Friday, August 31, 2012

Two nights left...

As the week draws to a close, there are only a few nights left of my "End of  Summer Horror" series, and it has been, for the most part, a ton of fun. Determining which movies will make the cut before the next gimmick series could prove to rather difficult as I have about four slashers on the mind as of now...

I was thinking of maybe Bloody Birthday and The Initiation Friday night, closing Saturday with Pieces and maybe a Friday the 13th movie. Who knows? Something else may pop up before Saturday concludes...we'll see.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Final Exam

I play for keeps


The general consensus, just by reading the thoughts, opinions, and reviews of slasher fans, the devotees, quite a vocal bunch, is that Final Exam is a mediocre example of the genre. Though, I normally don't read where a lot of the folks say it absolutely sucks, you definitely feel that the sentiment is Final Exam doesn't really satiate the appetite of the common slasher fan. Not a bloody movie, or particularly fast-paced, more concerned with character development and giving the characters personalities, Final Exam is actually atypical in that regard. But even by those standards, likable characters can only take you so far. If the movie doesn't bleed, peril isn't accentuated enough to cause nail-biting suspense, and there's an absense of babes sans clothes, tolerance is normally "snuffed out", patience is "bled dry", and resolve is "brutalized". Look, Final Exam is an endurance test because besides the opening minutes, there isn't another kill scene until nearly an hour's running time.

Biding his time.


 Look, this is a slasher film and there are certain expectations. What we get is a kid pledging for a fraternity whose leaders are a couple of jock dorks (the "Wildman" (Ralph Brown) takes whip cream and under arm deodrant spray in his mouth, spitting all over his dorm room while yucking it up cartoonishly with his frat brother, Mark (John Fallon) who has trouble getting a chick porking her chemistry professor to go out with him), the final girl, Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi) cramming for her chemistry test wondering why she has to study so hard while her best friend, Lisa (very sexy DeAnna Robbins), the hot blonde, can get by on looks alone, a geeky, rather nervy brainiac (with an unhealthy fixation on mass murderers and violence day-to-day) with the odd name, Radish (Joel S Rice) who accidentally gets the jocks in trouble (he took down a license number, giving it to the sheriff) for a terrible prank involving a gang of faux ski-masked terrorists, spilling out of a van, gunning down students as to allow their fraternity leader to cheat on an exam (!), a chatty lovestruck pal of lead Courtney's, Janet (Sherry Willis-Burch), afraid her wimpy beau (the aforementioned plege, so wanting to join these goofballs, he steals a test from a teacher's office) will be "tied to the tree" for giving her his pledge pin, and numerous members of the staff (coach and campus security guard) arguing with the sheriff over his temptation to take the frat jerks in for their sickening prank. The film feels at times like it is a teen soap opera, an 80s Degrassi, instead of a slasher film. I guess after watching Slumber Party Massacre and Bloody Pom Poms, Final Exam just feels like child's play.
Radish and Courtney

What was an interesting move to me was the decision to cast the killer as just some guy with a knife. He has no motive that is ever established, looks like some steel worker with a mop hair cut, and just starts killing the kids after spending the day looking out of his van window for targets to drive his knife through.
That's not exactly the Chemistry Professor..

The main star attraction may not be the cast or killer but the final sequence's location, the William's Tower, with a long spiral staircase leading straight to the top of the building. Really cool is seeing the killer fall seemingly forever when his foot goes through a fragile piece of floor, ruining what was certain to be an easy slay as Courtney was caught and at his mercy.

Final Exam came out really early in the slasher cycle, more akin to Halloween (as He Knows You're Alone was) than Friday the 13th, more involved in the lives of its characters before bumping them off one at a time in rather rapid succession. When the killing does start, it doesn't seem to stop until Courtney is running for her life, the Tower her final refuge. How a slasher fan will react to this is probably dependent on their feelings for the characters, having to understand they are beholden to a large part of the running time dedicated to the difficulties of higher learning and the idiocincracies of frat behavior.

Maybe the film's main strength is authenticity. At a real school, with locals perhaps from the state of North Carolina having bit and starring parts in the movie, it doesn't feel like a Hollywood movie, much more organic and real. That's what I like about 80s slashers, in general, how the casts often make up unfamiliar faces never to be seen much in movies again. A lot of slasher movies were made by "Hey, you want to make a movie!" types who were able to gather enough capital and crew, film and equipment, to make their own little contribution to a popular genre with a fanbase who would be willing to watch their product, regardless of its overall quality. Slasher fans (horror fans, even) are an enthusiastic bunch willing to go out of their way to find movies that are hard to locate...unless there's the financial wherewithal and determined distributing companies offering them to us, the only avenues of securing slasher movies of a certain obscurity, is to search Amazon, ebay, downloading sites, or youtube. Thankfully we live in a digital age that allows us to investigate and retrieve "lost slashers" that would otherwise remain buried.

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°°°°°°°°°°
∆ added 8/7/2016

Having already wrote my technical review for the film back about four years ago (wow, four years), kind of looking at the film without any conversion of synopsis and critique, I could forgo “review mentality” and give totally to the emersion of “Final Exam” (1981).

This just isn’t a slasher film in its most pure form. Conversation about getting the grade the right way as opposed to using your looks and fucking the chemistry professor between two nerds is closer in spirit to afterschool specials or 90210. I can see the reaction of the ribald slasher community, wanting their tits and ass and bloody knives. Fraternity drama and shenanigans, girls talking boys, the sheriff addressing a prank on campus that would horrify today’s student body (funny perhaps then, but not so now), a good ole boy coach always defusing anything that could lead to trouble for his jocks, and a low-magnitude killer who remains formless and colorless.

There’s some good production back story for the film. The folks in front of and behind the camera: how a low budget production can exist independent to the Hollywood studio scene and get renewed interest (even if it results in many a criticism) 20 odd years later is something in itself.

Some images from Final Exam not included on my 2012 review:



















Some thoughts, brief: Slumber Party Massacre...

I have yet to put a collection of thoughts for this movie in any sort of satisfying review, so, in the mean time here are a few things I have to say about the movie. Losing that review from the other night...it is so excruciating. Anyway, I've been trying to recycle bits and pieces I had meshed into a whole, but nothing I write seems to work to me. Anyway, here's some shit about the movie that rambled around in the gray matter and spit out of the mind...

Regardless of the intention of the female writer-director team, and their possible feminist ideals, I look at what is presented on screen. I felt the ladies were saying with their movie, "Fuck you, guys, we can make a film just a gratuitous, in-your-face, and bloody, if not better." For me, they did. The notorious prolongued shower is one of the more documented scenes with slasher fans, the camera ogling lustfully the naked bodies of the high school girls basketball team, bathing in the showers, a killer not too far away. A newspaper had already established that a psycho was on the loose, Russ Thorn, having killed 4 people. Thorn, mad eyes, no redeemable qualities whatsoever, concerned only with the bloodshed he will spill, comes in contact with his signature kill-weapon, the cordless drill, while disposing of a hot female electrician, having trapped her in her van. About five minutes or so later, poor Brinke Stevens (stunning, fresh-faced, and petite, not to mention, oh yes, nude) has to return to the locker to get something, is locked in, Thorn not far behind. A good chase ensues.

I feel Slumber Party Massacre has something for every slasher fan, even if you don't like it as a whole. The filmmakers have numerous girls take off their tops to show some tits, titillation almost immediately (the lead girl, Trish, played by.. removes her shirt practically in the first few seconds she appears!), foretelling us exactly what kind of movie this would be right out of the chute. The fact that two ladies are murdered within 16 minutes also indicates to us that this is a film that is determined to prove its point in regards to what the slasher genre represents, mocking and parodying male filmmakers and those who make up the audience for these trashy, violent, over-the-top movies. I have to say, though, that the point is taken, but muted because many will watch the film, after the way it is marketed, and miss the message supposedly conveyed, not in on the joke because it favors so heavily the very films it seeks to rib. It's hardly subtle, the way the drill seems to symbolize Thorn's dick, his weapon the means to stick it to the ladies he seems unable to treat any other way than savagely. That's not to say that Rita Mae Brown's script doesn't "stick it to the man" when Robin Stille's reluctant (she winces)defense using a machete (she may be hesistant to use violence, but she sure wields a mean machete when there's no choice left available to her).

Cheerleader Camp

Oh, how we can barely contain our excitement
The "end of summer horror" series seems to have gave way to "end of summer slasher" series, as the next movie on the agenda was Cheerleader Camp (I also enjoyed its alternate title, Bloody Pom Poms, as well). I was expecting a slight step downward from the previous nights, but this flick, as downright daffy as it was, still found a way to keep me entertained.

I will start off by saying that to me nothing's more horrifying than seeing Leif Garrett rap. Just saying. A bit of the plot: a cheerleading camp is held for various groups to attend and compete. A psychopath, with ties to Betsy Russell, crashes the camp and hacks up members of her team.

To say that Betsy Russell's performance is broad and her character is more than a bit unstable would be the understatement of the week. Saying that, I have to be honest...I couldn't take my eyes off of her. That and I couldn't stop salivating while eyeballing her up and down like a starving mutt, chained to a wall, craving a pound of chopped meat.



Peep into binoculars long enough, you're liable to go crosseyed.


While this was one of George Buck Flower's career-defining parts (it is sizable, instead of just a few seconds costumed as a bum), Leif Garrett had to be saying to himself, "So this is where my career has come to..." He plays a prick pretty well; the filmmakers stroke his ego by having Russell and Teri Weigel both with the hots for him. Seeing Garrett in tidy whities will forever haunt my nightmares. I imagine he would love to have that scene deleted from his career altogether..right along with his mug shot.


That's right, girls, you know you want it.
Cheerleader Camp is the kind of loopy slasher that has the questionably sane Russell, holding on the her wits by a thread from the very first time we see her on screen, always stumbling into dead bodies, obviously not by her own hands. I can't imagine anyone with half a brain believes she's the one responsible for the massacre that ensues at Camp Harrah. To call Camp Harrah a real, legitimate cheerleading camp is preposterous since the main night's showcase of the schools in attendance (to believe Garrett, receding hairline and looking far older than he even was at that time, could pass as twenty is hilarious) results in beer swilling, punk music, and party-hearty kids dancing the night away. I think the whole purpose of this kind of comic slasher is to poke fun at cheerleading in general, although there are a lot of people who take this seriously, even considering it a sport (competitions, how this can make you a better person, give you confidence and high self-esteem, etc), understanding damn well that guys (and girls, for that matter) love ogling chicks in uniform. Russell (thank you, filmmakers) almost remains in her cheerleading garb the entire running time. Lucinda Dickey plays Corey, the alligator mascot for the cheerleading team whose leader is Russell's Alison. Alison has been having nightmares where she violently attacks her cheerleading adversary, Pam (Teri Weigel, who would later in the early 90s embark on a porn career). Other members of the spirit squad include bubbly ditz, Bonnie (Lori Griffin, who played the hot blond bitch Michael J Fox lusted over in Teen Wolf, much more easy to adore here) and Pam's buddy, Theresa (Rebecca Ferratti). Travis McKenna is the rotund, vulgar clown, Timmy, a male member of the cheerleading team, always gulping booze and peeping on the babes with a lascivious energy...many might recognize him as one of Swayze's security crew in the most awesome movie on the planet, Road House. Travis' most memorable scene in this movie could be when he sticks his large naked ass out the window mocking the competition! Vickie Benson plays her role to the hilt as Ms. Tipton, camp organizer with way too much make-up and a superiority complex that is laughable considering everyone in attendance openly finds her contemptible and obnoxious. Benson, to me, has a character who is a fading beauty, probably once a lead cheerleader holding on to the past as it steadily leaves her behind, in the dust.

Look into these eyes, these are the eyes of a...

There was some tits early on to titillate and violence sprinkled throughout to keep the gorehounds from taking a hike. Weigel was cast specifically because she pops the top frequently, only attractive to Leif as an object of lust, to dispose of once she give in to his sexual advances. Most of the kills are a greatest hits collection from every slasher movie during the decade that came before Cheerleader Camp: hatchet to the back, guts spewing out thanks to a scythe, bear trap to the face (this on the poor deputy sheriff who had a side-splitting shag with Tipton), hedge clippers through the mouth, severed wrists, and a body in cold storage.

The end result might be more than a bit silly with a particular character, in the not-so-surprising twist, showing her true colors, finally getting to cheer, but seeing her in cheerleading costume was well worth whatever eyerolling it caused.

This just isn't my day.

Buck Flower, who has his share of a cult fandom, gets to really shine here, bringing his particular brand of hick shtick,  so welcome in something corny as this movie, to the role of the jack-of-all-trades camp caretaker/handiman/manservant, obeying (albeit, not so happy about it) Tipton's every command. He has a cloud of doubt hung over him as well, but it's just too obvious a red herring. I smiled anytime he appeared to the screen, especially when he ribs the deputy sheriff for using binoculars to peep on the cheerleaders taking in the sun while in bikinis. I need to mention that throughout the movie, Lucinda Dickey is always supportive of Russell, but her character is a bit too comforting and consoling...


A great deal of the film focuses on the fragile mental state of Russell, often directly on her face as  it contemplates a possible acceptance that she is the one behind the murders due to her "disturbing" dreams (like Leif banging Weigel, as people of the camp surrounding them say "Harder, harder..."). That and her intense jealousy of beau Leif who seems disinterested (maybe this is real, not performance as he sleepwalks through the whole movie anyways). Taking this movie seriously in regards to Leif as some knight in shining armour, protecting the ladies from the mad psycho in the woods was one of its charms...Leif's presence in the movie overall was just a riot to me; I imagine he was perhaps not very fond with being stuck in a hokey slasher movie at the tail end of the genre's craze. I think you can see in this movie that the genre was starting to die, definitely on life-support. One more year and the genre would take a sabbatical for a while (although, a few movies tried to surface to breathe life into the genre, but it wouldn't return to prominence until Wes Craven hit the theaters with his Scream, resusitating the slasher film, giving it a Frankensteinian life).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slumber Party Massacre

 I'm pretty bummed out at the moment. Ever have a blog review, detailed with all the things you ever could imagine explaining a movie that felt just right? I had one but my stupid ass didn't save it in Word. Maybe tomorrow. Alas.

"He's so cold..."
"Is the pizza?"

Despite feeling for the poor pizza man with his eyes gouged, I laughed my ass off at that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sleepaway Camp

Best to step off sister.
Continuing my "end of summer horror" series, started Sunday night with Just Before Dawn, I decided to take a look at Sleepaway Camp, a notorious camp slasher that earned quite a reputation for the final image, a money shot that defined shock value and leaves the mouth agape. It explains why Angela is afraid of the water, doesn't shower with the girls, needed a secretly concealed 'physical exam" sent to Camp Arawak hiding a truth that her legal guardian (one warped guarantor for sure) never wants unveiled, and remains isolated from (and stares at) the other girls in her cabin in camp.

That's right, I'm the bitch around here...
The slasher part of the plot consists of certain characters who torment Angela (Felissa Rose) and suffer the wrath of a psychopath. A filthy, sleazebag head chef of the camp, corners Angela in the food locker, starting to pull his belt off when her cousin, Ricky, thankfully appears in the nick of time. He has a big pot of boiling water immersion thanks to the killer catching him in a chair, in a compromised situation just like other kids I'm certain he molested. I imagine people in the theater cheered when this scumbag got his just desserts. And director Robert Hiltzik doesn't pull away, letting us see him in agony, his flesh severely burned, peeling away. The monster of the film, besides Angela's co-camp counselor, Meg (Katherine Kamhi, about as ferocious as Judy), is queen bitch, Judy (Karen Fields), always looking for ways to push her buttons, antagonizing nearly every scene, vocally scathing, and never relenting in her personal attacks. Judy is specifically designed to irritate and enrage the viewer, so when she get what's coming to her, you will be begging for her execution to be harsh. Not much is shown, but what is implied, "Ouch". Let's just say it has to do with a curling iron and leave it at that. Meg has eyes for the plaid-pants wearing Camp Organizer/Operator, Mel (Mike Kellin, just watched him last night in Just Before Dawn), willing to just about hide anything no matter how heinous if it rescues his camp from scandal and a bad reputation resulting in a wide exodus of kids from the premises. A lot of the film is implied in regards to what happens to victims, such as how certain sleeping lads were executed in their sleep by the killer using a hatchet and a particular drowning (this is the kill that works the least to me; I had a hard time believing the killer could just overpower the victim and drown him considering his size compared to the psycho's); to think that the killer would butcher children asleep in their sleeping bags is really disturbing. I think the film does well in showing a build up to the body count slaughter. When you push and push, something's bound to eventually snap and nothing good can come from a volcanic eruption.

Damn your eyes!
When I was watching this movie tonight, I didn't find this as much a fun ride as I did unsettling. Angela has these cold eyes that stare a hole right through you. Can you imagine being on the receiving end of that death stare? It would give me the chills. It drives Meg and Judy crazy because they are always trying to elicit a response of outrage from her. She just stares and holds herself in this statue pause that curtails any attempts by her tormenters to provoke. But when you poke a bear long enough, it bites. Or someone does. The film presents another possibility...Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten), and Mel sure believes he is the one behind all of the horror befalling Camp Arawak. Mel goes as far as to attack the boy when a potential love interest is stabbed down her back, reasoning that he wants to shut down the camp!

I think the murders in the film, while not that gory, still pack a wallop because of what the violence implies, as I have mentioned above. Boiling water, a curling iron, bees (a nasty bit of business shows a face covered by them), a face after spending a night in the water with the hungry aquatic creatures, and a severed head. Notice above director Hiltzik's affinity for showing fingers from outstretched hands telling us just how painful it can be to inflame the wrath of the film's psychopath.

What I liked about the movie is how it shows a realistic portrait of a summer camp; I went to one in 1990 and remember the experience quite similarly, including kids swearing and talking about chicks. Except this film shows a summer camp turned on its head because of the actions of a certain few who didn't know to leave well enough alone.


What I think this slasher does best is highlight psychological trauma and how through the behavior of nasty people can trigger a laden psychosis ready to surface with just the right flip of the switch. You can sense at the film's conclusion, that it would end up this way. Raised as the killer was, forced to pretend to be something he/she was not at the behest of a guardian who wanted a certain type of child, hitting puberty, meeting a potential suitor, confronting sexuality and how to respond when kissed and touched in a way never before experienced, the neurosis due to personality conflicts he/she was having to address, along with the teasing and cruelty, there was a breaking point. Those unfortunate enough to be at Camp Arawak, in her/his sights, paid a price.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Just Before Dawn

Who Goes There?


Summer is on its way to a close and I normally annually watch Just Before Dawn so why not tonight? I have been reading some reviews and as expected--because people like me, watching the movie for the first time, in 2005, watched the much appreciated Shriek Show release and were blown away by what we saw, telling anyone who would listen to see it--many of those who checked it out consider such praise as overrated. I wasn't looking for a slasher in the woods, but was expecting it to tell you the truth, and got a little something extra. I admire a film that wants to establish atmosphere and something beyond butchered young adults/teenagers in the wilderness. I want that I can just watch the awesomely awful Don't Go Into the Woods....Alone!!!! (thank you, Code Red for that release, by the way, because it was a lot of fun despite its ability to rot the brain and deteriorate the IQs of anyone who watches).

Peekaboo


You know, the film doesn't have a lot of bloodshed. If you happen across this minor blog entry about it, I'm telling you, this movie IS NOT about the gore. There's no sex, although Jamie Rose, the wild redhead (I love redheads), shows some tits. You know her fate at the hands of the pot-bellied hillbilly wacko is never shown, but it has always left me unsettled...no one should have to go out like that (left to our imagination, what happens to her is rather a horrifying thought).

Ultimately, I like how the film establishes how a person/persons can change when faced with unexpected horror, the loss of friends, being pursued by machete-wielding (and these machetes have jagged blades, certainly leaving me rather uncomfortable when a victim receives a "crotch shot") killers, and not knowing what lies in wait within the darkness of the woods. I have read reviews that proclaim the film as uneventful, not particularly suspenseful, and not worthy of its hype. It's thankfully different. I tire of films reminiscent of Friday the 13th. This film was actually considered a Friday the 13th type film, but it really isn't. I do think director Lieberman was going for a variation on Deliverance. The kids encounter backwoods family with a Pa who inbreeds. I think Lieberman cast the part of Pa well because he speaks in one/two words, abruptly cuts people off, is evasive, says little when anything comes out of his tight-lipped mouth, and seems to wear his shotgun on his person as if it were a part of his wardrobe. I think Lieberman establishes here that Pa has kept it in the family so long and holds his kids/lovers under such control, that it is no wonder some of the offspring would get a bit loony and psychotic.

Demons


I never thought the young adults were a poor lot; instead I rather liked them. It was the case where they just wanted to camp in the woods, enjoy the scenery, and have some fun. Nothing wrong with that. Sure, they may react a little uncomfortably to park ranger George Kennedy or a rather out-of-his-mind Mike Kellin (who kind of has a reason for falling off the deep end) who try to warn them of how the mountain could produce danger (demons; the devils; whatever you want to name the terrors that will befall our group).

A lot has already been written about how Deborah Benson transforms over the running time, especially in relation to her beau, Gregg Henry, her behavior at first vulnerable and seeking her man's strength and protective embrace, later the one who offers him protection, saving his hide. Funny seeing Henry unable to accept his pals were dead, stuck in denial, while Benson tells him that they are gone, looking hauntingly into the darkened wilderness, listening to the whistling (I always felt this was perhaps the killers' ways of communicating to each other, but it could simply be birds of some sort living in the wilderness without a care in the world), knowing that she'll have to defend herself against the menace who took the lives of her friends. Henry eventually collapses into her bosom, finally realizing they are the only ones who will be leaving *his woods* (by deed) alive.



Kennedy seems like the one with his head firmly on his shoulders, understanding what the mountains might produce to the unexpected, but he's a little eccentric himself, the way he talks to his horse and plants (he's all alone, so it does kind of make sense that he would develop relationships with things that cannot talk back). He is a voice of reason, someone who has been around a while and probably lived a full life before becoming park ranger in the deep Oregonian woods.

I just love the woods, especially as a location for horror; if done right, a rather mediocre story and characters can be salvaged just by what surrounds them. I miss the way movies used to look on real film, especially the low budget ones that seem to capture a setting, story, characters, action with a level of mood and sinister that steadicam (irony that steadi is used to describe cameras that shake and jerk, providing audiences with potential nausea and almost certain trip to the john to vomit) digital just doesn't quite accomplish. Brad Fiedel's score and the look and feel of the film both keep me coming to this film. I think these are ultimately the qualities that has me return to the movie, although Benson's performance also is a treat to view over again as well. That scene where she chokes the rotund psycho with her fist, her legs vice-gripping his waist, very unique and original...if not also bizarre and rather surreal. That shot of the distant sun just above the Oregonian wilderness, Fiedel's score epitomizing how ominous serenity might be, Just Before Dawn is a movie I think that lives up to its reputation among the more rabid of us who derive its fanbase. That whistle should be just as iconic as Jason's "Mama's Call", and perhaps is to a lot of this movie's fans.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Fog remake

Oh, man, is The Fog remake even worse than I remembered. This was the case where everything Carpenter and company did right in the original film was performed poorly, ill-advised and dumbly overplayed, in the remake.

Casting, dull and lifeless (the joker playing the priest is woefully rotten, a pathetic substitute for the haunting Hal Holbrook, whose face wore shame, regret, and horror extremely well; this guy is just a asshole with an attitude problem), an abundance of CGI effects that do little to salvage a lack of real atmosphere (this is a special effects movie, not an atmosphere movie...), the need by the screenplay to explain explicitly all of what happened to the crew of the Elizabeth Dane (I really don't need, or felt the original needed to explain, a ton of exposition; when you have John Houseman, that sinister, gentlemanly voice and his ghoulish story, it can go a long way, certainly more affective than a modicum of special effects drawn up in a hi-tech studio with computers highly depended on to tell the story for you).

 What Carpenter did for me was give the fog seen in his film a living, breathing life of its own while the digital effects presented in the remake look and feel phony and heartless. Maggie Grace couldn't be a more spiritless female heroine and how the film binds her to the old crew of the Elizabeth Dane drew eye-rolling from me; yet another unnecessary need to collide the past with the present when the fog itself in the original, just flashes of the lepers of the Dane within, spoke volumes. I like that Jamie Lee Curtis was just a girl passing through, not a reincarnated member of the crew "rejoining" her husband in a moment right out of The Shining.

Wow, does Smallville's Clark Kent/Superman Welling do little to say in his performance that he deserved a chance to jump from the small screen to the big screen...quite a bland hero if there ever was one...Tom Atkins kicks Welling's ass all over the place in that regard. Criminally underused in this film is the Adrienne Barbeau replacement Selma Blair who the filmmakers did not believe in. She is not highly featured in the radio station (yes, there is a special effect sequence where something found by her son in the water has a conniption fit, causing screams, noises, and spiritual *unrest*; as noisy and boisterous as everything else), the film isn't involved in her overall role as voice to an unsuspecting town that the menace is closing in (Barbeau used her post as an emergency broadcast, while Blair exits stage left, later, while in her car suffers a crash, is sent off a cliff into the ocean, somehow escaping a hand grabbing her ankle, not turning into a steaming skeleton like her babysitter, and eventually finding her son safe and sound) and screen time devoted to her welfare or as a mom devoted to seeing that her son is rescued from the creatures in the fog is limited. I actually did like Blair in this film--not something I can honestly say in past roles she has portrayed--and so it is rather disappointing that the director didn't capitalize on her potential when the rest of the cast couldn't be worse in the appeal dept. This is just all wrong; no wonder I haven't watched this monstrosity since 2005.How many times have I watched Carpenter's film over the years? Too many to count; it has such rewatchability to me; yet this abomination is so insufferably soulless and boring, I couldn't imagine sitting through it again not just anytime soon but maybe never again.

To mention an example of how wrong-headed this movie is: the babysitter, Mrs. Kobritz, in the original, is carried away, a hand over her mouth, pulled into the engulfing fog never to be seen again, as glimpses of hooks and blades appear and disappear, telling us her fate, while in the remake, a hand reaches in from the kitchen sink, grabs her arm, as her body deteriorates into a skeleton through the means of CGI; just like everything else in this fucking misfire, the special effects, in over the top fashion, try to overcompensate when subtle works just as well...

Don't even get me started on the leader of the Dane, appearing with the remnants of a face, reduced through CGI to a skull peeking from a glowing visage, appearing in a library, *compelling* glass from windows to stab through the priest, in slow motion, as he twirls in terror (the glass doesn't even look real for chrissakes), collapsing to the floor....Holbrook took a scythe to the throat as the screen faded to black, simple and effective, again subtle not overelaborate and bloated to the extreme. Just a pathetic waste of money and time that could have been better spent elsewhere...

I may watch the Carpenter film this afternoon just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, even though I was wanting to give it a special place in Halloweenmonth.

The Apparition

What a whole lot of nothing. Oh,brother, regrets. We have all had theatrical regrets; follow the gut, it normally doesn't let you down. It didn't here, either, but I took the chance anyway, and this is what it got me. Ever watched a movie that seemed to have footage and story missing? This is one movie that had a whole ending that seemed to indicate that more was intended but left on the cutting room floor. An entity (I honestly don't know what else to call it) is released by tech kids into proving the supernatural exists, the expensive technology at their disposal to hopefully succeed. A "rift" is opened by them, and those involved with the seance (or whatever it is) are *haunted* by *it*. Ashley Greene, a stunning beauty whose petite body is showcased in lingerie at one point in the movie, her beau a hunk for the chicks who happen to attend, is tormented in her new Phoenix suburban home because boyfriend was part of the paranormal group who opened the rift and let out the evil. That is as good as I can explain it. This movie is a mess and never is quite given much in the way of a satisfactory exposition. And the movie is over too soon to really invest in the scenario of paranormal activity plaguing our lead heroine and those who brought the terror literally inside her house. This is another of those movies where we see a female ghoul crawling out of a corner like one of those ghost girls from Ringu flicks. Mold and something hideous forming in a corner of her house, the evil entity shows itself in various forms, trying to enter *our world* out of  *the other side*. Energy can be used in reverse to possibly *send it back* to where it wishes to exit. Maybe, just maybe, the entity can be returned before it's too late. It was frustrating leaving the theater because I truly felt this movie left a lot to be desired absent from our eyes. It felt like skeletal remnants from what was to be a full-fledged fright flick never to form. We get small-scale "paranormal outbursts", a few *aftermaths* where Greene and boyfriend find their house in a state of disorder, and a new seance that is supposed to rescue them from future terror. From what I could gather, it is supposed to toy with victims' fears and cause them to doubt their senses. I guess I ultimately felt like this movie takes ideas from other films, throws them into a heap of jump scares, sound effects, and recognizable cliches, and never offers us anything especially compelling or worthy of real attention. You get Greene scared a lot, her beau concerned yet often in a state of denial, and special effects to try and tie us over despite anything remotely interesting behind them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Until last year, I had opened October month with Dracula's Daughter. It had kind of become a tradition. Of course, last year is an October month I would love to forget, although I won't considering all the crap I had to deal with. That said, I think I might return to that tradition this year. It just seems like the right kind of movie to open Halloween month. Gloria Holden, the vamp who wants to be free from the Dracula curse, and her intimidating, slick-haired manservant, Irving Pichel, brooding over her, reminding her of the bloodthirst because he doesn't want her to change; instead, he wants to be turned, perhaps to be the man she desires (instead, Holden longs for Otto Kruger). Professor Van Helsing was relegated to a minor part here, forewarning but rather limited to his role in stopping Dracula's daughter. Holden's haunting presence, conveying both a craving for freedom and hunger for blood, is really what I think keeps the film relevant. I have read from other horror buddies who have watched Dracula's Daughter that they find it rather slow-going and maybe a bit dull, but whenever Holden and Pichel appears I think the film is fascinating. The much-discussed lesbian undercurrent remains rather compelling, I think. I find myself really drawn, no spellbound, by the way Holden closes in as the poor girl, the flesh of her neck and shoulders unwrapped to Dracula's daughter like a precious present, becomes hypnotically inert. Like many of my horror brethren (and sisters), this is always fun; figuring out your line ups for each night in October month. Yes, we may seem to be horror geeks, but we are a passionate bunch. I really want this October to eclipse the previous year. That would be ideal if a few gems are discovered while going through the month. I plan to reveal some movies I have never seen before that should show up for the month.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

October Will Be Here Before You Know It

...and I couldn't be more excited about it. I had gall bladder surgery last October, had an allergic skin reaction to the pain medication, had to battle soreness when off of the pain meds, and couldn't find my usual jonesing for horror. It was certainly an off year. Have you ever entered late August/early September and find yourself almost purposely avoiding horror just because October is nearing? I always do around this time of the year. I have lots of older films I have been saving just for the first-time viewing experience. I want gems, both old and modern, and I hope this October, where I'm healthier and happier, will bring a lot of entertainment. I will especially devote plenty of time to this blog as I have not lent much creatively to The Darkside as of late. I have plans for a Russ Meyer festival of films coming in September and he will be the focus of my blogspot. I couldn't be more excited as I plan to watch a first-time Meyer film every Saturday in Sept. Should be a lot of fun. I also have a set of movies that were featured in an "Ultimate Degenerate" dvd, and I thought about detailing those experiences in Sept as well. But once October gets here, it is all about the horror. I hope that my typical Halloween Month enthusiasm is at its zenith and I can really hit my stride because there's a passion that always burns, even as a tiny flame, it never quite dies...

Friday, August 3, 2012

They just keep churning out those Paranormal Activity movies, don't they?

Ghost Story

I really literally stumbled on this movie last night, hadn't really planned on even mentioning it, but I did think about whether or not I liked it or not. I did decide I plan to read the Straub novel so I can seek some answers that puzzled me about the movie. Sure, I get the whole scenario involving a tragedy from the past never truly leaving those involved, the ghost soon returning to get her revenge (or could it just be a ghoul called guilt, a spectre t hat remains even if a secret is kept for decades). What puzzled me was how she took a form with beautiful flesh, having sexual intercourse with the sons of one she plans to kill (and succeeds). It was kind of strange to see, for me personally, Fred Astaire in a movie featuring steamy sex between Krige and Wasson (not to mention, Krige nude for portions of the film). While old pros like Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and John Houseman bring some name recognition to the film, I think it was easy to see that Astaire's presence will probably be why those who normally wouldn't watch something like Ghost Story might curiously give it a viewing. Houseman has one of those "ghost stories told in a spooky tone in the dark, lit by a fireplace" at the beginning to kind of set the mood, but it has, I guess you call them passages, that tells us how Krige is involved not just with those responsible for her demise, but intimately with a son of them.

My favorite scene has Krige naked in a tub with Wasson, both seemingly jovial after a passionate sexual encounter, when she's suddenly a different person after dipping under the water--fans of Tamara from The Ring might get why this scene packs a unique wallop. I was spellbound by Krige--she's just so compelling, particularly to me when she seems lost to something malevolent. It was as if she realized after a bit of happiness with Wasson, that she was not mortal, the immersion underwater a reminder of why she wasn't truly alive, and the intense desire to marry and meet his father places her back on course for that revenge I mentioned earlier on.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Total Recall Remake

Yeah, against my better judgment, I'll check out the probably very tame remake, reboot, reimagining, whatever, of a film I flat fucking loved when I was a teenager. I picked up a copy of the SE in fact in the Walmart bargain bin, which lifted my spirits nicely to say the least. Verhoeven's directorial flourishes I imagine will  be sorely missed. I'm not sure what exactly appeals to me other than I just love sci-fi and the trailer seems to say that it will have eye-popping visual effects to soak up in a theatrical experience. I never have yet went to see Spiderman or Batman yet at the theater...need to do that before both leave my theaters.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...