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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

3 From Hell

Friday, October 18th, 2019

(I guess I should always say this, but SPOILERS)

The psychotic Firefly clan – introduced in Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003) and made more vivid in THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005) are finally back in 3 FROM HELL, another mix of sun-soaked fugitive murder spree and stylized cartoon that’s at least a little bit of a comeback for Zombie after the crowd-sourced 31 (2016). That one had nice cinematography and performances but it was such a limp “I guess this is the kind of shit you expect from me?” greatest hits throwaway I couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to write a review.

Since 3 FROM HELL is not as good as REJECTS, and not as big of a leap from its previous chapter, it doesn’t feel entirely necessary. And that makes it harder to ignore the hollowness of these movies. As far as I can tell they’re not saying much, just trying to be provocatively inappropriate, and they’re less about human beings than about Zombie’s fetishes: weird clowns, redneck chic, tattoos, bushy beards, satanic symbols, Manson Family nostalgia, ’70s rock montages, kitschy western gear over cheeky retro-t-shirts, black and white monster movies playing on old TVs. But I can appreciate most of that stuff, so I can enjoy an occasional dip into Zombie’s distinct mix of uncomfortably fucked up shit, cool visuals, some laughs and some stretches where you realize you’re too invested in these terrible people and feel like an asshole. (read the rest of this shit…)

Possession: Until Death Do You Part

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

POSSESSION: UNTIL DEATH DO YOU PART is a 1987 low budget slasher movie that’s not, as far as I can tell, a sequel to Andrzej Zulawski’s POSSESSION. That’s too bad, because there’s plenty of room for DTV type followups to that one. It could just be in the rehash style of WILD THINGS 2 or CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 – some other couple breaking up with one of them fucking a weird blob of tentacles. You could gender swap or you could have it be the two blobs are breaking up and one is fucking a human, there are many ways to mix it up. Or of course if it was me I would try to get Sam Neill to come back (or recast with Billy Zane) and lean heavily into his character’s background as a spy. More of a shitty cloak and dagger thing but with relationships and slime and what not. This movie has none of that.

It opens with a dude dragging a dead woman by one arm from the yard of his big house to a spot just inside the surrounding woods, where he digs her a grave. At first they’re not showing his face, but then they do, and he’s babbling animatedly about having thought she was different or some bullshit like that. His name is Frankie (John Robert Johnston, who became an executive producer of reality shows including Rampage, When Vacations Attack, Pranked and Bad Dog!), and he’s got a bunch of other dead women in his closet, plus he kidnaps a live one named Madeline (Sharlene Martin from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN) from a parking garage. He brings her home, says weird things to her, forces her to put on his mom’s dress, yells at her when she pulls down her top for a second because what if Mother saw her do that!? (read the rest of this shit…)

Possession

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

I’ve been meaning to see POSSESSION – the 1981 French/West German co-production from Polish director Andrzej Zulawski – for years. I’ve heard superlatives from its devotees, knowing little of its plot, just a description of its strange, arty vibe. But holy shit does it live up to the hype!

It’s a crazy fuckin horror movie. It’s a crazier fuckin relationship drama. Mark (Sam Neill right after OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT) comes home to Berlin from a business trip, meets his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani, THE DRIVER) outside their apartment, is frustrated that she hasn’t made a decision yet. It seems things are not working, they don’t know what to do, and are doing a bad job of faking it in front of their young son Bob (Michael Hogben). Anna is manic and indecisive, and Mark finds out she’s been sleeping with some guy he doesn’t know named Heinrich (Heinz Bennent, THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM). (read the rest of this shit…)

Near Dark

Monday, October 14th, 2019

NEAR DARK is what happens when young, hungry Kathryn Bigelow comes off of co-directing the arty biker movie THE LOVELESS and teams up with the writer of THE HITCHER to do horror movies. She and Eric Red sat down and wrote two scripts together, one for each to direct. A producer says on the making-of featurette that he trusted her to direct, then admits he told her up front that she had three days to convince him not to fire her.

Man, firing her would’ve been a huge fuck up! It’s definitely a cool scenario they came up with, but the primary appeal of the movie is Bigelow’s style, mood, attitude. I suppose the alternate timeline scab that took over would’ve at least had the great cast she put together. Yes, three of them (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein) had already been together in ALIENS (a movie that exists in some form within the NEAR DARK universe, unless the “ALIEN5” we see on a marquee meant PROMETHEUS). Bigelow correctly guessed that they’d not only be perfect for the characters, but would carry over a chemistry and familiarity that would work well as this outlaw family. Reportedly she hired them all separately and all were worried about the perception of following ALIENS with a low budget vampire movie. But they knew what they were doing. They chose right. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bedevilled

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

BEDEVILLED is a powerful South-Korean film from 2010 about a disastrous reunion between childhood friends on the tiny, barely populated island of Mu-do. From the cover I expected something more gothic and intensely gory, and maybe supernatural? But it’s not like that. It’s all leading up to a bloodbath, so I wouldn’t deny its horror credentials. But it mostly plays out as a very involving character drama. So keep that in mind if planning a Halloween celebration.

It’s definitely a morality tale. Hae-won (Ji Sung-won, EMPIRE OF LUST) is a young bank worker in Seoul. At the beginning she coldly refuses to loan to a woman who’s about to lose her home. It reminded me of DRAG ME TO HELL, but she doesn’t get cursed for it, and she’s not doing it under professional pressure. In fact when she steps out her co-worker takes over and does help the woman. So it establishes her lack of compassion. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rush Week

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

One problem with doing Slasher Search every year is that I’ve watched so many vaguely similar movies that they really blend together. It’s disturbing how many times I’ve looked at a box having little idea if I’ve seen it or not. So when I came across RUSH WEEK I had to think it through. I’d seen FINAL EXAM, THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, KILLER PARTY, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE, THE INITIATION, GIRLS NITE OUT… but no, this was an ’80s college campus slasher movie I had not seen.

At least it was supposed to be an ’80s movie. It was made in ’88, but it went straight to video in ’91. So it’s from when Chucky and Maniac Cop were born, HELLRAISER, PHANTASM, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and FRIGHT NIGHT were at Part II, and Michael Meyers was returning, but it came out when SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was best picture and they were killing off Freddy and moving on to finding people under the stairs and shit. It was left over from another era, not just in its approach to horror, but in its glorification of dumb fraternity assholes. It sort of centers on frat president Jeff Jacobs (Dean Hamilton, who went on to write, direct and produce such films as SAVAGE LAND starring Corbin Bernsen and BLONDE AND BLONDER starring Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards) and his rivalry with some other more preppie frat. They play such hilarious pranks as going to the other house’s presentation to tell parents “we’re the first homosexual fraternity on campus” and replace part of a film they’re showing with gay porn. (read the rest of this shit…)

I Spit On Your Grave De Ja Vu

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Last year, Jamie Lee Curtis returned as Laurie Strode in the new HALLOWEEN, exploring what life might be like for a horror heroine 40 years after she faced down evil. But did you know there was another late sequel to an iconic slasher film from 1978? I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DE JA VU (full end credits title: “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DE JA VU a.k.a. DAY OF THE WOMAN DE JA VU”) is a writer/director Meir Zarchi’s direct sequel to his infamous rape-revenge film, with Camille Keaton (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) returning to her role as feminist writer turned violent avenger Jennifer Hills. It was filmed in 2015, but not released until disc and VOD last April.

Things seem to have turned out all right for Jennifer. She’s an author and counselor for rape victims. She doesn’t treat her violent past as a dark secret – in fact, she wrote a new best selling book about it. As the original film’s famous tagline predicted, “No jury in America would convict her!” And she’s close with her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette, MORTDECAI), a world famous model who’s thinking of retiring. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Boy

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

THE BOY (2016) is a slight but enjoyable little PG-13 horror movie about taking a weird job. Greta (Lauren Cohan, DEATH RACE 2, Maggie from The Walking Dead) is a Montanan trying to get as far the fuck as she can away from an abusive ex (Ben Robson, DRACULA: THE DARK PRINCE, Vikings, Animal Kingdom), so she flies to a remote castle somewhere in the UK to work as the nanny for a rich couple called the Heelshires. The mom (Diana Hardcastle, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL) immediately seems to be judging her, while the dad (Jim Norton, STRAW DOGS, MARY POPPINS RETURNS) is looser, but distant. When they introduce her to their son Brahms, he’s not what she expected. Like, she expected a human child made out of flesh. Instead he’s a porcelain doll propped up in a chair. She thinks they’re making a joke at first, so she laughs, and they look at her like she just took a shit on their floor. Maybe they should’ve been more specific in the CraigsList ad.

It’s a good “What would you do?” scenario. She came all the way out here, she probly needs the money, and you could assume “nannying” a doll might be easier than being responsible for a living human being. On the other hand, what the fuck, right? You’re gonna get paid by weirdos to pretend all day? Mrs. Heelshire gives her a detailed schedule of everything she’s supposed to do for this doll, has a million strict rules, watches her and keeps telling her she’s doing things wrong. Even if it pays well, how much advanced doll-playing would you be able to stomach? (read the rest of this shit…)

Wolves

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The 2014 werewolf romp WOLVES did not get a wide release, and has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I got stuck scrolling for a horror movie to watch one night, found it on that ad-supported streaming service Tubi, and remembered it had Jason Momoa in it, so I watched it. And it fulfilled its duties.

I’m sure WOLVES – which is the directorial debut of X-MEN/THE SCORPION KING/X2/WATCHMEN screenwriter David Hayter – was greenlit due to the popularity of TWILIGHT, and viewed with skepticism by potential viewers for that reason. It has minor similarities that I’ll mention later, but it’s a completely different tone, if anything trying to offer an alternative.

It’s the story of Cayden Richards (Lucas Till, MONSTER TRUCKS, MacGyver in MacGyver, and Havok in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and APOCALYPSE), a dude whose perfect life as high school quarterback in a small Texas town goes to shit when he discovers his werewolf side during attempted car sex and is suddenly wanted by the police for the munching of his parents. So he hops on a motorcycle (wearing one of those Tom Cruise style leather motorcycle jackets) and hits the road. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cat People (1982)

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

In 1982 Paul Schrader followed AMERICAN GIGOLO with a look at another oft-ignored segment of society, the CAT PEOPLE. It’s a much hornier movie than GIGOLO – some of the posters even call it “AN EROTIC FANTASY” – and it compares sexual desire to turning into a hungry animal. That may sound like some ‘Schrader was raised as a strict Calvinist’ shit, but he actually didn’t get a writing credit on this one. Believe it or not he used a script by Alan Ormsby (CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, DERANGED, DEATHDREAM, PORKY’S II: THE NEXT DAY, POPCORN, THE SUBSTITUTE)! I’ve read that he rewrote the ending, but I don’t see how he could’ve changed the very premise. So I honestly don’t know what this one is supposed to be saying – it seems to be a sexy anti-sex movie – but it’s artful and weird and compelling in all the right ways.

Irena (Nastassja Kinski, TERMINAL VELOCITY) is a pescatarian virgin orphan who arrives in New Orleans to reunite with her long lost brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR). Paul lives in a big house with his Creole housekeeper (Ruby Dee, UP TIGHT) whose name is pronounced “Feh-molly” but spelled “Female.” The brother and sister do a juggling act together as they reminisce about playing circus as kids, and Paul is immediately standing uncomfortably close to her and doing weird incestuous nuzzling. The movie never addresses that if the actors are playing their real ages Paul would’ve been 18 when she was born. But Ruby Dee seems to be playing her real age of 60 while looking about half that, so what is age, anyway? (read the rest of this shit…)