Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Days 25-27

Day 25 had no viewings. I think this is the first day since I started doing this annual challenge for 100 horror viewings during the month that I didn't watch a single thing. Weird.

Day 26 we got back on track with a couple of viewings starting with the classic Halloween 3. It's a must watch this time of year and it makes me happy to see it gain a little more popularity each year as time goes by and people discover what a masterpiece it is.

The Man And The Monster was next, a Mexican production of Gothic horror which sort of combines Jekyll and Hyde with the Phantom of the Opera as a man has made a deal with the devil to make him the most talented pianist in the world. The catch is that he turns into this hideous beast man whenever he plays the piece of music that the devil gave him to make him famous. It's a classic gothic style tale mashed up with 50s monster movie schlock (just look at the monster makeup!) and makes for a good time.

Moving on to day 27, we start out with Madmae O, a late 60s slice of Japanese revenge. Seiko plays a well off doctor who uses her medical status to take revenge on men as she was raped at 16 and left pregnant and infected with Syphyllus. After settling down with a man she's finally able to love her penchant for revenge returns after she finds out he's planning on killing her to inherit her wealth. The director switches between color and black and white photography but I didn't see any real need for it. A well written script and good acting make this one worth while even if we've seen the ending countless times.

Then came a psychadelic slice of gothic and Lovecraftian horror in Curse Of The Crimson Altar which features Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff and Barbara Steele. How about that cast? Brilliant. Strange local customs feed into the paranoia and terror of a man looking for his brother who he believes is being held in this strange little town that is celebrating the anniversary of a witch burning and believes he could also be in trouble. Not every character is as they seem in this one that features stunning interior sets and costume design along with great performances and a bit of trippy directing style.

An overdue trip to the theater was in order to finally catch Goosebumps, a movie my inner child (and outer adult) was pretty excited for ever since seeing the trailer a few months back. I was a big fan and avid reader of the R. L. Stine books and I think the movie accurately captured the spirit and feel of the books making for a family friendly fantasy horror adventure film with enough scares for the kids and it is made well enough to keep older viewers engaged as well. It wasn't everything I was hoping for as only a few monsters from the book series were featured characters while the rest were relegated to background duty and the scare factor could have been ramped up a bit and still kept kid friendly but it was entertaining nevertheless.

Finally the day ended with Curse Of The Crying Woman, another Mexican horror film and perhaps the best one I've seen this month. This is pure gothic vampire and ghost lure with thick foggy exterior shots in the woods and a foreboding castle with brilliantly and perhaps overbearingly designed interiors. Wonderfully spooky special effects and some downright scary characters and moments make this one a must see.

Today's Rundown
Halloween 3 - 9/10
The Man And The Monster - 7/10
Madame O - 7/10
Curse Of The Crimson Alatar - 7.5/10
Goosebumps - 7/10
Curse Of The Crying Woman - 8/10

Monday, October 26, 2015

THE EXORCISM OF MOLLY HARTLEY (Blu-ray Review) - 20th Century Fox

Directed By: Steven R. Monroe
Written By: Matt Venne
Starring: Sarah Lind, Devon Sawa, Gina Holden
Color/96 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: October 20, 2015

The Film
On her 18th birthday Molly Hartley became possessed by a demon. After seemingly overcoming her literal demons Molly has led a normal and successful life. After graduating college she has become a partner in her company the demons have returned as she is charged with murdering two of her friends  on the night of her 24th birthday and has been confined to a mental hospital where a defrocked priest hopes to redeem himself and save the young woman.

Seven years after the original film that failed to impress me at all we're given a sequel starring Sarah Lind and Devon Sawa as the priest looking for redemption. There's little chance for the cast to shine as the screenplay is as basic as they come. Every exorcism themed horror movie cliche is shown, from cursing religious themed obscenities, to vomiting (usually green as it is here), special effects makeup to show that, yes, the girl is indeed possessed and so on.

And with the cliches comes absolutely none of the suspense or sheer urgency in trying to cure the victim. The film has no heart to it. It's a paint by numbers picture with every label neatly marked. There's nothing to see here unless you feel like you need to see every exorcism themed horror film and I assure you you don't.

The Audio & Video
20th Century Fox delivers a very attractive 1080p HD presentation of the film in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are vibrant and lively while flesh tones are naturally fleshy without any waxiness. Textures and surfaces show great detail and there's no issues with black levels blocking up. The English DTS-HD master audio is handled in a 5.1 surround mix that is well done. Levels are steady and feature a nice mix between dialogue and score. The sound quality is crystal clear and quite crisp with no background noise or damage.

The Extras
-"Exorcism: Beyond One Truth" featurette
-Clovesdale Institute: Security cam footage featurette
-Director diaries

The Bottom Line
There's not an awful lot that hasn't already been done in exorcism movies but THE EXORCISM OF MOLLY HARTLEY doesn't even try.


October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 24

Day 24 was filled with catching up on episodes of Masters of Horror that I'd never seen so let's get to it -

The V Word is a vampire story from Ernest Dickerson that doesn't take long to get started but quickly loses steam and becomes a waiting game for anything interesting to happen in the 2nd half. The make up and effects are good but this isn't one of the better episodes.

The acting in Brad Anderson's Sounds Like may be among the best in the series, especially from the lead Chris Bauer who carries the film as a man dealing with the tragic death of his young son and suffering from a condition that drastically amplifies his hearing levels. As his marriage falls apart it is easy to predict the complete and total mental breakdown and all of the horrors that come with it. If the rest of the episode was as good the end this would be a classic episode. Unfrotunately it is a bit too slow going and aside from Bauer there's not a single interesting character.

Tobe Hooper's season 2 entry was The Damned Thing and much like his entry in season 1, Dance of the Dead, I'm not a fan. The Damned Thing starts out with a bang and builds immediate interest in the story. There are a few incredibly violent and gory moments but the story just isn't strong enough. 

Lastly there was Dream Cruise from director Norio Tsuruta which was the extended episode of the season clocking in at around 87 minutes which helped this one a bit but unfortunately it's still mediocre. This is a love triangle that turns murderous with a very mid-2000s ghost story thrown on top of it set in the middle of the ocean on a yacht. Some chilling scenes and an okay story makes it worth a watch. 

Today's Rundown
The V Word - 4/10
Sounds Like - 5/10
The Damned Thing - 4/10
Dream Cruise - 5/10

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 23

Cushing and Lee, Lee and Cushing... are you getting tired of hearing about them? You shouldn't because they always mean a good time. Nothing But The Night isn't great but the acting is superb. This crime thriller turned horror story has a great ending that really pulls it above being average. It's worth checking out.

Cave Of The Living Dead is missing that moment to really lift it up. I can't say I think the movie is bad but I was disinterested for almost the entire film and it feels very cliche. It has all the tropes of a classic gothic vampire film but it never pulls you in or shocks you.

The last film of the night was The Exorcism Of Molly Hartley, which I'll be doing a full review on the Blu-ray release. I'll sum it up like this - I don't remember much about the first Molly Hartley movie other than I hated it. I don't think I hated this one quite as much but I certainly didn't like it.

Today's Rundown
Nothing But The Night - 6/10
Cave Of The Living Dead - 4/10
The Exorcism Of Molly Hartley - 3/10

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 21

Day 21 was a fun one with three first time viewings that I really enjoyed and revisiting one movie that had been on my mind lately.

First up was Bloody Knuckles, a Canadian production from last year that is absolutely hilarious as an underground comic book writer offends a local gang leader and gets his hand lopped off. Of course his hand comes back to life in order to exact revenge and help get his owner's life back together. Filled with lots of raunchy humor and plenty of violence, Bloody Knuckles reminds me of a "classier" Troma production. Or a film similar in tone to Troma productions without having the Troma schtick. Offensive, violent and a bit heartwarming at times, this is one of my favorite new movies from the last couple of years.

Then came another HP Lovecraft adaptation, one that I've wanted to see for several years. The Color Out Of Space was adapted in 2010 by director Huan Vu in Germany and it's a pretty good one. Despite some very poor CGI effects the film has that vibe and atmosphere that can only be summed up as "Lovecraftian". The performances also give off that eery and not quite right feeling as well. Solid writing, directing and acting really make this one a decent success that diehard Lovecraft fans will appreciate.

I'd been curious about 28 Weeks Later for several weeks. I haven't seen it since it was first released to DVD, and even then I may not have actually watched the disc in which case I haven't seen it since it was in theaters. It played out very similarly to how I remember it but everything seemed to move faster. There was no time t really let the suspense and tension build which was part of the reason this movie feels more like an action film than a horror sequel. The direction, shaky cam and effects also make sure that this movie is more of an action film in tone than a horror film. The movie isn't bad but it is predictable and very much style over substance.

Lastly was my favorite film of the day which is no surprise given the cast and director... Imagine being Pete Walker and waking on set for the first day and realizing that you actually get to direct Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and not least of all John Carradine all in one picture. That's my film making wet dream if there ever was one. The House Of The Long Shadows is horror comedy romp featuring an entire generation's worth of legends. The comedy isn't only written in the dialogue but in body language and facial expressions. The quartet prove they're more than capable of generating laughs from the audience. The natural energy that Pete Walker brought to the film is similar to that of the movie Clue that would hit theaters 2 short years later. It's that frenetic energy of Clue but slowed down a bit and a bit less zany, but only a bit. You can tell they had a blast making this picture and it translates to the screen. It's brilliant to watch them seamlessly switch between their serious acting chops and then add that ever so slight comedic touch.

Today's Rundown
Bloody Knuckles - 7.5/10
The Color Out Of Space - 6.5/10
28 Weeks Later - 5.5/10
House Of The Long Shadows - 8/10

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 20

I have always enjoyed nature's revenge type horror films but one that had escaped me seeing it for a long time was The Food Of The Gods. This film directed by Bert I. Gordon is an adaptation of a H. G. Wells story and is a wildly entertaining 70s B-movie. Featuring giant rats, giant wasps, giant worms and even a giant chicken, this fight for survival on a sparsely inhabited island isn't going to be easy for our group of country bumpkins, scientists and stranded vacationers. At least if they kill the chicken they'll have a few weeks worth of delicious dinners. The effects in this are questionable and extremely dated but it only adds to the charm and campiness.

I decided to make my way through Larry Cohen's It's Alive trilogy next. I have previously seen the first film and admittedly wasn't too impressed with it. It had been quite a few years however so I decided to revisit that one to start off with. The movie about a couple that give birth to a dangerous and deformed baby who murders anyone in his way actually features very little murderous baby action and focuses more on the father and his struggle to hold together his marriage and family with their older son and whether he can emotionally distance himself from this rampaging infant who local authorities are trying to capture. The acting is good, the score is good and the effects are good. The only thing holding this back for me is that there are stretches that could have been broken up with a bit more excitement from the baby.

The second film, It Lives Again, starts out with great promise. The first 30 minutes or so set up the story, and bring back our main character from the first film as he visits with families suspected of possibly having the chance at birthing a monster baby which the government has set out to eradicate as it has become a widespread problem. He's a voice fighting for the families right to have the child and love it. Unfortunately right when the movie should take off and hit the next gear in the story and become something great it veers straight into a brick wall and comes to a screeching halt. It immediately starts to drag on at this point and never recovers. It's not a bad film but it does end up being a missed opportunity to make a bigger and better version of the first.

Lastly is It's Alive 3: Island Of The Alive - At this point I think the best option for the series would have been to take the series and ram it head first into a cheese factory, especially for the fact that this film wasn't made until 1986, 13 years after the original and 8 after its immediate predecessor. The battle for the right for these babies to live is a courtroom topic and the judge rules that they be sent to a deserted island to live out their years safely removed from society. There are a few groups that don't like that idea and take their ideas and their guns to the island to exterminate them and meet nasty and untimely deaths as these creatures have become full grown in just a few years time and can reproduce. Eventually taking control of a boat and reaching landfall this would have been the perfect time for Larry Cohen to totally unleash a gory monster movie romp on the audience. The scene where the monsters make landfall is extremely reminiscent of the carnival attack scene in Humanoids From The Deep. Unfortunately the movie restrains itself and we're left with a movie with a very confused identity. I enjoyed the film and think it rivals the first movie for best in the series but this could have been a classic slice of 80s cheese.

Today's Rundown
Food Of The Gods - 7/10
It's Alive - 6.5/10
It Lives Again - 5.5/10
It's Alive 3 - 6.5/10

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 19

The Witch's Mirror is a chilly and creepy tale of black magic and revenge as a witch seeks vengeance after the murder of her daughter by her husband.  The story is simple and the film is beautifully shot and framed and is thick with atmosphere. Had it felt less familiar and given us a couple more moments that we maybe haven't seen before, or if the production felt just a bit bigger I think this one could be a classic. It's still quite good and one of my favorite Mexican horror films I've ever seen.

I wish the next two films of the day were as good as The Witch's Mirror but that's how these marathons go.

The Executioner Part 2 has a great poster, a great plot fit for exploitation gold. Hell even the opening 10 minutes are promising. And then it comes to a grinding halt where we have to watch a couple girls beg for cocaine with awful acting and horrible dubbing and just plain boring bullshit. This movie drags on and on and on and on. I wasn't expecting anything amazing and I definitely was expecting subpar filmmaking but I was at least hoping to be entertained. The only thing The Executioner killed was this movie. And for those wondering, no, there's no part 1.

And bad goes to worse. The Frozen Scream is awful in every single way. A weak story about slowing down life functions are bringing the person back at a lower body temperature to prevent the effects of aging is just barely touched upon while a series of gruesome murders is taking place and corpses are being turned into mind-controlled zombies. Or something. I was distracted through most of the movie wondering why everyone has a German or Eastern European accent. It didn't make any sense to me. And if I hear the name "Anne" one more fucking time I'm smashing something. Without exaggerating "Anne" has to be said close to 500 times. There's nothing at all worth checking out here. This is a Video Nasty but I'm not really sure why. I guess that the single shot of an axe to a head is what landed the movie on the banned films list but I'd like to think the censors actually cared about us for real this one time and just didn't want anyone to see this piece of shit.

Today's Rundown
The Witch's Mirror - 6.5/10
The Executioner Part 2 - 3/10
The Frozen Scream - 1/10

Monday, October 19, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 18

Just a couple of movies for this day, starting with the first time viewing of Stuart Gordon's Daughter Of Darkness. This 1990 made-for-tv movies stars Mia Sara of Ferris Bueller's Day Off fame and Anthony Perkins and follows her as she head's to Romania after the recent death of her mother to find out about the history of her father which leads her down a dark path into vampire lure. I held out hope for this one because it was directed by Stuart Gordon but I was afraid it was going to be entirely forgettable. Well it isn't a lost classic but it is a passable vampire film with good performances that is more graphic in terms of both violence and nudity than I thought it could ever be. Go ahead and track it down if you're a fan of Gordon's.

I've had Lovecraft on my mind quite a bit this passed week and I think I might be on a mini Lovecraft kick this week and to start it off there was no better way than with 2005's The Call Of Cthulhu. This is my 3rd viewing of the movie and it remains an immensely entertaining and great feat of indie filmmaking. The movie is filmed in the silent style of the 1920s that the story was written in and it works really well. There's a few really impressive set pieces and an amazing stop motion animation sequence with Cthulhu. If you're a Lovecraft fan you need to see this one.

Today's Rundown
Daughter Of Darkness - 5/10
The Call Of Cthulhu - 8/10

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 17

Morituris: Legion Of The Dead is an Italian horror film recently released on Blu-ray by Synapse Films with special effects work from perhaps the king of Italian special effects Sergio Stivaletti. I had high hopes that this would be a return to Italian horror greatness but then I saw that this film was made in 2011. All expectations were tossed out the window as I figured I'd have heard something about it in four years if it was worth a damn. Well, the movie isn't terrible but it also isn't going to make Italy relevant in the world of horror again either. While Stivaletti can still do great things with his practical effects makeup, Morituris felt like two different movies with the first part being an overdrawn rape/revenge type film without any of the revenge satisfaction. It is brutal and nasty but takes too long and doesn't give the audience the satisfaction of the antagonists getting their just due. That would be where the resurrected Roman gladiators come in but they don't really provide the revenge either as they attack everyone and for as long as is it takes to get to their part of the movie it is a bit of a let down. The movie isn't bad, but it takes too long to get where it should be and then offers too little of what we came to see.

Next up was a viewing of a childhood favorite, Return Of The Living Dead 2... with the French audio track. Why did I watch this with the French audio track, you ask? Well I've seen the movie plenty of times over the years but it has been a very long time since I've been able to see it with the original soundtrack which is only available on the DVD on the French track. I didn't miss anything in the movie as I know exactly what is going on but the French audio did give me drunken giggles. The original soundtrack is superior to the edited one in the film but not enough to make a big deal out of. The movie is a great cheeseball flick and very similar to the original but the soundtrack isn't even comparable to the original which has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time.

Fuck The Green Inferno. This movie is total and complete crap. That's it.

Lastly was a rather boring and uneventful film from Amicus - The Blood Beast Terror. Peter Cushing completists are really the only people that need to check it out. I can't say its really awful, and watching it after The Green Inferno certainly made it seem a bit more palatable. It is well acted but there's so little going on that it just doesn't matter. The end gets a bit more interesting but much too little, far too late.

Today's Rundown
Morituris - 5.5/10
Return Of The Living Dead 2 - 8/10
The Green Inferno - 2/10
The Blood Beast Terror - 4.5/10

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 16

A trio of first time viewings for the day and none of them were anything special unfortunately. Leading off was Demonoid, a movie that's best scene was the opening one as an old Satanic cult chops off the left hand of its victim and offers it up to Satan. Flash forward a few hundred years to present day and the hand is unearthed in a mine and begins to possess various people who flip between acting like assholes on a killing spree and trying to chop their left hand off to relieve them of the possession. It was passable as it is but had it run any longer (and it has a longer cut) it would have started to become a chore.

The best movie of the day was Frightmare aka The Horror Star, the story of a legendary horror actor who was full of himself and has recently passed away when a group of fans steal his corpse and party with it until he seeks and gets his revenge. This one was better but the main star desperately wants to be Christopher Lee and can't pull it off. He isn't bad in his own right and would have been better had he toned down the impression of Lee. An appearance from Jeffrey Combs never hurts and this one really isn't too bad at all.

Last up was my first giallo of the month, of which there will be several more. In The Folds Of The Flesh is a title I'd been curious about for several years and finally took the chance to watch my DVD. The mix of incest, murder, Nazi death camps, pet vultures, psychosis, more incest, psychadelic camera work and trippy editing along with a touch of shitty 1920s slapstick comedy sounding music from time to time only begin to sum up what you see on the screen. And what you see on the screen is the best part of the film because the story is a mishmash of bullshit and forced ideas that simply don't add up. This is a film that tries to force the idea that 1+1=3 on you. Not a good film but it's not a total waste of time as I said the visuals of it carry it to at least be engaging.

Today's Rundown
Demonoid - 5/10
Frightmare - 6/10
In The Folds Of The Flesh - 4/10

Friday, October 16, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 15

The Den caught me off guard, I was expecting annoying internet culture references and a rather boring plot line. Instead I got a pretty decent horror film based around the potential dark side of the internet and interacting with the wrong people on it. The movie moves fast as it clocks in at under 80 minutes and gets quite violent and bloody towards the end. It doesn't take the predictable path which probably would have worked had they gone that way but either way this is a solid low budget horror movie.

Brainiac is hailed as "the weirdest horror movie ever" on its DVD cover and while it is strange it is nowhere near the weirdest ever. It is a fun little monster movie about a man who was burned at the stake coming back to life 300 years later to take vengeance on the bloodline of those that put him to death. He has returned as a strange looking demon with a pulsating face, a forked tongue to suck his victims brains which he later dines on and rubbery hands that look like uncircumcised penises. It's straight forward in its delivery and outcome but is an entertaining Mexican horror film nonetheless.

Next up was a creature feature from the shores of Ireland that I've been putting off for a couple of years for no real reason, Grabbers. A small island town is threatened by a family of tentacle monsters with razor sharp teeth and a thirst for blood. Things only get worse as dozens of eggs hatch and the giant daddy monster prepares to attack during a heavy rainstorm. These sea creatures can only survive when they're skin is wet so the storm is a perfect catalyst for their attack on land. The best defense? Get drunk and poison your blood so they won't want it, and nobody can drink like the Irish, right?! This is a funny monster movie with genuinely likable characters that suffers from being too light on the monster action.

Demon Queen was next, a late 80s shot-on-video vampire movie with no real plot as Lucinda the vampire roams around shitty neighborhoods filled with dopey looking drug pushers and eats hearts and slashes throats. There's not much going on in this 58 minute shitfest that feels like it was 2 hours easily. The effects and nudity help this one a bit but there's no real reason to ever seek it out.

The best movie of the day was also the last - Madhouse starring Vincent Price with Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry in supporting roles. Price is on point (as he always is) as a horror movie icon who is damaged when he finds his lover murdered. A decade goes by before his writer (Cushing, who makes the most of his limited screen time) gets him back in the saddle to make a new movie but with sinister intentions. Excellent performances, interesting and bizarre characters and great writing make this one a real treat.

Today's Rundown
The Den - 6/10
Brainiac - 6/10
Grabbers - 6/10
Demon Queen - 3/10
Madhouse - 8/10

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 14

I started the day with an old favorite - Troll . The ultimate in so-bad-it's-good and a perfect movie to get drunk with and watch for the 100th time.

The next two films went back to first time viewings and first was the 1981 horror thriller Eyes Of A Stranger from director Ken Wiederhorn. Originally intended to be a bit more of a straight forward slasher the film makers realized the huge popularity of slashers and added more violence and bloodshed with effects from Tom Savini. The movie features a young Jennifer Jason Leigh in her first major film role as a deaf and vulnerable girl living with her older sister who is obsessed with proving that her neighbor is responsible for a series of chilling phone calls and rapes and murders. A bit slow going and predictable the film does have several tense and creepy moments and is on the seedier side of things.

Oddly enough the next movie also dealt with obscene phone calls and a murderous stalker in John Carpenter's Someone's Watching Me. Made just prior to Halloween, this is a made for TV movie that sadly feels like a made for TV movie. It is too slow and could have used a slight trimming but the need to fill out a block on TV forced some padding in the runtime. You can see a raw and less confident version of some of the style that Carpenter used in Halloween on display here. It felt almost like a warm up or test run at some things that he succeeded with in his breakout film. This one isn't bad as it is competently directed and acted but it's simply too boring at times to be anything essential.

Today's Rundown
Troll 2 - 10/10
Eyes Of A Stranger - 5/10
Someone's Watching Me - 5/10

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 13

What fabric do you prefer your vampires be made out of? Cashmere? Wool? A nice cotton-poly blend? Well The Velvet Vampire is none of those... no, this early 70s horror film features a centuries old vamp beauty who invites a young couple to her desert home for a getaway. She tries to seduce the man lustfully time and time again, nearly getting her way with him as she has no time for his girlfriend, until it's time for her to die. This one is okay... it has a dream like atmosphere and a rather trippy ending in how ridiculous it is. A sun hat can protect a vampire from the burning desert sun but a little trinket cross will hurt it? Sure, why not? An interesting flick either way. 

If there's one thing you can't argue it's that Guillermo Del Toro creates visually stunning films. He isn't a perfect filmmaker and doesn't always have the budget to create a perfect version of what he wants but he always makes it beautiful. Crimson Peak is another stunning film and it has three really damn good performances from our leads. The film is quite different from than the ad campaign would lead you to believe and I think it is for the best. A haunted house CGI fest didn't exactly look like it was going to be amazing but the tragic gothic romance wrapped inside of a horror film that was delivered was solid. I don't love it but I did like it.

Sometimes a movie only succeeds because of a great performance from its lead. Michael Caine really carries The Hand. He plays a comic book writer/artist who loses his hand in an accident and begins to lose his grasp on his life and relationships while the severed hand goes on a murderous rampage. Oliver Stone directs this movie that doesn't come off as campy at all and somehow pulls it all together for a decent little dramatic horror film.

Today's Rundown
The Velvet Vampire - 5/10
Crimson Peak - 6.5/10
The Hand - 6/10

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Day 12

A pair of movies today and it started out with Time Walker, a 1982 mummy run amok movie set on a college campus run by James Karen who is probably most notable to horror fans from his fantastic work in Return of the Living Dead. This movie is perfect for only paying 50% attention to. If you have a paper to write, dinner to cook or clothes to fold, this is perfect for those situations otherwise it would be dreadfully dull and slow. Getting some work done helps move things along and lets you accomplish something. That's not a good sign to the movie but doing that made it not as bad as I know it would be.

Lady Frankenstein is a female approach to the Frankenstein mythology that borders on sleazy. Rosalba Neri stars as the surgeon daughter to Dr. Frankenstein and after his death she brings his work to a whole new level and with even more questionable tactics. A worthy entry into the history of Frankenstein films with a monster that has a distinct look, even if its a bit cheap. The set pieces are nice, performances are decent and Neri isn't the only pretty lady on board. Frankenstein fans will want to check this one out.

Today's Rundown
Time Walker - 4.5/10
Lady Frankenstein - 5.5/10

Monday, October 12, 2015

October Horror Challenge 2015 - Days 9-11

The weekend got a bit busy and tiring which caused me to fall behind, my apologies. Let's get right into day 9. 

Tremors 5: Bloodlines takes the giant worm horror comedy films to South Africa where the beloved gunslinger Burt is contracted to take down some of the most vicious Graboids ever seen, and the first outside of North America. The movie fits perfectly in tone with the rest of the series. It's silly, campy and worries more about the viewer having fun than creating anything groundbreaking. The effects were better than I expected and even Jamie Kennedy wasn't bad. 

Then came a movie I've been dying to see for what feels like years and years - Call Girl Of Cthulhu. This was a production local to me in Baltimore which made it even more near and dear to my heart aside from the Lovecraft inspiration. This one did not disappoint despite its low budget. Plenty of cool practical special effects, a fun story line that gave us a good bit of action and boobies and simple but effective costumes and set design. If you're looking for a comedic take on classic HP Lovecraft mythology you definitely need to check this one out. 

And with the good must come the bad. We go from the a great independent horror comedy to a dreadful one. Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies is fucking awful. This would be Roddy Piper's final film role and it's sad he had to go out on such a low note. Piper does give it his all and he does smash a zombie in the head with a coconut so the movie isn't a total loss I guess. Unfortunately the rest of the movie is just plain terrible. While my buddy and I had fun ripping on it I would have been utterly miserable had I been watching it alone and I can't guarantee I wouldn't have turned it off. There's no reason anyone should ever think about casting Shane Douglas in their movie let alone actually doing it and then making him the star. The only thing I really wanted out of this movie was for the wrestlers to do wrestling moves on zombies to kill them. It may have happened once. I didn't see a single piledriver, DDT, Stone Cold Stunner or RKO with an exploding zombie head as the result and that's fucking stupid. 

The final movie of day 9 was Amnesiac which plays out as sort of a cross between The Stepford Wives and Misery with a twist or two tossed in. It stars Kate Beckinsale and Wes Bentley and they both give good performances but the movie itself is very familiar and has a "been there, done that" feel to it throughout. Nothing special to see here. 

The lone movie for day 10 was Wes Craven's Deadly Friend. Previously I had only seen the famous basketball scene so this was all very new to me and I found myself enjoying this R-rated horror take on Short Circuit - Johnny 5 alive! Give an award to Kristy Swanson for believably acting like a robot. Give more awards for this movie not being a total disaster of stupidity and actually being a decent movie filled with a few fun and messy kills. The ending doesn't make a damn bit of sense though and I can't decide if I like the film just a little bit more because of it.

The reason I was only able to fit in one film on day 10 was because I had plans to go to a haunted house attraction with a friend and some other folks. The haunt is called Jason's Woods. Long story short I was forced in to seeing a live performance by the band First Jason, who is fronted by Ari Lehman who if you couldn't figure it out, was the first actor to play Jason Voorhees and he's been milking that 5 seconds of screen time ever since. His band is fucking awful but it used to be funny to put on as a joke as his songs referencing the Friday the 13th franchise (including many many things he had nothing to do with) and other generic horror themes were filled with his weak, wanna be power metal vocals, and his shitty keytar riffs. Yes, he plays a keytar. And it is shaped like a giant machete. It's fucking embarrassing. It was funny to play one of his songs or watch the music video for "Victim", their "hit single". It's all terrible but in a way that makes you laugh instead of groan. Being forced to sit through a live performance at this haunted house in bumfuck Pennsylvania with the stench of port-o-pots in the air? Groan inducing doesn't begin to cover it. First Jason was legitimately the worst sounding thing I've ever heard. Having to see this asshole, who I have a genuine disdain for on a personal level due to his antics and poor business reputation) in person while he wails into a microphone about Jason's Bride or his mother doing "stuff" on the projector across the field, I was disgusted. I was angry. And I considered trying to bull rush a police officer head on in hopes of getting shot. And the set went on and on and fucking on. 45 minutes of this bullshit while he thanked the audience and told them they were great despite the fact that there was nobody within 50 fucking feet of the stage. I asked God to strike me with a lightning bolt while sitting on a picnic table but he didn't oblige. There was no escaping my own personal hell at that moment and what was once a funny joke between my friends and I is now an experience I have to live with and a memory I will not be able to forget anytime soon. 

Day 11 came and I was at least able to carry on with living, First Jason hadn't beaten me down totally. The first of two movies on the day was From Beyond The Grave, a 1974 anthology film produced by Amicus and co-starring Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance. The film features four stories about cursed items from an antique shop ran by Cushing. There's some nifty set pieces and designs, good performances throughout, it's an overall rock solid production. It's also pretty tame and at times predictable. The film is definitely worth a look but it isn't among the best anthology horror films.

And finally there is Grotesque starring Linda Blair who plays the daughter of a famed hollywood makeup artist. The family is having a get together at their mountain home but a gang of punkers plan on crashing it in hopes of finding the stacks of cash or drugs that they think has to be hidden at the home. They attack and kill most of the family until they come face to face with a real life monster and the few that escape with their lives have to escape the law and revenge from a relative. The movie is rather boring and feels like it was made in 10 minute sections. Most of the cast is drifting through it with no real interest in dedicating themselves to their performance and are more interested in getting their paycheck and getting out of there. The makeup effects are also quite shoddy. 

Today's Rundown
Tremors 5 - 6/10
Call Girl Of Cthulhu - 8/10
Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies - 1.5/10
Amnesiac - 4.5/10
Deadly Friend - 7/10
From Beyond The Grave - 6.5/10
Grotesque - 4/10