George A. Romero revolutionized the Zombie in films. He wasn’t the first to portray Zombies in a movie – not by a long shot. No, he was the one that brought the Zombie into the mainstream and kept it there.
Diary of the Dead is another movie in the “The Dead” series (starting with the iconic “Night of the Living Dead”). While not a direct sequel to any of the movies, it takes place in the same…ummm… Universe. A group of art students are in the woods, filming a scene for a mummy horror film when the zombie outbreak starts. Hearing reports on the radio, at first they are sceptical (some more than others). As the night progresses and more reports start coming in, the students realize that maybe something it actually up. The group gathers together in an RV and head out of the city, attempting to escaper the carnage (and possibly get to their own homes in order check on family members). All the while they are capturing everything on film to document what is happening. Encounters with Zombie Doctors in hospitals and being attacked by siblings as well as being robbed by rogue military are all situations that add to the action and to the feeling of desperation. Characters you like get killed, and characters you don’t like also get killed (for a bit…and then again – Zombies, you know). Just when they think they’re safe… well, you know. Hey, why not head out the rich friend’s place where he’s got a panic room and all the amenities you could wish for… That all work out right? Um, this is a Zombie movie – a Romero Zombie film. The film has a quick pace that doesn’t allow you to get bored. As well, I think Romero did a great job “re-jigging” the Dead series for the modern era. Is this better than the original Night of the Living Dead? Of course not. Is it good? I’d say so
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.
2008’s The Midnight Meat Train (MMT) is something unusual: a good movie made from a Clive Barker story.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Clive Barker’s writing, but aside from Hellraiser, there aren’t many film adaptations of his work that I can point to and say, “this is a good movie.” Well, there is one more and this is it.
Based on a short story of the same name from the Books of Blood collection, MMT tells the story of a talented photographer in New York City by the name of Leon (played by Bradley Cooper), who after showing some of his pictures to a wealthy Galley owner Susan Hoff (played by the still beautiful Brook Shields), is spurred on to capture the true, grittiness of the City. Going out on night shoots, Leon captures a near mugging/rape of a famous model. Still, despite saving her from a gang of thugs, she disappears that night when she is attacked by a large, silently imposing man, known simply as Mahogany (and played by Vinnie Jones), with a meat hammer on the subway . Hearing of the disappearance the next day while reading the paper, he decides to go to the police, thinking that perhaps the thugs, after being initially scared off, might have come back and got on the same train as the model. When Leon brings this to the attention of the police, the officer that serves him seems strangely unconcerned.
Leon shows the photos he took of the near rape/mugging to Hoff, who states she loves them and challenges him to get two more photos to go along with these and she would host a showing of his work. Leon takes up the challenge. Returning to the subways, Leon notices a large silent figure that catches his imagination. The figure is that of Mahogany himself. Leon follows him, taking pictures, until wordlessly confronted by him in front of the aging hotel that Mahogany calls home. Frightened, Leon apologizes for bothering him and leaves. Later, when going over his photos of the incident of the model, he notices that Mahogany was on the train that the model entered, but never got off. Leon starts to obsess over Mahogany and continues following him, discovering that during the day he works at a large scale butcher, as a meat renderer. Leon sneaks into the butcher to get more photos, and is almost caught by Mahogany. Leon starts to connect other disappearances that had occurred on the New York Subway line with train schedules. He works out that below the butcher shop, there must be an abandoned subway station, where Mahogany unloads the bodies and gets rid of the evidence. He presents this to his fiancé, in a scene reminiscent of something from the movie A Beautiful Mind. Freaked out and thinking Leon is going crazy, she begs him to stop following Mahogany and get back to day shooting. Leon promises… But goes back to following Mahogany. That night, he catches Mahogany in the act, photographing the scene while Mahogany prepares the body of his victim like one would prepare meat. Chased, captured, marked (via scarification) and eventually escaping, Leon now knows for sure that Mahogany is behind the disappearances. Returning home, beaten and disturbed, his fiancé freaking out – he tells her what he saw and that he took phots but the camera was taken from him during his ordeal. On her own volition, she and a friend decide to go to Mahogany’s room after he leaves and look for Leon’s camera – While there, she finds subway schedules going back a century, with train times circled that correlate to disappearances that happened. Also… her friend is captured and bludgeoned by Mahogany, and she barely escapes with her life. Going to the police, the same officer that dealt with Leon shows the same level of unconcern and stated that Mahogany reported something stolen, the train schedules, and that he wants them back. Claiming that her friend, who was captured by Mahogany has it, and if they want the schedules, they have to find him.
Okay… what the hell am I doing? I’m freakin’ describing the whole freakin’ movie. Look – Mahogany is a guy that has a job, and that job is to help feed… something inhuman. It’s an important job and he would normally have gone unnoticed, but something in Leon’s make up made him attune to Mahogany. At the end of the movie, all is revealed, and it is a typical Clive Barker twisted concept – an idea that below the surface of what we as normal humans perceive, there is another world of darkness – the stuff nightmares are made of. Midnight Meat Train did a good job of bringing that world to the big screen. Do I suggest watching it? Oh Hell yes.
Check out the trailer here:
This was a weird one, and I am so surprised that I never watched this before now.
1989’s Society is an interesting film that tells the story of Bill Whitney (played by Billy Warlock), a 17 year old California High School student who is tone of two children of the very well off Whitney family. He has a cute sister, Jenny who is just a little older than he is, a cheerleader girlfriend and is popular at school. Why isn’t Bill happy?
Bill has had the feeling that he doesn’t belong. He doesn’t look like the rest of his family. They don’t communicate with him, other than idle chit chat, and recently he thinks he’s noticed some weird, seemingly impossible physical differences between himself and his family. His psychiatrist (oh yeah, he’s seeing a psychiatrist), Dr. Cleveland tells him he’s being paranoid and that he has to learn to fit in and accept his place in… society.
When a friend (and sister’s ex-boyfriend), David Blanchard, tries to let Bill know that things are not what they seem with his family, Bill rejects the idea out of hand. Eventually David gets Bill to listen to a secret recording David took of Jenny’s coming out party that seems to indicate that it was a family approved orgy, and that his parents really are keeping things from him. Providing his psychiatrist with a copy of the tape to prove that he isn’t paranoid, and that there are weird things going on in his family does nothing, when Dr. Cleveland plays it back and it’s a completely different, tame recording on the tape. What’s going on?
Bill starts raising hell and finds himself in some very weird and dangerous hot water. Eventually the truth is revealed to Bill, by Dr. Cleveland: The rich are a separate species from normal humans, and have been feeding off of us poor for as long as people have been around. In a glorious scene of crazy gross special effects, we get to see an orgy on eating and the weirdest transformations I have seen on film.
This movie has a lot going for it and I definitely suggest you watch it, though I will warn you that it is really quite gross. The acting isn’t the best but it definitely isn’t close to the worse either. I liked this film a lot and hope you will also.
Check out the trailer here:
Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) got her start on a TV station, introducing campy horror movies on a late night TV show. Dressed as a sexy, large breasted raven haired sex-vamp, she rose to the top of Pop culture in the 1980s and 1990s and her posters covered countless walls of teenage boys lusting after that fantastic figure (especially those boobs…especially those boobs).
Well this is Elvira’s movie. It tells the story of Elvira, fresh from quitting her TV job and planning on starting a Las Vegas show, but finding herself $70,000 short. Suddenly she gets word that her great Aunt has passed away and she has inherited her estate, a run down house and a “cook book.” Her appearance in this small town creates quite a ruckus, as the town have very strict rules on what is and what is not allowed: no sex and no violence in media… Just a boring little place. Elvira drives the powers to be crazy with her sexy appearance. Trying to make the best of things she gets to work on sprucing up the house with the help of the local youths. At the same time, her Great Uncle is trying to get that cook book of her aunt’s.
Well, it turns out that things in Elvira’s family are not as they seem, and she is part of a magical, ancient family that control the darkness. Her uncle wants the cookbook as is really a book of magic and spells, and possessing it during the upcoming Lunar Eclipse would seal his power as master of the dark. Of course Elvira has to stop this.
So, this is a stupid, silly movie and at times it seems like Elvira is trying to be Rodney Dangerfield with her delivery of her lines. That said, this is good, cheezy fun and I enjoyed every minute of this terrible film. Should you watch it? Damn straight you should.
Check out the trailer:
A young lady acompanies her father and Uncle as they return to her childhood home to help restore it prior to selling it. While there, she is haunted with images and believes she hears people or things in the supposedly empty house. When bad things start happening, we are left wondering what’s real and what’s not.
This is one of those movies where if I say much more of the story or plot, then I would most likely give away the whole premise, and I won’t do that. I will say that the movie is creepy – just not overly compelling (to me – my wife liked it much more than I did).
Watch it? Sure, as it’s not that bad.
Here is a trailer – you decide if you want to watch it.
Happy Hallowe’en my fine feathered freaky friends. Today I would like to briefly discus and compare two of the biggest horror franchises of all time: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. I have recently completed rewatching both series, and while I love both, I would say both are not equal. Both series are iconic: show someone a cheezy goalie mask or a glove with knives as nails and most likely they will know what movie franchise it came from.
Friday the 13th, the original movie, was released in 1980, taking the horror world, and pulp culture in general by storm. It tells the story of a young, mentally challenged boy who drowned due to the negligence of counsellors at the summer camp, Camp Crystal Lake, and the revenge extracted by is crazed mother. This movie introduced us to the character of Jason Voorhees (just Jason from now on), but what many people forget (or don’t realize) that Jason isn’t even in this first film. It’s the second film that we finally get to meet Jason, but even then he’s not wearing his Goalie mask – he acquires that in the third film when he takes it from the ”Prankster” of the group. The Friday the 13th Series continued for 11 movies, including the cross over film Freddy Vs. Jason – 12 if you include the 2009 remake (or re-imagining). Along the way Jason evolves a little, going from a creation of his mother’s sick and twisted mind to a burlap sack wearing killer, then gaining his mask. At one point he’s able to from body to body as an evil spirit. Hell – he even ends up in space. Some things that don’t change are the facts that no matter how slow he lumbers, Jason will catch his victim and no matter how dead Jason seems to be – he’s not. Jason is a relentless killer, but not an intelligent killer. He gets the job done, but he doesn’t think much – but he doesn’t need to. At first it’s not apparent that he’s a supernatural being, but soon it becomes apparent that he’s not mortal, seeing that he cannot be killed. Many, if not most of Horror’s cliches have originated from this series. He’s the original unkillable killer.
A Nightmare on Elm Street debuted in 1984 and introduced the world to Fred “Freddie” Krueger, a vicious child killer, murdered in a fire by residents of his town seeking justice when a legal loophole set him free. Freddie has found a way to infect the minds of his victims by entering through their dreams. Sporting his now famous gloves with knives on the tip of each finger as his primary weapon, if Freddie kills you in your dreams, you’re dead in real life. The Nightmare series had 8 stand alone films as well as the crossover film, Jason Vs. Freddie and a remake/reimagining of the film from 2010. Freddie, from the start is a supernatural being that haunts the dreams of his victims, and unlike Jason, has a working mind – he’s devious, and taunting. Yes he has a working mind, though it doesn’t seem to work that well. Just a side note: the original film starred a young Johnny Depp – He dies in a extremely bloody scene.
Both series are great. Sure, not each movie of each series is great (hell, some are just downright bad), but as a whole, each are important to the horror genre – changing the entire genre in their own ways.I have to say I prefer the Friday the 13th series over the Nightmare series for one main reason: Remember when I said that Jason was mostly mindless and Freddie had a mind? Well Freddie’s mind, while working, is a silly mind. His taunts are silly and his puns are worse. With Jason, he’s just going to kill you – he’s not going to make some dumb, silly pun or taunt you in a ridiculous manner. He’s just going to keep coming until he gets you. Still – I like both series and say that if you are a fan of horror then you should watch both series. If you don’t then I argue that you really can’t consider yourself a connoisseur of the genre.
What’s your view on the two series?