Monday, October 31, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Trailer... Monday?

 After blogging over the course of the weekend, Cap'n lazy is taking the day off and posting trailers of this past weekend's entertainment. Enjoy!

Island of Lost Souls

Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde

Piranha 3D

The Dead

The Puppet Monster Massacre

Attack the Block

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers

A Night to Dismember

Visiting Hours

April Fool's Day

The Boogens

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Day Three: 80s Slasher Wrap-Up

 You know, I had planned on using 80s Slasher Day to prove something of a point - that for the most part, the slasher formula was interchangeable after Black Christmas and Halloween set the template and Friday the 13th locked it into place. The truth is that most slasher movies are, in fact, basically the same movie: the variations are location, the killer's gimmick, and the way people die. That's really it - from My Bloody Valentine to Graduation Day to Maniac Cop, there are only minor variations on the plot. Maniac Cop may deviate the farthest because it's more of a police procedural than a "kids go to _____ and get killed," but the kills are pure slasher.

 So it came as a large surprise that the first two movies we watched weren't slasher movies at all. The second one might have fallen near that tree if it were in the slightest bit comprehensible, but to be honest incomprehensible is the nicest way I can describe that experience.

 Let's do a brief breakdown:

 Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers - I should have known the moment I saw Fred Olen Ray's name on this movie that we weren't really in for a slasher film. Admittedly, I threw it in knowing that it didn't necessarily have that reputation, but I wasn't expecting a soft boiled detective film laced with bad jokes. The gratudity I knew was coming (and it's delivered in spades), and the kind of extreme violence (I mean, it is about chainsaws, and the title is in no way misleading), but the dumb jokes and horrible shot composition don't help. Sure, it was fun to see Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) and Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead) on-screen together, but Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is just awful.

 A Night to Dismember - With a title like that, we had to be in luck, right? Um... well, I can't lie to you. I have no idea what happened in this movie. It's like a surrealist's fever dream retelling of a slasher film. There's something to do with the Kent family, who are killed off during the course of the film, and a detective who narrates the entire movie, but beyond that your guess is as good as mine. The music doesn't match the mood of the film, dialogue often seems to be looped or half-used from the time or filming. The shots don't make sense, there's not a trace of continuity, and the editing doesn't help either. The film seems to jump from one thought to another, but presented visually. Nothing makes sense. Neil suggested that director Doris Wishman and writer Judy Kudner had attempted to make a movie, not finished, and decided to patch together what they had. Doctor Tom declared that "I very rarely will call a movie 'unwatchable' but that A Night to Dismember is most definitely unwatchable." I can't disagree.

 Visiting Hours - I'll give Visiting Hours this; it's a an prototype for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer in the way that it sticks with the killer as he's not killing. It's also, unfortunately, trying to be a slasher movie at the same time, but one that goes looooooong stretches between murder set-pieces. I still find it plodding, but will concede that it's unique for its time and properly sleazy with Michael Ironside as the killer.

 April Fool's Day - Finally, a slasher movie that mostly adheres to slasher principles. I understand why people at the time felt cheated by the "twist" of April Fool's Day, because it is a conscious decision to play with the tropes of slasher films and audience expectations, but that's why I like it. Yes, it is a dirty trick at the end of the movie, and it's not exactly a blood-soaked experience in the way that The Burning or Happy Birthday to Me are, but I admire the willingness to totally misdirect viewers about what they're seeing (or think they're seeing) up until the very end.

 The Boogens - Okay, so it's stretching the "slasher" concept to include a movie about killer turtle monsters, but the way the suspense scenes are structured, and the way the kills take place from a first-person-perspective share plenty of real estate with the Friday the 13th's of the world. That happens mostly because if you saw one of the Boogens you'd probably be laughing too hard take the story seriously, but in terms of crafting tension with some all right slaying, The Boogens works.

 Unfortunately, we didn't have time to dive into Intruder, 976-EVIL, or Don't Go In the House, so I can't speak to whether they match my thesis or not. I suppose my thesis is either cracked or mostly irrelevant based on what we did see today. Oh well, there's always Horror Fest 7...

 This closes out Horror Fest 6 coverage. Thanks to everyone who joined in on the mayhem this year. See you next July for The Raleigh Summerfest Massacre: The Next Generation!

Horror Fest 6 Day Two: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

 What you're probably going to notice here is a similarity to the review of The Dead; we came into the Guillermo Del Toro produced (and co-written) remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark with knowledge that it had been critically praised but was generally overlooked by the movie-going public. I thought it might be a creepy way to push Horror Fest into the late hours, and for a time the film does a very good job of ratcheting up the "don't go in there" factor with its sound design and shudder-inducing monsters. But it has two fatal flaws, and at the expense of making a cheap joke, Katie Holmes isn't one of them.

 Poor Katie Holmes - we gave her hell during this movie, in part because her character Kim was such a wet blanket for so much of the movie. Guy Pearce's Alex was arguably the worst father ever; a guy who clearly wasn't interested in his daughter Sally (Bailee Madison), who had been passed off by her mother on the west coast. Sally was sent to live with her architect father and his interior designer girlfriend while they renovated the Blackwood Estate, which we already know is bad news bears.

 In the prologue, we see Blackwood (Garry McDonald) trick his housekeeper (Edwina Ritchard) into coming down to the spooky basement. He insists that creatures have taken his son and they want teeth or Blackwood will never see him again. He removes his own teeth, then his housekeeper's, and offers them on a plate to the creatures in a hole beneath the ash pit. They take him instead.

 While not directed by Del Toro, many of his favorite narrative flourishes are on display in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - the child left alone to wander, the hidden surprise they discover, a world hidden within our own, one of fairies and creatures both fascinating and terrifying. The tree imagery can, at times, be overwhelming for the film - the front door and basement entrance are both elaborate carvings of trees, one with a bird that eagle-eyed viewers will be able to reference as the reason for the very last scene.

 The early moments in the film where the creatures are calling to Sally to let them free are, in fact, quite eerie, and as they slowly begin to creep around in the house there are certainly hair-raising moments for audiences. Director Troy Nixey milks the suspense for all it is worth, giving the audience monster's-eye-view shots of where they are in relation to the protagonists, and what they plan to do that Alex, Sally, and Kim are blissfully unaware of. We're already ahead of Alex and Kim, who refuse to believe Sally that monsters are giving her nightmares, and based on a few conveniently placed items, it's understandable why they would. Still, it takes Kim most of the movie to start believing Sally and Alex has an eleventh-hour change of heart that I'm not sure I really buy.

 It's later in the film, though, when they become a visible menace and start attacking in swarms that Don't Be Afraid of the Dark loses its potency. I can buy Kim and Alex not really paying attention to a certain point, and am even fine with the first time you really see the creatures attack Harris (Jack Thompson), the grandson of the worker who closed the basement. They surround him and give him a carpenter's equivalent of the "death of a thousand cuts," and it's still creepy. Unfortunately, it's only the beginning for how much more we're going to see of the little buggers, who are somewhere between rats and tiny primates with spindly arms.

 The more you see of them, the less disturbing they are, and the more difficult it is to believe that only Sally seems to notice them everywhere. It comes to a head during Alex's big dinner presentation to Chalres Jacoby (Alan Dale) of a major architectural magazine. He's hoping to impress Jacoby enough to land the cover, but Sally keeps snapping photos with her Polaroid camera and makes a fool of herself at the dinner table. At this point, the stakes are supposed to be pretty high, but it plays out like a straight-faced version of the "dinner" scene from Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell. That it's followed by a visual effects heavy assault on Sally in the library only increases how much it stands out in the film.

 I don't necessarily mind the ending (and by this, I mean the very ending, after we understand who the creatures really want), although the film gives such scant indicators as to why it happens that I'm sure most audiences had no idea what was going on. Without saying too much more, it develops Katie Holmes' Kim a little further but relies heavily that you remember one particular detail from the beginning of the film. Like The Orphanage (another Del Toro production), it takes the horror and places it within the realm of fairy tales, but only in a way that makes sense if you pay attention to a minute detail of an underdeveloped character.

 Don't Be Afraid of the Dark isn't a failure per se but I wish the monsters had a much smaller visual presence in the film. Without a doubt that would result in a more effectively creepy film, one that already knows how to work the spine-tingling moments early on. It's worth checking out, but I can't help but feel like it could have been more.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Day Two: Attack the Block

Doctor Tom here to ramble for a little bit about Attack the Block. This lovely little Edgar-Wright-produced quasi-Bildungsroman delivers a neat little punch with unlikely protagonists and heroes alongside believable, functional, non-ostentatious invaders-from-outer-space.

A group of teenager no-good-niks, led by the serious and staid Moses (John Boyega), arrives at the onset of the movie, causing mayhem and hijinks from mugging to mild vandalism, and stumble across a landed alien explorer that has smashed in the roof of a car. Not knowing what else to do with it, they cart the smelly, slimy alien corpse to the local druglord, who is more concerned with making his ineffectual record-company-quality beats and pushing product than a potential apocalyptic scenario centered on aliens and the plucky curiosity exhibited by said teenagers about said alien.

Like many films of this ilk, the plot takes the standard course: teenagers find alien, teenagers continue on standard path of running from the cops, witnessing the onslaught of an alien invasion located pretty much entirely within the same tenement complex, paeans to Matthieu Kassovitz, reuniting with a person they wronged and creating a forced team to destroy the momentary alien invasion, losing some friends along the way to the devouring/hungry alien invaders, and the teenagers being wronged and being incarcerated and blamed for all of the carnage and mayhem.

By that, I mean, the invasion is thwarted and the unity of unlikely partners generates a palpable feel-good vibe, but many of those conventions cease then and there. The protagonists are largely black Britons or other marginalized ethnic persons, with a thankfully polychromatic view of representations. The woman mugged by the gang at the outset of the movie (Sam the nurse, played by Jodie Whittaker) returns as a co-protagonist - and does not enter into the role of the redeemer or savior, leaving that to the rag-tag gang. In shout-outs to Kassovitz's La Haine, numerous shots with tricky diegetic/non-diegetic audio (namely when an ultra-stoned upper-crust Londoner shows up with earbuds repeatedly in, contrasted with the gang from La Haine wandering their banlieue), framing aspects, and bits of dialog subtly infiltrate the film, adding a bit to the smoldering, overall reading of the film as an interesting take on race relations in current-day England. Without divulging too many spoilers, no white people show up to "save" or "help" the misbegotten and marginalized; black characters are not shown as monochromatic, and in fact rather than the "black" stock character we see so often in sci-fi and horror films (who is typically the first to go), we maintain a racial diversity and representation all the way through - despite some of the gang's members being eaten along the way. There is an honest reflection of racial interrelations in the ultimate outcome - the white folk are treated by the police authorities at the end of the film like helpless victims hurt by lesser beings, and the colored folk are blamed, but this is despised and demonstrated as contemptible (as well it should be) by the end of the film. While the film never veers too closely into direct political discourse, there is one scene where Sam's boyfriend is revealed to be an aid worker in Ghana; one of the Afro-Briton teens responds "helpin' the children of Britain ain't good enough?" Granted, we're dealing with younger children who, despite street sophistication, probably aren't developmentally able to phrase subtle insults, so this may be in line with a 15-year-old's dismay; provided this is in the context of one of the central kids bleeding profusely amidst the onslaught of killer attack-aliens, I'm questioning why the writers felt this moment was appropriate for it, and whether the writers could have more subtly inserted this rib. At any rate, this one moment stands in relief with the rest of the fairly subdued political commentary - subdued, that is, in relation to giant, pitch-black, all-teeth alien invaders trying to figure out who killed their scout. This last bit, by the way, is solved by our "profoundly stoned" white weed customer who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and in a sense of speaking a bit totemic as the Labour party or the British creative class - filled with knowledge, but too drugged up and concerned for his own skittish welfare to remain stoned to be of much used other than supplying knowledge. All action is initiated by Moses - which itself is a nebulous statement on the state of affairs of the Blacks in England (or really any underrepresented ethnic group), and is ultimately blamed for the problems despite attempting to fix them - and take responsibility for unleashing / killing the original invader. I could write more, but I won't. The end.

Not really. For the somewhat unclarified statements on race relations, the movie was still plenty entertaining and engaging. Now I'm done.

Horror Fest 6 Day Two: The Puppet Monster Massacre

 In the wake of last year's ThanksKilling discovery, the Cap'n tries to find some homespun horror made for a very low budget. Young directors with vision tend to produce sillier horror movies because they can afford to, and rely on gimmicks you might not see higher echelon talent utilize. For example, let's say a Haunted House / Monster story told entirely with hand puppets, shot on a green screen in front of computer effects that remind you of Alone in the Dark 2. Or maybe when Sierra started releasing games on CD, like Gabriel Knight. That's The Puppet Monster Massacre.

 When I first read a review of the film, I somehow missed the part that it was all puppets - I thought it was just the monster, who looks like an Otaku-ized version of Giger's Alien. Sure enough, every character is a puppet, from demented Nazi scientist Wolfgang Wagner (Steve Rempici) to the bunny rabbits he keeps around to feed his genetically modified super monster. The only character who isn't a puppet is a stuffed penguin that say "wak wak," and only Dr. Wagner can understand.

 The evil doctor invites four teenagers from the town nearby to spend a night in his haunted mansion: there's Charlie (Ethan Holey), who is in the words of one character "kind of a pussy"; his best friend / would be girlfriend Gwen (Jessica Daniels); punk / fake limey Iggy (Bart Flynn); and Raimi Campbell (Dustin Mills), a geek / expert on horror movies (and, well, look at the name. One person groaned). Tagging along with Iggy is his girlfriend Mona (Erica Kisseberth), who Doctor Wagner allows to stay and compete for a million dollar prize. Of course, he really just wants to feed them to his monster so it will grow, as well as settle a score from forty years ago (the film takes place in 1985).

 From that setup we're exposed to puppet gratudity, fart jokes, and extreme puppet violence. It's rather amusing in its willingness to go for the cheap laugh and pile on the gore at the same time (i.e. when Raimi meets the monster for the first time, he audibly shits himself for at least thirty seconds before leading the monster on a Scooby Doo-like chase, only to end up with half his head ripped off). The comedy is crude and frankly unrefined, but it suits a film featuring hand puppets will enough that I can't really complain. It's exactly what I hoped it would be when I realized the gimmick extended beyond the monster. By the time the monster is decimating an entire military unit, complete with slow motion shots and dramatic "war" music, it's clear The Puppet Monster Massacre has achieved exactly what it set out to. Silly, gross, and kind of stupid, but exactly the kind of goofy horror comedy that brings the energy up in a room.

Horror Fest 6 Day Two: The Dead

 The undead have risen in Africa, and as the privileged try to escape in planes, the African army is trying to contain the outbreak (and failing). Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is a mechanic trying to get home to his family when the last plane out crashes. He washes up on the beach, escapes the zombies prowling the shore, and makes his way to the nearest town. Nearby, Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia), is searching for his son, the sole survivor of an undead raid on their village. Murphy and Dembele's paths cross, and they agree to work together to reunite and escape. Murphy fixes a truck and the soldiers drive across the desert to find some sense of hope.

 The Dead is a pretty good zombie movie from Africa that suffers from serious pacing issues in the second half. This is a shame, because much of the promise of the first half of the film dissolves into a directionless conclusion that doesn't pack the punch it should. On top of that, the political subtext is muddled - is the white protagonist supposed to represent the role of America in African life, or is he simply just another example of the post-Colonial presence in the Third World? Lt Murphy and Sgt. Dembele are set up as two men with different objectives working together out of convenience, but (SPOILER) once Dembele is killed, his quest to find his son feels like a cheap distraction. Even when Murphy finds Dembele's song (by accident, mind you), it doesn't have the impact that it ought to.

 Zombie films tend to use the undead as a metaphor for the masses, but it's really unclear what The Dead is trying to with African zombies beyond the novelty. True, it is refreshing to see the undead shambling around in the desert, outside of the confines of large cities, but after a while it loses its appeal. The zombies don't serve any purpose - there's a suggestion of witch doctors and a dream sequence reminiscent of The Serpent and the Rainbow, but the undead are only a threat when the Ford brothers need them to be. Murphy easily hacks through a crowd of them near the end which lowers the stakes a few minutes later. The final zombie siege has no tension because we've already seen him survive.

 I feel like I'm beating up on The Dead too much; I did enjoy most of the first half, and for a low budget movie it looks very good. The effects are impressive and the location provides an interesting contrast to the average urban zombie warfare. The acting is pretty good, and if you're in the mood for an undead film that delivers on the gore, The Dead is worth checking out.

Horror Fest 6 Day One: Piranha (2010)

 Alexandre Aja promised boobs and gore early on when discussing his remake of Piranha, and he delivered. There's a certain pleasure derived from seeing a movie with someone who hasn't seen it before, and Piranha is so shameless in its false tension and pure exploitation punctuated with extreme gore that you can't help but laugh. It's the kind of movie that you know immediately what's going to happen, but instead of being disappointed that it does, it delights you by being more depraved in its execution.

 This is a film, after all, that includes a nude underwater ballet sequence AND a Grand Guignol bloodbath set piece where a wet t-shirt contest turns into an unmitigated blood bath. Where Jerry O'Connell's quasi-Joe Frances gets his johnson chopped off, swallowed, and spit back out at the camera. Where Richard Dreyfus cameos as Quint from Jaws and is killed by piranha. Where Christopher Lloyd provides exposition. A film with no less than four porn stars in the cast. If you're expecting more than what you get in Piranha, your expectations are astronomic.

 I find that the film loses none of its charm or watchability on repeat viewings - it was just as enjoyable tonight as it was six months ago as it was when I saw it in 3-D in the theatre. It's nice to know that a filmmaker can toy with you without insulting your intelligence, and entertain and exploit at the same time.

 Okay kiddos, it's time for bed. Nap'n Howdy isn't the young buck he used to be, and bed means more these days than it did during Horror Fest 1. I'll be back tomorrow with more reviews!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Day One: Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde

 Dr. Black and Mr.Hyde deserves a longer write up than I'm going to be able to give it, so suffice to say that it's much better than Blackenstein, in part because of two names in the crew. The first is Stan Winston, and if I named nothing other than The Terminator, Predator, and Jurassic Park, I think it would be enough. He was in charge of the Dr. Hyde makeup effects, and while they may not sell the idea that Bernie Casey's Dr. Henry Pride is turning into a white man who loves killing prostitutes, it is a nice makeup effect. The other name is Tak Fujimoto, the cinematographer. Just click on his name to see what he would go on to shoot.

 In brief, the story is... well, it's kind of an adaptation, with some huge logic lapses. Dr. Henry Pride is working on a cure for liver disease, but in addition to curing liver disease, it turns people white, gives them super powers, and a desire to kill. Specifically, Dr. Pride wants to kill prostitutes, including one of his patients from the Watts Clinic, Linda. There's a bunch of superfluous subplot about a pimp named Silky and two cops and Linda's friend or cousin or something to that effect, but mostly it's about the alter-ego of Dr. Pride wandering around and strangling hookers. The first time we see him he gets into a pretty cool bar fight, with one move in particular that left me wondering how the guy on the receiving end even stood up.

 The ending at Watts Towers takes a page right out of the King Kong playbook, which is odd considering how exploitative the rest of the film is in its violence, gratudity, and generally sleazy middle section. I do give the film credit for explaining in a very understandable way why Dr. Pride is so devoted to curing liver disease and why he dislikes prostitutes. On the other hand, it's not necessarily clear whether he remembers what he did as Mr. Hyde or not until very late in the film. I also chuckled that even though he had the same clothes on as the guy who ravaged the bar that Silky and the rest of the patrons didn't recognize Bernie Casey because "some white dude did that." Really?

 Up Next: Piranha (alas, not in 3-D)

Horror Fest 6 Day One: The Island of Lost Souls

 I offered two choices for the first film of Horror Fest 6: a classy Criterion Collection release of The Island of Lost Souls from earlier this week, or the 35th Anniversary Edition of Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, another film in my continuing search for all Blaxploitation Horror films. Not surprisingly, the classy choice won out (although the blaxploitation played next), and we watched the long out-of-circulation Pre-Code Paramount answer to Universal Horror, Island of Lost Souls.

 To be honest, I'm not too certain what I want to say about the film. I can understand why it would disappear for so long (and had, to this point, not been released on DVD) as many Pre-Hayes Code films had - it takes the "playing God" references further than Frankenstein did* and the material would be considered fairly salacious (trying to seduce a man using a half woman / half panther or the ambiguity of "The Law" and the House of Pain) at the time anyway. The film is an interesting relic of another time - it's as close as a Hollywood adaptation of The Island of Doctor Moreau was going to get for the 1930s, and while its pace fluctuates over 70 minutes, I was never bored. It dragged sometimes and relied heavily on punching to solve problems, but it does come out of the same era that King Kong did, which also relied on machismo to move past stubborn plot hangups.

 Charles Laughton is arguably the most eccentric I've ever seen him (which has to be saying something) as Dr. Moreau (pronounced in the film as "Murrow"), while Bela Lugosi is actually barely in the film as "The Man Who States the Law." His presence is amusing though, because when he recites the law, the rest of the creatures on the island do a sort of mumbled echo of his accent, so it sounds less like repeating him and more like a "mrrmrrrm mrmrmrm mrrrm" every single time Lugosi says anything.

 It was certainly nice to finally see the film (I've only seen parts of it to this point) and it set an appropriately bizarre tone for night one.

 Up Next: Dr. Black and Mr.Hyde

* And for many years, the line "I know what it feels like to be God" had been cut out of Frankenstein altogether.

Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps Back

 In a fairytale retelling of the first Ginger Snaps, Brigitte and Ginger are alone in the woods, bleeding. They press their hands together, mingling infected blood and ensuring both will be werewolves. Brigette's voice closes out the film, saying "The day of reckoning; the day the curse grew stronger in the Red and the Black. Sisters united in blood, together forever."

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Pieces

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twas the Night Before Horror Fest...

 That's right, boils and ghouls - Horror Fest 6 begins tomorrow night! Your Cap'n has been working to put together a great line-up and I think I have three days worth of thrills, chills, and bloodshed. I thought it would be fair to give you some idea of what kind of reviews you'll be seeing over the weekend, and hopefully a breakdown of what is showing when so that you can come join in on the mayhem.

 Friday - The Island of Lost Souls, Bug, Insidious, Stake Land, Basket Case 2, Piranha, and Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde.

 Satuday - All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Galaxy of Terror, Troll Hunter, Attack the Block, Doghouse, The Frighteners

 Sunday - April Fool's Day, 976-EVIL, The Boogens, A Night to Dismember, Intruder, Visiting Hours, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.

 Will there be more surprises? Almost certainly, but that's for the Cap'n to know and you to find out.

 For now, I'm going to check out More Brains!: A Return to the Living Dead!

 See you tomorrow!!!!

Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps 2 - Unleashed

 Ghost helps Brigitte escape from the treatment center / psych-ward, only to trap the fully transformed Brigitte in her basement. Ghost creates a story about a powerful warrior (herself) and her werewolf pet, who will one day be unleashed on her enemies.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps Back

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps

 Ginger goes full on werewolf, and Brigitte has the option to save her or kill her. She decides to kill Ginger, but mixes her sister's blood with her own, ensuring that she too will become a lycanthrope.

Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps 2 - Unleashed

Be Safe with a Halloween Video Daily Double!

 Greetings, guys and ghouls! It's nearly Halloween, and your Cap'n is all too aware that many kids and kids at heart will be spilling out into the streets next Monday in search of treats, tricks, and mayhem. Thankfully, the Cap'n has an few very helpful educational films from the 70s and 80s in order to maximize your spooktacular spoils of tricking and treating.

 Watch and learn, my little ghosts, witches, vampires, and werewolves!


Our first film (in two parts), Halloween Safety, gives you a series of Do's and Don't's for a danger free October 31st.

Our second film (also in two parts), is also called Halloween Safety, and is also from Centron films, but updates the tips and techniques for the 1980s.

 Best of luck to you all! The Cap'n will be waiting...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spoiler for the Day: Shit Coffin

 Jason is killed by a woodchipper, but not in the way you'd hope. A chain around his neck strangles him instead of chipping him, so Whatshisdick and Whocareswhathernamewas bury Jason in Crystal Lake, which moved from New Jersey to Texas. Jason jumps out and does something, I really don't remember or care to find out. It was boring, there's not a Shit Coffin 2 (exactly), so we're done with Jason Voorhees movies.

Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Ginger Snaps

Horror Fest Retro Review: Weasels Rip My Flesh

 We close out of Retro Reviews of Classic Horror Fest and Summer Fest reviews with the only movie from Horror Fest V I can legitimately claim makes less sense than Hausu - Weasels Rip My Flesh.


Let's get this out of the way first: No. No, Weasels Rip My Flesh has nothing whatsoever to do with the Frank Zappa album of the (mostly) same name, but if you're willing to dig hard enough to find the connection, I tip my hat off to you. The movie, apart from that tenuous connection, is a super-low budget, presumably home-made, horror film about a killer weasel, and some other things.

When Weasels Rip My Flesh is in focus, you can tell that the creature(s) don't look like weasels. Fortunately, there aren't many point involving the monster where the weasel (or we-man) are visible, and there's a lot of movie that might make sense a) if you wrote it, b) if you could scale back the music, or c) if it seemed like there was a plot in the first place. The super-cheapo horror film reminds me of a less polished A Taste for Flesh and Blood, which should set off alarms for readers who are familiar with Warren F. Disbrow's New Jersey-based alien invasion films. On the other hand, there's a lot of fun to be had trying to figure out what's going on, and the final "twist" is dumb enough to elicit some chuckles.

The "story" (which can only be gleaned from reading the back of the DVD cover) involves a rocket trip to Venus (demonstrated by a shot of something that looks like a 4th grade science fair "rocket" next to burning rocks) that goes awry and crashes outside of Long Island. When two youths run afoul of a weasel, they decide to get even by pouring a canister marked "Toxic" into the weasel hole, creating a giant potato monster with teeth. I think. Again, in order to mask the nonexistent budget, director Nathan Schiff keeps the camera VERY close to the monster, and unfortunately almost all of the shots are out of focus.

Our giant weasel then wanders into town, is hit by a car and scampers off. For whatever reason, the driver takes its severed arm home, invites a buddy over, and is invariably attached by the meaty, gooey appendage. By the way, I should point out that for the many things that Weasels Rip My Flesh doesn't quite get right, being decidedly gross is not one of them. The movie is loaded with goopy, gloppy gore, ripped flesh (I know that you were wondering), body parts torn asunder, gunshots, and rabid, radioactive creatures. The weasel attacks also turn humans rabid... well, sometimes. When the story seems to be stalling anyway.

Finally, around the halfway point in a 68 minute movie, we meet our hero. If he has a name, I missed it (the library music catalog soundtrack wipes out most dialogue) but you know he's a badass because he wears Aviator sunglasses and always smokes a cigar. He and his partner are investigating the crash (I think) when they're kidnapped by a man I can only describe as Jason Schwartzman's audition tape for Man on the Moon. He's a scientist (we only are certain of this because his living room - which is clearly a living room - is described as "a lab") and is breeding more of these radioactive weasels. This part reminded me more of A Taste for Flesh and Blood 2: All Hell Breaks Loose, in that it also uses common household implements to suggest a breeding facility for the dangerous creature.

At this point, if you're tuning out, I'll say a few words that kept things interesting for us: Human / Weasel hybrid vs Giant Weasel (or, as we saw it, Giant Potato fighting guy with a brown celery stalk for a head) in a battle to the death, plus the villain, who is shot point blank in the lungs, has his head bashed in against a wall, then has an arm ripped off by the giant potato, and still lives. That brings us to the "most outrageous ending you'll ever see" (described accordingly on the back of the DVD cover), which involves another deadly menace. I'd tell you what it was, but the movie's only 68 minutes long, so it's not asking too much of you to find out for yourself. I mean, how hard can Weasels Rip My Flesh be to find?

Monday, October 24, 2011


There will be a Horror Fest at the end of Shocktober this week. But not just any Horror Fest:


 Coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - October 28th-30th, 2011

 Horror Fest 6 will happen at Cap'n Howdy's Borrowed Basement in Scary, North Carolina. Come rain, come shine, from dusk til dawn horror movies will play. Sunday from 11:30-6 we'll be watching a steady diet of 80s slasher flicks chosen by you, the readers, including - 976-EVIL, A Night to Dismember, Intruder, April Fool's Day, Visiting Hours, and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.

 BYOB but since this isn't my place, let's not go super wild, eh? Let's go regular wild and enjoy the horror movie madness! Muahahahahahaha!

Spoiler for the Day: Freddy vs. Jason

 Jason wins by ripping off Freddy's arms and decapitating him. He later rises out of Crystal Lake with Freddy's head, who opens his eye and winks.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Shit Coffin

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Presents: Random Series Sequels

Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood

Phantasm IV: Oblivion

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

Leprechaun in Space

Hellraiser: Deader

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 3

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

Spoiler for the Day: Jason X

 Super Jason and Brodski fight while falling into Earth 2's atmosphere, which burns both of them up. Jason's mask lands in Camp Crystal Lake 2, closing out the film.

Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Freddy vs. Jason

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spoiler for the Day: Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday

 Jason finally returns to his body, wreaks some havoc,. and is stabbed with the special dagger that releases the souls of people he killed. Apropos to the title, Jason is dragged to hell by demons. Except that he forgets his mask, so Freddy Krueger helpfully grabs it.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Jason X

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan

 Jason eventually gets to Manhattan, punches a dude's head off, scares some punks, and is killed by toxic waste. The waste reduces Jason to a little boy, who is left behind. No, really.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Presents: Choose Your Favorite Series

 At this point I don't think I need to tell you that the Cap'n loves horror movies. I devote an entire month to cover it, write about the films on and off during the year, and I bet if you were to break down the reviews on this site, I have a sneaking suspicion which genre would win out. While I devote a lot of digital ink and space to individual horror films, I rarely take the opportunity to talk about horror series. Let's amend that, shall we?

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood

  Tina, with the help of her psychic powers (and zombie father) kills Jason by dragging him back into the lake (where she released him with said powers). How will Jason ever get out of that lake?

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Truth About Video Daily Doubles!

 Greetings, my legion of doom! Today's Video Daily Double continues our Halloween theme, but from a different angle. Now normally I stick with vintage films, but this week I've come across something more recent that certainly falls within Cap'n Howdy's rubric of "educational propaganda," even if it is more recent.

 If you're one of those anti-Halloween fuddy duddies, this video (broken into several parts) will be right up your alley. If you're a big Halloween fan, maybe this will help educate you as to why you celebrate the holiday.... OF SATAN!!!!!


 Our first (and only) video is broken into several parts is called The Truth About Halloween. Watch and learn.

 There's no part 5, so I guess you've learned everything you need to know, Agents of Satan...

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VI - Jason Lives

 Tommy Jarvis and Megan manage to tie a chain around Jason's neck and sink him to the bottom of Crystal Lake. Tommy almost dies but is saved by CPR. Jason just hangs out until Part VII.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Horror Fest Retro Review: The Trifecta of Doom!

 We continue our Retro Reviews of classic Horror Fest and Summer fest reviews with a few guest bloggers drunkenly reacting to what may be the most evil thing the Cap'n has ever done to an audience. It's true that I tricked people who thought they were just going to watch The Paul Lynde Halloween Special and then something good, only to stumble head-on into The Happening (the original Trappening), followed by a blind-siding of Freddy's Dead in 3-D. Yeah, I did that, and this is the genuine reaction from two people who endured the whole thing...


Ladies and gentlemen of the blogorium, I submit to you that the Cap'n provided a one, two, three punch of awesomeness that you had to be here to fully appreciate.

We started with the Paul Lynde Halloween Special of nineteen hundred and seventy six, which finds a way of making you wish what you're seeing will end only to make it that much worse in the next scene. See, for no apparent reason, Lynde a) forgets what holiday it is, b) sings "Kids" from the Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack (with Donnie and Marie Osmond), c) is friends with Witchie Poo and The Wicked Witch of the West.

The witches give him three wishes, so Lynde becomes Big Red the Rhinestone Trucker, some sultan, and then takes the witches to a Hollywood disco, all with the help of Tim Conway, Florence Henderson, Betty White, and Kiss. For some reason Paul Lynde plays the ladies man for 2/3 rds of these wishes, which is even funnier since he's clearly not feeling it. There are also some very inappropriate jokes which I shan't repeat. And Peter Criss sings "Beth", which you think is as bad as it's gonna get, but then Florence Henderson sings, and it goes downhill from there.


That was the warm up act for the return of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, which folks got to see a) for the first time or b) against their will.

For the Cap'n, the third time was in fact the charm, but I'll hand the blogging dutires over to one of our H-Fest goers, who has something he needs to say on the subject of nuts:

Who is the most captivating character in "Freddy's Dead: the Final Nightmare"?
Who Dropped the most F-Bombs at Horror Fest 3?
Who was the first to pass out from substance abuse?
Who was the first person to leave during the happening?
Hey, did ummm whathisname dun get atcho yesterday?
Who is the most influential figure in 20th century Kino?
Deeeeeeeeezzzzzz Nuuuuutz!

This is the Tominator here, taking over for Doctor -- Nay, Professor Murder. Seems he had a case of prostate examination on the brain. In any case, I am having a hard time digesting The Happening as being anything but a wretched, 90-minute low-brow attempt at thriller detournement. No, I can't even really justify the palpability of this movie as being a means through which it destroys or satirizes the entire oeuvre of horror-thriller. Thinking that Shitalawn had any ideas in his head relating to or borne out of knowledge of poststructural theory is absurd. This movie was simply, unabashedly, unabatedly awful. Patently disgusting. Quite possibly the worst thing I've ever seen. From the gratuitous "social commentary" that conflates worldwide human-wrought disaster with the few problems with nuclear power to the atrocious acting, despite Marky Mark's naive earnestness, The Happening can only have one thing said about it, one thing that sums up what this movie is about and what it tries to communicate:


Fuckin a right.

Josh takes over now. DEEZ NUTS.

For some reason (let's just say it involved a LOT of beer), that was the funniest thing ever to two of our Horror Fest attendees during Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which if you hadn't guessed was the third part of our trifecta.

We watched it 3-D, which was AMAZING, it turns out. Right now, Horror of the Blood Monsters is playing, in 2-D unfortunately. Otherwise known as Vampire Men of the Lost Planet, it's the only movie I never actually finished. The challenge to them is to see how far they can get before it turns off. When they finally give up, I'll let them watch a real movie.

I apologize about all the nuts. They're still laughing like hyenas.

Monday, October 17, 2011

News and Notes: Horror Edition

 Welcome to another edition of News and Notes, where the Cap'n catches up on a few things I've been noticing and felt were worth sharing.

 Far be it from the Cap'n to neglect the fact that October means more horror releases, especially on Blu-Ray, and this year there are some doozies. For example, right now you can buy Basket Case, Frankenhooker, The Frighteners, The Others, The Bad Seed, The Last House on the Left, Torso, Dead Alive, Guillermo Del Toro's director's cut of Mimic, Herschel Gordon Lewis' Blood Trilogy (Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Color Me Blood Red), The Hills Have Eyes, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Maniac Cop, Troll Hunter, The Phantom Carriage, Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and The Ward.

 That's right now. If that's not enough to fill up your queue, Attack the Block is coming next week, along with The House by the Cemetery and The Island of Lost Souls. If you're like me and feeling a bit industrious, you can shimmy on over to and order the Nightmare on Elm Street Collection on Blu-Ray instead of waiting on a U.S. release next year. New Line figured it would be enough to leave Freddy fans with the existing first film on BD and a double feature of the best (Dream Warriors) and worst (Freddy's Revenge) Nightmare entries, the United Kingdom gets the whole shebang plus some new extras (including episodes of Freddy's Nightmares) in a Region Free package.

 Yes, that's Region Free as in "it will play on your PS3 / Blu-Ray player / etc." And so I'm not sounding like a commercial, in the interest of full disclosure I already ordered one which means I paid what was roughly $55 bucks with currency conversion. It won't even arrive for another week and a half at the soonest, but it's worth the hassle for me. If it's available and the same thing I'm going to see twelve months from now, I'll drop a little more for the privilege of having all the Nightmare flicks in one box again.

 I also put a little bit down for Arrow Film's Blu-Ray release of Day of the Dead, the much maligned third entry into Romero's "Dead" series. It's also region free, looks better than the Anchor Bay BD, and has something that no release of Day of the Dead has since VHS - the original audio track. For whatever reason, all of the Anchor Bay DVDs of Day of the Dead had slightly modified tracks that arbitrarily replaced profanity. Arrow Films found the original track and included it on the disc, along with new and old extras, a special effects commentary track (with the "N" and "B" of KNB plus two other crew members) in a really nice box that kicks the old BD all over the road. That I was able to find on the Amazon Marketplace for less than what a comparable set might sell for over here.

I'd considered Arrow's Dawn of the Dead, but the darned thing isn't Region Free, which makes it about as useful as the All the Boys Love Mandy Lane Blu-Ray I bought without reading carefully. Ah well, all the more incentive to seek out a Region Free Blu-Ray player down the line...

 Oh, and just so we don't leave out, they have [Rec], [Rec]2, and Martyrs on Blu-Ray, which has my attention (although not my wallet.... yet). So there are plenty of options out there for a high definition Horror fanatic with an urge to splurge. Which would be me, but currently isn't: of the massive list above, I only have The Phantom Carriage and Troll Hunter. That Frighteners discs is really calling me though - both cuts and everything from that flipper disc special edition!


 In order to make this a proper "News and Notes" and not just a "hey gang, this is what's coming on Blu-Ray" I must stress my disappointment in the walloping that the prequel to The Thing is taking. I had a more than passing interest in seeing the film, but the negative buzz is such that I just can't bring myself to waste $10 for something that disappointing. Damn. Well, there's always Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and Piranha 3DD when that comes out.

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th - A New Beginning

 So that Jason? Not really Jason - it was paramedic Roy Burns, who went crazy when his son died. He dressed up like Jason and killed people until Tommy Jarvis kills him with "sharp farm equipment." During the coda it is once again suggested Tommy will become a killer. Double Spoiler - that doesn't happen in the next movie.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part VI - Jason Lives

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Presents: Evil Houses Trailer Sunday


The Amityville Dollhouse


The Haunting

The Legend of Hell House

The Others


Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter

 In what is a VERY inaccurate subtitle, Tommy Jarvis shaves his head to look like Jason, then lets him slide his mongoloid face down a machete before chopping the holy hell out of Jason's head. It is implied that Tommy is not as crazy as Jason, which takes us to the first "unfortunate" Friday the 13th films.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th - A New Beginning

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cranpire Movies Presents: Bong of the Dead

 Normally, I wouldn't watch a movie called Bong of the Dead. The title really tells you everything you need to know about the film, and I'm positive I can find ten more movies with little to no effort that will be more enjoyable. Then again, I said the same thing about ThanksKilling, and I was dead wrong. Since friend of the Blogorium Cranpire has transplanted himself to a commune, he can't watch movies like Bong of the Dead, which he normally would.

 If I needed to know why not to watch Evil Bong or One Eyed Monster or Mega Shark vs. Crocoppotamus, I could ask him. But now he's gone, so somebody needs to carry on the tradition. Why it was me, I'll never be quite sure, but here we are. I just watched Bong of the Dead. Yeah, I really did. It's the first of what will be a regular series of "Cranpire Movies," which honestly is the same thing as "So You Won't Have To" for most of you. Sorry Cranpire, but it's true.

 Meteors fall to Earth, turning humans into flesh eating zombies. After six months, most of the cities are deserted, so stoners Edwin (Mark Wynn) and Tommy (Jy Harris) have all the time in the world to get high and act like idiots. One day, Edwin discovers he can use zombie brains to make a super powerful strain of weed, but when he runs out, they decide to head into the "danger zone" to collect more zombie fertilizer. Along the way they meet Leah (Simone Bailly), a loner living in her family's gas station / bar, who grudgingly helps them fix their broken down car. But trouble is ever lurking from the zombies, include Alex Montgomery Dickens III (Barry Nerling), a talking member of the undead creating his own army to wipe out the living...

 Bong of the Dead is so busy borrowing from better movies that one has to wonder why this turned out as badly as it did. The movie is, at bare minimum, a combination of Pineapple Express and Zombieland with just a pinch of Blood Car to make things interesting. Or it should - the concept of using dehydrated zombie brains mixed with water to create a super weed fertilizer is introduced and promptly forgotten until nearly an hour into the film, and when it comes back, it's more for a "hey guys, we know we set this up and then turned into a 'road' picture, so we're going to at least acknowledge you aren't as high as we are" fait accompli. But like nearly everything else in Bong of the Dead, that too is forgotten to move on to the "big" showdown.

 The editing is lousy, which undermines the occasionally impressive cinematography, and the over-use of digital effects to mask budget shortcomings doesn't help. Then again, I could overlook the trappings of a low-budget zombie movie if I cared about Edwin, Tommy, or Leah. Two obnoxious stoners and a stock "badass babe" character can't carry the long stretches of bad jokes, punctuated by moments of "drama" that grind the film to a halt.

 Not having zombies in the movie after the opening (a semi-clever prologue featuring a guy who looks like Hulk Hogan and his wife turn into zombies and eat each other) for nearly thirty minutes wasn't an issue for me. It's nice to see a zombie movie made on the cheap that doesn't rely on the zombies to carry the film. Then again, when it means spending time with Tommy and Edwin, which includes no less than two "we're high and doing stupid stuff half naked" montages, Bong of the Dead tested my patience.

 The zombie boss wasn't interesting enough to sustain this chicanery, neither was Leah (who is, admittedly, resourceful before those morons show up), and the movie dragged along until suddenly we needed gratudity, a joke about a Chinese zombie using chopsticks to eat brains, and an appropriation of Dead Alive's lawnmower-as-weapon. The ending doesn't really make much sense, except for a "you can see it coming a mile away" ripoff of Shaun of the Dead (appropriate, since it also rips off the beginning of Shaun of the Dead). Thankfully, there's a mid-credits sequence that recycles a concept from Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis, in case you hadn't seen that winner. If you want to say it's "homage" be my guest, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em.

 I guess I was supposed to be grossed out or offended or something when the pregnant zombie gives birth to a zombie baby and another zombie picks it up and eats it, but by that point in the film such a cheap stunt is too little, too late. Bong of the Dead takes far too long to deliver any of the exploitation its title sequence implies is coming, and instead leaves audiences with a (no pun intended) half-baked experience. Flashes of good ideas come and go, but in the end I was left with three characters I didn't give a shit about, a story that could at best be described as "meandering," and some scattered gore that deserves to be in a better movie. I can't even say that this is a "Cranpire" kind of movie because I think he'd turn it off and take a cigarette break before watching Swamp Shark. And to be honest with you, I wouldn't blame him.

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part 3

 Chris gives Jason a good old fashioned axe to the noggin, which appears to kill him. She opts to sleep in a canoe overnight, and wakes up in the morning to see Jason in the house by the lake, before zombie Pamela Voorhees jumps out of the lake and grabs her. But it was all a dream! The police arrive to take away Jason's body.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part 2

 Ginny tricks Jason into thinking she's Mrs. Vorhees by putting on his dead mother's sweater, and with Paul's help they subdue the sack headed mongoloid. They return to the cabin and Jason attacks, dragging Paul into the darkness. Ginny is taken away to the hospital screaming "where's Paul?"

Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part 3

Thursday, October 13, 2011



Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th

 The killer, Mrs. Voorhees, gets her head lopped off by Alice. She dreamily floats in Crystal Lake for some reason, and grimy Jason leaps out and grabs her.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler for the Day: Friday the 13th Part 2

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Creepy Video Daily Double is Good for Your Bones and Teeth!

 Greetings, my scaredy cat Educationeers! Cap'n Howdy brings you another spooky, spectacular October edition of the Video Daily Double. Today I'm bringing you a healthy and happy double dose of educational films, with a Halloween twist!

 Make with the scare-learning!


 Our first film, The Skeleton Dance, is designed to teach you how to move your dead bones. Bones. Bones. I think it will prove most helpful.

 Our second film, The Haunted Mouth, is some dental propaganda that I feel strongly we had to watch as late as the mid-eighties. It stars the voice of Cesar Romero as Gingivitis, and I guess you could argue that the people who made it understood horror films.

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween II (2009)

 Okay, follow me if you can - Michael has been seeing visions of his mother and younger version of himself, who lead him to kidnap Laurie. He takes his sister to a barn, and Sheriff Brackett and officers surround the area. Dr. Loomis arrives and against Brackett's wishes, he goes into the barn to try to reason with Michael. Then we have two different endings:

 Theatrical Version - Michael kills Loomis in the barn, and is gunned down. Laurie puts on Michael's mask and walks outside. She takes her mask off, and the film dissolves to Laurie in a mental institution.

 Director's Cut: Michael shoves Loomis through the barn, and kills him in front of the police, who gun him down. Laurie walks out, picks up Michael's knife, and despite Brackett's pleas otherwise, one of the officers shoots Laurie, killing her. We then dissolve to Laurie in the asylum, where Michael's / her mother is coming down the hallway with a white horse. She smiles.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Friday the 13th

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween (2007)

 After Michael appears to kill Loomis (more on that tomorrow), Laurie shoots Michael point blank in the face with a revolver. That should pretty much wrap up this story, right?

Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Halloween II (2009)

Horror Fest Retro Review: The Burning

  Continuing with Classic Horror Fest and Summer Fest reviews, I bring you another Summer Camp Slasher flick from the 1980s, The Burning.

"This movie could stand to have a lot more burning in it" - overheard during The Burning.

My eyes were drooping, my mind was fading into sleepville, but the Cap'n soldiered on. The promise of early Weinstein brothers Miramax slasher action was too much to pass up on. The Burning needed to be seen!

Or did it? Strangely, summer camp movies rarely make it into the Summerfest lineup. We've yet to watch a Sleepaway Camp film, and Friday the 13th's tend to find their way to Horror Fest, so The Burning provided us with what we assumed would be a happy one-two punch: a summer camp slasher movie from the golden age of slashing (the early 80s) and gore effects from arguably the F/X guy of the era - Tom Savini.

And while the story of Cropsy the groundskeeper was, um, compelling, there's a lot more "summer camp" than slashing in The Burning, and even less burning than you'd assume. Campers decide to pull a prank of Cropsy by sneaking a skull full of maggots into his cabin, which then manages to burn down the entire building and Cropsy in the process.

Then, for no good reason, we jump ahead a week (and then five years) while Cropsy (that's his name. nothing else) is healing in a hospital suspiciously close to Time's Square, so that he can roam the seedy streets, find a hooker, and kill her with gardening shears. Or maybe not. He kills most of the campers with garden shears, which he leaves behind (where does one find that many pairs of garden shears, anyway?) when he leaves the city to return to a different camp populated by kids that had nothing to do with "the burning" (oh! I get it... but wait, there's burning at the end to... where did Cropsy get that flame thrower?)

At this point, we abruptly leave the slasher film and move into Meatballs territory for a while. I hope you were looking forward to awkward teenagers wandering around and worrying about pervy Alfred and rape-y Eddy, who tend to get picked on by Glazer, camp counselor Todd and all of the girls. And lest I forget to mention him, Dave, the provider of contraband, is played by Jason Alexander. He's younger, svelte-er, and unfortunately more than willing to moon the camera, so Seinfeld fans get ready.

In fact, I need to take this opportunity to mention that The Burning launched the careers of many A- to B+ list actors. For example, in addition to being the first movie Jason Alexander was in, it's also the first film for Larry Joshua (Dances with Wolves, The X-Files), Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit, Bob Roberts), and Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona, The Piano). Somehow, it managed not to be their last film, which I suppose is a testament to the Weinstein brothers' ability to wrangle up and coming stars into d-grade slasher movies.

I could go on about how this summer camp has a tendency to leave the younger campers behind while the counselors take a rafting trip to an abandoned mine and fight a blowtorch wielding Cropsy (to be fair, he kills most of them before Todd and pervy Alfred use irony to finish what the other campers at THE OTHER CAMP started).

To be fair, the gore is pretty good. I mean, it's no The Prowler (which really only had gore going for it) as Savini-effects go, but he finds just enough to do with a pair of garden shears to keep us interested (which is about all you get, since Cropsy's mangled, melted visage is obscured until the very end of the film). When the body count gets going, Cropsy does a surprising amount of mass murder (the raft assault is rather impressive), but there's the whole first half of the movie where the audience inexplicably needs to be embroiled in the lives of preteens that are far more normal than one would expect in a slasher film.

We were hoping for a twist in this movie, and Nathan was convinced that we were in for a My Bloody Valentine-esque "Cropsy isn't Cropsy but actually Todd," but it was not to be. Scarred, horribly melty-faced Cropsy had an elaborate plan for revenge that he carried out on people who didn't have anything to do with "the burning" and in the mean time there was plenty of softball activity, skinny dipping, and exposed Jason Alexander ass. It's exactly what we needed at 3 in the morning!

Phillippi gives The Burning three severed fingers out of five, while Nathan is pretty sure he won't be watching it again.

Thanks to tonight's Summerfest 3 Groovie Ghoulies: Englund, Phillippi, Nathan, Riannon, Domenic, and Chris. See you tomorrow when we venture into the world of Ghostbusters, Death Beds, and Cook Out Adventures!

Also, stay tuned Saturday for the special McGangbang Challenge!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A So You Won't Have To Special: Defending the Indefensible

 I still feel pretty bad about being so mean to Blood Runs Cold on Friday. Sure, it's not a good movie, but the people who made it clearly were doing the best they could to make a horror movie that offered something new. I happened to think that what they did really didn't work in the second half of the film, and yeah I maybe was a little hung up on the "we're trying to fool you and make you think this isn't a Swedish film" angle, but they gave it a go.

 While it's in no way comparable (and probably even less fair), the Cap'n thought he might stand up for some movies that totally don't deserve it. Like in a million years don't deserve having anyone go to bat for them, but that's what I do. I'll defend these pieces of shit So You Won't Have To. You can continue hating on them, disparaging them, and feel confident that Cap'n Howdy took the "Devil's Advocate" argument - and probably lost.

 Speaking of which, let's start with

 The Devil's Advocate - It's a study in methods of over and under acting. Maybe even extreme over and under acting on the part of the film's two leads - Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. People tend to remember Pacino hamming it up more from Scent of a Woman, but he's so far over the top by the end of The Devil's Advocate that one is willing to overlook the fact that Keanu Reeves' southern accent has completely disappeared. Oh, and there's the wall of writhing naked people and Reeves blowing his brains out. What's not to love, right?

 Shit Coffin -Okay, so let's ignore everything that the writers, producers, and director have to say about this brainless remake of Friday the 13th. Instead of listening to their idiotic explanations of why Shit Coffin is scary or paying homage or any of that crap, let's try Professor Murder's explanation of the film. Shit Coffin is a comedic deconstruction of slasher movie stereotypes wrapped in a slick exterior designed to trick modern horror audiences into thinking they aren't watching subversive entertainment. Yeah, that's the ticket. If you squint and turn your head juuuuust the right way, it almost makes sense.

 Horror of the Blood Monsters - So what if the Cap'n has never finished Horror of the Blood Monsters (also known as Vampire Men from the Lost Planet). That doesn't mean that something REALLY AMAZING is waiting just beyond the twenty minute mark. In fact, I bet there is, and shame on me for depriving myself of that experience. Shame on me indeed.

 Blade Trinity - Heh, well, the thing is, you see... there's Triple H flipping the bird at the sun. That's something, right? And Ryan Reynolds is constantly cracking jokes, well after they're funny to anyone in the film or the audience. And for some reason people speak Esperanto and watch Incubus and Patton Oswalt plays basketball. That all happens. Blade? Who's Blade? Wesley Snipes is in that movie? No way!

 Resident Evil - Well... there wouldn't be a Resident Evil Apocalypse without it. That's as far as I'm willing to go.

 Night of the Living Dead 3-D - Sid Haig gotta eat. In 3-D if possible.

 The Exorcist II: The Heretic - Okay, you got me. I have nothing. There's nothing in this film I can really apologize for, or make a case for, or anything that isn't just weird for the sake of weirdness. Go ahead, explain to me what James Earl Jones is doing in this film. Please.

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween Resurrection

 Laurie didn't decapitate Michael - just some medic wearing his mask. Michael kills Laurie, goes home, and is kung fu'ed, electrocuted, and burned alive by Busta Rhymes.

 Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Halloween (2007)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Horror Fest 6 Presents: Murderous Monster Trailer Sunday!

The Crawling Eye

From Hell It Came



The Deadly Spawn

From Beyond

Gigantis: The Fire Monster (SPOILER - It's Godzilla Raids Again!)

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween - H20

 Laurie decapitates her brother... or does she? Stay tuned for tomorrow's spoiler!

 Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Halloween Resurrection

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween 6 - The Curse of Michael Myers

 Tommy Jarvis, Kara, and Doctor Loomis subdue / kill Michael, but Loomis goes back and is killed off-screen by The Shape. I forget what The Man in Black had to do with it.

Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Halloween - H20

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blogorium Horror Review: Blood Runs Cold

 Blood Runs Cold is a not very good movie with a weird twist.Okay, the twist is less what happens in the film but what the cast and crew try very hard to pass themselves off as - an American slasher movie Things start out okay but boy does this movie get worse over the course of 74 minutes.. It does have a cool title card, though:

 Winona (Hanna Oldenburg) is an artist looking for some downtime, so her manager (Ralf Beck) sets her up in a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. She goes into town and runs into her ex-boyfriend Rick (Patrick Saxe), his friend Carl (Andreas Rylander) and Carl's girlfriend Liz (Elin Hugoson). They go back with Winona to her cabin and have some drinks. Little do they know that a mad killer is lurking around nearby, one with a taste for human flesh...

 So are you ready for the twist? Remember how I said the film is passing itself off as an American slahser film? Notice how those names don't look or sound remotely American? That's because this film isn't even kind of American.It's Swedish. However, at every opportunity, the film tries to demonstrate that this wasn't made in Stockholm, Sweden. From the GPS to the English dictionary to the props that are mostly in English to the Budweiser to the map that I'm pretty sure would lead Winona to the middle of Raleigh  and not a remote cabin based on this address:

  Now, it could just be a coincidence, but that's such a specific combination of arbitrary information that happens to also be a real area in North Carolina (that the Cap'n happens to also be aware of) that I have to wonder if it was chosen randomly or if I just happen to be the one blogger that would know that 27601 is nowhere near the mountains in North Carolina. In fact, it's not far from where I'm writing this. But I digress, let's stick with the Blood Runs Cold and let a minor detail like that go.

 The film kind of looks good for the first thirty minutes, utilizing some interesting tracking shots and camera angles (if not perhaps relying too heavily on the latter). Blood Runs Cold is sparse on the killing after a pre-title sequence murder, waiting until nearly the halfway mark of a 74 minute film the first blood is shed on-camera. Tension builds, sometimes successfully, sometimes arbitrarily (why some characters don't see the killer when he's in plain sight more than once was a sore point for me), and there's some double gratudity, probably because slasher movies are supposed to have sex scenes, right?

This brings me to a broader point, actually; I'm not really sure what writers Tommy Wiklund, David Liljeblad, and director Sonny Laguna were trying to do with Blood Runs Cold. Was the point to prove that Swedes can make an interchangeable slasher film just like Americans can? Did they really think that just because everybody is speaking English that we wouldn't notice immediately the thick accents that come and go? Or am I digging too deep here? It's possible they just wanted to make a low budget horror movie, in which case I forgive the use of what really looks like "day for night" photography and sloppy shot selection when the killer finally gets to work. IMDB has the budget listed at around $5000, and I'll tell you it looks much better than that meager amount. They did the best with what they had, so credit where credit is due, even if Blood Runs Cold is (really) rough around the edges.

 Okay, so now that I've been as nice as I could be, I think there are a few things that need to be addressed, but are without a doubt going to spoil the second half of the film, so you've been warned.

 SPOILERY DISCUSSION OF WHY THIS IS NOT A GOOD MOVIE: For me, things really fell apart after the killer hunts down and decapitates Rick. I'll let it slide that he walks two cabins over and finds the partly cannibal, partly zombie killer munching on his friend's girlfriend. It's not so much that scene as what happens after Rick dies. Okay, so Winona wakes up, walks downstairs, has breakfast, and then finds Liz's blood all over the living room. At first it seems like this really bothers her, but then she calmly fills a bucket with water, cleans up the blood nonchalantly, and then takes the trash outside.

 So yeah, not very logical, but I really don't understand why it isn't until everyone but Winona is dead to reveal that she went to the wrong cabin. Or that the killer somehow decided to leave her alone after killing her friends for the rest of the day. It isn't until she's been standing around the house doing not much at all that the killer WALKS PAST THE WINDOW WITH AN AXE AND POINTS AT HER, like he's saying "you're next!"

 Then she finally gets nervous, then hysterical, and then calm again in what amounts to 25 tensionless minutes of "cat and mouse." By the time she got to the ice cave / lair of the killer, I really stopped caring that her manager was driving around, waiting to be killed. Sure enough, he dies, and the logic completely collapses in Blood Runs Cold. It started out with promise, but really dropped the ball by the time Winona WALKS PAST the killer because he's too busy turning the manager's corpse left and right.The film has THREE writers and that's the best they could come up with? The less said about the final ten minutes, the better. I'll be nice again and just say that nothing that happens makes sense.

 So yeah, maybe you should not watch this. Unless you get a kick out of pointing out logical fallacies like "why can't she pull down that plywood with the hammer she's holding?" I really didn't think that a movie that just barely qualifies as "feature length" would feel twice as long, but those last 20 minutes take forever to slog through.

Spoiler of the Day: Halloween 5 - The Revenge of Michael Myers

  Loomis and Jamie catch Michael and take him to the police, but he's rescued by a man in black. Not Johnny Cash, though. Just some dude in black. It will all make sense tomorrow (SPOILER: It Won't)

 Tomorrow's Spoiler of the Day: Halloween 6 - The Curse of Michael Myers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soliciting Ideas for Spooky Doom!

 Let's take a moment to discuss Horror Fest, shall we? The Cap'n has a backlog of movies for Horror Fest, and voting is still underway for Slasher Sunday*, but I'm always looking for something hiding in the margins waiting to splatter all over our Horror Fest faces...

 Wow, that sounded dirtier than I intended. Oh well, I put it there, I'm not removing it.

 So, where were we? Right, obscure horror films. This is the time of the month when I hand over the floor to you, the reader, to offer up your choicest choices. They may well end up in the Fest on Friday or Saturday and delight, horrify, and amuse us all.

 Here are some of the lesser known titles I'm leaning towards, in no particular order:

 The Dead - I've been hearing good things about this zombie film from Africa for the better part of the year, but very few people I know have ever heard of it. Let's change that at the end of the month.

 The Puppet Monster Massacre - Yes, an all-puppet horror movie. It's short, it's violent, and I think people are really going to get a kick out of it.

 All the Boys Love Mandy Lane - You've probably seen my review of the film from earlier this year, but I must stress that the review makes it look more lukewarm than it actually is. I don't know if or when this film will officially make it to the U.S., but in the meantime I'll happily include one of the better slashers from the last five years at Horror Fest.

 Stake Land - A marriage of two of my favorite kinds of movies: post-apocalyptic and vampires. I think it will fare well with discerning Fest-ers.

 Doghouse - Okay, this is the second zombie movie on the list, but I can't leave out a film that stars Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire), Danny Dyer (Severance), and Noel Clarker (Mickey from Doctor Who) as lads on the outs with their respective girlfriends / wives, who gravitate to a small town filled with ravenous zombie lasses.

 I think everybody has at least heard of Attack the Block by now. I think you'll like it.

So that's some of what I've got (the newer stuff anyway). What about you? Something surprising? Shocking? Something super gory for after dark? Leave a comment, make your case, and I'll see if I can find it before the 28th.

 Sound good?

* I know I said I wouldn't weigh in on the movies, but seriously? Visiting Hours? I know that Bootstrap Bill Shatner is in the movie, but it is one of the films I've actually seen and was bored to tears for most of its running time. If you want to watch it, I suppose we could watch it, but may I suggest Savage Weekend? Check out this review and see what you think.