Why is it that I seem to be able to write a review or comments on a bad film so much easier than something I've truly enjoyed? Recently, I've seen both Trick 'r Treat on DVD and Paranormal Activity at the theater and I still have yet to post about either. (I will, eventually....in the meantime, see both - take my word for it!) So why do I choose to tell you about this loser of a film? Maybe it's cause I'm snarky as hell and I like to bitch. Yeah, that must be it.
So, without further adieu....
I just wasted 90 minutes of my time watching the re-make of the 1974 flick, 'It's Alive'. God. I thought perhaps....just perhaps, it might not be too awful. But it was. If there is anyone out there who tells you it's not that bad, they are either lying or have been kidnapped by pod people.
I really can't recall if I saw the original. I saw alot of movies when I was a teenager, and it is possible that I picked up that relic at the video store along with the wildly entertaining Faces of Death (note the sarcasm, please)... So this review will be completely without comparison.
First let me be clear about one thing. I don't like kids. Anyone that knows me knows I don't have children for a reason. I'm waaaay too selfish to have them. There's no beating around the bush here, no sparing of feelings. Just pure honesty. I. Don't. Like. Kids. That said, it is rather amazing that I would rent a movie whose plot revolves around one of the little munchkins. But hey, I figured - killer babies...maybe that's something I can wrap my head around.
It starts out with Lenore (Bijou Phillips) packing her things at a college apartment. She's got herself knocked up and is leaving school to have the baby. She moves in with her baby daddy Frank (James Murray) and his little brother, who live in the house his parents owned. His folks died, and they make it a point to show a picture of the two brothers with the parents several times but for no apparent reason. That plot goes nowhere.
The very night Lenore moves in, she takes a hot shower that triggers the baby's early birth. While at the hospital the doctor tells Frank that the baby has grown twice as large since her most recent appointment and they have to do a C-Section.
Directly after the birth, the doctors are holding the baby and it attacks the staff. Nothing is shown until after, and you never see the freak-show of a kid. Only the carnage it leaves behind. Naturally no one is the wiser and they think some random murderer came in and hacked up the doctors and nurses.
Okay, right about here is where I realized the mistake I had made. I don't know what I expected, but when I think about the actuality of a killer baby on the loose.... what was I thinking? Alas...I continued.
The happy couple brings the bundle of joy home and he (baby Daniel) proceeds to chew up his mom's breast while feeding...attacks the family cat, a rabbit, and a rat...and kills Lenore's visiting friends (which was the most unrealistic, ridiculous death like, ever. I mean, by the time the nutso baby finished killing, he was actually crawling back out of her friend's mouth. Dumb.) By this time, the cops and the police psychiatrist are all questioning the situation and so of course, when the shrink visits, Danny Boy kills him too.
Lenore figures things out (sure took her long enough) and morphs into her combat mommy stance, hiding bodies and cleaning up messes in order to protect Daniel from being discovered.
When Frank finally gets it through his head what is going down, it's too late. The cops have arrived and when they find bodies in the basement, think Frank is the killer.
All this shit goes down without you ever seeing the baby actually kill someone, and without actually even seeing the damn evil rugrat. That makes the movie all the more painful to watch. They do show his hands a few times, with his obvious little claws. There's some gore, but when you never see anything really happening, it's a real cop out. There is only one time in the entire flick that you ever see the menacing creepy brat. And the CGI is just god-awful.
The reason for the mutant baby is only remotely touched at. Seemingly, Lenore took pills when she found out she was preggers to have a spontaneous abortion but something backfired and she ended up having the freak anyway.
The camera shows things from the baby's point of view alot, when he's creeping up on victims, and this to me made it all the more hilarious. To hear the baby growling and snarling like the baby T-Rex in The Lost World was just too much.
Bijou Phillips has to be the one of the most annoying actress of all time. I didn't notice it so much in Hostel 2, but WOW, I could have fed her to the sharks in this one. Her high-pitched whiney voice grated my nerves so bad I almost jammed pencils in my ears so I didn't have to listen! I'm not sure I'll ever watch anything she's in again. Awful. When she did her little baby voice when she talked to the kid, I wanted to take out the DVD and use it as a frisbee.
(see, she thinks the script is deplorable too!)
The secondary characters (Frank's brother, Lenore's friends, the shrink) were so pointless and utterly useless I don't even know why they were added. Something else that bugged me was Lenore's horrific wardrobe. Once she was at home with the baby, she wore old fashioned flannel gowns with ruffles and long, shapeless housecoats. Ugh.
Put it this way, if I want to see a kid running around killing people, I'll rent Child's Play again - at least it was humorous. And if I want actual scares, I'll take out my copy of The Omen and let Damian show me how it's done.
The Hills Run Red is about an obsessed film student's life mission is to find an obscure horror movie - one that was made in the 80's and is supposed to be the goriest, most graphic flick ever put to celluloid. Apparently it was banned and was unable to be released due to the ridiculously violent content. Only a select few have ever seen it.
Our captivated fan, Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) begins his search for said film by locating the daughter of the film's director. Alexa (Sophie Monk, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Charlize Theron) is working in a seedy strip club and while we see her coming onto him in a back room, we also see Tyler's girlfriend Serina (Janet Montgomery) and his best friend Lalo (Alex Wyndham, who apparently drew the short straw in the 'really bad character name' contest) having sex in their apartment. Nice.
Anyhoo - Tyler takes Alexa home to her squalid motel/home to try to convince her to help him locate the lost reels. In the car, she snorts coke, the once at the motel she shoots up heroin or the likes and pretty much passes out, useless to him.
When Alexa wakes up she finds Tyler has tied her to the bed - and not for sexual favors. He has taken it upon himself to help her kick the habit. Which, unbeknownst to me, can be done in just three days. Presto! Clean and sober!
Because he's just been so damn good to her, Alexa agrees to help him in his quest to document his search for the missing footage. With the cheating girlfriend/best friend combo along for the ride (one is responsible for the camera, the other for sound) they all get in the car and head out to find the various locations used in the film.
Apparently Alexa was actually in the film. She was quite young, but as they go along she seems to have one of the most remarkable memories I've ever seen. She recalls all the places where scenes were shot. Wow - really something considering she was like, 7 or 8 when the movie was filmed AND her mind should be raped of all sensible thought with all her drug abuse. But hey, it's only a movie, right? So they hike deep into the woods -like 47, 381 other horror movie characters have done unsuccessfully over the years- to find the locations.
There was one moment where I just had to slap myself on the forehead in a sheer WTF! moment. They are out in the middle of the godforsaken woods and Tyler looks up and says "Wait!... this is where they filmed the tree scene!" (Allegedly, one of the gorier moments in the film they seek is where a girl is hung from a tree by hooks in her skin and subsequently pulled in half, which they show - and thank heavens for that cause nothing else had happened so far!) But Tyler's moment of blinding clarity was truly stupid. Every freaking tree looked identical, and he pinpoints the two trees where the scene was shot from a two minute trailer for the movie that he saw. Oh my.
("Look! It's THE TREES!")
A bit of confusion set in when Tyler was trying to explain the plot of the film. Basically the killer - aptly named Babyface because he sliced off his face as a kid (?) and replaced it with the mask of a doll - is just your average run-of-the-mill hack 'em up kind of guy. Much like Jason Voorhees, he strives to find new and inventive ways to kill (which in my opinion gets a C- for effort - there's nothing new here). However, the director and cast reputably disappeared off the face of the earth and the film vanished. Hmmmm. So then how did the trailer ever surface? Please tell me.
Then the inevitable happens. Babyface appears out of the woods and hacks up some local-yokels who are giving our heroes a hard time.
The whole thing eventually ends up at the house of the missing director (which still, after 20 years gone, has electricity and the works) and makes for a completely predictable, unoriginal, and uninteresting ending. They tried to stick a twist in there but I totally saw it coming.
I heard the killer resembles the one in Dark Ride - but I hated that movie so bad I'm not sure I made it far enough through to even see the killer. I thought Babyface's mask was pretty damn good. Babyface did, however, completely remind me of Jason in nearly every aspect. His misshapen head with sprouts of hair here and there was sooooo Friday the 13th Part 3. The killings are oh-so Jason. And the way he trudged purposefully through the woods... Jason again. Only difference was the masks. And like I said - predictable. I had it figured out from the time Tyler and Alexa were in her motel. I didn't actually dislike this movie, I just felt like I'd pretty much seen it before.
Yes, there is gore. Yes, there is gratuitious nudity. Yes, victims run through the woods screaming. And yes, there will no doubt be a sequel.
"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."
Since I was in my teens, my favorite song has been (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult.
When it came on the radio, I'd crank it up to full tilt and blow my eardrums out like I was hearing it for the first time - even though I had the album (yes folks, the vinyl 'Agents of Fortune') and heard it all the time at home as well. The otherworldly-sounding middle section with the guitar solo bringing up the rear of the song just can't be beat. I much prefer the long version with this part in it. There was also a studio/radio version that was shorter but cuts out the heart of the song.
No doubt I heard it on the radio first (the still righteous WDVE 102.5 in Pittsburgh, PA.) but my sheer love of the song came from hearing it perfectly placed in John Carpenter's Halloween (1978). For those that might not know, it comes at the moment in the film where Laurie and Annie are heading to their respective babysitting jobs in Annie's car. A moment of prophecy?
It has been used in sooo many movies (18 mentioned on Wikipedia alone), tv shows (20), books, video games, and modern pop culture in general. There are 22 cover versions listed but no doubt there are more. I am partial to Gus's version used in the movie Scream. Nice and subtle. It is listed on multiple "greatest rock songs" lists - too many to count.
(Don't Fear) The Reaper is iconic.
But the song has long been controversial - I've read so much negative crap about it that it's almost become a sore spot for me. The general consensus is that the song is about suicide. I'm not one of those short-sighted people who read horror into every last lyric put down. And I was absolutely pro-Ozzy when the long-ago lawsuit tried to blame his lyrics for Suicide Solution for a teen's suicide.
America provides the right to freedom of speech and I stand by that. Of course I don't have a child that committed suicide while listening to heavy metal records - nor do I have a bratty teen that does nothing but play violent video games that cause him to eventually murder a classmate, either. I am not trying to be political here, I am simply liberal enough to believe that people are pre-disposed to certain feelings and emotions - and how they deal with them can certainly be a problem. However, I don't completely buy into the thought that a certain book, song, or speech can utterly buffalo someone. Then again, maybe I'm kidding myself (look at Jim Jones for instance...) Could be I'm just stronger willed emotionally than some.
Anyway- I'm totally digressing.
Regarding the song: I can totally see where thoughts of suicide could be construed from the lyrics. Let's take a look at them, shall we?
All our times have come Here but now they're gone Seasons don't fear the reaper Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are Come on baby...don't fear the reaper Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper Baby I'm your man...
Valentine is done Here but now they're gone Romeo and Juliet Are together in eternity...Romeo and Juliet 40,000 men and women everyday...Like Romeo and Juliet 40,000 men and women everyday...Redefine happiness Another 40,000 coming everyday...We can be like they are Come on baby...don't fear the reaper Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper Baby I'm your man...
Love of two is one Here but now they're gone Came the last night of sadness And it was clear she couldn't go on Then the door was open and the wind appeared The candles blew then disappeared The curtains flew then he appeared...saying don't be afraid Come on baby...and she had no fear And she ran to him...then they started to fly They looked backward and said goodbye...she had become like they are She had taken his hand...she had become like they are Come on baby...don't fear the reaper
I believe the first set of lyrics is explaining that death is inevitable. That we need not fear it, because it comes for us all in the end. The seasons, the four elements - nothing can stop the forward progress of life and death.
The second verse is what gives most the notion of suicide. Statistical facts such as '40,000 men and women every day' - do they mean deaths or specifically suicides? The fact that they mention those figures directly after referencing Romeo and Juliet was bound to make people associate the two. But I have read that the B.O.C. lead guitarist and writer of this song, Donald ('Buck Dharma') Roeser, didn't mean to imply the lyrics were about suicide - he was only thinking of a scenario where when someone dies they would be reunited with loved ones after death. Mentioning Romeo and Juliet was simply a way to relate eternal love. In his words: "It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."
So there, haters.
The third verse is by far the most compelling. It's obvious in these lyrics, someone is dying. How it is happening is never said, and this is what gives people the assumption that someone is already dead, and that the other person is taking their own life to be with their loved one. It could also be interpreted that a dead loved one (a spirit, perhaps) is coming back to ease their dying loved one's death and help them into the afterlife.
When I was younger, I always thought of it as the bogeyman coming to take someone's soul away. The candles blowing, the curtain flowing - pretty much got me thinking about spooky shit. And the whole 'and she became like they are' - you could go anywhere with that. Death, vampires, ghouls, or just a plain ole corpse. I liked thinking that was what it was about.
And let us not forget the song's title. We're not to fear the Reaper. He's coming, regardless of the way he does it. So there.
Nowadays, to me, those last several lyrics remind me of a young man who has died and is coming back to take his girlfriend with him. She's completely distraught and sad over his death. He appears at the window, telling her there's nothing to be afraid of. Perhaps he's killing her - maybe she's not truly taking her own life. Maybe she is. Either way, she wants to spend eternity with him. And I can't blame her.
Set up as - and I hope I'm not assuming incorrectly - a parody on all those self help seminars you see advertised, HTBASK is a real trip. It almost seems like a documentary at times, and I think that is very much the idea here.
You meet Mike Wilson (Dameon Clark) serial killer extraordinaire, who is first seen on stage explaining the methods one needs to learn in order to become a better and more prolific mass murderer. Like an almost annoying self-help guru, he goes through the various steps - explaining how to choose victims, the weapons ('there are soooo many different ways to off someone!'), how not to get caught, etc... It really kind of plays like how it would be if the BTK killer had his own reality show.
(Well I hope he actually got to mow his lawn before his little "accident")
In between the vignettes, Mike's actual story is told. Turns out he is looking for a protégé - someone to teach his wealth of knowledge to regarding the murder industry.
Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler of Criminal Minds fame) works at a dead-end video store clerk job when Mike comes in and witnesses some random asshole giving Bart a hard time. While said jerk-off is perusing the comedies, Mike asks Bart just exactly what he would do to the twit if given the chance. Bart is very meek, very much the nerdy dolt he appears to be. But when he tells Mike he'd go to the hardware store, buy a sledge hammer and proceed to bash in the customer's head, Mike knows he's found his boy wonder.
(A sledgehammer? Really? Quite inventive.)
And so begins a dubious friendship destined for disaster.
We watch as Mike shows Bart all the ins and outs. Picking victims, avoiding detection, how to handle and use various weapons... and everything goes well until Mike's live-in girlfriend Abigail gets a little too curious for her own good. From then, Mike's life spirals into a downward vortex of ill fortune. And Bart's along for the unfortunate ride.
While at first one might think this film is silly or more like an infomercial, it warrants patience - as it does pick up speed.
I found myself rooting for Mike, and to me that seemed the norm - I tend to think serial killers are quite glamourized in this country. Celebrities, if you will. I mean, look at all the media attention people like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer got. Not to mention Charles Manson - whose parole hearings (after 40 years in prison) still parade his ugly, swastika-emblazoned mug on the nightly news. And just how many movies have been made about real-life famous murderers? (I can name five in five seconds. Monster, The Deliberate Stranger, Ed Gein, Helter Skelter, and Gacy - just to name a few)....These guys (and gals, mind you) get alot of clout from their crimes, and we let it happen.
So this movie seems justified in that respect.
At times it's funny, almost hysterical - in the most warped way. The Complete Idiots Guide to Serial Killing, if you will.
The acting is really good. Gubler as Bart is in my opinion brilliant casting. To play a geek is no stretch for him, as he does it on a weekly basis as the nerdy intellectual genius on Criminal Minds...but to put him on the opposite side of the train tracks and make him be the aspiring killer? Liked it. He was spot on.
Matthew Gray Gubler and Dameon Clark as Bart and Mike.
Clark as Mike was very good as well. I found him quite linked into the Ted Bundy stereotype here. Good looking, intelligent, and charismatic, all he needed was a fake cast and a VW Bug and I would have shouted Copy Cat for sure.
I've read a few reviews that seemed put off by the comedic overtones and felt there wasn't enough gore. Well, to that I say - you just didn't get it. They weren't making a gruesome Saw-like feature here. Don't you people know how to laugh at horror once in awhile? Grab yourself a copy of Shaun of the Dead for Christ's sake and make an evening of it. (Not that this movie was up to SOTD caliber. Nothing is, so don't even attempt to find anything superior!)
While I will say the ending seemed rather over the top bordering on melodramatic, the whole of the film worked.
(So, now they serve beer in prison. Would make the inevitable sexual assaults more tolerable, no?)
One thing that did bug the shit out of me was the 70's porno music used throughout. At the very least it reminded me of an episode of Charlie's Angels or The Bionic Woman. Yikes. Next time, dudes - please invest in someone who can score a film properly. Subtlety, guys. Please.
All in all though, a kitschy entry in dark horror comedy.