Monday, March 27, 2006

The Crazies

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A plane that happens to be carrying some sort of biological contaminant (weapon) goes down in the hills near a small town. The contaminant leaks into the water supply, so the town must be placed under quarantine as the effect of those who come into contact with the "virus" is complete and utter madness.

Scariness factor: This movie is not so much scary as it is disturbing. Consequently, it is relatively slow-paced, relying more on realism than on scares.

Gross-Out Factor: Lots of shooting and Heinz-ketchup colored blood.

Complaints: This movie is just really really slow-moving. I like that it relies on a certain amount of realism to propel it along, but there are huge long chunks where it's just military men rattling off orders, and NOTHING REALLY IS HAPPENING. Don't expect it to fly by. And while I enjoyed the scathing condemnation of the government and the military in this movie, the events weren't quite so terrifying as they could've been, so I didn't feel shell-shocked at the end like I wish I would've...

High Points: This movie is clearly a socio-political commentary (as are many of Romero's films) and, while I think it could've been made all the more horrifying and shell-shocking than it was, it was definitely interesting to watch. And as much as the title of this movie has always made me laugh (and is part of the reason I rented it), it's probably one of the more perfect titles of a horror movie around today--it asks us what it is referring to: the actual epidemic of madness that is sweeping through the town, the people who are infected by this madness, or the military/government as they deal with it completely ineptly. At one point in the movie, a military man says something to the effect of, "We don't know exactly what we're doing or why we're here, but we just keep on doing it." And this fits the theme of the movie perfectly--this is loosely the definition of "crazy," and not only are the townsfolk infected with it, but those who unleashed it and those who are shooting up innocent civilians in order to deal with it are even MORE disturbingly suffering from this epidemic *without even being infected*. It is an interesting movie in this regard--perhaps not the most fast-paced or scary, but definitely interesting. With all the time they spend remaking old horror flicks, I only wish that they'd invest their energy in remaking something like THIS, especially in our time of social/political unrest, where we could USE a scathing horror commentary about that which is our government and our president.

Overall: Definitely nothing that will force you to sleep with your lights on, but realistic and gritty and interesting, as most of Romero's stuff usually is. Don't go in expecting your usual jump-in-your-seat horror--this is a lot more subtle.

Grade: B+


Monday, March 20, 2006

Chopper Chicks in Zombietown

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A group of biker chicks swings into town only to bump into a mad-scientist/funeral director who's killing off people and turning them into zombies.

Scariness factor: Read the movie title again. Ok. One more time. You tell me--are you *thinking* it's scary based on that?

Gross-Out Factor: Blood. Rubberized heads. That's about the extent of the goriness.

Complaints: This movie wasn't intended to be any sort of masterpiece, so it's hard to complain about something that is happy to admit it wasn't striving for perfection in the first place. It is clearly inspired by the likes of Dead Alive, indulging in some mega-campiness and attempts at knee-slapping goofball humor. My biggest complaint, however, is the lack of zombie-action throughout most of this movie. I mean, it's "Zombietown" not "Peopletown." I could've used more zombies, dammit.

High Points: I am, of course, judging this movie on camp value and not on any actual horrory goodness, so bear that in mind. But if you're looking for a movie that isn't ashamed to put a midget, blind people, zombies, and biker chicks all in one scene, then this is the movie for you. This movie is so beyond terrible and beyond B-movie that it'd definitely be worth playing drinking games to at some random party. It's got terrible acting, fantastically bad one-liners, horrible horrible music (though I *did* keep thinking that if they ever remade this movie, Le Tigre would be the only band that could do a successful capturing of its spirit), and Billy Bob Thornton (but only for like 10 minutes or so). The plot rarely makes sense, but hell, if you've got terrible acting and fantastically bad one-liners, ain't that enough? Honestly though, this movie may be goofy, but the heroes of the day are a(n allegedly) bad-ass group of biker-chicks who are constantly being put down because they're women and frequently are met with the "sting" of being called bull-dykes, so it probably would make for an entertaining feminist reading (if no one has tackled it already). This would, of course, mean immediate expulsion from grad school though. =)

Overall: This movie is bad. No doubt about it. So keep that in mind with the rating. When I give it a C+/B-, it's all about the camp, babies. Do *NOT* go in expecting even the slightest scare. In the *real* world of horror movies, this would definitely get an F.

Grade: C+/B-

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ju-on (The Grudge)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A movie about a haunted house and a vengeful spirit. Really. That's all it's about.

Scariness factor: The ghostly-woman character--definitely fricking scary. The noise--scary as well. The rest of the movie--eh.

Gross-Out Factor: There is really nothing vomitous in this movie at all, so those of you with a squeamish stomach can rest easy.

Complaints: This movie was by the creators of Ringu, but it was not *nearly* as good. In fact, I didn't find it much more interesting or freaky than the American version. It was a lot less irritating and Hollywood-slick, but strangely, it still had a bit of a big-blockbustery feel to it that was absent in Ringu. It was not very fast-paced, so I found myself getting fidgety often. Like Ringu, it doesn't try too hard at explaining *why* the hauntings are taking place--this time around though, this is both a good and a bad thing. Good because the American versions always get tiresome in their need to pin down everything so that it makes absolute logical sense, bad in that I had a hard time investing myself in being frightened because, well, I couldn't figure out why the hell I should be caring all that much that the hauntings were taking place... That and the scary parts were so repetitive that after you've run into the first few, you start to feel ho-hum about seeing the main ghosty characters lurching around after people. Oh, and what is it with Japanese filmmakers and their fear of Japanese women with long black hair that hangs inexplicably in front of their face at all times?

High Points: The creepy woman in it is DAMN creepy. Images of her were stuck in my head the rest of the night as I roamed around my dark apartment and tried to fall asleep. And the noise she and the little boy make--f-ed up and spooky, man. Freaks me out just to think about it. Other than that though, not much in the way of scariness.

Overall: I was not too impressed (which was even a bit more disappointing because I had to rack up an overdue fine at the library to be able to watch the damn movie last night)--Ringu is by far the better of the two movies, so if you have to choose between the two, rent that one instead.

Grade: C


Monday, March 13, 2006


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Sci-fi all the way, the crew of a mining ship headed back to earth stops to investigate an S.O.S. on some random planet. They inadvertently stumble across an alien life form, accidentally bringing it back to the ship. All hell breaks loose.

Scariness factor: This movie freaked me the hell out when I was little, and not *too* much has changed since then. Clearly the alien is a man in an alien suit in many scenes, which my jaded adult self scoffs at a bit more than I did when I was a bit younger. But the movie is intense and scary despite this fact, and I'd definitely give it a thumbs up in this arena.

Gross-Out Factor: There is mild violence and some realistic gore, but nothing too stomach-churning.

Complaints: I have no major complaints--the goofier special effects are "silly" only because it's the 1970's and they didn't have all the "hip" technology we have now. So I can't complain too much about that fact, especially since the quality acting and scariness of the movie (and the alien, which is freaking creepy) make up for the more laughable parts.

High Points: One thing I super-dig about this movie is that its bad-ass main character is this ball-busting feminist chick who is constantly calling the guys out on shit. Sigourney Weaver kicks ass. This movie is fascinating with regards to the whole feminist revolution kinda thang which is reflected in Sigourney Weaver, her role on the ship, and her interactions with other males. I'm sure there's probably some damn good feminist/film theory on the matter somewhere out there, but, well, it's Monday morning and I'm too lazy and tired to look. It's also interesting to see all the white males get killed off before the obligatory black man and women in the movie. Not only is this movie interesting with regard to female roles and all that, it's also a fricking scary movie. Clearly, it straddles the border between horror and sci-fi, but there is no doubt that it is a horror movie. The action is fast-paced (for the most part--bits and parts of the movie drag, but it's mostly at the beginning), and the sense of doom closing in on the main characters is frightening. The special effects (give or take a couple of lame-ass moments) are really damn good as well--the movie understands how to be understated and knows when to pan away from a scene to let your imagination do the work.

Overall: If you're a sci-fi fan, this movie is a must-see. If you're a sci-fi fan *and* a horror movie fan and haven't seen this film already, you need to run out *right now* (you heard me) and take it home to watch. This is definitely a worth-while horror flick.

Grade: A


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fodor's Horror Movie Travel Guide to Places to Avoid While on Vacation


Bay of Blood (1982)
Blood Feast (1963)
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)
Bordello of Blood (1996)
Castle of Blood (1964)
Chopping Mall (1986)
City of the Living Dead (1980)
City of the Walking Dead (1980)
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Ghost Ship (2002)
Haunted House of Horror (1969)
Horror Express (1972)
Horror Hospital (1973)
Horror House (1969)
House of Psychotic Women (1972)
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Island of Death (1975)
Island of the Damned (1976)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Motel Hell (1980)
Terror Train (1981)
Theater of Blood (1973)
Torture Garden (1967)
Tower of Evil (1972)
Vampire Circus (1972)
Village of the Damned (1995)
Zombie Lake (1980)


Burial Ground (1980)
Carnival of Souls (1998)
Clownhouse (1988)
The Funhouse (1981)
House (1986)
House of Wax (2005)
House on the Edge of the Park (1981)
Last House on the Left (1972)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Paperhouse (1988)
Salem's Lot (1979)
Sleepaway Camp (1983)


Lair of the White Worm (1988)
The Mad Room (1969)
Madhouse (1974)
Mausoleum (1983)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)


Island of the Alive (1986)

* A failed McSweeney's List--but hey, at least it was fun compiling...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dying Dying Dead

I was probably in the O'Hare airport this weekend with George Romero without even realizing it.*


*Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors