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.