Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Stage Fright (2014)

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

tn_stagefrightI honestly thought this new-to-disc movie STAGE FRIGHT was gonna be a loose remake of the Italian STAGE FRIGHT directed by Michel Soavi, but after seeing it I don’t think they’re suppoosed to be connected. It’s just the logical title for a stage-performance-themed masked killer whodunit (or whoslashedit I guess). This one’s got completely different characters and backstory, it’s set at a camp for kids learning musical theater, and instead of a silent killer in a creepy as hell owl mask it’s a guy who sings rock songs in a kabuki mask that looks like that puppet from SAW.

See, that’s the thing about this, it’s a musical. And by “thing” I mean both “unique part” and “problem for me.” You know I don’t have a completely closed mind, I have appreciated a musical now and again. I loved the critically trashed THE MISERABLES, for godsake, I thought it was amazing. And you know how I feel about MARY POPPINS. But by my way of thinking “slasher movie with musical numbers” is kinda like BRICK‘s “hardboiled detective story, but in a high school.” I can admire the cleverness of how it’s put together, but that extra element is a drawback to me, not a bonus. I’d be more excited for the regular thing. I guess I still see room for great straightahead slasher movies in the world. The slots haven’t been filled yet, no need to start getting all fancy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Wolf Creek 2

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

tn_wolfcreek2Man, I waited so long for WOLF CREEK 2 that I gave up on it happening like three different times. Back in 2005 director Greg Mclean said “You call that a debut? This is a debut!” with his deeply Australian outback slasher. It was kinda controversial at the time. I remember a Seattle Times critic walked out. Ebert was really offended by it. All my buddies except the two I saw it with said it sucked. It was labelled a new low in “torture porn” by non-horror fans who still review every new horror movie or worse, “nu-horror” by horror fans who hate most new horror movies. But I thought it was really well done, masterful tension and outstanding (sometimes darkly humorous) villain performance by John Jarrat (DARK AGE), very effective use of wide open nature as a source of terror, plus a little bit of precious George Miller blood pumping through the veins of the chase scenes. One over-explanatory scene and an abrupt ending couldn’t kill it for me.

Mclean’s followup was ROGUE, a really good giant croc movie somewhat buried in the U.S. when it came straight to video from Dimension Extreme. But then financing problems, the death of a close collaborator and who knows what else kept slowing down the return to the giant crater where a guy stalks people. So I’m happy to report that even with all that anticipation this is a very good sequel. It’s a smart escalation, more action packed, faster paced, cleverly structured. The only big repeated error is another “That’s it, huh?” ending. (read the rest of this shit…)

Soul Vengeance

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

tn_soulvengeanceAlot of people have recommended the PENITENTIARY trilogy to me over the years. Apparently it’s a pretty crazy movie property franchise of the VHS era, so it made sort of a minor cult legend out of writer-director Jamaa Fanaka. He came out of the UCLA film school and a group of young black filmmakers known as “the L.A. Rebellion.” Other members include Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and Haile Gerima, so he might’ve been the black sheep of the group, being more interested in exploitation type subject matter than his colleagues.

Although the PENITENTIARYs are what he’s known for, Fanaka (who was born Walter Gordon, by the way – he changed it to a Swahili name in college) actually started in the blaxploitation era. His first feature was 1974′s EMMA MAE, better known now as BLACK SISTER’S REVENGE. In 1975 he did WELCOME HOME, BROTHER CHARLES, which we will discuss here under its current video title of SOUL VENGEANCE. (read the rest of this shit…)

Whiskey Mountain

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

tn_whiskeymountainWHISKEY MOUNTAIN is an obscure movie I came across through my usual Slasher Search method of scanning for VHS boxes in the horror section. It’s from 1977 and I’m pretty sure it was made after the filmatists saw 1974′s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, but you could probly stick it in the DELIVERANCE redneck attack type of genre more than in horror.

This is the story of two couples who take their dirtbikes up into some mountains in search of treasure. Like in TEXAS CHAIN SAW they’re looking for family property they vaguely know about, and a local business proprietor warns them they don’t want to be nosing around on other people’s property. Also like in CHAIN SAW that local shows up later on as one of the attackers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Day of the Dead

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

tn_dayofthedeadI think DAWN OF THE DEAD will always be my favorite zombie movie, but DAY OF THE DEAD is the one that’s grown with me the most. When I first saw it I liked it, but my enthusiasm was held back by the obnoxious performances of the guys playing the soldiers. They’re written as total assholes, taunting everybody, dropping weird racial slurs, and the actors (including makeup artist Greg Nicotero, who is now effects head/producer/director/writer/zombie on The Walking Dead) play them as giggling, yelling wackos, more like Rapist #3 in a cheap vigilante movie than like army professionals. The best performance among them is Joe Pilato as their leader, Colonel Rhodes, but he’s so convincing as a detestable prick that I was always convinced he was just being himself.

But I’ve watched the movie many times over the years and it just gets better and better. What once seemed like major flaws have faded away while its successes seem more and more impressive. These days I love to hate Rhodes, who’s such a dick that I can’t even root for him when he pulls off the award worthy badass move of grunting “Choke on ‘em!!” at the zombies who’ve torn him in half and are eating his intestines. And the rest of those guys don’t bother me that much anymore. Their undeniable obnoxiousness has been far eclipsed by the aspects of the movie I love: everything else. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dawn of the Dead

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

tn_dotd“WE WHIPPED ‘EM AND WE GOT IT ALL!”

How do you write a review of DAWN OF THE DEAD at this point? I’ve discussed it to death with a million people over the years, and I figure we’ve all gone over it all before, right? It’s kind of presumptuous to think you’ve got something semi-new to say about a movie that’s been discussed this much. In a way I’ve already reviewed it in bits and pieces over the years, talking about it in my review of the remake and probly other places. But this year I sat down and watched it again and I thought it was a shame it’s not in my reviews archive, because it’s one of my very favorite movies. Look – I can prove it by going on about it for a while! Let’s discuss how great this movie is. (read the rest of this shit…)

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

tn_notld90I still love the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a nice, moody little cinematic play about differences of opinion between strangers hiding out in a farm house during the first ever worldwide zombie epidemic. I believe I watched it Halloween night of 2012 and I realized I’d kind of worn it out, it was too burnt into my brain and I’d need to take a break from it for a few years at least so I could appreciate it more next time.

But I was really jonesing to watch DAWN and DAY of the dead before Halloween this year so I decided to do a historically inaccurate color trilogy by substituting the 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which I hadn’t watched in some time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bride of Re-Animator

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

tn_bridofreaRE-ANIMATOR holds up as a timeless classic, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR never was one and hasn’t gotten any better. This time Stuart Gordon was not involved (if a man wants to spend 1989 doing ROBOT JOX that is his right), and the directational reins were handed over to producer Brian Yuzna. I guess I’m comparing a shitty non-anamorphic DVD to a nice blu-ray, but this one seems cheaper and more obvious than the first one in every regard, from the broader acting to the shitty Richard Band keyboard score that, when it’s not ripping off the PSYCHO theme again, sounds exactly like every score he did for any Full Moon movie in that era.

(read the rest of this shit…)

From Beyond

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

tn_frombeyondDamn, talk about a movie that surpasses my memory of it being pretty good. Stuart Gordon’s FROM BEYOND is a minor horror classic with the elegant simplicity and tone of RE-ANIMATOR and the body transmogrifying ambition of John Carpenter’s THE THING. It’s all about an incident when another dimension bonks heads with ours, and you can guess which one of us gets a bloody nose.

Jeffrey Combs stars in this one too, this time as Crawford, the more reasonable assistant to his groundbreaking professor at Miskatonic, Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel, NETWORK, BASKET CASE 2), whose invention “The Resonator” uses a bunch of analog computers and Tesla-tech hooked to a row of tuning forks to create a vibration that stimulates our pineal glands, causing us to see beings that have been around us, unseen, all along. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shallow Grave (1987)

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

tn_shallowgraveslashersearch13SHALLOW GRAVE – not the Danny Boyle one – is another mysteriously odd ’80s slasher movie to add to the list. This is about four Catholic school girls headed to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break who get a flat tire in South Carolina and get stalked by a psychotic sheriff (Tony March) after they witness him murdering his mistress. Basically it all comes down to this girl Sue Ellen (Lisa Stahl)’s “weak kidneys.” If she didn’t have to piss they just woulda had ordinary car troubles to deal with and maybe would’ve missed out on the beach parties.

To me the strangest part of the movie is the opening. You have a long pan around a house, spying on these college girls through the windows. On one hand it’s a well-executed John Carpenter type shot like I love. On the other hand a horror movie that has a bunch of girls hanging around in their underwear for no reason generally does not have respect for its characters or viewers. (read the rest of this shit…)