Man of Tai Chi

tn_manoftaichibtislMAN OF TAI CHI is a finely tuned new take on my beloved underground fighting subgenre. It’s the directational debut of POINT BREAK’s Keanu Reeves, who gets extra cool-points for starting his directing career just to make a vehicle for a stuntman he met on the MATRIX sequels, Tiger Hu Chen. Reeves brings along MATRIX fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and, even better, plays the villain. It’s a Chinese production, set and filmed in Beijing, only partly in English. I guess that’s why I’ve never seen an ad for it and almost missed the fact that it was playing in theaters (it’s been available on VOD and iTunes for about a month).
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From Beyond

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)

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…)

Mother of Tears

tn_motheroftearsMOTHER OF TEARS was Dario Argento’s backburner project for years. I never really watched them close enough together to pick up on it, but SUSPIRIA and INFERNO were supposed to be about sister witches, and he always meant to make one about the third sister. Unfortunately he didn’t get it made until 2007, long after he stopped being a reliable filmatist, so most people were not impressed.

Argento’s daughter Asia (xXx) plays Sarah Mandy, an assistant at some museum who is there when her boss unseals and accidentally bleeds on (you know how it is) an ancient artifact, summoning witches who horribly murder the boss. This is a creepy scene because of the way Sarah just sort of glimpses a feeding frenzy from outside of the room, and because she gets pursued through the empty museum by an evil monkey that tries to keep up with her and keeps hissing to notify the others of her location. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Prey (1984)

tn_thepreyslashersearch13Jackie Coogan is an iconic child star from the silent film era. He made his film debut at the age of 3 in the 1917 film SKINNER’S BABY. He played the baby. More famously he played the title character in the 1921 Charlie Chaplin movie THE KID.

His last movie to come out was 63 years later, and it was THE PREY. (If IMDb trivia is to believed, though, it was filmed in ’78, so it wasn’t the last thing he shot.)

I gotta admit, I kinda fell behind on Slasher Search here. I got into rewatching various horror classics, and I feel good about that. But I realized it was almost Halloween and I had done very few obscure slasher movies, so I got desperate. I rented 5 still-only-on-VHS movies that I knew little or nothing about, and by the time I got to watching them I didn’t even remember what most of them were. This was just on the top of the pile. (read the rest of this shit…)

Re-Animator

tn_re-animatorRE-ANIMATOR is one of those good old ’80s college buddy movies, you know? You got the tall, blandly handsome star student Dan (Bruce Abbott), he’s fucking the dean’s daughter Megan (Barbara Crampton), there’s an uptight professor, Dr. Hill (David Gale – the one from SAVAGE WEEKEND, who I still don’t think is the same one THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE is about), who disapproves of the relationship. Then a new student comes to Miskatonic U., the socially inept but brilliant Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), who maybe got kicked out of his school in Switzerland, or maybe had to flee. A troublemaker! Double secret probation!

Dan seems like a jock, Herbert like a nerd. Dan is a normal person, Herbert a creepy weirdo. And they become roommates! It would be fun if it was about Dan trying to loosen him up, bringing him to parties and stuff, or to pledge at a fraternity, but maybe that’s in the sequels.

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Girls Nite Out

tn_girlsniteouteslashersearch13GIRLS NITE OUT would’ve been a decent title for KILLER PARTY. I’m not completely sure how it applies to this one. It’s another college movie, and it focuses at least as much on male basketball players angry about their girlfriends leaving them as it does on the group of sweater-wearing girls whose idea of a nite out is to follow along with a scavenger hunt contest put on by the campus radio station for part of the movie until it gets cancelled due to murders.

This is a lower-mid-level Slasher Search find. On one hand, it’s definitely not good, and doesn’t even have any heads chopped off or eyeballs poked out or anything. On the other hand it’s watchable. It has credible enough acting and production values, including some pretty good scoring at times (possibly from library music) and a couple decent oldies on the soundtrack because of the radio station. And of course there’s a little bit of the weird shit, which is absolutely required to get through one of these. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shocker

tn_shockerAfter the massive success of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET in 1984, you’d think Wes Craven would’ve been sitting comfortably atop the horror director pyramid. Yet his directational followups were just the ’85 TV movie CHILLER, the ’86 silly robot movie DEADLY FRIEND, and a couple episodes of the new Twilight Zone. It wasn’t until ’88 that he did something he seemed passionate about, the pretty respected voodoo thriller THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. By ’89, only five years after the birth of Freddy, he was already at that sad “time to come up with the next Freddy” stage you’d expect him to go through eventually. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kenny & Company

tn_kennyBefore he did PHANTASM, a 22 year old Don Coscarelli wasn’t even looking to be a horror director. He got together the people he knew and filmed in his neighborhood and made this sweet coming-of-age type comedy about growing up in the California suburbs of the ’70s. Kenny (Dan McCann) is a kid about 12 or 13, his company is Doug (PHANTASM star A. Michael Baldwin) and Sherman (Jeff Roth), a goofy younger kid from across the street who they pick on but start becoming real friends with when they see him getting beat up by Johnny Hoffman (Willy Masterson), the same neighborhood bully they live in terror of.
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We Are What We Are (2010)

tn_wearewhatWE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Somos lo que hay) is a one of a kind horror movie out of Mexico. Well, it was one of a kind until they just did an American remake, but it sounds like they changed things up for that one anyway.

The story in the original begins with a man stumbling through an upscale outdoor shopping center, coughing up blood and dying on the pavement, and nobody trying to help him. He kinda seems like he might be homeless, but he’s not. He has a wife and three kids to not come home to. (read the rest of this shit…)