Horror Time Capsule

October 28, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1999: House on Haunted Hill

MISUNDERSTOOD

House on Haunted Hill – Misunderstood

I’m not sure why there are certain films that take hold of me, especially universally panned films, that have such a lasting impression on me. I guess I’m the inverted horror movie hipster. While people will always hold Dario Argento and any type of obscure Hungarian and Spanish horror director in high regard, I love schlock and appreciate horror that is not only all that good, but just plan bad. This brings me to the remake of the William Castle classic “House on Haunted Hill.” This 1999 remake is the first film from the Dark Castle brand, that was started by super star producers Joel Silver and  director Robert Zemekis, who you might also remember had a huge hand in the creation of the “Tales from the Crypt” TV series.

“House” follows a similar story to it’s predecessor, however it includes the backstory of the titular “House on Haunted Hill” which was an insane asylum that housed a maniacal doctor who performed heinous experiments on the inmates until there was a revolt and everyone was murdered and the asylum burnt down.

Years later, eccentric theme park owner, Steven Price, wants to throw a party for his wife at the “House” that includes several of her friends, but by some work of evil, the invitations are changed and all new guests are invited, most of whom are connected by some wicked twist of fate.

There are a few things I like about this film, actually, I think the good certainly outweighs the bad for me. First, it’s funny to me that the roller coaster they use for Price’s newest creation, is actually the “Incredible Hulk” roller coaster at Islands of Adventure in Florida, a roller coaster I know all too well. I also love all the subtle nods to the Castle original, and the over-the-top performances, especially from Geoffery Wright who sells it so well as Steven Price. Lastly, the monster effects are awesome, and remind me a lot of the monsters in “Silent Hill,” but what could you expect from Greg Nicotero.

Sure, when you get down to it, this is a genre film, and it has flaws, but that doesn’t make it bad. For a genre fan, and a relative poopoo’er on remakes, this one holds up and is super entertaining.

You have been invited…..to check out these other gems from 1999:

The Blair Witch Project
Deep Blue Sea
End of Days
The Haunting
Lake Placid
The Mummy
Ravenous
Sleepy Hollow
Stir of Echoes

October 28, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1998: Dee Snider’s Strangeland

PROTO

Dee Snider’s Strangeland – Proto

The mid to late 90’s brought us a lot of trends; goth wear, Jnco jeans, rave gear, industrial music, so many trends to name, but there was also the rise of the tattoo and piercing sub-culture. It really wasn’t until the end of the 90s where tattoos and extreme piercing really started to become socially acceptable. So it made sense for genre films, namely horror, to take on genre trends, and nothing screams genre trends like “Dee Snider’s Strangeland,” a movie that was about about six years early for the “torture porn” genre, and you might even call it the “proto torture porn film.”

“Strangeland” is the tale of piercing, tattooing, industrial music, the internet, and catfishing. Captain Howdy, played by Snider himself, is a sadistic kidnapper who lures people from the internet to his house of horrors that includes extreme piercing and other forms of torture. After kidnapping a cop’s daughter, Howdy is arrested and sent sent away for rehabilitation.

Years later it is deemed that Captain Howdy, or as we know him now as Carlton Hendricks, has been cleared to re-enter society, but of course an angry mob led by Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) doesn’t like it one bit leading to a lynching and the re-birth of Captain Howdy, now crazier than ever.

So, this film isn’t all that great, it’s pretty mundane and there isn’t much of a twist and it owes a lot of it’s story to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but it does have some pretty fun makeup effects and Snider looks like he is having a lot of fun being a creep. One of the things that I find the most amusing, but also the most unnecessary is the scene where we all find out, as an audience, how the internet and chat rooms work. Of course, at the time, this was revolutionary since the internet was brand new, but it automatically renders this film pretty static in it’s technology.

One of the best parts of this film, especially if you’re a metal-head, is the soundtrack, which Snider, who is a bit of a metal god, handpicked himself, including a still unknown System of a Down with one of the better songs on the soundtrack, “Marmalade.”

Should one see “Strangeland?” Sure, why not, it’s not the best and it’s not the worst in late 90s horror and it’s an interesting little time capsule, especially if you want a tutorial on chat rooms.

No need to “hang around” check out these other goodies from 1998:

Apt Pupil
Bride of Chucky
The Dentist 2
The Faculty
Halloween H20
Psycho (1998)
Urban Legend

October 26, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1997: Mimic

GOOEY

Mimic – Gooey

I loved 1997, I was a weird, awkward middle-schooler obsessed with movies, horror, and for some weird reason, Mira Sorvino. I don’t know what it was about her, but I’m sure we all remember our movies crushes, and this was probably one of my biggest ones at that age.

This brings me to “Mimic” a relatively generic 1997 monster flick, but again, it holds a special place in my heart because it starred the lovely Mira Sorvino (imagine a 14 year old Matt reviewing this film).

In New York, a disease called Strickers is decimating the child population in the city, think of it as a cross between polio and the plague. Dr. Susan Tyler discovers the cause stems from cockroaches living in the cities sewers so she develops a new breed of bug; the Judas bug that will infiltrate the roach population and wipe them out from the inside out all while dying off themselves within a few months. All goes well and Strickers is all but wiped out and the city’s children are safe.

A few years later, a priest is attacked and killed by an unknown entity. CDC officials become involved and soon learn that the Judas breed might not only still be available but might also involved into something else that might be walking among the people of New York.

Overall, I think “Mimic” is a fun monster film with some great practical effects, but also some very lackluster mid-90s CG. The supporting cast, including Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton, and Josh Brolin put in good performances, including Brolin, and his death scenes, which is one of the highlights of the film for him.

Other things that bothered me are the inclusion of child actors in this film. There are three, all annoying, but at least two of them meet relatively gory endings, which I stand up and applaud.

This is an early offering from Guillermo del Toro, who most will know from both “Hellboy” films and “Pacific Rim” but a lot of people forget that he cut his teeth in Hollywood on horror films like “Mimic” and the almost-forgotten vampire flick “Cronos.” I would love to see del Toro go back to his horror roots in future films, and not just something like “Crimson Peak.”

If “Mimic” doesn’t bug you, maybe some of these other films from 1997 will:

Alien Resurrection
Anaconda
Event Horizon
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Scream 2
Uncle Sam

October 26, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1996: The Dentist

The Dentist: SQUIRM
(In the best way)


1996 | Horror | 92 mins 


“It’s Time For Your Final Appointment”

From the Director of Beyond Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III and Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 comes…

The Dentist. A gory of a slasher with the frosting of comedy. The Dentist isn’t a masterpiece by any means but it does entertain. It is a bit goofy in every sense. But the strong part is its ability to make the audience squirm. Using a Dentist as its slasher is already grabbing a majority of people who hate going to the Dentist. Utilizing this with the operation rooms is the best thing of this film.

Breaking teeth, using Clamps, Vices, Fastening in mouths and of course Drills is what makes this film a must watch.

A few minutes in you’ll understand this is unlike most slashers, it’s a over acting 90’s slasher that makes the viewer squirm in their seat. Thats unique because it feels real. 

For an example a puppet spitting up warms isn’t that itching to the spine. But a Dentist knocking out a girl, ripping off her pantyhose, touching and kissing her is.

Watching teeth break is and a man with a transplanted eye from a serial killer isn’t.

The Dentist uses real life events (yes to the extreme) to make us entertained no matter how over the top it may be. The strongest thing a film can do is connect to the viewer and The Dentist nails that.

It a fun watch that does nothing but flat out entertain.

Little Trivia: Early Mark Riffalo appearance

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 7, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1990: Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift

EARWORM

Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift – Earworm

I’ve done my fair share of reading Stephen King, but most of his longform work can be just that….work. I’ve mainly enjoyed his short stories in “Night Shift” and “Skeleton Crew,” but that’s mainly because I have a short attention span when it comes to reading. This brings me to a film that while it isn’t very good, it’s very memorable; “Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift.”

“Shift” is the tale about a backwoods town where the economy is based around a mill that is infested with rats, and other murdery type creatures. A group of men, and a woman, are tasked with cleaning up the mill and getting it up to code by clearing out out the rat problem. However, there is bigger, deadlier, problem around the mill and people start turning up dead.

The film runs a tidy 88 minutes, which is just the right amount of time to tell the tale of a mill with rat problems, but there are plenty of fun takeaways from this film.

One, Brad Dourif, who you might knows as the voice of Chucky, or if you’re not a horror fan, as Grima Wormtounge in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, plays the creepy exterminator who hates rats and makes an instant impression. He reminds me of the foul-mouthed cousin of John Goodman’s exterminator in “Arachnophobia.”

Two, there are some very odd accents in this film, namely Stephen Macht, who’s accent is a place between a southern plantation owner and a British parliament leader, it’s just odd, and somewhat oft-putting.

Three, and this is only if you stick around for the whole film, the credit song. A combination of lines from the film and jazz beat, this might be the most memorable part of the film.

Overall, this isn’t a bad film, it’s just a Stephen King short that ended up being a film like so many films before and after. “Gravetard Shift” just happens to have enough quirks to make it enjoyable and memorable.

If you thought this film was bitchin’, check out these others from 1990:

Child’s Play 2
Gremlins 2
It
Leatherface: TCM 3
Nightbreed
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Tremors

October 6, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1989: Friday the 13th Pt. 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

CHEESE

Friday the 13th Pt. 8 – Cheese

There is good cheese, and bad cheese; “Friday the 13th Pt. 8” is equals part both, mainly because it is so God damned 80s. It reeks of everything the 1980s was and will always be remembered by. In fact, this film is the most 80s of all the films in the series. Did I mention how 80s this film is….

So, “Jason Takes Manhattan.” Once again, Jason rises from the grave, again, with the help of some lightning and a metal anchor. After his first two welcome back kill of some horny, and whiny, teens, he catches a ride with more horny and whiny teens on a high school cruise to New York City. On this doomed cruise is Renny, a teen who also happens to have some history with Jason, her dickhead “stepfather-of-sorts” and Kelly Hu in one of her first roles.

Needless to say, Jason kills a bunch of kids, visits Manhattan, and is of course stopped in one of the oddest endings to a “Friday the 13th” movie.

Two things that stand out to me in this one is the resemblance to “The New Blood.” We have a teen heroine who has a history with Jason in addition to an overbearing father figure and worrisome mother figure. There is a pseudo-romance between said heroine and hero that is somewhat awkward, and of course the girl who is jealous of the heroine but gets her comeuppance.

The other thing is the vision of New York itself. People tend to forget that New York in the 80s and 90s was pretty much a cesspool. It was pretty dirty and you could say dangerous before gentrification took over. There also seemed to be a lot of open toxic waster just hanging around. New Yorkers who grew up in the 80s and 90s in the city, is this true?

Anyway, while this is one of the weaker edition in the series, it’s still totally watchable if not just for the fashion, funny Jason kills, and of course we can’t forget Kane Hodder who just brings something special to the Jason role.

For more awesome 80s fashion, check out these other hits:

976-EVIL
Friday the 13th Pt 8
Halloween 5
Leviathan
Nightmare on Elm Street 5
Pet Sematary
Warlock

October 5, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1988: Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

WASTE

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers – Waste

I’ll give the first “Sleepaway Camp” credit….it had balls, in fact it had cock and balls. Spoiler alert, the killer was a guy all along. Of course, “Camp” wasn’t breaking new ground, check out “Dressed to Kill” if you want a real cross-dressing murder story. But the sequel to “Camp,” is just a cash in film that has some interesting scenes, but overall it’s cheap, silly, and overall just a waste.

“Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers” begins with a “necessary” exposition scene where campers around the fire explain the events in the first film where a girl named Angela killed nearly everyone at Camp Arawak. The twist; Angela was really a boy named Peter who’s family was killed. Twist…..

Under an assumed named, Anglea, fresh out of the asylum, is now a camp counselor at Camp Rolling Hills. Obsessed with manners, Angela begins to off all of the philandering counselors one at a time. We’ve heard this all before.

I hate to be a bastard to this film, but when something isn’t good, it isn’t very good, which is funny because I have memories of this film dating back to around 6th grade where I first heard the Rolling Hills Camp song (the dirty version of course). I think 6th grade Matt was just interested to her what camp counselors would do if you paid them money…..

Of course there are two more films in the “Sleepaway Camp” series, but if you know what is good for you, you shouldn’t go past this one. Sure, if you’re a slasher film buff, watch them, but be warned, it only goes down hill from here.

Here are the rest of the best from good old 1988:

The Blob
Child’s Play
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Hellraiser 2
Maniac Cop
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4
Night of the Demons
Pumpkinhead

October 4, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1987: Near Dark

DECENT

Near Dark – Decent

It was only a matter of time before I’d sneak a vampire review in here, and I tried to think of one of the most obscure ones I could. This brings me to “Near Dark” and if you pay close enough attention, or use your imagination you might think this is a vampire sequel to “Aliens”

Out tale begins with Caleb, a cowboy on the prowl for a lady love; he finds one in Mae, a mysterious girl who needs to be home before dawn. Caleb bites off more than he can chew after he asks for a kiss and soon finds himself turning into a vampire. He is kidnapped by Mae’s “family” which includes Severen (Bill Paxton) and Jesse (Lance Hendrickson). Jesse tasks Caleb with making his first kill within two days or the family will kill him.

Meanwhile, Caleb’s father, Loy, along with his sister are on the hunt to find him and find him they do, while they narrowly escape from the family with Caleb in tow. At the end of the day Caleb figures out a way to stop the vampires and lives happily ever after.

There are a lot of interesting things about this film. First is the cast, which is pretty much half the cast of James Cameron’s “Aliens.”The other tie-in is the director, Katheryn Bigelow, who was married to Cameron at the time. I almost feel like as soon as “Aliens” wrapped Paxton and Hendrickson walked over to a set right across the street and started filming this.

Speaking of Paxton, he steals the show as Severen, the most loony of this vampire family. His antics in the bar scene make the film and show his comedic timing as well as his acting mania. People might give him crap for his overacting in “Aliens” but his overacting in “Near Dark” is exactly what is needed in this film.

Overall, “Near Dark” is a fun film and you can see the tidbits that shows like “True Blood” stole from this offbeat look on our favorite onscreen bloodsuckers.

Here are some other awesome flicks from 1987:

Bad Taste
Creepshow 2
Dolls
Evil Dead 2
Hellraiser
Nightmare of Elm Street 3
Opera

October 3, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1986: The Fly

MELTY

The Fly – Melty

At it’s core, “The Fly” is a love story that just happens to end tragically. In the vein of “Frankenstein” and any other mad scientist film you can think of, not only is “The Fly” memorable for it’s strong acting and storytelling, it’s probably most memorable for it’s extreme gore and transformation scenes. To this day, I would still put up the SFX in this film as some of the best that have ever been done in horror/sci-fi.

Jeff Goldblum stars as Dr. Seth Brundle, a struggling scientist working out the kinks on his teleportation machine. By his side is a young Geena Davis who is smitten with Brundle, but is also involved with slimy magazine editor, Stathis Borans.

Brundle seems to be on the brink of something that would change science forever, but he forgot to close his windows and doors because one tiny little fly puts that cabash on that and Brundle slowly begins to turn into a half-man/half-fly hybrid with grotesque results.

In the sci-fi genre, I don’t think you get something as perfect as this film. The acting is strong, for the genre, the effects are horrific and still shocking to this day, and at the end of the day, you feel bad and you have empathy for Brundle and his slowly departure from humanity into a creature. This is Goldblum’s film to shine, and while he mainly plays in the background, without many major starring roles, the role of Brundlefly will live on forever in horror/sci-fi lore.

Of course this is a remake of “The Fly” from the 1950s, but aside from the fact that both films are about men turning into flies, most of the similarities stop there. David Cronenberg puts his own unique stamp on this remake that includes a broken arm, complete with bone sticking through the skin, maggot pregnancy, and of course my favorite, a melting foot and hand.

You like “The Fly” here are some other goodies from 1986:

Aliens
April Fool’s Day
Critters

Friday the 13th Pt 6
House
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

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