Sunday, October 12, 2014

31 Days of Horror Year 7: Part 1

This has been the most scatter-shot 31 Days of Horror yet, and because of this, I'm going to change-up how we do things this year. I'm stripping down all the bells and whistles and just focusing on the movies, my experiences with them, and whatever else comes to mind.
In other words, a lot of yammering on and on. I have stories to tell friends, so come on over and sit a spell...

Movie 1 - The Exorcist III
So the very first day of October was thrown for a loop when a close friend of mine suddenly had to give birth to her baby a full month early, due to complications. And because of this, I was asked to house/dog-sit for the family, while they were in the hospital(everything is ok, now).
I decided to start the month with Exorcist 1 & III, but Matt from Dinosaur Dracula suggested I watch them in reverse order. I agreed.

I made it about 10 minutes into Exorcist III before I had to turn a light on.

Exorcist III is really good,  and has some truly frightening scenes, but it has klunky editing. Despite this, it's worth checking out.

Movie 2 - The Exorcist
I was dog tired when I started this one, and fell asleep a few times towards the end. Obviously it's not boring, but it had been a long day.

Movie 3 - Hellraiser
My tv broke earlier this year. It was a used, 42" flat-screen. Since I bought it used, it did not come with a stand. Since it did not come with a stand, the slightest bump into the dresser that it sat on would make the TV fall forward. Well, it's latest fall would be it's last, as a small handheld LED flashlight, sitting on my dresser, would stab my TV's heart like it was a flat-screen vampire. Sadness.
Last week I finally got a new tv from my parent's house: a 13" tube TV/VCR dealy. It's hilarious.
I watched a VHS copy of Hellraiser on that tiny TV, to test it out. I certainly wasn't going to test my Big Box copy of Video Violence on an old VCR.

Movie 4 - Resident Evil
My brother put it on. I watched the first 10 minutes before bed. It's a decent movie.
This film came out a few months after the Final Fantasy movie, which was Hollywood testing the waters on making all CG films, actor's included. That failed, despite Final Fantasy being a decent film.
A guy I worked with insisted that Resident Evil was another all CG film, even thought I assured him it wasn't. He's dead now.

Movie 5 - Odd Thomas
We lined up Lords of Salem to watch over my buddy's house, but for whatever reason, his blu-ray player wasn't working, so we randomly chose Odd Thomas on Netflix.
Odd Thomas is on odd film(pun intended) because it rides a fine line of having really awesome action scenes with horror elements, and eye-rollingly bad dialogue. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad, and Odd Thomas is an enjoyable film, despite how badly it tries to pretend it's written by Diablo Cody.

Movie 6 - The Sacrament
Still at same friend's house with the non-loading blu-ray player, we all agreed to watch a film that none of us had seen. We quickly settled on the latest from Ti West, the man who brought us one of my favorite films: House of the Devil.
The Sacrament is good, but I personally felt that it had a weak dog-fart of an ending. It's certainly one of the best in the Found Footage genre, even through there seems to be way more than two cameras filming towards the end.
It's worth a watch. but I'm personally glad I didn't blind-buy it.

Movie 7 - Cabin in the Woods
I wanted to watch You're Next, but was vetoed.
I honestly feel that if you're a horror fan who did not like this movie, you probably have a stick up your ass.

Today is the 12th of October, and I've only watched 7 films. There are several reasons for this, none of which I feel like getting into at the moment, but I do plan on attempting 31. I doubt I'll achieve that, but I sure as hell will try.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Exhumed Films Forgotten Film Fest Review

Exhumed Films, the fearsome foursome from the murky banks of New Jersey, are celebrating their 18th birthday this year. Over those 18 years, they've put together some of the most fun movie double feature/festival/marathons on the East Coast. You can tell that these guys really enjoy what they do, because it shows in the work they put in.

It seems, though, that they've shown almost everything there is to be shown, mainstream-wise. This leaves the EF crew with 2 choices:
A. Start repeating a lot of the shows they've already done. Or:
B. Time to get freaky and unknown.
Going by the shows they've put on this year, they are going with option B.

That's awesome, but no matter which option they'd choose, you're absolutely not going to please everyone(I still remember the ridiculous complaints that they showed too many sequels at one of the Horror-thons). You're either going to get people complaining that EF has shown these movies already, or you risk the chance of people no-showing because these are films they've never heard of.

Cut to this past Sunday, and what may be their most daring show yet: The Forgotten Film Fest. EF put together 5 films that have never been put on VHS/DVD/BluRay in the US, and 4 of which haven't been viewed by human eyes on 35mm in 40 years. That notion alone made this Fest sound very interestinmg, as I am one of those film fans who loves the unknown.

My only issue with this event was the order in which the films were shown. If anything, Skatetown USA should've ended the show. You don't open a boxing card with Mike Tyson, and then end with Foxy Boxing.

Before the first movie, a montage of trailers and music-related ads were shown, to put everyone in the mood. My personal highlight of the day happened immediately, when a 35mm ad for Live Aid, complete with Mick Jagger & David Bowie singing Dancin' In The Streets in it's entirety. I nearly choked on my own laughter; great stuff.

1. Skatetown USA

Here's what I was able to piece together, narrative-wise, from the scattershot comedy from 1979:
A white-afro'd Disco warlock runs are skating rink with his magic powers. This warlock is getting old and is looking to pass his power to another, so Skatetown USA holds a skate contest to see who will take his magical afro and rule with a bedazzled-gloved fist.
Enter a buffet of typical comedy stereotypes(missing only was the ME SO SOLLY Asian guy) to skate-it-out:
-A white guy who may or may not have been a mexican conquistador.
-Some ugly blond kid and his cute Marcia Brady sister(managed by the probably 12 years old Scott Baio).
-Another random skater I honestly can't remember.
-And, the main event, the world premiere of Patrick "Don't Put Baby In A Corner" Swayze!

Swayze's great in this, as his character is just a son of a bitch. Even better is the fact that his gang, featuring Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter as the heavy, looks like they fell out of the movie The Warriors and landed in the side dimension where Skatetown resonates, which I assume is somewhere near the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The movie's soundtrack is fantastic, as it sounds like an endless mash-up of some of the hottest tunes the late '70s had to offer. Sadly it would seem that the soundtrack is the very reason why we haven't been treated to any real home video release of Skatetown, which is a real shame.

Hopefully, whomever owns the rights to both this film and the music will need some extra folding cash someday and will allow an unedited version of Skatetown USA to skate across America on Blu-ray.

2. Son of Dracula

From what I can barely remember, Vampire Harley Race arrives in modern day NYC to take over as King of the Underworld, which gets halted as he falls in love and decides he wants to be human. Scandal!
Produced by Ringo Starr(who just HAD to star as Merlin for whatever coked-up reason). Throw in some decent musical numbers to round the film out, and we have a movie that wants to be something, but to me, ended up being nothing. I had high hopes for this, but it bored me to sleep. The whole movie is on YouTube, so I am willing to give it another chance.

3. Blood

This one I completely bailed on, and I soon regretted that decision. Apparently despite it's slow opening, Blood got quite good and had a great ending. This one is also on YouTube, so I'll be giving that one another watch come October.

4. Murder on the Emerald Sea

This cheaply made comedy wasn't bad. A cop goes undercover as a beauty queen to enter a contest on a cruise ship to find out who's been killing all the other beauty queens. Includes a really goofy score that will haunt your dreams.

If they make a 23 jump Street, they should lift this plot, as it's ripe for a remake.(yes fine. i just want to see jonah hill in drag.)

5. The Satanist

The isn't a movie. I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but it isn't a movie by any means. This seems like a stag film you'd show your boozin' buddies at a mid '70s bachalor party.

Released in 1968, The Satanist was considered pornographic by the standards of the time. These days, minus the implied oral, The Satanist would barely get an R rating. This is why I found The Satanist to be the most fascinating film shown at the Fest. Not because of the content, or the 'story', but thinking that at one time, this reel of film was considered something that could ruin the moral fiber of a young mind.

My only issue with this event was the order in which the films were shown. If anything, Skatetown USA should've ended the show. You don't open a boxing card with Mike Tyson, and then end with Foxy Boxing.

If loads of boobies and making out(I mean A LOT of heavy petting here) are your thing, then The Satanist is right up your alley.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go put on Human Centipede 2, while watching some Bum Fights on my iPad.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Strain sort-of Review

Television shows(TV shows for short) have slowly but surely been out-doing their theatrical counter-parts, entertainment wise, for a good part of the past decade. You could probably point the finger squarely at LOST back in 2004. That show came out of nowhere and became a huge phenomenon in no time.

So every network went looking for the next huge sci-fi/fantasy genre hit. Cue AMC and The Walking Dead in 2009. Nobody expected a Zombie drama based on an Indie Comic to do well. I'm sure if they expected it to make as huge an impact as it did, AMC would've ordered more than 6 episodes for the first season.

Walking Dead ended up being an even bigger hit than LOST ever was.
I knew that from this, other cable networks were going to comb the landscape of the independent comic book scene to find the next possible hit. No surprise, the FX Network struck first, announcing a TV show based on the "police procedural in a super hero world" comic book Powers.

That was in 2010, and Powers has been stuck in developmental hell, with only a pilot filmed at this point. I don't even think FX plans on airing Powers anymore, now that I've heard that the Playstation Network is developing the show for their new line of original programming.

FX, which has a fine history of edgy dramas, was now without their own Walking Dead.

This past Sunday, FX debuted their latest drama, The Strain, based off a series of horror novels, and a Dark Horse Comics series.

This show was completely off my radar. The only reason I knew I'd give this show a chance was because FX has a fantastic track record with tv dramas in the past. My two favorite non-Breaking Bad shows from the past 5 years are Justified, and the sadly canceled-too-soon boxing drama Lights Out from 2011.

When I learned that The Strain was about Vampires, I probably rolled my eyes. I then heard that it's a vampire-virus that infects NYC, which sounded a bit better, but I still wasn't looking forward to it. Even the knowledge that the great Guillermo del Toro was one of the creators did nothing to peak my interest past "meh, I'll check it out". I wouldn't have even remembered that it was premiering this past Sunday if not for my buddy Phil reminding me via telegram.

On a whole, I absolutely loved this first episode. It did a really good job of having a lot happen, without giving too much away. The episode had a great creep factor too it, as the idea of an airplane landing without any communication whatsoever is fantastically scary. I couldn't help but see a correlation between this and the beginning of the movie Nightmare City, with the silent airplane lands and sends out countless scabby-headed zombies(it's a great film, if you've never seen it).

The show has a good cast, with the best-known actor being fat Hobbit Sean Astin as a member of the CDC team that is checking out the spooky airplane. I will say, despite the solid cast, the acting is a bit on the cheesy side, and it might bother some. I forgive that because this is based on a comic book, and the violence is fantastic.

Speaking of that, this show will satiate any gore-hound. I won't go too deep into details, but I do need to point out that The Strain features a brutally beautiful(brutiful?) head-smashing that blew me away. It was unnecessary, awesome and sets a violent tone for the rest of the series.

My only problem with The Strain is a hokey sub-plot about Dr. Ephraim Goodbody and his year-long separation with his wife. We first meet him as he's late for his marriage therapy session, where wifey and the therapist do a damn good job making this poor guy look like an asshole because he very busy with his job at the CDC. The CDC! It's not like he's a butcher or a mall security guard! And the guy's obviously not a dick, and obviously loves his wife and son, and at one point wifey's new boyfriend says that no man should put his job before his wife while they watch a news report about the airplane and how it could possibly be a health risk, which is where Dr. Goodbody is! I mean how stupid is that?
Perhaps as the show goes on, we'll get some back-story featuring Goodbody killing kittens or something that's deserving of this treatment, but so far it's moronic.

The show is filmed beautifully, too. Every shot looks great. I don't know if that has anything to do with Del Toro's hand on the series, but I hope the episodes he doesn't direct still look as good.

The show also features:
-Crazy old Van Helsing-type with make-shift sword in his cane!
-Zombie vampires!
-The hispanic guy from Veronica Mars!
-Neil Diamond!
-The WWF's Kurrgan!

I am excited to see what's in store for the rest of season 1, because as far as I'm concerned, The Strain is well on it's way to outdoing not only Walking Dead's first season, but it's entire series altogether.

The Strain is a head-smashingly good time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Uncanny eX-Fest 2014

This past weekend, Exhumed Films held their annual celebration of exploitation cinema, eX-Fest. Here's a rundown of the day's shenanigans:

-We celebrated a birthday.

-Prizes were given away to lucky members of the crowd.

-EF announced upcoming shows for the Summer of Sci-Fi:
Starman and Escape from New York on June 20th
The LOST Film Fest on July 20th
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Dune on August 23rd

-And then the film spools rolled:

I did not grow up watching kung fu films, and I'm not a real big fan of them as an adult, so I was not thrilled when the first film was indeed Kung Fu-y. Thankfully, Eagle's Shadow was a lot of fun.
This early Jackie(or Jacky in the credits[which I pronounced JACK-AYE]) Chan film featured the greatest fighting style in history: Kitty Cat Style! Me-OW!
When Snake Style fails Jack-Aye, and he recieves one too many ass-whuppins', he gains Kitty Cat Style after watching a cat fight a cobra for several minutes. If only everything in life could be learned that easily. 
Great stuff, and highly recommended.

I gave this spaghetti western 20 minutes, and then bailed when I realized that it severely lacked spaghetti. I fed the meter. Chatted with people. Probably took a leak.
This is great stuff why am i not a professional writer yet?

A "women in prison" film, that was about 75% enjoyable. Somewhere in he middle the movie became really boring, but regained steam during the finale. If you took a shot every time you saw boobs or heard the term Jap, you'd be dead.

This is a trailer compilation movie, so a few of us took this time to go get a nosh at Pizza Rustica. Despite my love for all day film festivals, it was way too gorgeous of a day to spend all of it indoors, and this pizzeria has a great outdoor section. We bullshitted about everything from wrestling to ex's for an hour, and then we trotted back to the I-House for our next film.

I had no idea what the good goddamn christ was going on in this film for the first 15 minutes. I kept asking "What the fuck's a mafu and why is Carol Kane going to kill herself for one?"
As it turns out, Mafu was an orangoutang.
Carol Kane plays Cissy, who, as a child, grew up with her father in Africa, and is now living with her sister in America after Daddy died, and raises monkey's in a large cage at her house. The problem is, Carol is as nutty as a pile of hammers and keeps killing her Mafu's. Then things get crazy.
This was a slow burn, and I loved every minute.

Was this film a little too mainstream for eX-Fest? Not at all. Although I'd heard of this gem, I had never seen it. This gritty 35mm print made my first watch all the better.
The plot is simple enough: new music teacher in a inner city High School has to deal with a sleaze-ball gang that "runs" the school.
If your still not interested, just know that it features the always awesome Roddy McDowall.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. It had a lot going for it, like Barry White and Scat-man Crothers, dirty 1970's Harlem and being animated by the great Ralph Bakshi. The problem is there's too much time that passes where absolutely nothing happens. Most of my friends went home during Coonskin, but I'm glad I stuck around for the final film.

Eager Beavers
Despite the ridiculous title, this was not a porn.
Some dude in the worst fake beard in film history gets ornery with a waitress at a nightclub, and decides to follow her home and murder her to death. He then proceeds to "shave" and get a job as a bouncer at the same club so he can kill the rest of the girls who witnessed the crime.
This was highly entertaining, but I feel that eX-Fest should end with something a little crazier.
If I had set the order of films, I would've put Eager Beavers first, and ended with the Jack-Aye Chan Joint. Definitely more of a crowd-pleasing ending.

That brings us to my only real issue with this year's event: there was nothing too crazy shown. After the big "to do" the EF guys made about the van-load of film prints that they acquired, we really thought that this was going to be an insane event, which I feel it was far from.
Maybe they're saving those for the LOST Film Fest in July?

Still had a great time, though, and I can't wait for the Summer of Sci-Fi.

Friday, May 2, 2014

VHS is going Viral for it's third installment

VHS is easily the most polarized horror film to come out in forever; people literally love or hate it. Even amongst my fellow horror bloggers.
I loved the first VHS film. I did a "blind buy" a few years ago, and was pleasantly surprised when the stories were all supernatural based. I'll admit that I almost gave up on VHS on my first watch because within three minutes, the shaky cam gave me a splitting headache.
I'm glad I stuck with it, because the VHS experience was a fun one.
The following year we got VHS2, and I'm ashamed to say I have no finished watching it. I viewed the first two segments and I did enjoy what I'd seen so far.

Yesterday it was revealed that we will be getting a third VHS installment: VHS Viral. I wonder if it's going to be "videos on youtube" set-piece?

No release date, but it's likely to debut at Sundance, like the previous two.

Info courtesy of Viewer Discretion Advised