Sunday, January 31, 2010

House of Wax (2005)

Turning the Gothic classic into a modern teen Slasher should have been a complete disaster, but somehow HOUSE OF WAX (2005) succeeds in creating a fun if not basic remake. Working against it are all of the cliched Teen Horror trademarks found in its pretty cast, gratuitous sex, and cheap scares, let alone the fact that it was produced through Dark Castle Entertainment, notorious for such trashy remakes as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL or THIR13EN GHOSTS. Now, no one is arguing that this is a great Horror film, because it's not, but it is a genuine good time and a guilty pleasure for gore and Slasher fans. It takes the basic premise of the two original films, kicks up the pace, chucks a bucket of blood in their faces, and in an unexpected surprise, even manages to top the design through its impressive special FX and set work. Sure, you can't name a single character by the end of the film, but who really cares when most of them are just pins to be knocked down by the blade wielding brothers? The derivative plot is just familiar enough to maintain interest until the blood starts spewing, and from that moment on it is one brutal death after another for each of the Barbie doll characters. I love the idea of the entire city being part of the exhibit, and the grand finale where the literal House of Wax melts in on itself is nothing short of incredible. What can I say? I really like the film. Anyone that overlooked it for being just another entry in a long line of remakes should give it a chance, it's got enough blood and scares to warrant at least a single view!

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



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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Haunting (1963)

A group of investigators are assembled to stay the week at the supposedly haunted Hill House in order to determine whether there is any paranormal activity occurring in the isolated mansion, but creaky floorboards and distant moans are only the start of the odd happenings that befall them. Unlike the other spook shows of the time (particularly in the cases of William Castle's gimmicky HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL or 13 GHOSTS), Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING reveals very little on screen, opting for subtly implied horrors and psychological terror over full bodied apparitions or cheap thrills. One could even argue that Hill House isn't even haunted, but rather that the four would-be ghost hunters are either giving in to their overactive imaginations or possibly suffering from a group psychosis. As we explore each of the characters, we find various breaks in each of there personalities that could easily allow for such delusions. Even the tragic ending can be seen as a complete coincidence, just another ambiguity left for the viewer to decide upon. The low angled exterior shots and long tracking shots through the cavernous hallways also give the house itself an ominous life of its own, including a dark heart and breathing walls. While the smart script is competently acted and engaging, the intent focus on its characters, lengthy dialogue, and lack of physical specters may surprise new viewers expecting a more visual experience. THE HAUNTING is still a step above all other entries of its time, and a definite Horror classic!

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



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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

While this attempt on the classic Stevenson tale basks in rich Victorian sets, moody atmosphere, and crisp camera work, Spencer Tracy's complete detachment from the lead role makes this a rather dry and by-the-book effort. Unlike the monstrous make-up applied to Frederick March in the 1932 version, Tracy's incarnation of the sinister Mr. Hyde is a subtle extension of his own features, which is more frightening in the psychological sense, but doesn't amount to much on screen. Ingrid Bergman steals the scene as the barmaid Ivy, while none of the other players seem to be particularly excited in their roles. Victor Fleming does his best to keep the audience engaged with the same visual finesse he applied to GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ, which gives the film a great look that is bogged down by breathy dialogue and few chills. As a scientific thriller with a slow burn, it is an average watch, but I prefer the earlier renditions of the story over this one.

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



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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Halloween 2 (2009)

As a followup to the universe Rob Zombie created in his HALLOWEEN remake, this is actually a decent film, but only in that context and completely removed from the context of the original series. Since Zombie made the clear decision to humanize Michael in his films, I liked that there was an extreme and intimate attachment in each of the killings through the repeated stabbings. He is intent on doing some serious damage to these people, revisiting the pain and anguish inflicted on him as a child by exacting it on others. Giving him a voice for the first time in the series also cements the fact that he is not the Slasher icon we all grew up with; his methods and attacks draw more from the true crime murders of our reality than the Grand Guignol spectacles in the 80s film era. The gratuitous violence and gore does become a bit much at times, but it still felt gritty and raw like in the previous installment. Neither the changes to his appearance nor his vocalization bothered me one bit, either. I also liked that Michael retreated to the background of the film, a shadow of sorts that grows more and more powerful as he slowly closes in on Laurie. This helped avoid the tedious cat and mouse that bogged down the ending of the first film. Michael also maintains a certain degree of believability in that his abilities are limited only by Tyler Mane's physical capacity. Dr. Loomis' character heads in the right direction for the way he was written in the remake, and while McDowell's role will always be overshadowed by Pleasence's iconic performance, he was much better suited as the antagonistic antihero in this second film. Scout's over the top acting is just as forgettable as it was previously, though Zombie's dramatic shift in turning her written character into a psychotic Emo chick will never be forgotten or forgiven by the hardcore HALLOWEEN fans. What I didn't like (and I am sure I speak for most fans here) was the overstated pseudo-psychology that repeatedly killed the forward momentum of the plot by trying to get into Laurie and Michael's heads and exploring the Freudian motives driving their actions through a series of distracting visuals. If you have to blatantly spell out the subtext of the film in your first shot in order for your artsy additions to make any sense, it is going to be a rocky road ahead. After a steady build that finally offered a fresh new voice to the series, Zombie really ended on an anti-climatic note that was a bit disappointing after surrendering my skepticism and giving the film a chance despite its overwhelmingly negative criticism. Overall, I felt that the film has been grossly misjudged due to the inevitable comparisons that will always be made against the original series. Rob made many of the right choices in following up his version of the character, and I truly feel it is a competent sequel to his original; as a standalone Slasher film, however, it is nothing above average, but still far from the worst I have ever seen. Remove yourself from the fact that it is called HALLOWEEN, and you might be able to enjoy it.

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



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Monday, January 25, 2010

City of Lost Children (1995)

Prepare yourself for my single most cliched description ever: CITY OF LOST CHILDREN is a stunning visual masterpiece. There. I said it. This film is absolutely amazing. The set design paints an incredible fairy tale world set in a dreary industrial wasteland. While many of the elements reflect our reality, they are twisted Expressionist interpretations of a world wrought in iron and steel recalling METROPOLIS or THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. A circus strongman sets out on a quest to save his little brother, who has been kidnapped by a mad genius that intends to steal the young boy's dreams. Like Peter Jackson, Alex Proyas, or Guillermo del Toro who were to follow, Jeunet and Caro beautifully marry the incredible sets and miniature work with groundbreaking computer imagery in such a way as to make them indistinguishable from one another. The strange and colorful characters feel like they escaped through Caroll's looking glass, creating a virtual Wonderland in a bleak futuristic society. Ron Perlman's efforts as the dull but courageous strongman may easily be his best performance, and he is joined by an equally talented cast including the gifted Judith Vittet, who plays his young sidekick Milette. To truly enjoy this film, one must fully succumb to the fantasy, since the narrative can sometimes become disjointed, and often follows a dream logic where different scenes and ideas bleed into one another without complete cohesion. I would go so far as to say that CITY OF LOST CHILDREN outdoes the masterful compositions in both DARK CITY and PAN'S LABYRINTH through its astonishing visual stylization. For an adventure into a fully realized realm of fantasy that crossbreeds German Expressionism with the darkest of the Grimm's fairy tales, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN becomes an absolute must see!

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



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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mulberry Street (2007)

The tenants of a condemned apartment complex are left to fight for their lives when plague-bearing rats begin infecting the neighbors, turning them into mutant zombie were-rats that quickly consume the entire island of Manhattan! MULBERRY STREET is easily one of the best independent Horror entries acquired by the After Dark Horrorfest series. It manages to create a huge look and feel on a tiny scale. What makes the film so effective is its emphasis on character, establishing flawed, raw, but genuine personas that carry the plot through its slow build. Jim Mickle also utilizes the crude look of the digital photography along with putrid color filters and dilapidated sets to give the impression of a devastating citywide epidemic much to the same extent that Danny Boyle had done in 28 DAYS LATER. The film also cleverly injects a biting injunction against urban renewal when it comes at the cost of ruining people's lives and destroying their homes. MULBERRY STREET is not a perfect film, but it does show a great deal of promise and is far above average compared to most other low budget Horror entries.

Rating: 7/10.
Entertainment: 8/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Dead Zone (2002)

Ok, I admit I thought this was the original when I borrowed it from my mom-in-law, sue me. THE DEAD ZONE is a made-for-TV pilot movie adapted from the original Stephen King novel. It stars Anthony Michael Hall as a small town teacher that awakens from a coma to find out that he has unlocked an extra-sensory perception, which he uses to prevent crimes and save children from getting burned from scalding coffee. I can't speak for the remaining six seasons (?!), but this first episode is very middle of the road. The plot feels all-too-familiar, and doesn't present the story or events in any new or unique fashion. If this were 1997, I still didn't have cable, and I was stuck home on a Saturday afternoon with nothing else left to watch on network TV, it would make for a good enough time killer, but as it stands I would be hard pressed to watch the rest of the series based on the mediocre pilot. Sorry, The Dead Zone fans, I just couldn't get in to it.

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



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Bedlam (1946)

The beautiful young protege of a wealthy aristocrat attempts to thwart the cruelties of a sadistic asylum director, when she finds herself thrown in amongst the loonies for her attempted reforms. Boris Karloff returns in his final collaboration with producer Val Lewton as the cultured but iron-fisted warder, offering two distinct personalities on screen as he feigns adoration for the social elite while dropping his toothy smile for a menacing scowl as he enters his torture chamber. His opposition arrives in the form of the sharp-tongued Nell Bowen, played by the strong and charismatic Anna Lee in one of her better performances. As is the case with most other Lewton productions, the horror is minimized and mostly suggestive, with very little violence portrayed on screen. In its place, the film provides ample character development and thoughtful (if not wordy) dialogue in a grim melodrama based around the unfortunate true events of England's harshest mental institutions. BEDLAM is a good effort build on strong performances, but while it does make for a striking social commentary on the historic atrocities against the mentally ill, it is not likely to appeal to the larger mainstream Horror audience.

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



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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Body Snatcher (1945)

THE BODY SNATCHER is another fine Val Lewton production, this time teaming with director Ray Wise in an adaptation of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale. It finds an aspiring doctor enlisting the help of a grave robber in order to secure the cadavers he needs to experiment on in order to perfect a cure for a young crippled girl. With a shortage of recently deceased bodies lying around, the doctor fears of foul play when his cohort produces some rather fresh specimens. Although Wise's direction and style are no match for Lewton-favorite Jacques Tourneur, their visual storytelling are still easily on par, darkening the mood of the Victorian settings with his fog-riddled cemeteries and shadowy figures. Karloff plays into his role of the body snatcher with a brazen conviction that borders on malevolent, but what we find is that there is no true hero in this morbid tale. We come to learn that the atrocities attributed to the conniving grave robber have been masterminded by Dr. MacFarlane, himself, and that it was MacFarlane and his associate Dr. Knox that led Gray to his miserable condition to begin with after allowing him to be imprisoned for their misdeeds. Even the seemingly selfless Fettes condones the grave robbing after he finds out about Gray's cruel secrets. Like many other films that fell under Lewton's production, THE BODY SNATCHER is quite unlike most other Horror entries of the time, and is more of a sad reflection on human greed and egoism than it is an attempt to spook the audience. It is a good effort that stands above many other early-1940s genre films, and well worth seeking out!

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



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Lost Highway (1997)

What do you want me to say, really? Here, this is my official review:

5:00 This is the quietest film I have ever seen. I can't hear a god damned thing they are saying.

30:00 In a normal film, the premise would have been established by now. The premise here: WTF. I have no idea what is going on, yet I'm oddly interested.

40:00 I had a friend who always ranted about how amazing BLUE VELVET and LOST HIGHWAY were. He also listened to very artsy Emo girly bands and told me I just "Wouldn't understand the music." He wore box glasses without lenses. I wear glasses to see.

42:00 Some sort of nightmare? A personal hell perhaps?

45:00 How am I supposed to review this..

46:00 Random acts of Henry Rollins!!

53:00 Make me feel or think, David.. My brain can only get so confused before it turns off.

54:00 Cool. Great. New set of characters entirely. Seemingly unrelated. Good point to restart the film at 54m. Gary Busey!!

59:00 Unnecessary Richard Pryorsploitation!!

1:01:00 The widescreen button on my remote should have been called the "Make Your Movie Look Like Shit" button.

1:03:00 Quote of the Day: "Smooth as shit from a duck's ass."

1:05:00 Road rage. The only good scene in this entire film.

1:10:00 The serious lack of Dennis Hopper has not gone unnoticed.

1:16:00 Also, can't help but notice a lack of highways. Plenty of lost, no highway.

1:23:00 No longer invested in this film. See also: furious, sad.

1:31:00 Watching LOST HIGHWAY is like letting your grandpa tell you about the good old days, where none of the stories have a point, a beginning, or an end.

1:44:00 That's why I was never allowed to roughhouse near the furniture.

1:50:00 Success! A highway slash possible metaphor!

1:54:00 Sex has officially been made boring.

1:56:00 Mental note: look up "pretentious" and "self-indulgent" when this is over.

1:57:00 O RLY? Welcome back, Bill Pullman.

2:00:00 Who makes a movie that's over 2hrs to begin with? The only logic in this film is arguably dream logic, if this were only a dream..

2:07:00 Oh yeah, that wraps everything up nicely. Thanks. Everything now makes sense and came together perfectly. FALSE.

There's nothing I can say to adequately describe the film, except that it is Lynchian. At no point does it border on coherence, it is far from entertaining, and it never strives to achieve any emotion or reaction in its audience. It exists only for the sake of existing. Robert Loggia is the only actor that offers any form of life in his character, while the rest of the cast are dry and empty. To say that it is provocative or original is to completely ignore the fact that it makes no sense and to buy in to the false sense of importance it portrays in its non-linear style. I can accept the nihilistic nightmare that is ERASERHEAD, and the drug-induced thrill ride of BLUE VELVET, but I didn't find anything to like whatsoever in LOST HIGHWAY.

Rating: Lynch/10.
Number of views: 1.
Marry, Fuck, or Kill: Fuck. Only to say you did.



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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evil Dead Trap (1988)

A Japanese news crew follows a lead to an abandoned warehouse, where they are ensnared by a twisted killer and brutally dispatched. EVIL DEAD TRAP is a fun Japanese throwback to Argento and Fulci, with a ton of extreme gore, a demented killer, and an electric score reminiscent of Goblin. The film serves as a precursor to the so-called torture-porn Horror films like SAW that glorify sickly tortures in full view. While some of the deaths are entirely implausible, each of them are brutal, bloody, and imaginative. The dilapidated building serves as a labyrinthine location filled with traps and natural disasters awaiting the crew, while providing the killer with ample places to jump out and surprise the audience. In one particularly frightening sequence, the killer stalks one victim in a strobe effect created by a flashing camera, while in another a dark form quickly approaches the crew on rollers until it comes close enough for them to realize that it is their friend strung from a meat hook, gutted. Unfortunately, most of the characters are killed very early on, which dramatically reduces the pace and suspense of the remaining screen time, but the horror doesn't end with the murders.. EVIL DEAD TRAP is a refreshing change from the typical ghost films Japan has recently become known for, and includes several gore scenes that are sure to shake even the hardest genre fan!

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 8/10.
Number of views: 2.



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I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

A nurse is assigned to the wife of a rich sugar planter in the West Indies, a woman who has lost all personal will and consciousness as a result of permanent damage brought on by a tropical fever. The nurse is thrust into a lover's quarrel between the plantation owner and his brother as she attempts to cure the emotionless "zombie" before finally turning to a voodoo priest as a last chance at revival. Tourneur demonstrates masterful visual storytelling throughout the film, using stark contrasts, fluid camera movements, and graphic metaphors to decorate the already engaging plot. The cold, empty, but beautiful plantation house reflects the lifeless walking corpse of Mrs. Holland in just one of many visual clues left through the film. Unlike the typically insulting voodoo ceremonies included in other films of the time, Tourneur offers a respectful and artful representation of voodoo ritualism in a beautifully shot sequence where the servants put Mrs. Holland through a series of trials to see if she is one of the undead. Christine Gordon's deathly white complexion and flowing garbs give her a ghost-like and otherworldly appearance that maintains an eerie mood. Many of the more suspenseful scenes are devoid of any score, which makes them all the more frightening in the overpowering silence broken only by the rustling wind. I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE is not a typical Horror movie, focusing much more on the character interactions and love triangles than the scares, but it is an excellent Gothic Horror entry outside of the typical Universal monster films of the 1940s.

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



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Monday, January 18, 2010

Isle of the Dead (1945)

This Val Lewton-produced Karloff platform finds a group of people trapped on a small Greek isle by an apprehensive general when an outbreak of an airborne virus begins spreading between its members. While the scientific minds place blame on more rational causes, the superstitious peasants fear that the deaths are being caused by the vorvolaka, a demonic spirit that takes human form to claim its victims. The dark Gothic elements and stylistic devices usher in later films like Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY or BLACK SABBATH, though a slow pace makes this entry slightly less engaging. Karloff is unyielding as the stern Greek general, sabotaging every attempt at escape for the people on the island. The most haunting scene of the film follows the premature burial of one of the islanders, when the ghostly woman returns from the grave dressed in a long, flowing white gown to punish the characters that left her for dead. The ambiguity of ISLE calls back to Tourneur's CAT PEOPLE, since the source of the plague and the existence of the vorvolaka are left for the audience to decide. With solid acting and increasing suspicion throughout the plot, this makes for an eerie Gothic Horror entry from genre master Val Lewton!

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



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Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Sentinel (1976)

A model becomes suspicious of her odd neighbors after moving in to an old apartment complex. As she continues to unravel the secrets of the building, she finds out that it is actually a gateway to hell, and that she has been selected as its newest ward. THE SENTINEL takes very slow but deliberate steps, building on the unsettling actions of the tenants as well as Allison's growing paranoia to drive the plot. Though there are few scares, the film sets and maintains an ominous mood that is carried out through its haunting score and decrepit setting. It also boasts an incredible cast, including Chris Sarandon, Jose Ferrer, Burgess Meredith, and John Carradine in addition to early starring roles by Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldbloom. The gradual increases in tension and suspense culminate in the final scenes, when the souls of the damned return to torment the young woman away from becoming a warrior for Christ. While THE SENTINEL has many elements working in its favor, the plodding pace, uninspired camera work, and mild acting make this an average watch that only stands out in a few select moments.

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



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Open Your Eyes (1997)

Cesar is a young, handsome, but vain showboater that never goes home with the same woman twice. That is, until he meets a smart and classy artist that he instantly falls in love with. The next day, he accepts a ride from an ex-lover who then runs the car off of the road out of jealousy, killing herself and hideously disfiguring him. His mind becomes as twisted as his new face as he falls into a deep depression and psychosis before finally losing touch with reality.

OPEN YOUR EYES is smart and original, although the many twists and turns can often become confusing up until the final reveal. It immediately grabs the audience through its sharp dialogue and sophisticated characters that carry the film on an emotional high from start to finish. Much of the credit is due to the intense performances by Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega, who create an intimate and sincere chemistry on screen. One of the many themes the film tackles is the importance of physical attraction and looks in society, with the concept being played out through the use of masks (both physical and emotional) all throughout the plot. There are also explorations of dream psychology and alternate planes of existence that occur as Cesar's mind starts slipping, but these elements must be left for each new viewer to discover on their own. Alejandro Amenabar breaks through with this bright script and clear directorial style, and he would go on to write and direct the 2001 hit THE OTHERS.

Cameron Crowe remade the film into VANILLA SKY in America, featuring Tom Cruise in the lead while retaining Penelope Cruz as the beautiful Sophia. OPEN YOUR EYES also shares many thematic devices at use in the stellar ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, and Horror fans that are open to bloodless psychological terror will find an excellent example in this Spanish Thriller!

Rating: 9/10.
Number of views: 2.

**Also, be sure to look for a subtle nod to THE WICKER MAN in the club scene!**



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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Quicksilver Highway (1997)

Throwaway made-for-TV Horror from director Mick Garris, who brings us two of the most ineffective Stephen King and Clive Barker adaptations to date. Both entries are overly long and utterly ridiculous, so why these stories were chosen over any others is beyond me. Christopher Lloyd plays the ghoulish Aaron Quicksilver, who lures visitors in to his traveling museum of oddities to tell them stories of the dark heart of America. The first tale involves a traveling salesman that is saved from a crazed hitchhiker he picks up when the chattering teeth he bought for his son spring to life. The second finds a surgeon's hands revolting against him and freeing themselves from the body in order to start a hand revolution. After a heated debate with numerous contenders vying for top positioning, the "Worst Acting EVER" award goes to Lloyd for a flat and awkward performance, but he is trailed shortly by everyone. Annoying characters, boring premises, an all-around lackluster film.

Rating: 5/10.
Gore: 2/10.
Number of views: 2.



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The Tripper (2007)

A music festival being held in the woods is about to be rocked by a hippie-hating, axe-toting killer in a Ronald Regan costume that plans on making this a bad trip. The entire film really should be worse than it is. No one is arguing that it is a genre classic, that the acting is anything above average, or that it is superbly filmed, but you know what? It is actually a lot of fun. For an average teen Slasher, it makes all the right moves. Tons of gore with gallons of blood, lots of nudity, cheap music cues to accentuate the scares, and a masked killer with an axe to grind. The drug-induced hallucinations clearly derive from director David Arquette's personal experiences, which do add some trippy visuals that are not so over-the-top as to become unbelievable. Never taking itself fully seriously, the Reagan killer comes fully equipped with plenty of cheesy one-liners while he goes around trashing hippies in absurd ways. Any political agenda Arquette may have had while pitting free love and the drug culture against a killer dressed as an extreme conservative is lost due to the silliness of the plot, but one can't help but laugh at the irony in pairing Ronald Reagan with the Slasher film. What it does lack in logic and originality, it more than makes up for in gratuitous fun for any Slasher fan ready for a brain-off, movie-on experience.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Boneyard (1990)

THE BONEYARD is an odd little 90s creature feature set in a county morgue. A pair of detectives bring in their psychic friend to see if she can lay hands on three child victims that were recently murdered in order to determine the cause of their deaths. Instead, they find out that the corpses are actually devilish imps that were playing possum to avoid detection when the creeps spring back to life and go on a murderous spree throughout the building! The film is extremely slow paced, with next to nothing happening until the half-way point. Even then, there are awesome spurts of energy that only tapper off again due to pacing struggles. These moments are that much more rewarding to the patient viewer, since the creatures are really chilling. The skeletal demons run through the bowels of the morgue and rip everything up with razor claws and teeth, and are made even more frightening in that they are actually played by little children. Infection spread by the beings also creates two other giant monsters (including a mutant poodle!) with surprisingly cool designs and puppetry for the low budget. Outside of the pacing struggles, the film also suffers from a shallow script that lacks any character development and never transcends the stock B-movie plotting. Only Phyllis Diller stands out with another hilarious performance, while the rest of the cast are empty shells. There is enough humor and gore to keep this one moving, and it is a creepy little flick that is worth a view!

Rating: 5/10.
Entertainment: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 3.



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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MoH: Imprint (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Imprint"
Season 1, Episode 13
Directed by: Takashi Miike

An American relays the story of his lost love to a prostitute in a Japanese brothel, but he finds that it is her story that is all the more compelling. The girl begins with the sad and pitiful events that led her into her current state, but then goes on to describe the sickening torture and murder of the man's love. Unwilling to believe her, he threatens her to retell the story without omitting anything. Each time she retells the events, they become even more despicable and grotesque, slowly driving the man insane with vengeful fury. The story structure in this feature succeeds above all else, spiraling quickly into a twisted nightmare as the story grows darker and darker. It is arguably Takashi's most linear and comprehendible film, which is both its greatest asset and weakness depending on the fan base viewing it. He still leaves numerous personal stamps on the film in the flamboyant coloring, strange imagery, broken social taboos, and extreme torture sequences. Having the Japanese players speak in phonetic English adds to the unsettling nature of their performances, but no one is more bizarre than Billy Drago, who is as unhinged and eccentric as ever. IMPRINT is cruel, unusual, and equally disturbing, and is one of if not the strongest entry in the Masters of Horror series.

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



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Awakening the Beast (1970)

AWAKENING THE BEAST is a far digression from the first two films in the Coffin Joe trilogy. It is much more experimental and introspective, examining different aspects of the drug culture and sexual revolution in Brazil during the late 60s and early 70s. AWAKENING finds several critics drilling Jose Mojica Marins over the sadistic and perverse themes found within his films, claiming that they have a direct and negative effect on their viewers. To prove these theories, a doctor induces several patients with LSD in order to examine the psychological effects demonstrated after viewing Joe's films. What results is a shit full of fuck. The first several vignettes range from a girl pissing in a bowl in front of a group of men, to a woman watching her daughter screw the butler while petting a donkey, to a slovenly business owner paying a woman to get raped while he watches through the keyhole and masturbates. This is just to name a few of the ridiculous events that the critics propose are being caused by doing drugs and watching Horror films like the Coffin Joe series. The entire film lacks structure, but once the LSD-induced nightmares begin, it really starts to get weird.. The film transitions into lucid color, and Joe finally makes his appearance in full regalia in order to torture the minds of those that have entered his dominion. He proceeds to whip, mock, and karate chop everyone in his path. He literally karate chops like 15 chicks in a row for no apparent reason. Several non-sequitor scenes and bizarre images follow, all really on cheap shocks with no true horror to be found. The whole effort is a twisted mess that is difficult to endure, but Marins makes an interesting stand by directly addressing his major criticisms in the form of one of his own films. AWAKENING is completely separate from the first two films as far as I am concerned, and will only appeal to a select minority.

Rating: 6/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (1966)

Immediately following the events of AT MIDNIGHT, Coffin Joe's second outing finds him recovering in a local hospital before being released to wreak his terrible vengeance against God once again. He enlists the help of the hunchbacked Bruno in kidnapping six young women, one of whom he intends to make his bride so that she can bear his child in order to continue his bloodline. The townspeople rally to save their wives and daughters, and to put an end to the fiend once and for all! THIS NIGHT's increased budget is evidenced in its elaborate sets, expanded scope, much larger cast, and vastly improved effects. The most accomplished shots belong to the nightmarish dream sequence where Joe is dragged into the depths of Hell (in lavish color!) to await his final punishment. Joe envisions Satan to be in his own image, drawing Christian parallels between Joe's thirst for knowledge and the fruit that was stolen from the Garden of Eden. Joe feels like a tamer and more written characterization of his earlier self, and while his morals and principles are still intact, the raw passion that Marins had brought to the original performance seems somewhat drained. Even the plot borders on a near-remake of the first film, but it isn't without its merits. Joe has devised all sorts of cruel new devices (and monologues) with which to torture his victims, with horribly bloody results. Though it still feels decades younger than it is, it THIS NIGHT is much more polished and professional than the original in almost every respect. The expansion of the character and his unique universe are both welcomed in this second entry, and it recaptures the same dark Gothic elements that made the first a success. Despite the advances in filmmaking, AT MIDNIGHT proves to be the more groundbreaking and engaging effort, but THIS NIGHT remains a worthy followup!

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 4/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Monday, January 11, 2010

MoH: Haekel's Tale (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Haekel's Tale"
Season 1, Episode 12
Directed by: John McNoughton
Based on a story by Clive Barker

HAEKEL'S TALE is a twisted lesson in morality not unlike that of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, where an ambitious young doctor becomes involved in a ghoulish love affair after his scientific attempts to reanimate the dead proves unsuccessful. This story explores more of Clive Barker's more morbid themes, engrossing itself in necrophilia and murder as Dr. Haekel's obsession drives him deeper into a morbid world of the macabre. The lavish sets and fog-filled cemetery call back to the classic Gothic films, but I don't recall any Universal entries that found women in varying states of ecstasy with the undead back in the 30s and 40s. If there was some grander meaning or context behind these explicit moments, it may have been more acceptable, but there are so many better ways to make the point that the dead are better left buried. McNoughton doesn't push the limits or break any new ground as he had in the modern classic HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. We are then left with average technical work and acting that aren't enough to make up for its irreverent plot.

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



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MoH: Pick Me Up (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Pick Me Up"
Season 1, Episode 11
Directed by: Larry Cohen

A woman struggles to survive as two competing serial killers hunt her on a long and lonesome road through the woods. I don't normally like Survival Horror, because it is impossible to build suspense when the protagonist is expected to live through the film, but PICK ME UP offers an interesting twist on the typical conventions. The idea of contrasting the opportunistic hitchhiker against the ritualistic trucker character is a smart concept that just wasn't executed to its greatest potential or in the proper setting. The exchanges between the two characters are very cleverly written, but for every interesting and intense moment in the script, there is an equally goofy or implausible one. Cohen favorite Michael Moriarty returns with another quirky performance as only he can provide, which is a great nod to longstanding fans of Larry's earlier films. Part of me really likes PICK ME UP while another part of me finds it to be completely lacking, but it is nothing short of average and is definitely worth at least a single view.

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



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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review: Fangoria's Best Horror Films

Fangoria's Best Horror Films
Edited By: Anthony Timpone
Published 1994, 95 pages

This may be the single most deceiving title of any book I have ever read. Ever. A more appropriate title would have been "Most Self-Indulgent Articles Published In Fangoria, Many Of Which Involve Terrible Movies." Rather than being an objective overview of the films that have come out since Fangoria Magazine's inception in 1979, editor Tony Timpone has assembled what presumably were the most well-received articles that had been written up until the book's publication in 1994. I would hope that this isn't the case, because if it were, it isn't saying much for the magazine.

While there are several excellent overviews of particular decades, the most noticeable of which was written by Italian film historian Tim Lucas, there are also passable chapters that reprint actor's journals from movie sets as well as highly opinionated articles that favor the author's interpretation of the film over a proper review and objective analysis. There is just no consistency whatsoever from chapter to chapter, though the table of contents does list the chapter sections more appropriately.

Now, would you expect to see the following titles in any book containing the title "Best Horror Films":

-Alien 3
-Friday the 13th Part VIII
-Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
-Darkman
-Hellraiser 3
-Total Recall (Horror?)

Considering the only part of this text that is an original piece is the introduction, the collection feels like a cheap way to produce additional capital for the magazine without having to expend any additional time or effort in its production. If I desperately wanted to read about Doug Bradley's days on the set of HELLRAISER 3 or how much Douglas E. Winter discredits ALIEN's genius, I could have just picked up back issues of the magazine.

I can't rightfully say that the book is an entire failure. Fangoria hasn't been one of the leading Horror magazines for nothing. The individual writers are each well versed in the genre and quite knowledgeable of the specific topics they are discussing. There are many rare articles and interviews that I wouldn't have thought to look for otherwise, including interviews with Vincent Price, Rick Baker, Francis Ford Coppola and others. It is more a matter of a misleading title and awkward arrangement of articles that detracts from the book's overall appeal.

For die hard fans of the magazine that may have missed some of the issues circa 1994 or earlier, it includes a fine exemplar of what you would have expected from Fangoria in its first 15yrs of publication. Anyone looking for a collective of Horror reviews as a resource in finding unique and relatively unknown films, this is not the book for you.

Rating: 7/10.



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Pontypool (2008)

I have been intentionally avoiding all information on PONTYPOOL for almost a year, since it has been receiving an enormous amount of praise across the Horror community. Now that it is receiving a domestic release on January 28th, it will be interesting to see how the film is received by a larger audience. The first hour of the film is without a doubt one of the strongest builds I have seen in recent Horror history. It is truly captivating, and turns Orson Welles' War of the Worlds program on its head as the broadcasting team at a small Canadian radio station begins receiving what they assume are a series of prank calls regarding a zombie apocalypse occurring in the blocks surrounding the building. Unfortunately, the calls turn out to be all too real as the government becomes involved and the infected begin forcing their way into the cramped recording studio. This setting is a genius location for a small film of this nature. Though the entire film takes place in what is essentially a single room, the size and scope of the picture are dramatically expanded as callers pour in to describe the terrifying events outside. The disbelieving reactions of the staff as well as the frantic and desperate tone of the callers give each of the performances an authentic appeal, while Stephen McHattie's performance as radio jockey Grant Mazzy creates an unstoppable force on screen that instantly draws the audience into the action. What is even more impressive is that this "zombie" movie (for lack of a better term) only alludes to the violence, yet manages to captivate its audience without all of the expected gore or bloodshed. After the hour mark, however, the film enters into a cerebral sub-plot that is almost too smart for its own good. The explanation behind the origins of the virus, how it spreads, and how it can be stopped dabbles in philosophy and mental deconstructive theory, and (unfortunately) will immediately disengage many of the viewers. This theme completely ties in to the setting of the film, and is such a complex and intellectual study that will leave the audience thinking well after its conclusion. In a day and age when seemingly every possible angle of the zombie film has been made and remade, it is so refreshing to find a genuinely smart script with an original idea that is unlike anything else I have ever seen. PONTYPOOL is a winning film, and comes highly recommended!

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



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Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Orphanage (2007)

Although it was released as a companion piece to THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE and was even presented by Guillermo del Toro, the similarities between the two films end at the setting and spiritual beings. THE ORPHANAGE begins with a couple moving in to the wife's former orphanage with their sick son and the intention to re-open its closed doors. After her son mysteriously disappears, she fears his imaginary friends may be terrifyingly real when strange happenings begin taking place within the home. Will the spirits help lead her to her missing boy, or do they have some other evil intent? Though the scares are relatively few, strong performances by each of the leads, dark labyrinthine sets, and a haunting score each contribute to an overall moody atmosphere and constant state of tension. The film received international acclaim following its release, and while I recognize that it displays better than average filmmaking, I am still relatively unimpressed by it and find myself wanting more out of the story. I can't help but feel like the film is an imitation (though be it a good one) at every turn, but I do like the fairy tale theme that resurfaces at the end. THE ORPHANAGE is a good film and should be seen, it is just no where near as frightening as it had been made out to be.

Rating: 8/10.
Number of views: 2.



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Fanatic (1982)

An obsessed Horror fan begins making a film starring his favorite scream queen, but the fact is entirely unbeknownst to her. He follows her to Cannes, where people surrounding her are coincidentally being killed after receiving notes that there last effort will be their last Horror movie. I have no idea how a film of this caliber ever afforded the location shoots in and around the Cannes Film Festival. There are several enormous crowd set-ups that seem far too elaborate to have met the film's budget. FANATIC initially seems to take far too many liberties with it's character's ability to sneak into heavily populated buildings or track people down completely unnoticed, but the film's final reveal makes it slightly more plausible. However, it is never explained how a poor cab driver is able to afford to fly to Cannes to stay for a month while attempting to deceive his idol into making a film with him. Logic aside, there are many other problems inherent in the film. Spinell does not strike gold twice with this performance, and the entire production feels like a poorly shot imitator to MANIAC while lacking the seedy NY setting and Savini FX that set the earlier film apart in the Slasher genre. Though the role of Vinny draws from real sources, Spinell is just far too awkward, unnatural, and over the top to be taken seriously this round. If it wasn't for his renown that carried over from MANIAC, this film would have been forgotten long ago. FANATIC offers an interesting premise, but fails pulling everything together in the end.

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



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Brain Twisters (1991)

BRAIN TWISTERS is Saturday afternoon network Horror. It is virtually bloodless, with a few tame murders and a clean, fun for the family script. Snore. A group of college students are entered into a series of experiments where they must watch the worst looking video games I have ever seen. After, they kill people. Then it's over. In a sense, it is a Slasher movie, since it has several people murdering their peers, but in another sense, it's a stinking pile of crap that no one should ever confuse with the gratuitous and gory 80s. It is the vanilla ice cream cone of Horror. Uninspired acting by all, uneventful plot, nothing to recommend here.

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



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And Soon The Darkness (1970)

While this British Horror entry certainly takes its time in establishing its characters and crafting its tension, the patient viewer will be paid off with a beautifully shot and entirely suspenseful thriller! Two English girls are making a biking tour of France when they decide to separate for a few hours. When one returns to find the other, she finds their resting place deserted. She is then approached by a charming Frenchman who stops to see if he can help, but she soon discovers that he knows more than he is letting on to. What follows is a brilliant murder mystery where everyone in a small village is found suspect. It is all the more alarming that none of the French characters are subtitled, since it is impossible to tell if they are friend or foe. The story structure keeps the audience guessing at every turn, throwing a new curve just when the viewer thinks they have found the killer. On top of the keen visuals, a sinister score heightens the suspense, striking an ominous chord even in the more mild scenes. Themes of rape and murder are handled with the utmost subtlety, since the acts are only alluded two while showing nothing on screen. This allowed the film to achieve all of the gut-wrenching terror above will earning itself a PG rating! The film is sure to have influenced Dutch director George Sluizer in many ways, as DARKNESS also shares a great deal of similarities in character and tone to SPOORLOOS. Though this one is difficult to get your hands on, it is well worth seeking out and comes highly recommended!

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



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MoH: Sick Girl (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Sick Girl"
Season 1, Episode 10
Directed by: Lucky McKee

After an entomologist receives an unidentified specimen from an unknown sender on her porch, the creepy bug gets loose in her apartment and begins infesting her new lesbian lover. As it continues to feed, it causes a dramatic increase in her aggression as well as some unseen mutations.. Angela Bettis and Erin Brown are so intentionally awkward and unnatural that it is impossible to ever buy into the film completely, but they are both enjoyable on screen however strange they may appear. While SICK GIRL is a quirky and fun entry in the Masters of Horror anthology, it is ultimately a forgettable gross-out flick that gets its kicks out of being perverse. The film pushes "weird" to a whole new level, and it is such an unexpected story to use as a metaphor for souring a new relationship by spending too much time with the person. McKee still demonstrates the same crisp visual style that set him apart in MAY and THE WOODS, it is mainly the scripting and characters that detract from this episode. I still like watching it, but it is sure to turn off many Horror fans.

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



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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Years before his Oscar-winning PAN'S LABYRINTH, Guillermo del Toro struck international success with his smaller but equally impressive THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. Del Toro's third entry offers all of the same dark fantasy elements present in the later film without being as overstated. In the midst of a war-torn Spain, a small orphanage serves as the last refuge for a group of students and their rebel teachers. The young newcomer, Carlos, begins receiving ominous prophecies from the spirit of another boy who had gone missing. The being warns him that many of the students will soon be killed, but will their fate come at the hands of the war or the internal greed and strife found within their isolated retreat? Del Toro demonstrates more of his amazing visual style, combining rich color filters and backgrounds with fluid camera movements. The scares are all soft and subtle, with the true horror lying in the hearts of men rather than the supernatural (a common theme in each of his films). It is the evils of war, greed, disloyalty, and despair that are the most frightening. There are numerous ever-present dangers throughout the script that also lock the audience into a state of perpetual suspense: in addition to the whispered rumors of Santi, the "one who sighs", the fear of discovery as two of the characters engage in a secret affair is never out of mind, and a de-activated bomb that was dropped in the center of the courtyard serves as a constant reminder of the encroaching war. The significance of the title lies in superstitious beliefs and false hopes, themes that also engulf every aspect of the film. As Dr. Casares tells Carlos after Carlos approaches him about the ghost, to believe in ghosts is to believe in silly superstition; however, we soon find out that Dr. Casares, a man of science, places just as much faith in 'silly superstitions' by taking a magic elixir to try to cure his impotence. The roles of these superstitions are absolutely integral to the plot. Carlos must believe in the ghost of Santi in order to find the strength within himself to defeat the film's villain, just as Dr. Casares must drink the elixir in order to find the strength to continue on despite the impossible odds. The multi-layered themes and superior storytelling are only further accentuated by the outstanding performances found in a winning cast. THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE rivals Guillermo del Toro's masterful work in PAN's LABYRINTH, and is considered by many to be his defining work. It is an immediate Horror classic, and a must see for every fan.

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



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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Slaughter High (1985)

SLAUGHTER HIGH was released well after the first Slasher era, and is entirely self-aware of the conventions and films that preceded it. While the plot is more similarly fashioned to TERROR TRAIN, the tongue-in-cheek tone falls much closer to that of SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE. Nearly all of the Slasher pre-requisites are met, including the humiliating prank (executed on April Fool's Day for a double-whammy!), the isolated and inescapable location, the unstoppable masked villain, and of course, the final girl. The plot is ridiculously implausible this round, as the ten co-conspirators that humiliated and nearly killed the class dork return to their now-dilapidated high school for their 10-year reunion. No one finds it odd at all that they are the only ones that showed up or that the entire building is locked up and abandoned, but that doesn't stop them from boozing it up and fooling around! Surely enough, a killer lurks in their midst, and it isn't long before the group begins shrinking one by one. Apparently unscathed by the MPAA, SLAUGHTER HIGH has a surprising amount of gore for a mid-80s Slasher. One guy's intestines burst out of his stomach, a girl is melted alive in an acid bath, and there are plenty of impalements. Harry Manfredini shamelessly lifts his own F13th score for the countless time, but the filmmakers clearly understand the importance of these frantic music cues since the chase sequences would have been extremely bland without them. Even though the script and the characters are each painfully stupid, neither take away from the overall enjoyment of this purely formulaic Slasher. Everything that the plot lacks in originality, the bloody deaths more than make up for, and the goofy tone makes it easier to overlook its many flaws. SLAUGHTER HIGH was a huge surprise to me, since it was one of maybe a handful of Slashers I had never heard of before. It offers everything we have grown to love in the Slasher film, and is definitely worth checking out!

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



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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Prime Evil (1988)

More evidence that Roberta Finlay should have stayed in porn. PRIME EVIL is a complete mess. Incapable acting, a bland plot, and piss poor filmmaking are just a few of the problems with the film. It follows a satanic cult ingrained in upper class society as they kidnap and sacrifice young women about town in order to extend their own youthfulness and power. Finlay has a very carpenterly manner of filming, covering only what she needs to in order to progress the plot without any sense of style or finesse. The story structure plays out like a series of random events, with subplots and characters appearing and disappearing for extended periods of time until the audience has long since forgotten about them. I was certain that several characters had been killed before they just happened to turn up again in the final scenes. See?? THERE!! It just happened again! The nun that was sent to infiltrate the coven just reappeared to save the day after playing no major role in the film for over half an hour. And now it's over. This is garbage Horror, and isn't worth revisiting for any fan.

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



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Trip with the Teacher (1975)

An absolute garbage Exploitation flick for the sake of Exploitation. No redeeming value, no likable characters, not worth wasting my time on reviewing. A group of female students must fight for their lives after their bus breaks down in the desert and they fall prey to a group of marauding bikers.

Rating: 2/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

MoH: The Fair Haired Child (2005)

Masters of Horror: "The Fair Haired Child"
Season 1, Episode 9
Directed by: William Malone

For once, I really have no strong feelings in any direction for a film. I don't consider William Malone a "Master of Horror" to begin with, especially when THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and FEARDOTCOM were both complete garbage and his arguable classic CREATURE is just a poor man's ALIEN. THE FAIR HAIRED CHILD may actually be his most impressive work, with slick visuals and a few moderate scares. The biggest problem here is that Malone's directing style hasn't matured since his previous efforts, as this entry still lacks any suspense or tension but rather abuses cheap jumps accompanied by shrill sound cues. The Fair Haired Child is a bastardized villain that crosses Pumpkinhead with the Asian ghost phenomena, generously borrowing its look and movements from both. That isn't to say that the episode is not enjoyable; in fact, it is such a familiar and safe ride that any genre fan is sure to find some fun in it. Why wouldn't they when they've seen it a hundred times before?

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



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MoH: Cigarette Burns (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Cigarette Burns"
Season 1, Episode 8
Directed by: John Carpenter

CIGARETTE BURNS is one of John Carpenter's best contributions to the genre since the early 80s. It plays out similarly to Roman Polanski's THE NINTH GATE, and is wrought in dark fantasy, mystery, and suspense. Kirby Sweetman is a film detective hired by an obsessive film collector to locate an impossibly rare film that is rumored to cause insanity and bloodlust in its audiences. The closer he gets to the film, the closer he gets to losing his own sanity as he becomes immersed in the film's dark devices and true horror. CIGARETTE BURNS offers a critical look at the social impact Horror films have on their audience and filmmakers, not unlike the themes used in A CAT IN THE BRAIN (though handled much more tastefully here). From the first moments, the mystique behind the fabled "Le Fin Absolue du Monde" is enough to captivate the audience and drive our curiosity as we follow Kirby to his ultimate goal. His journey introduces him to an array of crazed, obsessed, and murderous characters before he is confronted with the horrors that lie within the film itself. Although it is more complex than most of the other series offerings, repeated viewings of this episode earn it a fuller understanding and appreciation. The lurid imagery and sinister premise make this a solid series entry and standalone film.

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



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MoH: Deer Woman (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Deer Woman"
Season 1, Episode 7
Directed by: John Landis

DEER WOMAN is a brilliantly funny and is distinctly John Landis, surpassing each of his latest genre efforts and recalling the perfect blend of Horror and Comedy found in his classic AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. I am still laughing as I am typing this just thinking of some of the outlandish and over the top events in the film. What begins as a plausible murder mystery with hints of lycanthropy quickly turns into a complete farce. A detective assigned to animal attacks heads an investigation into a strange string of murders involving a beautiful woman that lures men to secluded locations before they are found trampled to death by what police can only determine to be an over-sized deer. Theories run rampant as the investigation continues, until the mythical creature behind the killings reveals her (it?) self. In addition to a shameless AMERICAN WEREWOLF line, Landis also pays homage to Horror's shapeshifting roots in a visual reference to Val Lewton's THE CAT PEOPLE. The acting is hit or miss with the exception of Brian Benben's performance as the lead, who accentuates the dark humor with his sharp wit and sarcasm. While the entry is anything but frightening, it a clever and hilarious offering with an original take on a little known legend. DEER WOMAN is my personal favorite out of the entire series, and I highly recommend it!

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 5.



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MoH: Homecoming (2005)

Masters of Horror: "Homecoming"
Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by: John Carpenter

Joe Dante is one of the few directors in the Masters of Horror anthology to take the opportunity to make a bold political satire that is extremely critical of the Bush administration and the United States' role as a global police force. In HOMECOMING, we meet an up and coming public relations puppet who unwittingly brings each of the fallen American veterans back to life after fabricating an empty wish that they could voice their true sentiments towards their country in the upcoming election. When the votes of the zombified troops are ignored and the president is falsely re-elected, the nation comes under attack by its own discarded soldiers. At the time of its release, HOMECOMING was a depressing but relevant stab at the pitiful state of our government and international affairs. Its downbeat premise mirrored the sentiments of films like DEATHDREAM or (to a lesser extent) CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, condemning the loss of American life in trivial pursuits with questionable political motives. The story is best suited in this shortened format, ending before it loses steam, but in its hour runtime it successfully conveys its message through its interesting and engaging metaphor. On the technical side, Dante never achieves a strong visual style or voice, but the acting is good enough to get by (with a welcomed cameo by Robert Picardo). Overall, a solid black comedy and series entry, though our Republican Horror fans may not agree.

Rating: 7/10.
Entertainment: 8/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 5.



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