Entries Tagged 'kookadooks' ↓

Day 23: “He’s family.”

Sex has played a large part in horror films virtually since the inception of the genre: Frankenstein's monster wasn't around very long before he needed a Bride, Dracula and company are all about romance and seduction...if a slasher film doesn't feature a set of boobs somewhere, audience disappointment will be noted. From Slaughter High's awesome "Tits...screw..." sweet-talk to the gentle petting of your favorite 70s lesbian vampire movie, sex in horror is generally meant to titillate, make us laugh, or simply put characters in compromising positions to the advantage of the killer.

Then there are movies like Pin (1988), which explore sexuality in ways that make the audience squirm uncomfortably for 90 minutes. Hooray!

When we meet Ursula and Leon, they're small children growing up in a wealthy, strict household. Mom is a wackadoo clean freak, and dad (Terry O'Quinn!) is a pediatrician who quizzes the kids before bed and is generally a no-nonsense guy. Both parents withhold affection from Ursula and Leon, and the only real emotions on display are anger and frustration. Has this approach to child-rearing ever resulted in well-adjusted adults?

"Pin" is a life-sized, anatomically correct medical dummy that Dr. Dad keeps in his office. Using ventriloquism, he makes it seem as if Pin is alive- Pin talks to the patients and explains things to them, providing a calm, reasonable voice to assuage any fears the kids may have. Ursula catches her father's lips moving during one of Pin's lectures and figures out the secret. To Leon, though, Pin is alive...and a friend, providing advice or sometimes just listening.

Leon sneaks into his father's office after hours to spend some one-on-one time with Pin; one of the doctor's nurses stays late for her own special kind of one-on-one time with Pin- he's anatomically correct, after all. One can only assume that Pin is also anatomically excited when the nurse pulls the dummy over to the examining table and...well, she humps him for a while. Poor Leon is trapped in the corner, forced to watch (and listen to) his best friend used as a gigantic sex toy. He reacts pretty much the same way any of us would (or do, as we're watching this film).

The kids become high schoolers and, as you may expect, they've got some issues. Ursula, at 15, has become what my gramma would call "the town pump"- she's got a well-deserved reputation at school for being easy. Leon doesn't cope well this and beats up anyone who goes near his sister.

By the way, my gramma also says that only whores have pierced ears...just so you know.

Leon still doesn't know that Pin isn't actually alive. He lashes out at anyone who dares call the dummy a dummy, and he spends as much time in dad's office as possible hanging out with his friend. They have long, soulful talks and do math (heh..."do math") together. They're just like anyone, except, you know, one of them is a mannequin. Before you judge, you should remember how that idea worked out for Andrew McCarthy. Wait...did it work out? I've never actually seen Mannequin. Anyway.

Doin' math

When dad catches Leon and Pin hanging out, he realizes that his son may have an unhealthy attachment to his lifeless pal. He realizes that his son may, in fact, be...a kookadook. He grabs Pin, stuffs him in the car, and decides he's going to donate him to a medical foundation. But...is Pin alive?

As they're driving along, mom seems to think Pin is moving around in the back seat. Is he? Or is dad simply taking corners too fast? Whatever the truth is, the car crashes and Ursula and Leon find themselves orphaned.

Having given up her randy ways (an abortion will often do that to ya, at least for a while) Ursula gets a job in the library while Leon gets weirder and weirder. He insists that Pin be treated as a member of the family, going so far as to dress the dummy in one of dad's old suits. He also gives Pin a wig and mask, just to complete the extremely fucking creepy ensemble.

Leon is also working towards his dream of becoming a writer; when he's not hanging out with Pin, he's penning poems about raping his sister. But, you know, that's totally fiction!

Ursula knows there's something extremely wrong with her brother, but she thinks he's ultimately harmless. They're wealthy, after all, so Leon couldn't possibly be mentally ill- he's eccentric. When Ursula brings home a boyfriend, though, it throws off the family dynamic. This guy not only thinks Leon needs help, he thinks Pin is just a dummy! This cannot stand.

So is Pin alive, or is Leon projecting? Writer/director Sandor Stern (Amityville IV: The Evil Escapes...oh fucking YEAH) manages to maintain the mystery throughout the course of the film until its bizarre (and bizarrely awesome) conclusion. Pin is a movie that manages to feel extremely sleazy without its ever actually being sleazy, if you know what I mean. The undercurrent of incest (or at least unspoken incestual desire) is enough to make you feel squidgy. Then there's the whole medical teaching dummy-as-sex toy scene...aaaah! In the end, this Psycho-esque little flick is a real perverted treat.

Day 20: “You’ll grow to like it here.”

Man, I shoulda reviewed Haunting of Winchester House last night right after I watched it, rather than waiting 24 hours. While it was playing, I was kind of...into it, or at least feeling generous enough to pretend I was into it. There I was, aware of all its faults (and oh, there are plenty), yet thinking that there was finally a film from The Asylum that was actually successful. Now, picking out screencaps and going back over the whole thing, I have to wonder if I was, in fact, wasted last night. Perhaps someone snuck into my house and laced my Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice Holiday Tea (LIFE ON THE EDGE) with PCP or something. I suppose it's possible. Therefore, I'm going to suggest that if you're going to give Winchester House a go, you consider taking PCP to enhance your experience. Wait, that's probably an irresponsible thing to put out there on The Internet...ah! You should consider drinking Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice Holiday Tea before watching this movie. Hugs not drugs and all that.

Haunting of Winchester House opens with one of the most horrendous CGI shots I've seen in a while. It's a little difficult to make out here, but trust me- it's an "epic" sweeping establishing shot that starts out looking like a plastic diorama but ends with shoddy computermanship: the back end of the box truck is warped out of perspective, and I don't even know what's going on in the sky.

Ah, The Asylum.

Anyway, we learn in a prologue that the house is haunted when some broad's chalk circle and cries of "You are not welcome here!" don't prevent her from getting bitch slapped by some malevolent force. Later, a family rents the property; they receive their keys in the mail, and we never do learn who currently owns the mansion. Oh well.

The large house is still obviously made out of computer. In the few shots where characters have to interact with the exterior in some way, such as going through the front door, the shots are framed so tightly that you can't tell what the structure really looks like. This would be a clever way around budgetary restraints if only the long shots didn't look so damn fake and the trickery wasn't so obvious.

The eeeevil spirits residing within soon make themselves known, and they don't waste any time in kidnapping the daughter of the family. It's up to mom and dad to figure out what's going on and to find her; luckily for them, a paranormal investigator likes to hang out on the property and he offers to lend a hand with their problem. He explains the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 poltergeists, and why some spirits are mean...he's like Tangina, but he's a regular-sized black dude. He wields a blessed implement as he busts ghosts- I realize it's just a plumb bob, but I preferred pretending it was a giant pewter tampon (what was in my tea last night?).

During their quest to find their daughter, the couple learns a bit about the history of the house via that ol' cinematic chestnut, The Newspaper Clippings Tucked Away in Boxes- the proprietress was Sarah Winchester, inheritor of the Winchester rifle estate and prime kookadook and WAITAMINNIT. This was the point when I realized that yes, the filmmakers intended for us to think that this movie was taking place in THE Winchester Mansion. Here's a little history lesson for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story:

Sarah Winchester married into the family that created the famous Winchester Rifle. Her grief over the deaths of her only child and her husband caused her to seek the services of a spiritualist, who told her that the family was indeed cursed by the spirits of those killed by firearms manufactured by Winchester Arms. She was told to build a new house for herself and the spirits...and to never stop building it. So, 24/7/365 for the next forty years, she spent her sizable fortune adding onto a farmhouse until the structure became a twisted, hulking thing- what's known today as the "Winchester Mystery House". The construction was done at Sarah's whim without the aid of architectural plans; in order to trick and elude the angry spirits, the house became a puzzle with stairways to nowhere, doors opening into walls, and windows between rooms. The number 13 is woven throughout the building, whether it be 13 circles in a stained glass window, or the 13 bathrooms or what have you. It's a fascinating place and a fascinating story, and it seems ripe for the cinematic picking.

The title of this movie didn't click in my head because...well, this is the Winchester Mansion, as it stands today:

A little different than the CGI monstrosity up above. None of the enigmas of the mansion's interior- those creepy staircases and doors, for example- are in the film (in fact, all the action takes place in one of three rooms or a single hallway). I suppose it's got to do, once again, with budget constraints. Maybe there's some legal issues and the actual house couldn't be recreated even with pixels. I have no idea...but if that's case, then why use the real story? Why not call this movie Haunting of Shminchester House so all the inaccuracies don't affront my precious brain cells? Or am I just being too picky? It's a famous real place and real story, though...I mean, it wouldn't be very smart of me to make a movie about how Jimmy Carter was haunted by the ghosts of peanuts past or some shit while he was President, and then when I show him at the White House it looks like this:

On second thought, that may be the smartest thing I could ever do with my life, ever.

Historical inaccuracies aside, how did Winchester House add up in my cold, sober post-Celestial Seasonings eyes? Mehhhh. It probably is the best thing to come out of The Asylum, but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement- although I have noted my perverse love for Asylum flicks before. Writer/director Mark Atkins wisely keeps the spirits in the dark as much as possible; in fact, about 4/5 of this film takes place in the dark. That's good, 'cause when it's bright enough, you can see things like, oh, obvious latex applications and the such.

Come on, no one saw that huge line and took the time to fix it?

There's a few instances of WTF? when footage is sped up for no reason, and the acting and dialogue are par for the course terrible. There's some successful sound design, I'll say that, and a few sequences are genuinely creepy. Still, the dark figure walking quickly through the frame jump scare is used about 14 times, which is 13 and a half times too many. The score, while dark carnival-appropriate, is too overpowering by the end of the movie. The music just. Never. Stops. Why are some filmmakers so afraid of silence? Turn off the music and the scenes with people walking around in the dark will be at least 65% scarier, and that's a scientific fact I just made up.

I still would have said all these things last night, even with my tea goggles on...I would have ended it all, however, with a "But it was surprisingly good!". Today, I'll end this with a "But it was surprisingly not terrible!"...although I fear it may have actually been terrible. Or maybe not. I can't tell anymore.

By the way, the DVD features a 3D version of the film as well, although I don't think there was anything spectacular in the movie that would really benefit from having an extra dimension. Then again, can't everything benefit from having an extra dimension?

Alright, but can I go with someone else?

Oh. My. Crapping. Crap.

Once upon a recent time I bought a copy of the most perverse, most bestest Bigfoot movie ever, Night of the Demon, via yon Internette. The seller was so effing amazing that he/she/it included a free bonus DVD- the 1981 slasher Don't Go in the Woods...Alone!. Well, my friends, I watched that bonus DVD tonight and...again I say, oh my crapping crap. I think I'm in love.

Right away I had an inkling that I was gonna be in for a treat, as the film proclaimed itself "Spectacular Entertainment".

I don't want to keep you in suspense: they weren't lying.

As best as I could discern, the plot goes something like this: some tools go camping for some reason, a bunch of random people wander around the woods, most of them die, and then the killer gets killed. It sounds totally by the numbers, right? Well, fret not, friendos, for the true delights of Don't Go in the Woods are in the deets*.

Not only is DGitW entirely dubbed, it also boasts the worst acting in the history of ever. EVARRRR. I'm not kidding. Here's a simple math equation to help you grasp the depths of awfulness acheived: think of the worst acting you've ever seen in a movie. Now take out your science calculator and multiply that bad acting by a million. The result will still only be roughly two-thirds as atrocious as what you'll witness in DGitW. These actors defy all logic; I understand that acting is indeed an art and not everyone will excel at said art, but...it was as if these people had never spoken before. At all. Their inflections were off, they were stressing the wrong words, repeating words over and over...it's truly SPECTACULAR ENTERTAINMENT.

"Do you know? At this verrrrminnit. I am missing. As the World TURNS?"

"How do you tell. The rabid from the. UNRABID?"

Don't Go in the Woods is populated with countless random characters, most of whom don't have any lines, never mind a name or a reason for existing. Take, for example, this woman, who is hiking in the woods with her photographer son/friend/weirdo person, who is there to shoot photos of a train.

A train which makes a stop.

In the woods.

We don't see the train, but we hear a train whistle, so I'm sure it was really there.


Or this broad, who doesn't say a word but is clearly cooler than you or I will ever be.

See, she's out in the woods a-paintin'. Mind you, she's not exactly painting what she sees, but who am I to judge? Art is feeling, man, and it ain't safe.

Like most other hikers, Coolie Painter falls victim to...something. Or someone. Up until this point, the stalking sequences progressed like this:
  1. There is no ambient noise, but a character says "What was that??" and looks off-screen.
  2. Cut to a shot of a moving tree branch, while the character says "Aah!"
  3. Cut to a shot of the character, bloody and dead.
What was killing these poor nameless fools? Was it the branches themselves? Was it a bear? Suicide? The first real clue flashed before my eyeballs during Coolie Painter's death: as best as I could figure, it was a knife-wielding Sasquatch who was responsible for all the murdering!

I figured wrong. Much later, after many a sequence wherein we follow people walking through the woods and they're suddenly killed by something just out of frame, the culprit is revealed: it's a wackadoo mountain man, apparently the offspring of Captains Caveman and Lou Albano! He's a right filthy kookadook with a penchant for wearing Mardi Gras beads on his face and poking people- poking them TO DEATH- with sticks.

The music is as horrendous as the acting, a thunking and constantly repeating Casio soundtrack featuring swells that build to nothing and stings present for no reason. The less said about the end credits music (set to the tune of "The Teddy Bears Picnic", featuring lyrics such as "Don't go into the woods tonight, you probably will be killed..."), the better.

Were the last twenty minutes of Don't Go in the Woods...Alone! not so damn padded- and they really were- I'd probably be proclaiming this film to be the love of my life. It's gloriously, uproariously inept filmmaking at its finest...in other words, it's SPECTACULAR ENTERTAINMENT.

As further proof of my assertions, I'd like to provide you with some screencaps from the sequence where the cuckoo nutso cave dude decapitates the wheelchair-bound hiker, but my computer has had enough of this shitty movie and freezes up when I try to play it. My computer has such high standards, you see.

YES I SAID A WHEELCHAIR-BOUND HIKER. He made the mistake of wheeling into the woods...alone!

*That's young folk talk for "details"...once again, I strive to prove my youthful vigor, my "with it-ness", and my relevance.

Silent Hill 2 be, or not to be?

OMG, see what I did with that post title? It's thisclose to being clever!

Anywhatevers, Horror-Movies.ca is reporting that Silent Hill 2 has been scrapped. Or not. For now. Maybe. According to their "source":
...plans for Silent Hill 2 have been cancelled...the film is dead in the water...although the film will not be shooting soon it will still very likely happen.
So...err...not sure what that all means. Maybe simply filming has been postponed because they missed their shooting window? It seems like it's all up in the air. Radha Mitchell may or may not return, blah blah blah. I'd welcome another SH flick, if the script was a wee better than the first. By "wee", I mean "a big wee". I dug the movie and all- the visuals were narf (I think I just made that up...I mean it to be similar to "neat" or "rad" or "boss". Use it in a sentence today!)- but the script was weak with a capital Plug Your Ears. There was a great setup for a sequel in the ending , though, so my fingers are crossed.

In related news, man Horror-Movies.ca is a busy-looking website.

In other related news, how come I don't have any sources? I totally want to meet some shadowy figure in a parking lot who'll fill me in with kinda sorta news that's really just page filler. You know: "Platinum Dunes is talking about remaking Rob Zombie's Halloween. There's no writer...or director...or star...or even anything concrete yet, but still." Then I can yell "Whatta scoop!" and high tail it back to my keyboard to bring you all the latest exclusive news. Sigh.

Speaking of Rob Zombie's Halloween, have you seen the trailer for H2? Here it is. Go. Watch.

Back? Alright. Now, I know that despite the childhood romance we shared, my relationship with the original Halloween 2 hasn't exactly been on fire lately. The hospital setting could be mined for gold, though, and for a split second of the H2 trailer it seems as if Zombie might be tapping a vein (which sounds hot). Then...then...a bewigged Sheri Moon-Zombie shows up and...well, my mom taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all- so I'll let my pal JA at My New Plaid Pants say it for me:
...that is so fucking stupid looking I can barely believe it. I mean, my god. Just. My god.
Wait. My mom never taught me any such thing!

WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH THE WHITE WINGED DOVE WIGGED GHOST MOM? Yes, Rob Zombie, your wife is hot. Yes, it's understandable that you want to put her in your movies. But Michael's mom died in the first film...not to mention that Michael was already a homicidal kookadook in the first film, so having Mrs Myers become some sort of Mrs Voorhees in the sequel is a craptacular idea with a capital FUCKING CRAP. Also not to mention that her violent urgings go against the slim characterization she had in Halloween and in light of the mother-son relationship it makes no sense and arrrrgh white wigggggggghiusafsduva;vKscjd;C.

Umm. Well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out.

Friday the 13th review: Jason and the Jerks

Be warned fair reader, this post will be chock full o' spoilers! If that makes you feel funny, then turn back now lest ye be doomed. Doomed! You hear me? You kids are all doomed! This post has a death curse!

So, the new Friday the 13th. What follows will probably be the most inconsequential review I've ever written, in that people are completely predisposed to seeing or not seeing this film, and I don't think anything is going to change anyone's mind about it one way or the other. I mean, it's Jason. It's Friday the 13th. Calling it the most craptacular piece of crap that ever crapped a crap won't make people avoid it, and claiming that this film healed the lame won't make people seek it out. It is what it is, and either it's your bag or it ain't.

Similarly, it seems the bar is set rather low for this movie; attending the screening and subsequent press day, I heard variations on "Well, it's just Friday the 13th" more than a few times, as if that alone means the film is exempt from anything that makes a movie worthwhile. I'm bothered by this attitude. Sure, it's "just" a slasher movie and as such, folks don't expect much from it. I think, however, that it's alright to expect that a slasher movie should mostly make sense, and that- above all else- it'll be a bit scary. How did Friday the 13th fare on those counts?

The film quickly makes haste telling the backstory about Mrs Voorhees's homicidal rampage over her son Jason's death; the 90 minutes in the original film are condensed to about 90 seconds of freeze frame flashbacks. Essentially..."You let him drown!" *chop*...out of the woods strolls young Jason to collect his mom's head, his mom's locket, and the machete used to kill her. Take note, Part 2 fans, he does not collect her sweater. Feel the sadness.

Twenty years later, a bunch of douchebags set out to find a giant marijuana crop hidden somewhere in the woods. How do they know about it? Eh, who cares. Just know that two couples and the obligatory nerd set out to find mass quantities of drugs in the hope of reselling it later to reap a profit...it gets dark and they need to set up camp for the night. They do so in Jason's territory. Yes, the Mary Jane MacGuffin here is the same one used in that other Platinum Dunes production, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Let's hear it for...err, consistency.

One couple breaks off to explore the environs; they stumble across Jason's house, complete with mom's head, mom's locket, and a bed helpfully labeled "JASON". Upon finding the locket and seeing the photos inside, it's noted that Whitney (Amanda Righetti) bears a passing resemblance to the late Mrs Voorhees. Hmm.

When Jason finds all these kids stumbling around his domain, he quickly sets about doing his thing: by "his thing", of course, I mean "serving tea and petit-fours to his guests".

Okay, I don't actually mean that. But wouldn't that be kind of awesome? What really happens is, he kills them more than just a little bit, even working in a loose homage to Part VII. Whitney's fate, however, hangs in the air.

A month has passed and a new group of douchebags (this group is, like, douchebags with jerk sprinkles on top) head on up to Crystal Lake for a weekend of partying. Also cruising around Crystal Lake is Whitney's brother Clay (Jared Padalecki), convinced that his sister is still alive even though police searches have turned up nada. As he hands out fliers to the "locals", however, we're led to believe that something's wrong at Crystal Lake; one old weirdo lady (perhaps meant to be a more subtle, subdued Crazy Ralph) informs Clay, "Somebody go missin' round here, they gone for good." Again, I say: hmm.

So, the douchebags set about partaking in "teen activities", ie copious amounts of drugs, booze, and sex. Jason upgrades from a sack to the hockey mask after he finds it on the floor of a barn- a scene which has far less eerie impact than his simply standing on a dock being mistaken for someone else in Part 3. Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) finds Clay dreamy, however, and decides to help him search for his sister instead of hanging out with the doucheys. Eventually they find Jason's...underground lair...somewhere.... around the lake, where Jason has been keeping Whitney chained up.

In related majorly spoileriffic news, Jason kills everyone but the sibling combo. They chain him to a wood chipper, which apparently just grazes his head enough to smart real bad.

Then they unchain him, haul him to Crystal Lake, and dump him in. Then he pops out, the end.

Right off the bat, let me say: I really loved this incarnation of Jason. He's mean, he's fast, he's relentless, and he's definitely human- albeit a hulking human who apparently spends his days in the woods working out...and by "human" I don't mean he has a life story, necessarily- I just mean that he's not an unstoppable supernatural monster. Derek Mears really did a fantastic job with the character, and I'd rank it up there in my ultra-cool, extreme list of "Best Jasons Evarrrr".

Pretty much everything else in the movie, though...I just about hated. Please, don't bust out the "But it's a slasher movie, a Friday the 13th!, what did you expect?", because that just doesn't fly. Even in its own shallow, ridiculous universe, the film has to make sense.

Alright, so they've essentially done away with the plotline of the original film because people just want to see Jason, not some mom running around. I can deal with that- this is a complete franchise reboot. But...a young child is standing about 5 feet away from his mother as she's killed and he does nothing? I mean, no yelling, no anything. If he didn't drown and he's been lost, wouldn't he run to his mother? How did he find her? If he didn't actually drown, why is Mama V killing everyone?

Crystal Lake. Yes, the douchebag family has built a big beautiful home on the shores of Crystal Lake, where the teens head to party. This is not their first time at the house or frolicking on the water. Yet he comes after them- why didn't Jason kill them before?

The locals seem to know about Jason- and let me say, I kinda dig the idea that the locals know about him, that he's the boogeyman in the woods you don't talk about. But...how many people have gone missing around Crystal Lake? The authorities never find any evidence of missing people or of Jason himself? Kids go missing, and no one investigates the abandoned summer camp? Clay found his sister on the first day he hit the camp. Yes, law enforcement in slasher movies is generally inept, but if enough people go missing in a small area- so many that Kookadook Neighbor Lady Who Never Leaves Her House notices- and the perpetrator has a sprawling house and campus in the midst of it, you'd think the cops might figure it out.

And can we retire the "Hi kids, I'm here to help!" "Sheriff, BEHIND YOU!" *kill* horror movie cliche? Thanks in advance.

Speaking of the Kookadook Neighbor Lady Who Never Leaves Her House, the townsfolk (for lack of a better term) in Friday the 13th are just as "scary" and "gross" as those in Texas Chainsaw Massacre- in fact, they're even portrayed by the same actors. Again, let's hear it for...err, consistency. Yes, yes, we city folk are terrified of country folk, but is it a rule in Platinum Dunes Country that city folk are nothing but supermodels while country folk are nothing but filthy, stinky, toothless weirdos who would eat you as soon as look at you?

Notice I said "abandoned summer camp". As in, it's not being used. Of course, the setting isn't used in the film either. See, the action here takes place largely at Chez de Douchebag or in Jason's underground lair. Which is a disused mine.

Yes, someone built a mine underneath a summer camp. Next to a lake. What kind of mine? We don't know. Isn't it a bit...unsafe to build a camp over a mine? Or a mine next to a lake? Yes, we can assume so. Why is the mine there, and why is Camp Crystal Lake not utilized in a Friday the 13th movie? Well, during those interviews I did with the filmmakers I learned the answers to those questions. There is a mine (a general, all-purpose "mine") because director Marcus Nispel wanted one in the film. The film does not take place at summer camp because Michael Bay doesn't think camps are scary. And that's that.

All right then, is this campless Friday scary? Despite all of Jason's power and menace, I'd still have to say no. There are jump scares a-plenty, but there's no tension- and jump scare after sting after jump scare simply gets irritating. There's no stalking, no question about who might be lurking out there in the darkness. Harry Manfredini's famous score is sorely lacking here. That classic "ki ki ki ma ma ma" is used but once, at a time when it adds nothing to the atmosphere. How can you have a Friday film and not use that sound to its maximum potential? Again, you can thank Nispel- he thinks the sound "telegraphs" the scares and he just wanted Jason to "appear"...and thus "There are jump scares a-plenty, but there's no tension".

It mostly goes down like this: character stands looking at something with a big empty space behind him, Jason pops up, death. A few deaths might stand out as homages for Friday vets- otherwise they're not nearly as outrageous as those in that other recent slasher remake, My Bloody Valentine.

My biggest gripe, I think- even beyond the horrible characters populating this film, beyond the women as blow-up dolls, the guys as jerks- came at the end. I understand suspension of disbelief. I understand the "need" for Jason to pop up out of the water at the end. Though I try, however, I simply can't wrap my head around how they achieved that end. Upon enduring this horrible night, upon watching everyone get slaughtered, upon escaping Jason's lair after being held captive for a month, Whitney and Clay are going to loosen the tangled chains around Jason's neck, freeing his mangled body from a woodchipper...then they're going to haul his 200+ pound body all the way to the lake just to dump him in? This guy- he's just a guy, after all- who killed all those people? They're going to go through all this trouble and destroy the evidence? No...no, they're not. People don't do that. Yes, people do stupid things in horror movies all the time- splitting up, investigating noises, etc- but sometimes, screenwriters need to stop and say "You, know, this is a bit much..." and figure out ways to make the characters' stupidity seem plausible. Even in its own shallow, ridiculous universe, the film has to make sense.

Am I being too hard on it? Maybe. It's just a slasher movie, after all, right? It's Friday the 13th. Jason gets his mask, he kills people. That's what folks want, mission accomplished.

awesome movie poster friday- the SLASHER edition!

Man oh man! Between My Bloody Valentine 3D and tonight when I might just be going to see something that rhymes with "shmiday shma shmirteenf", I gotta tell ya- I've been stricken with a bad case of THE SLASHERS! Actually, that sounds like something you may suffer should you travel to Mexico and unwittingly drink the water. Let's say...I've got SLASHER FEVER! Because I do. And here are the posters to prove it!

I love love love the poster for The Prowler. And yes, those are posters for Alice, Sweet Alice with one of its alternative titles, Holy Terror (the third title is Communion).

So many pointy objects, masks, people running in terror, and hulking kookadooks standing both silhouetted and menacing!

i love the 80s, even though sometimes they sucked.

Let's get this out of the way: Sorority House Massacre (1986) blows with a capital BLOWS. Last night, however, I was in the mood for a big fat slice of 80s slasher, and in the end, SHM delivered. Mind you, it only delivered in that it fulfilled my wispy nostalgia-fueled desires; even as cheesy 80s slashers go, this one is bad.

Bad bad.

As in really not good.

Still, I was okay with that because popping in the DVD immediately took me back to sleepovers at Elena's house, when we'd walk down the hill to Nick's Video and rent crappy horror movies even though we were underage, and then we'd walk next door to Nick's Pizza and pick up a pizza to go with the movie.

Apparently Nick had a real stranglehold on that section of the town.

Anyway, we'd pretty much bring home anything- the more lurid the better. Titles featuring the words "massacre", "blood", "death", "slaughter", "evil", or "the" were sure to be mind-melting winners. Of course, our hopes for mental scarring were rarely realized, but who cares? Even when the movies stunk, they were still fun- and that's why, every once in a while, I get the urge to watch some 80s crap. Sometimes they stink, but they're usually still a bit fun.

Sweet mama, I'm old.

Sorority House Massacre really effs with your head, man, as Beth (Angela O'Neill) keeps dreaming these, like, totally creepy dreams involving the horror movie dream staples: children, bloody ceilings, mannequins, and boring dinner parties.

Meanwhile, at The Old Mental Asylum Place, some dude who may or may not be seen in Beth's dreams is thrashing about and displaying an overabundance of beta waves, meaning: he's a good 9.5 on the crazy scale.

Are you scared yet? If not, then pull up your pants and hold on tight, kiddies, for things are about to get all ten kinds of terrifying up in here: Sorority House Massacre is an endless parade of some of the worst 80s fashions you will ever, ever see. EVER. EVARRRRRR.

They just. Kept. Coming. I realize that, you know, every era has its own style. I realize that I myself was certainly a fashion victim in the 80s- we all were, and we all thought we were cool. It's pointless to get all wrapped up in outdated hair and clothes when watching a movie, but... JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

Even the background players are an affront to my delicate eyes! Yes, I'm talking about you back there, Banana Orbison. We see you, and we see that your outfit is atrocious.

I know those outfits are causing you to think "Oh, horror movies. Those sorority girls are such degenerate sluts!" and boy, are you right! In fact, when the whole entire campus except them and their boyfriends goes away for the weekend, our Fashionable Foursome gets up to some dirty, dirty no-good! All alone in the big Kappa Kappa They Never Named The Sorority In This Movie house, the girls immediately decide to "eat Melanie's ice cream" and "try on Cindy's clothes"...and then they do. Those crazy college kids! What shenanigans.

The girls try on Cindy's clothes in a montage set to music that sounds like the theme of an 80s morning show, and it's all just the lamest excuse in the history of ever to get some tits on the screen.

It does, however, provide us with an inkling as to exactly how deep Cindy's love of the jumpsuit is.


So the brainwavey kookadook busts out of the asylum and further gets his Michael Myers on by breaking into a hardware store to steal a knife and then speeding off in a battle wagon.

Beth's dreams continue, and it seems that she and the brainwavey kookadook are connected somehow. Could it have anything to do with that story about the guy who, years before, killed everyone in his family except his one little sister? Could Beth's dreams be not dreams at all, but rather...dun dun dunnnnn...repressed memories? Gee, I wonder.

It plays out how you would expect: the cuckoo nutso shows up at the sorority house and he kills everybody. Beth finally remembers her sordid past and kills the killer...or does she? Dun dun dunnn...cue the reappearance of the bad guy at the end when Beth is in the hospital! Is it all a dream? Or is there really a boy in the lake?

Who can say? All I know for sure is that Beth really needs to learn how to scream with her eyes. I wonder if Tyra and Company could teach her that?

Sorority House Massacre is the gift that keeps on giving, though, and the most perplexing mystery of all is saved for the end credits.

The biggest problem with this film isn't the plot, which is standard 80s slasher stuff- in fact, while watching this I thought, "I'd love to remake the shit out of this movie"...or maybe it was "remake the fuck" out of it, I don't remember exactly. The point is, there's a little glimmer of an alright slasher plot in there, but it dies due to poor execution all the way around.

The acting is some of the most lifeless I've ever seen; really, a box of crayons would have done as good a job. People die and no one reacts. Lines are read in a monotone. In the big end battle between Beth and the wackadoo, he repeatedly stabs her in the legs as she tries to crawl away, or so, at least, I thought: I couldn't be sure if that's what I was seeing, because she didn't acknowledge it at all, not even with an "Ow, cut it out!" There's no sense of urgency or terror or...or anything, really. The guy shows up, stabs people in the gut, and that's that. There's nary a scream echoing the halls of Ye Olde Sorority House.

Of course, the action itself is as lackluster as the performances. Survivors run upstairs, then downstairs, then upstairs, then downstairs, and that's about it. This film does make me wonder, however, it it really IS possible to dive INTO a second story window from the ground.

As I said when I started this post, Sorority House Massacre is a pretty terrible movie, but it scratched my 80s itch, and for that I'm thankful. Perhaps, though, I should stop scratching before it gets infected.

the continuing adventures of carl anne, part 1

First off, for those of you who have no idea who Carl Anne is, clicken ze click click and be enlightened.

So how 'bout that Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), huh? For a sequel to a movie that wasn't exactly crying out for a sequel, it's not that bad. This is, of course, discounting the Floating Family Power and Gramma's Mighty Angel Robes ending and the whole "They're all psychics?" angle. Other than that, though, I don't think the film completely deserves its rep as a total turkey.

Reverend Kane is undeniably creepy. When he shows up at the Freeling's house and demands repeatedly to be let in, it's downright scary, especially since we don't know yet what this kookadook's motivations are- he's just a weird looking dude who seems...off...and really wants to get into their house.

Dammit, I like the Freelings. It's not often when you find characters who are across the board likable, especially in the horror genre, but this family fits the bill. They're sweet without being sickening, they're good but not perfect, they're funny and kind and man...it seems like they even like each other. The relationship between Steven (Craig T Nelson) and Diane (JoBeth Williams) is simply a delight to watch.

The scene where Steven pukes up the 'roided out tequila worm is so fucking boss! When it turns into the slimy torso thing and slithers away? Please. That scene alone makes Poltergeist II worthwhile.

It certainly isn't on par with the original film and it's certainly not the greatest of shakes, but come on. Cut it some slack, folks.

Except the end. The end sucks, I'll give you that.

Film Club: Strait-Jacket

Holy crapping crap, did I pick a good one with Strait-Jacket, folks! William Castle + Joan Crawford + axe murders + wigs = I AM IN HEAVEN without my face, for my face has been rocked way, way off.

The story is oh so simple in its simplicity: Lucy Harbin (Joan effing Crawford) came home early from an out of town trip to find her younger husband (Lee Majors!) post-flagrante and sound asleep in bed with his chosen floozy. Lucy doesn't scream and yell, oh no; rather, she grabs the nearest axe and makes with the axing, giving the lovers a number of whacks that seems to exceed the Lizzie Borden-recommended forty.

Her young daughter Carol witnesses the slaughter; earlier she witnessed her dad and the floozy floozing out- I guess you could say that Carol had an exceptionally great night.

Lucy is shipped off to the nuthouse ("Extra! Extra! Love slayer insane!") and now it's twenty years on. After moving in with her aunt and uncle, Carol (Diane Baker) has grown up to become a sculptress, a superfox, and the fiancee of the small town's wealthiest, handsomest bachelor, dairy farm heir Michael (John Anthony Hayes). Lucy returns, much plainer and, we hope, much more sane. At Carol's urging, Lucy gets a wig, some jangly bracelets, and a new dress in a bid to pretend that, you know, the last twenty years never happened. Will it work? I mean, wigs can do anything, can't they?

Lucy and Carol work on mending their relationship and getting to know each other, but before long Lucy seems to be slipping back into Cuckoo Town. She hears voices (or does she?) and wakes up to find her victim's heads in her bed (or does she?); she can't keep her eyes off of pointy objects or her daughter's fiance.

Before you know it, Lucy has flipped her new wig and people start losing their heads (like, totally literally), including my man George Kennedy who makes a sweaty appearance as a farm hand.

There's so much awesomeness in this movie, I don't know how they managed to pack it all in to a mere 93 minutes. There are countless touches that make this film a true delight- Joan Crawford trapped in a stripey weirdo bathroom, Joan Crawford knitting like...well, knitting like a madwoman, Joan Crawford lurking, Joan Crawford chopping, Joan Crawford lighting a match by striking it on a spinning jazz record, and OH GOD the film's climax...the list goes on and on.

As you've probably gathered, a great deal of the fun in Strait-Jacket comes courtesy of Joan Crawford. Yeah sure, on the one hand this film is pure William Castle-flavored schlockiness; however, Crawford treats this like it's a much better film and somehow you almost- almost- forget that she's a woman of sixty playing a woman in her forties- and her twenties. Her performance is amped up to eleven but somehow manages to remain largely just shy of pure camp. She's all over the map in the best way possible: she's frail, she's tough, she's brash, she's shy, she's sane, she's psycho. It's obvious she opted to portray Lucy Harbin as if she were Mildred Pierce, Crystal Allen, or any other of the venerable characters Crawford brought to life throughout her rocky career. As such, you find yourself both rooting for and afraid of Lucy- both reactions completely unexpected in a B-trash flick like Strait-Jacket.

Anyone who knows anything about Crawford's personal life will find plenty of parallels to think about with this film, from the Pepsi product placement to that ending (which I just can't give away- it's a treat that needs to be witnessed, not read about), Strait-Jacket is quite the metaphor for the aging starlet's career path.

It cashes in on Psycho (after all, this was also penned by Robert Bloch), it cashes in on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (and every other middle-aged woman as kookadook flick from the '60s); it's lurid and cheesy and it's not so good and it's fucking great...and lord love a movie that ends with this:

Big props and many thanks to the Film Club Coolies, y'all!

Full Moon Reviews
Acheter et entretenir sa tronconneuse
StinkyLulu / StinkyBits
Fade In
K.P. Loves Boom Boom
Margarita SaltOverthinking It
Careful With That Blog, Eugene
My New Plaid Pants
The Girl Is Out There
Bloody Good Horror
Askewed Views
Film Experience
Club Silencio

she doesn’t have to tell you anything!

I had this feeling that watching The Child, the 1977 lo-budget flick about a li'l girl who telekinetically controls a li'l zombie army, would be a life-changing event.

There's a chance my expectations were too high.

And yet, this outing from a bunch of "nobodies" and producer de sleaze extraordinaire Harry Novak (Rituals, Please Don't Eat My Mother, Midnight Plowboy, Sexual Kung Fu in Hong Kong, and Mantis in Lace, which features my great uncle!) is actually pretty good and downright creepy.

Alicianne (Laurel Barnett) is to be the new nanny/governess for Rosalie Nordon (err...Rosalie Cole), whose mother died under mysterious circumstances- she may have been murdered by a tramp! Or perhaps something else happened. After all, Rosalie's mom was a nutter and spent most of her life in and out of mental institutions. Although the Nordon's elderly neighbor Mrs Whitfield (Ruth Ballan) says Rosalie is as wacked out as her mom was, that remains to be seen. The physical resemblance Rosalie bears to her late mother, however, is positively striking- Rosalie tells Alicianne that folks were always commenting how the mom and daughter even had the same exact hair. It's so true- see for yourself!

I must say, things get going right away with The Child. Alicianne is suspicious of Rosalie before the kid has even done anything weird- why, even Rosalie's dad (Frank Janson) and older brother Len (Richard Hanners) talk about the fact that she's a total kookadook. It doesn't take long before she proves them right.

Mrs Whitfield makes one too many comments about how Rosalie shouldn't be playing in the cemetery after dark and the next thing you know, she's got a basement full of crusty old zombies!

The zombies drag the poor old woman away and rip her face off, totally undoing her tightly-wound bun in the process. The Child doesn't skimp on the low-budget gore, that's for sure, and Rosalie's zombie army means business.

But how do we know that Rosalie is responsible for the zombie on elderly violence? Why, because she drew a picture of the in her sketchbook, that's how!

Yep, Rosalie's sketchbook is like a visual diary into her twisted little mind! She draws pictures of herself feeding kittens to zombies in the graveyard, then we see her feeding kittens to zombies in the graveyard. She draws a bunch of people laughing and crying around a giant book...

...and then we flashback to Mrs Nordon's funeral, where Rosalie promises something to her mother but I couldn't understand what it was exactly because of the overbearing echo effect. Those 'x'es get the point across, though- it's Rosalie's hit list- she's taking down all the people she thinks are responsible for her mother's death.

The dude in the middle of the drawing, the Asian gardener, gets a visit in his shed from Rosalie and a friend one fateful evening. The friend is actually a scarecrow wielding a shotgun, and although the gardener responds to Rosalie's accusations of "You killed my mother!" with "No! Mama crazy!", the scarecrow shoots him dead. Surprisingly enough, the glimpse we get of the scarecrow is more spooky than silly.

Alicianne finally confronts Rosalie about her midnight trips to the graveyard, but the girl insists that she only goes there to visit her mother. When Alicianne says that's impossible because her mother is "gone", Rosalie says "Gone? Gone where?" and then laughs for thirty seconds straight. Literally.

At this point, it occurs to me that perhaps Rosalie is retarded rather than telekinetic.

Halloween arrives, however, and the holiday proves once and for all that the kid has eerie mental powers. Alicianne blows out the candle in a jack-o-lantern carved by Rosalie. Then the lights go out, the candle re-lights, and the pumpkin turns to follow Alicianne as she wanders around the room...and dammit if I wasn't getting all creeped out despite myself. What can I say, it's a really effective scene.

Rosalie finally 'fesses up about her graveyard pals- they "do favors" for her because she's the only person who's not afraid of them. When these favors extend to ripping off Mr Nordon's face, Alicianne and Len decide to hightail it outta there.

Before they get far, of course, the car dies...and here come the zombies!

Len and Alicianne manage to make their way to a shed; the former works at boarding up the door while the latter stands, wrings her hands, pulls her hair, and whines a lot. The creepiest eye EVARRR peeks through a hole in the wall and the next thing you know it's time for the zombie siege- how long can Len hold them off while Alicianne remains useless?

About four minutes, that's how long. The zombies come up through the floorboards and rip off Len's face, which is apparently their MO. Then Rosalie shows up...will the brat get what's coming to her or will Alicianne still remain useless and get her face ripped off?

There's a word that keeps coming to mind when I'm talking about The Child: creepy. It really is an atmospheric, spooky little flick. Until the final siege, we only get glimpses of the zombies- peering from the bushes in a foggy cemetery, for example, or maybe a grasping hand or two. They're not fully revealed until the final ten minutes of the film, but they're totally worth the wait. The makeup is fantastic, especially considering the low budget- if anything, they remind me a bit of the undead Conquistadors in Fulci's Zombi. It's nice to see zombies that really look like rotting corpses for once, rather than regular people who have been out in the sun a bit too long.

So if The Child was so very chilling and I liked it so much (and I really did), why wasn't it "life-changing" as I'd hoped? Sure, the dialogue is weird and feels a bit like a bunch of non-sequiturs strung together, but the real culprit, in a word, is sound. Or, in several words, the sound was fucking atrocious with a capital Oh My God The Sound Was Fucking Atrocious. The entire film is dubbed and the voice acting is some of the worst I've ever heard. Add to that truly terrible sound effects, a discordant Moog-based soundtrack that's irritating and distracting beyond the first three minutes of the film, and choppy sound editing (music comes and goes from cut to cut- hell, the music even stops halfway through the end credits) and this boat is sunk before it leaves the dock. It's a real shame, too, because The Child could have been great. As it stands, this flick is primo '70s drive-in fare, and I highly recommend you seek it out. Just don't expect anything life-changing.