Monday, August 30, 2010

There's No Place Like Horror, Part 2: Horror's Most Undesirable Living Spaces

And so here you have it, the ying to the yang.
Just a few short weeks ago, both myself and the prolific and wonderous Kindertrauma posted our top ten horror homes we'd love to live in, and today we return to the same subject, minus all the happiness and glee.
We now bring you our top ten fear-inducing, crappy-ass places we'd NEVER hang our hat.

10) Jaws, The Orca - Terror on the high seas...
I'm sorry, but as much as I love the ocean, this is no place like home. Unconventional at best, The Orca still serves as much as a home as anywhere else.
But I, for one, won't be holing up in it telling tales of the Indianapolis - or being served up as a hot lunch. But let us remember, it's only an island if you look at it from the water. Um, no thanks.

9) Jeepers Creepers - The old cat lady's house...
While on the outside, it doesn't appear that odd, it just creeps me the hell out. All those cats! Don't get me wrong, I love cats - I own two. But with them slinking around in every window and jumping off the banisters, I cringe every time I watch this film. Let alone the weirdness of the old woman. But all I can really think is this: How would you ever get that cat shit smell out of that house?

8) Poltergeist - creepy urban nightmare...
Can I just say I hate this house? I don't like anything that screams early 80's suburbs, and this one takes the cake. And I absolutely hate garages placed in the front of a house. It's the first thing you see, and who wants to notice two blinding white doors shouting out at you. The fact that it is buried on an ancient Indian burial site is just icing on the cake. And lastly and most importantly, this is the house with that creepy effing clown doll in it. This is a big no-no house.

7) Evil Dead - where the woods are alive...
My hubby and I actually own a cabin in the woods that looks rather similar to this. That being said, we don't generally have to worry about Kandarian demons coming up from the gates of hell and attacking us. There is no bridge that we have to cross that is later rendered useless. We never hear disembodied voices asking us to join them. And I've never, ever had a problem with the trees, okay? So quite frankly, since I already own a similar cabin (without all the flaws and disadvantages) there's no reason to risk demonic possession. How about no...

6) The Abandoned - How about no effing way!...
Maybe many of you haven't seen this film, but it makes a lasting impression if for nothing else but this house. Deep in the Russian woods, with a bridge the only access in, this place just reeks atmosphere. Generally, I'd be all about an address like this - off by itself, inaccessible to pretty much everyone....but to be honest it just creeps me the hell out. It's insanely ominous, and all I can think of are those damn doppelgangers. Gah!

5) Alien - I'm afraid to fly anyway...
Where no one can hear you scream. Literally. Far from the beaten path, hell- far from any path, the Nostromo is certainly not a place where I would feel comfortable hanging my hat. Besides that whole far far away thing, there's the fact that everything is so starkly white up top and so darkly technical and sinister on the lower decks. You never know what might be lurking around the next corner. And since I actually know what is lurking, I'll take a pass.

4) The Blair Witch Project - NO. Just no.
Holy Jesus I'd never live here. While it might be kind of fun, in a Ghost Hunters kind of way, to come across this one deep in the woods and check it out - you probably wouldn't find me here after dark, and I'm not easily frightened. Those hand prints on the wall? That leaves the upstairs out, and I'd be scared to death to even venture into the basement. Nope, ain't gonna happen.

3) Wrong Turn - Hillbilly hell is not appealing...
Between this movie and Deliverance, I will never be comfortable in any of our nation's deep backwoods. And while I live only ninety minutes as the crow flies from the lovely state of West Virginia (where this film supposedly took place) and though I have yet to see anyone quite as...special... as the rednecks in this film, just the thought of the inside of their lovely abode, with its wretched bathroom facilities and foul collection of canned goods is enough to keep me off the back roads indefinitely.

2) Candyman - Cabrini-Green is just not my style...
This monstrosity of impoverished living is this high on the list for a reason. City living will never be me, and these housing projects in Chicago's North Side scare me silly. I've nothing against apartments, but if this place is as ghastly as is presented in the film Candyman, I've no desire to even look at it out of a car window. Besides the obvious gang violence hovering about, the insides of this beauty are just downright dreadful. There is just no way I'd set foot in this shithole.

1) Friday the 13th Part 2 - Just a nice little slice of real estate...
The home of Potato-sack Jason, I've always been terrified by this dilapidated old shack. And we all know the the 'living room' boasts a morbid altar of epic proportions that's just ahead of its time. (Bad pun, I know..) Not only can there not possibly be a bathroom of any kind, I'm gonna take a guess and say that the kitchen leaves a lot to be desired. Plus how would you heat this place? Gotta be big time drafty and uncomfortable. And let's face it, it is completely hideous, just like its owner.

So there you have my top no-no's as far as real estate choices within the horror genre. So pop on over to Kindertrauma to see Unk's choices for the places he wouldn't be caught dead in. Quite literally...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Rambling Than Review: The Last Exorcism

As a kid, I got carsick a lot. Even as an adult I have been known to all but yack up my blueberry waffles if you take me on a winding back road and force me to sit in the back seat. Even today, if conditions are just right (bad driver, back seat, too many french fries, etc.) I can get such a feeling in my gut then I am done - for hours. I don't call it a weak stomach, as I live for Cajun seasonings and wicked hot peppers. I call it motion sickness.
Why do I mention this?
Because I got a severe case of it while watching The Last Exorcism.

I've read a lot of reviews of this film already, and while I hate to rehash what has already been said, I wanted to convey a few thoughts.

First off, they attached Eli Roth's name to it so those in love with the dude would rush out and see it. I don't know that that approach worked, but the weekend box office numbers seem to indicate that either it did, or people just love a good exorcism.

In my opinion, there has not been a really decent movie about exorcisms since indeed, The Exorcist in 1973. That's a damn long time ago, and while I will give a pass to The Exorcism of Emily Rose simply because it is more of a courtroom drama with top caliber stars than a gritty horror movie, I simply cannot say that I have been interested, intrigued, frightened or even remotely on edge by anything else claiming to be such.

All that aside, I did actually enjoy The Last Exorcism.

The concept of the movie is a simple one. Cotton Marcus is an evangelical minister who has grown up following in his daddy's footsteps -preaching the good word of our lord Jesus Christ. Yeah, whatever. His claim to fame (as well as dear old dad's) is that he can cast out the devil in a three step process. Okay, maybe not three steps, but it's a family business that has done them well over the years.

However, Cotton becomes disenchanted with the fraud of exorcism because he has recently read a story of a boy who was killed during such a "procedure". Since he has a child of his own near the same age, he decided this whole faux ministry thing should be revealed as the bunch of ridiculous hooey it is.

He decides to drag a camera crew around with him as he performs the titular act - the last exorcism - in which he will expose the rites as the deceptive trickery it actually is. Opening one of his many random letters in which someone pleads to him to come and exorcise the demon in whichever family member it may be, off he goes to backwoods Louisiana. Stopping midway there to change out of his every-guy t-shirt and into a crisp linen suit - much more appropriate for casting out demons, apparently - they traverse down a dirt cowpath to the farm of one Louis Sweetzer.

Louis's seventeen year old daughter Nell, besides being home-schooled and kept from regular contact with kids her age, is plagued with what he believes to be the devil himself. (Now why Lucifer would have any interest in a redneck farm girl such as Nell is beyond me, when he could possess such other worthy candidates, but anyway...)
Nell has been doing some pretty crazy shit as of late, the worst of which is gutting the family livestock. She has no recollection of these acts, and states she just wakes up and it's already been done.

Meanwhile, we get to see all the tricks of Cotton's trade, most impressive is a crucifix that has a special button to mist out some demonic smoke when pushed.
He then sets up Nell's room, has her get comfortable, and instructs the family to stand by and 'send her all your love and prayers' as he proceeds to knock that demon right out of her.

The crew leave the house, all the while waving goodbye to the Sweetzer family and congratulating themselves on a job well done. They've pulled the wool over the family's eyes and in the process got their footage to prove demon possession is all in the minds of the "afflicted" and they just need a good stint in a mental ward to mend their souls.
Things are not, however, as clear-cut as they seem.

Cut to our exorcism team of three relaxing at their hotel room a few miles from the Sweetzer farm. When Cotton walks back into his bedroom he is surprised to see Nell sitting on his bed. She appears in some kind of trance and doesn't respond to them when they talk to her. There is no reasonable explanation as to how she got there. They end up taking her to the hospital and try to get her seen by a shrink because they truly believe she has a psychiatric problem. Unable to prove that point after a clean bill of health, they are forced to allow her father to take her home the next morning. Soon after, when Cotton & crew go back to the farm they see Nell's brother Caleb with a nasty gash across his face. They find out Nell slashed Caleb but has no recollection of doing so. The group stays with Nell while Louis drives Caleb to the hospital.
Investigating, Cotton finds Nell chained to her bed, her father apparently convinced the devil isn't quite finished.

After a relatively slow start, things do begin to amp up a bit at this point. After releasing her from the chains, the crew calm Nell down and allow her to rest while they do the same downstairs. Without warning, Cotton awakes when he hears a baby crying upstairs. All three of them rush up to find Nell standing in the hallway in the shadows. It's a very creepy moment, probably the eeriest one in the entire film, and when Cotton tries to approach her she runs from them, only to be found "drowning" a baby doll underwater in the tub. After several moments, Nell regains consciousness and the crew finds a disturbing picture that she has drawn of a bloodied cat. There then proceeds to be a very alarming few moments in the family barn, of which I am still recovering from.

I hate to go on much more than this, as giving away much more would quite possibly spoil the film for those with the intention of seeing it. I will say that the last half hour is the best - and the worst - part. When Cotton realizes that something else may be going on besides just a young girl having a mental break of some kind, it makes him extremely uneasy. Turns out he might have to seriously perform that exorcism after all.

The acting in the film is first-rate, in particular Patrick Fabian as Cotton Marcus and Ashley Bell as Nell Sweetzer. I was so stirred by Bell's "possessed" personality - it really was impressive as hell. Going from clueless, fundamental daddy's girl to a nasty "Say my name!"-kind of demon in two clicks was some fine acting. What's crazy is that I've never heard of this girl before. And Fabian really takes his performance as a disillusioned minister to the next level. You really want to hate all his hokey religious bullshit, but you just can't take your eyes off of him. Powerful stuff..

Something that did disappoint me was the fact that in the previews and on quite a few film posters we see Nell climbing the walls of her bedroom. This was utter crap, as we never once see Nell hanging off the ceiling a 'la Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street. We see her crouched on top of a huge armoire, which does raise the question of just how she got up there... but not once (unless I was closing my eyes to avoid barfing) did I see her crawling the walls. Did I miss something?
The crazy back bend that is all over movie posters though? Yep, that happened.

Truthfully, I was not scared once during this movie. Perhaps it is the PG-13 rating that had me backed into a corner of disbelief, thinking that nothing less than an R rating could make me jump out of my skin... Nope, it just wasn't scary. A few things bugged the hell out of me, and both of those things involved animals in less than stellar condition. But man, when I saw The Exorcist for the first time (and the second, and the ninety-eighth) I was downright rattled. Scared out of my skin. There is truly no comparison.

And I have to say, the ending just went out into left field, if I'm being honest. It morphed into a completely different movie in the last ten minutes or so. I'm really at a loss as to explain it, other than it's possible that producers or other powers that be didn't think the film's ending was...exciting enough? To me, it feels like the film lost its way in the final act.

But that's not to say that I didn't like it. Despite feeling like I'd been on a Tilt-a-Whirl for eighty minutes or so, and feeling like the ending was a different movie altogether, I thought it was a worthwhile venture into the land of 'found-footage' films.

But after my Dramamine-infused viewing of Paranormal Activity last year, my I'malittlebitnauseous trip to Piranha 3D, my ThankgoodnessIwatcheditonDVDathome experience with the awesome Lake Mungo, and my HolycrapIhavetorestatBordersforanhour! The Last Exorcism event this weekend, I need to rest my weary stomach of these types of films. Can I just have a movie that allows me to sit still and not contemplate running out of the theater, please? Thank you.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

The Last Exorcism

Survival of the Dead



Ichi the Killer

7eventy 5ive

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

70's Cult Film Project:: I'm a Midnight Warrior!

Over at one of my favorite blogs, From Midnight, With Love, The Mike is compiling a list of the Most Essential 70's Cult Films and has asked all who may be interested (labeled Midnight Warriors!) to either send him their lists or post a list of their own on their blogs.
Well I've chosen the latter.

I'm pretty straight-forward in my choices, typically leaning waaay towards horror and though I thought of over fifteen that I felt were worthy enough, I whittled the list down to five (not an easy task) and they are as follows:

(And I really didn't feel the need to elaborate, as all of these movies are well known -or at least should be if you are reading a horror blog...)

So if you want to become a Midnight Warrior and join in the FMWL's '70s Cult Project, go here for details.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Piranha 3D: Blood and Birthday Suits Galore

So everybody and their brother has written a review/post on Piranha 3D. Does that mean I am going to forego having a sheep over the cliff moment and avoid blogging about it to refrain from being repetitive?
Sorry, no.

I doubt I can tell you anything you don't already know about the gore-fest that opened this weekend opposite the makefunofeveryaspectofTwilight Vampires Suck. There's boobs and blood. Pretty much all you need to know.

I guess what irks me the most are the people out there bashing this film because it "doesn't have any real substance" or is "lacking a plot". Seriously? You mean to tell me there are folks out there that thought a movie about prehistoric killer fish wreaking havoc at Spring Break would have a legitimate plot? Chill out! It's just a fun film with boatloads of gore (literally) and a lot of T & A. Do you really need more than that to have a fun ninety minutes? Have you honestly never sat through a bad Sy-Fy movie on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed yourself? Shame on you and your pretentiousness if you haven't!

This is no critically acclaimed horror movie. It's not Jaws. Hell, it's not even the original 1977 Pirahna. So go ahead critics, give it two out of five stars, feel free. But I think the general consensus is that Piranha 3D is just bloody good fun. It's a concept film, of course, throwing things off the screen at the audience in an attempt to cause jump scares or perhaps a shaky stomach.

The last time I saw a 3D movie in a theater was Jaws 3-D, and I shit you not on that point. (And before you go trashing that one, please keep in mind that Richard Matheson was one of the screenwriters on that one. Yep, I'm serious.) And oh yeah, it was 1983.
So it's quite possible that many of you dear readers (except you my beloved Pax!) weren't even a twinkle in your parents eye when I was sinking into those big theater seats with my ridiculous blue and red cardboard 3D glasses to be scared shitless (well, to be entertained, anyway!)
I was too young, but already had a helluva catalog of horror under my belt, so a little water-skier lunch wasn't going to deter me.

That being said, I detest the current obsession filmmakers have with turning absolutely everything into a 3D mess. I don't understand the fascination with it, not at all. Most movies just end up a gimmicky disaster (such as the recent Clash of the Titans). This would be the primary reason that I haven't seen one in so damn long. Another reason is that the damn 3D craze died out just about as quickly as it came around the last time, and it is my hope that producers and directors alike will soon realize that perhaps it may be more important to concentrate on putting a decent script together than seeing how many pointed objects they can propel toward the screen to make a few people gasp. Ugh.

So....even though I am not a fan of 3D, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the latest Alexandre Aja film in theaters. I am a fan of both Haute Tension (though the ending leaves something to be desired) and The Hills Have Eyes remake, and found the Aja produced P2 to be mildly entertaining. (We shall leave Mirrors out of this equation, thank you very much.) And honestly, early noise about the film stated it was going to be rife with blood and guts, of which I am a very big fan. And I am also a big 'water horror' aficionado as well, so this was right up my alley. After all, Jaws is my favorite film.

I have to give props to my movie-watching partner in crime, my uncle Shawn, who graciously ponied up the $11.25 per ticket as a belated birthday gift. I think I've mentioned him before on my blog as my long-time horror movie accomplice - despite him being my uncle, he's the same age as me and we grew up together watching bad zombie movies and dudes in hockey masks. So he was able to get away from his day job as an undertaker (seriously) and escort me to the massacre.

By the way, the theater was so age-conscientious that there was an actual cop and a manager of some sort outside the number 10 theater to ensure no one under 17 was admitted. I have never seen this happen before. Hilarious.

Quick, meaningless four-point plot synopsis:

1) Jake Forester (played by Steven R. McQueen - grandson of THE Steve McQueen) is up to no good when he takes a job as a location scout for a cheesy porno director (played to the umpteenth sleaziest degree by Jerry O'Connell) in his Spring Break infested hometown of Lake Victoria.

2) Jake's mom (the still-amazingly-hot Elisabeth Shue) is the town sheriff, who has the kick-ass-and-take-names-later Ving Rhames as her deputy. Attempting to keep some semblance of order during the naked, drunken fun-fest that has invaded her town is a rather difficult job, especially after finding the chewed up remains of a local fisherman in the lake. (And yes, you'll recognize this fisherman!)

3) As if you didn't already know this, a school of vicious, man-eating, prehistoric piranha escape a huge crack in the lake floor after a minor earthquake.

4) Massive amounts of grisly carnage ensues.

Basically, that's all you have to know. There's nothing else that the plot yields as far as substance and there's no underlying meaning. It's just bad ass fish biting people to death.
There are a few minor stories including Jake's obsession with a girl his age (Jessica Szohr), his disobedient younger siblings, and a couple seismologists who dive under the lake to see what the deal is, but really it's just filler.

There really is an alarming amount of gore in this film. I have trouble believing the producers were able to flesh out (pun intended) an R rating. In the central attack, spring breakers participating in (and ogling) a wet t-shirt contest are gobbled up in a most impressive fashion, turning the lake waters crimson while limbs fly left and right and people rush for the safety of shore. Naturally though, very few make it out alive or at least without major blood loss and absolutely gruesome wounds all over.

In one particularly effective moment, a girl is literally ripped in two while being carted out of the water, and in another our pal Eli Roth (in a turn as the annoying wet t-shirt contest host) meets a ghastly end - which actually made me laugh out loud in the theater. Also amusing was the demise of said porno director - he was such a dick that you knew it was coming, but his last words were just comical, to say the least.

Can I just say, when they say Aja used over 7000 gallons of fake blood in the filming of the movie, that still doesn't seem high enough a number. I have literally not seen a more gory film in over twenty years...maybe ever.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention all the boobs. You think there's a lot of blood in this movie? It pales in comparison to the avalanche of bouncing breastages that make an appearance here! There is even an underwater ballet in which two of our porno gals frolic and dance naked to an operatic melody. Gasp! Now it's not that I don't appreciate the female form, I do (I own one, after all!) - but WOW. Can I just say that my hubby is soooo going to enjoy this one, I can't lie.

So at the end of the day, when you hear people bitch about this movie, don't immediately take them at their word. See it for yourself. As a long-time horror fan, I have to say I was completely entertained, and as campy and ridiculous as it may have been, I don't have any complaints.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Piranha 3D

Silent Hill

Living Death

Bad Biology

Basket Case

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Bloody Sunday

In honor of my birthday today, you get an extra helping of blood and guts!

True Blood: Season 3

Natural Born Killers

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Land of the Dead

Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds

Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day

Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie's H2)

From Hell

Silver Bullet

The Dead Next Door



Day of the Dead


HorrorBlips: vote it up!