Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring me the drawing salve, would ya?

Love it.

I just watched Splinter (2008), which I bought sight-unseen - something I rarely do (last spontaneous purchase was Sideways, so it's been awhile) - and I was, for lack of a better word, enthralled with it.
I'd been reading about it and hearing about it for months, and it was nearly all great reviews, so I was psyched to see it.
What a different concept. I can see why it won a bunch of indie horror awards. This is good stuff.

The 'monster' in this flick is unlike any I've ever seen in horror, and folks, that in and of itself is refreshing. The closest I can compare it to is 'The Thing". But I have to disagree with some who say it is too much like The Thing. I can't say that's true. Besides, the remake of The Thing was made in 1982...

Splinter's general concept is not entirely unique though.
We've got an unlucky group of people stuck in a building in what seems like a hopeless situation. I've seen that before many a time. Who hasn't? Such as the rather low budget It Waits, the
stellar first Feast movie, The Descent, Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, Alien, The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the see my point? And almost every horror movie puts its characters in perilous danger...

So after a frightening little teaser before the credits, Splinter starts out innocently enough. Seth and Polly (Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) are off to the woods for a romantic camping trip - celebrating an anniversary of togetherness. When the tent they brought fails to be easily set up and then breaks, they opt to go find a motel. On their way, a girl (a drugged out, pale faced Rachel Kerbs playing 'Lacey') jumps out on the road... they stop and when they are looking back at her trying to decide what to do, her convict boyfriend Dennis (the excellent Shea Willingham) shows up at the driver's side window with a gun to car-jack them.

So it's a few miles later and the two hitchhikers are in the car with our couple. It's obvious Lacey is either sick, on drugs, or both. Dennis tries to comfort her but she's just weirded out.
Then they run over something and the tire goes flat. How typical, right? Well what they hit isn't typical. After a brief encounter on the roadway with the unidentifiable creature (which, in an apparent drug-induced stupor Lacey mistakes as a long-dead pet of hers but in reality looks more like a smooshed porcupine), they change the tire and head back down the road, okay until the car starts overheating. They pull into a gas station (I know, there just happens to be one nearby) and begin looking for the cashier/attendant after getting gas and some refreshments. Cause car-jackin' makes ya' hungry!!

Things go WAAAYYY downhill from there. They find the cashier. Or should I say he finds them. The car-jackers and the nice couple end up trapped inside the gas station with a parasitic creature of some sort trying to get in. It's like no other creature you've ever seen, and the effects are above average. If they used any CGI I don't know where. Almost immediately, the group is down to three and they end up working together on the same side against the terror.

This was really paced well, had satisfying character build-up with really good acting, a vastly superior amount of tension that is missing from so many films these days, and a plot worthy of multiple viewings.
The characters all go through a bit of an epiphany throughout the course of the movie, each finding strength they didn't know they had, as well as a few admirable traits that don't surface until near the end.

The reason the movie is called Splinter is apparent after a very short period of time. And like the tagline says, it will get under your skin. There isn't a huge amount of gore, but there are some very disturbing scenes, one in particular involving a utility knife that just about made me (yes, even me!) close my eyes... and that takes ALOT, people. ALOT. But I made it.

Seth, Polly, and Dennis try to figure out how to get free lottery tickets out of the machine...
(just kidding)

Never, I repeat, NEVER... use the restroom at a gas station.

Alternate DVD cover

Splinter Official Site


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not your average snowboarding holiday...

Cold Prey is a 2006 Norwegian horror movie (with the correct name of 'Fritt Vilt') that I happened upon by seeing its trailer during some other random movie I saw. It looked interesting and even with subtitles I was game for a go.

I was pleasantly surprised, actually. It got me from the beginnning, and though it had many of the same elements of your average 80's slasher flick, I still wanted to see where it was going.

It starts out with two couples and a spare, on their way to a backwoods snowboarding trip. This had to actually be filmed in Norway or the likes, as the scenery was gorgeous.
So they are having a great time on the slopes, letting loose, etc... and of course one of them (the fifth wheel) gets hurt. I'm talking breaks his leg-compound fracture- hurt. Not good.

So what happens next? As easily anticipated, they load the guy on a sled (where it came from I don't know, because they supposedly were miles from the car, and had been snowboarding - so generally it would be considered a burden of sorts to snowboard with a sled on your back, right? But same goes for the skis & poles they seemed to pull out of their ass later...) Anyway - they load the helpless chap up and start walking and they luckily (?) come upon a ski lodge.
Upon further inspection they realize it is mysteriously abandoned (even though there is still lots of booze to get drunk on inside). They break in so that they have shelter for the night, intending to walk out in the a.m. to find help for broken-leg dude.

The usual horror movie tactics follow: investigate the deserted old place, find some strange artifacts and newspapers telling the history of the place, drink excessively, leave a few people alone to get their groove on, gruesome murders start....with a pickaxe no less.

In detail: they start a fire in the fireplace and set the hurt guy up on the couch after splinting and supergluing his compound fracture shut (!), then three of the group start investigating the old place while the lead chick stays with Fracture-Frank...
The three amateur detectives find a burned out room (which happens to be ROOM 237 - apparently an homage to 'The Shining'... I don't miss anything) and wonder just what happened there. Later, two of the three set up shop for the night in one of the rooms but when the horndog tries to have sex with the virgin, she shuts him down and he gets pissed, leaving her alone to be the first victim. Didn't you just see that coming?

Then it turns into a pick-one-at-a-time-off kind of movie, which is nothing new, but to be honest there was really a fair amount of tension while waiting for each to meet his maker. The lighting and atmosphere really lent alot of uneasiness and apprehension. The pacing was great, just enough time to get invested in the well-being of the five friends, then the mayhem starts.

Of course being Norwegian, it was subtitled, but as I've said before, I don't have much problem with that. And the acting was pretty satisfactory, as I came to actually give a crap about each character - as typecast as you'll notice they all are.

The 'monster/killer/freak' was nothing really special, but he had his own backstory which was party indecipherable due to the fact that the movie was foreign - there was a part early on in the film where some of the group finds newpaper articles describing a series of events at the hotel that obviously give cause to our killer and apparently the reason for the desertion, but unfortunately whoever was subtitling for us silly Americans felt it unnecessary to subtitle the newpaper headlines, so we are left to guess what is going on -(the only bad part about the fact that it's a foreign film).

Usually when I see a movie advertised in a trailer or in Fangoria or Rue Morgue that I have never heard of, I am always wary, but sometimes I can be pleasantly surprised, which was the case here. Like I said, there is nothing new here - nothing you haven't seen in say, Wrong Turn (from which I found several similarities)... but it was remarkably free of CGI (always a plus these days) and the whole pickaxe thing hasn't been done (at least not well) since My Bloody Valentine.

I'd have to say check this out. It appears a sequel was out 10-10-08 but I'm not sure if that was at the theater or on DVD. Part 2 is not on yet The website below has the trailers for both- they are not subtitled, but you can certainly get the jist.

Good stuff.

Fritt Vilt/Fritt Vilt II

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why is this called 'Red Mist' ??

Red Mist (a.k.a. Freakdog - actually a much more appropriate title, you'll find out) is an indie horror flick from the guy that brought us 'Shrooms'. It's another one of those 'medical students do really stupid things that could easily muck up their future' movies, and some of what you'll see just reeks of several other similar-themed movies.

Catherine (Arielle Kebbel, who could easily pass for Mandy Moore's sister) is a med student with a bunch of drunken, horny, and ridiculously un-focused fellow med-student friends who are terrribly clichéd. You have your typical blonde rich-bitch (whom you love to hate), the ordinary girl (who, if I'm being honest, has one of the best deaths), the goth girl (channeling her inner Keira Knightly - accent and all), the dorky yet married dude (himself doing his best Seth Rogen impression), the boyfriend type (but still not the so-called McDreamy -and sooooo not the George Clooney/Doug Ross type), and the obligatory smart ass guy who starts all the trouble (I couldn't wait for that blockhead to bite it)...

Catherine has a stalker of sorts. Kenneth, a rather sad yet disturbed young man who enjoys hanging out in the morgue and taking pictures of dead girl's breasts with his cell phone while he cuts himself. Nice.
Kenny shows up at a bar where the aforementioned friends are closing it down getting drunk and taking some drugs they stole from the hospital pharmacy (off to a great start in their medical careers, eh?) Kenny asks if he can walk Catherine home, she politely declines, and so Kenny shows them some pictures on his phone that show them stealing the pharmacy drugs.
I guess he thought he'd try a bit of blackmail to get into Cat's pants, I don't know.

He leaves, but the gang has Catherine convince him to come back and 'party with them'.... They, in turn, make Kenny down (quickly through a funnel, no less) a lethal concoction of alcohol and drugs, then carelessly but unintentionally induce a seizure while using strobe lights with music. Nice. Kenny drops to the floor, unresponsive.

Whilst discussing their options (shades of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer') they wait too long and our boy Kenneth slips into a coma. Then they do the only thing they can do (because this is a movie, after all, and needs to be at least 90 minutes long - gotta do something!) - they dump him off at the hospital, hoping someone finds him.
Of course this throws a major guilt trip on Cat. Everyone else, including her apparent boyfriend, seems to think this is a lucky break. Yay! He's in a coma and can't tell the cops what happened.

Catherine reads up on some experimental drugs that can possibly help coma patients, so in keeping in tune with the 'really f**king stupid things med students do' theme, she forges a doc's name on a prescription and gets said drugs for her 'pal' Kenny. (Would someone explain to me why they would even have these experimental drugs on stock at the hospital pharm? This baffles me.)....

So anyway, she injects Kenny with the drug (because no one at all is in the coma ward late at night - except one floozy nurse who has a penchant for leaving her post and getting her rocks off with a random doctor in the supply closet...) and low and behold, he develops some brain function. Imagine that.
However, unbeknownst to Catherine, the drug apparently makes the brain have 'out of body experiences'... meaning Kenny is somehow able to possess other people, who in turn exact his revenge on the unsuspecting med students who have left him in this deplorable condition.

I didn't dislike this movie, but it left some room for improvement. There were a few sequences near the end that just weren't fluent, and I was left wondering just what had happened. At times, it morphed into 'Shrooms' land for me... with some weird psychedelic images and the unavoidable 'girl running half naked through the woods' experience. I mean, what was she doing out in the woods when this whole film is basically set in a hospital? It left a small bit of continuity fly right out the window.

Red Mist isn't scary, either.
It's more of a psychological morality play with enough gore to place it in the horror category, but the gruesome kills don't even show up till like, 45 minutes into the film.

It's not the type of movie you'd want to pay ten bucks to see at the theater (but what is?) but it would do for a saturday afternoon if you can catch it on the Sci-Fi channel. I mean, it's better than one of those Lifetime movie of the week crap-fests!

After you see it though, you'll realize, like I did - that Freak Dog would have been a much better title. Red Mist sounds like something that is on stage at the Miss America pageant. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Can you believe this??

Get this:

I read, just today, that a newly formed production company is remaking The Exorcist - with Dakota Fanning in the Linda Blair role, Nicholas Cage as Father Karras, William Shatner as Father Merrin, and Sharon Stone in the Ellen Burstyn role.

Apparently they are set to start filming in Phoenix, Arizona the beginning of this summer.
Yeah, Phoenix should really be able to sub for Georgetown, right?
My burning questions, I mean the ones that are keeping me up at night, are:

*Do you think the house will be an adobe?
*Will they call "Captain Howdy" Mr. Spock instead?
*Are there rats in Phoenix? If so, will she hear 'rats' in the attic or lizards on the patio?
*Will Regan still utilize a Ouija board or will they use drums, flutes, and chanting to conjure Pazuzu?
*Will Regan's mom perform a strip tease including a chair for her dinner party instead of singing?
*Will Father Karras still fall down a flight of steps, or will he somehow turn into Elvis and sing the devil out of Regan?
*Will Regan use an ice pick in lieu of a crucifix to do those nasty things to her dainty parts?
*Will Father Merrin try to get Regan and her mom a hotel room instead of staying at home to face the demons? I'm thinking Priceline, here folks.
*Will they still use pea soup or will it be a concoction made of peyote cactus?
*Will Regan still pee on the carpet or will Dakota stipulate no bodily functions will be used in the making of this film.... well, there goes the vomiting as well.
*And will Regan actually even be possessed in this version, or just out of her mind at having to listen to Nicholas Cage's monotone voice for two hours?
I don't know who is set to direct it, but I suppose someone like Uwe Boll will get the honors.
I shudder to think.

Can you imagine even re-making this classic film?
It's like re-doing Casablanca with Jessica Alba and Keanu Reeves! YIKES!

By the way, April Fools.