Directed by Tom Holland (1985)
SUMMARY — “When a teenager learns that his next door neighbor is a vampire, no one will believe him.” — IMDb
THOUGHTS — For the current generation, there’s a certain stigma attached to vampire movies. It’s easy to roll your eyes at a contrived high school love triangle built around a vampire, a werewolf, and a submissive alt-culture teenager. But there was once a time when the genre was credible and full of innovation, while still tapping in to the teen angst of its main audience. Following the seminal character developments established by pioneers Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, and Christopher Lee, the vampire flick was in creative turmoil during the mid-1980s. So it’s certainly easy to forget that one horror movie managed to stand tall during the summer of 1985 and left a lasting mark on horror cinema. That movie was Fright Night.
Fright Night is a lost classic amongst an endless sea of 80s slasher flicks. Director Tom Holland wielded full casting control of his debut feature and managed some brilliant casting choices, including Academy Award nominee Chris Sarandon as the vampire and Stephen Geoffreys as the borderline manic confidant “Evil Ed.” What immediately draws the audience in, however, is the dogged journey of the “boy who cried wolf,” a.k.a. B-horror film enthusiast Charley Brewster. Charley’s cast of friends and family are along for the ride as he tries to unveil the dark secrets of the new next-door neighbor.
Sarandon’s cool and carnal portrayal of the vampire archetype is captivating and, supplemented with some edgy special effects, terrifying. In order to stand his ground, Charley seeks advice from his friend “Evil Ed,” whose performance is immensely entertaining and delivers a spectacular scene during a rather intense folklore transformation. Tom Holland spent his money wisely, being the first to break the $1 million mark on vampire special effects. However, Fright Night’s cinematic backbone is the soundtrack, which fills the cold shadowy corners of the quiet suburban town with a mysterious electricity and sense of immediacy.
Fright Night is a fantastic suburban tale, filled with seasonal mystique, characters to love and fear, special effects to instill nightmares, and a killer soundtrack. Make sure to dedicate one night with friends and popcorn to the original Fright Night. And if you listen closely you can hear a distant taunt, “Oh, you’re so cool Brewster!”
VERDICT — 8.5 improvised wooden stakes out of 10
Posted by theasclepiophone
Directed by Drew Goddard (2011)
SUMMARY: “Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.” — IMDb
THOUGHTS: A lot has been said about Drew Goddard’s and Joss Whedon’s revisionist horror film The Cabin In the Woods. Amidst the storm of near universal acclaim phrases like “brilliant” “the perfect horror film” and “will turn the genre on its head” have been thrown around quite liberally. With that much hype behind it, I did my best to properly adjust my expectations going into the film. As I sat down, the lone patron in a dark theater, I decided that I would just forget about everything I had heard and try to enjoy the film for what it was. Fortunately for me I didn’t have to try very hard.
Made almost exclusively for a horror audience, The Cabin In the Woods will require that the viewer be versed in horror movie conventions, tropes, and clichés. Unfortunately for the average moviegoer this might prove to be somewhat of a roadblock. Everyone loves an inside joke as long as they are in the know. That is not to say that the film is totally inaccessible. The script and characters are mostly solid with some good-natured humor found in the film’s gooey center. On top of that the film is just a great ride with quality amounts of jumps and gore.
The creators very intentionally set the film up like so many horror flicks that have come before it. Taking great care to touch on numerous horror movie clichés, the creators know that the intended audience will catch every reference they drop and appreciate their intentions as they lovingly mock the genre that we all love so dearly. Fortunately for us, they also know that anyone can make a spoof and they instead create some sort of strange hybrid that does so much more than just take the piss. They spend the first half of the movie saying “this is what we’ve been shown and what we know” and they spend the second half saying “let’s take all of that, turn it inside-out, and have some fun with it.”
By the time that the final act of the film unfolds, any expectation the audience would have had has been completely obliterated. It’s ridiculously over-the-top, but they do it in a manner that never once had me rolling my eyes. Whedon and Goddard weren’t afraid to try something crazy and for the most part it works for them. To say anything further than that would rob the film of its impact. All I can say is that this is the sort of film that horror fans have been crying for. Boasting a solid script and an original concept The Cabin In the Woods is a forward-thinking horror film executed with humor and affection for an intelligent audience. The only way to repay them and get more horror of this ilk is to go out and see it. You won’t be disappointed.
*Minor qualms: There was some heavy CGI use toward the end that, while competent, took me out of the moment a bit. Also, there were also a few debatable plot holes that require the viewers to just watch and not think too much. Once you start asking questions, thing could potentially unravel for you. Other than those things it’s smooth sailing.
VERDICT: 8 movie monsters out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Quentin Dupieux (2010)
SUMMARY: A sentient tire with murderous psychokinetic powers develops an obsession with a beautiful young woman. Setting out on a quest to reach her, the tire kills anyone and anything that lies in its path.
THOUGHTS: I knew that Rubber was going to be a bizarre viewing experience well before I actually took the initiative to watch it. It garnered a lot of press around the time of its release, but being a movie about a sentient rubber tire will do that to a film. So my gripes are not going to surround the fact that the movie is just freakin weird. Instead my problems with the film lie with basic writing qualms.
My main problem with the film is that the creators managed to cut its legs out from under it in the first ten minutes. Laying out this long and painfully unfunny monologue about things that happen for “no reason,” they are basically banking on the fact that the film is one long joke that you probably won’t get unless they spell it out for you. What happens when you take too long to set up a joke is that it fails to be funny once its delivered.
Another issue I had with the film is that it was trying so hard to be meta and self-aware. They even went so far as to include a ragtag group of spectators within the film who are reacting to the unfolding events as some sort of live audience. It was certainly an interesting concept but they just failed to develop it in an effective way and it just doesn’t make sense. Essentially this facet just became filler for an already paper-thin plot that could have easily functioned as a 30-minute short film. I suppose it just goes along with the film’s mantra of “no reason.”
It’s so frustrating that they crammed the film with so much crap because when the story focused on the tire and his journey I was totally into it. It was a fantastic idea that is funny in its bold absurdity. Had they played it straight without taking half of its run time to wink at the camera, it would have been a great ride. It was expertly shot with some truly funny moments (not to mention the numerous and quite gory head explosions), so its a shame that they didn’t have more faith in what they had.
To its credit, Rubber tries to do a lot of really crazy and interesting things, it just sucks that they only succeed in accomplishing a couple of them.
VERDICT: 4 poisoned turkeys out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Evan Kelly (2010)
SUMMARY: 5 friends reunite for a weekend retreat in the woods only to discover a secret corridor which redefines their relationship.
THOUGHTS: While not strictly horror, The Corridor touches on a common theme in horror films - the unraveling of one’s sanity.
The film starts out at a snail’s pace and slowly exposes the underlying tension and stress surrounding 5 childhood friends. There is the big, balding former high school football star, the successful executive, the teacher that never left high school, the drifter that sleeps with his boss for extra money, and the main reason they are there - the one that had a psychotic episode.
None of these friends are particularly likeable, as is the case for most horror films, yet the only one you can sympathize with just a bit is Tyler - the one that was just released from a mental institution. As he struggles with reality and non-reality, you can feel a sense of panic; is what he is seeing real or is he having another episode?
After the 5 friends discover The Corridor, you start to see their sanity unfurl. They become mean and cruel as if they want to claim ownership of the dementia that only had belonged to Tyler. They celebrate their hysteria and desire to make everyone around them part of their insanity.
What The Corridor truly lacked was a fleshed out script and proper editing. Clocking in at 98 minutes, the story took nearly 70 minutes to finally delve into the meat of the story.
There is not much gore - there are few kills and surprises that happen far too late in the film - and it relies mostly on building tension with the aid of a fairly decent post-rock soundtrack.
Overall, The Corridor is madness lite that could have benefited from a stronger script and cast. Well worth viewing if you want to kill some time but not recommended.
VERDICT: 4 guitar strings out of 10
Posted by unholyrhythms
Directed by Trent Haaga (2011)
SUMMARY: Lance Reed is forced by a psychotic stranger to confront his duplicitous past. Seeking retribution for a crime, the man forces Lance to reveal his inner most secrets by systematically removing his limbs. (IMDb)
THOUGHTS: Chop is my first interaction with the Bloody-Disgusting Selects collection, and I gotta say that it left a pretty good impression (however you might find a differing opinion should you ask Unholy Rhythms). While not a perfect film, it certainly was an enjoyable late-night romp.
A bit of pre-viewing research revealed that the film was written, interestingly enough, by Adam Minarovich (who horror fans will recognize as Ed Peletier from AMC’s The Walking Dead). The film also seemed to find its roots in the Troma universe with both director Trent Haaga and star WiIl Keenan having come up through the ranks. After reading those tidbits of information I was sold (that and the film is on Netflix instant streaming).
It took about 30-45 minutes for the tone of this horror comedy to settle in for me. Handling laughs and gore is such a tricky balance to strike and many attempts fail miserably. However, once I got a feel for what Haaga and Minarovich were aiming at, the film became rather enjoyable and even managed to elicit a few genuine chuckles from me. The gore on the other hand was not as successful. Other than one leg-chopping scene the whole of violent acts occurred off screen with the aftermath of said acts being represented by some less-than-desirable makeup work. I know that the film was made on a rather low budget, but I’ve seen some amazing practical effects work created on a shoestring budget so I don’t feel like I’m nitpicking here (especially considering how the film revolves around dismemberment).
The film scores some extra points for some decent acting from the two leads. The Stranger in particular was hilariously unhinged in some parts and emotionally compelling in the others. It also played around with plot twists rather well leading up to the final moments. Tucking more than one curveball into the screenplay, viewer reaction will ultimately come down to whether or not you appreciated the outcome. Personally I found it a bit anticlimactic. I see how they were going for one last laugh but ultimately it fell a bit flat for me.
Overall the film was more hit than miss. I found the gags humorous and the characters interesting. While not a homerun, Chop certainly had enough going for it to keep it floating.
VERDICT: 6.5 missing limbs out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Alexandre Franchi (2009)
SUMMARY: A medieval reenactment game turns into a Shakespearean tragedy when a non-player crashes the event to win back his girlfriend. (IMDb)
THOUGHTS: I kept hearing things about the LARPing movie and the first thing that came to mind was, “What the heck is LARPing?” So I looked it up on Wikipedia and found out that LARP stands for Live Action Role-Playing and it started gaining popularity in the 1970’s. Basically it is like any other role-playing game but it is acted out in real life by people playing characters they’ve created. Not my cup of tea, but ok. Now that I knew what LARPing was, I felt confident in checking out The Wild Hunt which came highly recommended by a few trusted sources.
I was surprised by how enraptured I was by this movie. This sort of gaming world is something that is completely foreign to me. And while I didn’t really understand the desire behind doing something like this, I tried not to be a skeptical jerk who is watching to make fun. I suppose this helped with the first half of the movie because it did tend to drag when exploring this role-playing world.
Throughout the whole film I knew something terrible was about to happen. It had a very Lord-of-the-Flies-esque vibe to it. When people feel freed of societal constraints they will drop civility and do whatever they want. Now add that to the fact that some of these people are so caught up in this fantastical world that they are probably having trouble deviating between reality and fantasy anyways. That right there is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what we get in the film’s final act.
While this isn’t a straight up horror film, there are definitely some brutal things that happen towards the end. The body count starts to rise before people even realize what they are doing. It’s interesting to see the change on the characters’ faces when they realize that they’ve smashed through the barrier between what’s fantasy and what’s reality and that their actions have real world consequences.
All in all I thought this was a kick-ass independent film. Sure, it was accompanied by many of the problems that plague any low-budget feature (i.e. poor lighting, questionable script, etc.) but when it comes down to it I was totally into it. It’s an original idea that highlights the disturbing consequences to peoples’ actions in a really cool way.
VERDICT: 8 virginal sacrifices out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Kim Ji-Woon (2010)
SUMMARY: When his wife is murdered by a serial killer, Special Agent Kim Soo-hyeon is determined to get revenge.
THOUGHTS: The revenge film is probably my favorite genre. Use a basic formula of a person at their breaking point, finally determined to right all wrongs. Throw in some excellent cinematography, fantastic acting, and a well-rounded script and you have all the ingredients for compelling, gut wrenching cinema; in a nutshell “I Saw The Devil”.
At the very start of the film, you can’t help but wring your hands. The ominous pitch black streets, the woman isolated with a flat tire in the mountains, you pretty much guess that what you are seeing is the catalyst for change. It is brief, violent and gruesome - the composition of violence executed by Kyung-chul as his hammer swiftly and sadiscatlly bashes Joo-yeon’s head. And then there’s moment - the brief pause - the moment of no return and you are hooked.
Min-sik Choi plays Kyung-chul with such flair that it is hard to believe that he is not really a bloodthirsty brute. Byung-hun Lee, as Kim Soo-hyeon, is the near stoic, determined secret agent set out to take revenge for his wife. He torments and harasses Kyung-chul repeatedly and as his thirst for vegeneance grows stronger, Kyung-chul’s desire to annihlate the things that Soo-hyeon loves the most only intesfies. It’s a mutual revenge story as two giants try to annihlate the desire for destruction.
Top notch cinematography, music that enhances (not overwhelms it), and sheer savage brutality, “I Saw The Devil," is truly an experience all cineastes need to experience at least once. Amazing.
VERDICT: 9.5 medicine packets out of 10
Posted by unholyrhythms
Directed by Ti West (2011)
SUMMARY: The Yankee Pedlar Inn is about to close and clerks Luke and Claire decide to further pursue their amateur paranormal investigation.
THOUGHTS: Paranormal films just really are not my thing. There are so many disappointments in this genre (Paranormal Activity, I’m looking at you) and yet when they’re done right, they’re fantastic. Sadly, “The Innkeepers" falls in the "disappointment" category.
Take two clerks that are employed at a haunted hotel that is closing. Throw in some unexpected guests and a super simple story line and the result is this film. Those that have little patience will be disappointed by the abundance how much time is spent working towards the build up in order to be met with very little pay off. Before there is any sign of spirits, you meet the all too naive and grating Claire and the aloof Luke that pines for Claire. Were ghosts residing at the doomed hotel and what was the story behind it?
”The Innkeepers" strength was the all-too-present, overdone music. Backhanded compliment aside, the film suffered from music as dramatic cues syndrome. Like most horror films, the sounds of the orchestra were telling you to be prepared for a shocker - and then it just fell flat.
The main problem with the film is the simplicity of the script. There was nothing that really makes “The Innkeepers" stand out as a film - it was too simple, too packaged - the paranormal seemed more of an afterthought. While the story mainly focused on the staff, and their interests, ghosts were just a side story - as if someone just threw that idea into one big pot and out came "instant paranormal" soup. Scares were few and far between the humor lacked any real punch.
Out of all the “scares” in the film, the scariest moments had to be the fact that Luke & Claire were drinking Schlitz and that I paid $10.99 to watch this. All in all, “The Innkeepers" is zero calorie, haunting lite for the Ghost Hunters set.
VERDICT: 4 schlitz out of 10
Posted by unholyrhythms
Directed by Ben Wheatley (2011)
SUMMARY: A retired hitman and his family fall on financial hard times. So when a job comes his way he reluctantly accepts it not knowing that it will take him into the very heart of darkness.
THOUGHTS: It’s been said that Kill List is the type of film that you should go into knowing as little as possible. And while I agree that this is the best way to view films (in most cases), I can’t really see how knowing the plot beats here would harm the film’s impact at all. You see, I’m sitting here replaying the film in my mind and I still can’t come to a solid conclusion of what I think was going on. It was an utterly confusing experience that ultimately left me feeling deeply disturbed but for reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Before I was finally able to see the film I was acutely aware of all of the praise that it was receiving with many calling it one of the best and most thrilling horror films of the year. So perhaps my expectations went a bit unmatched, but I gotta say that I don’t really see what everyone else saw in this film. That’s not to say that I didn’t admire aspects of the film, because there were parts that I absolutely loved. However, in the end I just found the film to be a confusing mess that really thought that it was smarter than it actually was.
If I hadn’t know what I was getting into, I wouldn’t have even known that I was watching a horror movie until the last half-hour of the film. And it was in those final moments that everything takes a bizarre turn that seems like it came totally out of left-field. I’ve read the argument that there are little hints here and there peppered throughout the film that hint at what’s to come, but to be honest I didn’t really think anything of those moments when they were happening. Perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention or being perceptive enough but I don’t think that the film makers give the viewer enough to put everything together. Don’t get me wrong, I love films that assume the audience has some level of intelligence and therefore don’t spell everything out for them. But in the case of Kill List I think that they left way too many holes with little to no connective tissue that ultimately rob the film’s climax of its true impact.
On the positive side I think that the film is really ballsy. Not only is it really well acted, but it’s a pretty original concept in the days of sequels, remakes, and reboots. Plus once the film really gets going (which admittedly takes a while) the level of intensity and the brutality of the violence manage to create a suffocating atmosphere that should have left viewers feeling breathless. It’s just a shame that the it ended up cutting its own legs out from under it by being unnecessarily confusing.
VERDICT: 5.5 dead rabbits out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Dick Maas (2010)
SUMMARY: Every December 5th, when there is a full moon, Saint Nicholas comes out to “present” those that have been naughty and nice… with his sickle!
THOUGHTS: After being full of hot chocolate and delicious food on Christmas Day, I decided to honor the holidays with a little comedy/horror film from the Netherlands about the legend of Saint Nicholas.
Every 30 or 32 years (the film is not quite consistent about this date), there is a full moon on December 5th. When the full moon is high in the sky, Saint Nicholas visits the naughty kids and adults (he doesn’t discriminate) to bestow his gift to the world - death.
Let’s say this right off the bat: the film is not good. While it isn’t great, it wasn’t enough to make me want to turn off the film. The acting is terrible, the plot line is a filled with gaps and rushed, yet I found myself continuing with the film. Clocking in at under 90 minutes, “Sint,” felt more like a cliff notes version of something that could have been epic, horrific fun.
There were few on screen deaths, with most of the ones showcased being funny and over the top, but really could have benefited by amping up the screen time kills. Throughout the first half of the film there was much foreshadowing of the bloodbath that was going to occur. At the second half of the film, when the time came for the “havoc”, it was more of a whimper instead of a full blown cry.
“Sint”, in all honesty was like a weak cup of cinema coffee - you don’t really like it yet you still drink it to get your caffeine fix.
VERDICT: 4 1/2 crazed bishops out of 10
Posted by unholyrhythms
Directed by Declan O’Brien (2011)
SUMMARY: A group of college kids head out on snowmobiles to celebrate their winter break. After getting caught in a storm they seek shelter in an abandoned sanatorium that is home to crazed inbred mutants.
THOUGHTS: I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to horror movies. Even if they are bad, I can usually find at least something to like about them whether it’s the kills or the bad acting or the premise. Then there are also the so-bad-they’re-good films that I love so much. Unfortunately, Wrong Turn 4 is no such film. In fact it’s so unbelievably bad that I’m going to say it’s one of the worst films I’ve seen all year. I wish I could wipe it from my mind, but then again I chose to watch it. I did this to myself.
Let me first start by saying that I really like the original Wrong Turn. I even grabbed it for $5 at Wal-Mart several years ago in one of the bottomless pit discount movie bins. It’s just a fun backwoods maniac flick and we just don’t get those kind of horror movies anymore. And even though it was a drastic change in tone, I also enjoyed Wrong Turn 2 for what it was. Sure it was stupid and over-the-top, but it was meant to be a campy splatter comedy and for the most part it worked… And then there was the steaming pile of garbage that was Wrong Turn 3. I won’t even go into it here, but let’s just say that it sucked. It sucked big time.
So heading into Wrong Turn 4 I more or less knew what I was getting into. Written and directed by the same guy that shot Wrong Turn 3, I figured that maybe just maybe it would improve on the third film. WRONG. If 3 buried an axe in the brain of the franchise, then 4 kicks it in further with its clunky boot heel.
Pretty much everything about this film is inept. And when you think about it, a slasher film is pretty hard to screw up. Basically all you have to do is follow a simple formula and just make it a little fun to watch. Wrong Turn 4 couldn’t even do that. Sure, the acting is going to be bad; that’s a given. But when the script is this awful (it seriously seemed like a 14-year old kid wrote it) it just makes the film an unbearable experience. There was also pointless gratuitous sex, boring sets, poor lighting, and blah blah blah.
What should have been the film’s saving grace were the kills, but they even found a way to screw that up too. Instead of sticking with practical gore effects, we are treated to a grotesque amalgam of practical and CGI. When things are CG they are terrible, and when they are practical they are the worst rubber dummies with wigs you could ever imagine. It’s just bad, bad, bad.
I could further list the things that make this film terrible, but frankly I think I’ve pretty much conveyed how much I hated it. It was made for a quick buck in order to cash in on a name and absolutely no heart went into it at all. It’s just a slew of lazy ideas that were chewed up and then vomited onto the screen in hopes of turning some money. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Skip this one.
*Side note: There was actually one particular scene that I rather enjoyed. While his girlfriend is being killed, one of the guys screams and screams and screams. It is loud and feminine and downright hilarious in a completely unintentional way. And for that I give this film:
VERDICT: 1 screaming boyfriend out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Jake West (2009)
SUMMARY: A group of guys take one of their friends out for a weekend away in order to help him get over his recent divorce. Unfortunately for them their retreat is about to get cut short by an army of cannibalistic zombie women.
THOUGHTS: The British seem to be leading the pack when it comes to horror comedy. I suppose it started back in 2004 when Edgar Wright rewrote the horror comedy book with his classic Shaun of the Dead. Since then many have tried to replicate the tricky balance of laughs and scares but really it’s easier said than done. I can think of a few flicks that have managed to recapture some of the magic like Severance, The Cottage, and Evil Aliens (another Jake West film), but for the most part the other attempts fall flat. So where does Doghouse land in comparison to those films? Pretty close. While it might not be as funny or well done, it is still a ton of fun with a lot of genuinely humorous content.
In the film’s opening sequence we are introduced to each of the nine guys one by one with each of them having their own title card. There’s the depressed divorcee, the misogynist douchebag, the clueless chubby guy, and they even have a guy who’s obsessed with Evil Dead. All together there are seven guys which, if nothing else, lends itself to a potentially high body count. Thankfully though, the guys are pretty funny and they play off of each other rather well.
So yeah, there is not a ton to the story: guys go out for a weekend retreat to a country village, village is overrun with zombie women, guys fight the zombie women. On top of that there are a bunch of horror movie cliches thrown in: the guys don’t have a way out of town, they can’t access their cell phones, and the source of the problem turns out to be the military’s fault. But even with all of these potentially negative things going against it, Doghouse ends up offering quite a bit of pure bloody fun.
I guess the thing I loved about it the most was actually the zombie women. The way that they made each seem individual and frickin scary was beyond brilliant. There were brides, hairdressers, old ladies, and lady dentists covered in blood and slime with axes, scissors, swords and drills. By the time one particular zombie came on screen (let’s just call her “Big Momma”) I was losing it. And trust me when I tell you that these nasty ladies put all of their weapons to gory use. It really pushed the film past the point of mediocrity into full on hilarious territory.
Also it should be noted that there might be some sort of underlying message concerning gender issues, but in the end I really didn’t get much out of it in that respect. I can see how some might try to attribute misogyny to the film, but to be honest I just found it to be a stupid good time.
So yeah, if you enjoy films like Shaun of the Dead or Severance then I highly suggest checking Doghouse out. It might not reach the level that those films did, but it darn near comes close with its pure idiotic fun.
VERDICT: 7 crazy cannibals out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Bruce McDonald (2009)
SUMMARY: Adapted from a novel, Pontypool revovles around three people working their normal shift at a small radio station one bleak winter day. After a series of strange events, they soon realize the power of their words…
THOUGHTS: Curling up in bed with a good film is one way I love to spend the evenings. Browsing through Netflix, I see a familiar title, “Pontypool”. I recall wanting to see this film a couple of years ago but like most films, the title escaped me. Not bothering to re-read any synopsis, I click play…
As the film starts, you’re soon introduced to veteran radio talk show host Mazzy whose face reads like leather. The snow flurries all around him making it clear that the day is off to a cold, dismal start. At the stop light, a mysterious woman appears and places her hand on the window muttering something indistinct. He quickly tries to forget what he saw and makes his way to the radio station where we meet veteran Laurel-Ann, and Producer Sydney. He gives his usual reports until something goes awry… People begin forming mobs* and attacking others until the body count rises.
What is most interesting about this film is the style of how it is told. While it was produced as a radio play and a film, it is easy to just close your eyes and let the voices in the scenes envelop you. With every word uttered, you can hear the panic in their tone, the nervousness rising towards the edge of their throat - urging you to keep listening. Watching wasn’t truly necessary but listening was essential.
Once you realized what was occurring, it was, almost comical yet intriguing what the source of the madness was. Instead of being infected by saliva or blood, people became “infected” through words. Those words that truly resonate within you have the power to infect until you are almost forced to inflict your pain on others. If you become infected, you desire to cause the same suffering towards others.
The message of the power of words really hit home in a completely interesting way and while some may feel it was too didactic, it took an interesting spin on what some may consider part of the “zombie” genre.
VERDICT: 7 lost words out of 10
*Note: the victims are “conversationalists” infected, mainly, by the frustration of language.
Posted by unholyrhythms
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier (2007)
SUMMARY: A hapless and nerdy loner finds an invitation to a “Murder Party” on Halloween night and decides to attend. What he doesn’t know is that a group of desperate, starving artists are waiting for someone to RSVP so that they can murder them in the name of art.
THOUGHTS: It’s not out of the ordinary for horror films to function on a nonexistent budget. In fact it’s in this strapped-for-cash world where the genre truly thrives. If you think back to many of the classics then you’ll remember that they were created by people with plenty of vision, just not much money. And while many embrace the lack of money and churn out so-bad-they’re-good B-movies, there are some who manage to rise above the adversity and produce effective and well-crafted horror movies. While I wouldn’t consider Murder Party a classic, it definitely falls more under the latter category.
In the beginning of the film we are introduced to this doofy yet sympathetic guy named Chris who lives with his cat and is very obviously lonely. When he finds an invitation to a “Murder Party” he think that it is some sort of Halloween celebration. So he hurries home and fashions a pretty awesome cardboard suit of armor and heads to the address on the invite. Waiting for whoever finds the invitation is a group of artists who are all competing againt each other for a sizable art grant. For them the idea is simple: whoever can think of the most gruesome and dramatic way to kill someone in the name of art will be the one to win the money. All that’s left for them is for someone to answer the call.
Then Chris arrives and all hell breaks loose. The funniest part of Murder Party is that while this group of wannabe artists are so busy trying to think of the perfect way to kill Chris they start killing themselves off in stupid, accidental ways. Here they have this guy tied up waiting to be offed yet they can’t stop arguing long enough to just do it. It’s when Chris manages to untie himself and make a run for it that things really come to a bloody head.
There is a lot to like about Murder Party and it did make me laugh quite a few times, but I can definitely see how this film wouldn’t be for everyone. The first hour or so of the movie basically consists of the artist crew sitting around in an abandoned warehouse talking and trying to make each other look stupid. In a very Breakfast Club moment they even inject themselves with truth serum, sit in a circle, and start dishing secrets to each other. So if you’re not into dialogue-based movies then the first part of Murder Party might be a bit taxing for you. But if you can make past that then I promise you that the final act will not disappoint as there are buckets of gore to be had. It’s a totally batshit and violent ending that had me laughing the whole time.
Overall Murder Party is a pretty awesome little indie horror flick. It might be a bit talky at first and it’s not exactly a big-budget affair, but there is definitely a lot of fun to be had.
VERDICT: 7.5 Halloween costumes out of 10
Posted by cactus-mouth
Directed by Olaf Ittenbach (1992)
SUMMARY: Two tales of terror told by a junkie brother to his sleeping sister.
THOUGHTS: Sometime in the late 80s to the early 90s, German Splatter films started to appear on the extreme cinema radar. Olaf Ittenbach’s second film, after “Black Past”, featured squishing guts, spraying blood, and extreme deaths.
Like the previous film reviewed by Cactus Mouth, there are certain films that are so bad that they are best viewed with a room of willing participants - people that appreciate terrible cinema and find a sort of artistry in the awful. A film where every blunder, goof, and misstep, is meet with a cheer and a chuckle - this is such a film.
Complete with amateurish acting, hilarious dialogue, and over the top gore, “The Burning Moon" focuses on two stories told by a no good, disrepectful punk to his sister that doesn’t want to go to sleep. As the resentful, druggy brother (played by Olaf himself), he begins to recall the nightmarish story of "Julia’s Love”. Here we meet a girl with the wrong taste in men. Her latest date is one with an escaped mental patient. It is here that we are introduced to what German splatter film fans are waiting for - the gore.
Fingers are chopped off over butter, bodies are set a flame, heads shatter and oh, how the flesh does fly. The blood is thick, syrupy red and the effects suffer from the low budget syndrome but there is something fun about it all. The mood quickly changes as the story ends and “The Purity" begins.
“The Purity" focuses on Frank, a Satanist-Catholic priest that rapes and sacrifies women for his true dark lord. As women are dropping left and right, the townsfolk blame the simple farm hand, Justus, and take matters into their own hands. In this segment, you are treated to the horrors of hell. Random shootings, people being torn in two, cannibalism - whatever you can think of - it is here. "The Burning Moon" is best known for the hell scene and it will truly make any gore-hound squeal with delight.
This isn’t a deep film nor is there a heavy handed theme that ties the two together or some rich “moral” at the end of the story… There’s nothing more here than what is shown on screen. At times, the film does drag a bit and suffers from running a bit too long. It’s low budget fun with sometimes goofy effects and terrible acting but that’s a part of the appeal.
VERDICT: 7 1/2 torn denim jeans out of 10
Posted by unholyrhythms