Sunday, 27 May 2012

5 Frightening French Films

When you think of french films, horror doesn't come to mind at first.  You probably think of some trite expressionist film you read about or some romantic Gerard Depardieu film that some girl at work keeps telling you about because you told her you were into movies, but the french have definitely brought their bloody baguettes to the table.  Early french directors like Georges Franju, Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jacques Tourneur lead the way for many of today's young french horror directors in what is called New French Extremity.  Films like Eyes without a Face and Les Diabolique are really no different in the stories that are being told with exception that the director is not shackled to the same movie codes as in the past. 

Here are 5 frightening french films:

5. Irreversable (2002) - Similar to Momento, the film is shown in reverse order and leads us through the results of a women, who is brutally raped and beaten in a underground tunnel in Paris and the extremities of her boyfriend and ex-husband go to in finding the rapist and exacting their revenge.  This is such a crazy film, it's hard to explain.  The film isn't really gory per say but the scenes where they catch the rapist and the rape itself are so brutal that it is difficult to watch.  Disturbing, would probably be the best way to describe it.  Director Gaspar Noe does a nice job using the reverse movie trick as well.  Good flick, hard to watch.

4. Les Diaboliques (1955) - Christine Delassalle and Nicole Horner have a few things in common; they are both teachers,  the work at the same school andn they both have an abusive relationship with Mr. Michel Delassalle.  Unlike most wife/mistress relationships, Christine and Nicole seem to get along and plan to murder Michel.  They drown him in a bathtub and then throw his body into the dirty pool outside the school but when the pool is drained for cleaning, the body has disappeared, tabernac!  Director Henri-Georges Clouzot grabbed the screen rights for this play from master of horror Alfred Hitchcock and inspired the film Psycho.  The film is a classic tale of suspense and has some supernatural overtones near the end.  It has a message at the end of the film not to tell the twist, so I won't but it is one Clouzot's best!

3. Switchblade Romance (aka High Tension) (2003) - Alexia and Marie are college girls on their way to Alexia's parents house off in the country for the weekend.  They arrive have dinner and go off to bed.  Shortly after this, there is a knock on the door, so, Alexia's father answers the door and it's a man, who slits there who slits the father's throat and crushes his head.  Alexia and Marie hide and try escape the killer as he rampages through the rest of the family.  Can these girls escape the killer?  I like this movie but I really hate the ending.  The whole film is this incredible roller coaster ride of terror and tension with some of the best special effects in the business, done by Giannetto De Rossi.  There is blood everywhere and incredible kill scenes.  However, director Alexandre Aja really does drop the ball at the end and leaves you scratching your head.  Definitely worth checking out but you've been warned!

2. Inside (2007) - Four months after a car crash, which kills her husband, Sarah is ready to have her baby.  While at a park, she asks her friend and employer, Jean-Pierre to pick her up  in the morning to drive her to the hospital; he agrees and drops her off at home.  That evening she answers a knock at the door and the there is a strange woman, who wants to come in and she knows a lot about Sarah.  Sarah refuses to let her in and calls the police.  The police come over and tells Sarah not to worry because the woman has gone but they will check in on her again later in their shift.  The police leave and Sarah goes to bed.  That night, while Sarah is sleeping, the mysterious woman creeps into her bedroom and stabs Sarah in the belly!  Sarah wakes up fights her off, runs to the bathroom and begins her hellish nightmare of trying to keep her and her baby alive.  The film starts slow but once woman starts her attack, the film is relentless in its savagery.  Even though Sarah, isn't very engaging to the audience, the idea that a pregnant woman is being attack is a terrific angle.  There are some pretty cool special FX scenes throughout the film and the body count is surprisingly large.  Definite must see!

1. Martyrs (2008) - Young Lucie escapes her captors and is placed into a home for girls, where she examined and study.  Her only friend, Anna is asked by the doctors to help her open up.  15 years later, Lucie believes she has found her tormentors and goes to exact her revenge, Anna tries to stop her but is too late. Even when Lucie has killed the ones, she believes made her suffer, its revealed that this is only the beginning and that there is a bigger picture to all this torment for her and Anna.  This is a really interesting Canadian film and isn't your usual torture revenge fare.  Mylene Jampanoi is so compelling as Lucie in this and sells every scene with the viciousness that one would expect for these circumstances.  Morjana Alaoui is just as excellent as her confused and willing confident, Anna.  Hard film to watch, especially near the end; cudos to the FX people for their stunning work.

 These films show a hard reality of violence that we will (hopefully), only experience through this medium and gain a better understanding of the human spirit or lack there of.  After watching these films you may want to rethink your trip to Paris or at least stay away from the tunnels.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

5 Over the Top Japanese films

There's weird and then there's Japanese film weird.  Being from Canada, eh, I don't know if it's a cultural gap or what but the Japanese have created some of the most bizarre, over the top films I have ever seen in my life.  Most of these films are based on revenge elements and I tell you, I would not want to be on their bad sides.  These films make North American film look tame and they dive, dig and exploit realms and taboos that most films on this side of the globe would barely even nod at and maybe that's what makes them so enjoyable.  That and the copious amounts of blood, oh..., the blood.

Here are 5 over the top Japanese films:

5. Tokyo Gore Police (2008) - Set in the future, an evil villain known as the Key Man has created a virus that causes humans to mutate when injured and grow weapons from the injured areas.  They turn into monsters called "Engineers".  Ruka is a samurai sword wielding cop, who's mission is to destroy these monsters, catch the Key Man and avenge her father's assassination.  This movie is so much fun and there are some amazing visuals that you won't forget any time soon.  It's action intense with weird mutants and a lot of blood.  Even the fake commercial are hilarious, this is one film that you will want to watch.

4. Splatter: Naked Blood (1996) - Eiji is a young scientist who has created a drug that transforms pain into pleasure, but he has no one to experiment it on.  Luckily, his mother is a scientist as well and is conducting her own experiment annnnnd she has three new lady test subjects.  Eiji slips into his mothers lab and injects his drug into his mother's formula and waits to see the results.  Fortunately for us, they are extremely disastrous for two of the ladies creating some disgusting scenes but the 3 girl, Rika she is a mystery and Eiji needs to look deeper into her reaction.  The movie itself is a bit slow moving but once it gets going, it goes from slow to distrubing to gross to distrubing again.  No trailer, so hears a clip.

3. Guinea Pig (1985) - Basically, three guys catch a woman in a net(?) and then spend 43 minutes torturing her.  There is no story or anything, just these guys slapping, kicking, and throwing meat at this poor woman.  It's interesting and it has spawned 7 sequels so...(?).  It's pretty graphic and it's better done than August Underground Mordum but not as gross.

2. Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) - So... A man cuts open his leg and sticks a rusted metal pipe in his leg.  Feeling the intense pain of cutting one's leg open and sticking a rusty pipe into one's leg, he runs out into the street and gets hit by a car.  The driver and his girlfriend get rid of the body in a ravine, have sex in front of their victim and go back home and act as if nothing happened.  The driver of the car, Business man, is shaving and notices a piece of metal in his cheek, he removes the barb and goes to work.  As time go by he mutates more and more into a metal machine and then things get really fucked up.  So bizarre, I've seen this a couple times now and it still makes me smile with confusion.   It's done in black and white and has some interesting stop motion film pieces in it and you can tell this was done on a very low budget.  The transformation into the Iron man for the Business Man is really the best part.  The scenes in the apartment with the girlfriend are funny and very disturbing.  The film itself is somewhat hard to follow and the plot is thin but that's not what why we're watching this.

1. Ichi The Killer (2001) - A bag of money, containing 300 million yen and a Yakuza boss, Anjo go missing in the middle of the night.  Anjo's right hand man and sadomasochist, Kakihara leads the gang searching for the kidnapper to retrieve Anjo and the money. Kakihara captures and tortures a rival Yakuza boss, after being led astray by the Jijii, who has his own low level gang which employs Ichi.  Realizing that Jijii and Ichi are the people behind the kidnapping, he now directs his two best henchman to sniff them out (literally), so they can pay for the killing of Anjo.  This has to be one of the best films director Takashi Miike has put together.  A culmination of everything ugly, wrapped up in a head over heels, slapsticky display of ultra violence, that makes you want to cover your eyes but you still have to peek.  There is so much blood, even Ichi's henchmen at the beginning, question if it is necessary.  Also, director of Tetsuo, Shin'ya Tsukamoto plays Jijii.  THIS IS A MUST SEE!

These films may not be Kurosawa, translating Shakespeare with samurai tales or Ozu reflecting on Japanese family cultural but these films are fun to watch and have a panache of their own.  So, grab some gas station sushi, a bottle of cheap saki and gorge yourself in so international gore films, your head just might explode!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

5 Malicious Mother's Day Movies

Just a heads up, if you haven't seen Psycho or Friday the 13th then you should see them before reading any further.  There are maternal elements that impact those stories and I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's enjoyment of those films by reading my article.

Mothers, we wouldn't be here without them.  When I think of my mom when she would cook supper after coming home from a long day of work, letting us ride our big wheels in the kitchen after she had just cleaned the floors and would always have a moment to listen to any problems that me or my sisters would have.  I think (hope) most people have good memories of their moms and that's why the character of the mom in horror films are so interesting.  In the movies, she is usually defending her family any way she can and struggles to do the unthinkable even though she knows its wrong or she could be mentally deranged but the family is protecting her by hiding her or her taste for flesh.  Whatever the case may be, the maternal instinct that drives these woman are forever, sometimes even after they pass.

 Here are 5 malicious Mother's Day Movies:

5. Frightmare (1972) -  After 15 years of being locked up for incredible crimes, Dorothy and Edmund Yeats are released from a mental institution.  Their step daughter Jackie is taking care of their wild teenage daughter, Debbie, who thinks her parents are dead.  Edmund fears that Dorothy is slipping back into madness and asks Jackie to help.  However, Jackie's boyfriend(?) and amateur psychologist, Graham seems to want to help too, but he might bring them together in a more sinister way.  This is great film in the classic horror tradition.  The plot is slow and like the giallo style, there seems to be a mystery surrounding the story.  You don't really know what the Yeats were charged with until near the end and it adds a nice twist at the end.  There's some blood and the ending is excellent, definitely a good one to watch.

4. Granny (2002) - In this inept film, 8 college friends are slaughtered by what seems to be a granny.  These friends put together, what looks like the lamest party ever with childrens games, talk about sex their not having and of course, the horror staple, their biggest fears.   This leads to one character telling them, he's going to play a trick on them and for them to leave for an hour.  When they come back, guess who's there, the killer granny!  The granny starts slaughtering these idiots, who can't be bother to call the police, leave the house when they can hear the granny killing their friend or even get to their car when they leave the unlocked house.  Luckily, this film is only 58 minutes, which is badly written, acted and the dialogue is the absolute worst.  If you enjoy pain, need a good laugh and have a hour to waste, check this out.

3. Mother's Day (2010) - Beth and Daniel are throwing a birthday party at their new home, unfortunately the sons of the old owners have just robbed a bank and don't know that their mother has moved.  The 2 brothers, Ike and Addley, burst into the house dragging their younger brother, Johnny, who has been shot in the robbery and take everyone hostage.  Luckily, one of the guests is a doctor and can take care of Johnny until their mother arrives to come up with a plan to escape.  While they wait, they terrorize the guests with violence and threats of rape, not the party Beth was expecting to throw.  When Mother arrives, she learns that the boys have been sending money to this address and the couple say they never received the money.  The Mother forces everyone to hand over their ATM cards and sends Ike and Beth to go collect as much money as they can, so they can escape the country.  She warns Beth and Dan that if there is funny business, there will be consequences.  Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw 2, 3, 4, and Repo!) does a terrific job loosely remaking this Charlie Kaufman film from the 80's.  It has some interesting kill scenes and the tension grips you throughout the film.  There are some excellent talent in the film, like Rebecca De Mornay as the mother, Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica from True Blood), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman from the X-Men franchise) and even has cameo from Charlie and Lloyd Kaufman.  Good film, best Bousman film I've seen since the Saw franchise. 

2. Psycho (1960) - Alfred Hitchcock's classic tale of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) , who steals from her company to go live with her adulterous boyfriend.  On the way, during a dark and stormy night, she pulls off the road to stay at a wayward inn called the Bates Motel.  The motel is deserted, with the exception of the caretaker, Norman Bates and his mother.  As Norman explains, his mother stays in the house because of her age.  They chat in the parlor, Miss Crane says good night to Norman and goes to her room.   After a few days, the police, the family and her boyfriend are looking for Marion and retracing her steps which lead them back to Norman, his mother and the Bates Motel.  I love this film, even after 50 years, it still holds as one the best horror films out there.  The dialogue, the setting and twists in the script are perfect.  Norman Bates is still one of the creepiest characters and the relationship between him and his mother reveal such a duality that only Anthony Perkin's portrayal can do it justice.  A boys best friend is mother, isn't it and this is a must see for anyone.

1. Friday the 13th (1980) -  It's Friday the 13th and Steve Christy and his camp counselors are re-opening Camp Crystal Lake.  Annie, a teen counselor, is hitchin' a ride and gets an earful of the drowning death of a boy, Jason Voorhees, the death's of counselors in the past and some odd occurrences have lead the townsfolk to believe that Camp Crystal Lake is cursed.  However, Annie thinks its all bullshit and keeps on truckin.  Unfortunately, that night a number of Steve Christy's people go missing and a lot of them are turning up dead.  Could it be a curse or is it something or someone else.  Critics hated this movie but it really does have its own brilliance to it.  Spawning 10 sequel and one cross over film, the Friday the 13th franchise could not have done it without Betsy Palmer in a remarkable performance as Mrs. Voorhees.  Brilliant make up work by FX master Tom Savini and a haunting, unforgettable score by Manfredini, this is a film every mother should watch.

So, give your mom a big hug and kiss, then thank her for everything she's done because you never know, she may have a few of your skeletons in her closet. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

5 Films Recommended by Social Media Friends

Social media love it or hate it, it's probably going to be around for a long time.  I remember being reluctant about changing over to Facebook from Myspace and laughing when people would talk about twitter.  Things have sure changed.  These sites are fantastic, I get to interact with long time friends and get a chance to share my interests in movies, music and other stuff with a new group of friends.

People on these sites recommend movies all the time and I love it but some films are harder to get a hold of than others.  I'm looking, but some are out of print, not available here and with the financial budget of this blog, ($0) it's hard to view some of these films.

So with that in mind, here are 5 films recommended by my social media friends:

The Redeemer: Son of Satan! (aka: Class Reunion Massacre) (1978) - Six former classmates are invited back to their high school for their 10 year reunion.  When they get there, they find it funny that they are the only ones who have arrived and the phones are dead!  They try to leave and soon realize that the doors are locked, the windows are barred and their is a madman trying to kill them mwhahahahahahahah ha   ha      ha.  I still don't really understand the significance of the opening scene, but once they get into the school, it's pretty straight forward, homicidal maniac vs 6 former students.  The special effects are pretty good, they set someone on fire (that's always a winner with me), the acting is what you expect (this is the only film for most of the actors, thank goodness, except for Jeannetta Arnette) and the ending bookends the confusing beginning scene.  This film fits right in with my massacre films list and worth watching for some 1970's blood shed.

August Underground Mordum (2003) - Well...this film seems to be about three psychopaths that rape, murder and violate their victims.  They also meet other people, who enjoy the same thing along the way.  Unfortunately, this movie doesn't have any plot, other than showing these psychos screaming at each other and doing horrible things to their victims.  With that said, it is pretty disturbing what their doing with the rape, necrophilia and what not.  The special effects are pretty good for the incredibly looooow budget these people had and the editing was pretty good too.  Not for the faint of heart.

Society (1989) - Although, he's popular at school and his family is wealthy, teenager Bill Whitney doesn't feel that he fits in with his family and his friends at school.  He discovers some disturbing evidence that supports his paranoia, when his sister's ex -boyfriend, David gives him an audio tape of the recent coming out party for his sister.  Bill gives the tape to his psychiatrist and when he returns the next day, not only has the tape been altered but David has perished in an automobile accident.  Bill begins to spiral into madness not knowing who to believe and who to trust in this bizarre tale. The story itself is pretty thin and it does take a long time to get to the end.  However, this movie is really weird with an ending that should not be missed.  Incredibly bizarre special effects scenes when they tie the story together at the end.

Troll Hunter (2010) - Students from the university are investigating the recent bear poachings.  They follow a mysterious hunter Hans and discover the real culprits of all the killings, Trolls!  It seems as though the government has been hiding the fact for years that trolls exist and Hans has been keeping them in their territories away from humans.  Hans and the students must find out why the trolls are escaping and causing the havoc.  I was wary going into this because of the documentary, found tapes thing has just been done to death.  However, director Andre Overdal does a great job in taking an over used technique and making it fun.  The trolls look great and the actors are more believable than, some of the actors in this genre.  Also, one of the best reasons to see this is Michael Moriarty doesn't dance in this troll movie.

Lady SnowBlood (1973) - Yuki Kashima was born for vengeance.  Her mother dies giving birth in prison to Yuki and forcing the other prisoners to train Yuki as an assassin to get revenge on the criminals who killed her husband and son.  Once Yuki turns 20, she travels across Japan in search of the remaining criminals to fulfill her destiny.  Fantastic film, the back story on Yuki is just as incredible as the battles she encounters while hunting down the criminals.  Toshiya Fujita does an amazing job re-recreating this beloved manga tale and Meiko Kaji is incredible as Lady Snowblood.  If you enjoy bloody tales of revenge with subtitles and samurai spirit, then you should definitely check this out!

The more people I meet, the more suggestions for films to watch I get and the more fun I have watching this stuff and talking about it.  So, I want thank everybody for reading, making suggestions and I will get to your film as soon as I can find it!

A big thank you to people who suggested the films for this blog.
 Aaron Lupton





Wednesday, 2 May 2012

5 Massacre Films You Don't Want To Miss

Everyone loves a good massacre film, I know I do. This genre of films needs little plot, really writes itself and the gory body count is usually pretty high.  The idea of one killer with no remorse, hacking up people that may or may not deserve it has been a horror staple for over a century.

 These are 5 massacre films that you don't want to miss:

5. Memorial Valley Massacre (1988) - It's a Memorial Day weekend! David comes down to help his dad open up the new campground.  When he gets there, his dad and head ranger George Webster are plagued with problems and a huge line up of campers that are waiting to get into the campgrounds.  There has been an accident with one of the construction workers and someone put a dead dog in the water supply, contaminating the drinking and toilet (?) water.  David's dad takes off and tells him that he and George need to make the camp a success; George doesn't like David because he's the boss's kid and went to Dartmouth. Anywhoo, the camp opens and there is some kind of caveman person lurking about who starts a murderous murder spree to chase the campers away.  Most of the campers are douche bags and you can't wait for them to get it but there is a special lady for David to fall in love with, for you romantics out there.  This is an environmental, fern gully type horror film because the valley, like David girlfriend, has been untouched for so many years, and this caveman is going to defend it by any means necessary.  The description on this is that there is an Ax wielding maniac, which is a misnomer because the caveman only uses an axe once to my saddened black little heart.  He seems to either use a stick or his caveman super brain, by using technology that really should be foreign to him, like knowing about engines, electricity and driving a loader.  There are some good kill scenes and it can be funny at times, worth a glance if you have the time.  There is no trailer, so here's a best(worst) of clip.  It may be a spoiler but you can see the movie for free on the youtube.

4. Drive In Massacre (1977) - There's a serial killer who murderers people at the drive-in and the worst cops in the world have to catch the him.  This massacre goes on for a few days and the scenes with the serial killer are pretty good; the special effects are alright for a looooooow budget film from 1976.  The two cops are morons but they do bring some laughs especially when they stake out the drive-in and have to pretend to be a couple.  Overall it's a fun view, it's only an hour and 14 minutes and you can see it for free on the youtube.

3. Massacre at Central High (1976) - David transfers to a new school and right away he is targeted by bullies.  Luckily, his old friend, Mark is there to help him but he's part of this gang of bullies led by Craig!  David doesn't like how Mark has changed and he decides to stand up for the people they're picking on and beats up Craig and his two flunkies.  In retaliation, Craig damages David's knee in a automotive accident and David begins to plot his revenge.  Great flick, reminds me of Heathers at times.  The massacre goes on for days but the killings are interesting and unique for each victim.  What's really unusual about this film is that you don't actually see any "adults" until the end of the film.  Definitely worth checking out! 

2. Slumber Party Massacre (1982) - Trish's parent's are going away, so when she gets to school, she invites her girl friends over for a slumber party.  Unfortunately the new girl, Valerie, is better at basketball than Trish's friend Diane and over hears her talking bad about her. Meow! So, Valerie politely declines the invitation.  Luckily, like everyone in her school, Valerie only lives a few houses down.  However, the girls don't know that the mass murderer, Russ Thorn has just escaped prison and is on the loose in their area.  The girls get together later that evening for a night they will never forget.  Originally written by political activist Rita Mae Brown as a parody of the genre, producers let it play straight, which turned it into a very humorous slasher film.  I love the scene with the dead girl in the fridge and the scene were Valerie is choosing her weapon to attack the killer.  I think Sam Raimi enjoyed this movie as well.  The kill scenes are excellent and it really hits (drills) all the key points a slasher film should, a large body count, sadistic killer and to round things off, numerous tits and ass shots. Great film!

1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Tobe Hooper's classic is about a group of friends visiting the grave of their grandfather and to look into the reports of vandalism and grave robbing.  Afterwards, they set off to visit their grandfathers' old home and on the way they pick up a hitchhiker.  This hitchhiker slashes them and he is thrown out of the van.  They stop at the gas station but the old man there tells them there is no gas and try again later.  They arrive at the grandfather's old house and split up and like lambs to a slaughter get taken out by Leatherface and his family of redneck cannibals.  If you haven't seen this, you need to go watch it now!  The movie is incredible and still terrifying to this day.  Gunnar Hansen is unforgettable as Leatherface, creating this timeless character with only a few grunts, nods and twirling chainsaw dance that will never be forgotten.  Based loosely on the Ed Geins case, Hooper brings a horrifying glimpse into the minds of a backwoods cannibal family.  Often duplicated, creating a number of sequels, prequels and remakes, but never matched in its chilling realism; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the one to watch.

This style of film is terrific and lets your inner maniac come to life.  You can have friends come over and create drinking games, make bets on who will survive and enjoying the visceral fear that these films can generate.  Then at the end of the night, when everyone has gone home, you can take out your notepad and write down any notes you may need.