Friday, October 30, 2015

The 'Burbs (1989)

Director: Joe Dante

Writer: Dana Olsen

Composer:  Jerry Goldsmith

Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, Courtney Gains, Gale Gordon, Dick Miller, Robert Picardo, Cory Danziger, Franklyn Ajaye, Rance Howard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A comedy about one nice guy who gets pushed too far.

Plot: An overstressed suburbanite and his paramilitary neighbor struggle to prove their paranoid theory that the new family in town is a front for a cannibalistic cult.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes!!!

I fucking love this movie. The theater I saw this in was one that had swivel chairs, tables and servers to bring you pizza and beer.  The chairs were hell on your ass but you pushed through it for all of the other awesome amenities.   The cast is fantastic, the story is fun, the score is playful as shit and Joe Dante's sense of humor is all in this.  Rick Ducommun is priceless.  He's one of my favorite things about picture and it's a damn shame that he didn't hit the big time. That story he tells about the ice cream guy has the right amount of creep factor to sell the film.  Dante straddled the horror/comedy line skillfully letting each have their moments to shine.  This is one of those 'special' films that puts me in my happy place.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Brood (1979)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg

Composer: Howard Shore

Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds, Susan Hogan, Gary McKeehan, Michael Magee, Robert A. Silverman, Joseph Shaw, Larry Solway

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Ultimate Experience Of Inner Terror

Plot: A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband's investigation.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

OK, so for the longest time while watching this film, I was fighting sleep and wondering how the hell can you consider this drama a horror...and then the last twenty minutes or so happened and I was suddenly wide awake and understanding of where this fits in the genre.  I'll say this for Cronenberg's story, he knows how to fuck your shit up with the wildest explanation of what's been going on.  Once Nola (Eggar) reveals it to Frank (Hindle), it's a great little shocker both visually and intellectually.  It's a doosey.  But then you've also got to contend with the slow paced chunk of film that came before it.  It's not bad but it is slow enough that by the time Frank gets the answer he's been looking for it feels like it's too late but not really.  The performances are good except Reed has chosen to whisper act his way through the film.  He rarely speaks at a normal tone.  The opening with him and his patient was very good. I like the picture but not enough to see again.  If you haven't seen it and you do, you're absolutely not going to guess the reason for what's behind the grisly murders until it's revealed. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Superstition (1982)

Director: James W. Roberson

Writers: Galen Thompson, Michael O. Sajbel, Bret Thompson Plate, Brad White

Composer: David Gibney

Starring: James Houghton, Albert Salmi, Lynn Carlin, Larry Pennell, Jacquelyn Hyde, Robert Symonds, Heidi Bohay, Maylo McCaslin, Carole Goldman, Stacy Keach Sr., Kim Marie, Billy Jayne, Johnny Doran, Bennett Liss, Joshua Cadman, John Alderman, Nova Ball, Morgan Strickland, Earl Montgomery, Michael Cornelison, Casey King, Bret Thompson Plate, Orazio Orlando

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You'll believe it just before you die...

Plot:  A witch put to death in 1692 swears vengeance on her persecutors and returns to the present day to punish their descendants.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Where the hell has this been and why hadn't I heard of this before?  Don't worry about the plot sounding like a dozen other movies you've seen before.  There's nothing new here BUT it is a lot of fun. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD...YARRRRR!!!!!  The more I watched it the more I got into it.  It's a well-shot flick.  The acting is good, the direction and building of suspense is nice, the pacing, setting, etc..  Then people started dying and in really neat ways.  The gore is very good and there is a lot of it.  Hell, everyone (except for one person I think) dies.  You read that right.  That's a lot of people and just when you think so and so is going to make it?  Nope.  Snuffed out.  It's beautiful  While the basic storyline is cliched, the film strays from the cliche and kills everybody and they die where in other pictures they would live.  I'm really impressed with this Canadian slasher.  I really hope that this picture made money because everyone came together and made a fine flick.  It's not often that I come across an 80s horror flick I've missed that I really enjoy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

Director: Al Adamson

Writers: William Pugsley, Samuel M. Sherman

Composer: William Lava

Starring:  J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, Zandor Vorkov, John Bloom, Shelly Weiss, Greydon Clark, Forrest J. Ackerman

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  New! Different! Shocking!

Plot:  Judith Fontaine (Carrol) is looking for her sister Joanie, who has disappeared into the hippie community of Venice, California. It turns out Joanie has become the victim of Groton (Chaney Jr.), an axe-wielding homicidal maniac working for Dr. Durray (Naish), who is really the last of the Frankensteins and is now running a house of horrors by the beach and is performing experiments on Gorton's victims. One night Count Dracula (Vorkov) visits the doctor, showing him the original Frankenstein creation that was buried in a nearby graveyard. The doctor revives it and uses it to take revenge on his professional rivals.

My rating:  4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I'll say this much, this picture has the best poster art I've ever seen for an Al Adamson a long shot.  It's as if someone spent some money on them.  This is also a better than average Adamson film and you can take that however you want.  His pictures are generally pretty bad overall and poorly shot, acted, written and so on.  Bottom of the barrel stuff.  This one fares better when the scenes are filmed outdoors.  It has all of the ingredients of a bad picture including acting, writing but that also includes boredom.  There are some neat things like Dracula's zapping ring, the little guy's death scene and stuff but there's also a share of crap.  The IMDb trivia says this was filmed over a long period of time and now knowing that I can see how that would explain some of it.  It's the last picture for both Naish and Chaney Jr., the former spending a sizable amount of screen time making goofy faces as if he's anxiously awaiting a bottle of booze as soon as the camera stops rolling. 

I'm embarrassed for him.  I had a hunch of what I was getting into when I bought the Shriek Show DVD at a thrift store for a dollar but A) it's from Shriek Show, B) it's presented in anamorphic widescreen, something I didn't think Adamson filmed in, C) it's loaded with extras just in case I was wanting to punish myself that much more and D) it was a buck.  The extras are plenty with a commentary with co-writer/producer Sam Sherman, an 8 minute featurette on Producing Shock in which Shepard talks about the large amount of cheesy films he and Adamson produced and marketed (it's fun), an alternate ending (10 minutes), deleted scenes (9 minutes), deleted scene with Ackerman (5 minutes) with an introduction from him and Shepard, 2 minutes of 8mm location footage, monster's protest/picket line (5 minutes), the theatrical trailer (fullscreen), TV spot, 6 minute photo gallery (worth watching) and 2 Shriek Show trailers.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mockingbird (2014)

Director: Bryan Bertino

Writers: Bryan Bertino, Sam Esmail

Composer: no score (was the end credits cue written for the film?  It sounded like it. Nice piece.)

Starring: Natalie Alyn Lind, Emily Alyn Lind, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Audrey Marie Anderson, Tod Stashwick, Lee Garlington, Spence List, Benjamin Stockham, Alexandra Lydon, Barak Hardley, Isabella Murad, Colby French, Kai caster, Elizabeth Kouri, David Michie, Danny Vasquez, Earnestine Phillips, Yelyna De Leon

More info: IMDb

Plot: A couple are given a camera and a set of instructions which they must follow or else someone will die.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

One night a few months back the Mrs. and I sat down with the lights out for a couple of found footage horror flicks.  That wasn't our intention but it's how it worked out while browsing Netflix streaming.  Found footage flicks are more miss than hit for me.  If my interest starts waning then I find myself looking for the seams and all those little things that make it implausible that someone's holding a camera without the intent of making a movie.  If it's a good picture then that generally doesn't matter.  This one's pretty good.  We bounce between three stories not knowing where and when they will converge but why.  The one with the clown (I forget the guy's name) was the most fun.  I really liked that guy.  So how about that ending, huh?  When the characters all collide with each other for the big climax it's not all that climactic.  Without spoiling it, the way it plays out isn't as strong as it needed to be and finding out who was behind the whole thing was weak and ineffective.  This picture deserved a stronger finish. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Deadly Bees (1966)

Director: Freddie Francis

Writers: Robert Bloch, Anthony Marriott, Gerald Heard

Composer: Wilfred Josephs

Starring: Suzanna Leigh, Frank Finlay, Guy Doleman, Catherine Finn, John Harvey, Michael Ripper, Anthony Bailey, Tim Barrett, James Cossins, Frank Forsyth, Katy Wild

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Hives of horror! - Excited by the smell of fear, they inflict their fatal stings!

Plot: Trouble strikes when an exhausted pop singer, sent on a vacation to a farm, realizes that the farm's owner grows deadly bees.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

On one hand I feel like a 3 out of 10 is too low because the production values and acting are good as is the story but FUCKING HELL is it boring.  It took several tries to finish it.  The first and last fifteen minutes are fine but it's that middle hour that will take you down hard which seems hard to do considering it's only 82 minutes long.  I reckon it's the story and the direction or editing that drags for so long.  It's a damn shame because it looks and feels like a good British horror at the peak of 60s British horror.  The band at the beginning of the film is The Birds (with Ron Jones on guitar).  The Legend Films DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print but there are no extras.  I'd love to hear if this picture had a troubled production or something to explain the dreadfully dull film's midsection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Carry on Screaming! (1966)

Director: Gerald Thomas

Writer: Talbot Rothwell

Composer: Eric Rogers

Starring: Harry H. Corbett, Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Charles Hawtrey, Fenella Fielding, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth, Jon Pertwee, Michael Ward, Tom Clegg, Billy Cornelius, Norman Mitchell, Frank Thornton, Frank Forsyth, Anthony Sagar, Sally Douglas, Marianne Stone, Denis Blake, Gerald Thomas

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Carry On Screaming with the Hilarious CARRY ON Gang!!

Plot:  Young ladies are being spirited away in the woods by Oddbod, creation of fiendish Dr Watt. Henpecked Sergeant Bung is on the case, but an early lead comes to nothing with the ghastly drowning while at work of lavatory attendant Dan Dann. Bung does seem to be having success with Valeria and her very obvious charms, but completely fails to realise her sinister country house holds the key to the unimaginable horrors going on.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Geez.  What do you call a comedy that's not funny?  I found this picture only mildly amusing a couple of times and I went into it REALLY wanting to like it.  I fell asleep on it in an earlier attempt many months ago so I started it again...and I fell asleep again but then I picked myself up, dusted off and finished it so I never have to do it again.  I've seen a few of these CARRY ON pictures and I really liked one of the early ones. It's not that I don't like the humor, I do, but there's a lot of unfunny going on.  I was hoping this film would have some fun at the expense of Hammer Studios but, if they did, I didn't see it.  The story was weak as were nearly all of the gags. I can't find any fault in the actors.  They performed the material as good as anyone.  Three tries it took to get through it, falling asleep twice.  It's dull, not funny and a big disappointment.  I've got a feeling this big box set I bought many years ago is going to end up on eBay...that's if the rest of the films in this set are better than this film.  The Anchor Bay set has all 12 films presented in beautiful anamorphic widescreen prints with the only extra (for each film) an anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Invisible Man (1933)

Director: James Whale

Writers: H.G. Wells, R.C. Sherriff, Preston Sturges, Philip Wylie

Composer: Heinz Roemheld

Starring: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers, Una O'Connor, Forrester Harvey, Holmes Herbert, E.E. Clive, Dudley Digges, Harry Stubbs, Donald Stuart, Merle Tottenham, Walter Brennan, John Carradine, Dwight Frye

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Catch me if you can!

Plot:  Working in Dr. Cranley's laboratory, scientist Jack Griffin was always given the latitude to conduct some of his own experiments. His sudden departure, however, has Cranley's daughter Flora worried about him. Griffin has taken a room at the nearby Lion's Head Inn, hoping to reverse an experiment he conducted on himself that made him invisible. Unfortunately, the drug he used has also warped his mind, making him aggressive and dangerous. He's prepared to do whatever it takes to restore his appearance, and several will die in the process.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.


I thought for sure I'd seen this before but after it was all over, I realized I hadn't and that's a damn shame.  It's really good.  I love how it starts off with Jack (The Invisible Man played by Rains) already invisible and on the run.  He hadn't committed any crimes yet but he was striking out on his own.  What happened?  Later in the picture we find out from his former boss and lab partners but it almost doesn't matter.  Perhaps it would have to audiences of 1933 as this was a new character.  The really kick ass thing is that Jack goes on a crime/killing spree and he's gleefully laughing all the way.  I loved it.  Most of the picture is spent trying to catch him and the coppers try all kinds of things to stop him.  And the special effects look great and hold up really well.  James Whale must've just loved hearing Una O'Connor scream her damn head off because that's what she does in his pictures.  Look, I like the broad but there comes a tipping point where her shrill voice has me reaching for the remote.  The sets are great, acting and so on.  I REALLY dig James Whale's pictures.  That guy knew how to create some thick atmosphere.  The Universal Legacy Collection also has the four sequels (I'm really looking forward to these) and the Abbott and Costello picture with the IM.  You only get a couple of extras (for this film) in the way of a commentary and a 35 minute featurette on the making of the film , James Whale and the sequels that they spawned.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Land of the Dead (2005)

Director: George A. Romero

Writer: George A. Romero

Composers: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek

Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark, Joanne Boland, Tony Nappo, Pedro Miguel Arce, Sasha Roiz, Krista Bridges

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The dead shall inherit the Earth.

Plot: The living dead have taken over the world, and the last humans live in a walled city to protect themselves as they come to grips with the situation.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Nice!  I watched this right after DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) (the DVD set is paired with them) and I had a night of unexpected fun. I really didn't know what I was in for as I had low expectations for both.  DAWN (remake) was a serious horror film while LAND played up the cheese in the acting and dialogue but Romero knew what he was going for.  It's really fun.  Baker makes for a good lead and it's nice seeing Leguizamo in good form.  There's a sense of fun throughout the picture that I really appreciated and it helps the pacing, too.  Look for Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Tom Savini in zombie cameos.  Charlie (Joy) was a great character to get behind.  I liked his confidence.  The only thing that only a little got on my nerves was the incredible amount of times the vehicle Dead Reckoning was mentioned by name.  Say it once or twice and be done with it. Geez. I about lost it when someone did the Wilhelm scream but recreated it themselves instead of playing the 60 something old recording.  This isn't a film to be taken all that seriously and it's obviously meant to enjoy without looking at it too critically yet at the same time Romero is adding little bits of new mythology to his modern zombie.

w. (2008)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: Stanley Weiser

Composer: Paul Cantelon

Starring: Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Wright, Toby Jones, Colin Hanks, Dennis Boutsikaris, Thandie Newton, Scott Glenn, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce McGill, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Ritter, Noah Wyle, Elizabeth Banks, Rob Corddry, Stacy Keach

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A life misunderestimated.

Plot: Oliver Stone's biographical take on the life of George W. Bush, one of the most controversial presidents in USA history, chronicling from his wild and carefree days in college, to his military service, to his governorship of Texas and role in the oil business, his 2000 candidacy for president, his first turbulent four years, and his 2004 re-election campaign.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

 W fans will love only the first half of film while W detractors will love only the second half.  While I could've done without the few, and very brief, moments with W standing in an empty baseball stadium, I loved how the film gets off to a smart and fascinating opening scene with him in the Oval Office discussing what to do after 9/11.  I was hooked.  There is a lot of flashbacks and flashforwards and they work well.  You get to see the evolution of not only the man but of his post-9/11 presidency and the WMD debacle.  The performances are largely pretty damn solid.  Thandie Newton's (as Condolezza Rice and Richard Dreyfuss' (as Dick Chaney, who has some uncanny moments of looking and sounding just like the guy) accents aren't consistent which is a shame since they're both talented actors.  The supporting cast is great and I'm most impressed with Brolin as W.  He's fantastic.  If you close your eyes and just listen to the first ten minutes you'll be amazed at how easy it is to think of the people instead of the actors.  Stone does a fine job directing the picture and it's nice to see him not be showy like most of his films are with different scopes of film and flashy techniques.  It's a good picture.  I have no idea how much of it is factual and how much artistic license was used but they way it's put together here, it makes sense and it follows a logical path.  The Lionsgate DVD comes with two extras that are worth a spit.  One is a commentary with Stone and the other is a 16-minute piece on George W. Bush and his handling of post-9/11 events and the war.  Then there's the theatrical trailer and 5 minutes of Lionsgate films (all anamorphic widescreen).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Eaten Alive! (1980)

Original title: Mangiati Vivi!

Director: Umberto Lenzi

Writer: Umberto Lenzi

Composers: Roberto Donati, Fiamma Maglione

Starring: Robert Kerman, Janet Agren, Ivan Rassimov, Paola Senatore, Me Me Lai, Fiamma Maglione, Franco Fantasia, Franco Coduti, Alfred Joseph Berry, Michele Schmiegelm, Mel Ferrer

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They didn't have a chance!

Plot: A young woman teams up with an adventurer to find her missing sister in the jungles of New Guinea and they stumble upon a religious cult led by a deranged preacher whom has located his commune in an area inhabited by cannibals.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

After seeing the disappointing Eli Roth picture, THE GREEN INFERNO (2013), I stumbled upon a whole mess of cannibal pictures at a local shop.  I'd seen most of them but it's been years and I was jonsing for some 70s and 80s Italian cannibal action.  Now, this picture is a mixed bag.  On one hand you've got some neat stuff centered around a cult leader in South America ala Jim Jones.  There's some nudity and gore (YAY!) and some familiar music that was later used to a much better effect in Lenzi's CANNIBAL FEROX (1981).  Oh, and the jungle location shooting is marvelous.  I love that stuff.  Part of the problems this picture has is the extraordinary amount of footage (cannibalism, kills and more) that was re-used from Lenzi's earlier films like THE MAN FROM DEEP RIVER (1972) and, even worse, is some of the dubbing (especially for Mark (Kerman)) and acting (Kerman is the worst offender) but that could be how Lenzi wanted Kerman to behave.  Still, it's an entertaining film despite (or because of) some of its shortcomings. The Shriek Show DVD has a good looking anamorphic widescreen print.  The extras include the original trailer (anamorphic widescreen), trailers for ZOMBIE 4, ZOMBI 3, ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST, JUNGLE HOLOCAUST, the still gallery consists of only posters, lobby cards and VHS covers, and interviews with Lenzi (14 minutes), Kerman (15 minutes) and Rassimov (5 minutes).  Beware of the interviews as several of the questions asked are idiotic, ill-conceived and downright embarrassing.  SS did a great job with putting this picture out.  More, please.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Old Dark House (1932)

Director: James Whale

Writers: J.B. Priestley, Benn W. Levy

Starring: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lillian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Elspeth Dudgeon, Brember Wills

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Beware the night!

Plot: Seeking shelter from a pounding rainstorm in a remote region of Wales, several travellers are admitted to a gloomy, foreboding mansion belonging to the extremely strange Femm family. Trying to make the best of it, the guests must deal with their sepulchral host, Horace Femm and his obsessive, malevolent sister Rebecca. Things get worse as the brutish manservant Morgan gets drunk, runs amok and releases the long pent-up brother Saul, a psychotic pyromaniac who gleefully tries to destroy the residence by setting it on fire.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

James Whale made this picture shortly after releasing FRANKENSTEIN (1931).  It turned Boris Karloff into a star overnight after having made 85 films prior!!!  Now he's cast as the menacing butler but you'd hardly recognize the actor under the makeup (Jack Pierce again making that possible) and there's even an opening card that tells you that it is in fact the same actor in that role as was the role of Frankenstein's monster.  The cast does a fine job and there are some mild laughs (it's more amusing than funny) but the standout for my money was Whale's use of shadows, mirrors, camera placement, etc.  They really add to the atmosphere in spades and it's what makes this picture as good as it is.  Despite its mere 72 minute run time, it drags a bit but the cast brings the fun.  It's one of those picture where people fall in love in minutes and within hours are talking marriage.  You get that a lot in pictures from the 30s and 40s.  It's silly fun, though.  The extras on the Kino DVD include a commentary track by actress Gloria Stewart (you know, the old broad from TITANIC (1997)), another track with James Curtis and a 7 minute interview with Curtis Harrington who spends his time patting himself on the back for his friendship with James Whale and for possibly saving this film from destruction.  He's very proud of himself but if what he says is true, then he should be commended for saving this picture.  It's a good one.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Zombeavers (2014)

Director:  Jordan Rubin

Writers: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan

Composers: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan

Starring: Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Hutch Dano, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy, Rex Linn, Brent Briscoe, Phyllis Katz, Robert R. Shafer, Bill Burr, John Mayer, Jordan Rubin, Sonny Tanning, Fred Tatasciore, Chad Anderson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You'll all be damned!

Plot: A fun weekend turns into madness and horror for a bunch of groupies looking for fun in a beaver infested swamp.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Hilarious.  From the first five minutes you know exactly what you're in for.  I kept thinking that there's no way they can continue this level of fun for the rest of the picture but they do.  The acting is quite good (I really liked Zoe (Palm) and her Juliette Lewis-ness (plus she's the only one of the bunch to take her top off but, really, it was her performance that won me...OK, the tits come in at a close second).  She's fun.  At first the three girls are annoying as fuck but they grow on you as the danger increases.  Of all of the 'kids' I couldn't stand Sam (Dano).  He's an asshole to the end.  Oddly enough, all of the non-kid characters are really fun even if they're idiots or assholes.  Fortunately, a lot of people die.  The beavers are great.  It's obvious that they're puppets but that just adds to the fun.  They're creatively handled and they work very well with the tone of the film.  The effects are fantastic.  One character loses a foot and you know they had to green screen the missing but it doesn't look cheap one bit.  The ending is great fun and I really hope they follow this up with what they set up at the end...zombees.  I want to see more from this team.  I went into this thing thinking it was going to be a lame, one-joke movie with some sub par acting, bad effects and slow pacing but it's not.  The film makers do an awful lot with such a small cast and minimal locations.  It's got an 80s vibe but it one-ups those pictures with the fast pacing.  I loved it. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wind Chill (2007)

Director: Gregory Jacobs

Writers: Joe Gangemi, Steven Katz

Composer: Clint Mansell

Starring: Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan, Ned Bellamy, Ian A. Wallace, Donny James Lucas

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There Are Worse Things Than Dying

Plot: Two college students share a ride home for the holidays, but when they break down on a deserted stretch of road, they are preyed upon by the ghosts of people who have died there.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No

When I saw that Steven Katz, the guy who wrote the incredible SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000), also wrote this picture, I just had to see it.  VAMPIRE is still his best work by a long shot.  I liked the atmosphere a lot.  Mansell's score and the snowy isolated location work really well to create a sense of dread.  Most of the film is in the crashed car location (inside and out).  I liked that but the film starts to get tedious and even once the ghosts start showing up, it only helps a little but it takes a while to get to the end which just kind of sits there.  It's not a bad picture but the pacing and lack of devotion to the characters (on my part) didn't help.  The Tri Star DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen image and the extras include a commentary track, an 18 minute making of featurette, and 12 trailers (none for this film).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: George A. Romero, James Gunn

Composer: Tyler Bates

Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Bruce Bohne, Tom Savini, Ken Foree

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When the undead rise, civilization will fall.

Plot: A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe but I'll re-visit the original a few times first.

While it's not an easy task to remake a film as good as DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), the people behind this one did a great job and made something worthy and still maintains a sense of fun and horror.  The cast is great.  Ving Rhames needs to be in everything.  Ty Burrell plays a deliciously selfish asshole and you know from his entrance that he needs to die. That adds to the fun of when and how.  I liked having Andy across the street and everything that happened between him and the group at the mall.  All of that stuff was really nicely played.  What surprised me most was how they avoided the massive amount of jump scares and dumb shit you find in 97% of modern horror movies, the kind of shit that'll ruin a film (at least for me).  It's Zack Snyder's first movie.  I didn't know that.  That guy's career skyrocketed pretty damn fast after this.  Then there's James Gunn's screenplay.  Good flick.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Silent Rage (1982)

Director: Michael Miller

Writers: Joseph Fraley, Edward Di Lorenzo

Composers: Peter Bernstein, Mark Goldenberg

Starring: Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, Steven Keats, Toni Kalem, William Finley, Brian Libby, Stephen Furst, Stephanie Dunnam, Joyce Ingle, Jay De Plano, Lillette Zoe Raley, Mike Johnson, Linda Tatum

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The king of martial arts versus a bionic killing machine!

Plot: A sheriff tries to stop the killing spree of a mute maniacal murderer who, as the result of years of medical experimentation, has the ability to self-heal.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Well waddayaknow.  I just broke my Chuck-Norris-in-a-starring-role cherry and I've got a pretty good idea I picked the wrong film to do it with.  It did come as a surprise, though, when I realized early on it was more of a horror/slasher picture than an action flick.  Neat.  Here's some trivia, Katy "Peg Bundy" Sagal sings the cheesy song that's played during the love scene.  So how was Norris?  He did OK with a touch of the 'can't acts'. The fight scenes were surprisingly slow and clumsy.  Some of the actors/stuntmen, including Norris, telegraph and wait for the punches.  That can at least be fixed with tighter editing.  The movie's already 100 minutes long, something that it surprisingly doesn't feel that bad but it could still use a good 15 minute trim.  Geez.  Has anyone every known of a cop (in real life) as simple and child-like as Charlie (Furst)?  He seemed better suited in a 70s car crash movie where the cops are bumbling idiots and there are slide whistles on the soundtrack. I was really taken aback by that.  The music sometimes works in that synth-score slasher movie kind of way.  The ending played out like you'd expect.  I'm not going to give up just yet on Norris but I do want to stick around his earlier output before graduating to any of the later ones.  At least this movie had some great tits, right?  I can be a pig sometimes.  No need to get hostile.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dagon (2001)

Director: Stuart Gordon

Writers: H.P. Lovecraft, Dennis Paoli

Composer: Carles Cases

Starring: Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Merono, Macarena Gomez, Brendan Price, Birgit Bofarull, Uxia Blanco, Ferran Lahoz, Joan Minguell

More info: IMDb

Plot:  A boating accident runs a young man and woman ashore in a decrepit Spanish fishing town which they discover is in the grips of an ancient sea god and its monstrous half human offspring.

My rating:6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you can let go of the dodgy CGI (it's low budget so I can forgive that) and embrace Paul's (Godden) journey then you'll have a good time. It's mostly Paul on the run trying to escape the monster villagers.  There's some nudity (and quite a lot near the end), gore and beautiful location shooting in Combarro - Galicia - Spain.  It's a neat, old town with oodles of character.  The story moves along at a nice pace and the ending is good and dark.  There's no mistaking that Godden looks like Jeffrey Combs, a longtime collaborator with Gordon.  I guess Combs was too old or unavailable at this point.  The internet says this film was originally going to happen in 1985.  Combs would've have been ready then fresh off of RE-ANIMATOR (1985).  

Trailer Park Boys: Don't Legalize It (2014)

Director: Mike Clattenburg

Writers: Mike Clattenburg, Mike O'Neill

Composer: ???

Starring: John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, Mike Smith, John Dunsworth, Patrick Roach, Jonathan Torrens, Lucy Decoutere, Sarah Dunsworth, Barrie Dunn, Tyrone Parsons, Richard Collins, Jacob Rolfe, Jeanna Harrison, Sam Tarasco, Bernard Robichaud, George Green, Garnet Estabrooks, Maxwell Husbands, Michael Oliver, Nobu Adilman, Mio Adilman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Best Buds.

Plot: Recently out of jail and completely broke, Julian has a plan to get outrageously rich. However, he first has to deliver his product to Montreal where his rival Cyrus is waiting to close the deal. In the meantime, the government's plan to legalize marijuana threatens Ricky and his dope business, so he goes to Ottawa to take action against the impending bill. With Julian and Ricky on a road trip, Bubbles joins the pair with his own agenda - to go find the inheritance left for him by his long-lost parents. The trio runs into trouble when ex-park supervisor Jim Lahey and Randy go after the boys in hopes of making them rot in jail.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I don't know what it is with the difference between the show and the movies where the movies are nearly as funny as the show.  I've binge-watched the show for a year and a half now (having seen it completely through three times and then some).  I'll watch several eps at a time and it doesn't hurt the funny at all.  I still laugh my ass off with every episode yet the movies just don't bring the funny.  With this picture, maybe part of it was weird seeing the boys out way far away from the park.  I don't know.  You can tell they had a bigger budget for this one with all of the songs they put on the soundtrack.  I still love all of these actors and their characters and I'll follow them anywhere.  I can't imagine a world without the TPB and I anxiously await every new episode, movie and whatever else they come up with.  Viva la Trailer. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974)

Director: Michael Findlay

Writers: Ed Adlum, Ed Kelleher

Composer: ???

Starring: Alan Brock, Jennifer Stock, Tawm Ellis, Michael Harris, Darcy Brown, Jack Neubeck, Tom Grail, Luci Brandt, Ivan Agar, Marina Stefan, Harriet McFaul, Dwight Marfield, Jimmy Silva, Warren D'Oyly-Rhind, Robert Adels, ed Adlum, Michael Findlay, Ed Kelleher

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Piece By Piece, By Piece, the Bodies Vanish in ... "Shriek of the Mutilated"

Plot: A group of college students are led by their professor into the mountains in search of the Yeti. The students start to be killed off one by one.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Cheesy dialogue and bad acting often go hand in hand but they're not always a winning combination.  While this picture features all of the top lookers from 1974...

Even they can't save a picture that's got the odd pacing problem and bland shooting. It doesn't help that the only print I could find was a slightly dark VHS fullscreen copy.  This would play a lot better in widescreen and shown outside in the woods but how the hell are you going to get that to happen.  There's no nudity and the gore is minimal but it does have a unique way of cleaning up after a murder...

The music sounds like it came from a stock library but it does feature the song Popcorn by Hot Butter.  Doesn't sound familiar?  Try this...

The ending has a neat little twist but everything that came before is so bland that I couldn't much care any less except that I knew it almost over.  What would help?  Nudity, lots of blood and kills and some great suspense in the woods action.  Don't have the kids stay in a house in the woods, get them in tents and even farther from civilization.  That's a better recipe for a good horror.  But, hey, I haven't even made a movie so I'm just jealous of everyone who has.  I keep saying I'm going to rectify that someday but someday never comes.  Hmmmm.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

AKA: Dance of the Vampires

Director: Roman Polanski

Writers: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach

Composer: Krzysztof Komeda

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You'll never know what bit you... but you'll love it!

Plot: A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

Oh, boy.  I've known about this picture since the 70s, I'm a huge fan of Polanski's films and I only got around to watching it just now.  Nuts.  I really wanted to like this and I was excited that I was finally getting around to seeing it and now I'm sad.  I barely laughed at all.  As a comedy it's only mildly amusing and the horror is mild and intentionally not even remotely scary.  That's the worst of it which is pretty bad.  But the film is drop dead gorgeous.  The art direction and cinematography are some of the best (if not THE best) I've seen in a Gothic horror film.  Hammer pictures look great but this film takes it up a notch or two.  And that's probably the reason I didn't fall asleep watching it.  I liked spending time in this tiny world but the pacing is really slow at times and the laughs just aren't there.  Having seen the trailer many, many times (and it plays up in spades the comedy making it seem like a laughfest from start to finish) and then finally watching the film, I'm just perplexed at why this picture is held in such high regard.  I don't get it and I really wanted to.  I did like the ending, though.  The Warner Bros. DVD looks amazing.  The only extras are the theatrical trailer (anamorphic widescreen) and a 19 minute cute as hell promo (which is funnier than the film) called THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS: VAMPIRES 101.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Trollenberg Terror (1958)

AKA: The Crawling Eye

Director: Quentin Lawrence

Writers: Jimmy Sangster, Peter Key

Composer: Stanley Black

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro, Warren Mitchell, Frederick Schiller, Andrew Faulds, Stuart Saunders, Colin Douglas, Derek Sydney

More info:IMDb

Tagline:  WARNING: If you've ever been hypnotized, do not come alone!

Plot:  A series of decapitations on a Swiss mountainside appear to be connected to a mysterious radioactive cloud.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe after I've seen every horror movie from the 50s.

This neat little horror picture has a surprisingly well-acted cast.  You kind of expect that with the British but not so much when they have an American at the top of the cast list but Forrest Tucker really holds his own against the Brits and he's great in those little moments that could have easily been tossed off.  The story's pretty good and it's helped with the beautiful mountain scenery and observatory/lab sets with the mountains showing outside the windows.  The monster is pretty cool, too.  Sure, it's fake as shit but I don't care.  The effect and model work were still neat-o.  And it's got a good soundtrack and vibe, too.  There are also some really grisly moments of horror with decapitations and lots of deaths.  You just don't see that in horror films of that time which makes it even more shocking.  The Image DVD (European Edition) sports a gorgeous anamorphic widescreen print but the extras are REALLY weak.  You get the fullscreen theatrical trailer (as The Crawling Eye) and a stills gallery consisting of THREE (!!!) fullscreen images taken directly from the film and that's it.  What a joke.  

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

Director: John Hough

Writers: Robert M. Young, Alexander Key

Composer: Johnny Mandel

Starring: Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence, Walter Barnes, Reta Shaw, Denver Pyle, ALfred Ryder, Lawrence Montaigne

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Escape To The Unknown!

Plot: Two mysterious orphan children have extraordinary powers and are chased by a scheming millionaire. But where do these kids really call home?

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Sure.

This is a blast from my past.  I was just a kid but I remember seeing this one and the sequel in the theater and I had a crush on Kim Richards.  She had that sultry smoker's voice like Lauren Bacall and Kathleen Turner but I wasn't aware of them at that age.  Anyway, it's a fun picture with a great cast and a well-paced story.  I know what you're thinking.  What the hell am I doing watching (and liking) a family picture?  Nostalgia goes a long way.  The two kids do a fantastic job and it's all kinds of fun watching a tender Donald Pleasence and a gentle Eddie Albert.  Just the other day I watched (again) THE LONGEST YARD (1974) where he played one brutal mother fucker.  He's always fun to watch.  Maybe it's just me and my fondness for seeing this as a kid 40 years ago but this is a Disney picture and it's more adult than you'd expect.  There are some kiddie elements but it's not nearly as bad as family films have been since.  But then again, it was the 70s and things were a lot different.  The 80s changed everything and it hasn't gotten better.  Hollywood's modern treatment of family films is to pander to the kids and the lowest common denominator of funny.  I'm looking forward to seeing the sequel with Bette David and Christopher Lee.  Like this one it'll have been nearly 40 years since I saw it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Capture of Bigfoot (1979)

Director: Bill Rebane

Writers: Ingrid Neumayer, Bill Rebane, John F. Goff

Composer: ???

Starring: Janus Raudkivi, Randolph Rebane, Stafford Morgan, Katherine Hopkins, Richard Kennedy, Otis Young, John F. Goff,  George 'Buck' Flower, John Eimermann, Randoph (not that one) Scott

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A story so amazing it can only be true!

Plot: A small town has made an industry out of Bigfoot sightings and ancillary merchandising. All this may come to an end very soon though. A local businessman hopes to trap Bigfoot once and for all, so that he can get all the publicity gravy.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I was a kid of the 70s and that meant being glued to the TV every time there was anything sci-fi or crazy like it was at the height of the Bigfoot craze which this film was riding the waves of.  As an adult I like to watch the 70s Bigfoot pictures for the goof factor.  That and I'm a sucker for horror movies set in the wilderness.  This flick barely has any Bigfoot action and most of it is crammed into the last 7 minutes.  The acting as OK at best and sometimes it's pretty bad but I can appreciate that when you've got a low budget movie where you're relying on inexperienced actors or locals. The music is late 70s synthesizer which is a mixed bag but you do get a groovy club scene...

Yeah!  Disco the shit out of this.  I'd go 5 out of 10 on this one if it weren't so dull in spots.  You get just enough Bigfoot action (mere seconds every 20 minutes or so) to remind you of what you're watching. I don't know what you could do to fix this flick except tightening it up more and throw in a better score.  There are a lot of scenes with no music and that can mean death to any film.  I might feel a little better about this if maybe the print I saw wasn't a fullscreen VHS copy.  Instead of this I'd rather watch ANY 70s documentary on the subject.  Those are hilarious.  This film isn't even so bad it's good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two on a Guillotine (1965)

Director: William Conrad

Writers: John Kneubuhl, Henry Slesar

Composer: Max Steiner

Starring: Connie Stevens, Dean Jones, Cesar Romero, Parley Baer, Virginia Gregg, Connie Gilchrist, John Hoyt, Russell Thorson, Billy Curtis, William Conrad, Richard Kiel

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Two on a Guillotine - or 7 nights in a house of terror - or the unkindest cut of all.

Plot:  Duke Duquesne is a very eccentric magician, and owing to his lifestyle his two-year-old daughter, Cassie, is sent away to live with an aunt. After twenty years, news of her father's death brings her back to Los Angeles to attend his funeral. The day after her arrival, she is told he left a rather odd will. It specifies that she will inherit her father's estate on the condition that she stay in his creepy palatial mansion for seven nights in a row - alone.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I went into this picture blind.  I was ready for a horror flick and the title and poster was all I knew about it.  Boy was I surprised when it was clear from the first few minutes this was more of a light murder mystery than a horror picture but I liked it.  Dean Jones in the 60s had that early Sean Connery good looks but he almost always played light romance and comedy roles.  He's a lot of fun, though, as is Connie Stevens. Cesar Romero is awesome as always.  Max Steiner's score (he'd have only one more feature film after this one) had moments of eeriness that worked very well.  The interiors of the 'castle' are nice.  I wasn't crazy about the lightness in tone for most of the film but the final fifteen minutes or so are firmly placed in horror and I REALLY liked the ending which went a long way into liking the film as a whole.  I was surprised to see that William Conrad directed the picture and he had an extensive career behind the camera as much as he did in front of it.  Oh, there's a few faces you'll recognize like Richard KKiel, Billy Curtis and Parley Baer). I'm almost inclined to say I'd watch it again but while I liked it, I'm not so crazy about it that I'll forgo the gazillions of other movies I haven't seen to make room for this one.  The Warner Bros. DVD is from their Archive collection.  The anamorphic widescreen print is gorgeous but there are no extras.