Monday, September 23, 2019

The Beast Within

The Beast Within (1982)
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Newlyweds Caroline and Eli (Bibi Besch and Ronny Cox, respectively) suffer a car breakdown on the side of the road in fuckdick Mississippi. Eli goes to get help, while Caroline waits by the car and gets raped by a monster. Years later, their teenage son Michael (Paul Clemens) starts having a bunch of weird seemingly genetic health problems, so they go back to fuckdick Mississippi to see if they can find out who the rapist was. The townsfolk are super unhelpful and Michael's symptoms get more and more bizarre as he falls prey to... the beast within.

  • Dog slaughter almost immediately out of the gate (-1)
  • The next time somebody complains that modern horror movies are too visually dark, I'm going to make them watch this movie because I couldn't see fuck all (-1)
  • The rape scene in this movie is paradoxically cartoonishly explicit and important to the plot, and also weirdly casual. I guess I forgot how blase 70s and 80s horror movies were about rape (-1)
  • Michael's problems stem, according to his doctor, from overactivity of the pituitary gland, the most maligned gland in all of horror. Did people not know what the pituitary gland did back then? (-1)
  • Michael's doctor do a whole bunch of genetic testing trying to figure out what's wrong with him and don't uncover that his dad isn't actually his dad (-1)
    • Which brings up yet another reason rapists need to get charged and prosecuted - in case they impregnate somebody and years later the bastard spawn has some kind of genetic health problem (-1)
  • There's lots of blood and stuff. There's also a part where the monster busts through a wall and rips buddy's head off which is fucking cool (+2)
  • Paul Clemens' acting is particularly bad. Not that he had a lot to work with, but still (-1)
  • There's a scene where Michael is making out with his girlfriend Amanda (Katherine Moffatt) and her dog comes over with a severed hand, interrupting their sexy time (+1)
  • I wasn't totally paying attention but somehow Michael has the genetic memories of his biological father, which is stupid (-1)
    • He might also be a demon, I don't know (-1)
  • The town mortician (Luke Askew) checks out a female cadaver at one point (-1)
    • He then gets embalmed alive which is fucking hardcore (+1)
  • Michael shows up in Amanda's room, so her dad (John Dennis Johnston) just casually slaps the shit out of her (-1)
  • The transformation effects, when Michael turns into... some kind of thing, are tight and the only really good thing about this movie (+1)
    • He looks like some kind of weird-ass fly boy? Like Brundlefly junior? (+1)
    • When he reaches his final form he actually looks pretty stupid tho (-1)
  • Ultimately, the reasons that any of the plot happened don't make any sense. I'll explain it as concisely as possible: some weird local guy wouldn't fuck his wife, and then when she fucked this other dude, he killed her and imprisoned the dude in his basement, feeding him human flesh from the local morgue. Being fed flesh turned the dude into a monster, and he broke out of the basement, raped Caroline, and then died. Michael then comes and starts killing everybody related to the guy for revenge. But,
    • Why did the monster dude rape Caroline instead of eating her? (-1)
    • How did he gain the power to possess his son? I can almost accept eating human flesh turning him into a weird monster, but not a crazy ghost (-1)
    • Michael wasn't locked in a basement and force fed dead bodies, but turned into a weird monster anyway (-1)
  • There's also this thing where Michael hears cicadas right before he gets possessed by crazy demon monster ghost rapist dude. I wasn't paying attention if and when they explained this, but using my awesome powers of deduction I concluded it has something to do with the 17 year life cycle of some cicadas in the genus Magicicada (yes, that's the real name for them), and the reason he underwent a monstrous transformation was because these cicadas too undergo metamorphosis before sexual maturity. That's a pretty cool idea for a movie monster, and has exactly nothing to do with anything else in the movie (-1)
  • Michael gets killed by his own mom in the end, which is intense (+1)
Final Score: -9

The Beast Within had a couple of good ideas but also a lot of really bad ideas, and takes itself way too seriously to be entertaining

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Reaping

The Reaping (2007)

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Hilary Swank plays Katherine, a former pastor turned university professor who lost her faith and now spends her time debunking seeming religious miracles. She and her assistant Ben (Idris Elba) are summoned to the backwater town of Haven in dickfuck Louisiana, which appears to be experiencing the twelve biblical plagues. The plagues might be tied to a young girl (AnnaSophia Robb) with magic period blood, and/or a Satanic cult. Katherine must face the horrors of her past to unravel the mystery of... the reaping.

  • Atheists in horror movies are always extremely annoying and this movie is no exception (-1)
  • Of all the crazy, backwater towns in dickfuck Louisiana, Haven is the dickfuckiest (-1)
    • And yet, it still makes me miss living in the middle of nowhere (+1)
  • Katherine can somehow just fuck off from her university job to a swamp on a moments notice (-1)
  • The reason given for why the little girl might be causing the plagues to happen is that she may have killed her brother. Katherine never questions why the police weren't immediately involved (-1)
  • The blood river looks pretty cool (+1)
  • This is one of those movies that I was pretty sure I'd seen but figured I'd revisit in case it had gotten better. Throughout the movie I wasn't entirely sure whether I had actually seen it before or not. That means that it was either a) so forgettable that watching it before was partially erased from my mind, or b) so cliched that I got it confused with another similar movie (-1)
  • Hilary Swank and Idris Elba have great onscreen chemistry. This movie was pretty bad but their characters' friendship was really fun (+1)
  • Both Katherine's and Ben's career trajectories are incredibly bizarre (-1)
    • She's a minister/priest/pastor (I don't know the correct nomenclature here) who did humanitarian work in Africa until her husband and daughter were killed. Then, she became a professor of... something? Bible busting? I wasn't really sure what her discipline was supposed to be
    • He's a former gangster, I guess (?) who was nearly killed in a shootout, then went to grad school with Katherine as his supervisor and now works either for or with her in some capacity
  • There's a scene where Katherine explains the scientific explanations for the plagues of Egypt, and how they influenced each other. I don't know how plausible it was, but it was interesting (+1)
  • I got distracted by a video of a fish partway through and possibly missed some pertinent information. It is movie's fault for not holding my attention very well (-1)
  • As mentioned before, period blood is magic in this movie (-1)
    • AnnaSophia Robb's character doesn't even get any magical powers beyond magic period blood (-1)
    • Like, it turns out she's just a regular girl (-1)
  • I enjoy Satanic cult shit for whatever stupid reason (+2)
  • Why is the book of Exodus, and specifically the plagues, the template for every contemporary religious movie? I mean, I guess it's a familiar story, and the twelve plagues are ordered from least to most insane, but like... God did a lot of fucked up shit in the Old Testament, why not check that out once in a while? (-1)
  • Katherine's Catholic priest friend (Stephen Rea) at one point suggests that Satan is making the plagues happen in order to protect the girl, who might be some kind of antichrist. That's stupid, because as far as he knows, the plagues are what is making the villagers go after her (-1)
  • Towards the end of the movie, God starts straight up exploding people which is fucking lit (+1)
  • At the end of the movie, Katherine realizes that she is pregnant, and that the unborn child she is carrying ticks all the boxes of the antichrist prophecy the Satanists were trying to fulfill. She has this horrified look like "oh fuck, I'm gonna have a Satan baby", but, like... get a fuckin abortion, dude. She was ready to kill a twelve year old girl she thought might be the antichrist, getting an abortion shouldn't be that big of a deal to her (-1)
Final Score: -6 

The Reaping doesn't do anything interesting with the bible horror subgenre, and doesn't have any major redeeming qualities as a movie.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Here Alone

Here Alone (2016)

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Some amount of time after zombies... happen, Ann (Lucy Walters) is living alone in a car in the forest. She has a pretty good gig going, living in total seclusion and occasionally leaving her camp to raid houses in the nearby countryside for supplies. Things are going great until Chris (Adam David Thompson) and his step-daughter Olivia (Gina Piersanti) arrive, not only throwing Ann's routine out of whack, but also making her confront the deaths of her husband (Shane West) and baby, causing her to ponder whether she wants to remain... here alone.

  • A good chunk of the movie is just gorgeous shots of what I thought had to be BC but is actually upstate New York. Both the scenery and cinematography are lovely (+2)
  • Ann uses books to try to learn survival skills. Books are our friends after the apocalypse (+1)
  • Here Alone really drives home how interminably boring surviving the zombie apocalypse would actually be (+1)
    • It also makes a point that, no matter how prepared you think you are - for example, Ann's husband thinks he's some kind of survival master and that they're just going to go live off the land - you still might get fucked (+1)
    • It also also makes the point that living of the land is really fucking hard (+1)
  • I liked Ann a lot, she is very clever. Lucy Walters is great, carrying the movie on her own for like twenty minutes. Her character's progression from a naive city girl in flashbacks to a hardened hermit is interesting (+3)
  • The movie builds tension really well, there were several very nerve-wracking scenes (+1)
    • The horror of surviving a zombie scenario with a baby is palpable. Like, you know something is going to go down with the baby because the baby only appears in the flashbacks, but I really didn't want to see anything happen to that baby, ya know? (+2)
  • Chris is kind of a dink, showing up and almost immediately starting to tell Ann what to do (-2)
  • I was more worried than I should have been about the health consequences of the characters possibly drinking lake water (-1)
  • The human drama between the three characters is great and also very stressful (+1)
    • To that point, Olivia ends up being scarier than the zombies, in a lot of ways. She honest to god made me afraid (+3)
  • A lot of the dialogue is really good, with characters talking like actual normal people rather than Movie People (+1)
    • It gets cheesy towards the end though (-1)
    • The acting is good which makes up for it (+1)
  • We don't even see a zombie until about an hour into the movie but it doesn't feel like a drag (+1)
  • This movie is a recipient of the coveted No Phone Award, because I didn't look at my phone through the whole thing (+1)
  • Despite sitting in the woods for who knows how long, the car's battery still somehow works (-1)
Final Score: 15 thumbs up

Here Alone is an engrossing drama about the ugly side of the zombie apocalypse. It's an answer to all of the testosterone fueled, high energy survival movies where the only real threat is running out of bullets. It's an atypical zombie movie, very slow paced and light on gore, so it probably won't do a whole lot for some people. But it's also really interesting and well done, so I'd recommend it if the lack of violence isn't a dealbreaker.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Invitation to Hell

Invitation to Hell (1984)

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In this made-for-TV horror film, a family moves to a new town because the husband/father (Robert Urich) got a job at some big space-tech company. He learns that everyone at the company is obsessed with a local country club, run by Jessica, a glamourous but sinister woman (Susan Lucci). Matt doesn't want to join the club because he's very anticonformist, but his social climber wife, Patricia (Joanna Cassidy), goes ahead and accepts the invitation to hell.

  • The what-the-fuck factor is extremely high in this movie in the first minute (+2)
  • Wes Craven directed this movie? He's known for a handful of movies but directed a whole bunch of weird shit that nobody ever talks about (+1)
  • Despite a strongly weird opening, the movie goes from 60 to 0 in about two minutes (-1)
  • The reason Matt goes to work at the space tech company is to design a fancy spacesuit that is going to be used in the upcoming manned mission to Venus - a detail that doesn't really matter to the movie for the most part. Like... a manned mission to Venus should be a huge fucking deal but nobody really talks about it that much, outside of where it's relevant to the spacesuit design. (-1)
    • Speaking of which, the spacesuit has a built in flamethrower which seems really unnecessary for a couple of reasons. One, have any astronauts actually needed a flamethrower while in space, and would not having a flamethrower literally built into your suit be more dangerous than helpful? Two, the average surface temperature of Venus is 462 degrees Celsius, so if the astronauts encounter something that's not already on fire, chances are it can't be burned (-1)
    • In fact, the only reason that the spacesuit makes any sense is because the surface of Venus and hell apparently have similar properties, which is just super convenient (-1)
  • The villain of the movie is some kind of demon who runs a glorified spa (+1)
  • There's always kids running around Matt and Patricia's house and I was never entirely sure which ones were their's (-1)
  • The spa has a literal door to hell that exudes smoke and the screams of the damned and that door is not behind another locked door (-1)
  • The pacing of the movie is extremely uneven - people start thinking about doing something (like joining the country club without your husband's permission) and then the next scene is them just doing that thing completely unphased by all of it. As sloppy as it is, it really adds to how fucking weird the movie is (+1)
  • The message at the heart of Invitation to Hell is that you should let your wife have a job so she doesn't get bored and do weird shit like selling your kids' souls to the devil (-1)
    • Another major theme is that women asking for what they want are inherently scary and evil (-1)
  • The dog survives! (+1)
  • Once Patricia accepts the invitation to hell, she gives the interior design of their home a classy goth makeover (+1)
  • I love computers in '80s movies because you could straight up type a question in, like "how many employees were promoted in the last year?", and it would spit out an answer that meant something and was organized in a comprehensible way (+1)
  • There's a scene at a halloween party and one of the company higher-ups is casually wearing a Nazi costume which is a big fuckin yikes (-1)
  • The weird dreamy scene where Matt actually goes to hell is well done (+1)
  • Ultimately, I don't understand why Jessica is doing the things that she does - specifically, she is sucking the souls out of people (?), trapping them in a hell dimension, and then putting either a demon or the evil version of that person into their body and letting them roam around. What does she gain by doing this? Is she Satan? (-1)
    • At the end she is defeated by the family, like... being together and loving each other or something? I don't understand why that kills her (-1)
    • But it does make it her explode and that's fuckin awesome (+1)
  • Matt leaves a 2+ million dollar spacesuit in hell (-1)
Final Score: -2 thumbs up

Invitation to Hell is kind of weird but not really very good