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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Freaky

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

FREAKY is the recent Blumhouse horror comedy conceived under the title “FREAKY FRIDAY THE 13TH,” because yes, it is a slasher movie combined with a body switch comedy. A psychotic serial killer called “the Blissfield Butcher” (Vince Vaughn, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, PSYCHO) steals an ancient magic dagger, not realizing that when he uses it to stab random teen victim Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton, THE MARTIAL ARTS KID) their souls will switch places. Whoops.

The director is Christopher Landon (BURNING PALMS), which makes a whole lot of sense, because he’s the guy who did HAPPY DEATH DAY, a slasher movie combined with GROUNDHOG DAY (and a movie I enjoyed quite a bit). I heard an interview where Landon said he was a little reluctant to be that guy, but he liked the idea by co-writer Michael Kennedy (assistant animation producer, Family Guy) so much he had to go for it anyway. (read the rest of this shit…)

Train to Busan Presents Peninsula

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS PENINSULA is, of course, director Yeon Sang-ho’s sequel to his excellent zombie hit TRAIN TO BUSAN (itself a live action sequel to his less-widely-known animated movie SEOUL STATION). Although PENINSULA is officially a TRAIN TO BUSAN presentation according to the American title, these are sequels in sort of the George Romero tradition: same world, different sets of characters. Different things that happen to people in South Korea trying to survive a fast-zombie outbreak. So, although I recommend all of them, you could watch them in any order.

This one starts maybe a little bit after the other two movies. Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won, ILLANG: THE WOLF BRIGADE) uses his station as a captain in the Marines to get his sister and her family a spot on an evacuation ship. But of course a guy on the boat starts twitching weird and next thing you know there’s running and screaming and biting. This is just a pre-credits sequence but, like TRAIN TO BUSAN, it captures a deep sense of loss as Jung-Seok and his brother-in-law Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon, THE WAILING) see their loved ones turn into monsters. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mother Krampus

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

MOTHER KRAMPUS (2017) is a quite serious and pretty gory b-movie from the UK that claims to be “Based on the German Urban Legend of Frau Perchta, the Christmas Witch, who takes a child each night over the 12 days of Christmas.” Maybe C.J. or any of the other German readers can let us know if they’ve ever heard of such a thing. With a little reading I learned she’s a pagan goddess of the Alps, a guardian of beasts and does have some association with the 12 Days of Christmas. She often has one oversized foot and an iron beak, both of which are sorely missing in this cinematic depiction. In some legends she has servants who look like Krampus, but they’re not Krampus, and she doesn’t have them in this movie anyway, so the title is bullshit. But it is a specifically Christmas-themed horror story about an evil hag who comes out of the woods to kill people at Christmas time and that I can get behind.

And we gotta give the ol’ Frau this: it takes balls to do the opening kill at a church! A mom is not paying attention to her son, as she talks to the priest after the service, and he follows a trail of candy to the door, where our shadowy robed non-Krampus related hag snatches him up. I like that it’s hard candy, because it shows that Mother Krampus is a grandma at heart. Either that or she’s so devious that she could use any delicious candy and purposely chooses the less good stuff because she knows it’ll do. (read the rest of this shit…)

Campfire Tales

Monday, December 21st, 2020

CAMPFIRE TALES is a very low budget horror anthology released in 1991. After directors William Cooke and Paul Talbot graduated from college in 1987 they decided to build a film around “The Hook,” a short they’d made in their senior year 16mm class. The stories are very simplistic – unusually light on gimmicks and ironic twists for this type of material – and the filmmaking is not what would traditionally be considered “good.” But being made by beginners with no money gives it that scrappy underdog charm where you’re excited for anything they kind of pull off, and since it was made by young people in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there’s some relatability and nostalgia for somebody like me who may or may not have come of age around that time.

“The Hook” is set on Halloween, but there’s another story that’s about Christmas, which is what brought me to it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blood Beat

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

BLOOD BEAT (1983) is another Christmas-set (as opposed to Christmas-themed) horror movie that I watched on Shudder. This one I had heard of as a notably crazy movie, and I knew it had been released on blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome. It’s about a family being stalked by the spirit of a samurai. I believe.

It’s a low budget movie shot in Wisconsin – on film, though. Don’t worry. It has a little bit of the awkwardness and amateurishness that can make regional horror charming, which serves to make it more impressive when some of it seems pretty legit. The lead couple give fairly natural performances, the most inconsistent actor turns out to be an endearing character anyway, things that wouldn’t be impressive in a bigger production – like a guy jumping through a window and hitting the ground, or getting a nice shot of the fog or a frozen lake – seem triumphant. And it’s very weird. Sometimes in a goofy way, usually in a pretty cool way. (read the rest of this shit…)

Saint Nick (Sint)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

I’ve got this problem that I always want some good Christmas horror movies I haven’t seen before, but also I assume any of them coming out this century are gonna be boring, cheap garbage. Yes, KRAMPUS (2015) is semi-recent and has become an annual tradition for me already, but does that mean I should give a shot to the unrelated KRAMPUS: THE CHRISTMAS DEVIL (2014), KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING (2015), KRAMPUS: THE DEVIL RETURNS (2016), KRAMPUS UNLEASHED (2016) or KRAMPUS: ORIGINS (2018)? So far I have assumed no. In this same spirit, I was curious, but didn’t make it a priority, to watch the 2010 Dutch killer Santa type movie SAINT NICK (also released here as SAINT, originally SINT).

And then this year happened! Not the bad stuff, but the stuff where I finally caught on to the Dutch writer/director/composer Dick Maas. I enjoyed his killer elevator movie DE LIFT/THE LIFT (1983), his scuba-action-slasher AMSTERDAMNED (1988), his killer elevator English-language remake DOWN (2001) and his killer lion loose in Amsterdam movie PROOIL/UNCAGED (2016). So, okay buddy, I trust you to make a Christmas horror movie now. I’m ready. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pandorum

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

I remember the sci-fi/horror movie PANDORUM coming out – I thought it was more recent than 2009, but that’s how it goes – and I don’t think I heard anything good about it. It was not something that was on my list to see until I found out Cung Le was in it, and then it still took me years to get to it. But now I can report that, though certainly not perfect, this is a very interesting space movie with lots of cool ideas. It’s in English with a decent budget and stars Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid, but director Christian Alvart is the German guy who did the serial killer movie ANTIBODIES. So it’s gonna be a little more off-kilter than most movies produced by Paul W.S.Anderson.

It has some overlap with what I call the Space Loneliness movies, because it’s about some people waking up from hypersleep during a 123 year interstellar trip. It’s different, though, because they’re not just the small crew of one ship like DARK STAR, ALIEN, BLOOD MACHINES, etc. The Elysium is built to carry much of the earth’s population to a new home on the planet Tanis, so it’s enormous, and when they run into other people they’ve never met them before. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mimic 3: Sentinel

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Neither MIMIC or MIMIC 2 seemed to go over all that well, but that didn’t stop Dimension Films from releasing MIMIC 3: SENTINEL in 2003. This is probly my favorite of the three, and at the very least it deserves high marks for taking advantage of the pre-sold nature of the format to take a weird left turn, not at all the lower-budget-rehash approach of so many DTV sequels. It follows a drastically different template: the Hitchcockian voyeur thriller. It even uses a quasi-Saul Bass movie poster font for the title. But it doesn’t feel like they took an old suspense thriller script and grafted a bug man onto it, because it ties into and builds off of the world of MIMIC in smart and interesting ways.

This one is written and directed by J.T. Petty, whose THE BURROWERS I’ve been meaning to check out forever. He also did SOFT FOR DIGGING (a $5,000 student feature that I believe got him this gig), S&MANand HELLBENDERS. Here he’s made a movie that kind of feels like it comes out of the same school as early Soderbergh or Nolan – the hyper-intelligent indie guys that were more into old noirs than drive-in movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mimic 2

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

One thing we’ve learned from sci-fi and horror films is that monsters and weird things find ways to survive, to evolve, to adapt, to keep coming back. It was true in the case of the Judas Breed, a bug genetically engineered by Dr. Susan Tyler to be a sellout traitor that kills off the diseased roaches of the Manhattan sewers and then dies out, that instead managed to squirt out tens of thousands of generations in a couple years and evolve into a six foot termite-mantis that can mimic the shape of a human to survive on the streets. It was also the case with the MIMIC movie series itself. Guillermo Del Toro and the Miramax marketing department created an identifiable enough brand, the Weinsteins or somebody okayed a direct-to-video sequel, and with a third of the budget and no need to attract box office I suspect it was able to be hatched with less of their scrutiny and meddling. While MIMIC is an interesting movie that doesn’t entirely deliver as slick mainstream entertainment, its sequels are in a good position to exceed expectations. They’re better than you fear and different than you expect, thus fulfilling the potential of the DTV sequel format. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mimic

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

It really didn’t occur to me, when I decided to finally rewatch MIMIC, that it was a movie about a pandemic. One of the main characters is the deputy director of the CDC! But it’s not at all similar to the pandemic we’re currently in – “Strickler’s Disease” seems to only affect children, putting them in comas. Because it’s spread by cockroaches, aforementioned CDC guy Dr. Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam, THE NET, AMISTAD, THE INVASION) recruits a brilliant entomologist, Dr. Susan Tyler (then-recent Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, between ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION and THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS), who comes up with a novel plan: she genetically engineers a new bug called the “Judas Breed” that infiltrates cockroach colonies and pukes up a bunch of enzymes that increase their metabolism so they starve to death. Give the roaches a disease to stop them from giving us one.

Three years later, Strickler’s disease has been wiped out, the two doctors are married, and everything seems fine, except weird shit is happening under Manhattan. A mysterious vagrant type guy drags a priest underground, and only an autistic kid named Chuy (Alexander Goodwin) witnesses it. Chuy’s guardian Manny (Giancarlo Giannini, BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA) is a shoe shiner, so the kid has become affixed on people’s footwear, and for some reason he calls this attacker “Mr. Funny Shoes.” I don’t know why, but that’s one of my favorite details in the movie. (read the rest of this shit…)