Friday, October 31, 2008



I don't think I need to explain why this was the last movie I watched in October.

I watched 71 movies this October, how nuts is that? 59 of them were horror movies. I'm going to go ahead and declare "Your Vice is a Horror Movie Marathon and Only I Have the Netflix Queue" as a resounding success. Go me.

This now brings us into November, which will be the final month of regular posting. My first post was for November 26, 2007 when I watched the unrated cut of Live Free or Die Hard. On the 26th this year, I will stop posting every day, as I'll have a full year of data to look over. Looks like my average is going to be approx. 1 1/2 movies per day.

After that, I hope to continue posting from time to time, only instead of posting whenever I watch a movie, i'll just post if I have something to say. This has been a cool experiment for me, but I have to say, I've gotten fucking sick of posting all the time, and usually not having much to say. It's gotten to be more of a chore lately, so I won't miss it.

Trailer Park of Terror


If you're like me, then you probably just rolled your eyes when you read the title. I mean, it sounds terrible, right? I thought so, but then I read a positive review of it on the Onion's AV Club, and thought I would give it a shot.

This is definitely in that genre I'm starting to think of as "nu-horror," mid-range budgeted horror movies that try to combine Re-Animator style over-the-top gory funness with Last House on the Left style disturbing viciousness. Mostly, I've thought these movies, like Wrong Turn 2 and Severence have been failures, but this may be the best one I've seen so far. I'm not sure if I can exactly give it the thumbs up, but at least the silly stuff didn't negate the disturbing stuff, and vice versa. I think the problem here is that there are several effective scenes, but it doesn't all work as a whole.

Tourist Trap


I used to see this box in the video store and thought it looked like one of those no-budget, camcorder horror movies that are unwatchable. The box was just that shitty looking. But it turns out my impression was wrong, this is a lost minor classic from the 70's that I will highly recommend to anyone who likes these kinds of movies.

It's basically a spin on House of Wax's story, with some weirdo who lives in the middle of nowhere and abducts people, kills them and makes them into mannequins. Also he likes to dress up as mannequin versions of his victims and treat his mannequins like they are real people (some of them seem to be alive) and at one point keeps shouting "little girl!" while chasing one of his victims around.

I don't care what any Andrew McCarthy movies lead you to believe in the 80's; mannequins are fucking creepy as shit and are not to be trusted. There are a lot of scary as fuck mannequins in this movie, and other creepy shit like people being smothered to death by wet plaster, and at least one weird twist that has to be seen to believe. But there's also some really strange dark humor that pops up now and again, usually involving the killer talking to his mannequins.

It's a bit in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre vein of oddball low budget horror movies from the 70's, and it's just so weird and creepy that I think it's a must-see for fans of this stuff.

Return to Horror High


Here we have the final push for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ, a marathon of four movies on Halloween night, climaxing with the original Halloween because, well, I mean that should be pretty obvious.

I'll give this movie a little credit for being ahead of its time. It sorta did what Scream did, only ten years earlier, in that it tries to satirize slasher movies in a self-referential way while being a genuine slasher film at the same time. It doesn't do it very well, and unlike Scream it's just not a good movie, but at least it was doing something different for the time.

The main problem is that it's just not very funny or clever, but it ceaselessly tries to be. The plot spins around and around, there are constant movie-within-a-movie sequences and it-was-all-just-a-dream fakeouts, it tries to point out its own cliches, etc, while still trying to have some genuinely creepy and suspenseful moments. But since it's all so lightweight and tongue-in-cheek, you just don't really give a shit about what's happening.

Scream was a well-directed slasher film that subverted the genre by having jaded characters who had seen all the horror movies and knew all the cliches. Return to Horror High is a competently but unremarkably directed film where the filmmakers are jaded, not the characters, and maybe feel superior to the material.

The Phantom of the Opera

Thursday, October 31, 2008

No, I didn't accidenally post this twice, I did a double feature of Phantom of the Operas. This is a version from the late 80's that tries to tell the Phantom story more in the style of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. So it's fitting that they cast Freddy Krueger as the Phantom.

It started off well enough. It looked like it had a decent budget, good cinematography, good special effects, and an okay cast for one of these movies. There's a cool bit where the phantom sews a bunch of fake latex skin to his face and puts on makeup to look normal. But mostly the movie is mediocre and uninvolving, with a stupid "it was all a dream... or was it?!" ending that makes no sense and drags on forever.

I will give special recognition for achievement in bad dialogue in one scene. Some dude is telling the owner of the opera house about the legend of the phantom, and he lets loose this pearl: "I don't believe in phantoms or legends, Mr. Dutton, but I do believe in facts. And the fact is, this man - -this creature - -is still alive. Still alive, and living under your opera. " Uh, I'm pretty sure that means you do believe in phantoms and legends, moron.

The Phantom of the Opera

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Dario Argento version, which I had always avoided because I never heard anything besides terrible things about it. Is it his worst movie? Quite possibly. Is it worth seeing? Maybe, if you're an Argento fan. I can't call this a good movie at all, but I can say that it's got some fucking shit that rivals, and in places surpasses, the craziness of Argento's Phenomena.

Like the fact that the Phantom is raised by psychic rats, who give him psychic mind powers. And I think in one part they even suggest that he might get sexual with the rats. Then there's the part when the Phantom fantasizes about a bunch of naked men with ratheads caught in a giant rat trap. Or the part where some dwarf rides around on a giant rat catching machine and gets decapitated.

I'm not going to lie and pretend that this is at all a good movie. I'm just going to say that it has its moments.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

I mentioned this movie before, because it was originally directed by Lucky McKee, but then production was shut down and he either left or was fired, and when it started back up another director took over. Both are listed as director in the credits, so it's really hard to say how much of this movie is McKee's, what he shot, how close this came to his plan for the film, etc. I can't really compare it to his body of work, or make any statements about how he's progressing.

I can, however, say that this is a top-notch slow-burn-style thriller marred slightly by a weaker final act. It's about an aging widower who one day while minding his own business is confronted by a group of teenagers. One of the kids, a total creep, kills the man's beloved dog Red, for no good reason. Later, the man tracks the kids down and tells their families what happened, hoping for an apology and for the kids to be disciplined. Instead, the rich asshole father of two of the kids brushes him off, and buries any investigations into the matter to keep his kids from getting in trouble. This leads to a back and forth that builds slowly but inevitably to violence and tragedy.

It's clear from early on that this story is going to end in violence, but the last 20 minutes or so start to feel a too heightened and over done. The build up is tense and involving, and the acting is great across, especially from Brian Cox in the lead, so it's a shame that the last chunk of the movie (while still well done) stretches too much credibility. Then, strangely, the final scene of the movie is a inappropriately upbeat, bordering on corny. I cared about this character enough that I was glad the movie had a (somewhat) happy ending, but the music starts swelling and there's even a little puppy dog, it feels more like some Lifetime movie or some shit.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Pit and the Pendulum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cloverfield suffered because I had just recently watched Quarantine and it looked worse in comparison. On the flip side of that, I think I enjoyed Stuart Gordon's The Pit and the Pendulum a little bit more because I had just sat through Seed. Gordon pairs broad satire (of religious extremism and corrupt public figures) with scenes of torture and degradation. The combo is a little off-putting and cancels itself out at times... even in the span of a single scene, it's like some actors are in a comedy and the others in a harrowing drama. It undercuts itself.

Despite that, the film still works because Gordon knows how to build a moment, and he certainly knows how to disturb. There's a scene where a character gets their tongue cut out that's way more squirm-inducing and effective than anything in Seed, and they don't even graphically show it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I knew I had to cram in at least one Uwe Boll movie for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ. In his heyday, no one, not even Ed Wood, made more hilariously bad genre films than Boll. House of the Dead, Heart of America and Blackwoods are three of the all-time achievements in so bad it's good filmmaking.

Problem is, Boll isn't in his prime any more, and in some ways he's improved as a filmmaker, which means his movies are worse/less watchable. Lately, his movies are shitty in a boring and unremarkable way, instead of achieving the unique accidental hilarity of House of the Dead. I thought we might have had a chance here for a classic, as this is Boll's take on the torture porn genre. Instead, outside of some occasional laughs, it's a bore.

Boll was trying to make a genuinely disturbing horror film, and from that standpoint, Seed is a miserable failure. The main problem is that it wants to be a bleak, graphic and unsettling horror film, but it has a ridiculous story with a ridiculous villain. The killer (actually named "Seed," which is lame) is just a Jason knockoff, a big dude in a mask who performs impossible feats of strength, like pushing a man so hard that his head squeezes between two jail bars and is crushed. The movie can't reconcile silly, over-the-top Jason X nonsense like that with it's serious tone. So, the violence works on neither level. It's too overblown to be disturbing, yet the tone of the film is too somber for the violence to be fun. It's lose-lose.

And man, does he try to work in the bleakest ending possible, but it's too stupid to take seriously. The main character is somehow locked in the killer's house, and he sees on a TV screen that the killer has abducted his wife and daughter. Seed wants him to kill himself to spare his family. He won't, so Seed kills the wife. The cop relents and shoots himself in the head. The movie ends with Seed locking the little girl in the room with her dead dad, where he will presumably leave her to starve and die like his other victims.

I don't get it either. Did the cop really think that Seed would just let her go? Couldn't he have tried to pretend shooting himself? Or tried to break out of the room? Or anything else besides killing himself and leaving his daughter in the clutches of a serial killer. I'm sympathetic to characters in horror movies making mistakes, but this one just defies all sense.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Like you could resist that title either. This is, all around, a pretty unremarkable giallo. It has all the staples of the genre, but not enough of a sense of style, or energy, or how to build suspense. Of course, for me, even a below average giallo like this one is at least watchable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Uncle Sam

Tuesday, October 29, 2008

So this is about a solider that comes back from the dead, dresses up as Uncle Sam, and goes around killing people in various America-themed ways, like impaling a dude on a flag. And what's even better is that the tone of the movie is serious, like it's actually trying to be scary and make some sort of statement about America and its foreign policy.

There's fun to be had, but given this premise and treatment, it should have been more awesome than it is. It's too boring, with not enough happening for long periods of time. The ridiculous, awful slasher-gimmick coupled with the straight-faced tone could have lead to a classic, instead it's a disappointment with a few memorable moments.

I will give a shout out to the ending, which is an (I think accidental) homage to the ending of City of the Living Dead. It's clear that they shot a happy ending but that at some point in post production they decided that horror movies can't have happy endings. So they have this happy scene of the main character kid and his mom, but then for no reason creepy music cues up on the soundtrack, and it goes into slo-mo for a few seconds and then freeze frames on the kid smiling. Then suddenly the picture appears to shatter, for no god damned reason. Fucking awesome.

Day of the Dead

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This is not the original Day of the Dead, nor is it that inexplicable "sequel" Day of the Dead 2: Contagium. This is the remake of original, which I guess also kind of makes it a sequel to the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It's got the fast zombies like that movie did, and they both star Ving Rhames, although he plays a different role in each. So maybe they just want you to think that this is a sequel.

Romero's original Day of the Dead is (much like his recent Diary of the Dead) one of his worst movies, made somewhat entertaining by Romero's flair for zombie action and graphic violence. This remake, by a guy who did some of the Friday the 13th movies, is I guess in someways more competent and more watchable than Romero's film, but it's so ho-hum in all respects that there is nothing that sticks out about it. I guess I wasn't bored, but I don't think there was a single standout scene or idea in the whole thing. It's the very definition of mediocre. Romero's film sucked, but it at least showed ambition and vision.

So we got the fast zombies here (seems unavoidable post-28 Days Later) and I'm not really a fan of them to begin with, but here they're handled especially poorly. The director uses this awful effect, I don't know if the footage is sped up or if they are under-cranking it or whatever, but they move in this artificially fast manner, and do weird impossible shit like jumping ten feet in the air and climbing on ceilings. I think they're trying to convey a manic energy in these scenes, but it just looks retarded.

As a remake, it doesn't have much to do with the original. There are zombies, and soldiers, and a guy name Rhoads, and a zombie that takes orders, so they at least saw the original. But otherwise it's just a generic zombie movie with a stock cast of (unlikable) characters, it's violent without having any memorable special effects, and it's competently but ineffectively shot and staged. The final result feels more like a Sci-Fi channel original movie than something you'd actually pay to see (oops)... in fact, it feels like it could be one of those lame Return of the Living Dead sequels Sci-Fi showed a few years back. And now that I think about it, that's the perfect criticism for this movie: it's like an average made for TV movie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Monday, October 27, 2008

Since I liked Quarantine a lot more than I was expecting, I decided it was time to be all benevolent and shit and give Cloverfield a shot. It seemed to fit a similar pattern, where I thought the trailers made it look like ass and I hate the stupid faux-documentary gimmick, but then it got good reviews and whatnot. So I gave it a spin.

And it actually turns out that it was kind of a mistake to have watched this so soon after seeing Quarantine, because it just helped to underline some of Cloverfield's major flaws. Most notably, Cloverfield felt really false and stagey to me, and when you're pretending to be comprised of actual footage from someone's video camera, that's fatal.

Some of it has to do with the scope of the movie. It's about a giant Godzilla-thing destroying a city, that also sheds from it's skin giant Starship Trooper-looking bugs that go around biting people. This means there are many large set pieces, with lots of special effects. And unfortunately, the movie doesn't do a very good job of integrating the actors with the effects. I'm not against CG as a rule, but it looked unconvincing here. I had trouble suspending disbelief.

Moreso, though, I think the feeling of stagey-ness comes from the writing and acting and the, um, staging. (Shit, I couldn't end that sentence without getting redundant.) Too much of the dialogue didn't ring true, and the actors, while adequate, felt like they were performing and didn't strike me as natural. And even more than that, a lot of the filmmaking felt staged rather than on-the-fly (which it's pretending to be). There are a lot of moments where things seemed perfectly framed to catch the important bits of action, or to teasingly show parts of the monster.

There's also this little gimmick where every now and then the video cuts out and cuts to a video of something else that was recorded on the same tape. Essentially, it's a way to ironically show footage of the characters during happier times. It's an okay idea, but the placement of cuts is obvious, especially in the beginning where one of the characters wonders if they are recording over his tape, and at that very moment it cuts to the older footage of his. I don't know if I'm explaining that well, but it's distractingly phony.

Quarantine was far from realistic. It could even be accused of some of these same flaws, but it did a better job of masking them. It keeps it's action confined to a small area, doesn't add any extraneous plot details, keeps the character motivations straightforward, and does a better job of looking like it was shot spontaneously, while still skillfully manipulating the audience.

Cloverfield might have played better on the big screen, with surround sound and a receptive audience feeding off its energy. Maybe I could have been more immersed, more convinced by the special effects, more willing to submit to the spectacle. Instead, on my little TV, it felt phony, and the style created too much aesthetic distance (or maybe cognitive dissonance?). I didn't hate it, and there were a handful of neat moments, but it didn't engage me at any point. I don't get the hype.

Murder Rock: Dancing Death

Monday, October 27, 2008

An open letter to my brother Andy:

Hey Andy, have you seen this one yet? It's one of Fulci's mid-80's efforts. You and I have both plowed through the ass-end of his filmography, including Aenigma, Demonia, Voices From the Beyond and Sweet House of Horrors, so if you haven't seen this one, you probably should. However, if you still need convincing, here is a list of reasons of why you should see Murder Rock:

1) It is an attempt to cash in on the 80's dance movie craze, but it's still a horror movie. So what I'm saying is that Fulci made a giallo in the style of Flashdance.

2) The opening credits show a bunch of people (who I don't think are characters in the movie) breakdancing to some 80's music. When the credits end, they are immediately followed by another dance sequence. It's like a good 6 minutes of screen time before there's any dialogue and people stop dancing.

3) There are several dance sequences in the film, and they are pretty much all extraneous.

4) Remember the classic song "Head Over Meels" from Fulci's Aenigma? Well, Murder Rock's entire soundtrack consists of crap like that.

5) Garetta Garetta, the black chick from Demons and Rats: Night of Terror has a supporting role.

6) There are several dramatic speeches made by characters, and the movie seems to take them pretty seriously.

7) There is a lot of nudity for a Fulci film, although most of it is of dead chicks. So we're talking Torso territory here, although no lesbians.

8) The killer chloroforms women so they pass out, then sticks some weird ceremonial needle through their heart.

9) I don't know if he had a decent budget or what, but this is, from a technical standpoint, one of Fulci's best shot, best lit, best edited, best constructed films. It doesn't have his normally foggy, soft-focus nightmarish feel, it's more of a classic giallo.

10) Despite that, it still has a lot of accidental comedy.

So there you go, 10 reasons why you should consider seeing this one if you get a chance. I wouldn't bump it to the top of your queue or go out of your way to see it, but if you like this kind of crap (and I know you do) then it's worth your time.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Another notable gap in my horror lexicon finally mended, the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi Dracula, probably the most iconic version of the tale. What took me so long to see this beloved classic? I dunno, it's a little shameful that I just now saw it. I guess I was too busy watching all the Slumber Party Massacre movies when I was younger.

This has a lot of the great, creepy, shadowy black and white cinematography that I love, so I enjoyed it for that, but if I'm being honest here, the story and acting was not so hot. Some of that's just personal taste... I really don't enjoy this style of hammy, theatrical overacting that you find in some of these old movies (although Lugosi is better at it than the other actors). But I think that some story and structural problems are evident, too. Especially the ending. They find Dracula in his coffin, then Harker finds his girlfriend. Dracula is staked by Van Helsing offscreen (all we hear is a noise in the distance) then Harker and his girl just sort of walk off and it cuts to THE END. Talk about an anti-climax.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bio Zombie

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't really pay much attention to this one while it was one. But I'm including it anyways. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. It's my blog, I can do what I want, and what I want to do is make YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ as large as possible. Fingers crossed we hit 60.

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No, they didn't already shit out a sequel to the awful Prom Night remake, this is a sequel to the original. Well, it's a sequel in name only, it doesn't have jack-shit to do with its predecessor. It even switches subgenres, from slasher movie to evil ghost/possession movie. So whereas part 1 was another crappy Halloween wannabe, this is a, um, Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge wannabe, I guess.

I'm not sure if it has a great title or a terrible title, but it's definitely a title that sticks out and when I was a kid I was always curious to watch it. Never did, and considering all the lousy horror movie series' I've followed, it's weird that I haven't delved into the Prom Nights more.

Any ways, true to this series, this was pretty mediocre, although maybe an improvement over the original. Faint praise, but I think I may continue on and see parts 3 and 4 at some point, just because. Then I should get around to seeing the Silent Night Deadly Night sequels. I think I draw the line at the direct to video Hellraiser sequels. Hellraiser: Bloodline was shitty enough, and it went theatrical, I can't imagine how bad one of these would have to be to not even merit a theatrical release.

But I'm off topic. If nothing else, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 is a lot better than that fucking Prom Night remake. But then, what isn't?

Saw V

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's an exciting time to be alive. Growing up as a horror movie devote, I always rued the fact that I wasn't of movie-going age in the 80's. What was great about that time period is that they had a ton of horror movie franchises, where they'd shit a new one out like every year. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, they were cranking those out on a regular basis, like clockwork. You knew that every year, you'd get to see Jason Vorhees's newest adventure.

So I've been pretty excited about the Saw series, I feel like I'm getting the experience I sorely lacked for years. It's great to know, for the time being, that there will be a new one next October. I love it. And, I mean, don't get me wrong, I also enjoy these movies. The first one was a skillful (if ridiculous) horror/thriller, and the rest have been gleefully absurd trash. And after the sublime insanity of parts III and IV, I was pretty stoked for V to take it to the next level.

Sadly, it didn't. Don't get me wrong, I still liked this one. In fact, it's a better movie than Saw II was. It just didn't up the ante with the crazy-insane plot. No ridiculous cliffhanger ending. Nothing like at the end of IV where it turns out that everything was happening simultaneously with part III. This is a far more low key event.

In fact, this feels less like a full-fledged sequel and more like an interlude. There isn't as much story development. It's the shortest film in the series. Mostly what it does is fill in Hoffman's backstory, explaining how he got hooked up with Jigsaw. This provides some Saw III style fun where we get flashbacks to the other movies' timelines, showing how Hoffman was actually involved, setting up the house trap in part II for example.

Part V has a new director, different from the last 3 movies, and his debut here is nothing great, but I did appreciate the slight change in style. The guy who did the last 3, Bousman, his style was polished, but over the top, especially with the lighting. His movies looked good, but then he would go all retarded in the editing room and throw in a bunch of fast forwards and slo-mos and whooshes and flashes and all that shit. Basically, neat cinematography ruined by ADHD editing. This new fellow, Hackl, dispenses with a lot of that editing nonsense (well, not all of it, this is a Saw movie, after all), and is actually willing to build a moment or hold a shot for a few seconds. He also has a much less ornate, handheld style that feels... not exactly grittier than the other movies, but you know what I mean. I dug that.

(On the downside, though, his style never gets hilariously over-blown like Bousman's. So there aren't any of those ridiculous scene transitions where someone breaks a window and the camera whips through it and is magically transported to a different scene.)

So we have somewhat different visual approach, and the plot deals more with a good detective facing off with a bad detective, and as a result this one feels a little less like a horror movie and a little more like a crime movie (albeit, a weird and graphically violent crime movie). The series has, in a weird way, gone from horror/thriller to film noir.

Anyways, there was enough here that I enjoyed that I'm still on board for part VI (only 12 short months away!), but it's a step down from the last two. It has a nifty ending, although it doesn't reach the amazing levels of convolution that the last three films did, and there wasn't much of a twist. From what I'm reading online, it's possible that they are setting up some major craziness for the next entry, and I've heard some weird theories. So maybe if this is all building to some nutcase twist in part VI, then this one will seem better in retrospect. As it stands, it delivers the goods but feels slight compared to the last two.

The Thing

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fuck. Yes. One of my favorite movies ever. On Blu Ray. Projected on to my Uncle's giant screen. Uncompressed audio. This is likely the highest quality I will ever see this movie, and it was fucking amazing. I can't even express how great this was for me.


Friday, October 24, 2008

I've been wrong before, but the trailers really made this one look like dogshit. Which is why, for a while, I was willing to skip it even though I like to see most of the horror movies that come out. I mean, this whole faux-documentary thing has to be my least favorite gimmick ever (it's why I still haven't seen Cloverfield) , and this is also a remake of some foreign film, which is a weird trend that I don't think has produced the best results.

But then Quarantine goes and gets some pretty good reviews (which seems rare for a horror movie), and then I also realized that it was rated R. The trailer had lead me to assume that this was some lame-ass PG-13 horror movie aimed at teenage girls, like some When A Stranger Calls bullshit or something. But no, turns out this one is a real horror movie.

And I have to eat my hat, because Quarantine turned out to be pretty good. The first good sign was the cast. I knew that girl from Dexter was gonna be in it, and she's cute a likable, but I didn't know that Hostel's Jay Hernandez was gonna be one of the leads, and that Johnathan Schaech was in it. That's a pretty good pedigree for one of these movies, I perked right up when I saw those guys. And then another familiar face or two popped up, and the cast was solid all around.

So like I said, I normally hate the faux-documentary footage, but Quarantine is probably the most successfull attempt at the style that I've seen. I prefer horror movies to have a more elegant style, but at least here they use the shaky handheld style to build up a nice, manic energy in the final act. It's not a great horror movie, it's not incredibly scary, but it builds and builds as it goes along until it becomes reasonably exciting.

It basically comes down to 28 Days Later in an apartment building, shot in the style of Blair Witch, which sounds terrible but the results are actually pretty good. Glad I got past my biases and saw it. Maybe I should give Cloverfield a shot.

Above the Law

Friday, October 24, 2008

Steven Seagal's first movie, and in my opinion his best... although watching this again, I realize that even if Above the Law is better, I might like Hard to Kill more because of how silly and fun it is. So maybe that one's worth owning, too.

But what I really need to own is Van Damme's Double Team with Dennis Rodman, feel me?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Thief of Bagdad

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Through no fault of my own I had to take a night off YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ. Our mail has been randomly not showing up some days, so my Netflix didn't arrive. Our mail didn't arrive Monday either, and didn't show up until very late on Wednesday. It's getting ridiculous, and it's especially pissing me off because it's slowing down my Netflix intake. I'm not getting my money's worth.

I had The Thief of Bagdad Tivoed, so I watched it instead, and it's a pretty delightful fantasy film from the early 40's, in technicolor, with a lot of pretty awesome special effects for the time. My brother used to watch Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad movies and stuff like that when we were kids, and this seems like an early precursor to those, only better than I remember most of those being.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nightmare City

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, so back last week in my Mountain of the Cannibal God post, I really called out Umberto Lenzi and his film Eaten Alive as being vile, misogynist trash. Well, let it be known that I'm not entirely Anti-Lenzi. In fact, I have nothing but love for his Nightmare City.

Nightmare City is a manna from B-movie heaven. It's too good for us mere mortals. It's about zombies. Sort of. They're, like, dudes with fucked up, rotting faces, and they rip people open and drink their blood. Only, unlike zombies of old, they run around (this was 22 years before 28 Days Later and 5 years before Return of the Living Dead, so this is actually pretty novel) and they use weapons, which makes them seem more like The Crazies or the people who drank the bad wine in Grapes of Death. Except they don't talk or have personalities, although they do seem to have intelligence, and they work in teams, and they use stabbing objects, although I guess they don't know how to use guns. So I don't know what the fuck they are, but it's infectious and they look sorta corpse-like so I guess it's zombieism.

This is probably just as misogynist as Eaten Alive, but the tone of this film is so much more ridiculous and fun that it doesn't come off that way. I mean, there's a big difference between sick shit like a woman being raped with a snake-blood soaked dildo (Eaten Alive) and something kinda goofy like a bunch of dancing women in spandex on a dance-themed TV show called It's All Music being stabbed by a bunch of zombies until their clothes fall off (Nightmare City). Okay, now that I've typed that out, they both sound pretty awful, but trust me when I say it treads that ever beloved line between genuinely entertaining B-movies elements, and accidental comedy.

This is not Demons good, but it has it's moments. A dude shoots zombies while running up a rollercoaster. The zombies somehow pilot a plane in the opening sequence and land it, with no further explanation of how this is possible. And at the end, it turns out it's all just a dream... or it is?! I won't lie, I love this shit.

The Dirty Dozen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I picked this up forever ago and have been waiting for the right night when Shenan wasn't around to pop it on. This is perhaps the ultimate "guy movie" and I am sympathetic to the fact that she is not a dude. I figure I'll rock out to some Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson, timed perfectly so she'd get home after it ended and we could do something else. So of course she comes home like an hour early and has has to sit bored through the finale.

This is an awesome movie, but there's one part I never got. In the final act, the dozen go on their mission to kill a shitload of Nazis, and they have to parachute in. For some reason, one of them randomly dies, offscreen, by hitting a tree when they land. Someone points it out, they're all like that sucks, and then they move on. I guess this is in the movie because it slightly alters their mission, but they could have at least killed the dude in a cooler way than having him break his neck by falling on a tree. Or at least give him the dignity of an onscreen death. And come to think of it, the guy who dies is Jimenez, the only Hispanic member of the team. All the white dudes who die get to die onscreen, why does this guy get the shaft? Not only does he not get to see any action, they don't even bother to show him dying.

Here's to you Jimenez. I just want you to know that there's one dude out there that's got your back.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is it embarassing that I had never seen Duel before? Maybe a little. Actually, I had seen maybe half of it before, in random sections, on TV. But never the entire thing.

This is pretty accomplished filmmaking, considering thet Spielberg was only in his 20's when he made it. Just goes to show how naturally talented he is. And obviously, it's his skill with film that drives (get it, it's a pun) Duel. That's a given, duh, we all know he's great, but you also got to give a lot of credit to Dennis Weaver in the lead role. I don't think the suspense would work nearly as well if we didn't believe him as a normal guy. That's a typical way thrillers try to engage us, by placing an "everyman" in some sort of dangerous situation, but they don't always do it this well. I don't know about you, I love Hitchcock and Cary Grant to death, but Grant always struck me as way too funny and way too cool to be believable as joe schmo nobody. Weaver, on the other hand, seems like a regular dude who is woefully unequiped to deal with the crazy situation he finds himself in. He projects a certain vulnerability, especially in his voice, and you can't help but fear for his safety.

And you have to respect the way the film streamlines the story in order to get to the goods. It's about a guy driving down a barren highway, who is attacked by some crazy truck driver. We never find out who the truck driver is (or even see his face), and never find out why he's trying to kill Weaver. And you know what, who gives a shit? Plots in these movies are usually arbitrary anyways, just an excuse to get to the action. Adding in a bunch of exposition wouldn't help Duel be any scarier. Instead, it's upfront about it's intentions: it's a technical exercise in thriller filmmaking. And a darn good one.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This was Netflixed because it sounded like something Shenan might like, and I thought I'd give it a chance even thought I had a vibe that it was going to be an Evil Dead knockoff. And, well, I was right, except that it was actually a reasonably entertaining Evil Dead knockoff, with much better acting and writing and directing and special effects than I was expecting. It takes too damn long to get to the manster slaying, but there's enough fun to be had here to make it worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dance of the Dead

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm going to go on record as naming Dance of the Dead the sweetest, cutest, most adorable zombie movie ever. It's a good natured teen comedy crossed with a silly, Evil Dead 2 style gorefest. Like if Sixteen Candles was invaded by the undead.

This is no Shaun of the Dead, not by a long shot, but it's likable and has enough laughs to make it worth seeing.

Black Sunday

Monday, October 20, 2008

Here I am, giving Mario Bava another shot. I promise, this is the last one I watch for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ. Where does this one fall? Somewhere in the middle. The story is zzzzzzzzzzzz and the acting/dubbing is uuggghhhhhhh, but the look of the film is pretty sweet. Take from that what you will.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Really, I've been meaning to see this one for years, but something always held me back. I'm not sure if it was laziness or some sense that the movie was going to be too unpleasant, but I always stayed away from it despite my curiosity.

Glad I finally caught it, because for what it is, it's a good one. As I recall, this was not a well-respected movie critically, probably because it's low budget and sleazy and violent. Yeah, it's got it's problems, some of the acting is weak, the writing doesn't always make sense, maybe there's some awkwardly staged parts. But I gotta say, if one of the things a horror movie is supposed to do is unnerve or disturb, then this is an effective horror movie.

It's a pretty sick, twisted movie at times, but a mostly well-made one, with a weirdly fascinating lead performance. It's sort of in that low-budget subgenre of movies where the killer is the main character, like Deranged, or Don't Go in the House, or The Driller Killer, but a bit better than any of those. There's something in these movies' low rent, late 70's/early 80's aesthetic that I respond to (even when the movie isn't very good)... it's hard to put my finger on, but there's something sleazy and almost unprofessional about it, like it was actually made by perverts and sickos. (I don't think that's actually the case, but you get that vibe). Maniac takes the cake, since it's about a guy who murders women, scalps them, brings their scalps home, nails the scalps to a mannequin, handcuffs himself to the mannequin, and then talks to it and sleeps in the same bed with it. Makes the guy who burns women alive with a flamethrower in Don't Go in the House look well-adjusted by comparison.

So it's got that disturbing, creepy vibe sustained throughout most of the movie, but it also has some effective sequences of tension, particularly one scene set in a train station. I mean, it's no Dressed to Kill, but it puts you on edge. And I have to respect that.

When a Stranger Calls

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not that awful-looking remake, this is the original from the 70's, which I assume was a rip-off of Halloween, but not an overtly violent or smutty one like Friday the 13th... more like it's trying to be an honest-to-god good horror movie. And it's a decent one, with a handful of memorable moments. I particularly like at the end when Carol Kane realizes that the killer is in her bed.

P.S.: this blog post is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

If nothing else, this is a pretty entertaining movie. Like I had heard, it's an unflattering but weirdly sympathetic (or at least empathetic) portrait of Bush, more of a character study than a political commentary.

I love Oliver Stone, but I suspect we're past the era of his best films. This is a good one, and so was World Trade Center, but gone is the passion, the sense of urgency, the ridiculous chances he used to take. I know a lot of people viewed Oliver Stone as a left-wing lunatic, and to some people he probably seems more matured and subdued now... but it was exactly that lunacy that made some of his earlier pictures so great. I mean, love him or hate him, agree or disagree, JFK and Natural Born Killers are both works of a kind of epic vision; really reaching for something beyond what films normally do. (Whether he achieves it or not is up for debate). Aside from a few touches here or there, and W. is a pretty standard, albiet well made, biopic.

I mean, I was at least hoping that Bush would see a dancing Indian in the Oval Office, but we're not that lucky.

Population 436

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This one was rented out of irony because Shenan and I were amused that Fred Durst had a supporting role in it. What can I say, we are not perfect people.

It's basically just an extended Twilight Zone episode, with a predictable story and plot twist. It's competently made and amiably mediocre, even Durst is tolerable. Pretty average, un-noteworthy stuff, only really of interest to me because it stars Jeremy Sisto, a good actor who I enjoy all the more-so because he mostly does horror movies. Otherwise, I didn't hate this movie, but there's not much to praise here either.

The Foot Fist Way

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So like I said, it's been a good year for comedy, and with this, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, you can give some of the credit to Danny McBride. He sort of seems like the indie Will Ferrell now, and is quickly becoming an MVP on the comedy scene. You can count me in as a fan now, and I'm looking forward to whatever he does next.

The Foot Fist Way isn't as great as Patton Oswalt would like you to believe, but it's pretty funny, McBride is incredible, and it includes violence towards children and old people, so it's definitely worth seeing. This movie is so bitter and hateful that Roger Ebert couldn't give it a positive review despire admitting that it was funny. If you have a dark sense of humor and don't mind unabashed misanthropy, this is your movie. If nothing else, it's worth it to see a man break up with his wife by pissing on his wedding ring.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sex Drive

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You know this has been a good year for comedy when even a middling, seemingly forgettable teen sex comedy like this has some pretty seriously fucking funny moments. We were gonna see Quarantine since it's a horror movie and all, but we got to the theater way too early and went for this instead. It's nothing special, but it's funny and likable and definitely the kind of movie you'll find yourself drawn to when you randomly catch it on TV.

Piranha 2: The Spawning

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Maybe you don't know this, but this is a special film. Why? It was James Cameron's first movie. Fuck yes.

Actually, this might come as a shock, but you wouldn't really guess this guy was going to go on to be one of the greatest mainstream directors of all time based on Piranha 2. Unlike the first one, this seems to want to be a somewhat more serious horror film, it's less tongue in cheek. There's some amusing shit here, especially since the piranha can now jump through the air (!), but I was kinda hoping that this would turn out to be a great low budget horror movie, and it's most definitely not.

Love Object

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This was kind of straddling the line between good and bad for me for most of the running time, and then a stupid ending finally sunk the boat. It's sort of a dark comedy that slowly turns into a disturbing horror movie, with a plot that's a bit like a horror movie version of Lars and the Real Girl. Anyways, in the final act it starts building to a really creepy/gross ending, which would have been cool, but then it seems like it's gonna have a happy ending which also would have been fine, but then it throws in a stupid twist that is neither disturbing nor happy. It's an "unhappy" ending, but a contrived and stupid one. Skip it.

Night of the Demon

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is not that shitty 80's movie where Linnea Quigley somehow shoves a tube of lipstick through her titty. This is a black and white horror movie from the great Jacques Tourneur, similar to his I Walked With a Zombie or Leopard Man. I'm not the biggest fan of old, low budget horror movies, but there was something about this guy's style that I respond to... it lacks a lot of the cheesey and asanine qualities I associate with some of the crappier old ones. Except for one unfortunate moment where the main character is attacked by a monster that looks exactly like a stuffed animal, the movie strikes a serious but fun tone, and it's got an intriguing plot and some awesome b&w cinematography.

In Bruges

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seeing this again, I'm thinking it's got a better shot at making on my best 10 of the year list. That is, if I make one. It's maybe not quite the funniest comedy of the year, but it's probably the best all around film of 2008's comedies.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wizard of Gore

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back in February I watched the original The Wizard of Gore, and kind of tried to defend it before realizing that it really was just a piece of shit. So why did I bother with the 2007 remake? One reason, mainly: Crispin Glover plays the title character.

Admit it, now you kind of want to see the movie a little bit too.

Sadly, Glover doesn't get all that much screen time, and although it's definitely a much better film than the original, it's not very good. It's over-written, over-plotted, over-acted and way over-directed. That's not always a bad thing, in fact most of what's enjoyable about Wizard of Gore is due to its excesses, but it's not done well enough to hold up.

It kind of wants to be a mind-fuck sorta movie, which can be cool, but it's a little too focused on it's labyrinthine, pull-the-rug-out style plot. I don't think that's usually a good fit for a horror movie. The best horror movies usually succeed more on a visceral level than a plot-driven one. And it didn't help that I put this on late, found myself getting tired, and had trouble following the story.

I saw another movie by this director a few years ago, called The Attic Expeditions, and it was similarly over-done with a mind-fuck plot, but it was more fun (and funnier) than this one, and it's deliberate ambiguity let you focus more on the tone and atmosphere.

Anyways, it's not all bad, it's made with a certain amount of skill and has a good cast, but it just doesn't add up to much more than a vaguely confusing experience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

May is one of the very best horror movies of this decade, and watching it again I was reminded of Lucky McKee's potential to be one of the best directors of the genre. He hasn't quite lived up to that yet, but maybe some day. His episode of Masters of Horror was one of the best (probably second only to Takashi Miike's episode), and his follow up movie, The Woods, was overall pretty good, although definitely a step down. I was excited when I heard he had a new one coming out, a Jack Ketchum adaptation called Red, but apparently he either quit or was fired part way into filming, and some other dude I haven't heard of finished it. It's on my queue and I'm still curious to see it, but I won't really be able to evaluate it in terms of McKee's filmography.


Wednesday, October 16, 2008

TCM did a Paul Newman marathon last Sunday, and I Tivoed Hud based on some of the good things I had heard about it. And I have to say, it far exceeded my expectations. This is probably the best movie of Newman's that I've seen. The best part is the screenplay, based on a Larry McMurtry book. The dialogue is a kind I'm fond of: everyone speaks in a manner that sounds, somehow, both strightforward and poetic all at once.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm not a big fan of haunted house movies, but this is one of the better ones. Mostly due to the fact that it's prodecuer, a Mr. Steven Speilberg, may have, um... actually secretly directed the movie himself. I don't find it to be particularly scary (except for that scene with the fucking clown doll), but it's fun and contains a lot of cool special effects. I hadn't seen Poltergeist since I was a kid, so it was fun to go back and revisit it. It's too blockbuster-y to be a great horror movie, but it does entertain.

The Muppets Take Manhattan

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I thought this was Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan and didn't realize I was wrong until I had already been watching it for an hour. Figured I might as well finish it.

This movie is like 10 lbs of cute in a 5 lb bag. A perfect choice if you're looking to take a brief break from a month long horror movie marathon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mountain of the Cannibal God

Monday, October 14, 2008

My first experience with an Italian cannibal movie was bad enough to turn me off of the genre for a long time. That movie was Eaten Alive (Umberto Lenzi's, not the weird-ass Tobe Hooper movie), and I guessed I watched it about 2 1/2 - 3 years ago, when I was still in college. It was one of the few horror movies I've seen that I, on some level, objected to. Something about it actually offended me. At least part of that was the (actual) animal cruelty depicted in the movie... I'm not an animal lover, but I don't need to see people cutting open living creatures. Mostly though, I think it was the pervading sense of misogyny in the film. I actually wrote a paper in college defending horror movies from charges of misogyny, but Eaten Alive is not a film I would stand up for. There is so much violence directed towards women, almost pornographically shown, in addition to numerous gratuitous sequences of rape, and all with no point. Last House On the Left is another movie with a lot of rape and violence directed towards women, but it is made with some level of skill and artistry. Eaten Alive is a corny, shitty, poorly made, low-rent Italian exploitation film with no real point except to depict human suffering, preferably of the women.

So what I'm trying to say is that I thought it was a slightly below average movie. And from what I've heard about other Italian cannibal movie classics like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, I should stay away. But there was something tempting about Mountain of the Cannibal God, something different. For one, it stars the sexy Ursula Andress and the badass Stacy Keach, which is like way classy for this kind of movie. The production values looked on the higher end, and it seemed less sleazy and depraved than Eaten Alive... while still having an appropriate level of sleaze and depravity. And it was directed by Sergio Martino, whose Torso I just watched for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ and enjoyed, and who also did some other decent giallos.

And I'm glad to say that this movie didn't bother the way that Eaten Alive did, this was much more in the spirit of the sleazy B movies that I like, despite some unfortunate and unnecessary animal violence. Sadly, though, it wasn't a very good movie either. Ursula Andress gets naked, which is great, and there are a handful of entertaining moments of action and violence, but it's too slow and long for one of these movies, and with a weird structure. Things that seem like they should be major events barely register. Stacy Keach is positioned as the male lead in the film, but then about 30 minutes from the end he just kinda slips off a waterfall and dies. After that, the remaining characters are captured by the cannibals, and the movie starts to get weird with a crazy cannibal sex orgy (including graphic female masturbation, and a man fucking a giant pig). It seems like it's heading towards something big... but then they just kind of escape, and there is a brief fight with some cannibals, and the end. It's a surprisingly indifferent finale. In fact it's a lot like Turistas in that regard... it has all the obligatory exploitative elements for one of these movies, but it's all indifferently staged and doesn't leave you feeling like you watched much of a movie.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Of the silent films I've watched so far for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ, this was the best and also probably the last. It contained a lot more weird, nightmarish imagery than Vampyre or The Man Who Laughs did, which is primarily what I'm looking for. But I'll be honest, enough's enough, I'm proud of myself for watching a bunch of silent films, but it just feels like due diligence sometimes. Silent films can be great for physical comedy and for visuals, but when it comes to story and character, well, we've come along way since then baby. Much like Vampyre, when none of the crazy, horror movie-esque stuff is going on, Faust is kind of a bore. I just can't get wrapped up in the drama when no one can talk and the only way they express themselves is through hammy overacting.

I know, I know, this all sounds pretty ignorant. I'm not closed minded towards silent films, I'm sure I'll watch plenty more in the future (especially if it's comedy) but I'm not cramming in any more this month just to make myself feel well-versed. Faust was 50% awesome imagery and 50% corny, big-arms, moustache-twirling style acting, and that's actually been the most favorable ratio so far this month, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Sunday, October 12, 2008

A well made but uninvolving Hostel ripoff. There's not much wrong with it, per se, as a middling gore-no film, except that it doesn't seem like it gives a shit about being a horror movie. So much of Turistas is just about a bunch of people hanging out at the beach, or swimming, or walking through the woods, very slowly and reluctantly becoming a horror movie. The director also did movies like Into the Blue and Blue Crush... I think he must be a surfer or beach bum or something, and makes these movies as a way of getting a studio to bankroll his surfing trips. He already did a teen movie and an action movie on the beach, so this time he convinced them to let him do a horror movie on the beach. And other than an excuse to catch some waves there isn't much reason for this to exist.

I did appreciate the nudity, though. I feel like maybe it's making a comeback in mainstream horror movies.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maybe I should take back those compliments I gave Mario Bava in my Black Sabbath post. Outside of maybe a few cool visuals and Daria Niccolodi's naked butt, this one bored the shit out of me. Of course, this was his last film and I don't think his later works are considered to be very good, so maybe I should still give one of his earliest movies a shot. Shock actually felt more Argento-y in tone, with the funkier score and graphic violence and Daria Niccolodi, but like an indifferent, shitty Argento.

Of course, this wasn't terrible like Five Dolls For an August Moon, so I'm still no longer convinced that Bava is the worst director ever. I'm just probably not ever going to become an actual fan of his.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The title was a tipoff, but this is another indie quirkfest with an oppressive soundtrack that is constantly telling you to FEEL THE EMOTIONS.

I felt about this one how I feel about Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, and that's fitting because this is sort of like if Before Sunrise was done in the style of those movies. It's cute and a little funny and pleasant and also lightweight and slightly forgettable. Only this one isn't riding on a mile-high wave of hype, and definitely isn't going to be nominated for best picture, so my expectations were appropriately lower. I can enjoy it for the (rather modest) pleasure that it is and not feel like I have to hold it to some higher standard.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

This one is kind of a mess, but weird enough that I would say that I enjoyed it. There are way too many disjointed things going on in the story, it has a b-movie motif that goes nowehere, and I think it's a horror/comedy but it's not very funny. On the other hand, the kills are so inexplicable that it lends a kind of fascination to the movie... one dude is impaled on a giant prop mosquito, in another part the killer locks a guy in a toilet and somehow drops some pellets of some chemical (?) in the water that turns into gas and kills him... I mean, I don't know about you, I didn't think those were exactly great kills, but they were both firsts for me. And there's some cool stuff with the killer, who makes life-like masks of his victims and then goes around pretending to be them. This leads to some neat special effects of him switching faces.

Alan Ormsby was originally going to direct this. He was a frequent collaborator with Bob Clark, co-wrote some of Clark's horror movies, and even directed his own kinda bad but also pretty memorable horror movie Deranged in the 70's (Update 9/16/09: Greetings from the future! I saw Deranged again a few months ago and now I like it!). Popcorn would have been his second directorial effort, but apparently he was fired or he left and was replaced by some other no-name (an actor from the Porky's movies, which Ornsby and Clark worked on) a few weeks into filming. Something seems weirdly illogical about this. Ornsby wasn't up to snuff, so they replaced him with an actor from a shitty sex comedy? That seemed like a better alternative?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vault of Horror

Saturday, October 11, 2008

That's right, I follow Tales From the Crypt with... almost the exact same movie. Made one year later by the same people using the same source material, told with a similar wraparound story with almost exactly the same twist ending. But I'm not complaining. It was every bit as entertaining as the first one. This one even had that guy who played Dr. Who. And his face gets run over by a truck. So you know, I'm talking quality cinema here.

Tales From the Crypt

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No, not one of the movie spin-offs from the HBO series. This is the old 70's British movie adaptation of the comic books. A bunch of strangers are told their futures by the cryptkeeper (literally in a crypt at the time), each story being based on one of the old comics, including that evil Santa Claus one that Robert Zemeckis later made into an awesome episode of the TV show. The stories are all good fun, and it's British so it has an incidental touch of class to it.

Sleepaway Camp

Friday, October 10, 2008

This old chestnut. A blatant Friday the 13th rip-off, but it's actually better than the original Friday the 13th. Mostly due to the charmingly foul-mouthed screenplay, the weird-ass kills and the incredibly fucked up ending. After long delay, Return to Sleepaway Camp will be coming out on DVD next month, and you bet I'll be all over that shit. It should at least be as good as the silly fake sequels were.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Thursday, October 9, 2008

This is sort of like the proto-Evil Dead. And not just because it was an ultra low budget horror movie made by a group of amateurs with fake looking but fun and enthusiastic special effects. It's also happens to be about a group of young people who travel to a cabin in the woods, where it turns out some scientist has found an ancient book that unlocks unspeakable evil.

Coincidence? Probably, since little about the rest of the movie is anything like Evil Dead, although it's still fun spotting the similarities.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yes, this is what I'm talking about. You have to sift through a lot of mediocrity to find a giallo this good. This is one from Sergio Martino, and it's easily the best one of his I've seen. I'm thinking the quality of his films is inversely related to the greatness of their titles. i.e. Torso is the best movie, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I have the Key is his worst, The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh and All the Colors of the Dark fall somewhere in the middle.

I can't remember the last time I saw this many sexy, sexy naked women in a giallo. Maybe never. Maybe this is the record. The first 2/3rds of Torso is entertaining if standard giallo fare, but then in the last act one of the supporting characters wakes up, and goes downstairs to find that all of the other major characters have been murdered, and oh shit the killer is still in the house, sawing the limbs off of the corpses and sticking them in a bag. And I must say, the last chunk of the film, where this character tries to hide from the killer, genuinely manages to stir up a little excitement and suspense.

Did I mention all the nudity? Also: lesbians.

Halloween: Director's Cut (of the shitty remake)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I guess maybe I had a little hope that this supposed director's cut would be some sort of improvement. It wasn't. In fact, I didn't notice too much that was different, except now Michael's break-out has been replaced by an even worse scene. So I guess this may actually be worse than the theatrical version. Otherwise, my reaction was exactly the same... I even got bored and lost my focus at the exact same part I did when I saw it in theaters.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In tone and style, this felt very much of a piece with other 80's movies like Terminator, Aliens, Near Dark and Predator. James Horner's music even sounds very similar to his Aliens score. And the monster-POV shots are incredibly reminiscent of the Predator's POV shots, with similar sound effects thrown in. Only this movie came before all of those, so you have to give it credit.

Problem is, it just isn't nearly as good as any of those movies, even if it feels in some ways like the prototype for them. It's slow and overlong, and tries so hard to imbue it's fantastical premise with plausibility that it becomes pretty silly. Didn't work for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

House of Wax

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I think even people who hate slasher movies would have to admit that, though they may hate this one too, it's pretty well done. I mean, it's not particularly scary, but there's so much cool stuff going on with the art design and the visual style, far above and beyond what these movies usually provide, you gotta love it. Definitely one of the best slashers of this decade.

The movie is worth it for the big finale alone, where the whole house of wax melts along with everything inside, but the rest of it is pretty good too. I think it succeeds at doing what a lot of nu-slashers try and fail to do: balance a creepy/disturbing tone while keeping the movie fun. With some of the ones I've caught more recently (Wrong Turn 2, Severance, Frontier(s)), the horror and the humor/fun seem to be completely at odds with each other, and as a result neither element really works. It's like they try to stitch together Re-Animator with Last House on the Left or something.

Also, Shenan and I named our band after a scene from this movie: Shenan Hahn and the Peril of a Wax Staircase.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Man Who Laughs

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tricked! I had been let to believe that this was an old silent horror movie, and it seems to start that way, but then it turns into more of a melodrama with some adventure thrown in. I guess it was a decent movie, but I was kind of in the mindset for something else. Drat.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Monday, October 6, 2008

The 70's version, my favorite, although I didn't see the Nicole Kidman version. This movie scared the living shit out of me when I was a kid, and it's still pretty eerie now. I must be particularly susceptible to paranoia-driven horror films, considering how effective I find this one, and some of the other versions, and The Thing. This would be a bad movie to watch while high.

So they called the (pretty good) version from the 90's Body Snatchers, and the (supposedly awful) new version was just called The Invasion. What will they call it if they make another one in a decade or two? What's left? "Of The"?

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Monday, October 6, 2008

After my grandfather's funeral a few weeks back, we went back to his and Ginger's house, and Ginger let everyone go through his old stuff and see if there was anything we wanted to take. Naturally, I took a look through his movie collection, and picked out The Bridge On the River Kwai, and also noticed this one, another movie starring William Holden with the word "bridge" in the title. Andy told me he had watched it with grandpa last time he visited, and that it was good, so I figured I'd take it and watch in honor of the old guy.

I thought that this would be a ripoff of Kwai, but it turns out this one came first, the titles are just a coincidence I guess. And it was a pretty good one, entertaining but surprisingly thoughtful, with the awesomeness of Holden clearly on display. But it was also, somewhat unintentionally, poignant for me, watching it with my grandfather in mind. He was a Navy man, and it's about the Navy, so I must imagine that something about this one resonated with him; he must have felt this one got it right. It's about a Navy pilot, and the conflict he feels between his duty to his country, and his desire to make it home alive to see his wife and kids. I think I always took grandpa's service for granted, like, hey, that's cool, he did that. But maybe in some way this gave me a better sense of how it all fit into his life, that perhaps his emotions about his service were more nuanced than I realized, if he liked this movie so much. I mean, the guy didn't own a lot of movies, so I have to guess that this one was somehow special to him.

Or maybe he bought it by mistake thinking it was The Bridge on the River Kwai, I don't know.

Black Sabbath

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Obviously, I'm gonna include some italian horror films and giallos in YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ, that's a given, I love that shit. Which is why it was so surprising on Saturday when I popped on the awesome sounding giallo The House With Laughing Windows and couldn't even finish watching it, it was so fucking boring. It lacked style, violence and nudity, and nothing happened for an hour. I don't know, maybe it gets great during the final third, but I didn't care enough to find out. And shit, that almost never happens to me.

But I feel like I made up for that a little bit by watching Mario Bava's Black Sabbath, which was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly, because within the past few years I saw Bava's 5 Dolls for An August Moon and Twitch of the Death Nerve, and they were both unbelievably awful and boring (I actually finished watching them, though). After that I wrote him off for a while, but I kept reading good things about Bava. I'm thinking now that maybe I just happened to watch two of his worst films first... last year I caught Blood and Black Lace and it wasn't half bad, and Black Sabbath was downright good.

I think you call this an anthology or omnibus; it's 3 short horror stories put together to make one movie, and they are all pretty good, although stories 2 and 3 never top the first one, which is straight up giallo and I would imagine an influence on the work of my favorite, Dario Argento. None of them are truly scary, but some suspense is generated, and a lot of the entertainment comes more from the style.

Okay, so good job Bava, I think I might watch Shock or something this month too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

An American Crime

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This was a real interesting one to watch, because it was based on the same true story as The Girl Next Door, about a particularly horrific case of child abuse. That one was sort of the exploitation/horror movie version, and this is sort of the A-list, artsy version.

Well, I have to give it to American Crime in terms of acting and cinematography. The cast includes Catherine Keener, Ellen Page and James Franco, so obviously it's strong on that front, and it has an effective aesthetic quality that the flatly shot Girl Next Door lacked. But, in all honesty, the two movies came closer to a tie for me. Maybe Girl Next Door was less factual and more exploitative, but it was also more effectively disturbing, at least in part due to it's willingness to wallow in the ugly details. An American Crime is a classier movie, but it holds a lot back. Since I can't see much of a point to this story except to be disturbing, that's a clear disadvantage. AAC creeps you out a bit. GND gets under your skin.

So maybe what I'm saying is that this was a better made film, but the other one was more effective. Both, to me, didn't seem to have much of a point or insight on the material, they were more a sad, shocked look at a very ugly story. Since their perspectives are similar, I can only comment that one was better in a technical sense, and one was better in a gut-reaction sense.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

I can't believe how freaking long it's been since I went to the movies. I don't know what the hell is going on. It's like everything coming out either looked bad or got shitty reviews.

This is essentially a Michael Moore-style movie about religion instead of politics: it's one-sided, unfair, self-important, prone to digression... but also pretty funny and entertaining in places. I must admit, although I object to parts of this film, I laughed enough that I had a good time.

Of course, not being particularly religious myself, my beliefs never get attacked during the movie. That makes it a little easier to enjoy.

Most of my complaints about Religulous are similar to my complaints about Borat, which had the same director. It places itself in an unassailable position and then doesn't give its (easy) targets a fair chance. It's like Funny Games: the rules are set so that the targets can't possibly win and the filmmakers can't possibly lose. I agree with most of Bill Maher's opinions in the film, but it would have been nice if he actually gave his subjects a chance instead of constantly cutting them off and then editing the interviews in such a way that makes himself look good. He even walks out on one interview, and I can't understand the point of leaving it in the film except to show what a great, moral guy Maher is.

Then, the movie gets way too serious in the finale and overestimates its own importance (again, shades of Michael Moore here). He goes on a long rant at the end of the movie that is deadly serious, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for them to slip in one last punchline, but it never happens. Apparently they really want their message to be taken seriously, but I'd argue that they score more points with humor than they do with preaching.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

I shouldn't say too much here, as I was pretty wasted when I watched this and my memory is a little hazy. But I do remember enjoying this silly rip-off/parody of Jaws, especially the part where all the little kids get attacked by piranha. You don't see that shit every day. Also, I should note that I like Joe Dante, and even though this didn't seem like his best work, it was still fun. Also, Paul Bartel was in it and he's funny.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

This is a spin-off of X-Men, finally allowing Anna Paquin some time in the spotlight... no, wait, that's not right. This is a movie about a giant fucking crocodile.

Greg Mclean's last movie was Wolf Creek, which I thought was flawed but effectively tense and unnerving, and showed a lot of potential. So I was looking forward to Rogue quite a bit. The first 2/3rds of it is pretty damn good. Mclean is, I'm guessing, working with a larger budget and as a result the visuals really come through. Much of the first 30 minutes or so consists of gorgeous shots of nature, establishing the environment in which the characters are placed. Mclean builds up a little suspense as it goes a long, and piles one complication after another to make the characters seem really screwed. This leads to some memorable sequences, such as when the characters try to shimmy across a rope line, with the crocodile waiting somewhere below.

It kind of fell apart for me a bit at the end, though. Some of that has to do with the crocodile. Mclean does a great job in the early part of keeping the thing mysterious, only giving quick glimpses of it, scary stuff. So when you finally see it late in the film, it looks like... a big crocodile, exactly what you were expecting. And since, the more clearly you see it, the more clearly it looks like a special effect, a lot of the tension drains. I would have been happier if he never showed it.

But even worse is the final fight with the crocodile. The movie wasn't exactly realistic, but this really stretches credibility. The main character has to take the croc on at the end, and the silliness of the idea coupled with the not-quite-convincing special effects makes for a cartoonish finale. I guess it was still a little fun too watch, but that's a let down when the rest of the movie was more tense and exciting.

Still, I think Mclean shows some chops here again, and although he hasn't knocked one out of the park yet, I'm convinced he will eventually.

Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My buddy Ryan vouched for this one for years, but it always looked pretty shitty to me. I don't think I liked it nearly as much as Ryan does, but it was a lot better than I expected. It sort of feels like an early version of From Dusk Til Dawn, only not as good. Or maybe like a later version of Demons, only not as good. But it's a similarly energectic and fun special effects driven horror movie about a bunch of people holed in a small location, being attacked by monsters trying to get in. Worth a look if you like this stuff.

Prom Night

Friday, October 3, 2008

Okay, so just to confirm: "Your Vice is a Horror Movie Marathon and Only I Have the Netflix Queue" is the official title for this month's glut of horror movies.

I'm not even sure if it's worth taking the time to tear down Prom Night, but I guess I'll do it any way. Firstly, it's a remake of one of the lesser major 80's slasher movies, a few notches below My Bloody Valentine, although it's heritage is more or less incidental because they threw out everything about the original movie except it's title and location. It's a PG-13 slasher movie, which means it's about teenagers who don't fuck or even say "fuck," and a killer who manages to stab a lot of people to death without drawing much blood. Actually, I watched the unrated version, but you could have fooled me, this was about as un-graphic as these things come.

It's a polished, reasonably budgeted studio release, which means everything is shot really well: it's colorful, well lit, glossy, slick, etc etc. Problem is, for all the technical competence, it seems like it was made by people who don't know anything about horror movies. The worst, and I've noticed this in a few modern mainstream horror movies, is the editing. See, to effectively build suspense, sometimes you need to let things play out a bit. Let a creepy moment hang in the air for a second. But the editing here is so relentless that no mood is established, and the rhythm is way too fast. It's just cut cut cut cut nonstop, with no room to breathe. And if I had to guess, I would say it's because no one gave a shit about making this a good movie, they just wanted it to be fast paced enough to occupy the ADD preteens that comprise its audience.

(Which, by the way, is all bullshit. This year's The Strangers made just as much money as this shit did, and it was a violent, R rated horror movie that actually tried to build a mood and generate suspense, and was actually willing to hold a shot for more than 2 seconds).

Of course, the shitty screenplay doesn't help. I'm not even going to bitch about the paper thin, generic, indistinguishable, not particularly likable characters, because that's been a staple of the genre for years. This is a pretty egregious example, since it's PG-13-ified and so the 2D characters can't even have a personality trait like "slut" or "foul mouthed", but that's okay. I can tolerate that in a slasher movie. I won't complain about the 2 detective characters who take up a lot of screen time, and must be 2 of the least competent cops in film history, since like 10 people get murdered right under their noses and they don't even notice until it's way too late. At least they were played by Stringer Bell and Ziggy from The Wire, so they are unintentionally interesting. And horror movies have a history of stupid cops.

What I will complain about is the lazy-ass plot. Apparently, everything interesting about this story took place before the actual events of the movie. The killer is a former high school teacher who is for some reason obsessed with the main character. Years ago, he killed her entire family and was locked away, so now he breaks out of the looney bin to come get her, coincidentally on prom night. Am I wrong in thinking that this would be a much more interesting movie if it was set back when he was still a teacher, and he was growing obsessed with his student? That would provide all sorts of opportunities to build suspense and create a creepy vibe. Instead it's just an arbitrary back story that doesn't add anything to the plot. They don't give the killer much personality, so they really could have explained his presence any way they felt like. The original Prom Night is a shitty movie, but at least there's a mystery over the killer's identity and motive, which gives the illusion of drama. Here, there really isn't much story except that there's a guy at the prom killing people.

Alright, I think that's enough explanation. This is without a doubt one of the worst horror movies I've seen in a good long while, and it's not even accidentally funny like an Uwe Boll movie.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Joy Ride

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This is one of my absolute favorite horror movies of this decade, and it was good watching it again after maybe about 4 years or so. For me at least, it's in the upper ranks of suspenseful movies. The movie starts off more fun, sets up some likable characters, and then steadily builds tension right up through the nail-biting climax.

People give Paul Walker a lot of shit. I don't think he's a great actor, but he has a likable and earnest screen prescence, and that along with his chemistry with Steve Zahn goes a long way toward making this story work. You like these characters, therefore you give a shit about what happens to them. Good job Paul, although Zahn does steal the movie from you.

Director John Dahl is great at ratcheting up the tension, using all sorts of different tricks. I like the scene early on where the characters hear some weird noises in the hotel room next door, and it's too quiet to understand but sounds vaugely ominous. And of course there is the ending, which is a bit DePalma-esque in the way slowly but surely all the shit seems about to hit their respective fans at the same time.

I'm guessing from his visual style here, and from his movies The Last Seduction and Red Rock West that Dahl is a noir fan. In fact, some of the stuff he does here with the lighting and shadows is pretty cool, and makes me wonder if it would work in black and white, sort of like what they did with The Mist. I'd like it at least if someone made a good b&w horror movie in this day and age.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

If I can say one thing for Wendigo, the acting is pretty strong. The cast includes Patricia Clarkson and that kid who played Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle, and everyone has a nice, unforced naturalism that goes a long way to helping us accept them as real people. That's a pretty good foundation to build a horror movie on, especially since it doesn't happen enough in the genre, but sadly not much else about the movies works. The director gets way showy with the editing, which can be cool but doesn't make the movie any scarier. The story meanders too much, and the stuff that finally does happen isn't very interesting, and the low budget sinks a few of the major special effects. The writer/director certainly displays some talent, particularly with the characters he writes and the performances he gets, but it doesn't add up to anything.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just to show you that I am not completely abandoning my kommittments this month, here's an early 1930's European horror movie.

Well, Nosferatu it ain't, but there was some good stuff here. The first 20 minutes or so was pretty cool, where this dude is wandering around seeing all sorts of weird shit, like shadows coming from nowhere and reflections of people who aren't there. And the last 15 minutes were good too. But the middle half hour is dire... nothing happens, it's an early sound film so there's barely any dialogue, and there are long passages where the main character reads from a book and the text appears on the screen for a minute or two and you just read instead of watch a movie. It was getting pretty late, and although I didn't fall asleep, I came close a few times.  

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Okay bitches, it's October and you know what that means: I'm going to watch a shitload of horror movies. I know I already usually watch an assload of them, but I am upgrading this month to a shitload. Shitload > assload. I'm trying to think of a catchy name for it. I thought up Shocktober Fest but then I realized that I only thought of it because it already exists and is taken. So let me know if you think of anything.

This one is from the 70's, it's a little strange, and it stars a young Jodie Foster as a girl who gets a bag full of black wool.... no, wait. That's not right. She plays a girl who's lives alone in her house after her father's death, and tries to keep it a secret from the outside world. Some of the townspeople are starting to become suspicious, including a pedophile who begins stalking her. Also, she has some corpses stashed in her basement, although that's just a misunderstanding.

Like I said, it's a weird one, but also a pretty good one. It feels a bit like Wait Until Dark meets Home Alone. Most of it takes place in the living room of the girl's house, so it also feels a bit like a stage play at times, with lots of entrances and exits from the supporting characters. It's not exactly a believable story, but it holds your interest and I thought only really crossed the line one time with a bit involving a character, a teenager, wearing heavy prosthetics to pretend to be an old man. That strained credibility a bit too much for me, but otherwise this was an engrossing and somewhat suspenseful story, with a lot of strong performances. It's a unique mix of coming of age comedy/drama and horror/thriller, by turns charming and creepy. Definitely a good way to start the month.