Sunday, 27 January 2013

5 Torture Movies that will Leave You Screaming!

Torture films have been around for a long time, but they seemed to have really exploded during the 2000's.  Horror no longer had faceless, supernatural monster slicing and dicing people but they had regular people slipping into their basements with an unnatural taste for torment.  No longer were audiences allowed to watch people die with a quick slice of the throat or repeated stabbing, we needed to see a meticulous, well crafted, slow and painful demise for the killer's captives.  Audiences were strapped to their seats as killers, broke into houses on the screen and broke us down with images of people being mutilated in a variety of ways and bled us out with screams of agony.

Here are 5 Torture Movies that will Leave You Screaming:

5. The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) - This documentary style film is about a number of video tapes that the police found while searching for a killer called, the Water Street Butcher.  The FBI, police and a number of experts discuss the killer, his motives and his career as they show snipets from the tapes that they have discovered.  Starting with the earliest tapes, they follow his career up until they finally discover his place of residence.  Have they found the elusive killer and is Poughkeepsie finally safe?  This film is interesting and truly has some disturbing aspects to it but I would have liked to have seen more of the what was on the tapes.  I know the the axiom, less is more but in this case, I think more would have been better.  Also, I hated the effect they used on the killer's camera.  It was more distracting than anything else, reminding me that I was watching a movie and not a documentary.  The acting was fine, nothing that gripping and some moments were more believable than others.  I may have been expecting more, from the hype around this film.  It's an ok movie but a little more torturous to watch than the others.

 4. Hostel (2005) - Paxton and Jay are two college buddies backpacking across Europe with their new drifter friend Oli.  After partying too late and getting locked out of their hostel, they are rescued from the cold night and let into the building by another traveler, Alexei.  Alex, as he likes to be called, recommends they travel to a hostel outside of Bratislava because they have the most incredible girls there.  Paxton, Jay and Oli are game for anything, so the next morning they hope on a train to Bratislava and meet an unusual Dutch businessman.  He talks about his daughter and when he finds out where the trio is going, he tells them about how amazing it is.  Then he puts his hands on Jay's knee and smiles.  Jay freaks out and the Dutch businessman apologizes and leaves the train compartment.  The guys arrive at the hostel shortly after and it is exactly what Alex promised.  Beautiful girls from around the world!  The girl at the front desk apologizes that Jay and Paxton because they will be sharing their room with other people, but when they get upstairs, they are pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful their new roomies are.  Natalya and Svetlana invite the guys down for a sauna and they all hit it off. That night they hit the club and have a blast and Oli ends up with the girl from the front desk.  Jay steps out of the bar to clear his head and is approached by a gang of kids, they want a dollar but Jay refuses to give them anything.  Before things get ugly, he is rescued by the Dutch businessman.  Jay thanks him and apologizes for overreacting on the train and they go inside for a drink.  The Dutch businessman tells him not to worry and go back with his friends and party.  So Jay does and later it's back to the room for some love making with Natalya.  Jay and Paxton can't believe their luck.  The next morning, Oli has gone missing.  The guy at the front desk tells them that he checked out last night but an Asian girl, Kana says that Oli left with her friend Yuki and Yuki is missing too.  Jay and Paxton spend the day searching for Paxton but have to luck finding him or getting a hold of him on his cell phone.  That night, Jay is still worried but Paxton and the girls want to go dancing again.  Jay goes with them but decides to head back to the hostel after a few drinks and says he feels nauseous.  Paxton stays and ends up locking himself in a closet at the club and passes out.  The next morning, he guy at the front desk says Jay left too.  He finds Natalya and she says that both Jay and Oli are at a museum.  They head to the museum and apparently it's in a rundown building.  Natalya leads Paxton into the bowels of the building and Paxton sees parts of bodies and some kind of surgeries going on.  Then he sees Jay's lifeless body on a table and freaks out but it's too late.  The guards grab him and lock him into a chair, he is going to be another victim.  Can Paxton escape the torture?  I really enjoyed this movie from director Eli Roth, it had a fun flair to it.  Everything was pretty spot on script wise and it was nice to see a cameo from Takashi Miiki.  I was expecting a lot more gore, like in Cabin Fever but there were still some pretty crazy shit and I guess this is where less is more really does work.  Definitely worth watching if you haven't already.

3. Bloodsucking Freaks (aka The Incredible Torture Show) (1976) - Sardu runs a small theatre with his midget henchman, Ralphus, where people can come a view naked ladies being tortured.  Surprisely, there are a number of people there, including New York's top critic, Creasy Silo, and famous couple, quarterback Tom Maverick and his girlfriend, prima ballerina, Natasha Di Natalie.  On stage they watch as ladies are being tortured and parts of their bodies mutilated, best date night ever.  After the show, Creasy gives Sardu a piece of his mind, calling the show awful and a third rate magic act but Tom and Natasha seem to like it and reassure Sardu that his show is "different".  What they don't know is that the show is real! And Sardu and Ralphus are in the white slavery game and send girls all over the world.  Also, they have a ton of girls in their dungeon below and love to torture them just for fun.  However, Sardu is upset about Creasy's words and has Ralphus kidnap him.  Sardu tells Creasy that he is going to write the greatest ballet and have the greatest ballerina star, Natasha Di Natalie in it.  Creasy laughs at him and says there is no way Natasha Di Natalie will ever be in his ballet, so Sardu has Ralphus kidnap her and they torture her mentally until she finally gives in.  Days have gone by and Tom is noticing that Natalie isn't coming home, so he calls the police.  Will Tom ever find Natalie and stop Sardu and his Theatre of the Macabre?  This may be my favourite out of the 5, simply because it has some seriously dark humour going on in this B-movie triumph.  I've also seen it like 5 times and the looks on people's faces when I watch this with them never get old.  The story is pretty crappy and doesn't ring true in any way but it has some serious gore, which makes up for it.  The acting is on par with what they spent on budget.  It's unfortunate that both, Seamus O'Brien, who played Sardu and Luis De Jesus (former Ewok), who played Ralphus have passed on and missed the torture film renascence.  Lots of red paint gore and hard to watch scenes of mutilation will keep you glued to the screen.

2. Grotesque (2009) - Aki and Kazuo are on their first date, when they get hit on the head with a hammer and stuffed in a van. This has to be the worst first date ever.  When they wake up, they are gagged, strapped to tables facing each other and a man in an operating gown is smiling at them.  He asks Kazou if he would die for Aki and in a flashback it shows Aki asking him the same thing.  He tells her that he would do his best to protect her and nods feverishly to the doctor.  The doctor then gets personal and asks how many times they have had sex with each other.  The doctor realizes that they never have, so he makes them a deal with them and tells them that if they turn him on, that he'll let them go.  He starts with Aki and using his hands rapes her while Kazou watches helplessly.  Then he does the same to Kazou, spraying semen all other Aki.  Unsatisfied, the doctor puts them under again and when they awake they are chained to another table. The doctor is going to perform surgery on them with a chainsaw, until he can get the right stimuli from them.  Can Kazou save Aki from the torment of the madman and save himself or is this going to be the worst date ever?  I was pleasantly surprised by this film.  When I first started watching it, I thought I hit another Japanese sexploitation movie masquerading as a horror tale but when it got going, wow, does this thing ever deliver.  It's probably one of the most gruesome films I've seen in a long time. Director Koji Shiraishi is brilliant, creating a lot of gore with minimal tools.  There is 3 people in this film and it's shot in maybe 5 locations.  You'll recognize the actress, Tsugumi Nagasawa, who plays Aki from Tokyo Gore Police and Hiroaki Kawatsure from his appearances in other Shiraishi films.  Brutal story, lots of blood and a lot of wincing while trying to watch.  Not for the faint of heart.

1. Salo (aka 120 Days in Sodom) (1975) -In the Republic of Salo, in 1944 during the fascist occupation, a Duke, a Bishop, a Magistrate and the President decide that the want to do an experiment involving torture and experiencing the greatest sexual gratification.  With a small militia they round up 9 teenage boys and 9 teenage girls and bring them to an out of the way chateau.  On the way one of the boys jumps out of the truck and is gunned down for trying to escape.  The convoy continues to the house leaving the boys riddled body in the woods.  Once they get to the house, they are introduced to the four aged prostitutes that will "take care of them" and tell them stories of their life experiences.  The first tells of her sexual experience as a young girl and the group of men try and re-enact these tales on their victims.  The next prostitute speaks of shit and how she would be asked to feed shit to her Johns and the group of men decide they would like to try this as well.  The third prostitute speaks about her experience with life and death, and the men want to share this as well.  The fourth prostitute is the piano player and plays the music during each story.  Through out the film, these young people are abused, tormented and beaten and who knows if they would want to live when it is all over.  Banned in many countries and still considered one of The most controversial film of all time!  It comes from the novel written in prison by the Marquis De Sade. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini mixes the infamous novel with Dante's Infernal, breaking each segment of the film up into the Anteinferno, Circle of Manias, Circle of Shit and Circle of Blood.  This is a very disturbing film on every level and gets crazier and crazier until the end. Unfortunately, I found the ending quite anticlimactic and was a little confused but there are images in this film that will not soon be forgotten and the ending will be the least of my worries.  This is a difficult film to view but is worth a watch if you have the stomach.

These films are hard to watch and exploit the dark side of our human nature.  Deeeeep down inside our brain chasm, there has to be something that allows us to enjoy, perhaps not to these extremes, watching people inflict pain on one another and degrade themselves to survive.  This reasoning would explain why reality television has lasted so long.  (I'd like to see Jeff Probst or the Bachelor eat a poo.)

P.S - Big shout out to the effects team on all of these films, you guys and gals are really the unsung heroes of these films.  I wouldn't be completely grossed out and disturbed if it wasn't for your hard work and brilliance. Thank You!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

5 Films about the Horrors of Rock N Roll!

Rock N Roll, the devils music.  For years and years, religious groups have tried to stop kids from listening to certain music because they believed it was created by the devil and is a gate way to hell.  This seemed to have started in the 50's with musicians like Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.  They wouldn't film Elvis from the hips down because it was too suggestive.  Eventually, people adapted to these new sounds and the idea of music stealing people's souls or conjuring the devil were considered archaic.  Until the 80's, when heavy metal bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were vilified for their record covers on afternoon talk shows and on the evening news.  They also believed that these bands were putting in hidden messages that promoted suicide, violence and Satanic worship.  A warning label was slapped on these albums to prevent this kind of heathen degenerate music to fall into the hands of the youth.  Unfortunately, like the Video Nasties list, any album with the sticker seemed to entice people to buy these albums to see what all the fuss was about.

So, in the eyes of a film producer putting the two together, horror movies and rock n roll was like mixing chocolate and peanut butter.  It's an excellent synergy of art, with a terrifying horror movie and a killer soundtrack, you could make twice the money.  If only it was that easy.

Here are 5 Films about the Horrors of Rock N Roll!

5. Rock N Roll Nightmare (aka The Edge of Hell) (1987) - A family is killed by a monster in the first couple of minutes, then we are forced to watch a car driving for what seems like forever.  The car pulls up to the same house and the band, Triton gets out with their wives or girlfriends.  John Triton, the leader of the group, tells them that they've got to record 10 minutes of new material for their new album and their manager assures them that the 24 track studio in the barn is worth the stay.  He even drops, Alice Coopers' name when telling them of the many musicians who have recorded there.  Satisfied the group moves into the tiny house, has some dinner and then heads out to record or work on a song.  John shirtless and wearing a red sparkly tux jacket, gets the band to bang out a generic 80's metal tune.  After the song, the manager goes downstairs to find a set of drum sticks and is followed by who he thinks is the drummer's girlfriend.  She tries to seduce him and when he tries to say no, she becomes a demon and kills him.  The rest of evening, everyone is searching for the manager and one by one the demon starts taking out the rest of the band.  Can John make his wardrobe any creepier and stop this demon? You better watch and find out!  Canadian metal sensation Thor, not only stars in this but he wrote it too.  Lucky us!  Most of the "actors" were friends of his and that really shows in the end product.  The story is weak and the end is right out of left field.  There are some shitty puppets and some good puppets handled shittily.  The film goes from trying to be Evil Dead, to a 2nd rate music video to a softcore porn to a barbarian vs a puppet show (watch the trailer).  It is fucking UNBELIEVABLE how bad this movie is and that is why you should watch it.  You will be cracking up at the stupidity and shaking your head in no time, wondering what they're going to do next.  So bad it's good should be the tagline of this movie and it's worth seeing just for the end.  Chocolate milk will come out your nose.  I can't find a trailer so, this is what I could find.

4. Suck (2009) - The band, The Winners aren't having any luck playing their shitty rock at biker bars and goth clubs.  After their manager, Jeff quits, leader of the band, Joey considers throwing in the towel but a creepy bartender encourages him to keep going and they play another night.  After the show, the bass player and Joey's ex-girlfriend, Jennifer leaves the club with a creepy looking dude, Queenie and Joey is kind of choked.  Jennifer goes to Queenie's mansion, where she is surrounded by goths and sung into mystical trance, then turned into a vampire.  The next morning, the band and their roadie Hugo are fed up with Jennifer's shit and take off back to Toronto, leaving her behind in Montreal.  When they set up for their next gig, Jennifer returns and apologizes for all the shit and promises things will be different.  Joey and the band notice something different about Jennifer, but can't quite put their fingers on it.  Could it be the extra white skin or the glowing blue eyes?  Whatever it is, the crowd seems to dig it and after the show the band packs up and heads to the next town.  On the way to the next town, the band stops at a store to get some snacks.  Hugo goes for a piss, while Jennifer picks up the food for the rest of the band.  Unfortunately, Jennifer's snack is the cashier and when Hugo comes out of the bathroom, he finds Jennifer sucking on the cashier neck with a straw!  Jennifer begs Hugo to promise not to tell anybody and asks him to help her clean up the mess.  They get back into the van and Hugo is bloody but tells them that it was a nose bleed.  They get a great turn out at the next show, but all the focus seems to be on Jennifer.  After the show, the leader of the Secretaries of Steak, Beef Bellows tries to give Jennifer a hot beef injection but he's the one who gets turned into ground round.  Hugo heads over to help but the rest of the band comes too.  They find the body and freak out!  What are the gonna do? Jennifer is killing and eating people but their shows are finally doing well?  They decide to keep touring but can they keep their Vampire a secret and are they safe from her hunger pains?  There are a lot of cameos in this movie and it's probably the best part.  Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Alex Lifeson, Iggy Pop and a few other show up to make this horror comedy passable.  Also, Malcolm McDowell plays a forgettable vampire hunter called Eddie Van Helsing, who shows up now and then.  The story is good but the music isn't and I can understand why The Winners aren't getting anywhere.  That could be on purpose too, who knows.  There are some gory scenes that are pretty enjoyable and the Hugo character, played by Chris Ratz is the funniest person in the film.  I like the look of the vampires in this too, the eyes are pretty wild.  Good effort but it could have been a better film.  Worth a view, it doesn't totally Suck.

3.Wild Zero (1999) - Ace is going to see his favourite band, Guitar Wolf, when unknown to him and everybody else that aliens are attacking.  After the show, Guitar Wolf goes to talk to the club manager, Captain, who is a drug dealing pimp with a long time grudge against Guitar Wolf.  Captain and his thugs attack Guitar Wolf and Ace helps them in the melee.  Guitar Wolf, the leader of the band Guitar Wolf, makes Ace his blood brother and gives him a magic whistle.  He tells Ace to use the whistle if he is ever in serious trouble.  Guitar Wolf takes off, so does Ace and Captain vows to get revenge on Guitar Wolf, the band!  Ace winds up at a gas station with a girl named Tobio and are chased out of the station by zombies to an abandoned house.  Thinking their safe, Ace puts the moves on Tobio but he discovers that she is a he!  Grossed out, Ace takes off but realizes he loves Tobio, even though they just met and she's a dude, and he can't leave her in the zombie attack.  So, he drives back to save her but when he gets there she's gone and he has to fight more zombies!  Ace uses the magic whistle and Guitar Wolf, the band, jump into their vehicles to come and save him!  Unfortunately, zombies aren't the only ones after them and Captain is coming after them with ill intentions in mind.  Can Guitar Wolf save Ace and help him find his true love?  Can they stop the wicked promoter Captain? Can they stop the world for being taken over by alien zombies? Who the fuck knows?  It's pretty insane, this film and I don't know what to think.  There are some really cool parts to it but it drags and drags in other.  Guitar Wolf are awesome and really play up their image, it's like watching the Ramones take on aliens except their Japanese.  The soundtrack is phenomenal, if you like dirty garage rock, bands like the Devil Dogs, The Oblivians, Phantom Surfers, Guitar Wolf and tons of others will have you rockin out in seconds.  The zombies look good and there are a bunch of exploding head scenes.  The movie is funny at times and I don't know if it's intentional or not.  It also has the worse credits at the end, I've ever seen in my life.  It's worth watching and you'll probably be smiling by the end of the film.

2. Trick or Treat (1986) - Eddie Weinbauer is a teenage metal head and an outcast at his high school.  Everyday he gets picked on for being different and the only thing that gets him through the day is being able to come home and listen to his hero, Sammi Curr on his record player.  Unfortunately, Sammi gets killed in a hotel fire and Eddie's hopes for him playing a Halloween show in his town has been crushed.  Bummed out, Eddie visits his radio DJ friend, Nuke to share his sorrow.  Nuke has a surprise for him, it's a acetate copy of Sammi Curr's last record that he is going to play on Halloween at midnight.  Nuke's already dubbed it on his reel to reel player, so it's okay for Eddie to take the record. This was 1986 people.  Anyway, Eddie is totally jazzed, or metalled, and heads over to shitty school, only to get another surprise when Leslie, the girl he's in love with, asks him to come to a pool party.  Things are really looking up for Eddie, that is until he gets to the pool party and King Douche Bag, Tim Hainey throws Eddie in the pool with a weight in his backpack.  Luckily, Leslie jumps into the pool to save him just in time and a wet Eddie Weinbauer leaves the party once again humiliated and alone.  When he gets home, he puts on his new Sammi Curr album and stomps around his room.  He notices that some of the tracks are playing backwards and when he plays the album backwards, he can hear Sammi Curr telling him how to get revenge on Tim Hainey and all the other kids who have picked on him.  Will Eddie get his revenge with the help of Sammi Curr's evil spirit and if he does what kind of price will he have to pay?  I've always had a soft spot for this movie since I was a kid.  This is probably Marc Price's (Skippy from Family Ties) best movie and he does a convincing job as Eddie.  Blackie Lawless and Gene Simmons were both asked to play the role of Sammi Curr but the role went to Tony Fields, who was in a Chorus Line and could be seen on Solid Gold. Very Metal! Simmons does show up as the radio DJ Nuke, and Ozzy Osbourne has a little spot in the film as well as a TV Evangelist who is denouncing heavy metal and calling it evil.  The soundtrack is pretty good, all done by former Motorhead axeman, Fast Eddie Clark's group Fastway.  It's a fun movie without a lot of bloodshed, it's a good story and a little underrated in my opinion.

1. Phantom in the Paradise (1974) - Swan is the biggest music producer in the world and he is looking for music to open up his new concert hall "The Paradise".  He hears Winslow playing piano and realizes this is the music he was looking for.  Swan sends his right hand man, Philbin to talk with Winslow.  Philbin tells Winslow that Swan loves his music and wants to produce it and takes all the work that Winslow has so Swan can "review it".  After a week of not hearing from Swan, Winslow heads over to Swan's office at Death Records and is thrown out.  The next day, Winslow tries to sneak into Swan's mansion, Swanage, only to discover hordes of young ladies lined up, singing his song.  He asks one girl with an impressive voice, Phoenix, what is going on?  She tells him that Swan is holding auditions for his new rock opera based on the story of Faust. Winslow realizes that Swan has ripped him off and tries to storm his way into the room but is stopped by Swan's goons and beaten.  The police arrive and plant smack on Winslow, so Winslow is sent to prison.  In prison, Winslow is tormented by Swan mentally until he breaks down and escapes the prison.  He tries to destroy the record press but he trips and gets his face pressed! Ouch! Narrowly and in great pain from his burnt face, he escapes the clutches of Swan's henchman and he jumps into the East River.  Swan thinking that Winslow is dead, continues to rehearse acts for "The Paradise" concert hall but during one rehearsal, a bomb goes off in a prop car.  Swan finds Winslow and tells him if he stops attacking them, then he will allow Winslow to finish the Rock Opera and let Phoenix sing it.  Winslow signs a contract with Swan and starts rewriting the Opera for Phoenix.  Unfortunately, when Winslow finishes the piece, Swan double crosses winslow and bricks up the wall in Winslow's room, then gives Phoenix's role to his new rock prodigy, Beef!  Winslow bursts through the bricks with vengeance and now nothing will stop him from destroying Swan and his minions because he is the Phantom of the Paradise!  Director Brian DePalma puts together an interesting blend of music and horror together here.  "Flopping" after it's release 1974, the only people who seemed to enjoy it were people from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where it stayed in theaters for four months straight and was brought back a number of times until 1976.  Funny too, is that the soundtrack went gold in Canada because people in Winnipeg bought 20,000 copies of the album.  Another interesting thing is that Sissy Spacek was the Set Dressser on this film.  Anyhoo, the soundtrack was done by Paul Williams, who has written hits for Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, The Carpenters and many other groups in the 70's.  Williams also stars as Swan and does an okay job as the sinister producer.  Long time friend of DePalma's, William Finley plays Winslow/The Phantom and is good with the scenes that he is given.  The movie is a hodge podge of Faust, Phantom of the Opera and a little bit of Doian Grey thrown at the end.  It took me forever to realize that Jessica Harper from Suspiria is Phoenix.  Not only can she dance but she also has a wonderful voice and lucky for her there are no witches here. It's not very bloody but the Phantom's burned face pretty cool.  The music is alright, it's just pop music from the 70's, nothing too crazy.  All in all, it's good film and if you like DePalma's work, I'm sure you'd want to see this!

Has the devil created rock n' roll? I doubt it but people, in general, have a fear of change and the unknown.  Tommy Dorsey was no Elvis Presley, Elvis was no Hendrix, Hendrix was no Iron Maiden and Maiden is no Marilyn Mason.  The idea of evil spirits in music is so antiquated but maybe the devils greatest trick is making us think he's not there at all.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

5 Films Based on Clive Barker's Books of Blood

The Books of Blood series put writer Clive Barker into our horrorsphere.  After this series of short story, he went on to his first full length novel, "The Damnation Game" and then followed that up with a novel called "The Hellbound Heart".  Never satisfied with the way his stories turned out on film after producing two short films and two full length features, he turned to directing.  His first film was based on "The Hellbound Heart" called Hellraiser.  This catipulted Barker into the horror stratosphere and he hasn't looked back, creating some of the most well known novels and films of our time.  It's hard to believe that it all started with these 6 books.

Here are 5 Films Based on Clive Barker's Books of Blood

 5. Rawhead Rex (1986) - So, we're in Ireland and these guys are trying to remove an ancient post that is in one of the guy's yard.  The guy's friends give up and take off, but the one guy really wants to move it and when the giant pillar does finally shift, it releases a demon, that comes out and kills him.  Over at the church, they're singing an unusual about of halleluiahs and Howard Hallenbeck is outside taking some photos for his new book that he's working on.  Howard's son, Robbie tells his dad that he needs to hurry up or mom will be upset with him, so he tells Robbie that he just needs a few moments to speak with the priest inside.  The church service has ended and the Father O'Brian is saying good bye to everyone, when Howard asks to speak to someone about photographing the inside of the church and looking at old records of the church.  O'Brian directs him to Reverend Coots, who tells him that it's alright and he'll have someone dig up the records for him in the morning.  Meanwhile, the demon monster is randomly killing people and like all police detectives in horror movies, they have no idea what's going on.  Howard's wife, Elaine is sick of being in Ireland and wants to go home and so do his children, Robbie and Minty. Minty? But Howard reminds them that this is a workcation and they need to enjoy themselves.  Frustrated, Howard goes for a walk.  At the same time the monster is killing some teens and is spotted by Howard.  It runs away and Howard brings his info to the local authority.  They all but laugh in Howard's face, when he tells them about the monster he saw and they usher him out of the office like a old man who's up past his bed time.  Fed up with Ireland, Howard packs up his family and starts to leave town but Minty, Minty?!, has to go pee.  So they stop the car on the side of the road and send Minty, Minty?!!, not just behind the giant fence but farther into the bush to pee.  While peeing Minty starts screaming and Howard and Elaine go to rescue her from a demon monster? Nope, a dead rabbit. Oh Minty!  However, while saving Minty, this gave the demon monster a chance to kill and eat Robbie! Now Howard must avenge Robbie's death with or without the help of the police and maybe he can get a book out of it too.  Rawhead Rex was the first story to make it to the big screen from the Books of Blood series and it's probably the worst.  Director George Pavlou is all over the place with the story and sometimes things just doesn't make sense.  Sometimes Rex is killing just men, sometimes not, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the demons intentions.  Some of the blame can be put on Barker's shoulders, he did adapt the story and he wore the ridiculous Rex costume for the film.  The kill scenes are mediocre and the acting is terrible and I can see why Barker became so hands on with his content after this film.  Worth watching for the fan who wants to have see all his works but not something to go out of your way for.

4. Dread (2009) - Stephen is a film major in college and has to take an ethics course to even out his study.  One night he meets one of his ethics classmates Quaid and goes for a beer with him after class.  Quaid seems to have an obsession with dread, not Judge Dredd, and asks Stephen what is his most painful memory.  Stephen tells him that it was when he was 15 and his older brother died in a drunk driving accident. Quaid is fascinated and proposes that they do a study on the subject of dread, for his on interest and Stephen have use this as his thesis. Win/Win.  Stephen enlists the help of his editor/vegetarian/love interest friend Cheryl to work on the project together and she agrees so, everything is a go!  Except, Stephen doesn't know that Quaid has been heavily medicated since he saw his parents brutally murdered when he was a small child and he has recently ditched his medication to get to the real answers of dread.  Over the week, they interview a ton of people on the subject of dread, montage time, but Quaid doesn't seem to be getting the results he's looking for and is getting frustrated.  Cheryl volunteers to tell her story on camera and lets the gang know that she was molested by her father, who worked in a meat packing plant. Now, because of him, she can't stand the smell of beef, let alone put it her mouth.  eeew!  This is what Quaid was looking for and the group goes forward with the project.  However, Stephen has noticed that Quaid is acting more erratic than usual and seems to be scaring him and the people for the interviews.  It comes to a head when Quaid catches an interviewee lying about her encounter with dread and he flips out attacking her and smashing their equipment.  Cheryl and Stephen leave and tell Quaid to fuck off, they're done.  Now with Quaid's back to the wall and alone in his madness, what can he really find out about dread?  This was okay and it tried to stay close to the book but I felt it could have been done a little tighter.  Additional characters were added with the intention of rounding out the base characters but I think it only muddled the story in the long run.  Not really a blood bath horror but more of a disturbing look at dread.  I liked Shaun Evans as Quaid and Jason Rathbone does a terrific job as Stephen, they play against each other well and create an interesting dynamic.  Jason Rathbone doesn't bite anyone in this movie, heads up, Twilighters. Not my favourite Barker film but still worth watching, some interesting ideas and a really terrific ending.

3. Book of Blood (2009) - Paranormal investigator, amateur psychic and professor Mary Florescu is investigating a potential haunted house for a new book.  The daughter of the previous owners supposedly had her face ripped off by ghosts, who then wrote with her blood Don't Mock US on the wall just because she was playing with a Ouija board.  Tough ghosts.  Now Mary and her crack team of Reg, the video guy, are going to try to get to the bottom of this whole ghost thing but she just needs one more person, Simon McNeal.  Simon McNeal is a student that Mary has the hots for and coincidentally he is suppose to have remarkable psychic ability. So over a pint, Mary convinces this young Lothario to join her team and bust some ghosts.  To Mary's pleasure, Simon strips down to his skivvies the first night and sleeps in the haunted room.  Mary and Reg watch has Simon starts to make contact with the dead and then the recording equipment goes ballistic, blanks out and Simon is screaming.  Mary and Reg cautiously go to the door and wait til Simon stops screaming to enter his room.  When they enter the room, they see that Simon has been attacked and the ghosts have written some shit on the walls.  Reg goes in the closet to discover a message that bursts onto the wall with fiery force, leaving a terrifying message.  Reg and Mary take samples of everything and talk with Simon about the events but he can't remember anything.  Mary drops the findings off at a lab to be tested.  The next night, the same thing happens and Mary is so excited that she sleeps with Simon!  Afterwards, she is visited by ghosts and lead her to the window, where she is confronted with images from her past.  Simon tries to let her know that the night before was different from the night before that and he's now feeling very uneasy about the project.  Mary is greeted on the streets by fans and while Simon is talking with them, she gets a phone call from the lab.  Simon turns to Mary and she's disappeared!  Luckily, he finds her at the house but she is pissed because the lab report has come back and apparently Simon is a fraud.  Simon tells her that the first night he did fake it, (wink) but the second night was real ghost shit and to prove it, he marches upstairs and takes off his pants and locks the door.  Reg and Mary don't care and just want to leave but the equipment starts acting funny again, they think it's Simon having a go at them again until Reg notices that the equipment isn't plugged in.  Simon starts screaming and Mary and Reg don't know what to do.  Have they really opened up a door or a highway to the land of the dead?  If so, how do they close it? Writer/Director John Harrison does a nice take on this story.  He opens up the original short story, gives it a wider birth and allows the story to germinate into a wonderful tale of terror.  Sophi Ward is excellent has Mary and gives a killer performance. Jonas Armstrong is good as well, even though he's not the guy I would have pictured from reading the book.  Doug Bradley even shows up in a few scenes which is nice.  All round good haunted house film, lots of blood and like most of these Barker stories the ending is the true payoff.

2. The Midnight Meat Train (2008) - Leon is a struggling photographer, who is trying to capture the heart of New York City, under all the grime and crime.  His girlfriend Leslie tells him that her friend, Jorge has made an appointment for Leon with of the city's most prominent art dealers, Susan Hoff.  Unfortunately, after looking at his work, Susan Hoff tells him that his work is good, but he's not capturing the right moment.  She tells him that he needs to be brave and come back with when he finds the right moment.  This crushes Leon but he rallies and heads down to the New York subway system that night. I'll show you whose brave.  While being brave, he confronts and photographs a gang of young thugs trying to hurt a young lady trying to get to the train.  They let her go and make their way towards Leon, then Leon reminds them of the security camera beside him.  The gang leaves and the girls thanks Leon and makes her train.  Leon gets one more snapshot of her before she gets on her midnight meat train and she is goes missing the next day.  Leon reads that and goes to the police.  The police dismiss it and tell Leon that they'll look into it.  Leon brings his photos of that night to Susan Hoff and that is exactly what she is looking for and if he can get two more pictures like this, then he can be in the exhibit.  That night Leon heads out and notices a strange man waiting for a train but pays no mind of him until he sees him the next morning coming from the train station.  He gets a weird vibe and follows him to his place of work, a meat packing plant.  Over the next few days, Leslie notices some changes in Leon and his new obsession with this butcher.  Leon is researching the subway system and his new friend the butcher and thinks he may have the answers to all the disappearances over the years.  This butcher is killing them and disposing of the bodies but why?  Can Leon unravel the mystery of the butcher and his midnight meat train?  This movie is pretty gory.  Vinnie Jones gives an outstanding performance as the butcher and swings that mallet like nobody's business.  Surprisingly, Bradley Cooper gives a good performance playing Leon and really brings the character to life.  Brooke Shields, Leslie Bibb and Roger Bart round out a stellar cast in this under the radar horror spectacular by director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus).  Great film and well worth a watch.

1. Candyman (1992) - Helen is working on her graduate thesis on Urban Legends and during one of the interviews, she is told about Candyman.  Apparently, if you look into the mirror and say Candyman 5 times, he will appear behind you and gut you like a fish with his hook hand.  She tells research partner, Bernadette later that evening and they jokingly give it a try in Helen's bathroom.  Nothing happens.  The next day while making notes on the taped interviews, one of the cleaning staff mentions to Helen that Candyman killed a girl recently over in housing projects in Cabrini-Green.  Helen convinces Bernadette to go with her to Cabrini-Green to investigate the Candyman legend.  When they arrive the locals believe that they're cops so they leave them alone to wander through the neglected building.  Helen takes pictures of the graffiti scrawled across the walls of the stairwells and hallways that pay tribute to Candyman.  They get to the apartment where the victim was found and open the medicine cabinet to see now the assailant got in.  Helen goes through the hole to take more pictures and finds candy with razor blades on the floor.  When she returns, they are questioned by the victims neighbour, Ann-Marie and told that they are crazy from coming to this part of town without protection.  Eventually, they become chummy, meet Anne-Marie's baby, Anthony and told that everyone is afraid of Candyman.  Helen gives Ann-Marie her card and leaves with Bernadette.  During dinner with another colleague, Helen and Bernadette learn about the legend of Candyman.  Candyman was the son of a slave who grow up with a very privileged background because of his artistic talent.  Unfortunately, he fell in love with and impregnated the daughter of a wealthy land owner, who had a gang of thugs murder him.  The gang cut off his hand, covered him with the honey comb of bee hive and was stung to death by angry bees.  The next day, Helen goes back to Cabrini-Green to speak with Ann-Marie, but only her rottweiler is home.  However, a young boy named Jake is sitting outside her door.  Helen asks him about Candyman and he says that he can show her where Candyman lives.  He brings her to a bathroom area by a park in the Cabrini-Green complex and tells her that Candyman killed and cut off the genitals of a mentally handicapped kid there.  Genital mutilation! Helen is intrigued and heads into the washroom but after a few snapshots of some shitty toilets, a gangsta calling himself Candyman shows up with his crew.  Candyman using his hook, gives Helen a warning with a face beating.  Luckily, Jake saves her, after Candyman and his boys leave, and the police capture Candyman. Hooray! Candyman is in jail and Helen tells Jake that Candyman is not real, so he and his community never has to be afraid of him again.  This pisses the ghost Candyman off.And to get his revenge, he knocks Helen out and leaves her in a pool of blood in Anne-Marie's bathroom.  When she wakes up, Anne-Marie's dog's head is on the floor and Anne Marie can't find her baby.  Ann-Marie attacks Helen screaming about her baby and Helen tries to defend herself with a cleaver.  Unfortunately, the police show up at that moment and arrest Helen for kidnapping and possible murder. You dun fucked with da wrong ghost bitch.  While in jail, Candyman tells her that if she sacrifices herself to him and get the people scared of him again, then he'll return the baby to it's mother.  Can Helen escape to stop this vengeful ghost and save the baby, her reputation and most importantly her soul? Great film!  Love Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd in this.  It's a nice blend of psychological thriller, gore film and it has just the right amount of social commentary to make director Bernard Rose's film a horror masterpiece.  Watch it, then go in the bathroom and say Candyman 5 times, see if you don't hesitate that last time.  Definite must for any Clive Barker fan!

Looking into Barker's extensive work over the years, it's easy to see how some of the tales could fall to the wayside and be forgotten.  So, it's nice to see that another generation of readers and filmmakers are recognizing the talents and the true terror of these stories and sharing Barker's nightmares with a new audience.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

5 Horror Films That Came From Space

In this day and age what do we really know about space.  We still have the same questions that we've had for years, is there life on other planets?  Well, I don't know if we're alone in the universe but this notion as allowed wonderful writers such as H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury and John Wyndham to create creatures for us to love and fear over the last century.  Will interplanetary overlords come to Earth and take over, well in 1938, Orsen Wells's radio version of "War of the Worlds" had many Americans in a widespread panic.  In the 50's, movies like "The Blob" and "It Came From Space" drew in many teens looking for these answers and cementing the world's love for Sci-Fi horror.  Even today, we have people releasing horrible alien autopsy and behind the scenes Area 51 videos to try and make a buck.  Aliens are here and they're in you're movies.

Here are 5 Horror Films That Came From Space

5. The Day of the Triffids (1962) - After the radio encouraged everyone to watch the glorious meteor shower outside the night before, the next morning everyone in the world wakes up blind.  Thanks radio.  However, there are a handful of people who did not see the meteor shower and can still see, including Navy officer Bill Masen, who was having eye surgery and his bandages were coming off the next day.  Bill, fresh with sight walks out of the hospital and into the new world of the blind, where planes, trains and automobiles are crashing everywhere!  At the train station, he saves a little girl, Susan, from a lecherous man who wants to use her for her sight. Bill and Susan hit the road to look for people who can see.  Meanwhile, an alcoholic marine biologist and his wife are trapped on their lighthouse island.  They have a man eating plant called a Triffid outside their door and are trying to find a way to stop it from eating them.  Oh yeah, the meteor shower not only brought blindness but plants that eat people too! Hooray!  Can anyone survive this new world of madness and can anyone find a way to stop the evil Triffid from eating the Earth's population! This was the first adaptation of the John Wyndham novel and it was pretty good.  Only given 93 minutes, the film does seem a little rushed and one wonders how they're going to tie it all together in the end.  Howard Keel does a great job as Bill Masen but the Triffid really should get the prize for best acting.  I love those things, clumping there way slowly to get there victim and even blind women scream in terror when they come on the screen.  Good stuff and worth a viewing, I'd like to see the remakes because they are about twice as long and may be able to tell the story better.

4. Critters (1986) - During an intergalactic prison transfer, the Crites get the upper hand and escape.  The prison warden hires two faceless bounty hunters to retrieve these creatures and bring them to justice.  On the way to Earth, the bounty hunters watch a "This is Earth" video and learn how to assimilate with Earth society, so they don't get noticed.  Meanwhile on Earth, Bradley Brown and his family are enjoying the normalcy of living on the best planet in the galaxy.  Bradley is trying to get out of doing a test at school, his sister, April has a new boyfriend, his father, Jay is working on an engine and Helen, his mom is just trying to keep everyone fed and happy.  Also, the Browns have an employee, Charlie, who drinks to much and believes that aliens ruined his pitching career.  He has just spent another night in the drunk tank and Sheriff Harv wakes him up and sends him to work.  After school, April brings over her new boyfriend, Steve for dinner and after an uncomfortable meal, April and Steve take off to the barn.  Jay is getting ready for his bowling tournament when the house is nearly shaken to pieces.  He and Bradley see a comet come crashing down and go out to investigate and only find some cows mutilated.  They head home, promising not to tell their mom about their gross find.  When they get home they discover that the power and phone has gone out and when Jay, Bradley and Helen go to check the fuses, they are attacked by a little furry creature with an enormous appetite for human flesh.  They race back to the house and try to mend Jay, who felt the brunt of the attack.  However, April and Steve are still in the barn and while changing cassette tapes, Steve is attacked by the critters.  Bradley hears April screaming from the house and goes to save her.  Luckily, Bradley is equipped with some firecrackers and pitch fork and is able to get April out of the barn just in time.  Trapped in the house, surrounded by critters, can the Brown family survive? Can the bounty hunters save them in time?  This used to be one of my childhood favourites, I thought this was a fantastic movie, especially after seeing Gremlins.  Stephen Herek wrote and directed a great sci-fi horror and was probably the first director to kill off a Billy Zane character.  There are some other great people in this like Dee Wallace coming back to horror since Cujo and M. Emmett Walsh, who is awesome and I believe was born an old man because I've never seen a young M. Emmet Walsh movie.  Not a lot of blood shed, but some pretty intense scenes with these fantastic creatures created by the Chiodo Brothers.  There is humour, horror and aliens and after spawning two sequels, I think it still holds up pretty good today. Give it a watch, if you dare!

3. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) - Mike and his girlfriend Debbie are up in lovers lane, staring at the stars when they see a comet come crashing down to earth a few miles away.  Debbie gets excited and pressures Mike to go look for it with her, so he corks his champagne and off they go.  The head into the forest and after a little bit, they discover a circus tent but it's not a your average circus tent, it's one of those new fangled french tents, at least that's what Mike think.  They sneak into the tent to see what it's all about and find the chilling secret out about the circus tent.  It's not a circus tent at all but a spaceship for killer klowns that want to eat earthlings.  Unfortunately, they get caught and are chased out of the tent by the killer klowns and they're popcorn guns.  Mike and Debbie try and tell people about the evil klowns, but no one believes them, not even Debbie's next boyfriend, Officer Dave.  Can Mike and Debbie convince anyone that they're not crazy and save the world from these Killer Klowns from Outer Space? Another favourite of mine from back in the day! This was such a fun movie to watch again!  The Chiodo Brothers, the effects team from Critters, bring this absurd premise to reality in a playful yet horrorific way.  Again, not a lot of blood shed but the body count is huge and who doesn't love a clown... movie?  The Dickies do the theme song and John Vernon is top notch as the grumpy beat cop, Officer Mooney. Fun movie that you'll never forget, even if you want to.

2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - Dr. Miles Bennell returns home after being in Reno for a medical convention.  His nurse tells him that he's gonna be busy when he gets to work because there has been a number of people trying to get a hold of him.  But when he gets to the office no one is there except is ex girlfriend, Becky.  She is there to ask him, if he could visit her cousin Wilma because she doesn't think her uncle is her uncle.  He goes to visit Wilma and speaks with her uncle and everything seems fine.  He suggests to Wilma, that she speak to one of his colleagues, a psychiatrist. Miles says he'll make an appointment for her and he'll call her tomorrow with the details.  He and Becky leave for dinner and when they get to the restaurant, it's almost empty.  They order drinks but Miles receives a phone call from his friend Jack Belicec and Dr. Miles has to run over and make a house call.  Becky tags along and when they get to the home, they discover a shaken Mrs. Belicec, Teddy, outside the house.  Jack comes out and leads them into his games room, where Becky and Miles see a body on the pool table. I hate when that happens.  The body isn't breathing, doesn't have any finger prints and looks a lot like Jack.  Instead of calling the police, Miles suggests keeping an eye on it for tonight and Miles drives Becky home.  When they arrive, they see Becky's father coming up from the basement, which is unusual but Miles says good night and heads home.  That night, Miles gets a hysterical phone call from Teddy, she tells him that the body is moving and it now looks exactly like Jack! Miles has a bad feeling about this and rushes over to Becky's house, smashes the basement window and finds a a Becky replica sleeping in the basement!  Miles rushes upstairs grabs Becky and drives over to Jack and Teddy's house.  The Jack replica has escaped and they decide to get some rest til tomorrow.  The next day, Miles and Jack go back to Becky's house but the replica is gone and Becky's father is pissed that they broke in last night and called the sheriff.  The sheriff tells them that a body with no prints was found burned last night on someone's farm.  Miles goes to work, uneasy and gets a phone call from Wilma, who says she's fine and apologizes for being silly about her uncle.  That night, Miles, Becky, Jack and Teddy are having a barbeque and wondering what the hell is going on in this town, when Miles discovers four giant pods in his garden house and inside the pods are replicas of them!  Are people in this town being taken over by pod people? And is this just the start of a world wide menace?  It's funny that this film has been remade so many times, but I don't think they ever quite get it as right as in the original.  Kevin McCarthy kills it as the Dr. Miles Bennell!  The stares of disbelief shown in his face and the way he tries to grip his mind into the insanity that is going on is incredible.  Don Siegel shows true genius behind the camera, in creating a film that burns slowly in the beginning then turns into a powder keg of paranoia, not allowing his characters or even the audience to trust anyone on the screen.  Even the lovely Dana Wynter, who plays Becky, is not to be trusted because she may be leading Miles astray.  Great film and classic horror film filled with paranoia and intrigue. Must see for any horror fan.

1. The Thing (1982) - It's a normal day at the American Research station in Antarctica, until a Norwegian helicopter is seen in the distance opening fire on a dog running for its life.  The helicopter lands outside the station and man jumps with a rifle and runs after the dog firing into the camp and grazing one of the scientists, Bennings.  An accidental thermite charge destroys the chopper with the pilot inside and Lt. Garry guns down the Norwegian madman on the ground.  Shaken the group of scientists, patch up Bennings and Dr. Cooper with ace chopper pilot,  R.J. MacReady fly over to the Norwegian camp to find out what the hell is going on.  When they get to the camp, they see that it is in shambles and almost burnt to the ground.  In one of the rooms, Dr. Cooper finds that the Norwegians have discovered someone or something frozen in the ice and it may have escaped or burned in the fire.  They grab the documentation, although unreadable by anyone on their team and the video tapes.  On the way back to the helicopter, they find the twisted remains of what looks like a human being.  They dig it up and bring it back to the base for an autopsy.  Dr. Blair performs an autopsy and finds that the burnt thing has all the regular organs, like everyone else.  Still shaken by the days events, the team tries to relax and heads to the lounge for some drinks and to shoot some pool.  They see that the dog the Norwegians were chasing is still out and they ask Clark to put him in the kennel.  Clark brings the dog to the kennel and the animal is hesitant but enters without an issue.  However when Clark leaves, the other dogs start growling the at the new dog and start to attack it but the new dog becomes a hideous tentacled monster and starts killing the other dogs. Bow WOW! Clark runs in to see what's going on and freaks out!  Brings the rest of the team in to see the monstrosity that the new dog has become and they try to destroy it!  Unfortunately it escapes and to worsen the situation, Dr. Blair believes that some of them may not be human anymore and that this creature can replicate to become anyone and if escapes the base could destroy the world!  Director John Carpenter puts together a awasome classic with this film.  Amazing cast with Wilford Brimley, David Keith and working again with Kurt Russell, who plays the hell out of MacReady.  The monsters created in this film are amazing and unforgettable.  Carpenter takes a terrific film from the 50's and really puts his own stamp on it, which is rare even nowadays.  Lots of gore, lots of suspense and who knows who the alien is, maybe it's you!  Great film and a must see if you haven't seen already!

So after a meteor shower, if you have some friends behaving strangely then perhaps you should check their basements or trunks for giant pods because you don't know where the terror will begin.