Monday, October 31, 2016

Child's Play

I always wrote of this franchise as goofy pseudo horror, but I never actually sat down and watched the first one til the other day. It's good! Not that gory in the style of most mainstream 80s slashers, but great doll effects especially when he gets all burnt up. I imagine the late sequels don't get as bad as the late sequels of say Hellraiser, but that's a theory best left answered another October.

RATING: 76%

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Neon Demon

A girl runs away from home to become an LA supermodel but older models get tres jelly. The movie looks terrific and it's got like one of the most uncomfortable/gross scenes in any movie in recent memory (corpse masturbation).

RATING: 75%

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cat's Eye

This is an anthology of Stephen King shorts, adapted by King himself, that maybe is more Twilight Zone than true horror. Anyway, the first one is about a dude who hires a company to torture his family if he doesn't quit smoking (um divorce city?), the second segment is a fantastic short about a gambling dude who forces a tennis player to walk around the ledge of the twentieth floor, and the third segment a cat fights a troll for Drew Barrymore's soul (bad but good creature effects I guess). Anyway, it's a good PG13 horror movie to catch late at night on TBS or something.

RATING: 60% (82% for the second part alone)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kuroneko

A couple women are murdered and worse by some samurai so they turn into cat ghosts trying to get revenge on all samurai ever which goes pretty well until the older woman's kidnapped son/younger woman's kidnapped husband (same guy) shows up. It gets real sad!

RATING: 71%  

Madman

I can understand why Madman has a cult following. The movie has a good theme song. The killer, Madman Marz, is fairly original. And the lead actress is Gaylen Ross, who's only other acting credits were Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. It's a backwoods slasher film set around a camp where the counselors seem to outnumber the kids three to one. It's a little slow and none of the kills are all that remarkable. It's also the kind of movie where characters are constantly looking for other characters. "We've got to find so-and-so." But little do they know, so-and-so is dead. It's not the easiest movie to get your hands on but it's worth a watch.

Rating: Axe me later%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Final Girls

Six years ago I watched Midnight Movie. I hated Midnight Movie. So it was definitely a bad sign when I couldn't help but think about Midnight Movie while I watched The Final Girls. The problem with Midnight Movie was that it was relentlessly stupid and poorly made. The problem with The Final Girls is that it isn't capable of balancing a variety of different tones. A lot of the movie is a send up of '80s slashers and the trappings of the era. But, at the same time, the movie is also about a girl trying to save her dead mother, who is an actress in the film within the film. The emotional through line is constantly undermined by poorly written Reagan-era gay panic jokes and surface level observations about the difference between the '80s and modern times.

Rating: 6.6 on IMDB is probably fair%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Night Breed

Hm I don't mean to quibble about what exactly makes a horror movie a horror movie, but this movie, where a cool dude dies and joins a cabal of cool undead monsters in a monster city seems more like a fantasy adventure? Although the monsters (who are good monsters) must unite to kill some bad cops and a serial killing David Cronenberg, and the latter is sorta horror I suppose. Anyway it's fun!

RATING: 65%

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Blob

Well I watched the remake first and loved it, so I figured I better give the original a shot. A blob falls out of space and eats people, and the local police won't believe those crazy teenagers when they try to warn them. Judged by the standards of 2016 (I'm only human!) the remake is more fun, but this one's pretty good for a 60-something year old independent horror flick.

RATING: 63%

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Blood Rage

I have to assume that Blood Rage doesn't have a particularly large fan base. Shot in 1983 but not released until 1987, it arrived a few years after the '80s slasher boom had cooled off. And this is definitely a movie that was made in the mold of a typical '80s slasher. I'd be curious to know how many people actually saw Blood Rage during its brief theatrical run or during its life on VHS. As of this review, Blood Rage has only 870 user ratings on IMDB, while movies like Sleepaway Camp, The Burning and My Bloody Valentine each have over 10,000. Still, it warms my heart that there are people and companies out there that continue to find, restore and re-release movies like Blood Rage. Even though I may never watch it again and I don't necessarily recommend that anyone else go out of their way to see it either.

Rating: Eating leftovers on the kitchen floor%

(Image from thewolfmancometh.com)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Witch

Some puritans in the olden days deal with a witch and witchy feelings. It's real slow and atmospheric, and the kid actors are great. It's the scariest witch movie for sure (second place is um Practical Magic?).

RATING: 83%

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Event Horizon

This movie has a great premise (spaceship goes to Hell), and looks great, but I dunno, the execution makes it really boring and not scary. Many of my friends tell me how terrifying the movie is, but I'm willing to bet it's only scary because they last saw it as a child, sorta like that one Herbie movie with the nightmare is scary to me now as an adult.  Anyway, there is a cool scene where somebody briefly survives being shot out an airlock, which oughtta count for something?

RATING: 37%

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Creature From The Haunted Sea

As a relic of late 50s pseudo-sleaze this is interesting but as a movie for human consumption?

RATING: 11%

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cabin Fever

Ya know, Eli Roth gets a bad rap - the Hostel movies are actually solid flicks, great structural deviations from standard horror fare. This one, his debut, is also pretty weird and fun and I'm sorry I scoffed at it these past 14 years without watching it ever. A group of "friends" (in horror movies these friend groups all seem to hate each other) go to a cabin and catch a little case of the flesh-eating whatsits. It's actually a lot less gorier than it sounds.

RATING: 55%

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nightmare Castle

This is a mostly boring (though surprisingly gory) movie but there is one real cool freakout dream sequence a half hour in.

RATING: 31%

Monday, October 10, 2016

WolfCop

I don't know if there are any other movies out there about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop but I do know that there probably aren't any other movies where the violent transition from alcoholic cop to alcoholic werewolf cop starts at the dick. And that's because WolfCop was clearly a passion project. It was made by people in Saskatchewan who knew that the story of an alcoholic werewolf cop was clearly a story that had to be told. And it had to be made with a lot of practical special effects. And it had to have nudity in it. And explosions. And there had to be a scene where the wolfcop rips a guy's face off and then throws it onto the windshield of a cop car. And knowing full well that it would be funny to see that ripped-off face get caught up in the windshield wipers, there still had to be a shot of the guy, now without a face, screaming. And the gore had to look good. And you know what? They were right. They were right about everything. So, if you have to see a movie about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop, see WolfCop because it will be the best movie about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop you will see all year. And that is my solemn guarantee.

Rating: All the ripped-off faces%

(Image from thedudedesigns.com)

Bruiser

A dude wakes up one day with no face (well, a blank white mask where his face was) and decides to finally kill all those people who cheated on him or denied him a promotion or took five bucks out of his jacket.

RATING: 53%

(Here's my old reviews of Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead, which wraps up George Romero!)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Dark Half

A supposedly literary author who writes trash under a pseudonym starts to let his pen name take over his life and kill his enemies etc. Ya know, for an author with untold success, Stephen King sure has a literary fiction complex that seems to rear its head in his work an awful lot!

RATING: 51%

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar

This half of the movie Two Evil Eyes, for which Romero and Dario Argento each adapted a Poe story. Anyway, while trying to hide a hypnotized dead body, a doctor and his mistress accidentally put ghosts into the corpse, and believe me, you don't want ghosts in a corpse!

RATING: 44%

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monkey Shines

Monkeys aren't exactly scary but I guess if you had to rely on a monkey and it was giving you a bad name by killing birds and your friends you'd probably be a bit stressed out?

RATING: 41%

(Here's Ryo's take)

(Also here are my reviews of CreepshowDawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Knightriders

I think it's a sign of a true artists that when you have a massive hit, say, zombie movie, you follow it up with swashbuckling motorcycle jousters who reenact King Arthur's court at various Ren Fairs. I can't recommend it enough!

RATING: 88%

(Here's my review for Dawn of the Dead from six years ago)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Martin

An awkward teen thinks he's a vampire, but there's more to being a vampire than killing people and drinking their blood. Or, I mean, I'd like to think Dracula didn't waste all that time in Vampire school just to have some kid do it better. Anyway, great, cheap sleaze and a lot of teen sadness.

RATING: 81%

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Crazies

Well Quammy already brought up this Romero B-Side, but I'm watching every Romero flick in order so I figured I'd weigh in. It's got some great scenes, and great cinematography if you find a good copy, but it's tough to care about these characters as they fight a government infection or w/e.

RATING: 63%

Season Of The Witch

Aka Hungry Wives, aka Jack's Wife, a frustrated middle age housewife starts reading some books about witches and whatnot (but like if I read Dracula that doesn't make me a vampire you know) and sleeps with the lead from There's Always Vanilla. It's not exactly a horror movie, so I shoulda posted it in September I guess though there is a little psychedelic freak factor.

RATING: 40%

Friday, September 30, 2016

There's Always Vanilla

For Halloween this season I'll be running through every George Romero flick. His follow up to Night of the Living Dead is a weird romantic comedy about a hippie who looks as square as squaresville and a commercial model but it's too disjointed to succeed in the mainstream or the indie circuit, whatever that was in 1971. He hates it, and you should too.

RATING: 26%

(Here's my eight year old take on Night of the Living Dead.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Power of the Daleks

Only seven of the Second Doctor's twenty-one adventures have completely survived. Most of them are only missing a few episodes but a couple of them, like The Power of the Daleks, are completely lost*. Even without the original video footage, it's clear that the Second Doctor is a force to be reckoned with and a worthy successor to the First Doctor. Though he refuses to directly answer any questions asked of him and hesitates to confirm that he is, in fact, the Doctor, he is immediately captivating and in control. After his regeneration (or "renewal," they wouldn't use that term until the Third Doctor became the Fourth Doctor), the Doctor picks up a recorder and a stove pipe hat and then walks straight into a murder mystery. The Doctor assumes the identity of the murdered man and waltzes into the middle of a power struggle going on among the colonists of the planet Vulcan (no, not that one). Things only get worse after the colonists revive some Daleks that were found in a space capsule that had crash landed on their planet. The colonists get so wrapped up in their individual quests for power that they willingly overlook the fact that the Daleks are capable of deadly force. Everyone is so thoroughly convinced that the Daleks are the solution to all their problems, the Doctor's warnings of impending death fall on deaf ears. There's a great moment in the second episode when the mad scientist character reveals a revived Dalek to his superiors. The excited colonists drown out the Doctor's warnings with grand plans for their new mechanical assistant and the Dalek, seeing an opportunity to seize power, announces, "I am your servant." The Daleks have shown, time and time again, that they are capable of brutal and overwhelming force but this is truly the first time that we have seen how clever they can be.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from dailypop.wordpress.com)

*Audio recordings of each episode have survived along with a few short video clips. There are a number of fan recreations of these episodes floating around the internet, if you're interested. Though recently, the BBC announced that they have put together an animated recreation of this serial, using the original audio, which they plan to release this fall commemorating the 50th anniversary of the serial's original broadcast.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Tenth Planet

The Tenth Planet is an important serial for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it's important because it's the final serial in the First Doctor era. Some say that William Hartnell's contract had not been renewed over concerns about his failing health. While some others suggest that Hartnell's clashing with the production staff had finally reached a tipping point. It could easily be an either/or situation or a combination of both factors. Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) has suggested in interviews that he left Doctor Who after one series because of his own conflicts with the show's producers. And Hartnell's health and memory problems had been a concern for a while before this point. In either case, it was the concept of regeneration and the choice of the Hartnell's successor that allowed the show to continue on for decades after this serial.

The Tenth Planet is also important because it features the debut of the Cybermen, Doctor Who's most popular reoccurring enemies after the Daleks. This first batch of Cybermen is a bit different from the ones that would pop up later on down the line. Their hands are still human and some of their facial features are still visible behind their masks. Their voices have not become entirely mechanical yet either, giving them a strange speech pattern. They make a great impression in this serial too. Their planet, Mondas, arrives in Earth's solar system, causing all sorts of problems for the Doctor, his companions and the folks at the secret military base at the South Pole. The Cybermen are smart and coldly calculating but not above killing people with their bare hands. And though their features would continually change with each new appearance, it's clear to see why they've resonated with the show's writers and fans.

Rating: Keep warm%

(Image from beyondmediaonline.com)

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Smugglers

The First Doctor's penultimate adventure finds him in Cornwall in the seventeenth century. The TARDIS arrives on a beach outside a small village that is seemingly populated exclusively by scoundrels. Seriously, every person that the Doctor and his companions meet in the first episode is connected to smuggling in some way. It's not until late in the second episode that they meet someone who isn't trying to capture or kill them. Though they were introduced in the previous serial, this is Ben and Polly's first real adventure as companions to the Doctor. Before they stepped into the TARDIS, these new companions really had no way of knowing what they were getting themselves into. And since there are no experienced companions aboard the TARDIS, it's clear that the writers had to cut a few corners in order to get the new companions up to speed. The Doctor is often quite curt with Ben and Polly and they're left on their own for most of the adventure. This serial is particularly violent, containing quite a few murders. Ironically, the only clips of these episode that have survived are from scenes that were cut by overseas censors for being too violent.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from themindreels.com)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The War Machines

Whenever the TARDIS touches down in London, it's always in what would have been then contemporary London. So when the TARDIS arrives in London for The War Machines, it's the swinging London of 1966. While the Doctor finds himself drawn to a newly constructed communications tower, Dodo just wants to hit up the hottest night club she can find. There's a lot that could be said about the poor treatment that the Doctor's female companions have so far received on the show, but that's probably better left to someone much smarter than myself. But basically, after the Doctor cons his way into seeing WOTAN, the most technologically advanced computer in existence (like a sixties Skynet), Dodo is hypnotized. After the Doctor figures out that she's under WOTAN's influence, he hypnotizes her again causing her to pass out. Dodo is then sent to the countryside to recuperate and she's only heard from again at the end of the serial when the Doctor's new companions tell him that Dodo has decided to stay behind in London. And, just like that, Dodo's short, unfortunate run on the show comes to an end. The rest of the serial is fairly decent, with the Doctor and his new friends fending off WOTAN's hypnotized underlings and some boxy robots. There was one thing did irk me in particular though, WOTAN repeatedly refers to the Doctor as "Doctor Who," the first and so far only time anyone has explicitly called the Doctor "Doctor Who."

Rating: Fab gear%

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Savages

In the final moments of each serial, we're typically treated to a brief teaser for the following story. At the end of The Gunfighters we see a man dressed in animal pelts emerging from the underbrush carrying a large club in a menacing fashion. This didn't leave me with much hope for The Savages. I thought it would probably be a serial along the lines of An Unearthly Child, where the Doctor and his companions find themselves mixed up in the power struggles of a barbaric society. Thankfully, this wasn't the case. The Savages is about a technologically advanced race who are literally draining the life force out of another race on their planet. The Doctor and his companions quickly suss out that something is wrong. It doesn't hurt that the advanced race raise a lot of red flags. Saying shit like: "You're totally free here. Just don't ask too many questions and don't go into that room over there. It's forbidden." And whenever the Doctor asks about the secret of their longevity, they can't wait to change the subject. "What's your secret?" "Hey, don't worry about it." In the end, the Doctor and his friends clean house and Steven decides to stay behind to help broker the peace between the two races.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from doctorwhomindrobber.com)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Gunfighters

When I saw The Ark, I was impressed that the production staff of Doctor Who would bother putting together an episode that required multiple live animals in an indoor setting. Doctor Who was famously made on the cheap in some of the BBC's smaller television studios. So you can imagine the headaches that filming with live animals would have caused. I was similarly impressed by the use of live horses in The Gunfighters. They probably could have gotten away without using the horses but they're a nice touch here. And even though the serial is clearly being filmed in a studio, the sets used in the production are quite good. There's an odd musical cue that reoccurs throughout the four episodes that is pretty unnecessary. Also, this serial features one of my favorite things: British actors using bad American accents. I usually find it difficult to spot a Brit doing an American accent, but there are a few actors here who don't come anywhere near the mark.

Rating: People keep giving me guns and I do wish they wouldn't%

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Celestial Toymaker

At this point in the series, Doctor Who was desperately looking for a way to get rid of Doctor Who. William Hartnell, the First Doctor, struggled with his lines throughout his entire tenure as the Doctor. And by 1966, he was also butting heads with the show's production staff. The Celestial Toymaker was initially written as a way of getting rid of Hartnell. During the serial the Doctor is rendered mute and almost entirely invisible, the plan was for the Doctor to change form when he was made visible again. Instead, behind the scenes, Hartnell's contract was extended for another five serials. He probably didn't know it at the time, but those would end up being his last five serials as the show's lead.

Rating: This is some form of attack%