Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Movie Review: [REC] 3: Genesis (2012)

The poster of the chick with the chainsaw is awesome, but I could not resist this one. Way more awesome.

Anyway. I learned two things from watching [REC] 3: Genesis. One - it is not really a [REC] movie. Two - I don't care because I love zombies. I'll explain what I mean later but for now I'll just say that Genesis was one kick ass zombie-infection film that I couldn't help but love - even if it's not really a [REC] movie. Genesis made me happy in the way that pretty much all zombie movies make me happy.

Clara and Koldo are celebrating the happiest day of their lives, surrounded by friends and family - and a few video cameras. Their day of bliss suddenly turns into a nightmare when their guests become infected with a strange illness [read: demonic possession that presents itself exactly like zombisim] that makes them rip each other apart. The couple becomes separated in the chaos and do whatever they can to survive and see their beloved again.

Now what I said before about this not really being a [REC] movie is totally true. Sure, they do a bit of the found footage stuff in the beginning and then little bits of it throughout the movie. And the infection that sweeps Clara and Koldo's wedding is the same infection from the other two [REC] movies. However, Genesis does nothing to further explain the storyline or explain the infection's true origin (as the title "Genesis" might imply). I guess we'll just have to go with what [REC] 2 told us. Oh wait, I lied. The only thing that Genesis adds is that reading scripture out loud makes the stop in their tracks. That's not really much of anything is it? The movie is really just about these two people... and how love really gets in the way during a zombie outbreak. 

Strangely, I found myself not minding at all that Genesis was just one of those sequels that only took the idea from previous films and was really not related at all. It was too awesome for me. Genesis actually adds something that 1 or 2 didn't have - comedy. At first I was all annoyed that they might b turning one of the best horror films of the past decade into a meaningless zom-com. But again, I suddenly found myself not caring. The comedy starts in the beginning, actually, before the title card. In the opening sequences before the wedding, during the wedding, and at the reception, the audience is seeing the story play out like the other [REC] movies - through the viewfinder of a video camera. But when the shit starts and Koldo asks the dude why he is filming stuff, the dude uses a line similar to the first [REC] - "We have to film everything!" Koldo then walks up to the camera and breaks it, and the movie goes into regular movie-mode from (mostly) then on out. It's like they were saying "Ha! You thought we'd just do the same old shit again... but we're not!" I liked that, and I respected it. 

Though the comedy element is not that blatant or obvious, it's there, but not too much to be annoying or take away from the horror element. Genesis is much bloodier than the previous films and I, for one, was freaking stoked about that. It was about time this series amped it up a bit. My favorite kill was when Koldo uses one of those electric cocktail mixer thingies and shoves it into a zombie's mouth. Clara gets the best zombie kills in the whole thing when she wields the chainsaw in the underground tunnels. Then we get some awesome shit. Chainsaw decapitation, chainsaw to the head (and getting stuck in the head), and chainsaw through the chest, then up through the body, splitting the head in half. Niiiice. With all of the non-gory horror I've been watching lately, I really needed that. Thank you, Genesis, for bathing me in your bloody gory. And that ending? Bloody gorgeous, as well. 

Genesis has some pretty good characters in it, too, and some pretty good actors to play them. Clara and Koldo are the main people, obviously, but as they try to escape the zombies, they keep meeting up with people - and then those people get killed. That was the only thing I wasn't too keen on about the movie was that we're introduced to so many minor characters and none of them, except the priest, play out to anything. Atun, the wedding videographer, should've made it further, I think. No reason to give the guy such a limited role just 'cause he's fat, seriously. Find another way to escape than through the tiny ventilation shaft so the awesome guy can get through, too. Anyway, I loved the actress playing Clara - Leticia Dolera - mostly because her look was so awesome for this movie. With her pale skin, black hair, and eyes running with black mascara she looked beautiful and even more so when she gets covered in blood. Diego Martin as Koldo is also a hunk, and I liked him in the movie because he's just your typical nice, normal guy and you really can't help but like him and root for him.

So again, I want to thank [REC] 3: Genesis for bringing some much-needed blood back into my movies and for just sticking to what works best and being a good, fun zombie film. You're not really a [REC] movie and I don't care. Your cinematography and coloring is beautiful; you've got some nice kills; and you're a wee bit funny, too. I'm calling it a win. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Project Terrible: Android Insurrection (2012)

Fuck me, have I about had it with technology this week.

When I went to watch my newly assigned Project Terrible movie - Android Insurrection - this morning on my instant streaming, I literally watched it for five minutes before my PS3 up and fucking DIED on me. It is just fucking dead. So I wasted $1.29 to get Android Insurrection out of Redbox and I bought me a Blu-ray player with wireless so I got Netflix back. The PS3 will just have to sit in the corner and think about what it's done before I decide whether or not I want to get it fixed or buy a new one.

Anyway, on to the review of the shitty robot movie.

For serious, why do they even bother to make movies like this at all? They can't have made any money off of it at all (except maybe for my $1.29) and they spent some money on CGI for a movie that absolutely does nothing and says nothing. Android Insurrection is not only just a plain old shitty movie, it's boring. BO-ring. With a weak plot and atrocious effects, this low-budget sci-fi flick wasn't even worth the effort. The thanks goes to our newest PT member, Alex Jowski, who was kind enough to replace the much more promising-looking movie Vampire Wars with this turd. 

Led by tough leader Karen Foxwell, a group of military-type people are the best robot-killers around. After a tough two-week mission, they are immediately sent on a more secretive mission to a facility in order to retrieve an android that's gone rogue. The android has built some kind of machine that does... something. I think it was something bad that could kill humans. But they're supposed to destroy this thing but also bring back an android that can help them? Yes? No? Who cares. Moving on.

I have only one nice thing to say about the movie, which is that it has a nice opening credit sequence. The animation is cool and there is a guy giving a speech about how great robots are and how useful they are to humans, and then it goes on to imply that humans should be careful around the robots. Dun dun DUN! But this sequence is so misleading as to the quality of the rest of the film, which quickly reveals itself to be just as bad as, if not worse than, a stock SyFy movie.

I can't even be funny about this movie because there's almost nothing going on here to talk about. Poor dialogue doesn't move the story along at all, and the story itself paper thin and nothing you haven't seen in literally every single freaking science fiction movie ever made. Even as a action movie, Android Insurrection is a failure. Several of our main group are killed by the rogue android - and not a single thing is seen. It's not even implied. I have no idea how that thing killed anybody. The rest of the action is shit as well, as the guys just sort of stand there and limply shoot their guns at stuff, relying on the CG sparks or whatever to let us know that the guns are actually firing. 

The faceless, unimportant characters are all pulled straight from the cliche handbook - tough chick, smart mouth tough chick, sunglass-wearing cocky bastard, skinny nerd, ball-busting muscle guy, and slimy corporate guy. Blah blah blah, just kill these uninteresting people already, I didn't care about them from the start. The main tough chick, Foxwell, is emotionless and authoritative like a commander should be. They mention a couple times that she never gets hit when they go on a mission and she really hates androids, so I immediately knew that she actually was an android herself. And surprise, surprise, she is. That was the big twist, but it was ridiculously unnecessary. Also, the Colonel had a horrendous German accent.

The same sets are used over and over again and not a single thing screamed to me that this was supposed to be the year 2532. There's a white Chevy truck somewhere in there, metal filing cabinets, paper notes taped to doors - I mean seriously, this is 500 years in the future? The movie is so small and has absolutely no scope in terms of creating a sense of urgency or danger for the characters. An amazing thing about these sets is how the huge freaking robots are able to jump out of nowhere in them, completely unseen and unheard by the characters until they are right next to them. Ridic. The whole thing is absolutely ridic. Good thing the movie is short.

Ugh, what a bore and what a waste. Nothing about Android Insurrection is entertaining because it's just the same old recycled sci-fi shit. I'm almost more angry at it for being so lazy rather than amused at its shittiness. 

Last up for Project Terrible, is a robot movie from the 50s. Is it going to be better or worse than this one? I honestly don't know!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Make Fun of Kristen Stewart!

Okay, I guess you probably shouldn't because she's a real person and all, and I don't really know her, but this is too much fun. Here below is my new favorite video on YouTube where some chick makes fun of Stewart's quirky mannerisms in interviews and such. It's pretty hilarious.

"Are you talking to an invisible bug?" Haha, good stuff. Also check out some of the other videos this chick has done as "K-Stew" especially the one where she explains Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Holy Crap, I Can't Even Keep Up With All the Movies I've Seen Lately... Part 2

Part Two. Okay. Awesome.

I know that this may not seem like a lot of movies to you all, but for this slacker, this is seriously more movies than I have watched in a long time. Go me; that's all I'm sayin'.

Lake Mungo (2008)
Okay, this movie confounds me. It's technically found footage, which I like, and it's a sort-of ghost story, which I really like, but it's also psychological and real and stuff. Not sure how I felt about that. I'll admit that doing a horror mockumentary thing was a cool idea and a way to make something different from all the other found footage movies out there, and it's execution was brilliant. It felt almost too much like a real documentary about this Alice Palmer girl - I could really believe that this was a true story and that these guys were real people and not actors. Turns out the story is not really about ghosts at all, but about people - how we can't ever know what is really going on with a person and how everybody has their secrets. Though a tiny part of me was (again) disappointed at the lack of real ghosts, the story of Alice and her family was quite compelling. Not one I'll be watching over and over again, but I like that Lake Mungo did its own thing and tried to do something really different. Kudos.

Lovely Molly (2012)
Believe it or not, the poster is what put me off from this movie for a while. Netflix kept recommending Lovely Molly for me, and I thought the art looked cheesy and cheap. I'm a silly goose, I know. Lovely Molly was killer. A big hunk of that praise goes to newcomer Gretchen Lodge, who absolutely rules as Molly. It's hard to believe that this is her first movie job because she owns the role of Molly, looking gorgeous and totally professional at the same time. The only thing the movie suffers from is being really freaking confusing, as what you believe is happening constantly changes almost from scene to scene. I think I finally got it by the end, even it was very frustrating the whole way through. I mean, a dead deer in the ceiling, FTW? Not all the answers are given but you are given enough clues to make your own conclusions, which I sometimes like my movies to do. Lovely Molly is seriously a good, creepy film with an amazing performance from someone who hopefully will have a great career in the future.
Also, she gets naked a lot, so... there you go.

Rubber (2010)
I'm gonna make a crazy statement right now and say that Rubber was almost genius. For months, I had been very hesitant about trying to watch a movie about a killer car tire, but my newfound motivation told me to just jump right into it. So I did. And I kind of loved it. It's actually not a bad looking movie and its absurd, "no reason" pretense lets the movie be as stupid as it wants - but it's not really that stupid. It's offbeat, it doesn't make sense, it's pointless and meaningless - but it's strangely fun. Truly strange. The acting is actually... good? The movie is... not that cheap looking? I don't believe it. Rubber's not the greatest movie out there by any means, but it is worth the interesting experience of watching it. I'll probably forget about it fairly soon, though.

Prometheus (2012)
To make my feelings about Prometheus clear, let me just say that I watched it the same night that I watched Rubber.

And I liked Rubber SO. MUCH. MORE.

Watching Prometheus was like watching fucking Avatar all over again. Yeah, I didn't like Avatar and I'm not afraid to say it. Way, way too much use of pretty, distracting look-how-fucking-awesome-our-CGI-is CGI to disguise the fact that the characters and the story SUCKS. Prometheus is too long, the characters do stupid stuff and I didn't like any of them, and the movie's "philosophy" goes so all over the place that after a while it doesn't know what the hell it's talking about anymore. I mean, I thought I was watching a prequel to Alien, for Peter's sake, why didn't anybody tell me that it wasn't really a prequel until like, THE LAST FUCKING MINUTE??? You could have saved me from two hours of utter boredom, thank you. Big disappointment. Huge.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Holy Crap, I Can't Even Keep Up With All the Movies I've Seen Lately... Part 1

This is a truly a first in this blogger's life, my buddies. Instead of scrounging for suitable movies to see and review, I am actually ahead of myself in the blogging thing. Yeah, I've already got like, three finished posts on standby and am in the middle of working on two more right now. I can't freaking believe it. With my new life in my new apartment, I've just felt so much more energized and motivated to really make this blog what I wanted it to be for me and for anybody that might be reading.

And I won't even let myself be distracted (too much) by watching mini-marathons of Law and Order or  South Park on Netflix. I've watched so many movies in the past two weeks, mostly catching up on the 2012 horror that I spaced out on - what the hell was I doing all year? Anyway, too many movies, not enough brain power to review them all. So here is a Roundup of the past couple of weeks of movie-watching (not counting the ones I've done/am doing reviews for) with movies that probably won't get the full review treatment anytime soon. Maybe later.

The Devil Inside (2012)
Lame. Weak. Nothing else to say.

Demon Seed (1977)
Okay, interesting movie Mr. Koontz and Mr. Cronenberg. Interesting movie indeed. I'm pretty sure this was a movie about a woman getting knocked up by a computer? Or raped by a house? Something like that. I always thought when I heard of this movie called "Demon Seed" that Julie Christie was actually carrying... demon... seed. Not the seed from a super-smart computer named Proteus who has an awesome voice and traps Julie in her house for weeks so she can give birth to its computer baby that turns out to be her dead daughter. Uh-huh. Not saying I didn't like the movie, though. Christie was great, considering the fact that she has to spend most of the movie alone, talking to a computer with an awesome voice. It's all so weird, but at the same time, I totally love it.
Killer Joe (2012)
More weirdness here, people, just more awesome weirdness. Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church, and newcomers Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple make up an outstanding ensemble cast for this deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story about a kid who hires cop-slash-hitman Killer Joe to take out his mother for her insurance money. The kid and the father can't pay Joe upfront so they give him Dottie, the family's young, flighty daughter. The movie is foul and dirty and sexual... and goddamn hilarious. When I kept laughing at all this horrible stuff that was being done and talked about, I actually had to do some internet searching to make sure that the movie was supposed to be funny. And thank goodness it was. Directed by William Friedkin, Killer Joe is most definitely not a movie everyone will "get," I guess, but heck, is it fun to watch and be inappropriately amused by. 
House of Voices [Saint Ange] (2004)
Sooooo, this turned out to be less of a ghosts-in-an-orphanage movie and more of a pregnant-chick-goes-crazy movie. This is Pascal Laugier's first feature length film before Martyrs and while his style is there, the power of that awesome film is not. I did not understand House of Voices at all. I had to read somebody's post on IMDb to get what it meant, which always makes me feel stupid, but at least I'm not all confused anymore. The movie is good and very well shot and pretty, I think I was just disappointed at the real lack of ghosts. The opening scene gave me real promise with creepy kids in a creepy orphanage but it just gets slow and confusing from there. Part of the main actress's character was apparently to be a little boring and non-emotive, and the other two women were just odd and secretive (about nothing, it turns out... I think...). Bah, I don't know. This one didn't do it for me the first time around. I feel like I might want to give it another shot later on, though.

Creepshow 2 (1987)
It's true, you guys. I had never seen Creepshow 2 until a few days ago. But though a lot of fans seem to really like this one and even prefer it over the first one, I found it less than satisfying. The first story about Old Chief Warpaint or whatever is rather lame. I mean, come on, Stephen. The guy that was in love with his hair? The fat guy with the annoying laugh? Bo-ring. I've always loved the story of The Raft so I was stoked to finally see it on screen. No disappointment there! It was almost exactly how I'd always pictured it in my head (my version might have been a little gorier). Little weird how the one kid decided to get frisky during a life-or-death situation but well, that's men for you. The Hitchhiker was good old-fashioned fun - I loved how the guy just kept getting nastier and nastier looking. So we got two good stories here, but the whole thing was just underwhelming to me. Fun, but not totally awesome.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Movie Review: The Pact (2012)

For a girl who loves horror movies and more specifically loves her supernatural horror movies, I seem to constantly be jonesing for something to affect me on that physical level of fear, even if it's only for a moment. The Pact barely made a buzz around the horror circles as far as I can tell, yet for me it was one of the best little movies from 2012 that I'm now frantically trying to catch up on. On the surface, The Pact might seem like your standard haunted house fare, but I think it has enough of its own thing going on to make it one to see.

At first Annie does not want to return to her childhood home for her abusive mother's funeral. However, when her sister Nicole has apparently gone missing from their mother's house, she reluctantly goes back to sort things out. A malevolent presence makes itself known in the house and Annie finds herself drawn into a mystery that is closer to her than she thought.

The Pact is a genuinely scary, interesting haunted house flick that is well-written and well-executed on almost every level. Yes, it is guilty of using SEVERAL haunted house/ghost/supernatural movie cliches, but on my first viewing of the film, the scares were very real. It sort of follows the typical plot of girl encounters ghost, ghost gives girl clues to a mystery, girl becomes a little detective and solves the mystery of the ghost's murder. Blah blah. And while I was still enjoying the film while this was going on, The Pact manages to put an amazing twist on the story that about had me falling out my chair with fright. Of course, this kinda makes a second viewing of the film not as effective, but it is nice to go back and figure out some scenes from a different angle.

The movie doesn't spend a whole of time messing around with any kind of backstory for the main characters, and in fact, not even Annie's detective work into the mystery answers any of those questions either. A lot is left open in this movie, which is going to frustrate some obnoxious people, but I sometimes like a movie that makes me come up with my own scenarios. Given the twist at the end, what happened to those girls when their mother locked them in the closet? What did they see or hear?

The actress playing Annie, Caity Lotz, at first seemed to me to kind of stiff and boring but she totally grew on me after a while. She's an average looking girl, beautiful in her own way, and while her emotional range still needs a bit of work, she carries the film like a pro. All her reactions to her ghostly encounters are believable, I just wish she had given us something to reveal what her childhood with her mother was like, because by the end, that was the part of the story that I became the most interested in. She also has beautiful, long blonde hair - and I don't know about females watching the movie, but the part where she gets her hair tied to a pole in the closet made me squeak a bit. Not a cool thing to do to a chick.

Speaking of ghostly encounters - holy fuck me, did this movie have me whimpering like a little girl at parts. I mean, that's what ghosts kind of do to me anyway, it's just the specific images that Annie sees of the ghosts in the house and one sorta-dream-thing in her hotel room are so very creepy and come out of nowhere. A headless ghost and a ghost spinning around on the ceiling were two big highlights and images that I couldn't get out of my head for a while. When everything else about the plot was so formulaic of other ghost movies, I really wasn't expecting The Pact to have the effect on me that it did.

I love the twist. Here be the big SPOILER, though I'm not usually one to warn. Turns out, there is a ghost in the house... and somebody else. Like, a live somebody else. Annie's mother's brother, the Judas serial killer, is still living in the house and of course, has been there the whole time that Nicole and Annie and Liz were. Even when the cop was killed, I did not see that one coming. This is where the movie really hooked me, and actually the exact second was when I about lost my shit when Judas started climbing out from the trapdoor in the secret bedroom. Think back near the beginning of the movie at some of those supposedly "ghostly" things happening in the house - the open closet door, the jar of food on the floor - and you realize that only some of it was the ghost and some of it was actually Judas moving around the house. That's pretty cool if you ask me. And fucking creepy.

My ghostie-loving self is so happy I saw this. Do not be fooled by the ghost-movie standbys that The Pact uses - the creepy psychic, playing Ouija board - because once you find out what's really going on, you're in for a really good time. I was beginning to think that good ghost movies just weren't going to happen anymore but The Pact changed my mind. See it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Project Terrible: Meat Weed Madness (2006)

And just what, pray tell, did I ever do to deserve this? Do I seem like the kind of person who wants to watch pot-smoking cornballs just doing a bunch of crazy shit on camera and calling it a movie? Apparently, Alec of Mondo Bizarro thinks that I am, for he hath bestowed upon me the drugged out insanity that is Meat Weed Madness. That was an hour and a half that I could've spent, like, doing something way more productive on my day off, but it is my Project Terrible duty. And though I could've just lied, I actually watched this whole damn thing so you all better appreciate it.

I'm not even entirely sure that there was a plot to the, uh... the thing I just watched. If there was, I must have missed it in between the scenes of a purple, stop-motion, papier mache cow walking around a field, lying in a hammock and then getting hit by the main "actress"'s car. Don't believe me? Look to the left! That is an actual still from the movie! But hold the excitement for now, because purple papier mache cows are only the beginning with this movie, and they've still got plenty more time to bombard innocent viewers like me with more and more and more and more whacked out shit.

Let's see what I can remember... there's the papier mache cow humping a tombstone; an ape playing the piano; two knives having sex; a naked chick trying to make love to a painting; several naked people doing dirty things with lawn jockeys; a guy with a penis rocket; and a minotaur named Bullpucky who always carries around a giant cigarette. I'm still trying to block out the rest of what I saw. Anyway, the "filmmakers" somehow decided that all of this would go really well together in a movie. Ha, I said "filmmakerS" when really this Aiden Dillard guy's credit says "Produced, Written, Directed, Edited, and Music by Aiden Dillard." So basically it's this one fool behind a camera with a bunch of druggies for actors who didn't have anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon. Excellent cinema.

Wanna know what "meat weed" is? Of course you do. It's weed... with meat in it. But not just any kind of meat - no, it's human meat. The aforementioned Bullpucky (who is the son of a woman who had sex with a cow? Did I understand that right?) is apparently the muscle of Meatweed Manor, where all this wacky tobacky is created under the leadership of Lord Meatweed, and he kills people after letting them have a little bit of fun at the manor first. I was slightly amused when he kills one of the four main girls, Angel, and they make absolutely no attempt to hide the fact that they are using a crudely made papier mache doll (there's that papier mache again) for when he is stabbing her and pulling stuff out. I think at one point there is even a shot of the doll with a bald head - even though the actress clearly has long brown hair.

Now these four girls must be interesting people in real life to get themselves involved in this. For three of them, they're only job for most of the movie is to not wear clothes, make crude comments, and run around place as if they were bipolars having the most awesome manic episode of their lives. As one Netflix reviewer put it, "There are also lots of Troma's trademark naked girls who's [sic] mediocre looks are made up for by their hilarious enthusiasm." Couldn't have put it better myself.

There was about two seconds of the film that I actually liked - and believe me, that's saying something - and that is when Lord Meatweed is showing Jessy Belle around his plantation and there is a shot of these two older ladies in a greenhouse smoking the meatweed. They're dressed like they're sitting down to tea, but surrounded by a cloud of smoke. I thought that was hilarious. Those ladies had to have been somebody on the cast or crew's very loving, very understanding aunt or something to agree to do something like this.

Okay, I've already spent too much time on this movie. I'm sure none of what I just said (typed) makes any sense to you, but that's okay. That's how I felt when I was watching the movie. Meat Weed Madness is a Troma film for sure, and though we'd like to, I don't think there is any way to get those people to stop making terrible movies. Drugs are bad, people. Drugs are bad.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie Review: V/H/S (2012)

You know what the cool thing about V/H/S is? It's an anthology film, so you technically don't really have to say whether you love or hate ALL of the movie. Maybe you can only like some of it, and pretty much hate the rest of it - which was sadly my reaction to the film. I really wanted to like V/H/S so much, and had such high hopes for it, but ultimately a good portion of it disappointed me. I will say that the stories got better as the movie went on - just the overall execution on everything was not my favorite.

Tape 56
Directed by Adam Wingard
(A Horrible Way to Die, You're Next)

Tape 56 is the wraparound story (ah, so that's what that is called) of the anthology and there's really not a lot to it. Pretty much right away, you hate all the characters and therefore couldn't give a shit what happens to them. They are a group of petty thieves and crooks who think that a hard day's work includes smashing up windows, stealing stuff, and grabbing innocent women in parking buildings and exposing their breasts for a video camera. Classy. They break into a house to steal a rare VHS tape and come up a dead guy in a room with a bunch of tapes and they start watching them and those tapes are the rest of the movie, get it? Was especially disappointed with this one after I found out that the director was Adam Wingard, the man behind the wonderful movie A Horrible Way to Die. I don't really get what happened at the end of this segment
Also, I need to point out that like all of Wingard's other projects, most of Tape 56 was shot in Columbia, Missouri - very near where I am sitting right now. Hit me up for your next project, dawg. I'll get your coffee. 

Amateur Night
Directed by David Bruckner
(The Signal)

Fuck you. Seriously? With Amateur Night, we just go from one group of assholes to another group of assholes. If I were in the same room as the main characters in Amateur Night, I guarantee they would have been dead a lot fucking sooner. So again, I hate all the characters and don't give a shit about what happens to them. They're just some douchebags who make the token "nice guy" of their group wear glasses with a camera on them so he can film the guys having sex with girls in their hotel room. They go bar hopping and bring back two chicks - one passes out almost immediately, and the other is... well, not what you would call normal. There's a bit of awkward suspense with how weird the girl is and how she keeps whispering to Token Nice Guy "I like you". It's pretty obvious that she's going to turn on the guys and kill the guys. The gore work when it finally happens is very good, which is a nice balance to the fact that I don't give a shit that these guys are getting ripped apart, and the makeup on the girl is also very cool. Dug the ending as well. Definitely unexpected, and something I haven't seen before.

Second Honeymoon
Directed by Ti West
(The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers)

So with Ti West's previous projects, I was betting that we could expect a bit more of the slow burn (well, not too slow - he only had about 20 minutes to work with here) with not a lot of payoff at the end. But for some reason, this one still worked on some level for me. Most of it is rather boring as it follows the road trip of a young couple apparently having their second honeymoon, I guess. There are a couple of creepy parts when a girl comes to their door and asks for a ride and when an unknown person comes into their hotel room while they are sleeping, and West does a good job of frustrating the audience by not letting us know what this means for the characters. Was it just a burglar? Or somebody with more sinister intentions? I'm really starting to like Joe Swanberg as an actor. He was great in A Horrible Way to Die and I love just how real and normal he is in this. He's also the third asshole of V/H/S as he makes a few suspiciously asshole-y remarks to his girl. For me, this made the payoff at the end actually be a very nice payoff.
Word of advice, guys: Do not act like a dick when your girlfriend will not strip and/or have sex with you on camera. That's a good way to... well, just watch the segment and find out.
Tuesday the 17th
Directed by Glenn McQuaid
(I Sell the Dead)

Hm. Not really too much to say about this one. As the title might imply, this short is your typical kids-getting-killed-in-the-woods story, even though it does have a bit of a twist. The girl, Wendy, that brings all her friends to these woods acts very creepy and the woods themselves seem to have a strange effect on the camera. There are some subliminal shots of dead bodies around the woods and when the requisite killer-in-the-woods shows up, he is always distorted on the camera so you can't really see him. That part was a cool idea, but the rest of this segment was just meh. Again, the gore work was great looking, I just wished that there was a bit more to the story. Tuesday the 17th might make a good feature-length film to help explain just who/what the killer is.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Directed by Joe Swanberg

So now Mr. Swanberg goes behind the camera with short whose title is longer than the film itself. This segment makes a nice break from the video camera footage of the other segments by now using Skype footage of a girl with an apparently haunted apartment talking to her surgeon boyfriend who is away. They try to jump-scare the audience with images of ghostly little kids running around Emily's apartment but that doesn't work out too well. I like the twist where it's revealed that her boyfriend is not really in Michigan but rather in one of the apartments right next door, and the reason for him being there is... well, here's a spoiler: the kids are not actually kids but aliens, I guess, who have been using Emily to make their little alien babies since she was twelve. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this, as there are so many unanswered questions with this scenario. This segment is a nice attempt, but ultimately falls short of being scary or interesting and instead is just confusing.

Directed by Radio Silence

Okay, this was by far my favorite of the bunch. Awesome way to end the movie. Four guys trying to go to a Halloween party end up at the wrong house, where they get a lot more Halloween-type craziness than they bargained for. One point for this segment comes from the main dudes actually not being assholes. Another point is given for the cameraperson's costume - a nanny cam. Very cute. The most points are given for the awesome freaking climax. For a while the guys just wander around this empty house (why they stay there when there is clearly not a Halloween party going on is anybody's guess but we can overlook that for now) but when they find their way up to attic and come upon some dudes yelling all Evangelical priest-like and have a girl tied up, that's when the fun starts. The crazy guys get mysteriously pulled up by some force and disappear into the ceiling, and the main characters get the girl and run out. The house has now become alive - objects flying around, hands and arms coming out of the walls and floors, doors disappearing - and that shit was AWESOME. I was seriously freaked out the whole time and absolutely loving it. My kind of haunted house, seriously. Or possessed house, or whatever it was. 

So all in all, V/H/S turns out to be hit and miss. The concept is nice because it gave the directors the opportunity to put a bunch of totally different stories together; it's just that only two of them were great and the rest barely mediocre. I liked that the look of film really was in VHS style, but the many, many times throughout the piece that the video and audio went all distorted got very annoying after a while. V/H/S was not the biggest disappointment of 2012 but a lot of the film left something to be desired. Repeated viewing will probably have me skipping over most of the segments to get to the actual good ones, especially the last one. A sequel is (of course) in the works already with a new crop of directors, but I'm still interested to see what they come up with. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Project Terrible: The Manster (1959)

Mwhahaha! Nice try, Mr. Robert Mohr, but I actually thought The Manster was pretty sweet - if you dig 1950s B-movies about science gone wrong and a man with two heads. And seriously, who wouldn't? Anyways, for those of you just tuning in, Project Terrible is back for another round (number 9, I believe?) to help kick off the year 2013 and this time we have a new recruit! Alex from Alex Jowski Movie Reviews has joined PT with my fellow veterans Alec from Mondo Bizarro, Maynard from Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary, and Robert Mohr from Gaming Creatively. Don't slack off, Alex, we're totally serious about our terrible movies.

The Manster is the story of Larry Stanford who is a foreign news correspondent working in Tokyo. On his last assignment before returning home to his wife, Larry visits scientist Dr. Robert Suzuki in his lab on the mountainside of a volcano. Suzuki drugs Larry and injects him with an experimental enzyme he's been working on. Suzuki and his beautiful assistant Tara then follow Larry, keeping him in Tokyo, so that they may study the effects of the enzyme. Larry's personality starts to change, making him into sort of a playboy, until he finally starts to turn violent. His physical appearance changes in a ghastly way, and sends him on a killing spree which leads the local police on a big manhunt to stop him.

So yeah, The Manster is kind of awesome. I like that it is set in Japan and that a Japanese scientist is the crazy one this time. I like that it is a B-movie but is still pretty good at the same time. I like the effects work on Larry and one other humanster that we meet in the movie. I like that the whole scientific explanation for what Suzuki is doing makes absolutely no sense. I like that the doctor's name is Suzuki. I like that the movie is short enough to not wear out its welcome. It's just a fun ole flick, you guys.

The audience actually gets to see what Larry will turn into in the first scene. Turns out to be something not completely unlike the Abominable Snowman. Genji is one of the first of Dr. Suzuki's experimental mansters that is shown killing a bunch of geisha girls. Discovering what he's done, Suzuki kills Genji. There's also a strangely deformed woman locked up in the basement of the doctor's lab. Big twist at the end reveals that Genji is the doctor's brother and the woman is his wife. Yet he still tries his experiment with Larry. Hey, if it didn't work before and had terrible consequences wherein I had to thrown my own brother's horribly deformed body into a fire and later shoot my own wife, then, heck, let's try it again! If movies have taught me anything, it is that scientists are arrogant morons.

At first, it seems like the only thing the drug does to Larry is turn him into your typical male douchebag. Instead of going home to the wife he hasn't seen in apparently months or something like that, Larry chooses to stay in Japan and let Dr. Suzuki show him all the fun stuff to do around Tokyo. Pretty soon Larry is getting frisky with a whole gaggle of geisha girls and taking naked mineral baths with Tara. Then he just pretty blatantly starts cheating on his wife, Linda, with Tara. And when Linda shows up in Tokyo and confronts Larry, asking him to choose between her and Tara, he does the annoying thing and walks out with Tara. So then is this "manster" stuff some kind of rip on men and their macho behavior? That's what I like to believe, even though it's probably not true.

Peter Dyneley is great as Larry - or all versions of the character that come about in the film. He's at first a typical nice, normal guy and then is able to turn into to the 50s version of a philandering asshole. I was so hoping for the acting to be really ridiculously cheesy and was almost bummed when it wasn't because that would have been way more entertaining. The chick playing Tara had almost no emotions, but then again her character makes it a point of telling us several times that she lost all ability to have any feelings a long time ago. She never really tells us why and I don't care. She's pretty to look at, and that's all she's there for.

One cool thing that I learned from The Manster is that this is what Sam Raimi totally ripped off of for that whole two-headed Ash sequence in Army of Darkness. Larry keeps getting these strange pains in his neck/shoulder area where Suzuki injected the drug into him. In the best scene of the movie, Larry starts screaming in pain until he finally rips his robe off his shoulder to reveal ----- a freaking eyeball! How fantastic! Certainly got a little yelp of surprise out of me. The effects on this look pretty good and also later when the little eyeball turns into a full-grown second head popping out of Larry's shoulder. It's a little hairy, it's a little deformed, but it looks good - grotesque with a side of silly, I like to say, which is actually a good way to describe the whole film.

The Manster is surprisingly a really good and fun little flick that is serious enough not to be overly ridiculous, but the story is still silly enough to keep it squarely in the realm of B-moviedom. I was expecting stupid, and instead I got awesome. I love it. Looks like I've got one more sci-fi monster-ish movie left for this Project Terrible, so perhaps that one will be worse. In the meantime, rock on, Manster. Rock on.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Movie Review: Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

Sometimes known as just The Final Conflict (as it is on the poster up there), Omen 3 reminds me a lot of another relatively hated second sequel - Poltergeist 3. I mean, both O3 and P3 were decidedly nowhere near as good as the original films they were based on, but they were also, at least to me, a slight improvement over the first sequels which did nobody justice. The Final Conflict seems to be universally, um, unloved by fans, but I can't lie. I liked it - if only for Sam Neill, who may be the movie's only saving grace.

Damien Thorn is all growed up now, in his 30s and running the internationally successful Thorn Company. Unlike the Damien of Omen 2, this Damien is well aware of his status as Antichrist and has all kinds of acolytes and fun stuff like that. When science discovers a sign in the sky related to the arrival of the Second Coming, Damien works to defeat his rival before it can get to him. Meanwhile, a group of priests work desperately to hunt Damien down, armed with the only weapons on earth that can destroy him for good.

I guess I shouldn't like Omen 3 (seems to be the popular thing to do), but I can't help that there's something about it that I sort of dig. The story is not overly ridiculous or outlandish, and in fact is a good continuation of the overall Omen story, where Damien has finally risen to power and must fight against his one real enemy in order to take over the earth or something. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ would definitely put a damper in his plans. Anyway. I will say that the story of the movie does fall a bit into the realm of the hokey - and the wildly inappropriate - a little bit in the third act with several scenes of infanticide. That means that they kill babies. Totally wrong. Also, I have to admit that not only is the ending incredibly anticlimactic and disappointment, it is also quite possible the most LAME ending I have ever seen.

But you know what? Sam Neill is in this. And with his performance as Damien, he's able to save the movie - at least for me. He's what any good Antichrist should be - evil and charming and sexy at the same time. He's got a smile that makes you think he's cute and he's got a smile that makes you want to run out of the room. The dialogue is kinda stupid sometimes, but somehow Neill makes it work for him. There's this one scene where Damien goes into a room in his attic that has a statue of Jesus on the cross - with his head turned backwards. Damien just starts rambling all this stuff, apparently to God or Jesus, how sick he is of their morality bullshit and how he wants hell on earth. Out of anybody else's mouth, I don't know how this scene would have played out. Neill manages to get through the whole thing without going over-the-top ridiculous at all and instead gives a hell of a performance for this monologue. 

Two things that everybody seems to be compelled to bitch about with Omen 3 are the timeline and the daggers. Omen 1 came out in 1976. Omen 3 came out in 1981. Clearly, Damien could not have turned 32 by that time unless he grew up in another dimension (which, in this story, is not entirely out of the realm of believability). Whatever. I don't care. What time period the movie takes place in is irrelevant to the movie itself and should just be looked at as typical Hollywood trickery. Next.

The other thing is the daggers. In The Omen, my main man Bugenhagen (still love that name) gives Robert Thorn the Seven Daggers of Meggido and tells him that the way to destroy the Antichrist is to stab him with the daggers in the form of a cross on his body. Admittedly, I was bit confused when the seven priests in Omen 3 each took a dagger for their chance to kill the Antichrist, thinking like everybody else that they needed all seven at the same time. Apparently what I did not retain from The Omen was that the first dagger would extinguish his physical life force, and the rest his spiritual life force. They could use one dagger to kill him, but his soul or whatever would still live and he'd be able to come back in another form later. So these priests are pretty much slackers, and think a half-assed attempt at destroying the Antichrist will do for now.

Actually, the priests suck at everything having to do with their assassination attempt. First, they do the thing with dividing up the daggers instead of all seven of them ambushing Damien at once or something. Then, the first assassin dies a really crazy death that he basically causes himself. He's trying to kill Damien while he's doing a TV interview and the priest climbs up in the rafters with all the electrical crap and... I don't even really remember how he manages it, but the priest ends up swinging from the ceiling ON FIRE with everybody just standing there watching him. Two other priests get themselves trapped underground, one gets thrown from a bridge... these guys just suck. But whoever thought that priests would make good assassins anyway? I mean, they should've hired a professional and been done with it.

Though neither sequel has been able to live up to the awesomeness of the original Omen movie, I can't say that I entirely hated Omen 3: The Final Conflict. Sam Neill does a lot of the heavy lifting but there are also some unintentionally funny scenes (a guy getting killed by a pack of adorable little foxhounds) and some disturbing scenes (off-camera baby murders by drowning and ironing) that make this movie at least an interesting one to watch. 

And even though I didn't really hate this movie, it does make me more than weary for the third sequel, Omen IV: The Awakening. I don't know if I'm going to subject myself to that yet. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Michele Recommends: The Mammoth Book of Body Horror (2012)

Yeah, dudes. Horror books. They're almost as awesome as the movies. Almost.

So anyways, when I ducked into a Barnes and Noble a few months ago looking for some books by particular authors that they didn't have which is why I don't like going to Barnes and Noble... I found this. The Mammoth Book of Body Horror. I've seen a lot of these Mammoth Book[s] of Whatever around but I don't think I need to explain why this particular one caught my eye.

So after I'm done going all "Hmmmm..." over the cover and the impressive list of authors upon it, I open up the book to look at the table of contents, which is as thus:

Transformation by Mary Shelley
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
Herbert West - Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
The Fly by George Langelaan
'Tis the Season to be Jelly by Richard Matheson
Survivor Type by Stephen King
The Body Politic by Clive Barker
The Chaney Legacy by Robert Bloch
The Other Side by Ramsey Campbell
Fruiting Bodies by Brian Lumley
Freaktent by Nancy A. Collins
Region of the Flesh by Richard Christian Matheson
Walking Wounded by Michael Marshall Smith
Changes by Neil Gaiman
Others by James Herbert
The Look by Christopher Fowler
Residue by Alice Henderson
Dog Days by Graham Masterton
Black Box by Gemma Files
The Soaring Dead by Simon Clark
Polyp by Barbie Wilde
Almost Forever by David Moody
Butterfly by Axelle Carolyn
Sticky Eye by Conrad Williams

Well, blow me down! The last fifteen or so were kind of lost on me, but I didn't care because I knew I was going to buy the book just for three specific stories that I've always wanted to read - "Herbert West - Reanimator," "The Fly," and "Who Goes There?" (the story that The Thing is based on). And they were all awesome, and it is very nice to have them in one collection instead of three different ones.

Many of the other stories were nice surprises, as well. I must say that Richard Matheson's " 'Tis the Sesaon to be Jelly" was my favorite out of all of them. People might read that one and not know what the hell is going on but I totally got it and thought it was a brilliant way to present the story. "The Body Politic" by Mr. Awesome Voice Clive Barker is a very subtly funny, but simultaneously serious story about when a man's hands literally rebel against him and the rest of his body.

As for the rest of the stories, here's what you have in store for you if you read it: Robert Bloch pens an interesting yarn about Lon Chaney; Nancy Collins freaks us out with a story about a photographer who looks for circus freaks; James Herbert gives a teasing look at the "Others"; Christopher Fowler shows how grotesque and dangerous fashion can be; Graham Masterson tells a doggedly romantic and weird tale about love and revenge; and Barbie Wilde introduces us to bowels gone bad (no, seriously). 

So, if you body horror fans need something to pass the time at the doctor's office or on your lunch break, then I think The Mammoth Book of Body Horror could be for you. I may sound like somebody is paying me to say all this, but it's totally true. Some real gems in this collection, classic and not, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.