Anthology

October 15, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1993: Body Bags

BODY BAGS: UN-FILLING

91 mins | Horror/Sci-Fi anthology | 1993

HBO had Tales from the Crypt, Showtime had nothing. But that all changed on August 8th 1993, Body Bags an anthology TV movie aired on Showtime…and that was it.

A star studded of a cast came together to make an extremely un-filling 91 minutes. Tales from the Crypt had the Crypt Keeper hosting its episodes, Body Bags had “The Coroner” played fantastically by the great John Carpenter. Yes I know I’m comparing apples and oranges, TV show with TV movie but clearly this is what Showtime had in mind. They had the power to do something unique but instead came up short.

The three best things are John Carpenter playing The Coroner, who is the most entertaining piece in this puzzle of a film. The second is the first story, “The Gas Station” which is a solid story that sets you up to be disappointed. The third is the cast, a balls to the wall of this guy and that comes up short. I liked this cast alot. It’s a shame they didn’t make more, it would of been fun to see where it goes with others making special appearances.

“The Morgue”
John Carpenter as The Coroner
Tom Arnold as Morgue Worker #1
Tobe Hooper as Morgue Worker #2

Is the glue that holds everything together. The Coroner is the Crypt Keeper here hosting the stories in a flat out entertaining performance by John Carpenter.

“The Gas Station”
Robert Carradine as Bill
Alex Datcher as Anne
Wes Craven as Pasty Faced Man
Sam Raimi as Dead Bill
David Naughton as Pete
Lucy Boryer as Peggy
George Buck Flower as Stranger
Molly Cheek as Divorcee
Only story that makes me feel like I didn’t waste my time. The others aren’t horrible but the this one just works. It’s a simple slasher, which paired with guests set the bar way too high. Seeing the likes of Craven, Raimi and Carradine peeked my interest. But I guess its just too good for this film, because sadly the others don’t come any close to “The Gas Station”.

“Hair”
Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts
David Warner as Dr. Lock
Sheena Easton as Megan
Dan Blom as Dennis
Gregory Nicotero as Man with Beautiful Hair
Kim Alexis as Woman with Beautiful Hair
Deborah Harry as The Nurse

Stacy Keach plays a guy who isn’t happy with his thinning hair. Sheena Easton says no and she loves him anyway. But it’s just too depressing 🙁 …He tries a few comical treatments but nothing helps. I’m pretty sure this whole story was suppose to be the funny one then again it was the 90’s. And let me say its very 90’s, very very 90’s.

He see a commercial and decides to try it. “Dr. Lock” played by David Warner (Titanic, Tron, The Omen) is the doc that can help. He asks Stacy what kind of hair he’d like using a 90’s computer generated program, you know how that looks without me saying anymore. Keach picks the Stallion. Yep it is its name, long black hair (see picture). And the whole things was done over night, without surgery! Sounds to good to be true hun? Well it is… And when you find out why, it feels like a copout. When its revealed I could hear myself say, “Really?!” I didn’t care much for it but I did like it more then the “Eye”. “Hair” was so bad yet I honestly think I liked this story about a guys hair more then the guy and his eye.

“Eye”
Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews
Twiggy as Cathy Matthews
John Agar as Dr. Lang
Roger Corman as Dr. Bregman
Charles Napier as Baseball Team Manager
Eddie Velez as Baseball Player


Were “Hair” was about hair I bet you can’t figure out what “Eye” is about?…NOPE

Your wrong it is about…

A eye. Let that settle in a bit. We have a film that is made up of three stories. Two are about something on your body. Not much to pick from apparently. “The Gas Station” stands out for its pacing and the fact its different then the others. “Hair” and “Eye” are about two guys getting transplants. And its goes wrong, like it feels like they didn’t try. “The Gas Station” isn’t a perfect film, but the “Eye” and “Hair” come off like they ran out of ideas and gave it to their 8 year old son to write. When you have three films it should feel like three and not two.

“Eye” is about a baseball player with an annoying accent. His wife played by Twiggy losses her American accent a few times and that too becomes annoying. Mark Hamill here is somewhat a joy to watch. The thing is he has always been but here I feel he was wasted. When he gets into a bad car accident in which his right eye is destroyed. He ends up losing it but receives one from a donor. The donor ends up being a serial killer who killed woman and had sex with them. This eye begins to take over the good old southern wholesome baseball player who was making his way to the top.

And thats it. Still feel hungry for more don’t you? Yeah thats how I felt.

“The Gas Station” = Solid

“Hair” = Short

Should of been left out. Or give us more. I didn’t mind the story but there could of been more, the story came up short for me on creativity.

“Eye” = Weak

Like the “Hair” I think it should of been left out. What would of been cool if they connected it to “The Gas Station” and its serial killer. Maybe that was his eye, sure it sounds like Im doing a copout but at least it’s something.

Because what we got in the end was very un-filling.

Kinda felt this way after the film but The Gas Station saved me

August 27, 2015

“Razor Blades in the Popcorn” Horror Film Fest Comes to Miami This October

Looking for a film festival? Looking for a film festival in Miami? Looking for a film festival in Miami centered around horror? Well you’re in luck this October as O Cinema, in Miami’s Wynwood District, hosts The 1st Annual Popcorn Frights Film Festival.

From October 1st to the 4th, O Cinema will be featuring several horror films, including Florida premieres of “Tales of Halloween” and “Howl.” Short films will be on display too that run the gamut of a Thanksgiving robbery gone wrong to a man with a crow growing out of his hand.

For more information click on the links below, and as a special treat, next week we’ll have an interview with Marc Ferman and Igor Shteyrenberg, co-program directors of this year’s festival.

Location: O Cinema Wynwood (90 NW 29th St)

Scare up some tickets right HERE

Give the film schedule a peek right HERE

HERE are the films on the docket 

Be in the know about all things Popcorn Frights by following on Facebook and Twitter.

July 25, 2013

V/H/S/2

WORTHY

V/H/S/2 – Worthy

There are certain things in life that you can count on; death, taxes, and numerous sequels to horror films.  Trust me, it’s inevitable once a studio smells money, not to mention the fact that horror films are normally the cheapest genre films to make, especially when those horror films are of the “found footage” variety.  Thankfully, it seems that this horror genre is starting to wind down, but when its done right and provides a story and narrative that is not only scary but provides just enough humor, it can be tolerable.  This brings me to the sequel to 2012’s “V/H/S” entitled what else, “V/H/S/2” a worthy sequel to the sleeper hit.

To start, if you haven’t seen “V/H/S” there really isn’t a need.  Sure, it’s entertaining and when watching the sequel you might catch a few Easter eggs from the first film, but aside from that nothing really carries over aside from the format, which features a wrap-around story and four segments that play out over VHS tapes viewed by our “protagonists.” The stories run typical horror movie tropes like ghosts, zombies, demons, and aliens, but it’s how the stories are told that really make “V/H/S/2” better than it’s predecessor.

Part of the fun of “V2” (yes, that’s what I’m calling it the rest of this review because of sick of typing three /) is knowing that the people in charge are fans of the genre themselves.  From Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale, the team behind “The Blair Witch Project” the harbinger of modern “found footage,” to Jason Eisener, the genius behind “Hobo With a Shotgun.”  And while the stories have their ups and downs, namely the wrap-around story, there is just enough freshness injected into the genres that we’ve all seen before, where they seem fresh again.

The basis of “V2” revolves around two private detectives searching for a missing person.  Their keen detective skills take them to an abandoned house that, surprise surprise, is filled with VCRs and piles of VHS tapes.  Of course its only a matter of time before we get to see what’s on the VHS tapes, and while the stories all have their own niche, some are better than others.  The first tape “Phase 1 Clinical Tests” is a strong start, but if you’ve seen the segment from “John Carpenter’s Body Bags,” Eye, you’ve seen this story before.  But the strongest story, Safe Haven, sets the bar pretty high if there are going to be more editions of “V/H/S” in the future.  Gareth Evans, the director of “The Raid: Redemption,” pulls what he knows about Indo-China and puts a horror/religious cult/zombie/Apocalypse spin on it.  It might seem like a mish-mosh of multiple genres, but it works really well with plenty of suspense and a funny little twist come the end of the story.

One of the weaker segments is “Slumber Party Alien Abduction.”  Sure enough, the title of the segment tells you everything you need to know;  there’s a slumber party, and aliens invade.  While the story is weak and you see everything coming a mile away, the introduction of the aliens works well, along with some decent scenes of suspense, but the fact that you want the characters in the segment to all die/be abducted, takes away from the overall feel of the segment.  Yes, all the characters pretty much all talk like they walked off the set of “Hobo With a Shotgun,” but that doesn’t make it good.

If you’ve become as jaded as I have with the horror genre, “V2” is a shot in the arm once again.  Thankfully, the “torture porn” era has been ushered out, but it’s been replaced with “found footage porn,” which just sounds like an film you’d go buy down at your local XXX Emporium now that I think about it, and personally I much rather see Sasha Gray getting filled out like an application by Evan Stone than see another “Paranormal Activity” sequel, but I digress.  “V/H/S/2” is a sequel that takes what was best about it’s predecessor and expands on the visuals, storytelling, and overall feel.  There is a greater sense of dread in each story, maybe because if you’re a fan of anthology horror you always know that there is a twist.

What’s been missing from the horror genre for the past decade is that sense of dread.  Yes, the gore has gotten better and the body count has gone up, but if your sole purpose as a horror director is to simply gross the audience out and not provide any “horror,” than what’s the point.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good gore-fest, I mean I loved the “Evil Dead” remake and that was a blood-spewing extravaganza.  My point is that while studios and directors stick to the same tropes in horror that sell, when is the genre allowed to grow?  “V2” shows that the genre still has some fresh ideas, and when you get enough creative people together that love horror films, new ideas can be milked from an already tired sub-genre, namely, zombies, in the segment “A Ride in the Park.”

Bottom line, take “V/H/S/2” for what it is; an all-around solid horror flick that has some staying power.
Considering the fact that website, Bloody Disgusting, is involved, there are some good minds behind possible sequels, and I’d personally like to see a few more established horror directors hop on board, such as Adam Green, Eli Roth, and maybe some old school types like Stuart Gordon or (just wishing here) Guillermo del Toro.  Blockbuster Video might be gone, but make it a “V/H/S/2” night.

Fun Fact:  VHS tapes typically record using three formats; SP (Standard Play), LP (Long Play), and SLP (Super Long Play).

October 5, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, V/H/S

V/H/S – Dizzy

Between you and me, I’m sick of found footage films. It all started with “The Blair Witch Project,” which, yes, was a very cool idea, and the fact that everyone bought into the fact that this really happened to three kids in the woods was amazingly effective, and in turn it still stands as one of the most successful independent films of all time.  We’ve come a long (annoying) way from 1999, where it’s now chic to make every film, and even TV (see the failed ABC experiment “The River”), another found footage vehicle.  First we had the torture porn phase, and we have transitioned to everything found footage, and horror auteurs wonder why people won’t take the genre seriously anymore.  I know, this seems like a rant, well I’m done, but I do believe in the thought that if you’re going to do something that everyone else is doing you might as well make it good (sorry “Paranormal Activity” you’ve run your course).  This brings me to 2012’s “V/H/S” and a slight ray of hope for the horror genre.

The premise is simple; five stories and one wrap-around that runs the gamut of zombies, haunted houses, aliens, and psycho killers.  But I will admit, within the first three minutes, I was feeling dizzy.  The camera just moves and moves and moves and moves.  Warning to any viewer who might be sensitive to motion sickness, this film will mess you up. 

Aside from the camera work, the stories are actually well constructed and fairly original.  The highlights to me include the first story “Amateur Night” where some raucous party-goers looking for the old “in-out, in-out” run into the proverbial “quiet girl,” and the last tale “October 31, 1998,” directed by the film collective Radio Silence, create a haunted house tale with a twist.  I can find something I liked in all the stories, but these two were the standouts.

Is “V/H/S” re-inventing the wheel….no, but it is a fresh look on the found footage genre that has been bogging down horror movies for the past few years.  I’m all for independent spirit, especially when it comes to horror films, and the guys behind “V/H/S” have a bright future as long as they build on their success with “V/H/S,” buck the found footage trend, and lead the genre into a renaissance.

Fun Fact:  VHS,short for “Video Home System,” was created in 1971 in Japan.

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