Month: October 2012

October 31, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Silent Night Deadly Night

Silent Night Deadly Night: Killer
(1984, 79mins, Horror)

Prologue: 

This was one of the fantastic films I saw at the Exhumed Film Festivals that I went too back in the good days. Like Burial Ground, Silent Night Deadly Night was one of my favorites that I saw there. I might even go as far as saying, Silent Night Deadly Night might be my favorite do to the sheer fun of watching this inside a packed theater at 2am. To see a film that came out way before I even step onto this planet inside a theater is one of the greatest pleasures I have ever had. There is something awesome about seeing a film like this on the big screen.


NAUGHTY!

The Opening:

The film starts out on Christmas Eve 1971, with the family driving to see their grandfather (who was Back to the Future’s Pa Peabody). Mom, Dad, Billy and Ricky come to talk to Grandpop, put he just stares straight when they try. Everyone then leaves except Billy, who Grandpop begins to talk too.

He asks, “You scared, ain’t ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!” He then asked if Billy was good this year, Billy says no and Grandpop brings to laugh saying, “You see Santa Claus tonight you better run boy, you better run for ya life!” Then the parents just happen to come back in and Grandpop stops talking acting like he was before they had left.

We cut to a man robbing a convenience store. He’s dressed as Santa and shoots the convenience store guy dead. (I’m sure you can see where this is going)

“31 bucks. Merry fucking Christmas.”
We come back to the family driving, in which they run into our killer Santa on the side of the road. They stop to see if he needs help. He pulls out his gun and kills the father. Billy gets out and runs. The mother jumps out and Santa begins to rape her as Billy watches. Santa then kills the mother and screams out into the darkness for the boy.


NAUGHTY!

Then we cut to building with a sign that reads, Saint Mary’s Home for Orphaned Children. 


NAUGHTY!

From here on the fun begins! 


Officer Miller: “Can you believe this? It’s Christmas Eve and we got orders to bring in Santa Claus.” 

Review:

Silent Night Deadly Night is a fantastic B-Movie! 

It is a fantastic horror film and even in my house a fantastic Christmas film. If you have not seen this film it is a must. Sure the acting is atrocious and everything is over the top but it is a flat out good time, with so much comedy you will be laughing a ton. The gore, the 80’s nudity and the great story of a guy dressed up as Santa Claus killing the shit out of people is enough to compel anyone to watch this B-movie masterpiece. After the first time I saw this film I wanted to watch it again, that’s how much fun it is.

Anyone like a Classic 80’s Montage! 

Ira Sims: [at closing time] “Seven o’clock… it’s over! Time to get shit-faced!” 

NAUGHTY!


                                                                                    Epilogue:

When you finish this film, you will say to yourself. “Wow that was something, there is no way on earth they could make another that was better or even on par with the first one”.

Well guess what they DID! They made the greatest sequel of all time…

Now For (Drum Roll)…

Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2!


NAUGHTY!

October 31, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, The Monster Squad

The Monster Squad – Nards

The time of VHS was magical.  Along with HBO, nearly all my horror upbringing came from one or the other.  Growing up I would go to Blockbuster Video (RIP) every Friday and I was allowed to get one video.  I always found myself in the horror section, watching any movie I could get my hands on.  From cheesy B-movies to typical slasher fare, I ate it all up.  Growing up in the late 80s early 90s, I was also a huge fan of “The Goonies” and any coming-of-age movie where kids went on an adventure.  With that said, the day I saw “The Monster Squad” from 1987 is the day my interest in more classic horror began.

If you think about “The Monster Squad” as “The Goonies” of the horror genre you’ve hit the nail on the head.  The rundown goes like this;  a group of young horror fans, who call themselves “The Monster CLUB,” stumble upon a plot by the newly resurrected Count Dracula.  The Count plans to obtain a mystical amulet used by Abraham Van Helsing to banish evil from Transylvania 100 years ago.  Only the Squad, a Scary German Guy, that kid* from “Kids Incorporated,” a “virgin,” and Frankenstein’s Monster stand in Drac’s way for world domination.

What I always thought was cool was the fact that Dracula was able to bring together a group of monsters to fight for him, which included The Wolf Man, Creature From the Black Lagoon (or The Gill Man if you will), and The Mummy.  Seeing that as a kid was astonishing, and considering that the late, great, Stan Winston did the creature effects was even more amazing.

Aside from Stan Winston, there were some really creative minds behind “Squad,” including Fred Dekker, who directed the underrated “Night of the Creeps” which is pretty much the predecessor to the also shamefully underrated “Slither.” And Shane Black, who you might have heard from that low budget movie that’s coming out next year called “Iron Man 3.”  This film has class written all over it.

The one complaint that I have about “Squad” is that upon watching it now, it does seem dated.  It’s super 80s, in the same way that “The Lost Boys” seems dated.  Most movies, and this is especially true for the horror genre, all seem to be trapped in a time warp in the decade they were made.  Keep this in mind, I’m not saying dated is a bad thing, but this brings me to an important point.  Maybe this is the reason why all of these hack filmmakers want to re-do all these old horror movies for the new, hip (and stupid) “horror” audiences.  The good news with “Squad” is that it was PG-13 back in the 80s so they won’t have to turn an R-rated movie into an audience friendly, and money making, PG-13 version.

“The Monster Squad” isn’t all blood and guts, its actually a fun little movie and something I would show my kid(s) and not feel like I was corrupting their soul(s).  As October, and Halloween, comes to a close, take a break from the gore-fests that you might be enjoying and check out “The Monster Squad,” and remember……”Wolf Man’s got nards.”

*that kid is Ryan Lambert

Fun Fact:  Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” and Boris Karloff’s “Frankenstein” were both released in 1931 by Universal Pictures.

October 31, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Burial Ground

Burial Ground: Italian

(1981, 85mins, Horror)
Introduction:
The most famous unknown Zombie film!

Never would I thought I would review the classic Burial Ground. In a way it is a honor or maybe its not 😉

Sex, Zombie, Sex, more sex. Italian zombies and Italian sex!

Part 1: My first viewing

Years ago a group of my friends and I went to B-movie festivals late at night. Once every month we would go and watch 4-6 films. It would go way into the next morning, luckily usually it wasn’t a school night so it was cool with all the parents. The reason we went was because some films got so bad, they became extremely funny and had a ton of blood like,

Zombie Holocaust 

Prom Night
Blood Feast
Silent Night, Deadly Night
and More!
Burial Ground is one of my favorites that I saw there. And to see this and many films at a theater is a experience I will never forget, simply the greatest! Burial Ground left us all talking about that damn kid.
James: “You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl”. 
Part 2: Story
Burial Ground is a film by Andrea Bianchi. It stars mostly unknowns except two people. The beautiful Mariangela Giordano (The Mother) who is a Queen in the world of B-movies. And Peter Bark (The Son) who is a 25 years old guy playing a child. It’s extremely creepy on screen, for all the wrong reasons. I’m not even 25 yet and the fact they used him as the “child” blows my mind, just look at his face. I read the reason they used him was because of the Italian laws at the time. Do to all the sex, children could not be used in films. In fact this film might seem to have a ton of sex but it really doesn’t. During this time a ton of horror films had a lot more sex. But its the son that really makes this film a classic B, we will talk more on that later.

In the start of the film a scientist is studying the “undead” and during this time finds the undead. The zombies kill him and the film cuts to a group of couples coming to stay at the castle. It’s that fast.

Oh and everyone just happens to be horny at the start.
10 mins into the film we get the first sex scene where Michael (the son) peeks into. It is shot extremely weird, with a shadow getting bigger and bigger on a door till you see its him. The shot last a good minute which is way too long. Somethings happen happen and then another sex scene outside comes up. In the grass a zombie pops up from the ground, which is really cool. In fact not all but some of the zombies look really good. The makeup is pretty fantastic with maggots crawling all over. This really stands out in this film as the only good thing. I would like to note this happens about 20 mins into the film, so the film dives directly into zombies right away. Which I believe is do to the weak storyline, I guess they figured they needed to keep the viewers attention so they add two sex scenes and started the film with zombies. And it does work, it did on me. 
But…
Lets be honest here the story goes nowhere and not much gets accomplished in the film.

Mark: “You’re getting a raise out of me alright, but it has nothing to do with money”.
Part 3: Peter Bark (The Son)

I wanted to talk about him. Really not sure how but his IMDB page had a very good-straight to the point Bio so lets use that.

Mini Biography

Peter Bark was a supremely creepy and unnerving Italian midget thespian who bore an uncanny resemblance to a diminutive Dario Argento. He was reportedly born in 1955. Peter achieved his greatest enduring schlock cinema cult popularity with his unforgettably freaky and disturbing portrayal of Michael, a bratty, annoying and unhinged little boy who has an unhealthy Oedipal and incestuous relationship with his overly doting mother in the deliciously cheesy Italian zombie splatter cult classic “Burial Ground.” Alas, Bark’s regrettably sparse other movie roles were uncredited bit parts and he subsequently never became the major celluloid star he deserved to be. However,
despite this unfortunate tragedy Peter Bark nonetheless remains a much beloved figure amongst hardcore aficionados of choice trashy early 80’s Italian fright feature fare.
IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders

That really says it perfect!

Part 4: Son and Mother
1st Scene 
After stopping a rush of zombies into the castle, Michael sits with his mother on a sofa. Michael and his mother begin to make out with the classic porn moaning this film seems to use a lot of. Michael starts to touch his mother on her chest and says how he misses her breast like when he was younger. He begins to put his hand up her dress. The mother finally snaps out of it and slaps him across the face. Michael then runs away saying,




Michael: [after making sexual advances on his mother] “What’s wrong? I’m your son!”

He runs into Leslie, one of the girls who came to the house. She at this point is a zombie, clearly she is ( anyone with half a brain can see that) but Michael is so dumb he doesn’t see it. Leslie gets closer and closer.

The film cuts to the remaining group of people which to me becomes a classic laughable moment in any zombie film. The group decides to let the zombies in because as they say, we can stay out of reach because they’re slow.

Guess what was NOT a good idea?

2nd Scene 

The mother finds Michael getting eaten by Leslie (No shit Michael couldn’t tell?). She runs over to him and begins to cry, during this time Leslie the zombie sits there eating his flesh and not caring about her. First time I’ve seen a zombie gave up a juicy human.
We cut back to the group regretting the decision as they run away from the zombies.
3rd and most famous scene!
The group runs into the mother covered in blood crying about her son.  A few more minutes go by in the film and the gang seems to run around in a circle, why they just don’t take off is beyond me. They find a monastery near the castle and enter. And guess what, the monks are all…
Zombies!
Some leave and enter another damn building. This is where the movie ends. I will not tell you anything so you can watch it for yourself but it is stupid. Thou to end the Mother-Son weird relationship 
Michael comes walking in. The mother runs toward her stupid zombie son. Everyone yells No he’s dead! She apparently doesn’t see it, like Mother like Son. She holds him rubbing up on him. She allows his hands to pull out her left breast. She says, “go ahead, just like when you where younger”. He begins to suck on it, then bites down pulling the nipple off the breast!
Yeah some crazy shit.

Part 4: Wrap up.

This film is part of the many Sex/Zombie films that came out during this time. Mostly done by Italians, the voice dubbing is part of all the things that make these films funny. I think this is the very first “Smart zombie” films ever made. The zombies do work together and also use weapons. It’s the reason, along with the famous mother and son scene, I picked this film. It’s a staple in the history of Zombie films and one I think you should see.  I mean if all the moaning they used for the women sound like someone having sex isn’t enough, then what is anymore!!!
October 31, 2012

Impressive. Most Impressive

IMPRESSIVE

Disney is the illuminati.  I’m convinced.  But before I cower in fear at the thought of a rodent ruling the world, I will sit back in relish the mere possibilities Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilms present.  Disney owns Pixar.  Fine.  Disney owns ABC & ESPN.  Fine.  Disney Owns The Muppets.  Um…okay.  Disney owns Marvel.  Whoa.  Disney owns Star Wars.  Hold up!  Disney owns Indiana Jones.  Wait…what?!?  Disney owns ILM.  Oh, come on!  Disney owns the naming rights to Android phones.  You’re sh*tting me.

So essentially you can wake up one morning, purchase tickets on your Mickey Mouse phone (Literally) for a Pixar film that has Captain America beating up Nazis with Indiana Jones and 67 years later joining  Iron Man and the Avengers as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is sucked into a wormhole that leads to an encounter with a green, big eared Jedi master in the Dagobah System, then come home and watch SportsCenter hosted by Stuart Scott and Kermit The F*cking Frog!  I think my film brain just orgasmed.  That is the world we are living in now.  And its a great world….That is until Disney begins plans for construction of a fully functioning and operational Death Star in Orlando.  Close your eyes…think about it…then try…just f*cking try..to tell me I’m wrong.

October 30, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Scream

Scream – Smart

After the horror and slasher movie boom in the mid-to-late 1980s there was a definite lull.  I mean, name me one horror movie that came out between 1985-1995 that really mattered and changed the genre for the better (okay, I’ll give you a few of those).  But the genre was so bogged down in the same cliched plot device (teens isolated and stalked by an unstoppable force) but studios continued to insist on putting these movies out since they were a sure fire money maker.  Everyone knew that these movies were getting worse and worse, and it was the elephant in the room for the genre.  It wasn’t until 1996 that Wes Craven, who had recently fallen on hard times himself (ever seen “Vampire in Brooklyn“) got together with future “Dawson Creek” creator Kevin Williamson, and told everyone “Hey, these slasher movies are ridiculous.”  Thus, “Scream” was created.

“Scream” follows the exploits of a group of teens in Woodsboro, CA who are terrorized by a masked killer who we now know in horror lexicon as “Ghostface” (see above).  Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, becomes the prime target of not only the killer, but of newscaster, Gale Weathers, who wrote a tell-all book about the murder of Sidney’s mother and the possible conspiracy revolved around her convicted killer, Cotton Weary.

The film follows all the standard horror tropes, but they are smart about it.  Williamson weaves a decent story with smart writing and a pretty hip cast (for the time of course, I’m mean have you seen “Chill Factor“).  Before “Scream” there weren’t any other films that would have characters addressing their current situation and comparing it to something they’d seen in a movie.  In a way it was breaking the 4th wall without talking to the audience directly.  As a horror film fan it was awesome to see nerds like me on the screen telling themselves what they needed to do to survive in a horror movie, when in fact they were in one.  It was not only smart but extremely self-aware and it knowingly made fun of how stupid horror movies had gotten.  There was also the fact Craven killed off one of his main stars within the first ten minutes, which I always appreciate.

During his post-Nightmare on Elm Street era, Wes Craven tried his hands at everything from Bush-era poverty to voodoo, but it wasn’t until he returned to the slasher genre where his career took back off, I mean he got to work with Gloria Estefan* for God sakes….Miami Sound Machine man!  Anyway, what I always found ironic is the fact that Craven created a new series that was poking fun at the ridiculousness of slasher films and all of their sequels, and “Scream,” to a degree, became something it was making fun of in first place three sequels later.  I do, however, find “Scream 2” to be a sequel that surpassed it’s predecessor in many ways.

Craven has always been a trendsetting director; from “The Last House on the Left” to “Scream 4” and everything in-between (remember…..”Vampire in Brooklyn”**).  He’s adapted to the times, for the good and bad, but when you’re a director that has created two of the most well known horror figures in the past 25 years (Freddy too of course) it’s easy to forgive some of the mistakes.  If you haven’t seen “Scream,” be smart, don’t be dumb, check it out.

Fun Fact:  Craven had a cameo as the janitor “Freddy” in the same iconic red and green sweater.  Check it out.

* “Music of the Heart” which also starred Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep.

**For the record, I really don’t mind “Vampire in Brooklyn.”  It was last decent movie Eddie Murphy made.

October 27, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Silent Hill: Revelation

Silent Hill: Revelation –Lifeless

Video games have had a rough history in cinema.  Aside from maybe “Tron,” video games and movies are like oil and waterThe problem is that studios try to pander to the people that play the games as opposed to an entire film audience.  I liken it to an inside joke where the people that get the joke love it and everyone else is left scratching their heads.  That’s how “Silent Hill: Revelation” is, in addition to being a lifeless sequel that probably came five years too late.

I’ll preface with what I’m about to unleash on “Revelation” with this; I like the “Silent Hill” franchise.  When the first game came out on PlayStation it was atmospheric, creepy, and the plot was relatively coherent.  That continued into the first sequel with more back-story given to the city of Silent Hill, but the game started to fizzle after that.  The first “Silent Hill” film had some good ideas and a decent writing and directing combo, Roger Avary of “Pulp Fiction” and “The Rules of Attraction” fame and Christophe Gans, who directed the underrated “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” respectively.  Neither have anything to do with “Revelation” and it shows, you can tell that the studio is simply out to make money and pander to hardcore “Silent Hill” fans that still think the franchise is relevant.

The plot, if you can call it that, revolves around Heather Mason, aka, Sharon Da Silva from the first film.  Heather, and her father Harry Mason, played by Sean Bean, are on the run from a mysterious evil looking for Heather.  At some point Harry is kidnapped and taken to Silent Hill and Heather, along with Vincent, Kit Harington from “Game of Thrones,” venture into the darkness.  What plays out is pretty much what you would expect;  there are freaky monsters, including the iconic “Pyramid Head,” a moment where all hope seems lost, and finally our heroes riding off into the sunset, escaping Silent Hill.  I’ll tell you what; go find “Silent Hill 3” in the bargain bin for your PlayStation 2 (or even Xbox 360 at this point), play it, and I assure that you’ll have a better time.

“Revelation” tries to build on the mythology of the first film, but it comes off as a slow burn with music and jump scares that come off dated.  Its not a bad film, but it certainly isn’t a good film either.  However, I will say that Adelaide Clemens (who has to be the love child of both Carey Mulligan and Michelle Williams) is the splitting image of her video game counterpart, but some of the other characters……ugh.  Bean is mailing it in despite his limited screen time, and the once great Malcolm McDowell is at his hammiest, even outdoing his performances in the Rob Zombie Halloween remakes.

Will there be another addition to the “Silent Hill” film franchise?  I hope not.  I will admit that I was excited to see “Revelation,” but it ended up being just like the scary nurses….lifeless.  Oh I nearly forgot, I didn’t bother to see this in 3D either, there is no reason for 3D in modern cinema.  It was cool in the 1950s when giant insects were attacking us, but it’s time to grow up and take off those silly glasses.  You look like this guy, and that’s scarier than “Silent Hill: Revelation.”

Fun Fact:  The high school Heather attends is All Hallows High.  Halloween is also called All Hallows Eve.  Freaky. 

October 26, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Click: The Calendar Girl Killer

 Click: The Calendar Girl Killer: Laughable

A perfect early 90’s horror film in all the wrong reasons.
If there is a word for beyond cheesiness it would fit for this film.

What we have here is another transvestite killer with some major mommy issues. I really don’t have much to say for this review, so I made a few notes for you while I watched.

Other then that, its a bad horror film. Fun if you have a pizza, beer and some friends come over to watch it but yeah other then that its pretty bad.


Some Notes While Watching! (Now with 40% Extra Denim!)

First bad line of the film, “You are gonna party to you die…keep the bubbles going”. Followed by some creepy laughing.

Wow another line, this one is better! “She’s a bitch…but she screws like a demon”. Followed by Two 90’s guys with mullets laughing.

Im going to use that line one day, somehow I will!

There is a moment when two people fall into a spa and get wet. Next shot they’re dry and only their hair is wet.

Denim vest! All I see is Denim in this shitty film!

The main guy is a photographer and his camera only has one lens!

Yep the guy crosses out the victims with red ink.(Thats how you know they’re dead…from being apart of this film. Hope to see my photo get crossed out with red ink soon!)

He goes to Chinatown looking for models. And apparently only finds white models. So no asian women in chinatown?… Thats kinda odd.

Stereo typical biker boyfriend with the black leather jacket, jeans and white t-shirt. Always a good sign in a film.

(Nothing happens for awhile, well something does but it goes nowhere)

90’s sex scene, with 90’s sex scene music!

And they have a tea kettle in front, blocking all the nudity! And yes the kettle goes off at the right “moment” of the 10 seconds of crappy sex.

Hey everyone! The killer looks like game show host Chuck Woolery!

90’s poolside slow-mo oil up scene, now with more denim!

Follows 90’s poolside fight scene also in slow-mo and with bad sound effects.

Finally some, Boobies!

Some stupit shit happens.

More bad dialogue.

The killer dresses up as a nurse with a wig and lipstick. It looks…bad.

He also talks. Which is clearly ADR at its worst.

More Boobies, but with strobe lights, which gets old very fast.

The strobe light is still going this time a murder is taking place which last a few mintues. Yeah a few mintues of fast flashing strobe light, I feel sick now thanks guys.

The fight scenes are soooooo bad.

Remember the main guy? The photographer with the one lens? Well it is officially the whole film, only one lens!

The killers outfit also has fake boobies and socks up to his/her knees.

The final fight scene is a “Jesus on the cross remake”, yep no lie. I uploaded it so you could watch it, if you like. The Biker boyfriend knocks the killer down and thinks its over, clear it’s not. The killer gets up and they both pick up torches to fight almost like a fight with swords. And thats it, it just ends.

Wow thats the film, Click…it really is bad, but funny…but still really Bad!

October 25, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978) – Classic

Thinking about the history of horror films there have been five distinct eras that I can think of; The early 1900s brought us the classic monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein.  Post World War II films brought us atomic age monsters that ranged from giant ants to komodo dragons.  The Vietnam War introduced zombies and class war horror.  The late 1970s started the slasher trend, and most recently (from about 1999 to now) we’ve had an epidemic of remakes, torture porn, and found footage.  While I appreciate all eras for what they’ve done for the genre, the most lasting of impressions on me were the 1970s and 80s slasher genre, and the cornerstone of that era was John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween.”

For my money, if you re-released “Halloween” right now, it would still bank, which theaters are actually doing this year.  It’s a simple concept; a young boy, named Michael Myers, brutally murders his sister on Halloween night and is locked away in a sanitarium.  On one fateful Halloween Eve, during a routine prison transfer, Myers escapes Smith’s Grove Warren County Sanitarium.  Myers’ doctor, Sam Loomis (sound familiar) pushes the panic alarm as he fears that Myers will be heading back to his hometown, Haddonfield, also the scene of his original crime.  We meet three teenagers, including a very young Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Laurie Strode, looking forward to a fun Halloween night, which of course turns into “The Night He Comes Home.”  I’ll try not to give too much away, but considering “Halloween” is 35 years old, it might be time for you to get off your ass and finally watch the most influential horror movie in the past 50 years.

“Halloween” is what really kicked off the modern slasher genre in the early 1980s, and created the so-called “formula.” However, if you watch the movie now, it’s surprisingly tame, with very little blood, just a little bit of boob-age  and a relatively low body count.  The blood and gore is more implied than splashed all over the screen.  Take this for an example; “Halloween” was rated R in 1978, but a movie like “Tourist Trap” from 1979, a year after “Halloween” was only rated PG, and I find “Tourist Trap”, while very cheesy, extremely creepy, and at times, harrowing.  If “Halloween” was put out today the same way it was shot by John Carpenter 35 years ago, it wouldn’t be anymore then a PG-13 film.

Enough politics of course, and we’ll continue with this question; What’s so good about “Halloween?”  Damn near everything!  From the opening theme and titles, to the camera work, to the acting, which isn’t perfect, but when you have teenagers talking about bullshit it will have to do.  Everyone in the film is believable, with Sam Loomis, played by the late Donald Pleasence, the stand-out.  What I credit Pleasence for the most is that fact that he stuck around for four sequels, and while he got hammier and hammier, he always added a touch of class.

What makes this film a classic is what it inspired.  While I would credit both “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with jump-starting the independent horror movie movement, “Halloween” made the most with what it didn’t have; money. For a movie made for less then $350,000 it looks great, has a good cast, and considering the fact that getting Pleasence to appear in the film was a decent part of the budget ($20,000) it doesn’t take away from the mood the film conveyed or compromise the quality.  “Halloween,” along with it’s predecessors proved that you didn’t need a ton of money to make a suspenseful and wildly entertaining film.

As far as Rob Zombie’s remake, or re-imagining, of “Halloween” in 2007 goes, while it’s not perfect, the more I think about it, its it’s own movie and can act as a stand alone film.  I almost take it as the “Henry:  Portrait of a Serial Killer” version of “Halloween.” What makes Michael Myers so scary is the fact that you really don’t know what drove him to kill his sister when he was a boy, or why he insists on always returning to Haddonfield to kill.  You find out later that he dabbles in the occult and celebrates Samhain, but in Zombie’s version he shows you Myers’ bad home environment and gives reason.  Once you do that the “magic” of Michael Myers is gone and he just becomes another John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy.  Once the mystery behind his actions are revealed he just becomes another serial murderer and it takes the luster off what you thought was just an unstoppable killing machine with no motive, which I find more frightening.

There really isn’t anything else to say about “Halloween” that hasn’t been said.  It’s a classic film, not just in the horror genre, but film in general.  It not only set a standard for the genre, but single-handedly created a sub-genre that is often duplicated, but never really reaches the standard of its predecessor.  It’s October people, pop “Halloween” into your DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, Betamax, Laser Disc, or Reel-to-Reel and enjoy greatness.

Fun Fact:  An inside-out William Shatner mask was used for the iconic mask that the Michael Myers wore.

October 24, 2012

31 Nights Of Halloween, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

INDELICATE

As I’ve stated before, you gotta bring something different to the table in order for your horror film to pique my interest.  Stereotypical slashers bore me to tears.  Found footage ‘Paranormal Witch Projects’ are just poorly shot films with the same cheap scares as a haunted house visit at Halloween Horror Nights.  And torture porn.  Don’t get me started on torture porn. You want to scare me to my core?  Give me a film that grounds the supernatural element you are playing with in reality.  Write characters that aren’t “Lets go investigate” idiots that I can’t relate to, let alone, root for.  And an occasional loom of the prince of darkness doesn’t hurt either.  The Exorcist was that for me.  It was the benchmark for the best the horror genre had to to offer.  I’d swat away any comers trying to claim supremacy over it like an old man asked to indulge in some newfangled fad.  The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is the newfangled fad the grandson of that old man forces him to try or else he’ll ship him away to a home.  Somewhere an AARP member just sh*t their pants…um…uncharacteristically.

Now films love to slap the “Based On A True Story” label on their films.  Mainly, for the reason I stated before. Ground your film in reality and it immediately becomes much more interesting.  Sometimes, however, it only serves as an unnecessary distraction.  You get so wrapped up in if it is actually true or not. Especially, the more fantastical the film gets.  The Coens caught some flack for saying Fargo was based on a true story when it wasn’t.  The claim distracted critics from the point of how great a film it was.  You can make your film feel real without reassuring us.  But I digress.  The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is a story loosely…and I mean loosely based on the real life exorcism of German born, Anneliese Michel.  See?  I just did it.

The one thing I really liked about The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is that it is a postmortem.  Whatever the traumatic event that happened to this girl has already happened by the start of this film.  We learn about the specifics mainly through flashbacks and testimonials.  This, to me, puts the audience in the mind of the skeptic.  As the film goes on we are put in the position of either being doubtful of what we’re told happened or convinced.  Because make no mistake, this is a film about belief.  An interesting approach to the material that had the potential to make an interesting film.  But what was the operative word I just used?  It was ‘had’.  This film’s INDELICATE, rushed, stomping through the material makes it a marginal effort at best.   A film of this ilk is more effective when handled with more subtlety.  Director Scott Derrickson actually shoots the one exorcism scene in this film more like an action scene, tossing all intensity out the window…literally.

Another miscalculation The Exorcism Of Emily Rose has is the numerous divergences from what makes it good.  The film is mostly set in a courtroom, pouring over the facts of what actually happened during the exorcism.   Was this young girl taken over by demons or did her priest criminally harm her?  However, it tries to slide in some suspense with a pointless subplot involving star Laura Linney being accosted by dark forces.   It feels totally out of place and stops whatever momentum the film has built up.   I am convinced these scenes were jammed in because of studio pressure for more jump scares and exciting moments.  You see, studios hear subtlety and automatically think boring.  Their low respect for the audiences they constantly pander to usually short circuits modern horror films.

Jennifer Carpenter, from Dexter fame, does most of the heavy lifting in this film.  Now, I won’t go into comparisons of scary between her in Linda Blair.  However, I will say I was more impressed by Carpenter’s terrified Emily than her possessed one.  Tom Wilkinson is great as usual, though underused.  Laura Linney is nothing special but is still solid.  The only really poor performance that sticks out to me is given by Campbell Scott.  I’ve seen him before on the television show Royal Pains and a short bit as Peter Parker’s dad in….(Rolling Eyes With A Wanking Motion)…The Amazing Spider-Man.  In those parts, his super stoic delivery, nature, and overall presence didn’t particularly bother me because they’re small.  In this film, Campbell Scott is tasked with carrying a significant part of the film.  He is the voice of the doubters.  He is, in actuality, the secondary villain of the film.  And he has about as much personality as a creaky ironing board.  A great character actor like Victor Garber or John Noble could have put some heft to that part.  Instead, we’re left with a walking talking popsicle stick.

So, yes.  I tried another one of these fads.  But after watching The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, it might have been a better choice to just get shipped to the home.  If the power of Christ compels you…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

October 23, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Run

The bane of the horror genre for the past decade has been the remake.  Hollywood has gotten so lazy and they’ve treated the horror genre like a dumping ground for bad updates on generally good horror fare.  I understand the point; horror is cheap for a studio to produce, they can introduce fresh new actors (namely females that will bring in the male audience) and generally, they will at least break even no matter how bad the film.  Not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, and 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead” remake is an example of a horror remake gone right.

Before I go into the actually movie I’m going to say this:  I do not like Zack Snyder.  I’m not really impressed by his body of work, and I think he bites off too much, thus, his work suffers.  That is the problem with “visionary” directors like Snyder.  Take “Dawn of the Dead” and compare it to something like “Sucker Punch.”  “Dawn” is great because the concept is simple, effective, and done very well (while I may not agree with everything in it, but I’ll get to that later).  “Punch” was for prepubescent boys, and it included girls in cosplay costumes, a paper-thin plot, and a severe case of style over substance.  I understand this is his style, but when big ideas are only half-realized its hard to take him serious as a director when I’m taking him as a one trick pony.

While I don’t really enjoy Snyder’s other films (see above), I did enjoy “Dawn of the Dead.”  While on the surface it’s a remake, there are things that are done well, and other things that tweak me.

The premise is the same as the George A Romero’s original; The zombie apocalypse is in full swing and a small group of survivors head to the mall to buy some Dockers and make their stand.  While the mall provides the group with everything they need, from food to recreation, they begin feeling trapped by the zombies outside the mall hungry for their flesh.  As its been told over and over, ad nauseam, the film’s setting, a mall, along with the zombie invasion, is an allegory for consumerism and how we, the “zombified” public, feel the need to endlessly consume and spend.  While Snyder’s remake does have a mall where survivors are holed up, the meaning behind the film is lost and is essentially a zombie action film.

What Snyder does right is pay homage, in part, to some of the original actors.  Both Ken Foree and Tom Savini have fun cameos as a preacher and a sheriff, respectively.  He also, as opposed to his other films, keeps the slow-motion to a minimum and tries to flesh out his characters with somewhat of a back story.  The actors look like they are having a good time, and while cheesy at times, the acting is solid for a horror film.  As a Troma fan, I also appreciate the fact that James Gunn wrote the original script of “Dead.”  An independent dude makes good.  Now, let me explain why run is the word of the day.

What I can’t get behind, and the problem I’ve always had was this……the running zombie.  Oy vey!  I’m a purist first of all, zombies are shamblers, walkers, they might have a little giddy-up, but they are not sprinters.  When you die you develop rigor mortis brain/body decay, which would have a major effect on the way that you move and react. 

I’ll also say this; I love “28 Days Later.”  There is an explanation why those “zombies” run.  They aren’t zombies!  They don’t die, re-animate, and come looking to eat your brains, this is because they are infected with a virus (a rage virus to be exact).  If you’re going to be the “living dead” you shouldn’t be able to run, its physiologically impossible.

For as much of a problem that I have with the running zombies, I enjoy “Dead” very much, it’s just the little quirks that stop me from saying this remake is better than the original.  It appeals to the ADD crowd with running zombies, slow-motion, quick cuts, and isolates the purists a bit, but overall, Snyder creates a neo-zombie film that gives the audiences everything they want; hardcore zombie gore, boobs (a little), and intense action.  Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” is worthy of your time.

Fun Fact:  While the original “Dead” took place in the greater Philadelphia/Pittsburgh area, the remake takes place in Milwaukee, WI.

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