Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 10 - The Mummy (1932)

So I finally reach Halloween. Huzzah. To celebrate I've decided to watch some of my Universal Monster movies. I've always been a fan of these movies when I was growing up. Sure they are old but there is just a magic to them.

Let's take The Mummy.

Boris Karloff just owns the screen when he's on. His Imhotep is a tragic villain who's doing everything for love. Such a great actor and his performance in this is just as great as his other iconic role of Frankenstein's Monster.

Of course some of the special effects can be very humorous when seen through the eyes of this modern world, but there is still some great things to see. Off the top of my head, it's all about the glowing eyes. Simple but damn effective.

I would also like to point out that this movie runs for 73 minutes and manages to actually create a compelling story in that time. How the holy heck can movies run longer and yet forget about a nice cohesive plot? B'ah, that's a rant for another time.

Of course there are some things in the movie that might rub people the wrong way. Basically the sensibilities of 1932 will just not gel well with some modern audiences. I however can over look it all because there is a good film at the core.

The Mummy is a deserved classic and it's a must for horror fans. Worship at the feet of Karloff.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 9 - Dead Shadows (2012)

What the hell is going on?

Who are these people?

Does this make any god damn sense?

These were all questions I asked as I got into the finale of this film. It's amazing how little respect it has for the idea of narrative flow. What's the greatest shame is I thought this movie was going to be good.

In the beginning we get an opening that seems almost Lovecraftian, and for those few minutes I was giddy. But then the movie started to crap itself big time. Things would just happen without any real rhyme of reason, but it's there just to forcefully move the story along.

The more and more it does this, the more holes bigger than a bus start to appear. Characters do some of the stupidest things imaginable. Plot points are hammered into place but never fit. Conclusions are met without having any leg work done to earn them.

And yet. There were some things that I liked that kept me watching. Actually only one thing. The aliens. They infect humans and mutate them, which allowed for some nice make up jobs and interesting kills. Yep we've got a deadly penis tentacle that kills folks.

But everything else is complete and utter drek. The ending makes no sense, the middle makes no sense, and the more I thought about it the beginning makes no sense. Maybe it's a cultural thing and I don't get this movie. But personally I found it to be complete crap and best avoided. Even for lovers of icky things that kill.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 8 - The Devil Inside (2012)

It doesn't really matter how much I hated this movie. Nothing that I say will amount to anything. As a reviewer there is nothing I can do that this film doesn't do to itself.

You see it's simple.

THIS FILM HAS NO END!

Just as we really get to the meat of the movie, the screen fades to black and then gives you a website link as the ending.

Words fail me.

Common thought leaps from my brain in a desperate attempt to escape from this movie.

This one fact should be enough to make people NOT WATCH THIS.

Part of me wants to point out all the flaws of this movie. To actually give this a proper review. But at the end of the day, that would take effort and I don't think a movie that even gives me a damn ending deserves me going into depth.

Instead I shall now list exorcist movies that I feel you should watch instead of this mess:

The Exorcist
The Last Exorcism
The Possession

Okay that's done. I'm now going to drink something to try and exorcise this movie from my brain.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 7 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is considered by many to be a classic movie. I however enjoy the sequel a heck of a lot more. It's not that it's the better movie of the two, but it's insanity levels are at least over 9000.

We've got Dennis Hopper being completely out of his gourd, even going so far at one point to have a chainsaw fight with Leatherface. Family memebers are even crazier this time around. The entire movie seems to be wrapped in this reality breaking cloak.

Not surprising anyone in the cheap seats, I heard that the writer wanted to go this insane mainly to get himself distanced from being a serious writer. Apparently his success with 'Paris,Texas,' put him on the map, and in his words he took one look at the map and wanted nothing to do with it.

I also get the feeling that Rob Zombie was inspired by the colour scheme of this movie, especially for House of 1000 Corpses. Weird light bathes everything and might be unsettling if the story didn't play out like a demented Looney Toons cartoon.

I'm also a fan of this incarnation of Leatherface. He does a little dance every time he raises his chainsaw and I couldn't help but find that endearing. Of course i'm a very strange man so that might just be me.

TCM 2 is a fun movie and would be great to watch with a few drink and a few mates. It seems that this is what TCM The Next Generation wanted to recreate. I guess it helps when everyone on the production is in agreement on how to produce the crazy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 6 - Dog Soldiers (2002)

Today I decided to finally sit my wife down and make her watch a movie that would definitely be on my top ten werewolf movies. (A list that might be coming sooner than expected. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.) At the end of the movie she was smiling and called it stupidly fun. It's probably the best way I could describe it.

Dog Soldiers isn't a smart movie, it isn't blessed with the biggest of budgets, but what it does have is character. It brims with British humor and gives us characters that are very endearing. In fact I would say that both this and Aliens gives us some of the best soldier characters in horror films today.

Another thing about the movie is that you can just tell that the movie was made by people who gave a damn. Okay so the Werewolf's aren't given the highest of special effects budgets, but they put dancers in the make up so they could add animalistic movements. The creators cared enough to strengthen something that was weak. You don't see that often.

When I first saw this movie many moons ago, I dug it and it's been a movie that I've constantly revisited. There is a sequel out there but I've heard that most of the original production crew left and that it's not that good. Maybe one day I will trudge the ground it prowls, but till that day this classic is all that I need.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 5 - House on Haunted Hill (1999)

I'm a fan of the original movie and i'm also a fan of this movie. Hell I had to look abroad for my copy of this movie because it seems Australia only got the sequel. Really retailers? REALLY? FUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOU.

Now i've got that childishness out of the way I must say that the reason why I love this movie is two things. Geoffrey Rush, who's normal awesome in films and has been the saving grace for me in many movies (I'm looking at you forth fucking pirates movie). Strangely enough the second reason is Chris Kattan.

Yeah i'm not the biggest fan, but hell is he awesome in his movie. Watson Pritchett is the kind of character that a normal person would represent. He wants nothing to do with the night and tries to play it sensibly, but in the end when he gets caught in the house with everyone else a nihilistic tone washes over him. The fact that he's still loveable in a way shows how Kattan just was in the zone with this character.

While I have a high regard for these two actors, everyone else does a great job. They are also backed up by a movie that oozes a great fun Halloween style. The entire location is great and it's always fun to watch the characters explore the refurnished mental asylum.

Unfortunately in my opinion this was the height of Dark Castles horror movies. What makes it sadder is this was the first one they did. I also liked Thirteen Ghosts, but they never seemed to recapture the fun of this movie. It also didn't hurt that the movie was backed by an awesome cover of Sweet Dreams done by Marilyn Manson.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Portal 2

Review by Malcontented Moose

Developer: Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation.

I just recently played Portal 2 again. Guys, Portal 2 is really good, remember? Remember how good it is? No? Go play it again then!

For those of you who haven’t actually played this game, what is wrong with you? No, I don’t care that you don’t play video games, or prefer having children, or hiking, or are allergic to technology. Go buy yourself a console (or PC) buy Portal 2, sit down and play it. Really. Even if you don’t “like” video games, you will probably like this one. Why? Here, let me explain you a thing.

To start with, you don't necessarily have to play the first installation. It does help, of course, as it introduces you to the main characters, familiarises you with the game play mechanics and creates the world of Aperture science. But you don't have to. I didn't. One of the truly wonderful things about this game is that even with no background history at all, the story does an excellent job of retelling the basics in a fresh way that feels neither overly repetitive nor exclusionary to new players.

The story is also well crafted and what’s more, exceptionally told through game play. This is a tale that you have to truly ferret out all the clues on. If you don't explore every nook and cranny in the game you may miss an interesting piece of data that fills in part of the background narrative everything else is built upon. In short and with – hopefully - few spoilers, A company builds an AI that takes over, kills everyone and proceeds to “test” one person over and over again for the benefit of Science. A lot of this becomes debatable the further into the narrative you delve, but therein lies the story component that will draw you back even when the puzzles have you flinging your controller across the room.

Oh, did I not mention this is a first person puzzle game? Yes, for those of you who haven't played, Portal and Portal 2 both require you to finish puzzles to progress through the story. There is no cover based shooting or bad guys to kill, although there are plenty of thermal discouragement beams (deadly lasers), deadly neurotoxin (especially deadly) and cake (this is a lie). The puzzles throughout the game remain challenging enough without being completely impossible and offer a number of different solution options. There is a good amount of re-playability if you are a completionist while remaining strong enough in core game play and story to be satisfying if you choose the straight course. The dialogue throughout is witty, darkly satirical and mostly one sided, as Chell, the character you depict, is presumably mute.

If not for any other reason, you should play this game simply because it is so well crafted. A well told story, with immersive, enjoyable game play that moves quickly without feeling rushed is something to be cherished. You will be surprised by how connected you become to the characters and the world of Portal 2 and like myself; ever hopeful there will be a return there.

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 4 - The Signal (2007)

Sometimes you should just block your ears to the hype of a movie. When you swim in movie news it's hard to do, but sometimes you've just got to switch your brain off and not accept any more information. The Signal is a movie I heard a lot of good things about and at the end of the day it just couldn't live up to the hype.

Probably the closest will get to a Stephen King adaptation of Cell. For those who haven't read the book, what we have, are people who go insane and kill when they hear or watch a mysterious signal coming through tv's, phones, radio's etc. Being a small budget film we don't get to see the full extent of the chaos, but we are given at least enough to string the imagination along.

Story wise we center on two characters Ben and Mya and then have the movie split into three distinct chapters focusing on specific characters. Each chapter is directed by a different director and does suffer for it. Basically an anthology movie but not, it does feel a tad schizophrenic in tone. It's still entertaining but I was definitely more intrigued by other parts.

I got to say that even though it sounds a tad negative I did like The Signal, I was just expecting more due to the praise it received. I mean look at the poster I've used and the quote that was pulled for it. Yep high praise indeed. Still at the core is an interesting idea and it managed to carry that idea without fumbling so some praise should be given.

Honestly if you are looking for something a little different then give The Signal a try, just don't go in expecting something fantastically delivered. It's solid and honestly that's better than a lot of movies out there at the moment.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 3 - The Lords of Salem (2012)

I'm a big fan of Rob Zombie, both his music and his films. I've defended Halloween numerous times and genuinely think that the Devils Rejects is a great horror/exploitation movie. (Okay I may have avoided watching Halloween 2 just because I've heard bad things about it.) Hearing that this would be the last horror film he directs, I knew I had to watch it for Halloween.

This is a much more mature Zombie film that wants to take it's time and build to a shocking conclusion. It shows that the man has a great deal of talent behind the camera and will probably bring a lot to his non horror films. However all is not perfect.

Sherri Moon Zombie is pretty and I can kind of understand why Mr Zombie puts her in front of the camera. However while she can pull of the psychoness of a character like Baby (House of 1000 Corpses/Devil's Rejects), she does struggle with the more serious fare. Having her up front as the lead of the movie might be a bit much for people but I thought she does a competent enough job.

However for me it's Bruce Davison as witch researcher Francis Matthias that really anchored me to the movie. I'm not sure why but I was really drawn into this journey of trying to discover who The Lords of Salem are. If it wasn't for him then I probably wouldn't of liked the movie as much.

As for the film itself, it's firmly in head fuck territory with a lot of scenes and images thrown into to screw with people rather than progress the story. Still it never totally derails the plot, instead we get a focused little movie that shows reality crumbling around our lead. Is it in her head? Is it the lords? There's enough to keep people going

For Rob Zombie fans this movie is a must, for everyone else this is a film that needs to be seen once. Zombie always seems to be stronger when he deals with his own material. I'm glad he's gone out of horror on such a strong note.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 2 - Return to Horror High (1987)

Well I truly wasn't expecting this. Never in my wildest nightmares did I expect to like this. It was a horror movie I hadn't seen and it was free to watch. Expectations were set low and then this movie proceeded to screw around with my head.

We get a film crew making a movie where a gruesome murder took place. However a serial killer starts picking off the crew. Where the movie get's fun is that some scenes are from the movie being made and others are being in reality, add to the fact that the aftermath is being told to by the police, it makes it rather cool to have the various levels of reality playing out.

Where it falls apart is that it get's a little to confusing and it feels that way because it's in love with it's own idea. However it still allows for some fun commentary on the movie making business.

Other than that the movie is covered with 80's cheese and a nice dollop of the red gore. Kills range from fairly boring to creative, and the range of characters were interesting enough to keep my interest level up. And yes a very young George Clooney is in this vehicle but don't expect too much from him.

Lovers of cheesy horror could do a lot worse. The fact that it tries something different should also be commended. Definitely enough entertainment for the Halloween season.

Halloween Horror Marathon: Part 1 - Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation (1995)

Don't ask me why I decided to pick this movie as the first one in the Halloween Horror Marathon. Probably because it was the first movie I saw on Quickflix (Netflix for you Americans)

I could easily just call this a bad movie, but it does try to do something. I'm not sure what it's trying to do, but I think there was supposed to be a message somewhere at the end. Maybe. It's hard to tell when you have a young Matthew McConaughey eating every ounce of scenery within distance.

On top of that we have one of the wimpiest versions of Leather face I've ever seen and a great assortment of teens that just scream dead meat.

One thing I will give this movie is that the character of Jenny (as played by Ms Bridget Jones herself) is actually a female character that actually grows and manages to become strong lead. Now i'm not saying she's any good in the role, but it's nice to see.

If you really want a complete Texas Chainsaw viewing experience then i'm not really going to be able to stop you. However if you want insanity in your daily chainsawing activities then maybe watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. It at least as a chainsaw battle.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Antiviral (2012)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Lisa Berry and Sarah Gadon
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg

David Cronenberg is a director well known for his themes of ‘the other’; transmutation of flesh, breaking down reality. It's probably no surprise then that he is one of my favourite directors of all time. So, upon hearing that his son Brandon was getting into the film making business, I was interested to see if he would fill his daddy’s shoes.

 Well, he certainly does and what’s more I found the content of this film even more fucked up than anything Papa Cronenberg ever came up with. We get a world completely obsessed with celebrity, so much so that people will give themselves the illnesses of their favourite celebrites to feel closer to them. Enter Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), a seller of viruses to the public who also secretly injects himself with his own product. When Syd finds himself infected with a virus that killed his obsession; celebrity Hannah Geist (Sarah Gordon), he must race to find answers and hopefully a cure.

The story itself isn’t that important, what is important to the film is the world. Truly, the Antiviral world, while seemingly unbelievable, has this undertow of celebrity obsession that feels all too real. People eat meat genetically created from celebrity DNA, skin grafts of artificial celeb skin allow a constant tactile connection and of course, the viruses. The images disturb and yet you can’t help but see that this is a potential future we could live to see.

The visuals, the world, the themes and the ideas are all very strong in this movie but I just didn’t give much of a damn about the character or the overall story. It’s a shame as there is a lot to chew on in this and maybe a more relatable character would have made me care about the story. In the end it was almost like a site seeing tour, I didn’t care much for the journey and just wanted to get to the awesome looking bits.

Antiviral is certainly not going to be to everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re wanting an in depth story then you should probably avoid this movie, however there is a lot to actually absorb here if you’re willing. Certainly this is a great starting point for Brandon and I’m at least interested in anything else he does from now on.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: The Purge (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder
Writer: James DeMonaco

What could have been an excellent science fiction setting to really delve into questions of humanity and animalistic nature, is pretty much wasted on a fairly standard ‘hero’s under siege’ film. It’s the biggest problem with The Purge and one that I’m constantly reminded of when it starts to dips its toes into the darker pools. Still, disregarding the absolute waste of great potential, there is a fairly decent but flawed movie present.

At the beginning of the film we are given a quick guide to our family of heroes. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey play the parental figures well enough; however they are never really given much to do. It’s the same story with both the children and the villain of the piece. Looking back now, not much actually happens, other than walking and talking. With the little that he’s given Rhys Wakefield does a great job as the leader of the killers. He’s polite, plays fair, grateful and absolutely bat-shit insane. I wanted more of him.

Hell I wanted more of everything, more action, more character development, more background knowledge, and more information on the purge itself. It’s like fast food; you can eat this good burger but a few minutes later realise that it wasn’t substantial at all and you want more. The Purge has some brilliant ideas, but I never felt like it was substantial.

Creepy masks for all!

When the action does start to occur, it’s actually pretty good. I was drawn in hoping that the family would survive the night’s horrors. The film also does a great job of having two twists. One which is advertised a lot and will draw your focus all so another, smaller twist can come along and stab you in the back. This one small twist gives a character better development in five minutes than the rest of the entire film.

After everything, the movie ends on a mellow note and pretty much does a good job of fading away. The Purge never does anything offensive and might be a good movie to watch on a slow weekend afternoon. Yet you can’t help but stare and wonder what could have been. Maybe one day a movie might revisit the idea’s presented here, but until then The Purge is all we have.