Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Return of the Living Dead - 1985

Dan O'Bannon wrote the movie Alien along with Ronald Shusett.  It's just a fact, that's all.  O'Bannon didn't write a whole lot of other movies, surprisingly, and directed even less.  He has 2 movie credits to his name as a director, this movie and Shatterbrain.  This movie is actually almost a direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead in multiple ways.

Wikipedia tells me that they let George Romero keep the right to make sequels if they didn't use those words "Living Dead" and they would keep those words for themselves.  They being whatever company was involved.  So George made Day of the Dead etc, and then this movie was keeping the Living Dead name, hence Return of the Living Dead.  And this is a sequel....in the sort of way where it's twisted from concept, re-imagined....sort of the bastard twin brother of that classic horror film.

This movie is a true horror comedy.  It pushes the envelope in every way, and in my opinion completely defined horror comedies as they are now.  Just as Night of the Living Dead defined zombie movies, this movie is just as influential and I truly wish that more movies had been made with this type of zombie.  These zombies are unstoppable in every sense of the word, they are smart, they are fast, use weapons, and they want to eat your brains.  Yes, this movie started the whole thing that zombies want to eat brains.  I remember when I was a kid pretending zombies were around, we were quoting this movie even though we didn't know it when we made the zombies say "Brains!"

It's completely over the top in every way.  The rot of the zombies, the extreme and excessive violence, the ample full nudity, the mix of classic actors and the thug like punks as main characters.  O'Bannon showed in Alien and in Dark Star that he really could write well for humans.  He knew how to make humans appear to be real, and he could exploit their weirdness, their eccentricity, their base desires.  He also knew how to present situations which force people to react.  It's a great gift to be able to imagine places, situations, that make people react in specific ways.

The best thing about this movie, in it's over the top celebration of everything insane is that it feels so real still.  The movie doesn't feel like a comedy horror.  It feels like just some awesome flick that you could see time and time again.  It feels like the late night, sleeper cult classic that is not self aware, that didn't care about it's long term impact, that was just making fun for the sake of fun.  It never takes itself seriously for a second, and yet is extremely well shot, acted, detailed, high budget, and smart.  It's extremely well balanced.  This is the type of movie you tell people about, that you buy, that you go to a theater to see on Friday night with a crowd.

Enough about my love for this.  I'm not doing a plot synopsis either.  Just leave it to say this is the definition of a 5 star horror comedy, and it is made all the better by Linnea Quigley.




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ghosthouse - 1988

When Evil Dead came out in Europe it was titled "The House" or "La Casa".  The reason I mention this is that then of course Evil Dead II was titled The House II, and then when a few movies there tried to claim they were of the same bloodline they called themselves House!  So there is La Casa 3 through 7, and they are called this because they are all claiming they are part of the bloodline of Evil Dead.  And this movie is La Casa 3.

Obviously, this movie is nothing like Evil Dead besides being a horror movie and having some people that come back from the dead, so this is just like the Zombi series, the Demons series, etc.  Just another "series" made up of unrelated movies, which also connects to what I was saying about the "Don't" series.

Ghosthouse was directed by Black Demons and Nightmare City director Umberto Lenzi.  I kinda feel like this movie goes back to my good ol' days of watching and reviewing Italian trash-o ripoffs.  It's a good feeling.  And this movie did remind me a lot of Demons II specifically.  I don't know why per say, it does have similar feel to it though.  Well produced, decently budgeted yet still a cheap and fast movie.  The action in the movie is very nicely paced, weird enough to please both child and adult, and even a tiny bit creepy.

It's certainly not flawless, in the end of this movie it won't leave a lasting impression or anything.  But what it is, is just a fun little flick.  No complexity here.  It's like a cheap American beer.  You can rip it apart for it's lack of distinction and low production value, or you can just enjoy its simplicity and turn your brain off.  Just relax bro, don't get all bothered.

Basically you just have a killer doll movie, kind of.  There's a mansion that a bunch of random teens are exploring, and there's a creepy little girl in the basement that has an evil clown doll.  The doll is not even supposed to be a mystery, the thing has a fucking row of jagged shark teeth and looks like a pissed off taxi driver.

The clown causes all sorts of mishaps and deaths, and the deaths here are adequate.  Nothing to really pop out at you or to make you say "cool".  This movie was pretty interesting in a few ways, at least the pacing was good and the music was good.  The acting was passable and the real props and effects all were average in appearance.  I'd say this one is genuinely pretty good at times, it's just that like I said, it is the American macro-brew of movies.  But hell dude, at my BBQ I had last weekend a friend showed up with a 12 pack of Budweiser, and two of them later I wasn't complaining (for once).

This movie would be an excellent choice to get super stoned during, drinking perhaps some fine wine.  It's also great riff material, Bill Mike and Kevin tore it apart on Rifftrax, in what I'd say is their funniest video yet.  It's on Hulu, check it out.

Not a ton more to say about it, let's wrap the review with 3 stars.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Night of the Demon - 1980

Bigfoot vision.  
As you can see, they see delicious Smucker's Strawberry Preserves everywhere they look.


So in keeping with weird movies I added a long time ago to my Amazon instant queue I watched Night of the Demon.  I had actually been looking for the cult horror film Night of the Demons, to add that to my queue, but stumbled on this and this was a Bigfoot movie, so of course I added it.  But I truly had no idea what I was getting into with this one.

This one starts in the classic way:  a bunch of people sitting around a campfire telling stories.  Ah, how original.  Of course once they begin to talk we are taken there, shown the things they discuss - Bigfoot in this case, as he preys on backwoods people and kills them.  But he doesn't just show up and clobber a dude and move on, no!  He is fucking savage, he mutilates the fuck outta people, he even rips off some guy's penis!  That scene in particular got this film in quite some trouble, rightfully so in my opinion since they show more than you'd probably care to see.

The scenes in this movie are completely outrageous.  Called a "video nasty" and censored by multiple places, this insane movie will either redefine a bad movie for you, or it will make you laugh out loud with it's sheer preposterous nature.  How it exists despite everything it did wrong, poorly, and with absence of any brainpower at all, is still a mystery.  Bigfoot rapes a girl, he uses weapons, he looks like some guy in a hairy body suit....  In one scene he rips out a guy's guts (they used real animal guts and it actually looks pretty good) but then he just flails them around here and there, completely ignoring some other dude who's trying to get the jump on him!  With all the rules about Bigfoot they were breaking, I half expected him to have dialogue, or smoke a cigarette, or something else retarded like that!

And what the FUCK was with the music in this movie?!  Now, having no skill in music aside, if you are going to DIY the soundtrack to your movie, just do it minimal at least.  Don't go way off the deep end with something because it "sounds weird".  I'd be willing to lay down solid cash that's why they did the soundtrack in the way they did.  It sounded weird.  They clearly just had a weird synthesizer hooked into their electric piano, and just sat there making shit up to go along with the movie.  No score I've heard is this random, jilted, uneven, and horrendous.

But oh my god is this film memorable, insane, fun, and trashy!  It's like a day old fast food cheeseburger you find wedged next to the milk jug in your fridge.  Crushed, a little soggy, gross and stale, but still got that delicious greasy salty fattiness you love.  You microwave that sucka for like a minute, sit back with a tall boy of something cheap and gross like Schlitz, and you wolf that burger down.  Part of it is still cold, part of it is too hot....you forgot to take off the lettuce so now the lettuce is warm....the bun got soggier since you microwaved it....but FUCK if that ain't like the best burger ever.

I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if I'd seen it all in one sitting, while high and drunk and with friends.  This one is definitely a party movie.  If you're alone like I am then you're a loser, like I am.  Go out, see the world.  Talk to girls.  Get a life.  Go to school.  Or, watch Night of the Demon alone on a Thursday while you're at work.

I have to say that Amazon Instant Play usually has decent quality, it is not normally the DVD quality, but then I can't really say because I haven't watched movies on that website that are well known or even on DVD.  But the quality here on this movie was awful (as in awesome).  It was clearly, CLEARLY copied from some battered old VHS, it had tracking and vertical hold problems, it was grainy and shitty quality, the audio had dilapidated quite a bit....all in all these sort of things just make me like the movie more, but this is fair warning to anyone not like me.

For being relentlessly trashy, the ultimate bad movie night movie, and something that I'm super surprised isn't a huge cult hit in line with Birdemic and shit for "worst movie ever" I give it a near perfect rating.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hands of Steel - 1986

AKA Fists of Steel, Atomic Cyborg, and Vendetta from the Future....

Another weird Terminator rip off, and, damn am I like the only one that didn't know there were this many Terminator rip offs?  It seems like all the sudden I'm tripping over these things left and right.  This is much more in line of a Terminator rip off than Shocking Dark, since that was mostly an Aliens rip off anyway.  Directed by Italian horror-meister Sergio Martino, who did Torso and some other 70's-80's Italian horror flicks.

This movie has that classic low-rent feel to it.  It seems like the sort of a thing that children would love.  I think I would have loved this movie had I grown up with it.  In the end as I finished it last night, I actually was sad I hadn't paid it more attention.  I put this on last night, despite the fact I have like a dozen other movies I shoulda been watching instead, and I was really tired.  I just wanted something comforting and stupid, and so I pulled out my trusty Sci-Fi Invasion boxset and slammed a DVD into the player.  No drinking, no smoking, just tired ol' me sitting there with a bread bowl of chicken tortilla soup and my loving cat.

I was not equipped to handle this movie though, and for the first time in a long time I'm going to say I need to see this movie again.  This movie isn't one you want to ignore or be tired during, or to not be impaired by a substance.  You want to be high energy, feeling comedic, riffing, smoking, making out with a hot chick, just doing anything during.  Some movies, especially those old black and white monster flicks, are just made for the exact night I provided in that scenario:  tired, hungry, just-want-to-not-care type situation.

The thing is the plot is actually kind of important, and my brain was just not turned on enough to watch it.  Did I mention it was like 10:00, I had gotten like no sleep the night before, had been up since 6am, and was physically worn out from doing laundry all night?  Need to know info.  Complete the picture in your head.  Needless details aside, I still did enjoy this movie - this movie is difficult to NOT enjoy.  What's better than that, is this was a movie I'd wanted to see for a long time, and I didn't even know that when I started it.

Mid way through this I Googled the movie to see what other movies the main actor Daniel Greene has been in, and I immediately recognized the poster.  Much like Def-Con 4 this movie poster sticks out and I had definitely run across it multiple times on IMDb, movie lists, blogs, etc:
I know alternate names are nothing new, but I just love it when IMDb lists the movie as something and the poster lists it as something else.  You just KNOW that's quality.  Better yet, this movie takes place in the hugely futuristic year of...1997!  1997!!  

The guy up there is Paco.  He has robotic arms.  In fact, he's 30% robot and 70% human.  I wasn't paying attention enough to tell you what else is robotic besides his arms, but maybe I'll rewatch the movie or something and revisit this blog later.  Yeah, right.  Probably not for a long time.  Paco is a mystery, he doesn't say a lot and we at first don't know too much about him.  He rolls into a hotel after escaping some guys and stays there for a little while.  While his relationship with the hotel keeper Linda grows, he gets into a conflict with a local gang, and in the meantime his old boss John Saxon tries to track him down.  

Story lines in this move along quick enough, there's a lot of characters and screen time shared, and all the actors were real and decent.  For some rip off of Terminator with an identity crisis, the effects and the story and the music especially, are all really good.  Movies like this are looked at as amateur more often than not, when truth be told everyone in this movie had long and storied careers before and after this.  They knew what they were doing.  Don't blame it's gritty amateur feel on it actually being made without skill.

Because I need to re-watch it, I'll give it 3.5 stars for now.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Hell Comes to Frogtown - 1988

Rowdy Roddy Piper passed away pretty recently, at the end of July this year.  He had battled cancer several years ago and I had actually thought he'd died in the late 2000's, but he ended up beating cancer and then dies of a heart attack...  Geez, that sucks.  Well, he will ultimately be known for his wrestling and his movies, such as the immortal They Live, but this movie too is pretty well known in terms of cult films.

It's my opinion a movie like this became well known because of, initially, it's name.  People, it is a good tactic to name your movie something that sticks out.  I mean, sometimes it doesn't mean much to name your movie something really cool, but then again, I've seen movies based entirely their name.  You have a name like Hell Comes to Frogtown, a wacky actor like Roddy Piper, and a plot that involves the post-apocalypse, you are really guaranteeing yourself a cult following.  I'm just saying, it's like a formula.  You collect a list of things that make cult, and then just check 'em off.  But also, don't be self aware.

Hell Comes to Frogtown succeeds because of what it still has:  practical effects, enough of a budget to make the practical effects look cool, a neat desert looking location, kooky characters, good ol' camp feeling to it, and no self aware mood killer.  This movie is self aware, but for some reason that didn't used to mean they would make fun of themselves.  The movies that are self aware now are poking fun at their own fucking movie - it's like fucking Charles Band shit, naming his movie Killer Bong and having the CG villain break the fourth wall and talk to the audience....that's the kinda shit that just pisses me off.

It's again post-apocalypse, which destroyed all buildings and most hints of civilization (again except the strange cars) and most men and women are sterile.  Roddy Piper plays Sam Hell, a wasteland warrior who keeps to himself and does his own thing.  The remains of the government find him and ascertain that he is in fact not sterile.  By having him impregnate the remaining fertile women, the government can have more people which will give them a stronger position in the ever ongoing wars with other nations.  A female group of government workers attaches a steel fixture around his groin, keeping him as theirs, and goes around trying to find females.

One group of females is being held captive by a race of mutated frog-people, the Frog Men, who live in the titular Frogtown.  So now it's up to Hell and the government women to rescue the fertile women from the Frog Men.

It does work, it is cult, but for me it wasn't a great movie.  It runs okay, it doesn't hurt, but it's mostly unremarkable.  It's not classic in that like "must see" kind of a way.  I'd seen it before, years ago, and I remember thinking that same thing then.  For some reason, it just didn't stick with me.  I've seen a whole lot of cult films in my day, and this might be one that I honestly don't understand.  I'm not saying it doesn't deserve to be cult....or maybe I am saying that.

I just don't know how to really say that it wasn't a great movie other than that.  Maybe I had my expectations too high.  I am not that sure why.  I'll give it 2.5 stars.

Aberration - 1997

I first became aware I'd previously seen Aberration about 4 minutes in.  These sort of things happen, especially it seems to me.  I mean, number one, I'm not going to go through Netflix and look up every movie I want to see to see if somehow I've already given it a rating, and number two, half the movies I've rated I don't fuckin remember shit about.  Creepy lizards in a cabin in the woods?  Wtf?

I must have previously seen this on Netflix.  I checked, and I have rated it there.  Hell, I could've also seen it there this time round, it's on watch instantly.  But yeah.  Whatever, the point is that I remembered having seen it before, I remembered that I had enjoyed it enough, and I decided to give it a second whirl.  And I'm still pretty glad I did.

Aberration is the type of under-the-radar kinda movie for which I started this blog.  Independent, not really high budget, but shot very well and competently handled, good acting and good effects, decent tension and atmosphere, shot on location, well paced, interesting plot that is at least semi "realistic", this movie pretty much has it all.  I'm going to have to justify it's eventual not-getting-5-stars, cause truth be told it is not a 5 star movie, but from how much I build this up in the review, you'll probably rightfully expect 5 stars.

Aberration starts with a girl on the run.  We don't know she's on the run in the first few minutes, but pretty soon she pulls out a big wad of cash and hides it under some floorboards in the cabin she's staying at, which is way up in the woods somewhere.  This movie was filmed in New Zealand, and the scenery is great.  We never see the broad scope of where they are, and that to me makes this setting feel isolated.  We see later there is a store not terribly far from the cabin, but it's one of those stores where only one woman works there, and everyone that comes in is a regular.

The woman, Amy, came to the cabin with her cat.  Pretty soon her cat is acting slightly off.  The cat food is disappearing when he's not at home, he is hissing at things, he feels uneasy at the home.  We see hints of something, but nothing is quite shown for a while.  Eventually though, evil shows it's little head - a buncha 12 inch or so long lizards with spines and sharp teeth.

The lizards in this movie are great.  They are shown just the right amount, usually are puppets, but made well and shot in a way to appear dangerous.  They are intelligent, and they are evolving.  When Amy later tells the local store owner something is eating her cat food, etc, local researched Marshall overhears this, and he knows something about it.  It turns out he knows of the lizard infestation, and he comes to her cabin to help eradicate them.  But it turns out their eggs are all over the place, and some of them are invulnerable to bullets, some of them can communicate with each other....they are in constant states of evolution.

The movie plays the lizards as the threat very well.  But it also handles the relationship between these two really well.  The dialogue is realistic, humorous, well written.  This movie keeps the danger tension and the sexual tension going for the majority of the flick.  Pamela Gidley as Amy is smart, sassy, attractive, and dangerous.  Simon Bossell as Marshall is the geeky guy who has a hard side to him, and wants to get with the hot femme fatale.  
I just realized in this photo it looks like he's checking out her breasts, which are quite nice.

Why am I not giving this movie 5 stars?  I am not asking you as a lead in to an explanation.  I'm asking myself right now.  I don't know.  I guess in the end this movie just feels too forgettable.  Like too much of the same thing we've seen before.  Because this movie has no following, it has no "reason" to be known.  I mean, it's not like I'd buy it on DVD or anything.  But shit, I wonder why, like honestly.  It's actually really good.  It has a great idea, a lot of things happen in this movie, and as a monster movie, it ranks right up there with anything.  But sadly, it has to remain at 4 stars....just cause, it's one of those reasons that's hard to explain.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Don't Look in the Basement - 1973

I'm not the first to point out there's a plethora of movies that begin with the warning/advice "Don't".  Like the recently reviewed Don't Answer the Phone, a lot of these titles were even changed after production, for some reason, to include the word "don't".  Like this movie was originally called The Forgotten, which makes more sense than Don't Look in the Basement.  In fact the director of this movie also directed a film called "Don't Open the Door"!  And he worked briefly with Larry Buchanan.  To give you an idea of what we're dealing with.

I think in a way it's kinda cool now that I think about it.  It's almost like creating a horror movie series that's not related, like related through theme only.  Plenty of horror sequels took the original idea and made a huge mess of it, keeping no plotlines or characters or anything from the first.  So why not take advantage of that?  Why not have a horror film franchise that only connection is that people are dying and they all start with the word Don't?  It's like, they could be about anything; be it supernatural, spree killers, demented pyschos - as long as it says Don't and there's a body count.  Hell, even throw one in there where it's a psychological mystery and there's only like 1 kill, as long as it still kinda fits the criteria.  It's the art of making your movie into a legacy, which since I'm talking this much about it, it kinda did!  It kinda succeeded.

If you were unaware and the internet hadn't come along, might you not assume that Don't Answer the Phone, Don't Look in the Basement, Don't Open the Door, Don't Go Near the Park, Don't Go in the House, Don't Look Now, Don't Go in the Woods....etc....are all related?  And I'm only including ones made in the 70's and one from 1981.    It's actually a neat idea, and it's sort of even implemented today by companies like The Asylum who make movies with titles close to the ones they're ripping off - Transformers becoming Transmorphers, etc.

This is your average "insane asylum" flick wherein a new nurse comes to the asylum.  She was brought there by the recently deceased Doctor Stephens, and apparently she knows absolutely nothing about the asylum itself.  The asylum has it's array of wacky weirdos:  the old lady who can't speak, the ex-judge who still thinks he's a judge, the giddy guy who plays jokes on everyone, the sex-starved nympho, the guy who thinks he's a sergeant during the war, the guy who has the mind of a child, and probably others I'm forgetting.  Surprisingly, most of the actors in this actually had other movies they were in and despite some over-acting in this movie, it works out ok.

The thing about this movie for me though, was even approaching it with an open mind and trying to make the best of it, it just wasn't very entertaining.  It's a very dry movie.  There is no real depth, explanations, or even scares.  There is a handful of people die in it (and two in the pre-credit sequence!) but the kills are so spaced out through the 90 minute run time that when the kills aren't happening it's all a lot of filler, dialogue, and relatively needless repetition.  It's like they seemed to think that just by showing us some people acting a little bit crazy we'd settle at that being scary and not need anything else.

Oh, and obviously, need I even mention that I don't think there even was a basement in the movie?  Okay, I think there might have been one on second thought.  I do think there was ONE basement scene.  But nothing was in the basement, no kills happened there, and there was ultimately no reason to not "look in the basement".  It comes down to a easily forgettable, easy to pass over, very distraction-prone film that I'm only going to give 1.5 stars to.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shriek of the Mutilated - 1974

I'm listening to the omitted song "Popcorn" by the band Hot Butter as I read this.  Early Moog songs have a kind of simplicity to them.  This track is definitely a forerunner to techno music, disco, Kraftwerk, etc.  It may not have been the first, but it was probably one of the first real hits.  I guess.  So Wikipedia tells me.  This song was omitted from Shriek because of rights issues, obviously.  It's a sad day when the song you put in your movie goes on to be better known than your movie...  But it's also quite common.

So now I switched to Kraftwerk.  We Are The Robots.  Are you, Kraftwerk?  Ah, simplicity.  Getting back to Shriek, I guess that's why I'm here.  Shriek of the Mutilated.  So what if the yeti just caps a dude?  Bangs him into a rock, tosses him off a cliff?  Since he's not mutilated, does he get to shriek?  Common sense would say yes, the title of the movie might say no though.  It's a question that must, must be answered.  Did I mention that the villain in this is a yeti?  It's a yeti.  Also apparently known as just "Mutilated" and "Scream of the Snowbeast"

I guess my crisis of faith isn't really an issue.  I think I am now determined to just approach movies with a more open mind.  Like this movie.  I found myself entertained in an odd way while watching this.  This movie is just so over the top in virtually every way.  First of all it has completely unconnected scenes in it.  Scenes that aren't related to anything.  In the beginning for example, some guy slits a woman's throat, but she survives long enough to electrocute him while he's in the bath.  Completely unnecessary, unrelated scene. Also, the post-production of this added a few dubbed lines that are completely fake.

The editing is one of those jobs as well where you could honestly have filmed the scenes years apart, in another country.  You never see where anything is in relation to anything else.  It's like you see a woman, cut to a bloody body (with completely different lighting and everything) then cut back to her reacting as if she just saw said body.  Another thing is that this movie has some truly odd characters.  First there's the "Indian" guy Laughing Crow who is supposedly insane, there's Dr. Prell, who leads this exhibition to the outdoors trying to find a yeti, and leads this thing every seven years (?) apparently.  I really don't know what to tell ya.

So basically Prell takes some students out to find the yeti.  The students get killed.  Then randomly in one scene some average sized white thing appears out of nowhere and runs up to some dude and kills him.  First of all, a yeti running is just hardly imaginable.  We imagine the abominable snowman, we always picture him big and lumbering.  Although, size is usually not excluding speed so in a way it almost makes sense that he should be fast.  He has to catch other animals to survive, if he exists, remember that.  But he's also quite small, kinda just looks like a big dog or something.
"Good boy!  Doggie go walkies?"

At this point yeti's had been mentioned, sure.  We were kind of expecting to see one, yes.  But the way the yeti first appears, that sequence - it's done in such a way where we are not sure what that white thing was, and what we just saw at all.  The scene comes completely out of nowhere and it's not led up to, and it's extremely anti-climactic.  As I saw it my initial reaction was "there's no way that was the yeti just now because that scene was so stupid".

But the movie, somehow, wasn't all that bad.  Incoherent at times, sure!  Cheaply made, thrown together, with no real actors - why, of course!  Directed by a director who made a rated-X film called "Snuff" about snuff films, as well as had a history in porn?  Double YES!  One of my favorite things ever is to put the movie's volume on mute and play music in the background while I watch it.  For this movie I'd recommend Kraftwerk Computerwelt.  The dialogue doesn't fucking matter anyways.  

For being slightly weird, very grade Z, yet approachable.  For being a good movie to put on if you're tired or if you're in a wacky mood.  For being a movie about a yeti, for all of these I guess it can have 2.5 stars.


Update

I had what I will call a crisis of faith the other day.  It was Sunday and I was watching something, and I realized that now I see everything through this filter of Grindhouse Review.  I don't just watch movies anymore.  I was watching and I was judging the pacing, I was remembering weird little scenes, I was formulating the review in my head.

Why do we think our opinion matters so much?  In the end do we really think that it matters, it's relevant to the movie what we think of it?  Be it bad or good, does the perception of a film matter?  Let's look at a movie like The Matrix.  The Matrix was a movie that most people saw and most people saw as innovative.  What does it matter what I personally thought of it?  The internet is about self indulgence.  Anywhere, at any time, you can read people explaining a thought, and you can decide whether or not you agree or you disagree.  Sometimes you can't find a specific thing, but that is only going to diminish as the internet goes to more obscure corners of the globe, people have more and more opinions, and time goes on.

Just think, what if you loved The Matrix but hated the scene where Neo follows the white rabbit in the beginning (the white rabbit being the tattoo the girl had).  I bet you that you can find people talking about that very scene online right now.  Or a week, month, year ago.  People discussing it, it's relevance, it's meaning.  It's odd that now you can find virtually anything you want online, and everyone can post and have their opinions and can express themselves.  You can go onto a board and agree with other people who think the white rabbit scene was dumb.

But what does it, in grand scale, mean to view a film this way?  To view it from the eye of the critic, or the cult writer, or the opinionated?  Before you could have an opinion, but no one knew it or cared about it.  Now you can fly your opinion in everyone's face and people can comment on it, ignore it, believe it or not.  I just think it's another way of prioritizing ourselves, telling ourselves we matter, our own uninformed and ridiculous opinion matters.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel really conflicted about continuing this blog.  I feel like I see movies in a quicker-to-judge, more negative way.  I just see them so I can bitch about them later.  And furthermore, I think anyone who undergoes what I've been doing, but that doesn't find their opinion swayed in the same way I did, is merely lying to themselves or isn't introspective enough to realize what's happened.

I think it's a bad thing I haven't seen movies the same way.  I used to approach them with a more open mind.  A submission.  I would go in expecting it to be low and be surprised when it was good, rather than going in expecting it to be bad and then bitching when I proved myself right.

But I also don't want to lose a thing that I have grown to enjoy and which passes the time: blogging, and watching movies.  So what do I do?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Don't Answer the Phone - 1980

This is another movie where I saw the trailer online and it stuck out.  The trailer played like one of those classic horror one's from the 70's, extremely stylized, it said the name of the movie like 3 times, it had the over the top narration and nudity in the trailer (always a plus).  I was pretty excited for this movie, although didn't want to get my hopes up too high since Savage Weekend ended up being a big disappointment.

This is a ripoff / rethinking of the classic film When a Stranger Calls.  I thought it was interesting as I was watching that this is the first time where I saw a movie, with a plot that revolved around a certain technology (the phones) yet that technology wasn't new.  It's like, the internet and computers were coming out in the 80's and 90's so they made internet / computer movies.  The atom bomb was around in the 50's so they made atom bomb movies.  The phone....had been around since the early 1900's and yet it didn't get a horror movie until 1979?!  What the hell?  Well, actually, Black Christmas in 1974 had the main villain make phone calls as well, but you'd think it would've been featured before then.

The idea behind this movie is basically, take When a Stranger Calls, and give it a higher body count and more horror in place of the slow build up suspense of Stranger.  Also, fill the movie with rampant nudity.  In the first scene we see creepy dude Kirk Smith in a girls house as she comes home from work.  The phone calls, and it's...not him.  She talks and hangs up, then he kills her by choking her.  This is like the third one of these victims to happen recently, the police tell us, and the third to then be raped and dumped somewhere.  Could it all be one man?  Yes, it is.

Whatever you do....don't answer the phone.  Although, since only like 2 people who are killed in the movie did answer the phone, doesn't really matter if you do or not.  More like Don't Be a Girl.  Don't Be a Girl and Be Around This Guy.  Something like that.  Cause the phone....well, like I said he didn't even call that first girl. We do see him with a phone at one point.  And he calls a radio station.  But all the other victims are just random chicks that he runs into, or happens upon and decides to kill.

The killer, Kirk, is calling into a radio show complaining of headaches.  We understand, eventually, that he might have brain damage that's causing him to erupt into violence, but at first no one knows that it's him calling the station.  We follow police detective McCable as he scrambles to uncover what's going on, he checks in on prostitutes, tries to find missing girls, tries to connect the cases.  Also, there's Sargent Hatcher who is kinda running his own other investigation.  There's also suicidal Lisa, there's like 4 kills in the movie, and a whole lotta nudity.  All these different stories are kept in check though, and don't get confusing.  It does provide a nice pace, which was great.  About 50 minutes of this movie just flew right by while I was watching it.

The kills in this movie and the acting in some minor roles are not very good, which was annoying.  There is a particular girl who the killer picks up for a photo shoot, he strangles her and she dies in like five seconds.  Then as he backs away from her you can see her obviously breathing still.  The madman himself is actually portrayed decently, he walks a thin line between cool and overacting, and sometimes it definitely is overacting.  But usually he fits the rest of the tone of the movie, he's good enough to be entertaining.  He has a lot of screen time, so they're pretty lucky they got a good actor.

This movie was not that bad!  I'd consider it for a midnight movie, a bad movie night, a slasher marathon, etc.  It felt 70's enough to still have that "funky" feel to it, which is nice too.  In the end, I'm happy to have a middle road 3 star movie pop up again.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return - 1999

This movie couldn't have been made in any other time than the 90's.  It's got that mix of flash editing, overacting, and "dark coolness" that it tries really hard to achieve.  All it's missing is some Nu Metal on the soundtrack and this thing would date itself faster than a Now That's What I Call Music mix-cd.  It went direct to video because there was a 0% chance it would succeed in any other way.

It does have actors, and apparently some actual work went into this movie, which I can't say is a good thing.  Why does it feel like right now I'm either watching 1 star or like, 4+ star movies?  Where's all the middle range forgettable classics that leave no impression and are just movie movies?  I miss the 3 star rated films.

There are 5 huge paragraphs worth of plot on the Wikipedia page.  Jesus fuck, do NOT read that.  The movie is about the re-animation of Isaac through short actor John Franklin.  Regular teen girl Hannah comes to Gatlin where the movie takes place, her presence awakens Isaac, who was in the first Children of the Corn (don't remember) and he's been in a coma since.  Anywho, he awakens, he's evil, wants to fulfill a prophecy about He Who Walks Behind the Rows (HWWBTR).  Yep, remember him? HWWBTR is talked about in this movie a whole shitload.  I think that exact phrase is said like 79 times.

But this movie was stupid.  Right when Isaac is at his height of evil-ness and resurrects HWWBTR, it turns out HWWBTR has been around a while already, playing innocently as Hannah's love interest Gabriel.  Gabriel then kills Isaac.  Then Gabriel gets killed.  What?  So the whole 6 movies we've been waiting for HWWBTR to show up, then when he does he kills his cohort and promptly dies?  And in the meantime displays virtually no special power besides being able to walk on the wall?

Most of the actors involved in this haven't been in very much, and I looked through most of their IMDb pages only to not be surprised to see most of them haven't had real work in years.  Stacy Keach is in this movie, in a tiny role, and he does nothing of value.  Nancy Allen was also in the movie, and she looked really old which was depressing cause I liked her in the Robobcop movies.

This movie was fluff, forgettable, fast-forward fodder.  I should just invent that as a rating system.  FFFFF:  Fluff, Forgettable, Fast Forward Fodder.  Help me think of more F's.  How about Failure, Fatiguing, Fuck-it (as one word, with the dash?) Eh, I'm over it.  Move on.  So it sucked, what of it?  What are you gonna do about it, bitch all day?  Yeah, actually that is what I'm going to do about it.  I plan on bitching about this movie as long as I fuckin want to.  To all my readers.  Read my stupid review, you.  Read about how I hated this retarded movie.  Read it.


Update 9/17/15:  I'm not promising that I'm going to finish Children of the Corn anymore.  I will ideally see the first and second ones, but I started Children of the Corn 7: Revelation, and just, no.  No.  I also don't have high hopes for the 2009 made-for-tv remake of the original CotC, nor do I particularly want to see the 2011 CotC: Genesis.  I just....I dunno.  No.  Fuck that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Virgin Witch - 1972

This is similar territory as the sexploitation movies I liked, Zeta One and Invasion of the Bee Girls.  What both of those movies were though, upon further thinking and reflection, were plot heavy and they were sexploitation with a reason and with a strong reliance on the other things going on as well.  Most sexploitation films are not anywhere near that developed, plot heavy, high budget, or innovative.

Virgin Witch is one of these not-as-developed movies.  It's got the ingredients, sure.  Lots of nudity, lots of sexual tension, some okay dialogue and actors, and a plot that suffices to get the girls to take their clothes off.  What it lacks though is the entertainment factor beyond the breasts.  It is more sex than the two previously mentioned films I liked, here we have a couple scenes of girl on girl touching and kissing, we have two male/female sex scenes, etc.  So it's not just the casual naked ladies we're used to in movies so far.  But the thing is, once you've seen it, once you get over the thrill of the flesh, there's no depth to the film.

The plot, as I said, is mostly nonexistent.  Twin sisters Christine and Betty go to a photo shoot at a castle for the weekend.  There is a cult there, or rather a witches coven.  The coven wants to recruit Christine into the fold and coven master Cybil has lesbian desire for her.  But Christine kind of has alternate ideas, and soon starts to dabble in her own black arts and what she can do with them.

In a way it makes me wonder if these movies that were so-called "warning us about cults" actually made people want to be involved in cults more? You get to bang tons of hot chicks.  When you're not bangin them you still get to see them naked like all the time.  You get to see and/or be involved with some hot lesbo action.  You get to kill people, or at least watch people get killed in insane or at least interesting ways.  You have a lot of money - at least in the 60's and 70's cults these weren't backwoods hillbillies, they were the upright people who had money, nice homes, expensive clothes, etc.  Not to mention the extra-sensory powers or perceptions you might get. Hell, sounds pretty good to me! Where do I sign up?

I notice that in love scenes in general it seems that sometimes they purposely avoid touching breasts, crotches, etc.  I think this is for two reasons.  One, the actors don't want to "go there" and if it's not specifically asked for by whoever then why would they touch those?  Second, I think they want to keep those body parts visible to us the audience so that we see them and are titillated by them.  You know, if we see a hand groping a breast then we can't see it and we're upset.  But in general I think it's more a style.  A basic thing that started long ago and hasn't changed.  Also, having actual touching and sex occur is what separated movies from porn.  Thus, it's like, "this is what a movie will show" versus touching is "what a porn will show".

With Deep Throat coming out the same year as this, I wonder if this came before or after.  I immediately want to say after, but then why would you go see this?  This is like taking the one thing that made Deep Throat succeed so much-  the sex- and then removing it. But this would not be the only film to try and copy Deep Throat but not be anywhere near as hardcore.  Even Deep Throat 2 wasn't hardcore.

In the end, this movie was sexy, but boring.  Hot, but too long.  Only see it for the nudity.  The nudity can have a full star though.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Return of Daimajin - 1966

In mid 2007 or so I purchased a boxset that was both Daimajin movies.  Except, as seen in the picture below, they labeled it as the "Giant Majin"
Additionally, I could've sworn that my set contained a third unrelated film that was also a monster movie, but not Majin.  Although I might just be confusing it with another boxset.  Anyways, I remember thinking at the time I first saw it that it was some third rate Godzilla knockoff.  In the world of Godzilla knockoffs made in Japan and other Asian countries, there's the second rate knockoffs, like Rodan or Mothra, and then there's the third rate ones, like Yongary or this movie.

It makes me wonder about the success of Godzilla in this country.  Sure, you can say that it's a technically great movie, masterfully made, but I think a large part of it is and was the West feeling bad about the atom bomb that led to the success of Godzilla.  I love the authentic-ness of  of a movie like Daimajin though.  It feels more homemade, traditional and like it hearkens back to the olden days.  This is one of those DVD's I then got rid of later, only to really regret getting rid of it.  I just had no idea what it was at the time, didn't appreciate it for what it was.

Daimajin means something like Giant Demon God, apparently.  Which is odd cause in the Daimajin movies he is always good.  Daimajin will usually show up to protect some hardworking village, to right some wrong that's taken place, etc.  He is a giant living stone statue.  The statue is of a protector of the people, so it makes sense that when it comes to life it protects people.  I'm just saying the translation makes no sense, that's all.

This sequel was actually produced in the same year as the first movie, and the same year as the third movie the Wrath of Daimajin, which I didn't know existed and haven't seen.  This one was directed by Kazuo Mori, who also directed some of the Zatoichi films from the 60's and 70's.  It's adept enough, it's just extremely slow paced.  It's mostly a drama movie, the drama of this village getting ousted by some baddies until the breaking point is hit like an hour in and the last 15 minute Daimajin does stuff and sets shit right.

Side note:  I would've been really quite a bit happier with this movie if it'd been called "The Death and Return of Daimajin" and was styled like the oldschool SNES game The Death and Return of Superman.  That game was badass.

It's pretty boring and despite the fact I regret getting rid of the DVD, that doesn't make it a great movie.  It's ok, I guess.

Near Dark - 1987

A reboot of Near Dark has apparently been canceled for being too "conceptually similar to Twilight".  Which makes sense.  On the outside, you have a similar idea, which I am going to straight up say Twilight copied.  You have a mortal fall in love with a vampire, sort of get brought into the fold with the vampire, and then get disenfranchised and leave.  Now, this is the sort of thing that I'm not sure of since I'm not going to fuckin' watch Twilight, so I'm only sort of guessing that's what happens in Twilight.

Kathryn Bigelow has a bizarre series of movies.  She is obviously talented as a writer and director, and most of her movies are pretty well known.  This movie has a cult following, which is deserved, as does Strange Days.  Point Break, which you have to see if you haven't, is one of those 90's movies that, when it came out, was just cool.  I remember watching it in the early 90's, thinking how iconic and amazing it was - it was only later that we looked back and laughed at it's insanity, which mostly exists because of the performance by Keanu Reeves as the hero cop.  Then later, Bigelow went on to win an academy award for The Hurt Locker, and she was nominated again for her film Zero Dark Thirty.

This movie has all the parts that would go on to win awards for her.  It has amazing, gorgeous cinematography first.  It's beautifully shot and photographed, there are iconic shots a plenty in this film,  Then, it has wonderful make-up and effects.  The blood and the sickness in this movie is achieved very well, there isn't a second where it's being shown on screen and you doubt it's reality.  Both of these are assisted a lot by the actors, which are a stellar cast all made of actors that would stick around and each have movies they were known for:  Adrian Pasdar, Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson, and Tim Thomerson.

The atmosphere is also helped a lot by bizarre ambient music by Tangerine Dream.  This soundtrack was amazing.  As soon as I saw that credit I knew I was in for a treat.  The difference between them doing the soundtrack to a movie and an entire album is that soundtracks are subject to more immediate change and short tracks.  I love Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, et all, but the whole albums can sometimes wear thin after 20 minutes of the same thing.  Soundtracks are great cause the tracks are kept short, concise, to the point.  It's a tremendous soundtrack and fits the film extremely well.

Those factors and just a very high pace make this film nearly perfect.  I tried to talk myself into not a five star rating while watching this.  Really, I tried.  And in the end, I guess it might not be a five star movie.  It feels extremely surreal.  It feels like a weird dream.  It feels like, if you close your eyes, the movie will suck you into it.  I don't know how else to say it.  It feels like the drug that you don't want to do but that sucks you in, tells you, just do a little.  Just do it tonight.  You can stop tomorrow.

Maximum Overdrive - 1986

Maximum Overdrive was nominated for multiple Razzies, it's been called by writer director Stephen King as the worst adaptation of one of his books, and was a box office bomb.  Those ingredients together always make for a genuine cult classic.  And man, this movie was also hard to find.  Only available to save the DVD on Netflix, no watch instantly option on Hulu or Amazon, I actually was only able to see this movie because my wife signed up for Showtime for a month, where this was randomly an option.

These ingredients always make a cult film; one of the trademarks of a classic is it's inaccessibility.  You know something has a following if you find the VHS for sale on Amazon.  That's like, the cut off point for a classic - especially if the VHS is expensive, like $10 or more.  Cause then you're embarking on "collectible" territory.  Shit man.  This movie was damn classic.

Why does this get it's bad rap?  Yes, it's over the top as hell.  It's all sorts of zany insanity, it's really flashing and pomp and in your face 100% of the time.  The budget was big and bloated, the movie is grimy and it doesn't ever pretend to be something it's not.  According to wikipedia someone besides me also thought this was actually a pretty good show by Stephen King.  This is the only movie he ever directed, and he was reportedly coked out of his head the entire time, and has no memory of the experience at all.  But for all that, this movie is extremely linear, makes tons of sense, is really quite good, and shows a huge amount of talent.

I read a bunch of Stephen King books, I don't know for sure if I read this one or not.  I remember parts of Night Shift, and most likely I read the original short story Trucks.  The plot is that due to a comet that passes close to Earth, a bunch of appliances randomly gain a life of their own and start to attack people.  At first it's a bunch of different things, and then later seems to transition to just cars, and mainly big rigs, like semis and tractors and that stuff.  It's not explained, nor does it need to be.  This is a movie where you check your rationality as you watch it.  Don't approach this and try to follow along as if things will all be explained.

The movie has a good cast too, Emilio Estevez in his second cool sci fi feature after Repo Man.  Pat Hingle in a supporting role, and Yeardley Smith.  The effects- the trucks- are awesome also.  I'm sure it was a kind of simple feat, making the trucks drive without visible drivers.  People forget that simplicity is sometimes all you need.  A simple idea, cars driving and acting on their own, is all you need.  Then run with it.  The effects are real, there's some cool explosions and some interesting destruction.  This movie is somewhat known for the "Green Goblin truck"

I couldn't tell ya if this was in the book or not, but it's just great.  Things like this make your movie memorable.  I remembered this from the original time I saw this movie, which was over 10 years ago.  I think people overlook the weirdness factor a lot these days.  Weird = good I think.
Fuck ya'll.  There is no reason this movie deserves to get forgotten, it should be playing at the midnight theaters alongside every bad movie, B movie, cult movie, ever.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Savage Weekend - 1979

I shouldn't be writing this review.  Not only do I not remember this movie very well, I have 3 other movie reviews floating around in my head.  I watched 4 movies and didn't even touch this blog, and these were all movies that needed to be blog-ified, they were the above mentioned Grindhouse Review.  Man, I feel so separated from that blog title by now.  It feels like I don't even try to be Grindhouse any more.  Sorry, mom.

Savage Weekend is very low-rent.  I went through and watched trailers for every movie in my Amazon watch list.  This was a cool idea I had at work the other day, I was like, "I don't even know what half these are about, I need to see the trailers." And the trailers to a lot of them were really cool, I felt good about my choices  Savage Weekend stuck out too, this movie has a kick ass trailer.  It's not even relevant any more to say the trailer was better than the movie.  There was no comparison at all.  The trailer was great - I was a lame-o, at work, sober, bored - the trailer fixed that.  The movie, on the other hand....

This movie, I guess this is a compliment, didn't feel 70's at all.  I was guessing the year up above and I was definitely going to put 80's.  I was able to detect, with my expertise, that is was actually a faking-it '79 flick.  Isn't it funny how we can quantify a movie based on what year it came out?  We rationalize it in our head.  Oh, so they were all in the, you know, 70's way of thinking....no wonder....

I think that this movie was about a masked killer.  He stalked people and killed them.  Also, something about a boat.  IMDb tells me there was a boat involved in the plot of this, I don't remember that at all.  I watched this while nearly falling asleep, what can I say.

It had some atmosphere and despite the fact I can't remember it I'll still give it a star.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Demons 4 - 1991

Also known as (clears throat):  La Setta, The Sect, and The Devil's Daughter.

I was adding movies to my Amazon wish list the other day, and I noticed that at some point I'd added Demons.  That 1985 Italian horror film that I loved, and that in retrospect gets 5 stars.  The point is I never really finished that series, I was too over-joyed with the newness of the blog I didn't want to get bogged down in a series, plus I wasn't really watching movies on YouTube.  I watched Demons 2, and it was an awesome though not as great sequel.

Demons 3: The Ogre was a decent enough movie, it felt like one of those Sci Fi originals I used to watch back in the day, and that movie started the "reason" I wasn't going to finish the Demons series:  they stopped being true sequels, and just were movies where monsters existed in one form or another.  It was the the same with Demons 6: De Profundis where there wasn't a clear monster in the movie at all, the evilness was more abstract.

But who am I leave a franchise hanging with 4 movies having gone unwatched?  Despite the fact I have tons of other movies to watch and I could've easily seen another movie by Robert Emenegger, I YouTubed the fuck out of Demons 4 as I'm going to call it and watched it.  This movie was not anything like a Demons sequel, so why I refer to it as Demons 4 and why it ever got called that is a pure mystery.  What's equally confusing is the alternate names.  The Sect (La Setta in Italian) made no sense as there is no sect in the film, The Devil's Daughter made no sense since the girl in the film was good and was actually going to be the MOTHER of Satan had an old man gotten his way.  Maybe they just made the film with no intention of ever naming it.  Hey, musicians release untitled songs all the time, why can't directors do the same?

Where the Demons sequels got further and further from the source movie, this one follows that trend.  This movie has no demons in it, in fact the closest we get is an old man.  Hm.  Old man versus some manic monster from Demons 1985...who wins....who the hell wins?  Not the audience, I can tell ya that much.

Most of the movie is the slow mystery of the old man.  Who is he, why is he all crazy, and why is he obsessed with these weird things?  In the first part of the film, the main character Miriam almost hits him with her car.  Feeling bad she takes him home and lets him stay there, he sneaks into her room that night and puts a cool looking bug in her nose.  This will eat her brain?  That is definitely said at one point.  That and it will make her evil...and it'll make her give birth to Satan's kid...?  It's generally vague, but in no movie is a bug crawling up your nose the start of something GOOD, so we know whatever it is it's bad.

It was directed by Dario Argento collaborator Michele Soavi, and the technicality of it is ok.  Decent enough acting and pacing, I guess.  But it just feels like a lot of it is waiting for something to happen. Like the recent movie Killings at Outpost Zeta, they had enough for like 45 minutes and the rest of it is just ummmmm and huhhhhhh and hmmmmm.  Nothing really happens in most scenes.

As a movie separated from Demons it wasn't good, so in comparison to Demons it's awful.  But it was never intended to be a sequel, so it gets cut some slack.  I guess it can have a whole 2 stars, for the good actors, the good directing, etc. But generally, just not entertaining enough, sorry, try again.



Children of the Corn III and IV, Urban Harvest / The Gathering - 1995, 1996

In my drunken stupor and in my quest to see as many movies and put them on this blog as possible, I totally forgot that I even finished Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.  I had this whole thing planned out about saying how CotC V had Eva Mendes and compare that to CotC IV which has Naomi Watts.  Of course, an actress or actor getting their start by being in horror is not a new thing, but it's always cool to see it in process.

In fact, apparently Charlize Theron has a tiny cameo in CotC III, which makes CotC a pretty successful series in terms of casting.  Especially once you consider that Linda Hamilton was in the first CotC movie before she was in The Terminator series.  None of the names in CotC II jumped out at me, especially.  Just had to check CotC 6, Revelation, and the newest Genesis.  Nope, no new actors.  See at some point it became the thing to instead cast some has-been actor instead, like Stacy Keach or my OG Billy Drago.

The plots to these movies are pretty different from each other.  Urban Harvest is the classic "same story, new location" thing like in the Leprechaun series.  It works though because the child actor Daniel Cerny as Eli is really good as a passionate kid preacher, who, along with his older brother, moves to a city after their parents die.  Eli is evil, he starts to grow corn and kill people, including his adopted mother.  His brother doesn't follow him anymore and actually turns good.  Eli turns all the neighborhood kids to his side and combats a priest at the local church, all while his bro grows more and more uncomfortable with Eli's agenda.

What CotC III has that makes it good is a good couple actors, a couple good kills, and adequate pacing.  It was more enjoyable that CotC IV and V.  In fact it may be the best one since the first CotC, which I don't remember as much but I will re-watch for this blog.  I think I'll probably see them all for you, my nonexistent reader.
Urban Harvest gets 3 stars.

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering takes us back to the farm, where Naomi Watts comes to live with her mom Karen Black.  The kids in the town are having these freak fever attacks, Naomi Watts is a doctor or nurse or something, and begins to help.  A couple of the kids turn evil, some deaths happen, etc. Intermixed in there is a black man who is around when a death happens and is blamed for it.  Blah blah blah.

This one is more like a regular horror movie.  It's not like it's bad, it's just not original really, more of the traditional slow horror movie.  It's a lot of dialogue, attempts at atmosphere, and occasionally something cool will happen (by accident).  Naomi Watts is hot, but doesn't show her sweet body in this, which would've earned it another star on top of the 1.5 I'll give it.