Sunday, October 31, 2010

Demons (1985)

Lamberto Bava had already met prior success with both MACABRE and his underrated Giallo A BLADE IN THE DARK in the early 80's, but he will always be remembered for his bloody gore opus DEMONS more than anything else. Fueled by grotesque make-up, shocking special effects, and a super-charged soundtrack by Italian rockers Goblin, DEMONS is a fast-paced thrill ride that is jam-packed with flesh-eating ghouls and mindless madness! The demons are unleashed upon an unsuspecting theater audience when the events occurring on-screen bleed into reality and possess the movie-goers. Much of the film's success can be attributed to Sergio Stivaletti's terrifying monster designs, which come complete with glowing yellow eyes, razor-sharp claws and fangs, and festering boils. As if the creatures were not enough, DEMONS also offers tons of gooey splatter effects, drowning the theater floor in popcorn, blood, and guts. With Italian master Dario Argento on hand to oversee the production and Bava behind the camera, DEMONS proves to be much more than just another exploitative gore shocker. It is shot with an intelligent structure and composition to maximize the scares, and while it may be light on character and dialog, the people appearing on screen are always entertaining and never incompetent. DEMONS is a top-rate gore film that is still just as frightening as it was during its initial release!

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 9/10.
Entertainment: 10/10.

If you liked DEMONS, check out:
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, THE CHURCH, THE CONVENT.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Press Release: Dear Mr. Gacy

WILLIAM FORSYTHE STARS AS JOHN WAYNE GACY IN DEAR MR. GACY FROM ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT

On Blu-ray™ and DVD December 14th

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – September 24, 2010 – Thirty-two years ago, one of the most grisly chapters in the history of American crime came to an end with the arrest of infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy. But the story didn’t end with Gacy’s conviction and eventual execution. Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Dear Mr. Gacy, premiering on Blu-ray™ and DVD December 14th, based on the shocking true story and best-selling book “The Last Victim” by Jason Moss, with Jeffrey Kottler, M.D. Starring William Forsythe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 88 Minutes, The Devil’s Rejects) as John Wayne Gacy, with Jesse Moss (The Uninvited, Final Destination 3, “Stephen King’s The Dead Zone”), and Emma Lahana (Girlfriend Experience), Dear Mr. Gacy was produced by Tom Berry, Clark Peterson, producer of the Academy-Award® winning film Monster, and Kellie Madison. SRP for the DVD is $26.98, and $29.99 for the Blu-ray™. Pre-book is November 17th.

Dear Mr. Gacy recounts the experiences of 18-year-old college student Jason Moss and his relationship with the notorious Gacy. As part of a school assignment, Moss sends a letter to Gacy in prison, portraying himself as a vulnerable kid. Gacy, suspicious at first, subjects Moss to a series of tests before eventually trusting him. What follows is a psychological game of cat and mouse between two manipulators, in which Moss’ life is turned upside down. And when Gacy sends an invitation to visit him in prison for a private meeting, Jason accepts. Nobody could have ever predicted what would unfold inside the maximum security cell…

Dear Mr. Gacy Blu-ray™ and DVD include the behind-the-scenes featurette “The Gacy Files: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” a look into the making of the film based on facts of the case from the people that knew him best, featuring interviews with cast and crew and friends of John Wayne Gacy, along with the teaser & theatrical trailers.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment
Anchor Bay Entertainment is the home entertainment division of Starz Media, LLC. It includes the Anchor Bay Films and Manga Entertainment brands. It distributes feature films, children’s entertainment, fitness, TV series, documentaries, anime and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray™ formats. It is the exclusive distributor in the U.S. of the theatrical titles from Overture Films. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Starz Media (www.starzmedia.com) is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group. Effective September 30, 2010, Starz Media will be attributed to the Liberty Starz tracking stock group Read The Full Post HERE!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whatcha Gonna Queue Halloween Special!

Alex and Jim from the new podcast "Whatcha Gonna Queue" dropped in to share their new Halloween episode premiering on Youtube and several other media outlets this week! "Whatcha Gonna Queue" does all of the dirty work for you Horror fans, and combs through Netflix for those undermentioned genre films that are easily accessible through one the queues. At the end of each episode, Alex and Jim also have incredible giveaways where they hand out copies of the films that were mentioned during the show to the first several followers that can answer a few simple questions through their Twitter account! Great reviews, tons of recommendations, and FREE Horror giveaways? That has our code of approval. Check out the Halloween episode below, and be sure to subscribe to "Whatcha Gonna Queue" on Youtube today:
Read The Full Post HERE!

Press Release: Altitude

ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT GAINS ALTITUDE ON DVD AND BLU-RAY™

Taking Off on Blu-ray™ and DVD October 26th

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – August 10, 2010 – There’s nothing like the rush of flying through the air, soaring through the clouds…and coming face-to-face with pure evil! A supernatural thriller that reaches new heights in terror, Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Altitude on Blu-ray™ and DVD October 26th. Produced by Escape Factory’s Ian Birkett and directed by award-winning graphic artist and music video director Kaare Andrews (best known for his artwork on Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk comics and the upcoming Astonishing X-Men), Altitude features a hot young cast headlined by Jessica Lowndes (“90210,” The Haunting of Molly Hartley, “Greek”) in this unique sci-fi/horror thriller that gives new meaning to “fear of flying!” SRP is a low $26.98 for the DVD, and $34.99 for the Blu-ray™. Pre-book is September 29th.

Altitude follows a group of teens on a weekend getaway aboard a small plane that suddenly turns deadly for the rookie pilot (Lowndes) and four young friends: Julianna Guill (Friday the 13th, “90210”), Ryan Donowho (Bandslam, “The O.C.”), Landon Liboiron (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and Jake Weary (“As the World Turns”). Minutes after the group takes-off, an unexplained malfunction sends the aircraft climbing out of control into the heart of a mysterious storm. Unable to get their bearings or contact the ground, the survivors gradually realize they are locked in combat with a terrifying supernatural force.

For more information, check out www.altitudemovie.com.

About Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment is the home entertainment division of Starz Media, LLC. It includes the Anchor Bay Films and Manga Entertainment brands. It distributes feature films, children’s entertainment, fitness, TV series, documentaries, anime and other filmed entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray formats. It is the exclusive distributor in the U.S. of the theatrical titles from Overture Films. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Anchor Bay Entertainment has offices in Troy, MI, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Starz Media (www.starzmedia.com) is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group. Read The Full Post HERE!

Press Release: Colin

Walking Shadows Proudly Presents

Colin

Award-Winning Zombie Horror Sensation &

Cannes Film Festival Hit Made for $75

British Horror Phenomenon Invasion Hits DVD Oct. 19th

“ The most touching film about a decomposing corpse you’ll see all year.”
— FHM

“… brilliantly conceived … meditative, often genuinely funny film … one of the most heartening stories of modern cinema.”
— Filmstar

“A smart twist on the genre … a real gem.”
— Quiet Earth

“Original, compelling and as thought provoking as Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.”
— Zombiefriends.com

“This film will revolutionize zombie cinema.”
— Scars Magazine

“A phenomenal achievement with terrific special effects.”
— ViewsLondon.co.uk

LOS ANGELES — Oct. 1, 2010 — Breathing new life into the undead is the British horror phenomenon Colin, about the life of a zombie told through his own eyes, stalking onto DVD Oct. 19 (distributed by Walking Shadows).

A surprise hit at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Colin enjoyed a limited U.S. theatrical run in September/October and played to acclaim at numerous film festivals and horror conventions across the country. Colin won “Best Micro-budget Feature Film” at the Raindance Film Festival, the “Indie Spirit Award” at the South Africa Horrorfest, “Best Director” at the Buenos Aires Blood Red Film Festival and the “Special Jury Award” at the Revenant Film Festival.

In Colin, life bites (literally!) for Colin (Alastair Kirton, Midnight) when, after becoming a zombie snack, he dies and returns as one of the undead. Wandering aimlessly through the streets of London, during the throes of a cadaverous apocalypse, we learn about Colin (from his perspective) … who he was and, more pertinently, what he has become, through his encounters with objects, places and people. With a broad-daylight, zombie-versus-human street battle, an epic housebound siege and endless gore, Colin is a terror-ific zombiefest not to be missed!

The brainchild of British writer-director Marc Price (Midnight, the upcoming Thunderchild), Colin breathes new life into a classic genre, offering an original, unique perspective—a story told through the zombie’s eyes. Made for just $75, mostly spent on tea and cookies for his “zombies,” Price relied on friends and Facebook to cast his legion of undead extras.

Without funding, it was imperative to bring more enthusiasm to the film’s set and apply extra innovation to problem solving (technical or otherwise). Taking 18 months to complete and shooting with a 10-year-old camcorder that repeatedly broke down, a determined Price borrowed what he needed and performed most crew roles himself while holding down a night-shift job as a taxi booker.

Colin is available as a single-disc standard DVD release and in a special, two-disc, standard DVD collector’s set with expanded bonus material of an additional 68 minutes.

Colin is presented in full frame with an aspect ratio of 4 x 3 (1.33:1) and stereo sound. Special features include director’s commentary. Additionally, expanded bonus material on the two-disc DVD edition includes “Making of Colin” documentary, deleted scenes, deleted scenes commentary, original trailer and Price’s new short film, The End. For more information, visit www.colinmovie.com.

About Walking Shadows:

Walking Shadows, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., is a motion picture and DVD producer and distributor. Under the direction of Alex Nohe – who has consulted on such hit films as the Oscar-winning Gods & Monsters, Oscar-nominated Waco: The Rules of Engagement, Trekkies (Paramount), Michael Moore’s The Big One (Miramax), Mayor of the Sunset Strip (First Look) and Bubba Ho-Tep, among others – the company specializes in marketing quality independent, foreign, arthouse, genre and documentary films for theatrical, television, DVD and digital applications. Included in its library are such notable documentaries as I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, I Shot JFK, Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint and Burning Man: The Burning Sensation; the award-winning German film Beautiful Bitch; and the hit horror films Re-Cycle and Colin. Visit us at www.walkingshadows.com. Read The Full Post HERE!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homicidal (1961)

One in a long line of PSYCHO-imitators from the 60's, HOMICIDAL begins with Emily, an alluring young blond, seducing a bellboy into marrying her for a handsome fee. Before the ceremony is complete, she murders the Justice of the Peace and flees into the night. She returns to the household where she nurses the elderly Helga, but the family members quickly become suspicious of her frequent disappearances, especially after her likeness appears in the local papers. What follows is a twisted tale of greed and murder surrounding her husband Warren, his sister, and their father's enticing inheritance. HOMICIDAL may have broken free of its B-movie roots if it were not for Joan Marshall's wild-eyed expressions and hammy overacting that can never be taken seriously. She certainly acts crazy, but she appears to be completely detached from the character in a cold and emotionless performance. Most genre-enthusiasts will spot the obvious plot twist very early on in the script, when the audience is first introduced to the rat-like Warren. The "Fright Break" gimmick that occurs right at the climax also destroys what little suspense is left over in the end. Always the showman, William Castle still brings a refreshingly crisp cinematography and expert framing to the picture, which makes up for many of the sillier elements in the film. Even with its familiar structure and expected ending, HOMICIDAL is one of Castle's stronger thrillers, and a worthy nod to the PSYCHO legacy.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked HOMICIDAL, check out:
STRAIGHT-JACKET, SCREAM OF FEAR, DEMENTIA 13.

Read The Full Post HERE!

The Victim (2006)

An aspiring young actress begins working with the police to help solve murder cases by posing for a series of reenactments, but in doing so, she entices the ghosts of the victims, who begin appearing to her in hopes that she will avenge their souls. Unlike so many other RINGU and JU-ON imitators out of Asian in the past decade, THE VICTIM draws much more influence from American films like STIR OF ECHOES or THE SIXTH SENSE, while introducing a unique ghost tale of its own. Monthon Arayangkoon creates a number of spine-tingling moments using striking visuals, creepy set pieces, and a haunting score, each of which heighten the scares when the spirits spring out to startle the audience. The main problem with the film lies in the obstructive reveal that occurs midway through the picture, which forces a restart for all of the characters and results in a muddled, confused mess in the second half of the script. Arayangkoon immediately loses all forward momentum as well as the audience's attention in doing so, even though the acting and production remain on par with the first segment. It is unfortunate that the film takes such a devastating turn, since it showed a great deal of promise in its initial build. Regardless, THE VICTIM begins strong and offers many chilling moments that make it worth seeking out.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked THE VICTIM, check out:
THE SIXTH SENSE, STIR OF ECHOES, WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

H (2002)

H is one of the strongest thrillers to come out of Korea since Park Chan Wook's VENGEANCE trilogy. While it has taken obvious ques from key American influences such as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, it is not just another cheap imitation. The film follows detectives Kang and Kim as they track down a copycat killer that has been murdering women using the same patterns as a man that they have already imprisoned. With the next murder only days away, they must confide in the sadistic Shin Hyun in order to find out the identity of the new killer before it is too late. Director Jong-hyuk Lee combines a smart script with a clean shooting style to produce a fast-paced and suspenseful crime drama that is built on a pair of excellent performances by Jin-hee Ji and Jung-ah Yum as the two cunning detectives. Their performances are equaled by the calm and calculating Shin Hyun, played by a convincing Seung-woo Cho. Lee takes extra care in establishing his characters and constructing the mystery behind the murders, but none of the clues that are dropped throughout the film give any indication of the killer's true identity. This makes the reveal in the end feel both convenient and contrived. Outside of this unfortunate misstep, H is a top-rate psychological thriller with a winning cast and many bloody murders.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 5/10.

If you liked H, check out:
ANTIBODIES, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, SE7EN.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cinderella (2006)

The daughter of a plastic surgeon is the envy of her peers, but when several of them die under mysterious circumstances, Hyunsu will discover the ghastly secrets behind her beauty. CINDERELLA is Korea's answer to the surgical horror themes first presented in Georges Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE, mixing several gory moments of bodily dismemberment with the Asian supernatural revenge thrillers. Although it is light on any truly terrifying moments, CINDERELLA builds itself on the character drama between Hyunsu and her protective mother, and succeeds in producing a suspenseful mystery out of their struggle. Unfortunately, the tangled story threads and awkward editing make it difficult to decipher what exactly is going on, and when. The supernatural elements of the plot also seem entirely out of place, especially when the film's reveal in the end directly contradicts the existence of any spirits. Even with a decent cast and strong filming, CINDERELLA is simply unable to overcome the inherent problems with the script, but Asian Horror fans will not be overly disappointed with this one.

Rating: 6/10.
Gore: 5/10.

If you liked CINDERELLA, check out:
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF.

Read The Full Post HERE!

The Forest (1982)

THE FOREST is a stupid and confused Slasher-turned-ghost-story about two couples who are stalked through the woods by a cannibalistic killer. The awful score is the best THE FOREST has to offer over its uneventful storytelling, bloodless murders, and idiotic characters. It is simply a bore to watch, and the supernatural elements plot elements make absolutely no sense. The ghosts of the killer's family come and go at various points, interacting with the characters who seem entirely unfazed by their existence. Thankfully, a few of the poorly scripted lines make for some unintentional humor and mild entertainment, but other than that, this is a bottom of the barrel Horror with no redeeming qualities. It is clearly the work of a talentless director looking to exploit the "Slasher in the woods" theme.

Rating: 4/10.
Gore: 3/10.

If you liked THE FOREST, check out:
DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, MADMAN, THE BURNING.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Murder by Decree (1979)

Cult film director Bob Clark transports the legendary Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Charles Watson into real-world London, where they track down Jack the Ripper through the streets of Whitechapel while uncovering the sinister truth behind his murderous rampage. MURDER BY DECREE molds a brilliantly-crafted script around the royal conspiracies that have surrounded the murders for decades, making this one of the smartest and most enjoyable Holmes mysteries ever produced on film. Clark lays on a thick, creepy atmosphere with all of the Gothic trappings of the classic Hammer productions. The streets of London have never looked as gloomy or as menacing as they become trapped in a rolling mist and dreary lighting. Christopher Plummer and James Mason form the perfect pair with their winning performances as Holmes and Watson, playing off of each other with a sharp wit and clever banter. Even in the slower moments, the mystery and suspense are kept on a steady high. The humor and intelligence that are built in to John Hopkins' screenplay make the story lively and easily accessible to all audiences, including those that may not be as familiar with either Holmes or the Ripper murders. MURDER BY DECREE is a top-rate mystery, and one of Bob Clark's finest films.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked MURDER BY DECREE, check out:
THE NIGHT STALKER, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Go in the Woods (1981)

DON'T GO IN THE WOODS is a bottom-rung "Slasher in the woods" entry that follows in the same tradition as JUST BEFORE DAWN and DELIVERANCE. A group of four pre-packaged victims head in to the woods on a camping trip, only to be killed off by a crazed mountain man in a timely fashion. The highly-untrained acting and directing are apparent in every moment of the film, and the story structure is almost non-existent. Only the weakest Slasher movie stereotypes and conventions shine through here, but for everything it lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in bloody killings. Severed limbs, missing heads, and gallons of blood are strewn across the screen, making it far more violent than many of the mid- to late-80's Slashers. Although DON'T GO IN THE WOODS is a terrible film by all accounts, the hardcore Slasher fans will find enough cheesy dialog and brutal deaths to make it worth the watch.

Rating: 3/10.
Gore: 7/10.

If you liked DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, check out:
THE FOREST, JUST BEFORE DAWN, MADMAN. Read The Full Post HERE!

Open Water 2: Adrift (2006)

When a group of friends get together for a day trip on their yacht in Mexico, they are stranded in the ocean after jumping in the water to go for a swim without dropping the ladder. With no way to get back on board and no help in sight, they each face panic, dehydration, and fatigue as they struggle to find a way to safety. Although it was originally intended as its own stand-alone feature, ADRIFT was quickly sold as a sequel to the 2003 hit OPEN WATER to cash in on the earlier film's success. Whether or not this helped or hurt its popularity is debatable. ADRIFT bases itself on the same terrifying, real-world scenarios that made OPEN WATER so unique, but this situation is made that much more ironic in that the characters' salvation lies just inches out of reach. The friends quickly turn on each other and begin to point the blame as soon as they realize how serious the situation is, until finally coming to their senses and making every logical attempt to save themselves. This is where ADRIFT succeeds over anything else in presenting intelligent and believable characters that just made a stupid (but deadly) mistake. Unfortunately, Hans Horn feels the need to throw in two unnecessary plot elements, one being the stereotypical backstory where one of the characters had a traumatic childhood experience with water, and the other being a baby that is left aboard the ship. These things aside, ADRIFT is a decent companion piece to OPEN WATER that compliments it thematically and offers good acting for the size and scale.

Rating: 7/10.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Open Water (2003)

Two inexperienced divers, one camera, and an endless ocean. That is all it took to make OPEN WATER a riveting success on a limited budget back in 2003. Movie-goers expecting to find the next JAWS may have been sorely disappointed, but those seeking true terror in a real-world setting found it here. Susan and Daniel take off to the Caribbean for an island getaway, but their dream vacation soon becomes a nightmare when they are left stranded in the middle of the ocean during a scuba diving lesson. As panic, dehydration, and fatigue begin to set in, the couple soon comes face to face with many other dangers as they struggle to survive. Many cite the uneventfulness of the plot as a critical flaw, when it has actually has quite the opposite effect. The characters are left to dissect the situation, to pass through the various stages of denial, anger, and depression as they await their fate. Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis hit a few rough patches in their acting, but overall their honest performances show heart-felt emotion and clear character progressions. While the two are eventually swarmed by sharks, the helpless feelings of being lost at sea and not knowing what might be hiding beneath the surface prevail over the gruesome attacks. There are still a number of jarring moments where the long strings of dialog are broken up by the sudden thrashing of a shark's tail just inches away from the characters. Chris Kentis' use of digital filming also creates a documentary-like look and feel that draws the viewer into the reality of the situation. OPEN WATER is a big win for Indie filmmaking, and a frightening tale of man versus nature.

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked OPEN WATER, check out:
OPEN WATER 2, FROZEN, BLACK WATER.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare (1987)

The Tritons head out to a secluded farmhouse to record their newest Heavy Metal album, but the band must battle with a house full of demons when the gates of hell open up beneath them. ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE is a terrible film with a terrible cast, terrible effects, and terrible music. Jon Mikl Thor's comically overstated performance takes the cake in this one, although the dreadful performances by the rest of the cast members are equally horrible in all the right ways. It is dreadfully boring from the very beginning, frequently forgetting that it is a bad Horror movie and not just a bad 80's music video... That is, until the final climactic battle between good and evil, where Thor bears his glistening chest and studded man-thong to take on a poorly-articulated devil puppet in hand-to-hand combat in one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments ever caught on film! Using some of the worst make-up and special effects in the genre, ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE fails on every single level imaginable, but it is still a highly enjoyable piece of late-80's trash cinema. This is a must-see, must-own Horror flick for cult film fans!

And now, for your enjoyment:



Rating: 3/10.
Entertainment: 7/10.

If you liked ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE, check out:
BLACK ROSES, SUCK, TRICK OR TREAT.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

In the final installment of the GINGER SNAPS trilogy, we take a trip back to where it all began. Set during the period of Western Expansion, Brigitte and Ginger arrive at an isolated fort that serves as the last refuge for weary travelers after their boat is overturned in the river. Their sanctuary soon is overrun by a vicious pack of wolves that rule the woods, and the girls must form a blood pact to protect one another after one of them is bitten in a fray. What could have otherwise been a colorful mythology behind two of modern Horror's favorite characters is instead turned in to a muddled mess of a film. The period piece is repeatedly disillusioned as the characters drift in and out of their accents at their leisure, but it is Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins' awkward acting that feels the most out of place here. They are written as if they are still living in modern times, where the rest of the supporting characters play within the setting. GINGER SNAPS BACK does offer some of the most beautifully-shot sequences in the series, with stunning Gothic imagery rising out of the chilling atmosphere, but the blending of traditional Native American folklore with the sister's twisted tale is often confusing and never quite pays off in the end. Harvey essentially paraphrases Antonia Bird's highly underrated RAVENOUS while supplementing many of the characters for werewolves. If one thing can be said for the GINGER SNAPS series, however, it is that each film brings something interesting and unique to the werewolf genre, and in that regard, GINGER SNAPS BACK does not disappoint.

Rating: 7/10.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Vinyan (2008)

Hope seemed to be lost for The Bellmers after their son was washed away during a tsunami in Indonesia. However, they soon discover a video of a young boy that resembles their son taken from a small village in Burma, and they set off using any means necessary to bring back their child. A blaring title sequence opens VINYAN with an air of pretension that is carried on throughout the rest of the picture. Frabrice du Welz' English-language premiere is light on character, but heavy on aesthetic and atmosphere. The eerie psychological-thriller follows a similar plot progression to Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW, traveling deep into the misty jungles and deeper into the darkest recesses of the human mind. Welz' camera goes into all-wheel-drive as it tears through the jungle paths and splashes into the sea right alongside each of the characters in a rough but calculated shooting style. Although Emmanuelle Beart and Rufus Sewell provide strong performances, their portrayals of the distant Jeanne and reactionary Paul garner little support in their hunt for their missing son. VINYAN's spooky settings and frightening look at human trafficking make for a unique watch, but the thin plotting and vague ending will leave many viewers wanting more.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked VINYAN, check out:
APOCALYPSE NOW, ANTICHRIST, P.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Frozen (2010)

Three friends head up for a day trip to the mountains, when they soon find themselves stuck on a chair lift and forgotten about at the end of the night. As if the bitter cold and oncoming storms were not enough, the three must make perilous attempts to jump or climb to safety, while fending off the ravening wolves below. FROZEN builds on the same simple premise and real-world fears as 2003's surprise hit OPEN WATER, much to the same chilling effect. Adam Green focuses strictly on his characters and their fluid conversationalist dialog to carry the emotional weight of the film. Each of them demonstrate a clear progression as they deal with the anger, grief, and ultimate acceptance of their fate, just as Green shows a vast improvement in his skills as a writer and director. Parker, Dan, and Joe are capable characters that make every logical attempt to escape their unfortunate situation, while making noble sacrifices to save each other along the way. Green provides an incredible amount of coverage considering the single, remote location. This keeps the interest high and the tension higher as his use of high and low angles accentuate the horror during each of the pivotal moments. On top of this, Green and his talented cast weathered the harsh wintry conditions to film entirely on location, which is instantly noticeable and appreciated over the use of cheap green-screening techniques. The wolves serve as the only minor distraction, since they have only been included to increase the suspense of the situation. They are an unnecessary element that was added to an already-successful film, and one that did not require any senseless gore on top of the psychological terror. FROZEN is a strong minimalist Horror effort that is a far greater technical accomplishment for Adam Green than his earlier work in HATCHET.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked FROZEN, check out:
WIND CHILL, OPEN WATER, SPIRAL.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

It is often difficult to describe the technological powerhouse that is TETSUO: THE IRON MAN. Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto gives the viewer very little direction when it comes to the narrative, focusing less on the dialog and characters than on the insane visuals. Although it isn't easily discernible, the plot involves a business man that drifts in and out of an industrial nightmare, where his body begins absorbing the metal object around him while turning him into a mechanical monstrosity. These horrifying visions are inter-cut with blurred memories of a terrible hit and run accident where he was left the victim, but which of these two worlds represents reality, and which is just a dream? TETSUO is filmed with a fevered pace and hyper-kinetic energy that explodes on-screen, engulfing the audience in a sea of wires and steel. The mangled bodies of metal and flesh immediately draw to mind the works of David Cronenberg (particularly VIDEODROME), while the rough black and white filming and crude but effective animation can't help but recall David Lynch's ERASERHEAD. Despite these similarities, Tsukamoto proves to be an inventor in his field, and he has created a style and energy that has gone unmatched through the TETSUO series.

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, check out:
PI, VIDEODROME, ERASERHEAD.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Alex leads a pack of degenerate young hooligans through the streets of England on an ultra-violent rampage of rape and murder. After being betrayed by his friends, Alex is caught by the police and incarcerated in a state prison, where he volunteers for an experimental new treatment in order to earn himself an early release. Here at the Ludovico Institute, he is subjected to hours of brainwashing images and conditioning that force a negative association with violence in his mind that is accompanied by a wrenching pain in his gut. Now free, he is a truly a changed man, but he re-enters a bitter society that is still riddled with violence, where he is beaten to the brink of death by those he had harmed in the past.

Master craftsman Stanley Kubrick brings his own unique vision to the classic Anthony Burgess novel about free will and governmental control. This dystopian tale uses Alex and his droogs as extreme examples of youth in revolt, living without rule in an ambivalent society where teachers and family have all but given up on enforcing the law. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE paints the governing authorities in a mocking and contemptuous light, demonstrating their inadequacies through their dogmatic practices, failed social experiment, and loose hiring techniques.

While the great Malcolm McDowell would go on to star in many other excellent films, it would be his role as Alex that would prove to be his most memorable and lasting performance. He plays beside an equally talented cast that each manage to extract the biting cynicism of the script and bring it to life on-screen. Kubrick's extraordinary use of color and expert filming techniques immediately juxtapose the graphic subject matter and violence, a trend that is heightened even further by the Classical music score that is intrinsically linked to Alex's character progression. The culmination of these various elements can be seen early on, when Alex and his gang terrorize an older couple in their home to the gleeful tune of "Singin' in the Rain."

Nominated for no less than four Oscars® (including Best Script and Best Director) and winner of countless other awards, Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is in a class all unto itself. It is a defining piece of cinematic history, and an important watch for any film fan.

Rating: 10/10.

If you liked A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, check out:
AMERICAN HISTORY X, DR. STRANGELOVE, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN.

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Suck (2009)

The Winners are a failing rock group from Canada that can't seem to catch a break. That is, until their female bass player is bitten by a vampire, turning her into an electric rock goddess that quickly draws a new crowd. Now, the group must make a choice: drop the vampire and return to a crummy career, or continue on the bloody road to success and pay for the horrifying consequences later. SUCK is a great new twist on the tired vampire theme that offers a ton of fun and silly sense of humor. While the gags can be hit or miss, the band members are all enjoyable in their own separate ways, and the laughs flow at the same steady pace as the horror. Along with the killer cameos by rock legends Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, and Alice Cooper, Stefaniuk also sneaks in a number of clever homages to classic album covers as recreated by the characters on-screen. Even with the plot inconsistencies and iffy acting, the small production gives it a certain B-movie charm that couldn't have been recaptured with a bigger budget or name actors. Overall, SUCK is an entertaining Horror Comedy that is sure to become an underground hit!

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked SUCK, check out:
DEAD AND BREAKFAST, THE CONVENT, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004)

Several years after destroying her sister and becoming infected with the werewolf virus herself, Brigitte is picked up off of the street when she is mistaken for a drug addict (addicted to wolfsbane, no less). After being admitted in to a women's clinic, she is stalked by another wolf that is looking to mate, forcing her to team up with a deviant young girl in order to kill the beast and save herself. Any underlying meaning behind the 2004 follow-up to the cult-classic GINGER SNAPS has been entirely lost on its audiences. UNLEASHED takes the series in an entirely different direction, and not one that all fans are sure to appreciate. Here, werewolfism is used as a metaphor for addiction rather than menstruation like in the previous film, but to a much lesser effect. While Katherine Isabelle does make a few brief cameos in Brigitte's subconscious, Emily Perkins is left to carry the weight of the film on her own. Leaving behind her innocent charm from before, her newly empowered role is equally enjoyable and far more dark and brooding. Brett Sullivan moves from the editing room into the director's chair, bringing with him a clean new look and sickening color palette that reflect the clinical setting. Unfortunately, the script calls for several awkward sequences and off characters that often distract from the plot. The werewolf designs have tremendously improved, and the alpha male's looming presence around the hospital sets up a number of frightful moments. GINGER SNAPS: UNLEASHED has its ups and downs, but if nothing else, it provides a unique extension to the original story.

Rating: 7/10.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Diabolique (1996)

With an all-star cast including Sharon Stone and Kathy Bates in addition to an increased budget, it would seem that Jeremiah Chechik's 1996 remake of the French classic DIABOLIQUE had all of the right ingredients to make it a success. While it often comes close, the film just slightly misses the mark in the end. DIABOLIQUE finds a wife conspiring with her husband's mistress to kill the man that has wronged them both, but when his body disappears from its watery grave, the two must find a way to absolve themselves of the crime and avoid suspicion. Noticeable cuts and changes have been made to eliminate some of the slower dialog and exposition early on, which have clearly been made to hurry along the pace for an impatient 90's audience. After the expedient set-up, most of the interest and suspense are lost as Chechik puts on the brakes in the second half to make up for the rushed beginning. He finally caps it off with a dramatically over-the-top ending that is way too forceful for the otherwise smooth suspense thriller. Chazz Palminteri is perfectly suited to play the womanizing Dr. Baran with a commanding power and authority, but while Isabelle Adjani offers a strong lead as his anxious wife, Sharon Stone barely squeaks by with a coldly-read performance that only provides a few enjoyable moments. This updates version makes no attempt to mask the film's homosexual undertones, which are unnecessarily overstated in several key sequences. Outside of a few apparent lapses in logic and uneven pacing, DIABOLIQUE holds up as a modernized remake with enough tension and atmosphere to appeal to most thriller fans.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked DIABOLIQUE, check out:
BODY DOUBLE, PSYCHO, WHAT LIES BENEATH.

Read The Full Post HERE!

The Maid (2005)

At face value, THE MAID appears to be another knock-off of the popular Asian ghost films that controlled the early 2000's. Thankfully, it has much more to offer in its unique approach and interesting characters. Rosa is a young Filipino girl that is hired as a maid to an elderly couple in Singapore. Rosa arrives as the seventh lunar month begins in China, a month filled with superstition when the gates of hell open and vengeful spirits are free to roam the Earth. While cleaning, Rosa accidentally disturbs one of the alters used to appease the spirits, opening a door that allows her to see into the spirit world, but one that also allows the spirits access to her. Now, she must find out what it is the ghosts desire before it is too late! THE MAID breaks away from conventional stereotypes by deeply rooting the story in Chinese myth and culture. Rather than being cursed for some violent crime, Rosa incurs the spirits wrath by mistake due to her own naivety. Alessandra de Rossi is very good in the role, bringing with her a gentle sincerity and fright that feels authentic. Unfortunately, the THE MAID traps itself is in the cheap jump scares that are found all throughout the picture. This is where a much subtler score along the same lines of THE EYE would have tremendously saved the film, but instead, it reduces the effectiveness of its tenser moments with a loud shriek and the fleeting image of a pale-faced ghost. THE MAID is otherwise a decent entry in the genre, and one that will appeal to fans of both JU-ON and the vastly underrated STIR OF ECHOES.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked THE MAID, check out:
THE SIXTH SENSE, STIR OF ECHOES, THE ECHO.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (2006)

LIVE FREAKY! DIE FREAKY! almost defies description. It is a musical horror comedy about Charlie Manson and The Manson Family as told by deranged clay puppets. John Roecker directs this psychedelic nightmare that is not unlike Jim Van Bebber's outrageous film THE MANSON FAMILY. Roecker enlists the help of alternative rockers Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool, Kelly Osbourne, Travis Barker, and many others to voice Manson and the rest of the sadistic characters. The crude stop-motion animation is just plain disturbing, like a Technicolor Tool music video that lasts over an hour. LF!DF! takes puppet sex, drugs, and rock and roll to their furthest and most disgusting extremes since MEET THE FEEBLES. Roecker's tasteless writing is clearly intended to shock and offend the audience in any and every way possible, which he has certainly achieved. As if the subject matter and awful humor weren't enough, he also demonizes the victims and blames them for their own destruction. All of the dialog is as heavy and indecipherable as The Family's beliefs, and it isn't nearly as smart or funny as Roecker would want you to believe. The only thing that is more surprising than the fact that so many rock icons signed on to the project is that anyone with John Roecker's animation skills and imagination would waste their talent on this garbage. LIVE FREAKY! DIR FREAKY! should only be seen for the simple fact that a film of its nature even exists.

Rating: 5/10.

If you liked LIVE FREAKY! DIE FREAKY! check out:
HELTER SKELTER, MEET THE FEEBLES, THE MANSON FAMILY.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sheitan (2006)

A group of drunken friends are joined by their cute bartender, who invites them out to stay in her beautiful country home. Once they arrive, they are introduced to her deranged housekeeper, Joseph, and the rest of the town's strange inhabitants. As the night goes on, sex, drugs, and alcohol begin to steer the conversation, and Joseph tells them a tale of a poor farmer who sold his soul to the devil. From here, things quickly grow out of control as Joseph becomes their instrument of destruction in the name of Sheitan! SHEITAN is a twisted mind-bender that can't help but draw comparisons to 2004's CALVAIRE. Director Kim Chapiron spends the majority of the time developing his freakishly off-setting characters, which pays off in the end when all hell finally breaks loose. The weight of the film's success lies in the hands of Vincent Cassel as the demented Joseph, who leaves the viewer in a state of unease well before any of the true horror sets in. His commanding on-screen presence when he is pleasant and smiling is frightening enough, but when he shifts into serious mode, he is downright terrifying. Although they are all drunken, horny buffoons, the rest of the cast members put in solid efforts as well, even if it is unlikely that the audience will side with them in the end. Chapiron might have considered fleshing out more of the backstory behind Joseph and his depraved family, but as it stands, SHEITAN is a devilishly good time!

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked SHEITAN, check out:
FRONTIER(S), CALVAIRE, HORROR.

Read The Full Post HERE!

ILHM Interviews Author Peter H. Brothers!!

Anyone that is familiar with the Godzilla franchise and Toho productions will instantly recognize the name Ishiro Honda, director of the GOJIRA and many other excellent fantasy, science fiction, and horror films. And yet, there has never been a single book written about this influential filmmaker in the United States. That is, until now. Peter H. Brothers has been a life-long Ishiro Honda fan, and has gone to great extents to put together Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda, the definitive filmography and biography on the famed director. I Like Horror Movies sat down with Brothers this weekend in our newest interview:

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ILHM: First and foremost, why Ishiro Honda?

PB: Because Honda is a long-overlooked and underrated figure in international cinema who was arguably the most-prolific and influential fantasy film director in history, and a book on him was long-overdue.

ILHM: When were you first introduced to the works of Ishiro Honda and Toho?

PB: I first saw Godzilla, King of the Monsters! on TV when I was six-years old and it had a profound effect on me, and one of the things it made me do was to learn more about the monster movies of Ishiro Honda.

ILHM: What finally inspired you to write Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men?

PB: No one else was doing it.

ILHM: What is it about Honda's films that continues to draw in newer generations of film fans for over 50 years?

PB: I think it was the earnest integrity by which he made his films. Honda was that rare breed of directors who made movies for his audience and not for his ego. They are also wonderfully entertaining.

ILHM: We have read your objective reviews on Honda's many fantasy films, but which is your personal favorite, and why?

PB: Well first and foremost it is Gojira (the first Godzilla film); it is a superbly-realized film which continues to amaze, intrigue and move me with every screening (I have seen the American version over 350 times and the original Japanese about 60). Close-behind is The Human Vapor.

ILHM: You explore the music in Honda's films in great depth. Do you have a background in music, and how important is the musical score in the overall production of a film?

PB: I used to play an instrument (the trombone) years ago. My favorite film composer is Bernard Herrmann, and the importance in film music cannot be overstated and yet in many ways is still taken for granted. Music adds tremendous atmosphere to a film, and Ikira Ifukube - who scored the vast majority of Honda's fantasy films - was also a world-renown composer of classical music. Ifukube's music is generally best-remembered for his military-style marches (such as his battle music for The Mysterians), his bellicose monster themes (when Varan destroys the village in Varan the Unbelievable) and his sad, sensitive pieces (the confrontation at the lake between Makoto and her father in Atragon).

ILHM: Given Honda's rich background in special effects-driven cinema, do you feel he would embrace modern advances in computer animation, or stick to the classical forms of costuming and practical effects?

PB: Honda accepted special effects in his films because he had to, but for him it was always about the human story. He knew that without an interesting story his movies would not stand the test of time. He often interwove themes in his films (such as Love and Devotion in Rodan, Government Bureaucracy in Godzilla vs. the Thing and the Destruction of Native Habitat for Commercial Development in Yog) to give them a deeper subtext and make them more meaningful. He of course knew that it was the effects that brought his audiences in to see his films, but he would be the first to say that he was not a director of monster movies, but a director of movies that had monsters in them.

ILHM: Which of Honda's films do you consider to be his most commonly overlooked?

PB: Without question Half-Human, aka Monster Snowman (1955). His original version has never been commercially released on any video format although Toho came close in the early 1980's but pulled-back due to the treatment given to the ficticious aboriginal tribe in the film. It is very much a banned film (it was the one Honda did after Godzilla) and is a magnificent movie. Hopefully it will be released on DVD in the not-too-distant future.

ILHM: What are you most commonly asked during your speaking engagements on Godzilla and Ishiro Honda?

PB: Most are surprised to learn that Godzilla was originally intended as a metaphor for the atomic bomb. Due to the many sequels and the ending of the Cold War this meaning has been dimmed considerably, although the threat from nuclear war is still very much with us.

ILHM: Has the Japanese Kaiju-Eija passed its prime?

PB: The Glory Days have long since passed but it is still a very active genre; the fact that Warner Bros. is planning on doing a new Godzilla movie in 2012 is proof of that.

ILHM: Do you have any immediate writing plans?

PB: I have just recently completed my first fictional novel called "Devil Bat Diary" based on the famous Bela Lugosi movie The Devil Bat.

ILHM: Where can readers find out more about Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men?

PB: The book can be purchased directly from the publisher at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon, online bookstores and is also an e-book (the first on the genre in that format). I also have a two-part video on YouTube under the book's title where I talk a bit about Honda and the book.

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Our review of the book can be found HERE!!

Thanks again to Peter for taking the time to speak with us this weekend, and for those giant monster and science fiction fans out there, be sure to check out Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda through one of the e-tailers above!
Read The Full Post HERE!

The Red Shoes (2005)

A struggling single mother finds a beautiful pair of red shoes on the subway. The shoes give her a new found confidence, but with it comes a terrible price. Sun-jae, along with anyone else who wears the shoes, is overcomes with anger, rage, and greed before being completely possessed by the spirit that inhabits the shoes. THE RED SHOES is another chilling ghost tale out of Korea from the post-RINGU era of Asian Horror. The film's story structure clearly draws from RINGU, while many of the scenes have been blatantly lifted from other recent successes like THE EYE or JU-ON. That isn't to say that it is a cheap imitation necessarily, since it also manages to create the same creepy, understated scares and sinister mood as its progenitor. Where it is vastly different from the other films is in the tremendous amount of blood and gore that fills each of the death scenes, which is quite unheard of in these types of pictures. Yong-gyun Kim's biggest misstep as the director involves the way he randomly injects the backstory into the plot without clearly identifying the shift in characters or timeline, which is often very disorienting and halts the forward progression of the film. Hye-su Kim and Seong-su Kim shine through despite the muddled plot, and give the film a true sense of character with two strong performances as the lead protagonists. Derivative as it may be, THE RED SHOES holds enough interest and visual style to attract the fans of the other great Asian ghost stories.

Rating: 7/10.
Gore: 6/10.

If you liked THE RED SHOES, check out:
RINGU, JU-ON, THE EYE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Set in the wilds of suburban Canada, GINGER SNAPS follows two sisters, Bridgette and Ginger, who share a morbid fascination with death and destruction. On the night of the full moon, the two set out to get their revenge on one of the mean girls from school, when Ginger is attacked by The Beast of Bailey Downs, a werewolf. Soon, Ginger begins experiencing sudden changes: new hair, bleeding, an increased sex drive, and even a new tail! It is up to Bridgette to find a cure or stop Ginger before she gives in to her bloodthirsty new desires and becomes a snarling beast!

GINGER SNAPS is unquestionably one of the smartest, wittiest, and most unique werewolf offerings in recent Horror. The film's brilliant writing is only further enhanced by Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle as the Fitzgerald sisters, whose cynical performances truly bring the dark nature of the material to life in a hilarious but understated fashion. Like THE COMPANY OF WOLVES before it, GINGER SNAPS takes the cycle of the werewolf and uses it as a metaphor for the girls' transformation into womanhood. By leaving out cell phones or any other modern technology, dressing the cast in a generic wardrobe, and his use of sepia tones, director John Fawcett has given the picture a timeless quality that doesn't show a single sign of aging now one decade after its initial release. The mournful musical score also lends a classic Gothic sound that recalls the Universal monster movies of the 30's and 40's.

Due to obvious limitations when dealing with costuming and practical FX, it is rare to see a quadrupedal creature that isn't born out of computer animation. While the wolves in GINGER SNAPS are rather stiff and oddly-shaped, it is still refreshing to see a physical beast that the characters can interact for a greater impact and reaction on-screen.

GINGER SNAPS is a modern classic, and a shining example when it comes to creating a superb Horror film on a limited budget.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked GINGER SNAPS, check out:
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES, BLOOD MOON, WEREWOLF WOMAN.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Werewolf Woman (1976)

A sheltered rape victim begins dreaming that she is transforming into a wolf by nightfall. It isn't long before dead bodies start turning up all around her, but is she truly becoming a bloodthirsty beast, or is it all in her head? Rino di Silvestro takes a brilliant concept and drags it through the 1970's Eurotrash gutter. The plot consistently falls secondary to the heightened sexuality at every point throughout the film. There are moments where the twist on the lycanthropic theme does shine through, however. The wolf resembles all of the primal urges that Daniela has been trying to repress, which manifest themselves as violence and rage when she becomes aroused. Unfortunately, WEREWOLF WOMAN is poorly acting and overly dramatic, and what is worse is that every attempt at eroticism is spoiled by Annik Borel's old, sagging body and complete lack of sex appeal. Outside of a few gory moments and plenty of nudity, there is very little to watch for here.

Rating: 5/10.
Gore: 6/10.

If you liked WEREWOLF WOMAN, check out:
WOLF GIRL, LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, LIVING DEAD GIRL.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Princess (2006)

August must leave the clergy to find his orphaned niece after his ex-porn star sister dies of an overdose. When realizes that Mia has been repeatedly abused, his mind snaps and he sets out on a murderous rampage against the men that ruined his family's lives. Director Anders Morgenthaler presents this award-winning animated feature out of Denmark, an incredibly violent revenge thriller that is strictly aimed at an adult audience. Morgenthaler's stylized design integrates classical hand-drawn animation with computerized imaging and superimposed film footage to create a truly unique viewing experience. PRINCESS is unrelenting when it comes to shocks and suspense, with tawdry, sexually-explicit material that would have been unfilmable using live actors. In many ways, it resembles an animated version of the Swedish Exploitation classic THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, boasting just as much action and obscenity as Vibenius' notorious film. What makes these vulgar displays acceptable are Morgenthaler's carefully crafted-characters and intricately-laid plot that lead up to August's spiteful vengeance in the end. PRINCESS will not be suitable for all audiences, but it is worth seeking out for fringe film fans.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 5/10.

If you liked PRINCESS, check out:
THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, LADY SNOWBLOOD, OLDBOY.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Hillside Strangler (2004)

From the makers of ED GEIN and TED BUNDY comes another sickening look at the true life accounts of two psychotic killers that terrorized the Hollywood Hills in the late 1970's. Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono were just two manipulative cousins that were hard on their luck until they decided to put together their own prostitution ring to earn some quick cash. When things began to go downhill, the two started to take their aggression out on local street walkers, raping and torturing them before dumping their bodies throughout the San Fernando Valley. Like the other Tartan Films true crime dramas, THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER is a revolting look into the minds of these twisted criminals, giving off the same grimy look and feel as a 70's porno theater that will leave the viewer thoroughly disgusted. Chuck Parello succeeds once more at creating an authentic period piece through the drowned out coloring and vintage apparel. More than anything else, it is the sleazy and scheming performances of leads C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Torturro that send a cold shiver down the spine. Through quick glimpses, we are able to see the sociopathic tendencies and compulsive lying that the two shared with many other killers of their time. There is no safety net of comic gore or over-the-top villains to be found here, just the gritty depictions of true horror. While many of the facts and names have been altered in the process of making the film, THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER is a valid attempt at bringing the killers' monstrous rampage to the small screen.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER, check out:
HELTER SKELTER, TED BUNDY, ED GEIN.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Ab-Normal Beauty (2004)

Oxide Pang, one-half of the famous Pang Brothers, delivers this shockingly beautiful psychological thriller out of Hong Kong. Jiney is a young art student who becomes obsessed with death after capturing a fatal car accident on film. Her subject matter continues to grow increasingly morbid, but she is not the only one harboring dark fantasies and desires. AB-NORMAL BEAUTY is filled with extraordinary colors and artful framing, as Pang adapts the photographic medium into his shooting style through a number of stunning compositions. Race Wong is simply intoxicating as Jiney, drawing the audience into her deepening psychosis with a staggering performance and seductive charm. After a brilliant build-up, the film takes an unexpected turn when it places Jiney in front of the camera as she is attacked by a sadistic killer. While this drastic change in tone plays into the overall theme, it derails much of the suspense and anticipation developed early on. Pang also uses an obnoxious musical score where subtle cues would have proven much more effective. AB-NORMAL BEAUTY proves to be a fitting title for this gorgeous and unsettling thriller.

Rating: 8/10.

If you liked AB-NORMAL BEAUTY, check out:
THE EYE, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, COLOR ME BLOOD RED.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Am Legend (2007)

Three years after the supposed cure for cancer eradicates all of human existence, Dr. Robert Neville must stalk the streets of New York City during the daytime to try and destroy the vicious half-human monsters that rule the night, while secretly working on a serum to reverse the deadly disease. Will Smith steps in for Vincent Price and Charlton Heston in this third adaptation of the classic post-apocalyptic tale by Richard Matheson. Smith takes on an emotive role as the paranoid and schizophrenic Robert Neville, with an ability to portray the loneliness and despair evenly with his anger and rage. Unfortunately, his performance is wasted against the computerized abortions that are The Darkseekers. The CGI monsters that Neville must face in this version have no distinct personalities like in the previous attempts, but are instead a pack of bland and poorly-rendered cartoons that are never the least bit frightening or intimidating. I AM LEGEND's strongest point is director Francis Lawrence's devastating vision of the lifeless New York City streets, now filled with wild life and overgrowth. Lawrence traps himself in the same pitfall that Boris Sagal had in 1971's THE OMEGA MAN by adding modern technology and special effects that will clearly expose the film's age in the decades to come. I AM LEGEND is still a bleak and depressing post-apocalyptic nightmare with enough action and horror to appeal to most major audiences.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked I AM LEGEND, check out:
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, OMEGA MAN, NIGHT WATCH.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)

After laying hands and healing a dying woman, the crazed drunkard Grigori Rasputin is expelled from the church for his lewd conduct and narcissism. He retreats to the town of St. Petersburg, where his hypnotic powers help influence his rise in popularity with the Russian tsarina. While this Hammer production takes great liberties in fictionalizing the life events of the famous holy man, RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK develops a fun and exciting background behind the mysterious historical figure. As always, Christopher Lee steals the show as the wild-eyed monk, who puts in a commanding performance with his booming voice and mesmerizing stares. Even with the rich backdrops and costuming, the picture fails to convey an authentic Russian setting, and completely overlooks the political significance that Rasputin's influence had over world events. Despite the rather cheap production, THE MAD MONK is still a fast-paced and entertaining retelling of Rasputin's life story, and a must-see for Lee fans.

Rating: 7/10.

If you liked RASPUTIN, check out:
COUNTESS DRACULA, RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS, THE BLOODY JUDGE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Waxworks (1924)

Directed by Paul Leni in 1924, WAXWORKS is a silent film from the German Expressionist movement that predates MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM by nearly a decade. In it, a writer is commissioned to create a series of exciting tales about the exhibits in a local wax museum. Each story that the writer begins transports both he and his assistant into the world of the characters he has created. WAXWORKS is one of the most technically-accomplished films of its era, with all of the elaborate costuming, exotic sets, and dramatic physical performances that the great Expressionists were known for. Leni introduces a number of intricate new shots taken through prisms and mirrors, and uses overlays during the nightmarish finale to make the characters appear as if they are ghosts wandering through an ethereal dreamscape. The chase sequence that occurs after the Caliph is presumed dead displays and incredible design, which recalls the twisted staircases of M.C. Escher. WAXWORKS is a fun and imaginative fantasy adventure with thrilling elements of horror that stands beside the works of Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau in creativity and originality.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked WAXWORKS, check out:
WAXWORKS (1988), MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, HOUSE OF WAX. Read The Full Post HERE!

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Coming off of the insane visual experience that was HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, Rob Zombie performs a complete reversal in style and tone with his companion piece, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. Picking up shortly after the events of the previous film, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS finds the Firefly family on the run from the law, and leaving a trail of bodies in the wake of their escape.

Here, Zombie is able to take a group of truly despicable monsters and somehow bring out their humanity in a way that makes them accessible and likable despite their horrifying acts. Many critics have argued that Zombie has unfairly forced the audience to align themselves with the killers through his kind portrayals of the characters, but he would be unable to do so without getting beneath their trashy exteriors and drawing out their twisted sense of family and friendship. Likewise, Rob demonizes the character of Sheriff Wydell, and transforms him from the altruistic "Hand of God" into the same breed of ruthless killer which he despises. It is only natural that the audience grows to hate him in the process. While each of the performances are provocative in their own right, it is Bill Moseley's depiction of the foul-mouthed Otis that stands out above all others. He commands the screen with a terrifying display of power and unmatched evil. Only William Forsythe stands to top him as the bulldog Sheriff that decides to take the law into his own hands.

THE DEVIL'S REJECTS removes the safety of the extravagant coloring and comic book characters from HOUSE in place of a washed-out color palette and gritty realism that is reminiscent of the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The film does maintain the humor from before, but it does so in a darker and more unsettling way. Otis, Baby, and Cutter make sharp but crude remarks that momentarily cut the tension during the disgusting torture scenes. They force guilty laughs out of audiences, who are then left feeling as sick and depraved as the villains as a result. Rob Zombie has not only dramatically improved his writing skills, but his directing and editing as well. The film's closing scene best epitomizes these changes, as the Reject's last standoff offers the same devastating impact as the climax of Ridley Scott's THELMA AND LOUISE. Yes, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS has just been compared to THELMA AND LOUISE.

THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is truly Exploitation at its very best. It is dirty, filthy smut, in all the right ways. No audience member can walk away unscathed from its horrifying depictions of blood and violence. Rob Zombie has created one of the defining films of the 2000's, and one that he may never be able to top.

Rating: 9/10.
Gore: 6/10.

If you liked THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, check out:
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, WOLF CREEK, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)

Nothing could ever prepare the world for the circus sideshow that is Rob Zombie's HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES. It is no wonder Universal and MGM shelved the film after its completion for fear of the devastating effect it would have on their reputations. Shot like some sort of acid-induced Heavy Metal video, HOUSE borders on genius and sheer madness, but the disjointed narrative structure and crude editing show signs of Zombie's inexperience. Two couples run into trouble on Halloween Eve when they set out to find the burial site of local legend Dr. Satan. After going flat on an old country road, a beautiful hitchhiker lures the tourists to her family's decrepit home, where they are beaten and tortured before they come face to face with Dr. Satan! The entire picture plays out like a fan boy's wet dream, making frequent pop-culture references while filling out the cast with B-movie icons like Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, and Karen Black in a series of bizarre and frightening new roles. HOUSE most successfully emulates the filthy look and feel of 70's Exploitation pictures like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, leaving the viewer in a disgusted state of shock after each of the grueling torture sequences. With HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, Rob Zombie ushers in an unbridled new style of excessive Horror filmmaking that is wildly entertaining, but severely lacking in its basic storytelling techniques.

Rating: 6/10.
Entertainment: 8/10.
Gore: 7/10.

If you liked HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, check out:
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

Read The Full Post HERE!

The Gruesome Twosome (1967)

When the first sign in a Herschell Gordon Lewis film reads "100% Human Hair Wigs for Sale," is there ever any question where the hair came from? Mrs. Pringle and her son Rodney run a charming little wig shop with amazingly beautiful heads of hair. Next door, they offer a room for rent open to any unfortunate coeds that plan on living off campus. It isn't long before the police are able to connect the missing college girls with the little shop of horrors! THE GRUESOME TWOSOME has all of the same dreadful acting and stagnant directing that Horror fans have come to expect from the later H.G. Lewis efforts . As always, the only thing worth watching for is the gore. The film is hardly able to make its feature run-time even with the ridiculous amount of useless filler. Lewis opens with a mindless conversation between two Styrofoam heads, adds random scenes of go-go dancing and people eating food, and then extends the murder sequences to outrageous lengths. The strange characters and throwaway plot never come close to reproducing the same level of fun and camp found in the original Blood Trilogy, but it still holds its place among 60's Gore aficionados.

Rating: 3/10.
Gore: 7/10.

If you liked THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, check out:
THE GORE GORE GIRLS, MOTHER'S DAY, MOTEL HELL.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Thirst (2009)

Father Sang-hyeong makes a pilgrimage to Africa to participate in an experimental study that would help save the lives of hundreds of people if it were successful. Sang-hyeong is the only patient out of 500 volunteers that survives, but once released, the symptoms of the Emmanuelle Virus continue to set in... That is, unless he consumes human blood to disarm the blistering effects of the disease. Upon his return to Korea, he is praised as a martyr, and is brought to the home of a childhood friend to pray for a cure to his cancer. While there, he falls deeply in love with the man's wife, and must battle with his own convictions and his new blood lust in order to maintain his humanity.

Acclaimed director Park Chan-wook visits the realm of the supernatural in this hauntingly beautiful re-imagining of the classic vampire mythos. THIRST takes the subtle effectiveness of 2008's LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and introduces both a heightened sexuality and increased bloodshed. Park gracefully allows the camera to glide over every scene, with a fluid and organic camera style that is carried over from his VENGEANCE trilogy. The tragic tale of the reluctant vampire is taken to a entirely new level when a priest is stricken with the affliction, causing him to call into question his deep-rooted faith and defend his evil actions. Korean nationals Kang-ho Song and Ok-bin Kim are mesmerizing in their respective roles, creating a perfect dichotomy in their opposing actions and beliefs. The poetic lyricism of the script is only matched by the incredible visual storytelling used in painting the picture as a modern Gothic masterpiece.

Few filmmakers have taken such a daring chance in manipulating the standard conventions of the genre, but with THIRST Park Chan-wook has succeeded in twisting the vampire legend into a unique and artistic personal vision.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked THIRST, check out:
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE.

Read The Full Post HERE!

Wolf Creek (2005)

Though criticized during its initial release for its grueling depictions of violence and torture, Greg Mclean's first feature film has much more to offer than it is commonly given credit for. WOLF CREEK begins with two English girls and their new friend taking off through the Australian Outback on a sightseeing tour. They return to their car after visiting a remote state park only to find that the engine will not start. Luckily, a local hunter spots them and offers to tow them to his camp, where he can fix the car in the morning. As these three unfortunate travelers would soon find out, they are not the first tourists to run into trouble in the desert, and their would-be savior is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Mclean captures the natural beauty, tranquility, and vast emptiness of the Australian landscape in a way that few film exports have in the past. The gradual buildup and leisurely pace are used to establish the futility of escape once the hunter's trap is set. This also allows the audience time to truly connect with Kristy, Liz, and Ben, who are portrayed as honest and utterly believable characters. WOLF CREEK's casual dialog does not make it a point to form rounded backgrounds for any of its players, but rather focuses on creating organic conversations out of everyday speech. John Jarratt assumes the role of Mick, the jolly huntsman that is hiding a cold and calculating killer behind his lively exterior. Jarratt is able to turn character in seconds, and in doing so, he has become one of the most terrifying on-screen villains in years.

The gently subdued score adds an unsettling note that underlies the entire picture without ever relying on punctuated jump scares to effectively shock audience. Mclean's tight, hand-held filming has a hint of voyeurism, which draws the viewer in to the intimate dialog but also makes the attacks that much more visceral and disturbing. Unjust criticisms that dismissed the film simply for containing elements of torture were far to quick to judge it on its more brutal qualities, when beneath the horror lies a brilliantly-crafted thriller that is sure to find a growing audience in the years to come.

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked WOLF CREEK, check out:
BLACK WATER, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, HOSTEL.

Read The Full Post HERE!