October 25, 2014

31 Days of Creepy Scenes, #7: Splinter In The Eye

They've given us nightmares, given us chills, made us cringe, made us  laugh, made us gag, and made us stare at the screen in awe: these are  the scenes that pop into our minds when we think of great Horror Films, and we love them all.

*We recommend that if you've never seen these scenes before, that you experience them for the first time unspoiled in the movies that they come from, if you can. With that in mind, we'll try to be as spoiler-free as possible while discussing them; try, being the key word here.

Zombie aka Zombi 2 and Zombie Flesh Eaters, was Italian Horror's attempt to cash in on the worldwide phenomenon of George Romero's Dawn of The Dead. It was Rated-X and added to the "Video Nasties" list in Great Britain; it was banned in several countries; and it was edited for content in many others, all because it was deemed too violent and perverse for audiences... all of which only served to make Horror fans want to see it more.

It's also probably Lucio Fulci's most well-known film.

Zombie is a classic Italian Horror film in many ways, but it's mostly known and loved for two scenes; the one in which a zombie fights a shark underwater, and the one where Olga Karlatos gets a massive splinter of wood jammed into her eye, by a pissed-off zombie.

Did you notice how Lucio Fulci ratcheted up the tension in this scene, little by little, making what should have been a quick gore gag into a study on effective editing? It took forever for her eye to meet that splinter, and every second of it made us squirm. That's what made Italian Horror movies so great back in the 70's and 80's; they took their time and let the creepy atmosphere breathe. Many of them were silly and nonsensical when it came to plot, dialogue, etc... but you cant honestly say that they didn't absolutely nail it with the scares and gore. Every single time.

While not our favorite Fulci film, Zombie is a seminal movie for any fan of all things undead... and splinters going into eyeballs.

*Did we mention that a zombie fights a shark underwater in this one?


October 24, 2014

31 Days of Creepy Scenes, #8: Look Who's On TV

They've given us nightmares, given us chills, made us cringe, made us  laugh, made us gag, and made us stare at the screen in awe: these are  the scenes that pop into our minds when we think of great Horror Films, and we love them all.

*We recommend that if you've never seen these scenes before, that you experience them for the first time unspoiled in the movies that they come from, if you can. With that in mind, we'll try to be as spoiler-free as possible while discussing them; try, being the key word here.

When it comes to atmospheric Horror movies, few do it better than the Japanese and the South Koreans; there's just something about the way they approach a "ghost" story that is uber-effective. It's got a lot to do with cultural differences, and the way that they pace their films, but whatever it is, it works extremely well. Naturally, Hollywood is interested in remaking anything foreign that might be even slightly profitable, so in 2002 they set our to do an Americanized version of the International phenomenon, Ringu. Thus, The Ring was born.

The Ring is the story about a little girl named Samara Morgan, who is thrown down a well, and subsequently possesses a video tape to get revenge. Anyone who watches the possessed (or is it infected?) videotape gets a phone call from a dead Samara, letting them know that they have 7 days to live. Also, before they die, they see the ring. Yes, it all sounds bat-shit crazy, but that's J-Horror for you.

The Ring is all sorts of creepy, and it has a bunch of scenes that are pretty damned scary, but it's the scene at the end of the movie that is the most terrifying of all... mainly because you don't see it coming.

Yeah, that scene really messed with our minds when we first saw it. The story of The Ring is a great one, and it offers all sorts of twists and turns that not only keep you guessing, but give you goosebumps, and they all build the tension so much, that by the time that damned ending arrives, you just can't help but being completely skeeved out. It gets us every time.

The Ring is one of the best Horror remakes ever made, and if you haven't seen it already, then you're missing out on a truly scary movie.

*The Blu-ray is only $5.99 right now. Grab one quick!


What's new on VOD this week?

VOD 550
This is it; the last big week for VOD releases in October. Yes, we still have next week to go, but the "big" releases have all been pushed out already, to give people time to watch them before the busy Halloween week begins.

Of this week's releases, we've seen four of them: Deliver Us From Evil and The Purge: Anarchy were both enjoyable; V/H/S Viral was half alright, half bad; and Wrong Turn 6 was just full-on bad.

As for the rest... well we're just going to have to rent them and find out.

NOW PLAYINGoct 28oct 24oct 21bstoneOct 21 EARLY Nov 4 VODOct 23 VOD Nov 21 Limoct  21c170 x 250170 x 250ORDER
Deliver Us From Evil: New York police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rites of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city.

Deliver Us From Evil didn't do well at all at the Summer Box Office, and like many other people, we waited until now to give it a watch. We're glad we finally saw it, because it was a really smart, creepy movie that is nowhere near as bad as many critics made it out to be. The exorcism scene at the end of the movie was probably our favorite bit.

Too bad it did so poorly at the Box Office, because we'd love to see more of Ralph Sarchie's paranormal adventures... a story like this would make for a great cable TV Series.

Exists: For five friends, it was a chance for a summer getaway- a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But visions of a carefree vacation are shattered with an accident on a dark and desolate country road. In the wake of the accident, a bloodcurdling force of nature is unleashed-something not exactly human, but not completely animal- an urban legend come to terrifying life and seeking murderous revenge.

This looks like it could be one hell of a Found Footage movie, and given that Eduardo Sanchez has a pretty good track record for making effective Horror flicks (Blair Witch, Lovely Molly), our expectations are high for this one. 

This really seems to be the year for Found Footage flicks involving Bigfoot. Who would have thought.

The Purge: Anarchy: A young couple works to survive on the streets after their car breaks down right as the annual purge commences.

We really disliked the first Purge movie, and so we had zero interest in seeing this follow-up effort. Turns out that we not only ended up liking The Purge: Anarchy (read our review HERE), but it's also one of our favorite movies of the year. We won't be renting this one, because we bought it on Blu-ray, but for those of you who passed on it in theaters this Summer, you could do far worse with your rental $$$ than to spend it on this superior sequel.

Stonehearst Asylum: When young doctor Edward Newgate arrives at Stonehearst Asylum in search of an apprenticeship, he is warmly welcomed by superintendent Dr. Lamb and a mesmerizing woman by the name of Eliza Graves. Newgate is intrigued by Lamb's modern methods of treating the insane until a series of unusual events leads him to make a horrifying discovery, exposing Lamb's utopia and pushing Newgate to the limits of his conscience.

If anyone can make a PG-13 Thriller work, it's Brad Anderson; his Session 9 is one of the creepiest, most effective Haunted House flicks that we've ever seen, and there was barely any blood spilled in that one. The trailer for this one is intriguing, and the movie boasts one hell of a cast, and so we'll keep our fingers crossed that it will be a solid watch.

The Taking of Deborah Logan: Mia has finally found the perfect subject for her PhD thesis film on Alzheimer's Disease. For the next several months, cameras will record the everyday life of mother Deborah Logan, and her daughter Sarah. But as the days progress, strange things begin to happen around Deborah that are not consistent with any findings about Alzheimer's. It becomes apparent that there's something besides Alzheimer's that has taken control of Deborah's life. It's an evil that is far worse than the debilitating disease with which she was first diagnosed.

This one looks like it could end up being right up our alley. The premise is compelling, and the trailer makes it look like it's subtly creepy, and to be honest with you, we can always use a more "mature" scarefest every now and then.

Deborah Logan, along with Exists, are first on our list for this weekend.

V/H/S Viral: A police chase after a deranged ice cream truck has captivated the attention of the greater Los Angeles area. Dozens of fame---obsessed teens flock to the streets with their video cameras and camera phones, hell---bent on capturing the next viral video. But there is something far more sinister occurring in the streets of L.A. than a simple police chase. A resounding effect is created onto all those obsessed with capturing salacious footage for no other purpose than to amuse or titillate. Soon the discovery becomes that they themselves are the stars of the next video, one where they face their own death.

V/H/S Viral is a mixture of good and bad: "Dante the Great" was decent enough; "Parallel Monsters" was really good, and was the standout segment here; "Bonestorm" was annoying as hell; and the wrap-around segment... The wrap-around segment, "Vicious Circles" was nothing but nonsensical bullshit.

So basically, V/H/S Viral is just like the previous two V/H/S films; one great segment, one shitty wraparound, and a bunch of filler that is varying degrees of quality. Meh.

Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort: The unrelenting terror starts when an emotionally troubled young man, Danny (Anthony Ilott) inherits an isolated backwoods hotel that may hold the key to his secret past. A trip to the peaceful resort quickly transforms into a blood-soaked killing spree as Danny’s friends are brutally murdered one by one.

We've already seen Wrong Turn 6, and if you're smart, you'll just pretend that the series ended with part 5, and skip it altogether. Where the previous four sequels in the Wrong Turn series at least made for fun, exploitative watches, this latest effort feels like they're not even trying anymore. It's a mess.

It's easily the worst in the series, and should be your Last Resort, as far as renting a movie goes.

VOD Review: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

If there's any Horror movie that was begging to be remade, it was the 1976 docudrama, The Town That Dreaded Sundown; and the fact that it played more like a docudrama, instead of a pure Horror movie, is exactly why it was so ripe for the remake treatment.

The 1976 movie is based loosely on The Moonlight Murders; a series of real-life murders that took place in Texarkana in 1946, which were carried out by a mysterious, hooded killer dubbed The Phantom Killer.

It went on to become a Cult Classic to Horror fans, mainly due to the "true" nature of its story, and its gritty, effective kill scenes.

The whole "killer wearing a sack on his head" thing was pretty effective too, making The Phantom Killer quite an imposing movie maniac. It was so effective that Jason Voorhees wore the same kind of sack on his head, five years later in F13th Part 2.

As effective as the Horror aspects of the original film may be, especially the kill scenes, the rest of the movie was not quite as effective; for some reason, the director thought it would be a good idea to fill in the gaps between the horrific scenes with wacky, almost slapstick comedy scenes... which made the movie as a whole play like a silly, uneven mess.

We're happy to report that this remake, while having a few odd quirks of its own, is a far better Horror effort than was the original, and we found ourselves liking way more, albeit on an entirely different level.

It's been 65 years since The Phantom Killer prowled the streets of Texarkana, killing young lovers, and terrorizing the entire town in the process. Now, the Moonlight Murders have begun again, which instantly tells us that that The Phantom Killer is like 90-years-old now, and that he's still pissed off; or that there's a copycat out there biting off of his style. Either way, he's back.

The Phantom starts his new killing spree with a young couple who are making out in a car (of course), where he kills the guy, while making his QT girlfriend (Jami) listen to the whole thing. Terrified, and desperate to survive, Jami makes a run for it, but is quickly caught again by The Phantom. He lets her live, with that caveat that she "make them remember" someone named Mary. Who in the hell this Mary is, or why anyone needs to remember her, is beyond us, but it's clearly important enough for The Phantom to kill over.

Jami relays his foreboding message to the Police, which she figures makes her safe from his wrath, but as the bodies begin to pile up all over Texarkana, it becomes apparent to her that she's going to have to take matters into her own hands if shes going to survive. From this point on, Jami gets her Nancy Drew on, and tries to unravel the mystery of The Phantom Killer, before it's too late.

Who is The Phantom Killer? Why is he killing again, 65 years after he stopped killing in the first place? And will Jami ever get naked, and rub oil all over her body survive his murderous rage? Far be it from us to spoil things for you here, but suffice it to say that there will most likely be a movie titled The Town That Downright Feared Sunrise, somewhere in our VOD future.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is, at least to us, one remake that is a vast improvement over the original; it's mean, lean, nasty, bloody, and it filled us with the same dread that it advertises in its title... at least for the most part, it did.

Producer Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon have given us a stylish slasher flick for the new millennium, that works incredibly well, despite its own stylish trappings; it definitely feels like it's a bit style over substance at times, but it's also a well-produced movie that has one hell of a hook.

The movie's killer, The Phantom Killer, is a ruthless and imposing force, who at times was reminiscent of a pissed-off Jason Voorhees, and we loved every minute of it. The way that he tore through people with such energy and mean-spirited determination was really fun. This new incarnation of The Phantom Killer felt every bit as iconic as his 1976 counterpart did.

This movie also boasts one hell of a cast. From the super QT Final Girl, Addison Timlin, to the top-notch character guys like Anthony Anderson, Gary Cole, Dennis O'Hare, and Edward Hermann... it's even got Lambert form Alien in it! This movie is full of great actors giving fun performances.which we thought were all pretty solid. I mean, how can you not love any movie in which Anthony Anderson plays a Texas Ranger named Lone Wolf Morales? That's just brilliant, and on many different levels.

And although most of you may not know his name, this was one of the last movies that prolific character actor Ed Lauter worked on before his death; you really couldn't turn on a TV in the 70's or 80's (or 90's, for that matter) without seeing his face in something. We were genuinely sad to learn of his passing.

This movie's visual style and tone are all over the place, which make it both an atmospheric success, and a bit of an odd duck. I can't remember where I read it, but someone wrote something to the effect of "The Town That Dreaded Sundown feels more like a showcase for director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's unique visual style at times, than it does a straight-forward Horror movie" I may be paraphrasing, but that comment is dead-on. 

Town is very flashy and different, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's most definitely a distracting one; we caught ourselves more than once remarking on what was happening visually, as opposed to getting lost in the world that the story was trying so hard to establish.

We found The Phantom Killer's motivation for killing again to be a bit weak, as we were expecting it to have more of a direct cause and effect relationship with the original film.

In this regard, we really want to make a comparison between Town and another, more light-hearted slasher flick, as they both share the same sort of "aesthetic" when it comes to their featured killers, but that would be giving too much away.

Just know that at times, Town felt like a lighter movie; not that it ever went for laughs of silliness, but it just felt... lighter. Maybe not lighter, but comfier?

It's really hard to explain without spoiling things.

This one was all sorts of bloody and violent, with The Phantom Killer angrily stabbing the shit out of all kinds of people. He also shoots the shit out of them. The famous "trombone scene" is even present in this remake, though it's not the best kill scene by a long shot.

This is one bloody, violent affair.

We get one pretty explicit sex scene featuring a blonde QT and her Marine boyfriend, but Addison Timlin's sex scene, by comparison, was a shadowy, clothed affair. Also, Gary Cole gets a beejer, which he definitely deserves. Also, two gay kids discuss giving each other a beejer, and jerking each other off, but that never comes to fruition either.

The sexual content was there, but most of it was more suggestive than it was explicit.

Some legends never die. Also, Texarkana is a shitty place to live, if you like living.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a dynamic, stylish, atmospheric movie, that while being quite effective, at times feels like a Halloween episode of Glee (sans musical numbers.) We liked it, but we wish that it had been just a bit more straightforward with the Horror, and avoided the flashy quirk of the average Ryan Murphy project; because that style distracted from the substance at times.

Artistic flourishes aside though, this movie does offer plenty of mean, lean slasher goodness, and one of the most imposing on-screen killers that we've seen all year. It's definitely worthy of your rental $$$, so check it out.


The Town that Dreaded Sundown is available now on VOD.


You know what else is distracting, but thoroughly enjoyable? Addison Timlin, that's what. Who. See, she's so distracting, that our grammar went and got all wonky on us!