Monday, November 14, 2011

Movie#6 It's Alive(1974) Directed by Larry Cohen

'It's Alive' is directed by Larry Cohen, who is responsible for films like 'Q', 'The Stuff' and 'God Told Me To'. He also had a hand in creating 'Maniac Cop', so already you know this is going to be a good flick.

'It's Alive' is about a family's journey from quiet, joyful expectation to nightmarish horror as their baby is revealed to be a freakish monster with a hard on for murder. And milk.

Fear

This movie felt like a crime drama from the seventies at times, I must admit. The music, scored by Bernard Herrmann (!), does an adequate job of reminding you that it is a horror film. There is a nagging sense of dread that repeats itself in his themes. The real terror in this picture is one I'm sure most expectant parents feel: will my child be normal, and what do we do if it isn't? I give this a 5.5 out of 10.


Death


Loads of death in this one. Kudos to Mr. Cohen for only showing us the aftermath of the baby's birth. The horror is much more palpable, and for the rest of the film you suspend your disbelief that all that carnage could be created by an infant. Choosing to show the creature either in dim lighting or through a distorted lens kept that going. I give it a 6 out of 10.


Sex


None, really. There is talk of childbearing, fertility drugs and abortion. I do really like the fact that everybody was remarkably average looking in this film. It made it seem more real. It get's a 3 out of 10.

Fun

I saw this movie on the big screen about a month ago and it was much more enjoyable this time around. It felt very seventies, a decade near and dear to my heart. The pacing of the film was better than I had remembered. I like the crime drama feel of the movie and the 'Frankenstein' references. I give the movie a 5.5 out of 10.

Quality

This is one of those movies that I would like to see a good remake of. Note that I said "good". I have seen the recent shitty remake and that is all I will say about that. The script and music in this film were superb and the acting (especially by John P. Ryan) was definitely above average. Something about this movie falls flat, like it was a t.v. movie of the week. A very good one, no doubt, but t.v. movie none the less. That being said, it gets a 5.5 out of 6.

Monsters

A really ingenious concept for a monster, a newborn baby. I'm picturing my two month nephew turning into a ravenous monster and it's kind of scary. Not to mention, this thing fucks people up. It severs limbs and disembowels with gnashy teeth and claws. Or the mid seventies equivalent of said disembowelment. I can only imagine what it would be like changing it's diaper. It get's a 6 out of 10.


Overall


If you want to see a horror movie that feels like a seventies crime drama or want to know where to start with for a Larry Cohen retrospective I can recommend no film more than 'It's Alive'. I give it a 5.25.



Movie#5 Hardware (1990) Directed by Richard Stanley

Nobody ever told me writing a blog consistently would be so hard. I guess I should have known, but I do promise to attempt writing more frequently. Somebody might end up reading this stuff.

'Hardware' is a story set in the incredibly-dated-post-apocalyptic-future about a guy who brings his would be found artist girlfriend a killer robot's head in an attempt to get laid. Killer cyborg wakes up and mayhem ensues. Many horror films seem to have the "something wakes up and mayhem ensues" plot. I, for one, think it's aces.

Fear


'Hardware' is sort of a sci-fi film in a William Gibson cyber-punk way but is really more of a horror film in an 'Alien' vein. There are some tense scenes with the killer robot and with a creepy peeping tom who watches the two main characters having sex. If I didn't find the fact that the cyborg's stalking takes place in a two bedroom apartment so ridiculous I might have rated the fear higher than the 5.5 I'm giving it.

Death

You betcha'. The M.A.R.K. 13 (the robot) loves to kill and really gives it his all. There are a couple of gruesome and bloody kills in this movie, but the body count isn't too high. Also, why do people always go for the least effective weapon when faced with a homicidal killing machine? Somebody dropped a pistol. I could pick it up, but I have a perfectly good baseball bat that I'm itching to use. That's just a great fucking idea. I give it a 5.

Sex

Yuck. I say that about this film because of the creepy pervert who lives next door. He is the kind of person that gives well mannered perverts (if I knew any *ahem*) a bad name. The single sex scene is ruined by his lecherous commentary. It gets a 3.5.

Fun

This is the part where I mention Iggy Pop is a d.j. who has some little gems sprinkled sparingly throughout the movie. I really wish he had more screen time. Or voice over time. There is also an appearance by Lemmy as a cabbie. Pretty awesome. 'Hardware' is cheesy fun but the pacing of this film could have been better. I give it a 4.5.

Quality

For such a low budget film, 'Hardware' manages to pull of some cool fx (for the time). The quasi-industrial soundtrack was neat too. A 4.5 for you.

Monsters


The M.A.R.K. 13 (Monstrous. Android. Really enjoys.Killing?) is bad ass. He has chain saw hands, poison tipped needles and drills. He can regenerate. His face is a skull. He likes to stalk you like a monster should. He might give Maniac Cop a run for his money. The problem is, he has a weakness. A really, really lame one. I won't tell you what it is but it knocks him down to a 5.5 on the monster scale.


Overall


Not a terrible film, and still worth watching if you like killer robots, rock and roll celebrities or dated movies about the not so distant future. I give 'Hardware' a 4.75 overall.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Movie#4 To die by your side (?) Director Spike Jonez

This is a short film by famous video director Spike Jonez. It is Halloween related and involves a love affair between skeleton and Mina Harker, from the book 'Dracula'

Fear

Not much fear involved here. It's probably about as much fear as you would expect from a 'Charlie Brown' cartoon. There's a skeleton, so I give it a 2 out of 10.


Death

This movie is about a skeleton and embracing death, so I give it a 5 out of 10.

Sex

Much of the premise of this flick is a hookup between Mina Harker and a skeleton. I admit to finding cardboard Mina Harker quite appealing. I give it a sexy 6 0ut of 10.

Fun

It was a fun little cartoon and not much more, so I give it a 5 out of 1o.

Quality

The direction and animation was quite good, so I give this a 6 out of 10.

Monsters

The monster here was a skeleton who was not very scary, I give him a 2 out of 10 because he has a knife sticking out of him.

Overall

This is a short film that is perfect for Halloween. I recommend it for people in love, or the like. I give it a 4.3 out of 10.



Spike Jonze: Mourir Aupr├Ęs de Toi on Nowness.com.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Movie#3 Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) Directed by William Lustig

Today's movie is Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence. First of all, I have something shameful to admit: I never saw the first two Maniac Cops. I know, I know. I always meant to get around to seeing it, but shit happens. I vaguely remember the series from my brief Fangoria collecting days, or I should say, perusing my good friend's collection of said magazine. I had a couple of issues but was denied access to things my mother thought violent, for fear it would warp my mind. Whoops.

Ok, tangent over. Back to movie. Maniac Cop 3 begins with said Maniac Cop being brought back from the dead by a voodoo priest. He kills an assload of people but it's fine because he does it all in the name of love. Seriously.

Fear

This was more of a police action movie than horror with an undead supercop as the main villain. I desperately wanted Eric Roberts to make an appearance as somebody's partner or for there to be an old, angry lieutenant. Maybe that's the as yet unmade sequel to Maniac Cop?Maniac Cop 4: Eric Roberts Wants More Work. I'm going to say Maniac Cop was all business in this film and he decided just to kill people without all the stalking that most psycho killers do on screen. He's a loose cannon but he gets results. Sadly, I give him a 3 on the fear scale. Sorry, buddy.

Death

Well now, this ought to boost your rating, Maniac Cop. I've decided at this point that I'm not going to rate the film as much as the character's performance in the film. It's Part 3, I think it's fair to do so.

Maniac Cop, you are dead, so you're already doing well. You really do kill quite a few people in this movie. Let's not forget the fire. You are on fire, Maniac Cop for nearly ten minutes of screen time. That is fucking awesome. You don't even seem uncomfortable. If that hurt, I couldn't tell. A few of the other characters rack up the body count with some kills, but none of them were on fire. Oh wait, one of them was. I forgot what happened to them..Oh, that's right, they died.

I'm going to go ahead and give this movie a 8 on the death scale. Lots of violence. Man on fire.

Sex

Ah, jeez. I was hoping we wouldn't have to talk about this Maniac Cop. See, it isn't just you. This was one of those movies where nobody was more than slightly attractive. I don't want to say anything about your love interest but I saw what you looked like in the first movie and I hope that you two had considered adoption. Nothing good would have come of your coupling. The main protagonist's lady friend wasn't bad but he looked like he was third runner up to Edward James Olmos and Danny Trejo in the 'Mr. Pock Marked America' contest. Not good. With a heavy heart, I give you a 2 out of 10.

Fun

But cheer up, sunshine. I had fun watching this movie! It was cheesy, but it had car chases, voodoo, shoot outs with shotguns and automatic weapons, crazy drug addicts, people on fire and most importantly, you, Maniac Cop. It even had Jackie Earle Haley, the guy who played 'Rorschach' in 'Watchmen' and who was in a remake of a classic 80's horror franchise. But we won't talk about that. This movie didn't have Eric Roberts but I will give it a 7.5 on the fun scale.

Quality

Eh, nobody is going to win any awards for anything in this film. It accomplished what it set out to do admirably though. I give it a 4.5 out of 10. Maniac Cop, the man, gets a 7.

Monsters

I could extol at great lengths on how awesome you are, Maniac Cop. Bullets or fire don't cause you to flinch in this film. You have super human strength and can throw dudes thirty feet in the air and then quick draw and shoot them as they are coming down. You have a night stick that has a sword inside! Frankly, that is classy. And you twirl that baton with considerable skill. Did I mention how awesome that scene where you are on fire is? I haven't seen your other two movies, but if they are like this one, consider me a fan. I don't say this about a lot of monsters, but you are the kind of monster I'd like to have a beer with and maybe shoot the shit. Stay awesome. You're a solid 8 in my book, pal.

Overall

If a cheesy action-horror flick with no real plot, an awesome villain and decent non CGI effects is what you're looking for, rent 'Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence'. It get's a 5.5 out of 10. And then rent 'Best of the Best 2'. It has Eric Roberts and is incredibly entertaining as well.




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Movie #2 Return of the Living Dead (1985) Directed by Dan O'Bannon

This movie is an homage to the original 'Night of the Living Dead' directed by the screenwriter of 'Alien' and 'Total Recall' and is more of a dark comedy than a horror flick. The gist of the plot is: Some guys working in a medical warehouse accidentally release some sort of zombie gas and start an epidemic. Hilarity ensues.

Fear

While the tone is comedic, there were a few genuine frights in this film. They were mostly of the jump scare variety, with zombies ambushing folks and screaming "YAARGHH I'M GONNA EAT YOUR BRAINS!!" (This is the movie that started the trend of zombies having a hard on for brains). Also, the thought of not ever being able to die and being in constant pain is enough to fill anybody with chills. I give this a scare factor of 6.

Death

RotLD is packed to the brim with death, the undying and people with a morbid curiosity concerning the hereafter. The brain eating zombies may entertain you but there are a few moments in this movie that make me think very uncomfortable thoughts about what awaits me when I die. Will I rot in the ground with some sliver of consciousness until my putrefying grey matter ceases all together? Could be. So, enjoy the zombie dismemberment, clever corpse ambushes and bags of rabid weasels and think nothing of the existential horror this movies conceals. I give if a moribund 8.

Sex

This is the part where I'm going to talk about Linnea Quigley. A bunch. Linnea IS the sex in this movie, hands down. She plays Trash, a punk chick who loves morbid junk and being contrary. And full frontal nudity. Trash decides she wants to dance naked in the graveyard and forever immortalize herself in the wet dreams of young men who were lucky enough to have free reign in renting whatever they wanted at the video store at the tender age of 13. When her nude undulations cease due to a sudden torrential down pour, Trash is kind enough to cover herself in a jacket. She then spends the rest of her screen time running from zombies bottomless! You see it all, kiddies, and it's delightful. For that alone it gets a sexy 7.


Fun

God damn this movie is a lot of fun! The early dialogue between Frank and Freddy in the 'Uneeda Medical Supply' warehouse are priceless. You will end up really liking some of the characters and might find yourself quoting them years down the line. There are so many silly hidden jokes in this film you'll need to see it twice. Or three times. Even the zombies have one liners. The sound track is a blast too. I give this a great 8!

Quality

The casting is great, the script solid and funny. The special effects hold up to this day. The score really builds momentum. I give this movie a solid 7.

Monsters

Indestructible brain eating zombies capable of advanced thinking. The epitome of monsterhood. If they weren't so silly I'd give them a higher rating. They get an 8.

Conclusion

Overall we have a fun, fast paced movie that is very 80's (you like 80's, don't you?) and has zombies. What more could you ask for? Return gets a 7 out of 10.





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie#1 Suspiria (1977) Directed by Dario Argento

I will start the reviews off with a film I saw Saturday night at the Coolidge Corner Halloween Marathon a few days ago. The film is 'Suspiria', and it's about an american girl who goes to a German school for ballet that is run by witches. "God damn it!", you cry, "You ruined the movie by giving away secrets about the plot." Not so. There is an insane and ridiculous song by this band 'Goblin' in the opening scene that shrieks "Witch!" repeatedly. You know there are witches in this movie straight off the bat.

Fear
I would give this a 4.5 out of 10 on the fear scale. It certainly tries to scare you at parts, but Argento's heavy handed script complete with schlocky script and revelations that seem pretty obvious to anyone not suffering from closed head trauma tend to bore my pants off. The trailer still freaks me out though.

Death

Lots of over the top death sequences here. A solid 7 reapers reaping. Those unfamiliar with Argento's work should note he is quite imaginative when it comes to offing folks. Stabbings, strangulations and death by barbed wire all feature in this film. The red, red kroovy flows in abundance.

Sex

Sadly, little here. I'm going to give it a 3, but only because of my love for Jessica Harper (of 'Phantom of the Paradise' fame) and a soft spot for Italian actresses of the 1970's. I'm truly disappointed that a director who later shoots a movie (1996's 'The Stendahl Syndrome') in which his real life daughter plays a character who is repeatedly raped (eesh, I know) doesn't even feature any gratuitous nudity in his most famous film.

Fun

Though I admit to falling asleep during parts of this movie, it does have some fun parts. A solid 5.5 on the chuckles scale. "Goblin' provides a damn entertaining atmosphere with their incredibly dated 70's super synthesized organ music. Argento is so earnest in his desire to be the Italian Hitchcock and ends up writing some bizarre stuff that turns out so terrible you have to laugh. I can't tell when he is trying to be serious, honestly. I find his theatrics endearing.

Quality

Credit where credit is due: Argento the cinematographer is really good. Surprisingly so. Argento the director, eh. Argento, the screenwriter...oh brother. So, all and all, I give it a 6.66 for Quality. The colors in this movie are all kinds of wow. He's got the angles, he's got the light. He can film a death sequence like few others.

Monsters

Not going to lie. The witches in this movie were kind of lame. I give them a 3.5, better than a 'Twilight' vampire or a demon from 'Charmed', but not as good as a Ghoulie or a Boogen. They seemed fairly effective in the beginning of the film but, like me, they have a weak spot for Jessica Harper.

Conclusion

Over all, I liked the sum of the parts more than the whole. This was my second time watching this flick and I'd certainly watch it again. Parts are yawn worthy but musical interludes provided by Italian super-group 'Goblin" will wake you up for the fun stuff. I give it a 5 out of 10, witches brew.



So it begins....

Today I was depressed. Part of that depression stemmed from Halloween being over for another 364 days. But the largest part of that depression is the fact that I spend such little time working on things creatively. So I have decided to create a blog for the purpose of keeping the spirit of Halloween (and creativity) alive in me.

I decided the best way to do that is review one horror movie a day for one year. To chat with people about these movies, to network, to fight this monotony and to finally challenge myself and my creativity after years of procrastination. Whew!

Firstly, I will need structure. Ye gods, do I need structure! With that in mind I came up with six criteria on which to rate movies. They are Fear, Death, Sex, Fun, Quality and Monsters. Monsters are what reached out to my still forming mind when I was a wee tyke, and they still speak to my inner child as much as they do my inner outsider. When I look at a horror movie the first thing I think of is "Is there a monster here?"

Fear is important, too. When I was seven or eight, I would read bizarre folk tales about people with missing golden appendages creeping up stairs, step by step, seeking the purloined limb. I would read stories about women with yellow ribbons around their necks that must never be untied. These stories would scare me witless. I would beg my mother to allow me to leave the light on. She would compromise and leave the bathroom light on. Now that I'm an adult, I have the option of leaving the light on. Certain scenes and certain films still scare me that much.

Death and Sex are the two most important human experiences. I could write an entire ten volume encyclopedia on how they relate to horror movies. But I won't. I will touch on both heavily in my reviews. I will say that I like my violence stylized and my sex pornographic, and not the other way around. I'm not likely to talk about movies like 'Hostel' or 'The Human Centipede' other than they kind of made me sick. Kudos to them for making me feel something.

Fun! I love fun, don't you? Many of these movies will be fun. I love to laugh, whether what I just saw was supposed to be funny or not. Did you know Tobe Hooper intended the first 'Texas Chainsaw' to be a comedy? No? Neither did I until Gunnar Hansen pointed out to an audience at a midnight showing that Hooper thought of it as a black comedy. Which is why Part 2 is so silly, I'm guessing.

Lastly, and sometimes least, we will discuss Quality. What I thought was really well done and what elevates it to the status of Art, or something in that neighborhood. You might think that 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' was a silly ass movie (and you're right; and I love it regardless) but don't deny the amazing work in costuming or cinematography put into the film. Pure eye candy.

Ok. Now that we have a loose structure, let the reviewing begin!