Monday, October 25, 2010

The Master Of Horror

I hate Mondays. I'm still not a 100% better and the fact that after 9 posts and still no followers I'm discouraged to the point where I don't care enough to write for literary snobs. That being said.

I don't actually know if Stephen King is the master of horror. I've heard Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and Clive Baker with the same title. Maybe they are equally all the masters? When I looked up to see how many film adaptions of his books there are I was baffled, I've seen a good amount of them and a lot of that amount I really like, narrowing 20 down to 10 down to 5 was impossible so for this Monday, the last of the month, it's going to be doing a top ten list. Top Ten Stephen King Adaptions:

#10. Carrie (1976)

Stephen King said it himself, high school is hell. There's a fairly good chance that you were most likely not blessed with the gene of beauty or likability therefor you were probably awkward. Thus being the case with Carrie, the sheltered girl with telekinesis powers. The scariest part about the film is the relationship between Carrie and her mother. The best part about this film is the end because Carrie gets her revenge and since I wasn't at the top of the food change the revenge was sort of sweet for me as well. Of course I wouldn't want to burn my entire class to the ground but it's the brilliant thought by King that counts here.

#9. Children of the Corn (1984)

You'll notice a few related elements with Stephen King's work, sort of like a thumbprint to have proof of creation. Several of his novels and stories have a character who's a writer and a kid whose developed beyond his normal psyche, whether that being supernatural or just a greater understanding of the current reality around them. Children of the Corn does this with more than one kid but unlike previous novels this one has the children as the evil. Malachai and Isaac in particular, arguably ranking high on the list of creepiest kids ever. With Malachai killing adults off like its a basic every day thing and Isaac preaching a disturbing religion to impressionable kids Children of the Corn subtext is fairly scary, specifically to adults.

#8. It (1990)

Its not that I necessarily grew up on horror movies it's just that I watched them more than most because they fascinated me. Of course I watch a ton of Disney stuff as well but as odd as it may seem It was one of my childhood movies. This is what I was referring to in the previous paragraph, the kids conquering evil despite their size and limits. It's maybe not the most quality film out there but it's not a bad adaption and it's a pretty good made for TV movie. I personally prefer part 1 to part 2 as I find the kid's experiencing with the clown a lot more terrifying than the adults. Not to mention the cast isn't half bad (John Ritter, Annette O'Toole, Tim Reid, TIM CURRY) and a few of the child actors grew up to do good films (Emily Perkins in the Ginger Snap series, and of course Seth Green). Unfortunately this, Hellraiser, and Pet Sematary are among the few of my favorite horror films that are being remade.

#7. Cujo (1983)

King writes a lot of supernatural based horror novels but Cujo is one of the exceptions that is plausible. Yes, the chances of you ending up outside of a auto shop with a rabid dog are slim but I'd say its more likely than a raid of vampires attacking your small town. The main horror element here though is, IMO, the claustrophobia or the seclusion of the mom and her son.

#6. Rose Red (2002)

Rose Red technically isn't an adaption, but Stephen King did write the screenplay. The intended idea with this was to perceive that Rose Red was a real house and the Rimbauers were real people, none of it is factual, but the build up inside the movie revealing the history of the house, the comparison of those who died to those who disappeared is a great effect. It actually holds my attention more than it did in his novel The Shinning, which took a similar approach but not nearly as interesting. Basically though the build up made the actual ghosts more effective, and I also liked that they didn't overuse the ghost or the bumps and noises such as other haunted films tend to do.

#5. Misery (1990)

Misery is interesting because its not exactly a film I relate too it's just good and creepy. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her role as Annie Wilkes, the mentally unstable fan of a famous author, and I believe it's well deserved. She's rather insane in this I must say, from shouting about cartoons to whacking Paul's ankle with a hammer, proving to be a disturbing character.

#4. The Shinning (1980)

I struggled with this list because it was so long and I had a hard time placing where each of these films should go, this one especially. As a Stephen King fan and a Stanley Kubrick fan I've been torn since I've read the novel and realized that, in all honesty, this is a pretty awful adaption. But it's not an awful horror movie, in fact it's probably one of the best horror movies. The film and the novel work on two different levels of horror, King's story is scary because you feel for this family that's having a hard time and watching the father descend into madness is slow and cautious but overtly effective. King has said in an interview that Kubrick's film is empty, and it's that emptiness that creates the horror. The isolation reaches to the viewers more since it's evidently present and the father initially being not all the way there proves to be as scary as the character in the book. Either way the film is scary, it makes the list, horrible adaption or not.

#3. The Stand (1994)

I believe I like Stephen King's miniseries more than I do the actual movies because they are in their raw Stephen King state, unfortunately though that means they are between 3 and 4 hours long, that being the case with The Stand. But if you do get a few hours to spare I'd recommend it. This and his other novel Desperation are heavily about religion, specifically good vs evil which fits nicely in the post apocalyptic world backdrop. There's great acting on several people's part (Gary Sinise, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe). I suppose my only qualms with the film are Molly Ringwald (sorry but I stopped liking her after Breakfast Club) and Randy Flag's fashion sense (I know it was the 90's but denim-on-denim-on-denim?!)

#2. Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary is the only film that still haunts to the point where I can't walk to close to a bed without getting paranoid. I swear to God every time I stand by a bed that's frame doesn't go fully to the ground I think of the scene in this film where Gage cuts Mr. Munster's tendon with a scalpel. Its absurd that a scene could stick with me for that long and I have no hope that the fear will fade soon, I'll likely be afraid of walking by a bed for the rest of my life all because of that fucking scene. Moving on though I really like Pet Sematary because it's a supernatural horror that encounters the real life horror of losing a child, which is one of if not the worst thing that could happen to a person. Its hard subject matter because of course all parents would want to bring their child back but to return as something unnatural? It's hard choice by the father in this and tragic that it doesn't work out.

#1. Stand By Me (1986)

Unconventionally I pick a Stephen King adaption that is not a horror movie. It's ill fitting for the intended purpose of these lists (Halloween=horror) but it's honestly my favorite film from his novels. In the paper I had to write the other week I mentioned him in it, stating that the reason I believe he's so successful at horror and as writer in general is because he has pays equal attention to plot and character. Stand By Me (as basically all his novels do) demostrate that as its about four friends traveling to see a dead body. While the story and the bits of action are appeasing it's the characters that hold it above the rest of the films on the list. Mainly River Phoneix character Chris, as the bad boy with more depth than usually alloted to his type of character. Kiefer Sutherland is also in it playing a 1950's bad boy again. It's a sound capture for it's time frame and primarily a film I can watch more than once.

Honorable mentions: I'm sure if anyone ever reads this they'll think that I either have bad taste or am just ignorant of not including Shawshank Redemption on the list somewhere, I have a clearly logical explanation for it not being on this list, I've haven't seen it all. In fairness I've seen most of it but there are still parts I've managed to miss and because of those parts I considered it unseen. I'm sure that when I finally finish it I'd update this list and it'd land somewhere in the top five, if not the number one spot. Other: The Dark Half (1993) a fiction writers alter ego beings taking over his life. The Langoliers (1995) corny Sci-fi made for TV movie with horrible graphic effects, stupid decisions made by stupid characters, but ulitmately forces you to watch from start to finish. The Green Mile (1999) great prison movie about a inncocent inmate with an exceptional gift. The Mist (2007) film about a group of towns people trapped inside a grocery store with obscencly large bugs outside and a crazy religous preaching Marcia Gay Harden inside.

If you've made it this far post your own.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boyfriend's with Fangs

Yay for Mondays, and I'm sick. As I'm sure how it was last week if anyone is reading this (still no followers) they could care less of my current state of health/life but I figure I'd inform anyways.

In all honesty you can't turn a corner without running into a vampire these days. Not literally of course but basically they are everywhere. Its not as big of a deal as people make it out to be, we go through this media vampire craze once a decade. Hopefully the next one will be held off for till 2020 due to the late release dates of the the Twilight movies, gag me. If you are a Twilight fan I'm disappointed to inform you that I will not be slurring Edward Cullen's name on this list anywhere. What is this weeks list may you ask? If you haven't guessed it my Top Five Favorite Vampire Movies.

#5 The Hamiiltons (2006)

This is part of the After Dark Horror Fest, the first year (the best year might I say), and my favorite out of the 8 films. A lot of people don't care for it in the sense that it's not lucid horror, it's subtle in it's approach. The gore is minimum and there isn't any moments where you blatantly scared, yet it's very disturbing by the portrayal of the dysfunctional family. Unfortunately though even listing it gives away a massive spoiler since you don't find out that they are vampires until the last ten minutes, sorry. But if there is anything to keep you going you still don't know what Lenny is.

#4 Near Dark (1987)

Cult horror film Near Dark is unique in the sense that it plays with very traditional vampire mythology (i.e. the sunlight burns, one bite can turn you, etc) but also changes it a bit with how to rid the disease entirely. Not to mention it's story following five vampires on the run, traveling across the desert in a RV, endows originality as well. The best scene is in the bar where Bill Paxton (love him in this) and Lance Henriksen brutally kill all the patrons, partially for food but mostly for fun.

#3 From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez edition to the horror vampire films is this exalted movie. What I love most about it is how at first it appears to be a crime-drama/action movie about a pair of notorious crime brothers but randomly out of nowhere just becomes about survivors mission to kill all the vampires left in the bar. And honestly it comes out of nowhere. Tarantino's script, with Rodriguez directing, and a great cast; George Clooney, Juliet Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Tom Savini, and Danny Trejo.

#2 Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In is, IMO, one of the best vampire films ever made, and that goes beyond my personal taste. Basically I watch two types of film genre's mostly, horror and indie, and that goes without saying that those genres aren't always high in quality, therefor not all of my favorite movies are high in quality. Let the Right One In is the exception, the Swedish horror film is both scary and touching as it deals with Oskar growing up, as well as Eli. The later is the horror of the film as she can be both sweet and evil. She's no bigger than a twelve year old yet she kills grown men for food. Similar to the Hamiltons it's not in your face horror, in fact its more a character based story than it is a horror movie. But no less it is a vampire movie so it qualifies on my list.

#1 The Lost Boys (1987)

I don't really know how to convey The Lost Boys in a single paragraph. It's almost impossible to try but to basically touch on the main points it's funny, Corey Haim as the comic book nerd brother is the center of the humor. But so are the vampire hunting Frog Brothers, as well as Michael and Sam's grandfather. Kiefer Sutherland is an staggeringly great villain. Diane Wiest and Dee Wallace have always, for me, tied as best movie mom. It has traditional vampire mythology, really going back old school by including vampires not being able to be seen in the mirror and cold water burning. There's a fair amount of blood. And it doesn't, unlike some of that decade, horribly reek of bad 80's fashion. I love the Lost Boys, I believe it was the biggest contributor to the 80's vampire craze which makes sense because unlike some of the modern vampire movies today, it's actually good.

Honorable mentions. I'm not a huge vampire fan to tell you the truth, while I do love them and I've openly admitted I'm addicted to True Blood, as you may have gathered from the first list I'm more of a zombie whore than I am vampire slut. But I do have two others that didn't make the list. Underworld (2003) the vampires vs werewolves, or likens are they are called, movie that's got a lot of blood, and for you male fans Kate Beckinsale in a tight outfit. And 30 Days of Night (2007), beautifully bloody film that plays the hidden victims game.

If your reading post your own.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nightmare Cafe (1992)

Nightmare Cafe was a curiosity that developed into confusion and admiration for the show. I found this dated TV show on Chiller early one morning while getting ready. I begun watching half way into the pilot episode and in honesty the show at first looked like a vast mess but like I said it peeked my curiosity and six episodes later here I am.

The Nightmare Cafe is a 1992 TV show developed by horror legend, Wes Craven and Thomas Baum. The show is about two recently dead persons, Fay and Frank, who've been drafted to an all night cafe. The cafe is more than it seems, it's actually a supernatural...being (I suppose) that gives people second chances and its decided to give Fay and Frank a second chance at life, but only if they work in the cafe. As sort of a mentor there is Blackie, the manager to the cafe. People tend to wander in and out of the cafe, all mysteriously drawn to it for a second chance, and it's Fay, Frank, and occasionally Blackie's job to help them out, in what ever capacity that may be.

The show was canceled after six short episodes due to low ratings. This sad fact attributed to my initial confusion of the show. At first I wasn't even sure if I liked it, the cafe itself confusing me the most. I wanted to know more on how it worked, who it picked, why it picked them, and just generally why it was special. I'm presuming that if later episodes, possibly seasons, have been aired we'd of gotten to know more about the prominent character of the show.

The acting was also a little...baffling at first. Fay played by Lindsay Frost acting resembled that of a soap opera actress and that got on my nerves. But after the first episode it was toned down a bit and appeared more as Fay initial response to her new found fate. Frank (Jack Coleman) was the same, his acting was odd but that's the entire nature of the show and in fact he and Lindsay Frost were pretty much in tuned with the overall tone. Then there is Robert Englund as Blackie, he was the one who kept drawing back to the episodes, he's just great, as always. He has this perfect comedic timing and a certain sinister quirk to his character. Maybe my favorite thing about the show were the small innuendos that Blackie would throw out, hinting at his age.

The show has been related to a Twilight Zone episode, having that supernatural/horror anthology label to it. Which is a fair comparison, people show up at the "Cafe" and weird shit happens, only difference here is we have three solid characters. There's also a Sci-Fi like element to the show as Fay and Frank basically get beamed in and out of the cafe, and the final episode, "Aliens Ate My Lunch", amps that up a bit. The Nightmare Cafe does have a short episode list and that may turn off some viewers but it grew on me and I'm a bit sad that there isn't a few more episodes, at least enough for a full season, to watch late at night when there isn't much on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Horror Icons

It's Monday...again. And I have a treacherously long research paper to write by Wednesday so forgive me if my writing isn't Shakespearean like (psh-as if it's ever). I followers, still. But that's alright, I'll manage.

Horror movies are basically defined by these next top five. If you hear 'people are so stupid in those movies! They do the dumbest things' the statement has probably originated from the five (or four) films these guys appear in. But despite the hate these films, or more like icons, are infamous and I love every single one of them. My Top Five Horror Icons:

#5 "Ghost Face" (Scream 1996)

He may be considered the outcast in this since he's about a decade (or two) younger than the rest and he's not a supernatural killer. But admittedly if you see his face on TV or at Halloween store you're instantly going to identify the movie he's in. Ghost Face is simply scary because all it took was a couple of movie obsessed teenagers, 10 dollars for a costume (keep in mind this was the 90s), and Wes Craven and we have a satirical horror movie, that isn't far from being plausible.

#4 "Pinhead" (Hellraiser 1987)

Pinhead is amazing because he's cold, emotionless, and deeply into Sado Masochism. He also happens to the best looking demon out of the centobites. I'm not sure a further explanation is needed to explain as to why he's an eerie presence in any movie he's in. Oddly enough last week's number 4 only needed little explanation as well. Played by Doug Bradley in all the Hellraiser films.

#3 "Freddy Krueger" (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984)

Who doesn't love Freddy Krueger? He has the most personality out of the icons. Dressed nicely in a dirty Christmas sweater, a ragged old hat, lovely 3rd degree burns, and his own pair of razor fingernails. He spends most of his nights taunting teenagers in their sleep, whom he later plans on killing, typically, in graphic bloody ways. The original Nightmare has the best murder scenes (Tina getting dragged across the ceiling, Glen getting sucked into the bed) but he still causes a few sleepless nights for newer fans. He's played by Robert England whose just a really good actor, horror or not. In the remake he was played by Jackie Earle Haley, who, IMO, is basically the only other person in Hollywood who can do this job.

#2 "Michael Myers" (Halloween 1978)

Michael Meyers is arguably the scariest killer in horror movies. I attribute it to his walk and his silence. He doesn't talk and he walks so fucking slow, which normally might make you think he's an idiot but here it's just a twist of killer suspense. One of the most memorable scenes for me is in the second Halloween when Laurie is trying to escape out the basement and he's right at then end of the hall. And all you keep thinking is if he runs to her she's dead, but he doesn't, and it just drives you insane cause there's too much suspense to handle. But I digress, I'm going to quote someone from the 100 Scariest Movie Moments and say; "It was such a blank face that the audience could project anything they wanted on it." -John Landis

#1 "Chucky" (Child's Play 1988)

I'm a chuckyaholic. I won't get into what possible reasons could conclude why I find a doll with stitches, a foul mouth, and a satanic laugh as cute (to take a stab in the dark I'm just going to have to say it's because I've always been odd) but in truth all dolls are naturally creepy. Don Mancini just amped it up with Chucky, making him the possessed soul of Charles Lee Ray or the Lake-shore Strangler. There's that unsaid rule of children not dying in horror movies and Chucky's basically gone out of his way to prove that wrong. He has yet to accomplish it but who knows. For the past 20 some years he's been played brilliantly by Brad Dourif who is returning to do the voice of him in the remake. Which I'm planning on seeing.

Honorable mentions; Leatherface, derived from real life killer Ed Gein he's a big ass dude who wears the faces of his victims. Despite the fact that I've never been a big Friday the 13th fan I'd be wrong not to include Jason, the hockey mask wearing mama's boy, who just happens to be carrying around a machete.

If your reading post your own.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Scanners (1981)

If I write, David Cronenberg, what film comes to mind? The Fly? Videodrome? Eastern Promises? Which ever of his films is your initial fix on his stuff you can't go in your Cronenberg viewing experiences without ever seeing Scanners.

Scanners is a Sci-fi/Psychological Thriller about two groups of psychics going head to head, literally. The main character is Cameron Vale, a new found scanner hired by Dr. Ruth to infiltrate an underground scanners operation run by Darryl Revok. What exactly is a scanner? It's an individual who has a mix of mind powers such as telekinesis, telepathy, and on occasion pyrokinesis. 

The plot build up is a bit odd and there's obvious holes but the two bigger reveals at the end are cool (truthfully though you can see one coming). I really liked how the scanners gene was explained, that brought the movie to another level. If the movie had more of a development as far as plot goes it may have been a lot better than it was. But then again it wouldn't really be a Cronenberg film without his B-style film making. 

This movie contains a rumor that it's about head's exploding, that's sadly not the case. There is one head explosion that is amazing in it's own right, but it's honestly the only one. The typical style of gore is here for Cronenberg, and despite how it can at times look fake I love watching it. The best scene though is at the end where like I said the 'good' scanner and the 'bad' scanner go at it with their scanning powers. The effects used with the viens are really great to watch.

Acting wise Michael Ironside was great as Darryl and Jennifer O'Neill wasn't bad as Kim. It's Stephen Lack as Cameron that about destroys the thing. He's stiff and reads all his lines, I'm not exaggerating, ALL his lines in monotone. At first it's a simple annoyance but as the movie precedes it becomes a distraction.

Scanners isn't the best movie ever made, nor is it the best Cronenberg film ever. But I'd say it's not a complete waste of two hours.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Catfish (2010)

Catfish is an interesting documentary into our society's current status of social networking. The film stars Nev, a young photographer who is contacted by Abby, an 8 year old painter who likes his pictures. Nev and Abby soon start up a friendship that extends through the family and friends of the family, all on Facebook. Then Nev begins talking to Megan, Abby's older and attractive sister who has a crush on Nev. But as the relationship begins to develop further Nev starts to notice some things aren't making sense. So him, his brother, and his friend drive up to Michigan to confront Megan about the inconsistencies.

The previews make this out to be a scary movie and it's not. If anything the ending is just shocking. It doesn't have you gasping at the screen as soon as the big reveal comes, in fact there is no big reveal. Instead it unfolds subtly, showing you how deep it all goes. The big shock is more of the last forty minutes as a whole than it is in one single moment. I came across the term Catfish by accident so the 'big reveal' wasn't as much of a surprise as it may have been if I went into the film oblivious. Which is what I'd recommend as the best way to view it. Still, the critics are right, despite if you know what's coming the last forty minutes inflict a constant change of emotions for it's audience. At times you are sadden by the truth of the film, then intrigued, and ultimately disturbed.

To address the "Hitchcock" statement in the trailer, in my opinion the critics aren't too far off. It's hard to describe without spoiling anything but if you view Hitchcock films you'll notice most have a common element that contributes to the shock factor. Like I said there is no such moment in this as in Psycho when Norman Bates comes out dressed like his mother, but the nature of the films are alike. Between the suspense and the shock factor, Catfish is the subtle version of a Hitchcock film.

While the film itself isn't heavily relying on the use of technology it's just there throughout, making an impact on Nev and his friends along with Abby and her family. It's an important film to see in this century where technology is figure in our daily lives. It might not be for everyone and it may be crushed by its own hype but it was really good and I'd recommend to those who are interested.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Undead

I've written three reviews and...still no followers. That's okay I didn't expect it to happen so soon, if at all. But since I'm basically talking to myself at this point and I'm a little slow at the review writing (Catfish is in progress as well as Scanners) and since Mondays are just awful and October is my favorite month (massive horror movie watching) I've decided to do something a little special. Top five lists! Yeah, not all that exciting. In fact I hate top insert number lists because the author and I are in difference of opinion. Either way here's the first.

There's a lot of creatures out there, aliens, vampires, werewolves, etc. but my personal favorites have always been zombies. Something about the disease infested versions of ourself has always held a higher appeal than any other monster. I don't know if it's the most likely of opponents to happen (2012 zombie apocalypse!), or if it's that zombies possess our inner most fear of infection, I'm not really sure why I love them but I digress, Top Five Favorite Zombie Movies of All Time (or so far):

#5 Night of the Living Dead (1968) 

George A Romeo's low budget classic has the rights to two important cinematic firsts. The first zombie film (if you dis include the earlier version of the term, which relates to the voodoo technique) and the first African American hero/lead in a horror movie. Despite it's age the black and white film still presents a prodigious amount of scares with a fair amount of blood. The zombies are in their original state, mindless beings who randomly hunt to feed their lust for flesh. And Karen Cooper eating her father sets the essential question in all zombie films, wanting to survive vs killing the ones you care about.

#4 Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland is just...funny. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's an hour and a half of watching four different individuals kill zombies in creative, yet bloody, ways. Pair it with a gifted actor like Woody Harrelson and you've got a ridiculously funny movie dedicated solely to the art of zombie bashing.

#3 Night of the Comet (1984)

Part satire, part cult horror Night of the Comet is a enjoyable zombie movie where you can laugh at the cliches but still care enough about what happens to the characters. There's flaws in Hector, Reggie, and Samantha but it doesn't weigh the movies prominent goal of parodying disaster movies. It's really got everything; the smart older sister whose just naturally skilled at kicking ass, the dumb younger (and cheerleading) sister, the not so cute but charming male hero, 80's movie shopping montage, action, satire, and of course zombies.

#2 Dead Alive (1992)

I may be shunned for this but... yes I love Peter Jackson's Dead Alive more than I do Sam Rami's Evil Dead. Don't shoot me! While I think Evil Dead is hilarious in it's own right I feel that Jackson's film applies more to my humor. The darker or less obvious humor such as a mama's boy going so far as to keeping his zombified mother locked in his basement because he can't part with her is what makes it such a win for me. But the absurdity (Zombies having rough table sex, Lionel making his way through a zombie crowd with a lawn mower) is also a helpful attribute. And this is the most blood I've ever seen in a film, which just makes it awesome.

#1 28 Days Later (2002)

Dead Alive comes second because while it's the best zombie movie resulting from the genre (IMO) 28 Days Later does a lot more than the genre expects. It has the humor, the survival outline, and the (fast) zombies but it's really about human nature. It's unique of the director and the writer to try to do a human study film within a horror movie, which once accomplished seems like an obvious pairing. They explore into our species animal like nature through the disease and through desperation of those not infected. It moved the genre from cheap scares with slow brain suckling zombies (don't get me wrong I still love those too) into a grisly and uncommonly deep insight.

Honorable mentions: Fido (2006), a dry dark comedy that parody's the Lassie and Leave it to Beaver genre. Planet Terror (2007), Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse contribution featuring a one legged Rose McGown. And Evil Dead (1981), college students, trapped in the woods, with zombies...and Bruce Cambell.

For those who are reading post your own list, I'm curious.