Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"And Now A Word From Our Sponsors" - - The Camaro Monologues

My friend Liz often says I'm the funniest person she knows. That's a bit of an exaggeration, or she doesn't know many people. And while I can usually change her mind about anything else, when I try to convince her otherwise, she just won't listen.

She's also been asking me lately why I never review comedies.

"It's because they are either terrible or funny. There is no in between," is my response. See, a horror movie can not be scary and still be good. "Cabin In The Woods" is not as scary as "The Ring" but it is incredibly entertaining. A Science Fiction movie can have a just a touch of Sci-Fi elements, like "Deja Vu" or "Primer" and also still work.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"The Conspiracy" - - Brilliantly Scary and Scarily Brilliant

If the producers of "The Conspiracy" need a pull quote from a critic for their marketing materials, here is mine:

"'The Conspiracy' is brilliant and terrifying, watching this movie feels like a criminal act. You'll be looking over your shoulder for days after the movie ends. One of the best horror films, and hands down the best "Found Footage" movie I have ever seen."

It's a little wordy, I know. And if you can count I've now used the word "brilliant" three times including the headline of this post.

This movie is that good.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Zombie Massacre" - - Farfrommovin

I rarely know what I'm going to get when I start a movie. I don't like to watch the trailers before I watch most movies; the less spoilers, the better. I know that seems odd considering I always include trailers and spoilers with my reviews, but for me, I'd rather go in blind.

So when I popped in "Zombie Massacre," or any zombie movie for that matter, I was filled with giddy anticipation. Will this movie be scary? Will I not want to go outside to take out the garbage? ("Event Horizon" caused me to leave my full garbage can to remain full until the next morning.)

Or will it be terrible?

The movie starts off in a nameless small town. Black rain pours from the sky. A woman gets a few drops on her hand . . .

Someone needs a Zombie Manicure! Ha Ha, I'll be here all week! 

Oh my God! That is so creepy, this movie is going to be hella good!

Wait . . .

Uh oh . . .

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Right At Your Door" - - Beta Radiation

"Right At Your Door" is an interesting movie as in it is realistic and frightening until it isn't.

Let me explain.

I slept through 9/11. My alarm clock went off but I didn't wake up. The news reports filtered into my dreams though. I dreamt I was in a burning skyscraper and then a helicopter picked me up on the roof. As the helicopter flew away I could see the Pentagon burning in the distance. By the time I actually did wake up, m alarm clock had either shut itself off or I clicked it off in my sleep.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Baconator Part 1: Rise of the Baconator!

Reviewing movies is a perilous job. There are a couple different types of people you run into during this job. You meet people who are passionate about movies and disagree with you, and then you meet total nut jobs who impersonate you and then argue with themselves online.

This is about the second type.

The Baconator Part 2: The Bacon Sizzles!

The Baconator finally started an account called JasonOCarpenter2 because that looks totally legit and started arguing with himself on other message boards because he knows he got beaten in public on the World War Z board.

So how does this work? If I play basketball with myself, but sometimes wear a Kobe Bryant jersey, can I tell people I beat Kobe Bryant at basketball?

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Killer Holiday" - - Feels Like Corn

I watch a lot of bad movies, and because of that I have developed a high tolerance for them. A lot of people will say "X is the worst movie ever made." Sometimes it's hard to resist the temptation to label a movie as such.

And sometimes, it is impossible.

I will not say "Killer Holiday" is the worst movie I've ever seen. But it ranks up there as the worst slasher movie I have ever seen. Don't worry, valiant readers, I have proof.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Curse Of Chucky" - - Kick It's Face Off!!!

The Child's Play series has always been an odd duck of a horror franchise in the sense that it is a series of rated R movies made for an audience of children. Adults don't find the idea of a killer doll scary.

Well, some do, but it's usually because they saw a killer doll movie as a child.

So you have this weird cycle: the only people who find Chucky scary are kids or grown-ups who were scared by Chucky as kids. Yet this franchise has continued on for nearly 15 years even though the audience shouldn't even be watching these movies. It is the ultimate "Slumber Party" franchise and the one parents should know better than to let their kids watch.

I've been a late-comer to the Child's Play series (and horror movies in general, if you can believe that.). The first Child's Play movie I saw was "Bride Of Chucky," which I actually saw at the theater opening night. I forced my (at the time) girlfriend to take me because she was a manager of the theater and that way I could get in for free. Because I'm a cheapskate. I loved it. I thought it was gross and hilarious. Even without having seen the previous 3 movies I was able to follow the plot of "Bride" but, come on, it's not like a movie with a killer doll needs an elaborate backstory.

A few years later "Seed Of Chucky" came out and I was stoked. I remember reading an article in Fangoria or Empire or some other old media magazine about how good it was going to be with all these elaborate kills.

"When the guy's guts hit the ground, you can actually see the steam because the floor is cold!" I remember the article proclaiming. Wow! That sounds ridiculous I have to see it!

The only steaming pile that fell to the ground was the movie itself. For argument's sake, it really was my fault thinking a movie called "Seed Of Chucky" would be any good. The movie poster was sperm in an eyeball, for crying out loud. It might as well be saying "Watching this movie will feel like spermatozoa is headed towards your pupils."

Just deliver me my money back
and we'll call it even.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Trailer Time" - - The Visitor

I've never heard of this movie, but it looks amazing. I'll be sure to review it as soon as I get a copy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Don't Deliver Us From Evil" - - The Downward Spiral

"Don't Deliver Us From Evil" doesn't have a trailer as far as I could tell but the above video sums it up: This is the story of two girls on a random warpath of destruction during an otherwise lazy summer.

Anne and Lore are two 8th graders who have decided that sin is the greatest thrill one can experience. As students at a local Catholic school, they play the part as good students but spy on their teachers, steal vestments, and pocket communion wafers instead of eating them. Their goal is to become "brides of Satan."

Everything they do is about sowing seeds of chaos. It is never clear if they truly believe that Satan is some sort of god to them, or that they just choose him as an outlet of total rebellion against their church, but it doesn't matter. For Anne and Lore, anything goes and motive seems thought up after the crime.

Anne is the dominant of the two and Lore is her loyal follower. Their parents are aloof and unaware of the warning sings the children are showing. Anne tortures a cat twice in front of her parents with little reaction. The kids become bolder: they rat out a nun for being a lesbian, they set fire to a neighbors' hay stockpile, and they kill the mentally disabled groundskeeper's prized bird collection
"We kill them one at a time," Anne tells Lore.


"So he suffers more. If well kill them all now, he'll have a bad time once then get over it."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Choose" - - Snooze

Years ago, I caught a movie channel surfing called "Shredder." It was about a killer snowboarder killing other people who snowboarder, or a guy who hated snowboarders killing snowboarders or something. I don't remember.

What I do remember was Lindsey McKeon. She was the hot blonde who just wanted to soak in the hot tub and hang out with some friends, but instead she gets stabbed to death. But not before she stole my heart. I remember I was at my grandmother's house watching it and my mom walks into the room and asks: "Why are you still watching that gross movie?" Then she saw Lindsey in a bikini, muttered under her breath, and left the living room.

I did not have to Google for this picture. This is in my "Wallpapers" folder.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)" - - Even This Review Is Disgusting

When I was a kid, I was an idiot.

One day, I was chasing my older brother around the church parking lot and the ground was wet from the rain. Long story short, I smash through a stained glass window and slash my hands to holy hell. I got a ton of stitches and then one day I tripped and fell and ripped those stitches out of my hand.

I'm telling you this story because, while it hurt, I certainly didn't die. The pain was manageable. So if my mouth happened to be stitched (or in the case of this movie, stapled) to another man's ass and he begins to have explosive diarrhea directly down my throat . . .either I'm losing my mouth or he's losing his butt hole. But I'm out of there.

"Hey, it's me, the guy stapled to your ass . . .could you make sure
 that dog food is gluten free? Thanks."

"The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)" is the sequel to "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" and heir apparent as the most distressing mainstream movie made in the past decade. There are other, more visually horrifying films out there but few have achieved the press and notoriety as The Human Centipede (THC for short) series has. Even "South Park" had an episode based on this concept. There's even a video game. So until we see "A Serbian Film" skit on SNL, I think it's safe to say this series will be the gross-out king for most people.

Buckle in, kids. It gets pretty bad from here on out.

"THC 2" is the story of Martin, an obese security guard who spends all night watching the original Human Centipede and all day scrapbooking about it. He also has no dialogue in the film. He's not a mute; several characters reference the fact that he has talked to them, we just never hear him. Other than giggles, screams, and masturbating-with-sandpaper-induced moans, Martin is silent. The first part of the movie, and the most interesting, focuses on Martin's life and why he's such a weirdo.  He lives with his shrieking mother who tries to get him killed by a skinhead and when that fails, tries to murder him herself. Why does she hate her son so much? Well, he was raped by his dad and his mom blames him for the length prison sentence that follows such horrible acts. And now, as an adult, he sees a counselor who seems to have more than a professional interest in the already emotionally and physically scarred man-child.

So is Martin being set up as a victim? Someone we should feel sorry for? I think that might be up to the individual viewer but I never felt that way. His actions compared to the violence done against him don't come close to weighing out. However, it did make him a more understandable villain than the first THC and it's "mad scientist" gimmick.

One thing that is interesting about Martin's characterization is the fact that he's not an idiot. He comes across as feeble-minded but his plan to sew 12 people together ass-to-mouth requires a lot of planning. Jason Vorhees is more of a victim of circumstance than Martin is. Vorhees is a force of nature who simply acts on impulses. Martin is rational enough to plan events out weeks ahead of time. If he had not become obsessed with "The Human Centipede" movie something else would have trigged his path towards mass murder.

Martin collects people from his job as a security guard job. Every night he watches people looking for their car in an underground parking garage and then he walks up to them and either hits them over the head with a crowbar or shoots them THEN hits them over the head with a crowbar. Anyways, all of his victims are basically an assemblage of every type of person that a fat, white, basement-dweller like Martin sees as "part of the problem." We have Alpha Males, attractive happy women, and black people. Basically it's like if the Internet could choose as victims, these are they people they would sew ass-to-mouth to each other. Tom Six, the director, knows his audience.

His audience.

There's a scene where Martin attacks a black family in the parking garage, but spares the toddler. He even tries to console him before putting him back into the car. It could be seen as his attempt at sparing the boy the pain that he himself had been subjected too, but I saw it more as the boy was too small for his centipede plans. And if you have any doubts about his one act of true kindness, it is quickly forgotten as he beats the kid's pregnant mom down with a crowbar.

The middle bulk of the movie is Martin bashing people over the head with a crowbar to knock them out which became tedious and/or hilarious depending on the situation. A smash to the skull is not like a rag of chloroform. Martin is lucky he didn't end up with a Human Centipede that couldn't even make it into the Special Olympics. Everyone gets bang on the head multiple times and at one point it becomes like Wack-A-Mole as he walks around his warehouse bonking people on the head. And thus we begin the biggest problems with this movie.

The last part, nearly 30 minutes long, is Martin assembling his centipede. There is a long scenes of:

1) Knocking a dude's teeth out with a hammer, then scooping the broken teeth out of his mouth like candy corn (I'd rather swallow broken teeth than candy corn by the way.)

2) Cutting ass muscles open and killing a guy that way.

3)Stapling peoples mouths to other people's buttholes.

4) Having asthma attacks.

The best drinking game in the world would be if you took a shot every time Martin has an asthma attack. It's pretty sad when the dude who's mouth is full of diarrhea can breathe better than you. I guess it's supposed to build suspense, but come on, every 5 minutes Fatty Magoo is reaching for his inhaler. You want me to believe this guy hauled 12 bodies into and out of a van by himself? You don't have to outrun Martin, you can out walk him. You can probably out-stand him.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"247°F" - - Open Water 3: Closed Steam

Here's a little Hollywood breakdown for you:

Based On A True Story: This means that the film you are about to see is based off someone's life experinces. Generally, they have sold the rights of their story to the production company and then take a back seat. Many times, like in "Goodfellas," actual events and people may be truncated to allow the story to be told in 2 hours. Films that say "Based On A True Story" may not be entirely true in the purest sense, but they are at least true to the person who sold the rights since it is their point of view.

Inspired By True Events: This means someone once read an article or overheard something and turned it into a movie. "Open Water" is the best example of this. Sure, people have gotten left behind during scuba trips. And yes, that is tragic. But the actual events of the movie are pretty much made up. Using the logic of "Inspired By True Events," you could take the story of a missing kid that gets teleported into the future and say "hey, who knows. The true part is kid's go missing."

And finally we have the fence-straddling "Based On True Events" which is what "247°F" bills itself as. This means that what you are about to see is probably not true but closer to the truth than a regular movie." Of course, any time I see a claim of "true" on a movie I have to check IMDB right away to see how close to the truth it is. It's actually pretty distracting and really doesn't add anything to the movie. But I digress.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Vamps" - - Legally Blood

When I'm watching a movie using my computer, it makes it a lot easier to review because I can take the screenshots right when I'm watching it. Usually, whether a movie is good or bad, I take maybe 6-8 screenshots and maybe post half of those.

While watching "Vamps" I took a record of 22 screenshots. The imagery in this movie goes from the unbelievable to the unbearable, but I think the best picture that sums up the whole movie is this one:

That is Sigourney Weaver's head on a skeleton's body. If you are looking at that picture and thinking: "Wow, those special effects look awful," trust me, they look ten times worse in motion. If this scene had been at the beginning of the film I would have wondered if I was having some sort of hallucination. But by the time this scene appeared the movie had already been so jaw-droppingly bad that I watched it with a laugh and a resigned shrug.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Hostel Part 3" - - Drill Baby Drill

A bachelor party goes awry when the soon-to-be groom is separated from his friends in a dark hallway of a hidden "nightclub." Suddenly, a black bag is thrown over his head and he is strapped down into a wheelchair!

An ominous figure approaches . . .

A black gloved hand shoves a tube down his throat and begins pouring a mysterious liquid down a funnel . . .

Our hero gags! What is he drinking? Acid? Knock-out potion?

Nope! Just beer! It was all a part of his surprise party!

Megaman with his new weapon: the Censor Cannon.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Trailer Time - - "Macbeth"

It's been awhile since I've posted a new review but it's been a crazy few weeks. Some stuff going on, but lately I've been learning tech work at the local theater here. They're currently putting on "Macbeth," and here's a cool trailer made by David Fox, the actor who plays Macduff. Check it out and I'll have some new reviews up soon!

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Smiley" - - 4 out of 5 Dentists Agree This Movie Sucks

*I am writing this review against my will but such is the arduous job of a critic. If I never wrote this, then I would eventually forget I ever saw it. But . . .my sanity must be sacrificed for the greater good.

There is a scene in "Smiley" about 20 minutes in where a bunch of people at an Anonymous party begin throwing empty beer cans at a guy named Binder while chanting "Pedobear! Pedobear! Does this get your Seal of Approval?!"

If nothing in the above sentence makes much sense to you; congratulations: You are a NORP. That's a Normal Ordinary Responsible Person. That's basically someone who uses the Internet for normal things like emails or reading the news. Maybe you chat once in a while with people around your age with similar interests.

You know, normal and ordinary stuff.

I knew exactly what they were talking about because I, like millions of others, exist primarily on the Internet and if we are disconnected it from it for too long we just bumble around like worker ants who had their scent trail wiped out. We tend to think of ourselves like Neo from "The Matrix" but really, come on, we're all just Pearl from "Blade."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Reel Talk" - - This Is The Norm For Internet Reviews.

First off, I have to say I use the term "first off" a lot.

But secondly, recently I had a discussion in the comments section for "Saturday Morning Massacre / Mystery" about critiquing movies. A reader had some very valid comments about my review and how mean it was.

In my response I wrote: "I may come across as mean but I try to balance it out with "this is why I am being mean." A lot of internet critics just like to bash movies because their "stupid, this movie is stupid and everyone who made it is stupid and should die." That's not what I want to do. I'll say "it's stupid to have a character hide LSD in a communal water jug because I, in my personal life, have never known four adults to drink out of the same jug on a regular basis." Maybe the director will read that and go "ha, yeah that's right" or "fuck him, it's my movie" or anything in between. But as a critic my job is to criticize things, and I try to be constructive while maintaining an element of entertainment to my reviews."

A few weeks later I reviewed "Come Out And Play" and afterwards I went online to look up any interesting facts about it. I gave the movie an OK review. It had some cool moments but it was nothing special.

But then I found this "review" from Tom Uglow on IMDB. I was going to comment on his review but I think it speaks for itself. This is NOT what I write. But this is usually what you read online, unfortunately. I wanted to post this as an example of what most people consider "insightful critique."

No spelling errors have been corrected, and the review can be found here. Makinov is the name of the director for "Come Out And Play."


Tom Uglow's Review of "Come Out And Play."

"Makinov, Makinov, Makinov. Where do I even begin? After simply throwing away an hour and a half of my life trying to endure your absolute poppycock attempt of a horror movie it has led me to try and tackle a review of what can only be described as simply the worst piece of cinematography ever to be witnessed by a human being. An agonising experience from the beginning, thankfully you took on most of the responsibilities in producing, directing, editing and writing subsequently managing to save other human beings from ever being involved in such an embarrassment as what "Come out and play" truly is. For the three actors who have put their name to this movie I wish them all the best for it is clear simply meeting you has caused them enough pain in their life that many are surprised they are still here living with us today. To suggest you are a stain on society would surely be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about you Makinov. It would startle any normal being to think that there is a chance you are still invited to Christmas dinner. You are a crumb Makinov. I know of people on the sex offenders list that I would have a beer with before you.

This is the first movie I have ever seen that does not improve on a black screen the entire length of the movie.The fact that you made a multitude of poor children have to live with the fact that they have not only met you, but featured in one of undoubtedly the worst movies in existence brings a tear to my eye. I had little intention in getting a good nights sleep after choosing a horror movie, however the only horrifying thing about Come out and play is that there was a man who's life was in such a desperate state that he felt that movie was worth releasing. To call this movie as dry as cardboard would be an insult to a highly useful packing material. Clearly you sir, are a coward, any decent man upon producing such a pathetic excuse of a movie would have done the right thing, purchased a length of rope and saved the planet from the chance of ever being exposed to such garbage ever again. Watching this movie is like sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus you know will not come. The one redeeming feature of your film is the slight chance that the children departing on the boat manage to track you down and wear your fingers as a necklace.

Makinov I understand that the task of writing and producing such a film is a considerable task. To produce a high quality horror film is a task I would not wish to undertake, but I sure as hell could do better than that. Makinov what where you thinking? Your story line is shallow and nothing short of deplorable, your feeble attempt of music to build suspense has left me still unable to hear out of my left ear as I had never encountered such piercing rubbish before,
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMkCPCWbmZk) there is a link to two turtles engaging in intercourse, it would undoubtedly be the most pleasant of the many awful sounds I had to endure listening to your drivel. If you want to save yourself the expense purchasing this movie, go into the kitchen, get your children to bang pots and pans together while screeching at the top of their lungs while you stand in the corner sharpening knives to stab through your eyeballs.

If you manage to wake up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror and feel proud of what you created, then I am quite sure there is a bed in a psychiatric ward somewhere with your name on it. God only hopes that they never release you back into society where kind strangers may come across your path of destruction. As the saying goes 'everything Makinov touches turns to filth'. If you have made a cent off this movie I highly suggest you donate it to charity, there are people in need we don't need dregs of society like yourself pocketing from anyone who has had the misfortune of seeing this movie. I would rather eat a golf ball and urinate it out whole than have to endure another hour and a half of that nonsense.

All in all, I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. I hated it! Every single second of this simply audience-insulting moment. I hated the insensitivity in the thought that any person may enjoy this film. Hated the blatant insult to the audience by its belief that any individual could be entertained by this incompetent piece of hogwash. Makinov if this in any way reaches you I would like to send my deepest condolences to the mother and father that had to raise such an embarrassment."


Friday, September 20, 2013

"Stitches" - - The 'Citizen Kane' of Killer Clown Movies

*Note: This movie is really, really gross. So be warned. This review is pretty gross too.

I recently said in my review for the legal drama/horror film "Killjoy Goes To Hell" that clowns do not scare me and I generally don't find clown movies interesting in general. I've had "Stitches" for awhile now but never got around to watching it. A clown movie. Gee, how original.

I watched the first ten minutes or so, where the titular clown Stitches bangs a clown groupie while sound effects played in the background. Ugh. Then he goes to a kid named Tom's birthday party and all the kids are mean to him but since he's already portrayed as such a jerk I didn't really have much empathy for him. Actually, at that point I didn't care about any of the characters. He ends up tripping and getting stabbed in the face with a butcher knife, then some other clowns showed up at a clown graveyard, and I paused the movie and took a nap.

Yes, this is literally the last thing I saw before I went to sleep.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"The Lords Of Salem" - - With Pictures!

Normally, I'd write a review for "The Lords Of Salem." Actually, since this is a review site that is what I should do, but I'm going to cut right to the meat of the matter: this movie is supposed to be disturbing and it just isn't. And how better to show you then to take you on a pictorial essay of Rob Zombie's version of Hell.

First off, the basic premise of "The Lords Of Salem" is interesting. There's a song that when played causes all the female descendants of the witch burners of Salem to become possessed. That's cool, I can see a lot of jumping off points with that idea. But what we get is a "Rosemary's Baby-esque" journey of a local DJ name Heidi (Rob Zombie's real life wife Sheri Moon Zombie) who also happens to be a  descendent of the number one witch killer, Jonathan Hawthorne. She's stalked by ghosts, creeped out by visions, and eventually impregnated by Satan himself . . .who in this version is depicted as both a midget with no hands and genitals over 50 feet long or this guy:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Trailer Time" - - The Asphyx

When I was looking up the kick ass trailer for the terrible "And Soon The Darkness" I found this terrifying trailer for a movie I've never heard of but now desperately want to see!

The Ass-fix! I mean "Asphyx!"

"And Soon The Darkness" - - A Classic Whoduhit

First off, I have to say that is one of the coolest horror movie trailers I've seen in a long time. It starts off remarkably cheesy and becomes nightmare fuel. Something about those whispers . . .

Unfortunately, "And Soon The Darkness" comes nowhere close to being as entertaining as the trailer.

All of these "whodunits" tend to fall into one of two categories: Either the crazy guy who acts suspicious the whole movie is the killer, in which case the audience has to wait for the inevitable "That's why I was acting so crazy, cuz I'm crazy!" moment OR the crazy guy who acts suspicious the whole movie is actually the hero. And the movie just ends and they don't explain why he was acting so crazy the whole time.

No matter how you cut it, though, both endings are lame and the journey getting to the conclusion can either be thrilling and suspenseful or "And Soon The Darkness."

"Come Out And Play" - - Children Of El Maíz

I don't find kids creepy, just like I don't find clowns creepy. I know a lot of people find the idea of a little girl ghost creepier than a regular ghost, but I mean, it's a ghost it's going to beat you up anyways. Little girl hands just make the punches hurt less.

So the ghost twins from "The Shining" or the jump rope girls from "Nightmare On Elm Street" were always just kind of "eh" to me. It was the same when I saw "Children of the Corn." Did you know there are 7 sequels to "Children of the Corn?" 7. Why? Kids are not creepy!

Babies are, though. Babies creepy me out.

Not looking at babies, babies are cute and all. But if you think about what a baby is . . .(OK kids stop reading if you haven't heard this from your parents yet):

Step 1: A man and a woman have sex.

Step 2: The woman eats for 9 months.

Step 3: A HUMAN BEING crawls out of the woman!

"I used to be microscopic, and now I have a soul. Your dog doesn't even have one and he's been alive 10 years. Now I will pee in your face."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reel Talk - - "The Gothika Incident"

*I have this crazy work schedule for the next week or two so it may be a bit longer before I get some new reviews up, but in the meantime I think it would be a good time to start my new feature, Reel Talk, where I tell you some crazy but true stories that have happened to me involving movies.

First up . . . The Gothika Incident.

The movie was trash. It was boring and it wasn't scary which are the two biggest death knells for a horror movie. I was a fan of Dark Castle, the production company behind this movie, "House On Haunted Hill" and (an old favorite) "13 Ghosts," so I went to see it even though I'm "eh" on Halle Berry.

I am sitting in the theater with my friend Craig and his daughter Jackie. The movie is chugging along at a snail's pace and a half hour in I realize this movie sucks.

But you know what makes a sucky movie even suckier? People talking.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Trailer Time" - - Robocop

I'm a huge fan of the original so I have high expectations. Don't let me down, Robocop!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"The Hounds" - - It's A Loser Alright

I usually start these reviews off with a trailer of the film, but this time let's try something different.

I mean, what horror movie would be complete without it's own music video featuring a garbage bag wearing Evanescence knock-off?

That's not a fan made video. That music video is one of the Special Features on the DVD. Actually, it's the only Special Feature. You get the movie, scene selection, and "The Loser." Had I just watched the music video before I watched the movie I would have had a bit of a heads up into how bad "The Hounds" was going to be. But, alas, I did not. No, I wasted an hour and half watching two separate plots go nowhere as people screamed inches away from each others faces.

"The Hounds" is about three young adults going camping in the woods where they find a dead body at their campsite. Technically, that's what it's about but it takes a full 30 minutes before we get there. First we're bombarded with "character" development as absolutely nothing of consequence happens. We see the three camping kids and their friend hanging out, some dodgy looking people getting in and out of cars, and some slob talking to his wife on the phone.

I fell asleep twice during this first act so I had to re-watch several scenes twice. The things I do for this website . . .

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Killjoy Goes To Hell" - - The Pelican Grief

Imagine that you rented "Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College."

Yes, that's a real movie.

You take it home, pop it in, and sit back hoping for some knock-off "Gremlins" action and instead are treated to an hour long dissertation on Kinseyian economics from the Rat Ghoulie. Congratulations, you have just seen "Killjoy Goes To Hell."

"Killjoy Goes To Hell" is part four in the "Killjoy" series. While the other three are about a demonic clown dispatching people in various clown-related ways, this movie is about a trial. A very long and boring trial in Hell with witnesses (A mime, a carny who can only speak carny, etc.), a DA (or "Devil's Advocate HAHA!), and all the other trappings of an episode of "Law and Order."

In short, it was very boring.

"KILLJOY IS GONNA GET YOU! Pursuant to clause 817, subsection B by the ratification of the 6th district of Hell, Killjoy has hereby been served to "get you" at a time and place of his choosing. The Court also holds up the right outlined in 'Baphomet v. Charlie Daniels' that an adjudicator must be present if both parties . . . "

I saw the first "Killjoy" years ago when it first came out and it was mildly amusing. I don't have that built in fear of clowns that most people have, so I never followed the series. Recently I got all three "Killjoy" movies when I bought a pack of "Demonic Toys/GingerDead Man" DVDs but I really had no interest in seeing them. But when "Killjoy Goes To Hell" popped up on Redbox I figured I'd give it a shot.

Some might complain that these movies need to be viewed in order. "If you watch the first three then "Killjoy Goes To Hell" is great!" But that's missing the point. Someone who is looking for a movie to watch stumbles across "Killjoy Goes To Hell" and there is nothing to signify it is part four of a series. Each movie has to stand on it's own. You could rent any "Nightmare on Elm Street" and that single movie works. It should make you want to go back and watch the other films. "Killjoy Goes To Hell" makes me hesitant to watch 2 and 3 because I am going to assume now that nothing really happens until the last half hour.

"Killjoy" is also something that I could see a 12 year old saying "Whoa, look a creepy clown! Let's rent this!!!" Then he gets home to watch Killjoy sit in a chair for the bulk of the movie.

I will give the movie credit for a few things: One, Killjoy is a pretty funny guy. Not like slapstick funny but the way he responds to people. Trent Haaga, who plays Killjoy under what seems to be two pounds of make-up, hams it up as a demonic version of Krusty the Clown. Mr. Haaga also wrote "Feeding The Masses" and "Dead Girl," two awesome zombie films. And there is not one but two hot chicks, Batty Boop and Jezebeth, that keep things on the screen interesting even when the storyline itself is dragging.

There's also this weird sequence when the mime bangs an old witch and gets a robot baby sewn into his guts, and the Carny clown builds and army of demon clowns to help Killjoy, but both of those things sound way cooler typed out than what they looked like on screen. Batty Boop also enters the real world and kidnaps Killjoy's last remaining victim to testify for him in court, but again, all that zaniness comes towards the very end of "I object-overruled-call-your next-witness" Perry Mason nonsense.

The last 10 minutes or so was pretty cool, but I fell asleep twice getting to that point. And in the end, the only thing that has changed for any of the characters is Killjoy forgets his name. Actually, everyone forgets his name so I don't know if that signifies the end of the series or if they lost the copyright to the name Killjoy, but one thing is for certain: I'll be more hesitant to rent a Killjoy or whatever they call him movie in the future.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Saturday Morning Massacre / Mystery" - - Remarkably Bad

*You'll notice this review does not have any pictures. This was for the sake of speed. This movie is terrible and if I can prevent one person from watching this, then this blog will have served it's purpose.*

Depending on who you ask, when you ask them, and if they even know what you are talking about, this movie is either called "Saturday Morning Massacre" or "Saturday Morning Mystery." The DVD itself reads "Saturday Morning Massacre" but the title card in the movie uses the "Mystery" variation. The Wikipedia page states that "Saturday Morning Massacre" was the original release title in 2012 but it has since been changed to "Saturday Morning Mystery." Which doesn't make since, unless the Redbox I rented this movie from is also a time machine.

I think the real "mystery" here is how long it will take to "massacre" four of the most irritating characters ever to grace a horror movie. Oh, sure, most horror movies have one total asshole character who keeps mucking things up for the others, only to be treated with the most gruesome death of all. That's almost a horror convention at the point.

But to have all four of your characters be face-punchingly annoying makes the movie a chore to sit through. They're supposed to be based on the cast of "Scooby-Doo," they even have a dog! Get it! A dog! And one guy is a druggie! Like Shaggy! Get it?! Get it?!

There's even a sequence with the dog chasing a kid and the gang is chasing their dog as they run from room to room down a hallway. Just like the old show! GET IT?!

This movie tries so hard to fit in so many "Scooby" gags I can't imagine what would be worse: Sitting next to the director as he elbows me in the side saying "Get it?! Isn't that clever?" or sitting in a dark theater with a crowd of hipsters clapping outrageously to this terrible film while trying not to spill their PBRs all over their ironic beards.

This movie sucked.

This movie sucked in a way few films suck. First off, like I already said but which bears repeating: the characters are awful. "Shaggy" (I'm not even going to bother looking up the characters' names)  keeps jumping out and scaring people. Then he says "Just kidding, folks!" and then he does it again. Is that really someone you would repeatedly invite to go into haunted house with?

The Velma character is the smug one. Daphne is the hippy dippy one who wants to "feel the house" whatever that means. It could mean something spiritual, but while she is saying it, she is literally running her hands up and down the walls of the house. At that point I didn't know she was high, but really at that point I didn't know anything about anyone. These characters were so underdeveloped that the entire drug sequence was hard to discern from their real personalities. Maybe Velma likes to walk around in circles when she's stressed? Maybe Fred always lays on top of dogs? We don't know because the movie 1) Assumes we watched Scooby Doo and 2) Assumes that since we watched Scooby Doo we would automatically be invested in his stock characters.

These cardboard cut-outs continue to do stupid stuff like breaking out of a room they just barricaded themselves into, continually running into a house after they just spent the last scene trying to escape, oh, and when a cop shows up, Shaggy needs to hide a bunch of hits of LSD.

So he hides them in a communal water jug.

Let's pause here for a second and ask: When is the last time you drank out of the same water jug as three other people? Not pour into a cup, I mean straight up lips-on-the-Thermos-I-drink-then-you-drink. I mean, some people might think that's unsanitary, well, let's ask the "Daphne" character her opinion after she gets done giving the "Fred" character a blow job. 

But see, the plot requires all the characters to be on acid and the only reason they would do that if they all drank out of the same water jug. It's those ridiculous choices that make this movie an utter failure.

Just like in "Scooby Doo," there is no such things as ghosts. But this house is really haunted! But it's not! Because at the last half hour we find out that all the spooky stuff they (and by extension, we) were seeing was cause by drugs! Whew! No ghosts!

Nope, just crazy inbred hillbillies.

Crazy inbred hillbillies who come out of nowhere even though the whole first part of the movie has shadows that disappear when played back on videotape. And a guy acting possessed (but that guy was the Shaggy asshole so "Just Kidding!"). But if it was ALL drugs then why did Fred basically see the plot of the movie when he stared at the creepy skull in the corner? Was the premonition not really supernatural but just a lot of lucky guesses?

While we're on the topic of the whole "no ghosts" thing: Our first introduction to the gang is them investigating a haunted house but finding out the ghost is fake but *gasp* they uncover a child porn ring! "This ain't your daddy's Scooby Doo!" the film seems to shout. Then the cops show up and they're like "You just blew our sting! We had all this evidence they were making child porn and now they'll be out of jail by lunch time!"

Seriously? Ugh, I mean I get the joke. In this world the "meddling kids" end up meddling with the law. But how much evidence do you need to gather when the cop himself says "We have video of them leading kids in." What type of cop says "Hmm those kids will probably be used for child porn but . . .let's bust them in a week or two. More kids means a better case!" Also, when the Scooby gang busts finds the kids they are locked in cages in a room full of video cameras. I doubt any one will be getting out by noon.

Just like the title, this movie couldn't decide what it was. Horror? Comedy? Horror/Comedy? Parody? Ironic Portrayal of 80's Icons? Love Letter to Cartoons? No matter what it tried to be, "Saturday Morning Massacre / Mystery" failed. It wasn't scary, it wasn't funny, and it's not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. It's a formulaic slasher film with bad characterization and a flimsy plot.

Unsurprisingly, this movie has got a lot of good reviews. "Ain't It Cool News" said it was one of the best movies they'd seen this year. If I was a more naïve lad I would assume that has to be either a typo or a flat out lie, but while watching this movie I could tell it would play well to the "Get it?!" hipster crowd. Trust me, avoid this movie, even if you are a hipster. The money you spend on this movie can buy you a nice t-shirt at a thrift store.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trailer Time - - "Antiviral"

Now that I've finally reviewed my last Trailer Time feature "Assault On Wall Street" it's time for a new trailer. I'm going to have to walk a mile to rent this movie because the Redboxs near me never carry the good stuff. Hopefully it's worth the walk.

Just looking at that picture makes my teeth hurt.

"Assault On Wall Street" - - Talk Is Cheap, But So Is Ammunition

I'm going to start this review out with a link to "National Suicide Prevention Hotline's website."

That's not a joke like "Oh my God this movie is so bad you'll want to kill yourself." There is a really intense, sad, and realistic  suicide scene in "Assault On Wall Street." So if you're ever thinking about that, remember there is always someone out there to help you out.

Now on with the review.

Uwe Boll is known among genre film fans for making two of the worst movies that you'll ever come across. "House Of The Dead" and "Alone In The Dark" were both based on video games and they were both terrible for different reasons. "Alone In The Dark" was too boring. "House Of The Dead" was too . . . well, words cannot explain.

If you noticed there is no house in that trailer, you're not alone.

Anyways, Uwe Boll has a legion of haters who dog his every move, and a petition was started to get him to stop making movies. For a long time he was able to crank out film after film with (allegedly) huge tax breaks from the German government but those ended and he had to move on from films like "Bloodrayne," "In The Name Of The King," "BloodRayne 2," "Far Cry," and "Bloodrayne: The Third Reich." All of those are video games turned into movies and all of them are bad to mediocre.

But as a fan of bad cinema, I knew I had to watch anything Uwe Boll puts out. After all, this is the guy who hates critics so much he challenged them to a boxing match. So when I found out Boll directed a movie based on the Columbine shootings I knew it was going to be full of cheesy goodness.

Nope. I was wrong. His film "Heart of America" was actually good. Surprisingly good. Not just good by my low expectations based on his previous films, but it was a well-done character study about two out of place kids looking to take a little bit of that helplessness out of their lives. It's been 5 years since I've seen that movie and parts of it still stick out and I watch a lot of movies. I've forgotten I watched "Elysium" twice already and I just saw that a few weeks ago.

So in my mind, two Uwe Bolls existed (and yes, I'm getting to the review of "Assault On Wall Street" don't rush me!). There was the Uwe Boll who made some awful films and the Uwe Boll who made awesome films. Every so often a director might make a misstep in their career but with Boll it seemed like each leg was going in a different direction.

He actually made a good movie based on a video game, "Postal," which told the story of a dude who gets pushed around by society and decides to push back. It was crass and insane and very, very violent. And it worked. His movie "1968: Tunnel Rats" was about brotherhood and fear in a time of war. Trite? Sure, but it was well made. You felt claustrophobia kicking in even when they weren't crawling through dark tunnels peppered with traps.

And then he made "Rampage."

Insane, sick, perverse, violent "Rampage." As a film it offers no moral critique on gun control or mass shootings. It is as if we are a cameraman in a war zone and unable to interfere or interject in any way. It's brutality is what makes it work. And the ending is jaw dropping and I don't say that often regarding twists but it is.

As shocking as "Rampage" is, it is a film I enjoyed watching. I'm not sure I could do it a second time, but it is a great piece of "terror cinema." The book "The Collector" has been found in the possession of multiple serial killers of the years  and I'm sure "Rampage" has unfortunately inspired or may inspire in the future mass shootings. That aside, and that's a big aside, I recommend "Rampage."

NOW ON TO THE REVIEW which I'm sure you were all wondering if I would ever get to.

"Assault On Wall Street" is another take on Uwe Boll's version of the Angry White Male but this time the parts just don't add up. This movie does a lot of things right, but some key choices make this movie too didactic.

The movie is rife with speeches about how capitalism is evil and the working class gets crushed under the blocks of the pyramid. Which is fine. I think a lot of people feel that way. But this is brought up constantly throughout the film, to the point that even the main bad guy (a Wall Street hawk who makes his company screw the small investors) gives a speech about how he is such a bad guy and America was founded by bad guys and there is nothing any one can do about it.

He's saying that, by the way, as a gun is pointed at his head.

It would have been more powerful if in the end we didn't know who to side with because that is what is happening anyways. Some people love the system and some hate it but most don't really care. They want what they want and they either get it or they don't. But having it so black/white, the movies loses some of it's punch. To see the bad guy at the end actually defend capitalism the way someone on Wall Street would could make the viewer more torn over the hero's journey and add heft to the film.

There's also more than a few scenes of economic talk between somebody and our protagonist. And that may work when we believe our protagonist is capable of understanding anything that is being said.

"Give me your lunch money . . .and a second mortgage on my house."

There's a reason my little brother laughed out loud when I told him Mark Walhberg was playing a scientist in the next Transformers movie. Some people look like lunk heads. Dominic Purcell is a fine actor. He just looks like someone who would beat me up at a bar. It's discriminatory on my part but every time they cut back to him during a discussion he looked like he was listening to someone sing opera in sign language. He doesn't look like the "Everyman" he looks like the "EveryCaveman."

So we have long winded speeches to a character who looks like he can't spell APR. Why would I recommend this movie?

The descent from family man to mass murderer is done right.

Unlike "Alyce Kills," this movie has a slow steady drip of disasters. It's not one pivotal moment that affects the characters but weeks and months of constant crap that finally causes action. For someone to say "I think I'm going to murder someone" either takes a split second bad judgment call or planning. In "Assault On Wall Street" we see both happen and by the end it is a realistic conclusion to someone who had lost everything. It's not just that he has one bad stock investment. The brokerage house comes under investigation, he has mounting debt, his career as an armored car driver is in jeopardy because they are bonded. He borrows money, hires a lawyer to sue the brokerage which declares bankruptcy so now he has to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. It's just one thing after another.

I'd recommend this movie to people who can stomach both the speeches and the violence. It's also an interesting character study but I'm sure most people will rent it because they like the message: Wall Street Sucks. Those people will not be disappointed.

But to me, its a bit of a disappointment because my hopes were so high after "Rampage." So that's a good thing, Mr. Boll. I actually have high expectations now when I see your name on a film.

Keep making movies, buddy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Thale" - - Well, Uhm, OK

There are some movies that you just watch with an impassive expression and when it's over you shrug your shoulders and think, "Well, that was just OK."

I wish "Thale" was that good.

"Thale" is the "story" of two friends who work together cleaning up dead bodies. Damnit, I'm going to have to look their names up to write this review but I really don't want to put that much effort into but I know for sure one of the lead characters is named Elvis which is a little ridiculous. This film is from Norway and maybe it's a popular name up there, but for most people this is Elvis

Not This

If I made a movie and had a character named Obama who WAS NOT President Obama it would be distracting. Character names are important! I actually have been watching (it's quite terrible I can't make it all the way through in one sitting) a movie called "A Beer Tale." It's the comedy (in theory) of two brothers trying to perfect their parents beer recipe.

The brothers' names are Corey and Luke . . .Frankenstein. Seriously? You're going to name your two main characters after a 8 foot tall killing machine? Why in the world . . .

The secret ingredient: They throw a little girl in each batch.

The mind boggles at why anyone thought that name was a good idea.

Anyways, back to "Thale," Elvis and Leo are cleaning up a dead body and they find a secret room. That secret room has another secret room and inside a bathtub full of a white liquid that I really really hope is just milk there is a naked chick who sleeps while hooked up to a gas mask. I think the movie is supposed to be a mystery but it's pretty apparent she's some sort of creature beacause the movie poster and trailer give that fact away.

The acting is awful, and that's saying something considering I had the choice between an English dub and the original Norweigian and both were ear-scratchingly bad. At first I thought Leo was a cool unshakeable Fonz type of character but by the time he announces he has lung cancer with the same delivery as "hand me that bucket" I realized he's just a terrible actor.

This is one of those poorly constructed movies where after Leo announces "I have lung cancer" we see Thale use her magical powers to bring a wilted flower back to life. Hmm, I wonder what's going to happen at the end? Thale can also communicate telepathically by touch which is unfortunate for us because when she touches people we get long periods of exposition about how she ended up in the secret room. And if that's not enough, there is a tape deck playing even more exposition for most of the movie. You can't blame this movie for holding information back.

What you can blame this movie for is having no real reason of being. It could have gone the route of an updated fairy tale, but it's too technical. There is no sense of the fantastic present. It feels cold and sterile. "Nico The Unicorn" had this feeling of wonder through out the film. This one is filled with boring exposition and, oddly enough, a fight scene between Thale and some armed thugs.

This is easily the worst product placement for 3M since "The Scotch Tape Massacre." 

So maybe they're going for the science/reason overcoming nature theme? I'd buy that but then what's up with the happy ending. Leo gets cured of cancer! Elvis's reunites with his daughter he mentioned only twice before and he seems surprised by her appearance even though she is siting three feet away from him! Is it magic? Or is this movie just bad?

Seriously, where did she come from?

So I ask: What is the point of this movie? It's not thought provoking, or scary, or interesting. it does not elicit joy or sorrow or excitement. It is not about the follies of youth or the mortality of the aged. It just simply exists. It's has a much substance as a PowerPoint presentation. 

Here's the thing: When I watch Transformers or Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Duece Bigalow, whatever it is, I don't expect many, if any, layers to it. But if a movie isn't built from the ground up to elicit an immediate emotional reaction (a horror film, a comedy, etc.) then it needs to have something else to make the movie work. A message, a meaning, a morality tale, whatever it is, a movie has to have a reason behind why this story is being told.

For Thale, the reason seems to be they could get a hot chick to take her clothes off.

And they're making a sequel. Ugh.

I really, really, really hope that's milk.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Barrio Tales" - - Gross, Dude, Gross.

It really should come as no surprise that a movie called "Barrio Tales" features a roach coach, but damned if I didn't see it coming.

For those of you that don't know, a "Roach Coach" is a mobile restaurant. They tend to serve cheap food that can be made in bulk, like Mexican or Chinese food, and sold around business parks. They are subject to the same health inspections that regular restaurants have to undergo, but come on, there's always something fishy about food that can drive away.

When I worked at a business park I ate at the roach coach constantly. For nearly five years I got all of my meals out of a van. So when "Barrio Tales" started off their second story: "Uncle Tio's Taco Truck" and it starts with an image of this:

Blerch. Gross.

"Barrio Tales" is a horror anthology and to my knowledge it is the first English language/Hispanic themed horror anthology. Back during the days of HBO's amazing (yet now unfortunately dated) show "Tales From The Crypt," lucky horror/rap fans such as myself were graced with movies like "Tales From The Hood," "Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror," "Street Tales of Terror" and "Hood's Hoody Hoods Tales of Hood Horror" OK, I made that last one up, but my point is the urban horror anthology has been around awhile and it's nice to see a Latino variation of that.

But really, dude, really . . .you had to ruin the roach coach for me?

The wraparound for this trilogy is two rich white kids travel to Barrio (which I always thought just meant "city" but the characters here keep referring to it as a proper noun, so I'm not sure on that) to buy drugs from a dealer named Pedro. Instead, they get waylaid by a mysterious stranger (spoiler alert: it's really Pedro) who wants to tell them some stories because Americans are always in a hurry to get what they want.

The first story is about a Hispanic maid from Barrio who works at a mansion. A bunch of selfish rich kids treat her like shit, except for one guy who can speak Spanish and his dad works as a janitor, and they end up accidently bashing her skull in. The maid's wizard aunt casts a spell on the kids who killed her and they either lose their sight, their ability to speak, or their ability to hear . . .but at the end they all end up dead so I'm sure she could have just skipped to the "death" part of the spell.

"OH NO! I can't speak! . . .or walk, or swim or do anything
because I'm dead.

That type of story is pretty par for the course when it comes to anthologies, or horror in general. A victim is wronged and the guilty are dispatched via supernatural means.

The third story, though, is about a group of illegal immigrants being kidnapped by hillbillies and being tortured to death. Which really isn't supernatural and in fact probably does happen, unfortunately. For the last half hour of "Barrio Tales" I'm thinking less about the movie and more about how much it would suck to have to sneak into a country that would probably kill you if they knew they could get away with it.

This looks less like a horror film and more
like a Tea Party recruitment ad.

Now, to be fair the third story does feature "El Monstruo" who is described as an urban legend among human traffickers and since his name technically means "The Monster" and he does survive getting shot in the chest a hundred times you might be able to say that's supernatural. But I just figure he was a buff dude on a lot of crank.

So in the first story we have the Hispanic victim and in the third story we have a lot of Hispanic victims. But in the second story, the stomach-clenching "Uncle Tio's Taco Truck," Uncle Tio is the bad guy. You see, those delicious tacos you've been eating all those years, those were the flesh and muscle tissue of human beings. But what type of people, you're wondering, would make such delicious tacos?

Were they the remains of arrogant white kids who bullied the downtrodden?

Were they the innards of "The Man" who ran the system?

Maybe they were the ligaments and tendons of an racist blowhard?

Nope! Just kids!

It's a bit jarring to go from Hispanic victim to Hispanic killer and then back again. Obviously it is the filmmakers prerogative on how the flow of the film goes. But in movies like "Tales From The Hood," "Snoop Dogg's Hood Of Horror" etc. the horror is also balanced with an idea of justice: the perpetrators of black on black crime or the white oppressors are the victim. That might sound like a bleeding heart but by having Uncle Tio go after rich kids instead of neighborhood kids he would have been less of a monster (or el monstruo, you learn something new every day) and more of an avenging angel. After all, the first and third story of "Barrio Tales" does explore the social justice angle and it would have been a more complete film thematically if "Tio's" story did as well. All I got was the uneasy feeling of knowing I ate five years worth of mystery meat.

"Barrio Tales" is an odd duck. The directing is competent, the pacing works well and the acting is decent. The picture quality and sound all point towards an eye towards quality. There's a weird interaction of characters between the three stories which is something I haven't seen in anthology before nd was a cool idea. I can see "Barrio Tales" being the first of a franchise, but even if it is a one-off I think these filmmakers have some talent and I'd like to see more from them. I enjoyed it, but unless you're a fan of horror anthologies I'd wait to catch this movie on TV.

I would stop eating at roach coaches though.

Oh, the two rich kids looking for drugs in the wrap-around narrative . . .what happens to them, you ask?

They get their throats brutally slit and are chopped up and turned into tacos that are given to homeless Mexicans!

Welcome to Barrio!

Uncle Tio eventually moved out of Barrio and
changed his name to George Zimmerman.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Under The Bed" - - This Is How It's Done

"Under The Bed" is the perfect film to review following "Alyce Kills" and "Zombie Warz: Falls The Shadow" because it does everything right that those two films did wrong. In and of itself, "Under The Bed" is a great throwback to the horror movies of the 80's but in comparison to the two previously reviewed films it really shows how some filmmakers just "get it."

"Under The Bed" tells the story of two brothers who are being haunted, actually more like hunted, by a demonic creature that lives under the bed. The movie begins when the older brother, Neal, returns home after moving away for two years. When the creature tormented him he tried to kill it by setting the house on fire. The creature survived. His mother didn't.

While Neal was away his younger brother Paulie moved into his room and also began to see the creature. Now that Neal is back and knows his brother is in danger they have to team up to try to kill it one more time.

This plot is reminiscent of the old school horror movies of the 80s like "The Gate," "Poltergeist," "Troll," "Return of the Living Dead 2," and countless others where suburban youths are confronted with unspeakable evil. This theme worked in the 80's because of the fear of nuclear war or rampant crime; the idea that children felt out of control in a world run by adults. These types of films fell out of vogue in the 90's but now with a new generation of filmmakers and fans dealing with post 9/11 fears of terrorism that sense of no power in the world is making a comeback. Also, the writers and directors of today were raised on those 80's horror gems and now they are making their mark in the genre as well.

How this movie works when a movie like "Alyce Kills" fails is the pacing. Both have a very slow build up. It can be said of both films that not much happens for the first hour and then the last 20 minutes it becomes a different film. With "Alyce Kills" the shift is handled poorly. In "Under The Bed" the movie is already so tense that by the time the creature goes on the offensive you realize the whole movie was leading up to it. Every scene lead into each other and while building the characters and relationships up it also let you know that once the monster was unleashed these people would be ripped down. "Under The Bed" is like pulling the pin on a grenade and not knowing when it's going to go off.

But when it does . . .

I also pointed out that in "Zombie Warz" that it didn't seem like a zombie movie because there weren't enough zombies. The argument could be made that the monster isn't in most of this movie either. The difference is that every decision that the characters make is based on the fact that either A) They believe there is a monster out to get them or B) They know someone who thinks there is a monster out to get them. The cast is split between those who have seen the creature and those who think the brothers are crazy. You don't have to have a monster in every single shot to make it a monster movie but the characters should react as it is always just outside their field of vision. That is what makes a good horror movie so tense. We're scared because they're scared.

The family dynamic in "Under The Bed is excellent as well. The two brothers whisper plans on how to avoid death at the cold dead hands of the creature while their father and step-mother try to deal with two children they love but just can't understand. The dad comes off as a dick but you can tell it's out of frustration. He already lost his wife and now he's losing his children, emotionally if not physically. The whole cast is great, from the neighborhood kids who gossip about the crazy kid who set his house on fire to the hot girl next door who wants to help her troubled friend but is out of her depth. These people seem real and that makes their journey even more frightening.

One of the creepiest moments is also one of the quietest. Speaking in hushed tones in the dark, Paulie asks his older brother Neal why it lives under the bed. "I read once," Neal explains, "that you shed a lot of dead skin cells in your bed. Like while you sleep, you know, your bed is full of dead skin, and pieces of your body. Maybe it starts by, like, feeding on . . .your dead flesh before . . ."

"Before that's not good enough anymore," Paulie replies.


I like to use the term "Slumber Party Movie" and based on the title I figured this would fall into that category. A good scary movie to rent for preteens. This is in no way one of those films. If you show this movie to a kid be prepared for long sleepless nights. But I definitely recommend this film to fans of the horror genre and of genre filmmaking in general. It does more with it's limited cast and budget than many other movies accomplish with more resources.

Just make sure to keep the lights on.