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Showing posts from October, 2023

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

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The latter part of the 20th century came up with some interesting ways in which people tried to get away with murder.  One was that God told them to do it, which was a late '70s legal attempt to get obviously guilty clients found insane or incompetent to avoid a death penalty.  The other, made popular with the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in 1981, has been derisively referred to as the "Flip Wilson" defense: "The Devil made me do it."   On February 16, 1981, Arne Johnson had an altercation of some sort with his landlord, Alan Bono, which led to Johnson stabbing Bono 22 times.  He was found a few miles away by police with Bono's blood on him stating that he didn't mean to hurt anyone.  When asked why he did it Johnson claimed to have been possessed by a demon that he had invited to exit from his girlfriend Debbie Glatzel's youngest brother David and come into him.  His lawyer initially pled not guilty due to demonic possession but, when disallowed by

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1992)

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The partnership between Larry Cohen and William Lustig produced Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2 , a pair of wonderful b-movies with plenty of action mixed with horror elements.  Lustig's gritty, low-budget directing mixed with Cohen's wild ideas meshed well, with the second movie being even better than the first.  While not big box office hits in the United States the movies did well elsewhere, with the second becoming rather popular in Japan. Cohen wrote a script for a third movie, this one with a black protagonist and, as Cohen had written for characters of color before, a good portion of the script would have hinged on the lead's background.  Problem is the financing was coming from a company in Japan that didn't want a black lead, but instead wanted Robert Davi, who starred in the second movie, to return as Det. Sean McKinney.  The investors wouldn't budge, Cohen wasn't going to rewrite the script for free, so Lustig filmed what there was that didn't involv

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

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By the end of the 1980s Freddy Krueger had become a sad parody of what he had once been.  The son of a nun raped by a thousand maniacs who murdered children, got off on a technicality and died at the hands of vigilantes, only to come back and kill his killers' children in their dreams had becomes little more than a cartoon.  Slashers had gone about the same way with the more "anything goes" horror films like The Lost Boys gaining in popularity.   The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was well known, even if it wasn't too easy to find it at video stores due to rights issues.  The second movie had stirred up some controversy when it was released unrated to theaters and had a bit of that gonzo attitude of the time.  New World, looking for a new property to exploit, was able to buy the rights to the franchise and hoped to turn Leatherface into the next Jason.  Problem is they really didn't think things through. Michelle (Kate Hodge) and her boyfriend Ryan (William Butler) ar

Children of the Corn II: The Final Harvest (1992)

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I have stated before that going to the movies was one of my biggest past times in the early 1990s.  I wasn't always concerned about quality, but rather about consuming what came out that particular weekend.  In all honesty I was not a big fan of Children of the Corn at the time and, upon a recent rewatch, I'm still not.  It has certain fun b-movie qualities, but it did signal a certain desperation to get out as much Stephen King product as possible.  However, when the sequel came out in 1992, it was a movie, and I watched it.  The original had practically no budget - supposedly a good portion of what would have gone to effects went up King's nose due to a high price of using his name - and had a pretty abrupt ending.  Isaac and Malachai both die, He Who Walks Behind the Rows is destroyed by fire and, after surviving one last attack, our heroes and their two new wards appear to be stuck walking out of town.  It seemed like no one making the film cared anymore at that point

Inferno (1980)

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Dario Argento has had a long and storied career, but he hasn't done so by cashing in on a specific franchise.  His first three giallo films are often grouped as the "Animal Trilogy", but it was never an intent of his to have them linked, but rather the strange naming conventions of the genre in the early 1970s.  He never truly did a sequel to any of his movies until 1980's Inferno , which is the spiritual successor to Suspiria .  Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle) lives in an old apartment building in New York City and has become obsessed with a book called The Three Mothers that she has purchased from an antique dealer named Kazanian (Sacha PitoĆ«ff) which was written by an alchemist-turned-architect.  It tells of three buildings built in New York, Rome and Freiburg, Germany, where dwell three sorceresses: Mater Tenebrarum, Mater Lacrymonium and Mater Suspirium, respectively.  Rose believes her building is one of those and sends a letter to her brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey)

Terrifier 2 (2022)

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I know that Terrifier was not the first time that Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) was introduced, but what little story there was in the movie was unique to that film.  It was just under 90 minutes, was pretty much a highlight reel of bloody scenes and had one that in the opinion of many went way too far, as any movie of its type should.  What it felt like was a well-done demo real, with Damien Leone basically stringing together a bunch of scenes to show what he could do on his own with the hint of what he could do on a big budget production if hired. Despite its lack of anything that felt like a traditional movie Terrifier became a decent cult hit.  People started dressing as Art for Halloween and the reputation of the film grew.  Within a few years it had a big enough following where Leone decided to make a sequel and, with some crowd funding and returning to direct and do the effects himself, he managed to make a good part of Terrifier 2 before COVID-19 put production on hold

Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)

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Unless Romania made its own vampire movies at some point during Nicolai Ceausescu's rein, I believe Subspecies was the first movie of its type actually made anywhere near where most of the tales take place.  Charles Band came up with the idea for a vampire film and Ted Nicolaou and a team made up largely of Romanian cinema veterans made the movie which ended up being a substantial hit for Full Moon.  Of course, Band was thinking more in financial terms than historical as the new government in Romania was more than happy to get some money for filming there while Band was happy with the price. The advantage of filming on location is that Subspecies looked a lot better than it should, which is something it has in common with many of the Full Moon Video films of the early 1990s.  It also wasn't the only film Band made there to take advantage of that fact, but the most well-known are still the Subspecies films and, with things stabilizing, Nicolaou and company returned to film the

Psycho II (1983)

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While Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a problem occasionally remaking his earlier movies he's not really known for sequels.  Truth be told, although there were entire series of movies in horror and comedy in classic Hollywood, they were for already popular characters or for films that weren't exactly considered the studio's top tier productions.  I don't know if Hitchcock ever said anything positive or negative about sequels, but more likely it just never crossed his mind to do one. Psycho inspired the slasher genre, although in truth, despite the controversy it stirred up in pushing certain envelopes at the time, it was still largely a traditional movie.  It contained far more skin than most mainstream movies, killed its protagonist about halfway through and was much more violent than many American films, but it also contained large stretches of characters discussing the action as well as the whole explanation at the end on why Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) did what

Bride of Re-Animator (1990)

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The Re-Animator , particularly in its unrated form, became a major cult horror hit rather quickly.  Stuart Gordon made the movie look much better than one would believe from its low budget and it being the first release by a guy known for alternative theater.  It bore little resemblance to the H. P. Lovecraft story that inspired it but, since it was not really one of Lovecraft's best and one he wrote simply because he was paid to, that wasn't a bad thing.  Gordon and co-writer and producer Brian Yuzna made it their own, and the movie is now a horror classic. Gordon could have revisited it, but he was more interested in seeing what he could do with another Lovecraft story, From Beyond .  Though it took a lot longer for audiences to warm up to that one it still had Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton and once again moved a Lovecraft story successfully into the modern age.  However, with The Re-Animator becoming the belated hit it was, at some point there would have to be a sequel.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

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Insidious was heavily inspired by Poltergeist  and writers Leigh Whannell and James Wan, the latter whom directed the movie, didn't really try to hide it.  Despite that there was enough creativity in the story they developed that, although the way the scares were handled was similar, there was enough divergence in plot.  Dalton Lambert (Ty Simpkins) is a young boy that falls into a coma and it turns out that he is really lost in a realm called the Further, a sort of limbo for spirits that haven't completely passed on.  It is revealed that his father Josh (Patrick Wilson) could once travel as he does and must now overcome the memory blocks added by psychic Elise (Lyn Shaye) to rescue him. While Josh is successful Elise is killed, and initially the suspicion falls on Josh, with even his wife Renai (Rose Byrne) wondering if he may have done it.  He also seems to be different than the Josh who went in, but still is a loving father trying to protect his family.  While the police in

Puppet Master 4 (1993)

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When I think of actual good direct-to-video movies my thoughts often turn to Full Moon.  They did plenty of stinkers and Charles Band is just as amoral as the next exploitation filmmaker, but because there was a lot of talent within the Band family with his father helping with the scripts and his brother providing music, Band was able to keep a lot of the costs down.  That meant that his movies, though obviously still low budget, at least used the money they had for effects and to occasionally hire decent actors. One of Full Moon's biggest properties is the Puppet Master series, which began with the original Puppet Master movie back in 1989 and which, as of this year, is now up to 14 films and a video game, with a 15th movie in production.  For me the first three have always been best, with my personal favorite being the second, with the third a close second.  Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge told the story of how Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe) created the puppets and then used

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

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Rob Zombie has a habit of throwing everything at the audience at once.  That is why his music is good in small doses, either with videos of his best songs or the occasional album where he decides to deviate from formula.  The House of a 1000 Corpses was just like that, sampling old horror films much the way his songs do and pretty much bludgeoning the audience for about 90 minutes.  There are a lot of reasons why it should not have worked, but it did, and a good part of that were the performances of Sid Haig and Bill Moseley.  Haig, in his first major role in years, played Captain Spaulding, a clown that runs a roadside attraction at a gas station, while Moseley played Otis Firefly, perhaps the most depraved of the entire Firefly family that preyed on people passing through. The House of a 1000 Corpses , with the garish colors and Dr. Satan finale, was in many ways framed as a comic book movie while being heavily influenced by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre .  However, unlike the film t

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

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Exorcist II: The Heretic is a legendary movie for all the wrong reasons.  Harry and Michael Medved, in their book The Golden Turkey Awards , placed it as the number two worst movie of all time, just under Plan 9 from Outer Space .  Keep in mind the book was written in the early 1980s, so much worse has come out since then, and I would say that there was much, much worse before this as well.  To the Medveds' credit they were also pretty much critiquing watchable bad movies. I personally would not even say Exorcist II: The Heretic truly is a terrible movie.  It's not a good one and it certainly does not work as a sequel to The Exorcist , but it was the most expensive movie Warner Bros. had bankrolled at the time.  John Boorman had directed Deliverance , one of the most highly regarded movies of the 1970s.  Although most of the cast declined returning, Linda Blair was back as Regan (although it was due to being contractually bound after the script was heavily changed from when she

Army of Darkness (1992)

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The ending of Evil Dead II went to an unexpected place, which was medieval times.  Not the restaurant, even though as goofy as Sam Raimi gets I wouldn't have been surprised, but the actual time period.  The Necronomicon ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead featured in the series, contained a picture of a "promised one" being worshipped by the masses, and the last scene shows Ash (Bruce Campbell) being so worshipped after dispatching a winged Deadite.   Although I hoped that maybe one day I would get to see that movie I knew it would probably never happen.  Though filmed on a bigger budget than The Evil Dead , Evil Dead II was still a low budget cult film.  Most everyone who saw it loved it and it was most fans' introduction to both Raimi and Campbell. Usually referred to as a remake, it's more of a continuation, since everything that happens after Ash is attacked by the demonic force at the beginning and then becomes human again as the sun comes up occurs after the st