This is Halloween

November 1, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 13

Happy post-Halloween you creeps!  In this 13th episode of Simply Horrifying we have an episode that probably is the most memorable in my opinion.  Being a child of the late 1980s and early 1990s one of my favorite movies has “The Goonies” and this episode, entitled “Undertaking Parlor” has the finger prints of “The Goonies” all over it.

A group of friends stumble upon a town conspiracy to kill it’s riches residents and profit off of their funerals.  Starring John Glover as the town mortician and Data from “The Goonies” as Josh, the aspiring film director of the group, can three four friends put a stop to this evil plot or murder for profit.

Click the link above for the full review and don’t forget to subscribe, comment, or leave us hate mail, if you dare……

November 1, 2013

This is Halloween: The Haunted Mask

The Haunted Mask: Fun
22mins each/44mins Total/Horror/1995

The Haunted Mask is the 11th book and episode 1 and 2 of season 1.

It’s about a girl, Carly Beth who gets picked on because she’s easily scared. She’s the joke of the school and because of that is pushed into buying a mask that will turn her weakness into her ultimate revenge.
This book stands out as of of the more popular stories. I became a big fan when the 2 part episode was released on VHS. As a kid this was one of the films that I would play ever year for Halloween. 
The acting is what you would expect from a 90’s children’s TV show. The real reason this is a staple of 90’s kids is the story. It works almost too good. It’s not just about a girl who wants revenge, but the mask Carly picks changes her, it attaches to her and takes her over.

The Mask
The “unobtainable, unloved ones” all look pretty cool. In fact I find that I like some of the others more then the one she picks. But that’s not to say the one she picks isn’t good, it really is badass looking. The issue is the lighting. They should of made it a bit darker because the mask doesn’t work as awesome in the brighter night shoots. But the voice and the darker scenes really make the mask work, especially when she begins to get angry and the mask begins to sweat.
These episodes aren’t the scariest of the show. But they’re very enjoyable and have a deeper meaning of excepting ones self and not trying to be different for anyone else.
Thanks for reading guys and girls!
Happy Halloween!
October 31, 2013

This is Halloween: The Shining (1980)

ICONIC

The Shining – Iconic

I hate to be so cliche when it comes to “The Shining” but since I like it not only as a horror film, but as a film in general, it’s hard not to call it iconic.  It’s the first film in the pseudo-slasher genre that was taken seriously by not only horror fans, but film historians and pundits.  I mean Stanley Kubrick directed it for goodness sake!  One of the most important directors in the past 75 years chose to follow up his epic “Barry Lyndon” with a Stephen King adaptation.

While I’m too young to have gotten the chance to experience this film in the theater during it’s initial theatrical run, luckily “The Shining” was being screened during one of Cinemark Classic Series months.  Myself, and two friends, got the chance to experience the way all film should be witnessed; on the big screen.  While I don’t fully agree with complete restoration when it comes to old films (I still like to see the cracks and film burns when I’m watching something that was actually shot on film as opposed to digital) the job they did on “The Shining” to clean it up and and preserve it was well done and didn’t take away from it being scary or it’s overall tone.  Another cool thing that I noticed was the night we watched the film, October 30th, was the same day in which The Overlook Hotel closes for the Winter in the film.  Eerie and awesome.

As a refresher, “The Shining” is based on the 1977 novel by Stephen King about a possessed hotel, The Overlook, and the Torrance family, who become it’s latest victims.  I highlight based because when “The Shining” was released it did not receive a seal of approval from King himself, who dismissed it and still holds it as one of his least favorite adaptions of his works, and there are many changes from the book to the film. The film features Jack Nicholson in the starring role as Jack Torrance, and former school teacher with a violent past who struggled with alcoholism.  Looking to get away and start a new writing project, Jack accepts the caretaker’s job at the Overlook Hotel deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  With his wife and son in tow, the descent into madness begins.

Straying from King’s novel, Kubrick creates an original take that I think works very well.  The film becomes less about the supernatural and more about the breakdown of the psyche when isolated and away from society.  While the film does keep important elements, such as Danny’s ability to “shine” and the horrors in an infamous hotel room (Room 237 in the film, and 217 in the novel), the ending and what role Jack plays in the hotel’s lurid history is a little more vague.

Kubrick, who was known for his introspective films about the human condition and what drives man to his actions, creates a Jack Torrance who always looked like he was about to break from the very beginning. While the novel portrayed Jack as a sympathetic character come the end of the story where he saves his family from the ghosts of the Overlook, there is no redemption in Nicholson’s take on the patriarch of the Torrance family.  Can you chalk that up to Nicholson’s look?  Maybe.  He always looks manic so you knew his take on Mr. Torrance was going to be manic and unhinged.

Two other things I took away from this viewing of the showing was something good, and something not so good.  The good; The score.  Holy crap, but this score is relentless and puts you on edge nearly the entire film.  It’s a driving score that is the heartbeat of the horrors to come.  Listening to it in surround sounds simply puts shivers down your spine.  The bad?  I’m sorry, but for the most part, the acting is pretty lackluster.  Sure, it was 1980, and it’s a horror film, but goodness, Shelley Duvall and Scatman Crothers put forth some Razzie-worthy performances.  On the other hand, while Nicholson’s performance is over the top, it’s still haunting as a man who is succumbing to his own demons as well as the ghosts in the hotel.

As iconic as “The Shining” is, there are still problems with the film.  People have pointed out spacial issues with the hotel that make no sense, the fact that the Torrances had a lot of luggage to put into a small sedan, and other assorted things that simply didn’t add up, but I think the reason why a lot of people overlook those irregularities was the fact that Stanley Kubrick was directing, and no one argues with Kubrick.  There’s also the fact that this was a horror film and perhaps Kubrick was pointing out the silliness of horror films and the inconsistencies that all films of the genre possess.  Maybe that’s reaching a little bit, but I wouldn’t put it past Kubrick to create a parody of the horror genre before the horror genre had become a parody of itself.

Overall, “The Shining” stands the test of time, and aside from the silly clothes that most of the characters wear, the film is pretty timeless.  It takes a classic haunted house film, adds the creepiness of King, and incorporates the psychology of Kubrick, a combination that adds up to a horror film that is a cut above the rest.

Fun Fact:  Do you think you know what Kubrick was “really” trying to say in “The Shining?”  Check out “Room 237,” a documentary about the “true” meanings behind “The Shining.”

October 31, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 12

There were days when vampires were vampires and not whiny little bitches who sparkle in front of mouth-breathers.  Vampires were bad-ass creatures of the night that seduced women and drained them of their blood while making them their vampire mates.  Those were the days, or nights, if you will.
On this episode of Simply Horrifying we take on a little tale entitled “The Reluctant Vampire.”  A really strong episode from season three that finds Malcom McDowell as the titular vampire who works the night shift at the blood bank.  Fearing for his job when a blood shortage hits, he succumbs to his primal nature to save the bank.
Click the link above for the full review, if you dare……..
October 29, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 11

What’s scarier than a watching a stage version of “Hamlet?”  How about Jon Lovitz as the lead.  Of course I’m not putting Jon Lovitz down, even if Andy Dick did wish death upon him, I still think he’s great.

“Top Billing” is another fine episode from the already great third season of “Tales from the Crypt.”  The aforementioned Lovitz plays a down on his luck actor looking for his big break.  Seeing an ad for a stage production of “Hamlet” he thinks he’s finally found it, or has he?

Click the link above for the latest edition of Simply Horrifying, if you dare…….

October 28, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 10

After a bit of dead silence, Simply Horrifying is back!  In this ghoulish offering we witness what some people will do for money.  Pretend to kill themselves mostly, but if you think there won’t be any repercussions, you have to be out of your mind.

“The Trap” directed by Michael J. Fox, is an entry from the “Shock Suspenstories” line of comics where “Double Indemnity” is given a run for it’s money.  Starring Bruce McGill and Teri Garr, as a couple just dying to make it rich, “The Trap” is one of the stronger early episodes from Season Three of “Tales from the Crypt.”

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

October 25, 2013

This is Halloween: Ghostbusters II

UNDESERVED

Ghostbusters II – Undeserved

Will we ever see a “Ghostbusters III?”  The easy answer is no, the hopeful answer is, please no.  Trust me, “Ghostbusters” goes down as one of the best comedies of the 1980s, if not the best comedy from the past 30 years.  There was nothing else like it when it was released in 1984; a live action cartoon starring some of the funniest people in the world.  It made Bill Murray the biggest comedian in the world at the time, and the film still has a huge fan base to this day.  It’s a timeless classic that was way ahead of its time, but a third entry into the “Ghostbusters” saga would never work now, and would strictly anger fans of the first one while simply catering to today’s movie-watching public; a group of viewers who idolize Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and any other crap that today’s fast food media tells you to idolize.  Just look at what Michael Bay is doing to the “Ninja Turtles!”  But that’s a rant for another review.  Getting back on track, fast-forward five years and the gang got back together for 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” a sequel that gets an undeserved bad rap from fans of the original.

“Busters II” opens with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her baby Oscar out for a morning stroll.  Needless to say something spooky happens and Ray, Winston, Peter, and Egon, The Ghostbusters, are back in business.  Apparently Dana’s baby has been chosen by an ancient evil to take over the world, it’s hokey, but that’s your plot this time around.  Throw in a creepy painting of an ancient European wizard/madman, a river of ectoplasm, and an art curator from the “Upper Vest Side” and you got a sequel, while not perfect, still captures the magic of it’s predecessor and manages to be charming.

The fact that the entire original cast decided to come back for the sequel says one of two things; 1) The story was interesting and funny enough to bring everyone back or 2) sequels usually equate to desperation for actors and greed for the studio.  Back in 1989 Murray was coming off of “Scrooged”  Dan Aykroyd, “Caddyshack II,” Harold Ramis had become more of a writer and director than an actor, and Ernie Hudson was coming off of “Leviathan.”  When I think about it, I guess it was time for a sequel to “Ghostbusters.”

While there are problems with the plot, which dances the line of parody of itself and ridiculous, it’s just nice to see the whole cast back together.  The addition of Peter MacNicol to the cast adds quite a few comic beats, and his interactions with Bill Murray are some of the best in the film.  To be honest, I almost prefer Murray’s portrayal of Peter Venkman in the sequel.  It seems that he has more to do, and unlike the original “Busters,” he is the big name and the draw, and he stands out from the ensemble this time.

The story gets a little sappy near the end with a theme that only kindness can defeat evil (I mean…..come on).  Granted, this film was coming off the Saturday Morning Cartoon, “The Real Ghostbusters” which I also adore beyond words, but I feel like the story could have used a little more bite.  It simply came off as a little sappy, and frankly, simplistic, to me.  If you asked a New Yorker to be nice, there is no doubt you would get a one-finger salute, especially in the late 80s/early 90s.  Maybe in today’s New York you would get a nicer response, but the New York of yesteryear would tell you to take a hike, and than probably knife you.

Overall, “Busters II” is a fine companion to the “Ghostbusters” mythology.  It bridges the gap between the two films nicely, and is just as funny as the original.  It really does get an undeserved bad rap.  Plus, they made Janine hot!  I mean there was even a cameo by Bobby Brown for goodness sake!  Booby FREAKIN’ Brown!  Mr. Humpin’ Around!  He just wanted a proton pack for his kid brother!  I’m sure if he asked Peter instead of Egon he could have gotten that deal to work.  But alas…..

Fun Fact:  For all you Nintendo fans out there, check out the sweet NES Advantage joystick that was used to control The Statue of Liberty.

October 22, 2013

This is Halloween: Maniac (2012)

Maniac (2012) – Perspective

PERSPECTIVE

In modern horror, the thought of re-making fringe horror films is always confusing to me. What audience is this re-make for?  Who is going to see it?  Is it viable for a studio to release a film that maybe a handful of people will see, let alone be nostalgic for?  I raise my hand proudly!  I love cult horror films, they always hold a special please in my sick little heart.  Some of my fondest memories, like I’ve mentioned before, was watching USA’s Up All Night, and MonsterVision on TNT with Joe Bob Briggs.

While horror in recent years has been stripped of its soul and replaced with found footage and other nonsense, it’s nice to know that someone is still out there respecting the cult horror of yesteryear.  That person is Alexandre Aja.  This Frenchman knows his horror, even if its over-the-top, gut-wrenching, blood-soaked horror, its the horror that I love.  He knows just how far to push the exploitation envelop, and while he might not have directed the film I’m about to get into reviewing, he was the brainchild behind developing  the 2012 remake of “Maniac” based on the 1980 original.

“Maniac” stars Elijah Wood as Frank, a loner who runs a mannequin shop in an unnamed urban sprawl.  Devoted to his work, needless to say he has a hard time connecting with the opposite sex, so he does what any normal person would do;  he trolls dating sites (a plot point that quickly loses steam), murders, and scalps women.  That is until the day he meets Anna, a young artist interested in his mannequins.  While Frank tries to pursue a normal relationship with Anna, his thirst for blood is unquenchable and he continues to kill.

Sure, I’m simplifying the plot for sake of spoilers, but there is a lot to like about “Maniac.”  While there are are deviations from the original, namely the infamous “Disco Boy Scene” the remake focuses on Frank’s relationship with his mannequins, women, and his rather complicated mommy issues.  While the “Disco Boy Scene” would have been cool to see with modern SFX, it would have added nothing to the remake overall.  But fret not gorehounds, there are plenty of moments where you’ll forget all about “Disco Boy.”

Comparing the original “Maniac” to it’s remake is tough to do.  The original relies on tension, with a grimier and grittier look, very reminiscent to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”  Joe Spinell, who was already a pretty rough looking dude, plays Frank to a tee and there is never any doubt he’s a maniac.  The on-screen murders are brutal and you feel the terror of his victims as well as the pain of Spinell who is acting against his will and can’t stop killing.

This time around Elijah Wood plays Frank, and while you might think Wood as a murderous creep is a tough sell, see what he did in “Sin City” as Kevin, or just see what he’s doing now as Ryan Newman on “Wilfred.”  Wood gives a convincing performance as the twisted serial killer who collects scalps, which he adorns to the top of his mannequins’ heads.

The choice to shoot most of the film from Frank’s perspective is an interesting choice.  It’s found footage without being found footage.  I would almost consider “Maniac” the serial killer version of “Enter the Void,” from Gaspar Noe.  You might even call this film a “first-person killer.”  There are a few scenes where the camera swings around to reveal Frank making a kill, but for the most part, I like the idea of “actually” see ing through the eyes of the killer.

Is 2012’s “Maniac” and improvement over the original?  It all depends on your perspective.  The original was playing up the fears of the still-fresh-in-their-minds “Son of Sam” murders in New York from the late 1970s, so it was reasonably timely and terrifying at the same time.  The remake is pretty much a shot in the dark, cashing in on the found footage craze and the dying out torture-porn aesthetic.  It’s also rips off some of the retro-style of “Drive,” however, I respect the fact that directors and writers who are fans of cult genre fare, like “Maniac,” decided to take the proverbial stab at making a genre film that only hardcore horror fans would be familiar with.  I salute Aja and director Franck Khalfoun for creating something with teeth to compete against dribble like “Paranormal Activity 45: Stop Moving Into This House!” and doing a little-known classic justice some 30 years later.

Fun Fact:  “Goodbye Horses” by Q. Lazzarus, is featured in another prominent film; 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs” which also featured a serial killer who murdered women.

October 21, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 09

Welcoming you back to the Crypt, this is Matt with another edition of Simply Horrifying.  As we creep into Season Three of “Tales from the Crypt” we start off with a real bang, and a snap, and a pluck of your eyeballs with the help of a circling vulture.
“Carrion Death” is not only a clever name, but it’s also a damn good episode starring  Kyle MacLachlan as a murderer who not only just escaped death row, but just robbed a bank too.  What a go-getter.  With a cop in hot pursuit, Mexico in sight, and a pesky vulture looking to grab the leftovers, what will become of this unlikely trio?
For the full review, click the link above, if you dare…….
October 18, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 08

Welcome back to Simply Horrifying as we reach an end to Season Two of “Tales from the Crypt” with a twisted tale of secrets identities entitled, cleverly enough, “The Secret.”  It’s a nice wrap-up to the season that was arguably the strongest season out of the entire series.  Also of note was that this was the second episode in the series featuring Larry Drake, who you might remember as the psycho Santa in the Season One episode, “And All Through the House.”

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

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