Sunday, 30 September 2012

5 Virus Films That Are Worth Catching

Virus movies aren't anything new to the horror genre but over the last 10 years they seem to have exploded on audiences and given them a disease of their own.  With so many real viruses lately and the news being able pump more fear into our subconsciousness, it's only natural for film makers to cash in on this new kind of terror and paranoia.  However, unlike bird flu, SARS, West Nile, where people just need a shot; the people in these films come back as zombies or rage monsters and are hell bent on infecting or killing everyone around them.

These are 5 Virus Films That Are Worth Catching:

5. Infection (2004) - In a terribly under funded hospital, Dr. Akiba refuses to let a patient in with a strange black rash.  While arguing with the paramedic, he is called to an emergency with a patient that has severe burns on his body.  The patients vitals are dropping and a young nurse gives the patient the wrong shot and kills him.  Dr. Akiba, Dr. Ouzumi and the two nurses, after some arguing decide to cover up the death and wheel the body to a warmer room to speed up the body's decay.  Dr Akiba finds the patient with the rash that he refused earlier in the hallway and ends up pushing the body into a another room.  The doctors look over the patient and agree they have never seen anything like it.  They leave the room and when they return, most of the body has liquefied into green goo but they believe the rest of patient must be somewhere.  And so the search begins and they start looking for this mysterious gooey person.  Meanwhile, the nurses start acting strange, are bleeding green goo and trying to kill one another!  Can the doctors find the cause of this outbreak of goo and treat it or turn into some untasty creme de menthe!  Masayuki Ochai does a good job setting the tone of this film and has it placed in a dark creepy setting.  Like most Japanese horrors, there is a lot going on and can be confusing but the story holds together well enough.  There are some really creepy scenes and some pretty gross kills.  If you like Japanese horror than you should dig this.  Also, there are no creepy kids in the movie.

4. Cabin Fever (2002) - A group of college friends head out to a remote cabin in the woods for spring break! There's Jeff and his girlfriend Marcy, Paul and his lady friend, Karen, who he's been trying to woo since 8th grade, and then there's Burt.  Burt doesn't care that he's alone cuz he just wants to party!  They stop at convenience store to pick up supplies, meet some unusual hillbilly type people, including a child that bites people including Burt and then Burt gets busted from stealing a chocolate bar.  Burt pays for the candy bar and they head out to the camp.  When the get there, Jeff & Marcy head to the bedroom, Paul & Karen head to the lake and Burt...goes and shooting for squirrels.  That's not even a metaphor, he does actually goes hunting for squirrels with a BB gun and accidentally shoots a guy in the head.  Burt goes to check on the guy but when he sees how sick the dude looks, he runs away.  That night, they're telling ghost stories, roasting marshmallows and some hipster dufus, name Grim swings buy with some weed and joins them.  It starts to rain and they head back to the house, they invite Grimm and his weed back to the house but he says he's got to grab something from his tent but he'll be back in a bit.  Once inside the house, they hear a knock at the door and thinking it's Griff, they open the door, but it's the dude that Burt shot and he looks awfully sick.  The gang refuses to let the guy into their cabin because they don't want to get sick, so the guy freaks out and tries to steal their car.  They run out with bats, knives and the BB gun and try to get the guy out of the truck but end up damaging their truck and setting the guy on fire. Ooops!  The dude runs into the woods on fire, the gang thinking the rain will extinguish the man on fire, go back into the house.  The next morning, we, the audience, see the dead dude lying in the water but unfortunately, it's the reservoir water.  So now the drinking water is contaminated.  The gang wakes up and Karen has a glass of water, Burt and Jeff go searching for help for the truck and the virus begins to work it's magic!  I was leary about this one cuz I had heard mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed it.  Eli Roth takes some pretty standard and unlikeable characters and makes you want them to survive.  The dialouge is interesting, using hipster speak from ten years ago that makes you want to cringe, when you remember people talking like that.  The kid from Boy Meets World, Rider Strong does a surprisingly good job as the main character and is really engaging.  It's gruesome, it's funny and turns into cool wild ride.  The ending is awesome and Eli Roth ties some nice elements of the script together that will make you smile when it's over.

3. Pontypool (2008) - In the small Ontario town of Pontypool, radio shock jock, Grant Mazzy is driving through a blizzard to get to his early morning shift at the radio station, when a women approaches his car at a stop light.  When he rolls down the window and she disappears into snow.  He thinks it's strange but heads to work.  When he gets to work, his producer Syndey Briar and technical assistant, Laurel Ann Drummond start prepping fo the show.  Once on the air, everything seems fine until there is a report of a riot at Dr. Mendez's house.  This is reported by Ken Loney,  a reporter who pretends that his car is a helicopter and drives around town and gives reports about things going on.  Love small towns.  The terror in his voice strikes fear in Mazzy and the team, has he describes these horrific events unfolding before this eyes.  The phone call abruptly ends with Ken trying to escape.  Laurel Ann and Sydney search for stories on the wire to verify what is transpiring but to no avail.  Mazzy begins to thinks that people may be playing a tricks on him but when an announcement in French interrupts their broadcast and warns everyone not to speak English because it has become a virus carrying language and to stay indoors, he realizes it is all to real but they still don't understand what that means or why it's happening.  Ken Loney calls back and is terrified, hiding in a grain silo and tries to depict the horrors he has encountered and how the horde seems to be chanting the same bizarre words and are attacking people.  The phone goes dead again while he tries to escape to safer ground.  Mazzy and his team go to lock them themselves in the station and notice a mass of people heading towards them.  They lock up the building quickly but Laurel Ann seems to be fixated on certain words and is acting abnormal.  They hear a window open and in crawls a stranger.  He introduces himself as Dr. Mendez.  He notices Laurel Ann's symptoms and says he's seen this before with other victims.  He says that she is too far gone and suggests locking themselves up in the sound booth.  Once, Mazzy, Sydney & Dr. Mendez lock themselves in, Laurel Ann goes berserk and tries to smash her way into the sound booth.  Dr. Mendez explains that certain words are the virus carriers and can infect people if they stumble on specific words.  Can they find a cure for the English language, you'll have to watch and see.  This Canadian film is one of Bruce Macdonald's better films.  It's a really interesting twist on the virus/zombie genre and an idea that doesn't get so esoteric that it's unbelievable.  It's not a blood bath, but there is some gory scenes and the real terror comes from the not knowing what is going on.  Like old school horror movies, MacDonald employs the less you see, the more the audiences imagination can create a vivid imagery of the violence going on.  The cast is minimal, which allows Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle and the other cast members to give an amazing performance.  Definitely worth checking out.

2. (REC) (2007) - A young television reporter, Angela and her camera man, Pablo are on assignment for the show, "While You're Asleep", and they're learning about the Barcelona's firefighters.  They interview the men & women of the fire station, talk to them about equipment, and are even playing basketball with them, when the fire bell is sounded.  Excited Angela & Pablo are assigned by the fire chief to follow, Manu and Alex and they jump into the truck and head to the emergency.  When they arrive, they find the police have arrived as well and learn that an old woman is trapped in her apartment.  The team go up to the apartment and find the old woman to be extremely aggressive and she bites one of the police officer.  They also find a dead body of a girl and they all run downstairs leaving Alex the fireman to stay with the old lady to keep an eye on her.  When they get to the entrance, they find that the residents are scared and that the military, without any explanation, won't let anyone out of the building.  While the residents are panicking at the entrance downstairs, Alex the fireman's body is thrown down the stairs.  The police officer and Manu, along with Angela & Pablo go back up stairs and the police officer ends up shooting the old lady.  You don't through fireman, bad old lady.  Trapped in the building, Angela & Pablo start interviewing the residents.  They speak to a little girl named Jennifer, who thinks she has tonsillitis and misses her dog Max, who ran away a few days ago.  The health inspector finally arrives wearing a hazmat suit and begins to take blood samples from everybody.  The inspector, the police man, Manu and some nerdy intern guy go and take a look at the victims of the old woman, with Pablo & Angela sneaking off to spy on them.  The inspector hand cuffs the injured fireman, kinky, and tries to handcuff the policeman but is attacked!  They escape but nerdy intern guy was bitten and they try to keep those monsters at bay in a room.  The health inspector explains that it is a virus that is spread through bites and it originated from a dog named Max that lived at this location.  Everyone turns to Jennifer and her mom, then Jennifer attacks her mom!  Everybody freaks out and panics as they try to catch the little girl but the zombies are breaking loose for the room!  All hell is breaking loose!  Who will survive and get this footage to the television station? From Spain, this POV horror flick is really fun to watch.  It's interesting because it's kind of a ground zero zombie flick.  The infection hasn't taken over and it's how the government, would probably handle the situation by keeping it contained at any cost.  The acting is minimal, but it doesn't take away from the story.  Maybe acting isn't the correct term, reacting might be better.  The characters do a wonderful job reacting to the horrors that surround them.  Good scary scenes, lots of blood and very infectious story.

1. 28 Days Later (2002) - Animal liberators bust into a lab and are about to free the test chimpanzees, when a doctor runs in with a warning! He tells them that chimpanzees are infected with a rage virus and can't be freed or they will cause some serious shit.  The liberators don't care and release one of the chimpanzees and yep, it bites her right in her fucking face.  Take that hippie! 28 days later, Jim wakes up in the hospital after a bike courier accident and walks into a different world.  There are no people on the street and he wonders what the hell is going on.  He hears some noises and wanders into a church and is attack by a mad priest!  He is chased out into the streets by rage infected people and saved by his new best mates Selena and Mark, who throw Molotov cocktails at them and end up blowing up a gas station.  They reach their honeycomb hideout in the London Underground and explain to Jim, that while he was unconscious a virus spread like wildfire throughout the populace and wiped out the society as he once knew it.  I hate when that happens.  Jim is pretty bummed but would still like to see if his family is still alive because there's a one in million chance.  So the next day they gear up and go to Jim's house.  Unfortunately, Jim's parent committed suicide, so the gang decide to bunk there for the night and head out the next day.  Jim lights a candle to get a snack or something and 2 infected people see the light and attack them.  Selena ends up dispatching of the infected ones but Mark was bitten, which means he needs to die to.  Hope that snack was worth it Jim. Selena kills Mark and now Jim has only one new friend.  They take off into the night, knowing the house is compromised and as their driving, Jim sees the twinkling Christmas lights on an apartment balcony. Shiny!  He thinks they're may be people in the apartment and suggests to Selena to go check it out.  After tearing down the barricade other people put up and letting a couple more infected people into a relatively safe zone, they find Frank and his daughter Hannah.  Luckily, Frank kills the 2 infected people and they have some drinks together.  The next morning, they hear on the radio that there is a survivor encampment just north of Manchester.  They decide that they should go and check it out.  Can they get to the encampment, is this the answer to save humanity or will it be a trap for Jim and heroes?  Danny Boyle does a amazing job with this film.  Shooting minutes at a time in the early mornings in London as not to interrupt the flow of british commuters.  Brilliant casting with Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Brendan Gleason bringing their forlorn characters to life.  Lots of scares and come on hurry up moments, some excellent blood shed and some really good fun.  Must see for everybody!

So, cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands and if someone is staggering towards you with a glazed look in their eyes, keep them at a distant because they may try and bite you!  Unless it's your date or significant other because it might not be a bad thing!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

5 Movies That Will Have You Howling at the Moon

Werewolves are making a comeback!  Recently, with the successful characters on TruBlood and Twilight, the werewolf seems to be gaining some ground back in the horror world.  Unlike these new characters, who enjoy their shape shifting ability, werewolves of the past felt as though they were cursed and they were unable to control their transformations.  Most folklore and filmlore, believe that the victim of a bite of a werewolf would change them on a full moon into a snarly uncontrollable animal, hell bent on feeding on human flesh!  The only way to stop these creatures of the damned was with silver, and preferably a silver bullet.  Nowadays, we have a kinder gentler werewolf, that is in really good shape, can help you with your construction job and have found other werewolves to live with in pacts.  I think I may prefer the lone wolf.

Here are 5 Movies That Will Have You Howling at the Moon:

Ginger Snaps (2000) - Ginger and Bridgitte Fitzgerald aren't your typical teen sisters.  The enjoy the macabre, like to create death scenes and then take pictures of them.  Although, this seems pretty cool, their peers at school find it disturbing and think their weird.  Their neighbourhood has been plagued with dog deaths, apparently people's pets have been murder by a wild animal.  One night, the Fitzgerald sisters are coming home through the park and Ginger is attack by the beast!  Brigitte fights the beast off of her sister and is chased across the street dragging Ginger.  They makes it across and the monster gets hit by a van, driven by the local drug dealer, Sam.  Scared and confused, the girls run for home and Sam can't believe what he hit.  When the girls arrive home, Ginger finds that her wounds have already begun healing and Brigette finds a picture that she accidentally took of the beast.  The next morning, everything is hunky dory except Ginger is being really crabby but it might be because she is having her first period or it's because she is in pain because she got attack by a monster last night.  Doesn't matter, they need to get to school where Sam talks to Bridgette about the thing that hit his truck the other night.  They both think it was a werewolf, and Brigette lets Sam thinks it was her that was bitten.  As time goes by, Ginger transforms into a hottie a school, a bitch to her sister and starts growing a tail.  Can Bridgitte and Sam find a way to stop Ginger from turning into a werewolf and more important does Ginger want to change back?  Great Canadian horror movie!  John Fawcett & Karen Walton put together a genuinely scary movie with some wonderful dark humour.  The special effect on the werewolf are fantastic and there are some great kill scenes in the film.  Spawned 2 sequels, but I love the original, so check it out if you get a chance!

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) - Tony Rivers has got some anger issues.  He has a bad temper and seems to fight a lot in school.  After another fight at the school, Detective Donovon suggests that he sees a psychiatrist to help him with with his anger problem.  Tony says, "no way man, I ain't seeing no headshrinker" and heads off home.  We learn that Tony recently lost his mom and he and his dad are still having trouble with that. However, his dad thinks Tony just doesn't fit in and doesn't like rules other people make.  Thanks dad. That night, Tony and "the gang" get together in an abandon house for a party.  They have a food, non alcoholic drinks, dancing and they play practical jokes on each other.  Everything is good until somebody plays a prank on Tony and he  loses his temper!  He beats up his friend while his other friends watch in horror.  That night Tony decides to see a psychiatrist.  Dr. Brandon uses hypnotherapy on Tony but while Tony is under Dr. Brandon injects him with scopolamine.  It's a drug that will revert Tony to his most primal instincts that Dr. Brandon has been tinkering with in his spare time.  After some time, Tony is doing better but after a party and during a full moon, a friend of Tony's is attacked in the woods by an animal.  The police, as usual are baffled but Pepe, the Romanian janitor at the police station suggests it could be a werewolf!  Oh Pepe, you're crazy!  That day, Tony is asked into the Principal's office and after some glowing remarks from the principal, Tony wanders into the gym, where Theresa is working on her gymnastic routine.  I don't know if it was the routine or the unbelievably loud school bell, but Tony goes feral, changes into a werewolf and kills Theresa.  He escapes but everyone knows his secret and an all points bulletin has been put out on him.  What can Tony do to save his mangy hide?  This was the first film to have a teenager change into a monster and producer Samual Z. Arkoff got a lot of flack for being exploitative.  Michael Landon (Highway to Heaven, Little House on the Prairie) is excellent as Tony, the 1950's rebel with his collared shirt and wanting to get into college.  The 50's were different.  The story is fun and has that b-movie charm that that time era brings.  Innocence of youth and small town community.  It's pretty tame by today's standards but it's still fun to watch and the effects on the werewolf are fairly decent.

The Werewolf of Washington (1973) -Dean Stockwell plays Jack Whittier, a newspaper reporter who happens to be having a romantic tryst with the President of the United States of America's daughter, Marion.  So they send him to Hungary, where it just so happens that he's been there before and has a wife, Giselle waiting for him.  He probably told her he was out getting milk, but apparently she can't get a visa to move out of the country.  Anyway, Jack gets bitten by a werewolf while having car trouble and the monster attacks Giselle.  He ends up killing the wolf with a silver cane with a wolf's head on it, how original.  Jack heads back to America and now sees people die, when his hand turns into a red pentagram.  During the full moons, he kills the people he saw on his hand but lucky it's during the early seventies, so the police believe it's evil hippies causing all the violence.  Damn hippies! Anyway, Jack needs to find a way to stop himself from turning into a werewolf, so he can be with Marion and be the best reporter ever.  This is suppose to be a horror/comedy with biting political commentary about the Nixon administration.  I may not be old enough to get it or it's just not funny, so we'll skip that element of the movie.  This film really plods on and on and the violence is far and few.  I found it free on youtube, so if your brave, have 30 minutes to spare and desperate, try it.

The Wolfman - After the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns to his home in Wales.  He falls in love with Gwen Conliffe, who works at an antiques shop and to show his love for her, he buys a cane with a silver wolfs head.  She tells him about the werewolf mythology, they laugh, as if that could ever happen.  It's not foreshadowing, it's fiveshadowing. That night, he tries to rescue a local village girl and Gwen's friend, Jenny Williams from being attack by an animal.  Larry is bitten by the animal  but he is able to kill it with the silver cane. ;)  He stops by the gypsy camp and finds out from Maleva, the old gypsy lady,  that the animal was actually her son and he was a werewolf.  She tells him that when the moon is full, he too will become a werewolf.  During the next full moon, Larry transforms and attacks people from village. When he wakes up, he has only brief memories of the night before.  The villagers gather up a posse and go hunting for the creature.  Larry needs to find a cure and fast!  Great cast, Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains and Bela Luigosi as the gypsy wolfman.  Great special effects for the time and director George Waggner tells a fantastic story.  This was actually the second wolf man movie done by Universal, the first being the unsuccessful, at the time, Werewolf of London.  Classic film and a must see for anyone who enjoys old school horror.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) - David and Jack are American college students back packing through England.  One evening, during a full moon they stop into a charming pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb" to warm up and have something to eat.  When they walk in, the pub becomes very quiet and soon find that the patrons don't like strangers.  Jack notices a bloody pentagram on the wall and asks them about it.  He is told to "Beware the moon, lads" and that is the perfect cue for them to leave.As the leave, they are told to stay on the road and away from the moors.  They leave, it starts to rain and unknowing to them drift off the road and into the moors, that's when they hear the howl of an animal.  The patrons at the pub hear it as well and the bar maid begs the people in the pub to go get the boys, but they refuse.  Meanwhile, Jack and David are frightened and head back towards the pub, but realize they're lost.  They can hear the animal circling them with its' howls and Jack trips and falls down.  David laughs and goes to help him up but that's when the monster attacks Jack and starts devouring him.  David runs away at first but gets his shit together and comes back to help Jack, but is too late.  The monster lunges and begins tearing at David, when the some people from the pub shoot the beast dead.  David scared and confused glances to see the monster, it looks like a man and David passes out.  He wakes up in a London Hospital with a pretty nurse attending him and he is told that he has been out of it for the last three weeks.  He is told that Jack is dead and he needs to stay in the hospital for a few more days for tests than he can be released.  During the next couple days, he has some horrible nightmares about murdering his family and running through the forest but he does get closer with his pretty nurse lady friend, Alex Price.  He, also receives an interesting visit from his dead friend Jack, who tells David to kill himself because he is a werewolf and that Jack cannot leave the limbo state of the dead until the bloodline of the werewolf has been destroyed.  David thinks it was just another crazy dream and leaves with Alex to stay at her flat... and make some sweet sweet love.  The next day, Alex has to go to work and leaves David in the flat alone.  He's good until the full moon rises that evening and he changes into a werewolf!  Surprised, I hope not, it's in the title.  Anywhoo, David goes on a rampage killing six people and wakes up naked at the zoo, I know that feeling!  He rushes home and learns about the murders, totally freaks out and runs away from Alex and anyone else trying to help him.  Can David find a way to fight the curse with only a few hours til night fall?  One of my favourite films from director John Landis.  It's a good story, it's bloody and it has some humour in it as well.  The death toll is huge and most of it isn't even the monster killing people but just seeing it in Piccadilly Circus that causes a huge car pile up, that has a ton of wonderful gruesome deaths.  Rick Baker won an Academy Award for the make up effects in the werewolf transformation, which is still amazing to watch today.  Fantastic Film and a most see!

After watching these films, I miss the empathic character that is the wolf man.  The person, who cannot control his fate, must stay hidden in the shadows and chain himself to the wall in light of the full moon. However, things do change and I'm sure the "new" werewolves, who have trained themselves to stay in control of their powers will have to lose control and go wild at some point.  All animals do, just ask Siegfried and Roy.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

5 Marvelous Monster Team Up Movies

 I love two for one deals, the more I can stretch a budget the better but sometimes the idea is better than the outcome.  I can just imagine the people at the studios, well this character brings in a lot of money and this one does as well, what if we put them together, we'll get twice the money!  It's a great thought but the world doesn't work that way and most times it can ALIENate your audience if you use those PREDATORy tactics.  It's hard to keep a balance and give enough airtime from both and like wrestling nowadays, you can't really have anyone lose.  So, you're stuck with run ins, disqualifications and never really get a clean pin on either character.  It can be done but the writers have to understand the characters and not just slap things together, like jam and eggs.

Here are 5 Marvelous Monster Team Up Movies:

5. Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943) - Grave robbers break into the Talbot Museleom to steal from Lawrence Talbot corpse.  To their surprise, they are met with more than they expected and the next morning Larry Talbot is found on the sidewalk of another village and brought to the hospital.  He tells the doctors and police who he is and asks to be restrained, but Dr. Mannering does not believe it necessary.  Unfortunately, the next morning someone has been killed in the village by a wild animal and the windows of the Talbot room are wide open and Larry is bagged on the bed. Larry begs them to help him, but they think he's crazy, so Larry busts out and finds the old gypsy lady from the first movie, Maleva!  She recommends talking to Dr. Frankenstein, so they hit the road and head for his castle.  When they arrive, they find out Dr. Frankenstein is dead, his monster is dead and nobody wants to talk about it.  That night, there's a full moon, so Talbot goes all Wolfal and ends up being chased down to the ruins of the castle.  There he falls ass backwards into a cavern that has Frankenstein's monster housed in ice.  The wolfman busts the monster loose and they go searching for Dr. Frankenstein's notes to no avail.  The next day, Talbot meets with Baroness Frankenstein and asks for her help to find the notes that will cure him from his lycanthropy.  She invites him to the town festival and after wrecking a well staged musical number the town probably spent months putting together, Talbot gets busted by Dr. Mannering.  Luckily, the monster shows up and starts messing up the party, you can't take that guy anywhere.  Talbot grabs a wagon, throws the monster on and high tails it out of there with the villagers chasing them with pitch forks and fire!  After seeing the monster, the baroness shows Talbot where the papers are and Dr. Mannering decides to help them anyway he can or will he?  Good movie, Lon Chaney Jr., reprises the role as the Wolfman and Bela Lugosi finally gets a crack at being the monster.  I am still impressed when I watch the wolfman transformation scenes, I think that and the American Werewolf in London are my favourite werewolf changing scenes.  This is the first in the series of ensemble movie monsters that Universal did and I think they did a great job.  Although, low on body count and blood isn't everywhere, the film offers a classic horror ambiance and a chilling tale of a man trying to escape his cursed fate.  Good film, interesting to watch and this is the quietest Bela has ever been in a film. 

4. Freddy vs. Jason (2003) - In this potential epic, Freddy Krueger is stuck in Hell and bummed because all the kids on Elm Street have forgotten about him and no longer fear him, which happens to be the source of his power. So he devises a plan to trick Jason Voorhees, bring him to Elm Street, so Jason can kill the teenagers there and they will think it's Freddy.  When they think it's Freddy, they'll start fearing him again and he can get his power back. Not contrived at all. So, Freddy puts on a dress and pretends to be Jason's mom and ships his bitch ass to Elm Street.  Where to start on Elm Street, how bout Nancy's house, they're always some dumb ass teens there and surprise, there is? Lori Campbell lives there and coincidentally, her mother as recently passed away, her boyfriend has mysteriously vanished and she's having friends over for drinks while her parents are gone.  When a young pair go upstairs and get it on, Jason sneaks upstairs, kills the young guy and folds him up in the bed.  His girlfriend comes out of the shower and freaks when she finds him.  The police come in and try not to mention Freddy's name but the teens hear it and this opens up a can of worms.  Freddy starts to get his power back but Jason is going hog wild and like a dead ax wielding maniac in a candy store killing people.  So, Freddy's pissed and now is trying to kill Jason, while Lori Campbell and her friends are trying to stop Freddie.  Also Lori's boyfriend busts out of a sanitarium with his friend to help because they were terrorized by Freddie only a year ago? Aaaah! Confused? Bottom Line is the kids are using Jason to stop Freddy and trying not to get killed in the process! It could have been really good, the premise that you have these two heavyweight villains colliding would have been so good, but it's not. What's missing, in my opinion is the fun.  Freddy with his smart one liners and his ironic ways of killing using the fears of his victims is gone and replaced with swears and scenes in the boiler room.  Jason Vorrhees, the unstoppable killing machine is a now a weak mama's boy who is afraid of water.  The teens are morons and one can't wait for them to be chopped apart and my suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so far that these idiots after breaking into a mental institution to fight Freddy Kreuger would stop for a moment to smoke a joint. Really? I love these franchises and it's really disappointing to watch such good characters be treated so poorly.  Try and avoid.
3.  Dracula vs Frankenstein (aka Los Monstruos Del Terror or Assignment Terror) (1970) - Aliens from the dying planet Ummo have taken over the bodies of earthlings to try and take over the Earth.  Their plan is get hot girls and monsters, such as the Wolfman, the Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein's monster to help them control the human population.  The head alien, Dr. Warnoff and his assistant Maleva Kerstain end up killing a carny for the bones of Dracula and then kidnapping the carny's hot girlfriend.  Once the stake is taken out of the heart of Dracula, he seems to be in good shape and they brain scramble the hot girl to keep her in their power.  This brings in Inspector Tobermann, who is investigating the carny murder, which leads him to a book store with a book of legendary monsters, torn pages in a book and a dead Liberian! You alien monsters, those books are for everybody! The aliens end up kidnapping the wolfman and resurrecting him but he their chagrin, he is too much to handle and escapes!  While investigating the new murders of the Wolfman, Inspector Toberman runs into a girl he knew in high school, who's father is a judge and knew the wolfman, what a small world.  Tooberman soon realizes that he must stop these aliens from taking over and destroy the monsters they brought back to save the world!  This movie is all over the place and the plot is insane!  It was written by the Paul Naschy, who plays the werewolf in movie and is the third appearance of the werewolf character in his series.  Apparently the filming was interrupted because of the finances and a number of key scenes weren't shot.  A lot of scenes don't make sense, the acting is really stiff and the worst part is Dracula and Frankenstein don't even fight!  HOW can you call it Dracula vs Frankenstein, if they don't even fight or are on the screen together at the same time.  Disappointing and not even that amusing to watch.  They should have went with the hot girls plan.
2. Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys (2004) - The Toulon puppets now reside with Toulon's great nephew, Robert and his teenage daughter, Alex.  Robert is working on deciphering Toulon's diary and bringing the puppets back to life.  With only a day before Christmas, Robert and Alex succeed and bring Blade, 6 Shooter, Jester and Pinhead back to life.  Robert introduces himself and Alex to the puppets and they seem content with their new masters. However, Robert doesn't realize that the evil Erica Sharpe, owner of Sharpe Toys, has been spying on him and wants the puppets for herself.  She sends a team of thugs to retrieve the puppets from the Toulons but are defeated by the puppets and Robert.  Did I mention that Erica Sharpe also controls the Demonic Toys, Jack Attack, Grizzly Teddy, Baby Oopsie Daisy and has made a pact with the demon, Bael to create evil toys that will kill thousands upon thousands of innocent lives on Christmas Day, making him the coolest demon ever and her the ruler of the world. AND she wants the Toulon puppets... bitch.  Anyway, Toulon and Alex find the spy camera, so Robert goes to the office of Erica Sharpe to investigate something(?) and uncovers the evil plot.  Now Robert, Alex and tacked on love interest cop must stop the Demonic Toys with their puppets!  This isn't a Full Moon production, but a Syfy Universal thing.  Corey Feldman stars (for a better use of the word) as Robert Toulon and seems more creepy with his teenage daughter and awkward with his love interest.  The story is similar to a Full Moon picture but dumber and they don't use the puppets or the toys as much as they should.  If you've seen any of the other Syfy titles then you know what to expect but I would watch Dollman vs the Demonic Toys instead.
1. Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009) - Monami is a transfer student at Tokyo High School.  She's shy, likes the most popular boy in the class and happens to be a vampire.  She gives the boy she likes, Mizushima a chocolate on Valentine's Day and he eats it not knowing that the filling for the chocolate was her blood.  um ew.  Unfortunately, Mizushima is reluctantly dating Keiko, the school bitch and daughter of the vice principal, Mr. Furano, who moonlights as a scientist in the school's basement, conducting experiments on students he and the hot school nurse, Midori have murdered. Everyone needs a hobby, but he wants to complete the work of a distant relative Dr. Frankenstein.  Anyway, Mizushima ends up in the school nurses office from eating to many bloody chocolates and meets up with Monami.  They are about to kiss and share more blood, when Keiko busts in and chases them away and a drop of Monami blood lands on the floor.  Midori tries to clean it up but evades her every move.  She finally catches it and brings it to Mr. Furano, who realizes this is just the thing to complete his life's work.  Meanwhile on the roof, Monami explains to Mizushima that she is a vampire, how she kills people and would like for him to live with her. Mizushima reluctantly gives in and becomes a vampire.  Just as he turns, who pops up but Keiko! Monami lets her know the skinny on the vampire thang and Keiko rushes her! Monami steps aside and Keiko plummets to her death.  Mr. Furano is devasted... no, um, overjoyed that his daughter is dead and he can piece her back together.  While rebuilding his daughter, he vows revenge on Vampire Girl!  This movie was so much fun to watch!  The first 5 minutes had me totally hooked!  Tons of blood flying all over the place, over the top characters that make no sense and the film does not takes itself to seriously.  It's gory and has some good special effects and the side stories are as bizarre as the main story.  Cheap and Fun, I'm sure you'll dig it! Must See!

Like the trend of mashing up songs, monster mashing isn't the best all the time.  Sure the rhythm's may seem to work together and they are in the same genre but you just don't get the same feeling of closure or enjoyment that you get on some of these characters regular solo outings.  Sometimes you end up with a Chickenfoot instead of the Fantomas.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

5 Horror Film Anthologies

The horror anthology has been around forever.  It usually consists of 3 or more stories and have a central story that the stories are loosely based around but not always.  This allows the director or directors to showcase different areas of storytelling and sometimes gives them a wider birth but in a shorter time frame.

Here are 5 Horror Film Anthologies:

5. Dead of Night (1945) - Walter Craig arrives at a farmhouse in the country to talk to the owner about renovations, when he discover a group of people inside the house, who he hasn't met before but have all been in his dreams.  The group finds it fascinating except for the psychiatrist who tries to explain these feelings and tries to come up with a rational explanation.  Each person then tells a tale of their own run in with the super natural, which the psychiatrist tries to discount until he gives up and tells one of his own. Throughout the stories Walter keeps trying to remember how his dream ends and warns the group that it doesn't end well.  This is really great package of  horror tales.  They are pretty tame compared to today's standard but also have a certain charm to them.  There are 4 directors working on this anthology and the most notable actor here is Michale Redgrave, who stars in the Ventriloquist story.  The ending is brilliant and is the real reason why I would recommend the film.

4. Tales of Terror (1962) -  Roger Corman puts together a great package of Poe tales with Vincent Price appearing in all three stories.  In "Morella", Price plays an estranged father whose daughter comes home after 26 years to tell him that she is dying.  He blames her for his wife death and he may not be the only one. In the 2nd segment,  "The Black Cat", Peter Lorre  takes the lead as, Montessor, a drunkard, who steal from his wife, spends his nights out and hates his wife's black cat.  After an evening of wine tasting, Montessor is brought home by Vincent Price's character, Luchresi and falls in love with Montessor's wife. After a bit of time Montessor finds out and imprisons Luchresi and his wife behind a wall in the basement but can he keep his secret hidden forever? In the final segment, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", Vincent Price plays a dying man named, Valdemar who has allowed a hypnotist, Carmichael, played by Basil Rathbone to perform an odd experiment on him.  Carmichael wants to hypnotize Valdemar before he dies and keep his consciousness alive while his body dies.  Although, his wife and doctor think this is a bad idea and get the heebie jeebies from Carmichael, they want whatever will make Valdemar happy.  The day Valdemar dies, the experiment works but Carmichael's, true nature is revealed and refuses to let Valdemars' spirit go unless he can marry Mrs. Valdemar! How can the doctor save her? These segments are great, even though Corman deviates in the "The Black Cat" and adds a bit of comedy. The fact is Peter Lorre is funny and adds a bit of dark humour to work that has been done before makes it great.  Vincent Price is excellent in all three pieces and Basil Rathbone is terrific as he takes off his Sherlock Holmes cap and becomes the villainous Carmichael.  Classic gothic Corman style and very enjoyable as most of his Poe translation are.
3. Black Sabbath (1963) -Mario Bava directs 3 chilling segments with Boris Karloff narrating introductory scenes to tie the movie together.  The 1st segment "A Drop of Water", a nurse is called to a house to prepare a body for burial.  While there she procures the dead woman's ring from her finger and puts it in her pocket.  She tips over a glass of water and is harassed by a fly.  She shoos the fly and goes home, unfortunately the ring isn't the only thing that has come home with her.  In the 2nd segment, "The Telephone", A young lady is harassed over the phone by a stalker that she believes to be her dead lover.  In the third segment, "The Wurdalak", Vladmir Drufe finds a body on the road with a knife stuck in it's chest.  He takes the knife as a souvenir and continues on his travels.  He stops at a house for shelter and learns that the knife belonged to their father, who has not been seen for the last five days.  The family are afraid that their father has become a Wurdalak or Vampire and will return home to feast on the family.  Shortly after, who shows up at the door, the father and it's Boris Karloff!  He tells the family that he's not a vampire but he did kill one and pulls a head out of his bag and asks them to put up on a spike. Aww dad you shouldn't have.  As the night goes on the father is acting strange and seems to have a hunger for more than just borsch.  It's a great collection of stories and I didn't realize Tolstoy wrote "The Wurdalak".  This is probably one of my favorite Bava films and two of the segments share the gothic feel of Black Sunday.  Karloff like Price, is a character unto himself and really shines as not just the host but as the vampire in the final segment.  Must see for horror fans and metal heads.
2. Asylum (1972) - Dr. Martin arrives at the mental asylum for an interview with Dr. B. Starr but finds out that Dr. B. Starr has recently lost his mind and is being held upstairs as a patient by his replacement Dr. Rutherford.  Dr. Rutherford offers Dr. Martin a challenge to find out which patient of the four upstairs is Dr. B. Starr and if he guesses right, he can have the job at the institution.  Dr. Martin agrees and heads up stairs where he meets with the attendant Max Reynolds, who brings him to each patient. First patient is Bonnie, who tells Dr. Martin her story of how her lover killed his wife, chopped her up and stuffed her in the freezer.  The wife then returned using voodoo and the outcome as left her in the asylum. The next segment is Bruno, who is a tailor by trade and he explains how he made a very mysterious suit for a very dangerous customer. After that Dr. Martin speaks with a young woman named Barbara, who admits to spending time in other institutions before and blames a woman named Lucy for her being returned to here.  She tells her story of how, she was home and Lucy came back into her life and only to disrupt it.  The last patient is Byron, who believes he can bring dolls to life using his life force and controlling them for his evil ways.  Can Dr. Martin size up the shoebox asylum and find out who really is Dr. B. Starr?  Directed by Roy Ward Baker, known for Quartermass and the Pit, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and being the assistant director on The Lady Vanishes brings us this excellent anthology written by the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch.  Great cast, including Peter Cushing, Britt Eckland, Herbert Lom and Patrick Maggee. The stories are creepy, fun to watch and very inventive. Although, it may seem like a no brainer, the twist at the end is really quite good.  Excellent to watch, totally recommend it!
1. Creepshow (1982) - Stephen King and George Romero team up and create a fantastic series of segments inspired by the E.C comic books of the 1950's.  The movie begins with a boy, Billy (played by Stephen King's son, Joe) being punished for reading a horror comic. The comic is thrown in the trash and then each segment is tied together using animation of the book being blown around in the wind.  The first segment is "Father's Day", in which a family of 4 is waiting for their crazy Aunt Bedelia for their annual Father's Day supper. The mother explains to her daughter's husband (played by Ed Harris) that her father, Nathan Grantham was a terrible, abusive man and Aunt Bedelia was forced to take care of after his crippling accident.  After Aunt Bedelia's suitor was killed in a hunting accident and being verbally abused while making a Father's Day cake, she had enough and killed him.  The grandmother explains that is why they gather for Father's day there every year. We then see,  Aunt Bedelia stopping at the cemetery, she has a few belts of whiskey and tells the grave what a bastard he was.  She spills her drink and to her surprise Nathan pops up looking for his cake! Can she make it in time to warn the family or will Nathan get his revenge? In 2nd segemnt, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" Stephen King plays a rube named Jordy Verill, who witnesses a meteor crash on his lawn.  He thinks about all the money he can get but when he reaches out to grab it, it's still to hot and the meteor singes his fingers.  He pours water on the meteor, it breaks in two and a disappointed Jordy pours the goo out of the meteor and returns home crushed.  As the night goes own, Jordy notices that weeds are growing everywhere, even on him and he needs to find a way to stop them!  In segment 3, "Something to Tide You Over" Richard Vicker's, played by Leslie Nielsen, confronts Harry Wentworth, played by Ted Danson about having an affair with his wife and brings him down to his ocean front property at gun point.  He then buries Harry up to his neck in the sand and tells him that his unfaithful wife is in the same predicament further down the beach.  Vicker's tells Harry that the tide will be coming in soon and he'll need to told his breathe to survive.  Vicker's drives away and watches the demise of his wife and her lover at home on his TV.  When he goes back, it looks like the tide has taken the bodies and Vickers heads home.  When he's home, he hears things, could it be his conscious or something else! In segment 4, "The Crate", Hal Holbrook plays Professor Henry Northup whose wife Billie, played by Adrienne Barbeau, is the most obnoxious women on the planet.  Henry dreams of killer her and wishes he could be freer like his friend Professor Stanley.  While at a party, Professor Stanley gets a call from Mike a custodian at the college and drives over to see what's up.  When he arrives, Mike tells him that he has discovered a mysterious crate under the stairs.  When they open the crate, a monster pops up and eats Mike! Professor Stanley takes off and looks for help and when he finds someone to help him, they get eaten too!  So he goes over to Henry's house and tells him what is happening.  Henry drugs Professor Stanley and devises a plan to get rid of Billie for good. In the 5th segment, "They're Creeping Up on You", E.G Marshall plays Upson Pratt, who is a Howard Hughes type recluse and a germophobe.  He sits alone running his empire, barking orders and trying to kill roaches.  After a large merger goes through, he learns that a competitor has killed himself.  To his delight the widow calls and he mocks her pain.  A storm blacks out his building and that is when his nightmare begins! One of my childhood favourites! Tom Savini is at the top of his game with his special effects.  The work on Father's Day still looks incredible and the monster in the crate is still pretty creepy.  Wonderful cast, lots of blood and weird tales.  A must see for anyone!

After watching these films, one can see that putting a collection of short horror films together, might be more advantages that putting together a feature.  These you can fit 3 taut tales of terror and get a little more bang for your buck. Now, if you don't mind I'm ordering some x-ray specs to go along with my Sea Monkey's

Sunday, 2 September 2012

5 Films in the School of Terror

Schools are wonderful places to set horror films.  Plenty of different people, lots of rooms and usually have a shop room with tons of potential weapons.  In high schools you can have your killer or killers fighting for identity or revenge for being persecuted or left of others reindeer games.  With such a tight knit community, rumours and heresy can create terrific red herring opportunities and can mask your otherwise obvious psychopath.  In college, it's the opposite, where your killers can be the guy/girl next to you but you've been so bogged down on work that you haven't had a chance to meet.  Large classrooms and huge institutions create anonymity for your antagonist and you can even create backgrounds that begin to boil in high school, have them over flow, when they meet your protagonist in college or university.

With that in mind here are 5 Films in the School of Terror:

5. The Dorm That Drips Blood (aka Pranks) (1982) - Joanne and her friends, Patty, Craig and Debbie are spending their Christmas break clearing out the dorms that are being demolished in a few weeks. Joanne's boyfriend Tim is going skiing but luckily there is a hunky replacement for Joanne in the way of Brian.  So they start working on the dorms when they realized that not all the students have left the dorm area.  That creepy kid, John Hemmit is still lurking about the campus and now things are disappearing! Dinners are being ruined and bodies are popping up! Can Joanne keep her team alive, finish clearing out the old dorms, deal with Tim and still have time to find the real meaning of Christmas?  The film is OK, some things seem to drag on but the gore scenes are pretty decent.  There's a part with a drill that's enjoyable and that's probably what got them on the Video Nasties list.  Acting wise, no one really went anywhere after film this except for Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs, The Sure Thing, Melrose Place) and one of directors, Stephen Carpenter is writing for Grimm.  The film can be enjoyable at times but it wouldn't be the first one on my list.  Oh shit, it is.

4. Night School (aka Terror Eyes) (1981) - Teacher's aide Ann Barron is just sending the last kid home for daycare on the darkest 6:00 pm, I've every seen.  Just before getting off the playground carousel, she is confronted by a person in a motorcycle helmet and black leather jacket.  This person mercilessly starts spinning Ann on the playground carousel at speeds unknown by man, somehow not allowing Ann to simply walk away.  Eventually after all the spinning Ann is decapitated.  The next day the police show up and find her head in a bucket of water, lead detective Judd Austin soon discovers that Ann was going to night school at Wendell College.  Judd heads over to the school and speaks with Ann's friend Kim, who says that Ann was depressed because she was dating a married man but didn't know who it was.  Judd visits the snooty, Professor Millet and meets his research assistant/Student Eleanor.   They tell him nothing.  Eleanor leaves and is followed by a creepy busboy named Gus.  She freaks out and runs home and surprise her boyfriend is Professor Millet! They have some weird blood sexy time in the tub and then we get back to the movie.  Ann's friend Kim gets axed and Judd thinks there is a connection to the school.  More heads pop up, so Judd and his partner Taj better to find out who's doing the chopping.  I really like the idea of this film and when it comes together at the end, it would be a nice twist but there was so much shit that I wasn't crazy about.  I did like the decapitation scenes, even though they weren't that gory and I like the scene in the restaurant, when you thought people were eating a soup with a head in it.  That was enjoyable but the cops were morons and I don't understand how people couldn't get away from this killer.  Maybe I missed something, this was another film on the Nasties list but this was pretty low key unless they felt bad for Rachel Ward. The killer is scary in their motorcycle gear but it seems like a lot of shit you have to wade through to get there.
3. Satan's School for Girls (1973) -When Elizabeth Sayers gets home, she discovers that her younger sister, Martha as locked herself in her home and has hung herself. Good to see you too!  The police believe that it's a suicide but Elizabeth has a feeling that there is something more to it. The police wish her luck with that and Elizabeth tracks down one of Martha's old classmates, Lucy Dembrow.  Lucy tries to be polite with Elizabeth but something slips in the conversation and Elizabeth thinks that the school is involved somehow.  Elizabeth decides it's time to go under cover and heads out to The Salem Academy of Women to pose as a student.  Under the name Elizabeth Morgan, she is greeted by Roberta, Debbie and Jody and become instant friends! Elizabeth learns that the dean is old and considered a "Dragonlady" from her new friends and gets the nickel tour around the campus.  She meets the dean, is given her class list and heads to her first class which is art with the resident hot male teacher, Dr. Joseph Clampett.  They judge the classes art, as they rightfully should, and Elizabeth discovers Debbie as painted a picture of her sister Martha screaming in a mysterious room.  When asked about it, Debbie said she knew Martha but couldn't remember the room that she was in and they head to the next class, where Professor Delacroix is torturing mice by putting them in a maze and not feeding them. Great class!  Delacroix ends up comparing Debbie with the mice and she ends up having a fainting spell.  A few hours later, she doesn't remember anything and is ready to party at Dr. Clampett's!  During the party, Jody bursts in and tells everyone that Lucy Dembrow as committed suicide! dun dun Dunnnnnnnn!  Now Elizabeth with her new besties must find out what the connection is with these suicides, that room and what the hell is going on at that school! Like any Spelling production, lots of pretty ladies and little on actual story.  What I like about this film is that it brings Satan back into the picture and they are bringing old school elements that are lacking in some of today's horror. Good cast Jo Van Fleet as the Head mistress, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Stoopelmoor (Cheryl Ladd) and Pamela Franklin (Flora from the Innocents).  It's dumb in a PG satan kind of story but it's still fun to watch and get caught up in the mystery.
2. Heathers (1988) - Veronica hates her friends and her life.  She is caught up with the most popular clique in school, the Heathers, which consist of 3 girls named Heather who are mean and shallow.  During lunch Veronica meets a Jason Dean (J.D), a new student, who just moved from Texas.  They instantly hit it off but unfortunately, she is being forced to go college party with the head Heather.  After almost being date raped and puking her guts out at the party, the furious Heather tells her that her social life is over.  She is going to tell everyone in school about the barfing situation and she will no longer be cool.  Veronica goes home and J.D shows up at her window and after little evening delight, decide to teach Heather a lesson in humility in the morning.  They go over to her house, joke about poisoning Heather instead of just grossing her out and Veronica grabs the wrong cup. They accidentally end up killing Heather.  Oops.... They panic and decide to make it look like a suicide, Veronica writes a dramatic note and they skedaddle out of there.  On Monday, the whole school is in shock and no one can believe that Heather wasn't the stuck up bitch everyone thought she was but a misunderstood beauty who was overcome by the pressures of school and society.  After the funeral, Heather number 2 begs Veronica to come on a double date with the school's popular jocks, Kurt and Ram.  Veronica caves in and spends an evening tipping cows, fending off drunk groping and eventually leaving with J.D after her date passes out in cowshit.  The next day is filled Kurt fills the school with sex rumours about him, Veronica and Kurt.  She and J.D plan a prank to get them back, however the prank goes horribly wrong and they end up killing them.  Now, her and J.D have committed three murders and she is starting to wonder if these were really accidents and is this the guy, J.D right for me? Love this movie when I was a teen and I think it still holds up.  Although deemed a comedy, I think this film fits nicely with the current blog.  We have a psychotic guy killing people and in the end wants to blow up the school. This film is a 80's version of Massacre at Central High with more laughs.  Brillaint cast with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder are at their peak and Shannon Doherty here right before she broke out on 90210.  Funny script, clean killings and tons of fun.  Must watch for any teen trying to survive high school.
1. Class of 1984 (1982) - It's Andrew Norris's first day of teaching school at an inner city school in the big city.  He notices one of his colleagues, Terry Corrigan loading a gun and asks Terry, if it was really necessary. Terry tells him that he'll see.  As they are ushered through the metal detectors in the front, Mr. Norris heads to his music class where he is first confronted with Peter Stegman and his gang.  He asks them to leave because they are being disruptive and Stegman threatens Norris.  Once they've left Norris focuses on the rest of the class and becomes friends with to of his new students Arthur and Deneen.  As the school year goes on, Mr. Norris notices Stegman and his crew run the school using violence and drugs and after a student dies from taking some Angel dust, Norris vows to stop Stegman at any costs to him and his family! However, Stegman and his gang aren't going to call it quits without a fight.  Fantastic cast, Michale J. Fox, Roddy McDowell, Al Waxman! After this film Mark L. Lester went on to direct Firestarter, Commando and other great 80's films.  What I love about the film is that it's Mr. Norris that keeps upping the ante. For a protagonist, he does a lot of antagonistic things to have this gang really start attacking him and his wife.  Lester does a nice job building the tension and it when it comes to the end of the film all bets are off on both sides.  Also, the film has a terrific soundtrack with Alice Cooper, Teenage Head and Fear.

Each of these films have different elements that make a great horror films and they used in the school context.  Whether it's alone in the school, a supernatural entity causing you pain or a group of bullies, these films show you that education can be scary and it's even more terrifying when you have a maniac with an axe chasing you!