"I'll just get my gear."

Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

double feature: VAMPIRE EFFECT and TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

You know how it is – sometimes the mood hits you for a little martial arts/horror combo, specifically the type found in Hong Kong vampire movies from the early 2000s, so you check out two of them. At least that’s how I dealt with the problem. The first one in my double feature, VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003) credits Dante Lam (BEAST COPS, THE STOOL PIGEON) as director and none other than Donnie Yen (HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME) as “co-director” and “action director.” Unsurprisingly, the action is the best part.

The original title is TWINS EFFECT, because it stars a pop duo called Twins, made up of Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung. But nobody knows what that is here and there are no twins in the movie, so I guess this is our equivalent to when Germany changed ROVER DANGERFIELD to ROVER & DAISY. And this is another one of those pop star vehicle movies that doesn’t really have an equivalent here exactly. I mean, you don’t see Tegan and Sara doing a vampire movie. So far.

Choi stars as Helen, a heartbroken young woman who, while grieving a breakup, hits it off with a vampire prince named Kazaf (Edison Chen, GEN-X COPS 2: METAL MAYHEM) who’s enjoying a glass of blood in a fancy restaurant. She doesn’t realize what he is, even though she has some knowledge of such matters because her brother Reeve (Ekin Cheng, YOUNG & DANGEROUS) is a vampire hunter. (read the rest of this shit…)

Meatcleaver Massacre

Monday, November 15th, 2021

I think you can see why I’d assume a movie called MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE would qualify as a slasher movie, or at least a chopper movie. Surprisingly, if there is a meatcleaver anywhere in the movie I missed it. There is a massacre, but it’s the inciting incident, and the story is about a series of killings to avenge the massacre. I’m using title on the VHS box, but the opening credits expand it to THE HOLLYWOOD MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE, and it does indeed take place in Hollywood. So at least one third, arguably two thirds of the title is accurate in that iteration.

It’s from 1977, before the slasher craze took off, and it’s about a supernatural force killing people, but there are definitely some parallels to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, so if that counts as a slasher maybe this could too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Francis Ford Coppola’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA is an incredible fucking movie that I previously mistook for a pretty good one. I saw it first on opening night in 1992, when I thought it was cool and weird, if flawed. (If you would like to imagine my wild teen years, I remember it was a foggy Friday the 13th and I was bummed that I hadn’t done anything good on Halloween, so I drove a carload of friends to an evening show, blasting the score from NIGHTBREED in the tape deck.)

The second time was in 2000 after reading the book (Dracula by Bram Stoker, not Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The novel of the film by Fred Saberhagen and James V. Hart Based on the Screenplay by James V. Hart from the Bram Stoker novel, which I have not read and can’t afford). At that time I wrote about it along with a bunch of other Dracula movies, and you can see I was pretty hard on the “ridiculous origin story” and “trying to make him into a more sympathetic Dracula,” among other things.

But it felt overdue for a revisit and on this viewing all that stuff finally clicked for me. Though I always thought it was a stylish looking movie, I feel like I didn’t fully appreciate just how much, or how special that made it. And everything else worked better this time too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cold Hell (Die Hölle)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

COLD HELL (Die Hölle) is a 2017 German/Austrian movie that’s still exclusive to Shudder in the U.S. I wish they’d put it out on disc like they have with so many of their exclusives, because this is a good one that I’d like to recommend to everybody. As far as I can find the only part of the world to release it on physical media is Germany.

Wanting to see this movie is what originally inspired me to subscribe to Shudder a few years ago, but for some reason I failed to write it up back then. I watched it again in October and it holds up, so I made sure to share it with everyone this time.

Its greatest asset is a strong lead character, Özge, played by Violetta Schurawlow (HEAD FULL OF HONEY, ICEMAN). She’s Turkish, but a citizen of Austria, working as a cab driver. And the movie slowly unveils how tough she is. At first it just seems like the grit required by her occupation, considering how some motherfuckers treat cab drivers, and immigrants, and women. Then it seems to go a step or two beyond that when she needs two guys to stop blocking an alley and beats one up for calling her the c-word. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Sleeping Car

Thursday, November 4th, 2021

THE SLEEPING CAR (1990) is not exactly a slasher movie, but because it says “Forget Freddy. Forget Jason. Here Comes The Mister!” on the cover it officially qualifies for Slasher Search. Congratulations, THE SLEEPING CAR!

When I saw that title I thought, “huh?” but then I saw the train on the cover and I thought oh, I get it, not a passed out automobile, but the place on a train where you sleep. Okay. I’ll go with it. Actually, this looks kinda good.

But it does not open promisingly. Some guy is making out with some woman in a train car. She strips down to her historical panties and giant boobs and they giggle and make out while the score by Ray Colcord (My Two Dads, AMITYVILLE DOLLHOUSE) erupts into erotic saxophone. The engineer (John Carl Buechler, director of FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE NEW BLOOD) comes in and yells at the guy to stop fornicating and do his job. He chooses instead to continue with the fornicating, and then the engineer jumps off the train right before it crashes head on with another train and then he yells into the sky like newly minted Darth Vader when he finds out Padme is dead. (read the rest of this shit…)

Antlers

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

In a small, depressing town in Oregon, ravaged by economic despair and opioid addiction, out crawls a monster to make shit even worse. Come on, read the room, monster. We don’t see him clearly for a while, we don’t know what he’s up to at first, or how he works, but we get his general vibe. Uncool.

We see this story primarily through the eyes of elementary school teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, and I believe I heard she was in a ‘90s television show created by the directors of those films, not sure about that, probly mistaken), who is not in a great spot. She moved out of town when she was young, but has recently returned to find it not as good as it even was then. She temporarily lives in her childhood home with her brother Paul (Jesse Plemons, BATTLESHIP) and every day goes to the store and stares longingly at the liquor shelf while she buys a pack of gum or something.

She has trouble getting all but one of her students to engage at all in class, but she tries. For example she calls on Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas, “School boy / classmate,” DOLLY PARTON’S COAT OF MANY COLORS), a scrawny sad little kid with holes in his shirt, who may possibly be illiterate. He goes from drawings with no text when he reads his story, an extremely grim and thinly-veiled autobiography about a young bear and his sick father bear. We can see how it sounds to her, but we know it’s even worse: his dad Frank (Scott Haze, VENOM, MINARI) and little brother Aiden (Sawyer Jones, one episode of Modern Family) had an encounter with the monster and now they’re locked in the attic as veiny, bestial zombie-type creatures. Lucas kills small animals and chops up roadkill to feed them. Alot of responsibility for a kid that age, and he definitely steps up to the plate. (read the rest of this shit…)

John Hawkes Horror Double Feature: Scary Movie (1991) and Night of the Scarecrow (1995)

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Do you like scary movies? What about SCARY MOVIE? I’m not talking about the original script title for SCREAM, or the parody movie series named after the original script title for SCREAM, but the 1991 movie starring John Hawkes and taking place on Halloween night. It was shot on 16mm in Austin and when the American Genre Film Archive released a restored blu-ray and DVD in 2019 they said it had never been “legitimately distributed” until then. I did find a reference to it playing “limited runs in Europe and Asia,” but anyway, that’s why most of us never heard of it before.

Hawkes is from Minnesota, but as a young man he moved to Austin, where he was in a couple bands (including one with Rodney “Joey from ELM STREET 3 & 4” Eastman) and started appearing in locally filmed movies like FUTURE-KILL (the one with the unrelated H.R. Giger cover), D.O.A., and a thriller called MURDER RAP where he’s the star. He’s also the lead in SCARY MOVIE, playing a fraidy cat nerd named Warren who goes with his more outgoing buddy Brad (Jason R. Waller, Austin Stories) and Brad’s girlfriend Shelley (THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE) to a haunted house attraction. (read the rest of this shit…)

Trick

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

I figured I should see another Halloween-set film this season, and I knew this one was from director Patrick Lussier (DRACULA 2000) and writer Todd Farmer (JASON X), the team that brought us MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D and DRIVE ANGRY 3D, so I’d been wanting to see it even though it was filmed in a pathetic 2 (two) dimensions.

TRICK is a mystery slasher set not just on Halloween, but on multiple Halloweens from 2015-2019. It begins at a high school party during a game of spin the bottle. Well, spin the knife. The camera focuses on the reactions of Cheryl (Kristina Reyes, Blindspot), who seems uncomfortable with a guy in a pumpkin mask (Thom Niemann, The Deuce) who is not speaking or responding to anyone. When it’s his turn she calls him “Trick,” which does turn out to be his name. He spins and it ends up on a boy and he tries to re-spin but they tease him and tell him he has to kiss the boy. As he leans in to do it, suddenly he grabs the knife and stabs the guy.

(Though this inciting incident implies some sort of homophobia-related motive, that does not turn out to be a theme of the film.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Macabre (Rumah Dara)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

MACABRE (RUMAH DARA) is a 2009 Indonesian cannibal movie. It’s the first feature directed by “The Mo Brothers,” a.k.a. Kimo Stamboel (THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC) and Timo Tjahjanto (THE NIGHT COMES FOR US). It starts out confident and unassuming and by the end has accumulated a DIE HARD level of injury and a nearly EVIL DEAD amount of blood.

In the grand horror tradition, a group of young people get stranded somewhere bad and have to escape. It goes down when Adjie (Ario Bayu, GUNDALA) and his pregnant wife Astrid (Sigi Wimala, SATRIA DEWA: GATOTKACA) take a road trip with their doofus friends. Jimmy (Daniel Mananta, A MAN CALLED AHOK) is pretty straight-laced, but Eko (Dendy Subangil, SANG DEWI) is the horny loud mouth who embarrasses them and makes them uncomfortable, and Alam is kind of the crazy one. That’s established when he threatens some guys at a bar for sexually harassing their waitress, Adjie’s sister Ladya (Julie Estelle, “Hammer Girl” from THE RAID 2!). It seems like a very successful stare down until he turns around and gets a bottle smashed over his head. So for the whole movie he’s wearing a large bandage on his head that’s completely unrelated to the horror movie stuff that happens. (read the rest of this shit…)

Clive Barker double feature: Haeckel’s Tale / Transmutations

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

You know how it is, you love Clive Barker-based movies but you’ve seen HELLRAISER, NIGHTBREED, CANDYMAN and THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN a million times each, you’re not quite ready to try again on LORD OF ILLUSIONS, you even watched BOOKS OF BLOOD last year, but you want a little of that Barker movie kick, so it’s time for a Clive Dive. You gotta try some of the lesser ones out, see if you missed a good one, or if one you didn’t like back in the day is any better than you thought at the time.

So I tried one of each. The one I’d missed was the Masters of Horror episode Haeckel’s Tale, from 2006. It’s adapted by Mick Garris (THE FLY II) and directed by John McNaughton “in association with George A. Romero.” According to Wikipedia that just means Romero was supposed to direct it but had a scheduling problem. Around that time he was starting DIARY OF THE DEAD and announced a thing that never happened called SOLITARY ISLE, so it must’ve been one of those. (read the rest of this shit…)