Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who's Who of American Horror Story: Asylum.

So Entertainment Weekly has had an article detailing the cast of American Horror Story: Asylum. I for one am really getting jazzed for all the promotional stuff that has leaked out. The short trailers are spooky as hell and show that the same weird tone is going to be kept from first season.

I also like that the creators of the series are keeping some actors from the first season but giving them different roles. A few more seasons need to occur before we can see if this will continue, but i'm getting an almost theater troupe vibe from the idea, and for television it's an idea that could really pay off.

Below is a list of who's playing what, and this information is thanks to Arrow in the Head. I've provided the link at the bottom if you want to read the full article.

“Jessica Lange plays Sister Jude, a nun who's more sadistic than saintly.

Zachary Quinto plays Dr. Thredson, a psychiatrist whose forward-thinking ways conflict with Sister Jude's management style.

Chloe Sevigny plays Shelley, a nymphomaniac inmate.

James Cromwell plays Dr. Arden; EW says the not-so-good doctor is behind one of the season's newest frights: the Raspers. The mutated humans lurk in the forest outside of the institution and are a product of Arden's diabolical experiments on Briarcliff's inmates. Oh, and Arden may or may not be a Nazi. Yikes!

Lily Rabe plays Sister Eunice, the Lange character's second-in-command.

Joseph Fiennes plays Monsignor Timothy O'Hara, Sister Jude's superior who finds himself on the receiving end of the nun's affections (and fantasies), but he's not entirely innocent.

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine plays Leo, one half of a newlywed couple visiting modern-day Briarcliff.

Jenna Dewan plays the second half of Asylum's high-profile newlywed couple.

Evan Peters, who portrayed season one's obnoxious villain Tate, is Kit, one of the newest Briarcliff inmates. Kit is committed after being accused of murdering his wife (played by Britne Olford), though he claims she was abducted — and not by humans.

Sarah Paulson plays a journalist named Lana who is committed to the asylum by her own girlfriend after she nearly exposes Briarcliff's darkest secrets.” (go to Arrow in the Head for full Article)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Hostel (2005)

“I am the king of the swing!”

Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson
Writer: Eli Roth

I’ve seen Hostel before and I thought I would revisit it, especially considering the bad name it has built for itself. However going back through this movie I found that it holds up well and that there is a lot of talent behind the camera. There is a subtleness to be found hidden behind all the torture and gore.

In many peoples minds it was Hostel that started the whole torture porn genre, and for that a lot of people give it a hard time. Of course I can understand the back lash against the type of movies that glorify torture. Yet there will always be movies that attempt to do more, and Hostel is one of those movies.

First off the movie is really hurt by the modern age we live in. If you can somehow manage to see this film without any possible spoilers (including rating advice, dvd cover, knowledge of who the director is), you could be fooled into thinking that this is a coming of age story set in Europe or perhaps a crass teen road trip movie. Listen to the music, the dialogue, what the characters are attempting to do. Eli Roth is able to tap into this genre and it makes the decent into horror all that more disturbing.

The gore is full on, and the effects are very realistic, at least realistic enough to get the audience wincing. But the blood doesn’t really flow until the final third of the movie, in fact there is some restraint used with only a quick glimpse here and there. It further creates a difference between the beginning and end of the movie, and therefore the horror is more horrific because we aren’t immediately thrown into the horrific scenario.

Perhaps one of the strengths of Hostel is the three main characters. Paxton (Jay Hernandez), Josh (Derek Richardson) and Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) are all drawn with clich├ęs directly from teenage road trip movies, yet as the movie progresses there are bits and pieces of the characters life that come through making them well rounded. Paxton in particular comes of as a Stifler light sort of character, but by the end I actually cared about him. Other than these three, most of the other characters are just asked to be odd, and in that respect they do a good enough job.

The first part of the movie also sets up the running theme of the perversity of pleasure. Paxton, Josh and Oli are all on this trip to get laid and smoke pot because that’s what they get pleasure from; the killers are torturing backpackers because that’s how they derive pleasure. There are also scenes that seem similar in set up, if not location and further enforce this dichotomy.

Hostel is really smarter than its given credit for, and is often just thrown into the horror torture genre in disdain. Still there is meat there, Eli Roth gives us a movie that slowly descends into the horror and therefore is far more successful in disturbing the audience. Having said all that this movie is still not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a horror fan and have avoided Hostel because of the negativity directed at it, you should do your self a favour and watch it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Ring of Death (2008)

“On the inside, there are no rules.”

Director: Bradford May
Starring: Johnny Messner, Jonathan Chase and Esteban Cueto
Writers: Dan Fitzsimons and David Rosiak,

Let me pull back the curtain a little bit on my operation here. I normally watch a ton of movies, and those that I watch for the first time get put in a little black book I have. If a movie really intrigues me I’ll review it then and there and then make a note of it in my book. Others I’ll come around to them when I catch up to them, normally this means a few months could have gone by before I review them. Past history has proven to me that I don’t have a big problem in remembering details. Not so with Ring of Death. This has to be one of the most forgettable films I’ve seen in a while.

On every level this movie just slipped my mind and made next to no impression on me. Well except for maybe one factor but I’ll get to that. Basically a jail’s warden is corrupt as all hell and runs fights in the prison for the rich. Our hero Burke Wyatt (Johnny Messner) is given a chance to reclaim his life by infiltrating the jail and taking part of the fights. With a plot like that there could have been some great over the top action, instead we get a movie that’s just there.

The only thing that I can remember crystal clearly is Stacy Keach as Warden Carl Golan. He eats the scenery with a hunger that rivals Galactus. It was thanks to him that I managed to make it through the movie as he comes off truly psychotic and threatening but with a touch of class. Any villain that wears a bow tie and can still be threatening is impressive.

If you are a fan of bad action movies I would still say skip this. It’s really boring, and other than one performance there is nothing here worth your time. Even for those who love the so bad it’s good type movie.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Running Scared (1986)

“Pointing a gun at a police officer. Can we waste them for that?”

Director: Peter Hyams
Starring: Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal and Steven Bauer
Writers: Gary DeVore and Jimmy Huston

It’s been a while since I’ve watched an 80’s buddy cop movie, and this was on the pay television so I thought why not. Of course unlike some other buddy movie where normally it’s an odd paring, Ray and Danny are partners who think alike and are each others best friend. Honestly where the oddness comes up is with the city of Chicago. They are cops who are growing tired with their home place, tired of being shot at, and are looking to finally retire.

Never would I have thought Billy Crystal could have pulled of being a believable cop, sure he’s a jokester in this movie, but there seems to be a weariness to him that comes from being a cop. Gregory Hines is probably the serious one of the two, and yet he has his comedic moments, and you believe that the two could be partners as they do play off each other very well. Jimmy Smits plays a slimy lead bad guy very well, while Joe Pantoliano plays his underling Snake with even more sliminess. They do make for a good reason to leave the city.

The story itself is a little interesting but always goes for the joke rather than delving too deep into any of the interesting topics it raises, but then this is all the movie wants to do. Crystal and Hines really do work off each other well, even Smits and Pantoliano demonstrate chemistry with the two cops and it creates a believable dynamic throughout the film. I also appreciated that Peter Hymes made Chicago seem dirty and dark, while Florida was bright and beautiful, it at least created a contrast for the movie and emphasising what would be great about the move.

If you’re after a fun movie that moves at a pretty brisk pace then Running Scared does have a bit going for it. Sure it can feel scuzzy sometimes but then that is the intention, and it’s always interesting to see Crystal and Hines react to the crap in Chicago. One of the better buddy cop movies out there.

Review: Panic at Rock Island (2011)

“Killer concert turns deadly.”

Director: Tony Tilse
Starring: Grant Bowler, Zoe Cramond and Eli Kent
Writer: Matt Ford

Made for television disaster movies can be some of the funniest movies around, especially if the budget isn’t big enough to cover the earth ending events. Now I’ve had my share of American disaster movies and thought it was time to venture to my home countries domain and check out this viral outbreak disaster film. I never thought it would turn out as bad it did.

So a rock concert is thrown on an island just off the harbour of Sydney, Australia. People are coming from all over Australia to join in the massive three day event, in fact some Kiwi’s have managed to sneak onto the island through a sewer access tunnel that connects to Sydney. On their way to the concert they happen to come across an infected military man in the sewers, and unfortunately become carriers of this deadly virus. Can Joe Quinn stop the infection from spreading to the mainland? Will everyone die at the concert? Can people be actually as stupid as this movie portrays them?

My biggest problem with this movie is that for the events to occur, everyone has to act like a complete and utter idiot. Corrupt government officials, parents, kids, concert organisers, military squads. The only character that has any intelligence is Joe Quinn (Grant Bowler) and everyone just disbelieves him. Even when he has enough concern to shut everything down, oh no can’t do that there’s money to be made. While this kind of blind ignorance is a staple of the disaster genre, it is at it’s apex with this movie.

With the plot being in a complete and utter shambles, and honestly me hoping most characters died a horrible death, I was really happy to find that some characters did indeed die horrible deaths. The virus makes its victims excrete every kind of body fluid under the sun and the movie isn’t shy in showing how disgusting it can get. So for those of you who like their viral disaster movies disgusting you might find something here.

No matter how good the virus effects may be, the story is a complete and waste of your time. When you make people do completely illogical things in order to progress the story then you know you’ve got problems. If you like watching bad movies then give this a watch, but really just skip it and do your self the favour.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Mr Hush (2010)

“Fear what evil lurks in the shadows.”

Director: David Lee Madison
Starring: Brad Loree, Edward X. Young and Stephen Geoffreys
Writer: David Lee Madison

So I found out about this movie because it ripped off Trick r Treats poster. If you compare the two you will see how blatant a rip off it is. Even down to the same title font being used. Intrigued I wanted to know why. Was it one of these Asylum style rip offs? Delving into this movie I got more than I could have ever bargained for.

Within the first two seconds I could tell that this was going to be an experience rivalling that of The Room. The acting is atrocious, with half of the actors sounding like they are reading directly from the script. Those that don’t, think that to emote means to yell, and for that I’m looking mainly at Brad Loree. Half the time he was just yelling at the loudest possible volume to get a point across. Then there’s Edward X Young who plays the titular Mr Hush. Bad accents, acting so hammy that he could open a delicatessen, and random tonal shifts that go from dead serious to over the top, Mr Young was an avatar of some of the worst acting imaginable.

Story wise we have a man called Holland (Loree) who has his family killed by Mr Hush. Slowly Holland rebuilds his life, but Mr Hush comes back to bring pain and suffering. There is a kernel of an interesting idea but the movie mishandles it on every conceivable level. First off there are large portions of the movie that are just boring, no story progression. When things pick up the villains play it so over the top that any horror established is wrecked. If the intention was making this a comedy I could have almost believed it.

David Lee Madison uses a nauseating camcorder style that shakes and jostles through even the quietest of scenes. Simple continuity mistakes are present at some of the more important scenes, and there are some visual choices that make me scratch my head, there just seems to be a lack of caring that runs throughout this movie.

If you’ve found this movie thanks to the poster connection with Trick r Treat then run away as quickly as possible. If you happen to have stumbled upon this at the shop or rental place then just avoid it. There is nothing about this movie that can be called good. 

Review: Trick r Treat (2007)

“You know, there are rules, you should be more careful. You might upset someone.”

Director: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Dylan Baker
Writer: Michael Dougherty

It’s been a while since I’ve watched an anthology horror movie and after hearing some good things about Trick r Treat I thought I would dip my toes in. Trick r Treat had a hard road; it was made and then shelved even though there was good buzz leaking through the grape vine. Some say it was because Warner Bros didn’t want to iok,being punished for his involvement in Superman Returns. So was this a miscarriage of justice? Or should this have never been released?

Unlike some anthology movies which have separate stories normally connected by a narrator or bookend story, this movie takes the approach of being a single night on Halloween with various characters constantly intersecting in the background with the chronological order of the events being mixed about. It’s an approach that gives the movie a feeling of freshness, and a great sense of not knowing what will happen next. I won’t go into the specifics as it can ruin several surprises, but I did like where the movie went and how it balanced horror and fun. In fact the opening credits are done in a comic book style and really set up the tone.

The actors all seem to be having fun, with Dylan Baker having a particularly wild time as Steven. Anna Paquin also shows up as the shy girl next door Laurie. In fact I can see definite shades of a prototype Sookie Stackhouse in this performance. However the highlights of the movie have to go to Brian Cox and Quinn Lord. As Mr Kreeg, Brian Cox manages to give us a grizzled old bastard that is every bit an asshole, and yet give him enough personality for us to get behind when the shit goes down. Then there is Sam, a small child that walks through all the nights events like an omen of doom. It’s not giving anything away in saying he is the monster given front and centre attention; the spokesmen for the movie. What’s fascinating to me is that even with the entire make up, masks and lack of dialogue a young Quinn Lord is able to give this monster a particular personality that really resonates. So much so that I would love to have a Sam figure for my monster collection.

Visually the movie is crisp and really glorifies Halloween. Even with all the horror that was being thrown up onto the screen I kind of wished Australia celebrated Halloween like the Americans. The movie is both bright and celebratory, along with having dark shadows looming. Compared to some of the horror movies that get released now a days, this really does stand out. Michael Dougherty has a clear idea of what he wants to accomplish, and his style makes sure that the audience gets every little detail.

For people who want a Halloween film then this would rank up there. It’s obviously been made by people who love the genre, and it’s a wonder why the studios did hide this away. In my mind I would rather have a whole glut of movie like Trick r Treat rather than another Saw sequel. Horror fans grab this as soon as possible.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Of Slender and Man 2: Scare Harder

My first little entry on the Slender Man has proven to be rather popular, so thinking like a Hollywood big wig, I’ve decided to write a sequel. However this time I will be looking at some of Slender Man’s friends which have been collected into a pantheon called The Fears Mythos.

Inspired by Candle Cove.
Before all the stories and alternate reality games, the Fears lived as a meme call Creepypasta. Creepypasta are stories designed to unnerve and also blur the line between reality and fiction, often using the current forms of communication offered by the internet (blogs, message boards, etc). One of the stories that I personally love is the Candle Cove story, just something about the creepiness of an evil kids show. However getting into the details of Creepypasta isn’t really my aim today, but those that are interested can go to or Know Your Meme for more info.

I can’t help noting that this Fears Mythos, is evolving in a way that makes it the modern equivalent of the Cthulhu Mythos. While HPLovecraft was the brains behind Cthulhu, his work inspired others and using his world the Cthulhu Mythos has constantly been expanded on. Titus Crow one of my favourite characters from the Cthulhu Mythos has nothing to do with Lovecraft, but is the creation of author Brian Lumley. It’s this constant building upon the works of others that fascinated me with Cthulhu and has fascinated me once more with the Fears.

However where things differ between the two in myopinion is that the Cthulhu Mythos was always about making humans seem insignificant in the grand cosmic scheme, while the Fears Mythos plays upon the insecurities of us all and therefore makes us very important to the mythos. The Slender Man is a being that strikes great fear into those he terrorizes, but at the same time he only exists because others are documenting his actions. By turning away and forgetting, we have a chance, but all to often humanity is too stupid and will delve into places they don’t belong.

The Rake
Each of the beings in the mythos represent different fears, and interact with it’s victims in different ways. All seem to want to drive us insane with fear. While listing all the Fears would extend this blog entry out a lot, I will go through those that did intrigue me. Hell if they didn’t intrigue me, I would have never started writing this article in the first place.

The Rake is one of the more popular Fears having appeared in EveryMAN Hybrid. This fear represents brutality and animals among other things. It seems to have connections with the old tales of werewolves and other horrid creatures that lurk in the woods. Like the Slender Man it seems to be an evolved form of previous horror stories given an almost faceless appearance. It’s as if the Fear Mythos gives us horror creatures born from an almost primordial point of view. It is a fear that we all have and have always had.

The Black Dog
The Black Dog is of particular interest to me as I’ve always been a fan of the stories of Old Shuck. In fact I mention the beast back in an old article of mine. This is another case of the Fear Mythos adopting tales from different ages and modernizing them for consumption. In this case The Black Dog is a fear that represents the truth, and its sole purpose seems to come from terrorizing a person with a massive secret. This is a departure from the old tales which have it more of a ghost set to haunt the moors and other area’s humans don’t want to go. Of course if you want a famous example of The Black Dog then you would do well to read Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Smiling Man
An interesting and more modern take on The Fears is the Smiling Man which represents the fear that comes from stalkers. A creature whose smile is too wide for his mouth and eyes that are just blank, it’s an image that has popped up a few times in pop culture. Maybe one of the more recognisable of these is the Joker. A villain that does indeed stalk Batman. I think the Smiling Man is an example of an important facet of the Fear Mythos. That is the Fears Mythos is full of creatures that truly symbolise villain archetypes that we come across again and again.

The Empty City is a sentient city that likes to play with it’s would be victims. It’s the fear of being lost, and also a meeting place for all other fears. Ghost Towns, unfamiliar settings, we’ve all heard stories that are connected to this particular fear. The idea behind The Empty City is really shown with a little thing called Silent Hill. The more I read about this fear, the more I see connections to the game. Especially with its tendency of punishing guilty people and changing others who accidently stumble into its territory.

The Empty City
Of course there are plenty more Fears in existence already as well as more being created all the time. I would highly recommend people head to The Fears Mythos wiki for more info. All the work in the wiki and blogs is really exciting to see, especially when it’s a creative endeavour really building with so much love from the current generation. It’s weird but an exercise based on writing about fear, actually gives me hope. 

Review: Hallowed Ground (2007)

“Evil Unearthed”

Director: David Benullo
Starring: Jaimie Alexander, Brian McNamara and Ethan Phillips
Writer: David Benullo

Where to start with tis bundle of fun. I came to it because I haven’t watched a horror movie based around Scarecrows before. This popped up on pay television and I thought why the heck not. Looking back on a lot of movies that have left a bad taste in my mouth, it all tends to come down to that one idea. Why the heck not?

First off it’s a waste of an hour and a half of my life. This movie starts off with the promise of being cheesy but it really just rushes through what it’s got to get to the ‘scares’. The characters are pretty one dimensional, twists can be seen from far off, and any potential scares are destroyed by the stupidity of it all.

I can see this being a quick review as there isn’t much to continue with. Except that filming in a corn field is visually boring. Sure I guess it’s a cheap way of getting around spending money, but you get what you pay for. So at the end of it all I would say skip and try and find another scarecrow movie worth your time.