“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for October, 2007

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

This is the true story of a series of murders in Texarkana shortly after World War II. So it could also be called THE TOWN THAT COMBINED THE NAMES OF TEXAS AND ARKANSAS INTO ONE NAME AND THAT ALSO DREADED SUNDOWN. That doesn’t have the same rhythm to it though, I think they made the right decision.

This is a weird movie. It starts clunkily with corny narration about “the story you are about to see,” and the narrator pops up throughout the movie as if it’s an educational film. The actors in the small roles are obviously not actors, some of them are terrible. The filmatism is what you would call “crude and workmanlike” or maybe “serviceable” – although of course it’s a faded, full frame out of print VHS so maybe some day if they give it the Blue Underground or Dark Sky treatment it will turn out to be a fuckin masterpiece of photographical genius. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Shivers

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I cannot in good conscience recommend SHIVERS to everybody. In fact, I saw it a long time ago and didn’t get into it, but recently I felt like watching the early Cronenbergs again and this time around I enjoyed it. It’s Cronenberg’s first feature film and it is also known as THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, but should be called ZOMBIE PERVERTS or even FUCKED BY ZOMBIES.

Well, they’re not technically zombies. It’s about a sexually transmitted disease. I didn’t do this on purpose, but this is yet another apartment complex based horror. It takes place at this upscale complex called Starliner Estates, which is actually on an island so it’s isolated and has its own medical facilities and armed security. The lead is not your typical horror movie lead. He’s a middle aged doctor, head of the Starliner Medical Department, and he has some of the mannerisms of Gary Shandling. When the movie starts the infection in the apartments has already began: a former teacher of the doctor is attacking a woman in a school girl outfit. And he kills her and burns her with acid. Not cool. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Jigsaw Needs to Study Up on Vincent Price

Friday, October 26th, 2007

The 2000s have seen plenty of horror movies, remakes, sequels, remake prequels, etc. But no 21st century horror series has set up shop like Saw, out of which part IV opens this weekend. Few series gets past part II these days, so having a part IV makes Saw‘s antagonist Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the closest thing today’s little horror fans have to a Freddy or a Jason.

But in truth Jigsaw’s shtick is not like any of the ’80s slashers. He’s more reminiscent of two characters played by Vincent Price: Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and Edward Lionheart (Theater of Blood). These guys are all bitter, arrogant old men who believe they have been wronged. They have a knack for setting up elaborate, sadistic traps, for eluding the authorities, for giving away clues without being caught. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Pass the Torture Porn, Please

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

When critics talk about drawing a line… what are they talking about?

In 1974, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales described The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as “the latest discouraging entry in a horror movie subgenre that might be called gorenography–films that strive not so much to shock or frighten as merely to sicken.” He wrote that “The Exorcist brought the cheap shocks to the mass movie market” and described a “post ‘Exorcist‘ era” where horror movies have “no characters of any depth to identify with or cheer on as the monster approaches; there is little if any cleverly contrived suspense; and the film quickly becomes not a who-dun-it but a who-gets-it-next.”

Thirty-three years later, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is still one of the best horror movies ever made. It was even selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. And The Exorcist‘s reputation isn’t too shabby either. Yet somehow the sky has not fallen. Civilization continues unabated. The innocence of children and puppies remains intact. Horror movies still frighten as well as sicken and have characters to cheer on as they face cleverly contrived suspense, like Sally in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In short, Tom Shales didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, and he was wrong. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vern Calls URBAN JUSTICE A Masterpiece!

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

I can’t believe my weekend includes a brand-new Vern review for a brand-new Steven Seagal film. And, no, he doesn’t actually call it a masterpiece. But he does seem somewhat excited… and with good reason. He’s got something to announce. Something… oh, you’ll see.

I must have done something really right this week to deserve this, eh?

URBAN JUSTICE
starring Steven Seagal

PREAMBLE

You know, there are movies, and then there are Steven Seagal movies. And you know what else? There are Steven Seagal movies, and then there are direct-to-video Steven Seagal movies. Seagal has made 13 DTV movies since his last theatrical, HALF PAST DEAD, came out in 2002. In 2003, 2006 and 2007 he was able to release three movies a year. For 2008 he already has three in progress. In 2005 he actually did four. So this is a guy who shows up in your video store almost as often as the seasons change. Which makes his DTV Era a god damn force of nature. Almost. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

30 Days of Night

Friday, October 19th, 2007

You know that part of Alaska you always hear about where the sun stops coming up for a month every year? Well, wouldn’t it suck if a bunch of vampires tried to take advantage of that? That is the question posed by 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. And the answer quickly becomes clear: yes, it would suck if they did that. Fuckin vampires. Basically this is a remake of that Paul Walker movie 8 BELOW except instead of sled dogs stranded in the snow it’s people, and instead of a killer sea lion there’s vampires.

Although this has some of the weaknesses that are common in modern horror, it’s by no means your average horror movie that you would expect to come out these days. The tone is much more serious. The soundtrack is quieter. It is more about atmosphere and dread than they usually bother with anymore. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Rest Stop

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

What better location could there possibly be for a horror movie than a rest stop? I mean obviously when people think of scary places for a horror movie they think of old spooky houses, haunted mansions and castles, dark caves and tunnels, cabins in the woods, woods in general, hospitals and asylums, abandoned amusement parks, wax museums, slaughter houses, seemingly normal suburban neighborhoods, backwards rural towns, rusty sheds, dilapidated huts, eerie villages, summer camps, ordinary high schools, old boarding houses and conservatories, orphanages, hotels, churches, curiosity shops, opera houses, abandoned mannequin factories, deserts, Antarctic outposts, laboratories, graveyards, tombs, morgues, farmhouses, mysterious islands, dungeons, torture chambers, basements, carnivals and circuses, movie theaters, libraries, malls, grocery stores, dirty warehouses, last houses on the left, etc. to name a few.

But what is the one thing that most of those places have in common? You are not there right now. So you would have to travel to get there. And with the exception of (arguably) the mysterious island you would most likely have to drive there. And if it was a long way from where you are now you might have to stop and pee at some point before you get there. BAM! That’s where the rest stop comes in. I feel I have just proven that a rest stop is more of a threat to you than a torture chamber. So be careful. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Eaten Alive

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

2-disc special edition DVD review

NOTE: If there are out-of-place references in this review it’s because I originally submitted it to The Ain’t It Cool News. However, due to its controversial nature (i.e. nobody gives a shit) they didn’t run it so here it is.

This week the 25th anniversary edition of Tobe Hooper’s POLTERGEIST comes out, you may have seen that mentioned once or twice. But this week also marks another important landmark for Tobe Hooper: the two week anniversary of the release of Dark Sky’s EATEN ALIVE (aka DEATH TRAP) special edition. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Someone’s Watching Me!

Friday, October 5th, 2007

John Carpenter is on my list of top directors. HALLOWEEN, THE THING, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THEY LIVE – all by the same guy? Not to mention DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA… well, you have IMDb. Point is the guy has done a tone of what I consider classics, and most of the rest are real good or at least pretty interesting. I’ll watch any of them. I watched BODY BAGS last year. I watched MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, and it wasn’t too bad actually. The two MASTERS OF HORROR episodes he did with my internet buds Moriarty and Scott Swan were cool as far as TV goes. Even VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, I was surprised, that was pretty good too. And CHRISTINE. The guy is good.

So a couple weeks ago I realized, shit, I’ve seen all of ’em except ELVIS: THE MOVIE. I’d been meaning to rent that one and so that day I finally decided to do it, get everything on the John Carpenter list crossed off. It was a 3 hour TV movie originally but the VHS release is a 2 hour theatrical cut. It’s slick and well made and it’s basically every musician biopic cliche all lined up in a row: the discovery of talent, the loyalty to old friends, spending money on the naive parents, the first girlfriend who leaves him, the new love, winning over her parents, the honeymoon is over (why the fuck you gonna marry Elvis and then ask him to stop doing music!?), the fall from grace, the amazing comeback. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Eastern Promises

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Viggo Mortensen is a damn contortionist of the face. He stretches and twists that motherfucker from regular Viggo face into badass Russian gangster face. His eyebrows and the lines on his forehead turn into an arch. His mouth twists and curls into an arrogant smirk. The slash-like lines on his cheekbones suck extra deep into his skull. I could’ve sworn the motherfucker even created a dimple on his chin somehow, like through some weird breathing technique, but I checked photos and it turns out he already had that. But it fits his character well. That’s just the chin dimple a Russian gangster like that would have.

After all those years of great supporting performances, and then hitting the lottery by being the king that returned in RETURN OF THE KING, now he is getting the roles he was born for. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is my favorite of his movies so far, so I’m glad he’s reteaming with Dave Cronenberg here. Hopefully they will continue to collaborate for at least one more movie, it could be known as “the Viggronenberg Gangster Trilogy.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.