Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Hitcher

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A young man traveling cross-country picks up a hitchhiker in the hopes of keeping himself awake, as he's begun to doze off as he drives. Almost immediately, he learns that it's the wrong decision. And the wrong decision continues to turn worse as he finds himself being held responsible for the deaths of various other travellers who've run into The Hitcher along the way.

Scariness factor: Rutger Hauer is a creepy man, so yeah, it has its moments. Although they are very 80's-esque ones.

Gross-Out Factor: Mostly just aftermath, blood-scenes. Nothing more horrible than that.

Complaints: Nothing was particularly terrible about this movie--it requires you to suspend your disbelief a lot, but so do most horror flicks. It's perhaps not as interesting as I would've liked it, but it's not terrible. I just found myself comparing it to Spielberg's Duel the whole time, which I absolutely adore, and which is in the same vein as this movie (but does an infinitely creepier job of playing up the fear of being hunted on the road). But despite it paling in comparison to Duel, it's not bad.

High Points: Rutger Hauer is creepy as always. Such a strange thing since he *is* kind of a fox, the more I think about it. Perhaps that's what lends to his creepiness? I dunno. Anyways... This movie has a lot of fantastic car-crash scenes in it which is kinda fun. Think old-school chase scenes, and that's what they're gonna hook you up with here. There is a lot of nervous energy in this movie which I also enjoyed--the feeling of being pursued is definitely in high throttle for 90 minutes here. I feel like this could've been made a more perfect movie somehow, with just a little bit of tweaking, but as it stands, it's a pretty solid and good one. It's suspenseful, though perhaps not fantastically high-paced. It's a bit far-fetched, but still manages to be creepy. So I can't complain.

Overall: This is an entertaining 90 minutes. I wasn't impressed enough that I'd seek it out again and again to watch, but it was definitely fun and creepy and suspenseful. And if you like Rutger Hauer, you'll definitely dig this.

Grade: B


Monday, August 28, 2006

The Brain That Wouldn't Die

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A crazed doctor is busy doing secret experiments involving reanimating the dead. When he crazily drives himself and his wife-to-be down a ravine, causing his wife-to-be to die a fiery death, he decides it would be a smart idea to try reanimating her, even if it's only her head that he's able to save. While he hunts around for the sexiest body possible to which he can reattach her head, she sits waiting, body-lessly, in a pan of blood. She is not pleased.

Scariness factor: Ha ha ha--no.

Gross-Out Factor: 1960s blood. So no.

Complaints: The head of the wife-to-be is such a bitch. God only knows why he would've wanted to keep her around anyways. The dude--though crazy--is nice enough to try to save her, even if it DOES mean she has to wait around body-lessly in a pan of blood for a while, and yet all she does is bitch. Seriously, if *you* were stuck in a pan of blood without a body for a while with a mad-freak nearby behind a door that you can somehow converse with just through thought, wouldn't you at *some* point try to think of more interesting conversation than "Just let me die" and "I'm going to make him pay" and cackling laughter? I mean, god, talk about boring fricking company.

High Points: The deaths are fantastic in this film--completely and ridiculously overdramatic--picture how you used to fake-die when you were little and someone fake-shot you, and you can probably consider your acting Oscar-material in comparison. The head's maniacal laughter was way too funny and I couldn't help but laugh out loud every time she went off into peals of it, especially since her face was hooked up to so many fake electrodes and whatnot that she had to be careful not to move her cheeks too much and you could tell that she was trying to be emotive without using too many muscles. Good stuff. Plus, the crazy doctor guy is a total sleazeball and spends most of the movie accompanied by slimebally, "sexy" striptease music wherever he goes. And he's a big ogler, so you'll get to see him drooling all over some 1960's strippers, and you'll get to see a couple of strippers almost get cat-fighty over him, god only knows why.

Overall: This movie was goofbally and campy, but not quite so much fun as the others I've been watching, mostly just because it was slow-moving and all the head could do was say the same things over and over. But hey, if you're looking for a flick to add onto your list of campy horror flicks to watch (and shout at) with friends one night, you may enjoy.

Grade: C+

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Swamp Women (1955)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Oh my god, this Horror Classics: 50 Movie Pack is the best! I must forewarn you though--this is *sooooooooooooooooooo* not a horror flick. I mean, there's not even a smidgen of horror in it. So I'm not quite sure why it's on here, other than for filler. And if you go in to this film looking for horror, you're gonna be sorely disappointed. But I'm gonna review it here anyways, since it *is* found on a horror movie dvd set; and even the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) has it listed as one. So here goes.

Plotline: The Nardo gals are in prison, eagerly awaiting the day they are finally able to bust out and return to the local swamps to retrieve their stash of diamonds. Enter a new inmate who seems to have the key to escaping the joint, and a car to whisk them away to safety. (In reality, she's just a copper sent in to infiltrate the gang and retrieve the diamonds.) The women get out scott-free and then set off to the swamps to get their dough. When their boat breaks down, they kidnap a millionaire named Connors and his girlfriend. They are both held hostage as the women slink closer and closer to their hidden treasure.

Scariness factor: N/A

Gross-Out Factor: N/A

Complaints: None. This is camp (particularly girl-on-girl camp) at its finest.

High Points: This whole film just absolutely cracked my shit up--I was literally laughing out loud frequently throughout it, despite watching it by myself. The women in it are both anti-stereotypes and stereotypes rolled into one: they manage to nearly knock-out a full-grown man with just one punch (despite him having earlier proved his manhood by socking a drunk across the mouth) and yet they complain about breaking a nail and at one point all join drunkenly together to cut their pants into daisy dukes because they want to look sexier and just can't bear having their legs covered up (they're in the middle of a swamp, mind you). There are ridiculous amounts of stock footage in this film, from alligators to snakes to random birds flitting about on plants that look like they couldn't EVER possibly be found in an actual swamp. The characters are fantastically cute and campy--the lead, Josie, just rocks my socks off--she's hot and bossy, and she's in command. They of course are all completely smitten with the guy they've kidnapped and spend most of their time bickering and scheming about who gets to hook up with him while he just sits around grinning smugly at his good fortune. There are numerous cat-fights throughout--horrible punching sound effects, the pulling of hair, girly-kicking, you name it. And my absolute favorite part of this movie, which just cracked me up to no end, was the fact that Connors (the only major male character in the film) enters the swamp with his girlfriend originally, looking to whisk her off to his Louisiana digs. Immediately after they are kidnapped, she drowns, despite his rugged attempt at battling an alligator to save her. He immediately begins pimping on every single one of his abductors, finally settling on the butchest of the bunch as his prize. And by the end of the movie, we've all completely forgotten about the fact that a woman has died a terrible death in the swamps of Louisiana because, well, Connors is making out with the chick-cop as though he's discovered his one true love. Fantastic. Hee hee.

Overall: Oh my god, this movie is just so funny. It's not good at all, of course. It's camp camp camp. But it's glorious camp--glorious cat-fighting camp, glorious alligator-wrestling camp, and glorious seductive swamp vixens camp. So you of course *must* check it out.

PS. I *need* this movie poster--I can think of no other campy flick that would fit in with my Wall of Camp (including my tin Girls in Prison poster) better than this.

Grade: A

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Carnival of Souls (1962)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A car full of young women plunges off a perilous bridge into a river, and only one woman manages to make it out. She moves to another town in a desperate attempt to escape the horror of dealing with this tragedy, only to find herself being haunted by strange carnival-music and a spooky man who keeps appearing everywhere she looks. When she begins to have occurrences where she becomes deaf to the world around her and suddenly invisible to everyone else, she begins to wonder what is going on. Slowly, she comes to reveal the mystery behind the spooky man and what appears to be her madness.

Scariness factor: This is creepy shit.

Gross-Out Factor: This is a surprisingly spooky film for having absolutely no violence in it (other than a car plunging off of a bridge).

Complaints: Whoever was in charge of matching up a clicking-high-heels sound effect to the main character's movements SHOULD BE SHOT. Most horrible synchronicity I've seen.

High Points: My mom was scrutinizing the movie list on this dvd set when she was over yesterday, and she exclaimed, "Oh! Carnival of Souls! Cool! That's supposed to be a classic camp film..." And she was both right and wrong--this is definitely a classic, but, though it has its campy moments, this is a surprisingly damn good film. The creepy characters in the movie at times ring of a bad Marilyn-Manson video, but given when this film was made, this lends the movie a strangely modern feel. What can I say about this movie? I was intrigued and wanting to figure out what was going on with this woman--I figured it out midway through, but I was still completely enthralled in seeing how it played itself out. And it did so most perfectly. There are many many fantastic and classic horror movie cinematic shots strewn throughout this flick. The intrigue of the run-down carnival nearby that seems to be haunting the main character is lovely and eerie. Her seeming madness and interaction with those around her is definitely engaging. And the little visions she has are shot really cool--they seem bizarrely modern for having been filmed some 40+ years ago. This a haunting little flick, perhaps a bit hammy at times, but overall a creepy and lovely little classic horror film.

Overall: I definitely definitely recommend this movie, and not in a camp sort of way. This is good classic horror movie-making. It exhibits a lot of the classic horror movie cinematographic moments that have become horror movie tropes in modern day horror flicks, and it does so carefully and creepily. Seriously, if you've not seen, go get.

Grade: A


The Screaming Skull (1958)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

My friend D spontaneously and completely out of the blue got me the Horror Classics Collection: 50 Movie Pack, bless his fricking little heart, so I rocked out on a couple of movies from it this weekend. Expect a buttload of horror movie reviews for some time to come, now that I won't have to depend on the library for my hook-ups. And if you bump into D's ghost, be sure to thank him for his generosity--upon receiving this little gem of a gift, I of course immediately offed him and buried him in my backyard.

Plotline: A newly-married couple arrives at their new home (which is the house of the hubby's deceased wife). Left alone a ridiculous amount of time, the wife finds herself running into inexplicably-placed skulls, a bizarre gardener, and screams coming from the night.

Scariness factor: This is camp camp camp, my friends, so no. No scariness.

Gross-Out Factor: Um, no.

Complaints: It is hard to lodge complaints against a campy old horror movie as it *is*, of course, gonna be horribly lame. So, no. All the complaints I'd have if this were a normal horror movie make it the glorious camp-extravaganza it is.

High Points: This movie cracks my shit up. I first watched it with my sisters, and we found ourselves wailing hysterically through most of the movie. It makes little sense, and even when you find out what's going on, it still makes little sense--there's no way the events being engineered could be engineered in the way they take place. The way the deceased wife died has got to be the lamest way a person ever could kick the bucket. The gardener will make you bust up every time he appears on the screen. And the new wife's reactions to all the random skulls in her house will have you wetting your pants. This is good shit, definitely to be watched in the company of others though, so you can enjoy pointing out its ludicrousness and so you can joyously shout at the wife. Fun fun fun.

Overall: This flick is a little bit over an hour, so even if you end up just thinking it's dumb, it'll really not be too long a waste of your time. But seriously, this is funny shit--a doubtless classic campy horror flick. So grab a few friends and track this down. With a few beers and lots of audience-interaction, you'll have a helluva fun time.

Grade: A-


Basket Case

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

When I sent out a request for horror movie recommendations a while back, Platyjoe recommended this bizarre little gem. I'd seen the box before, but never watched it. Thankfully, the library had it, and thankfully he was kind enough to extend the recommendation, because man was this a fun little horror movie romp.

Plotline: A young man arrives in the city, carrying a big wad of cash and a very large basket which he takes with him almost everywhere. Everyone is just dying to know what's inside that basket--literally. Soon we come to see what he keeps in there, and why it is that a certain few doctors he once knew are beginning to show up dead.

Scariness factor: Hee hee. Not so much scary, though occasionally bizarre and mildy-creepy at times.

Gross-Out Factor: Mostly just lots of choking that somehow leads to massive blood-loss and gashes on people.

Complaints: There is no fricking way that the thing that lives in the basket would EVER fricking be able to fit in there. It's like managing to fit an elephant into a mini-Cooper--not happening.

High Points: This movie was fantastically campy and bizarre and one of the more fun and entertaining horror flicks I've seen in a while. Definitely don't expect scares, but despite that fact, you WILL be entertained. The acting is very wooden, the reactions always over-dramatic, there is stop-animation used at least a few times throughout, you get to see both male and female nudity, a really lame romantic interlude, and the special effects fluctuate between cool and creepy and just plain terrible--all the characteristics of a damn good campy horror flick. And it has a bizarre and disturbing ending that rides the line between laughable and just plain disturbing.

Overall: Seriously, if you haven't seen this, pick it up and watch it with some friends. You will laugh your ass off, you will find yourself bizarrely disturbed, and you *WILL* be entertained.

Grade: A-


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara (aka. Dark Water)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A young mother is fighting for custody of her child while trying to get herself and her daughter settled down in a new place where she can make a good life for the two of them. But after excitedly moving into a new apartment, strange things start to happen: there's an explicable leak in the bedroom ceiling, the sound of people running around upstairs from them resonates through the apartment but no one is there, she starts to see strange visions of a little girl in a yellow raincoat, and a mysterious backpack keeps appearing on the roof. Things get stranger and stranger as the young mother seems to start losing her mind. But is she really? Or is something strange going on her new place?

Scariness factor: Not jump-in-your-seat scary, but damn creepy, infinitely moreso than the American version. This is good stuff on the spookiness front.

Gross-Out Factor: Nothing real vile takes place in this movie--just some creepy shots of a child and that's about it. Subtlety is a damn good thing in this case, and makes the movie all the scarier.

Complaints: I really am hard-pressed to find any. I'm not sure if I liked the resolution at the end of the movie--it seemed like it was trying to wrap things up too nicely. But even that wasn't all that painful that I can justifiably complain.

High Points: In the American version, I just wanted to shout at the main character, DUDE, STOP BITCHING ALREADY AND JUST FRICKING MOVE, YOU CRAZY BITCH. In the Japanese version, I just wanted to hug the main character and make everything better. The situation was much more believable. The acting was much less melodramatic. And things just seemed to make more sense. American versions of Asian horror flicks always seem to fall flatter than the original, simply because they find some bizarre need to explain away EVERYTHING in the movie to the point that it is difficult not to start poking holes into their rationale. Asian horror flicks don't try so hard in this respect, and in doing so, they're a lot more believable. They allow hauntings and supernatural manifestations to be just that, instead of trying to make sense of and justify them to the viewers. The girl in the yellow raincoat is one of the creepiest child characters in a horror movie that I've seen. Many of the scenes are meticulously shot--the elevator shot below being a prime example. It was intense and spooky, and I was creeped out for the rest of the night.

Overall: Skip the American version and pick this one up instead. It is far better, and it will definitely make for a spooky intense night of horror-movie viewing. A definite recommendation.

Grade: A


Monday, August 07, 2006


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A young boy who's sneaking around in the local graveyard sees the caretaker doing some damn weird things--lifting filled coffins all by himself, for example. Trying to figure out what's going on, he finds himself stumbling across robed midget-creatures, flying knife-blade metal balls, and an 8-foot cemetery caretaker with strange strengths and powers.

Scariness factor: The creepy caretaker guy is creepy. Other than that, pretty lowkey.

Gross-Out Factor: Some fingers get cut off and ooze yellow goop. A guy gets it in the head with the aforementioned metal ball and gushes blood. Etc. Moreso camp gross-out than anything really nasty.

Complaints: I just kinda couldn't engage with this movie--I mean, 3-foot robed creatures aren't really that scary, people. And trying to figure out *why* there's three-foot robed creatures is not that scary either. I mean, all horror movies require you to suspend your disbelief for a bit, but it's a lot harder to do so with 3-foot midgety creatures. I just kinda didn't *care* about why they existed or what they were being used for. And ultimately, the explanation really made little sense. As did a lot of the movie. Plus, WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH THE COMPLETE RIP-OFF OF THE HALLOWEEN SCORE?!?! I mean, SERIOUSLY, folks. There's no way that was just by accident.

High Points: The caretaker is most certainly creepy. It has high camp-factor which makes for entertainment. And there are actually a couple really nicely-shot scenes, mainly the one with the flipped-over ice cream truck in the dark. That was really good shit. The rest of it though was typical late-70's, early 80's horror movie campiness.

Overall: It was ok--I didn't fall asleep during it, and it was entertaining. It just wasn't all that, especially since this is one of those horror flicks that's sorta considered a "classic."

Grade: C



--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A group of three male college students is trekking around Europe, basically drinking, drugging, and trying to locate the best piece of ass in each town they're visiting. Locked out of their hostel one night, they run into a guy who tells them about this crazy Slovakian hostel where women are falling all over one another to sleep with you. The boys immediately get caught up in the fantasy and decide to trek there to check it out. Very quickly, one of them vanishes. And then another. The third boy finds himself trying to track down his friends, and in the process, encounters one of the most horrifying scenarios a person could ever stumble into.

Scariness factor: It really kept me going the whole time--and tenseness was the word of the evening.

Gross-Out Factor: Off the charts on this one. I would argue that it wasn't "the most disturbing and violent horror movie you'll ever see" as the trailers kept proclaiming, but it is no doubt not for the squeamish. At all.

Complaints: The movie is a bit cheesy in parts and unbelievable. And it definitely has its lame moments, which I shan't go into here, lest I give anything away. It also begs that you be able to suspend your disbelief for two hours. And at times it feels a bit MTV-ish. But other than that, I was pleasantly surprised.

High Points: I was surprised, shocked, and a bit horrified that I enjoyed this movie as much as I did, mainly because I had absolutely no interest in ever seeing it, given that I'm not a big fan of torture films, particularly ones masquerading as horror films. The movie sucked me in very quickly, and I was engaged and wide awake 'til the end. I was tense and nervous for the main character. The movie and its subject matter were terrifying. And I was surprised to find myself actually thinking that it was a pretty damn smart movie, despite my initial inhibitions. Perhaps I am giving it more credit than it deserves, and perhaps I'm reading into it more than it intended, but it actually seemed to be a kind of commentary on the way we live (*gasping in shock that a horror flick could actually be kinda DEEP*). One of its themes seemed to be about excess and the roads that excess will take us down, especially when we start running out of things with which to entertain ourselves. And good god are they horrible, disturbing roads. And the other interesting theme (surprisingly enough) seemed to be one about meat and objectification. The main character comments at the beginning of the movie about how he is a vegetarian and shows disgust towards someone picking chicken out of a salad and ripping into it with their hands. Interestingly, this theme ends up coming up again and again throughout the movie. Initially I was bothered by the ridiculous amount of male-fantasy naked chicks during the first 20 minutes or so of the movie--there is a LOT of female objectification and nudity and sex. But by the end of the movie, it kind of made sense to me. This was a movie about the way we treat things like meat, ultimately. The way we turn living things into detached objects. Women. People. Animals. Etc. We do it through objectification of women and sex. We do it through our treatment of animals. And, in this movie, it is done in the torture of human beings (which has its own bizarre slaughterhouse qualities at times). Again, perhaps I'm reading into it too much (I *am* admittedly very interested in how slaughterhouses and animal-consumption is brought into horror movies, particularly since it's FREQUENT--think Texas Chain Saw Massacre), but I actually would be surprised if this was not the filmmaker's intent. And for that, he deserves a pat on the back. The movie had some very startling and dark images in it that no doubt will haunt you for a long time. The acting was quite believable, especially in the torture scenes. And the actual movement of the movie from beginning to end was quite skillful, in my humble opinion.

Overall: I was really really surprised at how much I liked this movie--not "enjoyed" but "liked," seeing as it's difficult to "enjoy" a movie about torture. It surprised me in many ways, it was intelligent, and it was gritty and frightening. It had its weakenesses, but overall (as long as you can stomach it), it's most definitely worth checking out.

Grade: B+