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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

He Never Died

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

In HE NEVER DIED (2015), Henry Rollins (JOHNNY MNEMONIC) plays Jack, which is the guy mentioned in the title, the one who hasn’t experienced death so far. He’s an immortal who just lives a boring life in a dingy apartment, mostly sleeping, sometimes playing Bingo, paying his rent in cash from a box of hundreds he has under the bed. Cara (Kate Greenhouse, TERMINAL RUSH), a waitress at the diner he goes to every day, seems to like him, but I’m not sure why. He shows little emotion or enthusiasm and seems uninterested in understanding normal human social interactions.

This is the story of the time a young woman (Jordan Todosey, THE PACIFIER, Degrassi: The Next Generation) knocks on his door and runs off and then he gets a call from a long-ago ex who he hates who says that was his daughter and can he please find her and make sure she doesn’t drive home drunk, because that’s what she does. Around this same time he’s also getting threats from some gangsters for reasons he doesn’t understand, or seem that interested in understanding.

So it turns into a story about this gruff, seemingly heartless weirdo accidentally forming a bond with his young misfit daughter – a common format, I know, but one I’m always a sucker for. And then the gangsters notice there’s this person in his life, so the two things become intertwined. (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 (2018)

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

(Many SPOILERS in this review, I’m not gonna label all of them)

HALLOWEEN is the new HALLOWEEN in the HALLOWEEN series – the original HALLOWEEN series, not the remake, HALLOWEEN. HALLOWEEN takes place 40 years after HALLOWEEN and acts as if it is the only sequel ever made to HALLOWEEN. So really it could be called HALLOWEEN II, but maybe that would be confusing since there are already two movies called HALLOWEEN II: HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN II.

Other than being produced by Blumhouse, this one’s not coming from any of the usual horror suspects. It’s the first horror movie, sequel or licensed property movie from director/co-writer David Gordon Green, who is best known in my opinion for writing the introduction to my book Seagalogy, but also directed GEORGE WASHINGTON, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, JOE, STRONGER, etc. He wrote it with Jeff Fradley (Vice Principals) and Danny McBride, who he turned into an actor by having him play “Bust-Ass” in ALL THE REAL GIRLS fifteen years ago and continued with PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, YOUR HIGHNESS and Eastbound & Down. McBride is usually a comedy guy, but remember he also got killed by a faced xenomorphs in ALIEN: COVENANT. So he’s legit.

Since this is a return to the original series, with no dumbass Weinstein involvement, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode, and most surprisingly with John Carpenter executive producing and scoring for the first time since HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH in 1982, there are some high hopes. If you’re not a fan of slasher sequels and want something that transcends them, you might be disappointed. For me, though, it’s a satisfying treat that revisits the series template and most important character with many scenes of great tension and without committing common franchise horror sins like obnoxious characters, overly polished look or intrusive rock ‘n roll soundtrack. (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.

Malevolence 3: Killer

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

(I’m not gonna count this as a Slasher Search since it’s a new movie I had been anticipating, but it’s the completion of a trilogy that I reviewed the first two-thirds of in Slasher Search 2012)

Years ago there was this weird pill junkie guy I knew who obsessive-compulsively watched stacks of crappy murder mystery movies that nobody even around here ever heard of, and he kept telling me there was this amazing horror movie called MALEVOLENCE (2003). I had to know what it was this guy was so obsessed with, but as expected it was kind of cheap and ugly. “But it has its moments. I like what it’s going for I guess” raves Outlawvern.com.

When I was looking it up on IMDb to write a review I noticed that writer-director Stevan Mena made another movie in 2010 called BEREAVEMENT that had some of the same character names. Turned out it was a prequel.

And to my surprise I really liked it! It’s got little in the way of originality, and it’s more nihilistic than I generally prefer, but with a bigger budget and more experienced cast he was able to make a creepy, atmospheric, character-driven riff on TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE type material. (And then his great heroine Alexandra Daddario got to star in the officially licensed but not as good TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D. “Do your thing, cous’!”) (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.

Blood Tracks

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

I noticed there are a couple still-only-on-VHS horror movies that are heavy metal themed, and that also seems to be a motif through some of the modern horror I’ve been enjoying like DEVIL’S CANDY and MANDY, so I decided to take a look at them in this special Slasher Search investigation (in association with Tape Raider). This first one is from 1985 and it’s about a hair metal or whatever type of band who make two major mistakes

1) For some reason thinking that a remote mountain area is a cool place to film their new video

2) Choosing the remote mountain area that’s protected by a family of anti-social brutes.

3) You know what, I’m gonna count #1 as two mistakes because why they hell did they think this would look cool in a video? It doesn’t even look cool in a horror movie. (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.

Silent Rage

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

I don’t consider myself a Chuck Norris fan, but I love INVASION USA and obviously he’s in my favorite Bruce Lee movie WAY OF THE DRAGON and okay, LONE WOLF McQUADE is pretty good and I have to admit I enjoyed DELTA FORCE 2 and also the first MISSING IN ACTION is kinda stupid fun so okay, maybe I like some of his movies, big deal, I could stop at any time.

I watched SILENT RAGE because Panos Cosmatos mentioned it on Shock Waves as a rare example of action-horror. Obviously that’s a hybrid genre that has some appeal to me because it’s my two favorite types of movies combined into one super-movie (and because it’s what I’m trying to do in that next novel I’m perpetually on the verge of finishing).

The highlight of SILENT RAGE is definitely the opening, a long, boiling-over-pot of a sequence that reminds me of the deft camera mastery of HALLOWEEN‘s opening and the stand-alone intensity of SCREAM‘s. It’s just about this guy John Kirby (Brian Libby, ACTION JACKSON, THE MIST) at home in Dallas one random day and the kids are running around causing havoc and the wife is sniping at them and nobody’s paying any attention to him but us as he is sweaty and shaking, talking to his doctor on the phone, vaguely asking for help. Then he says “I’m not gonna make it,” hangs up and stumbles to the chicken coop out back. We stay inside watching out the window and the family is still completely oblivious to anything being wrong as he returns with an ax. (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.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Monday, October 15th, 2018

How many times will I have to write a variation of this: “Yeah, I know, I didn’t think I wanted any new zombie movies either, but here’s another one I liked”? No one knows. WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD (2014) feels a little bit more like a normal zombie movie than THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS or TRAIN TO BUSAN did, but it has an energy that I really like. It’s Australian and proud of it, oi oi oi, by which I mean that when a quote on the cover calls it “MAD MAX meets DAWN OF THE DEAD” it’s not that far off.

It starts right around the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, the morning after a freaky meteor shower, when most but not all people have gone ghoul. It centers on a small group of survivors, flashing back to show how it started for each of them. The lead, Barry (Jay Gallagher), kept reminding me of Scott Adkins, and though not a martial artist his character is a fighter, as in he gets in fights. In fact, early on, when a zombie is blocking the road and Barry’s companion (Yure Covich, FEED) is saying he “just can’t get used to” them existing, Barry says “Fuck it, I’m gonna fight ‘im,” gets out of the car and starts punching the thing. (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.

Pet Sematary II

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Many horror movies, maybe even most, teach us that no matter what life throws at us, we can get through it. We can survive. Some of us. Hopefully. Most of the time.

But the practice of sequelizing in horror has taught us the more pessimistic lesson that in the long run shit really doesn’t get better. Maybe for a minute it does after the bad things happen and then the evil leaves for a while. But a couple years later maybe some new people come along and the evil comes back and does the bad things to them. And usually not as cool as the first time. The shriveling circle of death.

And so it is with PET SEMATARY II*. Released in 1992, three years after the first one, it’s once again directed by Mary Lambert (MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID), with new screenwriter Richard Outten (JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, uncredited rewrites on GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH) and no Stephen King book to base it on.

*VERY IMPORTANT TITLE NOTE: The posters and other advertising materials spelled it out as PET SEMATARY TWO, a rare practice that I’m a big fan of. However, I try to follow the rule of using the title shown on screen in the actual movie, which in this case uses the Roman numeral II.

The good news, though: Look at this fucking logo! The movie itself is fun but the logo is the best thing in it!

(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.

Def By Temptation

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

I remember DEF BY TEMPTATION (1990) seeming like an important indie movie at the time. Robert Townsend and then Spike Lee had created this excitement around the new black cinema in the late ’80s. This one predates Matty Rich’s STRAIGHT OUT OF BROOKLYN by a month and John Singleton’s BOYZ N THE HOOD by a year, and represents the movement extending into the horror genre half a decade before Rusty Cundieff’s TALES FROM THE HOOD.

Writer-director-producer-actor James Bond III made his low budget story of a vampire in the dating scene in New York, with Troma coming in to give him finishing funds. So Lloyd Kaufman provides an introduction with some fun trivia on the crappily transferred 20th Anniversary Edition DVD, including that he had to take over as cinematographer for one of the climactic scenes. That’s notable because the rest of the movie is, as the credits say, “shot by Ernest Dickerson,” who was definitely hot shit because he’d already done THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, KRUSH GROOVE, SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, SCHOOL DAZE and DO THE RIGHT THING. (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.

Furry Nights

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

I’ve been saying for a little while now that a scary idea for a horror movie would be a TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or HILLS HAVE EYES type of setup, but the killers are furries. You know, they wear masks, they have a different way of life that’s hard for us to relate to, they may even behave like animals. It’s kind of a goofy idea but I really think it could be scary.

I admit that this is prejudicial on my part. People role playing as cartoon animals is something that I don’t understand and that makes me uncomfortable – that doesn’t mean I should judge people for it. But there’s this documentary called FURSONAS. I haven’t seen it, but do a Google image search for the title and you’ll probly see the cover, with its cartoon dog mask. Fairly non-threatening, but creeps me out, maybe because I associate it with the kinds of pictures you’ll see around it. You’ll get many wolf, leopard and fox people drawn from all angles. Doing the search now I see a goat boy with no genitals but very human muscles and ass. I see a donkey with nipples wearing a leash and bikini with a huge bulge. (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.

Hell Fest

Monday, October 8th, 2018

HELL FEST is a mainstream horror movie released on 2,297 screens by Lionsgate, but I never saw a trailer for it and only heard of it because Brian Collins recommended it on Twitter (he also interviewed the director). So I guess social media can still work for good old fashioned word of mouth, not just Russian disinformation campaigns.

For people who like horror but get bored of formula and cliche, this is probly nothing special. But for horror fans like me who enjoy variations on tradition, it’s a surprise treat: a slick, well-made straight-ahead slasher movie with some cool ideas, production value, a solid cast, even likable characters. I honestly thought they couldn’t make movies like this anymore – it seems straight from the post-SCREAM slasher revival, except without any meta stuff (other than we’re having fun being scared while the characters are having fun being scared). Also, no big names in the cast. The only face I recognized besides cameo-ing Tony Todd was Bex Taylor-Klaus from Scream: The TV Series. (But maybe others would be known to me if I was younger.) (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.