April 16, 2014

Cronenberg's Scanners coming to Blu-ray in July, courtesy of The Criterion Collection!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JPUUQVE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JPUUQVE&linkCode=as2&tag=thehorclu0a-20

We thought that The Criterion Collection were already spoiling us by releasing Picnic at Hanging Rock on Blu-ray in June, and then here they go announcing that they're also giving us a BD of Scanners in July...  It's safe to say that we are pleased.

It may not be our favorite Cronenberg movie (that honor goes to The Brood), but Scanners certainly is one 80's gem that holds a special place in our hearts; I mean as kids, seeing a man's head explode so gloriously made quite an impression on our fragile little minds, so how can we not love it?

"With Scanners, David Cronenberg plunges us into one of his most terrifying and thrilling sci-fi worlds. After a man with extraordinary—and frighteningly destructive—telepathic abilities is nabbed by agents from a mysterious rogue corporation, he discovers he is far from the only possessor of such strange powers, and that some of the other “scanners” have their minds set on world domination, while others are trying to stop them. A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human brain was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States."

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director David Cronenberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • The “Scanners” Way, a new documentary on the film’s special effects
  • New interview with actor Michael Ironside
  • The Ephemerol Diaries, a 2012 interview with actor and artist Stephen Lack
  • Excerpt from a 1981 interview with Cronenberg on the CBC’s The Bob McLean Show
  • Stereo (1969), Cronenberg’s first feature film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kim Newman

...all of that, and what may our favorite Criterion cover art ever. Nice job on that, Connor Willumsen.

Scanners hits Blu-ray on July 15th, and we can not wait. *You can click the cover art above if you want to pre-order yourselves a copy. All the cool kids are doing it, after all.

April 15, 2014

Netflix Review: Cottage Country (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2072933/
Cottage Country marks the first time that we've caught a movie on Netflix before it has even been released on VOD or DVD.

It's been on DVD in parts of Europe since 2013, but it still struck us odd that it went to Netflix before it had any other sort of proper release here in The U.S.

I guess that goes to show you just how much release strategies & distribution are changing for lower-budget and Indie movies these days.

Cottage Country is also the first Tyler Labine "comedy" that we didn't find very funny at all.
Todd and Cammie are hopelessly in love; we know this because they only refer to each other by sweet and playful (annoying) nicknames like "Toodles" and "Snuggle Bum." So in love are they, that "Neckbeard" has planned a weekend getaway to the family cottage (in Cottage Country, obviously), so that he can finally propose to "Muffin Ass" and seal their romantic deal for eternity.

"Nuzzle Neck" and "Sassy Puss."
The weekend quickly goes to hell when "Fucktard's" brother Salinger shows up, retarded girlfriend Masha in tow, and proceeds to commandeer the cottage for their use, infringing on the couples quality time. Salinger and Masha are as obnoxious as they are unwanted, and so "Mangina" loses his cool and hits his brother in the face with an axe.

Now, everyone has to die!

Did we mention that Hipster D-bag Salinger invited his slacker gang of cronies up to the cottage to party for the weekend? Because he did, and when they show up, the madcap race to keep everything covered-up is on! Zany hi-jinks and wacky hilarity try to ensue, but don't ever really do much ensuing at all.

It's a bloody mess!
The main problem with Cottage Country is that it just isn't funny. It's a decent effort, and it certainly has its moments, but as a Black Comedy, it just doesn't work that well.

Tyler Labine is usually a funny guy, and we fully expected an experience with this one akin to Tucker & Dale, but the writing here is nowhere near that solid. Malin Ackerman is as talented and charming in Cottage Country as she usually is, but again, the material she's working with just isn't that good.

Even the usually-fun Lucy Punch felt off in this one.
On the positive side, the movie does get relatively bloody, Malin Akerman is about as great as she can be (even in spite of the lackluster material), and the guy who played Dov was pretty funny throughout. It's also a pretty movie to look at, with the gorgeous Canadian backdrop making us remember why we love fall so much.

You want to see a better Tyler Labine movie? Go watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, or Best Man Down. Want to see a better Malin Ackerman movie? Check out Watchmen or even The Numbers Station. This movie is neither of their best work.

Then again you may end up enjoying Cottage Country way more than we did, which would be cool with us. We'll feel much better about not liking it if we know that other people do. See that? That's how much we wanted to like this movie.

Why are they pitching a tent inside?
At the end of the day, Cottage Country's biggest fault is that it doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be; Romantic Comedy, Black Comedy, Crime Drama, Horror... it's all of those things, while managing to be not quite enough of any of them to feel truly right.

This is a passable, average effort, that not even its usually charismatic lead actors could make great. If you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch it for free.

Cottage Country is available now on Netflix and VOD, and will be available on DVD on April 22nd.

C

Hey, at least we got to see Malin Ackerman and Lucy Punch on screen together, and that's not a bad thing at all.

April 14, 2014

Our Theatrical Release Date List has been updated through July!

http://thehorrorclub.blogspot.com/p/release-dates-theatrical.html
Here's the what & when as far as Theatrical Release Dates go for the next three months. If you count the VOD titles -which these days, you absolutely have to- then it looks like there will be no shortage of creepy entertainment options for Horror fans as we head into Summer.

*The release schedule for July looks a bit thin as of right now, but we're still a long ways out, so there will no doubt be movies added/announced soon enough.

So click the banner above, and peruse the list... Because if you don't, then how will you know when things and stuff are coming out?

April 12, 2014

DVD Review: The Borderlands (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2781832/
Is this the first British Found Footage flick that we've ever seen? I'm pretty sure that it is, because the only other ones that I can think of are Incident at Loch Ness, The Zombie Diaries and Exhibit A, and we haven't seen any of those.

Oh wait, I just remembered the Possession of David O-Reilly... and The Tapes... we saw those. They were not so good.

So I guess it's safe to say that the UK has made the Found Footage effort before, and it's also safe to say that this is the best British-made Found Footage flick that we've seen.

Were going to keep the plot details of this one vague, because saying too much would give the ending away, and we're not going to ruin  the best part of the movie here...

Not that Found Footage flicks are a big mystery to begin with, because you know everyone dies at the end, else there wouldn't be any found footage to begin with. Still, this one went to a different place with its Cinema Verite stylings, and ruining it for the uninitiated would be a sucky thing for us to do.

For posterity's sake, The Borderlands is the story of a crack team of Vatican investigators who are sent to look into reports of Paranormal Activity at a small church int he remote British countryside. Despite video proof of an "incident," the investigators are naturally skeptical of the claims, and they pretty much think that the church's Priest is making it all up to get a bump in attendance; the poor guy only has a congregation of like, six people, so we wouldn't blame him if that were the case.

"This guy serious, mate?"
They set up cameras around the church, strap on head cams, and begin to investigate. They eventually discover that the church sits atop a network of tunnels, and that it was once used by Pagans to worship some sort of ancient Deity. Also, there's something about an orphanage, and a diary left behind by someone who disappeared long ago without a trace, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, we digress.

"Yep, it looks not haunted to me. We should probably just pack up our shit go home."
A bunch of ghostly baby cries, some creepy whispers, and flaming lamb later, they begin to wonder if there is actually something to the claims. Something? Just something? Things are moving around on their own, and there's eerie scratching noises around every corner... It's pretty obvious by this point that something is amiss, guys! Skeptics will be skeptics though, and so more "investigating" is deemed necessary.

Flaming lamb out of nowhere!
From here on out, the usual Found Footage tropes kick into high gear, and everyone finds themselves doing some stupid shit all in the name of "finding the answers." All I'm saying is that there's a point when you stop digging for the truth, and you run, and that point is usually before you hear a ghost baby crying from somewhere deep in the dark basement... where Satan most likely lives.

Pain. It all ends with pain.
Aside from the fact that it was a slow burn, and that the true scares were few and far between (for us, at least), The Borderlands was an effective little movie. It had atmosphere to spare, and it kept up the tension admirably. Once it got going, and delved further into the history of the church and its former worshippers, we found it to be pretty compelling as well.

The wide, quiet shots of the British Countryside were gorgeous to behold, and also added an eerie element of foreboding to the movie. For our money, England and Ireland are two of the prettiest places in the world in which to shoot country footage, and for that reason alone, we'll take a Horror flick set there anytime.

The ending threw us for a true loop. Not because it was some crazy twist that was so clever and shocking (even though it was), but because once we realized what was happening, it just... blew our minds. It was a grand idea done very subtly (and on the cheap), left us wanting to know and see more.

Even when it's creepy, England is a pretty, pretty place.
This movie was way too light on scares. The Borderlands was heavy on atmosphere, and some of its mythology was chilling to think about, but as far as being actually scary, it really wasn't. The tension ramped up quite a bit towards the end of the movie, which was a good thing, but the distracting shaky cam crap basically killed that for us. *More on that below.

Gray was an annoying knob. Jesus did we want to slap the piss out of that cheeky prick about 25 different times over the course of the movie's running time.

Also, given the way that the movie ended, how was the team's footage ever found to be seen by us? Was it uploaded to a remote server as it recorded? Because if not, there's really no way that this Found Footage could have ever been found.

Is he reaching for a ghost pint?
The shaky cam in this movie was unbearable at times. It's really hard to get into the mood of a movie, especially one that is supposed to be terrifying and filled with dread, if we can't see what's going on. Once the third act began, and the situation for the characters became more dire, we should have felt that same sense of impending doom. Instead, we felt a strong urge to yell "hold the damn camera still, idiots."

You can explain the jittering camera work by claiming that it's all in step with the "reality" aspect of the movie, but the point is that as an audience, if we can't see what's going on because the POV is jumping all over the place, how are we supposed to truly enjoy what were being shown?

The whole "whoever is filming this is obviously having some sort of violent fit" thing has worn out its welcome with us. 

The village simpleton.
 This movie was apparently shot in a blood dry county, although the end did get fairly slimy.

 Nope.

Don't ever climb through narrow rock formations in underground tunnels, because why would you do that?

Yeah, keep going, idiots.
The only reason that this movie didn't land somewhere in the "C" range for us, was because the ending was pretty clever, and made us smile. We may have pointed out a lot of the film's shortcomings in this review, but in the end we still enjoyed it, and so it deserves the decent grade that it got.

We liked it, we just didn't love it. Were we not so tired of Found Footage and its all-too-familiar trappings, we probably would have liked it even more. As it stands, this one is worth a watch.

The Borderlands is on DVD now (UK), and will hit shelves in the US sometime later this year.

B

Don't get it twisted: The Borderlands is not a movie about either one of our two favorite video games, which bums us out a bit, because that means no Handsome Jack... and we'd totally watch a Horror movie involving Handsome Jack. And Claptrap. Claptrap would have to be in it too.

April 9, 2014

VOD Review: Stage Fright (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2190838/
In the interest of full disclosure, we are not big fans of  Musicals. We tried to get into Glee, we've seen old movies like West Side Story and the like, but it's just not our thing.

As far as Horror Musicals go, we did like Sweeney Todd more than we thought we might, and Phantom of the Paradise has always been a guilty pleasure of ours, but the Repo: The Genetic Opera's and Rocky Horror's of the world do nothing for us.

We've got nothing good to say about Don't Go in the Woods (2010) at all.

All of that is to say that as much as we do not like musicals, the trailer for Stage Fright had us excited from the get go. It looked different and bloody, and we've been looking forward to seeing what Meatloaf could bring to a Horror-hybrid like this, because that guy is just cool. Always has been.

For us, the results were mixed; some of it worked, and some of it didn't. At the very least, it was a different type of Slasher flick experience, and for that, we're genuinely grateful.

When Broadway star Minnie Driver is savagely murdered after the performance of her lifetime, Meatloaf takes her oprhaned kids in, vowing to look after them. *That's never really stated, but it was heavily implied due to the fact that they work for him in the kitchen of his Musical Theater Camp as adults.

She had such flair. R.I.P.
Camilla has always wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and have a singing career of her own, but she's just never gotten her big break. Also, she's probably hesitant to take the stage due to her mom getting stabbed to death after dong the exact same thing, so, she has her reasons.

Awww, she's nervous.
Camilla has quite a set of lungs on her, and she's also a hell of a singer to boot. When auditions begin for Haunting of the Opera (the same play which killed her mother), she decides to throw caution to the wind, and take her shot at stardom. Problem is, there's a Kabuki Mask-wearing maniac who is determined to stop the production, and so he begins killing people to a fairly cool heavy metal guitar soundtrack.

What is he gently whispering into her ear? Something creepy.
Will Camilla become a star? Will she fall victim to the Opera Maniac that is killing her fellow cast mates? Does the song "We're gay, we're gay!" have a deeper social meaning? Far be it from us to spoil anything here, but suffice it to say that this episode of Glee will definitely make everything clear by the time it's all over with.

Even the killer has flair!
We can at least give Writer/Director Jerome Sable credit for having a vision, and seeing it through. Stage Fright didn't really grab us like we thought it would, but it was entertaining enough to make us want to see it through to the end, despite its flaws. We may not have loved it to death, but this is a movie that is destined to become a Cult Classic for all types of movie lovers.

She never was the smartest thing..
We really liked the gore gags in this one (especially Minnie Driver's demise), but after that first kill, it took nearly 30 minutes until the next one came. After that, it was about another 20 minutes until the next one. The movie's Horror aspects were definitely spaced out a bit too much, which made its pacing feel off. Then again, this was more of a Musical with Horror elements, so it could just be a case of our expectations being off too.

Hello, girls.
Allie MacDonald was good in her role as the tortured Camilla. She can definitely carry a Horror movie, and we're looking forward to seeing her in more Genre fare soon. Minnie Driver was only in the movie for a few minutes, and we wished we had gotten more of her. She's fun. Meatloaf, on the other hand, was in this one plenty, which is cool with us because he's equally fun. Everyone was fun in this one!

"Take a bow, darling, you're alive!"
The Musical numbers really felt out of place for the most part; sometimes they felt short, sometimes they felt over-long, and for the most part, they just seemed to pop up randomly, just for the sake of doing so. Towards the ends of the movie, they just kinda stopped altogether (although you could say that the stage play scene counted as one long musical number.)

Then again, it always feels odd to us when people spontaneously break into song while going about their daily business, so again, it's probably just us.

Overall, this was a decent little movie that could have been great had they either evened out the musical aspect of things, or just done away with it altogether.

"Did, did we just sing our conversation?"
While the Glee fans of the world will no doubt get a kick out of Stage Fright's song and dance numbers, we found them to be distracting; that's definitely a personal preference type of thing for us. As far as the Horror aspects of the movie go, Stage Fright is a serviceable slasher that would have benefited from a bit more stalk & slash.

We didn't love it, but we didn't hate it; it was definitely a middle-of-the-road affair for us. It was still worth a watch though.

Stage Fright is available now on VOD, and will hit Theaters in Limited Release on May 9th.

C

The ladies of Stage Fright looked exquisite as they sang their tails off. *Not literally, of course, because that would make no sense whatsoever, on a few different levels.