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Showing posts from October, 2022

Hatchet (2006)

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Until recently I had not heard of Hatchet , despite having the great Kane Hodder star as Vincent Crowley, the vengeful deformed creature at the center of the movie's mythology.  I have no idea how I didn't, but I was so disgusted with a good bit of horror from the 2000s that it doesn't surprise me that it would have gone under my radar.  It's called Hatchet , after all, and that kind of keeps great expectations at bay, especially when the movie poster can't even show an actual hatchet.  Ben (Joel David Moore) is in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but he's depressed after breaking up with his girlfriend and is not really into the celebration.  Instead, he wants to go off on his own for a haunted swamp tour that he heard about.  Out of pity his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond) decides to leave the rest of their friends and come along with him.  However, the tour he heard about is closed, leaving him to book with a second-rate guide named Shawn (Parry Shen).  Also along f

The Black Phone (2021)

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I saw the trailer for The Black Phone in the theater at some point.  I don't remember what movie it might have been seeing; possibly Halloween Kills , as this would have been rather appropriate for it, and originally this was supposed to come out in February 2022.  I didn't pay much attention because the trailer didn't impress me.  I thought it looked like just another serial killer film with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in.  Director Scott Derrickson is hit or miss, and it's been a long time since I've gone out of my way to watch something with a masked killer. Apparently I was wrong to dismiss it so readily, because good preview showings resulted in The Black Phone being pushed forward to release in June, which is during blockbuster season, and 2022 is the first year since the pandemic closed everything down that a summer season has really meant something. The movie was successful, and a number of people whose opinions I respect started raving about it.

Torso (1973)

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Curious as to what the original title of Torso means, I ran it through Google Translate, as I am not going to trust the five or six words in Italian I picked up from watching The Godfather.  I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale came out as "The Bodies Show Traces of Rape".  I was expecting just a straight translation of "carnal violence," but I guess that would really be the same thing.  The thing is that, for everything that is in this movie, the title doesn't fit because of the glaring absence of rape.  Since this is pretty much a softcore porn film combined with a giallo, and being from the early 1970s, I was quite surprised that there wasn't any, which is a bit of a relief when it comes to European films of the time.  Torso isn't necessarily a more descriptive name, but it is one that works better, even though, again, the killer is not necessarily collecting torsos.  However, people tend to be quite protective of their own, wanting to keep e

Psycho Goreman (2020)

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I am hoping at some point that comedy makes a comeback.  I know I don't review straight comedies on this site, but I like the best ones just as much as I like horror, science fiction and all the other stuff that I watch where the humor isn't always intentional.  Unfortunately, in the last decade or so, comedy has pretty much died out.  It's not like some want to think, blaming cancel culture and ultrasensitivity, but rather that too many writers have forgotten how to simply be funny.   The Farelly brothers, and especially the second Austin Powers film, lowered the bar so much that no one has bothered to lift it again.  We get the occasional bright spot, like The 40 Year Old Virgin, but Judd Apatow is just as guilty as everyone else.  Instead of humor arising from awkward situations, absurd jokes or even situations that audiences can relate to, it's all bodily fluids and dragging out trite stereotypes to be edgy.  At some point comedy writers and directors returned to be

The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

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I had briefly heard about The Witch Who Came from the Sea when I was listening to one of my favorite horror film discussions.  At least, I thought I heard about it, because it sounded like it was European horror and was one of three movies that were kind of connected, but not really.  I went into this expecting something Italian, Spanish or possibly French, with bad dubbing and an incomprehensible plot.  I was surprised to find out it's an American production, directed by Matt Cimber, who many people will recognize as organizing the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW).  That makes this movie even stranger because, even though he didn't write it, this is in no way some fun, sexy Russ Meyers-type film.  It's a serious psychological horror film that explores the results of extreme child abuse, and became one of those famous "video nasties" over in the UK.  Originally rated X in the U.S., it shows certain scenes that, although they are meant to be horrific, cross some

God Told Me To (1976)

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Although he had been writing and producing for quite a long time, Larry Cohen's first major hits as a director in the 1970s were Black Caesar and its sequel, Hell Up in Harlem .  Both starred Fred Williamson and became cornerstones of the blaxploitation genre.  In 1974 Cohen tried something different with the horror film It's Alive , a tale of a couple who have a mutant killer baby, and suddenly became a big name in the horror business as well.   Since the blaxploitation craze started to fade by the mid-1970s Cohen wisely continued to focus on horror films.  His next such effort was God Told Me To , jumping on board the controversy of the time that some criminals were seemingly getting off with light sentences in mental health facilities by claiming to have heard voices telling them to kill.  In typical exploitation style, Cohen decided to see explore the what-if scenario that they were telling the truth. Lieutenant Peter Nichols (Tony Lo Bianco) is a New York police officer an

Popcorn (1991)

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The 2000s became the time for self-referential horror films.  Before that, although it did horribly at the box office, the movie Popcorn became a popular video rental.  While the main slasher story may have been a bit trite, and also be quite reminiscent of The Phantom of the Paradise in places, Popcorn decided to acknowledge the history of cheesy b-movies by celebrating them.  It was also a sweet tribute in some ways to William Castle, who famously used gimmicks to liven up some of his movies - although it turns out many of them still work today without them.  Maggie (Jill Schoelen) is a film student at a small California university.  The department is considered largely an afterthought, so fellow student Toby (Tom Villard) and their teacher, Professor Davis (Tony Roberts) come up with the idea to do a horror film festival to raise money for their projects.  To do so they rent the Dreamland, an old movie palace that is scheduled for demolition.  The hook they come up with is presenti

The Funhouse (1981)

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After The Texas Chain Saw Massacre   director Tobe Hooper attempted another Southern-fried horror film with Eaten Alive .  Despite having Marilyn Burns agree to do another movie with him and having a young Robert Englund spout a line that would become more well-known from a Quentin Tarantino film, the movie, seemingly made for less money than Chain Saw , was a failure.  Some fans of Hooper's and other lovers of bad movies give it its due, but it was not the best follow-up to his horror classic.   However, that didn't prevent him from getting the chance to direct a television mini-series based on Stephen King's novel ' Salem's Lot.  It is one of those rare television films that brings back fond memories.  It pretty much saved his career at that point, allowing him to make the transition to studio-backed films like The Funhouse , which in turn got him the job of directing Poltergeist .  I wonder if Steven Spielberg and others saw much more than I did in this movie bec

The Last House on the Left (1972)

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The Last House on the Left is one of those movies that has had staying power on reputation alone.  It does have a number of scenes that are quite disturbing and verge on the unwatchable, but some of it is due to bad attempts at humor, terrible pacing and all-around bad acting.  It is known as one of the more disturbing exploitation films, and for good reason, but this is undercut by hamfisted attempts at comedy and terrible musical cues.  Wes Craven's debut as a director was originally intended to be a hardcore pornographic film.  It baffles as to why that would have even been considered, due to the subject matter, which is largely a remake of Ingmar Bergman's movie Virgin Spring .  There is a particular genre of older adult films called "roughies," in which the situations simulated rape (with the woman supposedly getting off on it, of course), but I can't even see that kind of idea applying here.  It's a rape and revenge film which, with its grainy 16mm film

Night of the Creeps (1986)

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Director Fred Dekker is known mainly for his 1987 horror comedy The Monster Squad , in which a small town is invaded by all sorts of classic movie monsters.  It's one of those movies that has developed a big fan base over the years, and has often been viewed as a sort of companion piece to The Goonies , even if The Monster Squad relies more on horror tropes than childhood adventures.  Before doing his most famous film, Dekker made a movie that was a tribute to every b-movie cliché he could think of. In 1959 an alien experiment is ejected from a spaceship and lands on Earth.  The cylinder contains slug-like creatures that multiply by laying their eggs in the brains of other organisms and keeping them mobile until they find another host.  At the same time an escapee from a local asylum goes on a killing spree.  While the inmate disappears after hacking up the old flame of rookie policeman Ray Cameron, the girl's current beau is put into cryogenic suspension at Corman University.

Anguish (2015)

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Sonny Mallhi appears to be someone trying hard to get a reputation as an independent horror director.  Unfortunately, despite the fact he's been on the producing end of a number of successful films, he hasn't had much luck getting horror fans to pay attention to his own material.  I can kind of understand why after watching Anguish , as this type of movie - slow-paced, a minor-key soundtrack and mopey teenagers with mental problems - isn't necessarily what most people would want to watch.  Initially I was dreading the rest of the movie after the first few scenes, although I'm glad I decided to stick with it.  Jessica (Annika Marks) and her daughter Tess (Ryan Simpkins) move to a small town in the hopes of reducing their day-to-day costs and to help Tess with her mental issues.  While exploring the town Tess comes upon a cross in memory of Lucy (Amberley Gridley), a teenage girl who was killed in an accident.  Feeling a sudden shock, she flees the area, but then starts s

The Mortuary Collection (2019)

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I am always delighted to see that a new horror anthology movie has arrived.  It's something that has always entertained me from a young age.  Often tales of the macabre work when kept simple, something that Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft both understood, and something that current horror master Stephen King does well.  So well, in fact, that quite a few modern anthology films seem to concentrate on them to the exclusion of all others. The Mortuary Collection , however, is purely an original work by writer and director Ryan Spindell, and at this point his only feature-length film.  Thus, whatever credit or blame, it lies not with a myriad of directors trying to interpret theirs and others' visions, but instead rests with Spindell, who proves himself quite capable even if he is treading some well-worn ground.  The wraparound for The Mortuary Collection concerns an old funeral home owned and run by Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown), who one day gets a visit from a woman named Sa

Halloween Ends (2022)

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The first Halloween , released in 1978, was supposed to be one and done.  John Carpenter, who directed the movie and cowrote it with Debra hill, left it open-ended - Michael Myers escapes - but not so a sequel could happen.  Rather, it was to leave the audience with a sense of unease, that this killer was still out there somewhere, and no one in Haddonfield, including Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), was safe.  In 1980 Sean S. Cunningham decided that, since Halloween made a lot of money, he would make a similar holiday-themed film, only this time there would be a lot more nudity and graphic violence.  Friday the 13th , though a blatant copycat of Halloween , made a ton of money as well.  Mustapha Akkad, who had produced Halloween, decided he needed a sequel, since he wasn't going to let an imitator make all the money.  Therefore, Halloween II   exists, still written by Carpenter and Hill but, since Carpenter had no interest himself in directing the movie, it went to Rick Rosenthal

The War of the Gargantuas (1966)

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One of the weirdest takes on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus did not come from Universal or Hammer, but from Toho.  Toho is still one of, if not the biggest of Japan's movie studios, and has been the home for Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and many other Kaiju since Gojira first hit the screen in 1954.  A good many of those films, until he went into semi-retirement in the late 1960s, were directed by Ishirô Honda. In 1965 American screenwriter Reuben Bercovitch, along with Japanese writer Takeshi Kimura, came up with an idea to make Frankenstein's monster a kaiju.  The movie, Frankenstein vs. Baragon  (known internationally as Frankenstein Conquers the World ), featured a story in which the heart of the monster was brought to Japan near the end of World War II, only to be irradiated during the bombing of Hiroshima.  A boy is born from the heart and grows to enormous size, eventually fighting one of the various monsters that like to stomp on Japan. Bercovitch