Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Blob

Maybe it's because I just spent the last few weeks watching terrible Resident Evil and Saw movies, but the remake of The Blob was terrific. The creature (?) effects are pretty great, as is the gore for a mainstream 80s studio horror movie. The plot is there's a small town in America and also there is a blob that eats people, two great tastes that taste great together. Coincidentally, the main girl in this movie is played by Shawnee Smith, who was in every Saw movie as Jigsaw Jr. Lotsa people get blobbed real good including one kid, so nice one, The Blob.

RATING: 70%

Friday, October 24, 2014

Alone in the Dark

During a blackout, four of the world's craziest psychopaths break out of a psychiatric hospital. Amid the chaos, they descend upon their new doctor's home. The doctor and his family are forced to fight for their lives. Sounds kinda like a standard horror movie plot, doesn't it? For the most part Alone in the Dark is pretty average but there are a few moments of madness in the movie that almost elevate it above the standard fare. It also has a great cast: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, a hippy dippy Donald Pleasence and TV's Dwight Schultz (The A-Team, Star Trek: The Next Generation). The tone of this movie is just way off though, everything seesaws back and forth from casual quiet to over the top insanity. The movie never seems to have a clear narrative progression, it just feels like a series of events happening to a dozen or so characters over a 48 hour period. It's worth a look, but that's about it.

Rating: 60%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saw 3D

A better title for this movie would be "Saw VII," but they wanted to cash in on the 3D craze of the late oughties (which totally doesn't already look dated four years later). Hey, filmmakers, if your part 3 isn't going to be in 3D then ya missed the boat! This movie is, of course, terrible, but there are two good things going for it: 1) a torture device scene that happens in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses, which gives the film a different palate than the normal "warehouse green" it seems to love, and B) a kinda unique plot in which a nonfiction author rose to fame by faking that he was a survivor of Jigsaw and now Jigsaw catches him and puts him through some traps or whatever. Now that I'm done with these movies I don't think I can recommend them to anybody per se, but I'm sure academics will write/have already written papers on the trend of 2000s horror focusing extreme pain, suffering, etc, when America as a country was committing acts of torture so publicly. Finally, look at the poster there - a gigantic robot Jigsaw killer would have been so much better than anything that happens in this movie but oh well!

RATING: 41%

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sleepaway Camp

If you've heard of Sleepaway Camp, you probably already know how it ends. The final scene is easily the most memorable part of the movie. The rest of Sleepaway Camp is definitely worth a look though, mainly because the tone of this movie is so sleazy/douchey. Almost every character in the movie is some kind of wise ass creep with a New York accent (quote: "Hey Angela, what's the matter with you? Don't ya know how to tawk?"). I've seen Sleepaway Camp a number of times over the years and my opinion of the movie has evolved from "this movie is stupid" to "this movie is decent." On this most recent viewing I actually noticed a lot more of the little plot elements going on between the scenes of assholes being murdered and children swearing at one another. Basically, if you haven't seen it before, it comes down to this: it's no masterpiece but this movie might be a little bit better than you think it is.

Rating: 62%

Fun Fact: One of the camp's cooks was played by Robert Earl Jones, father of James Earl Jones.

(Image from deathensemble.com)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Saw VI

These movies aren't even really horror movies - they're just thrillers with a whole lotta gore. I mean, a horror movie is supposed to about fear, and these are just badly structured police procedurals. No other horror movie spends so much time on cops trying to catch the killer (or secretly be the killer several times) as the Saw movies do, and the victims in these traps are basically props. Anyway, in this one an insurance executive must pay the price for his sins, since he invented insurance and whatever I guess,. but maybe the cop is actually the one being tested (he is)! Wait, am I repeating myself?

RATING: 28%

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prom Night

Prom Night, released in 1980, feels like a leftover from the 1970s. It's probably the only slasher movie to feature both a custom van and an extended disco dance sequence. If it weren't for the cast, top billed Leslie Nielsen and scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, this movie would probably be easily forgotten. That's not to say it's not worth a watch though. It might lean a little heavy on red herrings and horror movie tropes, but it's not without its charms. The recent blu ray release from Synapse Films is easily the best looking home video version of the movie. Avoid the bargain bin releases of Prom Night as they are most often non-anamorphic and feature a blurry transfer of the film.

Rating: 68%

Fun Fact: Jamie Lee Curtis, who played Kim, did uncredited voice work in Escape from New York and Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

(Image from ca.movieposter.com)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saw V

So Saw IV was, as mentioned, needlessly comprised of flashbacks to Saws I-III explaining details none of us ever wondered about. Surely they must be done flashing back to the previous movies, right? Wrong! On the one hand I must give the series a modicum of credit for trying to break out of the traditional horror structure of more movies=more kills and that's all, but really, do any of us care about more than the elaborate deaths? I must also point out that these movies take place over the course of like a month, which must really terrify that city. "A 51st victim of a weird Rube Goldberg deathtrap was discovered today, careful out there everybody!" The plot here is a cop is trying to stop some people from dying (for the fifth time) but maybe he's the one being tested, let's find out (of course he is).

RATING: 39%

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Children of the Corn: Genesis

I considered reviewing this movie second to last because Wikipedia seems to suggest that it's a sequel to the original Children of the Corn film and not the 2009 remake. Frankly, it doesn't really matter. This movie is barely tied to the other films. They sneak in a pre-credits sequence in Gatlin, but the rest of the movie takes place in California. There are barely any children in the movie, which is hilarious because the word children is in the freaking title. Genesis has the look and feel of a modern day remake of a seventies grindhouse movie. Everything looks gross and the general color palette is varying shades of sun baked dirt. Basically, it's pretty slow and dumb like a lot of the other Children the Corn sequels. And I just realized that I don't have to watch any more of these movies. Which means I don't have to write anything else about these movies. So, peace out homies.

Rating: Children of the Hills Have Eyes Massacre%

Fun Fact: Duane Whitaker, who played Pritchett the truck driver, was one of the redneck rapists in Pulp Fiction.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saw IV

So this movie starts with the autopsy of Jigsaw (oops, spoilers), during which they take out the killers brain, missing a glorious opportunity to either a) place it in a robot body, or b) eat it to gain Jigsaw's powers a la Jason Goes to Hell. Missed opportunities is what this franchise is all about! Again, like the last movie, we get a ton of irritating flashbacks, including the, gasp, "twist" that the whole movie is a flashback and takes place during Saw III! Why, you may ask? Who cares! No really creative deathtraps here and also we learn that Jigsaw is Jigsaw because his unborn baby got killed accidentally by a junkie. Hasn't anybody in movieland heard of therapy???

RATING: 42%

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Children of the Corn (2009)

While this made for TV remake hits a lot of the same beats as the original film, there are a few stark contrasts between the two movies. Right off the bat: the married couple who stumble upon Gatlin and the killer kid cult therein. The couple in the original are a loving pair. We get to know them, get to like them and then we're afraid for them when they stumble into danger. The couple in the remake flat out hate each other, there is no reason that they should be travelling together at all. They do nothing but fight and scream at each other. Secondly: Isaac, the leader of the children's cult. In the original, Isaac was played by a character actor with a growth hormone deficiency. John Franklin, the actor, was in his mid twenties but had child like features which allowed him to be a particularly creepy presence. The remake cast an eight year child actor who sounds as though he learned his lines phonetically. The kid has zero presence or gravitas. They have him in short pants for fuck's sake. In the end though I will give the remake credit for having several on screen child kills.

Rating: 46%

Fun Fact: Kandyse McClure, who played Vicky, was also in the TV remake of Carrie.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saw III

Hey, here's a good jumping on point to the series in case you missed Saws I and II, since about 45% of this movie is composed of flashbacks explaining things we never wanted explained from the first two movies! For instance (SPOILERS), did you ever wonder which mirror Jigsaw used to put the fake blood on him or why the two victims didn't see his body breathe the whole movie long for Saw I? No? Too bad! The plot of this movie is Jigsaw is dying but luckily his co-Jigsaw kidnapped a surgeon to do brain surgery and meanwhile a sad dad has to compete in a series of evil events to get over his son who was killed less than one year ago, the big crybaby (?). You got a freezer situation, a drowning via rotten pig guts situation, and a neck bomb situation a la Total Recall. I can already tell this series is just going to get more and more incomprehensible as we go on, but, hey, clarity is for suckers.

RATING: 45%

(I shouldn't have been rating the Resident Evil movies so high the whole time)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Children of the Corn: Revelation

Prior to watching this I would have told you that Children of the Corn III was the worst in the series, but now I have to say that that title belongs to Children of the Corn: Revelation. This is a slow movie with artificial stakes, the protagonist is in danger because she's staying in a haunted (?) apartment building and yet she refuses to leave. Not even the other "colorful characters" inhabiting the building realize that they are in serious, serious danger until they're pretty much all dead. There's one line of dialogue in the movie that attempts to shoehorn it into the rest of the series, but other than that there really isn't anything going on here that ties it to the other movies. And while I previously shit on the CGI in Children of the Corn II, where those effects were laughable the CGI here is flat out embarrassing.

Rating: I > II > V > IV > 666 > III > Revelation%

Fun Fact: Michael Ironside, who is in this movie for all of two minutes, was also in Scanners and Total Recall and Starship Troopers and many other higher quality movies.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Saw II

So obviously you gotta amp up the gore and crazy in any sequel, so here we've got a whole group of (really irritating) people with no connection (OR IS THERE?) who must escape a whole house of traps and whathaveyou. There's a needle pit, a furnace hole, and a neurotoxic gas that will make all the victims bleed like crazy! I wonder where this Jigsaw Killer gets his money for all this stuff, anyway? These movies could be better if they didn't presume their audience was full of idiots - whenever the characters figure out a clue they have to show a flashback where the clue was read aloud as though we can't rermember back thirty minutes our own damn selves.

RATING: 61%

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return

It may have taken fifteen years, but they finally made a direct sequel to the original Children of the Corn movie. All the previous sequels made brief references to either the town of Gatlin, where the first movie was set, or to He Who Walks Behind The Rows, the name of the evil force guiding the killer kids. (Except for Part IV, which referenced nothing whatsoever from any of the previous films.) But now that we've reached Part VI, or Part 666 if you want to look cool on a video store shelf, the continuity runs deep. There's a prophecy, a conspiracy, a mystery and the return of a major adversary. The only thing missing is me giving a shit. While it seems odd that they waited as long as they did to bring back Isaac, not even he can bring life to this movie. The first kill happens 41 minutes into the 82 minute running time. That's criminal. Considering it was released straight to video, there's no reason for this movie to be so tame. Nobody ever rented a Children of the Corn movie for its story.

Rating: I guess Children of the Corn DCLXVI: Isaac's Return didn't have quite the same ring to it%

Fun Fact: Stacy Keach, who played Dr. Michaels, was in the ozploitation thriller Roadgames.

(Image from thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.ca)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saw

This is the first installment of the famous seven (seven? are you kidding me?) film franchise of "torture porn" films (a term I disagree with but I'll save that discussion for one of the sequels in case I run out of things to talk about). The plot is there's some killer named the Jigsaw Killer because he takes a jigsaw puzzle-piece shaped slice of flesh from each of his victims, although that is 100% ignored forever after they mention it briefly once, so I think they were just attempting to justify the name of the movie or killer or both. Anyway, two guys are trapped in a room and they've got to figure out how to escape with clues! It has an interesting premise and ok execution, but the main problem is I think you're sorta supposed to agree with this killer's philosophy of nobody truly appreciating life until they're forced to eat a buncha razors or something, but he comes across sounding like a 19-year old who just discovered Ayn Rand. Just shut up already, Mr. J. S. Killer!

RATING: 71%

Friday, October 10, 2014

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

Children of the Corn V is yet another 90s horror movie made in an attempt to cash in on the success of Scream. It borrows heavily from 80s slasher movies, including lifting a handful of sequences straight out of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. It features cameos from genre veterans like Kane Hodder, Fred Williamson, David Carradine and the little ginger kid from Picket Fences. It's easily one of the better Children of the Corn sequels, which is hardly high praise. The first two acts are pretty slow and uneventful. Other than some pre-credits kills, there's really no action until an hour into the movie. Despite a few fun parts in the third act, it has one of the dumbest ending bits I've seen in a while.

Rating: I Know What You Did With This Sequel%

Fun Fact: Adam Wylie, who played Ezekiel, was also in Child's Play 2.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Resident Evil: Retribution

Not exactly sure who is retributing who here, but for this series of movies I guess having your title sound like the name of a nu-metal album is more important than having it make sense. Speaking of making sense, Alice, our stalwart hero, finds herself captured by the Umbrella Corporation (UMB [NYSE] $12.84 -3.81). She must fight her way through a buncha computer simulations to escape, and if there's any truth in the world it's that nothing is more fun than watching somebody play a shitty video game for two hours! In the end it turns out the true monster is man, specifically the man who greenlit five fucking Resident Evil movies.

RATING: 26%

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

What do Magic: The Gathering, the Gathering of the Juggalos and Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering all have in common? Damned if I know. But seriously folks, Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering is not a good movie. It has nothing in common with the other movies in the franchise except for children and corn. The dialogue is terrible, the tone is inconsistent, even the editing is kinda shitty. It's almost a shame too because Naomi Watts is in the lead role. Yes, that Naomi Watts, the one you had no idea was in a straight to video Children of the Corn movie.

Rating: I > II > IV > III%

Fun Fact: Naomi Watts had a small part in Joe Dante's Matinee.

(Image from moviepostershop.com)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Resident Evil: Afterlife

It's the fourth movie in the Resident Evil series and you're watching it because, I dunno, you wanna be the cool aunt and you're babysitting your ten year old goth niece or something? There's not really a good other reason to get caught up in these flicks (I mean, a non-blog related reason). So in this one Alice gets de-superpowered, ends up in LA with some jerky survivors with whom she must make her way to a floating oil tanker that promises safe haven. Now, question - why if all of humanity is basically destroyed does the evil Umbrella corporation keep running military experiments to sell to the now non-existant governments? Answer - cuz heavy metal, dude, kablow, did you see that one zombie get totally shot in the face?

RATING: 45%

Monday, October 6, 2014

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

So far none of the Children of the Corn movies have been particularly good. The first movie was just alright and the second movie essentially got by on absurdity alone. The third movie felt incomplete and yet overstuffed at the same time. It never really felt like there was a main character in the movie. There were basically four leads and each one of them had a partial story arc. Either it was a beginning and an end with no middle or a middle and an end with no beginning. And despite being set in the big city, there never seemed to be more than 100 or so people around. There were a few moments of quality ridiculousness in the last half hour of the movie that I actually enjoyed, but they hardly made up for the overall sloppiness of the movie.

Rating: It's all direct to video from here%

Fun Fact: Michael Ensign, who played Father Frank, was also in a bunch of way better movies like Ghostbusters, WarGames and House.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Resident Evil: Extinction

You know what's pretty irritating - when a movie series of more than two films decides to forgo the traditional, lame "numbering" in favor of just a colon and an "extreme" title like "Apocalypse" or "Extinction." Well now I gotta keep looking up which movie is next on the list to watch, idiot movie execs! Anyway, this movie is beautifully shot, using a Mad Max style desert wasteland to great cinematic effect. Now Alice has to help a group of escapees get to a promised land in Alaska but oh no! The Umbrella corporation is, uh, cloning her and also there's an evil super scientist that stands in her way. I am watching these movies because it's Halloween season, but they are not horror flicks, just action movies that happen to have zombies in them.

RATING: 51%

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice is a ridiculous movie. It is, however, a very specific type of ridiculous movie: it's a cheap horror movie from the early nineties. It's the type of movie that I suspect we'll see become increasingly popular among the "so bad it's good" crowd. The script for Children of the Corn II is seven kinds of dumb, with endless exposition crammed into every scene. The primitive CGI special effects in this movie are incredibly laughable. There are two good kills though, both of which made use of practical effects and both of which could have been in just about any other horror movie. The ridiculousness of this movie made me realize that there are several more installments in this series and I honestly have no idea what I'm in for.

Rating: Not as good as Ghoulies III%

Fun Fact: Christie Clark, who played Lacey, was also in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge.

(Image from gruesomehertzogg.com)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

This sequel picks up where the first left off - Alice (Milla Jovavich) wakes up in a hospital bed after an unknown amount of time to discover (gasp!) there's a zombie apocalypse! I mean, a Resident Evil Apocalypse! The virus has spread into Raccoon City, and it's up to a small group of adventurers featuring our old friend Alice, Jill Valentine, a pimp played by Mike Epps, and a generic white cop I can't even remember the name of. The plot is ludicrous but the action is pretty good - Alice now has superpowers because she got injected with Zombie Dust when she was asleep. Anyway, she has to beat the rocket launcher boss from Resident Evil 3, and whereas I had to have a backpack full of herbs and ammo to do so circa 2001, she manages to do it by making him feel feelings. So that's what the red herb was for!

RATING: 52%

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Children of the Corn

If I had reviewed Children of the Corn after seeing it years earlier, I would have said that the movie was boring. Now, having it seen again, I'm willing to say that the movie is slow and uneven. It's 90% killer kid cult action and 10% cheap special effects trying to imply supernatural forces. Also, since most of the cast is made up of child actors, there really isn't much violence. Except for when it comes to the ginger kid, who gets his ass kicked by the adult male lead. There are some great shots in the movie that reminded me of Night of the Living Dead, seeing killer farm kids emerge from the corn fields makes for a great image. Overall, the film has a solid premise that gets shortchanged by the under-cooked supernatural elements and lame special effects.

Rating: 58%

Fun Fact: Robby Kiger, who played Job, would later play Patrick in The Monster Squad.

(Image from moviepostershop.com)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Resident Evil

(In a continuation of me and Quammy's Halloween tradition, I am going to review two horror franchises, starting with everybody's favorite video game adaptation, Resident Evil!)

Everybody hates this movie, and I can sort of see why - it suffers from a lot of the problems of early 2000s action movies (including CGI that looks faker than the original Playstation One game, confusing storyline, needless SWAT guys in heavy armor), and strays pretty far from the source material. At the time avoiding zombies for half the film was a detriment, but now, in 2014, years after we've reached Peak Zombie, that is totally fine. Anyway, we all know the plot - a virus leaks and an evil corporation tries to cover it up but that doesn't exactly go so well! I'd also like to point out that this movie franchise is the longest running theatrical action franchise to feature a woman in the lead (apart from Underworld, and that actually might be it), so extra points for that.

RATING: 57%

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Beyond

Lucio Fulci is a great Italian horror director who prefers to assault the reader with surreal moments of intense violence or beauty rather than create any sort of narrative. In The Beyond, one of his most beloved (?) films, there's, like, a house in Louisiana with a door to the titular the beyond? I'm not entirely sure and I've seen it a few times. Well, some spiders eat an eyeball out of somebody's face and there's some zombies and etc, what more do you want?

RATING: 79%

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Atom Age Vampire

Don't let the title fool you - there's no actual vampire in this movie (plenty of atoms though). This is a not-so-great film about a doctor who murders for science/horniness. One interesting (insensitive) thing is that the Doc murders people near the port, where hundreds of refugees from Hiroshima are arriving. It's the oldest Western movie that I know of to reference the real human horror of the atomic bombings of Japan. Too bad it's in such a shitty movie.

RATING: 31%

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Tale of Zatoichi

This is the third Zatoichi movie and the first one in color. Here our pudgy blind samurai friend returns home to find out his old mentor has turned into a bad guy! Zatoichi considers retiring with the woman he loves and having a nice life where he doesn't slice up evildoers but there are, like, twenty movies left in this series so I'll let you guess what he decides.

RATING: 76%

Thursday, September 11, 2014

V/H/S/2

So I didn't really like the first movie in this anthology series, but then a few different people told me the sequel was worth it because there was one great segment included. Unfortunately, every person forgot which number segment it was so I was doomed to watch this whole movie. Like the first one, some people are compelled for some reason to watch a bunch of snuff films, which, despite the fact that this takes place in modern times and every individual short film was shown in context to be shot digitally, have all been transferred down to big ol' unreliable VHS copies. Anyway, there's a boring ghost one, a boring zombie one, A TOTALLY BONKERS AMAZING SHORT HORROR FILM THAT DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE PACKAGED IN THIS SHITTY DEAL, and a boring alien one. Just watch the third segment and you'll be fine.

RATING: 85% (Third segment)
RATING: 26% (Whole movie)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Crusade

Early Doctor Who serials are divided up pretty evenly between those with historical premises and those based in science fiction. It's my understanding that the historical serials were never particularly popular and were eventually abandoned after the first few seasons. Having seen about a half dozen of these historical serials, it's easy to see that they often follow a basic formula. One or more of the travelers get captured and those remaining find themselves rubbing elbows with a famous historical figure while the rest of the plot unfolds. The Crusade definitely has some of this formula working for it/against it, but for the first time you get a sense that the characters have learned from their previous experiences. Barbara is captured in the first few minutes of the story and yet she never despairs and never stops trying to escape. Having survived more than a dozen impossible scenarios by this point, she remains unfazed in the face of certain death.

Rating: You ask for the impossible very lightly%

(Image from aintitcool.com)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Tale of Zatoichi Continues

This is one of those sequels that returns exactly to the scene of the first movie, like Back to the Future II (time travel) or Return of the Jedi (Death Star). Here Zatoichi returns to the place he was sort of forced to honor-kill the dying samurai in the first movie, but a buncha people are super pissed at him! Unlike the first movie, Zatoichi quickly and frequently fights large gangs of assassins because we don't have to wonder if it's a myth that he's so great (because why would they make 26 fucking movies about him being a good liar). It's not as good as the original but it's still fun to watch Zatoichi act like a loveable clumsy doofus until he's forced to kill approximately 100 people with his cane sword.

RATING: 66%