Wednesday, July 27, 2005


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Out in the backwoods area of some southern state, a man named Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is living and running a local grocer's with his son. A group of teens with dirt bikes shows up at his store to buy liquor to take with them to a cabin they're spending the week in. When Harley steps out, his son is accidentally struck and killed by one of the kids on his dirt bike. Harley tracks down the crazy local witch-woman and conjures up the local demon (Pumpkinhead) to strike vengeance upon them. Madness ensues. Once Harley decides that vengeance was not the right choice, he attempts to battle the demon himself. More madness ensues.

Scariness factor: Thankfully, it was at least somewhat creepier than Exorcist: The Beginning. It has its moments of atmospheric creepiness, but as a general rule it's not TERRIBLY scary. However, Pumpkinhead is a pretty sweet masterpiece of special effects and makeup, lemme tell you.

Originality: Folks back from the dead to avenge a death or called up from the dead to avenge a death or just avenging a death to avenge a death are not all THAT original. But Pumpkinhead is pretty creepy (it looks like a softer, slightly more cuddly version of the alien in Alien):



Complaints: The movie is terribly 80's of course. But not noxiously so if you go into it with that in mind. The pacing is a bit slow, and the deaths and the moments leading up to them aren't terribly shocking or scary or jump-inducing. That was a bit of a bummer, but the creature and the feel of the movie aren't too bad.

High Points: Definitely Pumpkinhead. This is what I'm saying about why horror flicks should toss aside all this fancy shmancy CGI crap and go back to their roots. Pumpkinhead is about as far from CGI as you can get (it is clearly a dude in some bad-ass rubbery garb) but he is creepy as piss and BELIEVABLE for that reason. Had he been a CGI "miracle," the movie would've been crap. Another added perk of the movie is Lance Henriksen--a good actor in what could turn out to be a potentially lame B-horror movie always adds some stability and believability to it. Oh, and when local po' folk drop by you'll get a sneak peak of a very young Blossom and that chick from My So-Called Life--this is one of my favorite things about watching 80's horror movies: there're always a ton of weird actors and actresses that pop up.

Overall: It was a nice spooky romp for an evening filled with thunderstorms and a fiercely yellow sky. And the slight moral twist at the end and Harley's redemption was actually a rather clever ending, in my opinionation. Don't be discouraged by the title which is about as lame as naming a horror movie Leprechaun--if you check it out, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Grade: B-


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Exorcist: The Beginning

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Wow. This truly is the worst movie I've seen in a really long time--it actually gives Van Helsing a run for its money, and we all know how much I loved that movie. If you dig movies in which the holocaust is exploited, numerous children are tortured in various ways, and every tired trick in the horror movie book is used, then this is the movie for you!

Plotline: This is the prequel to the fantastic and classic The Exorcist. Long before having to drive the demon from Regan, Father Merrin finds himself uncovering an old church in East Africa and battling the same bastard demon within its confines. We also finally come to see the wavering faith that drives Merrin in the HUNDRED TIMES BETTER movie afterwards.

Scariness factor: Oh my god. Lemme just tell you: you could watch the original Exorcist over and over every day for a full year, know the whole damn movie inside and out, upside and down, know every thing that's coming and it'd STILL be about a thousand times scarier than this piece of crap.

Originality: *Hork* Where to even start? Lemme just say, this movie pulls the same tired moves as every other really bad horror movie out there. And dammit, it's not allowed, because it's a movie about EXORCISM, not bad guys in crazy masks chasing big-boobed co-eds around campus! I mean, there's a fricking SHOWER scene in this movie where you get to see a bit of side-boob. AND IT'S COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY BECAUSE IT DOES NOTHING FOR THE FRICKING STORY! I'd be able to justify this gratuitous side-boobishness if this were some sorta not-so-serious slasher film, but this stupid movie is so smitten with itself and takes itself so seriously that it honestly believes that there was some sorta need for such a scene. Also, apparently the devil has nothing better to do than tease people like we used to when we were little--by turning the lights off on them so they're forced to roam around blindly in the dark and then *WHAM* turning them back on! *Wetting myself with memories of such past horrors* I mean, doesn't anybody else think that if they were all powerful and shit, they might make better use of their time, say, torturing people or something? And every twist can be seen from a mile away in this movie. Every fricking twist, lemme tell you. Unless you are blind and deaf and mute. And it is chock full of such original lines as "Evil's inside each of us." And finally, this movie (which is set in East Africa) feels about as authentic in scenery and native-culture as, say, Brendan Fraser and The Mummy. And the CGI scenes are ten times worse--but we'll get to that soon enough. Oh, and *SPOILER ALERT in the closing scene, in which we're supposed to see Father Merrin finding his way back to the religion after passing through a spiritual wasteland, we're given the following stunning dialogue: Random dude: "Goodbye, Mr. Merrin." Merrin: "It's Father Merrin."
Please, make it stop.

  • The fricking computer animation. I mean, wtf, people? The dudes who did the computer animation in this movie CAN'T EVEN MAKE A DOZEN FLIES FLITTING ABOUT A BLOOD-CRUSTED ROOM look real. (And I'll just pretend not to even consider why they felt it necessary to computer animate flies instead of just bringing in a dozen REAL flies for the scene because I can already feel my blood pressure rising.) And yet they thought it smart to computer animate multiple fly-scenes which are just the pits. *AND* *SPOILER ALERT a hyena scene where multiple hyenas tear a small child apart while looking completely and ridiculously computer animated /END SPOILER. Look, Mommy, Buzz Lightyear is eating up a child! *AND* a blue-screened or computer animated or some such schlocky scene of the demon host running down a tunnel like some undead thing from Army of Darkness.

  • Don't make a movie with holocaust scenes in it unless you're sure it's gonna be a good movie, for christ's sake. I mean, it's difficult enough to make a serious movie about the Holocaust and do a good job and not seem shlocky. So why anyone doing a really fricking bad B-movie would touch the topic with a 100-foot pole is beyond me. But they did. And it's bad. So bad. They should be ashamed for exploiting this topic for such a bad bad bad movie. Ashamed.

  • Why is it that in horror movies, everyone always does activities that necessitate haste as SLOWLY AS FRICKING POSSIBLE?? "We must kill possessed boy before he destroys our tribe with his curse! Well then I shall stand here with this knife hovering over him, lowering it at a fraction of a centimeter every minute that passes, despite the fact that windows have begun shattering, the bed and the boy are shaking like an earthquake, amd my buddies' bones are all being snapped in two like twigs. And of course, the knife will be knocked out of my hand before it ever so slowly plunges into his chest. Yes yes." Lemme just warn all you folks: if I ever find myself trapped with any of you in a horror-movie like situation, you're all goners. All you have to do is hiccup or pass gas or something, and that's it--I'm assuming you're possessed and lopping of your head with whatever sharp item is nearby. None of this retarded 3-hour bumbling. No fricking way.

  • Children are tortured and killed left and right in this movie. I mean, four children meet horrible horrible deaths. And multiple others are tortured. I don't know if this was supposed to capture the horror of what the devil will do, but it didn't. It just seemed gratuitous and just in bad taste.

  • High Points: The scene in which the demon-host spiderwalks along the interior walls of the cave was ALMOST creepy. Until I realized I was just fricking desperate at this point and had the Stay Puff marshmallow man tap-danced across the cave walls, I probably woulda been just as impressed.

    Overall: This is, hands-down, one of the worst most lame most terrible most ridiculous most unscary pieces of crap I've seen in a really really really long time. Avoid at all costs.

    Grade: F


    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    --Reviewed by Patrick

    Plotline: Back from vacation, Dr. Bennell finds his small California town being affected by a strange malady. People are claiming that their family and friends are not their own, but imposters, who look and act like their relatives, but are different in some indescribable way. It seems the whole town is quickly being taken over by these "pod people" and it's up to the Doctor and his friends to try and find the source and stop it, while keeping from changing themselves.

    Scariness factor: There are very few movies that stand up, through the years, and remain as chilling today as when they were first filmed. The Shining, The Haunting and, I'm happy to say, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is right in there. I remember, as a kid, this movie scared the crap outta me. I didn't get the whole subtext of the Communist "Red Menace". I just knew that the idea of knowing the monster was out there, but not knowing who it was, and it could be anyone (and everyone), was very scary indeed.

    Originality: To be fair, three years previous, Invaders from Mars was released, which had a similar plotline of people's personality being overtaken by aliens. But, the cheese level was 20X higher and so far less creepy, the comparisons are pretty weak.

    Complaints: I only have two complaints about the whole movie. One, a huge, gaping major plot hole near the end. You see, in the beginning of the movie, we learn that the "pod people" copy your memories while you're sleeping. Then, the brand new fully completed pod person disposes of the original. This is not only heavily implied, but supported by various scenes involving a man watching his "copy" grow. But, later in the film, a character falls asleep for a split second, only to wake up a pod person, without any mention of the "copy" that had to be growing in the vicinity, to take over. My second complaint is not with the movie, itself, but with the Hollywood establishment. When researching parts of the movie, I discovered that they are remaking 'Invasion..' for the THIRD time (for those that don't know, it was also remade in the 70's, very well I should add, starting Donald Sutherland). How desperate is Hollywood that they need to remake movies that have been remade once already!!!. It's very sad indeed.

    High Points: The original ending (later added on to by the studio's to make it "happier") was incredibly nihilistic, especially for the time. It truly finished the movie with a chilling and oppressive tone. I won't reveal it, for those who haven't seen the movie. But, if you're watching it, the movie should end when the main character's voice echoes out, the rest is a studio addition.

    Overall: Again, this is one of the classic movies out there, a required viewing for anyone's sci-fi or horror library. The 1978 version is equally worth watching, as while the original can be set in the era of the Red Scare, the remake holds more to the feelings of homogenization and desensitization of modern American culture. But, you don't need to look at any of this subtext to enjoy this truly chilling movie.

    Grade: A-


    Dark Water

    --Reviewed by Lindy Loo

    Let me first preface this by saying that I went and saw this movie Friday afternoon at the 11:55 showing. It was hot as hell outside, so I figured some nice a/c at the theater would be a vast improvement for my mood and sweat-quantity. Unfortunately, there was a couple that came into the theater about ten minutes into the movie and talked at normal volume-level throughout the whole movie (minus the time that they left during the movie for about ten minutes) despite me telling them to shut up twice and the only other guy in the theater moving to sit way in the back so that he didn't have to hear them quite so much. So needless to say, my review probably was slightly affected by this, though I'm still gonna try to be as objective as possible. Oh, and the guy sitting in front of me starting passing rank gas through the last 20 minutes of the movie. Which also didn't help.

    Plotline: Jennifer Connelly's character is getting a divorce from her husband. This means she has to find a new place to live for her and her daughter, Ceci, which ends up being a shithole apartment with a bubbling black water leak. No one seems to care about the leak which keeps getting bigger and filthier except her. Once her daughter starts talking to an imaginary friend on a regular basis and everything starts showing up ravaged by filthy black waters, Connelly must question whether she's going mad.

    Scariness factor: Not too high--during most of the movie it was raining or the characters were trapped in a dark filthy apartment, so the movie had a creepy tone to it, similar to the grungy eeriness of Se7en. But I wasn't on edge at all during it.

    Originality: Fairly original, I suppose. Though the resolution to the story seemed eerily familiar to me, and I'm not quite sure why.

    Complaints: The foul gas and incessant talking. As for the movie, I think it was perhaps just pacing. The movie waddled along kind of sluggishly and never really picked up pace. And I never really felt engaged with the characters or really compelled and curious as to what was going on. And the ending was kinda lame.

    High Points: I love John C. Reilly. The man is fantastic no matter what the hell he is in. He played a great bastard landlord in this flick. Also Tim Roth made a surprise appearance as an attorney, which made me happy since I haven't really seen him in anything good for a while.

    Overall: Take this review with a grain of salt. I would genuinely like to give this movie a second chance once it comes out on dvd because I felt it had enough going for it that, given my undivided attention, I might actually enjoy it quite a bit.

    Grade: C+/B-

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    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    Beat Me, Please

    Yes, I am deserving of a swift and cruel beating since I haven't watched a horror movie *OR* posted in a couple of weeks. Mea culpa mea culpa.

    I figured I'd better suck it up and do a little bit of catch up.

    Here's the horror movies I'm looking forward to seeing, hopefully in the next few months:

    1. The Man with the Screaming Brain--this baby is written, directed, and starring everybody's favorite camp god, Bruce Campbell. Campbell's character, a rich industrialist, ends up having his brain removed and replaced with the brain of a Latino pimp. Of course a mad scientist is to blame. Campbell and the pimp join forces to track down the woman who killed them both.

    2. Dark Water--though I don't understand why people just don't MOVE when things start to go wrong in their homes (i.e. perpetual raining, bleeding of the walls, etc.), I do admit that this movie looks rather spooky in the previews. Jennifer Connelly's character is mid-custody battle for her daughter and, as a result, ends up in a shithole apartment in the interim. The apartment is of course haunted, as evidenced by the perpetually leaking waters, random spooky noises, etc., and Connelly must work double-time to keep her daughter safe and sound. (*Sidenote: Connelly really needs to start playing characters that actually own/rent good stable real estate already--see House of Sand & Fog.)

    3. George Romero's Land of the Dead--I've heard some pretty stinky things about this movie, but I don't give a damn. It's a zombie movie. And it's George Romero. Thus, I really need to drag my ass out and see it already. (Previews) Zombies have taken over the world. The only remaining humans have walled themselves up inside a city, living in skyscrapers. But the zombies are beginning to evolve and grow more advanced, making life that much more dangerous for the few remaining humans.

    4. Nochnoy Dozor (or Night Watch)--An apocalyptic film (Russian sci-fi meets Russian horror) where good vampires battle evil vampires (and some monsters as well). This movie was a *HUGE* box-office success in Russia. (Previews)

    5. Undead--heh heh. I just dig the bi-line: "Crazy has come to town for a visit." A resident of a peaceful farming community moves to the city after losing her home. Upon arrival, the city is bludgeoned by a spew of meteorites which infect the city and wake up the dead. People versus zombies again, but it looks pretty gritty (see Preview) and apparently has a good sense of humor.

    6. And finally, on video, Just Before Dawn. I saw a good portion of this movie, sans volume, at a bar I was at about 6 months ago or so. I dug it, even without the sound. It's a wickedly '80s backwoods horror movie where five campers are terrorized by a machete-wielding crazy. This movie is apparently gonna be making its digital debut on dvd at the end of July, so keep your eyes out.