While not the first to do it, The Blair Witch Project was the first movie to really bring the “found footage” style of movie to the masses. Telling the tale of three student filmmakers (stole that line from Wikipedia), who went out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a legendary figure, and never came back.
The film starts out with a message stating tat the movie was put together from the footage found in the cameras after the three film students had disappeared. The three, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams had headed out to make a documentary about an evil witch, or spirit that is rumoured to haunt the woods outside of Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly known as “Blair”). They talk to locals who tell them the tales they heard as children growing up in Burkittsville, and how the witch tale was used to keep kids in line. They also hear the tail of a tragedy that happened in the 1940s with the disappearance of several local children, as well as several men from the community. Well, the three decide to head off into the woods in search of the Witch, or at lease evidence of such. Soon they find themselves hopelessly lost and it seems the focus of some weird nocturnal activities. They hear weird sounds at night and fins strange constructs of twigs and wood as well as neatly stacked rocks around their tent in the morning. As time passes and they become more and more loss, the individuals start really showing their stress in the way they interact with each other. The weird sounds and such continue and increase, adding to the stress of the group. When one member of the group disappears in the night, and fails to return, it just gets worse. You know things are just not likely to work out for our little group of film makers.
The Blair Witch Project did a great job of capturing the initial enthusiasm of the three, as well as there slide to desperation , and breakdown of the three main characters. They manage to remain believable (for the most part), and while you may grow frustrated with them at times, it’s at times where youy as a watcher are supposed to get frustrated with them. Is this a good movie? Damn straight.
Check out the trailer below, and if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and get yourself a copy.
2006’s Slither does something very difficult: it manages to mix horror with Science Fiction (Sci-Fi), and adding a large dose of comedy…and gets it all right. I’ve reviewed the move in the past (here is the original, tiny write up: Slither 2006). It was so good, that I decided we should watch it again, and maybe put a little more effort in the write up this time.
Starring Canada’s own (hell,we were in the same high school at the same time), Nathan Fillion (Firefly anyone?), as Chief of Police of the town of Wheelsy, South Carolina, where a meteorite crashed to earth, carrying an alien life form. Shortly after it crashes to earth, local, well to do guy, Grant Grant (played by Michael Rooker), gets taken over by the creature after poking at the gelatinous, pulsing mass in the nearby woods (after almost, but not quite cheating on his wife). Soon Grant starts craving fresh, raw meat, and also starts mutating. When Grant’s lovely wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks), see’s a misshapen Grant, he explains he had a reaction to a bee sting. Well, soon other things start happening, including the disappearance of neighbourhood pets, as well as Barbara, a local drinkin’ floozy…
Well, you see, Grant is now the host of an alien intelligence who spreads through taking over individuals, either through assimilation or through infection via a parasitic worm/slug like form. The creature can also use a life form as a host to breed the aforementioned worms/slugs…and it does – boy does it ever. Of course this turns in to a battle of a few against a lot, and is tense and action packed… as well as a lot of always cool grossness. The creature design is fantastic, and the whole cast does a great job in creating what feels like a heartfelt homage to the alien invasion/creature films of the 1950’s and 1960’s. This is a great Sci-Fi/Horror/comedy that I strongly suggest you check out.
Here is the trailer:
Vampire Week Movie 5 – Shadow of the Vampire (2000)–The Troubles of Casting a Vampire – In Your Vampire Movie
Set during the shooting of the iconic 1922 Vampire film, Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire tells the tale of the dangers that can face you when you look for too much realism in your films. Staring John Malkovich as famous German Director, Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, during his filming of the above mentioned Nosferatu. Taking his cast and crew to film on location in Czechoslovakia, where he instroduces the rest of the crew to the star of the film, Max Schreck, whom, Murnau explains, will be in character for the entire time of the filming, and will only be seen at night. Schreck is played masterfully by Willem Dafoe. When members of the crew start to disappear, we see interesting back and forth between Murnau and the Vampire, in which we find out that Murnau has made a very interesting and questionable bargain with the Vampire: His good behaviour for the life of one of his cast. Shame it’s so difficult to deal with the undead.
Shadow of the Vampire puts a new twist to the Vampire movie: it’s a movie about the making of a vampire movie – wherein the Director of said movie chose to hire a real Vampire to play the title role. The cast is composed of a lot of “A” Listers and they all do an amazing job in this unusual film. The story is gripping, and the switch between regular filming, and the representation of what Murnau is capturing on his cameras is a great way to capture the dualism of the story. After watching this, I was compelled to watch the original, 1922 Nosferatu the very next day. If you enjoy horror movies, plot twists and damn good acting then you owe it to yourself to watch this film. Check out the trailer below:
Thank you to everyone that made the Calgary Horror Convention an AMAZING event. A fantastic lineup of guests, including a reunion of the cast from the fantastic 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead: Bill Moseley, Tom Savini, Patricia Tallman and Tony Todd,
Wow… I had never heard of the Basket Case movies until my buddy suggested we watch them about a month ago. Well, last night we finished the last of the three movies and I have to say that I was left pleasantly surprised at how much these movies entertained me.
The Basket Case movies tell the story of two Siamese, or co-joined twins, separated in childhood. One twin, Duane Bradley (played hilariously cheezily by Kevin Van Hentenryck) is a fully formed, mostly normal looking guy, but his brother, Belial, is a disgusting blob of flesh with one dangerously powerful arm and, a very strong leg and a disturbingly human face with a mouth full of jagged, dangerous teeth. Belial is a dangerous character who is understandable unbalanced. Spending most of his time in a basket (hence the name of the movies), he and Duane have a psychic bond and can communicate without words). Duane and Belial were separated against their will when children in a horrific home surgery. Now Belial and Duane are looking for revenge on the doctor’s that did the brutal operation. Belial, extracting his revenge – this little guy is a damned efficient killing machine – having killed a large number of people, gets into a scuffle and he and Duane fall out a window together. Apprehended and brought to a hospital, they both escape.
Basket Case 2 picks up where Basket Case left off – now Duane and Bradley find themselves in the home of Granny Ruth (played by Annie Ross), a woman who has taken it upon herself to provide sanctuary for horribly and bizarrely deformed people. The cast of strange creatures is interesting and funny – I thing the creature designer on this film most likely had a great time. This is a place where Belial can feel at home and not have to hide from the world. Duane, though is having a tougher time fitting in, as he feels like the outsider. That said, he manages to fall in love with Granny Ruth’s assistant, Susan (played by Heather Rattray), a seemingly normal young lady – and it seems that she loves Duane, too. Also, Belial finds love himself when he falls for a similarly mutated Eve. Soon Granny Ruth’s sanctuary is threatened by a sleazy reporter and photographer. Duane and Belial decide to organize the ragtag group of mutants into an efficient and deadly defence. After saving the day, Duane and Susan start to get it on… and Duane finds out the real reason Susan stays with Granny Ruth. Duane flips out and goes off the mental deep end (and something happens to Susan)… And the movie ends. Oh, I can’t forget to mention the weirdest love scene ever between two lumps of mutated flesh.
Basket Case 3, starts the moment Basket Case 2 ends. Duane wakes up to find himself in a straight jacket, calling out to whomever claiming that he’s all better now. Granny Ruth enters his padded cell and explains how long he’s been there and why. She also gives him some good news: he’s going to be an uncle, as Belial has impregnated Eve. Eve, being massively mutated, is starting to go into labour, and Granny Ruth is concerned that she may require medical attention. She packs up the entire group of mutants into a school bus and they take off to a sympathetic Doctor referred to as Uncle Hal. Uncle Hal has been taking care of a genius, multi-armed mutant, Little Hal. Duane, still a loose, mildly crazy loose cannon, is trying to escape at any cost. Meanwhile Eve Gives birth to a…a lot of little Belial copies, despite the fact that Belial loses it and attacks Uncle Hal (due to a flashback). Getting the attention of the Sheriff’s daughter, who he stupidly trusts, he soon finds himself behind bars, while the stupid deputy’s decided that they want to capture Belial for a reported $1,000,000 reward offered by a rag newspaper. Yeah, well that doesn’t go very well and one escapes with his life and a basket full of baby Belial looking offspring. The mutants aren’t going to stand for that, and they launch a brazen attack on the jail in order to save the babies. Things get even weirder.
Okay, these are low budget movies that leave a lot to be desired. That said, I really enjoyed them. Duane is an unbelievable silly character that while fake, is super fun to watch. Belial is such a weird character that it’s hard to find him scary, and the gallery of mutants under Granny Ruth’s roof are very… crazy. Still, I really liked these movies – they have a certain charm that is very rare in the horror genre, and if you can suspend your sense of disbelief, you might just have a good time watching these crazy movies.
1973’s British production, The Legend of Hell House is a stylish, early 1970s horror movie that kind of surprised me. You see, I usually find 60’s and 70’s British horror to be boring… and mostly crap. With the exception of some (but not all) Hammer films. Well I am glad to say The Legend of Hell House is an exception to this.
The story is basically this: A millionaire, Mr. Deutsch hires a group of “specialists” to investigate a purported Haunted house, The Belasco House, in an effort to either prove or disprove life after death. The Belasco house had been the home of Emeric Belasco, a rumoured, evil giant of a man who reportedly held massive orgies in the home. Later, after the death of Belasco, people who entered the house either died or suffered insanity.
In the 1950s, a group that entered and tried to get to the bottom of the hauntings ended in tragedy. The only survivor, a 15 year old physical medium named Ben Fisher survived. Now, in 1974, Ben (played by Roddy McDowell), along with physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), his wife, Ann Barrett (Gayle Hunnicutt) and spiritual medium Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) make up the new team that was hired to investigate.
The fist night together in Belasco House, the group partakes in a séance (or sitting). During this sitting, Florence claims to be channel a spirit, and in a weird, manly voice warns and threatens the group, while physical objects around the room are shaken and moved without anyone touching them. While the group is shaken up, Dr. Barrett believes that there must be a scientific reason for the events.
As the days go by, Florence is visited by what appears to be several spirits, but most notably, one claiming to be Belasco’s son, asking to be released. These visits seem to end with Florence being physically attacked – even by an evil, determined black cat.
Florence isn’t the only one being targeted – they all are. Ann Barrett, becomes temporarily possessed while sleep walking and tries to engage Ben in sex. Ben, realizing it is the spirit talking and not really Ann, slaps her awake – she comes to and runs away. – A note: Ann is pretty hot – Ben must have used some serious will power here-. Also, during another sitting, Dr. Barrett is targeted by flying objects that are hurled in his direction seemingly by invisible hands. Dr. Barrett, though, is still convinced that this can be explained scientifically.
Barrett has a large piece of equipment delivered to the house that I think drains the ethereal energy of the house – Florence attempts to destroy the machine but fails. Barrett starts up his machine and gets to work. While they are doing so, Florence gets up and enters the chapel of the house… where tragedy befalls her. While this is happening, in the room with the machine, Dr. Barrett believes that the machine has done it’s job, and even Ben agrees, declaring the home “clear.” Well, almost immediately a bunch of crap happens and Dr. Barrett is killed. Ann and Ben enter the chapel, and find Florence dead. Ben, coming to a realization, hurls accusations at the spirit, belittling it, and soon they discover a hidden chamber… and the truth of the evil Emeric Belasco…
Well, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I generally find British horror from this time boring , but I enjoyed this quite a bit. It was an interesting story and the acting was good. Not a lot of gore, but that’s okay. Should you watch it? That’s completely up to you.
Check out the trailer below:
Starting in 1985 with the Re-Animator, and consisting of three films, though the door seems to be left open for more. All three star Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West, the Re-animator himself. West is a driven, mad scientist that developed the “Re-Agent”: a neon green liquid that brings life (or at least re-animates) the dead. This is West’s life’s work and he allows nothing to come between him and it.
Starting with the RE-Animator in 1985, we’re introduced to West in a quick but disturbing scene at the University of Zurich Institute of Medicine, where he is found hunched over the convulsing body of Dr. Gruber. Accused of killing Gruber, West shouts “I gave him life!”
Next we see West arriving at Miskatonic University in New England to continue his studies. Immediately he is at odds with Dr. Carl Hill, the university’s resident Brain specialist, and primary grant gatherer, when he states that Hill’s work is derivative and basically stolen from the late Dr. Gruber. Immediately in Dr. Hill’s bad books, West’s further behaviour does nothing to rectify this.
Soon, answering an add posted on a bulletin board for a room for rent, West moves in with Dan Cain, another med student. Dan, we learn is dating the Dean’s daughter, Megan Halsey (played by Barbara Crampton). Megan, from the start, does not like West, and shortly after his arrival, accuses him of killing Dan’s cat when she enters West’s room against his wishes and finds the cat’s body in his fridge. West denies killing the cat and claims he found it dead and put the body in his fridge until he could inform Dan of the event. Very quickly, West draws Dan into his world and has him working on the Re- Agent with him – all it took was finding West in his basement lab being attacked by the newly re-animated cat of Dan’s.
Once sucked in, Dan becomes in effect West’s version of Igor. Disgusted by West’s lack of care for fellow humans, but driven by the work he does, he becomes VERY subservient to the ever more singularly focused West. Also, along the way West draws him into a web of crimes that leave Dan no choice but to stay by West’s side.
Everyone around Dan and West’ are in danger due to West’s lack of care for fellow humans. All that matters to him is the development of his RE-Agent. Anyone that gets in his way becomes victims. Dr. Hill, after trying to take West’s discovery and life’s work from him though blackmail becomes nothing more than an animated head, though with the ability to control others that West has animated – causing West much more trouble than one would think a solitary head could. Most that are re-animated via West’s RE-Agent, come back violent and almost mindless. Eventually all hell breaks loose and Megan becomes an accidental victim to West’s experiments…
The second movie, Bride of the Re-Animator, was released in 1989 and starts off with West and Dan, working in a war zone tent hospital – West is his normal, driven maniacal self and Dan his normal, subservient wimpish self. We see them apply the Re-Agent to a dead soldier, just as an attractive female soldier enters, Francesca Danelli (played by Fabiana Udenio) – the patient – violent as usual, is shot by West, and this is witnessed by the Francesca. Other than a “What are you people doing here” and a “we have to bug out as we are being over-run” type of discussion (and a hint that Dan and Francesca may have a thing for each other), this scene is over fast.
Next we find that West and Dan have returned to New England and their jobs at Mikatonic University Hospital, where they also continue work on the Re-Agent. A new development shows West that Re-Agent can also reanimate individual body parts as well as entire organisms. He starts taking individual body parts home to continue his experiments. It’s the theft of these parts that puts police officer Lt. Chapham on the trail of West and Dan. That, and the fact that Chaphman has it out for them already as the only ones to survive, unchanged from the events of the first movie. Soon we find out that Chapham has a more intimate and personal reason to be interested in the case (watch the damned movie to find out what it is). Chaphman’s pressure on West and Dan leads to mistakes being made, and individuals being reanimated – in short, things fall to shit. Add to all this that West’s original nemesis from the first move, the head of Dr. Carl Hill is controlling these reanimated jerks. All the while, West is attempting to create life from individual body parts. Using a terminal patient that Dan has fallen in love with as the face and head, in order to get Dan onboard, eventually West creates his parted out monster – a jealous giant of a woman-beast. A big fight breaks out and shit goes to hell again.
13 years have passed since crap went down at the hospital. West has spent that time in prison after Dan turned State’s Witness. West has managed to continue his experiments, albeit on a much smaller scale, working on rats in his cell.
The prison hospital gets a new, young head doctor who quickly takes an interest in West and his past work. Dr. Howard Phillips arranges with the crazy, asshole Warden to have West put on work detail in the hospital, using the excuse that the hospital is understaffed and West’s medical background would help things. The Warden agrees, but lets his dislike of West be known to Phillips. Phillip soon informs West that he is aware of his work with re-animation of the dead and explains how his sister was killed by one of the zombies that was created in the event that sent West to prison. He was a kid at the time and one of the un-dead created with West’s Re-Agent broke into their house and killed his sister. He saw the police take West away in a police car. He learned of West’s work and made it his goal to work with him and learn the secret of RE-Agent. Soon West draws him into his world after they reanimate a recently deceased prisoner with a 13 year old sample of RE-Agent that Phillips found back when his sister was killed. The prisoner wakes from the dead in a state of confusion and violence, just as the Warden was touring through the prison’s hospital with attractive reporter Laura Olney. The Warden freaks out about the whole ruckus and puts everybody on lockdown and cancel the rest of the tour of the prison/interview, but not before Laura and Dr. Phillips manage to make oggly eyes at each other and make some kinda’ love connection… because all of a sudden these two are an item.
Like all these movies, West draws his side kick, usually Dan but now Dr. Phillips deeper into his twisted world of mad science and reanimating of the dead. West’s experiments during his years in lockup led him to discover Neo-Plasmic Energy (or NPE for short). NPE is harvested from a donor and consists of an electrical like energy which when administered right after Re-Agent, creates a way more life like reanimated subject. Instead of your crazed, mindless homicidal reanimated subject, when NPE is applied, the subject doesn’t decay and seems to keep their humanity. A strange and funny transformation occurs when West reanimates the Warden and applies the NPE gathered from a rat – it’s awesome.
Like all these movies, things get out of hand, and eventually it’s hard to tell who’s been reanimated and who hasn’t been. There’s a riot in the prison and the prisoner’s take over. Laura, who was killed by the Warden then reanimated by West and his new NPE process gets killed again. Phillips is left, mind bone and looking like a psycho-killer. He’s arrested for the murder or Laura. West, posing as Dr. Phillips (after taking his identity card) escapes in to the night.
These movies are excellent and deserve to be watched. Jeffrey Combs is masterful in the role of Doctor Herbert West. They have a very unique feel to them that I think only Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna can create. My descriptions of these movies did them a dis-service and I really strongly suggest you watch them.