Monday, October 30, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: In San Francisco, a strange epidemic seems to be spreading--perfectly sane people are becoming convinced that their friends/lovers are no longer themselves. Strangeness becomes even stranger as a group of folks discovers strange mutated bodies that are slowly forming into their physical replacements.

Scariness factor: Ooooh creepy! It's got a bit of that 1970s campiness going for it, but it DOES have its freaky threatening moments.

Gross-Out Factor: Just creepy gooey cocoon-like peoples.

Complaints: Nothing major.

High Points: My absolute favorite part of this movie was the end--completely caught me off-guard and horrified the crap outta me. No shit. Best and most unsettling horror-movie ending I've seen in a while. Although the original 1950s version is obviously a classic, I definitely think this movie was much creepier than the original (but, obviously, that's probably moreso just a matter of the time-period it was being made in). The acting was better. I kinda dig Donald Sutherland, so that was cool too. And the threat of pod-people taking over the city was a lot scarier and more panic-driven. I got more of a sense from this remake of how terrifying such an event would actually be. I think my favorite scary movies are ones in which a mass epidemic of some sort breaks out that people can't seem to escape because it's EVERYWHERE. (I used to think it was just zombie-movies that were my favorites, but I think the reason I heart zombie movies so much is because they FIT so perfectly in this category.) And the pod-people screams? F-ing creeps my shit out. *Getting the willies just thinking about it*

Overall: Worth seeing, if just for the ending.

Grade: A-



--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A cable tv producer is constantly seeking out the newest most edgy programming for his television station. When he stumbles across a pirate station in which a person is being beaten and tortured, he thinks that perhaps this is something that would get him more viewers. Instead, he ends up stumbling into the world of Videodrome, a world where television and reality become fused in the mind's eye.

Scariness factor: Meh.

Gross-Out Factor: There's a bit of old-school goriness--heads getting smashed in close-ups, gaping wounds that people stick their hands (and vcr tapes) into, etc.

Complaints: Since I really dug The Brood, I decided to order another Cronenberg movie from the library. As always, Cronenberg offers up a horror movie that is a bit of a social commentary as well, this time one about how we're controlled by television and sex and how it leads to violence and death in a strange apocalyptic vision of mind-control through the television (which symbolizes what technology and television is doing to us in the real world), etc. etc. blah blah blah but the message is terribly heavy-handed and not all that interesting. Quiet honestly, I was bored bored bored with this movie. I found James Woods irritating. The sex between him and Debby Harry was moreso just creepy than sexy. I just wanted to shield my eyes and look away. Some of the special fx were silly and laughable. And again, the message was just heavy-handed and not all that interesting--it might be worth exploring in our current reality-tv culture, but even then, still not so much. And for christ's sake, if a giant hole opens up in your stomach, perhaps you should NOT JAM A GUN IN THERE.

High Points: There were a couple moments of creepy good special fx. But that really was about it.

Overall: Get The Brood or The Fly instead. They are far superior Cronenberg horror flicks.

Grade: D


The Tenant (Le Locataire)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A quiet fellow, desperate to find himself an apartment, rents out a space where the previous tenant recently committed suicide. He quickly finds that the other tenants in the building are a strange bunch, fanatical about noise and each strange in their own way. As he finds himself having run-ins with them more and more frequently, he begins to suspect that they are trying to drive him to suicide as well.

Scariness factor: This isn't a "jump in your seat" kind of movie, but it definitely is psychologically creepy. Polanski is really damn good with that kinda stuff.

Gross-Out Factor: Relatively minimal--a bit of bloody grossness here and there, but nothing major.

Complaints: I am hard-pressed to find any.

High Points: This is a little gem along the lines of Polanski's Repulsion, and I'll be damned if Polanski isn't brilliant when it comes to psychological horror and cinematizing his preoccupation with paranoia. Like both Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby (both of which are considered horror flicks but verge more towards psychological drama than stereotypical horror), it could be argued that this movie isn't so much horror as it is drama or suspense. But I think that's where the strength of all three movies lies--in the fact that they can't be pigeon-holed into the horror genre, that they are strong enough to hold their own in the world of drama and suspense as well. Granted, if you're going in for Texas Chain Saw Massacre-type hopes or slasher-film desires, you'll be disappointed. But if you go in knowing that it's more of a psychological horror film, I think you'll definitely come out a happy camper at the other end. This is definitely one of the best suspense movies I've seen in the past year--quality acting and damn good directing and cinematography. Polanski captures paranoia and madness like few others in film--just the way he plays with the camera, persepective, point of view, etc. is absolutely fantastic. The Tenant most definitely succeeds in its quest to be unsettling and disorienting. The story is a strange and quiet one, but it has enough force to keep you going and wanting to figure out just wtf is going on. The lead actor is absolutely fantastic as well (holy crap--I am embarassed to say that I only just realized the lead actor was Polanski himself--you go, girl!)--he plays his character understatedly enough that the end is 100% feasible and believable. If you've seen both Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion and enjoyed the two, this is a definite must-see--coupled with the other two films, it book-ends a thematic trilogy of sorts. And the theme is sweet sweet Polanski-esque paranoia.

Overall: This is damn good stuff. Perhaps my favorite horror movie I've seen all year, though again, don't go in expecting slasher-paced horror or you'll be sorely disappointed.

Grade: A+

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Killer Shrews

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

This past Saturday, I had a campy horror movie/Halloween party, and we watched this little campy gem (along with Bloodlust which I just recently reviewed). I can't think of a better campy horror movie to watch this Halloween.

Watch it on-line HERE

Plotline: Thorne, a buff boat-captain, is on his way to an isolated island to deliver research supplies and to take a young woman back to the mainland. On his way in, a hurricane strikes, and he is stuck on the island with the foxy young woman, her ex-fiancee, and the mad-scientist himself, forced to battle a mutant breed of killer shrews.

Scariness factor: It's so scary that your sides will ache with laughter.

Gross-Out Factor: Them killer shrews can really wreak some 1950s gruesome-havoc on a person. Uh huh.

Complaints: Not a one. Oscar-winning material you have here.

High Points: This is one of my absolute favorite campy horror films. It's got really bad acting. It's got excessive drinking, which'd make for a good drinking-game (you've not seen people drink like they do in this movie--the wind's blowing too hard? a cocktail will take care of you're nervousness! the killer shrews at your door? down another whiskey and you'll be a-ok). It's got mad romance. It's got mutant shrews that are actually just dogs with a flap of extra fur thrown over their backs. And it's got some of the best one-liners ever documented on-screen ("I don't believe in asking questions, it's against my principles" and "I'll take a dull, alive woman any day"). This is good, good stuff, ladies & gents.

Overall: If there's one campy horror flick you watch this Halloween, it should be this one. No question.

Grade: A

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

I stumbled across this gem of a website when I was trying to track down clips from The Killer Shrews.

Feast your heart out on all its public-domained gloriousness (most of which you can watch right there on your computer, in all its entirety):


Monday, October 16, 2006


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Cujo is a big friendly dog, until he gets bit by a rabid bat that is. When Donna and her son stop by the farm where Cujo lives to get their car fixed, they find themselves struggling to survive after the car refuses to start back up and Cujo becomes more and more frenzied.

Scariness factor: So so. Much of the movie is slow-moving, but it becomes at least a wee bit heart-pounding once the action starts going.

Gross-Out Factor: Mauling and fake-blood. Nothing TOO gruesome.

Complaints: Apparently my brain is sluggish today, as I can't really think of any major complaints. And yet I wasn't completely bowled over by this film. Oh, one definite complaint: it would be useful for the mom to learn when is the appropriate time to start using CPR on a child that's stopped breathing--right away, not minutes and minutes later. And of course, about five minutes into the movie, my vegan ass was thinking, uh, WHY did you settle on a horror flick where the dog is inevitably gonna end up getting killed and/or is suffering the whole time anyways. Stupid = me.

High Points: Yes, I am sluggish today. I can't really think of many major high-points either. I guess what this movie most had going for it was the sense of being trapped that the viewer feels as the mom and her son sit roasting in their car.

Overall: I've always wanted to see this movie because it's a Stephen King classic, but I guess I just wasn't nearly as impressed as I'd thought or hope. It's not terrible by any means, but if I want a good Stephen-King-scare, I think I'll aim for The Shining.

Grade: B


Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: In a strange modern fairy-tale gone wrong, two young sisters return home from a mental institution only to find themselves having to deal with a crazed and evil step-mom and a house that appears to be haunted.

Scariness factor: Oh hell yes. I had chills running up and down my spine in a few scenes, and afterwards, I had a brief moment of panicked creeped-outedness while showering.

Gross-Out Factor: Minus some blood, you won't see much.

Complaints: I had a problem piecing together the logic of some of the movie into a coherent whole, but I suspect this would just need a second viewing to clear it right up. I also had mixed feelings about the plot-twist (though it was well-done, no doubt)--I'd make a comparison to another similar movie (or two) to voice my complaints, but then I'd ruin the twist for you, so my lips are sealed. I think this is probably just my own hang-up anyways--I'm beginning to find the obligatory plot-twist a bit tiresome. And despite the potentially irritating plot-twist, the movie has so much other good stuff to offer that I'm willing to overlook this one weaker point.

High Points: This movie is strange, beautiful, provocative, and haunting. And to top it all off, it's creepy as all get out. As I mentioned earlier, I actually got chills in a few scenes and I carried this sense of creepiness with me for the rest of the night. Granted, there are images that ring of other movies (Ringu for example), but you're willing to forgive the instance or two where this is the case, simply because they still manage to keep the moment damn creepy. One of the best scenes in this movie (one that creeped me out royally) is when the visitors to the house are driving home afterwards, and the woman turns to her husband to reveal something she had seen while there--gahhhh, *trying to subdue the shivers*. See it--you'll see what I mean. The acting is quite good and nicely understated (particularly with the two girls). The movie is visually quite lovely and devastating at the same time--bold colors, nice camera-work. At one point in the movie, you'll become suddenly very confused and disoriented and unsure of what's going on, but this is *good*, folks. Hang in there. It'll make sense eventually. And if it doesn't clear up 100%, it's ok--go with it. You won't care because the movie has too much other good stuff going for it to distract you.

Overall: I really quite liked this movie. It is really spooky and creepy. It has the lovely ring of a demented fairy-tale. And it is strange and beautiful. Definitely worth checking out.

Grade: A


Monday, October 09, 2006


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A group of teenagers winds up on a mysterious island while out boating. They are taken in by a strange but intriguing millionaire who encourages them to stay overnight so that they can stay safe from the hazards of the jungle. He tells them that he has a strange hobby, and that it entails hunting and trophies. They soon find out that it's not just animals that he hunts.

Scariness factor: It was made in 1961. That should answer that question.

Gross-Out Factor: See "Scariness factor."

Complaints: As always with camp movies, it is hard to really complain about the faults, as the faults are what makes them so damn enjoyable. So if you want faults, you can check them out under the "High Points" section...

High Points: Oh man, did this movie crack my shit up. First off, one of the main characters is the dad from the Brady Bunch. That should give you some insight into the quality of the movie. I only noticed it was him from his voice--the resemblance is pretty different from thereon out. He's built like a jock, all broad-chested and triangular, with a muscle-shirt and tight pants, his arms unable to droop at his sides because there is too much muscle in the way. But he acts just like Mr. Brady, all serious and ultra-logical. Good stuff. Beyond that, the movie is awash in fantastically silly illogicalities... The characters never seem to give any logical thought to getting out of the evil millionaire's clutches. At one point, when the millionaire is holding them at gun point but then reveals that the gun was never loaded, Mr. Brady actually remarks, "It was never loaded this whole time--we could've gotten away!" And yet, though they now know it is NOT loaded, they don't immediately kick his ass and escape. They just kinda stand around in the wake of this revelation. There are many scenes where I actually laughed out loud--in one, the other main male character finds himself sinking into quick sand, only to be pulled out right before it passes the depth of his waist. And yet, he screams and rips his shirt off only to reveal that he is covered in leeches. I cackled out loud at that one. The movie is fantastic with moments like that--no doubt any other person would've been able to escape the island in like 10 minutes, would've fashioned spears immediately and killed the millionaire or would've bludgeoned him to death, but the main characters remarkably never seem to think of this (even though they are "brilliant" enough to have some other clever tricks up their sleeves).

Overall: This is a fun campy horror flick, definitely worth getting your hands on, particularly if you're a fan of the Brady Bunch. (You can also enjoy some of its Oscar-winning performances HERE.)

Grade: A

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The Brood

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: The main character's wife is undergoing some strange and experimental psychotherapy treatment in the hopes of fixing her otherwise harrowed mental state. When his daughter returns home from a visit with her, her back covered in bruises, he becomes irate and confronts the man running the psychotherapeutic get-away. Suddenly, family members start dying, some of whose deaths are witnessed by his daughter. And they seem to be getting killed by strange deformed children. He spends the movie trying to unravel this bizarre mystery.

Scariness factor: Creepy--Cronenberg does a nice job with colors and freaky-looking deformed children.

Gross-Out Factor: Lots of Hollywood-red blood, and some bludgeoning. Nothing TOO outrageous though.

Complaints: I can't really think of too many. There were some cave-ins of logic, but nothing too horrible, actually.

High Points: I find that you can rarely go wrong with a Cronenberg horror flick--at worst, they're at least interesting food for thought. And this one was no exception--clearly it was intended as a commentary on the emergence of all the new-agey psychotherapy floating around in the '70s *SPOILER ALERT: especially given that the murderous children end up being embodiments of the mother's rage (she gives birth to her own anger--how much more clear of a commentary could he give us?). /END SPOILER He also does a very good job with the mood of this movie--the children are creepy, even in close-ups (often, movie-makers err when it comes to this--creepy makeup looks good from far-away but not in close-ups; but the children are creepy through and through). He has a very Kubrick sense of color in this movie, which is also jarring and creepy. The acting, while a bit hammy, is pretty damn good (particularly the little girl), and the pacing plunges forward without much lull throughout.

Overall: All in all, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit--it was much better than I'd expected. Definitely worth checking out this Halloween season for a few good scares.

Grade: A-


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kiss Me Kill Me (aka Baba Yaga)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Note to self: If a dvd from the library looks like someone tried playing it on a record player and then let their dog chew on it after it wouldn't play, chances are (even if the first 10 minutes are skip-free) somewhere down the line it's gonna glitch up, so maybe it isn't worth your while watching. Especially when the glitch is an hour and 15 minutes into the movie and swallows up the whole rest of it so that you never know how it ends. Yeah.

Plotline: A photographer almost gets run over by a strange woman with whom she seems to share almost supernatural-like connections. The woman haunts her daydreams and starts to affect her life in strange and bad ways: through a camera that seems to injure/kill people, and through a doll dressed up like a dominatrix which magically turns into a real woman when no one's looking.

Scariness factor: Perhaps it was hidden somewhere in the missing 15 minutes? I doubt it, but one never knows.

Gross-Out Factor: Low. But there's lots of boobage to make up for that fact.

Complaints: The score--good god, peeps. The same incessant 1970s weird electronic groovy music pulsating discordantly throughout is BOUND to get annoying at some point in time. The movie also seemed to be a bit too stylized and trying too hard. If you see it, you'll know what I mean. The plotline also seemed to be flailing in the wind--who the hell is this mystery woman? Why is she seemingly fixated on the main character? Why does she own a doll dressed in dominatrix clothes? What has she done to the camera? Why is any of this taking place and/or necessary? Why are we supposed to care? Again, perhaps this was all cleared up in the last 15 minutes, but I have my doubts. And what in god's name is up with the weird-ass Nazi dreams?

High Points: The lead actress is kinda foxy in a pouty sorta way. There are these black and white kind of flash-montages for sex scenes and other strange scenarios which were alternately kinda cool and kinda lame depending. I kinda enjoyed watching it as far as I did--it was strange and unlike any other horror flick I've seen (probably the weird Italian 1970's influence of it) and I wanted to find out what was going on. But I never did.

Overall: Obviously, I can't offer up a useful overall rating or judgment since I didn't see the end. If I manage to get my hands on a working-copy, I promise to fill you in.

Grade: TBA


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ah, October... How I Love Thee So

So it's that time of year again--I can feel the horror-movie itch boiling up in me like contaminated 28-Days Later blood... It's not like I don't watch enough of them anyways, but dammit if I find myself hard-pressed to want to watch a non-horror movie in the month of October. My poor poor significant other.

Anyways, I've scrounged up an initial Must-Watch list for this month (as long as I can order them through the library), so I figured I'd share it with all of you. As always, if you have any suggestions, please do gimme a shout.

  • The Brood

  • Salem's Lot

  • Freaks

  • The Changeling

  • Dawn of the Dead (want to rewatch if I can get my hands on it)

  • In the Mouth of Madness (I've not seen since I was a wee one)

  • Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage)

  • The Tenant (Le Locataire)

  • Creepshow

  • Day of the Dead (though, if I remember correctly, I've been unable to track this down)

  • Cujo (I cannot remember for the life of me whether I've seen this before or not)

  • Christine

  • Deranged

  • Puppet Master

  • Prom Night

  • Videodrome

  • The Ugly

  • Black Christmas

  • It's Alive

  • Serpent and the Rainbow

  • A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon)

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1978 version)

This list will no doubt morph during the month, depending on what I am able/unable to track down, but it is a good place to start.

Also already in the works: campy horror movie night at my place. Woot Woot!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

I originally had planned to watch Mario Bava's Kill Baby Kill last night (as curiosity had gotten the best of me after I'd heard it boasts some of the most realistic and horrific surgery scenes a person can set their eyes on in a horror film--plus it has a wicked cool name) but unfortunately the copy I'd gotten from the library looked like someone had chewed on it and, needless to say, kept skipping horribly in my dvd player. So I resorted to watching this instead...

Plotline: Living in the hills of the New Mexico are the run-off genetic mutations from past governmental nuclear-testing, and they are not happy. A family traveling across the desert towards California makes the mistake of taking a shortcut that leads them right into the arms of these genetic crazies and into a horrifying and bloody mess of a day.

Scariness factor: So-so. Creepy and horrific at times, but not so terribly scary.

Gross-Out Factor: Very very high gore-factor. They seemed to enjoy making things as bloody as possible, and no one dies quickly.

Complaints: I'm not a fan of newer horror flicks, mostly due to the fact that I feel like I'm watching an MTV-video most of the time. They are too slick-looking and this, to me, makes them not quite so scary. THHE was no different. Way too slick at times which bores me. The style/directing in this movie was also rather strange--it seemed unsure of itself and inconsistent. At times it felt like two different movies, cinematographically, like the creators couldn't quite figure out what they were going for visually. As for the realism--I appreciated this aspect of the original much more. Granted, the bad guys were lame-ass in the original, but the movie was somehow horrifying in that the family members were picked off so quickly and so unelaborately. In this new version, the elaborate and convoluted deaths of family members and bad guys makes it seem a lot less raw and terrifying than the simplicity of the original one.

High Points: The original definitely was a bit lame when it came to the bad-guys, seeing as they all just looked like they were donning dark caveman wigs, so this movie offered a bit of improvement, even though some of the mutants were kinda not that creepy. The violence is a bit horrifying and yet weirdly attractive in some sort of way that I cannot pinpoint. It is gruesome and excessive, but I liked some of it. Particularly (and this is an example of where the cinematography starts to wander in style) the second half, when the brother-in-law goes searching for his baby and runs into several confrontations with the hilly mutants. The acting was actually fairly decent, at least with regards to the family (and particularly the younger son). And it had an interesting opening musical-montage that felt very Dawn of the Dead (2004)-inspired--footage of nuclear testing set to the music of some meandering and benign, country-ish Webb Pierce song in a way that made it feel strange and unsettling. In general, the score was also sometimes really damn perfect (and at other times really clunky and irritating).

Overall: I could take or leave this movie really--it's nothing special, but it's definitely not as bad as I thought it was gonna be.

Grade: C+