Friday, April 30, 2010

Red Mist (2008)

SHROOMS director Paddy Breathnach delivers this tawdry tale about a group of medical students that accidentally put the school's social misfit into a coma during a night of drunken debauchery. After he is hospitalized, the only conscientious member of the group attempts to resuscitate him using an experimental drug, which inadvertently unleashes a wave of psychic energy that allows him to exact his revenge by possessing those around him! RED MIST is an average revenge flick that blends the Aussie shocker PATRICK with the standard conventions of the American Slashers like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. For what it is, it presents enough tension, suspense, and gore to earn a passing grade, but the film fails to bring anything new to the table. Breathnach shows a vast improvement over his previous Slasher, this time creating believable characters while building on a steady pace and a reliable visual style. With a few minor adjustments, RED MIST could have ranked higher as one of the better Indie releases of 2008, it just lacks enough originality to distinguish itself within the genre.

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

If you liked RED MIST, check out:
SHROOMS, PATRICK, TERROR TRAIN.



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Savage Harvest 2 (2006)

Somehow, despite a twelve year lapse in time and countless advances in technology, SAVAGE HARVEST 2 manages to be even more terrible than the original. How terrible? Really, really terrible. The sequel shows no improvements its hand-held filming, offers only the worst in amateur performances, and stretches its two-hour run time into what feels like an eternity. A trio of twenty-somethings investigate the deaths of their friends at the hands of a mysterious set of stones, but in doing so they unleash the demons that send their friends to an early grave. That is, only after over an hour of mindless exposition and empty dialog. Whereas the original film made up for its no-budget limitations by presenting the viewer with an incredible amount of blood and guts, the gore has even been drastically reduced in its followup. SAVAGE HARVEST 2 is simply unwatchable. It builds zero terror, zero suspense, and infinite boredom. There is no audience for such awful filmmaking.

Rating: 2/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 1.

If you liked SAVAGE HARVEST 2, check out:
CHRISTMAS SEASON MASSACRE, PSYCHO SANTA, DEMONS.



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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Midnight Meat Train (2008)

A photographer stumbles upon the subway to Hell while trying to capture the dark heart of the city on film. He discovers that it harbors a passenger that mercilessly slaughters its riders on the late train, and begins following the killer in order to get that perfect shot... MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is a welcome surprise which is sure to shock even hardened Horror fans with its brutal violence and explicit gore. While MMT receives its harshest criticisms based on its heavy reliance on computerized effects, the stylized gore is superbly handled, with every blood spatter strictly planned in advance for maximum effect. Kitamura brings a fresh, modern shooting style that is clean, unique, and highly energetic. Actor Vinnie Jones' chilling performance as the silent butcher Mahogany makes for one of the most memorable Slashers in recent film. The way he subtly beckons Leon to follow him and participate in his sinister calling gives his character a depth and personality without the benefit of speech. The utilization of a cool color palette gives the entire film the look and feel of a meat locker: both cold and sterile. MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN goes far beyond the confines of a standard Slasher entry, and delivers something wholly original and deathly terrifying!

Rating: 9/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 2.

If you liked MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, check out:
HELLRAISER, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, RAW MEAT.



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ILHM Interviews Evil Dead's Tom Sullivan!!

If you are a Horror fan, you know his work. He has contributed some of the most memorable and iconic pieces of film property and FX in recent decades, and continues to contribute incredible Horror and Science Fiction artwork in various mediums. We are talking, of course, about the great Tom Sullivan, creator of The Book of The Dead, the Kandarian Dagger, and countless other creations from The Evil Dead series and beyond! Tom has served as an inspiration to aspiring artists across the globe, and has been gracious enough to speak with I Like Horror Movies tonight about his work on The Evil Dead and various new projects:
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ILHM: Tom, thanks for taking the time to catch us up on your current projects! Any horror fan will immediately recognize your work on The Evil Dead series, having designed each of the props including the Necronomicon. I'm sure the first question you hear most often is 'What was it like working with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and the Ladies of Evil Dead?'

Tom: It was like summer camp without adult supervision and we were all figuring out how to make a movie. Despite the usual wrenches that get thrown into the machine it went pretty well. It was a lot of work but I don't recall any egos, tantrums, delays or stops.

ILHM: Did Sam give you creative control over each of your designs?

Tom: I would come up with ideas and run them past Sam of course. Because Sam didn't know about pre-production at that time I had 3 weeks with the script before production began . This meant I had to stay up all night and design and build the props or special effects needed for the next day as well as prepare and apply the make-up. Not much time for sleep.

ILHM: You commonly reference the meltdown scene as being your favorite FX sequence in the first film; how was this sequence achieved, and how long did it take to film?

Tom: Bart Pierce and I used stop motion animation utilizing life sized models of bendable armatures covered in clay. Tiny changes were made and photographed one frame at a time. We also used split screen mattes to combine live action bile, blood or falling hair with clay animation tissue decomposition. It took a full three months.

ILHM: How did your experience working on Evil Dead 2 differ from working on the original?

Tom: Sam decided to micro manage the FX work on ED2 and it lead to a lot of re-shoots and lifeless sequences. I was also limited to my film credit being one word. This was disappointing because I created props like the Books and Dagger and did several stop motion sequences. All in all it was a very disappointing time.

ILHM: What is the story behind your departure from the series in Army of Darkness?

Tom: I didn't depart, I had moved back to Marshall, Michigan after the death of my wife, Penny in 1987. Rob Tapert called when AOD was beginning and asked for another ED2 Book of the Dead. I made it and sent it off. When I hadn't been paid in 3 months I called back and was told they needed a larger version so the Art Director had made a new one based on my designs. They cropped my interior artwork and used that in the film. AOD is the only film I was credited for the design of the Book.

ILHM: What is the most positive effect The Evil Dead series has had on your life?

Tom: I love being a guest at Horror Movie Conventions and meeting fans and networking with film makers and artists. It's great to know how influential Evil Dead has been.

ILHM: Your prop and set designs are some of the most unique and memorable creations in the horror genre. What were your main inspirations in the designs for The Evil Dead?

Tom: The Illustrations for the Book of the Dead were influenced by the DaVinci notebooks and the imagery of the script and my own conjecture of what was going on in a supernatural sense. The Book's cover was my idea from Ilse Koch's skinning of her husband's concentration camp victims and who's tissue was used as lampshades, curtains and book covers. I needed a recognizable human skin portion so I chose a face as being as disgusting as possible. Short of putting a schlong on the cover.

ILHM: I know you've been working on non-horror related projects as well, can you tell us a little about the work you've done for Renaissance Faires and any other creations?

Tom: I made an Ogre puppet. It's a huge suit held up by a backpack and it attacks soldiers and threatens the innocent. We are still adapting it. Come to Mayfaire in Marshall, Michigan in May and face the Ogre!

ILHM: In your many years as an artist, you have been pulled back and forth between your passion for film and a career in illustration; if given the opportunity, what would be your dream job in your remaining years?

Tom: Working at the SEC. I have excellent web searching skills.

ILHM: You have been acting and producing recently in several Indie Horror films, as well as developing your own domain under your DARKAGEPRODUCTIONS label. What are some of DARKAGEPRODUCTIONS' current projects?

Tom: DARKAGEPRODUCTIONS.COM is the name of my website. I am expanding my site to sell archival quality prints of my artwork and the replicas of my Books, and other props. I have a couple of talented friends helping me develop some ways of making lots of replicas of the creations I've kept over the years. That's a premiere announcement right there.

ILHM: Can we expect to see a serious Shakespearean Tom, a campy B-Movie Tom, or an amalgamation of different characters in your acting?

Tom: So far it's been a mixture. The doctor I play in The Dread is serious and dedicated to his patients. To his doom. I'm a homeless person trespassing into the wrong junkyard in Dog. Fun movie but not camp. Buddy BeBop VS The Living Dead, yeah, that's camp. It's a 50's teenage zombie movie with Rock and Roll music.

ILHM: What have been some of your greatest experiences traveling the country and meeting fans?

Tom: The biggest thing that I never expected was the number of film makers, special effects artists and illustrators who told me seeing Evil Dead inspired them to careers in the arts. I saw King Kong when I was 5 and that was that. I would not be selling insurance after that.

ILHM: Do you have any plans to direct in the future?

Tom: Hmm.

ILHM: You currently offer an array of unique prop replicas that you have hand-crafted from your filmwork. What items are currently available for purchase at your homepage and on eBay?

Tom: We are just know getting the limited edition Books of the Dead from Evil Dead going again. We are also going to be casting the Kandarian Dagger and Ghosts from the opening of Evil Dead 2 as well. There are some other goodies we are planning as well. Give us some time but it is going to happen. Thanks for asking.

ILHM: How would you like to be remembered by friends, family, and fans?

Tom: I vote for oblivion. Destroy all of my art and forget I ever existed. Reverse psychology.

ILHM: What are some of your favorite films in and outside of the genre?

Tom: I would rather list directors like Cocteau, Welles, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Wise, John Waters, and so many others. I love films period.

ILHM: What are your thoughts on the state of horror today?

Tom: Believe it or not most horror films scar the crap out of me. Torture porn kind of films are the kind I avoid. Sorry. I just saw a trailer for The Human Centipede and that's creeped me out. And I thought Evil Dead was the grossest thing I'd ever seen.

ILHM: What is your take on the increasing role of computerized imagery in film?

Tom: At the Conventions this topic comes up a lot. By far most of the fans are very old school about their FX. They prefer latex and mechanics, animatronics over bad digital. I like digital composting over the photo/chemical processes but I'm not as militant as some about CGI. There are certainly a number of excellent CGI studios who get the time and money to finish off the scenes with a photographic realism. And then there's the SyFy Channel stuff. I'd like to see Harryhausen type techniques combining stop motion creatures with green screen compositing replacing the rear screen, Dynamation he devised. With the advances in digital capture and actual time compositing I think stop motion would be even more effective and cost effective.

ILHM: The original King Kong served as one of your greatest inspirations in life; how receptive were you to the various reincarnations that have been made over the past several decades?

Tom: Kong 76 is unwatchable and I just tried again. Ugh. I love the ape in Kong 05. To me it's a living, breathing, thinking animal actually there. I just wish Peter Jackson had more time to reconsider the editing. I think it forgets it's an adventure story first and the pacing should be forefront. I would have had Kong enter at 45 minutes and put in the three dinosaurs that are found in the Extended King Kong version. I do like that movie though. The original is still a revelation to me.

ILHM: What lasting message would you like to leave to your countless fans across the world?

Tom: Earth needs Artists.

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Tom graciously signs autographs for fans in addition to offering TONS of great reprints and replicas of his work at www.darkageproductions.com, so be sure to stop by and check out the site today! Tom, we appreciate all of your contributions to the genre and your time this evening, the best of luck to you on the website and thank you for making yourself available to us this evening!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spiral (2007)

Mason is an introverted artist who is thrust out of his isolated existence by an obnoxious co-worker that has taken a real liking to him. Just as she begins to break down his barriers and he begins to show signs of life while painting her portraits, Amber discovers that she may not be the first person to see the tip of his paintbrush, though she may be the last... Joel David Moore is perfectly fitting as Mason, delivering the cold and empty performance that the role required. The steady build allows Amber and the viewer ample time to get in to Mason's head, but just as he starts to open up to become a likable character, a sudden reveal immediately ramps up the terror and turns the tables on our social misfit. Moore's writing and direction under Adam Green's supervision demonstrate a great deal of potential here, and are aided by crisp visuals and expert framing. Mason's declining mental state is alluded to on screen in a series of visual metaphors seen in the approaching storm, electrical outages, and increasingly shaky camera work. While many of the plot twists are easily predictable, SPIRAL produces a solid psychological thriller based on strong performances and a sound structure.

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

If you liked SPIRAL, check out:
THE MACHINIST, ROMAN, MAY.



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Beware! The Blob (1972)

This completely unnecessary sequel has all of the trappings of a lame made-for-TV B-movie with none of the same campy fun of the original. The last remaining specimen of the gooey monstrosity is released by a clumsy researcher in her suburban home, where The Blob begins to consume everything around it as it reconstitutes into its former size! In order to achieve this effect, the filmmakers apparently had to buy out all of the remaining Jell-O molds in town, since the creature is no more convincing than the giggly dessert gone mad. As the plot meanders around aimlessly in the wake of the creature's destructive path, the audience is left guessing who it is exactly that they are supposed to be following, since the film cycles through no less than three sets of lead characters before settling on two incompetent teens. Using stock characters, empty dialog, and a regurgitated plot in order to resuscitate the creature fails to breath new life in to the series, and BEWARE proves to be an utter failure within the opening moments of the film.

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

If you liked BEWARE! THE BLOB, check out:
THE BLOB, THE STUFF, CREEPSHOW 2.



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Savage Harvest (1994)

When the stones from an ancient Native American ritual are disturbed by a group of teens, each of the members that came in contact with them become possessed by demons! SAVAGE HARVEST is the worst in hand-held Horror, and just goes to prove that anyone with a camera can make a film. Outside of the awkward acting, staged writing, and static camera work, HARVEST suffers from all of the usual low-budget limitations in its uneven sound recording, poor lighting, and choppy editing. Yet, in spite of all of its misgivings, director Eric Stanze does manage to unleash a series of terrifying demons while drenching the film in blood! The make-up FX take a clear influence from the Italian gore masters, with many visual references to the creatures in Bava's DEMONS. Any Indie Horror aficionados that can make their way through the painful set-up will be rewarded with a series of impressive gags around which the plot was obviously written. Necks are violently ripped open, torsos are torn in half, and there is the obligatory shotgun to the face. SAVAGE HARVEST may not make for great cinema, but once it gets rolling, it is sure to please splatter fans!

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

If you liked SAVAGE HARVEST, check out:
DARKNESS: THE VAMPIRE VERSION, THE DEAD NEXT DOOR, DEMONS.



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Monday, April 26, 2010

Jack O (1995)

A family's curse brings back the spirit of Jack O, The Pumpkin Man, who returns to drag more souls back with him to hell. The producing credit for Fred Olen Ray should be a clear indicator of what fans can expect in the scenes to follow. JACK O is the poor man's PUMPKINHEAD, and a literal one at that, considering the character's name and the jack-o-lantern that adorns his head. It is hard to tell which of the performances were intentionally terrible and which were just terrible, but in either case, the acting in the picture is remarkably bad and played entirely straight. JACK O somehow manages cameos from genre greats Cameron Mitchell, John Carradine, and Linnea Quigley, each of whom are given throwaway roles for what little money they must have been paid. Even with his cheap latex mask and scarecrow costume, Jack O's silent, jagged grimace is sufficiently creepy when contrasted against the choking smoke from the fog machines. Though it poses some of the lamest low-budget FX, there are a few bloody gags to satiate the hardcore gore fan. JACK O is just another tiresome, derivative Slasher with all of the makings of a bad B-movie.

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

If you liked JACK O, check out:
JACK FROST, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, DARKWALKER.



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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dark Floors (2008)

A father and his invalid daughter are trapped in a deserted hospital along with several other strangers as the dark hallways come to life with gruesome demons. DARK FLOORS is a stagnant haunted hospital tale that never gets off the ground. It feels like a scrapbook of more successful Horror features butchered in to a single incoherent film where the characters just wander about the halls aimlessly for over an hour. When the occasional demon does appear, the characters are rarely frightened or even stunned. The decayed hospital setting is sufficiently creepy, but the only workable elements of the entire film lie in the creature FX and costuming of the demons themselves. Considering the costumes belonged to the Shock Rocker band Lordi, and that the film was initially conceived as a poor excuse to mass market the band on the international market, it cant even take credit for these creations. DARK FLOORS proves to be a bland, uninspired, and unoriginal Horror film that relies far too heavily on the strength of its villains while forgetting about minor elements like character or plot.

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

If you liked DARK FLOORS, check out:
THIR13EN GHOSTS, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, DEMONS.



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Guyana: Crime of the Century (1980)

Rene Cardona Jr. presents this disturbing look at the tragedy that occurred in Guyana in 1979, when the Reverend Jim Jones (here renamed James Johnson) commanded his wayward religious sect to commit mass suicide when they faced extradition by the American government for their cult-like beliefs. The film follows the trail of events leading up to that last horrific night in grim detail, while closely adhering to the factual evidence that was left in the wake of the disaster. Stuart Whitman commands the role of Rev. Johnson, with an authoritative voice and deathly seriousness that make him as frightening as he is convincing. Johnson professes peace, love, and happiness to his warped congregation while demonstrating nothing but hatred, terror, and tyranny. In a few moments of pure exploitation, Johnson exacts a series of horrible tortures on the few members of his group that are daring enough to oppose him, including a scene where a man is bisected by an oncoming train, and one where a child is repeatedly held under water while his friends are tossed in a pit of snakes. Cardona Jr. employs his typical static filmmaking, but unlike in his other genre efforts, the dry cinematography adds to the raw, gritty documentary look and feel that sells the films' believability. Johnsonville is recreated to perfection, complete with the slave-like living conditions and fearful but subservient followers. The film is also very careful in faithfully retelling the story of the events without exploiting or exaggerating them for the sake of monetary gain. GUYANA is unquestionably Cardona Jr.'s strongest film, and a harrowing viewing experience that recalls other True Crime Dramas like HELTER SKELTER.

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

If you liked GUYANA, check out:
HELTER SKELTER, ED GEIN, HENRY.



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Blade: Trinity (2004)

After writing two successful screenplays for the BLADE series, David Goyer finally took the director's chair in adapting his own script for the third film. The result was an utter catastrophe. Blade is joined by Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel) and Hannibal King (the usually entertaining Ryan Renolds) to form The Nightstalkers, a trio that is incongruous with the darker comic book version of the team. Biel is unnecessary at best and both bland and annoying at worst, while the comic quips written in for Reynolds character fall entirely flat. Snipes does not get off any easier, as Blade has become a shadow of his former self thanks to the bland writing a weak performance. The Nightstalkers must face off against the original bloodsucker, himself, when Dracula is resuscitated by a faction of vampires that hope to cultivate humans using a series of blood farms. Dracula (now Drake) is a pathetic waste of the character, and after a long and pointless build up, the climax of the film becomes the low point of the entire series. It would seem that Goyer also tried to overcompensate for the lack of action and gore by fouling up the language in order to earn its hard-R rating. It is unfortunate that this entry dropped off so dramatically from the previous two films, but fans will find very little to like in Blade's third outing.

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

If you liked BLADE: TRINITY, check out:
UNDERWORLD, SKINWALKERS, DAYBREAKERS.



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Friday, April 23, 2010

Matango (1963)

MATANGO marks one of GODZILLA director Ishiro Honda's most frightening Horror films, even if it would be considered to be much tamer by today's standards. The film finds a group of friends taking a pleasure cruise on their yacht, when they are shipwrecked on a remote island after a fateful storm. With little found to eat, the survivors struggle over the few roots and turtle eggs they can manage, while avoiding the mysterious fungus they find growing all around the isle. Finally, several of the shipmates break down and begin eating the mushrooms, but not long after these same friends become enemies as they begin to exhibit terrible and frightening characteristics of greed, anger, and hostility. Having indulged in their vices, the fungus eaters morph into horrible mushroom people bent on turning the remaining survivors and destroying what is left of their humanity!

Honda's everlasting faith in humanity seems shaken throughout Takeshi Kimura's script, as each of the characters battle with one another with very little cooperation or friendship left between them. MATANGO's lavishly dressed sets create a series of memorable images, from the suffocating forests drenched in fog to the claustrophobic and rotted interior designs of the ship's hull. Roving cameras combine with Tsuburaya's seamless integration of the illustrious matte paintings and miniature set designs to give the film a large feel despite the cramped settings. Where many genre fans may stand divided is on the film's slower pace and heavily drawn characters, since Honda focuses on the psychological horrors of betrayal and the loss of personal identity over the cheap thrills of the average monster flick. Even still, the creatures are unsettling and original, displaying a wide range in design between the various mushroom people. On a technical level, MANTANGO stands as one of Honda's greatest achievements, and as a beautiful Horror Fantasy that is both moody and atmospheric.

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

If you liked MANTANGO, check out:
GODZILLA, ATRAGON, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES.



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Death Game (1977)

DEATH GAME is a forgotten gem that plays out like a reversal on LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. George gets more than he bargained for when he allows two young girls in to use his phone. Things get hot and heavy quickly when the girls decide to seduce the married man, but he soon finds himself at their mercy after they take him captive and force him to play their sick games! The two leading ladies are sufficiently twisted, providing enough menace to the roles as they manipulate and torture their victim. They then draw fiendish faces on themselves with George's wife's make-up as they play dress-up and destroy the house while George watches on in horror. DEATH GAME possesses all of the ingredients for a successful Exploitation feature, complete with gritty filming, a sick plot, and plenty of gratuitous nudity. Director Peter Traynor never attempts a completely serious tone, however there are many moments that achieve a surreal, nightmarish mood thanks to key lighting borrowed from Mario Bava and strong performances indebted to his kooky actresses. 70s sleaze aficionados should be sure to seek out this little known title!

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

If you liked DEATH GAME, check out:
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, DRILLER KILLER, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.



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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Street Trash (1987)

There is no way to adequately describe STREET TRASH to the unacquainted while doing justice to all of its absurdity and distasteful toilet humor. Freddie is a homeless troublemaker who must evade an angered mobster and the junkyard's psychotic leader after stealing something from each of them, while a mysterious liquor washes the city streets clean by turning the local bums into sludge! While the plot may seem simple enough, the directionless script is merely a collection of shocking and disgusting moments that are hobbled together into an incoherent day in the life of the city's homeless. Frumkes' outrageously over-the-top characters are not only content with their deplorable living conditions, but they revel in tormenting the wealthy and ruling over their squalid kingdom. STREET TRASH is most well-known for its ridiculous gross-out gore, but also for its unforgettable scenes of depravity, including a game of keep away with a severed penis and a hobo gang rape of a drunken woman. In all of its insanity, the film still manages to produce surprisingly high production values and an enormously entertaining cast, but what makes it worth watching is simply the fact that anything this twisted even exists.

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

If you liked STREET TRASH, check out:
SLIME CITY, BLOOD DINER, BODY MELT.



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Basket Case 2 (1990)

After nearly being killed in the closing events of BASKET CASE, Duane and Belial are whisked away to a safe haven for freaks run by Granny Ruth, where each of the twins find new love interests amongst her malformed tenants. Their new found sanctuary risks exposure when a group of nosy reporters intrude in their affairs, but the freaks won't give up their home without a fight! Frank Henenlotter dramatically increases the scope of this followup over that of the original, rounding out the production with polished cinematography, superior make-up and costuming, and a much more professional cast. The resulting film loses the quirkiness that had been found previously in place of a much more serious tone, although Hentenryck returns with his usual awkwardness. Granny Ruth's "children" have been given a range of unique, frightening, and unusual designs, but with so many strange new characters, Belial is unfortunately forced to take a back seat to much of the proceedings. In a particularly nightmarish sequence, the terrifying horde slowly ascends on a camera man in the strobe of his flash. In terms of production, BASKET CASE 2 far exceeds the original, but in doing so, it loses much of the charm and creative design seen previously. As a series sequel, it is still an enjoyable entry for fans of the first film.

Rating: 7/10.
Number of views: 3.

If you liked BASKET CASE 2, check out:
FREAKED, BRAIN DAMAGE, BASKET CASE 3



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ripper (1985)

THE RIPPER is the only watchable film out of Christopher Lewis' three directorial efforts. Just as he had done with BLOOD CULT the same year, Lewis filmed the entire feature on camcorder and distributed it as one of the first direct-to-video releases. This second attempt displays an advancement in technique and improved cinematography over his earlier film, and while it still falls drastically short of any of the mainstream Slashers, it does manage to capitalize on each of the conventions that popularized the bloody sub-genre throughout the 80s. THE RIPPER finds a college professor who is teaching a course on famous murders in film when he stumbles across a ring that he believes belonged to Jack The Ripper. After it attaches itself to his finger, he begins experiencing horrible nightmares in which Jack is killing the local coeds. It isn't long before news reports start filtering in about similar murders popping up all over town, and it is up to one of his own students to crack the case. THE RIPPER sports a cameo by special FX guru Tom Savini in the role of The Ripper, and cashes in on several genre references that fans will easily pick up on. Although the film is a purely amateur effort, the special FX and gore succeed over every other aspect in the production, with numerous women having their throats slit ear to ear before their guts are violently ripped from their torsos. Between the high body count and adequate plot, THE RIPPER warrants at least a single viewing from the hardcore gore fans.

Rating: 4/10.
Entertainment: 6/10.
Gore: 7/10.
Number of views: 1.

If you liked THE RIPPER, check out:

BLOOD CULT, MANIAC, MURDER BY DECREE.


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Return of the Living Dead 5 (2005)

When a group of teens stumble upon the last remaining container of Trioxin, the nerve gas responsible for turning people in to brain-munching zombies, they do the only thing they can think of with the drum: use it to make a new hallucinatory drug to sell at the upcoming rave. Needless to say, the partygoers begin having a bad trip when their friends start eating one another. After the empty rehash used in the previous sequel, this off-beat premise chocked full of low brow humor is a welcome change-up for the series. Ellory Elkayem returns to the director's chair, bringing with him the same gratuitous gore and practical FX that stood out in part 4. The poorly written characters are more easily forgivable thanks to the mindless comedy and toilet humor, while the pacing is maintained thanks to a steady stream of blood that makes it way through the entire picture. RAVE even includes a gooey new (though not necessarily improved) Tar Man in addition to the countless other ghouls. For a film subtitled RAVE TO THE GRAVE, this series closer delivers on all the stupid fun and zombie mayhem that the title suggests.

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



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Return of the Living Dead 4 (2005)

In 2005, the rights to the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD series were bought up and shipped out to Romania for two back-to-back video releases with expectantly poor results. This fourth film pits a new group of teenagers against a zombie horde that has been created by a hi-tech weapons manufacturer with the intent of turning the undead into mechanical bio-weapons. The plot and characters have been streamlined down to their most basic forms, and have only been introduced as filler to pad out the run time until the inevitable zombie outbreak. Once the flood gates are opened, however, the film skates by thanks to a surprising amount of bloody gore. All of the gut-munching, head-exploding action is created in frame using practical effects, which is a welcome change from the exploited computer effects that are commonly used in such low-budget zombie efforts. The film builds up to a final anti-climactic battle between the surviving teens and the two weapon-clad undead soldiers, neither of which prove to be formidable foes against the unarmed kids. After putting aside the stock ingredients in this bland entry, the hardcore zombie fan will find just enough gore to make this one worth a watch.

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



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The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

After being abandoned by her vampire love, Edward, Bella throws herself into the arms of her childhood friend Jacob. Fate would seem to have another plan for her, as Jacob also pushes her away after discovering he possesses his own set of monstrous new powers. Now, it is up to Bella to set off to Italy to save Edward from being killed, while deciding once and for all which side she must take in the epic battle between the vampires and werewolves inhabiting her small town. Chris Weitz steps in to the director's chair in this strong sequel to the smash hit TWILIGHT, and manages to juggle the action, drama, romance, and suspense with much success. A vibrant color palette and ambitious filming lend the film a stimulating visual style, though the computerized werewolf characters often come off as being a bit cartoony. The love triangle between Bella, Jacob, and Edward is riddled with the expected teen angst, but outside of some of the sappier moments, the trio of young actors are all in good form and deliver solid performances. Considering the fact that it is a Romance film that just happens to include characters out of the Horror realm, let alone the fact that it is a sequel, NEW MOON does an excellent job at advancing the characters and the drama carried over from the book series while catering specifically towards its intended audience.

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

**Before this rating is called in to question, be sure to note that the grading scale being used in this particular instance would be for similar romantic teen Horror films of its kind, if they existed, which to my knowledge they probably don't. I can't rightfully rate and critique this film against a genre and audience that it is not catered to.



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Revenge: Blood Cult 2 (1986)

REVENGE picks up immediately following the events that closed out BLOOD CULT, this time following the family members of one of the cult's victims as they set off to unlock the group's secrets. It isn't long before they become wrapped up in a new set of murders at the hands of the cult's powerful leaders! Though this second entry delivers decidedly better acting and production values over the first film, it is still just another poorly executed schlocker with little to offer the average Horror fan. The betacam filming does create a nostalgic aesthetic that is ingrained in 80s Horror, making for a huge improvement over the cheap camcorder look. It would seem that half of the budget was spent on a throwaway cameo by genre great John Carradine in the role of the cult leader, since the rest of the cast suffers from the same amateur acting that riddled the original BLOOD CULT. Surprisingly, the gore has been reeled back this round, leaving the empty script locked in to a tedious and uneventful murder mystery with no payoff in the end. Unfortunately, a polished turd is still a turd, and REVENGE fails to make the grade.

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



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Blood Cult (1985)

A series of campus murders are attributed to a sadistic blood cult, and it is up to an aged detective to unravel the mystery surrounding the group in order to end the bloody rampage! BLOOD CULT is a dreadful excuse for a Horror movie that gives "low-budget" a whole new meaning. The opening scene sets the tone for the entire picture, as a college coed is brutally killed (off camera) in a series of poorly edited shots sprayed with fake blood. Christopher Lewis films this cheapie shocker on a hand-held camcorder, which is fitting considering the amateur writing and production. The unattractive and awful cast could only have been assembled from the director's friends and family paired with members from the local acting troop. If one element of the film is even remotely worth watching for, it would have to be the spotty gore that lines the script with prosthetic limbs and gallons of corn syrup. BLOOD CULT is a purely amateur effort that is next to unwatchable, and should be left to devotees of schlock cinema.

Rating: 2/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Funny Games (2007)

Michael Haneke's Americanized version of his own internationally acclaimed film is quite literally a shot-for-shot remake, with every single character movement and reaction decided well in advance. While this calls into question the validity of remaking the sensational and shocking first film, the original FUNNY GAMES would stand very little chance for success in an American wide release in its original language and without big named actors attached, so it is not as unexpected a remake as it is redundant.

The main reason audiences around the world were willing to accept the often unnatural dialog and off characters in the German language film is due much in part to the fact that the it was foreign, which allowed viewers to suspend disbelief by assuming that the formal sentence structure could be attributed to language barriers between cultures. In the English version, though the words themselves have been fully translated, the language and formal sentence structure do not carry over in to standard every day vernacular, making the dialog between the characters even more awkward and unnatural. This generates a rift distancing the audience from the events on screen, since they do not reflect our reality. Haneke also decides to eliminate the score entirely, forcing the viewer to confront the carefully constructed character exchanges and focus intently on them.

Like in the recasting of Damien in the THE OMEN remake, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are too expectantly evil in the roles of Peter and Paul. Their arrival leaves no question as to their intent from the very beginning, so the jarring change in gears exhibited in the original film is completely lost here. The rigid, robotic acting of the entire cast can more likely be attributed to Haneke's direction and clear stylization than to the actors' performances.

The striking commentary that was imbued in the earlier version remains intact in the US film, and it is just as hypocritical that the remake continues to use sensationalistic violence as a tool to make a social critique against violence in the media. In breaking the 4th wall and having the villains address and directly interact with the audience, Haneke constantly poses the question "If you are so shocked and disgusted, why do you continue to watch?" in a series of direct attacks against violence as a form of entertainment. His weapons take on the pseudonyms "Tom and Jerry" as well as "Beavis and Butt-head" at different points throughout the script in reference to the more extreme cartoon characters that have directly and indirectly influenced societies and cultures around the world through their violent actions that constantly pass without consequence.

The purpose of the FUNNY GAMES remake was not so much to improve and better the film in any way, but rather to expose a far greater population to the plot and themes acted out in the original. By choreographing every detail in the exact same way as before, Haneke proves that the actors in his films are inconsequential to his script and style, however this second attempt at generating steam for the film in America still fell drastically short of its intended success. FUNNY GAMES remains to be more suitable as an Art House picture as opposed to an outright Horror film, but its terrifying themes and biting social commentaries still shine through in the US version.

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



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Rodan (1956)

A drilling team disrupts the 200 million year old nest of a pair of Petranodons deep within the Earth's crust, causing the creatures to take flight and begin attacking Japan! RODAN (RADON in Japan) was Ishiro Honda's first major monster feature following the success of GODZILLA. It exhibits many of the signature trademarks which he stamped on each of his films, including a supreme attention to human interest, impotent leading characters, and a helpless military force that is at the mercy of the attacking monster. Honda also treats the Rodans as natural animal characters that find themselves thrust in to a world that is foreign to them. Honda is reunited with many of the skilled team members from GODZILLA, including more of the studio's finest special effects work designed by Eiji Tsuburaya and a powerful and expressive score provided by Akira Ifukube. In addition to more incredible miniature cityscapes being razed by the Radons' supersonic waves, Tsuburaya also introduces a series of aerial dogfights between the Japanese fighters and the flying menaces that equally impressive. RODAN briefly touches on the same atomic fears as GODZILLA had, but they do not become the same driving theme of the picture. Honda and Toho studios strike another great success with this memorable addition to their monster line-up, and Rodan would appear in numerous crossovers in to the GODZILLA franchise in the decades following.

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



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The Hitcher (2007)

THE HITCHER begins with a young couple heading out for Spring Break on a long and lonesome road through New Mexico. A chance encounter with a murderous hitchhiker leaves them running for their lives in a sadistic game of cat and mouse. Sean Bean steps in for Rutger Hauer in this recent remake of the classic film, whose chiseled features and razorblade smile make him appear trustworthy until he shifts gears in to his chilling true self. Bean is an excellent choice for John Ryder, and manages a strong performance that is worthy of the role. The addition of a second character from the start allows for some much needed dialog (though be it filler) throughout the earlier scenes. The most apparent problem that exists with this version is that it shares a near-identical plot progression to the 1986 film, capitalizing on all of the most memorable moments with minimal changes. This makes it unnecessary at best, and a plagiaristic reshoot at worst. Despite the similarities, Meyers remake does recreate much of the same action and suspense with much success, giving it a clean look with decent acting even if it fails to produce anything original. Overall, audiences will find that THE HITCHER is an enjoyable representation of the story, though be it a clone.

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



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Friday, April 16, 2010

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

Coming off of the recent success of the stellar sequel BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, Brian Yuzna was the perfect candidate to helm this third entry in the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD series. 3 is a deviation from the other films in many ways. It offers a much more serious tone with only a few silly moments compared to the comedic nature of the first two installments. It also focuses on a much smaller zombie outbreak, with a single zombie character taking center stage over the massive hordes in the others. A rebellious teen brings his dead girlfriend back to life using the same chemicals his father and the military were experimenting with in an attempt to create an army of undead soldiers. As she slowly re-animates, she finds that self-mutilation and brains are the only two things that can dull the pain of living death. After a promising set-up, the plot is left with no where to go as the leading couple attempts to escape a group of angered gang members and the military by taking to the subterranean sewer system. This destroys all forward momentum as the characters (and the audience) are caught in a tedious game of cat and mouse. While the film often suffers from budgetary constraints and weak plotting, the arresting visuals brought on by the superior make-up and gore create some of the most unique and memorable moments in the series. Julie transforms from every rocker's dream babe in to a necrophile's S+M nightmare with a stunning character design. The tacked on ending also indulges the audience with glimpses of the mechanical bio-weapons that the military has been developing in a closing scene of zombie mayhem. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 is built on many strong ideas and excellent effects, but while it is the strongest of the series sequels, it is also a flawed film on many levels.

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


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Return of the Living Dead 2 (1988)

The overwhelming success of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD sparked a virtual remake of the original film with a softer tone and reeled back gore created in the hopes of cashing in on the younger audiences. This self-censored second helping of zombie mayhem lacks every ounce of the sarcastic fun and humor instilled in O'Bannon's superior script. Mathews and Karen return, this time as a pair of goofy grave robbers that are caught up in the midst of a zombie outbreak after the neighborhood kids breech a canister containing an undead corpse that was misplaced during its government transport. Though extra attention (and an increased budget) has been paid towards the make-up FX this round, the viciousness and intelligence of the creatures have been reduced in place of silly gags and bloodless, cartooony gore. The repetitive plot adds nothing unique or interesting to the series, and instead chooses to tread water with minor thrills and mindless characters. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II offers very little to fans of the original film outside of a few cheap laughs at its own expense.

Rating: 6/10.
Gore: 4/10.
Number of views: 3.



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Jennifer's Body (2009)

A god-damned piece of fucking shit.

Without question, the only way that this abysmal possession film earned a theatrical release is thanks solely to the fact that the filmmakers landed Megan Fox in the lead role. The sophomoric plot, unintelligible dialog, and pathetic pop culture references are the least of its problems. Fox's Jennifer and her nerdy best friend are completely annoying when they aren't busy being predictable teen stereotypes. It is absolutely critical for the lead character in every revenge film to establish an emotional bond with the audience, so that we might cower in their defeat and revel in their bloody vengeance. Such is not the case in JENNIFER'S BODY, in fact it is quite the opposite. Jennifer is unlikeable from the very first seen, and the empty writing in the script only drives a deeper wedge between her character and the viewer. Her victims are entirely undeserving, and there is never any explanation given as to why she has selected each of her victims. With no direction, no character, and no class, JENNIFER'S BODY is an utter failure on all counts. It would not have passed as a decent direct to video release let alone a theatrical one. For a superior revenge film that improves upon each of JENNIFER'S failings, check out the superior TAMARA.

Rating: 5/10.
Entertainment: 3/10.
Number of views: 1.

Do not click this link to buy the DVD, it is only here for consistency.


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Island of Lost Souls (1974)

Rene Cardona, the man responsible for GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY, adapts this cheap Exploitation film from the unfortunate autobiography of Mexican native Jose Leon Sanchez, a man who escaped from one of the most ruthless prison camps in history, The Island of Lost Souls. After murdering a crooked land owner for ravishing his wife, Jose is sentenced to the remote island prison, where he is subject to cruel tortures and backbreaking labor under a crazed and sadistic Colonel. Some of the more brutal experiences he witnessed on the island include an inmate who is blown to bits by a stick of dynamite while attempting to escape (swimming to sea with a dead pelican strapped to his head, no less), merciless beatings, and a death by cannon ball. While Cardona Sn. possessed a slightly less carpenterly approach to filmmaking than his son, future Horror director Rene Cardona Jn., his rough edits and documentary style filming still lack the polished look and professionalism of the Hollywood mainstream. ISLAND does manage to produce a decent level of uncomfortability, but it inevitably fails due to the fact that the central protagonist is absent from the majority of the picture. In a film based on one man's trials and tribulations, this lack of character development cannot be overlooked. Even with its flaws, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS does occasionally provide for some unexpected moments of bloody Exploitation madness, but a slower pace and detached filming style must be expected.

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



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Monday, April 12, 2010

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

In 1968, George Romero and John Russo wrote a zombie film that would reinvent the Horror genre and fear itself. Nearly twenty years later, Russo would team up with Sci-Fi guru Dan O'Bannon, writer of the seminal ALIEN, to create RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, the first major zombie breakthrough in America outside of Romero's original trilogy, and still one of the most successful and hilarious Horror Comedies of all time.

The film proposes that the events in the DEAD films were real, and that the bodies of the undead corpses were shipped around the country in containers sealed by the government. When a group of punks unwittingly breach the seals on one of these containers, a horde of fiendish ghouls are unleashed in a nearby cemetery as the group struggles to survive! RETURN's exaggerated comic book characters are living embodiments of 80s pop culture, and each are written with a biting cynicism and sharp wit. 80s genre favorites Miguel Nunez, Linnea Quigley, and Thom Mathews line the cast, and are joined by Golden Age actors Clu Gulager, James Karen, and Don Calfa. Cannibalistic ghouls had been clamoring for fresh meat since the late 60s, but it wasn't until 1985 that their tastes turned to a more delectable delicacy: "Braaaaains.." As the re-animated corpses would tell you themselves, brains became the only cure for the pains of death, resulting in a series of brutal attacks and head-munching. By this time, Tom Savini had become synonymous with gore and zombie make-up FX, but here, Allan Apone brings O'Bannon's original conceptions to life with equally (if not more) memorable creations, the most impressive of which being the skeletal Tar Man. The film's down-trodden ending is as much a comment on the expendability of 80s youth as it is a satirical look at Reagan-era politics, where nuclear holocaust was just a button away.

Where Romero's DEAD series adapted the true life horrors of racial discrimination and consumerism into a frightening NIGHT, DAWN, and DAY of terror, O'Bannon's tongue-in-cheek approach is just as valid and as smart as its obvious influences. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD will remain one of the all-time genre classics, and a staple in 80s Horror viewing!

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



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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blade 2 (2002)

BLADE 2 kicks off shortly following the events of the original, this time teaming The Daywalker with a unit of highly trained vampire mercenaries who have enlisted his aid in order to destroy a common foe. These mutant "Reapers" are an evolved breed of vampires that hunt both humans and bloodsuckers alike, posing a huge threat to both species. Guillermo Del Toro steps in for Stephen Norrington this round, bringing with him a slicker look, even more fast-paced action, and a ton of bloody gore. Goyer has also eliminated the cheesier elements and over the top dialog that bogged down his first script. The success of the original allowed for a greatly expanded budget, which Del Toro has poured in to the elaborate set designs and improved FX. The Reapers benefit most from these upgrades, possessing excellent make-up work that crosses the eerie rat-like features of Max Schreck's Count Orlok with the deadly mandibles of The Predator. BLADE 2 is one of the rare series sequels that outdoes the original on every level, making it the strongest of the three films.

Rating: 9/10.
Gore: 5/10.
Number of views: 3.



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Blade (1998)

Before the bubblegum age of PG-13 comic book films kicked in with the debut of SPIDER-MAN and others, New Line made the bold move in releasing the BLADE vampire series with a Hard-R rating geared directly towards the Horror movie crowd. It not only proved to be a great success, but Stephen Norrington's bloody and ultra-violent film also managed to jettison the B-list hero into super stardom. Much of the credit is also due to Wesley Snipes winning performance as the pompous slayer, and while the character is often taken far over the top, his dead serious demeanor and high-powered action kept him grounded without ever becoming goofy. Norrington brings a fresh, clean filming style to Goyer's script, balancing the many fight scenes with enough character and plot structure to keep the audience engaged from start to finish. Where the film does take a hit is in some of the ridiculous comic book logic, where Blade is able to walk through the streets in full regalia, beating up cops and killing vampires while remaining completely unnoticed by the crowds of onlookers. With enough action, violence, and gore to quench the thirst of any average Horror fan, BLADE proves to be a welcome addition to the genre, though it can often be argued that it is more a case of style over substance.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 4.



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The Dark Power (1985)

A house filled with college co-eds must struggle to survive when the ancient Indians buried beneath its grounds return for bloody revenge! THE DARK POWER is an extremely amateurish Slasher effort that almost isn't even worth mentioning. To name just a few of its many flaws, it is chocked full of cookie cutter characters, dreadfully forced dialog, awful acting, and a terrible score. While many of these disappointments can be written off if a Slasher delivers the gore, THE DARK POWER fails even worse in this department. Absolutely nothing happens until the hour point, after which the four poorly costumed Toltec priests ascend on the house, wreaking minor havoc with only the cheapest in low-budget deaths. Most of the characters are killed by a quick arrow to the chest, with a single exception where one of the male character's faces is ripped clean in half. The film could conceivably be enjoyed as a terrible B-Movie joke with friends, considering it possesses some of the most absurd and unnecessary scenes out of the 80s video circuit (including a mindless whip battle), but alcohol would be a necessary prerequisite. THE DARK POWER is an experiment in tedium that challenges its audience's patience and threshold for self-inflicted torture.

Rating: 3/10.
Gore: 4/10.
Number of views: 1.



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Friday, April 9, 2010

Dolls (1987)

The collaboration between Stuart Gordon and Charles Band produced such memorable films as RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, and minor gems like this mean little killer doll film under Empire Pictures' production. It finds a small family arriving at a mysterious mansion that is home to a strange old couple and their house full of dolls after a storm leaves them stranded in the woods. They, along with another car full of strangers, fall under attack by the miniature terrors as the night wares on. Gordon brings the same lavish cinematic style and fluid camerawork that he instills in each of his pictures, creating an excellent visual storytelling. Though the scares are softer since the film is geared largely towards a younger audience, the dolls are nevertheless terrifying and the deaths are surprisingly bloody. The use of high and low angled perspectives along with the flashing lightning each work to enhance the mood, but it is the sinister faces of the dolls, their contorted expressions, and the off-setting stop-motion FX which animate them into frightening reality. Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason are both highly entertaining in their eccentric roles as the dolls' elderly caretakers, while young Carrie Loraine is sweet and endearing as the whimsical Judy. While the plot and characters are each extremely basic, DOLLS ranks highly based on Stuart Gordon's superior production and the film's lasting scares, making it one of the more enjoyable killer doll features.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 6/10.
Number of views: 5.



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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Disturbia (2007)

DISTURBIA is a fun modernization of REAR WINDOW, updated for the Information Age of video games, webcams, and cell phones. It finds a troubled young teen who is sentenced to house arrest after a violent episode at school. With nothing left to do, he takes to watching the neighbors, but finds out more than he wanted to when he witnesses a series of suspicious activities taking place next door. For a polished Teen Horror flick, it delivers plenty of action, comedy, and suspense in a pretty little package. Shia LeBeouf hits his stride as the average, everyday boy next door in a winning performance that is single-handedly responsible for the overall success of the picture. The script is smart and well written considering its target audience, which allows for a greater appeal to both the teen and older Horror crowds. Where the film makes its greatest misstep is in its largely overblown finale, which would have been much more effective if it had been scaled back to a more subtle end. While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, DISTURBIA makes for an entertaining watch with a fresh twist on the voyeuristic theme laid out in the Hitchcock classic.

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



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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

A young man retells the story of a horrible traveling carnival attraction and its owner, the nefarious Dr. Caligari, who uses the sleepwalker from his act to commit a series of murders throughout the German township of Holstenwall. CALIGARI is an incredible visual experience that rose out of the Expressionist movement in post-World War I Germany. Drawing from the art movement of the same name, the set designs and backdrops are riddled with awkward, uneven lines that protrude at acute angles and in twisted forms. This creates an unnerving and nightmarish world in which the characters dwell. The artful framing and dissolves are shrouded in a dark fog that further enhances the dream like quality of the picture. Each of the actors create striking characters through their exaggerated performances, the most memorable of which has to be Conrad Veidt's ghastly portrayal of Cesare, the sinuous and frightening somnambulist. The brilliantly scripted reveal following Francis' framed story delivery of the plot introduces an unexpected twist in a chilling grand finale. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is regarded as one of the finest achievements in the genre, and currently ranks within the Top Ten Horror Films of all time on The Internet Movie Database.

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



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The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

A pair of doctors discover a strange disease and missing bodies in a small Cornish village. As they soon find out, the town is plagued by a legion of the undead that is being controlled by a mysterious figurehead. While it may not run at a quick pace, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES builds sufficient suspense through Gilling's beautiful cinematic stylings and eerie make-up designs. It has as much in common with the classic "Whodunnit" as it does the zombie film, recalling WHITE ZOMBIE much more so than NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The cramped shooting locations are expanded upon by the high production values and Gothic set dressings, turning the quaint village streets into a foreboding maze of fog and fear. At its heart, the zombie threat serves as a metaphor and ample punishment for British colonialism around the globe. Gilling would release both this and the similarly themed THE REPTILE within the same year, using many of the same actors and settings in both films. With strong performances all around (particularly in Andre Morell's commanding lead), PLAGUE proves to be an original and enjoyable zombie effort that served as Hammer's only foray into the undead and as a predecessor to George Romero's breakthrough film.

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



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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fourth Kind (2009)

THE FOURTH KIND surmises that there are four different levels of alien encounters: seeing a UFO, finding a crop circle or radiation, boring the audience to death, and finally faking a ton of footage and passing it off as authentic. This disorienting mess of a film sells itself on its inclusion of "actual footage" that runs alongside staged re-enactments of a series of bizarre phenomenon that occurred in Nome, Alaska in the early 2000s. Rather than just weave together the admittedly jarring pieces of "found footage" in a faux documentary style similarly to CLOVERFIELD or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, Osusnanmi has chosen to overlay the faked footage in a split-screen format simultaneously with the re-enactments, which is terribly confusing and removes the audience entirely from the picture. The film also lays on the theatrics through a blaring score and dramatic cinematography and editing style that give it a glossy, mainstream look and feel that is anything but realistic. Milla Jovovich is her usual awful and unconvincing self, and does not sell the lead in any way. To elaborate on the films flaws and countless ways that it alienates the audience would require a short essay, so suffice it to say THE FOURTH KIND is a cold, exploitative suspense film that uses all of the cliched scare tactics Hollywood has to offer for cheap thrills with no lasting effect.

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



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