Monday, March 30, 2009

A quick share out to everyone

I know everyone has been wanting to see it, so if you haven't, you should probably check out [rec]. But how the hell can you check something out that doesn't exist in your country yet?

How about you check it out right here. *Disclaimer: I did not post this video, I just found it somewhere else and am linking to it here*

The site will cut you off after a certain amount of time (I think it's 50 minutes), but all you have to do is wait a half hour and watch the rest of it. I know that kind of sucks, but it's worth it to watch this little gem. I am in the process of getting Dead Snow so I can watch that soon, I'll have a review for that up soon hopefully. And if I manage to find that online, I'll be sure to share it out with you all.

Oh, and if you've missed out on Splinter so far, why not go here and check it out (same disclaimer as before). I know the quality isn't the greatest, but it's free.

That being said, I've already pre-ordered Splinter and will buy [rec] as soon as I can, so I encourage you guys to support these horror flicks by buying them eventually. Let's keep people being able to make them! There, I'm done with my soapbox for now. Now watch away!

I hope you enjoy everything!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pointless Twist Ending: Rest Stop



I recently watched this movie via the wonder that is Netflix Instant View, so I feel like I didn't actually have to pay for watching it. Nevermind the fact I pay a monthly fee to watch these movies, it's free in my mind, so don't ruin my wonderful little bubble I live in where I watch free movies. Okay?

Anyway, I recently watched Rest Stop. It was a moderately interesting slasher flick with a decent premise: a teenage couple runs away from home to try to get to Hollywood and gets caught in the middle of fucking nowhere at a (get this) rest stop. The boyfriend gets lost and the girl starts to look for him. There's a weird, creepy RV in the parking lot with someone taking pictures from the rear window. The girl is then tormented by a guy in a pickup truck that kills her boyfriend. And the people in the RV let her in only to reveal they are crazy-as-fuck religious people who saw her do her boyfriend in the woods. So she escapes from them and gets back to the rest stop. And that's where things take a turn for the worse. And I don't mean plot wise.

*As per the title, there will be spoilers as I talk about the ending, so read no further if you care about the ending*

The main girl is sitting in the bathroom when she finds a girl in the closet crying. She's been tortured by the same guy the main girl is being tortured by. While this new girl shrieks, the pickup truck guy comes back and our main girl blocks the door. Pickup truck guy (henceforth known as PTG) leaves because he's easily foiled by a 110 lb girl blocking a flimsy door. You then find out that the crying girl was actually a past victim that died years before. Then she disappears. To honor GOB Bluth, it was an illusion.

Well, I was actually kind of interested in the movie until this happened. It's billed as a "psychological" horror movie, which is basically like saying it's a "Sixth Sense wannabe". But you know what? It doesn't end there!

The original girl then leaves the safety of her bathroom and goes to the ranger station to phone for help. Luckily for her, a cop comes to her rescue. Unluckily for her, the cop is the most inept officer ever and he gets run over by the PTG and paralyzed. She manages to drag the cop into the bathroom, puts up her ridiculously flimsy barricade, and PTG guys is again discouraged. She tries to shoot PTG, but she shoots like a stormtrooper. Instead of continuing to shoot at PTG, the paralyzed cop tells her to euthanize him. This is actually the best scene of the movie. The girl wrestles with the idea of having to shoot a cop who has kids. She eventually sucks it up and shoots the guy in the head and puts him out of his misery.

Except she shoots like a bond enemy's henchman and the cop is STILL ALIVE. He starts shrieking and she shoots him again, this time doing the job correctly. And PTG has come back to set the whole bathroom on fire (bet you forgot PTG was still here). She crawls out and finds out that the cop she just shot was KILLED YEARS AGO (see, it's a bigger revelation if I type it in CAPS). Whoa, that's psychological. She then decides to take on PTG one on one. She blows up his truck with him in it and can finally rest easy. ONLY HE'S RIGHT BEHIND HER! And then you find out that he's as supernatural and unnecessary as the rest of the people in the movie. It ends with a shot of our main girl in the closet crying but she's not actually there because she's a ghost!

Really, the movie was interesting (well, sort of) until you start in with all the ghosts and imaginary crap and the fact she can't get away from the rest stop. If it had all actually happened, the movie would have been a lot more intense. But instead, the best scene of the movie is a crappy dream sequence basically, as is the rest of the movie. It's pretty watered down and lame as it is, but the whole supernatural element seems to take it to a whole new level of jackassery. It just didn't resonate well with me.

So there you have it, another pointless twist ending. If done properly, it could have worked, but it wasn't done well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Master of Horror: John Carpenter



Well, I figured it was about time I updated again (last week was a bit hectic for me between work and other things, I apologize for the lack of updates), so I figured I would do a second installment of the Master of Horror look. Today: John Carpenter steps up to the plate. Let's take a look, shall we?

*Again, this isn't a full filmography, go here if you would like to see that.

Halloween (1978): Okay, so admittedly, he directed some movies that don't sound all that great in the 60s and early 70s (Gorgon, the Space Monster?), but then he broke onto the scene with his slasher Halloween (it should be noted that he directed Assault on Precinct 13 before that, but it's not horror, so I'm not going there). Halloween is, in my not so humble opinion, the best slasher flick of all time. Dark, foreboding, not even very violent, and terrifying, it defines the genre. Check one great movie off for John.

The Fog (1980): An ample follow up. While it's not the greatest movie ever done, it's a good sophomore effort for John Carpenter. It's a pretty taut little movie, and as scary as you can make ghost pirates seem. It's also the second movie on this list that has been remade. That's usually a good sign when movies you've made are being redone (sometimes poorly). So far, so good.

The Thing (1982): This movie is more than ample, it's fucking great. This is probably my favorite Carpenter film, and that's saying something considering how much I like Halloween. After Escape from NY (again, not horror, not touching), Carpenter struck horror gold. While Escape from NY was good, it couldn't hold a candle to this movie. John Carpenter started to get some name recognition after this film, which led him to make...

Christine (1983): An adaptation of a Stephen King book, once again, we see Carpenter making something decidedly unscary (a killer car) into something fairly hair raising. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it's a good movie to have and can usually be found cheap at Best Buy or Target.

Prince of Darkness
(1987): Not a great movie by any means, but an average horror flick. Carpenter took a movie off from horror (Big Trouble in Little China, a good movie as well) and came back with a resounding "meh". Pretty much his first misstep on the list. Again, it's not really that bad, but just considering what he's done for the genre up to this point, it fails a bit. It should be noted this is part of his "Apocalypse Trilogy", what John considers to be the three films representing the end of the world. It started with The Thing, then this, and ends in a couple entries with In the Mouth of Madness.

They Live (1988): After watching this movie, I have to wonder how Rowdy Roddy Piper never made it as an action star. It's a terrible movie by most merits, which is all the more reason to love it. It's cheesy, campy, filled with 80s cliches, and awesome for every last second. For god's sake, it was the inspiration for cripple fight from South Park! That makes any movie a victory in my book.



In the Mouth of Madness (1994): The end of the "Apocalypse Trilogy", this movie is better than the previous entry in the set. In the Mouth of Madness actually hearkens back to the John Carpenter films of the 80s with his self produced synth score and weird creature effects. It actually uses all traditional make up effects, which I respect, especially right after we had seen T2 and Jurassic Park make computer effects look really good.

Village of the Damned (1995): It's been a while since I've seen this film, but I can remember it fondly, for whatever that's worth. I don't own this movie, though it's one I often consider buying. It's sort of forgettable, anyone else have any thoughts? I don't consider it bad, just sort of filler.

Vampires (1998): I can't get behind this movie. It's just not that good. It's a pretty sub par vampire flick and hot on the heels of Escape from LA, we've hit the low point of John's career. I mean, the main vampire's name is a consonant sound away from being "phallic". And it has Daniel Baldwin, aka the fat Baldwin. Really?

Ghosts of Mars (2001): This movie, while pretty ridiculous, is actually pretty entertaining. I don't have a problem with it, which from what I understand is somewhat strange. Again, it's pretty much like his remake of Village of the Damned: it's just kind of there.

Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (2005): This was one of my favorite entries in the first season of Masters of Horror (I have yet to see any of the second season, so I don't know about Pro-life), but this definitely lived up to the Master of Horror billing.

So, in the end, Carpenter has been pretty overwhelmingly good (or at least passable). I think he's much more of a Master than Craven because he's actually made some good movies since 1988. But I must admit that, like Craven, his first few were his best. They both burst onto the scene and kept it going for a while. In the end, Carpenter has 7 films I like, 3 movies I'm okay with, and 1 that I don't like (not including his diversions from horror and the ones I haven't seen). As per usual, what do you think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Frontiers Review



Well, I finally got Frontiers from Netflix, so I figure I would give it a review. I had heard it was another in the new French horror films that was brutal and horrifying, so I figured it couldn't be that bad. Did it live up to its billing? Well, let's see!

It seems that France is in a bit of political upheaval and we have some kids who need to get the hell out of there. So they take a bunch of money, shoot a couple of cops, and decide to head off to the countryside to hide out and then run to Amsterdam. Well, one of them got shot, so two go off ahead and the other two take the wounded guy to the hospital. The guy that got shot dies and the two who were with him flee to the countryside to catch up to the first two. Problem is, the first two arrive at a hostel run by murderous... Nazis?

Hmmm, I guess it's better than backwoods rednecks, right? Well, these guys basically are backwoods rednecks, so it's not. The kids seem to be picked off one by one except for the lone girl, who the Nazis think will be the next great addition to their family (and she's pregnant, score!), so they try to keep her alive. Well, she doesn't want to be there, so she tries to escape from the horror! I won't ruin the ending, suffice to say there is some bloodshed involved with her escape attempt.

Cinematography: The film doesn't really do very well in this department. It tends to use a lot of light filters in it for no real reason. The dark blue filter is used to make things look like dusk maybe? The yellow filter to make it feel more gritty? I don't know, but between that and the rapid cuts and shaky cam during most of the action in the movie, it was rather distracting. The sets are done well and everything, but it's nothing we haven't seen before (farmhouses in squalor, hostels with weird people running them). I really could have done without most of the camera movement. It gets a paltry 2.5 out 5 for Cinematography.

Execution: Yes, it's something we've all seen before: some city dwellers go to the country and get ravaged by the people that seem to resent the city folk just by virtue of them living in the city. They throw in a bit of a twist with the family being Nazis, but that really isn't that much of a twist. It makes them racist and territorial? That doesn't sound anything like the hicks in most murderous rampage movies! The acting is good enough, but I really didn't care for the characters. They weren't that compelling. Yasmina, the main girl in the movie, really didn't grab my sympathy or anything. In fact, in most the scenes where she was supposed to look traumatized, she mainly looked like a Palsy sufferer. Seriously, since when did walking like you have Parkinson's disease make it look like you had just been through a lot? I can handle some shaking, but at the end of this clip she looks like a bad zombie actor. It gets a 2.5 out of 5 for Execution as well.

Sub-genre Comparison: It's no High Tension. As far as some of the other movies similar, it's no Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes either. The evil people in this movie fail to resonate with me. I thought the grandfather of the group (who was supposedly a Nazi that hid after WWII) was the best of the family. He was interesting and powerful. Then he got shot. The brothers and sisters of the family were pretty uninteresting. There was a subtext in the movie that the brothers were warring over who would take over for the father, but it's never really fleshed out. And you don't really know who belongs to the family and who was just sort of adopted. I would much rather watch The Cottage again. It gets a 2 out of 5 for Sub-Genre Comparison.

Production Value: It does look pretty good for the most part. I have to admit, in the parts where gore shows up, it's pretty well done. I kind of figured it would be more brutal than it was, but it wasn't exactly tame by any means. I don't really like super gory movies, but I can handle them if they work the gore in with a decent story. The previously linked scene shows the best gore scene in the movie (a guy falling on a giant table saw is usually pretty much the peak for any movie), but there are a couple of other decent scenes in there as well. The sets are done well and the effects are believable. It will hold up well in that regard, so I give it a 3.5 out of 5 for Production Value.

Scares: Well, the movie doesn't really scare you, tending to try with the "gross you out with violence" more than actual scares. However, it does succeed in some parts. Again, the morgue scene linked to before did well. One thing that bothered me was the idea of the "children" in the mine shaft in this movie. There's a girl the family has adopted and impregnated a few times. Well, her kids were never up to snuff, so they stuck them in a mine shaft and feed them tourists on occasion. They only show up for a couple of scenes, but they are the scariest scenes in the movie. I really wish they would have fleshed them out a bit more. My favorite scene is one with two characters crawling through a very narrow tunnel to try to escape this mine. It's claustrophobic and eerie, with one of the children showing up behind them at one point before you really know what they are. It's a wonderful scene, and that with a couple other earns it a 3.5 out of 5 for Scares.

So, the total is an underwhelming 14 out of 25 for Frontiers. It wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be and wasn't scary enough to carry itself on tension alone. There are some worthwhile scenes, but overall the movie felt a little to mashed together. Plus it really bothered me watching a girl walk like a toddler for the last 45 minutes of the movie. I know she was supposed to be traumatized, but that had all the subtlety of Ben Stiller's portrayal of Simple Jack.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fangoria Awards

As Johnny pointed out over at Freddy in Space, Fangoria is accepting nominees for its Chainsaw Awards. You can check out what to do over at his blog, but I figured I would post what I feel deserve the awards as he did (My choices in CAPS):

BEST WIDE - RELEASE FILM

- Cloverfield
- Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army
- QUARANTINE
- The Ruins
- The Strangers

BEST LIMITED - RELEASE / DIRECT - TO - DVD FILM

- Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
- The Living and the Dead
- Rogue
- Stuck

BEST ACTOR

- Leo Bill, The Living and the Dead
- KARE HEDEBRANT, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
- Trevor Matthews, Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- Ron Perlman, Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army
- Marc Senter, The Lost

BEST ACTRESS

- Eliza Dushku, The Alphabet Killer
- LINA LEANDERSSON, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
- Alysson Paradis, Inside
- Naomi Watts, Funny Games
- Jess Weixler, Teeth

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

- A.J. BOWEN, THE SIGNAL
- Robert Englund, Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- Doug Jones, Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army
- Vinnie Jones, The Midnight Meat Train
- Michael Pitt, Funny Games

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

- Beatrice Dalle, Inside
- Lou Doillon, Sisters
- Jennifer Ellison, The Cottage
- Lauren Roy, The Chair
- ANNA WALTON, HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY

BEST SCREENPLAY

- Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army
- John Ainslie, Jon Knautz, Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
- John Strysik, Stuck
- Mitchell Lichtenstein, Teeth

BEST SCORE

- Michael Giacchino, Cloverfield
- Ryan Shore, Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- JOHN SODERQVIST, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
- tomandandy, The Strangers
- Robert Miller, Teeth

BEST MAKEUP / CREATURE FX

- MIKE ELIZALDE, CLIFF WALLACE, DAVID MARTI, MONTSE RIBE, HELLBOY 2 : THE GOLDEN ARMY
- Jacques - Olivier Molon - Inside
- David Scott, Jack Brooks : Monster Slayer
- Robert Hall, Quarantine
- Todd Tucker, Trailer Park of Terror

WORST FILM

- Up to you! Fill in your own choice for worst horror film of 2008.

MY CHOICE - MIRRORS

AFTER COUNTLESS SLEEPLESS NIGHTS OF INTENSE DELIBERATION, I HEREBY DECREE THAT THE ONE INDIVIDUAL MOST DESERVING OF INDUCTION INTO THE FANGORIA HALL OF FAME IS :

- Up to you! Fill in your own choice for who you think should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

MY CHOICE - NEIL MARSHALL

Definitely agree with Johnny on a lot of stuff. And by the way, I felt like The Signal didn't get a lot of love from people last year because it was a little off the wall, but if you know that it's three distinct parts that are all fairly different, then you will probably like it more. And I just happened to find out that Amazon has it on Blu-Ray for less than the DVD! Just in case you wanted to pick that up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pointless Twist Ending: Shrooms

Something I'm hoping to make a regular article I write is that of movies with twist endings that really didn't need to happen. I would like to focus on movies that weren't that bad or that really didn't need the twist in the end. I mean, after The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects, it seemed like everything needed a twist ending. I'm gonna tell you a couple of things right now: a few movies did that before our modern era (anyone remember Psycho or Friday the 13th?) and your movie doesn't need a twist to be good! A lot of very successful movies don't have twist endings. In fact, most don't! I might actually delve into some pretty bad movies with this eventually, but for now, like I said, I'll try to focus on movies that had some redeeming qualities. And for the record, I'm not going to talk about High Tension because we all know the ending was needlessly convoluted but the rest of the movie was pretty awesome. That's been done to death, I don't need to do that anymore.

As a disclaimer, I'm going to tell you *THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!* I figure that should be somewhat obvious, considering I'm talking about the end of a film, but just so I said it.



So, for the first run of this, I've picked Shrooms, a slasher film from 2007 about teens that go camping during some big bloom of mushrooms and then get wasted from them. Of course, camping in the middle of nowhere while doing drugs and having sex couldn't possibly have any repercussions. It wasn't anything ground breaking or even terribly good, but it was at least fairly enjoyable and had some enjoyable parts to it. But the end just reeked of a tacked on thought by the screenwriter. It's either that or they decided they wanted to be the next M. Night Shyamalan. In any event, let's get to what I am talking about.

Throughout the movie, they talk about an asylum that exists in the woods they are in. As a character tells the story, you discover that there were some monks (I don't recall what the name they were called was and can't seem to find it on a quick perusal of Google) who were given all the bad kids of the town to whip them into shape. Apparently, they routinely beat the kids savagely and even killed some of them. So there was a set of twins that the brothers tortured and killed one of and made the other watch. Afterward, the one left was called "The Lonely Twin". Apparently, this kid made one of the most evil monks drink some poisonous mushroom tea and the monk went batshit fuckcrazy and killed everyone else in the monastery. So the story is that the monk and lonely twin still stalk the area, killing off hapless victims as they see fit.

This makes for some very interesting scenes where you get a hooded figure (the monk) or a little boy with a bag on his head (similar to The Orphanage) running around and scaring the shit out of the campers. The ghouls are unstoppable and seem to pop out of nowhere. The kills are fairly entertaining and the ghosts of these tragic characters really add an otherworldly dread to the film. What do you do when you're being stalked by vengeful fucking ghosts? You get the fuck out of the woods and never return!

Well, in the end, you are down to the main guy who told the story and the main girl who ate a bad shroom and has been having visions of the rest of the kids dying the whole movie. Well, in a pointless twist, you find that she's been killing all the rest of the kids off in a drug induced haze (which she discovers through a series of flashbacks in an ambulance). She figures it out, kills an ambulance driver, runs out the vehicle, and goes back to the woods to presumably find more shrooms for her next psychedelic murder spree.

My big problem was that the movie wasn't that bad. They spent the whole time building up this supernatural aspect and actually bring you to the insane asylum in the end of the movie! The monk and lonely twin are actually creepy and compelling killers, making it that much worse when you find it's some blond twat on a bad trip that's been killing her friends. Plus the shrooms she eats, in addition to being poisonous, allow her to "see the future", so she spends most of the movie having these flashes of her friends dying. But as it turns out, it was just her planning her kills. It makes the whole film feel watered down. Like I said, it's not a particularly awesome movie anyway, but if they had left it a bit more preternatural, it would have been a better movie.

That's the first in this series of articles! Hopefully more to come!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who watches The Watchmen? (a quick slip away from horror)

Apparently, most of America watches The Watchmen. I, of course, saw it like everyone else this weekend. I also happened to watch Gremlins this weekend. So what was the best movie I watched this weekend?

Gremlins.

Watchmen left me underwhelmed. The acting was pretty bad. Silk Spectre II was god awful, Ozymandius only slightly better. It was 2 hours and 49 minutes and by the end, I was actually hoping it would end soon. And bear in mind, I can handle long movies (I own and watch Lord of The Rings extended editions). It's not that the movie is almost 3 hours, it's that it feels like it's almost 3 hours. It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't good by any means.

Zack Snyder has an eye for scenery, but has no ability to shoot a fight scene without diving into slow motion for no good fucking reason. That was one of the big reasons I didn't like 300 either. Watchmen is no different, choosing to make a fight scene that should last 2 minutes last 10. The movie is probably about 2 hours worth of movie and 49 minutes worth of slow motion (that's an exaggeration of course, but you get my point). Basically, there is no chemistry between most of the actors, so instead of having on screen tension and drama, you get slow motion and extreme close-ups of actors' faces. Seriously, probably 1/3 of the movie is spent with one actor's face taking up the majority of the screen. I just don't care that much to see the wrinkles and moles on people's faces.

Like I said, it wasn't all bad: Rorschach was kick ass (kudos to Jackie Earle Haley), Dr. Manhattan was done very well by Billy Crudup, and The Comedian was equally good. However, the three of them aren't on the screen enough to save the film. And the film looks very pretty, but scenery gets lost when you don't have any actors to include in it. Overall, I feel like this movie is not going to be remembered for long and in 2 years, is anyone going to be watching The Watchmen?

At least it wasn't as bad as this was:

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Recent Horrors...

While I like writing the lengthy, in depth reviews (I hope you like reading them), I have been watching a lot of horror movies in the last few months that I won't be able to get to (as I am trying to keep reviewing movies that are fresh in my mind). I would like to at least give a few shout outs to the movies I have watched, just so you people may have a little more of an idea about what is good and what isn't. A lot of these have appeared in my Netflix Instant Watch queue, so I figured I would give them a try. Anyway, here's my best estimation of what I've watched recently:

Rest Stop: This movie never really decides if it wants to be a slasher flick or a psychological thriller. The bad part of this means that it doesn't succeed at either. It's a pretty mediocre movie with one quite decent scene where a girl has to euthanize an injured cop (and doesn't succeed right away). Other than that, pretty worthless.

Timber Falls: Pretty standard horror flick about a couple that goes hiking in the backwoods and get assaulted by rednecks. Not a great film, but decent. Really have a feeling it's just going to fade into the back of my mind though as it didn't stand out on any account for me.

The Signal: This movie impressed me a lot. It was in Neflix's Instant View for a while, so I recommend watching it if you can. The world goes crazy and a couple try to find each other. It was written and directed by 3 different people, each taking a third of the movie for themselves. It's surprisingly well acted, disturbingly funny at parts, and all around a very trippy experience. Worth checking out for sure.

[rec]: Yeah, I watched it. Of course, I liked it, like every other horror person will tell you. Go see it if you haven't, it's excellent.

Quarantine: While it lacks the punch of the original [rec], it's a worthy remake that did some things very well. Definitely near the top of my big hollywood horror of the last few years. See Quarantine before you see [rec] because otherwise Quarantine will disappoint you a bit.

Otis: Touted as "Juno for the horror set", I was curious. I didn't really like Juno, but I was wondering what that meant. Apparently that meant watching a fat guy get slapped around by Kevin Pollack and watching Daniel Stern get slapped around by his family (metaphorically). It was bland, uninteresting, and pretty predictable. On the plus side, Bostin Christopher (who plays the title character) was refreshingly good in the movie, so that was a bright spot.

Rogue: Wolf Creek's director Greg McClean comes back with a worthy follow up. Wolf Creek is one of my favorite recent horror movies, and Rogue shows that McClean can still do it. It's the best nature run amok film of the last year or so and actually makes you feel like this is what would happen to you (if a gigantic crocodile was trying to eat you, that is). Check it out on DVD now (I got it for cheap at Target).

The Backwoods: Moody and rather slow, this film (starring Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine) is fairly impressive. I liked it a lot actually. It was well directed and interesting and even though it was slow at parts, never lost my interest. Also available for fairly cheap (Best Buy, I believe).

Splinter: I will write a more in depth review when this one comes out on DVD (supposedly in April), but all I can say is it was an impressive little flick. Very pleased with it.

Eden Lake: Go buy this on DVD if you haven't seen it. Like [rec], I'm not going to tell you anything new. Go see it for yourself, it's damn good.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer: A decent little throw back to some 80s horror. The make-up effects were all traditional and good, making it fun to watch as Robert Englund transformed into a hideous creature that wasn't Freddy. It wasn't a great movie, but if you happen across it, give it a watch. It'll at least entertain you for an hour and a half.

Shiver: Pretty bland Spanish horror flick that I wanted to like because it was from the same studio as Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage (both excellent movies). But ultimately, the movie falls straight into mediocrity. It's not particularly scary. It's well shot, but boring. I just couldn't like it, as much I wanted to.

Shrooms: One of those movies where if the ending would have been different, it would have rated higher. But, instead, it was unnecessary and detracted from the rest of the film. It wasn't a bad little slasher with some interesting scenes, but wasn't anything revolutionary. Again, Instant View it if you would like, but I wouldn't buy it.

Wind Chill: I found this in my Instant View and was pleasantly surprised. It was well done, well acted, had sympathetic characters, and some good scares thrown in. Another well shot movie, I may have to revisit this one after I watch it again. I think Netflix took it off Instant View, but I would still recommend giving it a view. Nice to see a small budget American horror flick that entertained me.

Day of the Dead (2008): This movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. That being said, I would never say it was a good movie, but I was expecting a lot worse. I have to admit, I don't much care for the original (sacrilege, I know), but it was interesting. At least this remake didn't just take a big steaming shit on the original, but it didn't do it much justice. This movie did reinforce one thing for me though: I hate Nick Cannon.

The Unborn: You know, when a movie touts that it was written by the co-writer of the Dark Knight (because no one actually knows who David S. Goyer is besides me, I guess), some people might think that's a great thing. Well, 2 things: David S. Goyer is actually only credited with the story, not the actual script for The Dark Knight, and David S. Goyer has written such gems as Demonic Toys, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, and The Crow: City of Angels. He's not a particularly good writer, and this movie proves it. Even the interesting scene they show in the trailers of the man's head being upside down is uninteresting in the movie. Goyer also directed it, which he also did for Blade Trinity and we know how well that worked out. This movie was bad Hollywood crap.

There's what I've been up to lately. What do you guys have to say about that?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My love for horror...

I just figured I would share with everyone just how I got into horror. I love horror movies. I feel like a well done horror movie can be the most powerful type of movie out there. Look at what happened when The Exorcist came out: protests, people proclaiming the actual film of the movie was cursed, saying the Devil was actually captured on film, etc. Films have been banned in countries because they are too violent or scary. In the old days of black and white horror, people would pass out in theaters from the content (of course, back then, seeing a woman's calf exposed could cause people to faint).

I've loved horror ever since I started watching it. The feeling of being scared is excellent. No matter how much sleep I lost over movies, I would keep going back. I grew up in a 100+ year old house that creaked and groaned in the middle of nowhere. Our backyard was a wooded swamp. The cow pasture that my bedroom overlooked would get a nice layer of fog in the summer hanging over it. It was like living in a horror movie. I simultaneously loved and hated it.

But there was one moment in particular I can remember that got me to love the movies. It was when I first watched Pet Sematary. My parents were big on not censoring anything we watched, telling me if I got scared, it was my problem. They didn't care about language because they knew I wouldn't repeat it (because I had some common sense). Well there is one scene in the movie that scared the crap out of me:



I remember seeing that and for the next year and a half of my life, I jumped into and out of bed. I would look under my bed to be sure there wasn't anything down there and still jump into it. I slept with my head under the covers and shuddered at every sound, thinking it was Gage coming to cut me with his scalpel. I was so affected by that I actually couldn't watch the movie for several years after (now I thoroughly enjoy the movie). I remember thinking just how amazing it was that something so simple could affect someone so much. I love the feeling of going to bed uneasy after watching a good horror film. I love still expecting to see someone standing in my closet with a knife. I love planning my survival for the zombie holocaust (trust me, it's good). I love that people still cover their eyes when something scares them and even in our supposedly "desensitized" society, things can still scare people.

And that's why I love horror.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cold Prey Review



I just got it from Netflix (I moved it up in my queue because of Johnny over at Freddy in Space) and watched it this weekend. I gotta say, foreign horror is where it's been at lately, especially those Europeans. I was anticipating it highly put it in my DVD player, eager to watch what was in store. And here's a summary of what I watched:

A group of 5 people set out to snowboard in the mountains, embarking on a long journey to find what are presumably the most "rad" and "bodacious" hills around (those words are still relevant, right?). One of the guys falls and breaks his leg, so they need to find shelter for him. Well, they happen upon an abandoned ski resort and find they can take shelter there for the night. Seems perfectly safe and sound, right?

Wrong! A killer stalks them one by one, picking them off (literally). As the killer whittles down the group, they try to find out who the giant man wielding the pick axe is and why he is trying to kill them. I wonder if they ever happen to find out the mystery or if any survive. On to the review!

Cinematography: I happen across another well shot horror movie! The camera work is once again very well done. Nothing particularly revolutionary, but the scenery is wonderful. The vast mountain expanses are captured quite well. You get a real sense from the very beginning of just how huge the scenery is and how isolated the characters are from everything else. The ski resort is amply well shot, with dizzying shots of the long hallways and the large open rooms they are in, making it hard to tell when/where the killer will appear. It earns itself a 4 out of 5 for Cinematography.

Execution: Well, a group of 20 something people going out to the middle of nowhere and being stalked by a killer is nothing new. It's a slasher flick. But it's a rather exceptional slasher flick. I will be the first to admit I'm not a huge fan of slashers, but this one is a well done movie. The characters are at the very least likable, though not original. You have 2 couples and the traditional single guy: lovable and funny, but single because he's a little nerdy and shy. You have one established couple and one new couple, nothing groundbreaking. But they are well acted and enjoyable, so it earns a respectable 3.5 out of 5 for Execution: better than average, but not exactly mind blowing.

Sub-genre Comparison: Unfortunately for Cold Prey, it falls into a category that is getting more and more bloated by the day, especially with remakes. As a modern slasher, the movie is better than almost any other slasher out there today. But I don't think it holds any weight to the heavy hitters like Halloween or Friday The 13th. But then again, what does? With so many slashers being done nowadays, it's hard to get anything exceptional. But like I said, compared to most recent slashers, this is head and shoulders above them. I don't know if it will be remembered like the big boys, but it will be in lists of gems to look for in the future. That's worth a 3.5 out of 5 for Sub-genre Comparison.

Production Value: This movie is going to hold up well. It's well shot, well acted, and all around well done. The gore and effects are pretty sparse (going more for blood than gore), but they're effective when they appear. The movie does like to use a lot of blood (the characters tend to bleed about 3 or 4 gallons worth and still manage to breathe), but what do you expect from a slasher? Realism is not the goal of the movie. The kills aren't anything inventive or special, but they work and you get to enjoy them. Overall, it earns a nice 4 out of 5 for Production Value.

Scares: Unfortunately, the movie isn't particularly scary. It's fairly tense, but never too terribly edge-of-your-seat scary. The killer is a decent character, but not particularly imposing or anything of that sort. As I said, there is a nice feeling of isolation, but it never gets to blossom into all out terror. The movie is pretty briskly paced once the killing starts, so maybe that's why (with only 5 characters to kill off, it's hard to space that out). It was okay though and scarier than a lot of other movies, so it's an average 3 out of 5 for Scares.

And with the final tally, Cold Prey ends up at a respectable 18 out of 25. The biggest thing it has against it is that it's a slasher and that makes it hard to score very well with me. But for a slasher to get above average (which would be somewhere between a 11 and 15, assuming 3 is average), I have to have liked it quite a bit. Cold Prey a very nice addition to the genre (which recently has relied on remakes and dull "original" ideas) and if I could find it for cheap, I would definitely buy it. My favorite part of the movie is definitely the scenery and shots, so I would probably buy it just for that. Overall, a good movie for horror fans!