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.


  1. Wow Great post. A bit freaky but you hit a lot of good things. +follow!

  2. end of the line is awesome movie :D
    great post ;)

  3. CHUD looks so cheesy :D

  4. There is a chud in my underwear right now. I don't know what to do. Please help!

  5. MMT looks great. I will looks this up.

  6. Midnight meat train is probably the only Vinnie jones movie i haven't seen and didn't even know about. Will check it out, cheers.

  7. Oh, and Vinnie Jones! he's my hero.