31 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (28)

Halloweentown (1998)
Good kid show; wanted to see more of the actual town than anything else. (7/10)

The Wolf Man (1941)
Purer than Werewolf of London, and therefore more memorable. (8/10)

Monster by Moonlight: The Immortal Sage of the Wolf Man (1999)
Just fine, except it was hosted by John "Killer" Landis. (7/10)

The Real Ghostbusters,: "Citizen Ghost" (1986)
One of my favorites from childhood and I still think the ghost Ghostbusters look spooky. (8/10)

Tales from the Crypt: "The Switch" (1990)
It was directed by the Governator... good nuff. (7/10)

City of the Living Dead (1980)
Great thing to watch while sleepy; cool zombies. (7/10)

Rob Zombie: "Dragula" (1998)
Head-banging devils in the Munster's car = gold. (9/10)

Rob Zombie: "Living Dead Girl" (1999)
I'll take Sheri over Caesar any day. (8/10)

Rob Zombie: "Super Beast" (1999)
Sheri versus sci-fi ninja is too cool not to applaud. (8/10)

Rob Zombie: "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)" (2001)
Was that Tom Towles as a guard? (8/10)

Rob Zombie: "Feel So Numb" (2001)
Band playing their instruments type, but the crowd has some interesting people in it. (7/10)

Rob Zombie: "Demonoid Phenomenon" (2003)
Great song, crappy video. (6/10)

Rob Zombie: "Return of the Phantom Stranger" (2003)
Band playing their instruments, but at least there's zombies. (7/10)

Rob Zombie: "Spookshow Baby" (2003)
Band playing their instruments some more, but cut with energy. (7/10)

Halloween (1978)
#7: Evil pervades even a small town, but is ignored until too late. (10/10)

30 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (27)

Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Excellent set design, but a massive step down from Bride in all other ways. (6/10)

Hard Rock Zombies (1984)
For once, the awesomeness of the title lives up to the radicalness of the movie. (8/10)

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 14-1: Reaper Madness" (2003)
Mmm... blasphemous. (8/10)
[watched with P]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 14-2: Frinkenstein" (2003)
"He's right! It all checks out." (7/10)
[watched with P]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 14-3: Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off" (2003)
Hard to beat a good "watch that stops time" tale, especially when Bart gets to screw around. (8/10)
[watched with P]

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
Price is a good voice choice, but the plot is faily boring. (6/10)

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 15-1: The Ned Zone" (2004)
I like the multiple shocks before the blast best. (8/10)
[watched with P]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 15-1: In the Belly of the Boss" (2004)
I like Marge's disintegrating costume best. (8/10)
[watched with P]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 15-1: Four Beheadings and a Funeral" (2004)
I like the idea of mutton chops best. (7/10)
[watched with P]

Scarecrow (2003)
The worst flaw is uninspired, boring slasher kills; strangely great daylight photography. (6/10)

The Mummy's Hand (1940)
Better than the first with funny characters and a real mummy with fricking cool eyes. (7/10)

The Invisible Woman (1940)
Screwball comedy with a drunk, naked invisible woman running around half the time. (7/10)

29 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (26)

Merrie Melodies: "Claws for Alarm" (1954)
Not quite as good as "Scaredy Cat"; not sure why the mice wanted to kill Porky, anyway. (7/10)
[watched with P]

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
The blood sprays, not many slow spots and Freddy and Jason really do beat the hell out of eachother. (8/10)
[watched with P]

Tales from the Crypt: "Collection Completed" (1989)
Utterly predictable but with some fairly fun performances. (6/10)
[watched with C]

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Two more days 'til Halloween, Halloween... Silver Shamrock! (8/10)
[watched with C]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 05-1: The Shinning" (1994)
Still the masterpiece of the Simpsons Halloween shorts. (9/10)
[watched with C]

Tales from the Crypt: "Dead Right" (1990)
Pretty standard, by great Jeffrey Tambor performance. (7/10)
[watched with C]

Dracula's Daughter (1936)
Love the implied lesbianism; too bad Whale didn't direct. (7/10)

28 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (25)

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)
Doesn't get much more Halloween than Paul Lynde as a trucker fighting to marry a woman. (7/10)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
A masterpiece with depth of emotion, depth of story and a heapin' helping of comedy to boot. (9/10)

She's Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein (1999)
Finally, Universal grows a pair and mentions Whale's homosexuality as an important aspect of the film. (8/10)

Werewolf of London (1935)
A mad botanist and especially his moonlight lamp are particularly unique. (7/10)

27 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (24)

The Mummy (1932)
Karloff is fascinated, but this is a clone of Dracula without much Mummy. (7/10)

Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed (1999)
Great stories about Zita Johann. (8/10)

The Invisible Man (1933)
Maniacal, muderous mayhem from Raines and Whale; all great fun. (8/10)

Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed! (1999)
Covers the Invisible Man phenomenon pretty well. (7/10)

26 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (23)

May (2002)
Undoubtably appeals to misfit teen girls everywhere; still fairly unique and fairly well-made. (7/10)

Dracula (1931)
Chops the story into an almost incomprehensible mash, but Bela is the frickin' man. (7/10)

The Road to Dracula (1999)
Carla Laemmle is a treasure; documentary is what its title implies. (8/10)

Frankenstein (1931)
Excellent actors and a genius director combine to make the first intelligent horror movie. (8/10)

The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster (1999)
Could've used more on Colin Clive, but otherwise a nice documentary. (7/10)

Boo (1932)
Frightfully unfunny; Nosferatu footage instead of Universal's own Dracula? (4/10)

Yuzna (closing thoughts)

Like Wes Craven, Brian Yuzna is a pretty uneven director: he has his good films and his bad films and it's hard to predict which type will come next. However, he still produces interesting movies consistently enough that he's definitely worth keeping up with. Here's what he's good at:

Ignoring previous movies and forging his own, unique path with sequels (Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 and Return of the Living Dead III).

Horror-romance. Maybe I'm alone, but anytime Yuzna takes a romance in one of his movies seriously, it lifts the entire film up a level (Return of the Living Dead III's Julie and Curt, Rottweiler's Dante and Ula, and, to some extent, Progeny's Sherry and Craig).

"Kicking it up a notch." Especially when he's got Screaming Mad George on board, Yuzna can be counted on to push things a little bit further than your average horror director. From the fleshy ending of Society, to the grotesquely beautiful Bride, to a Wolverine clone that actually, for once, chops people up with his claws onscreen, Yuzna delivers great visuals.

Beneath Still Waters, I'm looking forward to. I actually own a signed copy of the novel, though I've never read it. I think I will, in preparation for the movie.

(comment in the main post)

25 October 2005

Gordon (closing thoughts)

That takes me up to the present. I'm finished with Stuart Gordon for a small amount of time, until Edmond arrives in theatres and "Dreams in the Witch-House" arrives on DVD (sorry, Showtime, I don't plan to subscribe just for one series). I have to admit, I am not looking forward to Edmond. I've already described how I am not a fan of plays. I'm also not a fan of David Mamet. After a bunch of recommendations, I rented Glengarry Glen Ross recently and was not impressed (talk, talk, talk). The clip of Edmond that I saw online looks to be similar. "Witch-House", I'm nervous about... only because it has to stand in Dagon's shadow. Other than that, I am geeked that Gordon is doing more Lovecraft-inspired work.

Gordon's one of the great, unappreciated directors in horror. I'd bet most every non-horror-nut-regular-Joe would have an inkling of who Wes Craven or John Carpenter is. Those same folks would never be able to come up with the answer to "who directed Re-Animator"? Which is a shame, as Gordon has barely ever struck out at bat. Of his twelve films, I would peg only Daughter of Darkness and Space Truckers as strikes. Most everything else have been solid base hits, with Dagon and Re-Animator being homeruns. Apologies for the extended metaphor (in honor of the one Gordon film I couldn't find).

(comment in the main post)

Yuzna (2004)

2004 - Rottweiler - I was very surprised by this movie. The title, the DVD cover art and the plot description all make this sound like an impossibly cheezy movie; the sort of thing you watch half-drunk on cable in the middle of the night. Instead, I found it to be quite good. A man escapes from prison in some slightly futuristic, fascist Spain to search for the woman he loves as he tries to piece together what happened to her on the last night her saw her. He also happens to be chased by a robot dog (hence the title). I love the unelaborated future. There's no "It is the year 2525" subtitle, no explanation of how the dog was resurrected as a cyborg, no description of why Spain's borders are guarded so ferociously. Instead, we glean bits of information here and there, which is always more fun. I like the locations. The countryside reminded me -- fondly -- of spaghetti westerns. The industrial buildings in the city were a great backdrop. To my American eyes, they definitely looked alien/futuristic (I have no idea if they're really just a common design over in Spain). The music was quite good, as well. Mixed in with traditional Spanish guitars, I detected hints of Near Dark and CarnivĂ le's scores in there, setting a nice mood for the film.

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (2003)

2003 - King of the Ants - A bit of a change of pace for Gordon, without a killer doll, giant robot or even a magic suit in sight. As a film that meditates on violence, it is overshadowed in my mind by my recent viewing of the vastly superior A History of Violence. In both, violence is a sort of disease that infects a person and never goes away. In Sean, it's difficult at first until the infection is literally beat into his head. I can’t decide if it’s a flaw or an asset, but both the protagonist and the antagonists are complete idiots. Sean is a bumbling wannabe spy without an ounce of common sense; his enemies are rinky-dink construction mobsters whose idea of a good plan is to try to beat someone into retardation. On the one hand, this makes for a unique movie populated with interesting characters. On the other, there isn't really anyone to identify with.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (22)

King of the Ants (2003)
Both the protagonist and antagonists were idiots, which was both a flaw and of interest. (7/10)

Rottweiler (2004)
Surprisingly good for a movie with a robot dog. (8/10)

24 October 2005

Yuzna (2003)

2003 - Beyond Re-Animator - There was a lot of good stuff in this film. Jeffrey Combs eases back into Herbert West's skin like no time has passed. It is always entertaining to watch the unfailingly scientific, though psychotically tainted, Herbert start some mayhem. I always wondered what would happen to a living person injected with the reagent and now I know. Punishing criminal by hanging them and then giving them eternal life was very clever. Having the main "good guy" cut the head off of his girlfriend in a spray of blood was nicely messed up. The "nano-plasm" was a great way to keep the Frankenstein theme alive, with it as a modern, interesting substitute for the lightning in the original story. Unfortunately, all of this good stuff hangs on the skeleton of movie that doesn't quite work. The story sort of lumbers along; the riot wasn't one tenth as scary as in Natural Born Killers. Like the Looney Tunes-style iris-out on the cackling Feinstone in The Dentist 2, a few things in this film were far too silly for my taste. Yes, Re-Animator movies are supposed to be horror-comedies, but the style of some of the comedy in this sequel wasn't right at all. Yes, a rat fighting a re-animated penis is funny... but it's not Re-Animator funny. The same applies to the warden suddenly growing rat-shaped incisors because of a little rat energy injection. Still, I hope the rumored House of Re-Animator will see fruition. Comb's West is reason enough to watch, not matter what.

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (2001)

2001 - Dagon - Better than Re-Animator. There. I said it. Dagon is the best horror movie I've seen come out in this entire millennial half-decade. I am utterly mystified as to why I never see anyone singing its praises on horror websites or in horror magazines. Excellent location, excellent cinematography, excellent sound design, with a perfect horror-comedy mix. I love Paul Marsh's everyman geek-hero, armed with cellphone and Swiss Army knife, who struggles to screw a cheap lock on a broken door and doesn't really know how to hotwire a car properly. Ezra Godden is excellent in his role as a Paul and I can't wait to see him in Gordon's Masters of Horror episode. The Dagon-ites were original horror movie monsters; I can't recall any other movie with a cult of fish people. I love their voices, their random mutations, the odd way they stare at humans. Like Lovecraft himself, I hate the slimy things that live underwater, so they work as monsters for me. I love the story of the town: how they threw out one religion for another that actually produced results. I am not ashamed to admit that the tentacle girl is hot just the way she is. The way she says it, eternal life underwater doesn't sound so bad. The flaws are minor: some brief shots that contain weak CGI, and Captain Cambarro's true face is a tad latex-y. The best compliment I can pay Stuart Gordon for this movie: it inspired me to go out and read some Lovecraft stories.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (21)

Dagon (2001)
I'm utterly mystified why no one else seems to love this movie. (9/10)

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
Lots of good parts hanging on a weak skeleton. (7/10)

23 October 2005

Yuzna (1998-2000)

1998 - The Dentist 2 - Breaks the unwritten rule of horror sequels that calls for a higher body count. In fact, this film more much subdued than its predecessor in general; it takes a while for Feinstone to truly snap. The journey to that point has the absurdly fun tension that only a horror movie can have. I *know* the good doctor will go nuts at the end and start mutilating mouths. I wince when he snaps at his banker friend or accuses Jamie of being in love with Robbie. I wince not because I'm afraid he's going to go "dental" on them, but because he's endangering his new life in Paradise. Once again, Corbin Bernsen does an excellent job of portraying the arrogant, psychotic Dr. Feinstone. Until the very lost shot, this is a solid slasher film. The last shot, however, leaves a sour taste: it's far too silly for to match with the preceding movie.

2000 - Faust: Love of the Damned - The first half of the movie is quite good. Nice shots, nice music, interesting plot, interesting characters. As soon as Faust appears, dressed in his rubbery, wiggle-horned suit, things go downhill. His Ichi-style slaughtering of people was fun, but the character itself just looked and acted a bit goofy. Seems clear from what was on screen and what I've read that there just wasn't enough money to create what the script/comic called for. Jeffrey Comb's character's inexplicable 180 near the end, as well as Jade falling instantly in love with John, suggests a lot of character development was left in the editing room or was unwritten. As Yuzna was also creating the Fantastic Factory studio at the same time, the film's shortcomings are understandable. Extra bonus point for Screaming Mad George's excellent transformation of Clair into -- literally -- pure "TNA".

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (1998)

1998 - Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show: "Honey, Let's Trick or Treat" - Halloween episodes of sitcoms are always fun. All the requisite ingredients are here: kids trick-or-treating and attending costume parties, adults dressed up and handing out candy, extreme seasonal decoration of the town, and spooky goings on. Nice to see Michael Berryman working outside of the 1970s. I have no idea why Disney refused to re-run this episode. It's not something that I would think would bother young children; even Berryman's hook-arm character is pretty benign. Consequently, this episode is a pain in the butt to locate these days. Stuart Gordon's good at directing children's horror stories. I think he should do more of it.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (20)

The Dentist 2 (1998)
Slower and with less dental trauma than the first and marred by a really goofy final shot. (7/10)

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show: "Honey, Let's Trick or Treat" (1998)
Halloween episodes are always fun. (7/10)

Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)
Great first half with average, if not slightly cheesy, second half. (7/10)

22 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (19)

Tales from the Crypt: "Lover Come Hack to Me" (1989)
Boring and uninteresting. (4/10)
[watched with C]

Man Bites Dog (1992)
Funny and well-acted, but the concept is, unfortunately, old hat at this point. (7/10)
[watched with C]

Pagan Invasion: Volume I: Halloween: Trick or Treat? (1991)
I thought it'd be ultra-Jesusy and funny, but it sucked. (3/10)
[watched with C]

Yuzna (1998)

1998 - Progeny - More medical horror, but unfortunately nowhere near The Dentist's league (though Dr. Burton's hospital seems to have acquired two of Dr. Feinstone's staff). The film desperately wants to be a sort of Communion-Rosemary's Baby hybrid. Its Communion segments are, for the most part, pretty cool. I like the design of the alien's first form and I like the fact that Yuzna shies away from showing them clearly. Jillian McWhirter's extended nudity in those scenes is both welcome and realistic. The details are nicely accurate to "true" accounts of alien abductions I've read. However, those scenes just weren't eerie in the way Communion and Fire in the Sky were. I'm not sure what the difference is. The Rosemary's Baby stuff was mostly boring due to predictability. The ending, in which the aliens effectively kill Sherry with missing time while husband Craig has her open on the operating table, was very creative. The film should've stopped there. Instead, we get an unnecessary dream-abduction-jailhouse coda. Overshadowing all of this, however, was Arnold Vosloo's utterly wretched acting. He sleepwalks through his lines without a hint of emotion; it's a shame character actor god Brad Dourif had to share scenes with him.

(comment in the main post)

21 October 2005

Gordon (1998)

1998 - The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit - A cute, happy little movie. Edward James Olmos steals the show as the homeless Vamanos and is endlessly entertaining to watch. Gordon effectively creates tension over the rather silly idea of not wanting to see a white suit get stained. The movie was a little too "play-y" for my taste. You can tell the screenplay was based on the play, rather than Bradbury's actual story; the characters tend to talk in that yappy stage play manner. That style of dialogue is something I don't particularly like, but I have never been a fan of stage acting. Not exactly my cup of tea, but a nice movie nevertheless.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (18)

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998)
Fun little movie, but a little to play-y for my tastes. (7/10)

Progeny (1998)
Some nice alien and medical horror, but marred by wretched acting. (6/10)

20 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (17)

The American Nightmare (2000)
Weaves images from the news of the era with the horror films with thought. (8/10)

Rob Zombie: "Spookshow Baby" (2003)
Kinetic, but mostly just the band on a stage. (6/10)

17 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (16)

Unspeakable (2000)
Tries and fails, though there are a few tiny flecks of gold here and there. (4/10)

Rob Zombie: "Demonoid Phenomenon" (2001)
Not a fan of concert videos, but there sure were a lot of naked ladies. (6/10)

16 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (15)

Rob Zombie: "Super Beast" (1999)
Needed less of the band and more of the crazy background stuff. (7/10)

Rob Zombie: "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)" (2001)
Dead-on duplicate of the Milk Bar. (7/10)

Toolbox Murders (2004)
An unexpected treat; awesome to see Silent Hill 2's influence. (8/10)

Gordon (1996)

1996 - Space Truckers - The ideas in the movie are great, but the film never really clicked for me. Any of the scenes in the cab, for example, just felt off. One problem, I think, was Stephen Dorff's mediocre acting; it was like Gordon was filming his rehearsal. Another was that a lot of the humor fell flat quite often. I did chuckle a few times, as there are some truly great lines and scenes (the pull-start robo-penis scene comes to mind). This seems to have been the biggest production Gordon has worked on so far: it's his only film shot in epic 2.35:1, it has an expansive orchestral score and the end credits stretch for miles with cast and crew. Despite that, I think his previous two much, much smaller sci-fi movies are superior films.

(comment in the main post)

Yuzna (1996)

1996 - The Dentist - A superior slasher movie. As far as I know, no one thought to make a horror movie about a dentist before (I don't think Little Shop of Horrors counts). That, to start, is an excellent idea. Combine this with some spot-on acting from Corbin Bernsen and you've got yourself a surprisingly fresh horror movie. Yuzna's directing skill has noticeable improved in this film as well. He seems a lot more comfortable behind the camera here and the "crazy dentist vision" shots are fun. This movie and Return of the Living Dead III are the two that turned me into a Yuzna fan in the first place.

(comment in the main post)

15 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (14)

A History of Violence (2005)
Cronenberg is god; anyone who doesn't like the ending is a moron. (9/10)
[watched with C]

Tales from the Crypt: "Only Sin Deep" (1989)
Nothing too exciting; Lea Thompson wasn't the best choice. (6/10)
[watched with C]

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Still the king of serial killer movies. (9/10)
[watched with C]

SNL: "Gay Dracula" (1994)
The double meaning with Travolta makes it much funnier. (8/10)
[watched with C]

The Dentist (1996)
Great modern slasher with Yuzna much improved at directing. (8/10)

Space Truckers (1996)
Given the ideas, this should've been more fun than what was on screen. (7/10)

14 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (13)

The Amityville Horror (1979)
Feels stitched together from a larger movie, where all of the good parts were cut. (5/10)

Strangeland (1998)
Even the unrated DVD was holding back; put together very poorly. (5/10)

12 October 2005

Yuzna (1996)

1996 - Tarzan: The Epic Adventures: "Tarzan's Return" - One of those Z-grade genre TV shows that crop up on cable all of the time. This one is characterized by very poor fight scenes, typically cartoonish mid-90s-era TV-budget CGI, and an actually fairly cool depiction of the world in the center of the Earth. Andrew Divoff, as always, is fun to watch, but the rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. I would've thought they were setting up the golden gateway to be a Sliders-style story generator, but by the end of the show it looks as though Tarzan is leaving it behind. I'd be curious to see what other places the unused gems in the gate lead to, and whether Divoff made his return from the center of the Earth. Not a good show by any means, but it did get my curiosity up.

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (1995)

1995 - Castle Freak - Rock solid horror movie. Both the look of the freak and his back story are interesting and original. Jeffrey Combs is excellent as the former alcoholic whose drunken car wreck killed his son and blinded his daughter. My one quibble is very minor. Just once, I'd like to see someone who's been mortally wounded die before they have the chance to spout off an unnaturally perfect last utterance (usually, "I love you"). Unlike fictional characters like Tarzan, real abandoned/isolated children don't fair much better that our freak. Wikipedia has a good overview:

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (12)

Castle Freak (1995)
Rock solid horror. (8/10)

Tarzan: The Epic Adventures: "Tarzan's Return" (1996)
Z-grade genre TV that I imagine disappointed the hell out of a lot of Tarzan fans. (4/10)

11 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (11)

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Stumbled out of the gate with this one, but Zombie has the potential to be a great horrormaker. (7/10)

09 October 2005

Yuzna (1993)

1993 - Return of the Living Dead III - Excellent zombie movie that dares to break ground in the genre. Never thought I'd have a crush on a zombie, but then Mindy Clark came around. Yes, this film drops the humor that had distinguished this series, but after the disaster that was Return of the Living Dead Part II, this can only be seen as a wise choice. Instead of bad jokes, we're treated to some of the best horror S&M outside of Cenobites. The only flaw: the goofy-looking zombies that storm the military base at the end look like they belong in Evil Dead 2, rather than in this more serious love story. A special raspberry to the morons at Lions Gate for releasing only the censored cut on DVD.

1993 - Necronomicon - I love horror anthology movies. I don't understand why they never do well at the box office (and, hence, they're rarely made), because bite-sized stories are just plain fun.

"The Library" - Jeffrey Combs (who else?) is H.P. Lovecraft in the wraparound. As a wraparound, it works just fine. Reading all of the film's stories from the Necronomicon, which is buried in a mysterious vault in the middle of an old library run by strange librarians, is great. However, I winced at the very poor miniature work at the end, when the eldritch creature bites the librarian's head off.

"The Drowned" (directed by Christophe Gans) - Probably my favorite of the stories. It's shot in an interesting manner, with great angles and great lighting. The constant glimpses of things falling through the floorboards into the basement builds tension; we know something will wake up down there eventually. The story (and story-in-the-story) builds nicely. But, the creature under the house should've been shot a little more indirectly. Again, unfortunately, the SFX just weren't up to snuff for a full-on view of it.

"The Cold" (directed by Shusuke Kaneko) - Pretty standard stuff with a pretty predictable ending. David Warner is always good. The constant thump of Dr. Madden's piston-driven refrigeration machine in the background was a nice touch.

"Whispers" - Fairly disturbing. Critters that saw off your limbs and drink the bone marrow out of them while you're still alive was an unexpected splatterpunk addition to what had been a relatively tame piece. This was not unwelcome, though it might feel a tad out of place. I liked the surreal touches. The steady descent into the bowels of the building/creature felt like a nightmare. I'm told this is much different from the story "The Whisperer in Darkness", but it's a nice piece of horror filmmaking on its own.

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (1990-1992)

1990 - The Inquisitor - Great set, great actors, great story. Lance Henriksen, as always, absolutely buries himself into the role of Torquemada. The rack, the hot seat, the iron maiden, burning at the stake: we cover all of the appropriate medieval tortures here plus some Poe-inspired ones as well. With Castle Freak, the highest quality film Full Moon ever saw. One question: what's up with that codpiece?

1992 - Fortress - Exciting, fun sci-fi action. In a strange way, the futuristic version of The Inquisitor: a husband and wife are hopelessly imprisoned with a cruel and impotent warden desiring the wife. This is also two of two sci-fi films by Gordon with a reproduction subtext. In Robot Jox, society encouraged everyone to breed as much as possible; the opposite is the case here. Also, finding porn in other people's dreams is an excellent idea.

(comment in the main post)

08 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (10)

The Inquisitor (1990)
Good location, good actors, good story, good, clean torturing fun. (8/10)

Fortress (1992)
Exciting sci-fi prison action; strangely, like a futuristic The Inquisitor. (8/10)
[watched with P]

Tales from the Crypt: "Dig That Cat… He's Real Gone" (1989)
Predictable ending, but the journey there is very fun. (8/10)
[watched with C]

Return of the Living Dead Part II (1987)
Painfully unfunny horror-comedy. (4/10)
[watched with C]

Michael Jackson: "Thriller" (1983)
Non-weird Michael, dancing zombies and Vincent Price is all good. (7/10)
[watched with C]

Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
Damned fine zombie romance. (9/10)
[watched with C]

The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror 04-1: The Devil and Homer Simpson" (1993)
Classic Treehouse. (9/10)
[watched with C]

Necronomicon (1993)
Eldritch enough, but some poor SFX take you out of the stories on occasion. (7/10)

07 October 2005

Yuzna (1989 -1990)

1989 - Bride of Re-Animator - The Bride, when she's completed, is one of the most memorable creatures in horror movie history. Her Elsa Lanchester-style head movements are icing on the cake. Outside of West's hilarious body part creations (and the aforementioned Bride), this sequel doesn't really break out of the mold of its predecessor. West and Cain go back to the very same hospital, have a lab in their basement, kill an older authority figure and bring him back to deranged life, involve Cain's girl in matters, and West and Hill seemingly get killed at the end by re-animated corpses. The new bits it does add are more than enough to make the film worthwhile, however. And, Jeffrey Combs proves once again that he is the king of mad scientists.

1990 - Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 - Kind of the Halloween III of the SNDN franchise. I don't have any problem when franchises go off on tangents like this. I do wish the winter solstice angle was played up more. As it is, this film has nothing to do with Christmas, really. The plot likewise doesn't really make much sense. They're anti-men witches, but have Ricky rape Kim to initiate her? After she'd supposedly puked up all of her bug-shaped man-fear? Personally, I was rooting for the witches. I wanted Kim to slice Lonnie up like Christmas ham and become a full-fledged member. The happy ending we get instead pretty much makes this a perfectly average horror movie. But, dammit, Reggie Bannister and Clint Howard in the same movie? Gold. (I still want to know what Lonnie's other present was under the tree...)

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (9)

Bride of Re-Animator (1989)
The bride herself is fantastic and West proves himself again to be king of the mad scientists. (8/10)

Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1989)
Doesn't make too much sense and nothing to do with Xmas… but Clint and Reggie are in it. (6/10)

06 October 2005

Gordon (1989)

1989 - Daughter of Darkness - A nearly bloodless vampire movie. Nothing much happens in this movie outside of Mia Sara endlessly waking from a nightmare with a scream. Only A Nightmare on Elm Street movies can get away with those shots without seeming cliché. Anthony Perkins' performance is the best part, but the character he's given is a weak, useless Romanian vampire prince. The tongue-fangs were cool in a Cronenbergian way, but only used twice. Devlin, an American ambassador, gleefully helps set fire to a Budapest city block in order to burn people alive. Though those people were vampires, his only evidence that they were such creatures was watching a father suck the blood out of his daughter's wrist. Then again, he is a government official...

1989 - Robot Jox - By far, the best post-apocalpytic -sci-fi -robot-gladiator -Cold-War-allegory movie ever made. Colorful characters, robots beating the crap out of each other, co-ed showers (a decade before Verhoeven's Starship Troopers), and great SFX for what was probably a pretty low budget all make for a fun film. Kind of the Rocky IV of sci-fi; usually Cold War allegories drive me nuts in this day and age, but this one still works. It helps that the USA and USSR are renamed and re-branded in a post-WWIII setting. Also, the dust masks the populous had the wear prefigure the masks folks in Asia wore during the SARS scare. Gordon's first foray into sci-fi, while not the homerun his first horror movie was, is still a great ride.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (8)

Daughter of Darkness (1989)
Boring vampire movie with hardly any blood sucking. (5/10)

Robot Jox (1989)
Kick-ass sci-fi, gladiator, Cold War flick. (7/10)

05 October 2005

Yuzna (1989)

1989 - Society - Two-thirds of the movie is a serious film about a high school kid either going insane or uncovering a conspiracy in high society. During the last third, the movie takes such a hard left turn into absurdity that you almost feel violated. It's not an easy change to get used to; the movie you invested 60 minutes into simply disappears. Eventually, as absurdity piles onto absurdity -- seeing someone turn into a literal butthead (and then cracking that very joke), or seeing someone get their head pulled through their ass -- you just have to crack a smile. In a way, the entire movie is like one of the jokes my Grandpa always tells. His jokes always start out sounding plausible and end up with a one-liner that takes you a beat to catch. I do think the script for this film could've used some tightening up: I didn't feel like it built properly towards Bill's realization and Milo, given his importance in the last third, should've showed up more in the first two-thirds. And, in the end, I think They Live said what Society was trying to say, but better.

(comment in the main post)

Gordon (1986-1988)

1986 - From Beyond - I love the idea that swimming around us, invisible and filled with teeth, are disgusting sea creatures separated only by vibrations. Some of the dialogue borders on cheesy and some of the SFX aren't the greatest, but this is still very solid horror. Interesting that this is the second movie in a row where Gordon both cast his wife as an evil shrew and killed her off violently. Knowing there's a director's cut coming out (hopefully) soon, it's hard not to notice where the MPAA's dirty fingers had been: Dr. Pretorius' first appearance from beyond seems particularly chopped. We really need a widescreen version, too. In the open matte VHS transfer I just watched, you can see Ted Sorel's neck hanging out of the Pretorius-monster's extended head. Hopefully, Dolls is selling well enough to encourage MGM with the SE of this. Wikipedia has a nice article on the pineal gland that seems relevant to this film:

1988 - Kid Safe: The Video - SCTVer Andrea Martin, playing a little girl left alone in her house, manages to knock every piece of living room furniture over, burn toast, hang up on 911, drink gin, get blood-like ketchup on her face, and trip-out after sticking a fork in a toaster. Triaminic certainly got their money's worth when they hired a for-real horror movie director to create this. Added bonus: not only do we get to see Ralph from Dolls sing about stopping, dropping and rolling, we also get to see the sexual tension between him, a nurse and a fireman boil over. For the types of thing you were forced to watch in school, this would've been something pretty fun.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (7)

From Beyond (1986)
That there are invisible, teeth-filled sea creatures swimming around is the scariest-cool idea ever. (8/10)

Society (1989)
The abrupt left turn into absurdity at the end eventually wears a smile into you. (7/10)

The Haunted History of Halloween (1997)
Seemed to be a pretty solid overview of the big day's history and a dug the footage from past decades' celebrations. (7/10)

The Saturday Night Live Halloween Special (1999)
Mostly mediocre, with some gems like Matt Foley and Gay Dracula. (6/10)

04 October 2005

Gordon (1985-1986)

1985 - Re-Animator - Decapitations, naked corpses going nutso, glowing-green vials of science, extended female nudity: what's not to love? Jeffrey Combs gives a perfect performance as Herbert West. He's at once a mad scientist and that utterly socially inept, geeky guy we all knew (or were) in high school. Re-Animator is one of the all-time classics of the modern horror era. If A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy was our new Dracula, Herbert West is definitely our new Dr. Frankenstein.

1986 - Dolls - Probably the best killer toy movie ever made. There's something about old-school porcelain doll faces reflecting lightning flashes that is wholly spooky. The special effects still hold up well; I particularly like the wrinkled, black skeletons inside of the dolls where they're smashed. The fairy tale-like feeling of the film is nicely different. It reminded me that fairy tales were the original horror stories, where the wicked are punished and the pure of heart escape from the evil. And, of course, this film appears to have had a life-long impact on Charles "Full Moon" Band.

(comment in the main post)

SWH: 2005 (6)

Re-Animator (1985)
Balls-to-the-wall fun, with a perfect performance by Jeffrey Combs. (9/10)

Dolls (1986)
Best killer doll movie ever; reminded me that fairy tales were the horror genre's precursor. (8/10)

Gordon-Yuzna (opening thoughts)

What is a chronocinethon? It's just a word I made up to describe when I watch all of someone's films in chronological order. It allows me to marvel at their growth over the years... or lack thereof.

This time, I'm doing a combined chronocinethon: Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna simultaneously. It makes sense to me to watch their movies mixed together, since they've worked with each other so often (and it allows me to watch all 3 Re-Animators).

(comment in the main Stuart Gordon post)
(comment in the main Brian Yuzna post)

01 October 2005

SWH: 2005 (5)

Color Me Blood Red (1965)
Some surprising gore for 1965, but otherwise dull. (5/10)

Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation T.R.I.C.K.Y." (2004)
Non-special Cartoon Network cartoon. (5/10)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: "Bus of the Undead" (2001)
"The D is for DraCOOla." (8/10)
[watched with C]

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
Has some unique stuff but was executed a little sloppily. (7/10)
[watched with C]

Tales from the Crypt: "And All Through the House" (1989)
Nothing like a good killer Santa story. (8/10)
[watched with C]

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Near-perfect horror-comedy. (9/10)
[watched with C]