I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Archive for October, 2016

The Thing (1982)

Monday, October 31st, 2016

tn_thething“I don’t know what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off whatever it is.”

In snow, no one can hear you scream. ‘Cause it’s cold. They stayed inside.

John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982) – not to be confused with Christian Nyby’s THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) or Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s THE THING (2011) – is straight up one of the best horror films achieved by mankind so far. It’s relatable but extraordinary, simple but original, blunt but ambiguous. It has quite possibly the most brilliant creature effects ever devised, or at least the only monster arguably weird enough to top ALIEN in the “well, shit, I never even thought of seeing anything like that!” department.

The Thing crash landed on earth some 100,000 years ago, and has only recently been unfrozen to raise a ruckus. A pessimist would say (as Wilford Brimley’s Blair does in the movie) that this is the type of shenanigans that could end the human race in a couple of years. An optimist would say hey, let’s just be thankful the flying saucer didn’t land properly in the first place, we got an extra 100,000 years out of that. (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.

Stake Land II

Friday, October 28th, 2016

tn_stakelandii“I remember everybody, kid. Most of ’em are dead.”

After finally watching STAKE LAND six years after the fact I looked it up on IMDb and was surprised to learn that they already made a sequel that just premiered on SyFy last week and was free on-demand through the 30th. Pretty good timing.

It’s directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, who wrote the upcoming Dolph Lundgren picture DON’T KILL IT. Don’t worry. Part 1’s Jim Mickle did produce it along with Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix, and Nick Damici returns as screenwriter and starring as Mister, as does Connor Paolo as Martin. It’s not some bullshit TV exploitation of the title, it’s a legit sequel that they made and then must’ve gotten more money from SyFy than they would’ve going the normal VOD-then-video route. So more power to them.

(On the other hand, there seem to be virtually no reviews of it and not even poster art available online. Does anyone even know it came out?) (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.

Stake Land

Friday, October 28th, 2016

tn_stakelandI’m real late to figuring out that STAKE LAND is good. I mean, I saw good reviews in Fangoria or somewhere but, not being familiar with director Jim Mickle (COLD IN JULY, MULBERRY STREET) or co-writer/star Nick Damici at the time, I pictured a different type of low budget zombie-apocalypse-except-with-vampires-instead-of-zombies movie. I must’ve thought it would be something more poser-y, more SyFy-y, more guy-trying-to-be-Bruce-Campbell-or-somebody. I saw Damici with his sunglasses on the cover and imagined a regular guy overreaching in the badass department, when in fact he’s a great character actor being given proper respect as a lead badass without having to leave behind any of his actorly chops.

This is cheap but not at all cheesy. It’s artfully moody, takes place in a fully-realized post-apocalyptic world, is thoroughly grim and serious but not without its fantastical flourishes. It’s not one of those genre deconstructions that deconstructs out all the ingredients you paid for – it has cool monsters and gore. What it lacks in humor it makes up for in the warmth of strangers bonding, working together in a disaster and hoping for a promised land. It’s a good balance of THE ROAD with John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES. (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.

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

tn_halloween6I’ve enjoyed rewatching this Jamie Lloyd trilogy of HALLOWEEN sequels. I never liked them, hadn’t watched them enough to remember them very well, but they look better on Blu-Ray and this is the most I’ve ever enjoyed parts RETURN and REVENGE.

CURSE, though, is a tough one. This is just not a good movie. But worth discussing anyway.

It starts unlike any HALLOWEEN movie. A young woman is about to give birth. There’s a medical staff pushing her on a bed down long hallways, beneath pipes, into some kind of boiler room type area, and eventually what doesn’t even look like a hospital. Now they’re in some place lit by candles and wall torches like the arena in BLOODSPORT, and she does not seem to be having her health care choices respected. This is actually supposed to be Michael’s niece Jamie Lloyd, but she’s now played by decent lookalike J.C. Brandy (WHAT LIES BENEATH). (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.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

tn_halloween5By HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS, it is clear that we’ve fully transitioned into HALLOWEEN, an ongoing series from producer Moustapha Akkad, as opposed to the creation of John Carpenter. We still have Carpenter’s characters of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, but we’ve forgotten all about Laurie and moved on to the story of her daughter Jamie (who it’s hard to associate with Laurie, since we never saw them together). This one is much less of a rehash of the original than part 4, and it digs into the series tradition of really fuckin stretchin it in getting themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into last time. They actually went into production before part 4 came out so they could have it done the next year, yet it seems like separate people trying to figure out how the fuck to follow up a part 4 ending they had no control over. That gives it kind of an adventure serial cliffhanger type of feel, I guess. How will The Shape get out of this mess? Find out next time!

In part 4 they had to undo Loomis (Donald Pleasance) having blown himself and Michael sky high in part 2. They handled that by just having both of them alive but burnt. This time they have to undo part 4’s ending, where Michael was shot to death by cops and collapsed into an abandoned mine, but his evil spirit and/or curse was passed on to his little niece Jamie Lloyd, and she stabbed her step mom in the tradition of little Michael killing his sister in the opening of part 1. (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.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

tn_halloween4These days we got that thing of the remaquel, where they try to get an old series going again with new characters but they’re kinda just tracing over the first movie, because they know we’d get scared and cry if we had to accept something new that we weren’t already comfortable with from having seen it a bunch of times before. That seems kinda natural in a pop culture landscape where people demand regurgitations of their favorite “properties” and  even the “new” things they like pay fetishistic tribute to old movies through retro style and nostalgic references. But it’s not a new trick.

Take, for example, 1988’s HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. John Carpenter had not intended to turn his 1978 smash hit into a series of slasher sequels, nor had there been much of a precedent for that type of thing. After producing, scoring and reworking the direct continuation HALLOWEEN II (1981), he went to his preferred idea of producing HALLOWEEN III as an unrelated, Halloween-set horror story, turning it into an anthology series, causing confusion and disappointment at the time.

That was 1982. Next thing you know it’s 1988, ten years after the first one. Freddy is appearing in his fourth movie. Jason is appearing in his fifth (part 7 of a series that started after HALLOWEEN). John Carpenter is off making THEY LIVE and wants nothing to do with this slasher icon shit. But HALLOWEEN is financier Moustapha Akkad’s job now, so he’s gonna make another one no matter what and he’s gonna call it THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS just so everybody is clear. (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.

See No Evil 2

Monday, October 24th, 2016

tn_seenoevil2SEE NO EVIL was the flagship title for the prestigious WWE Films banner. Directed by porn industry legend Gregory Dark, it’s a trashy, ugly slasher movie about a big sexually repressed oaf (WWE Superstar Glenn “Kane” Jacobs) who lives in an abandoned hotel and collects the eyeballs of people he catches having sex. I enjoyed it in a FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel type of way and I have no excuse for why it took me this long to catch up with the 2014 sequel, especially since in my review I swore “on Jacob Goodnight’s piss-smelling grave that I would pay money to see him undead in a sequel.”

Though made eight years later, the sequel picks up immediately after the original as the bodies start arriving at the morgue. It’s not a 2006 period piece, though – there are up-to-date phones, and a mention of Twitter (which was launched about 2 months after part 1 was released). It would be interesting to watch them back to back and see if it works. I can’t really remember if the first one mentions MySpace or says “Gerald Ford is still alive” or anything dated like that.

This one is about Amy (Danielle Harris, MARKED FOR DEATH, THE LAST BOY SCOUT), a medical examiner working a long shift on her birthday. Geeky co-worker Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) surprises her with a cake. I’m not sure about eating something that was put under a blanket on a slab in the morgue for a surprise, but I guess movie morticians are always eating big sloppy sandwiches while they work to show how over it they are. This is tame in comparison. (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.

Destroyer

Friday, October 21st, 2016

tn_destroyerslashersearch16In the late ’80s there was a mini-slasher-subgenre about killers who continue their careers post-execution, including PRISON (1987), THE HORROR SHOW (1989), SHOCKER (1989) and THE FIRST POWER (1990). Before all of those that were not directed by Renny Harlin was DESTROYER starring ex-NFL star Lyle Alzado as insufficiently electric-chaired killer Ivan Moser. He’s pretty much the worst guy to ever meet: a giant muscleman convicted of “the rape and murder of 23 men, women and children” who thinks killing is hilarious and likes to cackle about it.

They put a whole bunch of electricity into that bastard, but a riot causes the power to go out and he gets up out of the chair. Or at least something like that happened if we can believe the opening sequence that turns out to be the nightmare of stuntwoman/Final Girl Susan Malone (Deborah Foreman, VALLEY GIRL, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, WAXWORK), who’s spooked by her screenwriter boyfriend David Harris (Clayton Rohner, JUST ONE OF THE GUYS, APRIL FOOL’S DAY, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE III)’s research into the Moser case. (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.

Mulberry Street

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

tn_mulberrystreetMULBERRY STREET is a low budget horror indie with a completely unique feel. It’s basically another zombie outbreak movie, but none of it takes place on farms, in fields, on country roads, in abandoned factories or military bases. No, it takes place right in the middle of Manhattan, focusing on the diverse residents of one small apartment building. This particular zombie problem disproportionately affects the poor because the infection comes from rats. People get bit and then they act weird and sometimes they start to grow hair on the top of their ears, and their teeth, uh…

Well, they turn into rat people. Okay, I don’t like that part. But I was able to forgive it.

Before I scare you off, let me tell you what inspired me to rent it: it’s the feature debut of Jim Mickle, who directed COLD IN JULY. And I actually didn’t realize this, but the lead is Nick Damici, who is his co-writer and also appears in his movies STAKE LAND, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE and COLD IN JULY. (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.

Edge of the Axe

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

tn_edgeoftheaxeslashersearch16EDGE OF THE AXE is a 1988 slasher movie that looks and feels a few years earlier to me. It’s got a masked killer and a whodunit and most of what you need besides some imagination.

It starts pretty legit with a nurse getting her car washed, enjoying a cigarette inside when suddenly a dude in a featureless white mask appears and axes her through the windshield. Blood drips down the inside of the passenger side window while suds drip down the outside.

This same masked man (or at least a guy in the same outfit) starts chopping up people in a small town nearby, and the cops and citizens try to figure out who it is.

Gerald (Barton Faulks, FUTURE-KILL) is a young man who rides a motorcycle, so he’s a rugged individualist, but he wears a helmet, so he’s unusually safety conscious for a movie character of the time. He just bought a new computer and he’s excited about it, so he’s also a genius or a nerd or something. He works as an exterminator with his buddy Richard Simmons (Page Mosely, GIRLS NITE OUT) who is not the famous aerobics instructor, but a tail-chasing jock dude who wears bodybuilding shirts and plays darts. (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.