Thursday, December 31, 2009

13 Best Horror Movies of 2009 (And the Guilty Pleasure)

The year is almost over-here's my pics for best horror releases of the year, plus the big guilty pleasure

13.) Paranormal Activity

While it didn't live up to all the hype it got, "Paranormal Activity" was a grateful reminder that one can do R rated horror without heaps of gore. It also bested "Saw VI" in the box office, so here's hoping it's the final nail in the coffin for the genre of torture horror-at least as far as popularity is concerned.

12.) Grace

Dramatic, darkly comic and haunting, "Grace" is a creepy feminist horror tale that takes the idea of motherhood to almost "Repulsion" levels of creepiness. It also has some of the strongest performances in horror this year.

11.) Pontypool

While it usually feels like the well has been run dry as far as originality is concerned in the zombie movie, "Pontypool" manages to create an original twist on the zombie, while adding something not too dissimilar from William S. Burroughs quote "language is a virus", and featuring a stand out performance from Stephen McHattie.

10.) Dead Snow

It may not have an original bone in it's body, but "Dead Snow" is a blast of Zombie loving Horror/Comedy that mostly pleases. Sure, the references to older, superior fair may get old, but it's impossible to not get swept up in this gory, lovable romp.

9.) I Sell The Dead

If your like me, you sometimes long for the days of old Gothic horror. You know, the type Hammer and Paul Naschy used to release. Well thank your lucky stars, because "I Sell The Dead" is an affectionate Send Up/Love Letter to those days, with fun performances and an infectious sense of humor.

8.) The Children

As I said in my review, kids can be rotten bastards. Case in point, this Fulci like tale of evil tykes, which creates a mood of inevitable doom and horror, while not lightening up on the outright viciousness. One of the best sleepers of the year.

7.) The Hills Run Red

An affectionate but very intelligent tribute/study of the slasher movie, "The Hills Run Red" is one of the best slasher movies of the decade. It's a refreshing change of pace too, as it deviates and challenges the medium of the slasher movie, while never feeling disrespectful or callous to the genre.

6.) Thirst

South Korean director Park Chan-Wook ("Oldboy", "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance", "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance") takes on the vampire in this erotically charged black comedy that stands as an instant classic in the field of vampire movies. Managing to be sympathetic to it's lead, while effectively mixing bursts of violence with drama and black humor, "Thirst" is a must for horror fans.

5.) Drag Me To Hell

While it may not top Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" movies, "Drag Me To Hell" is a very welcome return to form that mixes horror with Three Stooges on acid style humor in the way only he can do. Also features on of the most memorable Horror Villains of the decade in Mrs. Ganush.

4.) Antichrist

A lot has been said about this-it's unintentionally funny, too pretentious, ugly, etc. While I can't argue with those arguments, no other horror movie this year shook me the way "Antichrist" did. An assault of torture, dark symbolism, mutilation, disturbing sex and violence, grief, castration and outright evil that proves once again that no woman hath fury like nature. It also features what may be the strongest female performance of the year from Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not since Eihi Shiina in "Audition" has an actress been this convincing and outright horrifying in a genre film this decade.

3.) The House Of The Devil

Ty West's slow moving, but unnerving tribute to all things spooky and unnerving in 80's horror (it's even set in the 80's) is rewarding in it's sense of unease and slow but unpreventable horror that becomes worth it in it's terrifying conclusion. Also, any horror movie that casts Mary Warnoc and Tom Noonan is good in my book.

2.) Zombieland

Probably the funniest movie of the year to boot, "Zombieland" is a fun filled romp through a zombie infested apocalypse that may be the final proof that this was the decade of the zombie. Also featuring one of the best cameos ever.

1.) Trick r' Treat

After two years of delays, "Trick r' Treat" finally made it's debut-too bad it wasn't the theatrical release it deseved. Undoubtedly one of the definative celebrations of the true most wonderful time of the year, "Trick r' Treat" is awesome fun from beginning to end, and the kind of thing only the most sour horror fan could resist. See it now-or at least when October comes around. You won't regret it.

Guilty Pleasure:

The recent wave of R-rated slasher movie remakes. While some may pout at the prospect, this year saw "Friday The 13th", "My Bloody Valentine" and "The House On Sorority Row" get the remake treatment. While theses remakes have detractors, I couldn't help but enjoy them. "Friday The 13th" saw Jason return to his roots, and was all the better for it, while "My Bloody Valentine 3-D" wore it's love for the slasher genre on it's sleeve (and brought back Tom Atkins-missed ya man!), and "Sorority Row", while obviously made for the same crowd who watches shows like "The Hills", was a fun little movie with a great bitchy performance from Leah Pipes. Some may balk at this, but hell, I enjoyed them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Worst Horror Movies of the Decade Pt II

Prom Night, The Stepfather and The Fog

This decade has seen a lot of remakes. However, these three may stand out as the worst. "The Fog" and "The Stepfather" are remakes of classic 80's horror movies that removed everything that made them great. "Prom Night" though, is a remake of a slasher movie that I never really considered a classic. Instead of doing something interesting with it, the movie instead makes every mistake possible-with a PG-13 rating nonetheless, like the other two movies-and makes something unwatchable. Whenever people would give me shit for liking the "House on Sorority Row" remake, I remember these movies.

Thir13en Ghosts

Dark Castle Entertainment has given us plenty of mediocre theatrical horror material-"Ghost Ship", "Gothika", "The Reaping" and more. This however, stands out as their worst. Complete with uninteresting kills, poorly done sentimental moments, and a maid character played by rapper Rah-Digga who boarders on racially offensive, this is an unwatchable mess.

The Hills Have Eyes II

Well, it's worse than the sequel to the original. HHE2 is a Godawful assault on the eyes that serves no purpose, and feels like watching somebody play the worlds' most uninteresting video game. Add some poorly done social commentary and a general feeling of unease (not the good kind you get from horror movies), and you get this.


Hey, the British are trying to do their version pf the "Wrong Turn" movies, with a bit of "Hostel" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", only without any of what made those movies any good. This is a lifeless horror movie that offers nothing worth watching, and even worse, fails as a tongue in cheek Black Comedy.

Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker

I have no problem with Troma movies. I do hate it most of the time when people try to emulate Troma. Case in point: this movie, which has awful jokes, terrible one-liners, and even the director showing up in Blackface. Fuck this movie.

Attack Girls Swim Team vs. The Undead

Proof that not every Japanese zombie movie is going to be awesome, this movie is essentially a soft porn movie masquerading as a horror comedy, only with an emphasis on humiliation and rape that leaves an awful taste in one's mouth.

Feast 2 and 3

Sometimes, a sequel can be a buzzkill. Take the sequels to the fun splatter comedy "Feast", which think throwing in explosive diarrhea, a dead baby, rape jokes, fart jokes and more will automatically make audiences happy. Turns out they were wrong.


In spite of it's content, this is a horror/technological thriller that feels more like a bad Lifetime network horror flick than a theatrical movie. The whole thing is also incredibly dated in it's views of the internet, and takes great delight in tearing apart illegal downloaders. You stick it to them! Or preferably, don't.

Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave From The Grave

A Godawful embarrassment to the series (though the previous sequel didn't help matters much) that feels more like a bad "National Lampoons" movie meets a straight to DVD Horror Comedy. Nay I say.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The weakest entry in the loose Video Game adaptation franchise so far (and that says a lot), this lifeless sequel plods forward without anything resembling energy, creativity, or entertainment, instead resembling a cynical cash in at it's laziest.

The Cook

A textbook example on how not to do a horror-comedy film, "The Cook" is like watching a bunch of horny, 14 year old boys making a movie, and even making lesbian bondage seem dull.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Dan O' Bannon deserves no introduction to genre fans. His credits as a co-writer are numerous, and include "Alien", "Dead and Buried", Heavy Metal", the story treatment for "Total Recall", and numerous others. As a director, he did the classic movie that's being reviewed today, as well as the underrated Lovecraft adaptation "The Resurrected", which itself was an adaptation of "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward." I write all this today because Dan is dead. The genre and it's fans are incredibly grateful for his contributions, and he will be missed.

Now, on to the review.

Zombies and comedy are so regular these days, that one can almost be forgiven for being tired of the concept. That's not the way it always was though. With a few exceptions, the living dead were treated with an utmost seriousness. Very few dared to mix the two. 1985 was a serious game changer though, as two classics were released that essentially changed the rules. The first one was Stuart Gordon's directorial debut, which was a very loose adaptation of Lovecraft's "Herbert West: The Re-Animator." The other was from also a directorial debut, only it was from Dan O Bannon, who was no stranger to the genre. His movie was originally supposed to be a Romero free sequel of "Night of the Living Dead", which Tobe Hooper was supposed to direct. Hooper turned that down, so it went to Dan, who decided to add a fun atmosphere to the proceedings. Interestingly enough, he went on to co-write "Lifeforce", which Tobe did direct.

The plot goes like this: Two employees at a medical supply warehouse are talking, when the older of the two named Frank (James Karen) reveals that "Night of the Living Dead" was actually a true story, only with a few tweaks. Well, he decides to show Freddy (Thom Mathews) one of the corpses, and through a Three-Stooges style mix up, the vapors that re-animated the dead years ago get loose, starting a whole new storm of problems. To make matters worse, Freddy's pals are partying at the Resurrection Cemetery, and sooner or later, the government is going to get involved.

From start to finish, "Return of the Living Dead" is awesome. The acting is really fun, with veteran character actors like James Karen, Clu Gulager and Don Calfa being allowed to do there thing, while the younger cast is game and up to task (especially legendary scream queen Linnea Quigley as Trash, whose more than willing to disrobe). The soundtrack (featuring TSOL, The Cramps, The Damned and more) is exceptional. And the whole movie is hilarious-and intentionally so.

O Bannon realized that trying to do the same tired "dead return to life" scenario straight would be overdone, so he injects a refreshingly smart sense of humor to the whole thing, from puns that don't hurt (Culager and Calfa's characters are named Bert and Ernie), absurd and hilarious situations (just about everything Karen says and does for a while after things turn bad is hilarious) and a bevy of awesome one liners ("You mean the movie lied!?" "Send More Paramedics!") In fact, the whole thing creates a great, almost party like atmosphere. It may even be the ultimate party horror movie-everyone who knows of this movie loves it, and for good reason too.

I could go on and on, but "Return of the Living Dead" is everything one would want and then some. It's a classic, and it gets better every time you watch it. If you haven't seen it, see it immediately, and if you have, see it again.

In short. Thank you Dan. You will be missed.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Worst Horror Movies of the Decade (Part 1)

I'm not a big fan of "End of " lists. Mainly because I usually end up changing my mind eventually.At least when it comes to "Best of" lists. "Worst of" lists are pretty final, because you can add more to them. So yeah, here's the first part my picks for worst horror movies of the decade, in no particular order.

Death Racers

This one's a given. I've already reviewed it, and to talk more about it would just cause me pain. However, I believe you should suffer for your art, so hey. Anyways, it's a "Mockbuster" from The Asylum, and yet, it somehow manages to be the worst one they've done. It's also a vehicle for the abhorrent Insane Clown Posse, and is an atrocity in every sense of the word, as well as one of the biggest failed attempts at making a trash movie I've ever seen.


No, that's not a typo. Will Malone's failed attempt at a Supernatural yarn ends up becoming a headache inducing mix of Asian Horror cliches, terrible decisions, wasted talent, and all around nonsensical dribble that ends up leaving a foul taste in one's mouth. Fortunately, the director mostly atoned for his sins by directing an exceptional episode of "Masters of Horror."

Eden Log

What do you call a horror movie in which almost nothing happens? That would be "Eden Log", a movie that proves not every recent French horror movie is good. It's essentially a man walking and grunting a lot in a cave, while random events happen and he walks around some more. Watching paint dry is better than this.

Halloween: Resurrection

Say what you will about Rob Zombie's take on "Halloween", but this is the movie that killed the old franchise. To think it wasn't the thorn cult or other things that would kill any franchise that ended this one. Nope, it was Jaime Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode being killed off (thus making the entire point of the series moot) and Michael getting his ass kicked by Busta Rhymes.


The worst zombie movie of the decade (and that's saying something), this poor outing also may be the worst Urban Horror movie of all time. The whole thing reeks of amateurish direction and acting, and is so bad that the viewer actually feels sorry for everyone involved. It also has Hip Hop music that is so bad, it almost embarrasses me as a fan of the genre. On the plus side, the lead actress has, assets.

House of the Dead

Though he did movies before this, "House of the Dead" is the movie that started Uwe Boll's reputation as one of the worst directors of all time. Watching it, the viewer can see why-it's horribly acted, directed, and has a puzzling tendency to throw in footage from the old "House of the Dead" video game. It's actually not his worst movie though. That would be...

Alone in the Dark

This is the movie that solidified the director's reputation. Unwatchable from beginning to end, and featuring Tara Reid as a scientist (no, really), this is practically the definition of cinematic endurance test. It almost feels obvious to include this-kinda like kicking a man while he's down really.

Ax 'Em

The spirit of such inept slashers such as "Don't Go in the Woods...Alone!" and "Scream" (an 80's slasher movie that in no way, shape or form is related to the Wes Craven movie of the same name) lives on in this unbearable assault on the eyes that literally has nothing going for it, and makes every mistake imaginable.

The Butcher

As the field of "torture horror" comes to an end, this late Korean entry in cycle may be the worst one yet. Clearly inspired by the likes of "Saw" and "Hostel", this adds many different levels of poor directing, editing, and misogyny into the mix. Actually, it's not the worst entry. That would be...

Murder Set Pieces

A horrific, self promoting, ugly, and all around awful piece of shit, "Murder Set Pieces" is the horror movie equivelent of that "troubled" kid in High School trying to blow everyone's minds-only to fall right on his face. Also includes footage from 9/11. How classy.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Plaguers (2008)

Remember Canon and Empire Pictures? I don't, because I was too young then. I am aware of them though-movies like "Re-Animator", "Trancers", 80's Van Dam vehicles like "Kickboxer" and several others creeped their way into theaters and video shelves in the 80's. One of Canon's most ambitious box office failures was a movie called "Lifeforce", which was directed by Tobe ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 & 2", "Poltergeist," "Eaten Alive", "The Funhouse" and several others) Hooper and co-written by Dan O' Bannon, whose credits include directing "Return of the Living Dead" and "The Resurrected", as well as serving as a writer for "Dead & Buried", "Heavy Metal" and others. Oh, and a little movie called "Alien." The plot dealt with Space Vampires, and well, the plot is essentially secondary due to the fact that the whole thing is bugfuck insane. Plus, explaining it any more would take up too much of the review. That out of the way, the movies mix of Sci-Fi and B-Movie horror thrills seem to have served as an influence on Brad Sykes movie "Plaguers." Too bad the end result falls short.

The plot deals with a spaceship called Pandora, which is harboring something called "Thanatos" (oh, how cleaver.) A band of sexy space pirates (wearing outfits that look like they were rejected from a failed Sci-Fi show from the 60's or 70's) hijack the ship, only for a contagion from Thanatos to get loose. The next thing you know, people in the crew start to become "Plaguers", or mutant zombie hybrids.

Judging from the plot, this sounds like the best movie Canon or Empire pictures never made-an incredibly fun, retro style B-Movie. Well, there are a few moments where the movie almost reaches that (the smart use of practical make up and creature effects which are pretty good, the presence of veteran character actor Steve Railsback-who was in "Lifeforce.") However, the whole thing ends up becoming a massive wasted opportunity. For one thing, the acting is non-existent. People (particularly the space pirate girls) don't really act as much as they do scream and act really bitchy. In fact, you'd think that the whole Space Pirate angle would be fun, but here it ends up being one of the weakest elements of the movie. The pirates themselves are really annoying, and you end up wishing they'd die off sooner.

It also doesn't help that nobody else in this movie is worth any note either. Railsback ends up feeling wasted in his role as a cyborg, and his dialogue is too mellow. The movie also has some really bad fight choreography on display-watching the special features on the DVD, you are amazed that they got professional fighters to choreograph the action scenes. The biggest problem with the movie though, is that it feels at times likes it's being held back. Not by the low budget, acting or gore, but from an exploitation standpoint. It really could have used a bit more pulpiness, maybe a little nudity, etc.-yet it skimps out in that department, instead creating a movie that at times feels incomplete.

I do have to give the movie a little credit-it obviously has no major ambitions, and compared to other entries in the direct to DVD zombie movie cycle, it at least manages to do something different than the usual "let's try to imitate Night of the Living Dead and Zombi 2" formula. Too bad the end result wasn't a better movie.

Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carriers (2009)

Like most horror nerds, I have an aversion towards horror that's PG-13. It's usually either an unremarkable remake ("The Ring" being a prime exception to the rule) or dull teen centered horror. Few people seem to realize what can be done with a PG-13 horror movie. Well fortunately, "Carriers" manages to be an exception to the rule of PG-13 horror sucking.

The film deals with two men and two women-Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), his brother Brian (Chris Pine), Kate (Emily Van Camp) and Bobby (the usually likable Piper Perabo)-who are all headed to the beach. Well, there is a problem though: a deadly, incurable virus has wiped most of humanity out. As they try to make it in time, they are forced with tough decisions that test them mentally and physically. As the film continues, it becomes more hopeless, and our protagonists soon realize the only thing that may be worse than the epidemic is themselves. Plus, Brian's behavior doesn't help matters either.

Sounds like a zombie flick, doesn't it? Well hold your horses Sherlock, because that's not what you get here. That's right, this isn't another apocalyptic zombie flick-there are no zombies to be found here. What it is though is a smart blend of horror and human drama about loss-the loss of friendship, the loss of life, the loss of family, the loss of the human race and the loss of one's humanity. Fortunately, the filmmakers responsible know how to work this within the PG-13 rating, making it a movie that stands heads and shoulders above much of it's similarly rated ilk. The acting is mostly good, with Pine doing a great job of making Brian both an complete asshole and a somewhat sympathetic man forced into extreme circumstances, and Perabo and Van Camp doing great jobs with their roles. Chris Meloni also shows up, adding to the moral fiber and quandary the film has.

And the moral fabric is what makes the movie work the most. This isn't a movie of huge action scenes and apocalyptic granduer. This is a movie about human reaction to dire times. What would one do in a world mostly robbed of humanity-both people and what makes them human? It's a slow horror flick, but one that's more about the journey than it is action. There are a few flaws-Pucci is a bit weak as Danny, and a few shots and directorial choices reek too much of obvious symbolism.

That out of the way, this is a mostly great take on the plague movie that focuses more of human drama than it does "gotcha" moments. It's a shame Paramount barely released it in theaters-it's a movie that will probably disappoint those hoping for a zombie flick, but those wanting something different should check it out-it could very well become a cult favorite on DVD. It sure does deserve it.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, December 4, 2009

Terror (1978)

Though hardly the most talented director, Norman J. Warren is something of an important (though often ignored) name in the world of Exploitation cinema. Starting his career with Sexploitation flicks, he's more known for the cheap horror films he did in Britain in a time when the likes of Hammer and Amicus were becoming a thing of the past. However, Warren's horror movies lacked the Gothic Atmosphere and beauty of the best Hammer movies, and the unabashed EC Comic fun of the best Amicus films. Where his horror movies lacked in those departments (as well as skill as a coherent story teller), they made up for that in pure sleaze and exploitation. Movies like the Occult Hammer rip off "Satan's Slave" (1976), the unabashed low budget Science Fiction flick "Prey" (1978), the sleazy and actually unappealing "Alien" rip off "Inseminoid" (1982), and the inept but bizarre mindfuck "Bloody New Year" (1987) are bizarre, tasteless and sleazy forays that tried to keep British horror alive, but were more interested in titilating and appealing to the exploitation market. Out of all of these movies, the best he did was 1978'a "Terror."

The movie starts with a a witch burning that goes horribly wrong, leading to flaming bodies, decapitation, and other delights. Well, that turns out to be footage of a movie our main cast of characters are watching at a party. After watching this wholesome family entertainment, a girl named Ann Garrick (Carolyn Corage) is hypnotized. This turns out bad, because she can't snap out of her trance, and slashers her brother James (John Nolan, uncle of Christopher Nolan) on the shoulder with a sword used to kill a witch named Mad Dolly. Soon, people start dying in creative and gory fashion. Oh, and they are all have Royal ancestors.

First things first: This is essentially a rip off of "Suspiria" and other Italian horror flicks, particularly giallo movies. The whole thing resembles "Susperia" too-that is, if that film had none of the scares, talent or directorial brilliance of Dario Argento. Hell, like "Suspiria", the plot is essentially secondary. Director Warren is more interested in knocking people off in moments inspired by the works of Argento and Bava, as well as throwing in gratuitous nudity and a scene at a strip club (with a dyed blond stripper who looks kinda like Marc Almond circa Soft Cell.) In short it's "Suspiria"-only with tacky exploitation elements.

Make no bones about it, nobody is going to mistake "Terror" as a great movie. The acting is shaky, the plot is a shamble of events, it reaches levels that are baffling in their stupidity (particularly a floating car-no, really), and the score is some rather annoying electronic music. That out of the way, it's never unwatchable. The film has something of a sense of humor about itself, and it's obvious that Warren never meant for any of this to be taken too seriously. He knows first and foremost that this is exploitation and nothing more, and he wants you to have fun watching it. Indeed, it may not be a classic, but as a turn your brain off mindless horror flick, "Terror" mostly achieves it's objectives, even if the conclusion is too sudden and unsatisfactory. Plus, how many movies can you think of that have a man being attacked by filmstrips (whose then killed Argento style by broken glass?)

Out of all the horror movies Warren did, "Terror" remains the best. It's an nonsensical and dumb, but also undemanding and fun horror movie that doesn't ask much out of you. For Saturday night viewing with nothing else on, you could do much worse.

Rating: 7/10

Interesting fact: In 1979, Warren directed a sci fi sex comedy called "Outer Touch." One of it's writers (and the voice of a computer with a gay voice over in the US version): none other than Bob Saget.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)

This review is dedicated to the memory of Jacinto "Paul Naschy" Molina, who passed way today. RIP man.

I remember the times before the advent of DVD and Blu-Ray. Back then, you rented VHS tapes that weren't in the best quality, but there was still a sense of youthful excitement over seeing all of these movies you had heard about from friends or on websites. As for those that were nearly impossible to find or not even available in the U.S., that's what trading lists and old review sites were for. I can still fondly remember hearing about such lurid wonders like "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats", "Pinocchio 964", I Drink Your Blood" and all of their ilk. There was a sense of mystery to them: you had to see them, even if you didn't know whether or not they were any good.

One of these movies was Olaf Ittenbach's 1997 Splatterfest "Premutos." Made in a time were the likes of Andreas Schnaas and his ilk were still pumping out unwatchable micro-budget gore flicks that also hadn't gotten any type of U.S. release (and were wanted for reasons I can't understand), "Premutos" became the thing of minor internet legend for a while: a zombie comedy that reportedly had the highest zombie body count ever, and was even said to be gorier than Peter Jackson's seminal zombie comedy "Braindead." It soon became that movie for some horror fans wanting the next big thing. Or at least one of those movies. That movie seems to come around a lot.

The plot to "Premutos" deals with the first demon. Apparently, the good book got it wrong-Lucifer wasn't the first fallen angel, Premutos was, and throughout history, he's returned again and again, with an army of flesh hungry undead. Cut to present day, in which Mathias (director Ittenbach) is getting horrible images stuck in his head. To make matters worse, his stepfather has a mysterious book that he thinks Mathias might like. Long story short, Mathias starts reading it, and Premutos and his legion of zombies return.

First things first: "Premutos" is probably the best low to no budget German splatter movie ever made. While it's not perfect, the gore effects are surprisingly impressive and plentiful, and rarely let up (though the occasionally feel a bit overwhelming.) It also helps that it has a cast of interesting characters (including a Dominatrix Sister and the stepfather-a character who pretty much steals the show) and some very Jackson-like gross out gags (including masturbation, a rather disgusting nose picking scene, and a pair of soccer cleats to the testicles.) Also, while there's plenty of moments clearly inspired by better movies, they actually don't hurt (the tribute to the Rambo flick "First Blood" cracked me up to no end.)

In spite of all this, there really isn't that much there. Sure, there's tons of gore and energy on hand, but at the movies final 10 minutes, the viewer starts to feel more than a little exhausted by what they are seeing. It becomes clear that unlike the movies it wants to be like ("Evil Dead 2" and "Braindead" for example), there really isn't much else here. It also doesn't help that the conclusion is lackluster, and that in spite of a few interesting characters, most of the actors are mediocre at best. The biggest problem though isn't the movie-it's the DVD. It comes with dubbed and original German language, but offers no subtitles. Plus, the dubbed language is atrocious and headache inducing.

Is "Premutos" worth the wait? Well, it depends I guess. It doesn't live up to all the hype (sorry, "Braindead" is still gorier and better), and at times it becomes tiresome. That out of the way, if your going to see any German splatter flick, this one is probably the best place to start, and also probably all you need to see. See it with friends and beer, but don't expect too much out of it.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Death Racers (2008)

I hate Juggallos. Hate them with a passion. For those not aware of what these lower life forms are, they are fans of a terrible joke rap group named Insane Clown Posse. Now, ICP's music in of itself is among some of the worst music imaginable-a dreadful combination of the worst aspects of Hip-Hop, Rave Culture, Rap Metal, and Godawful GWAR imitation into a huge unsavory collage of suck. Yet they have a loyal following who actually takes everything these two Jackasses seriously.

And while their product (which includes a wrestling promotion, a record label, a Myspace type of network, Pornography, an annual festival and more-I know too much about this) is bad beyond comprehension, I must say that they are marketing geniuses. These two guys have created a media empire that confounds me and anyone else with properly functioning mental capacities, but hey, they're taking advantage of the American capitalist system for all it's worth, and reaping the benefits, so good for them. Not good for me though, as I have to review a movie staring Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb called "Death Racers."

Now for the plot. This hurts me more than it hurts you by the way.

In a dystopian future, civil war has broken out, causing the president to declare martial law. To make matters worse, a notorious criminal known as "The Reaper" (Professional Wrestler Scott "Raven" Levy, who seems rightfully embarrassed to be in this movie, and seems to have gained some extra weight along the way) is about to unleash sarin gas into the nations water supply. So whose going to save the day? Why pairs of criminals in a "Death Race" of course!

In case you couldn't tell, this is a Straight to DVD rip off of the "Death Race 2000" remake "Death Race", which at least had Jason Statham being a bad ass. This movie comes from The Asylum, who have created a number of Straight to DVD "Mockbusters", including: "Transmorphers", "Sunday School Musical", "I Am Omega", Snakes on a Train" and many more. Now back to the plot, and who these groups of criminals are.

The Severed Head Gang: It's essentially two white guys pretending to be Offensive Hispanic Gang Banger Stereotypes.

Homeland Security: Two Ex-Marines. There's nothing to write home about them.

Vaginamyte: At least the name is awesome. They have a car (actually, everyone does) that the announcers say "goes from zero to suck my dick in 4.1 seconds."

This is going to be a long, painful experience.

Anyways, Vaginamyte (that's really fun to say. Come on, say it) are two bisexual cannibal girls who seduce and devour men. While I'm normally for seeing women in little clothing, the fact that they exist simply for fat, greasy Jugallos to gawk and oogle at makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

Insane Clown Posse: Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (who from here on will be called "Fatty Ding Dongs" and "Bald White Trash Douche-Bag 3000") are now criminals because their music apparently influenced acts of terrorism and school shootings. I'd rather see them in jail for releasing albums. In spite of their music being banned (YAY!) it still has a massive following. While the idea of anyone still liking his band in 2033 seems unlikely (but scary), what I want to know is how these guys are still in their mid to late 30's here. Shouldn't they be much older at that point?

Also, this movie marks the first time I've noticed how absolutely repulsive looking FDD is. Really, the mere sight of this Butt That Walks Like a Man makes me physically ill. He looks like he smells awful too.

Anyways, what follows is lots of terrible gore, awful "music" from ICP, shouting, profanity, nudity that feels more discomforting and degrading than it does sexy, someone shouting "Death Race" every 5 minutes, terrible acting-terrible everything actually. Two scenes in particular though leave an especially bad taste in my mouth:

1.) Our abominations before the eyes of common decency and, I mean heroes ICP encounter a group of women who try to kill them, only to be hacked up by hatchets. I don't know what's more disturbing: the sheer amount of glee that FDD and BWTDB3K take in killing these women (dudes have issues they need to work out), the fact these guys are actually considered poets in this alternate universe (seems like "Idiocracy" came true here-I normally wouldn't bring up that movie, but it applies here) or that FDD says he's "big all over" and that he's going "to plow her."

I'm sorry, but I do not want to hear a fat man wearing grease paint who looks like he smells like a combination of goat semen and cat urine grumble about the size of his penis. That's something you'd expect from a John Wayne Gacy. Even more terrifying is the mere idea of FDD having sex. The thought of a man in greasepaint as fat as he is bobbing his blubbery ass up and down, his ass cheeks quivering like a gelatinous nightmare while still looking and smelling like a wad of fat soaked in piss is one of the scariest mental images imaginable. It's at this point the viewer will wonder if they've done something bad in a past life.

Now on to scene

2.) One of the girls from Vaginamyte (I forget who-I was too busy saying Vaginamyte to notice) is strapped to a table. An Android from earlier then proceeds to strap on a large metallic phallus and rape her. What makes this all even worse is that the whole scene is played for laughs. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?????!!!?! I'm all for tasteless humor and political incorrectness in my trashy movies, but this is just wrong. The mere fact that there are most likely Juggalos loving this scene, screaming "give it to that bitch good!" makes it all the worst. Sure, the tree scene in "The Evil Dead" and the head scene from "Re-Animator" were tasteless, but they also had a sense of revulsion and horror added to the black humor of the situations. This is just juvenile and pointless, not to mention sick.

I hate everything about this movie. Everything. There is nothing-and I mean NOTHING-anyone in the right mind would find entertaining. Even trash aficionados like me have our limits, and this is one of them. There is not one good thing in this. Everything about this is loud, reprehensible, badly done, annoying, and pointless. It's the cinematic equivalent of the most annoying people imaginable farting and acting like jack offs, thinking they are the funniest people on God's Green Earth, and acting more loud and annoying when they notice you don't enjoy their company. This isn't even good trash-this is bad trash, as in so bad you'll contemplate suicide bad. This is so bad, when mankind is gone/evolves, I hope future civilizations see this and say "good riddance."

And you know what? That's exactly what Juggallos deserve. They eat up crap like this-Lord knows they have been for 15 years and counting. They deserve this kind of thing. God knows they'll enoy it, but me? Well, you know how I feel. a 0/10 would be way too kind for this.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Stacy (2001)

One thing that can be said for the Japanese: Nobody makes zombie movies like they do.

Sure, anyone can make a zombie movie. How else would you explain the horde of Godawful zombie movies that flood the DVD market? But the Japanese do it differently. Their zombie movies have a indescribable humor (maybe it's a cultural thing? I don't know.) They have a way with bloodshed. They have a manic sensibility. And most of all, they are different. Even a nearly unwatchable piece of shit like "Attack Girls' Swim Team vs. The Undead" (great title though) benefits from the fact that you can say "Well, that was different. Terrible, but different." That's exactly what "Stacy" is: different.

The plot deals with an epidemic of schoolgirls being infected with N.D.H., or "Near Death Happiness." Any schoolgirl who encounters this is indescribably happy-and then they become nearly unstoppable flesh eating zombies, or "Stacys."

Still with me? I hope so, because it gets stranger.

Anyways, there's a girl with N.D.H. named Eiko (Natsuki Kato) who befriends a puppeteer named Nozomi (Tomoka Hayashi), who agrees to sleep by her side until she gets the munchies for brains. Oh, and there's references to "Day of the Dead" and "The Evil Dead" trilogy (there's a hand chainsaw called "The Blues Campbell's Right Hand 2, which is modeled by a girl in a bunny suit,) a team of renegade Zombie Killing schoolgirls called "The Drew Illegal Repeat Kill Squad" (named so because they love Drew Barrymore), a doctor (Yasutaka Tsutsui) with some serious issues, and more.

I did not make any of that up.

While the references to other horror movies can get old, and the whole thing does get too goofy for it's own good, there is something oddly endearing about "Stacy." It's got tons of gore (none of it convincing, but it still has it's charms), a really odd sense of humor, a fun rock score, and an infectious energy to it. In a lot of ways, this is one of the most Troma like movies that studio never made. It's the exact movie flicks like "ThanksKilling" and their ilk keep trying to do, but can't get right.

It's also a satire of Japanese Pop Culture. The whole thing essentially plays like a rip on Japanese teen entertainment, and the overly sentimental, mushy cliches that plague it. Proclamations of love and syrupy rock music are interrupted by a swipe of a chainsaw and plenty of gore. There's little here that's sentimental at all in fact.

It may not be perfect, and it might not translate well to western audiences, but "Stacy" is something that must be seen to be appreciated or believed. You might not enjoy it, but it sure is different.

Rating: 7/10

The Children (2008)

If "South Park" got anything right, it's the fact that kids can be vicious little bastards. Sure, most tend to look at childhood as a blissful, innocent time. Bullshit. Kids can be mean, plotting, evil people not that different from a million dollar tycoon when it comes to ruthlessness. Don't give me "Oh, they don't know any better!" I was a kid once too. I still remember how cruel kids can be. Yet, none of them were as cruel as the ones in this movie.

The film starts with a family of five headed to a large house to spend some quality time with relatives on a wintry New Years Vacation. Well, one of the kids, named Paulie (William Howes) isn't feeling too good, and soon starts to become sick. One of the parents thinks it's nothing though, and decides not to do anything about it. That turns out to be, as Will Arnett's Gob from "Arrested Development" would say, a huge mistake. That sickness Paulie has starts to spread, and soon, not only are the kids not feeling good, but they are turning violent. And not tantrum violent either. I mean killing parents violent.

Not to be confused with the 1980 movie of the same name, "The Children" is one of the best sleeper movies to hit DVD this year. A hit in the festival circuit, Lionsgate (using the Ghost House Underground Label) gave it a Straight to DVD release, but it beats most of what passes as horror in theaters these days.

The movie itself is practically a case study in tension and unease. From the get go, the viewer realizes that something terrible is going to happen, and they wait for it to happen. Yet it takes it's time, making the viewer wait for things to turn bad. And when things go bad, the viewer pays attention. The kids here are evil little shits, stabbing, slicing, and torturing any adult that comes their way, as well as indulging in a moment of eyeball trauma that would make Lucio Fulci proud. In fact, while it may not be a gorefest, the movies combination of dread and endurance testing acts of violence reminded me of Fulci at his most accomplished and atmospheric. It also helps that the acting is considerably strong, especially Hannah Tointon as Casey and Eva Birthistle as Elaine.

If there are any problems I had with the movie, it would have to be that the parents are fucking stupid at times. I know, in horror you need to suspend disbelief sometimes when it comes to horror. That out of the way, if your kid says he feels sick, worry about it.

Other than that, "The Children" is an eerie little chiller that creeps up from behind you and stays with you after it's over. It may be illogical at times, but the tense atmosphere, gore and refusal to cater to it's audience as if it were a fanboy movie make it a must see. Maybe you'll think twice about that cute kid next time.

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ThanksKilling (2009)

Unless you count the "Thanksgiving" mock trailer Eli Roth directed for "Grindhouse", there has never been a horror movie set in Thanksgiving. Sure, Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day and New Years Day have had their shot, but Thanksgiving has always been left out. Well just in time for the Holidays, "ThanksKilling" tries to make up for that. Too bad that the end result is awful.

The plot deals with a group of friends headed home for Thanksgiving break. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, so they decide to camp out for the night. Anyways, they find a sign that tells them of a Native American man who cursed a Thanksgiving turkey as payback for the way the white man fucked his people over. Before you can say "gobble gobble", the evil turkey is resurrected by dog pee (no, really) and decides whitey must pay.

Sounds like a bad Horror Comedy version of Fred Olen Ray's 1983 "classic" "Scalps", doesn't it? Well yeah, you might say that. This is a movie made for fans of Troma movies. You know, the kind of Troma movies that were bad, and knew it. The thing though, is that a few of those movies had more talent and charm on display than this does. This is a movie that's not only bad, but tries to be bad and relishes in that. The movie has gore, bad jokes and one-liners, a bunch of actors trying to act like bad actors, a turkey on woman rape (I kid you not) and terrible attempts at being politically incorrect and edgy. Granted, the turkey does get away with a few amusing one-liners, and the whole thing cost about $3,500 to make, but that's no real excuse for this.

I never really cared for Horror Comedy movies that try to be bad. They want to be like Troma, but they lack what makes movies like "The Toxic Avenger" and "Class of Nuke 'Em High" so much fun. They are just sub par imitators.

You know that annoying stoner who loves to sniff his own farts? This is the cinematic equivalent of that man. You don't want to hang out with him, so why would you want to watch a movie he and his friends made?

Rating: 1.5/10

Friday, November 20, 2009

Train (2008)

Poor Thora Birch. I'm sure a lot of people want her to be a star. I know I do.

A former child actor, she had a supporting role in "American Beauty", and followed that up with um, "Dungeons & Dragons." Not the best follow up, but that led to a starring role in "Ghost World", which costarred Steve Buschemi and Scarlett Johansson. While Scarlett went on to be a star, Birch didn't go on to do much worth of note. Sure, she got Golden Globe for a performance in a Made for TV movie, but other than that, she's been mostly forgotten, regulated to supporting roles in dull to disappointing Indie Fair to Direct to DVD movies nobody remembers. Case in point, the torture flick "Train."

Birch stars as a member of a College wrestling team. One night, they decide to go partying, which leads them to missing their train. Fortunately a seemingly kind lady (Koyna Ruseva) gets them on another train. That's all fine and dandy, except it turns out that the train is being used as a supermarket for organ harvesters. Plenty of torture and gore ensues.

Originally intended to be a remake of the 80's slasher classic "Terror Train", Lionsgate decided it would be more profitable to go the route of torture horror. What we get is a retread of "Hostel", only without the Black Humor, Social Commentary or reverence for Classic Horror films. None of the gore or violence holds any sort of impact. Like so many other horror movies of this type, it's just mechanical and numbing. You feel nothing when you watch it. At times it's almost laughably bad, with the Russian thugs looking like villains from "Lord of the Rings." It also doesn't help that the actors playing college kids have not distinct personality (save for Birch), that it has a mediocre final girl moment, and that the characters in this are so stupid they practically feel like they are volunteering to be mutilated. On the other hand, Birch does a good job with the material given to her, and the gore effects are impressive. That doesn't hold the movie though.

A blurb on the back of the DVD box says that the movie "Takes Torture-Horror to the Next Level." In reality, it just feels like another dying gasp in a sub-genre that has seen the final light. There is no reason to see this. Not even Thora Birch can make it watchable.

Poor girl.

Rating: 1.5/10

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

15 Essential Vampire Movies

"New Moon" comes out Friday. I could go on a huge rant about my hatred of all things "Twilight", but I won't. Instead, here's a list of superior vampire movies.

Nosferatu (1922)

The best vampire movie ever made, this loose adaptation of "Dracula" has the most memorable vampire in movie history-one that gave me nightmares as a kid. Also worthy of mention is Werner Herzog's 1979 remake, and the 2000 movie "Shadow of the Vampire", which is an interesting take on the making of the movie, and got Wilem Defoe a best supporting actor nomination.

Martin (1977)

George Romero's other true masterpiece is actually an ungratefully ignored film that is also the best American made vampire movie ever made, and the "Taxi Driver" of it's genre. The movie deals with the title character (John Amplas), who may or may not be a vampire. The film never lets the viewer know for sure, which makes it all the more original and intriguing.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Based on a bestselling novel of the same name, this Swedish movie is also one of my favorite horror movies of the decade, and in my list of 25 best movies of the decade as well. Though eerie and scary, this is also a suprisingly tender and honest, and features what may be the best example of childhood friendship of this decade.

Near Dark (1987)

Before she got attention for "Point Break" and got praise from just about everyone for this years "The Hurt Locker", director Katheryn Bigelow gave the world the tale of a man who reluctantly joins a "family" of vampires after being bitten by a girl. The best vampire movie of the 80's, this is a movie that works due to great set-pieces (especially one at a diner), solid acting and an intriguing story. Oh, and Bill Paxton rules in it.

Dracula (1931)

It wouldn't be a list of vampire movies without Todd Browning's seminal classic starring Bela Lugosi. Though it's been parodied to death at this point, it's still a solid, pure bred classic that every horror fan needs to see.

Horror of Dracula (1958)

The film and role that made Christopher Lee a star, this is also Hammer's best movie overall. A masterpiece of Gothic horror, it's also the first Dracula film to use blood, red eyes and fangs.

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

One of the best horror movies from the 70's nobody knows about, Richard Blackburn's sole directorial effort is a haunting, poetic and lyrical low budget film that serves as a fairy tale for adults that's about the end of childhood and adolescence as much as it is about vampires.

Fright Night (1985)

Before he directed "Child's Play", Tom Holland did a little movie about a teenage boy (Charlie Ragsdale) whose next door neighbor (Chris Sarandon) just happens to be a vampire. Creepy, campy and tongue in cheek throughout, "Fright Night" is a perfect movie for Halloween, and features a fun performance from veteran character actor Roddy McDowall.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

"Vampires. No Interviews."

So says the tagline for this Robert Rodriguez directed, Quentin Tarantino written tribute to exploitation that serves as a great antidote to the Anne Rice style brooding vampire that plagued the 90's.

Fascination (1979)

Out of all the vampire movies Jean Rollin directed, this surreal mix of doomed romanticism, predatory imagery and unabashed eroticism best represents his artful style.

The Lost Boys (1987)

Though not as great as "Near Dark" or as good as "Fright Night", this movie is still a classic, and unlike most vampire movies, actually says "Brooding angst? To hell with that, being a vampire is fun!" It's a movie that's impossible not to love.

Blacula (1972)

got into the vampire genre in this tale of an African prince (William Marshall) who comes to Los Angeles. More campy than scary, "Blacula" features a fun performance by Tucker, and is essential viewing for Blaxploitation fans. Also, "Blacula! Dracula's Soul Brother!" is one of the best taglines ever.

Habit (1996)

Larry Fessenden directs and stars as an alcoholic named Sam, whose girlfriend has dumped him and whose dad just died. Good thing he finds Anna (Meredith Snaider), who he takes solace in. Too bad she's a vampire that's dragging him into a world of addicton and insanity. Well acted and atmospheric, this is the movie that really got Fessenden attention among horror fans and critics alike.

Lifeforce (1985)

Space vampires, a hot vampire chick whose naked all the time, London turning into zombies and Patrick Stewart kissing Steve Railsback. It may have tanked in the box office, but Tobe Hooper's film has a bonkers quality that warrants a look.

The Black Room (1984)

Though it'll be a bitch finding it (it's not on DVD), Norman Thaddeus Vane and Elly Kenner's unique take on the vampire as a swinger and sexual predator isn't perfect, but it has an offbeat charm that should appeal to 80's Grindhouse movie devotees.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shrooms (2007)

It takes a lot these days to do a Slasher movie that stands out in the pack. While a few have, most of these are dull Straight to DVD fair that most either forget or regret watching. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that they all have the same cliches. Paddy Breathnach's 2007 slasher "Shrooms" (which received a small theatrical release) tries to stand out, but ends up coming short.

The plot deals with 3 couples that go into the woods in Ireland to get high off of mushrooms. Along with meeting some strange woodspeople (is there any other kind in horror?), one of them-a girl named Tara (Lindsey Haun) consumes a particularly bad mushroom. There's also a creepy campfire story, and the next thing you know, people start to die, and Tara starts to see a hooded madman. But is it all real, or a hallucination?

In some ways, "Shrooms" does manage to stand out some. As you'd expect, there is a serious hallucinatory aspect to the film, as it's surreal and at times nightmarish. There's also a sense of humor to it, most notably in a scene in which a character thinks a cow is talking to him. Unfortunately, much of the humor is hit and miss, and the film doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Is this a slasher, or a black parody of the genre? The film also tends to rely too much on scares that are too reminiscent of the type you'd find in Japanese Horror movies like "Ju-On" and "Ringu," and after a while it gets annoying.

The biggest flaw with the movie though, is the conclusion, which is one of those "Oh, it was ______ all along!" endings movies like "High Tension" did. It just ruins the movie, and causes it to lose a point.

While it might sound like I'm being too hard on this, I can't say that I hated it. I did appreciate the surreal nature of the film for the most part, plus it's well acted and directed, and shows a lot of potential for director Breathnach. Sadly, this doesn't reach it's full potential, and loses points due to some really bad decisions. Oh well. At least it tried.

Rating: 5/10 or 9/10 if you are on drugs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

With "Saw 6" tanking in the box office, I think that it's safe to say that that the era of so called "torture porn" horror is over. Granted, I never liked the term. I always thought that it was more fitting term for 70's adult flicks that actually relied on things like torture and rape, as well as the ones that come out today. While there were a few titles in the genre of torture horror that were worth it ("Hostel", the first "Saw" movie, "Inside" and "Frontiers"), we got even more awful titles to go with it (5 sequels to "Saw", "Turistas", "See No Evil", "Captivity", "Rest Stop", "Timber Falls"-the list goes on.) The prequel to the Michael Bay produced 2003 remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a movie that certainly fits into this category of horror.

The plot deals with well, the origins of the Hewitt Family from the previous movie. Times are tough in Texas circa 1969: the old meat plant is closing down, our boy Thomas (Andrew Bryniarski) is about to lose his job, and he's about to become the one and only Leatherface. Meanwhile, two brothers named Eric (Matthew Bomer) and Dean (Taylor Handley) are about to go to Vietnam. So before that, they decide to go on a road trip with their girlfriends Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) and Bailey (Diora Baird.) Soon, their jeep crashes in the middle of nowhere, and they soon meet the sadistic Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey), who can't wait to introduce them to the rest of the Hoyt clan-including Thomas.

While the film is better acted than most torture flicks, and it manages to better capture a sense of family dynamic and Black Humor than the previous film, it's still not a good movie. For one thing, this is supposed to be the origin story of Leatherface. Sadly, it turns out that his origin isn't all that interesting. He's essentially just another psychopath who mutilated himself and who was bullied as a child. He's Leatherface. He should be more interesting than this.

The biggest problem though, is the same problem so many other movies of this sub-genre of horror fall into: it just isn't scary or interesting. This is a movie that thinks subjecting it's audience to scenes of torture and sadism automatically makes it a horror movie. That doesn't make it a good horror movie though. In fact, after a while it all becomes monotonous and repetitive, not to mention numbing and desensitizing.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" is hardly the worst of this type of horror, nor is it hardly the worst movie to bear the moniker "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"-that would be "The Next Generation." However, it still isn't a good or interesting movie, and offers nothing you haven't seen before. I wouldn't bother if I were you.

Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Luther The Geek (1990)

By the late 80's and early 90's, the Grindhouse was dead. Why? Well, for several reasons, but the VHS was the main one. People just saw more of a market for Exploitation flicks in that realm-now at home you could watch such movies as "The Hanging Woman," "Class of Nuke 'Em High" and "The Evil Dead" at home with friends without having to put up with annoying audience members, sticky floors and bad air conditioning. Yet, one of the strangest Straight to Video Horror/Exploitation flicks from this era-as well as one of the few that felt like it could have been a relic from the era of the Grindhouse-is Carlton J. Albright's Slasher oddity "Luther the Geek."

The movie starts in 1938, when a young Luther Watts sees a Circus Geek-someone who bites the heads off of chickens and drinks the blood for booze money. To say the least, this warps his fragile little mind. Cut to modern times (or in this case, 1990), in which the most incompetent Justice System I've ever seen in a horror movie decides 3 to 2 that Luther (played as an adult by Edward Terry) has paid his debt to society, and now has the right to be let free. Why anybody would think a man like Luther should be allowed into society again is beyond me, but hey, what do I know? I actually enjoyed "Sorority Row." Anyways, in the grand horror tradition, it doesn't take long for Luther to go back to his old ways , and he soon terrorizes a woman named Hillary (Joan Roth), her daughter Beth (Stacy Haiduk), Beth's boyfriend with a stereotypical redneck hairstyle Rob (Thomas Mills) and a Trooper (J. Joseph Clark.)

Also, Luther has metal dentures he uses to tear his victims throats out with, and he clucks like a chicken.

I'm not making that last part up.

Yep, "Luther the Geek" is unlike any other horror flick I've seen (though it could be said it at times resembles "Lucker the Necrophagus"-only it's nowhere near as terrible as that movie.) The acting is mostly bad, plot holes remain unexplained, there are several surreal moments in which no dialogue other than Luther's clucking occurs, and people do things that are really dumb.

Yet I liked this movie.

While the acting is as mentioned, terrible, there is one exception in Edward Terry as Luther. As goofy as his clucking and mannerisms may be, he still manages to make the killer an imposing, threatening, and all around unpredictable figure who is one of horrors strangest villains ever. Also, the film achieves a Grubby Ambiance. The low budget, electronic score, gore, moments of Black Humor, nudity, and sex present in the film makes all feel dirty, and does what few movies in the 90's could do-it really does feel like a Grindhouse movie from the late 70's or early to mid 80's. The movie also has an excellent shower scene, and an ending that beggars description.

Can I recommend this movie? Well, it's not perfect, and some will hate it. Those with a thing for oddball Exploitation and Horror might enjoy this, as there is no other movie or villain quite like "Luther the Geek."

Rating: 7/10

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bone Sickness (2004)

The problem with many of today's zombie movies is that they feel so lifeless. With a few exceptions, so many zombie flicks-especially those of the Direct To DVD market-have a you've seen it done before and better feeling to them. They have unlikable, stupid characters who act as if they've never seen a zombie movie, annoying music, terrible acting, generic direction, and the same apocalyptic bullshit that guys like George Romero and Danny Boyle did better. "Bone Sickness" does have an intriguing idea behind it, but like so many other zombie movies of the day, falls victim to all of the listed problems.

The movie deals with a woman named Kristen (Darya Zabinski) whose husband Alex (Rich George) is suffering froma rare degenerative bone disease. With nobody else to turn to, she goes to her friend Thomas (Brian Paulin, who wrote, directed, edited, and scored the movie, and has hair that serves as a crime against humanity) who has an alternative form of medicine made from the flesh and bones of corpses. Unfortunately, it has it's side effects-such as Alex vomiting and shitting blood and Earthworms, and the dead coming out of the grave to consume the flesh of living.

While the zombie aspect is nothing new, the whole aspect of Alex's bone sickness and the alternative medicine plot are actually quite original. Also, unlike so many Straight To DVD Zombie movies, this doesn't get to the blood and gore right away. Unfortunately, that means we get a lot of really bad acting and characterization in the way of action. Not once do you feel for Alex, and that's because other than "He's got a disease that's killing him", we don't get anything in the way of character for him. The Gore FX are hit and miss. Sometimes they work, while other times they are less than convincing. This is especially true for the zombies-while it's nice to see a zombie flick that actually tries to make the zombies look like rotting corpses, it doesn't help that their make up is of the Paper Mache variety. The movie also is heavily influenced by the likes of Lucio Fulci's "Zombi 2", yet it lacks any of the atmosphere or feel of that film.

The biggest problem with the movie is that once the shit hits the fan, there's no explanation as to why it's happening. Why are Earthworms exiting Alex's body? Why are the dead coming back to life? What's with the scorpions? What's with the goblins? Why are so many characters dressed like punks and goth kids? Is Alex becoming a zombie? Why does it have an apocalyptic conclusion? Why are there so many songs about rainbows? No reason is given. It's basically director Paulin throwing everything he can into the mix, hoping it will stick, and none of it does.

It's a shame that such an interesting idea ends up becoming yet another bad Direct To DVD zombie movie-albeit one of the gorier ones. Chalk up another one I guess.

Rating: 1.5/10

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paranormal Activity (2009)

Hype and box office can do a lot for a movie. Look at the recent film "Paranormal Activity" for example. Made for next to nothing, but backed by a major studio and a brilliant marketing campaign, the film has gone on to rake in plenty of cash, and beat "Saw 6" when that movie debuted. That part actually isn't too surprising-I'd like to think most are tired of the same old maim and torture show that's essentially Hollywood saying "Well, we can't legally make a snuff movie, so this is the next best thing", as well as increasingly disappointing and all around bad sequels.

"Paranormal Activity" deals with a girl named Katie (Katie Featherstone), who seems to be haunted by a ghost or demon like entity. Her boyfriend Micah (Micah Sloat) is of course, skeptical about all of this supernatural hullabaloo (as would most of us) so he sets up a camera to capture anything odd. Being a horror flick, odd things do happen. A self professed psychic named Dr. Frederichs (Mark Fredrichs) believes this force to be something of a more demonic nature. Soon things get from bad to worst for our couple. Is their a demonic force within the house? Of course there is. Otherwise you wouldn't have yourself a movie.

Before I get into the goods, there are three notable flaws in the movie.

1.) Micah. He just isn't that interesting of a character, and Micah Sloat's performance ranges from decent to almost laughably bad-especially when he tries to seem angry.

2.) Dr. Frederichs. His character doesn't really seem to serve much of a purpose-as in we don't get enough of him. He just shows up twice. The first time is to let the audience know this is a demonic presence, and the second is basically say "This presence is too strong! I can't deal with this, and the demonologist won't be around for a while!" The second appearance is a poor attempt at plot advancement at best.

3.) For a skeptic, Micah sure isn't that bright. He decides to bring home an Ouija board, which is probably meant to show he doesn't take any of this seriously, but still screams "You fucking idiot" It all leads to a rather telegraphed and predictable scare moment involving the Ouija board being used by the demonic entity.

That out of the way, this is still a mostly effective little scare flick that beats the shit out of the likes of "Saw 6" and any PG-13 remake coming out these days. The film starts out with more subtle moments, such as creaking sounds and a door moving on it's own, until it leads to more eerie and all around scary moments such as the door slamming on Katie and Micah to Katie being dragged out of the bed by the invisible entity. The fact that you never really see this thing (with the exception of a shadow) is also great and reminiscent of "The Blair Witch Project" in that while never seen, you still get the sense that something is in the house. A real stroke of genius in particular is that the film has no end credits, making it all feel more real.

While it's an impressive outing, I can't say "Paranormal Activity" lives up to all of the hype that it's gone. See it with an open mind (and a packed audience) and you'll enjoy it.

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, November 6, 2009

Night of the Comet (1984)

The end of the world is something that's not new in movies, especially zombie movies. Everyone from Godfather of the flesh eating zombie film George Romero to pretty much almost every bad direct to video zombie flick have dealt with the scenario. It's Thom Eberhardt's 1984 cult favorite "The Night of the Comet" though that to this day, manages to stand out in the pack.

The film starts with people getting ready to see a comet that last appeared 65 million years ago. Too bad for Regina (Mary Catherine Stewart) and her sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney), who have to miss the whole thing.

Or maybe that's not so bad.

The next day, the sky is blood red, and most of the world has been reduced either to dust, or has become a murderous zombie. Fortunately for Regina and Samantha (who from here on out will be called "Reg and Sam"), there are survivors. Among them are a handsome truck driver named Hector (Richard Beltram) and a group of scientists (including cult favorites Geoffry Lewis and Mary Warnov.) Unfortunately, the scientists are making a vaccine made out of uninfected blood-and they have our heroines in mind, as well as some children (one of whom, according to IMDB, has made a career for herself as a voice actor.)

From the premise alone, "Night of the Comet" sounds like dour stuff. Oh contraire my dear reader. Apart from two dreams Keri has, and the first zombie attack, there is very little that could be considered scary. Nor does it ever chart anything close to Romero territory (the zombies actually feel secondary in the plot.) If anything, "Night of the Comet" is more reminiscent of the fun 50's/60's B-Movie homage "Night of the Creeps", only it's somehow even goofier. Our protagonists themselves are two Valley Girls (well, it was the 80's) who know what they should do when the going get's tough: go to the mall! Unlike Romero, there is no attempt at commentary about mass consumerism. Director Eberhardt simply wants to create a breezy, fun atmosphere, and he suceeds.

The performances are fun throughout, with Stewart and Maroney managing to make Reg and Sam likable and not the least bit irritating, as well as getting away with some great one-liners ("Daddy would have gotten us Uzi's!") Beltram is okay, but doesn't really feel like much of a character for a while in the movie. The direction is fun, though decidedly dated. Actually, the whole thing feels dated-from the hair, music (even "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" plays at one point) screams 80's, though none of that is a negative.

It's easy to see why "Night of the Comet" has garnered such a following. Unlike other post apocalyptic movies, it never wallows in gore, nihilism or tired survivalist fantasy. It's a funny, engaging little Sci-Fi/Horror Comedy (emphasis on comedy) that still holds up, and is unpretentious, silly fun at it's best.

Rating: 8/10

Eberhardt actually debuted with the eerie, highly underrated supernatural zombie flick "Sole Survivor" a year earlier. He went on to direct the Michael Caine/Ben Kingsley comedy "Without a Clue", then followed that up with "Gross Anatomy" and um, "Captain Ron." He hasn't been able to direct much worth of note sense.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Hello, welcome to my blog. Here you will find reviews of movies (mostly horror) that are of the intent of entertaining the reader. Hope that you like it. I will post more when I am able to.