Friday, March 30, 2012

Invisible Ghost

Invisible Ghost (1941)

So I've been trying to tackle the "50 Horror Classics DVD Collection" ('classics' in this sense is a bit of an exaggeration at best) a little bit at a time, which so far is proving to be somewhat depressing. But every now and then comes a film which was actually worth watching. This is one of those films.

A sad old man (Bela Lugosi) lives in a big house with his daughter (Polly Ann Young) after his wife (Betty Compson) left him for another man. Little does he know, she was in a car accident shortly after leaving and suffered brain damage and amnesia and was later found by the gardener (Ernie Adams) who has been keeping her in an old barn in the woods in the hopes that her memory returns and she can go back to her family.

Unfortunately for everybody involved, the Wife developed some kind of magic powers as compensation for losing most of her brain function, so she goes out regularly, hypnotizes her husband and makes him commit atrocious murders.

Okay, I'll admit that the plot makes no fucking sense but that's not important. What is important is that it's pretty well made considering what it is - a low rent horror pic from the forties.

It's well shot for one thing, unlike a lot of shit I've watched lately which, between the writing, editing and cinematography is basically unwatchable. This is pretty classy, and maintains a spooky, old school atmosphere.

The writing and acting are decent and the characters are actually interesting, particularly Lugosi - super nice guy by day, ruthless murderer by night, giving the movie a sort of sad and poignant quality which is lacking in most horror pictures regardless of era. I feel bad for the guy, and his family. They didn't deserve this.

It's also got a healthy dose of sick humour which is sort of surprising for the time. Yeah, most of these old movies have some pathetic attempt at comic relief, but there's some actually funny stuff in this. There's one scene in which the butler discovers the body of the maid which is morbid and well done (I looked for a clip but couldn't find one - you can watch the whole movie on youtube though so what the hell).

And you know there's some pretty heavy shit going on in there. At the very beginning of the movie, Lugosi murders the maid who, as it turns out, was having an affair with his daughter's fiance (John McGuire). Right before she was killed, hubby told her to leave him alone or else and thus he gets pinned - and executed - for the murder. Which is kinda weird. I also got the impression that Lugosi totally raped the maid before or after murdering her. Also weird.

So yeah, the plot is a little strange - the movie ends abruptly without really explaining why any of the shit that happened happened - and it seems a little strange that the polic never so much as suspect Lugosi, but then he was really nice. Still, I found it really well made, extremely satisfying and totally worth watching especially for Lugosi fans as this is one of his better performances.


Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis.  Written by: Helen & Al Martin.  Starring: Bela Lugosi, Polly Ann Young, John McGuire, Clarence Muse, Terry Walker, Betty Compson, Ernie Adams, George Pembroke.

Black Dragons

Black Dragons (1942)

So this is a boring and utterly demoralizing movie about a group of well-to-do dudes who get together to plan how they're gonna sabotage the war effort. One night after they've been partying, a mysterious doctor (Bela Lugosi - not Boris Karloff as the case promised) shows up and starts murdering them one by one. That goes on for about an hour, leading up to the big expoisition scene right at the end.

I'm going to assume you won't mind me spoiling the ending for you (I will add that the movie is sort of less demoralizing when you sort of know what's going on) and go right for it. Bela Lugosi's character is a renowned plastic surgeon working for the Nazis and the well-to-do saboteurs are actually Japanese spies in disguise. After assuming the faces and identities of a bunch of business men (and presumably learning to speak without comically racist accents), they imprisoned Dr. Lugosi so that he wouldn't tell the world about what they'd done. Anyway, he escapes and comes back to kill them or whatever.

So Lugosi's character is almost the hero - he stops the disguised spies from completely sabotaging the war - but he's also a Nazi... I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this. They throw in the niece of one of the businessmen (Joan Barclay) - who turns out to be an American spy - and a young FBI guy (Clayton Moore) to give the viewer some less conflicting heroes, but it's still sort of hard to tell whether Lugosi is villain, heor or victim. That's pretty damn sophisticated for a 1940s genre picture.

That being said, the writing and editing rendered the film nigh incomprehensible, and the acting was so atrocious I didn't even want to follow what was going on. Even Lugosi looked sort of embarrassed to be there, and I can't rightly blame him. He doesn't do a whole helluva lot except sneak around, popping up everywhere as if he were magic. Which I suppose he kinda is.

But really the only creepy thing in the movie is the female lead who spends nearly half her screen time hitting on Lugosi, who pretty much tells her to fuck off several time to no avail. I'm sure that was supposed to be her doing spy stuff but she just came off as some kind of weird gold digger.

Long story short, there is pretty much nothing going for this movie and I can think of no reason to watch it other than it's there.


Directed by: William Nigh (the science guy?).  Written by: Harvey Gates based on a story by Robert Kehoe.  Starring: Bela Lugosi, Joan Barclay, Clayton Moore, George Pembroke, Robert Frazer, Edward Peil Sr., Robert Fiske, Irving Mitchell

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I've seen this movie a few times now so reviewing it is kind of against my ethics (I like to do reviews cold) but I gotta review something. I MUST.

A really jumpy police dude (Johnny Depp) is sent to the small village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the recent beheading spree there. Could it really be the work of the fabled Headless Horseman, an undead menace who rides around the country side searching for his missing head? (Yes, yes it could)

This is one of those science vs magic movies, but it actually gets all that bullshit out of the way fairly quickly and goes about being a magical mystery without too much fucking around. Which is nice. They handled the juxtaposition of the two pretty well and made a good movie.

It's got it all, really. There's more whacky old British actors than you can shake a stick at, including, but not limited to, Dumbledore, The Emperor, Batman's Butler, that chubby guy who's in every movie, and Christopher Lee. Also Christopher Walken going totally apeshit.

It's got good photography, all the stuff shot out in the woods was especially gorgeous - I assumed the movie was actually shot in upstate New York somewhere but I looked it up and I guess they filmed it in England which is okay I guess.

It's got a shitload of decapitations, heads come off left and right, and the effects are pretty goddamn good. The CGI left something to be desired but then it was the nineties, but the decapitations looked really fucking cool. There's a fair bit of humour as well which  is important.

On the downside, Johnny Depp's accent isn't that great and Christina Ricci's is terrible, especially next to, like, actual English people. Now, when I saw their accents were bad, I'm not talkin Keanu and Winona in Dracula bad, just... not good. And annoying, in Ricci's case. I'm not than keen on Christina Ricci anyway, her lack of facial features freaks me out, and all of her dialogue sounded clunky and awkward.

But enough of that. The other big problem is the ending which takes too long and is sort of extraneous. I mean, having a really complicated plot is fine but if you need to have a scene where the villain explains how they set everything up at great length, then the plot is too complicated. I hate too much explanation. It irks me. And it seems kinda sloppy in this movie.

After the cunning plot is finally explained, there's a big long chase scene which is just really silly. So Johnny Depp and the Horseman are fighting on top of the carriage while it races through the woods - why not stop the carriage? Would that not be easier? There's no point in running away from a guy who's attached to your vehicle and he's obviously not going to fall off.

Anyway, that aside the movie is still a pretty good watch and probably one of the least Tim Burton-y Tim Burton movies, so if you're not into Tim Burton this is the Tim Burton film for you. Tim Burton.

Directed by: Tim Burton.  Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker, based on the story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.  Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken


Priest (2011)

I had a feeling that this would be awful but I'm a sucker for vampire movies (no pun intended) so I went for it. And, you know, this wasn't awful. There's a bitchin animated sequence at the beginning which runs through the backstory - humans and vampires have been warring since the beginning of time. Humans, facing almost certain extinction, cloistered themselves in huge walled cities ruled by the church (makes sense) and defended by an elite order of superhuman Priests (they kick ass for the lord!), who worked themselves out of a job by eradicating vampires, and were then disbanded.

The movie goes downhill from there. The plot, such as it is, revolves around a former Priest (Paul Bettany) whose niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires. Against the wishes of the Pope (Christopher Plummer), he ventures out into the wasteland to rescue her and stop the coming vampocalypse or whatever.

I wanted to like this movie, I really did. That's part of the problem with it. I've never seen a movie that is so bad but maddeningly full of potential. It could have been so fucking cool. The world (a sort of post apocalyptic alternate reality of our own) is well conceived and interesting. The part set in the city was neat, reminiscent of Bladerunner or THX 1138.

The art direction was pretty good, the movie looked great when it wasn't too dark to see (this is one of those dark movies I'm sad to say). The vampires in particular were really cool. They weren't suave, or sexy, or human, at all.

O hai
They looked like some thought went in to their design. They don't need eyes, they've got big ol' fangs for biting, they secrete slime to build hives, they got a bunch of dudes who look like Marilyn Manson to guard them and most importantly, they got Karl Urban.

Wait, no.

Anyway, it seems like a whole lot of work went into this movie (apparently it shares almost nothing with the comics, they came up with new stuff for this), and I give it an A for effort, I really do. It's got Brad Dourif in it. And that's awesome.

But you know, I had two major problems with the movie. Firstly, why Paul Bettany? His character is supposed to be from the American midwest I guess, so he's got an American accent which just doesn't sound right. Seriously, why cast an Englishman in that role? Yeah, he looks the part but surely he's played enough clergy members by now (I can think of two other movies off the top of my head). Probably if the character had been British they would've cast Keanu Reeves or some shit.

Aaaaand the plot is painfully predictable. It's not even funny, it's just sad. Like whoever wrote the thing didn't understand what a cliche was and just went for every one in the book. I swear to god, I called every fucking thing that happened in the movie in the first fifteen minutes and I'm not all that sharp. I'm not exaggerating, either. There were only two things I got wrong: I thought that the Priest would make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life to save the girl at the end (which he didn't, he totally lived) and I thought that Christopher Plummer was secretly working for the vampires (nope, he was just sending assassins after Priest to be a dick).

When a movie is that easy to predict, it leaves me feeling so dissatisfied. I could have written this movie in my head without even trying. And like I said it's especially offensive because this movie had the potential to be really awesome but failed miserably. On top of that, it doesn't even end properly. It leaves the ending wide open for the sequel.

The only time you should leave a movie open for a sequel is if you already have the sequel in pre-production at the very least. Because if your plan is to make a movie that's so great it'll make a shitload of money to fund the sequel, it's not going to work. Chances are, your movie is not as good as you think it is, you're not going to make enough money, and the open ending of the "first" movie is just going to seem dumb and unfinished.

There, hopefully that works and filmmakers stop doing that shit.


Directed by: Scott Stewart.  Written by: Cory Goodman, inspired by the comics by Min-Woo Hyung.  Starring: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandant, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Christopher Plummer.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bloodrayne 3

Bloodrayne: The Third Reich (2010)

Man, you know, I saw this movie at the store and I knew I had to watch it. Something about Uwe Boll movies compels us all, like moths to an open flame. Anyway, this is the second sequel to Bloodrayne (I haven't seen the other film in the series) and is set during the second world war. Great.

So there's this half vampire chick (Natassia Malthe) who I guess is working alongside The Resistance on the eastern front and accidentally turns some badass Nazi (Michael Paré) into a vampire because, despite being a few hundred years old she's a fucking amateur. So this badass Nazi vampire dude starts working with a mad doctor (Clint Howard) to... I dunno, turn all the Nazis and eventually Hitler into super vampires. In other words, it's exactly the same plot at Innocent Blood only instead of Mafiosi there's Nazis.

Also, apparently World War 2 had a lot to do with vampires. I didn't really catch all of this but there was something mentioned at the beginning about either vampires trying to eliminate humans or humans eliminating vampires and that's why the war happened. And... I dunno that bothered me. I get why people want to use Nazis in completely anachronistic ways in their movies - they can be killed without guilt or remorse but they're also really photogenic. But, like, fucking around with the details of the second world war for entertainment's sake is just... it's kinda disrespectful.  Yeah, I know, it was almost seventy years ago but it's still too soon.

But that's just a personal thing. In the interest of being objective (since when do I do objective reviews? Fuck), this movie was almost completely incomprehensible. I mean, okay, Rayne and a bunch of freedom fighters or whatevs are trying to stop the badass vampire Nazi from getting to Berlin to infuse Hitler with vampire juice, I got that part. But there's all kinds of stuff going on that I had a hard time following not only because it seemed completely irrelevant to the plot at hand, but also because the editing was so fucking incompetant it was hard to tell what the fuck was supposed to be happening in some of the scenes or why they were showing it to us.

There are also a lot of little problems, like how come Rayne leaves her corset on in bed? Why not sleep naked? It's certainly not out of modesty on the filmmakers part, since there is a fairly graphic girl on girl scene at approximately the 25 minute mark (you're welcome). Why does she even care what the Nazis do? She's a goddamn vampire, it doesn't effect her. Why does the crazy doctor start quoting Bob Dylan in the middle there? What the fuck!?

But the biggest problem (or not, depending how you look at it) is the almost unbelievably bad acting, specifically Natassia Malthe who was just really lacking as a kickass vampire babe. The only thing she really had going for her was that her corset did a good job of pushing her tits up, but I mean when she took that off her boobage kinda disappeared... she also had a pretty cool hat. It reminds me of those little tiny leather hats they put on hawks and falcons and shit.

Pictured: Rayne, Rayne's Hat, Rayne's Breasts and the guy from open mic night at the Hipster Cafe
But other than that she really didn't do it for me. She had one of those high, girly voices and her acting made me miss Kristanna Loken. At least she didn't try to emote. At all.

That being said, the guy who played the doctor, Clint Howard (who is apparently Ron Howards brother and has like a gazillion credits on IMDb) was waaaaaaaaaay worse. It was almost embarassing to watch. He looks like he's just reading his lines off cue cards and doing a funny accent (what accent was that exactly?) instead of acting. It was pretty funny to be honest.

But you know what, as absolutely terrible as this movie is, it did entertain me for seventy minutes. I could have rented one of those movies about people dying of cancer for two hours and gouged my own eyes out of boredom. This at least had some shit going on. Then again my priorities are kind of warped.


Directed by: Uwe Boll.  Written by: Michael Nachoff.  Starring: Natassia Malthe, Brendan Fletcher, Michael ParĂ©, William Belli, Annett Culp, Clint Howard.

The Vampire Bat

The Vampire Bat (1933)

A small German town is being plagued by murders. The victims are being found with small puncture wounds in their neck, completely drained of blood. Is the local nutter who likes to play with bats a vampire, or could the killer be a human being trying to disguise their crimes? It's up to the level headed law enforcement man (Melvyn Douglas), his lady scientist girlfriend (Fay Wray) and the somewhat sinister - he wears a god damn cape - town doctor (Lionel Atwill) to get to the bottom of the mysterious deaths before more occur.

This movie is actually a fairly decent mystery in the science vs. supernatural subgenre, which I ordinarily find somewhat tiring but this is old enough to get away with it. The 'tricks' they were using weren't stale cliches yet and the suspense held my interest pretty well. It didn't hurt that the movie was, in general, very well made (especially when compared to The Mad Monster and The Ape which I watched in the same evening).

The art direction is nice and gothic, and the cinematography was pretty good - it's nothing groundbreaking but it's a little bit above competant, as though somebody at some point made some kind of effort to make the movie not suck. The plot relies on a paranoid atmosphere rather than special effects, and there is a bonafide angry mob at one point so that was satisfying. The only real technical problem I had was that every transition from scene to scene was done with a diagonal wipe. I hate wipes (that would look really weird out of context), if you need to change the scene just change the fucking scene, you don't need to use some god damn effect to do it. Sometimes there were two wipes right in a row (again, without context that looks really bad). That's just uncalled for. But that's a pretty minor problem.

Moving on, the cast was good too - Lionel Atwill was sufficiently sinister and Dwight Frye was... well, he was Dwight Frye. You can't go wrong with Dwight Frye. Maude Eburne was good as the hypochondriac aunt (also the comic relief, I guess), and the rest of the villagers were appropriately crazy and excitable.

I actually didn't realize that the main dude was Melvyn Douglas. I always think of Melvyn Douglas as the reeeeeally old dude from Being There but he was kinda sexy in this movie. He had a good 'stache. And ya know, Fay Wray did a good job. I've only ever seen her in King Kong and found her unbelievably irritating in that movie, but she's good in this. Her character is surprisingly not sissy, either. She doesn't let the dudes walk all over her. There's one scene where Melvyn Douglas is trying to kiss her in the garden and she's all 'no, man, fuck off'. I think the actual line was "it's too early in the morning". There may be some kind of subtext there but I can't figure out what it is.

Anyway, I wouldn't call this a classic by any means but it's a fairly solid old-timey horror picture and definitely worth a gander if you're into that sort of thing.


Directed by: Frank R. Strayer.  Written by: Edward T. Lowe.  Starring: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Maude Eburne, George E. Stone, Dwight Frye.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Ape

The Ape (1940)

I apologize for this review in advance. I have had a bit to drink tonight so my wit is not at it's sharpest. Also I just finished watching BloodRayne: The Third Reich which left me feeling sort of addled and confused and will definitely be getting a review next week.

This movie is about a kindly but kinda loopy old doctor (Boris Karloff) is doing some well-meaning but slightly immoral experiments to help a young woman (Maris Wrixon) who has polio or some shit walk again. Meanwhile, the circus comes to town and during a fire, a giant killer ape gets loose!!!!!

Those two things don't really seem to have anything to do with one another until the very end of the movie. In fact it was confusing enough that in my little book of notes I wrote, several times, "what the fuck is this movie about?"

Anyways, this movie is actually pretty good. Once the plot sort of falls in to place, it's sort of satisfying, and the plot twist such as it is isn't so cliched and overdone that it just makes you tired and sad (i.e., they're all ghosts! Woooooaaaaaaaaaoh god). So that's good. It took me, like, up until the last ten minutes to call it.

The characters are pretty well done, from the sheriff who abuses his powers slightly, to the townsman (not entirely sure what his job was) who's having an affair on his wife, to Boris Karloff's good performance as the misguided doctor who looks eerily like my grandfather did forty years ago. Also the ape costume was fuckin sweeeeeet.

The Ape did all it's own stunts in this movie.

That being said, the plot could have been handled a lot better. The filmmakers seemed so concerned with hiding the astonishing twist that the very inclusion of the ape subplot was maddeningly mysterious. Plus the editing and cinematography weren't what I would call superb which didn't really help with the coherance of the movie.

Overall, this movie is watchable but not great. A better movie in the same vein would be, say, The Body Snatcher, also featuring Karloff but, unfortunately, no ape.


Directed by: William Nigh.  Written by: Kurt Siodmak and Richard Carroll, based on the play by Adam Shirk.  Starring: Boris Karloff, Maris Wrixon, Gene O'Donnell, Dorothy Vaughan, Gertrude Hoffman, Henry Hall, Ray Corrigan.

The Mad Monster

The Mad Monster (1942)

Okay, so there's this bat shit crazy scientist (George Zucco) who figures out that he can extract a compound from wolf's blood and inject it into people, turning them into human-wolf hybrids to help fight zee Germans. The problem is all of his peers think he's bat shit crazy, so he injects the serum into his retarded gardener (Glenn Strange) and gets him to kill said peers to... I dunno, prove them wrong?

I don't fucking know. Out of all the bat shit crazy scientists I've seen in old B-movies, the dude in this was probably one of the craziest. The guy knows he's fucking crazy. There's one scene at the beginning of the movie where he is imagining talking to the scientists who apparently humiliated him publicly by debunking his crazy theories - that in itself is fine, but then these figments of his own imagination start telling him he's crazy. That's always a bad sign.

Never mind the fact that his 'enemies' such as they were, were actually pretty reasonable. They gladly gave him a second chance to prove his demented theory and would have apologized for mocking him if he hadn't killed them. The guy obviously has a pretty serious persecution complex, even going so far as to get up in the grills of a young reporter (Johnny Downs) because a different reporter did an unfavourable story about him one time. Never mind that the one he chews out is dating his daughter (Anne Nagel) and trying to be helpful. What a dick.

And really, he has this serum which can turn people into crazy werewolves (essentially) who go around murdering people coz it's fun, why doesn't he administer it to the people he's trying to kill? Turning a different guy into a werewolf, getting him to kill his enemies, and then restraining him and givnig him the antidote seems really complicated. Turning your enemies into monsters makes waaaaay more sense. Not only is he a dick he's also not terribly bright.

Man I could go on about the logic in this movie all day. How about this one - every time the villagers who later form a sort of disgruntled mob see the 'werewolf' they describe it as not quite a man and not quite a beast but it's hard to tell because it was misty.

Spoiler: It was this guy.

Granted, the "villagers" in this movie were just a bunch of jerks who lived in the god damn swamp, but still, how come they always jump to the conclusion that the mysterious killer was some kind of bipedal beast and not, like, a really ugly dude in a beard? Or a hippy? From a distance he kinda looked like Kris Kristofferson.

Then again, Kris Kristofferson (presumably) couldn't survive two shotgun blasts to the chest. Which brings me to yet another logic problem with this movie. The writers (or somebody?) went to great lengths to make the 'werewolf' sorta sciencey. Like, y'know, plausible and that. He's a man with ramped up abilities. The only person who suggests that he's a werewolf is this crazy old pipe smoking lady (Sarah Padden). So he's like Science Werewolf. How come he can get shot twice at point blank range with a fucking shotgun and walk away without a scratch? Because science, apparently, is magic.

Okay, I think I'm done with that tangent. Now I'll get to the technical stuff. The sound was terrible - the music was really loud but it was almost impossible to tell what the actors were saying. I know, it's an old movie, but damnit, there are old movies that are not too badly preserved. This one was not one of them. Not that being able to understand what the actors were saying was that important because the acting really wasn't that good. George Zucco was acceptable, and Anne Nagel was okay but the guy who played the titular monster? Woah. I know he was supposed to be playing a retarded guy, and he actually did not go full retard but man oh man was he painful to watch.

The cinematography was bad, the picture quality was bad, the special effects aren't half as good as those in The Wolf Man, and, to ice the cake, the editing was so bizarre (read: bad) that the whole thing was only barely comprehensible. I had to pay really close attention to glean any kind of meaning from the film which made me mad because it was a waste of my attention.

Long story short, this movie really really sucked. If you want to watch a good werewolf movie from the forties, watch the aforementioned Wolf Man. If you want to watch a movie about a man who has been affronted by a group of people and decides to remove them one by one using slightly suspect science, I recommend The Devil Doll if only for laughs.


Directed by: Sam Newfield.  Written by: Fred Myton.  Starring: George Zucco, Glenn Strange, Anne Nagel, Johnny Downs

Friday, March 2, 2012

King of the Zombies

King of the Zombies (1941)

Set, I guess, during World War 2, three dudes (John Archer, Mantan Moreland and Dick Purcell) are forced to land on a mysterious island when their plane runs out of fuel. The island is inhabited by a creepy "Austrian" dude (Henry Victor - the role was apparently turned down by Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre), his spaced out wife (Patricia Stacey), her neice (Joan Woodbury), their servants and possibly some indiginous people but fuck them. Though their host is decidedly nefarious looking, it takes the three American dudes the whole movie to figure out that he is dabbling in hypnotism, voodoo and some Irish pagan shit.

This movie is supposed to be a comedy and it's would almost be funny if it wasn't so depressing. It's so slow paced - the run time is a little over an hour and yet nothing happens at all until around thirty minutes in, and even then it's nothing to write home about.

The writing is bizarre, with characters coming to nonsensical conclusions. For example, the white guys finally start to believe that something fishy is going on when they find an earring on their bedroom floor that wasn't there before. Then later, they notice that the earring matches the pair that their host's sleepwalking wife is wearing, but those are one of a kind and she's currently wearing both of them so something strange is clearly going on... and then the mysterious earrings are never mentioned again. What the fuck?!

In the middle of the movie the tone suddenly shift from horror-comedy to what feels like one of the weirdest sitcoms ever. Mantan Moreland has been hypnotised into thinking he has been turned into a zombie (I don't know why the evil guy even bothered with that shit when he had a bonafied voodude on hand) and comes down to get supper with the rest of the zombies, then starts holloring at the maid (Maguerite Whitten) "Woman! Where is my supper?"

At the end of the movie too they try to jam all this stuff that they thought was interesting together and make it make sense. There are genuine voodoo zombies, there are people hypnotized into thinking they are zombies, and there is something to do with transmogrification or whatever, all of which when dealt with alone are sort of interesting, but all together just seem like overkill.

The photography was crappy - some of the scenes shot at quite a distance for no evident reason other than they ran out of time or film to shoot close ups, and the video quality was terrible, a warning sign in and of itself. It's not a good sign when clearly nobody bothered to try and preserve the film. It's probably just chance that it's still around for our viewing pleasure.

But the most embarrassing part was Jeff, the dim witted, easily frightened, wise cracking, googly eyed black man, who got lines like "I thought I was a little off colour to be a ghost", "I ain't goin' in that house, I is stayin right here til I changes mah mind", and "lawdy lawdy! them zombies tried tah have me fo suppah!" Fuck. Okay, okay, it was a different time, this is quite a few steps up from white dudes in black face and it was sort of unusual to even have a prominent black character especially in a horror flick, but still. This shit is just sad.


Directed by: Jean Yarbrough.  Written by: Edmond Kelso.  Starring: John Archer, Mantan Moreland, Joan Woodbury, Henry Victor, Dick Purcell, Marguerite Whitten.

Road Warrior

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

I saw this once a long time ago (I saw Mad Max and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at one point as well, but I remember way more about this movie) and enjoyed it so I watched it again the other day. Aaaaaand I figured I'd review it coz hey, gotta review somethin' right?

Set in the not so distant future after war n' stuff has turned the world into the Australian outback (augh!). Max (Mel Gibson) lost his wife and young child to a buncha bad motherfuckers in Mad Max and now drives around the wasteland with his dog and his shotgun doing shit. In the search for gasoline he gets roped in to helping a small community of refiners escape from the S&M dudes who rule the wastes.

This actually held up really well, compared to some stuff I watched when I was little and seems really fuckin dumb now - yeah, this movie might be kinda dumb but it's so fucking insane it doesn't matter. It's impossible not to be impressed by the sheer craziness, from the ridiculous costumes, to the whacked out gyro-guy. It makes even the weirdest gaps in logic seem somehow sensible. I don't doubt that the group of leather chap clad badasses would waste all their gasoline driving circles around the encampment in their high performance cars instead of just burrowing underneath the compound - I mean, fucking look at them! They're obviously not the most contemplative dudes, they just do stuff coz they're bored, they don't worry about it a whole lot.

So it's pretty fun. I don't really like car chases in movies but this one does a really good job, particularly because all the vehicles are crazy and cool to look at. My brother and I have like four vehicles between us in various states of functionality, and our mother suggested that we supe them up and use them to reinact scenes from this movie. Just because.

So the highlights of this movie I would say are a) the awesome cars.

b) Mel Gibson. He may be a lunatic now but he's a really good actor. Also he was like twenty five in this movie and ridiculously hot. Holy sweet jesus. And he's got that hot leather jacket.... daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Max is the coolest, hands down. He's got an awesome dog. I would say that he's got an awesome car but it's a Ford so fuck that.

c) The stunts. While watching this movie, I reminded myself that all the stunts were real, none of them were done with computers or any of that bullshit, and it blew my mind. I like watching really good stunts (or, failing that, horribly botched ones), it really flips my switch.

The only thing which didn't flip my switch about this movie was that the accents were so thick I could barely understand a word coming out of anybody's head (I seem to remember Mad Max was even worse for that), although part of that can be blamed on the fact I watched a really old video copy and the sound wasn't great in the first place. But still. Fuckin Australian accents - they're almost as annoying as Canadian accents.


Directed by: George Miller.  Written by: George Miller, Terry Hayes & Brian Hannant.  Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Emil Minty, Michael Preston, Virginia Hey, Kjell Nilsson, Vernon Wells, Max Phipps, Arkie Whiteley

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

This movie had "Guillermo del Toro" right on the cover so I knew pretty much what to expect - some dark, spooky freaky shit with a little girl in it. And I was right! That being said, this movie was actually pretty good.

A sullen but kind of neat little girl (Bailee Madison) gets sent to live with her dad (Guy Pearce) who is restoring an old house with his girlfriend (Katie Holmes), to whom the girl does not particularly take to at first. Despite the fact that the house is totally fucking cool, the basement is infested with an ancient evil... in the form of a bunch of little pixies who are afraid of bright light.

I shit you not, the monster is a bunch of god damn evil fairies. And you know what? It works. Just because something is small doesn't mean that it can't be scary - in fact a whole shit load of little things is probably scarier than one big thing (remember in Jurassic Park 2 when the guy from Fargo got eaten by compsognathus? It was SO TERRIFYING they couldn't even show it).

And furthermore, you know, there aren't a whole lot of horror movies about fairies which I find weird. Sure, when people think of fairies they either think of this:

Or, if they're not into political correctness, this:

But there are all kinds of malevolent beings that can be described as 'fairies', like Spriggans, Goblins, Kelpies, Redcaps and the Glaistig, which, despite being completely terrifying, almost never show up in movies. So, you know, this movie does that at least. Represent. That being said, I think that I could probably deal with the goblins in this movie. For starters, they were only really interested in children. I think. I wasn't actually too clear on what they were after.

It was stated that they wanted children's teeth, but also that whenever they came to the human realm they needed to take somebody back with them - so both I guess? I don't know, I think if you dragged a kid into the netherworld you would automatically get their teeth, right? That's sort of part of the package. So why bother going after teeth? Not a whole lot of logic going on there.

I also have seven cats so I'm not really that worried about anything smaller than a raccoon bothering me at home. Fuck the goblins.

But I digress. Back to the point, there were some pretty serious gaps in logic here. I mean, they find this dungeon underneath the house which was sealed up (they didn't notice the hollow wall when they were gutting the place for some reason) and is totally fucking creepy and instead of, I dunno, going to work on renewing it or at the very least cataloguing the never before seen paitings (the guy who originally owned the house was a renowned painter), they just fuck off and shut the door.

In fact, the adults in the movie seem shockingly nonchalant about everything. It's pretty obvious that there are some little creatures running around the house and the dad dismisses them as rats - so... your house is full of giant fucking rats. Maybe get somebody in there to deal with it? The guy is trying to sell the place after all, having a basement full of monster rats isn't exactly a great selling point.

Actually, you know what, the dad is the only one who is frustratingly dismissive. The awesome gardener (Jack Thompson) knows that there are child stealing creatures in the basement and almost gets killed by them, and Katie Holmes is quickly convinced. It's just dickhead that won't smarten up.

To conclude, this was pretty good. It was kinda silly and not a classic by any means, but it was well done, the acting was good (I was surprised by how much I liked Katie Holmes - I've only seen her in Batman and thought she was terrible but she was good in this) particularly the little girl, and though some portions of the movie were really dark they were never so dark that you can't tell what's going on, and it sort of has something to do with the story so cool.


Directed by: Troy Nixey.  Written by: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins based on the 1973 TV movie by Nigel McKeand.  Starring: Bailee Madison, Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce.