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Friday, June 24, 2011

Earliest Horror Memories

My earliest horror memories are seeing these videos at my local video store. Remember video stores? What are the first horror films you saw?

Waxwork (1988)
Fright Night Part II (1988)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986)
B.O.R.N. (1988)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Woods (2006) Review

Here is the Lucky McKee directed horror film The Woods reviewed in pictures.
Nice poster. It seems to have chicks at least.

Yes! This film has the right idea! Let's just hope it lives up to this!


 Hell Yes! Cat fight!

These two are looking awfully close. Will they? Won't they? As long as one of them doesn't get killed off.

Dag nabbit!!!

Maybe Bruce Campbell can save this film!

Dag nabbit!!!

Oh well, we'll always have memories like this:

Better than nothing, eh? In terms of the actual plot, it gets too convoluted for its own good at the end. Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Screwfly Solution (2006) Review

I didn't think much of this Masters of Horror after I saw it the first time... or the second time. However, a few nights ago I rewatched it and I felt like I understood it a tiny bit better. Then a funny thing happened. I had a nightmare that night about it. And it wasn't until I had the dream that it really resonated with me.
That night that I rewatched it there was one scene in particular that stirred in me. There's a scene that perfectly embodies nightmare scenarios and it comes like twenty or so minutes into it. The middle-aged female investigator goes right into the heart of a male-centric army station to hear about the female-murdering disease that's sweeping the male gender. She hears from a young man who killed several strippers and then later on, she shows the main guy who's there a series of similar reports from all across the country. She says "Something is happening," and he says "Something glorious has happened." All of the sudden it appears that she has actually driven herself into the heart of darkness and has given herself right to the beast. He kills and rapes her and everyone there is now feeling the same thing he feels. It's that sense of the world gone mad and you can't trust anyone that comes off as truly scary. And she is the lead character in this part too, so it makes you feel like you are the woman.
Basically the film is a commentary on how we fuck with nature and get really bad results and how the world seems to be becoming more misogynistic and just all around more heartless. The Screwfly Solution does what I love about horror, it addresses the fear inside of us and presents it in a fierce way. It's cathartic to address these things so that we don't keep them bottled up and so we can keep them open for discussion. Censorship stems from fear and that's what those who censor horror don't understand about the genre. It's important. I don't wanna be bottled up in my little cocoon watching Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or National Treasure. The MPAA scares me because of how they try to keep our thoughts suppressed.
Of course, the common misogyny of the crappier horror movies is another probable influence here.
All of this is why it sucks that the film ends up being a cop-out in the end. It was aliens who did this to us! That's an easy ending! Let's just do that! Joe Dante and writer Sam Hamm know this too, which they reveal on the commentary. But they defend it in the end. I guess that's because the original story that the film is based on had that ending. They could have changed it, but I guess they also need to justify the crappy ending to their film, which was rushed.

So the film is not all it could have been, but the first 98% of the film stands out and is extremely important. Damn you Joe Dante! Oh well. Rating: 4 out of 5.
This oddly was not my reaction to the film's scares but rather to it's ending.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top 10 Masters of Horror Episodes

10) Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
The very first Masters that aired, begins as a simple girl being stalked by a serial killer story. The girl then starts setting up elaborate traps for the killer, and things quickly become less predictable. The lead female is more complicated than she seems at first. We're told about her backstory through flashbacks. The killer, Moonface, is only a single part of a much larger story about an unhealthy relationship, learning how to survive and failing to survive. A supporting performance by Angus Scrimm is a shout-out to fans of director Don Coscarelli, of Phantasm fame.

9) Pick Me Up
Fairuza Balk headlines this one, but Michael Moriarty steals the show. It's a story by David J. Schow, directed by Larry Cohen, about two serial killers that stalk one stretch of mountainous road and a girl that gets stuck between the rival killers. Michael Moriarty plays the more nuts of the two serial killers and his character ends up being pretty damn unique, in big part because of the actor. The dual between the two killers all leads to a big showdown. It's wonderful to see the two actors who play the killers play off each other. It's one of the most funny Masters episodes.

8) Family
Some might put this one higher than Right to Die, but Right to Die wins for me because of the exploitation. George Wendt, cough*spoiler*cough, plays a serial killer and Meredith Monroe and some other douche play Wendt's unsuspecting neighbors. All three actors do a very good job, which is rarely the case in a Masters of Horror. It's seriously a great episode. The twist ending is very good, and twist endings were always one of my main problems with Tales from the Crypt. This twist just works especially well. By the point of the twist, you can sympathize quite a bit with Meredith Monroe's character and you like her too. John Landis never lets us down! The music is fantastic as well, as was often the case with Masters. Family is really only missing one thing, cough*and it's not a George Wendt nude scene*cough. Bonus: The Best Buy exclusive version of the DVD was 2 discs. It included the normal DVD and the CD soundtrack.

7) Right to Die
One thing I noticed rewatching these is that almost every single episode could have been called Incident On and Off a Mountain Road, especially this one. It starts out with a car crash on a mountain road, much like Incident, and then a woman gets burned alive. She doesn't die, but at a hospital, goes in and out of dying. When she briefly flat-lines, her ghost reeks havoc on those benefiting from her resuscitation state in the hospital. It's a funny, gorey, and erotic tale about the right-to-life issue. Who couldn't like this episode? Bonus: On the director commentary on the DVD, the director explains that the shot of a topless Julia Anderson actually went on for too long because the crew was taken aback by her big hooters. Cheers to the crew and the editor! And of course Julia Anderson.

6) Deer Woman
This farce, from the director of An American Werewolf in London and Animal House, is totally absurd and it knows it. It plays around with us until it comes straight out admitting, in a funny bit, that there is no motive needed for Deer Woman's killings because we're talking about a woman with deer legs! She's an ancient mythological creature that seduces men and kills them brutally, leaving them looking like a pile of red meat covered in hoof prints. My favorite line, by a rookie cop investigating, is "It looks like some dear did a tap dance on this guy." It pretty much sums up the goofy, but still somehow scary film. And of course it serves on the exploitation cylinders too. Bonus: On the DVD featurette Working with a Master, Don Rickles gives his own unique opinion on director John Landis.

5) Cigarette Burns
Now this one, directed by John Carpenter, is something absolutely every horror fan can relate to. Kirby Sweetman is hired to track down an extremely rare film by a creepy German cinephile. The catch is that the film was only shown once and it caused its audience to go into a violent frenzy. The English translation of the film's title is The Absolute End of the World and it was supposedly produced by some demonic force. Kirby and the German man both become overcome with their need to find it. Kirby also begins seeing images of his dead girlfriend and gets wrapped up in murder as he gets closer to it. All of us horror-fiends I think can relate to wanting to see something that goes farther than anything else and our bloodlust for the amazing always leaves us craving something more harsh. If you could see a film that was possibly filmed in hell, wouldn't you? We've heard of violence breaking out during a film showing (Snuff 102), and films so underground that you have to make it your mission to find them (Niku Daruma), so it was long overdue for a film to draw upon these experiences.

4) The Black Cat

I already did a review of The Black Cat, so check that out in my archives! It's a phenomenal work, with an exquisite performance from Jeffrey Combs as the tormented Edgar Allen Poe. Bonus: Combs & director/co-writer Stuart Gordon do a great commentary on the DVD.

3) Sick Girl
Sick Girl holds a special place in my heart. It's an awesome lesbian, bug story dealing with obsession, horror and true love. I really can't fault anything specific in Sick Girl. The performances are all around great too! It serves as modern film noir at its absolute best. Rumor has it that director Lucky McKee completely changed the story because the original screenwriter made it about a heterosexual relationship. Making it gay completely changes everything. I cringe to think what it would've been like with a man and a woman. Yuck!

2) Homecoming
Dead soldiers come back to life to vote! They voice that they didn't die for a just cause. A genius concept for an anti-war horror film if you ask me. Rod Serling would most definitely be proud. One scene shows two parents, that had a son in the war, provide shelter to a scared undead soldier. It's a pretty powerful scene that's actually touching. Who woulda thunk, from a Masters of Horror? It's a cool satire on the Fox News pundits too. I'm not a big zombie movie fan, but this horror-comedy just got me. Bonus: On the DVD special features, Roger Corman jokes that he was afraid Joe Dante was gonna be thrown in Guantanamo after this.

1) Imprint
This story is almost too nightmarish to take. It takes place in the 1800s and is about an American tourist in Japan in search of a prostitute he fell in love with years earlier. He promised her he'd come back for her. His quest to find her leads him through a story he wished he'd never heard. Imprint was particularly controversial because the Showtime network refused to air it. There is no censorship on this network, mind you. I believe the anthology film Hell Hath No Fury, which included Ryan Nicholson's Torched, even aired on this network. Anyway, Imprint involves abortion, incest, rape, torture, body horror, cannibalism and one of the most violent death scenes ever committed to film. It is also phenomenal filmmaking with atmosphere that will live under your skin as much as anything else in the movie. The cinematography is also quite unforgettable. It's no surprise that this MoH is done by Takashi Miike, possibly the most unsettling horror director working today. Imprint is not only my favorite MoH film, but also one of my very favorite horror films ever. The same goes for all of the top 5 episodes on this list.

AND NOW.............The Masters of Horror Awards

Season 1 Awards
Best Director: Tie: Takashi Miike & Lucky McKee
Best Screenplay: Cigarette Burns by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan
Best Actor: Steven Weber for Jenifer
Best Actress: Angela Bettis for Sick Girl
Best Supporting Actor: Udo Kier for Cigarette Burns
Best Supporting Actress: Erin Brown for Sick Girl
Best Music: Sick Girl

Season 2 Awards
Best Director: Stuart Gordon
Best Screenplay: The Black Cat by Stuart Gordon & Dennis Paoli
Best Actor: Jeffrey Combs for The Black Cat
Best Actress: Meredith Monroe for Family
Best Supporting Actor: William Forsythe for We All Scream for Ice Cream
Best Supporting Actress: Elyse Levesque for The Black Cat
Best Music: The Black Cat

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hottest Chicks of Summer TV

Making the summer a little more hot. Damn you!
1. Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO show Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire. She plays a very young woman who is becoming a queen and quickly losing her innocence. Lacking in clothing? Yep.
2. Eva Green as Morgan le Fay in the Showtime show Camelot, based on the King Arthur legend. Eva Green totally steals the show with her sexy evil character. Lacking in clothing? Yessir.
3. Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica Hamby in HBO's show True Blood. She's a vampire that tries to learn to be good. This show isn't that good, but it has its perks. Lacking in clothing? Possibly, but she's been on the show for a while and nothing yet.
4. Fiona Gubelmann as Jenna in Wilfred. She plays Elijah Wood's neighbor that owns a dog that Elijah sees as a dude in a dog suit. Whatever, at least she's in it. Scantily clad? Ish don't think so, because it's only on FX.
Lucky dawg.

5. Emmanuelle Chriqui in Showtime's The Borgias and HBO's Entourage. Lacking in clothing? Eh, probably not.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Worst Movies Ever #4

A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

If this massive 1970s Jess Franco blunder doesn't have you laughing in the first ten minutes, these half-assed zombies must've taken your soul! That should've been the tagline for this movie. Trust me, the film does not live up to the images on the poster. It honestly plays like the most nudity-filled blooper reel you'll never want to see. The top positive review for this movie on IMDB states, "A dash of Franco, a generous helping of Rollin." That's like saying, "This masterpiece is a dash of vomit and a generous helping of cow asshole."
It's also called Christine, Princess of Eroticism. If she's the princess, then Uwe Boll's the King. And he's married to Queen Jess Franco on the royal island of Flaccid.

This gets an "Oh hell no" on a scale from "How did he manage to make this girl unsexy?" to "He's actually starting to make me detest the entire medium of film." Ya know while we're at it, let's throw in Franco's Mansion of the Living Dead too which takes place in a hotel, not a mansion. And he managed to not make a deserted hotel scary too! I hate you Mister Franco.
Don't look into its eyes! Or at its movies!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Exploitation Women Spotlight #4

Charlie Spradling
Best known for:
"Puppet Master II"
"To Sleep with a Vampire"
"Bad Channels"

My fellow blogger Geof over at The Man-Cave inspired me to write up a piece about b-movie actress Charlie Spradling. It's been a while since I remember seeing Ms. Spradling in anything, but recently I learned she looks quite different now. For one thing, she now has long blonde hair instead of her signature coal black, poofy hair. Perhaps her changed appearance is why I don't remember seeing her recently. But flashback to the late 1980s, she was a low-budget horror movie goddess. Charlie always stood out because of her smoldering looks and smoky voice.
Charlie was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1968. Most know her from the Full Moon movies she did such as Puppet Master II and To Sleep with a Vampire. She had leads in both of them and also starred alongside a young Sherilyn Fenn in the erotic monster story Meridian: Kiss of the Beast. She also had a small role in the third episode of Sherilyn Fenn's show at the time, Twin Peaks.

She not only starred in these movies, she was hired as a spokesperson for Full Moon Entertainment. I remember seeing her after the end credits of whatever Full Moon movie I was watching, advertising the various finished and in-development movies. She also peddled their newsletter in these segments while dressed up like a total Full Moon whore. You can take that comment two ways, but I meant it not as a comment on her as a woman.

I believe the segments were called Video Zone. I have no idea how the fuck I remember that. My mind clearly has its priorities straight.

She was married to actor Jason London, of 7th Heaven and Dazed & Confused, for almost a decade and had a daughter with him. I guess she was just too much woman for Randall 'Pink' Floyd. According to a TMZ article from back in March, Spradling got sole custody of their daughter when their divorce was finalized. Something tells me he was a bad boy.

Here is one of her video segments that I mentioned. Damn, she really wore the hell outta those jeans, eh?
Newcomers to Ms. Spradling's work should start with To Sleep with a Vampire. You'll thank me later, trust me. Mirror, Mirror is another one of her early movies where she gets to show off.