Monday, August 29, 2011

Fright Night, Fright Night, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Black Swan

Alright internet, lets get this ball rolling. I am finally done being a human pin-cushion, which is nice. I was a test subject in a  research project at UMass Amherst, wherein they worked my left leg until it was a useless noodle and then drew six vials of my blood for a week while tracking its healing progress. Needless to say, this kept me exhausted all week. Capping it off I started Seroquel a few days ago, so more reason to be tired. Having been tired for most of my adult life, this isn't too new though I guess.

Well, enough of the personal life updates, lets talk horror movies. A classic, a remake of the that classic, a structural reversal of an American slasher, and a modern blockbuster that took everyone by surprise. Sounds like fun, but I will keep my rambling to a minimum in the interest of catching up still.
Classic horror poster right here!
Fright Night is just one of those iconic 80's horror movies that you either grew up loving or you just missed the boat, so to speak. It has a master Vampire setting up shop next to our intrepid young hero and horror fan, and of course people start to go missing. Our hero begins to become suspicious and draws a bit too much attention to himself and those around him. Cue disaster and epic showdowns.

Its a fun movie, even now years later. Some of its moments are a bit strange, the sexual frustration of our teenage male hero because his teen Girlfriend won't put out is a bit creepy to watch, and more so when the aged vampire makes his advances on her as well. Sure hes an immortal creature of evil, but hes still being a bit of a pedophile at times with that thread. Otherwise the annoying friend, disbelieving parent, and washed up professional character types are timeless and enjoyable to watch.
"Maybe we should wait to have sex..."
It can slide into static moments of nothing going on at times, but tends to get back on task fast enough. The final showdown in a mansion of the undead is intense and very watchable, but toward the final moments can drag on. The master vampire takes a whole lot of abuse before finally falling, and they smash more windows then any basement should reasonably have. Its a classic movie, and any fan of the genre would be remiss to not have seen this at least once.

You can imagine, seeing just how classic it is, that I was a bit hesitant to see the Fright Night remake. I shouldn't have been, because it may actually be better then the original in many ways. The character updates make for a much tighter movie in the end. The annoying friend is no longer annoying, but rather a sympathetic figure who was abandoned by his friend. Our hero is a geek looking to find more social acceptance, and so his friend is shunned and ostracized as sacrifice for the position.
He is so awesome in this, you have no idea.
When his former friend comes to him for help and starts the suspicion for our hero, it actually personalizes the future action so much better. The friends acceptance of the vampires offer is directly the fault of the hero, rather then being merely something that happens. It raises the stakes much more efficiently. All the characters are effectively upgraded really, and unnecessary ones are dropped. Its just a tighter more focused story all around.

The best upgrades through and through are David Tennant and Colin Farrell, as the vampire slayer and the master vampire, respectively. Farrell brings such a smug and powerful presence with him in every scene he is in. He makes for one imposing and hypnotically likable master vampire. As great as he is though, no one compares to Tennant's performance as an egocentric and drunk coward of the occult. He steals every scene he is in with ease, even when all hes doing is complaining about the effects of leather pants on ones balls. Again, the character is improved upon the original by changing his motivation from that of a wash-up to one of a running coward with personal investment in the situation.
Gotta have faith.
If you are a fan or not of the original is irrelevant, this movie is just a damn good time anyone can enjoy. I saw it in 3D, but I also didn't have a choice in the matter. The 3D was fine, not too distracting, and only campy in a few select locations. I still tend to hate 3D, so see whichever you prefer.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a movie I have been consistently excited about for so very long. I think its been close to a year since I first saw previews for this movie, and I'm so happy it finally got some distribution. The wait was worth it, because its every bit as amazing as I had hoped it would be.
Hunt this down and see it, you will thank me.
We have covered a number of movies where some teens enter some backwoods and find terrible fates at the hands of some hillside hicks/mutants. Its basically horror movie Americana, if your in the backwoods, then you are also within five miles of a murderous killer, almost certainly one with a red neck. Tucker and Dale is all about spinning that on its head, reversing the expectations. The backwoods rednecks are the heroes, and they are just trying to enjoy the good life in a summer home by a lake.

Of course the necessary truck full of teens arrives and think they are creepy killers right off the bat. When one of the girls almost drowns, Tucker saves her and brings her back to their cabin, leading the teens to believe they are going to kill her. They then begin hilariously disastrous rescue attempts, which always end in their own deaths. Teens hurl themselves into wood-chippers due to mistimed tackles, impale themselves on branches while running away, and shoot themselves because guns are confusing.
"Officer, these kids have been killin' themselves all over my property!"
It all culminates in a very fun reveal you would expect in a movie like this, "my god, I'm related to the killer!," style moment. The most aggressive teen becomes our disfigured killer in the final moments, and its up to our redneck heroes save the girl. The writing is witty and filled with little nods to the forefathers of the genre, the deaths are all hilarious and well done, and the pacing is spot on.

This movie loves the genre, and it shows. Its a brilliant horror comedy, and its damn well worth your time to watch. Check it out.
More to it then a lesbian sex scene.
Black Swan made a great deal of noise this last award season, and for good reason what with Darren Aronofsky directing it. Tricking everyone by calling itself a psychological thriller instead of a horror film, it took everyone by surprise. First of all, this movie is incredibly beautiful. The cinematography is masterfully done, every scene is composed in just the right ways, and draws exactly what it needs out of you.

On some levels, I love Black Swan as much as I do for personal reasons. The anxiety and paranoia that comes with passion can be terrifying. The need to do one thing perfectly can be all consuming, and the breakdown of reality can be subtle and damaging. Then you add in the outside world, the pressures of family, the scrutiny of those better then you, and the fear of being replaced can tear you apart at the seams. The movies subtle growth from merely unstable to unhinged when it comes to our protagonist is well done to say the least.
Those of you with anxiety and sleep disorders know how scary this can be.
Minor background objects distort at first, and soon you and the star are both unsure if what you just saw was real or not. By the end you don't even know which characters are real, what has actually happened, or just how sick this drive is making our protagonist. With light touches of the surreal and more then a few toes dipped in the outright horror pool with mocking pictures and paintings pushing our heroine deeper into madness, its a trip of a movie.

Of course all this self destruction builds to a head, and we end with the strangest production of swan lake you could imagine. I love Darren Aronofsky, so I of course suggest this to anyone who likes the stranger end of the movie spectrum, where your never quite certain whats going on.
She must be, like, so high.
I will now resume being forever tired and trying to keep my head above the water. For more reviews and the full list of movies: The 150 Days of Halloween.

Monday, August 22, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: C.H.U.D., Creep, End of the Line, Midnight Meat Train

Spent all weekend doing makeup and effects for a short horror movie, so sorry for the late post. As the guy doing the FX, I didn't exactly have free hands to take any pictures, but once they come online, you can expect to see them! It was a whole lot of tumors, puss, blood, and elephant man style makeup. Good messy times.

Most of us have at least been to a city before, many live in them. What has always fascinated me in whats under the city, the miles of tunnels, pipes, and caverns of decrepit infrastructure. Understandably this makes for a common horror theme, so today we run through four movies that revolve around the hidden lives and deaths that pound in the hidden hearts of cities everywhere. I won't be covering Kontroll because its not very Halloween-ish, but if you ever want to see an incredible subway movie, check it out.
I want to believe this happens.
Anyway, can't rightly mention the terrors under a city without talking about the classic and constantly referenced C.H.U.D. You may have never seen this movie, but you have almost certainly heard it referenced before in a show you like. The Simpsons, Futurama, Castle, and Robot Chicken all come to mind, but many more have made off hand comments to the cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers that appeared in the 80's.

This has everything you want and need in an 80's horror movie, you get your gore inflicted by men in crazy mutant suites, corrupt government officials you hate, cheesy lines and moments. Hell, this movie even goes and gives you no less then THREE classic hero archetypes to work with. You get the unwilling hero who just wants to do his own thing, the crazy and paranoid guy who was right all along, and the grizzled old cop who can no longer play by the rules. Its like four different awesome 80's movies fell into a blender and out popped this amazing gem of cheesy horror.
Its stuffed to the gills with random things happening, plenty of monsters, and satisfying moments of people getting what they deserve. This is just a must see for B-movie fans. At no point was I not having fun during this movie, which is high praise for a movie.

Then you have Creep. Oh Creep, you could have been a good movie. A woman at a party rebuffs some sleazeballs advances, and the informs her friends that she has word that George Clooney will be at a party later. She intends to seduce and bang Mr. Clooney come hell or high water, and leaves the party in a drunkenly determined manner. She falls asleep on the platform, and when she awakes everything is closed down and locked up. She is trapped, or appears to be, until a train arrives. We see the conductor dead, and know she has some trouble coming her way. Out comes the sleazy guy who attempts to rape her, like a sleazy bastard.
"Sorry about that rape attempt before."
Then a malformed sewer mutant dude pops out and kills him, and spends the rest of the movie trying to kill her, but mostly succeeds in killing anyone she meets in the tunnels. What the movie does well is the killer, we have only the briefest glimpses into what could have been its origins, nothing is ever fully explained. I love that, I like a movie to have a world bigger then I am privy to. What I don't like is for everyone in the movie to be completely devoid of reason and intelligence.

The victims will knock our killer out for a moment, and then drop all weapons and run back into the maze of tunnels they know nothing about. They never take that second swing to finish the deed, and within ten minutes a character will die because of it. This happens SEVERAL TIMES. Hell, even the killer does this sometimes, like it has sadistic killer ADD. Lets the heroes run off so it can brutally kill someone he already has strapped to a chair.
Don't worry, she drops the weapon and extends the movie many times.
When the movie can clearly end, but doesn't because a character is functionally brainless, it ruins the rest of the movie by making it all seem sadly arbitrary. Creep is well done when it comes to atmosphere, makeup, and some of the acting, but the ride itself is underwhelming.
Love this movie.
Then you have a total surprise, like End of the Line. A clever Canadian movie I had never even heard of before that presents the viewers with everything they need to understand the movie fully without question, but doesn't explicitly state any of it. If your an observant viewer, you know exactly whats happening. You know whats real, what imagined, and why. If you don't notice details and pay full attentions, its still functional as a movie, but you just don't know for sure whats real, which is awesome. I love that in a movie, subtle layers.

As per our theme, this takes place in the confines of the man-made underground. Unlike the last two mentioned, this one doesn't involve any monsters or malformed creatures. This is all humanity at play, and that is a very important fact. A cult, upon receiving a mass text from their leader, suddenly draw daggers and swords and begin to cut down everyone around them, trying to save all of their souls. You see, they believe the apocalypse is coming, and can see the signs of demons coming. They are told the only way to save everyone is to kill them, and so the knives come out.
"Nevermind! I'll take a pamphlet!"
Of course for those not in the cult, this isn't totally appealing, and so our survivors work through the subway system trying to get to the surface for help, despite knowing its just as bad above. What makes this more then just a mediocre movie of people running and other people stabbing are those signs. Some of our heroes can see those signs, demons creeping about and hearing voices, casting doubts on whats real and whats not. Again, for the observant viewer, they know exactly whats happening, but for those that miss a few details they enjoy some ambiguity. Either way is an enjoyable and valid experience.

I also have to admit to loving a movie with such a blatant message about the dangers of fundamentalism in society. Hell, one of the heroes is reading Caral Sagan's The Demon Haunted World. It's brilliant.
I love you Vinnie Jones.
Lastly we have one of my guilty pleasures, Midnight Meat Train. Actually, you know what, its not even guilty. I like this movie, I really do. I would argue its one of the best Clive Barker adaptions, possibly even better then Hellraiser. For a movie with a name like Midnight Meat Train, I know that's not exactly expected, but it really is surprisingly competent.

On the surface you have a serial killer who is killing people on the late night trains, and a photographer who manages to find himself obsessed with the idea of it all after a woman he saves from some attackers goes missing. In these early sections the movie effectively pulls off gory kills, some decent scares, and suspense from the imposing Vinnie Jones. As our hero progresses mystery enters the fold, and he begins to question just what it is he is trying to uncover. Soon things turn supernatural and you really know your in a Clive Barker film.
If you love him too, he won't butcher you.
This movie does what it wants to do, and is unapologetic about it, it slides between the various sub-genres of horror when it needs to, and it does it well. Its not a perfect movie, of course not, but when I caught it on late night TV a few years back, I was pleasantly surprised by what I expected would be a terrible movie. Instead I got a movie with a few decent surprises in it, good gore, and a cast and crew that were clearly all in it for the joy of making a horror movie.

Also its on the subway a whole bunch, in case you missed the theme here today.
"After the next picture, I'll help."
A weekend of filming, and now a week of letting some people take my blood and run tests on me. Fun! I will be tired all the time! Here is that link! The 150 Days of Halloween.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: Burke and Hare, The Crazies, Frontier(s), Evil Dead 1 and 2

One day everything will smooth out, and this will get updated once a day again. I look forward to those days everyone. I really do. I'll be doing some horror movie effects this weekend for a short film, which I will hopefully get to post up here sometime after its done. So that is both exciting and preemptively exhausting for someone who can barely get the energy to watch a movie these days.

Anyway, lets hop right into speed reviewing some movies, shall we?
How can you not want to watch this?
First we have a surprise edit to the list in the form of Burke and Hare. Why did this replace a movie? Because I wanted it to, that's why! Also I couldn't find the movie originally meant to be watched, so whatever. Burke and Hare is John Landis' newest movie, unlike the other adaptation of the duo's story, Landis' version is much more of a black comedy. So not really horror, but still Halloween appropriate. Landis' is of course someone we will be seeing again, since An American Werewolf in London is a personal favorite and is also on the list.

I loved it, to be right up front about it. I have always loved Landis' sense of humor, and its here in all its blacker aspects for us to enjoy. Death and dismemberment are served up part droll and part slapstick, with mortality being close to meaningless in the world presented. The upper class of the medical world fight for cadavers to further the sciences, the poor scramble over one another to make enough survive, and out two heroes land right in the middle of it. A market exists, and they intend to supply the demand for bodies, at first via happy accident, and then by murder.
This was my first career choice too.
If you like black comedy, then jump in and have a good time. Simon Pegg is always great, and that remains true throughout the experience. The hapless killers stumbling through the profession always delivers, and Tim Curry waltzes on screen to saw off feet from time to time. You can't lose.
Now with 90% more people killing.
You may recall that I reviewed The Crazies earlier. Well this is the remake. Reread my first review but delete everything about the drama regarding a cure, politics, and the inner workings of the government and military. You now have a very short and boring movie, right? Well, the remake fixes that by filling all this new space with murder. Murder, murder, and more murder. You get all kinds of people dying in all kinds of ways, its a much more typical modern horror movie with gross out scares and jump scares.

Tension is only ever achieved by making you wonder just when a supporting character will snap, or keeping a character strapped to a table while a crazy guy with a pitchfork slowly impaled everyone else strapped to tables. To be honest I actually enjoyed this more then the original. Yes, its predictable and unoriginal, but more happens in surprising ways compared to the original. It holds your attention much more affectingly, and that is entirely due to the aging of the original.
Now that's just good makeup design.
What I can praise unconditionally is the makeup of the movie. They makeup and effects artists did an amazing job of making the crazies look infected, sick, and under intense strain. Muscles and veins bulge and eyes are jaundiced. They look like what you would image radioactive rabies patients would look like, and its an impressive sight to behold. If you want some cerebral contact with your movie, see the original. If you want blood, guts, and a bit of a faster pace, catch this remake.
What is going on in the subconscious of France?!
Frontier(s) is another French film, and it does nothing to alter my understanding of the French being depraved violence obsessed people. Well, that's not true, I don't see them that way, but they certainly love the brutality in their horror movies. This is another film with uncomfortably in your face violence, horrible things happening to people, and a cast of antagonists totally devoid of morality.

Fleeing a bank robbery they pulled at the height of civil unrest and violence in the streets of Paris, our heroes flee to the countryside of France. When this eventually gets remade into an American film, it would be like someone robbing a bank in Austin TX during civil unrest and winding up in the backwoods of middle America where movies tell us inbred killers are constantly waiting. Anyway, they arrive at a shitty little motel run by some creepy people. Can you guess what happens next?
Nazi's were cannibals?
Well, it turns out these people are all inbred Nazi's who worship their father, a surviving SS officer. They kill and eat anyone who enters the area and use any women who are genetically fair enough for breeding and brainwashing. Our heroes all die in terrible ways, and our female character endures mental and physical abuse in preparation for her new life. Once the last of her friends dies in terrible ways, she breaks free and begins killing everyone in an escape/revenge scenario.

Besides its unrelenting brutality, its fairly generic. Characters make terrible choices that get them killed or artificially extend the tension. Like our female hero, she kills a guy machine gun wielding baddie and leaves to reenter a maze of tunnels where more killers are looking for her. Notice how I didn't mention her taking that machine gun? That's because she didn't. She left it on the floor. Next to the dead dude. Of course she gets beaten up more, she left a loaded machine gun on the fucking floor, and not for the first time in the movie either, its like she has a gun allergy.
Example of terrible thing happening to good guy.

Anyway, if you liked the last several brutal French new wave horror films, then of course this if for you.
These movies are CLASSICS. You see them or you are just a bad person.
Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2 I will cover in one go, because 2 is basically a remake of 1. Evil Dead is about a bunch of friends who use a cabin in the woods for a fun weekend. However, they find a mysterious book and a recording of someone reading from the book. This is of course The Necronomicon, one of the most important and dangerous books in the Lovecraftian word, and it releases evil and horrors upon the cabin.

Someone gets raped by a tree in a uncomfortable scene and everyone but Bruce Campbell died in terrible ways and return to make life harder on him. He eventually manages to succeed in killing everything and ending the whole mess.
"Hey bro!"
Which is why Evil Dead 2 is so great, because everyone arrives at the same cabin and the same book/recording disaster happens again. Its either a remake, or this was another dimension where similar problems plague cabins in the woods. The main differences here, however, are in tone. The first movie really tries to be a horror movie, and succeeds in some moments, but is ultimately goofy. For the second movie everyone arrived ready to make that same movie, but determined to have fun doing it.

The horror comes paired with slapstick moments. Tree rape is replaced with a sentient severed hand and a chainsaw replacement for the stump. Campbell is no longer a hapless hero, he is a normal man forced to become an ultimate bad-ass as he fights off the evil. His friends all die off way faster, leaving him with more screen time to react to horrors and monsters. Its just all around more satisfying an experience. It also sets the tone well for its sequel, Army of Darkness, which really embraces the comedy aspects of the series.
Read is autobiography for some really funny onset stories.
The Evil Dead series is required watching by anyone who even thinks the like horror. If you haven't seen them, then you are a bad person until you do.

Micro-reviews like this will be the standard for awhile, at least until I catch up to my list. Or a really crazy movie pops up and surprises me. In other news 30 Minutes or Less was way less funny then it should have been, even watching it in a less then sober state failed to really make it worth while. Cowboys and Aliens is kind of bland in many ways, if you could edit the thing down to just Daniel Craig being awesome and Harrison Ford making angry faces it would be more fun. The aliens were also living, walking plot holes in so many ways. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was actually a pretty competent movie, despite the fact that they mix up some of the science behind how virus and genetic therapy work, but whatever, still more fun then the other two movies combined. Winnie the Pooh is the best one I have seen in theaters out of these four.
Can you win this game? Try!
As always, here is that link. The 150 Days of Halloween. Oh, and we are also hosting a competition over at Nightmare Mode for a free Steam key to Space Pirates and Zombies. So head over to try and win a game.

Friday, August 12, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: The Fly, Dawn of the Dead, The Ninth Gate, The Crazies

Still going crazy and falling behind at everything I do! Hooray for that?

Anyway, lets bang out some poorly written reviews while I have the clarity of mind, shall we? Short and sweet today, whatever I manage to have tumble out of my head.
Gotta love this movie.
The Fly is a classic science fiction story, the man who goes too far and suffers the consequences. One of the quintessential horrors of science stories. A scientist who develops a teleporter, a device that would change everything we know about travel and supply lines, decides to test the device on himself. Of course any safety precautions are ignored entirely and a fly winds up in the system with him, and the two merge tragically. Then you hand that story to David Cronenberg and everything just gets all kinds of extra weird with a bit of creepy sexuality tossed in. Its how he rolls, afterall.

Forgoing the classic, "heeeelp meeee," line for hefty doses of grotesque prosthetics and stomach acid, he certainly puts his own twist on the story. Our scientist, Dr. Brundle, shows his device to a reporter and promises her exclusive coverage in exchange for secrecy. His social awkwardness endears her, and soon they are happily together exploring the frontiers of science together, her physical affection helping him to conquer the problem of his device turning things inside out. All is well and good until his own social awkwardness makes him jealous and impulsive and he teleports himself, with that fly along for the ride of course.
An example of a Brundlefly.
Slowly he transforms into Brundlefly, losing more and more of his humanity and his mind as he pukes acid on food and people to feed. Once over the edge he decides the only solution is to merge himself with another human, the love interest of course, to reclaim some humanity. Instead he gets to merge with some lovely bits of metal and get shot by a weeping lover. If you love Cronenberg then you don't need me to tell you this is a wonderful movie with all of his usual... um... charms. The effects are suitably moist and gross, the acting is all pitch perfect with just a hint of 80's camp, and its just a fun sci-fi horror romp.
SUCH a good poster.
Dawn of the Dead is the second chapter in Romero's classic zombie story, and is an improvement in almost all ways. Having proved himself with Night, he now has a bigger budget, a bigger story, and all around better assets to tell his story with. It follows survivors in an increasingly deteriorating society that is crumbling under the shambling steps of the undead. A lucky few manage to find a mall, and make themselves at home, indulging in a consumerist cultures wet dream and for a few, reveling in the ability to kill the undead with impunity.

Its a Romero film, so of course the zombies are nothing more then an environmental hazard, its the people that matter. The ugly, stupid, and base humans who enjoy the surroundings despite the dangers. The consumerism angle is, surprisingly, better explored in the re-make, but this one still does a fine job all the same. What the re-make left out however, is the roving gang of violent bikers who believe might makes right. Humans are the real monsters only works as an angle when you have some real assholes to wreck shit after all.
The oldest zombie.
Come for the zombies, stay for people being terrible to one another and the tragic lives that sputter out like candles in a sharp breeze.

The Ninth Gate is yet another Roman Polanski movie on this here list. What can I say, I like the guys work. This is another movie that despite some mystical elements is really all about how people are, ultimately, dicks.
Books. Never been so exciting.
Depp is a antisocial rare books dealer who lies and manipulates his way to the top of the trade. He is respected for his ruthless tactics by the rich and despised by honest appraisers who don't have the stomach to rob grieving families. This being a horror movie, we of course need more then rare books and snarky comments out of Depp to keep the story moving along. One of those rich clients of his makes him an incredible offer to travel the globe and compare one copy of an incredibly rare book on the devil against the only other two remaining copies.

The trip soon turns deadly as it becomes apparent that he isn't the only one interested in these books. Whenever he comes into contact with one, the owner dies and Depp is attacked. Soon enough he is less interested in the money and more interested in the mystery behind the books and the pages in each supposedly created by Satan himself. He of course wants it for himself by the end.
"Yep. That's a book alright."
This is a flawed movie, but its a damn fun one besides the flaws. Depp always delivers, and the tension surrounding the mouldering books that are so feared and revered makes for a truly engaging movie. It makes the book trade seem as intense as Indiana Jones did for archeology, which is no small feat. Its an enjoyable mystery movie, so you should check it out if your ever bored and want to see something a bit different.

Lastly we have The Crazies, Romero's original version as opposed to the remake. I won't go into the remake too much, as it will get its own review, but I will touch on two key differences. The remake is visceral and intense, with characters often in danger and the insane people of the town along with the deadly determined military are always uncomfortably close. Its much more brutal and effective as a scary movie. The original, on the other hand, is a Romero movie, which means it came here with a message first and scares second. Unlike the remake this one spends equal time with the survivors looking to escape as it does with the military trying to fix the mess, making for a very different kind of movie from its remake.
Because you poisoned them. Also shot them.
This split focus makes it much more about the evils of bureaucracy, military control, and government cover ups. People are just inconvenient statistics to the government, where lives mean nothing in the face of the bottom line. Watching people who genuinely want to help get hampered by people more interested in protecting the status quot is, in many ways, a more tense and engaging experience then watching the survivors wander around. They rarely find themselves confronted by the crazies of the town, and even less often with the military, generally just sitting around in houses or sneaking through woods.

I quickly found myself waiting for the survivor sections to end, which were predictable for the most part, in favor of watching a scientist attempt to find a cure despite the governments stupid rules slowing him down. To see a sympathetic general forced to carry out terrible orders and make hard decisions, for it to all tragically crumble under its own cumbersome weight. Way more interesting then one sane guy trying to corral his insane girl friend and best friend out of the quarantine just because they don't trust the government.
"Should we do something interesting?" "No."
The remake and the original are two very different movies, and they are both flawed in different ways. Romero's version at least has some ideas running the show, while the remake is fun for a gory splatter-fest. Both have merits in the horror spectrum.

Alright! Now to try and do this again sooner rather then later. Preferably tomorrow instead of in a few days. One day my mind will stop melting and I'll be on top of this again. Oh, here is that link I always post to the full list. The 150 Days of Halloween.
"Hey. How you doin?"

Friday, August 5, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: Cat Eye, Children of the Corn, Pet Semetary, The Shining

Vanished again, sorry everyone. The way my brain works these days makes it feel like I live with some kind of sadistic roommate who has control over my mind. It used to be that movies were always something I could count on. Depression, anxiety, agitated bouts of hyper activity, none of these could stop me from just fading away and existing only in the movie. These mood swings have taken away my sleep, my motivation, and my capacity to be social when I choose, and now they are trying to take away my movies, my games, and my books. They seep in when I watch and drag me out of the moment, or just smother any drive I had to even watch them before I can get started. Its a strange feeling, to lack even the motivation to do the simplest things in life that you actively love to do.

Which is why I'm trying to get this all sorted out and fixed, like I mentioned in the last post. I finally found a psychiatrist who was recommended to me by a close friend, and have an appointment for late August to get that ball rolling. For now its cognitive therapy to try and manage some of the worst symptoms. I will keep the internet well informed of this riveting experience, but mainly I will keep you all well informed of horror movies. Since I will be droning on about four movies, I'm going to do my best to keep this short and sweet. So expect baseless mockery at times.

Like today's list of Stephen King adaptation! I enjoy King as a writer, often his work can be contrived and a bit pointless, but when he nails a story he really nails it. He also shares a trait with my favorite author of all time, H.P. Lovecraft. Like Lovecraft, his works rarely ever get adapted into a good movie. More often then not they appear in the world as misshapen grotesques, with malformed claws for hands waggling in our faces like cruel jokes.
I DARE you to make a shittier DVD cover.
Or in the case of Cat's Eye, three conjoined cruel jokes waggling all sorts of things in an honest persons face. This movie opens with the cinema equivalent of blue balling the viewing, but instead of being something a sex crazed douchebag would claim to suffer, this is a movie quality tease. A cat runs by, chased by a massive rabid dog which is clearly Cujo. The pair run through several locations and eventually cause a red and white Plymouth Fury to slam on its breaks, obviously Christine. Once the movie has its fun, "remember these classics?" moments, things get started.

The cat sees a ghost like apparition of Drew Barrymore appear over a mannequin and beg for help. The cat, being a well educated cat with a Harvard law degree, understands English and immediately uses its powers to know exactly where to go and sets off. Unfortunately the cat also has an uncanny knack for winding up in unrelated vignettes along the way. First it winds up at a facility to help smokers quit, where it gets electrocuted in a display of the companies methods. The cat soon escapes, but we are not so fortunate. We watch a poor smoker learn to quite via threats against his family, and soon he is a better person for it despite the physical and emotional abuse he and his wife endure.
If you find a child who thinks this is scary, punch them and call them a pussy.
Next the cat gets picked up by an extreme gambler, and also soon escapes the scene to leave us to suffer. The evil gambler makes a dude walk around the ledge of his skyscraper as a wager on his debt. The dude does it, otherwise we wouldn't have much a movie, and quickly turns the tables on the double dealing gambler. Soon the villain himself must walk the ledge, and quickly falls to his death.

The cat, meanwhile, makes it to the girls house where no mention of her magic abilities is ever made. A small goblin is trying to suck the girls soul out and the cat is her only protection because her parents are clinically retarded and/or hate cats. Cue adorably campy scenes of a guy in a ridiculous goblin suite. Goblin dies in a fan indirectly thanks to the cat, and we end with the cat getting fed an entire fish and then burping for comedic effect. This one has the distinction of being King's only PG13 movie, and of being slightly better then Dreamcatcher which ended with a crisis team trying to talk me down from the roof of the theater. This movie is three short films all trying to out camp and out cheese one another, and no one knows which one wins that battle.
It almost seems proud about starting over 9,000 shittier sequels.
Next up we have Children of the Corn. Not one of the nine thousand sequels, remakes, or the SyFy cinema abortion. The first one. This is a delightful parable of religion in small town America, where a small child preacher worships a corn Jesus who tells him to lead all the children in killing all adults. After those first fifteen minutes of the movie, a passive woman and a total dick arrive just in time to run over a kid who was busy dying of a cut throat. Being sensible people, they shove the body in their trunk and continue on in an effort to find a phone to call the police with. They didn't turn around an head back toward familiar locations to do this. No, they head off deeper into corn country for this one.
Pro-tip: Don't kill your family because a kid in a stupid hat tells you to.
They of course end up in the crazy corn kid town and begin the joys of running around while kids with knives also run around. You will thrill as asshole does stupid things! Gasp as useless passive lady gets captured by pre-teens with knives! Marvel as people hide in basements and other people get annoyed that they can't find the people in basements! Then some wacky things happen involving glowing evil lights, children dying from said lights, and the black smoke monster from Lost getting blown up by an asshole. I liked the short stories ending better, when everyone died. Anyway, I grew up with this movie and still love it despite how terrible it is, come for the high pitched child preacher and stay for the 16 year old who thinks acting means showing ALL of your teeth at once.

If you haven't guessed yet these reviews are in order from most terrible to least terrible, although if you were to graph it it would be a slight incline that end in a sheer wall. Before we hit that sheer wall of quality, we must first stand at it's base, where we find another cornerstone of my childhood. Good old Pet Semetary, the movie the insured I would never spell that word right for my entire life. I really do love this movie, but I'll take the nostalgia glasses off for a moment just to reassure you that it is indeed a war crime to screen this movie to a group of people.
They didn't take the tag lines advice when it came to the sequel! ZING!
Pet Semetary is essentially a guide for new parents on how to raise your children with a high mortality rate. Step one is to make sure that you move to a house with no fence that borders a road driven on exclusively by speeding semis. Next, when you learn about the massive death walls that speed by every five minutes that unfailingly kill every pet for miles around, proceed to not build a fence. Feel free to bicker constantly about raising your children, and ignore any ghosts who may suddenly appear to warn you about an Indian burial site at this point. Next, when your housekeeper decides to hang herself in your basement, allow your wife to tell you about the time she let her crippled sibling die alone and screaming because everyone in the family hated the burden. Don't be bothered by the fact that this women is raising your kids.

Following that bonding experience, you may find that the family cat somehow managed to get hit by one of those trucks. Somehow. Rather then inform your family and handle the grieving process with your children, follow your creepy old neighbor directly to the place your dead ghost friend told you not to go, and do exactly what he said not to do. You should now have a dead cat body possessed by the very essence of evil. Give the cat back to your children and pat yourself on the back. Try your best to ignore the scent of rotting flesh and the various injuries the cat inflicts on you.
"Seriously? Your going to try the evil cemetery again?"
If you are doing things right, you should be incapable of learning from past events, even ones days old, this will help in the crucial steps to follow. Against all logic, when you leave your toddler unattended in your fence-less yard he will somehow manage to wander into the road where he will be obliterated by a massive truck. The shock and injustice of it all will be overwhelming, but don't let that interfere with your dogged determination to be a moron who must have lost a brother in a miserable fence accident immediately following a strong blow to the head. Proceed to dig up that toddler and bring him to that place that everyone ever has told you is evil so you can have a demon wearing the flesh of your youngest son.

If you followed all of these steps, then you are well on your way to being awarded a cash prize for being the most blatantly stupid man to ever get a medical degree! The evil facsimile of your son will proceed to murder your best friend/father figure and your wife, which you will somehow find surprising. Pretend to have learned your lesson and battle your undead cat and son to the (re)death and burn all the evidence. This is the most important step, and the most easily botched as well, so pay close attention. Having learned nothing at all from this series of events, and apparently having the character arc of a rock briefly seen in the background, bury your dead wife in the same evil stretch of dirt for some reason. When she arrives as a half eaten corpse, lovingly embrace and kiss her while she stabs you to death. Congratulations! You left your one surviving family member an orphan with your in-laws who allowed their daughter to die and emotionally scarred their other daughter. FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARD!
"I'm killing you before you try to breed again Daddy!"
We now suddenly go from a series of campy and somewhat terrible 80's movie that I secretly love, to The Shining. If you ever met someone who said anything but good things about The Shining, then count yourself lucky, because that was no human. It was a monster. If you yourself don't like The Shining, then you can't fool me DEMON!

My review of The Shining is as follows. Its the single greatest adaptation of a King story, and its made by Kubrick. Watch the fucking thing. The end. I would write more, but I kind of want to be done writing now. Its an actually good movie with clever moments riddling the whole experience, the only downside is a child actor who could have been replaced by a trained monkey. It does suspense incredibly well, keeps you guessing until the end, and is beautifully shot. If you have never seen it, then you should, because its proven to prevent cancer.
"Kill anyone who says this isn't a good movie like I tried to kill my wife and son!"
Tune in whenever I manage to write again for more horror movies! Also here is that list I link to every damn time. The 150 Days of Halloween.