100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Nine - "Fright Night!"


I woke up in a very odd mood this morning, folks. Usually, I am in a shitty mood when I wake up - until the latte slides down the gullet, that is. But today I woke up somewhat hyper and KIND OF in a good mood. Odd for me. I hate to wake up in a good mood frankly because that means the day can't possibly get any better; in fact, it's more than likely gonna go downhill.

So I am trying to enjoy it while I can.

Anyway, today's selection is a fun, fun, fun movie - another one from the 80s and another classic from that era - "Fright Night!" I'm going to enjoy talking about this movie below, so hop on over to The Skinny and I hope everyone can enjoy this toothy flick themselves!

Fright Night (1985): Directed by Tom Holland. Starring William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowell, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffries.

The Skinny: This original take on the vampire myth has Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandridge, a well-to-do vamp taking up residence in suburbia. But as the hookers start to pile up dead, neighbor Charlie starts to sniff around, enlisting the help of Peter Vincent - a washed up horror movie host - and his best friend, the demented "Evil" Ed.

What's Good: What a great movie! Seriously, Chris Sarandon is the perfect blend of charm and menace (like any good vamp should have), William Ragsdale is boyish charm personified, and Stephen Geoffries (who went on to become ... wait for it ... a gay porn star) is absolutely hilarious. There are so many ideas out there for vampire films, and the idea of one trying to "blend in" is a great one - except in this one, the bloodsucker can't help but revert to form and start in with the killing. And Roddy McDowell, always a good time, does his best nebbish ever since he donned the monkey makeup as Cornelius in "Planet of the Apes." Frankly, the casting is what makes this film and there isn't one misstep in the group. The script is also tightly wound and director Tom Holland keeps the action up front and never over the top. It's vampish delight from start to finish.

What's Bad: As with most 80s-era movies, the music leaves something to be desired. Not the score, but the "background" music in a few scenes is just ridiculous 1985-era overproduced, L.A. synthetic nonsense. But this is well before Hollywood realized that you could make a killing and a major impression with a well-stocked soundtrack. But the rest of the film is a winner - maybe not so much horrifying but definitely well-acted, well-directed and with some great makeup effects.

Why We Like It: This was one of those movies I watched over and over again as a teen with my own vamp obsession. I have warm fuzzy memories of this movie from the Cinemax days and when I wound up buying it on DVD a few years ago I was so pleased that it held up - both as a piece of my past and as a quality vampire flick that a lot of people just don't know about. That is, until the stupid fucking remake (in 3D, I might add) comes out next year. I want to say "not even interested," but I just read that Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist from "Kick-Ass" will be playing "Evil" Ed, so that gives me some kind of hope.

Memorable Stuff: There is a great use of practical effects when Ed - now a vampire - is staked by Vincent while in wolf form and slowly returns to a human state to finally die. It is not only disturbing, it is emotionally agonizing, because you can truly see the fear and regret and horror in his eyes as he slowly bleeds to death, his hand reaching out to Vincent for help. It's an unforgettable tableau.

Monday, August 30, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Eight - "Shadow of the Vampire!"


SATAN, BABY! SATAN!

Yeah, another late 'un this Monday folkies, and that just couldn't be helped. I was busy writing dumb stories about stupid things that no asshole is ever gonna read. AND I GET PAID TO DO IT! So I ain't really complainin'.

So I watched "Kick-Ass" TWICE yesterday. I know this is a horror movie blog but you should still see this flick. It is just undescribably deliciously good. As far as superhero/comic book adaptations go, this may be my all time favorite so far (except for "The Crow," which itself walks the line between horror movie and comic book adaptation).

And on to today's flick, another film that walks a line - this time between horror movie and period drama. But "Shadow of the Vampire" is disturbing, nonetheless. Check The Skinny-ism below, people-isms!

Shadow of the Vampire (2000): Directed by Elias Merhige. Starring John Malkovitch, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes, Eddie Izzard, Catherine McCormack, Udo Kier and John Aden Gillet.

The Skinny: More of a meditation on making a horror film than a horror film itself, "Shadow of the Vampire" follows ambitious 1920's German film director F. W. Murnow as he travels to Slovakia to film his masterpiece, "Nosferatu." The key to his film, however, is the performance of the eponymous vampire by Max Schreck, who is either a real vampire or is taking this acting shit way too seriously. Based on the filming of the original "Nosferatu," released in 1922.

What's Good: Once again, we have a film in our midst with an Oscar nod - for the mind-shattering performance of Wilem Defoe as Max Schreck/Nosferatu. First appearing as Schreck "in character" as Nosferatu and never letting the (alleged) ruse drop, Defoe's Schreck teeters between blood-sucking fiend and an asshole who won't relax when the camera is off. And when the director slips in the occasional frame from the original "Nosferatu," I dare you to tell me the difference between the original Schreck and Defoe. Go on, I dare you! Can't do it, can you? I thought not. This is really a serious and ambitious film that creates both a unique vampire story and a story about two men who will go to any lengths to achieve their goals - Murnow and Schreck. The rest of the cast is picture perfect, including Cary "Farmboy" Elwes and the always cool Udo Kier. And check Eddie Izzard out, acting his comic ass off! It's an enjoyable film that has some truly disconcerting moments in it, lensed in both moody sepia-tinged color and in grainy black and white for the "movie within a movie" scenes.

What's Bad: I have no complaints about this film whatsoever. It's a modern classic and everyone should check it out, if only to howl as Defoe chews the scenery to pieces with his big fake vampire choppers. TA TA TOOTHIO!

Why We Like it: Because it's excellent: the cinematography, the eerie score, the razor-sharp performances - it's absolutely amazing. Truth be told, though - it's Defoe's performance that keeps me coming back every time. I hush the room whenever he's onscreen so I don't miss a single gem of dialogue (plus, in true horror movie fashion, he's used very sparingly until the very end). And as to whether or not he actually is a vampire ... I leave that up to you, gentle viewers. Because the film enters some kind of opium-induced fever dream in its final reel and fantasy and reality cease to be separate entities. Have an absinthe and some laudanum and enjoy!

Memorable Stuff: There are many great scenes in this film and scads of awesome dialogue that I wish I could just rattle off. But the best part is where the producer is grilling Schreck on his "vampirism," and the actor - after telling him he cannot remember becoming one of the undead - snatches a bat out of the air and drinks its blood. The stunning look of horror on the producer's face, and his strained response ("the German theatre NEEDS people like you, Schreck!") is worth the cost of 50 tickets.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Seven - "The Devil's Rejects!"


Late late late today, rabbit, but with good excuse! I have been sitting here all morning catching up on movies I have yet to see, courtesy of a 1 terabyte hard drive given to me as a present by one of my best friends, Brian "Barney" Barr. He hooked this brother up by stocking the damn thing with over 600 movies, old and new. So since 6 this morning I have watched "Borat," "Public Enemies" and "Kick-Ass." All procured by purely legal means, of this I am certain.

That and I had a pot of Maxwell House this morning and that shit has me jacked up, there's so damn much caffeine in that crap!

So before I delve into today's selection, let me just say this: I have now come to the conclusion that Johnny Depp is the finest actor of his generation. He is amazing.

And with that, I bring you to Day Thirty-Seven's selection, the new modern cult classic - Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects." One of the best in 20 years or more. I tell you all about it below, yes. The Skinny, it's called. Check it.

The Devil's Rejects (2006): Directed by Rob Zombie. Starring Sid Haig, Sherri Moon Zombie, John Forsythe, Bill Mosley, Leslie Easterbrook and Ken Foree.

The Skinny: This follow-up to 2003's "House of 1,000 Corpses" has the Firefly Clan - Otis, Baby and that lovable clown Cap't. Spaulding - on the run after the cops invade their home and take Mother Firefly captive. As they decide on their next move, they leave chaos and violence in their path, all the while dogged by the brother of the sheriff they executed in the first film.

What's Good: In all honesty, the bizarre violence aside, this is not really a horror movie. "Corpses" was Zombie's take on slashers like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Band of Freaks movies like "Last House on the Left." But "Rejects" plays more like Terrence Mallick's "Badlands" or Nick Cassavettes' "Straw Dogs" than it does a camp ride like "Corpses." But that's okay, because Zombie packs the script with quotable one liners and long speeches that delve deeply into the subconscious of the three killers. We also see tantalizing clips of the chemistry between the members of this bizarre family as they get to interact during car rides ("tutti fucking fruity!"). And while many of the other ancillary are only there to die as violent foils at the hands of our psychos, it's still a fun and - most times - disturbing ride. Peppered with character actors both big and small, "Rejects" is never boring and only partially laborious.

What's Bad: It gets a little tedious at time, watching these crazies torture over and over again with utter impunity - even if they do get their comeuppance (of sorts) in the end. For that very reason, a move like this has a very slim chance of appealing to a mass audience. Yet it made quite a bit of money, so it must have appealed to someone.

Why We Like It: What can I say, I'm sick. I love Capt. Spaulding, I love Otis, I love Baby ... damn it I love the whole sick movie from start to end. Who ever said I was wrapped tight?

Memorable Stuff: There's a lot of cool and very dark stuff in this film, but the bottom line most memorable thing is the end. I won't give it away for those who haven't seen it, but it has all the potential to bring a tear to even the most jaded of eyes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Six - "Scanners!"


WILDER, WILDER! FASTER, FASTER! PSYCHO SLUTS MEET PARTY CRASHERS!

Greetings one and all on this fine late-August Saturday morning. This is the kind of day where you throw open the shutters (do people really do that?), lean out the window, take in a deep breath of fresh country air, then go back to bed until payday.

Unfortunately that reality won't wash, so here I am sipping cheap ass coffee and sharing my bottomless well of movie insight with you wonderful folks!

Hard as it is to get excited about being alive in general, I am actually quite excited about tonight's flick - 1981's "Scanners!" Check The Skinny and I hope you get to enjoy this campy classic yourselves.

Scanners (1981): Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Stephen Lack, Michael Ironsides and Patrick MgGoohan.

The Skinny: One of Cronenberg's earliest entries into his Body Horror series, "Scanners" stars Stephen Lack as a homeless man imbued with powerful psychic energies. As a shady corporation seeks to gather the so-called "Scanners" for their ranks, a renegade scanner is killing off agents and people one by one.

What's Good: Well, any 80s era film with Michael Ironside in it is quickly shifted to the top of the retro pile. The man is a badass, whether it's as Ham in "V: The Final Battle" or Jester in "Top Gun" or as assassin Richter in "Total Recall." But more on the Man Himself later. "Scanners" is definitely one of those films that walks a very thin line between crap and gold, with a decent lean in the former's direction. While Cronenberg went on to many more fantastic movies ("Eastern Promises," anyone?), "Scanners" was most definitely him working out what works and what doesn't onscreen. And there are many parts in he movie that DO work - Cronenberg knows how to build suspense and elevate pulp into drama. Shit, I better move on to ...

What's Bad: When the film doesn't work, it sucks out loud. Bad lighting, bad acting, bad dialogue ... but don't get me wrong, it's a decent idea and a movie you should see once, if only for one of its opening sequences. The problem is, Cronenberg doesn't seem to know what the movie wants to be. Is it sci-fi, horror, a mystery or some bastardized version of all three? Well, that's exactly what it is, and for that reason it appears at times that Conenberg's finger is not exactly on the pulse of this movie's plot. Just let yourself succumb to it once and you'll find yourself laughing at inappropriate times and staring slack-jawed at other times. And if you don't pay attention to the ending (and the many, many bad sequels - none of which Cronenberg had anything to do with), then you might actually enjoy this little slice of exploitive 80s celluloid.

Why We Like It: I believe I stated that in the open salvo - Michael "Bad Assery Abounds" Ironside. I love his big bald head, his tight jawed way of speaking, and his crazy eyes and expressions that somehow summon early Jack Nicholson to mind. In fact, as a kid I used to get him and Jack all confused. Now I know better - one is a fantastic actor who cannot be imitated or duplicated. The other is Jack. Also, there are some great special effects, including the previously mentioned one that I will discuss in greater detail with ...

Memorable Stuff: A DUDE'S HEAD GETS BLOWN THE FUCK OFF HIS GODDAMN HEAD! This scene has been discussed/parodied in every aspect of American pop culture, from SNL to "South Park" to "Wayne's World," and with good reason. It's shocking, sudden and graphic - I ain't even sure the MPAA would allow a scene like this in a modern movie. The effect was achieved by filling a latex head with cow livers and then blowing it to bits from behind with a shotgun and it is chillingly realistic. I mean, of you slow it down you can see bits of brain and eyeballs and flaps of skin flying everywhere - a bit like the R. Budd Dwyer suicide but with fewer panicking newsmen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Five - "Christine!"


You know, if it isn't one fucking thing, it's another.

Here's what I want to do in life: make my loved ones happy, and enjoy myself in the process. And - granted, I've caused some problems and I am dealing with those problems as we speak - it always seems that once things start to MAYBE feel like they MIGHT be getting SLIGHTLY SOMEWHAT BETTER in one area, something pops up in another. Like trying to kill off a cancer that just keeps coming back and somehow manages to stay one step ahead of the doctor.

It makes day-to-day living extremely difficult when your life is in constant turmoil, to say the least. It surely makes stupid things like this blog seem utterly unimportant and inconsequential.

But yet here I am doing it.

Today's movie is another of my favorites. And like so many other directors from the 80s, for a while there John Carpenter was at the top of his game. After "Halloween," he had other smash successes with "The Fog," "The Thing," and this adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Check out The Skinny below and thanks again. Tomorrow it's another classic Cronenberg movie - 1982's "Scanners!"

One more note: don't take people for granted. Ever.

Christine (1983): Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Keith David, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul and Harry Dean Stanton.

The Skinny: Based on Stephen King's novel about a haunted 1957 Plymouth Fury, "Christine" stars Keith Gordon as geeky Artie, who falls in love with a rusted hulk of a car. As the car is slowly restored to its former glory, however, his friends and family start to believe that his obsession with "Christine" is an unnatural one. Those fears are confirmed when his enemies start to wind up dead in auto-related accidents.

What's Good: This is actually the first Stephen King novel I ever read, so I was eager for the film when it came out. And other than a few pacing problems and of course a condensed version of the complete story, this is a reasonably faithful adaptation. The two best parts of the film are Keith Gordon, who is perfect as the protagonist Artie. As he goes from Uber Geek to Mr. Cool through his association with the car, Gordon carries the transformation in subtle ways - in his posture, the roll of his eyes, the way his jaw sets in anger. And the second part for me is the way the car transforms and moves from damaged to undamaged. Today, it would be done with CGI and would look like the fucking "Transformers" when it was all said and done. But being made in the early 80s means real practical special effects, and Carpenter pulls it off perfectly with tight close-ups and reverse film techniques. In fact, I've heard tell of a new version directed by Davis Slade ("30 Days of Night," "Twilight: Eclipse") being produced by Platinum Dunes - Michael Bay's production house responsible for the recent spate of horrible remakes of classic horror films. In 3-D. Fuck me running.

What's Bad: It is a very stripped-down version of the novel that removes the idea of the car's former owner being evil and instead focuses on the car itself being the embodiment of evil. This is told in an opening scene that almost feels tacked on after the fact where an auto worker is killed by the brand new car as it rolls off the assembly line. It's a fine idea, but one that's been done several times already - in everything from B-Movies to episodes of "The Twilight Zone." It also doesn't account for Artie's personality change - in the book, LeBay - the former deceased owner - starts to possess Artie. In the film, he just gets more aggressive and pissy for no real reason other than maybe he feels really good about himself now that his car kills people for him. And like I said, there are a few pacing issues in the middle of the movie, and a few plot holes if you think too hard about it. But for the most part, it's a quality scare.

Why We Like It: It's probably my second favorite Carpenter film after "The Thing." And like I said, it holds a special place in my heart because it started my love affair with King and that has lasted over 25 years.

Memorable Stuff: My favorite scene is the first time the car shows Artie that it can regenerate. He stares into the headlights with an almost sensual look in his eyes as fenders pop out, windshields and mirrors reform and the missing hood is miraculously restored. It's a good use of camera and effects and continues Gordon's excellent performance.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Four - "Scars of Dracula!"


SEE IT! HEAR IT! AND ACTUALLY FEEL IT! WAITING TO RIP YOUR FLESH APART! WARNING! THE ACTION IS RAW!

So, like I said about yesterday's flick, "The Serpent and the Rainbow," being boring in the final third? Yeah, well that's where I fell asleep yesterday, too - right when the "action" starts. But I feel I didn't miss much except some shitty special effects and decidedly un-scary scenes.

I don't feel I need to backtrack and watch it again, because I have seen it a dozen or more times - hell, I was tossing lines of dialogue back at the television throughout the whole damn thing ("It is a terrible thing, the first time you cannot tell good from bad. Then, it is this very thing that sets you free"). Hey that's good, I'm putting that up as a status update!

Anyway, today's film is a great classic Hammer Films hoot - 1970's "Scars of Dracula," with Christopher Lee (the finest actor to don the cloak EVER, except for Bela Lugosi) once again as the Count!

Read "The Skinny" below, bitches, and rave on with it! RAVE ON WITH IT! SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS! KNIVES AND POMPOMS! KNIVES AND POMPOMS!

Scars of Dracula (1970): Directed by Roy Ward Baker. Starring Christopher Lee, Jenny Hanley, Patrick Troughton, Michael Ripper and Dennis Waterman.

The Skinny: One of the eight (actually seven, but that's a long story) Hammer films to feature Christopher Lee, this was actually supposed to be a franchise reboot on the heels of "Taste the Blood of Dracula," one of my all-time favorites. After an unrelated resurrection scene, Dracula returns once again to terrorize the villagers of the nearby town, slaughtering every woman and child and wreaking havoc against his lifelong mortal enemy - the church!

What's Good: As I have said previously, I enjoy just about all of the Hammer House of Horror films, for a variety of reasons. One, they reuse actors that I absolutely love, like Lee, Peter Cushing (that's Grand Mof Tarkin, for you "Star Wars" adherents), Ralph Bates, Roy Kinnear and plenty of others. And two, they're just so BRITISH I love them. The use of garish reds for the blood, the Stentorian voices, the dramatic nostril flares - yes, these movies have it all. This film actually gives Lee the most to do and say in the role since the original Hammer "Dracula" reboot in 1958. There's just something comforting and homey to me in these films and I think it may be because when I was a young teen I would spend the night at my grandmother's apartment to keep her company on Saturday night. And once she went to bed, I would of course watch SNL, but here in the Philly market, a local horror movie show came on right after, called "Saturday Night Dead," starring Stella, the Maneater from Manayunk. And these Hammer films played endlessly on that show - rarely was there a quality film, they were all B-Movies from a bygone era. But I loved them all, I truly did.

What's Bad: Well, now that's a loaded question. Yes, it's cheesy, it's overacted, it has crappy if any special effects ... but again, that's what makes it good. I can't sit here and disparage about these films on an individual basis. I enjoy them too much for that.

Why We Like It: We loves it, Precious, yes. For all the reasons above and more. Lee is just fan-fucking-tastic as Dracula. He's suave and charming but when it's time to bare his fangs, Lee is menace and violence embodied. His eyes bug out of his head, literally, and I get chills every single time.

Memorable Stuff: When the villagers find their women and children dead in the church while they were out trying to burn Drac's house down is an absolute chill. It's well staged and shows us just enough to make us sick to our stomachs at the very thought. And that, ladies and germs, it what this shit is all about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Three - "The Serpent and the Rainbow!"


Time for more morbid musings from your Morose Host with the Ghostly Most!

And there you have it ...

Today - for those of you playing along at home - I must sadly substitute the scheduled feature, the Hammer horror classic "The Blood on Satan's Claw" with something else. Because although I know at one time I had "Blood" in digital format, it seems to have disappeared. If I locate it, I will put it back on the list further down the line (by replacing one of the more obscure films like "Bucket of Blood") because this is a GREAT film and one I was looking forward to watching.

So in its stead, we shall view the 1988 Wes Craven misstep, "The Serpent and the Rainbow." I say misstep because up until this point, Craven was horror's new master who could do no wrong. Then he did wrong. Check The Skinny below and read on, ravers!

Tomorrow's film is another Hammer horror classic starring Christopher Lee as The Count in "Scars of Dracula!" I CAN'T WAIT!

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988): Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Bill Pullman, Paul Winfield, Cathy Tyson.

The Skinny: Based on ethnobotanist Wade Davis' book of the same name, Bill Pullman stars as a scientist sent by a pharmaceutical company to research an alleged drug that turns men into living zombies. While on the search for the elusive "zombie powder," Pullman outs his very soul at risk in the name of science as he exposes himself to Haiti's voodoo subculture.

What's Good: Craven had one hell of a run in the late 70s/early 80s. "The Last House on the Left," "The Hills Have Eyes" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" are quality movies that still to this day other horror directors strive to achieve. Then, in an effort to separate himself from Freddy and the slasher film phenomenon, he tried to adapt Wade Davis' great book about his experiences in Haiti. The problem is, Craven attempted to interject some of the very stuff he was trying to get away from into this horror thriller. Pullman is great (as usual), even when he butchers the French Creole language. And Brent Jennings and Zakes Mokae as Louis Mozart and Dargent Peytraud are both credible and great fun to watch. And the first two-thirds of the film are compelling and very watchable. As Pullman is dragged deeper and deeper into the cultural miasma of Haitian religion, we see him slowly come unraveled as his faith in science is tested against occurrences beyond his comprehension. But then ...

What's Bad: In the final third of the movie, in a seemingly desperate move to "horrify" the goings-on, the film lapses into dull, run-of-the-mill horror tropes. Suddenly, people have mental powers and there is a battle in the dreamscape (I think) that is more psychological than physical, and it's just boring and not scary. The ending is as pat and as dry as two day old pizza crust and it robs the rest of the film of its ambition to disturb on a deep, psychological level by tossing monstrous bad guys at us instead of real terror.

Why We Like It: I actually do like this movie - in fact I watched it a lot as a teen, and even read Davis' book. I think I like it because I like Pullman and he just about always gives a credible performance. And like I said, the first two parts of the movie are great, packed with drama and terror and great performances all around, especially from the always solid Paul Winfield. It is one of those films that has its great moments but falls apart under its own logic as it spirals out of control and tries to bring Slasher Film ethics to a wider audience.

Memorable Stuff: When Pullman gets a face-full of the zombie powder and stumbles down the open streets of Port Au Prince, eyes bleary, hands grasping strangers for help, only to be buried alive ... that's intense shit. And the camera follows him into the coffin and stays as he slowly emerges from the Zombie powder's trance and starts to pound and scream., See, Craven knows how to scare the shit out of us when he wants to! Also, the opening scene of a funeral with torches and big scary Haitians covered in crazy voodoo body paint are fantastic, but set you up for the disappointment in film's final moments. It's still worth a look, if only once.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-Two - "Dawn of the Dead!"


Shocked, yes -- shocked I am! -- that this horrible thing seems to continue in all defiance of nature. It lives on, crawling up the legs of my day like a homesick abortion. I try to get away from it and it still seems to find me, its ever-seeking, its teeth bared and savage at my throat!

Christ, that was morbid! I need a drink! Or a hummer!

Anyway, yes it is indeed day Thirty One of the 100 Days of Horror challenge, and sadly last night was my first misstep. It seems that, in my endeavor to have a brief vacation at the beach on the heels of a horrible chest/head cold, I have exhausted myself beyond comprehension. So last night, which is traditionally a busy night for me (the day before a deadline and all), I came home from a meeting and slept my arse off. I slept from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., which I know sounds like a lot for you normal folks but for me is unheard of - even when medicated. Which I was not. Also sadly.

All this means that I didn't watch last night's Creature Feature, "The Dunwich Horror." Which sucks because I really like that hot mess of a film. But, by my own rules, I am allowed a misstep provided I watch it the following day, so that is what I will do. "The Dunwich Horror" shall join tonight's movie - the 2004 remake of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," in a double feature.

For the record, I am feeling much better now. I have resumed my medicine (which I forgot to take to the beach, like a dumbass) and caught up on sleep. So let's see how this whole thing works out this week! Check The Skinny below and thanks as usual for playing along!

Dawn of the Dead (2004): Directed by Zack Snyder. Starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mikhi Pfeifer and Jake Weber.

The Skinny: A remake whose existence seems to defy the logic of remakes. The film follows a group of people trying to avoid a zombie infestation by hiding out in that bastion of American culture - the mall.

What's Good: It's a shame that this is director Zack Snyder's first film, because he eventually went on to make much better movies ("300," "Watchmen"). But for a modern take on teh zombie film - and one created by teh Godfather of the genre, George Romero - this isn't too bad. The film looks great and the actors give their all but there's just something off about the movie to me. Oh, I have so much to say that's bad we should just move on to --

What's Bad: Okay, first the fucking zombies are savage fast runners, like in "28 Days Later," something that bugs the living shit out of me. These zombies defy all zombie logic. A true zombie is a shambling creature - not a raving and drooling marathon runner! And second, yes I know we're still a disgusting consumerist culture, but the mall as an allegory for human existence is over, okay? It's so 1985. We've been there, bought that, sipped that latte and stole those shopping bags - what now? The whole movie should have taken place in one of those cell phone kiosks AT the mall instead of the mall itself. And third ... aw fuck it, there is no third.

Why We Like It: It's okay, as far as zombies go. That Jake Weber is one funny dude, and I do enjoy watching him and his snarky expressions. And who doesn't like Ving Rhames? But like I said, for the most part this movie is just okay with me. My problem is, why didn't they just make a new zombie film rather than tag this as a remake? There are one million zombie stories in the naked city, and this was two of them. Why didn't they just make a movie out of the video game "Dead Rising?" It has zombies AND a mall. Douche.

Memorable Stuff: I seem to recall something about a zombie baby being born in its dead mother's womb. That was pretty horrid.

Monday, August 23, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty-One - "The Dunwich Horror."


I am tasked by this and every other endeavor today, folks. I am ungodly tired, I am behind in work and I have to drive 50 fucking miles just to get 30 seconds worth of information.

I don't know if I will actually have the time to watch this movie today. But "The Dunwich Horror," based on the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name, is worth your time.

The Dunwich Horror (1970)" Directed by Daniel Haller. Starring Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee and Ed Begley.

The Skinny: Something wacky is happening at the old Whatley place, where years before an unspeakable horror was unleashed on the small town of Arkham. Years later, the son of the original owners is back to reclaim his demonic birthright.

What's good: This is one of my favorite movies in the genre. It's funny (unintentionally so), it's not scary in the least and it has a great cast. Now why is this a good thing for a horror movie? Well it usually isn't, but in cases like this - a classic B-Movie produced by Roger Corman - it's a perfect recipe for a great time. Dean Stockwell is barely restrained as Wilbur Whatley, his carnal and murderous desires plating endlessly at the edges of his eyes. And Sandra Dee just seems hypnotized the whole film (and also, that is not her naked - never once do you see boobies AND face at the same time. It's an obvious body double).

What's Bad: The script, the effects, the acting and the dialogue.

Why We Like It: See above.

Memorable Stuff: Talia Shire of "Rocky" fame being ripped to pieces by a monster that looks like a garbage bag covered with yarn and rubber hoses. Seriously.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Thirty - "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark!"


Hellish hellos ghouls and ghoulettes!

Pardon the lateness of today's post, but it was our last day at the beach and we had many things to cram into a short time - hence my hatred of both the day and weekend trips.

It's also a short one today, just because it's not only late but I am actually watching today's selection as we speak! With the company of the always-enjoyable Phil P., who has been tuning in off and on for the"100 Days of Horror" challenge since the very beginning, adding his hilarious and well-timed insights and running commentary.

Tomorrow's selection, one of my all-time favorite slices of cinematic cheese, "The Dunwich Horror!" How's that for a slice of fried gold!

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973): Directed by John Newland. Starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton.

The Skinny: When Sally inherits her grandmother's mansion, she finds herself obsessed with a bricked up fireplace. When she questions the elderly caretaker about it, she believes his hesitation is just over his pride in his work. The truth is, the fireplace hides a hideous secret that ends in her doom! Ah-HAHAHAHAH!

What's Good: I'm not sure those words apply here, but the truth is I watched this movie when I was like six years old and it scared me damn near half to death. I mean it, it gave me nightmares for years and convinced me my old apartment was haunted. Watching it again over thirty years later and I find it one of the most ridiculous films I have ever seen. It involves the most unscariest monsters I have ever seen in my entire fucking life. Why I found this movie so terrifying as a child, I am not sure. Well, actually I do ... but I'll tell you all about it later.

What's Bad" Oh so many things, sir and madam. First, it's a made for television film from the early 70s, so how good could it be? Second, although I love Kim Darby as Lane's mom in "Better Off Dead," she's utterly awful in this movie. And third, these are the silliest creatures I have ever seen - they look like midgets in unfitting latex and that's probably the reason for the "Dark" of the title.

Why We Like It: Simple - childhood trauma. I watched this sucker when I was like five or six and it fucked my whole trip up. Forever afterwards I swear I could hear voices whispering that they would indeed get me - if not right now, then real fucking soon. And it's as great a time as I could ever imagine if you're looking for a good movie to make continual fun of.

Memorable Stuff: As a child, I specifically recall the denouement when the creatures are dragging poor Sally away as she fights them off with pops of a flashcube, seeing as how they can't abide the light. Other than that I remember the whispering, "Sallyyyyyyy! We want youuuuuuu!" These things scared me shitless.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Nine - "Shaun of the Dead!"


Ghoulish Mourning my moribund minions!

Yes, here I am on vacation still providing you with some my insights! Like you need my insights to get you through your day.

Anyhoo, yes here I am seaside in lovely Ocean City, MD ... er, oceanside, or bayside - what body of water is this? Ah, fuck it. Regardless of my locale, I still watched last night's selection, "Lady Frankenstein," while sitting outside at the campground as the rest of the family slept in the air conditioning inside. Losers.

And I'll do the same with tonight's movie, the indelible classic "Shaun of the Dead!" Check the (pre-written) Skinny below! Tomorrow, it's time to "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark!"

Shaun of the Dead (2004): Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg, Lucy Davis, Nick Frost and Bill Nighy.

The Skinny: Just in case it’s somehow possible that you haven’t seen this “Rom-Zom-Com” yet (that’s “Romantic Zombie Comedy”), run out immediately and rent it. Simon Pegg plays the titular character, a 30-something schlub on the verge of losing his hottie girlfriend. And right in the middle of a plague of undead. As the world falls apart around him, Shaun must make decisions whose consequences will stretch far beyond the next wave of zombies in need of a mowdown.

What’s good: Almost everything. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s good for the soul like nourishing chicken soup. This is the “horror” movie you get your girlfriend to watch because it’s about a couple just like you! And it’s isn’t really scary so much as it is … well, just quirky. Simon Pegg is absolutely amazing - he is a comic genius who can sell a joke without really even trying. And his comedic partner in crime Ed Frost is even funnier if that's possible.

What’s bad: Practically nothing. True, it’s no Oscar winner, but Pegg and comedic companion Nick Frost (also the stars of buddy cop movie parody “Hot Fuzz”) have incredible chemistry and they wring every laugh out of the script co-penned by Wright and Pegg. And while it’s no “Sophie’s Choice,” the film is not without real tear-jerker moments. Scenes involving Shaun’s mother and stepdad (Bill Nighy, in all his deadpan glory) are gut-wrenching and the final moments between Pegg and Frost rival the best buddy moments in cinema history.

Why we like it: Seriously, what’s not to love? It’s loaded with great repeatable lines (“You’ve got red on you,” “Do any of you cunts want a beer?”), and Pegg’s Shaun is likeable even when he’s fucking up. And if some of the scenes don’t bring a tear to your eye, then you are one heartless bastard. Go rent the “Saw” series and lock yourself away in your creepy little bedroom and don’t bother the rest of us. We want our "Shaun," because even when he's bashing zombie skulls with a cricket bat, he's just so frigging adorable. And director Edgar Wright is one of the hottest up-and-coming directors out there.

Memorable stuff: Attacking the zombie chick in the backyard with Shaun’s outdated record collection (“Purple Rain?” “No!” “Sign o' the Times?” “Definitely not!” “The Batman soundtrack?” “Throw it.”) is just for starters. The dialogue will have you and your geeky friends quoting for hours on end and will inspire endless costume opportunities for overweight middle-aged losers like myself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Eight - "Lady Frankenstein!"


ATTENTION BOILS AND GHOULS! IT'S TIME FOR "DR. WOLFENSTEIN'S FEATURE CREATURE SHOW!"

Sorry but this is a short one by necessity today. We are leaving shortly for the beach! YAY OCEAN CITY MARYLAND! WE LOVE YOU!

Anyway, I will still update the blog (no idea what time) and will still watch movies so restr assured it will continue. And I know you were ALL so worried about that!

Today it's Italian horror camp classic "Lady Frankenstein!" Enjoy it's sensual, evil decadence and check The Skinny below!

Tomorrow it's "Shaun of the Dead!" YAY!

Lady Frankenstein (1971): Directed by Mel Welles. Starring Joseph Cotton and Rosabla Neri.

The Skinny: This Italian horror classic gives a feminist spin on the Frankenstein cannon. When the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein watches him die at the hands of her own creation, she hatches a devious plan to swap the brains of her older lover into the body of a handsome young man. The monster, however, shows up to put those plans to rest.

What’s Good: This film is a bizarre meditation on sex, death, youth and beauty. The titular Lady Frankenstein, as played by erotic film actress Rosabla Neri, is a sparking combination of sensuality and menace – somehow all at once sometimes. As her insatiable desires built to fever pitch and lead to murder, the joy and thrill of the kill plays across her face like a cat stalking a bird. It’s a strange and erotic journey, “Lady Frankenstein” is, but it’s definitely worth a look or two if only for its seething S&M undercurrent.

What’s Bad: Oh this one has it all – bad acting, bad directing, bad lighting, bad scenery, bad makeup, bad costumes and a bad video transfer. But honestly, this movie falls into the “It’s so bad it’s good” category of film in general, and let’s face it we all like the occasional bad movie don’t we? If you let yourself get a little wasted beforehand, you know a drink and a smoke maybe, you’ll be howling on the floor with laughter at the wooden acting and stilted dialogue.

Why We Like It: I think I enjoy just about every one of the Frankenstein movies, from the original Universal pictures to the Hammer House of Horror movies of the 50s and 60s to even misunderstood pieces like “The Bride” and “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” This one is just as good in certain ways as the Hammer films, but it has that Spaghetti Western edge to it by a.) being an Italian-produced film, it uses some of those same locations and b.) it’s as dry and as dusty as the desert itself. But Neri is very sexy in her own way and like I said, there is just a creepiness to the whole production.

Memorable Stuff: ALL the sex scenes are pretty damn hot, but what adds to them in some cases is the kinky violence that underscores Neri’s every motion. Plus, there is some actual violence along with the sex, including the graphic, disturbing ending which I shant reveal here. Plus, the monster’s makeup is reprehensible.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Seven - "I Bury the Living!"


Come one and come all to this tragic affair! Wipe off that make-up - what's in is despair! Throw on the black dress, mix in with the lot! You might wake up and notice you're someone you're not!

And with that we are one day shy of the four week anniversary of the 100 Days of Horror. That's a month. I'm shocked, seriously, because I can't go a month without drinking soda or masturbating so how the hell did I get this far?! I don't know. Something new, perhaps? Something within me stirred, rekindled anew? Hmm, yes. Good question and one we won't ponder here.

And in other news, today actually IS my anniversary. My wife and I have been married for 14 years, together for 18. We sometimes actually forget this date, and to me it isn't neglect or forgetfulness - it's the fact that in my mind (and I believe in her mind, too) our true anniversary is Halloween, which is the day we met. Which is why I love the holiday more than any other. And which is why we throw a big-assed Halloween party every year.

So Happy Anniversary honeybear. I love you more every day, it's true. You hear that and think it's bullshit sentiment but it isn't And I know things will only get better.

If only the movie selection on here would get better (my god, am I the master of the segue or what?).

Actually, "I Bury the Living" ("Lady Frankenstein" is actually tomorrow, sorry) is a good film, if somewhat misguided. Also, it's in the Public Domain, so you can check it out at www.internetarchive.org if you'd like to view it. Check The Skinny Below!

Ocean City and "Lady Frankenstein" coming up tomorrow!

"I Bury The Living" (1958): Directed by Albert Band. Starring Richard Boone and Theodore Bickel.

The Skinny: This is actually a nice moody piece with a decent performance from star Richard Boone (of 50s/60s-era western TV show "Paladin" fame). Boone stars as a committee member massive for a cemetery that keeps track its available plots with a complex board of white pins (available) and black pins (occupado). When he accidentally mixes up the system, however, a couple is killed from his mistake and he realizes he suddenly can control the very lives of the people associated with the cemetery.

What's Good: For a B-rate movie in the public domain, this actually ain't so bad a movie. It's filmed in rich black and white and has a few very cerebral moments of quality filmmaking. Boone, who went on to greater fame in the television world, gives one of his best and most compelling performances here. As he descends into madness, he is a sweaty mess of panic and desperation.

What's Bad: It's dialogue is reprehensible, and some of the supporting actors appear to have taken acting lessons at the Ed Wood School For Theatrical Losers. Also, there is kind of a disjointed action to the plot that if you think too hard about, you will ruin the film for yourself. Sometimes, we have to just put aside the dumb stuff and just enjoy the atmosphere the film generates - and it has plenty of that!

Why We Like It: Richard Boone is great. I've heard he was a boozy mess by this point of his life, but in this film he is right on top of his game. Like John Wayne, he has both a solid masculinity as well as a dark and vulnerable aspect that plays in his eyes and at the edges of his entire performance. He's riveting to watch, and that's a good thing since much of the film is him flipping out over his crazy pin board.

Memorable Stuff: There is a scene where Boone realizes what he can do and the camera spins and he in an utter panic. That's just about all I remember. That, and the bad Scottish burr that co-star Theodore Bikel puts out. It's ridiculous, enough to put a true Scottsman off his drink.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-six - "Paranormal Activity!"


Hello to you all, faithful friends and readers.

Today's entry is brief but that's because I am REAL under the weather. Head, chest and throat are all in shitty condition. And the real kicker is a.) I have to meet with some HIV-positive kids tomorrow and shouldn't be feverish when I do. And b.) I'm supposed to go to the beach this weekend, but of course I am sick. I KNEW God would ruin my summer! LOUSY GOD!

So I hope you all can enjoy tonight's feature, the utterly terrifying "Paranormal Activity." All I can say to you is, believe the hype. The movie is so frightening people were walking out during test screenings and the trailers for the upcoming second film were so scary they pulled them from theaters in Texas. It's a quality film and I think you'll find it's closer to "The Blair Witch Project" than it is to "Quarantine" or "Cloverfield." Check The Skinny below!

Tomorrow's movie: B-Movie classic "Lady Frankenstein!"

Paranormal Activity (2009): Directed by Oren Peli. Starring Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston.

The Skinny: A young couple, amused by some strange goings-on in their apartment as they sleep, decide to set up a camera at night to see what they could see. However, as the trouble escalates, it becomes clear that this is no simple haunting or poltergeist – it is a malevolent entity with it’s eyes fixed on the young woman.

What’s Good: Actually, this is a pretty scary movie, if I may say so myself. Taking its cues from the superior “Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity” is presented as “found footage” of the couple’s videos after the events of the film have concluded. Of course, I won’t give that away here, but let’s just note that it isn’t “Home Alone.” Not only does it take the “found footage” aspect from “Blair Witch” but also the use of actors’ real names in place of character names. I don’t want to give the impression that this is a “Blair Witch” ripoff – many of which are out there, to be sure – but it is in the exact same vein. But where “Blair Witch” was utterly devoid of special effects and shot with mixed video with 8mm and black-and-white film stocks, “Paranormal Activity” is shot all on digital in clear color – even for the night scenes. There are also a few effects shots – such as when one of the main characters is dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. What is brilliant about the piece is the way it chooses to conceal rather than reveal the source of the disturbance – we never see a ghostly figure or hulking demon’s shadow. And although we pretty much know what’s happening by the end, the ultimate reason for the demonic obsession is never revealed.

What’s Bad: There are a few scenes where dialogue drags the piece out a bit too much. Plus, since there is no actual scripted dialogue (another “Blair Witch” feature), the actors come off like they’re in an improv workshop somewhere. Also, the jittery camera work, and the nighttime video, makes for an unpleasant viewing experience for some – particularly if you are sensitive to motion sickness. And while the actors seem to give their all at times, they are just B-Rate talent who do nothing more than react to the things they find on their footage from the night before. Only in the final third of the film do we see some real acting and not just “Okay, you and I are married and there’s a monster in the house!” kind of improvisational stuff. And, depending on how/where you get your copy (Internet, video rental, et cetera), there are THREE different endings, each with their own twisted take. I won’t reveal those endings to you, but trust that they are all very bleak.

Why We Like It: This is a damn scary movie if for just the fact that it actually seems very real … just like the “Blair Witch.” I don’t mean to keep making these comparisons, but they’re there – there are only so many of these “found footage” movies out there that are quality and this is one. My 12-year-old son put it perfectly: “This movie is scary because I believe it could happen to me.” Ergo, while he isn’t terrified of zombies or vampires (glittery or otherwise), he is afraid of the unknown. And aren’t we all?

Memorable Stuff: Much of the movie is the couple sleeping while strange things happen around them, so there isn’t much of a visual repertoire. The things I recall are the girl being dragged out of bed and down the hall by an unseen force and I have to admit – I do not know how the hell did they did that. Just trust me – watch it with a friend with the lights off and you’ll be scared shitless.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Five - "The Lost Boys!"


Ghoulish greetings, all.

Wow, we're in the twenties now. I just had to sit back and contemplate that. I've been doing this for over three weeks now and it's still going strong. I'm finding this experience very therapeutic, actually. My life is kind of in upheaval right now and there's an uncertainty to ... well, just about everything. So I find that engaging in this hobby, endeavor, whatever, is distracting enough to give me purpose and something to focus on that I can actually control. Also I'm watching some damn fine movies in the process, learning a bit about myself and spending time with friends and family who are along on this journey.

So anyway, to those who read this - thank you. There are scant few of you (I'm not entirely sure my wife and kids even read this thing), and I am grateful for you all.

And I am thankful for tonight's film, one that shaped my adolescence so deeply I am still affected by it today: Joel Schumaker's classic, "The Lost Boys." I am SO looking forward to this film. I may have some Absinthe or seven as I watch it. Check The Skinny below

Tomorrow's flick - "Paranormal Activity!"

The Lost Boys (1987): Directed by Joel Schumaker. Starring Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jamie Gertz, Edward Herrmann and Dianne Wiest.

The Skinny: Who hasn’t seen this movie? Huh? Who? You?! Get out, you’re not welcome here. “The Lost Boys” takes its cue from the “Peter Pan” characters of the same name, who could also fly, stay out all night and never grow old. When brothers Sam and Michael move to Santa Carla, California, with their newly divorced mom, they soon find that there’s a good reason for it being the “Murder Capital of the World.” It’s teeming with some of the coolest vampires ever to strut their stuff on the face of the Earth.

What’s Good: “Say hello to the night! Lost in the shadows!” Maybe I’m sentimental about this film because it came out when I was a teenager and so impressionable, but the bottom line for me is that this is probably in the all-time Vampire Movie Top Five list. Everything about this movie spoke to me – the music, the setting, the actors, the story … I would watch this movie then rewind it (yes, yes, we had VCRs back then, not yer fancy digital video discs) and watch it again. I owned the soundtrack and when it broke, I bought another one, and when that one mysteriously disappeared, I bought yet another one. So, in light of trying to be objectionable, I tried to separate myself from the memory and spectacle of the movie and figure out if it really is as good as I want it to be. And the answer is yes, it is quite good and is still unequalled in the annals of vampire movies and horror movies in general. The characters are likable, even the vamps – and let’s just say here that while these vamps aren’t your glittery “Twilight” types or the effete southern gothic vamps of “True Blood,” they are still badass. You can keep your Edward Cullens and your Sookies – my vamps sleep upside down in caves, frequent the boardwalk and wear the coolest fucking jackets that have ever existed. Like a great indie band, the four “Lost Boys” vamps look like they belong together even though each one has a disparate, original look. The story is great, bolstered by solid performances by Jason Patric and the Coreys. But – let’s be honest here – the whole reason we watch the movie is for Kiefer Sutherland. As the leader of the vamp clan, David, Sutherland pours sensuality and menace into his every word. When he takes a sip from an ornately decorated wine bottle, winces and then smiles as he offers it to Michael (Patric), inside we all know there’s no way to tell this guy “Nah, I’m good.” But perhaps the greatest thing about this movie is the scene where Michael and Star (Gertz) make love, as “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMann plays over the scene. When I was a teen, and I heard that song, I wanted to listen to it for the rest of my life and I think I still do. What is it about that fucking jam?

What’s Bad: Jamie Gertz. I’m sorry, she’s pretty but she can’t act. And when I hear her voice, I want to run and hide. Also, you either love The Coreys or you hate them, and I am in the former category. They have great chemistry, let’s face it, and they actually know how to deliver a funny line. Other than that, there are a few pacing problems and Michael’s character suffers from no development so it’s hard to feel bad about it when the vamps start harassing him. But for the most part, this is a winner. It’s sequel, however, “Lost Boys: The Tribe” is awful. It took over 20 years to make it and it was not worth the wait. The late Haim is drugged out of his mind for most of the production and it’s sad and difficult to watch. I am also certain I could care less about the third film, slated for straight to dvd release this fall. I won’t even waste my time.

Why We Like It: WE LOVES IT! For all the reasons above and more. It evokes memories of going to the beach and experiencing the early moments of adolescent independence where you made decisions you didn’t have to consult mommy and daddy about. The movie is all about atmosphere and if you breathe in its charms you’ll find yourself transported to its constructed reality with ease. And as I said before, I wore the soundtrack the hell out – I listened to it constantly and its music swept me away every time and evoked that very atmosphere I just touted. It came at just the right time of my life for it to impress greatly upon me, and for that reason I love it.

Memorable Stuff: It’s packed with stuff that will stick with you. The scene in the cave where the massive mural of Jim Morrison is briefly superimposed over Patric’s face (Patric was shortlisted for the role of Morrison in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie) is exceptional. And of course, any time Kiefer opens his mouth I lean in to catch every word. Once again, an excellent blend of horror and humor and a little pathos mixed in for good measure.

Monday, August 16, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Four - "The Re-Animator!"


Hello my lovelies. And when I say "Hello," you know what I mean ....

Anyway, today sucks. I was behind before I even got out of bed this morning - not that I slept last night. Oh no, that would be too much to ask for.

So I gotta make this brief yet again, but tomorrow (hopefully) I will have time for a bigger post.

But I am excited for tonight's movie - one of my favorites from my teenaged years! Check out the skinny below!

The Re-Animator (1985): Directed by Stuart Gordon. Starring Jeffrey Coombs, Barbara Crampton.

The Skinny: One of the most well known 80s cult films and still one of the most disturbing! Based on a story (“Herbert West – The Re-Animator”) by horror master H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Coombs stars as Herbert West, a young scientist who has isolated a chemical that brings the dead back to life. However, the serum is not perfect and the reanimated dead are violent and dumb. Plus, when a rival scientist gets his hands on the formula, West takes matters of vengeance into his own hands. It only escalates into madness and violence at that point.

What’s Good: Like the classic “Evil Dead” films by Sam Raimi, “Re-Animator” is a sick combination of gore and humor, bolstered by a suitably creepy performance by the incredible Jeffrey Coombs. His slick, smarmy and heavily agitated Herbert West is instantly unlikable and Coombs’ creepiness permeates the whole production. Also, this is a film that uses practical special effects to near perfection – scenes where a headless body carries said head around in a bag are the only unconvincing moments in the film. Well, there’s also the part with the dead cat, where the actors basically hold a stuffed animal to their heads while screaming “GET IT OFF ME!” But, these cheesy elements truly add to the gory mix of humor and horror. This is, without a doubt, a classic 80s cult film – one that effectively launched Coombs’ career and created a series of “Re-Animator” films that are all inferior to this stunning original. The presence scream queen Barbara Crampton – along with some steamy nude scenes – is also a bonus.

What’s Bad: Again, some of the effects are silly, but this is one instance where the silliness is intended. Also, the gore factor is enough to turn some people away – granted it’s no “Saw” or “Hostel,” but there are gushers of blood, dismembered corpses (one that continues to walk, talk and move around despite decapitation), and zombies in varying degrees of decay.

Why We Like It: This is one that has it all – sex, violence, gore, humor and a tragic central figure beautifully interpreted by a talented actor. As a teenager, I watched this movie constantly – I even read the novelization of the film, a copy of which I still have. It was and continues to be one of my favorite films in the genre. Coombs is super intense and never plays the part for the yuks, yet somehow manages to wrench laughs out of the slightest change in his chiseled, stony expressions.

Memorable Stuff: I have great memories of this entire film, but there is one sequence towards the end that is utterly unforgettable. Rival scientist, played by David Gale, kidnaps his former boss’s daughter and attempts to get a little action. Problem is, he’s a decapitated corpse, making his desirability factor considerably reduced. Not to be deterred, however, he simply has his zombie slave – which turns out to be the reanimated corpse of the girl’s father – chain her down to the table so his DISMEMBERED CORPSE CAN HOLD HIS HEAD BETWEEN HER LEGS FOR A LITTLE CUNNILINGUS! Yeah man, you read that shit correctly. And boy oh boy is it graphic. It’s so graphic that as a teen, I didn’t know whether to jerk off or be horrified … okay, let’s face it – we all know I jerked off.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Three -"The Severed Arm!"


Wow, am I tired.

I apologize for the brevity of this post but I'm off to my wife's company picnic and have limited time.

Last night's film, "Drag Me To Hell," was great. All I ever expected from Sam Raimi was there - violence, disgusting sights, quick action-oriented jump cuts ... It was great.

Tonight's movie, however ... is not.

The Severed Arm (1973): Directed by Thomas Alderman. Starring Deborah Walley, Paul Carr, Marvin Kaplan, others.

The Skinny: One of a spate of bad 70s-era exploitation films that are now in the public domain and can be found on any number of compilations. I don’t know who the main star is exactly but the film follows a group of cave explorers who become trapped. As they debate their situation and hunger sets in, they decide to hack off the arm of one randomly chosen victim and eat it. Just after the act is accomplished, however, they are rescued. Now, years later, each of the men who ate of the arm are being killed off one by one.

What’s Good: I own this POS and I only recall watching it once, but I do have some recollection of it, and despite poor (almost non-existent) lighting and shitty dialogue there are actual moments of disturbing horror. When it decided to eat the limb, there is madness and bedlam, most of it in darkness. As the men are picked off one by one, however, it becomes standard stalker fare.

What’s Bad: When I went to IMDB to check the date of production, some of the reviews said things like: “utter crap,” “junk with a capital J,” and others even less friendly. And, I cannot refute them. There is a scene where Marvin Kaplan (of “Alice” fame) is talking to one of the other survivors. In one cute, he is wearing a monstrosity of a polyester pantsuit in lime green. The camera cuts to the person he’s talking to briefly. When it then jumps back to Kaplan, he is wearing the exact same suit, only now it is ORANGE. After a second series of cuts, he is back to the green suit. Now … come on, dude. That’s so fucking bad you want to believe it was intentional. But I really think the costume person – nay, more than half the production team – were a little too high on the groovy 70s.

Why We Like It: Hmmmm … well, I like shitty cinema when it’s done right (if that makes any sense). But this polished turd, I am not too sure about.

Memorable Stuff: All of the above scenes I mentioned are the only things I remember about it, so it must not have left much of an impression on me. We’ll get back to you on all that.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-Two - "Drag Me To Hell!"


Wass happenin', vatos?

This marks a first for the 100 Days of Horror challenge - the first movie I haven't actually seen yet! So, by virtue of that fact, there is not much I can give you up front about it.

The last few days' selections have been enjoyable, and I hope this one is no exception. "Hostel" ws actually better than I remember it - I just am not into all that grisly body cutting and limb chopping and torture upon torture. But there is a good story there, so I have some hope for Eli Roth.

Today's feature is the latest for director Sam Raimi (the "Spider-Man" series), and his return to horror - his first since "Army of Darkness" in 1992. So I think this will be worth the effort. The skinny - as far as I can provide - is below.

Up next for tomorrow: "The Severed Arm!"

Drag Me to Hell (200?): Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring Alison Lohman, Justin Long, others ...

The Skinny: This is straight from the Wikipedia article because I have actually yet to see this film (but, again, I own it for some reason or another). “The plot revolves around loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who tries to impress her boss by refusing to extend a loan to a gypsy woman by the name of Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver). In retaliation, Ganush places a curse on Christine, which, after three days of escalating torment, will plunge her into the depths of Hell to burn for eternity.”

What’s Good: No idea. But I can tell you what I think is good, and that’s director Sam Raimi. Yes, most mainstream movie viewers know him for his work on the “Spider-Man” films, but us horror folks love him more for his “Evil Dead” series. They are some of the best films in the genre, filled with dark humor and rear horror and of course, they star that god of all celluloid, Bruce Campbell. So how bad could this movie be?

What’s Bad: Well, I actually think the PG-13 rating is a hindrance, but from what I’ve read the director the writer – brother Ivan Raimi – wanted the PG-13 rating to appeal to a wider audience. Also, from what I’ve read, Justin Long plays a college professor. Huh? I’m supposed to believe the fucking “I’m a Mac” guy is a fucking professor?! That’s harder to believe than a portal to hell or the fact that Long is somehow nailing Drew Barrymore.

Why We Like It: Who knows if we will. But I have hope, because I know Raimi is a master at dark humor and from what I’ve read, there’s plenty of that to go around!

Memorable Stuff: Gonna have to get back to you on that ‘un!

Friday, August 13, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-one - "Hostel."


This is absolutely insane, but it's still happening. My life is in turmoil right now, but it's still happening. I want nothing more than to disappear down a black bottomless pit right now and never return, but still ... it's goes on.

Why?

I think because for one, I need something to hold on to in the midst of this hell. I did almost quit yesterday, and not from the general laziness I sometimes suffer from, but because it seems pointless to continue. I am also carrying on because for once in my fucking pathetic life, I have something to prove. Prove that I can stick to something and see it the whole way through. Prove that I - yes, Shawn Weigel, that evil bastard you love to hate - can make a change like this. And other changes.

So, if you're reading this, understand that this is all occurring while my life seems to be falling apart. I'm trying to pick up the pieces and move ahead, but it's a challenge. But anyway - thank you for reading and for playing along.

Today's movie, "Hostel," is one hell of a piece of work. I think I've seen it like twice and I actually own it for some reason. I think I bought it off of my crackhead neighbor a few years ago when he needed money. Probably for crack, too. But anyway, I'll give it another "crack," so to speak, tonight and see how it plays out. The Skinny below:

20. Hostel (2005): Directed by Eli Roth. Starring Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eyþór Guðjónsson and Jennifer Lim.

The Skinny: A modern take on classic noir suspense films blended with the extreme of the horror genre, this is one of those movies that I own and yet do know or understand why. Jay Hernandez and his buddies are on a backpacking expedition when a member of their group disappears. Soon, they find themselves trapped in a horrific warehouse where people pay to torture and kill a seemingly endless parade of victims. And that’s the short version.

What’s Good: Honestly, Eli Roth is a decent director. He knows how to keep the suspense levels up and the plot moves along with a darkly humorous undertone. The story itself isn’t exactly new, but this version is frankly far too brutal for my tastes. It’s an early example of the late-90s/early 2000s trend of horror affectionately called “torture porn,” and it’s a bit much for my tender mercies. I mean, a dude gets his Achilles Tendon sliced, fingers are hacked off, heads are drilled and scorched … it’s a far-ass cry from a classic like “Rosemary’s Baby.” There is a definite creepiness to the whole affair, and being set in some ambiguous Slavic-sounding state, it heightens that “I’m out of my element and in over my head” feeling we’ve all had when we’ve been places where we don’t speak the language and we are unfamiliar with the customs. Overall, this is for those horror movie lovers who cheer for the villain and wait for the next creative death scene. Will it be a drill to the temple or an iron stake up the ass? LET’S WATCH!

What’s Bad: Again, if it’s a true horror movie you’re looking for, try “The Exorcist.” Because this is an exercise in testing a viewer’s limits on how much suffering they’re willing to watch another person endure. The problem is, there are aspects to “Hostel” that border on brilliant. The set is a perfect blend of grimy hallways shiny with moisture and backyard abattoir nastiness. Two things bother me up front: one is the cast of absolute unknowns with very little talent except Hernandez, and two is the near pornographic level of violence and disregard for humanity. I understand that this very notion is essential to the center of the film – the Elite Hunting organization and it’s nutty clientele – but this is not entertainment to me. I want to be disturbed on an emotional or deeply psychological level. Films like “Hostel” and the absolutely horrible “Saw” films rely on revulsion to solicit fears instead of a sharp script and good acting. Who cares about one single person in “Hostel?” No one, that’s who – and it’s because we know they’re all just fodder for the axe (or drill or what have you). We like Regan from “The Exorcist,” we like Rosemary from “Rosemary’s Baby.” Can you even remember one character’s name from “Hostel?”

Why We Like It: I don’t know if I do. I remember some very funny things – I guess “sneepur” is some language’s slang for “pussy,” and some dude is wearing a “Sneepur Patrol” shirt, which is damn funny. There is some rue drama when the characters are strapped down and they freak out – I mean, the guy doing the killing doesn’t even speak your language, so how can you plead for mercy? I find I do like the final 20 or so when Hernandez’s character tries to exact some form of revenge on the people who killed his friends. With the hat and overcoat and the steamy train station, it truly summons the images from some of my favorite noir films. But trust me, the similarities end there.

Memorable Stuff: Torture, torture, torture … that’s what I remember. Bombarded with so much of it that the individual instances barely stand out. I do recall screaming when the dude stands up to run only to find his Achilles Tendon severed. Oh yeah, that was fucking nasty. And indeed I was repulsed when the guy had to hide under a pile of bodies to escape – I had to look away, I was so repulsed in fact. But like I said, this isn’t my kind of film. But I’m going to give it another chance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty - "The Last Man on Earth."


Hi and welcome to the blog barely anyone reads. My life is falling apart. I have never been so despondent in my entire life. I wish I were fucking dead.

Here's a movie.

19. The Last Man on Earth (1964): Directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow. Starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart.

The Skinny: This is an Italian production of a story by Richard Matheson that has been remade twice – first as the 70s-era “The Omega Man,” and most recently as “I Am Legend,” which is the title of the original book. In this version, told mostly in flashback, Vincent Price stars as the eponymous main character – a scientist who has watched nearly the entire world succumb to a horrible virus that turns its victims into vampires. When he sees a woman running around n the daytme, however, he thinks he’s found a survivor at last. Instead, she is a trap set by a slowly evolving new strain of vamp.

What’s Good: This is one of those films that is also in the Public Domain, so there are many versions of it out there – some so-so and some with a decent transfer. But frankly, the movie is raised out of mediocrity by an excellent performance by Vincent Price – who happens to be one of my all-time favorite actors. Much of the film follows Price in his day-to-day labors as he makes stakes, forages for supplies and searches for survivors. He also seeks out vamps and kills them where they lie – something that don’t be sittin’ too well with their vamp buddies. Price lets the signs of madness creep in as the vamps gather around his house at night and chant and throw rocks. He carries the whole film with a tortured, nuanced performance.

What’s Bad: Low budget and a complete lack of other talent. This is seriously a film where the lead actor has to shoulder every single emotional moment because there’s no one else even remotely capable. The special effects are not too bad, especially the Auschwitz-like piles of burning bodies. For the most part, it’s a higher quality B-Movie than most, in great black-an-white, and with a great story ghost written by Matheson himself.

Why We Like It: Of course, Mr. Price and his inimitable voice with its rich timbre and paced delivery. I love that man, god rest his spooky soul. Plus it’s one of those rare B-Moves that’s actually good if you succumb to its charms. I like to put it in when I’m feeling despondent and depressed – it seems to exacerbate that mood. And I love it for that!

Memorable Stuff: Scenes where Price’s daughter is slowly succumbing to the virus are heartbreaking. The final symptom before death and vampiric rebirth is blindness, and when the little girl starts asking for mommy to “come closer,” it’s time to cover the eyes. Also, the final showdown in an abandoned church with hoards of s0-called evolved vampires is sheer terrorizing drama with just a hint of cheese … just how I like’s em!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Nineteen - "Invasion of the Body Snatchers!"


Ghoulish greetings this wild Wednesday, freaky folks!

Got fitted for a tux today and that's all taken care of now. Made a few phone calls for work, set up a meetng or two and now ... now it's Miller Time!

Well, not exactly but you get the picture? (Yes, we see.)

I'm in a decent mood for a change, though I can't say why. I guess don't count your gift horses until their mouths hatch the goose that lays the golden egg!

And with all that rambling over, let's get on with today's post - "Invasion of the Body Snatchers!"

This is a creep update of the 1956 sci-fi classic and I will thoroughly enjoy watching it tonight! Anyone wanna come along, please let me know!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): Directed by Philip Kaufman. Starring Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum, Brooke Adams and Art Hindle.

The Skinny: This is the second in a series of remakes based on the original 1956 version of the same name, which in turn is based on the sci-fi novel, The Body Snatchers. This version, however, ratchets up the tension and the horror far more than the “Red Scare” undertones of the original. The film follows the lives of several people who begin to notice strange things about their friends, spouses and neighbors. They look and sound the same, but something just isn’t right – and with good reason … they’re pod people!

What’s Good: This film takes many of the conventions of life in the 1970’s – better known as the decade of the “Me Generation” – and turns them on their ear. The EST seminars, the relentless parade of “self-help” books written by half-witted intellectuals and pseudo-shaman-wannabes, and the slowly changing sexual roles in both the workplace and in the household. It’s definitely a clever update of the original, which played on American fears that there’s a frigging Commie Red lurking in every backyard like errant raccoons. Instead of suspecting conspiracy, it’s more self-help mumbo-jumbo, excellently served up by a perfect Leonard Nimoy, playing against type by pushing the emotional output into the stratosphere. Written by sci-fi master W.D. Ricter (“Buckaroo Banzai!”), the script is a perfect blend of paranoud terror and outright madness as the world falls apart around this group of New-Agey friends. And it has an ending that will haunt your mind for years to come. The special effects are quite convincing, especially the pod-to-person transformation sequences.

What’s Bad: It is extremely dated, so the whole “self help obsessed” generational stuff might be lost on younger viewers with no knowledge or memory of the time period. And other than a somewhat muddled action sequence towards the end, the fim is actually an excellent study in paranoia and psychological terror. It’s definitely worth a watch or two – lights off, volume way, way up!

Why We Life it: Again, I have a strange affinity for movies from the 1970s. And this is one of the good ones, with a great cast and an excellent story, Plus there are moments where if you allow yourself to get well into the film, you will find yourself peeking over your shoulder, suddenly wary of that rhododendron you forgot to water last week.

Memorable Stuff: There is a beautifully done introductory scene where we see the spores of the pods drifting away from a ravaged planet on solar winds. And when they land and start to flower on every available plant, there is a creepy image of the “veins” slowly emerging from the pods and slithering there way into the host plant’s leaves. Damn, I wish I knew how they pulled that shit off! And, without giving it away for those who haven’t seen it … that ending is fucking scary as hell. Good luck.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Eighteen: "The Fly!"


Oh, it's just another titillating Tuesday here on the farm, ladies and gents.

And is it over yet? Not by a long shot.

Well, here we are well into Week Three of this thing and yesterday I almost quit (again) just out of sheer frustration that I wouldn't be able to get to it in time. But, even after a marathon meeting in a nearby township (a 50-mile round trip, mind you), and then returning home to write the damn thing, I found myself with ample time to indulge in the "Satanic Rites of Dracula."

It's also hard to find the heart to do this when I am just ... I don't know. Unhappy? Depressed? Unenthused? Is that even a word?

It's funny - I feel depressed, but it isn't that general uneasiness that some sufferers experience. In fact I can narrow my problem down to a precise point, but it isn't something to discuss on here. I guess some things have to be private. But I want to make one thing very clear, here: this in NO WAY has to do with my penis and/or my sexual prowess. Let's be aware of that and move on.

In fact, let's move on to today's feature - the inimitable David Cronenberg's "The Fly!" This movie SCARED THE SHIT out of me as a youngster. Not like, "Oooh it's gonna get me!" scared, but still fairly disturbed. It ain't no "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Friday the 13th." It's a serious film that wants to terrify you, not make you jump at a startling noise. I hope everyone watches and enjoys it! The Skinny below!

The Fly (1986): Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Gena Davis, Jeff Goldblum

The Skinny: This is the remake of the original 50s sci-fi horrorfest with Vincent Price, given an ultramodern twist. Jeff Goldblum stars as Seth Brundle, a brilliant scientist on the cusp of a groundbreaking discovery – teleportation. However, when a common housefly gets into the pod with him during a test run, the promising young scientist is subject to a series of horrific changes.

What’s Good: This is the second David Cronenberg film on the list, and probably his best film until 2007’s “Eastern Promises.” And to me, this is true horror: it’s science gone wrong, it’s the frailty of the human condition, it’s creepy-crawly bugs that make me wanna sick on myself. And it’s Goldblum’s tour-de-force performance – one he has yet to even come close to topping. Yes, he’s good in “Independence Day,” yes he’s just wonderful in the “Jurassic Park” films. But goddamn it, in “The Fly,” dude simply is Seth Brundle and – ultimately – the monstrous “Brundlefly.” There’s never a moment’s hesitation in believing that Goldblum truly is the fast-talking, charismatic Brundle, including the hint of madness that plays at the edges of his every gesture and word.

What’s Bad: Not a damn thing. Gory? Disturbing? Graphic? Yes. And all plusses in this category. I have nothing bad to say about this film, except it spawned a very inferior sequel, so don’t bother with it, Even if it has Eric Stoltz in it.

Why We Love It: Jeff Goldblum makes the movie. In the few brief moments he is offscreen, you can’t wait for him to return. Also, the special effects were top of the line for the time, and the final product of Brundlefly and the transportation pod fused into one is one of the more horrific sights you’ll even encounter in cinema. Not enough good things can be said about this movie.

Memorable Stuf: When Brundlefly/pod creature places the end of a shotgun to it’s head and bids Davis to pull the trigger, you can see the anguish and pain in the “creature’s” eyes. It’s haunting and sticks with you for days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Seventeen - "The Satanic Rites of Dracula."


Hey everyone. This is sadly another brief entry today - there is simply too much to do at work. Also, I am not in the mood to write anyway (sucks that that is exactly my job), as my wife is not feeling well and her health is first and foremost on my mind, not horror movies.

Let's hope that she improves soon and that I find some inspiration tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's today's movie - one of my favorite Vampire flicks. The skinny below.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974): Directed by. Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Joanna Lumley.

The Skinny: One of seven in a series of Dracula by UK movie house Hammers, starring Christopher Lee as the Count and Peter Cushing as his nemesis, usually a descendant of Van Helsing. .”Satanic Rites” follows a group of secret agents battling an underground cult that worships the Count and help him exact his revenge on the human race via a new virulent strain of the Bubonic Plague.

What’s Good: Any of the Hammer Dracula films are great, if you ask me. Lee is a great Count Dracula, finding both the sensuality and the menace of the character that so far only Bela Lugosi seemed able to balance. The things I like about this and the other Hammer films, however, is the seriousness with which the material is treated. Everyone acts – or overacts – their heart out, the music is pure drama/camp and the cinematography … don’t get me started. The Hammer films have a habit of filming night scenes in the day to avoid the pricing lighting required for a night shoot. Instead, they slap a filter on the camera that makes the intruding sunlight curiously gray but still clearly sunlight. That takes balls.

What’s Bad: See above; this is one of those “so good it’s bad” movies, to be sure. But don’t knock it until you’ve seen it. Like three or four times.

Why We Like It: Christopher Lee, baby. Even when they barely use him in the film, you can’t wait until he comes around and when he does, you scream, and shout and point and go “THERE HE IS!” He’s just that awesome. Plus there’s a 70s disco soundtrack, mod costumes, secret agents, vampires, plagues, Joanna Lumley! This one is gravy on biscuits, people.

Memorable Stuff: Secret agents battling it out with the vampires is pretty hot. But the best is when Cushing leads Lee into a snaggle of Hawthorne bushes and once he is sufficiently snared, Cushing unleashes the stake on Drac’s ass for like the one millionth time. It’s still gold, every time.