Wednesday, October 26, 2011
It's so hard to find good horror movies these days if you’re not skilled or don’t have the time to look. I'm not talking about movies that make you jump or cringe. I mean movies that are scary, but at the same time deeply satisfying. There is a feeling you get when you leave the theater after watching a really good horror film. It's a little bit of a high.
After being tense and horrified for the last 90 minutes you can now relax and ponder the exhilarating experience of being transported into this terrifying situation. You were able to identify with the characters and because of that, you can walk away safely and remember this the same way you might remember actually being lost in the woods, or whispering "Bloody Mary" into a mirror at a sleepover, or pulling the covers over your head to hide from whatever was tapping on your bedroom window. You feel like you narrowly escaped death and because of that you feel much more alive.
Horror film fans: I write this for people who like scary movies, but aren’t engrossed in horror film culture. If you’ve seen all these movies, then this isn’t for you. This is for regular people. This is for the people that you like to watch get scared because this kind of stuff barely scares you anymore. This is for the people who grip the armrest of the chair, cover their eyes and sometimes have to leave the room.
Regular People: If you’re looking for that “lost in the woods” feeling and need something new to give it to you, then I hope this helps.
Here are 5 films. They go in order from “scary” to “I need to leave the room”.
1. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Say you lived in a world where Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers were all real. Everyone accepts that they existed and were responsible for numerous murders. In this world, with enough training and preparation, you could be the next horror icon. You might also be the journalist who makes a documentary about it.
Leslie is a totally cool, funny and clever guy. He makes you feel special. You admire him for this, but mostly you admire him for his dedication. His life's work is to become the next big legend to hit small town America. Taylor, an aspiring journalist has managed to find Leslie and convince him to allow her and her camera crew to film the preparation leading to his masterpiece; the slaughter of several innocent teenage victims and his eventual defeat by his glorified “survivor girl”.
First and foremost, this movie is funny and it knows its horror films. It dissects all the little tricks which seem so obvious to Leslie. For example, to keep his victims from escaping his supposedly haunted house, he simply nails the windows shut. He has the fuses rigged up to a remote control to turn the lights out on them. He covers his face in Preparation H and fire retardant gel to keep from bleeding or burning should the worst happen.
The first half is a laugh-out-loud mockumentary. The second half is a legitimately scary slasher film where all of the preparation that Leslie has done finally comes together to reveal the truth about our affable protagonist. He is evil.
2. Trick R Treat
Virally Yours has already done a great review on this movie, but it’s worth going over again. It’s Halloween night in a small town in Ohio. This is the night when the barrier between the living and the dead is thinnest. This is also the night where following traditions can save your life.
4 stories overlap and intersect detailing gruesome campfire-type tales. These are the stories that make you feel disappointed that no one actually does sit around a camp fire telling good scary stories.
Each story presents a short fable with the ultimate lesson being, “Don’t break this Halloween rule or you will die!” First, a school principal teaches a young student the dangers of not checking your candy before you eat it. Next, a group of preteens learn to respect the dead…and not to fuck with the girl who knows everything about Halloween. A murderous vampire stalks a virginal red riding hood through the woods. Finally, Brian Cox as an old grump who refuses to give candy to children realizes that there’s a Halloween enforcer in town. And his name is Sam.
This movie really flew under the radar despite its star power and flawless story telling. By the end, you and your friends are going to be hoarse from screaming. But trust me. The last thing you scream will be “YEEEEAHHHH! WHOOOOHOOOO!”
May is awkward. She’s grown up with basically no real friends because she was made fun of for having a lazy eye. So she made her own friends…rag dolls to be more precise. She’s all grown up now and thanks to some corrective contact lenses, she no longer has to wear ridiculous glasses. This gives her the confidence she’s always needed to go out and make new friends…literally.
This one is tense. The last two movies I hope everyone would be able to enjoy or at least sit through. I expect the more squeamish viewers may not be able to handle this one. May is so naïve and her awkwardness is heart-breaking. Watching her slowly reveal her madness is like watching a guitarist tightening his strings tighter and tighter…and tighter… and tighter.
By the end, you will either be relishing in that high we talked about earlier and feeling a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart for this girl, or you will be out of the room, possibly reexamining your relationships with your friends who feel a warm fuzzy feeling in their heart for this girl.
4. The Devil’s Backbone
Describing this film as the best ghost story of our generation is an understatement. Did you ever see Pan’s Labyrinth? The guy who made that, Guillermo Del Toro, made this movie first. And he made this movie with the sole intention of scaring the most deeply impacted-in-your-bowels shit out of you. By the end of this movie you will discover which candies you ate as a child are not digestible because you will be able to see them while you’re cleaning your pants. This guy should have really gone into Gastroenterology because he will fix your constipation problem better than X-Lax.
Del Toro has sort of a thing for the Spanish Civil War. This film takes place at an orphanage during that time where the son of a fallen soldier must test his courage in the face of sadistic bullies and a mysterious ghost who puts the creep into “Jesus! This movie is creepy as hell”.
This is not a gory movie by any means, but it will make it hard to close your eyes at night without hearing something that’s not there. If you’re a Del Toro fan and you’ve already checked this movie out, look up “The Orphanage”. There’s a lot of similarities between the two, but the latter has its own set of chills that rival the former.
Virally also did a great review on this one, but again, it’s so good it needs a second mentioning.
If you’ve seen this movie before and you’re still sane, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is he telling supposedly ‘regular’ people to watch this? That’s cruel.” And you’re right. It would be cruel to try to show this to some of my friends who aren’t accustomed to buckets of blood and some of the most intensely painful scenes I’ve ever watched. But having said that, I hope that those of you who are ready to graduate to the rank of “horror buff” will give this one a shot.
Inside is French. There are subtitles. But if you’re not able to read them through your tears and fingers, then don’t worry. I’ll break down the plot for you. A woman, Sarah, is 9 months pregnant and home alone. She has an appointment to go into the hospital the next day, Christmas Day, and have her labor induced. She settles in for a lonely Christmas Eve until she realizes that she’s not alone. There’s a woman in her house. She’s armed with a pair of long steel scissors and a fierce determination to make Sarah’s baby her own.
The rest is too graphic to describe justly. Let’s just say that if you can watch the final scene without making a sound, I will personally give you one million dollars.
I don’t expect everyone to make it all the way through this one. And for those of you who do, you might look back and realize you shouldn’t have.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If you're like me, you've never played any Resident Evil video game. You just think Mila Jovovich is hot and you love zombie movies and the Resident Evil film franchise has both! There's only one problem. After the first one, it's arguable that every subsequent movie is unwatchable. I disagree with this perspective. I find Extinction to be quite watchable, but I understand the other side of this argument. Apocalypse was pretty horrific.
I went into Afterlife with pretty high hopes. I mean, the trailer is awesome, and there's like a bunch of Milas running around with Samurai swords in skintight catsuits. How could this go wrong?
Turns out, there's tons of stuff that can go wrong. First of all- And I don't want to spoil anything here- all of the clones die in the first scene. What the fuck? The whole point of the last movie, was that you had this endless supply of hot Mila clones ready to take down the whole Umbrella Corporation. But within the first few scenes, they all die, and then the original Mila gets cured of the T-virus taking away all of her super powers.
After trying to find her friends in Alaska, she meets up with Ali Larter (also smoking) who, for no reason that has to do with the plot, has amnesia. They head down to LA looking for survivors. Low and behold, they find a group hiding out in an abandoned prison surrounded by Zombies. Now, you and I are smart people, right?
Okay, so is Mila. So why instead of landing the plane a safe distance away so that she can come up with some brilliant plan to get the survivors out of there, does she decide to make a suicidal landing on the roof only to get stuck in the center of Zombie Square? I guess it would be more entertaining if she was put into some more danger. We could meet some new characters. Come up with a plan to escape. We could really create some scary moments since we're all stuck in this dark maze where flesh-eating dead people could sneak up behind you at any moment. Hey! Maybe, this is where the franchise goes back to its horror roots and tones down the stylistic action a little bit!
This movie hints at the ability to terrify you while you're stuck in this prison. There are scenes that are ripe for some good old fashioned horror. There's a guy trapped in a box. There are underwater scenes with these crazy zombie face huggers floating around. Most of the prison is lit by torchlight. These are elements of horror. Unfortunately, there's about as much horror in this movie as there is drama in Gilligan's Island.
Probably the best thing about this movie is Mila being hot. Oh, also there's a FUCKING HUGE DUDE WITH A GIANT FUCKING AXE!
There is absolutely no explanation for this guy. I guess you could say that the Umbrella Corporation put him together, but for what purpose?! It's not like he's the ultimate warrior or anything. It's not like the regular zombies aren't already doing the job of killing humans. Why create a 10 foot tall undertaker with a giant fucking axe?!
Which brings me to my next point. What is the Umbrella Corporation even trying to do anymore? The world is dead. There is nothing left to conquer or rule. There are no people left to dominate. Any sort of hedonistic fantasy they could come up with would be completely unfeasible. What is the point?! For that matter, why would there still be soldiers supporting this evil corporation? You'd think at some point, all these guys would be like, "Listen, Dude. You've completely destroyed the world. Don't really care what you pay me. I'm done with this shit." Even if they were protecting the soldiers and keeping them safe from the zombies, what is the point? The world they know is long gone. If you think you're just gonna wait this thing out, guess what? No amount of waiting will ever bring back anything you ever cared about. Take your chances on the outside and stop being part of the problem.
Also, humanity seems pretty much doomed. I guess I understand why Alice and her shrinking list of friends are still trying to gather survivors together. You have to live for something. But it's not like anyone is really going to be able to keep humanity from going extinct. Whoopdy-doo, you found a whole container ship full of humans. Guess what? You're going to need 50 times that to even stand a chance at getting back to sustainable levels without going extinct. And also with the way this movie likes to play fast and loose with peoples' lives, I doubt most, if any of you will actually survive the next movie.
Monday, July 19, 2010
So Leonardo is a guy who steals ideas from people's minds by sharing a dream with them. Apparently, the military developed this dream-sharing machine so that soldiers could fight each other in their dreams without actually hurting one another. So, Leo cons people into letting him into their heads so that he can steal their ideas from the safe inside their mind.
Now in order to see his children again, he has to find a way to plant an idea into some one's mind. The target in question is Scarecrow from Batman Begins. Head Samurai from The Last Samurai needs Scarecrow to dissolve his company and end a monopoly that is choking out competition.
So Leo is on the case along with the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun and Juno and a couple of others. In order to pull this off they'll have to dig deep into Scarecrow's head. They need to infiltrate his dream, then convince him to have a dream within his dream so they can plant an idea into his subconscious.
"What's that last part?"
This movie can get pretty complicated at parts. For example, there's a part where they're in a dream falling in a van, and within a dream within that dream there is no gravity because they're falling in a van within their dream, but at the same time they are going into a dream within a dream within a dream but then somebody gets shot and that sends them into another dream. When they all wake up, how do we know we're still not in a level of a dream?
Although the movie does get a little sappy at parts with Leo's relationship to his dead wife and Scarecrow's relationship to his father, and Juno's relationship with walking funny, the concept is really clever, the action is really cool, and the special effects are pretty amazing. The scene where kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun is fighting a dude in a rotating hallway, was phenomenal because it seemed real. They weren't doing anything that would have been impossible if you really were in a rotating hallway. This isn't the Matrix. This isn't Alice in Wonderland. These guys were slugging it out in a dream and it seemed real. Kudos to Christopher Nolan for not going overboard with scenes like that.
"I would have preferred a smidge more Matrix-y-ness."
Acting-wise, I was impressed with Leo as usual. He had a pretty difficult job in this movie trying to show frustration with Juno about how she keeps pressuring him to reveal the secrets in his dreams and construct dream worlds when he can't because his subconscious in the form of his dead wife will sabotage it. Try wrapping your head around that scenario and make it believable. Leo does.
I'm still waiting for Juno to seem less Juno-y but she was good. Kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun had some great moments. And wait til you see Tom Berrenger all bloated and old. He was good.
So go see Inception. Try to sit near the back. And bring a totem.
"I might just go see The Sorcerer's Apprentice."
"Oh, no! My head's exploding!"
"Well, obviously, we're being hunted for sport by aliens with more advanced technology on another planet with the other most deadly people on Earth...obviously."
Danny Glover- Predator killer and terrible judge of character.
What are you waiting for?! Kill me! Do it now!
Or maybe, like a sexy female predator with huge boobs and...no, sorry. Forget it.
Didn't shut the fuck up.
Not to mention there was a huge dissapointment in the gore factor on this movie. I don't want to give anything away, but somebody gets shot with an energy weapon. But instead of getting a huge hole in the chest or getting his arm torn off while still pulling the trigger on his Uzi, this guy just explodes in a flurry of awful CGI. No imagination whatsoever. He just explodes. Sure one guy gets his skull ripped out along with his spine, but it just doesn't look real or painful or cool.
"My arms are really strong."
If you're not interested in anything else that's out right now, go see this movie. But I would recommend Inception instead. Wait for Predators to come to FX.
I'm gonna stop doing the Scpork ratings. Too confusing. This movie just gets a 6 out of 10.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Ok, I am trying to get back on track with my reviews, sorry folks. So I first heard of this film when I saw it was playing at the Music Box in chicago. The first thing I noticed was the poster and how it looked like it was some european 80's horror movie. Everything has that 'vintage' look, the painted poster, the cheesy tag line, even the credits at the bottom look old school. My first thought was that 'hey maybe this is some old horror film thats getting re released or something'. Much to my surprise when I looked it up on IMDB the movie was made in 2009. The poster pretty much sets the pace for the film. Its a film that has the look and feel of a classic 80's horror gem.
Monday, February 8, 2010
So a few years back 'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane' was one of the movies being shown at the Flashback Weekend Horror Convention in Chicago. I didn't get a chance to see the movie then but was able to check out a copy recently. The movie is about this unpopular girls who gets super hot over a summer and now all guys in school want to get with her. So her only other friend is this unpopular guy who really likes her but she only sees him as a "friend"....don't you hate it when girls pull that card? Anyone? No? Also since when do chicks that get hot still hang out with ungly dudes? Oh yeah I remember one....Angela from Sleepaway Camp