Sunday, 11 August 2013

5 Horrors Hit the Beaches

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

 Before Jaws, the beach seemed to be a very peaceful place.  Sure those noisy teens would be partying in a G rated kind of way and maybe the occasional monster or creature would rear their ugly head but for the most part, it was a pretty safe place to be.  Then in 1975, Steven Spielberg brought Jaws to the screen and changed the face of the beach forever.  After that it was not longer safe to go swimming and dozens of creatures emerged from the once calm waters and created a tidal wave of terror.  Rip-off shark movies, squids, octopi and all kinds of fish & fish creatures were attacking scantily clad beach girls and people were loving it.

 Here are 5 Beach Horror movies

5. Blood Beach (1980) - Harry is on his way to swim to work at the beach patrol office when he hears his name being called.  It's his ex girlfriend's mom out for a walk with her dog, so he says hello and heads to the water.  Moments later, his ex girlfriend's mom screams in terror as she is swallowed up by the beach!  Harry hears her cries but is too late and she has disappeared into the sandy terrain.  The police think he's crazy and tell him that the dame will just turn up eventually and not to worry.  Unfortunately, a rash of these disappearing people occurs and the police learn that a creature underneath the sand is the culprit!  Harry's ex-girlfriend, Catherine returns after she hears about her mother and her and Harry must now help the police search out this evil under sand creature!
  This is fun low budget film.  I really liked the monster and when it attacks people, there's lots of blood. Also, it's creepy seeing it's victims flailing right before they get sucked into the ground.  But like most creatures, in these films, when you see finally get to see it, it's not as scary as you imagined but it should give you a chuckle.
  David Huffman (Firefox, F.I.S.T) (RIP) stars as Harry and Marianna Hill (Schizoid, The Baby) plays his ex-girlfriend Catherine.  John Saxon (Nightmare on Elm Street, Cannibal Apocalypse) shows up as the cranky police chief but isn't in it too much and Burt Young (Rocky, Carnival of Blood) plays a cop that likes to talk about Chicago for some reason.  The story is good but the horror gets a little lost in the relationship subplot of Harry & Catherine and like usual the police in this town are absolutely useless and have no idea what to do about catching this thing.  This is cheap beach movie that is fun to watch after a day in the surf.

4. Barracuda (1978) - Young university professor, Mike Canfield and his students are taking water samples at a chemical plant to prove the water is being polluted by the plant.  Mike puts on his wet suit, jumps in the water and retrieves his samples.  When he comes back to shore, he finds his students being harassed by the guards of the chemical plant.  One guy gets a little fresh with a female student and Mike bops him.  The police show up and they cart Mike off to jail.  Luckily, the police have a bigger issue to deal with than Mike because they have just found out that the there are killer barracuda's in the lake!
  Mike joins forces with the police because he's sure the chemical plant people are to blame and the sheriff's daughter is pretty hot.  After getting his samples back from a lab, Mike realizes that this town could have bigger problems the carnivorous fish.  Can Mike and the sheriff save the small town from the barracudas or is there something more sinister than killer fish afoot?
   This movie was pretty twisty story wise.  What I was expecting was a story about killer fish and it turned into this heavy handed eco conspiracy movie done badly.  Wayne Crawford (3:15, Stickfighter) does an alright job playing Mike, a Greg Brady looking dude whose character actually vaguely reminds me of Jim Brown in Black Gunn, believe it or not.  Just because like in Brown's character, Crawford's character doesn't sleep with the leading lady, not because he doesn't have an opportunity but he chooses not too.  Which is weird but those characters are so in tune with their cause that they won't let anything distract them.
  Anyway, there are some decent scenes with the barracudas and I wish they would have stuck with just that concept, but the story drifts off and the killer fish are soon forgotten.  You don't need glasses to see the ending coming a mile away but it does tie up everything nicely.  Not the best but still it's a fun little time waster that should be seen before taking a dip in the lake.

3. Humanoids From The Deep (aka Monster) (1980) - Some strange things are happening in the small fishing village of Noyo, California.  The day after a family of fisherman's boat explodes, the wharfs guard dogs are all murdered, except for Johnny Eagle's dog.  Unfortunately, Johnny has been against a cannery opening in town and apparently he wants the fishing rights given back to his people that were stolen, so it the locals think that it must be him messing everything up.  Luckily, Jim Hill and his brother Tommy stop the mob from lynching Johnny at the local dance hall but Hank Slattery, local goon warns them that they aren't finished yet.
  The next morning, the sheriff has a number of reports of missing teens and does nothing about it.  Jim takes a scientist, Susan from the cannery, on a tour of the coast and they discover that these humanoid monsters from the deep are the cause of the missing teens and killing of dogs on the island!  They soon learn these monsters want to continue to evolve their species with the girls from their town and eat whoever is in their way!  Can Jim and Susan convince the town to stop these creatures before they rape and devour the town?
  I've wanted to see this for a while and I was not disappointed.  Humanoids was strange mix of 50's sea creature and grind house no holds bar attitude.  These monsters weren't just hungry for human flesh but horny as well.  I don't think I've seen a monster rape scene like this since "Night of the Demon"(1980) and there was only one in that movie.  Director Barbara Peeters (Starhops, Summer School Teachers) goes all out and has at least three creatures gettin it on with some unwilling ladies, which is disturbing and strange.
  Anyway, the script is good and the special effects are done really well.  There is a lot of blood shed on both human and Humanoid sides.  If you are looking for something peculiar & out of the ordinary before you go for a swim, you should definitely check this out.   

2. Piranha (2010) - While fishing alone, Matt Boyd feels the earth trembling and a whirlpool vortex opens up in front of him.  Lucky him.  It releases dozens of piranhas that gnaw his flesh to the bone and he is left for dead in the water.
  The next day, the town is filling up with people for the Annual Spring Break bash and everybody is excited about hitting the water.  Sheriff Julie Forester has found the body of Matt Boyd and hires to shut down the beach with no luck.  City officials say no way.  She soon learns that the water will not only be swarming with springbreakers but with hungry swarms of piranha looking to feed on their meaty flesh! Can Sheriff Julie find some way to stop this massacre or is it too late?
  This is probably my favourite remake and I think director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Mirrors) does an awesome job putting this horror comedy together.  He gives the audience what they came to see, which is piranhas attacking and eating people and tons of boobs.  It's a beach movie!  I'm not a huge fan of CGI blood but they mix it up quite well with the organic gore for this B-movie remake.  Also, there are so many nods to films that came before it, like right off the top, Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, Krippendorf's Tribe) getting killed in a boat and the name of Jerry O'Connell's (Stand By Me, Police Academy 5) character's boat has a little shout out, being called "Barracuda".
  Elizabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting, Back To the Future 2) does a great job as the single mom sheriff, Julie and even gets reunited with Christopher Lloyd (Back To the Future franchise, Baby Geniuses), when they find the oceanographer, Carl Goodman to help them fight the fish.  Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, People Under The Stairs) and Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) are also great in supporting roles.
  This movie is a ton of fun and it has everything you could want from a beach movie.  Lots of gore, boobs and an ending that will leave you hanging. This is one remake that you don't want to bury in the sand.

1. Jaws (1975) - Sheriff Brody finds a body of a girl mutilated by what seems to be a shark on the beach just before the town of Amity's big 4th of July weekend party.  City officials know that this will hurt the town, so they round their wagons and say she died in a boating accident.  Unfortunately, the shark is still hunger and comes back for a child sized snack and eats a local boy.  Brody is only able to shut down the beaches for only 24 hours because of the city council doesn't want to hurt tourist season.  Will Brody be able to kill the shark and enjoy it's beaches again for the summer or has this shark come to a buffet of fools and he's got his bib on?
  Fantastic flick! Director Steven Spielberg (Duel, Firelight) tells a terrifying story of a town menaced by a shark.  It's cool that he uses an old school horror technique and doesn't let you see the creature until the end of the picture.  He uses the brilliant scoring of John Williams to indicate when the shark was around and like Pavlovian dogs we cringed in terror.  Even now when I hear that music, it sends a chill up my spine.  Roy Scheider (Naked Lunch, The Punisher) is excellent as Sheriff Brody, a man living on an island but who's afraid of the water.  Also, Richard Dreyfuss (The Sentinel, Another Stakeout) is very good as a young oceanographer, Hooper trying to help Brody catch the shark.  My favourite character though is Quint played by Robert Shaw (A Town Called Bastard, From Russia With Love), a crusty old seamen... umm, that truly knows the capability of this ocean monster and wants to destroy.  And like a modern day Captain Ahab, he'll stop at nothing to catch it.  There is some terrific PG-13 violence and a lot of bloody water scenes.  The final battle is intense and the epilouge is terrific and put a smile on anybody's face.  A modern classic that will drive anyone from the water to the shore.

It's nice to see in recent years, companies going back to the beaches for horror.  People love to see creatures coming from the oceans and it's no wonder the Syfy is making a killing on Sharknado and Sharktopus.  They are low budget films with just enough skin and scare to satisfy all kinds of tastes. So, the next time you go into the water, remember these films and when something brushes up against your leg, you better pray its a twig.


Monday, 5 August 2013

Ride the Waves of Terror! 5 Nautical Nightmare Movies!

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  I've never been on a cruise but it looks like it could be fun, if Charo was on board and you had Issac Washington serving drinks at the bar.  Although lately there seems to be a lot of incidents with these liners sinking or having technical issues leaving people stranded.  I'm sure they companies are covered for such incidents but what about ghost ships?  Haunted vessels that search the oceans at time looking for souls to steal to power their demonic barges.  This is never mention in any brochure but I'm sure they are lurking out there.

With that in mind, here are 5 Nautical Nightmare Movies!

5. Ghost Ship (1952) - Canadians Guy and Margaret Thornton are in the market for a yacht and head down to the boat yard to swing a deal.  They find one at a price way below the others, nothing seems to be wrong with the ship and ask the dealer why the price is so low.  The dealer explains that the couple who originally owned the boat were lost at sea and after the boat was found and brought in, people have seen ghosts on the boat.  Spooky shit!
  Luckily Guy and Margaret don't believe in nonsense about ghosts and buy the boat cheap.  They fix it up and just before their maiden voyage, their engine chief quits cuz he saw a ghost in the engine room.  Believing that this is just mass hysteria from the town folk, the Thorton's hire a new engine chief from another town.  Unfortunately, shortly after he arrives he also packs his bags and chives them for not telling him that the ship was haunted.  Are Guy and Margaret stuck with a haunted yacht and cursed to sail the seven seas with the moans of the undead in their engine room or will they find some way to free the spirits from their watery grave?
  Although this movie only 74 minutes, it seems to take forever.  The first 10 to 15 minutes is talking about boats, all useless dialogue that has nothing to do with ghosts.  The characters don't believe in ghosts and never bother to go and investigate when any one mentions that they have seen one.  The story is pretty flat and there really isn't any tension in the film until the very end.  **Spoiler** Also, you see a ghost once and he isn't scary unless you think a man smoking a pipe wearing a hounds tooth jacket is scary***Spoiler** There is no use of special effects and the flashback at the end of movie of what happened on the boat is actually most interesting part.  I wish I would have seen a movie about what was going on in the flashback.  This isn't a really bad movie, it's just a dull one and maybe should be left adrift. Couldn't find a trailer, so here is a long clip...

4. Ghost Ship (1943) - Tom Merriam is heading over to his new ship, the Altair as the third officer and is very excited! Yeah!  Unfortunately, a blind beggar tries to run his excitement by warning him outside the ship that there is a bad vibe around the Altair and he may perish! But Tom won't let the blind man with a jaunty tune ruin his day and says, "nuts to you", then heads on board the ship.  He meets Captain Will Stone and Stone tells him how glad he is to have him aboard.  He shows Tom to his room and let's him get changed in his uniform before roll call.  Roll call goes well with the exception of one missing man, but he is soon found... dead behind some boxes!  Yes, apparently he died moments ago and nobody saw who killed him.  So, everybody gets back on board the ship a little sadder and they head off on the their voyage.
  While on their journey, Tom is getting to spend a lot of time with the Captain Stone and the Stone explains to him how authority is the only thing the men will respect around here.  Stone then goes on to tell Tom that he should go to any length to make the men respect his authoritie.  Tom soon learns what the captain means when he sees captain kills one of the crewman, who Stone felt joked around too much.  Tom brings charges against the captain when they get ashore but no one will testify against him.  The captain is released and Tom quits his dream job.
  Later on, Tom is at a bar and he breaks up a fight but gets knocked da fuck out in doing so.  When he wakes up, he is a board the Altair because one of the crewman brought him in to rest after the fight.  Now Tom is scared, no friends on the ship and a homicidal captain seeking revenge on him.  Can Tom survive this voyage of madness with Captain Stone or will he have another maritime accident and be tossed over board like so many before him?
  This isn't quite what I expected.  With a title like "Ghost Ship" I thought there might be, I don't know..., GHOSTS or at least a twist at the end that implied they were all ghosts but nope.  However, this was a Val Lewton (Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie) production and I did expect a lot of melodrama that was going on here.  There is a lot of talking and the film is more of a dramatic thriller than a horror movie.  It does have some elements of horror, there are a few death and a captain the descending in madness and exerting his Ocean God power.  It has it's moments but it drags at times and you wish there was more ghostly terror as implied by the title.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a trailer, so here's a clip...

3. The Ghost Galleon (aka El Buque Maldito) (1974) - After a modelling shoot, Noemi asks the photographer, Lillian if she has seen her roommate girlfriend, Kathy.  Lillian says she hasn't but Noemi busts her for lying and forces her to tell her the truth.  Lillian breaks down and tells her that Kathy is on a "top secret" modelling campaign.  Unfortunately, that's not good enough for this tough model and Noemi forces Lillian to bring her to the boat yard to find out more about this secret gig.
  They go to the boat yard and meet with sporting tycoon, Howard Tucker and his henchman, Sergio.  Howard explains that Kathy and another model are on a boat in the middle of the ocean pulling a publicity stunt.  He brings up Kathy on the radio and Kathy tells them everything is fine.  However, only moments later, Kathy tells them that they are being surrounded by a strange fog and an old sea galleon is approaching them.  They eventually lose contact with the girls and Tucker sends Sergio out to rescue them in his private helicopter but he comes back empty handed, claiming there is no trace of them at the co-ordinates they gave them.  So, Tucker hires an oceanographer and Sergio, Lillian and Noemi go searching for them on the high sea.
While out there, the gang comes across the same strange fog and sees the galleon coming towards them.  While on board the galleon, they search for Kathy and the other girl but the ship seems to be deserted.  The gang notices that their boat disappears and eventually they are attack by undead Templars!  Will the gang be able to get off this ghost ship or are they doomed to send eternity sailing the seas with the brotherhood of Satan?
  This is the third title in the "Blind Dead" series by Amando de Ossorio (Tomb of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead) and I think he may have given up at this point.  The Templars barely show up in this film and one wonders why they're on this boat at all?  Did these Templars go on a cruise and miss the other movies?  Who knows?  Also, there isn't any likeable characters in this movie, everyone is a douchebag like Noemi, who is arrogant and annoying, Sergio, who I think rapes Noemi at one point in the film and Tucker, who kidnaps Noemi because she knows about a publicity stunt?  Who do you cheer for, well the Templars.  It gets worse as the movie goes on because once the gang gets on the boat, the film gets really deep with talk about dimensional portals and shit that isn't about ghosts or undead Templars.  The Templars only come out at night but inside this dimensional fog it is always night but I guess the Templars have conversion clocks to let them know when night is in the other dimension.  There is so many plot holes you could think this ghastly galleon that I surprised it set sail towards the theaters.  I've seen this twice now and the second time seemed better than the first but this isn't a film I'd probably want to see again.  It's silly and funny at times for the wrong reasons and maybe catch it if you are doing a "Blind Dead" marathon.  What's the next one called, Night of the Seagulls?  oh it is... 

2. The Ghost Ship (2002) - It's 1962 and everyone is having a grand old time aboard the Antonia Graza.  When a cable snaps and whips through the dance floor killing a number of people.  Leaving a little girl behind, alone?
  40 years later, a salvage team are enjoying a few beers at a local pub when a young man named Ferriman approaches them with an unbelievable opportunity.  He explains that he is a weather service pilot and has discovered a liner adrift at sea and can be claimed by anyone who brings it in.  The leader of the team, Murphy decides this is a good opportunity and the crew get ready to bring themselves in a boat.
  When they reach the boat, Murphy can't believe it because he realizes that the ship is the Antonia Graza, which went lost at sea, ummm 40 years ago.  Excited the team climb on board and start doing a search of the ship.  Everything seems to be going okay, except that Epps, Murphy's boat salvaging protege keeps seeing a creepy little girl around the ship and she just keeps that to herself.  After a day of searching the ship, the team ends up finding a few boxes full of gold bars and everyone is excited because they're going to be rich.  They get their boat ready to start the towing the ship and then all of a sudden their boat explodes!  Who saw that coming?
  Trapped on Antonia Graza, the team decides to fix the Graza and try to drive her to the nearest port.  Unfortunately, Epps isn't the only one seeing ghosts on board and the more spirits that appear, the more of their crew seems to disappear.  Will Murphy and his team escape with the riches and finally lay the Antonia Graza to rest or has something more sinister caught them and will they end up floating like so many goldfish? 
  When I first started watching this, I was a little confused because it didn't look or feel like a horror movie and then after the cable snapped and went through everybody.  I was pretty excited.  That scene alone is worth at least checking out the movie.  After that it kind of goes down hill for me.  The cast is good with Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Stigmata) playing the Murphy and Julianna Margulies (Snakes on a Plane, Out For Justice) does an alright job playing his protege, Epps.  Also, Desmond Harrington (Dexter, Wrong Turn) is terribly under used in this role, as Ferriman and I think they could should have developed his character a little more.  I think the story tries to hide the twists some much that it actually hurts the film and makes things confusing at the very end.  This is an okay little time waster if you want something a little more mainstream before setting sail.

1. Death Ship (1980) - Captain Asland is trying to enjoy his last few days aboard his cruise liner before he is sent into retirement but he is forced to go down stairs and eat with the passengers instead of manning the bridge.  While he is downstairs and being a grumpy baby, his crew picks up on the radar a ship barreling towards them.  They try to make some evasive maneuvers but it's too late and the ship rams right into them.  The end?
  Fortunately, Captain Ashland and a few others have survived the collision, including the Trevor Marshall, the man who was going to replace Ashland, and his family, an old lady and a young couple.  The group lay adrift at sea when they see a ominous old warship coming towards them.  They paddle towards the ship and eventually climb aboard.  The ship has no signs of life but the ship seems to be working without a crew?  Bizarre accidents start to occur and the group narrowly escape from some deadly incidents.  Also, Captain Ashland starts playing dress up with the clothing he finds on board and believes that he is a German Captain from the 2n World War.  Will they ever find the horrifying secret of this ship or will they be lost a sea forever?
  Death Ship is a lot of fun to watch.  George Kennedy (Just Before Dawn, The Terror Within) is excellent in this as Captain Asland and have a terrific supporting cast with Richard Crenna (The Rape of Richard Beck, Devil Dog: Hound From Hell), Nick Mancuso (Black Christmas, Tile Man) and Sally Ann Howes (Dead of Night (1945), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).  There are some good death scenes with some good special effects. Also,  I really enjoy that everything on the ship is a danger and they even have a scene with a jar of evil mints.  There are so good special effects near the end and the body count is pretty high, consider the death ship killed everyone on a liner except for 8 people.  The story is good and it has a great ending.  A definite watch before you choose to go on a cruise.

So, before you book your cruise and are trapped on board an cold iron ship, thousands of miles from land with strangers that could be dangerous remember these films because the fear may be to much and toss you overboard!