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.


  1. damn, just skimmed through the images and I have to admit that these are scary. Make up technique of today is so crazily advanced.

  2. I am a huge Resident Evil Fan. But will look Frontier up.

  3. good reviews, it has been too long since I have seen a good horror film.

  4. Evil Dead is a classic, if you ever watched that old kids cartoon "reboot" they did a parody one for it was pretty funny.

  5. I'm always recommended the crazies.

  6. The start of this post was so good, then soo... you know.


  7. Have I told you how much I love reading your reviews?