Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Corpse Vanishes

--Reviewed by Patrick

Plotline: When brides begin falling over dead at the alter, only to have their bodies stolen away by a fake funeral home, the spotlight of blame shines on the reclusive botanist, Dr. Lorenz (played by the great Bela Lugosi). It turns out that he, along with his henchmen (a brute named Angel and an unnamed midget) are stealing the bodies in order to prolong the life and beauty of his wife, the ultimately catty Countess Lorenz.

Scariness factor: -yawn-

Originality: This was actually the second Bela Lugosi movie I saw this weekend featuring missing corpses. (The first was a comic mystery, not a horror, called One Body Too Many, so it will not receive a review here.) In addition, though it came before it, it also strangely mirrored the plot of Santo Vs. Frankenstein's Daughter, except without all the wrestling. I gotta say, the midget was pretty original, if ultimately nonsensical.

Complaints: As with many of these older B-movies, the print was simply awful, with bits of overexposed scenes and large chunks of missing or damaged film flitting across the screen. There was also a limp love affair with two of the hero characters which made little, if any, sense and seemed to be stuffed in there just because the director felt he needed a little romance in the film.

Other High Points: Two scenes, in particular, made this movie a bit more enjoyable. One where the reporter, Patricia Hunter, first meets Countess Lorenz and, when introduced, simply gets told "I didn't invite you here!! -bitch slap-" is awesome in it's over-the-top cattiness. The other is when Dr. Lorenz is confronted by the reporter about being found sleeping in a coffin, to which he replies: "Why, yes, in a manner of speaking. I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed. Is it so strange, really?"

"Well, I guess not."

I only wish people were this easy to convince. "But I enjoy eating small babies. Is it so strange, really?"

"Well, I guess not."

Overall: Poor Bela. He really puts himself 100% into all the movies I've seen him in, no matter how bad. Nowhere in his performance does he betray the lows to which he actually had sunk, taking any role he was offered to feed his addiction to morphine. He really was a tragic case, rising to the pinnacle of horror movie stardom, only to end up starring in the absolute worst examples of the genre. This movie is, unfortunately, more an example of the latter than it is the former.

Grade: C


The House of 1000 Corpses

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Take the plotline to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and throw in a freakshow/museum of horror and you've got yourself the plotline to The House of 1000 Corpses--a group of kids driving cross-country to document weird and wonderful roadside attractions stops to get gas at a freak show/museum of murder and horror in some small town. They then decide to do a quick search for the resting place of a local murderer, end up picking up a hot female hitchhiker, and are dragged back to the hitchhiker's house where they become her crazy family's prey.

Scariness factor: Gah. Blah. Mah. Apparently Rob Zombie thinks that grossness and gore is equal to scariness. I beg to differ.

Originality: Like I said, complete Texas Chain Saw Massacre rip-off.

Complaints: Oh lord. Too numerous to get into. I was actually more than willing to give Rob Zombie the benefit of the doubt, knowing that he is a big nerdy horror fan like those of us who read and write this blog. I thought I'd at least be charmed by his obvious smittenness with good horror movies. But there's a difference between appreciating a good gore-flick and RIPPING OFF a good gore-flick.

  • As I've mentioned, my biggest complaint is that it was a complete and total rip-off of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I understand that the whole "crazed family" trope is used a lot in horror movies; I understand that the whole "carful of teens breaking down and unravelling into a night of horror" is used a lot in horror movies. But this movie's structures is a complete and total rip-off of TTCSM. And given that TTCSM is so damn good, I'm not sure how Zombie expected to one-up it by using the exact same premise.

  • The family was more irritating and obnoxious than spooky and scary. Sheri Moon is a fricking hottie, and yet she annoyed the piss out of me with her obnoxious baby-voice through the whole movie. The rest of the family was so over the top that they became more silly than anything.

  • The movie started off as a "crazy murderous family" movie and then totally got sidetracked into some sorta weird nonsensical bullshit. Suddenly 3/4 of the way through the movie, we start being introduced to all these torturous freaks who live in catacombs underground--a dentist who tortures his patients, a bizarre-looking man-creature who chases folks with an axe, a bunch of creature-men that live in muddy waters below and tear apart the people that the crazy family sacrifices to them. Now, maybe it's just me, but I don't quite understand how ONE FAMILY manages to rope in ALL the crazies in the surrounding states and get them to a) willingly live underground, b) willingly spend their time in a damp dank mudpit filled with water and bugs awaiting the occasional person who gets placed down there in a coffin so that they can tear them apart, c) etc etc. It just doesn't make sense to me. If I were a murderous crazy, I think I'd wanna be doing my own thing--be some sorta crazy murderous independent contractor or something. And if I WANTED the group support of OTHER murderous crazies, I sure as hell would get turned off by the whole "living underground for the rest of eternity" thing. And I sure as HELL would not spend days and weeks in a mud-pit awaiting the occasional victim. Fuck that.

  • High Points: The guy with the axe was creepy. That's about it.

    Overall: I was sorely disappointed with this bastard of a movie. It was obnoxious and uncreepy. It was gory and nonsensical. I'd definitely not recommend.

    Grade: D-/F

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    Monday, May 23, 2005


    --Reviewed by Patrick

    Plotline: The Freelings have everything a family could want: a beautiful new house, a loving family and a cadre of evil undead souls haunting them. The result is a classic horror movie. Not one of us, who went through the 80's, could hear the phrase "they're here!" the same way again.

    Scariness factor: This is tough to judge. This is, honestly, the first time I'd seen Poltergeist since I was a little kid, when it scared the living sh*t outta me. In particular, the clown doll, which eventually does come to life, tied into a close held fear I once had of evil dolls. Now, as an adult, I found it much less scary, with effects that, at times, seemed bordering on cheesy. That said, there are still some honest scares to be had. In particular, a scene where the son, covered in blood, searches for his sister, only to find a TV on static and her disembodied voice screaming for help, still sent a shiver down my spine.

    Originality: As they say in the movie: "At least it wasn't built on an old Indian burial mound!"
    In a movie whose themes of evil spirits and houses on cemeteries are so cliché by today's standards, it's hard to give them a fair shake on this one. I mean, from 'The Haunting' to 'The Amityville Horror', houses that are "born bad" are certainly nothing new. So, one could look at it as "just another haunted house movie" or as a classic example of the genre, depends on how much you like the movie.

    Complaints: Raise your hand if you remember the older sister in this movie. Anyone? anyone?? Nope and neither did I. Granted, it had been awhile between viewings, but rewatching it, it's easy to see how she could have been forgotten. Her character is beyond useless. She appears in random parts of the movie, mainly just to scream and serves the plot in no way/shape/form. In fact, through most of the movie, she is absent, without any explanation, only to reappear at the very end. It just seems so oddly out of place.

    Other High Points: 'Poltergeist' doesn't waste any times and starts the scares early. Though this results in a bit of a lull that must be rescued by the quirky psychic Tangina Barrons (I swear, she's like 2 feet tall), it also gets you on edge from the get-go. The movie also scores unintentional creepy points due to the untimely death of two of the actresses. Heather O'Rourke (who plays the abducted Carol Anne) died at the age of 13, after filming only 6 movies (3 of which being the Poltergeist franchise). Dominique Dunne (the older sister) was strangled to death by her boyfriend, just 1 year after the release of this film.

    Overall: Though the sequels were pale imitations of the original, the original 'Poltergeist' should be on everyone's "must watch" list.

    (Check out Lindy Loo's Review for a second opinion)

    Grade: A-


    The Blob (1988)

    --Reviewed by Lindy Loo

    Plotline: A remake of the 1958 Steve McQueen film--an asteroid falls to the earth, leaving a cocoon-like object in its wake. After a homeless man pokes at it and releases a blob-like material from within it, it begins to quickly consume him, and then other townsfolk one by one. The more it consumes, the larger and more blobbier it gets. The teenagers in the town attempt to warn folks and figure out how to kill it while government agents (interested in using it for biological warfare--a change from the 1958 version) attempt to quarantine the town and get their hands on it, risking townsfolks' lives in the process.

    Scariness factor: It's a big fat pink blob that sometimes looks like bubblegum and other times looks like pre-chewed laughy taffy--how scary can it really be?

    Originality: No more original than other sci-fi/horror flicks that play up people's fears of alien beings.

    Complaints: As in the original, there are quite a few really ridiculous shots of the blob--sometimes it looks even LAMER than the original, which is impressive. Also, the main character has the worst '80's Richard Marx mullet, and you're gonna get stuck staring at it through a good portion of the movie--that actually is one of the more terrifying aspects of the film.

    Other High Points: The blob death-scenes--surprisingly, many of these were quite gruesome and inventive, despite the many other times that the blob ends up looking lame in the movie. One man gets sucked down into a sink drain, a waitress gets exploded within a telephone booth, a teenager gets quickly consumed and is shown screaming and trying to escape the interior of the blob as it consumes him. Fun fun stuff. Kinda had the same campy gruesomeness of Dead Alive. Also, for those of you who are Seinfeld fans, Crazy Joe Divola makes about a 5-second screen appearance in the movie, to my great amusement.

    Overall: I was surprised and actually quite enjoyed this movie. It doesn't take itself too seriously--thank god, because it's really damn terrible at times. It has a good amount of camp-factor in it--it would be fun to watch with a group of drunk folks. And the death-scenes were surprisingly creepy. As B-movies go, it was actually quite a bit of fun to watch.

    Grade: B


    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed

    Two horror movies in one weekend, thanks the kind and generous E who suffered through them both. =)

    --Reviewed by Lindy Loo

    Plotline: Ginger is now dead at the hands of Brigitte, but Brigitte is still living and staving off werewolfdom by giving herself daily injections of wolfsbane. However, as she is able to fend off werewolfdom less and less, another werewolf that is trying to mate with her gets closer and closer. Ginger collapses in the snow one day while trying to escape him and wakes up in a drug rehab center. The movie focuses on her attempts to escape both the center and the pursuing wolf, all with the help of a comic book-obsessed little girl named Ghost.

    Scariness factor: It wasn't really scary so much as creepy. But it did definitely succeed in the creepiness arena.

    Originality: Again, it's a sequel--how original can it be really?

    Complaints: The ending was fairly lame and abrupt and so clearly intended to leave an opening for the third Ginger Snaps.

    High Points: The whole first half of the movie was actually really good for a sequel. The filming was gritty, the intro montage was creepy, the character of Brigitte was good just like in the original. The film showed a bit too much cutting and drug-usage (which makes me a bit squeamish), but it left the werewolf scenes a bit more to the imagination like in the original. The introduction of the character of Ghost (a young girl who is obsessed with comic books and in the rehab center with her aunt who was severely burned) was an interesting addition to the series. But the unravelling of her character got more silly than creepy towards the end.

    Overall: The movie was no Ginger Snaps (the original). The original played with themes of womanhood, puberty, teenage angst, and fairy tales in a way that was actually quite smart and witty. The more I watched this second one, the more I was reminded of how good the first one was (so much so that it took a solid place on my list of Top 5 Horror Movies). The second one continued on with the creepiness of the first, but it lost its themes and more interesting and intelligent moments to the whole nature of the sequel. But as sequels go, this was by far a better horror movie sequel than most.

    Grade: B


    Ring Two

    --Reviewed by Lindy Loo

    Plotline: Samara is back again from the beyond to torture Rachel and Aidan some more. This time she's looking to take over the young boy Aidan's body so that she can have a mother and exist in the flesh.

    Scariness factor: Doesn't even come CLOSE to the original. I mean, for pete's sake, they thought it would be scary to have a computer-graphic deer-attack scene? I mean really? REALLY?!

    Originality: It's a sequel--need I say more?


  • The deer scene--silliest scene I've seen in a horror movie in a while.

  • Why in horror movies, when main characters are under pressure to figure something out as quickly as possible to save someone else (be it from dying or from horrific ghostly torture), do they always take gratuitously long to do so? Rachel is trying to figure out the key to what is happening to her son and so travels back to the Morgan Horse Farm in the hopes of discovering the connections to Samara. She slowly moves into the basement, and then while in the basement, takes the time to slowly walk around and touch things--ooh pretty merry-go-round music box! i shall touch it wistfully and ever so slowly; oooh dust! i shall touch it wistfully and ever so slowly.

  • Watching this movie made me realize what made the original such a fantastically creepy movie--the combination of the unsettling music and the Ring Video itself. Both play completely insignificant roles in this movie which made it way too sluggish and dull.

  • If Rachel asks Aidan one more time, "What's the matter, honey?" when his eyes are clearly sunken in, his flesh a pasty white, his eyes a vacant stare, I'm going to eat my own arm for entertainment.

  • Other High Points: One or two creepy scenes--Samara's creepy shuddery tv-staticky self can be a bit creepy at times, when handled well. I also kind of liked the weird tie-in to the whole post-partum depression, crazy mom kinda thing, though it didn't really end up going anywhere.

    Overall: It was pretty much what I expected it to be--a sequel to a really good scary movie. All the mysteries were unravelled in the first one, so where could they really go from there? Like most sequels, it was weak and flabby. To be expected though, I suppose.

    Grade: D+


    Monday, May 09, 2005

    The People Under the Stairs

    --Reviewed by Lindy Loo

    Historical note: This was the movie I saw on my first date in high school. It was with a really big sweet oaf of a football player two years older than me. We held hands. The movie still sucked.

    Plotline: A young boy named Fool attempts to help a family friend rob his landlords' house so that he can save his family from being evicted. In the process, Fool is trapped inside with the insane landlords (a brother and sister masquerading as parents) and all their reject boy-children who they've kept trapped under the stairs for years. Fool attempts to liberate himself and their daughter (who's never seen the light of day) from this terrifying house, all the while battling a "father" dressed like a gimp with a penchant for shooting up the walls and mommie-dearest.

    Scariness factor: Lame lame lame. The gunk stuck in the crack between my toenail and toe is scarier.

    Originality: Eh--if the plotline wasn't so ludicrous, it might pass as being somewhat original.

    Complaints: The "parents"/landlords are so completely over-the-top that they are a far-cry from ever passing as scary. Wes Craven apparently missed the idea of subtleties here--killers who pass easily as sane are WAY more scary than crackpots holding crackpot signs and wearing crackpot t-shirts.

    My big complaint was the lack of scariness in this movie--I mean, have you SEEN what the people under the stairs look like? Regular folks with really thick caked-on white makeup. *Dying of fright*

    Other High Points: Pretty much nothing. The fact that it's one of the few horror movies that features a main character who's black could've been interesting. But it wasn't.

    Overall: I was bored with it, just like when I saw it back in high school. Probably even moreso since back then, I had even LESS discerning tastes.

    Grade: F


    Tuesday, May 03, 2005


    Hellbent is being dubbed the "first gay horror movie."

    Not sure when the release date is. The movie itself sounds like it could either be godawful or interesting.

    This is the lamest blog entry ever.

    Watch the preview dammit.

    *Sobbing quietly to self*