"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Infinity Pool

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

When I first encountered the trailer for INFINITY POOL I spotted Mia Goth, who gave one of my favorite performances last year in PEARL, so I knew I would be seeing it. Then I noticed Alexander Skarsgård, star of one of my other favorite 2022 movies, THE NORTHMAN. And at the end I learned it was the new one from writer/director Brandon Cronenberg, whose 2020 film POSSESSOR really knocked me on my ass, so this was a first show opening day kind of deal for me. And it lived up to my hopes.

It’s the story of novelist James Foster (Skarsgård, 13, BATTLESHIP, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, GODZILLA VS. KONG) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman, STEP UP REVOLUTION, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON) on vacation at a resort in the exotic foreign land of Latoka. It’s a beautiful place on the sea, but it’s creepy – fenced off with guards, tourists aren’t allowed to leave, so the closest thing to visiting the locals is going to restaurants in the resort’s fake downtown area. James is already thinking he was an idiot to believe this trip could break his six year lack of inspiration since publishing his one obscure and poorly reviewed novel. (read the rest of this shit…)

M3GAN

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

M3GAN is a nice little treat – a killer doll/robot movie with a solid execution of the premise, a good sense of humor, and plenty of personality. And as a Blumhouse/Atomic Monster production it’s got a decent budget, so the effects are excellent. It’s a similar idea to the okay-not-great CHILD’S PLAY so-called-remake (out-of-control AI, no supernatural evil) but the way they made their doll look and behave is creepy and delightful in a fun new way.

Gemma (Allison Williams, THE PERFECTION) is the adult in the situation, and part of the joke is that she’s not a responsible one. When her niece Cady (Violet McGraw, DOCTOR SLEEP, The Haunting of Hill House) loses both parents in a car wreck, Gemma steps up to become her temporary guardian, but is too occupied by her job at a toy company to pay close attention to her.

A gifted roboticist, Gemma got in bad with her boss David (Ronny Chieng, GODZILLA VS. KONG) by surreptitiously blowing a bunch of money on the M3gan (Model 3 Generative Android) project, a life-sized robotic little girl designed to “pair” with its owner, use A.I. to learn and perform tasks from reading bedtime stories to teaching science. Now that’s cancelled and she’s back working on dumb old Furbie-like Perpetual Petz (designed to make wiseass comments, fart and poop little pellets while the kid plays related games on the internet). (read the rest of this shit…)

Resurrection (2022)

Monday, January 9th, 2023

RESURRECTION is an interesting 2022 horror-thriller you can find on disc, VOD or Shudder. I saw the trailer play before movies many times and found it kind of intriguing, but I could never remember the name. I must’ve confused it with the 1909 D.W. Griffith short, or the silent films from 1910, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1923 and 1927, or the pre-code Tolstoy adaptation from 1931, or the Italian one from the same year, or the 1943 Mexican film, or the 1944 Italian one, or the 1958 German/Italian/French one, or the 1960 Russian one, or the 1968 British one, or the 1980 one starring Ellen Burstyn, or the 1999 Russell Mulcahy one I still haven’t seen although you guys really convinced me I have to and then Vinegar Syndrome even put it out on blu-ray, or the one from 2001 or 2010 or the three from 2016. But this is a different RESURRECTION, the one starring Rebecca Hall (THE B.F.G.) and Tim Roth (THE MUSKETEER).

Hall plays Margaret, a successful, seemingly well-liked single mother living in Albany. Her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman, BAD TEACHER) is about to leave for college, and she’s protective of her to an annoying level, but they seem to be on pretty good terms. At first it’s funny how often Margaret will tell her daughter things like “you’re safe” and “it’s going to be okay” when she clearly has no use for such affirmations. At one point when Margaret says something particularly ridiculous, Abbie very astutely points out, “Mom, when you say things like that, I mean… that’s for you, not me.” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Phantom Carriage

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE is a phantom movie that came well before PHANTOM THREAD, THE PHANTOM MENACE, or even my man THE PHANTOM. In fact it hails from way back in the silent era of film. Obviously 1921 is a long time ago, but it was a little ways into the movie before it clicked in my brain that holy shit this movie is a-hundred-and-one-years-old. That’s, like, pretty old. Trends, hairstyles, etc. have changed.

It’s also Swedish, which is a whole other thing. I’ve watched HÄXAN, THE VIRGIN SPRING, THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and the DRAGON TATTOO trilogy from my Ikea couch while eating Swedish Fish and wishing I had a Dolph Lundgren poster, but otherwise it’s a culture I’m completely ignorant about. Wikipedia describes PHANTOM CARRIAGE writer/director/star Victor Sjöström as “Sweden’s most prominent director in the Golden Age of Silent Film in Europe.” He was such an influence on also-very-influential Swedish director Ingmar Bergman that Bergman cast him in the lead of WILD STRAWBERRIES and got the idea of his most internationally recognizable character – Death in THE SEVENTH SEAL – straight from THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Present / The Junky’s Christmas

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

I don’t usually post on Fridays, but here is my second one today, because I got two last stocking stuffers for you before the holiday weekend. Here are reviews of two Christmas related shorts, one horror, one crime (sorta). Pretty obscure ones, but both worth checking out.

First up is THE PRESENT, which is a 2005 episode of a Japanese anthology show called Kazuo Umezz’s Horror Theater (released on DVD as part of Horror Theater 3). The titular Kazuo Umezu (the spelling varies) is a famous author of horror manga, as you can guess by the art laid over the introduction to the show, so this is an adaptation of one of his stories. He’s been around long enough that the 1968 movie THE SNAKE GIRL AND THE SILVER-HAIRED WITCH is based on his comics too.

THE PRESENT filters the classic American form of the killer Santa movie through a more Japanese (and specifically manga) style of fucked-upness. It’s about a little girl named Yuko (Kiyo Ôshiro) who wakes up on Christmas Eve, terrified by a nightmare about Santa. She has a Christmas tree in her room and a stocking on her bedpost – I’m not sure if that’s how they do it in Japan, or if it’s weird. But her parents comfort her and tell her to go back to sleep and she’ll get presents because she’s a good girl (though “if you do bad things he’ll come and get you.”) (read the rest of this shit…)

Toys of Terror

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

TOYS OF TERROR is a 2020 Christmas horror movie that’s exactly what it sounds like – a movie about toys coming to life and doing evil toy shit. It seems to have premiered on SyFy, and it’s on DVD and VOD. The director is someone named Nicholas Verso (BOYS IN THE TREES) and it’s written and executive produced by Dana Gould, the comedian, Simpsons writer and podcaster. I had no idea when I rented it that anyone notable was involved, and I respect that Gould seems to have just wanted to make a straightforward, non-parody Full Moon type movie. But it comes from the dystopically named “Blue Ribbon Content” division of Warner Bros. Television, responsible for some DC Comics web animation plus the DTV movies DAPHNE & VELMA and THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE, and has better craft and production value than many of the actual Full Moon movies, especially the later ones.

It’s the story of a family coming to stay at a former children’s home that they plan to refurbish into a mansion and flip. (Same set up as The Haunting of Hill House.) It’s implied to be somewhere in Washington state, but it’s filmed in Canada – as usual, and as indicated by a cast full of actors you know are Canadian because of how many Hallmark Christmas movies they’re in. (read the rest of this shit…)

Christmas Blood / Alien Raiders

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

Whether Christmas is a religious holiday for us, or just a way to celebrate giving, or whatever, we can all agree that it’s mainly about trying to find more movies we haven’t seen that are about a killer Santa or some shit. That’s the true and sole meaning of Christmas, is what it says quite clearly in the Bible, and if you don’t believe me I challenge you to tell me which verses it’s not in. You can’t do it, can you? Case closed. Anyway the point is this year I saw CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS but for those of you who would prefer to have the same title but shorter there’s also CHRISTMAS BLOOD (Juelblod), a Norwegian one from 2017.

IMDb lists it as a horror comedy. It really doesn’t read as one to me, but maybe it’s an exceedingly dry sense of humor – there is certainly some absurdity to it, which is what I liked about it. It’s very openly a Santa Claus version of HALLOWEEN. It opens in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, 2011, when a little girl and her parents get killed by a guy dressed as Santa. The police show up in time to shoot the Santa, and Detective Thomas Rasch (Stig Henrik Hoff, THE THING premaquel), who’s been chasing this guy for 13 years, unloads his gun into him while he’s down. (read the rest of this shit…)

Christmas Bloody Christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS is the new one from writer/director Joe Begos. I previously reviewed his first two features, ALMOST HUMAN (2013) and THE MIND’S EYE (2015), but I’ve been sleeping on his 2019 double whammy of BLISS and VFW. Nevertheless I had to see his new one as soon as it hit Shudder because it’s Christmas horror. There’s a timeliness factor.

It’s a low budget movie but seems huge and lush compared to those other two I mentioned. It continues in the same tradition of filtering a specific ‘80s horror aesthetic through Begos’ brain, now with more dialogue and humor. But I wouldn’t call it a comedy. After the comical advertisements that open the movie and introduce the absurd horror premise, there aren’t really jokes. The laughs come from the characters themselves being funny. Otherwise it comes across as very serious – an odd choice that I like. (read the rest of this shit…)

Adult Swim Yule Log a.k.a. The Fireplace

Monday, December 19th, 2022

I do believe this is my first review where just telling you the movie exists is kind of a spoiler. But I had to have it spoiled to know to watch it myself, so now I’m passing that information on to you. This is a horror movie that was designed to be found on accident, originally promoted like this: “ADULT SWIM YULE LOG: Get in the holiday spirit with this cozy, crackling fire,” and airing at 11:30 pm after the season finale of Rick & Morty. Now it can be found on Home Box Office Maximum under “Adult Swim Yule Log – a.k.a. The Fireplace.”

It starts off as a normal Yule Log or fireplace video. Just footage of a fire with some Christmas music playing. But after a few minutes of that we start to hear something going on outside of the frame. The owner of the cabin containing the cozy, crackling fire is talking about getting the place cleaned We see her walk past the fireplace a few times. Then there’s a knock on the door, a woman (Tordy Clark, GLORIOUS) talking about her car breaking down, and introducing her son… a hulking, grunting Leatherface type (Brendan Patrick Connor, JOKER) wearing a plastic Halloween mask of a Ken-doll type character. He bursts in and attacks as his mom reminds him to “Say nice things to her, women like that.” It’s off camera, but we get the implication, and this is a really fucked up thing to have on as holiday background ambience. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bones and All

Monday, December 5th, 2022

note: This is a great fuckin movie and this review has spoilers, so if you’re planning on seeing it anyway, I suggest doing that first and coming back.

I’m not fully up on the films of director Luca Guadagnino. He’s done several I haven’t seen, including A BIGGER SPLASH, which I know some people love. I did see CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, which I didn’t officially review but did write a little about in a 2018 Oscar preview. I concluded that, “My main feeling about CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was that it was pretty good but just not for me. But I did continue thinking about different aspects of it for days afterward, making me think I liked it more than I realized at first.”

Since that was my only impression of Guadagnino it seemed kind of crazy that he was the one to finally do a remake of SUSPIRIA! Or as I called it in my review, “SUSPIRI… uh…”

Actually I liked that one, and will watch it again, though I didn’t understand what it was trying to say about German politics of the ‘70s. As I wrote in my review, “It is possible that this Italian director and American writer have something very important to say about the post-WWII generational shift that was happening in Germany when they were 6 and 8 years old, respectively, and that it adds greatly to the story of these dancing witches. If so it’s way over my head, so for me it dilutes what could be a far more intense experience if the horrific parts weren’t so spread out.”

With those mixed feelings in mind, I’m thrilled to say that Guadagnino’s new one BONES AND ALL is the first one I’ve seen by him that I unreservedly loved. This is another horror one that will get some of the more finicky genre purists in their feelings about it being pretentious or whatever, but I think it’s a real fuckin knockout. It’s a cannibal road movie romance. You’re gonna love it. (read the rest of this shit…)