Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Crow (1994)

Devil's Night - Halloween Eve - is a night with a reputation of arson and murder for inner city Detroit. On this night Eric Draven and his fiance Shelly Webster were brutally murdered and she brutally raped. Leaving behind a grieving surrogate-esque daughter, Sarah, and a fearful city. The gang composed of TinTin, Skank, Funboy and T-Bird are free without even an arrest. A year later though the Crow, which has been said to carry you to the afterlife, brings back Draven in his grief. He seeks revenge on the four men who killed Shelly but is unbeknownst that the gang is part of a larger criminal empire run by the high class katana wielding Top Dollar. When Top Dollar finds out about Draven's invincibility and the Crow's powers he seeks after Draven with the only thing he has left, Sarah.

I'm not sure if it's because of the on set tragedy (Lee was accidentally shot in the making of the film) or just the somber context of the script but The Crow has a drear veil in its viewing. That's not to attest it as uninteresting but rather the opposite as I'm always drawn into the tenebrous subject matter in that it never fails to evoke emotions from me. The film borders revenge flick to Gothic thriller, tending to shy away from the more violent scenes, but not denying us the final product; the gun shoot out felt more like it belonged in a action film than it did with the rest. Towards the hour mark it drags some and I lose focus for a minute or two, whenever I watch it. And as goes the plot is a bit absent minded and one dimensional. But I've always attribute character to surpass plot and I love Draven's character so I could care less if the plot was less attended too. The special effects are not great, even for its time and likely standout the most in the film.

Inevitability praise for Lee's work has been questioned by the close occurrence of his death on set, similar to Heath Ledger's Joker, many claim that the only reason the film is known and his performance accredited is because of the tragic accident. I make no mistake in saying that's absolutely wrong, tragedy or not Brandon Lee is immense in the role of Eric Draven. The sinister clown exteriors the broken angel, both which make for a memorable character. Draven's one liners and his depression from his and Shelly's death create a character that is to stay with you, despite an unstable plot. Ernie Hudson is good at being Ernie Hudson...that's a little harsh, I honestly don't mean it as a negative. His self portrayed likable cop is a nice character to relax on, you always know he's going to be the good guy in that sense it relives the tension from the dark script. And Michael Wincott is great as the baleful Top Dollar. This is a Gothic visual stimuli in a more natural approach than Tim Burton's inspired work. The prominent color of black is painted on nearly everything but it never hides or darkens the screen. Instead it blends with the gray skies and red flashbacks to bleed a comely cinematographic show. Attribute to director Alex Proyas and director of Photography Dariusz Wolski, who I hold this to be his best work.

The film like most of my favorites is a beautiful flaw, not perfect but hits my right notes. I consider it a great piece similar to Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, not strong on plot but excels in character development and visuals. I love the soundtrack as well with a mix of rock songs and romantic scores to capture the dense sadness and angst. Another thing I picked up was Lee's usual of martial arts in his stance and actions. They didn't really need a stunt double as the martial arts expert was able to do most of the stunts himself. Not necessarily a martial arts fan (odd considering my favorite movie is Kill Bill Vol 2) but I love when it's present in outside genre films. The Crow conceived quite a bit of sequels and a TV spin off; the films holding under a five star rating on IMDB. I believe one of them even has Edward Furlong in it. I can't speak for the sequels as I have not seen them myself but the 1994 film The Crow is a stunning Gothic entry in the horror genre. A must watch but be weary of the black subject matter as it's not for a light viewing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TDHorror Retro Review

I've been absent for a week or so, I know. For whatever reason the month of October and the month of December people are in high demand of me. There will be a review tomorrow despite that I missed one last week. Anyways as an update I'm writing for Truly Disturbing now as an official writer, which means that I'll be dedicating my time to two reviews each month for the site. That's not to suggest that it'll take away from this blog, I'll still being doing my one review a week, the Horror Shorts, Irrelevant Post Fridays, and maybe more?

"The film suggests that of two horrors, the mysterious scarecrow apparition that appears before the deaths and that friendly mailman Otis P. Hazelrigg has affection towards young Marylee. The latter is never explored further than a comment made by Ms. Ritter but the suggestion creates a tension whenever Hazelrigg is near Marylee, making you question if he's going to do something in likes to the rumor. The film has a PG level of violence and not for those seeking a hard gore show, the only real bloody death being Bubba's, that was quite cruel in addition to being the most graphic. The idea behind the script is that you’re not sure who is behind the murders. Is it Ms. Ritter? Or young Marylee? Or is it a mysterious spirit that’s to restore balance in the small town?"

And as last time you may read the rest here. You should also comment, while you're there, because it would make me and the TrulyDisturbing owners happy. Also while I'm here I might as well pimp out a few things. First off if you don't read Phill's Film Adventures to start with than you have issues, and second in addition to being an avid movie critique he's a lover of horror and in particular the best of the B's and Cults. In so he's created an entire blog dedicated to just them The first post is of's looking positive for the site. And if you haven't noticed on the side of my page there's a picture with the words Obsess and Consume, click on it dammit. It's by one of my favorite Twitter friends sheoverdosed, it's not just dedicated to horror but to other films, prominently indie which happens to be my second favorite genre. And finally if you haven't watched Microcinema what is WRONG with you?! It's 99 fucking cents, don't get stingy and watch it.

That was an odd assortment of promotional things but they are those I find most pressing, at the moment. I apologize for being rash but considering how good they are and go unnoticed at times is a bit absurd. Either or anticipate an Irrelevant Post Friday next week giving updates on this blog. Also watch out for these TDHorror posts because they are hopefully frequenting my blog about twice a month.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Horror Short - Bunny Boy (2010)

Written and directed by Brandon LaGanke
Staring Mitch Webb and Teymur Guliyev
Director of Photography, Ruben O'Malley

My viewing for the film Bunny Boy came to me from no other than the lovely Mile High Horror Film Festival, where the majority of the Horror Shorts I'll be doing are also birthed of. The film's poster caught my eye and it was what led me to pick the Shorts slot over a film like Chilerama or I Saw The Devil. The five minute running time tells the story of a boy, who sees a man in a bunny suit, sitting by the side of the road, seemingly dead. A silent conversation pursues when the boy tries to feed and give the bunny water, what the boy doesn't realize though that there is a reason this particular individual is sitting by the side of the road, in a bunny suit, not really being all the way there. Maybe the moral of this short is don't talk to strangers?

Bunny Boy was likely the only horror short I absolutely loathed at the MHHFF, so much in fact I feel wrong just writing about it. I'm a horror fan so violence doesn't phase me but I prefer when it has a purpose, whether it'd be comedic or to send a message, I don't care, as long as its not gratuitous. Bunny Boy misses this mark severely at showing violence just to be weird, and to attempt to disturb you. I found it disturbing, but not on an artistic point, rather at the idea itself. I feel sorry for the other films that missed the available spot from whoever voted to keep this in. Maybe I missed the point. I'm not ashamed in admiting I don't always understand a films intention but really as far as my viewpoint it lacked purpose and thought, a pathless walk trying to classify itself as horror. I'm too pissed off about it to even note any light points like the cinematography. I hated it, don't waste five minutes of your life watching this. Please...

BUT if you must Bunny Boy is making its way around film festivals (horror and non horror alike), so look out for it.

*Update: I've decisively found a place for the Horror Shorts now, it'll be the second Sunday of every month. I would like to do it at least twice a month but as of now I'm limited because I've only seen so many. Again if you have one you'd like me to watch and review send me a link on my twitter or at

Friday, December 9, 2011

Real Life Horror, Unapologetically Wrecking my Childhood

It's not such a rare occurance anymore, as Hollywood studios go out of their way to ruin my childhood memories. Taint them with the poorly constructed remakes, give half the effort and heart to make a few dollars. It's nothing new. But they really went out of their way this time and essentially impaled me. I'm not being dramatic either, they are shutting down the Jaws Ride at Universal Studios.

Admittedly the shark looks horribly fake and I've been on the ride so many times that its not even a surprise anymore when he pops up. Hell I could probably count the exact seconds it takes from when the barn doors close to when the people on the front right side scream. But my first trip to Universal this was the only adult ride I got on. I was tricked by my mom and my brother, who told me it was a boat ride. And as typical horror lover I was enthralled when the shark blasted through the water and started eating the wire right next to my brother. It was lucky how we picked the exact seats the big action stuff happens on for our first time there. I didn't stop talking about the ride for weeks. And like usual everyone was annoyed with me for not being able to shut my mouth.

As I got older and went on the ride again I was able to appreciate the homage to the film and the entire section dedicated to the town of Amity. And even when it became apparently fake and the tour boat guide's gun shot aim became painstakingly worse it was still fun. Especially for new people who had never been on the ride before. But it could be worse. It could be this version of Jaws:

I'm not an expert but either she really hated George or she's just awful at her job. Not to mention she gives away a huge spoiler "I'm going to stop talking after the shark comes up because they are filming Desperate Housewives down the street."  .... Or whatever she said to that nature. And Bruce looks more like a dolphin with that trick than as an intimidating shark.

If anything Universal just needed to update the ride, and maybe bring a little bit more cohesion to that part of the park. But in life its just easier to destroy part of my childhood than it is to repair it for new memories. Whatever Universal. I do note though that if they ever get rid of the Terminator ride they've lost me as a customer. That ride is fucking awesome. Oh and please get rid of the Simpsons and bring back Back To the Future.

A little bit of history and trivia on the ride. It was built in 1990 to many failures and technical difficulties, which eventually lead to the ride being redesigned to a small, and admittedly less scary, extent. The former attraction included a much more active shark who was strong enough to spin the boat around, and also a more gory ending where the shark dies similar as in the film. The ride is five minutes long and the shark is seen seven times, three times in full and four with the fin. Universal hasn't released what will replace the Jaws ride but I'm skeptical, agreeing with others that they haven't hard anything too iconic to replace Spielberg's box office massacre. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Worst Movie (2009)

Nearly two decades ago Troll 2 graced the straight to DVD category with the distinction of being the worst movie ever made, but what disguised itself as shame was in truth a cult phenomenon, and as the documentary lets way it is almost as big as Rocky Horror. Now eighteen years later the kid star of the film Michael Stephenson dredges up the film's success and gives us and update on our favorite bad Utah actors. The real face of Best Worst Movie is George Hardy who plays the dad, Michael Waits in the bad film, then and now a dentist he's an outgoing lovable guy with a huge personality. Coming in as a supporting role is Claudio Fragasso, a true Italian director at heart, who's passion for film making is not fazed by the actors confusion or the critics hate. As the film intertwines the where are they now with the cult following that is growing annually, the mission is simple enough, 'What the fuck is Troll 2?'

This documentary is not necessarily horror but it tries to explain how a horror film could go so disarray. The actors commentary is enduring and unique as no two opinions are the same, all have a brief moment of reflection on their careers and life, even Hardy who discusses one night after the high of a showing that his true love was in acting, but for the instability in the field he never pursued further. As a general the teen stars of the film lump it into an embarrassment especially Connie Young who played the daughter, even going as far as removing it from her resume. Others like Jason Steadman know that it's awful but don't mind so much as their careers went in different directions. Then there's the darker side of the film with Margo Prey and Don Packard who both are suffering from a mental illness of some sort (the latter admit-tingly and the former allegedly). But as mentioned Fragasso and Hardy steal the screen, as Hardy embraces his cult icon status and Fragasso stands firm on his work, despite when asked questions like "Why is the film called Troll 2 when there are no trolls in the movie?" Fragasso and his wife who wrote the screenplay claim that Troll 2 is a social commentary, on the American family...and vegetarians.

The other side, the fans who've escalated the film from secretion for fifteen years to a true embodiment of an audience, makes for an glimpse into the world of cult. You see the midnight screenings played out with two hundred people lined up outside, the energetic reenactments by the cast members of the infamous scenes, and then interviews of fans who try to get down to what they love about the film. Collectively most agree that it's Fragasso's vision and passion that make it not a bad movie but rather a movie that just failed on an epic level.

Ultimately I'm eager to see more from the director who captures the spirit of Troll 2 rather well. Best Worst Movie, like the film it focuses on, has a lot of heart. It's amusing in some places and somber in others, particularly when Hardy and other cast members realize that the film doesn't belong at the horror conventions or the Sci-Fi ones, which unfortunately plays out in the later half of the film. However, just as you feel your about to end the movie on a bit of a buzz killer as Hardy seems to have worn on his cult status, Stephenson asks him, "If Claudio asked you to do Troll 3 would you do it?" and without hesitation Hardy replies "Of course, what are you talking about? Of course I would", and it brings you right back up. At the end Stephenson achieves an understanding of the success for Troll 2, it's not a film for the critics, and it's not even a film for the average movie goer, it's for the bad movie addicts and the people who stumble across it. Troll 2 is clearly a cult classic and the documentary accurately portrays that, defiantly worth a watch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dead Awake (2010)

It's not fair, how am I suppose to summarize a film if there is no coherent plot to describe? I've had to do this twice now and I'm becoming a little irksome of it. Oh well, I'll try my best. Dylan is a funeral home assistant, or Morticians assistant, or whatever, plagued by the memories of his past. When one of Dylan's old high school football teammates dies and it brings a reunion of his class to his funeral home Dylan gets reunited with his ex love Natalie. Seeing his friends death and Natalie Dylan gets a bit bummed on himself and bets his boss that if he faked his own death no one would come. Taking the bet Dylan waits the day in the coffin for what appears to be a no show, that is until an unhinged junkie crashes the wake.

I almost forgot to post this review which may have been a sign. It's full of intolerance towards the director and the screenwriter, with a sparingly few nice things said towards the actors. Proceed with caution. The concept, a man faking his own death, is provocative in theory but poor in execution. Dylan fakes his death for one scene and the rest is of him trying to get back with Natalie and following the junkie around to inconclusive events. The film consistently tries to discuss a larger meaning of death and redemption but the writing is so up and down it doesn't work out. They show flashbacks to recap what's occurring in the film (aka, nothing) but often replay scenes we saw five minutes ago, rendering the technique pointless. The car crash doesn't intrigue you so when the big mystery is revealed you could care less. I'm usually able to excuse a plot less film if the characters hold strong, but they don't in this. Dylan, though having a tragic past, doesn't care about himself and neither do you. In general for a thriller it lacks thrills.

Rose McGowan is the only intriguing character, and she's well played, as McGowan rarely disappoints. Nick Stahl, who suspiciously looks like Michael C. Hall in this, is good. There's one rather dramatic moment between him and Decko and if it wasn't for Decko's acting it may have pulled through. Amy Smart is good too although I've seen her in better. The two Irish sub parents to Dylan, Decko and Liz, are awful. It's apparent that their accents are fake (or at least sounds thereof) and that the screenwriter gets a kick out of Decko saying Shit in the accent, so it sounds like sheit. The director and cinematographer try to hard to make the tone of the film dark and edgy, that has a lack of consistency as well. There were deep shots of grungy indie lighting and then scenes shot in clear day, neither which flow with the visual palate of the film.

I was done with it at an hour in and the last half didn't seem to end. There was no plot and hence no climax. The film does make sense though when the last minute twist is revealed and you understand what the purpose of it all was. That doesn't change how it tried to basically bore and drive you into insanity for the first hour, and not in a good way. Still the plot holes are immense and there are still unexplained elements (the detective anyone?). The film steals, not pay homage but actually steals, the tagline "Death is only the beginning" from The Mummy remake, and the poster is a clear rip off of the Twilight Saga posters. From reviews on Netflix and on IMDB some people acclaimed this as an indie Sixth Sense and found the story different but good. Personally I found it to be poorly written, poorly directed, and I hated it. It more or less just bored me, as it is managing to still do now. Not deserving of a recommendation from me, sorry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

It's black Friday, so please don't die. That is all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blood Freak (1972)

Being Thanksgiving I initially set out to review Thankskilling, under the impression that it was the only killer turkey movie to be found, atlas I was wrong. Unbeknownst to this 'gem' a reviewer on Netflix led me to the Something Weird Grindhouse Video. Therefore for this Thanksgiving I will bless you with something a little more can thank me later. 

At the opening of Blood Freak our chain smoking narrator introduces us to Herschel, a well liked man from what most can tell. Herschel sees Angel by the side of the road with car troubles and being the kind of man he is (this is specified by our narrator) helps to get her home. At Angel's house her sister Ann is throwing an everyday drug party with her friends. The two sisters are as opposite as ever, Angel the Christian do gooder who has faith in all, and Ann the coke whore. Angel asks Herschel if he's ever partaken in the after school activities of Ann's friends, he replies that he's never done such illegal acts but I'm not convinced. It doesn't take Ann long to pursue after Herschel, nor that long to get him hooked on drugs in a peer pressure incident that even puts 'it'll make you look cool' to shame. While Ann is sexing up Herschel and getting him hooked Angel helps Herschel get a job at her father's turkey farm, which includes an odd assortment of jobs like test eating the turkey. After an experimental turkey eating Herschel wanders off and begins to feel sick, which eventually results into convulsions, and to the score of gobbling turkeys he becomes something not quite human. A human with a turkey head. But for Herschel life is not to simply get better now that he has a turkey head to deal with, he's still addicted to drugs and the only way to curb his thirst is by drinking the blood of addicts.

If you under the impression that I'm fucking with you on the plot or exaggerating it for comedic effect, I assure you I am not. It is as I said, so yes Blood Freak is a film about a man with a turkey head killing the drug fiends of this world. I was waiting for Pam Grier to show up at any moment. No doubt produced by Christian society group or the sorts Blood Freak sends the message that faith is stronger than drugs, and forgiveness is inside us all, if we just don't bother to poison ourselves with such evil. The narrator peeks in and out of the film to give us little speeches on the meaning of life, what have you and shamefully cast judgmental looks at us through the film of his cigarette smoke. Herschel manages to make friends and fall in love with Ann after only living there for a week, prompting them to say such things as "you know how Herschel is" or "Herschel wouldn't do that". The special effects are nonexistent in this bloody stump of a film, the Turkey head too clearly a mask and not clear enough to be a distinctive turkey. By the way, brilliant approach to avoiding the leg saw scene, that 'jump' in the film was totes convincing. There isn't a lot of blood until the final twenty minutes where Herschel takes to killing his victims by hanging them upside down and draining them from the throat. But when blood is present its quite vivid and not hidden in the dark lighting or grained film.

The entire cast is the result of rejected porn stars, or looks thereof. Steve Hawkes is Herschel, the apparently strong, handsome, and attractive to women sort of guy, none of which I picked up on through Hawkes acting. He also wrote and directed the film, it's not adept, I'll say but, if there's anything to speak for acting, writing, directing, sound, etc are all congenial with one another, one is no worse than the other. The Christian narrator played by Brad F. Grinter reads his long diatribes of preach off the queue cards on his desk (a little disheartening considering he co-wrote and co-directed the script with Hawkes), trying his very best to guilt me into salvation. There's an irony here, as the film promotes the life cleansed of illegal substances and tainted meat yet every actor's eyelids hang lower than their pupils and mutter their speech in a monotonic voice. Two symptoms of the clear usage of drugs, and possibly bad chemically altered turkey as poor Herschel was victim too. The cinematography varies between a home movie and the misguided shots of a snuff film. The DP lingers at moments, undoubtedly to delay time as the film only lengths an hour and twenty minutes. The most mundane, and not mundane but equally boring, acts are stretched beyond reasonable capacity; my interest is little in watching a bunch of turkeys gobble in their pens.

I'm not sure if the film is victim to the same blind innocence as Troll 2 was, not intentionally meant to be bad but consistent all the way through. I have a dissenting feeling that it is, with the uplifting message and all. The film transfer I saw was rough, it looked like they cleaned the strip with sandpaper. It also wasn't as graphic as I had anticipated, there was a sex scene with Turkey Head Herschel but from what I saw it was in black, yet the site I watched it on forced me to make an account to make sure I was eighteen and could watch the damn thing. So if there is an unrated version out there I missed I encourage you to find. This review may confuse you some as I've not said anything positive in the light of Blood Freak but I'm here to recommend. It's not in the so bad its good category as anything as poorly built as this can't even be near the term good, but its so bad its laughable that you may cry sort of film. It doesn't even really belong in any type of genre, it's really a class of its own. Should I just make up an Christian/Anti Drug killer turkey movie label and hope that one day a second film can bask in the bizarre spill of recreation? I think I should. As most seem to be at a loss for words I shall say it; watch it, I suggest not sober. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Horror Short: The Cleansing (2011)

Written and directed by Gary Marino Jr.
Staring Kimberly Laurenne, Erika Robel, and Ashley McDonald.
Director of Photography Gary Marino Jr.

Initially I didn't set to do these on a weekly basis as I do not have access to enough short films to cover fifty two viewings, if not more. Therefore I hadn't anticipated a horror short review for you this lovely Sunday night but was led to a viewing of The Cleansing and decisively changed my mind, as of twenty some odd hours ago. As usual I pose caution towards raw sentence flow and bad grammar, begging you to pay attention to the context rather than the content. The Cleansing is one of six short films from Fractures Films, "a collection of short abstract films examining the macabre, the twisted and the obscure textures of life". This particular film takes focus to Michelle and her newborn son who's been possessed with crying, by natural or maybe unnatural means, leaving her sleepless and agitated. Lost in a post postpartum depression of sorts Michelle is at the edge of her sanity and the baby doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. The Cleansing covers a wide range of topics from new motherhood to depression but ultimately serves as a horror film. As I'm coming to find with these short films the idea is to capture you as an audience within their short running frame and the most effective way to do that is by shocking you. After the twist is revealed the film runs for a full minute, which converted to full film is rather like twenty minutes, and you're constrained to endure the reality that's been imposed upon you. It's an unpleasant feeling, one that left a pit in my stomach in all honesty.

Kimberly Laurenne is deeply disheveled (as a compliment) in her role as Michelle, she ranges from the annoyed mother, to the despaired, and then changes her tune completely for the ending. An ominous and almost empty slideshow of pictures account for the subconscious of the film and of Michelle's mind. The lighting, the brief abstract shots, and the music was all very reminiscent of the tone in The Ring. The film has a professional appearance to it but it doesn't have an IMDB page or any other signs of big studio release outside Fractures Films website; accreditation for Gary Marino Jr. who did the directing, writing, and served as DP for the film, three notes which I enjoyed very much. If I had to dissect and choose a negative for the film I'd say the baby was clearly not real, but seeing how I don't really care neither should you. In my argument I'd say The Cleansing is a really dark piece, it takes you back in nature but holds you in its cinematography. It's available, as well as their other five films, for a free watch on Fractures Films website. Also while you're there go to their About section for a unique description of what they've set out to do. I quoted a bit from it earlier, feeling it said more about the film than I could say myself. You may also follow them on Twitter for more updates on their films and such.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

House of Wax (1953)

WARNING: May contain some spoilers 

In House of Wax Vincent Price plays the wax curator of a modest exhibit that showcases moments in history, his favorite being his Marie Antoinette life-like creation. But Price's business partner does not share his love for the museum and burns it down, with Price inside, to cash in on the insurance money. A few months pass and with what seems like a dead Price and a happy Matthew Burke is awaken to reality when Burke dies by a disfigured man, and Price resurfaces with a new exploitative exhibit. Among the opening night viewers is Sue Allen, a traumatized woman who discovered her friend Cathy dead and was chased by the disfigured killer. While walking the exhibit Sue takes particular notice to the Joan of Arc figurine, which posses the face structure of her late friend Cathy, and despite comfort Sue takes notice to how eerily the wax resembles that of real people. Meanwhile Price is hoping to use Sue as a model for the re-sculpting of his beloved Marie Antoinette.

It's rather curious to me but I knew from the beginning of House of Wax that I was going to love it, the shot of Price working on a sculptor, it was in his stance and attitude that made my heart melt and I became a Price addict here on out. This is one of those films that I prefer to not see in high definition as for on a personal matter I am nostalgic and in favor of the film I think the infrared vision works in that the wax figures do appear to be tediously real. The actors are posing in still but the gritted screen makes it less likely to catch any unwarranted movements, and regardless you start on with Sue's suspicions of the origins of the figures. The film is mostly just suspenseful and thrilling, but the disfigured murderer and the uncanny aura of the museum might unsettle some.

Price is enlivening in the role of Jarrod, the passionate wax artist who may not be all they way there. He's able to let way enough when he's playing normal in the character the madness within, and it's just incredible to watch an actor that can actually do that. This is the film, as far as I know, that started Vincent Price's career as a legendary horror icon, as he plays the madman so distinctly. Phyllis Kirk is good as Sue Allen, she's likable and though she has that paranoid 'there's something wrong' syndrome you as an audience feel it equally so it doesn't come off as a being vexatious. Frank Lovejoy and the rest of the cast are all good and in par with the acting of their decade. Directing is done well, although this is one of the first 3D films ever made and there are scenes where it's apparent that certain things are aimed at the audience members, but other than that no real complaints.

Unfortuantly House of Wax does hold me down on one aspect of the film...the ending. Call me a sick individual but I did not want the happy Sue lives ending. Not that I had any particular dislike towards her, I mean she was right about Jarrod, but maybe it's just my horror rooted mind that wanted to see the recreation of the Marie Antoinette in the The Chambers of Horror. That's nothing to turn you off however, House of Wax is a classic and I may not really even have to recommend it because I'm sure all horror fans have seen it. Regardless of, for new horror fans who have not seen it my opinion is that it is an exceptional horror film that may not scare for modern audiences (it's rated PG for today's standards) but probably did in it's time, and it's far better than its slashed up remake...let's just be honest it's not even on the same level.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Horror Short: Seizure (2011)

Written and directed by James Neff and Joseph Dean Martinez
Staring Brian Ardolino and Danica Deering
Director of Photography Joseph Dean Martinez

The Horror Shorts have been absent for a little more than a month because of the top five lists but I'm glad to bring it back with Night Walker Cinema's short film Seizure, a contestant for the Universal Halloween Horror Nights short film contest. Isolation has constricted Jordy more than anything, with his only real line to the outside world being his answering machine. His tormenting visions having been written off as mental illness and a pursued fixture by medication, but this may not be medical at all, and Jordy seizures may just be caused by something far more terrifying. This is Night Walker Cinema's first short film and an appealing first piece. The film runs a few seconds short of three minutes and provokes a feeling stylized to what the hell is going on. It comes equipped with a nice little twist ending that may or may not send a chill down your spine, depending on how you feel towards this type of horror.

Brian Ardolino is the man of focus, being the only physical person on screen. His performance is a bit extreme at moments but it makes for a more intense experience and overtly effective. Direction is solid by the two directors, I'm a little taken back as to why this was not accepted in to HHN, though not perfect a lot more adequate than some shit that seeps into film festivals. Cinematography wise it's not exceptional but good for first time DP, particularly the end shot that very cautiously reveals the twist, in the right amount of light. And I really quite liked the font they picked for the credits. A definite watch Seizure is available on youtube for free at Night Walker Cinema's channel. You should also follow them on Twitter for more updates on this film and their upcoming projects.

TDHorror Retro Review

If you didn't know one of my favorite websites,, or TDhorror for short, asked me to write Retro Reviews for them. My first one was of Herschel Gordon Lewis's The Wizard of Gore and can be found here. Thus far I've only done two, hopefully more, but for my second review I reviewed one of my favorite films, Alice, Sweet Alice. Normally I don't like to do such, as I feel analyzing such taints my love of the film, but this film is an exception because I love it despite its odd faults. More giallo inspired horror, with religious overtones, and disturbing flesh colored masks.

Alice, Sweet Alice (or Communion, or Holy Terror mind you) is about twelve year old Alice Spages who is a little bit off. Often remit by adult's love, who advert more of their focus to her younger sister Karen, Alice has made a hobby of collecting an odd assortment of things, including cockroaches, her sister's favorite items, and creepy flesh colored masks. Karen’s first communion awakens tension between the two sisters and their single mother as Alice becomes increasingly jealous by the attention given to Karen. Jealously might possibly turn into rage as Karen ends up dead in the church and Alice is missing from sight during the murder. Everyone begins to suspect and nearly convict Alice for her sister’s murder and others that show up afterwards, but as nothing ever changes, not even in death, Alice blames Karen for the murders. At a loss what to believe the adults struggle to keep composure in this religious horror novelty.

The 1976 film may have died off entirely had it not been Brooke Shield's debut role which pushed the film into three different releases, under three different titles no less. Thankfully the independent slasher flick did receive more attention than normally allotted to such films as Alice, Sweet Alice is one of my bizarre favorites. The heavily played religious overtones create a tediously weird film about God, family, and murder...

You can read the rest of the review at TDHorror. Along with a lot of other really awesome articles and other guest contributions. Specifically an article by ahlephia on horror legend Robert England (yes I got overtly excited when I saw it).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

The remake of the Wes Craven classic of the same name follows Nancy and Quintin, two sleep deprived teenagers who are being haunted by a man in their dreams. The man, dressed in a dirty Christmas sweater, burnt head to toe, and downing a glove with knives for fingernails, is killing off Nancy and Quintin's friends in their dreams. Now as the two of them struggle to stay awake in what are called (or I believe) micro-dreams they try to figure out what he wants, knowing there's a larger connection to all of this. The look and feel to this is modern horror but I don't know it just doesn't work. Warning, some spoiler alerts.

The film doesn't go with out effort, the opening title sequence is a nice visual piece and new concepts to the series add an interesting touch, like the micro-dreams, or as I said in the first paragraph I believe that's what they called them. In all honesty I had a hard time following the dialog as it was less than intelligent at times. After the first forty five minutes I consciously made an effort to take in only about forty five percent of what people were saying to each other as it was just unrealistic and quite frankly stupid. Also another thing that added a different dynamic was that the current victims were the previous victims. However; that also serves as a down point for the film, they showcase the child molester element quite a bit, and when I mean that I mean when Nancy says: "Fuck you!" Freddy replies: "That sounds like fun." It's a little bit tough to take in. It didn't find a balance between casual and disturbing, at points in the film like when the kids found out they were molested as children from their parents (who also disclosed it in such a bizarre way) they had basically no reaction. But then there's a scene where Freddy comes close to raping Nancy.

Acting is decently awful. I couldn't stand Katie Cassidy and I was counting off the minutes until Freddy killed her, she also looked twenty five not seventeen. Kellan Lutz also got it pretty earlier as well and I was thankful for that. Roony Mara was fairly awful, I understand that Nancy is suppose to be a tortured misfit teen in this but reading all your lines in monotone doesn't help the audience like you. Her character doesn't compare with old Nancy and you can understand why they have another character in the end helping her try and kill Freddy. It isn't believable that she can do it on her own. I like Kyle Gallner from Jennifer's Body and A Haunting In Connecticut, so I know he can act, and while I'm glad he was there to counter Mara's acting he was also a little less than impressionable. Now Jackie Earle Harley is probably the only person I can see playing Freddy and he did alright, I guess. It's not as iconic as Robert England's but he's creepy, they made him look like a real burnt victim which did make it more horrifying and hard to look at. How he acted was a little odd but I don't know, it could have been worse.

The film would have gotten a solid two stars (out of five)  from me for the new ideas and the added creepiness of Freddy but the last ten seconds were so awful that it pushed it into the category that this is just another really shitty remake. They try to replicate the iconic scenes and it's obvious that they were hesitant about it, knowing that copying it exactly or dis-including it would piss off fans. But that dilemma speaks for itself; you can't do either without pissing people off so why bother remaking this? This just doesn't work, the undying bogeyman of the seventies and eighties who spawns sequels into the nineties doesn't work in the new millennium (unfortunately). I actually went to the theater (rare for me) and saw Scream 4, which isn't exactly scary but was a great movie as it did what the first did, paid homage to the genre while parodying it. You're wondering what relevance this has well I'm just saying Craven understands how horror has moved from the decades, current Hollywood producers don't. Freddy belongs in the eighties, this generation should stick to what it knows, torture porn and Facebook killers. Or maybe I'm asking to much here but...I don't but something new and creative we've never seen.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Troll (1986)

Troll follows the story of it's title character, Torok, a centuries old troll/fairy that's out to create an entire fairy universe inside the constrictions of an apartment complex. With the help of Wendy Anne Potter, the cute little girl to the family that just moved in down stairs, Torok believes he's finally going to rule in the human world. Once in Wendy Anne's body Torok goes door to door and using his nifty ring creates an Eden for his friends. But not everyone is blind to Wendy's new behavior, her brother, Harry Jr, see's that there's something wrong with his sister and with a little help from the witch who lives upstairs, he's out to save his sister and the world. The 1986 B-horror film has been hiding in its sequels cult shadow for years, forgotten by such infamy the original film proves to actually be decent and entertaining. 

In a lot of ways Troll is almost a horror movie to a kid, but at the same time the second layer plot might go over their heads. The fairy-tale aspect and the lack of deaths might appeal to that sort of audience more than an adult, unless of course your nostalgic. The whimsical nature to Troll is equally paired with an undeniable quality, its humor, some intentional, but lets be honest most not. The name of the dad, Harry Potter, a writer who gets thrown into a world of witches and trolls? It almost feels like its satirizing J.K. Rowling novels but that's impossible since it predates it by 11 years. The trolls themselves while creepy are also laughable, especially when they sing. No blood, mostly people oddly running into each other at all times, the Troll kicking people three times his size asses, and pod like things that look more like they belong in gardens than as some violent alien spawn types.

The characters, to my deep surprise, were developed. Between Eunice, the old soul who seems to have a gleeful tinge to her expression every time she talks about the trolls, to Malcolm, the dying little person who's humble disposition about his life made you root for him and his survival. Harry Potter Sr. was gloriously lame, from his pitiful attempt at a pre pregnancy drug joke to his horrendous dancing. In fact lets just lump Anne Potter in that category as well, her undeniable love for her husband and her mom duties put her in line with Mr. Potter, but its all in a good way. They are hilarious together, the scene where Malcolm is telling the Fairy Princess story at the dinner table and Mr. Potter looks over at Mrs. Potter and lovingly grabs her hand, I had a good laugh on that one. Beyond cheesy. 

Troll is not all laughs though, the story is interesting and if Ghoulies or Leprechaun scared you then I have no doubt Torok the Troll will keep you up for at least one night. This film doesn't get a lot of credit because Troll 2 is the ultimate so "bad it's good movie". I really like Troll, I laughed through a good portion of it and although it may not have exactly worked I give the screenwriters credit for at least attempting a serious film, I mentioned it earlier but I'd say its plot jumped a second layer. I own the Troll/Troll 2 double feature and it was a decent purchase, in my opinion. Troll's a good B-movie to watch or maybe for a little bit older kids who won't get too scared. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Master of Horror - Dario Argento

Next year's lists will not be so crammed, I promise. I'll admit I tried to squeeze a few viewings in of films the night before, having not seen them but knowing they had a strong legacy in the genre. I'm sure some that I critiqued or rather ignored will grow on me and the list will inevitably change, hell Boyfriend's With Fangs needs a drastic update since last year. So do know that none of them are absolute or near such (maybe with the exception of Stephen Kings) and that all contain the fine print "So far".

Thus to prevent addressing it in ever paragraph of this list (as it inevitably would be) lets just mention the flaws of Argento's work; awful sound transfers, not the best acting, and plot instances that fail. Its safe to say character development and the logical plot are not his strong points. What are? Setting up atmosphere in set design (I've heard he's meticulous about such things), collaborating well with composers, directing his DP's to gorgeous cinematographic heights and creating a beauty in death, something I don't believe any other filmmaker has done quiet so well. To note I didn't get distinctly different in separating the giallo's from the true horrors as I would therefore not have a list and they are scary despite trying for a more crime fiction motif. Not solely a master of Italian horror but basically a master of horror in general Dario Argento's films established a cult following based of his work. Not all can be Argento fans (understandably) but those who are appreciate them for what they are, broken masterpieces. So for this year's Master of Horror I focused on my favorite country of horror by one of my favorite directors, My Top Five Favorite Dario Argento Films:

#5 Phenomena (1985)

This is Argento's heavy metal rock film of the 80's, a combination I couldn't dream up if I'd even believed it to work. However, it does in this outlandish piece of cinema. Usual Argento the film has excessive flaws in plot, where most lead dead or near death, and dialogue. Often I'm afraid that he's more interested in surprising us with a killer than establishing a substantial reason as to why this person is murdering everyone. Regardless Phenomena did capture my heart briefly at it's start, young Jennifer Connelly and Donald Pleasence are good in their roles which they play against a beautiful Swiss Alps scenery. The soundtrack is killer as it plays loud chords and blares inside the story, and unlike other films its never inaptly played (I'm looking at you Deep Red). Jennifer's creepy bug telepathy and the rest of the works I've praised place this as number five on my list.

#4 Opera (1987)

Another gore fest Argento with surrealism at play. Again he creates a beautiful sculptured film that transcends the expectation of art. A deeply unhinged but emotionally sympathetic lead makes this the closest thing Argento has had to a character study. Of course bad dubbing doesn't precede the film but no less tolerable than normal. This is by far the most brutal flick ever conceived from this MOH. Harsh and stunning at the same time.

#3 The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Oddly The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is less known or rather less acclaimed than his other films. I'm a little confused to this; yes there's an absence of blood but this is one of the best Argento films ever, and it happens to be the first he directed. It follows the basic giallo plot of a writer who witnesses an attempted murder outside an art gallery and begins to investigate for himself. In a way I felt that Deep Red was almost a remake of this, between the similar plots and Sam eerily wearing the same black button up shirt and khaki pants as Marc Daily. The film, though mostly giallo, has a very haunting atmosphere, curtosy of an enchanting score by Ennio Morricone. It takes a real horror turn when Sam's girlfriend is locked in her apartment and the killer is trying to break in. A little excessive reaction but ultimately effective in capturing the terror of that moment, which is to attribute to good acting, especially by lead Tony Musante. No amateur directing shown on his half, Argento's first try was impressively good and a tense suspenseful watch, with a bit of humor.

#2 Deep Red (1975)

If Phenomena hadn't of fallen apart towards the end it had a better chance at ranking higher than Deep Red. But overall Deep Red is the more composed film and the quintessential of his giallo's. A complex range of characters speaking between Italian and English this was the film that scared me since seeing Suspiria. A breach of safety in my seat when I jumped from that laughing doll, a provoked chill from the break in and the death at Amanda Righetti's house, and essentially a great build of tension for the Italian thriller. Deep Red is a quite important viewing in the world of giallo films, not only Argento's most significant but arguably one of the most significant of the genre. And even better a killer with motivation! Deep Red is topped with good performances and an astounding soundtrack (though not the best, in my opinion) which makes it a must see.

#1 Suspiria

This was likely obvious as my header is of the film's eloquent cover but it's not as if there's any other choice. As gathered I liked/loved the other four films on this list nothing comes close to the bravura of Suspiria; a bleeding array of colors via the director of photography and a deafening soundtrack by the Goblins escalate the film to horror movie greatness. The lost in translation aspect appears here as Jessica Harper's Suzy is attending a ballet school in a foregin country. The plot doesn't succumb to the typical monsters as we tend to expect (vampires, werewolves, etc) but does a more rare fear of witches. Suspiria is the work of an preeminent nightmare caught on film, the images, the blood, the lack of distinction to what's going on, the distorted set pieces...nothing is right within the film. Captured soundly by Argento, bad dubbing and odd dialect aside this I'd argue is Argento's most seamless film. Unlike the others which become tangled in themselves Suspiria stays generally focused (I didn't say absolute now did I), and delivers a horror induced ending. As said Suspiria does not go without faults but I don't care, my favorite Argento film is certainty not Oscar worthy, nor is my favorite horror movie. Two titles that Suspiria shares.

Honorable Mentions: Inferno (1980), the sort of sequel to Suspiria that takes a focus on the Mother of Darkness, with a beautiful underwater sequence guest directed by Mario Bava. Tenebre (1982), another giallo piece that follows the murder surrounding a novelist's new book; a blood spattered ending is undoubtedly to satisfy fans.

If you're reading post your own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Dennis has recently married Julie and is now step dad to her two girls Katie and Kristi. He's a struggling videographer, a business which he runs out of his home giving him access to a lot of video equipment. While filming arguably the most dull sex tape ever between him and Julie an earthquake happens on film. But the natural disaster pales next to what Dennis sees after the quake has stopped, a spirit standing in their room. Immediately he wants to pursue this further and sets up cameras around the house to see if he can find anything else quite like it. It doesn't take the spirit long, or rather Toby, to make another appearance on tape as he's not shy. But as the haunting becomes more evident Dennis is discovering that this isn't harmless as Toby has a plan for his family, particularly the youngest Kristi.

I enjoyed both one and two in the franchise, finding them properly paced and effectively jumpy but as a whole I'm not necessarily a fan. That's not to say I don't like them, because I do, its just I appreciate them more for their technical plots and story buildup rather than have an actual love for the series. Where the first two relied on the subtly paced and what you don't see, the third takes the opposite approach and bares all. In the end it works rather well, this is by far the most terrifying of the series and I was in constant dread knowing that every time they were on camera something was going to happen, you just didn't know what. Which is a brilliance behind the writing, you've come to expect a certain set of rules to the ghost that's been stalking this family but they essentially throw away all previous behavior and throw you off with new bits of horror. Paranormal Activity 3 made more ploys towards the typical haunted house film (I saw that babysitter peak her head around the corner), where the ghost became physically violent and manifested itself in front of us for scares. The last fifteen minutes not only change how you see the spirit but how you see the series as a whole, it will literally alter your viewing experience. I immediately wanted to go back and watch the previous two films.

Dennis the likable hippie bum of a step dad is essential in pissing this ghost off with his camera taunting. Am I the only one who noticed Katie basically grew up and started dating her step dad? The parallels between Micah and Dennis are endless down to camera obsession and not having any clear manifestation of a job. While cute, younger Katie and Kristie are not young prodigy actors I hate to say. But I don't necessarily expect much from such so I won't pry further. Lauren Bittner and Christopher Nicholas Smith are fine as the parents, they seem convincing as a couple and that's all that really is needed. In this film the focus is less on the family's emotional struggle and more about the spirit and setting up what's to happen. Therefore acting is incidental and things such as camera placing are more prominent. In addition to two bedroom cams directors and DP set up a living room camera with its base on a fan to give a wide scope moving effect around the room. A very adept approach in creating a new way to scare the audience, as we see what the characters in the kitchen don't.

The film fells less realistic, as did the second, than the first despite having Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (directors of the documentary Catfish) there to give it that more realistic approach. Though it had its slow moments the first film's realism was based off the sense that everything was on camera, even the pointless stuff. The third is not so much; everything that is on camera is relevant to the plot and set up so it comes off more as a film than that cleaver found footage effect. As of last time the trailer is deceptive, I don't believe that one clip in that trailer makes it to the actual cut of the film. A lot of reviews are claiming this as the best film in the series, I'm less kind. I'll admit while it's the most dire of the series (I jumped...a lot) I'm still accrediting the first film for being the best. Simply because I prefer the what we don't see to what we do. Still that's not to prevent you from seeing the third installment, without a doubt it'll be the scariest experience you've had in theaters for a while.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Goes Bump In The Night

It hasn't gone unnoticed that I did not post a film review last Thursday and did not for several reasons. The most critical being that the review I did write for The Last House on the Left remake was more like a thesis and analysis of the film than an actual basic four paragraph review. It was difficult to edit within two days and I'm still not content with it. I will post it soon or later, maybe even a edited and an unedited version but I'm not sure when that'll be. I'd also care to note, as in the fashion of last years lists, I'm getting sick! The ills of October never fail to ensure. Regardless I will be back to posting my Paranormal Activity 3 review Thursday night, ill or not. And the usual: The grammar in this post is awful, blah blah.

There's an idiomatic to most ghost's films, whether they expose themselves as somatic or tediously as cerebral haunts; they scare the masses more than any other type of genre film. If you're struggling to see the cadence of my notion simply look at film's sister medium, TV. What more horror shows are we offered? There's a capacious list of ghost hunting shows, communications with the paranormal, and the haunted house experience than any other genre horror has to offer. Does Leslie Vernon have a TV show (I fucking wish), or what about a crime noir with giallo sub-settings? These don't exist because they don't effect the broad viewing audience, but the idea that the life after does. The idea itself works in the basis of other more complex fears (fear of God, discontent in death, the un-lived life, etc). What happens after death is by far the more disquieting of phobias as there is no clear answer. Hence for my second to last list of the month I picked one of the more redoubtable sub genre's of horror, My Top Five Favorite Haunted House Films:

#5 House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill is one of those films that contradicts itself in quality. Helmed as a classic the film, in my opinion, has immense plot holes, obnoxious characters of the suicidal variety, and a lack of sense. The film becomes balanced in that it is creepy; beyond bumps and noises the film uses strange 'what the fuck?' moments to capture the audience's fear. Particularly the scene with the maid in the basement. In its dated effects and murder mystery finale the film still manages to scare.

#4 Insidious (2010)

Insidious is the most recent film on this list, having only been out for a year but I did find it as a rather  efficacious ghost story, with a unique re-imagining to the genre with the astral projection. Several scary and jumpy moments where you're terrified for the family. The film does suffer from an unsteady plot direction (the end result) but is scary throughout. Directed and written by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, who also created Saw, the film is aesthetically shot, well acted, rhythmically scored, and as said scary. And of course Lin Shaye (don't pretend like you didn't think I'd mention her, you should know me better than that by now) is in it's awesome.

#3 The Shining (1980)

Here's the reason The Shining holds above other films, the ghosts in the Overlook don't hurt the family in throwing tables and flickering lights but they drive Jack Torrance to absolute insanity, granted that he wasn't all the way stable to begin with. Stanley Kubrick's removal of emotion by soundly capturing the emptiness of the hotel made The Shinning horrifying beyond compare. As a child I remember the scene that scared me the most was the woman in the bathtub, I was afraid to go near a tub for years because of her. The film was critically pissed on upon release (as was Carpenter's The Thing) but is now also regarded as a classic of the genre.

#2 Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity is the film that came out of nowhere. Having no chance at a release in a Halloween fashion it made it's way to into theaters by demanding viewers and achieved an audience. Slow for a start (nothing happens the first half an hour) but genuinely creepy with it's subtle usages, Paranormal is able to get under you skin. The found footage was past me, in truth, but not without trying. Micah and Katie feel real as well as their relationship problems. Not over playing the haunting made the film prominent for me.

#1 Poltergeist (1982)

The term poltergeist is generally used to describe the more physical ghosts that make rapping's and bang things about the house, but the film diverted it past that and into a much more terrifying embodiment of a haunting. There's a little bit of everyone's range of horror in Poltergeist, from closets to clowns, or trees the film continues to scare. I've always been in particular discomfort to the face peeling scene. The film is lead by a very wrenching bit of emotions from the characters who've lost their daughter in a the supernatural world, by which you become inclined and left inside the film with the family. Unlike others Poltergeist is able to effectively show the demon spirits without coming off too corny and also pairs with the translucent presence in moving the furniture. Directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper (or not?) the film is an exceptional haunted house film, and my personal favorite.

Honorable Mentions: I was specific with this list by intent when I said Haunted House, there's phenomenal ghost stories like The Fog but I did not want to have the HM go on to unbearable lengths, as it already is. The Amityville Horror (1979), a family moves into a house where a grotesque set of murder occurred a year before, based on the horrifying true story. The Amityville Horror (2005), Ryan Reynolds in a very creepy performance in the stand alone remake of the same name. The Haunting (1963), a woman becomes more than a guest at a house when she realizes it wants her. The Innocents (1961), a woman treads a boundary of insanity and a haunting when she notices the little boy she's governess for is not so innocent anymore. Thir13en Ghosts (2001), a widower is relieved of money when he inherits his uncle's glass house only to be mislead when he realizes there's ghosts that lurk. The Grudge (2004), a house possess a violent spirit whose angst kills all those who enter it. Rose Red (2002), with its demolition nearing a house gets another chance to devour it's guests when a group of psychics stay the night to do paranormal research. Also to note I did have the full intention of watching The Changeling and The Legend of Hell House but was not able to due to an issue with the viewings. As an indirect recommendation every haunted house list I've looked up they easily make it and hold good placing.

If you're reading post your own.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Death by Engine

I...don't have much to say this week other than THANK YOU! For the obscene amount of comments I got, specially from Carrie GreenDemented Dreamer, and Drymonema. The former whose novels you need to buy and the two latter who have exceptional reviews; Drynmonema is also doing a collection of lists. As my limited five list B-movies likely isn't enough try his top ten for the more obscure B horror films. And if my review of The House of the Devil didn't intrigue you Demented Dreamer should with his in-depth review. I'm also tired from work today and three shots in so my grammar isn't perfection (like how I have an excuse every week), please forgive the inane writing style and continuous use of the word 'tension'.

This week's list is a bit uncommon as it's not all the way horror as it is more of thrillers. But thrillers have a tendency to provoke an anxiety for characters whereas horror doesn't always. There's two things that are guaranteed when watching these types of genre film; the cover art of the rear view mirror and a lot of tension. If you don't know what I'm talking about then don't worry I doubt your alone. There's not a lot of films such as these and even less of what I've seen. Without any more delay this week's list is My Top Five Favorite Car Thrillers:

#5 Christine (1983)

Christine is not the best of Carpenter, nor is it the best of King, but it's not bad. The horror is odd as it relates to a car being possessed and having an emotional fixation on it's owner, Archie. But while it's not the most relatable it is unique in concept. My favorite scene is where Christine repairs herself in front of Archie, his look is darkened as he intently watches her and the atmosphere gives way to an uncanny moment.

#4 Duel (1971)

A man driving home makes the commonly rude act of cutting off a trucker, a mistake he wont make again as the truck now wont stop chasing him until he's dead. I am one of the few that don't hold Duel high in regards, that's not to say I didn't like it but I don't praise it like some do. It's not the film's fault per say but rather Dennis Weaver's character, I'm not sure how to put this without being rude but...he's an asshole. He cuts the trucker off in the first place! I have little sympathy for him. Despite that though Duel does have several thrilling moments as the truck stalks Weaver and does its very best to kill him. Increasing tension provided by Steven Speilberg's directing makes Duel a good car thriller.

#3 Joy Ride (2001)

Joy Ride is the most horror of the five film on this list, two brothers who teasingly fuck with a trucker over a radio are paid the price when the trucker comes after them. Joy Ride isn't a film beyond flaws, not even close, there's a lot of cliche teen horror decisions and the ending fell a part a little bit for me, but good acting by Leelee Sobieski, Paul Walker, and Steve Zahn prove as strong points for the film. As well as a significant amount of tension squeezed out of the plot.

#2 The Hitcher (1986)

Yes The Hitcher ranks higher than Duel, hate me all you want but I love the HBO film staring ET's friend, C. Thomas Howel, and Rutger Hauer as the serial hitch hiker (what more can you ask for in a villain?). The lesson in never picking up a hitch hiker proves true when immediately Howel picks up Hauer and he waste no time in being sketchy. The film made Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments (as does Duel and Christine) and the moment that still continues to shock is when Hauer has Jennifer Jason Leigh tied between two trucks, her limbs resting on his foot on the gas peddle.

#1 Death Proof (2010)

I've gushed about Robert England (far too much, I'll admit), and Craven and King, but have I really gotten around to how much I love Quinten Tarantino? No I haven't since he writes more action movies than he does horror. The lovely exception is this thrilling film where Tarantino plays homage to the old car films but provides us with a holy shit moment like no other. The film has eight set of women, all being stalked by Kurt Russel (why doesn't he play more bad guys?), an ex stuntman who has an erotic fixation on killing women with his stunt car. The first set of girls are the more relateble of the eight but the second set is what escalates the film's suspense. Zoe Bell, Tarantino's go to stunt girl, plays herself and willing straps herself to the hood of the car while driving hundred plus miles down a stretch of road to create an edge of your seat nerve splitting moment.

Honorable Mentions: Rubber (2010) director Quentin Dupieux social commentary on a rubber tire's telepathic powers, which he productively uses to kill living things, all while chasing the love of his life. I'd like to note two things, the first in relation to the film Rubber. Netflix recommended this to me based on my interest in Wristcutters: A Love Story, I Love You Phillip Morris, and Trick 'r Treat. If that doesn't convey this film than I don't know what does. Also I apologize for another short honorable mentions, but this type of film is rather slim. Of course there's great films like Gone in 60 Seconds and Vanishing Point but those feel more action than they do as thrillers.

If you're reading post your own.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Midnight Son (2011)

In Midnight Son Jacob has suffered from a sensitive skin condition all his life where any exposure to the sun will severely burn him. As an adult he begins to notice that more symptoms seem to be appearing, specifically a thirst for blood. Tight for supplies Jacob has to resort to different, and creative, matters to curb his hunger which gets him involved with a blood dealer who provokes trouble in the security guard’s life. All this happens to align with his meeting of Mary, an attractive bar tender/candy cigarette dispenser who doesn’t appear to mind Jacob’s nocturnal lifestyle. As Jacob begins to divulge further into his vampirism his liking of Mary grows and the two begin to connect on an intimate level.

Midnight Son was the only full length film I saw at the Mile High Horror Film Festival and I'm glad I did. It was beautifully shot, beautifully written, and beautifully acted. Basically it was a sublime film that I want to own. It's what most modern vampire love films are not, romantic and horrifying; capturing the trauma of relationships and the inner desires, vampire and human alike. As much as I did love the film its not full horror, as the only truly terrifying part is the last five minutes and the aesthetic last frame. Up until then it’s mainly Jacob adapting to his life and falling for Mary. That’s not to attest that it’s not a horror film, it is but like another in its genre, Let The Right One In, its just not in your face. The subtle and kempt paced finale is a moving and violent build up, and the final image haunts you long after it fades to black.

Writer and director Scott Leberecht created a unique script where Jacob's conditions weren't just amounted to vampirism but diagnosed as actual illnesses (anemic photosensitive anyone?). The love story is not only convincing but quietly played between our two leads Zak Kilberg and Maya Parish. There's that struggle but desire to come back. Kilberg's Jacob is able to let way with his carnal changes in breathtaking pain but doesn't overplay the hatred of what he is. Parish plays a darker Mary with her drug habit, but it’s countered with her tending towards Jacob's unusual lifestyle. Both actors are deeply in-stitched in their roles, and with each other; there was never a moment where I didn't believe that Jacob liked Mary. The lighting and cinematography give way to a more gritty style; with a conducted base of grim tones and camera angles, several scenes stay in your mind from the art alone.

This review isn't particularly long as there isn't much to say about Midnight Son other than's a beautiful film. If ever in need for a definition of the adjective and noun when used together this would be the film to render such. There were a few questions I had that went unanswered but another thing Leberecht did was set up the script so I was able to imagine what happened after the credits (my questions pertain to more of Jacob’s past). I’d also like to note that the image of Jacob holding a blood stained Starbucks coffee cup is really just waiting to become iconic. Midnight Son isn't available for direct watchers as of the current, mostly gaining its viewings at film festivals. Therefore access to this uniquely incredible film is limited. However, if there is a film festival within your range playing this GO SEE IT. Please do not miss it; you won’t regret what I find to be a gorgeously laid out film and what’s currently developing into a favorite of mine. 

Go to the film's website,, to get more info and try to get it in your area.