 and **** but settled for the latter because of the inspired/inspiring use of the dolly zoom

Fade to Black

(1980) ***

Eric Binford is a lonely, angry, socially isolated, awkward (stop me already!) young man.  By day he works in a Los Angeles film exchange where he ships and receives film prints.  At night he lives with his wheel-chair bound, shrewish aunt who barrages him with endless criticism.  Eric spends his free time holed up in his film museum-like room watching and memorizing old movies.  He uses his vast film knowledge of useless facts to challenge and bet people on film trivia (e.g. “What was Hitler’s favorite movie?”*).

Eric’s life begins to unravel due to a coalescence of stressors.  He is bullied at work by his J. Jonah Jamison-like boss, he is picked on by co-workers, he is stood up on a date by a Marilyn Monroe lookalike, and his aunt ratchets up her criticism of his life, eventually wheeling herself into his room and breaking his film projector.  Like Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’, Eric has a psychotic break and begins killing his tormentors while masquerading as famous film characters.  The story climaxes on the roof of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (of course!)

As I was watching Fade to Black I thought, “I wish I could invite Eric to participate in Horrorthon!”  Fade to Black was more fun than I expected and it was another film I never heard of until I watched a Friday the 13th documentary recently.  I love revenge films and it was fun to see Eric dispatch his tormentors while dressed as famous film characters.  In my favorite sequence he challenges one of his bullies to a duel while dressed as ‘Hopalong Cassidy’.  Look how creepy he looks,

How many horror movies were made in the 1980s?  I mean, eventually I will have seen them all, right?  After 8 years of Horrorthon how is it that I keep learning about other 1980 films I haven’t seen?  Someone once suggested to Octo that we would eventually run out of films to watch – how silly!  Watch the trailer,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mirrors 2

 2010  **1/2

Or as I like to call it, "Meh"-rors 2.

Hello?  Is this thing on?

(Spoilers ahead, but you don't care.)

A frumpy-looking Nick Stahl gets a night watchman job in his dad's department store, which is another in the same chain as the burned-out one in NYC with the evil mirrors, a fact they're so proud of they import one of the same mirrors to display in their foyer.  Things start out grisly when the previous night watchman watches his reflection smile at him and eat some glass.  It's a nasty version of the Mirrors shtick but I found myself wondering (as one does) what I would do differently, and I think I wouldn't stick around to watch like this guy does.  Like maybe I could run out of range?  Worth trying.

I liked the background reveal in the first Mirrors, but the sequel plays as a boilerplate Vengeful Ghost story, pretty much in the Asian horror vein but with mirror-based methodology.  Since Nicky had a near-death experience recently, he's the guy who gets to see the honked-off haunter hottie in the mirrors in the company break room.  Like the evil nasties in the first one, this ghost's dogged commitment to her agenda is paired with terrible communication skills.  She's trying to get Nick to unravel her mystery, but it's like all she can do is kill someone or let him know that she's about to kill someone.  Why not grab a mirror pen and write a note?

 "I'm a zit!  Get it?  Oh wait I did it wrong."

Believe it or not, this looks sillier in motion, and her expression there reads as entitled annoyance more than mortal terror.  This premonition premonimates the main death/gore set piece of the movie, the lengthy shower scene ending with blood on white tile.  I bring it up to bitch on two fronts.

Firstly, the death is more a function of terrible luck than mirror powers.  The victim exits the shower, is startled by her reflection glaring at her, then her reflection pounds her hands on the mirror like she's trying to pounce.  Scary, to be sure, but the subsequent immobilizing and then lethal accident is a miracle of directed glass breakage.  

And the slide whistle was in really bad taste.

Secondly, Christy Romano has a long nude scene here, and like always I was disheartened by seeing a beautiful woman who felt at one point that she needed to get fake boobs.   I tried a few more sophisticated drafts of my point, but it's this:  I like nudity and boobs, but I don't like fake boobs, especially when they're out of place on a tall, slender frame like Christy Romano's.  I probably shouldn't have said "I bring it up to bitch on two fronts" up there.

Mirrors 2 has some likeable characters and a few notable horror moments, and it's not necessarily a complete waste of your time.  I can't give it three stars, however, because I gave Mirrors three stars and this just isn't as good.  And "not as good as Mirrors" is a perfect descriptor for the densely populated cinematic purgatory where this film resides.