Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Invasion of the Malevolent Damned

Invasion of the Malevolent Damned (1992)

Directed by: Joshua D. Hall
Written by:
Martin Reed, Joshua D Hall and George Cohen based on the short story by Richard Matheson
Starring: Norma Brickman, Cheryl-Lee Andrews, Michael Cormack, Joseph Taylor-McInnis, Sophia Rooney, Gerald Fuller

A low budget slasher film disguised as a zombie movie has more in common with Ghosts of Mars than Matheson's excellent (though admittedly little known) apocalyptic short story.

A group of teens who decide to party down in a cabin out in the middle of the woods upset the rituals of one psychotic shaman, who then transfers the spirits of nature into the bodies in a nearby cemetery. Unfortunately for everybody involved, one of the teens happens to be a hatchet-wielding killer.

What follows is a bloodbath, where more people get killed by other people than zombies. In fact, the zombies get pretty trashed for little more than a bit of property damage. Okay, so they burn the cabin down with the hot lesbians in it (spoilers).

The writing was unbelievably bad, with many nods to George Romero's ...of the Dead series (one of the characters is named Dawn Romero. Ouch), but even the little in jokes (which were quite effective in, say, Shaun of the Dead) are canceled out by lines like "Jimmy, are those brains?" I mean, come on. The actors did surprisingly well with what they were given, particularly Fuller as the deranged teen psycho.

The music was pretty much the aftermath of the '80s. Apart from a few Beatles songs inserted at hilariously inappropriate times, it all sucked like a bitch.

In fact, the only good thing in the whole damn movie (apart from the occasional good moment between Fuller and Andrews) were the make-up FX. The zombies looked disgustingly realistic, and whoever did the make-up had an interesting sense of humour... no, there wasn't any logic to some of the stuff. For example, why would a woman be buried in her wedding dress? But who cares. It was cool.

The zombies were of the traditional, Night of the Living Dead, slow moving, flesh eating, medium intelligence but no vocabulary variety, the twist being that they could spray acidic pus out of massive sores on their faces, and some of them seemed to have the ability to extend tentacles out of their mouths (which all looked like something out of The Thing, but okay) for no apparent reason other than that it was really gross.

Anyway, the whole thing really suffered from the low budget and poor artistic whatnot on the parts of the writers and director, but perhaps if it had been given the advantage of a higher budget and a better writer who had a sense of fun (that was the real problem there. It was all so heavy and morbid) it might've been better. And maybe if they hadn't claimed that it was based on a Richard Matheson work...

If only. No matter. I just won't bother watching it again and won't recommend it to my friends. Ha! Suck on that pasta. That'll teach 'em.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Written by: Sheldon Turner
Starring: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, R. Lee Ermey, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, Andrew Bryniarski, Terrence Evans, Marietta Marich, Kathy Lamkin, Emily Kaye, John Laroquette (narration)

Well. First off, I en't seen any of the other Texas Chainsaw movies. I do, however, know enough about them to understand what was going on in this film (I have seen a version of the original reenacted by bunnies). On that level, anyway.

It was kind of difficult to tell what was going on because the film was so dark and the camerawork was so shaky. Everything was very ambiguous, a technique which worked very well in Rings, but was maddening and very hard on the eyes in this. It was like trying to see through a pole or something. Very frustrating. Gave me a headache, actually.

Anyway, the whole thing felt very forced. It didn't have any flow. In it, a group of chainsaw fodder on their way to enlist in the army run afoul of the Hewitt family, and then get tortured to death for the next hour and a half. Fun stuff. It was actually the same plot as the House of Wax remake, but it didn't have any wax. Sad. (House of Wax kind of looked better, too. Visually, this was more along the lines of Hills Have Eyes. Very shaky and hard to tell exactly what was going on. I would compare it to Devil's Rejects (the only other film I've seen in this particular bastard of the horror genre) but Rob Zombie is technically more competent than these people)

Anyway, I'll leave poor Jonathan alone, because he did make Rings, which was very good and very scary and a lot better than Ring Two. Instead, I'll go to work on the actors.

Obviously, they were bad. They're always bad (no Jamie Lee Curtis today...). Of course, they didn't do too much in this, 'cept scream and die. Anyway, I didn't think they were especially good looking either, so they were a total waste of time. The people on the other side, the Massacrists, were pretty good (not especially attractive, but at least they were half decent). I mean, R. Lee Ermey keeps on doing his Full Metal Jacket thing, making a guy do push ups, verbally abusing people, fondling his parts.

Another problem: This didn't actually offer any explanation of why these people did the things that they did. They just did them things, with no rhyme or reason. I want motives, dammit! Being in the war is not an excuse for eating the Sheriff, and being born in a Slaughterhouse is not a good reason for chainsawing your boss. I was half hoping for at least a psychological study of a disturbed child, but nope. All I got were severed legs and that mockingbird song.

No matter. I thought the music was about the only good thing in the movie, strangely. Actually, it had pretty good sound in general. You have to have good sound for a movie about chainsaws, I mean, Christ. Come on.

And what's the deal with Texas? Yeah, okay, for us Yankees up here, I guess it's pretty scary. They have the electric chair and all, but all these modern "American Gothics", as they're called, are set down South, in the desert somewhere. With hideously obese people. I'm sure I've seen hideously obese people somewhere... (I mean in one of these movies. Of course, living in Dartmouth, you see hideously obese people everywhere). And it's all about the Family. Rip off of the original Chainsaw I guess.

It just didn't seem to have any substance. It was all just build up to first Chainsaw movie. Well, I guess this is actually a prequel to the remake, isn't it. Whatever. Same thing. Anyway, yeah, you know it en't going to have a happy ending. The girl en't going to escape, and she en't going to kill old Leatherface. She's gonna git chainsawed. And she does. It's totally predictable, just like Revenge of the Sith. Stupid bloody prequels. They're worse than sequels. They really are. The end just left you feeling completely dissatisfied. Much like the end of Evita, but worse. More blood, anyway.


((There, that should be the tagline. "With more blood than Evita." How sad would that be?))

Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Directed by: David R. Ellis
Written by: John Hefferman & Sebastien Gutierrez
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Flex Alexander, Lin Shaye, Sunny Mabrey, Bruce James, Kenan Thompson, Keith "Blackman" Dallas, Gerard Plunkett, Terry Chen

Yes, this was one of the movies I wanted to see last year. It looked so stupid that it would be good. It wasn't. It wasn't dumb enough to be funny, nor was it bad enough to be interesting. It was just... mediocre. So very mediocre.

You can guess at the plot by the title, so I won't go into that. The snakes are put on the plane by this guy from the Hawaiian mafia (what the hell?!) who wants to assassinate this other guy what saw him do a murder. There are hundreds of ways to kill people that would be so much easier than putting snakes on planes. You could blow the plane up, for example.

There were a lot of problems like that, eating away at the logic of the film. For example, why not just turn the heat off inside the plane? The snakes would get cold, shut down and stop biting people. Duh.

And those snakes were pretty crazy. They seemed attracted to the softest, squishiest, grossest parts of people (eyes, tongues, nipples et cetera). I think one of the funniest lines in the whole movie was "Fucking snake! Get off my dick!" HA! Funny funny stuff (yes, I am turning into a psychotic lesbian who cuts of men's genitalia).

The most disgusting part, however, was probably when a woman wearing stiletto heels stepped in a guy's ear. Ew.

Anyway, the whole thing was appallingly bad and boring as all hell. The most distressing thing was the Samuel L. Jackson was in it. I mean, he's one several awards (I guess) and he's one of the greatest actors of our time. Why the fuck is he doing shit like this? He shouldn't have to. Stupid white man, putting Sam in crap on a plane.

The other shocking thing was how well it did. Just goes to show you how stupid the public is. Yes, I wanted to see it too (mostly cause it had Samuel L. Jackson in it. He's cool), but they're going to make a show of it and shit like that. Come on. And a number of other spin-offs, probably. Gophers on a Bus. Piranhas on a train...

It wasn't even very well made,now that I think about it. It was kind of sloppy and not very well thought out. And dammit, the dog got eaten. That's just not cool. Not cool at all (mind you, the guy who fed the dog to the big old Anaconda type thing got eaten by it himself, so the dog almost gets revenge from beyond the grave. W00t!)

So yeah, Snakes on a Plane sucks like a bitch. It had no drama, no action, no thrills, nothing. It was just a big pile of cliches trying to pass themselves off as a movie.

It'll probably go down in history as one of the greatest killer animal movies of our time, like Anaconda or something. Of course, that's what makes the movie, isn't it? Tarantula, crap like that, kind of sucks too, but it's withstood the test of time. It was better than Snakes though, actually. At least it was funny. And the Tarantula is more fearsome than those snakes, I'm sorry...


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ghost of Frankenstein

Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Directed by: Erle C. Kenton
Written by: Scott Darling
Starring: Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Olaf Hytten, Dwight Frye

The fourth film in Universal's Frankenstein series, following Son of Frankenstein, is about the other son of Frankenstein (which gets me too, 'cause I always thought old Henry there was gay) who decides to transplant the brain of this dead guy into the head of the monster. Bela Lugosi decides to put his own brain in there instead. Oh dear.

So this one doesn't have the same expressionist/gothic atmosphere as the first three, and it probably a notch below them, but it's still relatively entertaining. Okay, I got distracted a few times, but it managed to hold my attention pretty well.

And Junior does a pretty good job as the monster. He was better than Lugosi was, anyway. He really needed to stick with Ygor. Okay, so it may not have been the most flattering role, what with him being a disgusting child molester and gay for the monster (I don't know what's gotten into me today...), but he's better at it. Poor Bela.

Really weird was the actual Ghost of Frankenstein itself (which I'd forgotten all about, thus confusing me as to the reason for the title), what tells poor old Ced to do the transplant in the first place. He didn't look anything like Colin Clive. That freaked me out, I don't know why.

Speaking of the brain transplant, I was surprised as to it's... uh... shortness. Brevity? I don't know. Anyway, I was reading something about heart transplants the other day and it said something along the lines of it takes 10 hours to replace somebody's heart. It only took them like... three hours tops to make the brain exchange. Just long enough for them to form an angry mob in town.

Ah, the angry mob. Staple of Frankenstein movies. I mean, the mob's about as necessary as the Monster itself. And the cool lab equipment. Like that thing that goes around in circles and the machine that goes 'ping!'. Take a look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for example. There wasn't a mob scene in that. Or if there was, it wasn't especially memorable. And it sucked! So there you go. No mob, no entertainment value. I guess.

Then I got the idea that it'd be cool to organize an angry mob in Halifax (or Dartmouth, to boost popularity). Sort of along the same lines as the zombie walk, but at night and with torches. Maybe a guy could even dress up as Frankenstein's Monster and we could chase him into the old windmill and burn it down. Or the Peace Pavilion. Whichever works best...


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Invisible Man's Revenge

The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944)

Directed by: Ford Beebe

Written by: Bertram Millhauser, suggested by The Invisible Man by HuG Wells

Starring: Jon Hall, Leon Errol, Alan Curtis, John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers, Lester Matthews, Gale Sondergaard

Okay, to continue on my rant about the Griffen family, this guy, Robert Griffen, doesn't seem to have anything to do with any of the other ones (though he does look suspiciously like Frank from Invisible Agent. I wonder why...).

Anyway, this one is a great deal more interesting than Agent. It's about this crazy guy who gets injected with the magic invisibility potion by John Carradine (no relation to the discoverers of the potion in the previous films) in order to kick the asses of the people who stole his money.

I sort of sympathized with invisible guy for a while there. I mean, he was having a pretty bad time. First he got hit on the head, then his friends ditched him and stole his diamond mines or something, and them he wakes up in a mental institution. Sure, he killed three of the people working there, but he was under a lot of stress.

Of course then he had to go turn into a vampire and abuse the Carradine. Not cool. Oh well, the cute invisible dog gets it's revenge on him.

Yeah, so in this one the Invisible Man has to inject people's blood into him in order to revisible himself, which is different, and kind of interesting.

Also different and interesting was that the Invisible Man was crazy before he got invisible. (I suppose Claude Rains might have been insane prior to his invisiblation, it's hard to tell, but according the logic provided in earlier films (if that really can be trusted) the magic potion makes you crazy).

Not strictly a comedy, like Invisible Agent or Invisible Woman, though it did have some comic relief with Leon Errol, which was pretty amusing. I always find it slightly disconcerting when that stuff starts to be funny to me. I don't know, it's just kind of weird.

I always love the FX in these Invisible Man movies, too. They're just so great. I mean, yeah, you can see the strings and the silhouette or the guy, but I find that stuff kind of cute. I love the hugely complicated string systems for putting keys in doors and crap like that.

But yeah, this is probably one of the more worthy invisible man movies, equal to the first two. I guess. For those who are watching, oh, say, the Invisible Man Legacy Collection, and aren't psychotic nutbars about those old movies (because if you are, you won't really care if the movie's good or not, just as long as it's old and it's got great FX), I would suggest skipping Agent and Woman and getting straight to this one.


The Invisible Agent

Invisible Agent (1942)

Directed by:
Edward L. Marin
Written by: Curt Siodmak, 'suggested' by The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Starring: Ilona Massey, Jon Hall, Cedric Hardwicke, Peter Lorre, J. Edward Bromberg

The grandson of the original invisible man... I guess... is talked into using his magic potion to spy on the Germans and find out when the attck on New York is to take place.

As you can imagine, it is loaded with propaganda about how great the States were, and how idiotic the Germans were. Kind of ridiculous actually.

As usual, the FX were pretty good, but not enough to hold my attention. I found myself taking pictures of my cat before long, and playing with the settings on my camera. That was fun.

In short, I thought it was boring and it sucked. I thought the main lady (who was also the main lady in Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man. Hey hey) was treated appallingly, and the only people with convincing German accents were Ilona Massey and Peter Lorre (both of whom were Hungarian, the latter playing a Japanese guy (which confused me immensley)). And it was too much of a comedy. That was just annoying.

The other problem I had was with this Frank Griffen being the grandson of the original invisible man. As far as I could tell, he didn't have any kids. He was killed before he could get married, so unnless he had some bastard somewhere (which isn't entirely unlikely, though I don't see why his name would be Griffen).

Anyway, I didn't like it much. The constant plugging of the American armed forces really got on my nerves.

Wow. I've still got quite a bit of room left. I like to get up to about 2000 letters before I wrap things up, but I appear to have said all I have to say about the movie. I've only got 1746...


So did anyone watch Dr. Who last night? Best episode ever. I guess. Of the new batch, anyway. I haven't seen enough of the old stuff to really say. I thought that one with the lions was kind of cool though. Anyway, I like this new Dr. Who pretty good, though I kind of miss Christopher Eccleston. David Tennant's cute, too. Anyway, the episode last night had Shirley Henderson on it. She's cool.

There, that's long enough to keep me happy.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Eye

Gin Gwai (2002)

Directed by: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Written by: Jojo Hui, The Pang Brothers
Starring: Lee Sin-je, Lawrence Chou, Cutcha Rujinanon, Candy Lo, Yut Lai So, Yin Ping Ko

This has been called the most terrifying of all the Asian horror films, which have been so popular of late. It does have some very disturbing parts, I'll give it that. The moaning old lady in the hospital; the woman standing in the corner, demanding to know why the main character is sitting in her chair; the man in the elevator. Unsettling stuff, but none of it really stuck with me. Not like the croaking woman in Ju-on, say, with her oh so inhuman moves.

The film is about a young, blind woman, who get's cornea impants to restore her eyesight. Unfortunately for her, the donor was cursed with a Sixth Sense allowing her to see dead people. It's a good idea, and fairly well done, though I'm not too sure about the technical skills of these Pang Brothers.

First of all, the whole thing looked like it was shot on digital, which it probably was, and though that is an interesting effect, it did create the feel of a teenager's home movie. I know. I was in one.

Then there was the poor synchronzation between the sound and the picture. I thought it was dubbed for a while, before realizing that it was subtitled. (Yes, I really am that slow)

And we can't forget the terrible music. It sounded like the score from a bad '80s movie, which didn't really make the movie seem more professional. Of course, what can you expect with the score creditted to something called "Orange Music". I mean really.

Okay, okay, okay, I shouldn't really give it such a hard time for looking so sloppy. It just really bugged me, and not even the creepy atmosphere could distract me from it.

Back to my merciless nitpicking, if you will, a lot of it was really slow, and it almost seemed portions of it were cut out. I felt like I missed something somewhere.

I'll give it a break and say that Lee Sin-je was really quite good as the main lady, and I really don't think Jessica Alba could possibly pull it off. Oh, I hate her so. She's one of my many punch-monkies.

ANYWAY, this wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't had such ridiculously high expectations of it, after reading about how terrifying it was. How it would keep you up all night or make you shit your pants or whatever (neither of which it achieved, by the way. Unfortunately). This led me to realize that the people who review these films nowadays are total pansies. That makes me sad. I read a quote on the box that said something about being reduced to a pile of quivering jelly before the opening credits were over. I mean, come on. These guys are such chicken shits. They remind me of some people I know, actually.

Anyway, this film could potentially be quite enjoyable if you knew what to expect, which this long, excruciating bit of Blammor should help to clarify.

I saw a trailer for The Messengers the other day, by the way. Now THAT looks distrubing. Much cleaner, possibly scarier. It's hard to tell. The trailer didn't leave me shaking in my boots (unlike, say, The Grudge so many years ago), but it did look like it might be better than this. Hard to say. I am ever hopeful.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Die Hard 3

Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

Directed by: John McTiernan
Written by: Jonathan Hensleigh
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Sam Phillips, Nick Wyman

This is the kind of fluff I was talking about. Not sci-fi fluff, but action fluff. 'Twas okay, I suppose, but I think anything would have looked like fluffy crap after Children of Men. Fortunately, Die Hard happens to be fluffy crap, so I didn't miss anything.

So the dialogue is cleared up a bit. It makes more sense, anyway, but the plot really doesn't. There's this guy, who happens to be Alan Rickman's character's brother, going around blowing shit up so he can pull off a big heist. Then Bruce Willis and Sam Jackson have to solve all of these puzzles.... it all just leaves you wondering why.

Even though Die Hard guy came back to direct this one, it doesn't really come anywhere near the goodness of the first one. It's not really even better than the second one, I'm afraid. They just haven't been able to find anyone quite like Alan Rickman. I mean, Jeremy Irons is cool and everything, and I like him muchly, but come on. Besides, he struck me as kind of gay in this. Of course, he always strikes me a kind of gay. I don't know. Something about him, I guess. Anyway, blond really isn't a good hair colour for him.

Moving on, Bruce Willis once more donned the sweaty wife-beater. Yay. (Jeremy also wore a blue wife beater, but enough about him). Oddly enough, this one isn't set at Christmas. Go figure.

Samuel L. Jackson is always cool, but I was really surprised that someone as cool and as smoooth as him was actually in a movie like this. Not to question the overall goodness of the movie, but it is the second sequel to Die Hard for God's sake. Actually, Die Hard movies usually have pretty good casts...

Anyway, yeah, so it was kind of weird. Jeremy Irons was very strange, to return to that topic. (I like Jeremy Irons, okay? God damn.) With his little rhymes. Rhymes are funny. It's kind of hard to believe that two boys in that family grew up to be psychopathic criminal madsterminds, though. I mean, really. I kind of get the revenge thing. I guess. But the heist? Maybe they should just be proactive and see if there are any other little Grubers out there and arrest them.

So yeah, it's relatively entertaining, though it sort of starts out kind of slow. Even though a department store explodes in the first minute or so. (Much like in Children of Men, except that was actually disturbing, and then things just got worse and worse from then on) I guess for light action fluff it's pretty satisfying. I think I'd rather just watch the first one again, though.

And y'know what? Yippikayay motherfucker (how the hell are you supposed to spell yippikayay anyway? Whatever. I made something up) was funny the first time (and actually the second time too) but it isn't funny anymore.

Stupid Die Hard guy.


Children of Men

Children of Men (2007)

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby based on the novel by P.D. James
Clive Owen, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Pam Ferris, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Peter Mullan, Charlie Hunnam

Go me, I've already honoured my promise to go see this. Wow. This'll be a good year... Anyway, to say that I liked this movie would really be a stretch... it's hard to convey exactly what I do feel about it.

I will say that it is a great movie, just really, really, painfully grim. It's a very dark, apocalyptic science fiction movie, which I wasn't altogether prepared for.

First off, I expected a happy, good time sci-fi adventure. Like Star Wars or The Fifth Element or something else moderately fluffy. I also thought that it was set in outer space.

So it's set in a hideously bleak future where the human race has been sterile for about 20 years. That causes all kinds of problems, including mass depression. I mean, the world's going to end, right? Anyway, then there's this pregnant girl that Colin Clive has to get to safety. And all sorts of horrible stuff happens along the way. People get killed, buildings get exploded. Nasty stuff. Very hard to watch.

It's just so realistic, in a weird way. And the characters were also so real that I felt for them, which was a little upsetting, seeing as practically everybody dies. Spoiler warning. Heh heh heh.

I kind of object to the top billing of Julianne Moore, too. I mean, yeah, she's one of the more famous people in the movie, but she does snuff it pretty early on (spoliers)

Anyway, I found the whole thing kind of shocking. I mean, up until now, I've only really gone to see relatively harmless action movies. Yeah, so Return of the King depressed the hell out of me. It was okay in the end.

On to brighter things.... if possible... I really liked the camera work for some reason. It was very shakey, but that really helped with the whole realism thing. It reminded me a bit of 28 Days Later in a lot of ways. The sort of grim, feeling of impending doom. And the sort of raw, almost unpredictable feel to it. Like you really don't know what's going to happen, and it might not have a happy ending at all.

I guess it sort of does, but not really. It doesn't feel happy. More spoilers.

It's quite well written, too, having a few funny lines out of Michael Caine, mostly. They sort of get cancelled out by the crushing despair, though...

And I couldn't help but think that it was made by the same guy who did Harry Potter. I mean, come on! Yes, it was the grimmest and most depressing of all the Harry Potters to date (and by far my favourite), but dammit, there's still something so innocent and pure about it... I guess.

It's a pretty good first movie of the year, though. Especially considering that last year's was Underworld: Evolution. (Things only got worse after that, too. X-Men 3, Dead Man's Chest, The Da Vinci Code. Shudder) Yeah, okay, I went to see City Lights too, but that hardly counts.

Anyway, I think this should get nominated for an Oscar. At least one. It deserves one, even if it's just for sound or something. It's a very, very good movie, if you can stand overwhelming depression.

I found I didn't really walk out of the theatre laughing my ass off and babbling about giant tentacles, as usual. I felt kind of sad and tired, but with the feeling that I hadn't just wasted ten bucks on a crappy movie. I felt like I could actually shell out ten more bucks without feeling too bad. Money wise, anyway. I'm not sure I really want to risk depressing myself further.

Also, I've had the song Ruby Tuesdays playing in my head all day.


Monday, January 8, 2007

I Walked with a Zombie

I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Written by: Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray, based on a newspaper article by Inez Wallace and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Starring: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison, Edith Barrett, Christine Gordon, James Bell, Teresa Harris, Darby Jones

Righto. So there's this nurse (who happens to be from Canada. Yay) who goes to this island in the West Indies to look after this guy's mental wife. While there, she get's caught up in this feud between her employer and his half-brother. Apparently the brother was totally in love with the guy's wife and blames him for her insanity. She also gets involved with all of this voodoo stuff going on in this jungle in an attempt to cure the crazy lady, who would be the zombie referred to in the title.

It's interesting to see a zombie movie created prior to Night of the Living Dead. It's really a whole differant kettle of pie. The zombie is a zombie in the 'true' sense of the word. She's under a spell or something that makes her all catatonic and stuff, rather than being a raging, flesh eating member of the undead. She is called (un)dead several times, but apparently she had a pulse and she breaths, so technically I guess she's alive.

The film is quite atmospheric, and the voodoo stuff is freaky enough (particularly Darby Jones playing a freakishly tall and skinny zombie with weird eyeballs), although it sort of suffers from the same problem as all horror flicks from that era. I'm not entirely sure what this problem is exactly. It just feels like there isn't enough. I don't know. It's weird.

But there's some pretty creepy stuff in there. For example, that weird dude who assaults Betsy (her name's Betsy. I thought that was really sick. I mean, who would fall in love with a woman named Betsy? Really? Elizabeth is old and respectable, but Betsy is just ugly. Nothing personal to all the Betsys of the world, if there really are any. Just to their parents) with his creepy song was really creepy. Man, that sentence was redundant. The zombie walk itself was pretty good too.

I didn't like Frances Dee too much. First offence was that her character's name was Betsy. Then she was a nurse. Yeah, okay, she's from Canada, but who cares. Canada kind of sucks anyway. She wasn't especially gorgeous either. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but she didn't even have an interesting face. Christine Gordon wasn't traditionally pretty either, but she had a really great face. Same goes for Edith Barrett.

If I'm going to talk about people's faces, I might as well mention Tom Conway's moustache. It made him look like a cat, I'm sorry. Tom Conway is the kind of name you'd give a cat anyway, so he really shouldn't wear a cat moustache. Moustaches are really disgusting, though, so it isn't really his fault.

And after saying some nasty things about his wussy facial hair, I'll say that I kind of liked him. He wasn't a very cheerful or friendly person, and he kept his wife in a tower, but he was kind of cool, in a British sort of way. More appealing than his American brother, anyway.

All of that being taken into consideration, all data being compiled and analyzed, I've decided not to condemn this movie for not having Enough. It still had plenty. Besides, it's kind of classic and I really don't want to go there.

Man, am I yellow.


Saturday, January 6, 2007


Slither (2006)

Written and Directed by:
James Gunn
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Tania Saulnier, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, Don Thompson, Brenda James

Ah, a good, old-fashioned horror movie. Not one of those Asian style rip-offs, with their dark spooky houses and their little dead girls. Those Asian rip-offs are beautiful to look at, and scary as hell, but you just can't go wrong with a traditional American zombirific, gut-spewing gross-out bonanza.

And despite it's American values and Southern accents, half of it was shot in Canada, which makes me very proud of it indeed.

It's set in the tiny little town of Wheelsey, which gets overrun by alien worms that turn people into misshapen ghouls. And when I say misshapen, I mean misshapen. They had tentacles coming out of everywhere, and big scabby things on their faces. All kinds of cancerous looking growths.

Despite the fact that it really did make me feel a little nauseous, I really rather enjoyed it. It had everything it needed, everything I could possibly want. Zombies, aliens, tentacle beasts, buckets of gore (people getting sliced open, getting their heads blown off, walking into basements filled with partially eaten animals), a sense of humour (often compared to Shaun of the Dead), tributes to every horror movie under the sun, and a good cast. It was also kind of scary.

I mean, I wasn't filled with dread or anything (it's not really a dread-filled movie. It's more in the squeemie catagory), but I spent a lot of time thinking about those little slimy, crawlie, mouth-invady worms, and actually managed to keep my mouth shut all night, even when I was asleep. That wasn't a bad thing. It kept me from drooling all over myself.

But enough about my bodily fluids. There were plenty of fluids in this movie (though most of them weren't mine). The monsters were pretty gooey. They were good monsters, though. The movie had very good make-up effects (actually, the CGI wasn't bad either, and they didn't abuse it), and the mosters were kind of scarier than the Pod People, in a way.

They were like the Pod People, crossed with the Thing. Okay, the Body Snatchers were pretty disturbing, but at least when they snatch your body you have the satisfaction of being dead, nor do you have to worry about them doing unpleasant things with your body. With these Slither zombies, you seem to maintain your soul, if such a thing exists. Your consciousness. Your ego, if you will. You just become part of the collective alien hive-mind and do atrocious things that you'd really rather not do (like eating people). You also become a slime-dripping, tentacle-sporting, scab-encrusted, worm-infested nasty, and eventually join the big flesh pile. Ew. They're conscious zombies.

They're easier to kill, and almost impossible to sympathize with. They don't look, sound and act like someone you know. They're the cow-munching, dog-evicerating scum of the universe and they deserve to burn, burn, burn.

I don't think I'd mind being a plant based alien all that much. At least I'd get to squeal at Veronica Cartwright, and maybe I'd get to meet Donald Sutherland (or Kevin McCarthy, depending on your preference).

What the hell am I talking about? Slither, right. Um, well, I think it deserves to go down in history as one of the best horror flicks of the '00s, along with all of those other self-conscious, loving horror-comedies. The good ones, anyway. The Scary Movies can fry in hell as far as I'm concerned, but Slither, Shaun of the Dead, Jeepers Creepers, Undead and everything else in the same self-aware vein as Scream (although Scream was obviously made in the '90s, by a person who made movies in the '70s, but you get my drift) can linger on forever and ever and eventually be inducted into some kind of hall of fame. Or whatever.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1942)

Directed by: Roy William Neill
Written by: Curt Siodmak
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lionel Atwill, Dennis Hoey, Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye

So I skipped right ahead to the fourth sequel in the long Universal Frankenstein series, which includes seven films, not counting the Abbott and Costello ones, which are, techically, part of the series, although I refuse to acknowledge them as such. If one were to count the Abbott and Costello ones (I think there were two with the Frankenstein Monster, but I'm not entirely sure), then the Universal series would top the Hammer series, which also has seven parts (though not the same parts).

Anyway, enough about Frankenstein's parts, although they are a rather fascinating subject. I'm sorry, I really can't help myself. I saw this movie too, when I was much younger than I am now. It's a rather inferior sequel, considering that up until this point the Frankenstein movies were quite good. I don't really remember Ghost of Frankenstein too good, but I seem to recall that it was alright.

Mind you, this is also the sequel to The Wolf Man (The Wolf Man series had four parts, counting this one and the two House movies), which isn't exactly the greatest thing that ever came to be.

That's the problem with this movie, actually. Way too much Wolf Man. It's mostly just Larry Talbot wandering around going "Oh, won't somebody please help me?", and whining about being a werewolf. Suck it up, Princess. Were I in his position, I would worry more about the fact that I was a fat, liquor-soaked flesh-sack and not about my lycanthropic affliction. However, for all of Junior's vices, I must admit that he had kind of good hair (not in his wolf-monkey form). I don't know. I'm just looknig for a bright side. "His hair was perfect".

Now, on the Frankenstein half of the movie. The problem there was that Frankenstein himself doesn't actually show up. He's dead and buried when this movie takes place (not that that should really stop him...). His granddaughter, Elsa, does show up, and there is a guy named Frank, but that's a poor substitute. Moreover, Bela Lugosi wasn't a fantastic monster. From what I can tell, he really didn't want to play the role and tried to screw it up as much as possible just to spite everybody. Mind you, he was probably smacked out on morphine at the time.

I'm very proud of myself for recognizing Dwight Frye without having any idea that he was in it. He's a pretty distinctive actor. I don't know how you could not recognize him. It's just, I was under the impression that he was deceased at the time that this picture was made. He actually died in '43, but this was one of his last films. Poor boy.

Yeah, so the climactic battle between Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man is actually pretty lame. It's very short and it doesn't have any... I don't know, drama? It's not exciting, try as it might, nor is it particularly long. And neither of them win, which is sad.

Actually, this whole movie makes me kind of sad. And disturbed, especially when it gets to the musical number. It was only slightly less distressing than Lugosi playing that weird... um... Transylvanian Flute... thing ever twenty minutes or so in Son of Frankenstein. Unfortunately, none of it disturbed me in a good way, as it intended.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Son of Frankenstein

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Directed by: Rowland V. Lee
Written by: Wyllis Cooper, loosely based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson, Donnie Dunagan, Emma Dunn, Edgar Norton

Ah, once again I return to the classic flicks I have not seen in many a year. This would be the second sequel to the 1931 Frankenstein, logically following Bride. It is, as the title implies, about the son of Frankenstein who comes to the little town of Frankenstein to futz with the Monster, which has been looked after by Ygor for all these years.

It is actually a pretty worthy sequel. I'd forgotten how worthy it truly was. It looked really good, which was sort of the main attraction. The sets were weird and slanty, all angles and shadows, much like those in Caligari. The first two Frankenstein movies had pretty good art direction also, but this one is quite different. I dare not say better...

Also, the cast was good. I mean, you can't beat Karloff as the Monster. Don't even try, you'll just end up looking stupid (my apology goes out to Robert de Niro). Also, Lugosi was kind of good as Ygor (in a performance considered his best, next to Dracula). Basil Rathbone's nothing to puke on, either, and Lionel Atwill was really cool as the one-armed Inspector guy.

Actually, the only person I really had a problem with was the little kid. He was sickeningly adorable, for one thing, and I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I kind of liked the idea of the character, but I would've been happier if he wasn't in it at all. Not that I wished hm ill or anything. No, that would've complicated things much more than was necessary.

Otherwise, though, the movie's pretty damn fantastic. Yeah, so it's a little slow in spots, and the DVD stuck for a while so I didn't know what was going on. It's pretty self-explanitory though. I still prefer the first one, just because it gets me right to the core of my soul, though this one actually had some soul-moving bits, especially between Karloff and Rathbone for some reason. I don't know what the deal with that was.

I'd put it right up there with Bride though.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Frighteners

The Frighteners (1996)

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Written by:
Fran Walsh

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace-Stone, Jake Busey, John Astin, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe, Peter Dobson

In the same vein as Ghostbusters or Beetlejuice, being a quirky sort of ghost movie crossed with a comedy. About a man who can see ghosts and uses them to stage phony exorcisms. And then there's this really nasty Grim Reaper thing that goes around killing people and writing numbers on their heads, all of which has to do with a mass killing that happened in the crazy house several decades back.

So, there's a lot of stuff going on. However, Jackson is pretty good at handling a lot of plots and subplots, and it isn't boring or confusing.

Mind you, it doesn't always work. Ghost movies rarely do, of course. It's really hard to handle life, death, undeath and the afterlife without bringing religion and other unwanted spiritual whatnot into it. Also, there have to be rules with all of that stuff, and those are sometimes tricky to establish/follow/explain et cetera. You have to maintain reasonably ambiguous without going overboard. The film manages this for the most part, however.

Plus it had enough special effects, killing and quirky characters to keep me amused. It also reminded me a lot of a Tim Burton movie, like I mentioned before (which probably has a lot to do with the Danny Elfman score). It does have a lot of Peter Jackson stuff in it, though. The Grim Reaper looked like it could've been the tenth Nazgul, for example. The Reaper was CGI and the Nazgul weren't, which makes a pretty big differance.

The effects in this movie were pretty good, considering it was made 11 years ago, but there were an awful lot of them, and they can't really hold a banana to Lord of the Rings or King Kong.

It had a good cast, too, which is important. A lot of the dialogue could've sounded really, really lame. And Jim Fyfe! I wanted to see this specifically because of him (after watching the Dark Shadows Revival). Well, okay, I do love me some Peter Jackson movies.

Overall, it was very entertaining and funny, as long as you don't think too hard, which I generally don't, so it's all good. I recommend (obviously) for fans of Burtons' stuff. I really do.