Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Review: Amber Alert (2012)

Most of me wants to say that Amber Alert is not a good movie. It has more than a few problems in terms of characterization and story, and confusion and unbelievability come into play many, many times. However, I really love the basic story that Amber Alert presents. It's a great idea (that is actually not all that current anymore but it still works) and is something that hasn't been done before. So let's dissect this little movie a bit and see what we're working with.

Samantha and Nate are life-long best friends, making an audition video for a reality TV show. When they spot the car listed on an Amber Alert sign on the highway, they decide to follow it, becoming ever more suspicious of the car's owner. Sam refuses to give up on following the car, and the more involved they get, the more dangerous it becomes for them.

I like the idea of the movie because it explores one of those "what if" questions that I've never really thought that much about. We all know about Amber Alerts and some of us have actually seen them. What if you did see a car on an Amber Alert sign? What if you knew that there was a child in danger inside that car? What would you do? It's an interesting question to ask and one that I was excited to see explored.

In the first few scenes where Nate and Sam are at different locations around their hometown and being all cutesy for their audition tape, you like them. It's easy to figure them out - she's the kinda-purty, kinda-nerdy chick, and he's the best friend who has been in love with her for years, with the feeling not being reciprocated. Obviously. So that's endearing, sort of. However, once they get in the car and spot the ominous gray Honda, you soon realize that these are two of the most annoying people in the world. They almost immediately start arguing about what to do about the situation and thus begins an agonizing half hour or so of listening to two people shouting and yelling over and on top of one another CONSTANTLY. Not a good time.

To be fair, this is actually pretty believable. Two people that have known each other all their lives have probably had a lot of fights and it's just the way they communicate sometimes, I get that. The dialogue isn't that bad either, and often sounds very natural as the characters fumble their lines and stutter and what not. It just really needed to be toned down in this movie to keep Sam and Nate from becoming the unnerving assholes that they become. The audience is supposed to be on their side and supporting them all the way, not wanting them to get into a head-on collision with the gray Honda just to shut them up.

It's also hard to be supportive of the characters when they - but really more specifically, Sam - keep making the stupidest decisions ever. At first it's cool as they just leisurely follow the guy while informing the police of his whereabouts. There's a great scene where the guy catches them following him and gets them to pull off the road. He comes to their car window and they actually talk to the guy for a little while, with him putting on the charm and telling a sob story about having a psycho ex-wife and how the little girl in his is his daughter. I thought that the filmmakers would make him be ths faceless monster for most of the movie and not really reveal him until the end, so this was a nice, tense little scene that I liked a lot. Sam does make one smart decision during their ordeal, which is to throw her wireless microphone into the backseat of the car. This allows the found footage technique to continue with some purpose, as they can listen to what the abductor says to the girl and realize that she really is in danger.

A couple other problems: the ridiculous lack of police presence and the mostly faceless and voiceless camera person, Sam's little brother Caleb. As to the latter, Caleb is seen briefly at the beginning of the film and has a few lines here and there throughout, but he is rarely involved in Sam and Nate's conversations and they hardly speak to him except to tell him to get down so the abductor doesn't see that he's holding a camera. When the group really gets in deep with this guy, going so far as to actually going inside his house, it is ridiculous to think that Sam would actually put her little brother - who looks to be barely a teenager - in such a dangerous situation. She really seems to have no concern at all for him. As for the first problem I mentioned, the lack of police response, it's complete and utter bullshit. They speak to one cop in person the whole time and that is it. No more police anywhere. The most ridiculous part is when Sam is informed by the police that the Amber Alert has been called off. Um, what? We know by the end that this guy really did abduct this girl and she was definitely not his daughter, and the police had witnesses to a little girl in the car - so why the hell would the alert be called off? It wouldn't, that's right. Stupid.

All that being said, though, Amber Alert was still effective to me. I found myself really getting into the story, wondering which way it was going to turn and just how dark they would go. Sure, I threw my hands up a lot in annoyance and anger, and yelled at the screen plenty of times, but this movie did something to me. The film looks good and actually feels like a real movie and an amateur one at the same time (to keep the found footage believable), and though the suspense doesn't really kick in until the last twenty minutes, I think it's mostly worth the wait. The ending is shocking and a bit heartbreaking as well, and they do a really good job of laying the heartbreak on thick with the last little scene of Nate and Sam.

I think fans of found footage should give Amber Alert a look because it has a few clever ways of making the technique work for its story. A little thing like logic doesn't play a very big role in the movie but the main idea of the story is a good one to explore. Don't let the annoying characters make you shut the movie off after 20 minutes - I still say to give Amber Alert a chance, even though most reviews tell me that a good majority of viewers will hate it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Movie Review: Bordello of Blood (1996)

Netflix: Hey, Michele. What do you feel like watching today?

Michele: Hard to... concentrate... First horror convention... only 10 days away... Norman Reedus... Chris Sarandon... Heather Langenkamp... Tom Savini... All are so close to me now... Please give me a fun horror movie to... distract me!

Netflix: Ever seen Bordello of Blood?

Michele: Actually... no. But... Tales from the Crypt?... Vampires?... This could work...

Netflix: Just hit play, Michele.

Michele: Okay...

It worked! So, so sorry, guys, but this whole convention thing has gotten me into quite a tizzy as the event draws ever nearer. Of course, Bordello of Blood turned out not to be able to distract me that much, because Netflix failed to inform me that Chris Sarandon is in this movie, too. Teasing motherfucker. Will meet Chris... in 10 days... Jerry Dandridge... Prince Humperdinck... Cannot wait... any longer! ... Okay, I'm back. So anyway - loved Bordello of Blood! As the second full length feature based on the HBO series, Bordello of Blood is a joyous comedy and gorefest with a gungho cast, a fun story, and some really great effects gags.

The story here is that after being awakened from the dead, the mother of all vampires Lilith is back in business, running a house of ill repute secreted away inside a mortuary. Private investigator Rafe Guttman threatens her plans when he visits the bordello looking for the missing brother of a client.

Dennis Miller headlines this show as Rafe - and he plays the role just like he does every other role I've seen him in. He's witty and sarcastic with a dry-as-a-desert sense of humor that you think would get old after a while here. Fortunately, it does not. Miller is hilarious the whole way through, his character's cavalier attitude making the whole situation of vampire prostitutes just as funny as it should be. Angie Everheart as Lilith is also beyond awesome in her role. She is a gore-geous woman who just seems to be having a good time playing the baddest bad bitch in this movie. Yes, every word out of her mouth is some kind of pun or double entendre but she manages to pull (most of) them off without sounding (too) cheesy. Alright, it was often quite cheesy but I didn't mind it so much. Everheart has her comedic moments here and there too, so give her points for that. Erika Eleniak, Corey Feldman, and Prince Humperdinck also all give hilarious performances, though the guy playing the funeral home guy, McCutcheon, was a big favorite of mine.

Right at the beginning of the movie, we are given a wonderful taste of the awesome comedic gore gags to come. Treasure hunter Vincent brings Lilith's dried up corpse back to life by reconnecting the four pieces of her heart and putting it back inside her. As soon as she wakes up, she's hungry for blood and Vincent feeds her his tour guides. She punches her fist through one guy's chest and rips out his heart; squishes another guy's head with her bare hands until his eyes pop out; and does something probably pretty nasty with her tongue to the last guy, even though we don't see it. Later on in the film, there is a cool sunlight-explodes-vampire scene (which includes a weird cameo from Whoopi Goldberg for some reason) and another great death involving Lilith's extendable tongue, another man's heart, and some serious French kissing. Also - holy water squirt guns. Always fun. And Prince Humperdinck looks pretty awesome with one.

Oh, what else to say? Love the stuff with the Cryptkeeper and William Sadler-mummy at the movie's bookends - the Cryptkeeper of course has the best one-liners in the whole thing because, well, delivering extremely bad puns with a delicious cackle is why we all love the Cryptkeeper so much. "She's knows that the best way to a man's heart - is through his rib cage!" So, so bad and yet so awesome at the same time. I also loved the perfect Tales from the Crypt ending that I sadly did not see coming but totally should have. I see now that many critics and reviewers did not like Bordello of Blood so much and that's just bullcrap. No, it's not scary nor is it even a particularly good horror flick but I guess you have to see it for what it is, and I think genre fans are the ones who really get a kick out of it. It's Tales from the Crypt. You shouldn't be expecting any highbrow art in the first place because you won't get it. What you will get, though, is a campy good time, a movie with a real sense of humor about itself that easily makes fun of its own ridiculous situations.

You also have Prince Humperdinck as an Evangelical preacher playing an electric guitar. Seriously, what the hell else do you want from a movie?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Project Terrible: The Zombie Apocalypse (2008)

Oh, dear goodness, why? Why why why why WHY? Why does every idiot with ten dollars think that the fastest and easiest way to making a horror movie is with zombies? Seriously, look up a good majority of the shit independent horror movies out there and I'm thinking that most of them will be about zombies. Movies like this Project Terrible-appropriate poopfest - given to me by Robert over at Gaming Creatively - just get me all kinds of pissed off because they have turned the zombie into the horror movie monster whore. And I don't like it.

When the zombie apocalypse breaks out in Michigan, two college friends at a bar meet up with zombie killer Miller and goth girl Raven as they fight to find a safe place. Meanwhile, Miller's connection to the outbreak comes back to haunt him when he's hunted down by his former protege.

Gosh, I made that synopsis sound way more interesting than the movie actually is. The Zombie Apocalypse (terrible, terrible title BTW) is simply the same old recycled bullcrap from every other zombie movie that came before it. The characters are complete half-wits and completely uninteresting, unbelievable and unlikable. The zombies are plain old generic and stupid, and there is no real explanation for how they came to be, except that Miller's wife had something to do with creating them. Somehow. I don't really care.

The two college guys Tom and Mark are, aside from being not hot at all, the most pointless and boring characters ever created. Not that anyone in this movie has any kind of personality really. Raven (real name: Jennifer) is a cliched goth chick who in her first scene gets fired from the video store she works at. Of course she likes horror movies, and it makes us all look bad. Miller is the worst of the bunch - he's a Tom Savini-wannabe with his stupid long hair, beard, and black motorcycle jacket, wielding a machete. He also tries to pull off this really forced and fake sounding gravelly voice and speech pattern, trying to make himself sound harsher and tougher than he really is.

The gore work is almost not even worth talking about. A few of the zombies got some special makeup treatment, but otherwise they are all just shambling extras with dark eye makeup and a few drips of blood. The action and attack sequences are poorly choreographed, and even more poorly performed by the actors. The zombies are almost always killed out of frame with the exception of about five throughout the whole movie, so there's no money to be spent on effects work there. I must say that they are definitely better actors than any of the main cast because they don't have to speak or really do much of anything. Way more interesting to watch than Tom, Mark, Raven, or Miller. Sorry, but the truth hurts.

I thought at the beginning of the movie that the music was actually the best part of the whole thing, as some scenes have really nice scores to accompany them. Then later, as the action picks up, the music unfortunately gets worse. It goes all bad rock 'n' roll, bringing the tone of the movie straight on over to the campy and ridiculous side. Of course, it was already well on its way there anyway. The only humor at the beginning also was just from the bad acting, but then again, later they try to intentionally make the movie humorous. And that almost never works out well for movies like The Zombie Apocalypse. I can't even count the number of times I scoffed or rolled my eyes while watching this - every lame line, every stupid action, every contorted facial expression. Such a waste of celluloid.

And that's really about it. I have nothing else to say, positive or negative. The Zombie Apocalypse is a movie that no one, beyond a few curious Netflixers, will probably ever see and that is most definitely a good thing. I finished watching it less than two hours ago, then went back to watching Mad Men and have now completely forgotten it. So, until next Project Terrible, I'm done! Other rounds have been much worse - TRUST ME - so I'm feeling lucky with what I got this time. I realize that by saying that Alec especially will probably feel the need to really punish me next time... oh crap...

Loving Mad Men, by the way. Great show.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Girl Who Loves Horror is a Contender!

Wait, what? How did this happen? Well, I guess that bribery really paid off because The Girl Who Loves Horror is now one of six contenders for The Large Association of Movie Blogs' annual Lammy Awards for Best Horror Blog!

To be a fair sport, here's a link to my fellow contenders so's you can check them out too:

Voting started April 17th and runs through April 30th, so if any of you LAMB members out there want to vote (for me) you still have plenty of time!

Now I'm gonna go work on some blog posts so I can actually live up to this nomination. Congrats to all the other nominees and good luck!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Project Terrible: Atrocious (2010)

'Tis a small Project Terrible round this time, friends. Only me, Alec, and Robert jumped on board this time - which is actually good for me because that means I only have two movies to do this month, and I know I'm going to be all kinds of crazy and distracted once my trip to my first horror convention gets closer (18 days now!). So first up in this round is Alec's pick for me, a Spanish found footage movie with a most appropriate title - Atrocious. Seriously, they should've seen this coming.

Brother and sister pair Cristian and July (actually pronounced like "Julie") have a little hobby of investigating local urban legends for a web show. Or something. So they take their cameras along with them to their family's old abandoned house out somewhere for the Easter holiday because the area is said to be haunted by a little girl named Melinda who got lost in the woods.

So really, if you're going to call your movie "Atrocious," it might be a good idea to have the movie not actually be atrocious, if only just to avoid the inevitable ridicule. I mean, technically it's not really that bad of a movie, but it is pretty boring and repetitive, and it has one very lame twist ending that makes no sense and has no relation to the rest of the movie. It's the story that is the biggest problem in Atrocious - you know, the fact that it doesn't actually have one. Story is important in movies, people. It's kind of the reason behind the whole medium.

These two yahoos, Cristian and July, walk around with their (actually pretty awesome) cameras, filming stuff like their basement with all their old toys and getting an interview about Melinda the ghost girl from family friend Carlos. For urban legend investigators, they do a really sucky job and no real investigating at all. Eventually they go out to explore the labyrinth on their property. They film things like the gate that leads to the labryinth and the trees and keep staying that stuff is all "spooky" and "creepy" when it really is not at all. Get used to this very boring labyrinth, viewers, because you will be seeing a lot of it as the film goes on. And you will learn to hate it.

Still no story really. Finally, something sort of exciting happens when the family dog goes missing and Cristian and July of course take their cameras into the labyrinth, where they find him dead at the bottom of a well. Okay, I lied. That's not that exciting. Also, since both characters are carrying cameras, things can get awfully confusing when they switch from one to the other and the audience is disoriented for a second as they try to figure out where they are and who they are following. There are many, many minutes of one of them just walking around that damn labyrinth with absolutely nothing happening. I did actually pay very close attention to these parts, though, thinking that maybe the filmmakers would sneakily throw something "spooky" in the background or something. But they never did. Just more goshdarn trees.

Then somebody else goes missing. This time it's little brother Jose, and the mom goes running off into the labyrinth at night to find him, with Cristian and July following. With their cameras of course. Camera at night? You know what this means - night vision. I've never hated night vision so much in my life. After a while, it's just Cristian by himself and I had to suffer through a good five or six minutes of watching the labyrinth trees in green night vision as Cristian ran around, panting and crying, and nothing happened.

They finally leave the maze and go back to the house after Cristian finds July tied up to the gazebo, all bloodied. There are a few semi-good scare moments as it becomes obvious that there's somebody (or something) trying to kill them - especially when a charred corpse falls out of the fireplace, an axe comes crashing through the door, and Cristian finds only bloody smears where July was hiding. Soooo, it's not supernatural anymore? Nope, the whole Melinda story was apparently just a red herring and is completely dropped for an incredibly lame twist.

Do you care if I tell you what it is? Well, here it goes anyway: it was the mother. She used to be in the nuthouse because she suffered from postpartum psychosis or some shit and had actually killed one of her other babies. Which in turn begs several questions. How is it that nobody else in the family seemed to know about this, and why in the hell would anybody leave her three other children in her care after that? The video footage they show at the end of her being interviewed at the nuthouse clearly show that she is batshit. And they think she was just cured of that so easily? Argh, so stupid. The real problem is that there were almost no clues at all that this might be the ending to the movie. Yes, I did notice one time that she sort of had a little crazy look on her face, but that was it!

Atrocious proves that even though I loves me some found footage goodness, not everybody can get it right. This movie has no suspense, no story, no character development, and an ending that will piss you off. Had they not spent so much time in that fucking labyrinth and actually worked on the other stuff more, Atrocious might have been a cool movie. Or at least a tolerable one. As it is, though, Atrocious is a big 'ol failure. An atrocious failure.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anthology Quest: Campfire Tales (1997)

Campfire Tales is a horror film for wussies. It's like a slightly more mature version of an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". It's a horror film that you show to your non-horror friends when they don't want to watch something that's "too scary." And yet there are boobs, and blood, and some actually very creepy imagery. So I like it. There are also hot stars in some of their earlier roles, and they no doubt help pull off this movie that could have been so weak and forgettable. Campfire Tales is actually really good for what it is and one that at least deserves some mention for what it gets right.

The movie starts off cold and actually rather confusing because it shows a completely unrelated story called "The Hook." James Marsden and Amy Smart are a cute black-and-white filmed couple in the 50s, making out in his car, when Amy hears noises outside and gets scared. Maybe because there's a dangerous guy in the area who carries around a hook! Mwhaha! Anyway, nothing happens to them but when they skedaddle away to a drive-in, there is a hook hanging from one of the doors. My guess is that since this section has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, its only purpose is to introduce the audience to the fact that the tales that are going to be told around the campfire are variations of famous urban legends.

The wraparound story, just called "The Campfire," starts off with kids driving like idiots on a back road at night and of course getting into an accident. Always fun. They wander into the woods and end up in the ruins of an old church where they build said campfire and tell stories to scare each other. As the wraparound progresses in between each story, things get very odd and questionable. A horror fan with a more discerning eye could have spotted what was going to happen at the end of this, but when I first saw Campfire Tales many years ago, it completely took me by surprise. Watching it again, I still think some of the stuff they did at the end was clever, but it all just seems so obvious and maybe a little too silly. Ah, but the wraparound in an anthology is hardly ever as good as the spooky tales to be told. Campfire Tales offers us three such stories, and for once, I liked them all.

"The Honeymoon"
Rick (Ron Livingston, of Office Space fame) and Valerie (some chick that I've never seen before) are honeymooning by driving around in their RV. They take a detour to go to some tourist trap and run out of gas or something, I forget. They meet the obligatory creepy random guy who tells them that these parts o' the woods ain't safe at night because "they" will git you. The audience never really finds out just who/what "they" are, which is one place where this story is lacking. I have seriously no idea what was attacking these people and it pisses me off. The couple commits all the same old horror movie victim crimes - having sex (twice, might I add... it's their honeymoon, y'know), separating, going off into the woods alone, and not listening to the creepy random guy in the first place.

There is a small amount of tension as Valerie fights the unseen beings, and overall the story is a satisfying one. The urban legend part of the story doesn't come in until the end, when a police officer finds Valerie cowering in the RV the next morning. He leads her away, telling her to look straight ahead but she sees in a reflection the awful truth - Rick hanging upside down from a tree above the RV. This reveal is nice, and though the characters are believable and somewhat likable (it is a little funny when Rick runs outside naked at one point and yells out "I just had great sex!"), this story is still a little weird simply for the fact that I have no absolutely no idea what was menacing these two lovebirds all night. It seems like it goes a little bit into the realm of the supernatural, which is fine, but it perhaps would have been more convincing if the killers were deformed hillbillies or something. That sounds weird, I know.

"People Can Lick, Too"
Straight up creepiest story ever. Chatting with people on the Internet is bad, kids, and if you don't believe your parents about that, watch this. Amanda's birthday is tomorrow and she's about to have a bad night when her sister and parents are out of the house and her Internet chatting buddy "Jessica" comes to pay her a visit. Of course, "Jessica" is actually a pervy and very scary older man with gross long gray hair. Nothing happens to Amanda, and in fact the only fatality is her beloved dog. It is the implications of what could happen and the audience's imagination that make this story effective. We all remember how scary it was to be alone at night when we were younger and this raises that fear to the nth degree.

This story is the whole reason why I wanted to talk about this movie in the first place because when I first saw it many years ago, that image where they reveal what "people can lick, too" actually means was permanently stuck in my brain. I mean, that is just... beyond wrong. That is freaking creepy and wrong, and unfortunately for the girl in this story, gives a whole other meaning to the monsters under the bed phobia that she has probably grown out of by now, but which is now going to be back with a vengeance. Just watch the story and be horrified. You'll feel me.

"The Locket"
Last up in our little anthology tale is "The Locket," a sad one for me to see because it stars the much-loved actor from "Angel" (and "Roseanne"), Glenn Quinn, who is no longer with us. Jacinda Barrett is also here in her first movie role, though unfortunately she doesn't get to say any lines. Boo for her. So anyway, it's a treacherous evening for motorcycle-riding cutie Scott when his bike poops out on him during a downpour. The nearest house doesn't have a phone, but it does have a beautiful woman named Heather whom Scott is instantly infatuated with. The house also has a story and a few ghosts haunting the premises... some of which may be closer than Scott realizes...

This is one of those ghost stories that is truly frightening and scary, but is mostly just sad. It's sad in the way that past horrors are doomed to be repeated over and over again and never let the souls rest even after all that they've been through. And though the ending to The Locket may at first seem like only an attempt at a gruesome shock, I felt the sadness in that moment, too. It's weird, but it got to me in some way. I think they found the perfect two actors to play these roles, as Glenn really plays the sweet-guy character to a T, and Jacinda's gorgeous looks and cascades of curly hair may make the all the girl's hate her, but every gesture and facial expression she gives is also very sweet and endearing. You can't help but love them both. Very good story to close the anthology.

So though Campfire Tales is at times weakly put together and edges very close to that line of campiness, it's a fun little collection of horror tales that almost everyone can enjoy at least once. There's nothing really special or unique about it but it is one that I think people can look back on and say, "Oh yeah, I remember that seeing little flick... It wasn't too bad!" And really, it's not. It's fun for what it is and is pretty successful at being a middle-of-the-road sorta-horror anthology.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to My Blog and Me!

So I didn't even realize until a few months ago that me and my blog have almost the same birthday. My b-day is today (April 12th) and my blog's b-day, if we're saying that the birth occurred with the first post, is April 13th. I've never acknowledged my blog's birthday before but I think now is a good time. It's three years old, and I'm still not sick of it yet, even when life sometimes gets in the way or new obsessions make me put my blog on the back burner for a while. But I think three is a big one and I am proud of where my blog has gone in that short period of time. So..........


Here are some cakes that I wish me and my blog could be celebrating with today...

Mmmm, brains and hearts. Gotta love it. Anyway, I have to say thank you to all my blog buddies out there for reading, commenting, and helping me to keep my horror love alive. I don't think I would have made it this long without all your guys' love and support and the serious discussions about horror movies that I have longed for and don't get in real life. Long live horror and all of us wonderful horror fiends! 

Toast with me to celebrate all things bloody and awesome!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

No (big) spoilers, I promise.

Evil Dead is here, like it or not, and it brings with it a bloody good time to be had by fans and non-fans alike. It's not right to just ask if this is a good remake or not, but is perhaps better to ask if this is a worthy remake or not. Evil Dead is in a league of its own to horror fans and it is a classic not to be fucked with. And though the remake has its weak points here and there, the bulk of the movie is a lot of fun to watch, with buckets of blood being the icing on the cake.

So instead of just five friends going to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend, this one tries to be all serious and stuff by having it be about friends who take this one girl to a remote cabin in the woods to dry her out from her drug habit. It sounds like a terrible idea to me even without the demon possession, but whatever. They find the Book of the Dead, they read from it, and they spend the rest of the movie covered in blood. It's a good formula.

Now as for the characters... um, I don't care. Other reviewers have commented on how happy they were about the more developed characterization for our group of five innocents, and the back story for why the kids were at the cabin in the first place. Seriously? Who is really going to give a crap about Mia's drug addiction or her and David's dead mother when the blood starts flowing? This is Evil Dead, and therefore, I don't give a fuck. I will say though that Mia and David are the only ones who are given sufficient background (totally irrelevant to demon possession though it may be); Olivia was very cool; Eric - who is obviously supposed to be the "Scott" character - needs a haircut and a set of balls; and poor Natalie is just fodder for the demons. Seriously, she has one or two lines at the beginning of the movie and then when she shows up again about 20 minutes later, I was like, "Where'd this chick come from?"

If there is one thing that I love and respect from horror films it is the way that some are not afraid to really fuck up the main characters. Not just have them running around the woods screaming and occasionally falling down or getting hit or something, but really, physically fuck them up. Evil Dead comes through for fans beautifully in that regard, and I don't think I'm alone in saying that I wouldn't have stood for anything less. Scalding hot showers, severed limbs, nail gun shootings, crowbar beatings, plus a few disturbing instances of demon-possessed self-mutilation are just some of the gags Evil Dead has in store for audiences and will (hopefully) make the gorehounds happy like it did me.

And gore is really the name of the game for this movie. Again, this is Evil freaking Dead. I want to see some blood a-sprayin' and I want to see it NOW. And believe it or not, I almost got more blood than I asked for, something I never thought I'd say.  The last fifteen or so minutes are by far the best and can only be described as a goregasm. Or bloodgasm. It literally rains blood and there is quite awesome use of a chainsaw that had me smiling ear to ear and clapping my hands (silently, though, because I was in a movie theater). Couldn't have made me happier. However... okay, two different people lose their hands in this movie. Was I the only one to have her dreams crushed when the hands did not suddenly come to life and attack their owners? I guess that wouldn't have been right for this remake because that's of course from Evil Dead 2, but I really think they were just teasing us. Fuckers. Also on that note, I was a bit disappointed that the gore gags were not as light-hearted as ones we've come to know and love from Evil Dead. Everything was really well done with practical effects (THANK YOU, THANK YOU for not using CGI), so well done that even the most insane effects were more disturbing than campy. Your own taste preference will determine whether that is a good thing or bad thing.

Know what my first thought was when the movie started playing? "I hope they do a tree rape scene." I was really looking forward to seeing how they would do that. Instead of a really painful looking tree branch slamming into the girl's... you know... they have this black, worm-like branch thing come out of another girl's mouth and go slithering up Mia's leg, thus starting her possession. It's a good scene but sadly one of the only scenes from the original that they attempt to recreate.

Of course I watched this movie to see what their version of a re-imaging of the original film was but I couldn't help but hope for at least some nods to the classic, even if only real fans would have caught them. The first two were quite easy to pick up on: Mia sitting on Sam Raimi's Delta 88, wearing a Michigan State sweatshirt. There are a few other easter egg goodies spread throughout, but like another blogger said, it's more fun to find them on your own so I'll leave it at that.

Though the poster boasts that Evil Dead is "the most terrifying film you will ever experience," it's really not. I think that was just supposed to be a riff on the original's "ultimate experience in grueling terror" tagline. What the remake does offer, however, is some thinly drawn characters getting themselves all kinds of fucked up in the woods. And lots of blood. And blood vomit. And electric bread knives. See it and enjoy, and then go home and watch all the Evil Dead movies in a row. Trust me, it makes for an awesome day.

Lastly, I will say that staying for the credits is a very good idea.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Anthology Quest: Trilogy of Terror (1975)

How could one little TV movie from the 70s become such a cult classic and icon? None of us in this generation should even know this movie exists - it should be in the black void with all the other TV movies that most people don't care about. And yet this one has become immensely popular and held that popularity for over 30 years. And it's all because of one little Zuni fetish doll. 

But! As this is an anthology movie, before we meet that little stinker we still have two more stories to work through, all of them starring Karen Black and all of them named after the character she is playing. The stories are all very different and one just follows another with a title card indicating the beginning of a new story - there is no connective tissue, or wraparound, between them like some other anthologies have. All you really need to know is that Black is the lead in all of the stories, and that all the stories were written by or based on works by the Richard Matheson, which was something I didn't know before. And I love Matheson, so this was especially exciting to learn.

Story One: Julie
Okay, this... was creepy. First off, we meet Chad and find out that he is maybe somewhat of a dick when he's sitting around outside school and complaining about all the ugly chicks. Nice. Then his teacher, Julie Aldridge, walks by. She older and frumpy, wearing a big suit jacket and long skirt, glasses, with her hair pulled back unattractively. And suddenly Chad wonders what she looks like underneath all those clothes... Long story sort of short, Julie and Chad go out one night, he drugs her, he takes lewd pictures of her while she's out (and maybe rapes her), then shows her the pictures the next day and blackmails her into becoming his sex slave or something. 

Wow. Did not expect something so pervy and disturbing, or that Matheson would be such a sick puppy. However, like any good storyteller Matheson had something else up his sleeve for this story and by the end turns it into a pretty clever little tale, though it still leaves some things unanswered. The guy playing Chad is equal parts creepy and douchey in his role as rapist-in-training, and Black easily plays the... well, easy role of a meek woman who suddenly turns on a dime in the climax scene and shows us a whole different side to innocent little Julie. I was hoping for more of a character analysis of Julie at the end, though, and some inkling of an explanation for how she put this all into motion, but for now I'm just going to have to be content with speculating on my own.

Story Two: Millicent and Therese
Another story with some pervy and disturbing moments in it. This time, Black plays twin sisters Millicent and Therese. Millicent is the bookish, frumpy sister (really not all that different from Julie in the first story) and Therese is the blonde bombshell, evil slut one. Millicent is becoming increasingly paranoid about her sister and tries to convince some random guy - Mr. Anwar, but they never explain just who he is or what his relationship to Therese is - and her doctor that Therese is evil and is practicing demonology. Or something. 

Doesn't take a genius to figure out that Millicent and Therese are actually the same person. Sorry to ruin the surprise, but it's really quite obvious. They're never in the same room together, and when the doctor shows up at the house at Millicent's request, he talks to Therese but never asks where Millicent is. With that being the big twist ending to this story, I was disappointed that there wasn't more to it than that. I hate to say this, but I didn't think Black did a very good job in the sex bomb role of Therese. The wig was really distracting (another obvious key to the twist) and she just doesn't seem to have the right look or movement for this role. Still love you, Mother Firefly.

Story Three: Amelia
Alright, here we go! Zuni fetish dolls for the win!

"Amelia" is based on Matheson's short story called "Prey," and is very much like a one-woman play, with our one woman of course being Karen Black again. Amelia comes home to her apartment with a small wooden doll she's purchased for her boyfriend. It holds the spirit of a Zuni hunter, a spirit that is kept inside the doll by a gold chain around his body. After having an awkward conversation with her mother, and canceling her date with her boyfriend, Amelia sets the doll down on the table. As she leaves, the gold chain slowly slips off the doll's body...
As simple as this story is, the slight creepiness factor and the utter delight derived from the noises and quite hilarious antics of the Zuni doll are what keep Trilogy of Terror near the top of the cult classics list. Like Chucky from Child's Play, there is sort of that silliness of being afraid of something so small but also that innate fear of something with more power than you would expect that would stop at nothing to end you. Mr. Zuni Fetish Doll definitely qualifies for the latter category. This little guy is resourceful enough to open doors and saw his way out of a suitcase (my most vivid memory of the movie from first seeing it many years ago) and just be one scary ass, pint-sized mothereffer. The design of the doll is also wonderful. The little spear, the pointy teeth, the hair, the wrinkles in his overlarge head - he's looking pretty fantastic and he's awesome. Funny, but scary, just like he should be.

One thing that is really great about the whole "Amelia" story is that it is so confined - and if there is one thing I love, it is a claustrophobic movie. Love 'em. The entire story takes place in Amelia's apartment and there is no real contact with the outside world, even when Amelia is on the phone with her mother and her boyfriend. We see things from Amelia's side - not just being attacked by the doll, but also her obviously smothering relationship with her mother and choosing her over her boyfriend. Maybe all that doesn't seem important to what really happens in the story, but I think it's good to know what kind of person Amelia is so that we can both have sympathy for her and be surprised at her tenacity in this situation. She seems like a timid, meek person at the beginning, which makes her final "transformation" at the end all the more awesome and satisfying. That ending is also one of the best endings ever, I gotta say.

Though Trilogy of "Terror" is a bit of an overstatement for this anthology, as there is only one remotely terrifying story in the bunch, there is no doubt that it will continue to be a favorite cult classic for many years to come. Because we love killer Zuni fetish dolls. And because we like saying the words "fetish doll" and not meaning anything dirty. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Going To My First Horror Convention...

It's official, kids. I just booked my flight and hotel and bought my tickets to Texas Frightmare Weekend!

No turning back now. I'm not totally excited yet because it's still a month until the actual event - I imagine the actual peeing-in-my-pants excited won't happen until like a week before - but I'm definitely getting stoked about some of the people I might get to meet. Just the other day they announced Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie on The Walking Dead, as the guest that would replace Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori from The Walking Dead). Guess who else they announced? CHRIS fucking SARANDON. I think I'm going to try to get him to sign my Chucky doll.

Woot woot for my first convention! I hope the experience is as awesome as it has been played out in my mind!