March 31, 2014

Our Theatrical Release Date list has been updated through June!

http://thehorrorclub.blogspot.com/p/release-dates-theatrical.html
Click the pic for the full Theatrical Release Date List!
As the snow melts away, and the cold fucks off like it should have weeks ago, the release calendar for movies continues to fill up with worthwhile offerings.

Horror & Genre flicks like Afflicted, Stage Fright, Oculus, The Borderlands, Wolf Creek 2, Blue Ruin, The Quiet Ones, The Sacrament, The Signal, and Snowpiercer will be hitting screens both big and small soon, which excites us to no end.

Even the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is getting a Theatrical Run to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, boasting a new 4k scan and all.

And let us not forget the Non-Horror releases that are still of major interest to us like The Raid 2, Captain America, Brick Mansions, Spiderman, Godzilla, X-Men...

There is no shortage of worthwhile material hitting Theaters and VOD in the next few months. So grab your tickets and mark the dates! *Except for VOD releases... there are no tickets to be grabbed for them.

"Up yours, winter!"

March 29, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2473682/
As far as we're concerned, the Paranormal Activity series ended with PA3. PA4 was dull, lame rehash of the first 3 PA movies that did nothing but frustrate us.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones isn't that much better. 

The idea of Found Footage just isn't fresh anymore. The novelty has worn off, and for the most part, it's a sub-genre that spins its wheels more than most other sub-genres do.

We know all of the tricks now, and we're crying foul on the silly tropes that flicks like this keep using over and over again, to lesser and lesser effect each time.

By definition, Found Footage flicks are supposed to be anchored in reality; they basically serve as an evidentiary document of the "real" goings-on in their characters lives, and by that rule alone, they are supposed to be indisputably true.

Aside from how false that so much of it rings, the main issue with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (which will be known as PATMO from this point forward, because I'm not typing that entire title out every time I need to use it), is that it's more ridiculous than it is scary... or compelling... or good.

PATMO moves the supernatural shenanigans of the PA universe from the Suburbs to the Barrio, which we found kind of neat because at this point we're awful tired of seeing white people being haunted by malevolent Spirits and Demons. Supernatural diversity is a good thing, people.

Anywho, this new PA endeavor involves a group of SoCal kids celebrating their High School graduation with tequila, salsa, and of course, a newly purchased video camera (which is always on.) When the creepy neighborhood Bruha (Witch) is murdered in the apartment below, video-ready Jesse and his friends set out to "see what it looks like." The dead Witch's apartment, that is.

This is what it looks like.
What they find is a bunch of black magic tools, and some pictures of Jesse and his mom, which seems rather odd. The next morning, Jesse wakes up to find an equally odd bite mark on his arm, which has apparently granted him special powers. Curious about his new-found abilities, the gang decides to contact the spirit world via an old Simon game straight out of 1984.

Yeah... the plot of this movie involves a haunted fucking Simon game.

From this point on, PATMO goes a bit off the rails with its jumping between times and making the once simple PA mythology into an over-complicated, over-explained mess.

Who knew that Simon was also a Ouija Board?
You've seen it once, you've seen it five times now (six, if you count the Japanese film PA2: Tokyo Night), and it's less effective the fifth time out! Crazy, right? Because Horror movies that are churned out every year as a part of a series never get weaker and more ridiculous as the numbers grow... *Cough* Saw.

PATMO's greatest sin as a FF movie is that it fails to be scary. To be fair, there are a few creepy moments sprinkled throughout this one, and at times things felt fairly tense, but those moments were few and far between, and felt absolutely fleeting when we actually got them. We knew what was coming, and it wasn't hard to guess when, so really, there's not much in this one that could have truly scared us.

The Barrio setting was interesting, as were the nuances of Hispanic life that really made this one feel different from the first 4 entries; there was a lot more action; and Hector's cute little Abuela was enjoyable; and the part where the kid "pops" into the room was pretty cool too. That's about it on the "good" front.

Iggy Pop out of nowhere!
What we really don't get is that the FF sub-genre has been around fro a while now, so how in the world can Horror filmmakers continue to justify their characters recording every bit of everything that's going on around them? Sure, someone might record some things here and there, but no way does anyone record things "movie style" when their life is in danger.

-Sitting around with friends? Record it.
-Walking the mean streets of the Barrio? Record it.
-Get confronted by Latino gang members who don't want you recording them? Record it.
-Find your door open in the middle of the night? Record what you do in reaction to that, because you don't have eyes, and when you're scared that someone may have broken into your house, you definitely want to be looking through a camera lens, and utilizing its limited view to the fullest.
-Hiding from someone in a creepy basement where occult rituals have been performed? Record that too, and mind that you keep the camera light on too, because the person who is potentially going to kill you can't see that light in a pitch black basement, and especially not through the thin sheet of clear plastic that you're hiding behind.
-You're going to break into a Church in the middle of the night, desecrate it, and perform an occult ritual? Record that shit, because Cops love evidence.

It's all just so ridiculous, that it makes me want to fucking scream.

Why are these characters filming everything that they do? Why are they using the camera to see whats going on around them, instead of dropping it and looking with their eyes? Why are they creeping around in dark & dangerous places with the camera light on?

I know, I know, I know... without them filming everything, there could be no movie. Fine. We can swallow some of it as a plot device, but to make it all ring so egregiously false kills everything that the movie is trying to accomplish. There's just no logical reason for the characters to film everything, aside from the fact that the movie wouldn't exist if they didn't.

Great hiding place. Very well lit.
Aside from the Found Footage issues, we also had a hard time digging the story and its mechanics. Everything "scary" was telegraphed pretty hard, and the way that the end of the movie tied it in with the previous installments felt tacked on and forced. Had they just left it at the kids finding the tapes of Katie & Kristi, and let the rest of the movie be more of a stand-alone venture, resolution and all, it may have worked better.

It really felt as if the producers of this movie focused more on making it a PA movie, rather than making it a scary movie that fit nicely into the already established PA universe.

FF flicks like this need to make some sort of sense, even if it's barely enough to make you suspend your disbelief to accept what your seeing on screen. Unfortunately, PATMO did not make much sense at all, and it wasted a fairly interesting concept and setting with its poor mechanics, and its need to give us answers that were better off left to our imaginations.

Callate, man. Just... callate.
It's hard to blame Paramount or this series' producers for continuing to milk the Paranormal Activity cash cow, because Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has made about $90 million worldwide, not counting whatever it will rake in via Blu-ray/DVD, VOD, and rentals when it hits shelves in a few weeks. I'd make a new PA flick every year if I was netting that kind of scrilla, but as far as us continuing to pay to see these cheap cash-ins they call sequels, we'll be saving our money for other things, going forward.

In all honesty, if you're looking for some creepy Found Footage entertainment, go seek out and watch something like Home Movie, Ghostwatch, Rec 1&2, or even Blair Witch. You'll be far better served by any of those movies than you will by this one.

D-

We totally didn't realize that Molly Ephriam from PA2 was in this one until after we saw it... our memory must be slipping. Sorry, Molly; we feel bad for not immediately recognizing your beauty.

March 27, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Carrie (2013)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1939659/
(aka Worst Prom Ever)
Release Date: On Blu-ray & DVD now.
Country: USA
Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sicasa, and Stephen King (novel.)
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce.
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabrielle Wilde, and Judy Greer.

Remakes are never going to stop, especially in the Horror genre. they just won't. It's simple economics, really; people like things that are new, yet feel familiar, and Studio's make money off of what people like, so...

Most Horror movies cost very little to make (at least comparatively to other genres), and even the "Higher End" Studio projects like this tend to keep their budgets under $30 million, so as far as bang for the buck goes, Horror remakes are really a no-brainer. Monetarily, that is.

We could go on and on at novel-length about the whole remake issue, but the bottom line is this: familiar sells.

Carrie was not a movie that needed to be remade. The 1976 Brian De Palma original still stands up today as an effective piece of genre artistry, and really, there's no way that any remake could have matched it for its tone and feel...

... and yet here is the remake of that very same 1976 Classic, doing a pretty decent job of accomplishing exactly that. Mostly.

Nearly 40 years after the release of the novel and original movie, you already know the plot of Carrie: "A shy, withdrawn, picked-on and browbeaten girl named Carrie White develops Telekinetic powers, flips her shit, and kills everyone who has ever wronged her."

Sure, that's a simple way to look at the plot, but it's also a VERY accurate way to describe it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the original blurb on the novel's dustcover. *Or maybe not.

"Relax, Mom, I don't even have my dirty pillows yet!"
Teased by the pretty and popular kids at school, and chastised at home by her crazy mother for being a sinful whore, it's no wonder that the poor girl has a break with reality and decides to crush/tear/electrocute/mangle people to death with the mere power of her mind.

Aside from one teacher at school, and two cool kids with hearts of gold, they all have it coming anyway.

A girl's first period gone very wrong.
As unnecessary as this remake is, it's equally as decent. For a modern day Hollywood Horror production to not only go with an R-Rating, but to then make the most out of it, is a true rarity. The producers of this movie went with "artistic integrity" over Box Office with this effort, and the fact that they didn't scale back on the violence or subject matter in the name of some extra profit, benefited the quality of their film greatly.

Don't get it twisted; it's not a perfect effort, but it really is an effective one. It's not a very scary movie, but it's definitely filled with tension and delivers some jolts in the graphic kills department. It's also interesting to see the remake make a few changes to the story like giving us a little backstory on Carrie's conception and birth. Not all of the changes in this new version worked for us, but they at least felt like they belonged in the story that the remake was telling.

"Whore!"
As far as the cast goes, Chloe Moretz was good as Carrie White, even if she didn't really fit the role of "weird and creepy girl" very well. She's a great little actress that did the most she could in this odd-fitting role, it was just hard for us to swallow the idea that this beautiful girl was the school creep, in any way whatsoever. Julianne Moore, on the other hand, was absolutely weird and creepy as Carrie's insane,  zealot of a Mother. Judy Greer is a fave of ours (it's that Michigan + Greer connection), and she does a great job here as the sympathetic Teacher. We've always felt that she's way underrated, and deserves a little more wide recognition for her versatility. *Check out Archer on FX for a great example of her versatility.

Had there never been a movie from 1976 called Carrie to compare it to, this 2013 version would stand on its own as being an above average Teen Terror flick. That's really the best that a movie like this could really hope for.

It's about time that she faced up to what a bitch she is. Zing!
Chloe Moretz is way too good looking to play Carrie White. Carrie is supposed to be awkward, gangly, creepy, and about 12 other adjectives that would never come into any discussion when describing Chloe Moretz. It's almost like they just decided that letting her hair look dirty and unkempt was supposed to give her that "Creepy Carrie" vibe... Chloe looks every bit the Prom Queen, not the outcast loser that Carrie White is supposed to be.

We also didn't really care to see her spare someone in the midst of her frenzied Prom massacre, mainly because she's supposed to be frenzied, which should preclude her from being selective in her killing.

Yeah, she definitely looks like an outcast.
The hand/body movements that Carrie made every single time she used her powers were a bit cheesy. Also, Chloe looked like she was trying too hard to be "crazy" when she was killing everyone. Chloe Moretz had to act her ass off to make us believe that she was unattractive and creepy, and there were times during the movie where you could tell that she was really pushing it.

Sissy Spacek was so effective as Carrie White because while appearing timid and odd, she could make her crazy eyes flare up with fiery insanity at a moments notice. It never came off like she was acting.

Take it down a notch, Chloe.
Surprisingly, there's a ton of blood in this one, and tons of people die in horrific, graphic ways. The finale at the Prom came off well, and it was every bit as bloody as was the original. The Windshield gag was definitely our favorite.

Kudos to all those involved in this movie's production to go for the R-Rating instead of pandering to a younger demographic and giving us a watered down effort a wider Teen audience.

That's a lot of blood.
No. The star of the movie is 16, and Juliette Moore is like 50, so, we're fine with them not being naked. That's us trying to be appropriate, not us being ageist jerks. In 2 years, Chloe can be as naked as she pleases, but for now, we ain't havin' it.  

This is as naked as anyone gets in this movie.
Never pick on the odd, withdrawn loser in school. Also, Religious zealots never seem to win, do they?

Harsh, but she did kill an entire graduating class...
As we do when most Horror remakes are announced, we scoffed at the idea of a Carrie reboot; we feared that it would be a watered-down, kid-friendly effort that would lack any of the gravitas that Brian De Palma's original classic had, and that it would be another "meh" effort. Well, we were wrong. This updated version of the Carrie White story was a pretty solid effort that managed to be bloody and effective, despite its weak points.

If you didn't see it in theaters, you could do worse than to give it a buy or a rent now. You'll most likely be as surprised as we were that not only does it not suck, but that it was actually pretty good.

Carrie is available now on Blu-ray/DVD, and VOD.

B

Being as she's one of the hottest young adult properties in Hollywood, it's crazy to think that Chloe Moretz has the best years of her career still ahead of her. She's already starred in plenty of great genre projects at this point, and we can't wait to see what her resume will look like 10 years from now.

 
 

March 23, 2014

VOD Review: Cheap Thrills (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2389182/
(aka Let's Make a Creepy Deal)
Release Date: On VOD and in Limited Release now.
Country: USA
Written by: David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga.
Directed by: E.L. Katz.
Starring: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, and Amanda Fuller.

Cheap Thrills made the Festival rounds throughout 2013 to some pretty solid praise.

Now that it's actually been released (at least here in the U.S.), we've got to say that the raves and accolades that it received over the course of the past year are absolutely well deserved.
Craig is a nice guy with a loving wife and baby, who loses his job. Already behind on his bills, and facing eviction, this drives him to go out and have a few drinks and drown his sorrows a bit. In the middle of his alcohol-fueled pity party, he runs into his old pal Vince; a small time hood who is always up for a crazy time, because he's real familiar with going to jail.

Craig should have just gone home.
Things begin to look up for the loser friends when they meet Colin and Violet, a couple that wants to party and has money to burn! They begin offering Craig and Vince various amounts of money to do fairly innocent, but mischievous things. As the night goes on though, and the monetary stakes increase, the friends are asked to do some increasingly insane things, because it's Violet's birthday...

"Is... is that the birthday cake?"
Will Craig win enough money to pay his rent and keep his family off the streets? Will Vince give in to his criminal instincts and do something stupid? Will someone have to bang Violet for money while her creeper husbands jerks one out on the couch? Far be it from us to spoil things here, but suffice it to say that by the end of the night, someone is losing a pinky... and maybe even a bunch of dignity.

"You want me to Roofie myself for $300?"
From top to bottom, Cheap Thrills was a really good flick. It was fun, disturbing, and it never rang false like so many of these types of flicks tend to do. It was just a simple movie about two twisted people who wanted to see how far they could push other people for money, and nothing more. It also it ended in a fairly honest way, which was nice to see for a change; there was no crazy twist or big reveal at the end, which would have mucked things up a bit.

Cheap Thrills played it pretty straight, and it was a better film for having done so.

How can evil be so damned cute?
The cast was perfect here too. Sara Paxton was hot (as always) and creepy as the mostly-silent wife. It was unsettling to watch her stare quietly around the periphery of a lot of scenes, because it made her come off as being truly sinister. We definitely wanted to know what was going on in her head as things unfolded, but we're kinda glad that it was left a bit vague.

David Koechner was maybe the best part of the movie for us, or at least the most interesting one; to see the normally hilarious guy playing it totally straight was great, especially since he did it so well. He didn't take things over the top, and he didn't revert to his comedic roots at all. He just went full dramatic and he nailed it.

Pat Healy and Ethan Embry were great too. I know we're going on an awful lot about the cast here, but they all did a really solid job with their roles, and they deserve the praise.

"Whammy!"
As a meditation on friendship, and how quickly people can cast it aside so easily when money is at stake, this movie was a bit of a downer. The way that Cheap Thrills ends, in relation to that theme, was really disturbing. It definitely left us a bit bummed out.

The "sex" scene was way creepier than it was sexy, mainly because it turned into a sort of forced orgy that no one wanted to be at... except for the creepy couple. We swear that we were waiting for David Koechner to yell "Whammy!" at its "climax."

That's right, Sara. It was creepy!
Cheap Thrills is not crazy gory, but the whole pinky thing was a nasty little bit. Then again, so was the part with the dog. Also, the beatings were pretty brutal. Fine, it was gory enough.

No nudity in this one, but Sara Paxton does pay some guy to give her a penetrating lap ride.

How do you say no to that?
 
We really wanted to post a picture of the last shot in the movie, because it was so... perfect. Iconic, even. We can't though, because it would be crazy spoilerish, so we'll just go ahead and say that the final shot topped the movie off nicely.

Money isn't everything. Also, never trust overly-friendly rich people... they probably just want to hurt you for their amusement.

We'd love to her her "Birthday Party!" photo album on her Facebook page.
Along with Big Bad Wolves, Cheap Thrills is our favorite movie of 2014 so far. It was likable on just about every level, and I can't imagine many Horror fans not loving the hell out of it. Now that it's finally available to see, you really owe it to your movie-loving selves to give it a rent. We'll be happily adding this one to our Blu-ray collection when it's available.

Cheap Thrills is available now on VOD via Amazon Instant, and is in Limited Release in a NYC and Austin.

B+

Does it get any more Cutie Pie than Sara Paxton? No. No it does not.