Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Descent (2006)

I saw this movie when it first came out, which was a while ago, and I apologize for not reviewing it sooner...This movie was amazing! A group of women go spelunking in an undiscovered cave system. They become trapped after a cave-in occurs with no way out. Soon they discover they are not alone...

After getting out of the theater and returning home to an empty house, I had to turn on all the lights and call my good friend Josh to talk to as I was so scared! The claustrophobia, the element of being trapped underground, not to mention the creepy creatures the women faced all scared me darn good!! It is still hard to talk about without shivering a little...which is why The Descent is one of my new favorite horror films!

Go see this if you already hadn't...

Buy it on Amazon!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2001 Maniacs (2005)

2001 Maniacs is a remake of the Herschell Gordon Lewis' 2000 Maniacs where a group of college kids set for spring break end up in Pleasant Valley, a tiny Southern town in the sticks. They are invited to be the guests of honor at the annual "Guts 'n' Glory Jamboree."

I was very surprised at this movie - I enjoyed it immensely! It had the perfect blend of horror and comedy, with great characters all around! Campy and crude, I highly recommend it, as this is probably my favorite horror film I've seen in a long time!

Order it on Amazon!

Return of the Evil Dead (1973)

The Templar Knights are back in this second installment of Amando de Ossorio's four-part horror series. This time, they arise to seek revenge on the town that burned them alive hundreds of years ago. Fans of Tombs of the Blind Dead won't be disappointed. I love this 1970 Spanish masterpiece, as the eyeless Templar Knights always give me the chills. Check out Tombs of the Blind Dead first, and if you enjoy it, you will enjoy the rest of Ossorio's films.

Blind Dead Box Set on Amazon!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Masters of Horror - Jenifer (2005)

In Jenifer, directed by Dario Argento, a cop becomes attached to Jenifer, a deformed girl whom he rescues from a man about to kill her. Giving up his family and career, he does anything to protect her...

I was sorely disappointed in this movie. I am an Argento fan and was expecting so much more than this...throughout the 51 minute movie there are far too many sex scenes which lend nothing to the story. The story is weak and I could see the ending coming from a mile away...

On Amazon!

Summer of Fear (1978)

Summer of Fear was worth watching just to see Linda Blair with a huge 'fro! This 1978 made-for-TV movie (I wish they had movies like this on TV nowadays!) concerns a cousin who comes to live with Rachel's (Blair) family on their ranch due to a family tragedy. Soon, Rachel comes to suspect that her cousin Julia is an evil witch! This is a fun movie to watch that has no real scares. Nonetheless, it did keep me entertained! Pure fluff...

Order it on Amazon!

Man Bites Dog (1992)

Man Bites Dog - A French satire film made in documentary style. A camera crew is following around a serial killer, but soon they become involved in his killings. I was expecting a lot more satire from this film, but most of it falls flat. Perhaps it got lost in translation, but I believe this is just a weak satire. The killings are realistic and frightening in their brutality, but the rest of the film drags and goes no where.

Bottom line: I can appreciate its social commentary and shocking violence, but its artsy pretentiousness got in the way of me liking it.

Check it out on Amazon!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Masters of Horror - Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (2005)

From the director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep, Don Coscarelli, comes this entry into the Masters of Horror series. A seemingly helpless girl is captured by serial killer Moonface, but she is intent on surviving. I enjoyed this movie very much - we are told Ellen's story in flashbacks as she tries to escape from Moonface...seems like she had lots of issues at home. I highly recommend this has great set design, a cringe-inducing torture machine (watch yer eyeballs!), and good character development.

Order it on Amazon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Creep (2005)

Creep stars Franka Potente as Kate, who dozes off on a subway platform and wakes up to find she is locked in for the night...but she's not alone. A deformed killer begins to stalk her and a few homeless people living underground whom she befriends. The killer is creepy, especially his screams, but they show too much for him to be truly scary. This film reminded me of The Descent with its claustrophobic and dark atmosphere. It leaves a lot unexplained, which is fine with me. Overall, a pretty decent film!

On Amazon!

Ted Bundy (2002)

Ted Bundy - Only amusing for the one line - "Act like you're dead!" - the rest of this movie is flat, dull and attempts to eroticize Bundy's killings. Lots of exploitative shots of women, which does nothing to raise the terror which should be felt during the killing scenes. A meandering mess of a movie.

Check it out on Amazon!

Burnt Offerings (1976)

Burnt Offerings - A film about a family (including Bette Davis, yay!) that rents a sprawling mansion for the summer from some odd owners. The owners leave their mother there for the summer as well, and the wife (Karen Black! Yay!) becomes overly protective of her. Strange things begin to happen at the house...hallucinations, fits of rage, secrets, plants coming back to life, etc. This was an odd, kind of boring movie. Though it is popular in some horror circles, I found it pretty boring. To me, even the ending was predictable.

There are some creepy scenes, though, including a driver that makes me shudder ever time he popped up. While the film wasn't as scary as I had hoped, it still has a creepy vibe that will no doubt be appreciated by many horror fans. 

Check it out on Amazon!

Frightmare (1974)

Frightmare - A pretty decent British movie from 1974 about a cannabalistic mother and those in her family trying to protect her. I enjoyed the realistic ending, but the rest of the film is a little slow with minimal gore. Perfect for a lazy Sunday, though.

Check it out on Amazon!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Last House on the Left (1972)

A gritty, brutal look at the abduction, torture, humiliation, rape and murder of two innocent girls (Mari and Phyllis) at the hands of a group of escaped convicts and the lengths the parents of Mari go to for revenge.

This is a very hard movie to watch because of all the brutality. Wes Craven, who directed this in 1972, does not make the abduction at all sexy (many films seem to eroticize violence these days, especially towards women), but very uncomfortable. It's hard to watch what the convicts ("murderers, dope-pushers and rapists") do to Mari and Phyllis and equally difficult to listen to the girls plead, beg and bargain for their release. When the parents take their revenge at the end of the film, I cheered them on, but not before realizing that they had become what they hated. The killers became the victims, the victims became the killers.

Craven made this ugly, brutal film to reflect the ugliness and brutality of the Vietnam War. As the violence against the two girls was random and pointless, so was the Vietnam War (according to Craven). The random chance that the convicts' car broke down in front of Mari's house is an ironic twist that makes the death of Mari and Phyllis that much more tragic. I believe this also reflects Craven's views on violence and the Vietnam War. The bumbling cops that many think are in the film to evoke comic relief are actually another social commentary Craven uses to express his disgust in authority figures. The cops come far too late to save Mari and Phyllis, which is the result of their own stupidity for not planning ahead. They had realized where the escaped convicts were, and that they had the girls, but they ran out of gas before they could reach Mari's house. Their ineptitude cost Mari and Phyllis their lives and forced Mari's parents to take the law into their own hands. There is a definite connection between that aspect of the film and Craven's view on the U.S. government at the time.

Last House on the Left is an extremely uncomfortable movie to watch, but one that raises many important social questions. It's significance in horror is unquestioned, as it has influenced many films from those with a cinema verite style to the rape/revenge kind to torture flicks.

It's tagline is, "It's only a's only a movie" but I believe Craven hoped audiences would recognize the social commentary he laced throughout.

Check it out on Amazon!

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

Freddy's baaaaaack...

This time, the actors from the original Nightmare on Elm Street all play themselves and face the threat that Freddy is real and is coming from them. Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and Wes Craven all play themselves. Heather is hesitant about making another Freddy movie, as strange things are happening. She is having nightmares, her son begins acting very strange and frequent earthquakes are happening. Then, people close to her and to the Freddy films start dying...It is revealed that a very old evil is taking the guise of Freddy to break into our world.

This New Nightmare is very different from any other of the Freddy films. First of, it feels more real since it is happening not to characters but to real actors. It also treats the subject manner in a more serious way, which lends the movie a certain air of sophistication not prevalent in the other films.

Honestly, this movie freaked me out...I was watching it alone late one dark night and had to actually turn it off about 30 minutes in because I was getting too scared. If you've been reading this blog long, you know this rarely ever happens to me! After watching it the whole way through (with some company, mind you) I definitely enjoyed it (though I was still spooked!).

If you are into the Freddy films I would definitely check out this Nightmare for a creepy change of pace.

Check it out on Amazon!

Monday, September 4, 2006

Kingdom Hospital - The Series (2004)

So, I was busy there for about a week watching the Kingdom Hospital series. I was completely spellbound by this series. It started off really slow and wasn't necessarily scary, but it was indeed spooky and consuming...I just couldn't stop watching.

It features the little girl from Silent Hill as a good spirit and my current favorite Kett Turton (who was a lovely goth in Gypsy 83) as an evil spirit. There is a battle between good and evil happening on the grounds of Kingdom Hospital, and it is up to a coma patient, a psychic and a doctor to stop the evil.

It's a bit difficult to explain an entire series, but if you like a spooky atmosphere, ghosts, mystery and dark humor...this is a good series. Stephen King adapted this from a Dutch miniseries called The Kingdom (I have yet to watch it). I recommend you check it out!

On Amazon!

The Funhouse (1981)

Directed by Tobe Hooper and released in 1981, The Funhouse tells the story of two couples who decide to spend the night in the funhouse of a carnival. They witness a murder, and spend the remainder of the movie trying to escape from the deformed killer.

Don't be mistaken, the "deformed killer" is no where near as scary as Leatherface from Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. He's more of a pathetic character, and there are times where I felt sorry for him. His father, who works at the carnival as a barker, is the real villain here, though there are times where I felt sorry for him as well. The killer works at the Funhouse, wearing a Frankenstein mask, and is constantly heckled by his father. The murder the kids witness is when he kills the carnival's fortune teller, whom he pays for a sexual service. She refuses to give his money back after he finishes a bit prematurely, and in a fit of rage he strangles her. His father finds out what he has done and soon they discover that they are being watched by the two couples. Though the father is enraged that his deformed son has killed "one of their own," he orders him to track down the kids and kill them.

The couples try to escape, but realize that they are locked in the Funhouse. One by one, they are killed off by numerous devices in the Funhouse. The characters were all pretty unlikable, so I don't even remember their names. One interesting plot line had one of the girls' little brother following them to the carnival, where he is traumatized by the killer. The rest of the movie was pretty boring. It had some cool kills, but the deformed killer looked ridiculous, the acting was bad and it didn't have very much suspense. It is not a memorable movie.

One cool thing was seeing how carnivals used to be - complete with an animal freak show and a nudie review! There are better, more suspenseful and less annoying movies to watch besides Funhouse, though...I recommend you check something else out unless you really like carnivals.

On Amazon!

Blood Feast (1963)

This 1963 Herschell Gordon Lewis film focuses on a serial killer who is obsessed with the Egyptian goddess Ishtar. He kills young women and takes certain body parts for a sacrifice to Ishtar. The killer is also planning an Egyptian feast for a Egyptian feast no one will soon forget!

I went into this movie knowing that it would be a horrible exploitation flick, but I guess I didn't realize just how bad it would be! I was completely bored the whole way through...the acting is horrible, the direction is shoddy, the effects are gory, but cheap and fake. I couldn't sit through it was just way too lame for me.

I wanted to see this movie because Herschell Gordon Lewis is the Godfather of Gore...but if a movie just focuses on the gore and doesn't take time to make me care about the characters or story, then it's just not worth it for me. I need a movie with a little more substance.

However, this film shows us the roots of where horror came from and its amazing to think on how little money this film was made! Of definite interest for future horror filmmakers looking to make a movie on the cheap as well as horror buffs who want to go back to the genre's beginnings.

On Amazon!
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