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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

CANDYMAN and the racial divide

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

FROM THE VERN VAULT: Don’t worry friends, I’m not about to start doing reruns all the time, but there are two pieces that were written for One.Perfect.Shot that disappeared after they were bought out by Film School Rejects. Prompted by Rumsey Taylor I located them on Internet Archive and I’m reposting them for posterity.

Maybe I’m full of it but it seems to me this piece from October 26th, 2015 was a little ahead of the curve. At the time I knew of no one else who considered CANDYMAN the best horror movie of the ’90s and I didn’t think people talked enough about its exploration of the legacy of slavery in America. I’m proud of this as well as my 2005 take on the movie. (It’s not dangerous until I review it five times, is it?)

‘CANDYMAN’ AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE: WHY ONE OF THE BEST HORROR FILMS OF THE 90S IS EVEN MORE RELEVANT TODAY

“These stories are modern oral folklore. They are the un-self-conscious reflection of the fears of urban society.” –urban legends lecture by Professor Lyle (Xander Berkeley)

“What if a person had this thing done to him and what if he had the opportunity to come back and say, ‘Watch out!’ to the world that created this person and the conditions?” –Tony Todd to Fangoria Magazine, March 1995

American horror movies have played off of all manner of primal and societal fears: tensions between social classes, the invasion of the sanctity of the home, the dangers of trespassing in forbidden places. But leave it to a couple of British artists – writer/director Bernard Rose and executive producer/short story author Clive Barker – to explicitly tie those themes to the racial atrocities of our history, creating a truly American horror story. (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.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
I think this was the cover art when I first fell in love with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE

Happy Halloween, everybody! As is sometimes my tradition, I have managed to do a write-up of one of my all time favorite movies that I haven’t done an official piece on. In 2016 I finally got the balls to do THE THING, and in 2017 I did INFERNO. I guess when I did DAWN OF THE DEAD it was a month after Halloween, but that’s the type of review I’m going for here.

One Halloween I just compared the Fresh Prince unofficial Freddy Krueger song to the official Fat Boys one. You can only do that once though I think.

These reviews of the classics are intimidating because there’s such a risk of saying the same shit that’s already been said, but I’m tired of linking to my Ain’t It Cool News review of a DVD release every time I mention it, which is inconvenient when I seem to compare half the movies I watch to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I remember I even compared the Kathryn Bigelow racism drama DETROIT to it. Incidentally, even though I’ve been thinking about HALLOWEEN movies all month the world is feeling more TEXAS CHAIN SAW to me these days.

In other words, be warned: this is one of the ones where I relate the movie to the politics of today, so if you hate that, please don’t read, and go have a happy Halloween. If not, please do read, then have a happy Halloween.

* * *

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. One of the greatest horror movies since they started makin’ ’em. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that before, but it’s true.

It’s a movie that has grown on me and with me. When I first saw it I was probly 13 and I thought it was dumb. Just some crappy footage of a dude chasing people around in the dark. I was a Freddy guy. Saw it again in my twenties and it became pretty much my favorite movie. Back then it was VHS (not sure if it was even letterboxed) and I really believed that the raw quality of the footage was part of its magic. That it felt like a documentary, one made by crazy people.

After believing that for years I got that remastered edition that Dark Sky Films released, the one in the steel case (which I took these screengrabs from). It looked so much cleaner I wasn’t sure if I should accept it at first. Now I watch the way-more-pristine-than-that Blu-Ray and I love the movie even more as the controlled, artful craftsmanship it had always secretly been. For the moment, forget “drive-in” or “grindhouse” and think “great American film of the ’70s,” even if it’s all of those things. (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.

Absurd

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

a.k.a.
ROSSO SANGUE
HORRIBLE
ZOMBI 6: MONSTER HUNTER (!?)

ABSURD is a pretty standard Italian take on a HALLOWEEN-ish slasher plot – outrageous gore, decent Goblin-esque prog-rock score by Carlo Maria Cordio (PIECES, MIAMI COPS, CURSE II: THE BITE, TROLL 2), thin characters, lots of boring scenes of people standing around dryly talking about what’s going on, crazy ending.

It begins with two men running: a priest (Edmund Purdom, the dean in PIECES) and a bearded Ron Silver looking guy in jeans and a manly belt buckle (George Eastman, EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD, STAGEFRIGHT). The bearded guy climbs over a tall wrought iron fence and shows up on some rich people’s doorstep with a big glob of intestines dripping out of a belly wound. (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.

Slumber Party Massacre III

Monday, October 29th, 2018

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III is less crazy than part II, and has less going on thematically, but to me it was a little more fun to watch this time through. I don’t think this one is connected by any characters, though the killer has a backstory that I didn’t quite follow, so maybe there’s something there.

Like the other two SLUMBER PARTY MASSACREs, this is directed by a woman, Sally Mattison this time. This was her only time directing – she was a casting director and associate producer for Concorde, including for BLOODFIST and SILK 2. Screenwriter Catherine Cyran (credited as “Bruce Carson”) also wrote BLOODFIST II, FUTURE KICK and HONEY 3: DARE TO DANCE. As a director she’s responsible for three sequels in the THE PRINCE & ME franchise, among other things. (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.

Terror on Tour

Friday, October 26th, 2018

TERROR ON TOUR is about a band called The Clowns, who wear makeup kind of like Kiss, as well as black leotards, red capes, afro wigs with two white stripes, and sometimes Phantom of the Opera type half-masks. This is important because someone is going around doing the murders and we don’t know if it’s a lookalike or a band member and which band member or which lookalike.

The movie contains “original music by The Names,” who I have determined to be the one from Rockford, Illinois, not the one from Brussels. And I believe they are playing the band in the movie, which is why (just like Easy Action as Solid Gold in BLOOD TRACKS) they don’t really do that much acting. Instead the story focuses on these two guys in the green room, roadies or something. One guy likes to put on makeup so he can trick groupies into thinking he’s in the band (approved by the band), and his main job seems to be buying drugs for the other guy.

The title is slightly misleading because although I guess they’re technically on tour we only see them in one town, one venue, where they’re playing shows on multiple nights and also having parties. The police are suspicious of the band and their shindigs even before they find a dead lady in the alley, yet they have no security and only a couple suit wearing cops including Lieutenant Lambert (John Green, DEMENTED) occasionally standing in a quiet part of the building looking at documents and stuff. (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.

Slumber Party Massacre II

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II is a kinda cool, kinda odd, but kinda boring variation on the simple part 1. It follows Courtney, one of the first film’s survivors, but recast with Crystal Bernard (Wings). Her older sister Valerie is said to be in a sanitarium somewhere, just now beginning to speak again (after five years, if it’s in real time). Courtney convinces her mom (Jennifer Rhodes, THE TOWERING INFERNO) to let her spend a weekend with her friends at one’s dad’s new condo. But don’t tell Mom that boys will be there.

Much has been made of the first one being written and directed by women, and what that means in a slasher movie centered around a dude with a phallic drill murdering teenage girls in nighties. This one is written and directed by a different woman, Deborah Brock, and has a rare slasher movie occurrence of the female gaze in an opening dream sequence where Courtney pictures her crush Matt (Patrick Lowe, PRIMAL RAGE) shirtless, smiling, throwing a football, while she’s in a non-revealing nightgown. (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.

Hard Rock Nightmare

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE is an account of the tragic events that befall the up and coming rock ‘n roll band The Bad Boys when they stay at Jimmy’s grandma’s farm for the weekend. They “gotta get ready for the concert” so at first they practice in their garage with one girlfriend watching. But she accidentally bumps the garage door opener just as three other young female rock ‘n roll aficionados are walking down the sidewalk, so they stand and watch and swoon. But also it attracts a police car and they get shut down.

They’re kind of an unlikely band because there are two dudes with slicked back hair, leather jacket and jeans, others are standard long hair dudes, and a guy with a trenchcoat, and one guy is a Mike Mills looking nerd often wearing a Nike sweatshirt. Like they’re a couple different bands accidentally combined. I’m not sure if all their music is like this, but the song we hear is funny because the chorus is “It’s a nightmare!” but the lyrics are all about wanting to start a band and “work really hard.” The first line is “It started when I got my first guitar at the age of ten…” So the band and “a couple of hot babes” from the sidewalk head out to the farm. (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.

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.