Thursday, October 29, 2009

Child's Play (1988)

A child's toy possessed with the soul of a serial killer attempts to transmigrate his soul into the young boy's body, while leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Chucky may have become the butt of all jokes in the 20 years since the release of the original film, but there is no denying that CHILD'S PLAY broke amazing new ground in special FX and the killer doll theme. It is unfortunate that Brad Dourif will always be remembered for this role, since he only has a limited screen presence, however his characterization as the notorious Chucky is as memorable as it is forceful and frightening. With more fun performances by Chris Sarandon, Catherine Hicks, and Alex Vincent, the film takes a cheesy B-movie plot and steps it up to an iconic late-80s Slasher. Though the body count is low, and there really isn't much blood, the incredible movement and design makes Chucky completely convincing. The marriage of costumed little people acting on enlarged sets with the animatronic doll is pretty seamless, and blows away any of the computerized FX used in the later films. Mancini's critical look at consumer culture reads heavily in the film, but is not so forceful as to take away from its entertainment. It goes without saying that this is a staple Horror classic!

Rating: 9/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 12.



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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Satan's Little Helper (2004)

Now this is Indie Horror done right. SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER is smart, original, and extremely dark. A young boy obsessed with his video game Satan's Little Helper enlists himself to help a masked serial killer he mistakes for the horned demon as the two commit atrocious crimes that the naive kid mistakes as being part of the game. Many will have to forgive the often goofy acting from each of the side players, but it is the costumed character of Satan that really sells this flick. With a sinister latex grin and exaggerated physical humor, this speechless villain adds a unique mixture of comedy and terror throughout the night's events. It is presumed that the character beneath the mask is human, however the film does leave enough intrigue as to keep the audience guessing until the end. In a favorite scene, Dougie jumps in the front of a shopping cart as Satan runs down a pregnant woman, a baby carriage, and a blind man while Dougie cheers and tallies the points. The one area where the film could use the most work is in its overly long ending, which could easily have been reeled back 10-15m to become more effective and concise. Director Jeff Lieberman has done a lot with a very little here, and instills the darkest humor possible in what I consider to be an instant Halloween classic. The film will not appeal to all genre fans, but for those of you that share my taste for Indie Horror, it is a refreshing surprise and well worth a view!

Rating: 7/10.
Entertainment: 8/10.
Gore: 4/10.
Number of views: 3.



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The Rage (2007)

I have always and will always be a fan of Robert Kurtzman, who's efforts brought us the classic Horror make-up and FX from classics like BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, EVIL DEAD 2, and WISHMASTER, but his fourth directorial effort reeks of all the typical low-budget pitfalls that so many other zombie films have fell prey to in the past. The film finds an embittered Russian scientist releasing a deadly plague upon the world (or the forest surrounding his isolated workshop) in order to avenge himself after Western culture raped him of his cure for cancer. While the Rage virus allows for Kurtzman to display a ton of gooey splatter, the blood and guts are the only things worth staying for in an otherwise messy script. It is difficult to sit through the typical tiresome genre cliches and awful acting by the teen players. The pacing also detracts greatly from the picture, since there are several extended sequences where the characters are chased by zombified vultures rather than zombies (the birds easily receive more screen time than the zombies). I wanted so badly for this to be an unknown splatter classic, but it plays out as nothing more impressive than the recent rash of DTV zombie flicks that have been plaguing the SyFy Channel. This is all the more disheartening considering the strength of Bob's second film WISHMASTER, but it is clear that the monetary constraints weighed heavily on the overall success of the film.

Rating: 4/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

This sequel had fallen under criticism for a wide range of reasons, the most pertinent being that it is completely dissimilar from the original in almost every way and that it still doesn't show the witch even though it takes a much more Hollywood approach to filmmaking. Now, I'm not here to tell you that this is a great movie, but it is definitely an interesting film for a number of reasons. After a brief introduction back into the world of Burkittsville via the media explosion following the release of the original film, we find a tour group heading out to the woods to follow the trail of the unfortunate teens that disappeared. What begins as an innocent enough trip turns into a series of hallucinatory nightmares, as each of the members begin having macabre visions of ghosts and murder. It is impossible to draw the line between reality and fantasy at any point throughout the film, but unlike most times when this technique is used for cheap scares that must be retracted in order for the plot to progress, the strange diversions here add to the mystery and intrigue of the acid trip unfolding on screen. The plot is anything but linear, and honestly I still don't have the faintest idea what the story is about or what the filmmaker's original intentions were, however I stay confused enough the entire time to be fully involved for fear of missing something important. Most other aspects of the film most closely reflect the teen Horror entries of the late 90s, but what it doesn't resemble at all is BLAIR WITCH. This one is worth checking out if only to see what the antithesis of a ground-breaking Independent film can be when it is followed by an unbridled big-budget Hollywood sequel with no direction or reason.

Rating: 6/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 4.



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Dead Birds (2004)

If you are looking for a body count and buckets of blood, look elsewhere, but if you are in the mood of a character driven film with a slow but creepy build, DEAD BIRDS will not disappoint. A band of Civil War-era thieves take refuge in a secluded farmhouse, but the sins of the past catch up with them as the men encounter a swarm of demons that have taken permanent residence in the location. The film uses a minimalist score that sends shivers down the spine as ambient sounds drone in the background while the characters search dimly lit hallways with faceless demons hiding in the shadows. The creature designs can best be described as amorphous humanoid blobs with black voids for eyes and razor sharp teeth and claws. Though the film isn't FX heavy, the scenes where we do encounter these terrors are frightening and intriguing at the same time. There are many surreal and nightmarish sequences that demand repeat viewings for the viewer to unlock the true meaning behind, while figuring out how the dead birds play into the picture. This is a solid Indie effort with high production values and a great cast, well worth seeking out for anyone that hasn't seen it yet!

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 3.



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Monday, October 26, 2009

Beowulf (2007)

Suuure, we can sit here and debate whether or not this qualifies as Horror 'til we're blue in the face, but we accidentally forgot to change the Netflix que so live with it. Here's the thing: the CG in this film is downright impressive. I don't like all of the monster designs (all in this case being 'any of'), but never the less the work that went into the film is commendable. That being said, why was so much time and effort wasted on a film like this? Was there a reason for doing this particular film in CG over any other? I mean, it was cool, but there was never a point where I was like "Ahh, now I see why this wasn't live action.. It all makes sense now.." The majority of the scenes could have been achieved practically, and even the more action-oriented scenes could have integrated live action and computer imaging.

I don't know anything about the original epic outside of the shortened version we read in high school English, so I can't make any comparisons there. Story is ok, characters are ok, and it is decently entertaining, but I found myself tempted to hit the fast-forward button more than a few times before the end. It does deliver several bloody battles with various beasts that are surprisingly gory, there just isn't any moment in the film where I was blown away and fully engaged in any of the events on screen. Worth checking out to see how far computer animation has come, but the film will be obsolete within the next few years.

Rating: 8/10.
Entertainment: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Premonition (2004)

AKA "FINAL DESTINATION: JAPAN". Boring and predictable. A man becomes obsessed with changing the past to save his daughter's life when she is killed seconds after he reads a newspaper detailing her death that was dated the following day. Normally, its hard to judge the acting in international pictures due to the language and culture barriers, but I am confident in stating that the acting was over the top in this one. The theme has been done better many times before, and I just didn't find anything interesting enough in this rendition to set it apart. It's safe to pass on this one.

Rating: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Its Alive (2009)

Im not going to waste your time or mine. This movie sucks. Not because its a remake, because it is terrible. Bijou Phillips needs to find a new genre, Im tired of seeing her in every single god damned film that comes out. There is some gore, a fair amount of blood, but more shitty CG, loud noises, and dreadful pacing. The film actually bears a sickening resemblance to GRACE, and I am now convinced of one thing:

All of you out there that hated GRACE received ITS ALIVE in your Netflixes because GRACE was far more popular than anyone ever could have imagined and they ran out and needed a cheap substitute.

Epic fail.

Rating: 4/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

BLAIR WITCH always gets so much crap, ranging from the slow pacing, uneventful action, lack of any physical representation of the entity, all the way to the fact that the concept was "stolen" from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. I completely disagree on all points, and feel that every one of the complaints are the actual strengths of the film. As for the concept being stolen, is it that much of a stretch to believe that someone else might have had the same idea? Even if it was influenced by Deodato's film, the supposedly found footage idea is pulled off flawlessly in this effort. Where to start..

The execution of the film and particularly the advertising campaign were nothing short of genius. There wasn't a person in the world that didn't buy into the fact that the footage was real. What sold the point even further was how genuine and real the characters are. These are not actors. No part of the film is acted. Heather, Mike, and Josh are real, from their flawed features and unscripted dialogue to their raw emotion and fear. Ten years later (has it been 10 years??), the events on screen feel just as authentic and chilling as they did for audiences on opening night. I share in the trios laughs, terror, and desperation in every viewing. While many grow tired of watching three people walk around in circles for over an hour, it is the lack of action and subtle scares that make this a believable scenario. The fact that literally nothing happens for extended periods of time is exactly what you would come to expect from a group of teens that are lost in the woods for days while they are stalked by unseen entities at night. I will be the first to admit that I get bored at times towards the end of the film, however conceptually it was the absolute right choice to make in establishing authenticity. There are also many brilliantly scripted moments that establish why the team continues to film despite the fact that they are completely lost.

Outside of the minimalist production that was used to make the film feel real, I also find the night scenes to be absolutely terrifying. The faint cracking noises in the woods, the children's laughter, the intensity of the reactions to the events surrounding them, each of these simple techniques are extremely effective in setting a sinister and creepy mood while sending shivers down your spine.

The fact that all of this was done with less than nothing for the budget solidifies the film as a complete success in my eyes. It is convincing, it is frightening, and I consider it to be entirely unique for the time. Say what you will, but we all know that the commercials, faux news reports, and website were enough to get your ass in the theaters to see the film. I love the film, and I will defend it 'til my death, though I cannot blame anyone for disliking it since this particular style seems to be quite subjective amongst Horror fans. I dare anyone that hasn't see it to crank up the volume, turn off the lights, and come back saying that you didn't piss your pants a little.

Rating: 10/10. Yes, that is a 10.
Number of views: 9.



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Godzilla Vs Hedorah (1972)

HEDORAH sends an anti-pollution message as told through the smoke screen of a giant monster bash. The film has fallen under harsh criticism for its forced agenda, but I didn't find it to be overbearing and it was actually refreshing to see a film of this type take a positive stance. The pollution generated from the recent years of industrial growth in Japan spark the birth of Hedorah, the smog monster, who sets off to consume the Earth's waste in order to grow in strength and destroy the world! It is up to Godzilla and a band of scientists to stop the beast before everyone is killed. While I don't mind the message of the film, there are several awkward elements that do detract from its enjoyability. The film opens with an out of place Bond theme, there are numerous breaks in the action that cutaway to music and dancing, and Godzilla suddenly has the ability to fly by blasting his heat beam at the ground behind him. The scrawny costume and cheesy boxing moves that were not uncommon in the 70s Godzilla entries are definitely present in this one, but the three variations of Hedorah are actually pretty cool and unique. Most fans go into the films accepting the exposition but waiting for the sweet fight scenes, but I found the extended action sequences to be too drawn out and uneventful to be entertaining, and I actually longed for more story. Overall, the film does offer a darker tone and plenty of fighting, but it falls short of average.

Monsters: Godzilla, Hedorah.

Rating: 5/10.
Entertainment: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Full Metal Yakuza (1997)

After a Yakuza assassin and new recruit are killed in gang crossfire, a crazed scientist rebuilds the two into a cybernetic killing machine that is bent on avenging their deaths. FMY combines elements of Action, SciFi, Crime, and Horror into a cheesy but entertaining revenge flick. While there is more than enough blood to spare in the over-the-top action sequences, there is an equal amount of cheesiness and bad CG work. This would mark my second Yakuza film following ICHI, so while I cannot compare it to other Yakuza entries, I can say that it follows all of the same bland strokes as any other American gangster flick while owing much to the superior films like ROBOCOP. It isn't that the acting or plotting are bad, the film just is not as unique or original as Miike's films to follow. I would put this one on the back burner unless you are a hardcore Miike or Yakuza fan.

Rating: 6/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Monday, October 19, 2009

Offspring (2008)

Someone needs to tell these people that this film was already made in the 80s as BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY (not that the original was any better). A band of feral children cannibalize the countryside on their quest for blood and power, as the surviving members of their latest attack struggle to survive. There is a decent amount of gore in this little shocker, but after a bloody intro, the characters and plot just can't keep it together. The audience is introduced to a series uninteresting and poorly acted players while following a dizzying camera that literally loses focus at several points. The merry band of meat-eaters all look pretty goofy, with their emo haircuts and Ambercrombie loin clothes. There is very little believability in any of the cannibals, but if you are willing to suspend disbelief the lead matriarch does serve as a creepy enough baddie. As a smaller Independent entry, it makes for an OK twist on THE HILLS HAVE EYES, but the forced sensationalism and comic gore don't make up for the bland characterizations and thin plotting. Its a mixed bag here, folks; it is a watchable effort with some pretty good FX, but it won't be winning any awards.

Rating: 6/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 1.



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For an alternate take on the flick, be sure to stop by The Death Rattle to see what Aaron thought of the film!
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Vampire Hunter D (1985)

I am not very well versed in Anime; I've dabbled here and there, so I do not know how this one compares against other animated features out of Japan in the 80s. I do know that if I had seen this as a teenager with all of its insane graphic violence, nudity, and gore, it would have been my favorite cartoon of all time. D finds a vampire hunter that has been recruited by a young girl to help her defeat the aristocratic bloodsucker that intends on making her his bride. The film serves as a dark Horror Fantasy with plenty of elements of both, as the cloaked anti-hero slashes his way through countless demons and ghouls. I have never been a fan of the stylization in this first entry in the series, but what can't be denied is that the visuals are jarring, colorful, and bursting with life. The plot is simple and seemingly straight forward, but there were numerous moments where I felt like I was at a complete loss as to what was happening and why. I don't think you have to be a fan of Anime to enjoy this flick, there is more than enough mystery and suspense with a constant onslaught of gore that will please most genre fans. It won't be for everyone, but this one is certainly worth giving a shot if you haven't experienced animated Horror before.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Intruder (1989)

INTRUDER is a fantastic and undermentioned Slasher that came right at the end of the first era in the late 80s. Director Scott Spiegel took all the right notes from friend Sam Raimi when making this micro-budget film, and takes advantage of a wide variety of interesting camera angles and superior lighting techniques to turn a small, cramped grocery store into a looming and foreboding death trap. What I appreciate most about this one is how natural each of the characters are. This may be the first cast in film history that looks like the average assembly of home town teens: they dress plainly, their facial features and acne scares aren't hidden under mounds of make-up, they are not unnaturally attractive, they are just everyday people that you can actually see working at the neighborhood market. While the acting isn't great, it also isn't scripted, and it gives the flick an amateur charm that lends even more credibility to the characters. The film also generates genuine suspense through perfectly timed edits, clever camera set-ups, and creative framing. If that wasn't enough, the gore and deaths in INTRUDER rank among the best in the genre. There are some really fantastic FX here done by the one and only KNB, including a face crushing in a trash compactor, a face that is sawed in half, geysers of blood streaming from stab wounds, a meat hook through the face, and that's just the start!! One of the biggest flaws with the film would have to be that the killer is hardly concealed and easily recognizable, but outside of that the numerous attempts to recapture the same visual style of EVIL DEAD get a little tired when they are overused. But hey, if that's the worst the film has to offer, I'll take it. This is a must-see for any gore fan, but for such a simple plot, it is smart, sleek, and scary little Slasher that comes highly recommended!

Rating: 8/10.
Entertainment: 10/10.
Gore: 9/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Creepshow 3 (2007)

This was a joke. It had to have been. This was a joke that was played on the viewer. There is no way that acting can legitimately be this bad. I have at least 1,500 films behind me at this point, and I can say for a fact that no honest attempt has ever been this poor. There are times when I turned to my wife and asked if she was sure they sent us the right DVD. In this mockery of the original series, we have 4 or 5 more short stories that are each incoherent and annoying in their own rights. First, some dumb slut turns into a blob when her dad causes a rift in the fabric of reality using his TV remote. Next, a prick security guard is lead to millions in stolen cash by an anthropomorphic radio. Third, a different slut stabs a bunch of people then meets her match. After that, the old dude that made the remote gets his mail order bride dead because he's an inventor and his ex-students thought he made an android and tried to take her apart thinking it was a joke, but it turns out it wasn't and they killed her. That one is actually kinda bloody, however the amount of blood in it is inversely proportional to the quality of the acting and writing. Last (I think), some stupid ass shitty doctor is haunted by a bum he gave a bad hot dog to. Each of the above descriptions are accurate. I don't want to talk about this rapid-fire turd gun any more, so I will close with this: I hate this movie and I almost turned it off after 13m. The end.

Rating: 3/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween (2007)

I have tried to step aside from the fact that this film was titled HALLOWEEN so that I could approach it with a blank slate and form an unbiased opinion, but I can't. If this had been any other nameless Slasher, I feel that fans would still have had the same adverse reaction to it. I also strongly feel that if HALLOWEEN had never been made, this remake would never have been considered a classic, though it follows many of the same familiar steps. All too many, if you ask me. Rob made it abundantly clear before the release of his film that unless you plan on doing something dramatically different, a Horror remake should never be made. Not a year later, this film was released with a lackluster backstory that was followed with a near shot-for-shot remake of the original.

I understand Rob. I appreciate Rob. He has a deep respect for the genre, and more for the actors that have made it great. The problem here is that he can't let the past be the past and try anything new. The cameos carried over from DEVIL'S REJECTS and other genre classics completely detract from the film, as many of the roles feel entirely forced and out of place. The performances by Sheri Moon, Danny Trejo, William Forsythe, and Ken Foree in particular are just bad. There's no way around it. Daeg Faerch is also such an expected look for a killer kid, but delivers a decent performance. I can accept McDowell as Dr. Loomis, however Compton serves as a weak and forgettable lead, and never breaks into the empowered final girl role.

There are countless problems I have with the script, so I will try to narrow it down. If everyone that had an abusive, shitty childhood turned into a mass murderer, we would all be dead. It is arguable that Michael's domestic problems were the catalyst and not the cause, but that never comes through in the script. Michael's escape seems to be inconsequential to the holiday itself, and seems more motivated by the fact that he is being tormented by his keepers. Whether that was the intent or not, it really pulls away from the strength of his motivation. Once Michael is unleashed half way through the film, there is just not enough time to develop the protagonists to garner any sort of empathetic response from the audience. Outside of the redundancies of the last half of the film, the pacing is also destroyed by the unnecessarily long chase sequence between Laurie and Michael. I literally have to fight turning the film off by the time she is back in the Myers house.

Moving on to the look and editing, we have even more distracting elements that take away from the effectiveness of the characters and the film at large. The rough, aged look and rushed, choppy editing that worked so well in DR only serves to weaken HALLOWEEN. Carpenter's film used minimalist set designs and well-placed lighting to create sharp contrasts and fill the claustrophobic hallways with Michael's presence. Zombie's Michael is lost in the maze of overly complicated sets and blended color filters, let alone the shaky camera that disorients and dizzies the audience.

Tyler Mane does bring a certain ferocity to the role of The Shape, and comes off as being a mindless shark in a feeding frenzy. Grounding the character in reality by limiting his actions to Mane's physical capabilities was a very smart move, and lends a lot of credibility to the character. I am not objected to the humanization of the character as most fans had been, I just don't feel that it was done with enough effectiveness to have a serious impact and warrant the killing spree that resulted.

So many people have covered this film that there is little more I can really contribute, but while I am certainly not a fan of this version, I think it would have passed as an average Slasher entry had it not been stuck with the stigma of being a remake. I hope it serves as a learning experience for Rob, since he did such amazing work with DEVIL'S REJECTS. As it stands, the film is OK, but in no way recaptures the strength and originality of the first film.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 4.



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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Untold Story (1992)

This story should have remained untold. I don't know if anyone has seen this one, it was sort of forced upon me, but it is not worth seeking out. The film is a docudrama of sorts in the vein of HENRY, following a Chinese restaurant owner that is suspected of murder as he recalls his deadly rampage to the police. When I say "in the vein of", I mean "a complete rip-off of". Everything from the look to the score is blatantly stolen from McNaughton's far superior film. In fact, I think it is McNaughton's actual score that is being used. There is some decent gore and dismemberment throughout the film, and a particularly jarring scene where the killer gruesomely slaughters a mother and father in front of their children before offing the kids, but there is no way anyone can sit through the awful acting and ridiculous writing to make it to the end. The characters here, particular the cops, are so far from believable, and throw off the serious plot with out of place and failed attempts at comedy and illogical investigatory techniques. I had trouble paying attention, and started playing legos. The average gorehound would be hard-pressed to have to go this far down the totem pole for some cheap gore.

Rating: 4/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

AKA "AMERICAN (PUMPKIN) PIE". Hi, my name is plot. Have we met? What did it have to take to bring the HALLOWEEN series this low? Were we as the collective fans so unappreciative and unresponsive to each of the previous sequels that the filmmakers had to go and create the most bland, generic teen Horror film imaginable by slapping on the HALLOWEEN label while trying to tap into the hip new wave of technology and pop culture? RESURRECTION finds a group of teens competing on a TV reality show where they have to investigate the Myers house on live webcams, when Michael decides to return home for the holidays. After a lackluster beginning, the film starts off with an entirely new cast and story arch that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other films in the series. Its tough to pick out the worst actor with so many excellent choices, but Busta Rhymes really steps up his game in what may be the most over the top and ridiculous performance in the entire series. If the genius producers hadn't bribed Moustapha Akkad for the Myers name, this would have been a forgettable direct to DVD slasher bore, but it will now live on in infamy as being one of the worst sequels of all time. If everything else weren't bad enough, RESURRECTION takes the hate up another notch to absolutely seal the deal by offering the single worst send off of any major character in any movie ever made. Ever. Screw being objective for once. Thanks for nothing.

Rating: 5/10.
Gore: 4/10.
Number of views: 7.

*PS - I just realized where I had seen the name Rick Rosenthal (director of RESURRECTION) before. He also directed HALLOWEEN 2, which I also find to be a royal bore. Double fail.



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Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween: H20 (1998)

Ok, yeah yeah yeah, I can take the easy way out and only lambaste this flick for being the wussy whaa whaa teen Horror that it is, but there are some things it does right. This is the first film in the series to have a glossy, professional look. Steve Miner is responsible for a great deal of Horror classics including the fan favorite FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, and he does give H20 a sleek and stylized look and feel. After fans and critics panned the previous installment, it was also a good time to jump-start the series by creating a divergent timeline and re-introducing a stronger, bolder Laurie Strode to a new generation of moviegoers. Even though the film doesn't really kick into gear until about the hour mark, the pacing never lets down, and moves rapidly as Michael closes in on the school. There is a pretty low body count, but there is some degree of suspense knowing The Shape could be lurking down any of the halls. Michael also seems more collected and less impusive than he had become later in the series, which recalls the original portrayal of the character.

The problem is that the film was made under the tyranny of the post-SCREAM 90s Horror industry, where Horror had to have big teen icons, had to be safe for the kiddies, and had to suck in order to rake in that sweet sweet teen dollar. It is a straightforward, formulaic Slasher, but it can't really be faulted for that. The deaths are all very tame, and the entire film feels like a teen-edgy episode of Dawson's Creek complete with music by the post-awesome Creed. Laurie does comes off as being an ultimate badass, but the rest of the characters get the smack downs they deserve for being such boring teen stereotypes.

In the end, H20 isn't a total loss, and it is arguably a better film than the two sequels preceding it. But then.. It paved the path for RESURRECTION..

Rating: 7/10.
Number of views: 8.



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Halloween 6 (1995)

This may end up being one of my most controversial reviews, and I look forward to the reader response. HALLOWEEN 6 is easily the best Myers sequel (excluding SEASON OF THE WITCH). It is dark, mean spirited, and downright evil. There is not a single moment of light-heartedness. No one is getting ice cream, no one is going trick 'r treating, no one is going on a date. From start to finish, it is a complete downer.

The film starts with Jamie fleeing for her life and the life of her newborn, as her killer uncle Michael Myers returns to finish what he started in the previous films. From here, the film delves into a sinister mythology behind Michael's madness and the ancient forces that have harbored his longevity. Unlike the sequels preceding it, where Michael had no other motive than to just kill his family, this entry gives purpose and meaning behind the bloodshed. Now, I'm not saying that this was the most profound background or even the best move for the series, but after three sequels of stalk and chase with no character development for the killer, it was refreshing to see an attempt on something original. I respect the original for leaving Michael shrouded in darkness, but that had been done. I enjoyed having this 'alternate-reality' Michael driven by an ancient druidic curse.

There are so many frightening shots and scenes in this film that I still get nervous watching it every time I see it. Favorite scenes include:

-Michael violently throwing a girl on to a wheat shredder, then outstretching his hands to help her, only to shove her deeper down the blades and activating the machine to eviscerate her.
-A young girl dressed as a princess dancing under a tree, inquisitively saying "Mommy.. It's raining.. It's raining red.." as the blood from one of Michael's victims rains down upon her.

Stark contrasts make Michael burst out of the black voids and into atmospheric blue filters and fog-laden sets. Michael's demeanor is much more fluid and uninhibited in this entry, which is a thankful change from the rigid and robotic Shape that appeared in the 4th and 5th installments. George Wilbur carries the character with conviction; His portrayal of Michael is entirely sure of himself, he is in complete control of his actions, and it is clear that he enjoys his work.

Really, there are no other likable characters in the entire film. After a brief cameo by Jamie in the opening scene, the remaining cast from the two previous films are removed entirely with the exception of Dr. Loomis. Tommy Doyle, the young boy being babysat in the original, reprises his role as a creepy and obsessed teen bent on destroying Myers. The lead protagonist Kara is never portrayed as a strong, independent female presence or final girl, but rather as a subjugated and struggling single mother living beneath her abusive stepfather. The remaining cast members only serve as filler to keep the blood pouring as the plot is slowly revealed.

Whereas the deaths of the 4th and 5th installments felt stilted and lacked any significant punch, the killings here deliver much more impact and are downright brutal. This is easily the bloodiest of any in the series, and though it is far removed from the subtle scares of the original, it is infinitely more terrifying and gory than the entries that came before or after it.

Any true HALLOWEEN fan knows that two significantly different cuts of the film were created, though one has never received an official release. Many claim that the reason for the incoherent plot points in CURSE are a result of rough edits forced upon the film, and that the so-called "Producer's Cut" (PC) is the more intact and sensible of the two versions. Having seen both of them, I can tell you that both versions are inherently flawed, and while there are aspects of each that succeed, neither version is complete. The PC offers integral plotting points regarding the curse of Thorn and the passing of the curse that were removed from the Theatrical release, however it also severely cripples many of the stronger gore scenes. For the large majority of HALLOWEEN fans that hate this entry, there is no reason to seek out the PC, since it will only serve to piss you off even further, however the few of you that enjoy this film for the same reasons as I do must find themselves a copy to sew together many of the loose ends that were left open-ended in the Theatrical release.

I can literally talk about how much I like this god damned piece of shit movie for hours, but I couldn't claim to be an objective viewer if I didn't speak on the film's flaws. Because of the editing mentioned above, the fucking thing doesn't make a damn bit of sense unless you go into it with the background knowledge of the events that occur in the PC version of the film. While the acting isn't atrocious, the lack of any continuous characters brought over from the previous films forces fans that enjoyed the character arches in 4 and 5 to side with a new group of characters that fail to reach the intensity or closeness that the audience shared with Jamie and Rachel or Laurie before them. Obviously, the mystery that many people enjoyed in Michael's mindless rampage is dispelled here, which many fans whole-heartedly object to. There are also a few deaths that were sure to absolutely piss the hardcore Halloweeners off, since they really do not do the characters justice (and are actually pretty insulting send-offs).

I will cut it at that. Despite its flaws, I love this film. Love it. It scares me like few films do. It is a bad film, but one that I feel gets a much worse wrap than it deserves.

Rating: 6/10.
Entertainment: 9/10.
Gore: 8/10.
Number of views: 12.



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Thursday, October 8, 2009

King Kong Lives (1986)

First off, yes, there is a KING KONG LIVES. Second, no, I'm not lying. How or why this ever came into existence is beyond me, but the film serves as a direct sequel to the 1976 remake. In it, a university revives Kong using an artificial heart and a blood transfusion from a lady Kong that coincidentally was just found in Borneo. The doctor and adventurer that saved the apes must try to stop the government from destroying them after they escape to find freedom. It's downright amazing that they managed to stretch this one past the 90m mark. The plot goes no where, and the script resorts to poor self-parody in order to keep the audience interested. There are several asinine moments where redneck weekend warriors try to hunt down Kong, and he ends up ripping one in half and eating the other in a moment that will live on in green-screen infamy. While the costuming is still pretty good, the direction of the apes is just off. At times, they are convincing and run on all fours, but at others the two interact like humans and seem to kiss and hug in all sorts of lameness. Linda Hamilton and some dude deliver average performances, but they have to compete with the awfulness that is everyone else. The one thing I will commend the filmmakers on is the miniature set design, which has been crafted very well and offers a high degree of believability. I'd say this film was a missed opportunity, but c'mon, whose idea was it to sequelize KING KONG?? It's like making a sequel to OLD YELLER.

Rating: 5/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

King Kong (1976)

This first KING KONG remake from 1976 pushes the limits of the physical FX capabilities of the time, boasting an impressive and convincing Kong realized as a costumed character rather than the claymation that preceded it or the computerized beast that would follow decades later. The costume and animatronic face bring the legend to life, drawing empathy from the audience in its emotive eyes and gestures. While the FX hold up well now 30 years later, the limitations of working strictly in camera are also apparent in many scenes and missing footage; the epic battle between Kong and the dinosaurs has been compromised and replaced by a cheap rubber snake, and some of the arm movements edited over the green-screening don't match the body movement. Even so, the make-up work is incredible for the time. This version of the story finds an oil miner setting off to a mysterious island in search of the next motherload, when he discovers a stowaway Paleontologist on board that has sneaked on ship to find proof of a mythical ape that may inhabit the island. Along the way, they come across a stranded raft carrying a beautiful aspiring actress, and from there the party sets off to discover the giant ape that would later terrorize New York once the team decides it is more profitable to bring home than the oil they originally sought after. While Bridges and Grodin can be over the top at times, each of the players in the film offer strong performances that show some semblance of the original while distinguishing themselves as unique characters. Newcomer Lange is quirky and innocent, but is able to garner the audience's sympathy for the beast through their mutual affection by the end of the picture. The film is technically proficient in nearly every respect, with superior costuming, set design, and cinematography, but while it is an entertaining effort, it does not have the same strength or impact as the original film. It is a very good effort, and it has aged pretty well, so it is sure to appeal to any fans of the giant ape.

Rating: 8/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

I hate typing "HALLOWEEN 3" before SEASON OF THE WITCH. This film is SEASON OF THE WITCH. I will bite my tongue and allow the haters to hate, because we all know this isn't the direction that Michael Myers fans wanted to see the series take, but it falls in line with Carpenter's original intent in establishing the HALLOWEEN series as an anthology of creepy films set around the most unholy of holidays.

I love SEASON OF THE WITCH. It is an original and sinister Horror film at heart that captures all of the darker aspects of the holiday. A doctor sets off with a young woman whose father was killed after visiting the leading manufacturer of the years top Halloween masks, only to find that the company has a horrifying plot it plans to unleash upon this year's trick 'r treaters.. I refuse to divulge the secrets behind the masks, or what that plan may be, but suffice it to say that it is one of the cruelest and unfitting punishments in film. Tom Atkins leads this one as only he can; he is a beer drinking, womanizing man's man, and he lays the ol' Atkins charm on thick here. He is such an unexpected hero in each of his films, but this Joe Everyman offers a strong if not quirky performance as the misguided doctor that must reluctantly save the world. The film is surprisingly one of the gorier entries in the series, but on top of the head-crushing and face 'splosions, there are also creepier moments where pestilence and plagues seep from the victims wounds in a series of deaths with ancient religious undertones.* Who could ever forget the Silver Shamrock jingle, either? There are many striking moments that make this film stand out, but while I am a big proponent of the film, I cant ignore that the acting leaves something to be desired and the pacing struggles at many points throughout the film. Any of you that have left this one sitting in the dust as you skip over it year after year, please pop it in and form a new opinion on it separate from the HALLOWEEN universe. As a stand alone film, it offers a fun and twisted viewing experience that deserves more credit that it is often given. Its kind of late and I don't feel like I have done the film justice in this review, so I may reproach it at a later date.

Rating: 7/10.
Entertainment: 8/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 7.

*Dont forget the awesome rattlesnake.



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Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween 2 (1981)

I haven't read enough alternate reviews to know if I am in the majority opinion or not, but I have never been a fan of HALLOWEEN 2. I find it to be a slow, generic Slasher sequel that acts against all of the elements that made the original terrifying. Picking up immediately where the first left off, the unstoppable Michael Myers sets off to find the babysitter that narrowly escaped him, as Dr. Loomis discovers that Laurie is actually Michael's sister while tracking down his former patient. While this makes for an interesting plot point, the set-up for the action is anything but engaging. Newcomer director Rick Rosenthal employs all of the cheapest scare tactics for quick jumps, but the film leaves no lasting effect. It is also riddled with tired Slasher conventions, like over the top deaths and annoying side characters that just don't fit the tone of the original. Though it adds a bit of back story, none of the characters necessarily benefit from it and it doesn't expand their roles in any way. The look and mannerisms of Myers have also been changed, and the character under Warlock's lead just carries himself differently, lacking the power and intensity that Nick Castle brought to the role. The hospital setting does set up for several key camera positions with the extended hallway shots and many high and low angles, but they are mostly wasted in place of gratuitous gore. I am quick to criticize the film, but really it is an average Slasher entry that just took a misstep when trying to recapture the strength of the original.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 8.



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Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)

GAMERA 3 may be one of the greatest giant monster movies ever made. This film completely blew me away, and even managed to top several of my favorite Godzilla films. While this entry does break the golden Kaiju rule of strictly using practical costuming by introducing computerized characters, it marries the use of over-sized rubber costumes and amazing computer imagery beautifully, and only takes advantage of the visual FX when their physical equivalents would not be achievable or convincing. Gamera has received a major upgrade, with a new design that is far more menacing than in previous installments. The giant turtle continues to battle legions of the Gaos, and then must face off with the guardian Iris, a tentacled beast that rivals Gamera in size and strength. Each of the aerial battles and brawls on the ground are absolutely spectacular, and the scale model buildings that are crushed in the monsters' path of destruction are indistinguishable from the real thing. These improved special FX sell every second of the action, and on top of that, this film marks one of the goriest battles in Kaiju history. Fans of the Final Fantasy game series will find a lot to like here, as the visual stylization and mystical connections between the beasts and the human characters bear many similarities.

Unlike most other giant monster movies that rely strictly on the costume design and wrestling style action to define their quality, GAMERA 3 also shows remarkable cinematic strength and storytelling throughout the human side of the picture. It continues to build off of the characters of the previous films, while also deepening the mythology of the monsters in its fantasy world. The acting transcends the typical B-Movie fare, and treats the material seriously and respectfully considering it is still a monster movie at heart. Despite the fact that Gamera is more pissed off than ever, the film still recaptures the softer side of the series as the beast defends several of the children that stumble into harms way.

GAMERA 3 may be as close to perfection in the giant monster realm as any entry has come since the original GOJIRA. It achieves an epic film quality that stands out above all other creature features. This one comes highly recommended, and is a must-see for any Kaiju fans!

Rating: 9/10.
Entertainment: 10/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Visitor Q (2001)

Let's start with a few screen caps:

6:00 Is this a porno?

11:00 WTF?

36:00 WTF?

47:00 Uh, WTF?

1:15:00 WTF?

1:24:00 It's over. I don't get it.

A mysterious visitor becomes wrapped in the downward destruction of an odd Japanese family as each of their vices work towards their individual ends. VISITOR Q is a mind fuck from start to finish. Each of the events unfold in a non-sequitor fashion, and are seemingly unrelated until at least the half-way point. While the events that occur early on in the film are odd and perplexing, as the plot continues to unravel, it goes from strange to absurd to revolting and intentionally offensive. There's really very little I can even say about the film in the form of a review; how does one review an experimental piece of art? I won't pretend to understand the subtext, and I refuse to reveal any more of the details of the film to preserve the first viewing experience for anyone that hasn't seen it. Takashi Miike has tackled over the top action, intense psychological terror, and generic Asian ghost Horror in his time, but this offering is unlike any of his other works. The only thing that it does share with his other films is that it is sure to leave a lasting effect on the audience. None of the characters are relatable or likable, and in fact the film isn't entertaining or enjoyable at all. However, it is undeniably provocative and captivating. The filming is sickeningly intimate, due to the hyper-realistic filming that is digitally recorded on hand-held cameras. This forces the audience face to face with the madness on screen. By the end of the film, the audience is left with more questions than answers, and it is up to the viewer to extract some form of meaning behind the insanity they have just experienced. VISITOR Q is a twisted blend of MARTYRS and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, and while it will not appeal to a large majority of genre fans, it is certainly a surreal viewing experience that is worth seeking out.

Rating: 7/10.
Entertainment: 4/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)

DEGENERATION is a computer-animated feature film that serves as a direct sequel to Resident Evil 2, the hit video game that originally appeared on Playstation. It finds Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield battling a new outbreak of the T- and G-Viruses at an Indian airport as they attempt to track down the terrorist organization behind the attacks. After a shoddy intro with texture mapping and character design that looked like it came straight out of the 90s, the imaging immediately ramps up and looks absolutely amazing throughout the rest of the feature. There are a few moments when the visuals are so impressive they could easily be mistaken for being live-action. The designers experiment with glass, water, and fire texturing, each of which are handled very well. There are also several ambitious action sequences which would normally be over-the-top in a live feature, but are more forgivable and acceptable in an animated film. The zombies are gore are enough to satiate any Horror fan, with a good amount of attacks, but a larger majority of brain-splattering as the special ops team blasts their way through the zombie hordes. The film is less suspenseful than the game series, but certainly scarier and darker than the tiring big-budget action of the other films. Though the plot falls closely in line with the storylines of the games, for the amount of effort that went into the design seems misplaced for such a generic addition to the series. It was still engaging and visually appealing, and I can see myself easily reproaching this one before any of the lame live-action entries.

Rating: 7/10.
Animated Horror Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 1.



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The Amityville Horror (2006)

I have always been a huge fan of Platinum Dunes, who previous to this had produced what I consider to be a stellar remake in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003). I had very high expectations going into THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and while it was better than the recent rash of remakes, it still fails to impress. The new film finds the Lutz family moving into a huge new house that slowly reveals its ghosts from the past as each of the family members experience terrifying haunts within its walls. Unlike the original, which used subtle scares and very few visuals, this new rendition shows the audience everything by materializing the entities in creepy make-up for cheap scares. This version also uses computerized FX to visualize George's growing madness as he pictures his family turning into demons, which is entirely unnecessary and is almost insulting to the audience, who the filmmakers are presuming can't understand abstract concepts unless they are present on screen. The choices in casting also dispel much of the mood, since it is difficult to take Ryan Reynolds seriously in a genre film after his career in Comedy, especially when he is written with several smarmy exchanges with his movie wife. There are a few moments of genuine terror where he sells the seriousness of the role, particularly in the wood-chopping sequences. The re-envisioned house does retain the same creepy atmosphere as the original, and is off-setting in its own right. What it comes down to in the end is this: Would this film have been a classic if the original had never been made? The simple answer is, no. It is a mild ghost tale that relies far too much on pre-designed Hollywood jump scares initiated by music cues and quick jumps to disturbing images, but it is not horrifying and will not leave a lasting impression on viewers. It will likely appeal to genre fans that felt the original was too slow and underwhelming, but there is no way to suspend disbelief and buy into the fact that this film was based on true events. Still, it is not bad enough to avoid, and is worth checking out.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 4.



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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Exactly what you would expect it to be. No devil though.

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Amityville Dollhouse (1997)

There is nothing that makes this flick stand out in any way; nothing unique, fun, or scary. But somehow, it actually isn't bad. That isn't to say that it's good, or that it comes recommended, but it manages to fill out an hour and a half without putting you to sleep. A family moves into a new house, but strange things start occurring after the father gives his daughter an elaborate (and familiar looking) dollhouse that he finds in the shed out back. The family is turned upside down as they are haunted by the demons that are unleashed from the toy set. The film has a feel that is much closer to that of the HOUSE series than the other AMITYVILLE sequels, but packs a serious tone and some surprising make-up FX, including an impressive winged demon in the end. Though it isn't without a few goofy moments brought on by the token psychic characters, the overall performances in the film are a step above the previous entries in the series. The original AMITY series ends up being more like an anthology of haunted house tales, and as such, DOLLHOUSE serves as a decent bookend before the series got any worse.

Rating: 6/10.
Number of views: 1.



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