Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Top Halloween films to binge on (at least for that night) vol .3

Posted by Greg Butler On October - 25 - 2017

You’ve read the last blog so the ratings remain the same.  so a quick reminder to categorized the tone of each film.

SCARY FUN

DOWNRIGHT DISTURBING

CHILLER SUSPENSE

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

now get those sickening sweets you collected from strangers and chow down and shiver with these chillers.

Horror Hotel 1961

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Probably the last place you want to vacation at, what with the constant fog and  murderous witches and all.

SCARY FUN

 

 

A tale of two sisters 2003

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The tragic complexities between  sisters and present family gives full range to ghostly events.

CHILLER SUSPENSE

 

Prince of darkness  1987

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Lovecraftian in tone as evil entities lay out the red carpet in the form of possessed human bodies, a demon -god never had it so good under John Carpenter’s directorial style.

SCARY FUN

 

Island of lost souls  1932

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There’s been other updated remakes of HG Wells mad science gone wrong,  but this original got the frightening macabre tones just right. {see full review}

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

 

Horror of Dracula 1958

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Who knew someone could make a lively version of Stoker’s novel, Christopher lee makes the count to cool for school while Peter Cushing is a kick ass Van Helsing.

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

 

Homicidal  1961

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Tarantino  said this was better than Pyscho, ( spoiler alert?) a matter of opinion of course,  still a fine William Castle romp in shlock horror.

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

 

Audition 1999

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Dating is hard enough and made even more so when lying that your a casting agent. Results of mutilations have a way of  dampening a romantic evening.

DOWNRIGHT DISTURBING

 

The Wolfman 1941

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The great grand daddy of them all, this is where all werewolf  tropes originated from, which half a century later  is still used by  movies and writers today, not bad for bullshit pulled out of the screenwriter’s ass . Make note that Lon Chaney jr’s performance as the doomed protagonist is very strong.

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

 

The Babadook 2014

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A distressed  mother and her shrilly voiced young son is set upon by a frightful storyboard character come to life. Should have stuck with D.R. Suess. Possibly the most criminally underrated horror movie in recent memory.

SCARY FUN

 

Splinters 2011

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I’ll admit the camera work could have done less with the earth quake jerk about, but for the moments when we do get a look at the titled monster, its worth it. This is The Blob’s visisting cousin, a parasitical lifeform reanimates in a splintery mass and goes on a mindless rampage . fun for the whole family.

SCARY FUN

 

The Midnight Meat Train 2008

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Serial killer give new meaning to the words “dining car” . Probably the most unbelievable part is that the train runs on time.

SCARY FUN

Happy Halloween.

Top Halloween films to binge on (at least for that night) vol 2

Posted by Greg Butler On October - 22 - 2016

If you’ve read the last blog (and you should have) the ratings hasn’t  changed and the selections are based on the familiar and the less familiar or rather not the usual fare other blogs constantly trot every year, so a quick reminder to categorized the tone of each film.

SCARY FUN

DOWNRIGHT DISTURBING

CHILLER SUSPENSE

OLD SCHOOL CLASSIC

So let’s get that popcorn a burning and the diet coke flowing and get into the  chill factor.

 

The Children: 2008

Jake Hathaway and Rafiella Brooks in The Children (2008)

Parenticide murders aplenty by tiny tots in this bad seed send off.

Chiller suspense

 

Dog soldiers: 2002

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A lone  military  patrol squad try to evade being eaten by lycanthropized canines. Let the ass kickin’ begin.

Scary  fun

 

Videodrome: 1983

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Hard to describe,  a kind of a philosophical  ideology  about media and television and its effect on a changing society. Whatever; it’s a gorefest with great FX, brought to you by body horror master himself David Cronenberg.

Old school classic

 

A Siberian film: 2010

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Necrophilia, pedophilia, mix murder with sadism and a quick dose of nihilism and you have story about a former male porn star cursed  with an insatiable  bloodlust, screw the explanation of this film being some sort of political metaphor, this isn’t  Salo on that level but it will test your tolerance.

Downright disturbing

 

The Cell: 2000

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An arty version of the Nightmare Elm street kind, Jennifer ( on the block) Lopez, uses high tech science to peer into the mind of comatose  serial killer Vincent D’ onofrio. Bizarre and gruesome images unlock clues to a missing victim in danger as time runs out.  It looks better than it sounds.

Chiller suspense

 

Orphan: 2009

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Unsuspecting parents seemingly adopts a prim  and proper little girl….. that has a sweet tooth for murder, stay for the ending it’s a head-tripper.

Scary fun

 

Megan is missing: 2011

A precautionary tale  done in found footage style about the dangers of online meetings and the tragic consequences of that result. Yeah you need a drink after this.

Downright disturbing

 

Unfriended: 2015

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Exposes the destructive nature  of teens in social media, only to have it come back to bite them in the proverbial ass. It is somewhat  found footage but it works better in the media device in which you watch it, best to view this Skype like thriller on a PC than your television, it’ll  for a few seconds give off an illusionary  feel that your part of it.

Chiller suspense

 

The Haunting 1961:

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Forget Jan Debont’s bullshit remake and take this atmospheric black and white version, about paranormal investigators doing what they do best, Investigate.  Director Robert Wise gives an eerie and moody ambiance that creeps in the back of your mind.

Old school classic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOP Halloween films to watch (at least for that night)

Posted by Greg Butler On October - 30 - 2015

Around this time of year just about every website ad nausea , roll out the their top ten or twenty horror films to  join in the over crowded recommendation pile. So we at Thoughts on Cinema might as well join in. Below are eight carefully selected suggestions to binge all night long. To help in the order to watch them, there is a fear meter under :   Scary fun-frights with a few laughs,   Downright Disturbing- well done but uncomfortable subject matter,   Chiller Suspense -moments of creepiness and mystery and old school classic - refined horror at its best.

If you don’t see the usual suspects like the Exorcist or the Shining, it was left off mainly because their already “go to” favorites everywhere else online, going to try some curve balls here and there. So get ready with your Netflix or illegally favorite torrent site, get that burnt popcorn going  and see what nightmares are really made of.

 

Diabolique (1955)

Diabolique (1955) Poster

Still of Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret in Diabolique (1955)

Forget the remake with Sharon Stone, watch the french version instead. An abused wife and neglected mistress murders husband, only to find the body missing later and peculiar occurrences plaguing both women.{ Chiller Suspense}

 

Phantasm (1979)

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Mausoleums, flying finger monsters, the tall man,  spheres that drill into your head and  killer dwarfs  from another dimensions, What does it all mean, I haven’t a clue but this is the most original horror fantasy at that time and even now. { Scary fun}

 

 

Fiend without a face (1958)

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The  usual mishaps of science experiments  gone way wrong.One of the few Sci-fi with a creepy feel to it. The appearances of the creatures once invisible is especially high on the eek meter.{old school classic} 

Martyrs (2008)

Review: Martyrs (UK - BD RB) - DVDActiveChild abuse escalating  into  violent vengeance, which leads to something even worse. One of the few horror films that actually perturbed me. This is not for the squeamish.{ Downright Disturbing }

 

Carnival of Souls (1962)

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Forget its low budget minimalist leanings, it actually works in its favor. Woman survives a  drag racing accident that kills her friends, but the trauma has left her feeling disconnected to things and seeing strange figures that are not there. The atmosphere of unease permeates from scene to scene. { old school classic .}

 

The Descent (2005)

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How dangerous could cave expedition be, our women explorers are about to find out, Oh yeah there is something down there alright. { Scary fun}

 

Noroi: The Curse (2005)

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A found footage that actually has a story to it, this Japanese import deals with a paranormal documentarian investigating a case which in terms leads to his disappearance. The events are put together by the film evidence left behind.  After  awhile the unraveling tale creates a thick sense of dread to it. {Chiller Suspense }

From Beyond (1986)

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Based  0n H.P. lovecraft ‘s short story.   A machine called a Resonator is made to stimulate the human pineal gland, giving the person to perceive and enter another dimension where all sorts of big and small critters lurk. When the apparatus goes out of control…. well you can see for yourself. { Scary fun}

Happy Halloween folks!!

 

 

 

 

Body Double (1984)

Posted by Greg Butler On July - 26 - 2015

still-of-melanie-griffith-and-craig-wasson-in-body-double-1984-large-picture

 

 

Subtle wouldn’t be Brian Depalma’s favorite word as he rummage through Hitchcock’s drawers for this mish-mosh update of Rear Window and Vertigo. Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) suffers from claustrophobia, fear of enclosed or crowded places. A bit actor working in a low budget vampire, looks for a place to crash, a chance meeting with another fellow actor Sam (Gregg Henry) offers him to house sit while away. Using a home telescope, he sets his peepers on negligee wearing female dancing provocatively in a neighboring window, cue the the Pino Donaggio erotic score just in case if you weren’t ĺawake. Voyeurism soon turns into pantomime drama via an open window, uncovering domestic abuse, menacing stalkers and finally her murder. Guilt ridden over the tragic event, he later stumbles across a porn commercial showing a video of actress Holly Body (an air- headed Melanie Griffith channeling Judy Holiday) using the same exact dance movements. Convinced the crime was a set up and the woman involved,  Jake enters ( double entendres are abound in writing this.) the adult entertainment as a performer, engaging in record time a role opposite the woman in question and a cameo in a Frankie goes to Hollywood Video. This is simple abc’s for this type of genre, but the camp moments are way over the top. It loses cohesiveness because its laughing at its own indulgence. Conventional cliches are being send up for sure but if the director couldn’t take it seriously why should we. However there is a thrilling scene with a street drill, realigning the balance of dark humor and violence. Unfortunately its the one decent aspect. The most awkward sequence that mars the film further is the climatic ending; interrupted by a flashback that disrupts the narrative. Uninspired; the movie plods along to a flat ending, on screen The whole thing feels lazy, maybe midway through the picture Depalma said fuck it……literally.

Somewhat a very disappointing  sex on the beach drink.

 

Vampirella

Posted by Greg Butler On June - 17 - 2013

 

“Vampirella; a Playboy magazine!” said sarcastically by one of the older kids on the block, as I tried shielding the cover from judgmental g eyes. There were other published anthologies such as “Creepy” and “Eerie”, both had a fair share of nudity and violence, mashed with horror genre, but the Vampirella issues at least in the early ones  seem to have a more emphasis on women be it as victims or perpetrators in the stories.

With cover like that how could I resist

 

 

She was the brain child of the great Forry Ackerman, creator of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. The basic origin was that Vampi was the sole survivor of a planet of vampires, where rivers once flowing with blood was slowly drying up.  She escapes on a manned rocket-ship back to earth where she befriends a drunken washed up magician named Pendragon. Taking a serum that curves her blood-lust and pursued and later befriended by a new generation of Van Helsings, each story would deal with her battles with a cult called Chaos and other dark forces.

 

The legendary Archie Goodwin would take on the writing chores later and perfected the twist ending to her twelve page adventures. Arguably these were the quintessential version, short as they were, it had a breezy quickness that hit the points it wanted to make. No heavy handed plot to detract its concise narrative.  Of course the stories wouldn’t have half the impact if not for Jose “Pepe” Gonzalez great artistic rendition of the the title character. Coming in at issue # 12, the makeover created a stunning siren,  seductive,  sexually chaste without the nymph prancing nature of her  more active  half sister of the sci-fi film Barbarella,  of which Forry  semi-christened our  gal  her name.

In the years to come, Vampi would be reinterpreted by other publications, whether manga styled or superhero horror,   concepts  that will continually evolve for every generations.

Before Ripley,  Xena, or Buffy,  she was the first female  ass kicker of fantasy horror genre.

By the way ignore the Roger Corman film Vampirella, the campy approach and low (low) budget is an injustice to the idea of the original, in other words it sucks.

 

Sinister

Posted by Greg Butler On June - 4 - 2013

sinister stills, summit entertainment, ethan Hawke

Oh what has Paranormal Activity has wrought.

 

With apparently no end in sight, the “found footage” ploy rears it’s over used head again in Scott Derrickson’s Sinister. The approach this time around  is to combine it with back to basic  film narrative as the story plods along. There is however a wonderfully eerie scene at the beginning with an old  Super 8 film shooting  from a distance. A  family of four, hooded and bound, slowly being hanged from a tree mysteriously. Bodies in marionette motion, dances silently in the air before coming still. Losing that effective momentum,  the movie jets ahead to the present as a new family  moves  into a house,  headed by a once successful crime novelist Ellison (Ethan Hawke).  Unbeknownst to his wife  Tracey ( Juliet  Rylance) and the kids, the previous tenants were murdered of which Ellison is secretly researching for hopefully his next bestseller. In the attic he discovers a set of  Super 8 films (yea you know where this is headed), each depicting the gruesome demise of other families in different fashion.  Upon a second viewing, because we know once is not enough, a spectral visage appears in the background.  Rather than turning over the found evidence to the local authorities,  he splices, edits and digitally downloads the films to his computer ( a expertise not seen since Spielberg first picked up a camera)  consults a professor of the occult Vincent D ‘Onofrio (clearly doing a cameo cash grab here), who tries to keep the story on track..sort of.

The snuff footage is  effective but directer   Derrickson doesn’t have a follow up to sustain it, it’s all the cliches of movie horror past–overly long with a meandering third act. Having Hawke’s character wander three times around a darken house, without the common sense to turn on a light switch for at least two of the occasion is  redundantly clumsy. By the way the demon that shows up serves no  purpose other than what not to wear next Halloween.

I give this a domestic beer served at room temperature.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Posted by Greg Butler On May - 20 - 2013

GREAT MOMENTS IN HISTORY——– At the risk of losing my critic credential; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was an enjoyable quasi/ what if our fore father of emancipation was axe choppin’ blood suckers all the way to the Gettysburg address. Traumatized as a boy when mother Nancy is murdered by a vampire, he dedicates his life the to find the monster responsible.

A grown Abraham (Benjamin Walker) pursuing an unsuccessful vendetta  results in him being taught by a mysterious mentor Henry Sturges (Rufus Sewell), training/guiding Lincoln to the appropriate kills, which will lead to a revelation that will determine his destiny and country. Of course with that scenario, there is more things stirring under the stove top hat than what appears.  Fight sequences  are pumped non-stop with adrenaline,  followed by a climatic train sequence that is so outrageous and exciting, it actually puts present action flicks to shame.

The Movie is a romp, no more than the Abbott & Costello films was about their Universal monsters in the 40′s. The CGI is just as excessive as any Evil Resident franchise, but here unlike those, the approach is more goofy fun than hardcore serious. It strikes with just amount of camp in relation to the bloodletting violence.  Director  Tim Bekmambetov  with screenwriter Seth Grahame- Smith makes no excuses, Your here to enjoy the outlandishness, and to the subjects credit it gets my vote.

I give this two glasses of  Blanton’s original barrel with a light wheat beer.

Megan is Missing (2011)

Posted by Greg Butler On May - 13 - 2013

A self styled docu-drama detailing the horrors of cyber abduction and murder . Using found footage of taped dairies and news clips, the story chronicles the disappearances of  two young social outcasts being seduced by an internet stranger.  Although the movie’s heart is in the right place, the presentation of evidence becomes scripted as opposed to being in the moment. In one scene the directer  Micheal Goi makes the mistake of having a third video viewpoint shot by someone else, practically following the girls at a wild party. Trying to truncate both of the characters social and personal status in one event hurts the genuine approach to realism. Another problem are the extras or friends of Megan,  reused again in news interviews and other areas in the movie, not bad if it was situation television, but it becomes comic seeing the same people again.

The stalker in this piece skulks around like Micheal Myers from Halloween, He’s so good at being beyond visual range, you wonder if it’s  another in the long line of Criminal Minds episodes.

The final twenty minutes is grueling as we get the killer’s filmography of his crime, I’m really not sure what to take from this, admittedly there elements of truth based on actual cases, but it comes off phony and a bit gratuitous here.

I give this two  house whiskeys,  at best average.

Island of lost souls (1932)

Posted by Greg Butler On May - 6 - 2013

 

 

In terms of black and white horror films, few come close to the visceral impact  it had in its time and still  does today. The story starts off simply, Edward (Richard Arlen) is a survivor of a ship accident  only to be picked up and stranded on a island resided by Doctor Moreau (Charles laughton). He soon learns that the good doctor has been genetically transforming animals into advanced human beings. The results as with all crazy experiments, is less than successful. The rejects are banished to a secluded side of the island to fend for themselves. To maintain a sense of order, Moreau cracks the whip (literally)commanding a repeated mantra of his demands “What is the law?!”) reminding them of the place they were borne from; “the house of pain”). In a later sequence we see an example of this as a hybrid strapped to an operation table, howls in anguish as the doctor coldly dismisses his agony as another clinical  failure.

Bela Lugosi (before Tod Brownings, Dracula) is the village sayer of the tribe, oddly not knowing enough English off screen,   the phonetic dialogue comes off  extremely alien and effective on screen.

Laughton is definitely  the treat here. Imposing in his white seersucker Congo suit, he is the epitome of what mad scientists should strive for.  Another staged entry is the heroine (Lelia Hyams) introduction. At a shipping port, she is relieved to find her husband alive via a posted notice. She walks away relieved and gratified, as the busy activities on the street divide in front, It’s serenely graceful, a prelude of terrors to come.

Jack Pierce the make up artist must be especially noted. The Rick baker , Rob  Bottin and Dick Smith of his day. The FX  applied to the creatures are restrained, something later remakes would over indulge. It wasn’t  about what the beasts were or becoming, but the results that went awry in  between.

Director  Erle Kenton ratchets up the atmosphere  with dread  before going full throttle at the memorable  end.

I give this your best  four shot Russian vodka  with a smooth wheat beer as a chaser.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Posted by Greg Butler On April - 29 - 2013

 

 

Wes Craven created a booming franchise with the iconic horror monster Freddy Kruger, a phantasmal killer with homemade razor claws to slash the many cannon fodder teens unlucky enough to get in his way. Several mediocre sequels and a failed anthology TV series later, we see the inevitable reboot of the series in this DVD release.  In this version we get an added origin of sorts as Kruger, with the silly point of him being a notorious pedophile (which adds nothing to the  story, but it’s there in case murder wasn’t evil enough)  is chased down and burned alive by the irate parents. Of course with every evil character, he survives to wreak revenge on the grown kiddies of the next generation. Asides the emphasis on the origin, movie pretty much sticks quite close to the original, But where Craven took his cues by emulating  EC horror comics of the 50′s, giving it a fun, garish and gory style, this imagining takes itself too seriously, losing the comic aspects of what made the first Nightmare so memorable. I would cite the performances, but the truth of the matter is, all of it was just serviceable, the 80′s version had this acting awkwardness  that added to it’s goofy charm,  in comparison the new version seems mechanical and very lethargic, offering nothing more than another gussied up retread to get your attention.

I give this a very warm, domestic beer with a big nasty fly in it.

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