Horror Movies

October 21, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1995: Tales from the Hood

UNSUNG

Tales from the Hood – Unsung

You might be thinking two things right now; One, what took so long for another reviews, and two, what happened to an entry for 1994. Well, to be honest with you, 1994 was a super shitty year for horror, it was downright scary how bad 1994 was for the genre. So, to save you all a review of “Puppet Master 4” I figured I would skip to 1995 where I could review a “real” horror film. And by “real” I mean “real” in that gangster way, because I’m about to keep it “real” with one of the unsung horror gems from the mid-90s; “Tales from the Hood.”

“Hood” is an anthology film in the vein of “Creepshow” or “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.” The wrap around story features a trio of drug dealers who show up late one night at a funeral home where they meet creepy mortician, Mr. Simms. Eager to get their “shit” and go, Mr. Simms takes them deep into his funeral home and introduces them to four bodies with stories to tell, including a man wrongfully killed by racist police, a kid who worries about a monster, a racist southerner with a doll problem, and a gang banger who tries to get rehabilitated “Clockwork Orange” style.

Overall, I really like this film. It’s super campy, bloody, and when you think about it now, has some pretty strong political messages about race relations and our government. Clarence Williams III hams it up big time as Mr. Simms and you get some pretty decent performances from the likes of Corbin Bernsen and David Alan Grier. The most effective story to me is probably the final segment that not only puts a bow on the film, but is also pretty creepy in its own right.

Out of all horror anthologies, I would say that “Hood” owes most to the original “Tales from the Crypt” from 1972 with it’s tone and ending. Is “Hood” better than “Tales?” Well, that’s all up to opinion of course.

If you thought this one was scary, check out these other Hood Classics from 1995:

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
Lord of Illusions
The Mangler
The Prophecy
Species
John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned
Vampire in Brooklyn

October 1, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1984: Gremlins

GOOPY

Gremlins – Goopy

To kick off The Horror Time Capsule, I thought I would go with something that I remember seeing as a kid a lot, but not so much as an adult. It’s funny how so many films in the 80s that were geared towards kids had so many non-kid friendly moments and themes. This brings me to “Gremlins” a kids film that could have only been made in the 80s.

In short, the plot of this film features an exotic pet brought home from Chinatown that has very specific rules that need to be followed in order to best care for the pet. That pet is Gizmo, and Gizmo is a Mogwai.

Now in small town America, and under the care of Billy Peltzer, who like any good pet owner, doesn’t care for his pet correctly which leads to more Mogwais that don’t have the same innocent temperament as Gizmo. More hijinks ensure that see the once fuzzy Mogwais transform into green and even meaner, Gremlins.

While I wouldn’t consider this a “horror” film in the traditional sense, this was Joe Dante’s biggest film to date. And while I consider “The Howling” his horror opus, “Gremlins” is by far his most memorable film, in my opinion of course.

The is murder, general monster hijinks, monsters exploding in microwaves, monsters melting into puddles of goop, and of course my favorite, a story about someone’s dad dying in the chimney after pretending to be Santa Claus and breaking his neck. Noting quite says “Merry Christmas” like a dead dad story.

Here are some other 1984 favorites:

CHUD
Children of the Corn
Friday the 13th Part 4
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Silent Night, Deadly Night

September 28, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule!!!

Hey guys and gals, Matt here.

I know all of us in the blogging community like to get in the spirit of Halloween, and we also all like blog-a-thons, and to try something a little different out, I thought that I’d put this idea out there.

We are looking for contributors to help us with putting out 31 reviews in 31 days for the month of October. Instead of just writing 31 random reviews, we thought we would do a little time capsule. Starting in 1984 and ending in this year in horror, 2015.

Click see the link HERE to get an idea of what horror looked like from 1984-2015 and e-mail us at contact@simplisticreviews.net if you want to get involved. Let us know the film you’d like to write about (it doesn’t have to be from the list, it can be any horror film from that year) and what date works for you and we’ll let you know if that date is available.

To better cross-promote, grab the banner and stick it on your site.

Click Here to Download the Artwork

August 31, 2015

RIP Wes Craven 1939-2015

1939-2015
What can be said about a man that created nightmares….
We lost a legend on August 30st 2015 as Wes Craven was removed form this mortal coil, but he will live on in the minds and hearts of horror fans everywhere. We at Simplistic Reviews say this sucks and….well….it sucks.
While his filmography has had its series of ups-and-downs, there is no denying his influence on not just the horror genre, but film in general.
While this is just one man’s opinion, but of course it’s the right one, here is my Top Five List Wes Craven Films:
5.  The People Under the Stairs (1991)
An outlier in his filmography, but also one of his most out of the box horror efforts. Always one to make a social message, Craven chose “Stairs” to talk about income inequality and the failure of Reaganomics in the inner city. There are also tones of child abuse and the breakdown of the seemingly All-American Family in the suburbs. This also one of the first screen appearances by Ving Rhames and there are scenes of nice tension and of course gore. People think “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” when they think of Craven, but “Stairs” is certainly one of his strongest efforts.
4. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Do you want a creepy voodoo story, look no further than “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” Filmed in the Dominican Republic due to political turmoil in Haiti, Craven weaves a tale about “real” zombies and includes the corruption and political strife that was gripping Haiti at the time into the storytelling. By no means is this film perfect, but it is perfectly unsettling and the trippy visuals add a lot of style.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I wrestled with this decision as I understand that normally its sacrilegious to not make “A Nightmare on Elm Street” the guaranteed number one on any Wes Craven list, but hey, its not my number one. The creation of Freddy Krueger is one of the most iconic in not just horror history, but in film itself. At the time the concept of a monster that you couldn’t hide from, even in your dreams, was revolutionary and all but perfected the slasher genre. My one big gripe, and this is only recently, and after watching “Never Sleep Again” is the way the ending was changed in order to create a create a series of films as opposed to just one great horror film. Mind you, just my opinion, but the sequels do play into my overall opinion of the film itself.
2. Scream 2 (1997)
Yes, it’s true, I prefer “Scream 2” to the original. While “Scream” reinvigorated the horror genre and pretty created a new wave in slasher cinema, “Scream 2” used the template used and made a sequel worthy of the original. There are old faces and new faces and a good twist that kept the “Scream” mythology going for two more sequels.
1. New Nightmare (1994)
The beginning of self-referential Craven was “New Nightmare” a love letter to all “Nightmare” fans. Much of the whole of the original cast shows up in cameos, and Heather Langenkamp shines in a role that made her a star 20 years before this film. You could see Craven took all he learned from his years as a horror director/writer and put his heart and soul into something that he held dear for so many years despite the sour taste I’m sure he had in his mouth in the years following the original film.
  
October 6, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 03

 Welcome back gore-whores, for another edition of Simply Horrifying.  Leaving season one behind, we now embark into season two of “Tales from the Crypt” where things really start to pick up steam.  Being that the first season only had six episodes, it’s pretty jarring to see that the sophomore season had a whopping 18 episodes.  Furthermore, a lot more celebrities (or at least celebrities from the early 90s) were showing up to star in episodes, as well as a few surprise directors, namely, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who directed the episode titled “The Switch.”

All in all, season two was a huge jump for the series and set the tone for seasons 3-4 (which I personally think are the two strongest seasons).  Dead Right, starring Demi Moore and the almost unrecognizable, Jeffrey Tambor, is a ghoulish little story about one woman’s desire to get rich quick.  The only problem is that she has to marry Charlie Marno, a loud, obnoxious, overweight man who might hold her key to a vast fortune.

Dead Right is a fun episode that ends with a nice twist that you should be used to if you’ve read the comics or are a veteran of the first season of “Tales.”

Click the link above for the full review, if you dare…….

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).

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