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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 60: Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls
Well, pick it up!

You ever have preconceptions of a movie just based on it's name? I had that when it came to Darkness Falls. I remember seeing commercials for it where we were introduced to the town of Darkness Falls. I don't remember anything else from the commercial because my brain automatically shut off. Town of Darkness Falls? Oh, you mean like the town of Silent Hill? That thought has always stuck with me. Maybe bad stuff happens to these towns because they have such ominous names. You never hear of a monster attacking Sunshineville or Hugtown. Crystal Lake doesn't count. I finally decided to put my preconceived notions aside and watch this movie.

Darkness Falls begins with the tale of Matilda Dixon. Matilda is adored by the town's children and would give them a coin for every lost tooth that they gave her, earning her the nickname “Tooth Fairy.” After a fire, Matilda is horrifically burned, must wear a porcelain mask over her face, and can only go out at night. When two children disappear, Matilda is blamed and hanged. She promised vengeance and put a curse on the town. The missing children turn up the next day and the town keeps her death a secret. The story proper begins with a young Kyle Walsh, who has just lost his final baby tooth. He hears a rustling in his room and actually sees Matilda. Kyle escapes to a well lit bathroom which keeps Matilda away, but she murders his mother instead. Kyle is blamed and is sent away to a mental hospital. Twelve years pass, and Kyle is called back to Darkness Falls by his former childhood crush, Caitlin. Caitlin's younger brother suffers from night terrors and fear of the dark, similar to how Kyle had been diagnosed. Michael knows Kyle has seen Matilda and asks Kyle to protect him. Kyle tries to warn people that Matilda is murdering people and the only way to stay safe is to stay in the light. With the body count rising and Michael's life in danger, will Kyle be able to convince Caitlin and others that the Tooth Fairy is real and will kill them all?

If I move it real fast, I can spell my name

The story told in Darkness Falls isn't very original: Supernatural creature haunts one particular person and nobody believes him. Usually we see this with children as the main character. We actually get that with Michael, played by a great Lee Cormie. He plays the scared little boy in peril very well. The problem, though, is that he isn't the main character. I find it hard to believe that no one would listen to a grown man for years. There were murders before Kyle's incident and even though Kyle was gone, there had to have been more murders. It's even hinted at by one of the older police officers. The police force in Darkness Falls must've studied at the Barney Fife School of Police Work. Sure guys, just ignore that the victims all had monstrous claw marks across their face. Just blame the weird guy and call it a day.

Besides Michael, the acting is mediocre to poor. Most of the characters are unlikable, and combined with a mediocre, played-out plot, there isn't much more else to focus on. The movie gives you plenty of “startled” moments where something jumps out and there's a big music swell. The Tooth Fairy is kind of scarey with it's fast movements and agility. I would say that the weird, groan sound that it makes it pretty unsettling, but we already saw that same technique used in Ju-On and it's American remake The Grudge. Both of those came out before Darkness Falls. I literally said to myself “Wow, the sound is pretty creepy, I wonder...heeeeeey, wait a minute. I've seen this before!”

Yeah, I've also seen Phantom of the Opera too


I can safely say that Darkness Falls was not anything like the movie or video game, Silent Hill. Of course, I've now had Killswitch Engage's “When Darkness Falls” stuck in my head all day. It's not terribly original and the acting is severely lacking. Young Lee Cormire blows the other actors away, especially because he is so young. The movie does have a few scares and startling moments, but nothing seasoned horror fans haven't seen before. Darkness Falls is an okay watch, but nothing great.

4.5/10

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 59: Fright Night

Fright Night
Someone get that vampire a tissue

My general reaction to hearing that a movie has been remade is to cringe. I can understand if there has been a long enough time where the story would reach a brand new audience or technology has advanced far enough to greatly improve the movie. Take The Thing from 1982. That's actually a remake from the 1951 film “The Thing From Another World.” Enough time had passed between movies and technology had changed enough to make it even better. Now, though, remakes are being filmed within the same generation with no other reason then to make money, often to the dismay of the fans of the original movie (I'm looking at you, Evil Dead remake). I had this mindset when I watched the 2011 remake of Fright Night.

Fright Night follows Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator:Salvation) as high school student Charley Brewster. Charley's former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad, Kick Ass) believes that Charley's new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell, Alexander, Crazy Heart) is a vampire. His suspicions are correct and Jerry turns Ed into a vampire. Charley begins to suspect that Ed was right and sneaks into Jerry's house. He finds his neighbor imprisoned in a subbasement and when he helps her get outside, she bursts into flames in the sunlight. Charley warns his mother and girlfriend, Amy, that Jerry is dangerous, but they think he's just playing a joke. Charley seeks out the help of famed magician and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant, Dr. Who), but he blows Charley off as a crazy fan. Not wanting to risk being found out, Jerry attacks them, injuring his mother. With his conscience getting the better of him, Peter calls Charley and invites him to his place to tell him how to kill a vampire. Charley and Amy are attacked by Ed and Jerry, with Charley dealing the killing blow to his friend. Jerry captures Amy, turns her into a vampire, and takes her back to his house. Will Charley and Peter be able to stop Jerry and rescue Amy?

If you play with fire, you're gunna getOH GOD, MY HAND!!!!

Knowing that this was a remake, I had to make a serious effort to try and forget the original. The story is pretty much the same, with a few changes, such as Peter Vincent now being Chris Angel-like magician instead of the host of a horror-movie show and completely removing Jerry's guardian. That being said, the movie was able to stand on its own. Yelchin does a good job as the former-nerd turned cool kid. He shows good fear and even better strength when fighting Jerry. Collin Farrell is extra creepy in his role. I'd like to see him in more villain roles. David Tennant, though, deserves the most praise. He is absolutely fantastic in his foul-mouthed Chris Angel-meets-Russell Brand magician role. He's a good source of humor and if you ever wanted to see Dr. Who describe the pain of wearing leather pants, you're in for a treat.

Where the original focused a bit more on humor and all-around general 1980's-ness, this version, while humorous, really hits the horror button. It combines the suspenseful elements of Hitchcock's Rear Window with the ass-kicking action of Vampires. Credit goes to Colin Farrell for being creepy and dangerous, even if you take out the supernatural element. The movie has some good CGI effects and a good amount of blood. Nothing too overboard, but just enough to keep you satisfied. The movie has a good pace and it never really feels too long or dragged out. 

Suddenly, Daleks are no longer a problem

I'm still wary of remakes, but Fright Night has definitely softened my stance on them. While most are money grabs, and I'm not saying Fright Night wasn't, as least this movie was entertaining. Even though I knew it was a remake, I still enjoyed it, and that says a lot. I hope other remakes can follow in it's footsteps.

7.5/10

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 58: Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise

Masters of Horror: Dream Cruise

I don't remember Rhode Island's flag being so terrifying

I can safely say that I am no expert on Japanese horror movies. For whatever reason, I have never really delved into that particular off-shoot of horror. Maybe because we were inundated with weak Americanized remakes of good Japanese movies (The Grudge) or maybe because there are some that are just too intense (The Audition). I tried to watch Tokyo Gore Police and I couldn't get past the first 5 minutes (over the top self mutilation just isn't my thing, y'know?). I decided to slowly wade into the pool of Japanese horror with a little help from Masters of Horror.

Dream Cruise is directed by Norio Tsuruta (Premonition, Kakashi) and tells the story of American lawyer Jack Miller (Daniel Gilles, Spider-Man 2, True Blood) working in Tokyo. When he was younger, Jack's brother, Sean, died in a boating accident and he has been afraid of the sea ever since. He is plagued by visions of his drowning brother, just out of his reach. An legal issue has arisen with his client Eiji (Ryo Ishibashi, Audition, The Grudge), so Eiji invites Jack to join him on his boat to discuss the situation. Jack has been having an affair with Eiji's wife Yuri and the both suspect Eiji knows. Eiji takes them out to sea where he reveals he knows their secret. The boat stalls and Eiji goes underneath the boat to free the propellers from seaweed. The seaweed is actually the hair of a woman and the propellers mysteriously start up again while Eiji is beneath the boat. He miraculously returns unharmed, but it becomes apparent that he is not himself. Eiji has been possessed by the spirit of his first wife, seeking vengeance for her murder at the hands of Eiji. Jack and Yuri battle the possessed Eiji as well as other supernatural occurrences that are trying to kill them. Jack begins to see and hear his dead brother and fears he is losing his mind. Will Jack and Yuri make it safely off the boat or will the vengeful ghost drag them to a watery grave?

 Gwar has the best live shows!

Filmed in Japan, Dream Cruise was actually a 90 minute movie that was condensed down into the 60 minute Masters of Horror format. I find it hard to believe that there is an extra 30 minutes of this movie because they pretty much took care of everything in 60 minutes. Besides some more character development and a few more ghosts scenes, I'm not sure what else they could have done. The story is pretty basic and feels like someone said “Let's take some stuff from 'What Lies Beneath' and put it on a boat!” There are some tense moments and a bit of action, but nothing great. There is one scene where Jack is attacked by Eiji's dismembered arm. The scenes are shot in such a way that screen cuts off the actual person that belongs to the “dismembered” arm. When they back the shot up, the arm looks like one of those plastic arms that some people stick out of their car as a joke.

Ryo Ishibashi does a very good job as Eiji. He comes of as very sinister and makes you feel concerned for Jack and Yuri's safety. Unfortunately, Daniel Gilles doesn't do such a great as Jack Miller. He comes off as a bit wooden and when he does show emotion, it comes off all wrong. It's not all his fault though because his character was made to be too weak. He's constantly getting knocked down or knocked out. I never felt like cheering for him to survive because he's just not a hero. The ghost has some pretty creepy facial expressions, but when you look at it from afar, it looks like a cheap projection. Scary, but kind of goofy at the same time. 

How the hell am I supposed to eat ice cream with this?

Ultimately, Dream Cruise is a decent watch, but certainly nothing to rave about. If anything, it's a good introduction to Japanese horror. Unsettling at times, its not over the top gruesome or scary. It lacks in traditional horror movie action, but has some good suspense. Give it a shot, you might like it.

6/10

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 57: Zombies Zombies Zombies

Zombies Zombies Zombies

There's no brain eating in the Champagne Room

Sometimes you just need to watch a stupid movie. You don't want to think, you don't want to get emotionally attached, you just want to watch some ridiculous. Horror seems to have a plethora of these types of movies, sometimes unintentionally. I was in one of these moods, but what movie to choose? How about one where it also goes by the title “Strippers vs. Zombies,”? Okay, I'm in.

Zombies Zombies Zombies follows a stripper named Harley on her first night at The Grindhouse strip club. She is incredibly awkward, but has a young daughter at home that she needs to support, so she must go through with the stripping. At the same time, Dr. Stewart is working on a cure for for cancer when he accidentally creates zombie-making crack rocks. A prostitute outside The Grindhouse smokes the necrodrugs and the flesh munching begins. Harley is joined by strippers Dallas, Dakota, Pandora, bouncer Chris, a few hookers and their pimp, Johnny “Backhand” Vegas to defend the strip club. Harley's brother Chris arrives to pick her up from the club and joins the fray. Johnny remembers hearing about the zombie creating drug so Chris and Dallas head to Dr. Stewart's lab to get the cure. Unfortunately, Dr. Stewart is killed by a zombie and Chris is accidentally injected with the cure. How will they be able to stop the zombies now that the cure is actually inside of Chris?

Well, at least the tips were good

You know right off the bat that this isn't intended to be an Oscar-winning movies. It's B (almost C) level all the way, but that's perfectly fine. Its strippers fighting zombies, simple as that. No need to get more complicated. Surprisingly, almost shockingly, there is not that much nudity in this movie. It focuses mainly on comedy and loads of blood and gore. There are some funny moments, like Johnny pimp slapping a bunch of zombies, a hockey rink named after John Romero, and a patron saying to a zombie “What the fuck are you looking at?” It's not exactly high-brow comedy, but its still good for a few chuckles. There is plenty of gory violence throughout, with most of the budget going to watery buckets of blood. The effects are slightly better than your average straight-to-DVD horror movie, with some effort put into anesthetics and makeup.

The story itself is pretty standard with noting new being brought to the table. Not much happens beyond strippers fighting zombies. The ending does scratch the surface of a good, depressing ending, but it's not treated as such by the characters, so what's the point? At least the zombies are the slow kind and not the sprinting kind that modern movies now use. All the ladies are very attractive, but their acting skills are less than stellar. I guess if they were going for “stupid stripper,” they all deserve awards, but I have a strong feeling that's not the case. 

Excuse me! That's my crotch you're rubbing against!

Zombies Zombies Zombies Strippers vs. Zombies does deliver what the title promises. It's a cheap horror comedy with some funny moments and plenty of cheap blood and guts. There's no mysteries when it comes to this movie, it's all in the title and cover. The story is simple and the acting is as fake as some of the stripper's body parts. If you're looking for a simple B-level horror movie, you could do far worse. You'll get a few laughs and see some zombies explode. Nothing wrong with that.

4.5/10

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 56: Mimic

Mimic
Anyone else suddenly taste green?

Another Saturday, another creature feature. Thanks to SyFy, there are tons of these movies and most of them are painfully terrible. I just wasn't in the mood to watch a movie with the work Gatoroid or Frogs in the title, so I decided to go with more of a “real” movie. No cartoon effects and no washed-up 80's actors and singers. It's hard to find that in creature features nowadays, believe me. When you're flipping through what to watch, see Tara Reid starring in a movie, and strongly consider watching it, you're in trouble. Thankfully, I had Mimic.

Inspired by Donald Wollheim's short story, Mimic stars Mira Sorvino (The Replacement Killers, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) as entomologist Susan Tyler and Jeremy Northam (The Net, Gosford Park) as her husband, Peter Mann. A disease carried by cockroaches is killing off a generation of children in Manhattan. Susan and Peter have created a new insect called the Judas Breed by combining termite and praying mantis DNA. The Judas kills off the disease-carrying roaches and the children are saved. The Judas was supposed to have a short lifespan and not be able to reproduce. Since this is a horror movie, of course they found a way to evolve, and are reproducing at an alarming rate. On top of that, they are now able to mimic their main predator, people. People are disappearing all over the city, and its up to Susan, Jeremy, and transit police officer Leonard (Charles S. Dutton, Legion, A Time To Kill) to stop the Judas Breed from destroying the city.

You buggin'

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Mimic has a good mix of terror and suspense. Del Toro knows what he's doing with some really creative shots and scenes. Where most movies hide the monster until a big reveal at the end, Mimic shows the Judas Breed plenty. They look pretty good, especially for mid-to-late 90's effects. If you don't like bugs, you will definitely be creeped-out by the monsters. There is a fair amount of action to keep your interested, but not a lot of blood fun kills. If you want action in your horror, you could find better, but it makes up for it with suspense.

There is a bit of a side story with an autistic boy named Chuy that sees the Judas Breed mimicking a person outside his window. While there have been far more annoying children in horror movies, he's still pretty annoying and his story feels unnecessary and tacked-on. The movie clocks in at about an hour and 45 minutes, but there are times where it feels much, much longer. The action doesn't pick up until the last 45 minutes so boredom does set in at times. It's also incredibly dark, so make sure you have your glasses on if you wear them. Sorvino is good in her role and isn't a completely helpless woman like some horror movies like to have. Northam comes off as a bit too lame to be considered a hero.There's also a brief scene with a young Norman Reedus.

Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get to Houston Street?

Mimic came out around the same time as Species, Anaconda, and The Mothman Prophecies, so it kind of got swept up around the weird creature-related horror movies of the late 90's. Guillermo Del Toro does a good job of direction and Mira Sorvino is decent in her role. An interesting, but not wholly original story, combined with good suspense keeps the audience interested, but that interest only goes so far. Some more bloody horror and lighting would have greatly improved the entire movie. Mimic is a decent watch overall, especially if you're nostalgic for the 1990s.

6.5/10

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 55: The Stuff

The Stuff

I bet this movie disappointed a lot of porno fans


We Americans sure do love to eat. It seems every month, a new artery-clogging franken-food is invented and shoved down our chubby throats through advertising and news stories that double as advertising. Now I'm no gluten-free soy-based free-range health nut. I love me some White Castle and Taco Bell every now and then. But what if the junk food we loved controlled our minds and changed our bodies?

Directed by Larry Cohen (Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up, Q), The Stuff starts Michael Moriarty (Law and Order, Courage Under Fire) as David “Mo” Rutherford. Mo is hired by the ice cream industry and candy mogul “Chocolate Chip Charlie” Hobbs to find out what exactly is in The Stuff, a delicious and extremely popular new food, and to destroy it. At the same time, a young boy named Jason sees the Stuff moving on its on and refuses to eat it. He actually goes on a rampage at a supermarket, smashing displays and causing havoc. Mo teams up with advertising executive Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci, Jack the Bear) and digs deeper into the secret behind the stuff. They head to one of the manufacturing plants and are attacked by sentient Stuff. The Stuff is actually a living organism that takes over the brain of those that eat it, turns them into zombies and transforms the insides of the body into goo. Mo hears about Jason's supermarket incident, travels to his home and saves him just before his Stuff-controlled family forces him to eat the Stuff. The group enlists the help of militia leader Colonel Spears (Paul Sorvino, Goodfellas, The Rocketeer) to fight the Stuff. Will they be able to stop it in time or will the Stuff spread it's gooey control across the globe?

Next on "Intervention"...

I was shocked to find out The Stuff had a lot of really positive reviews. I don't get what was so great about it. I know it was supposed to be satirical and poke fun at consumerism and gluttony and all that, but being satirical doesn't mean the movie has to be bad. Characters come and go at the drop of a hat. Chocolate Chip Charlies just kind of shows up about 20 minutes in, disappears and shows up with about 10 minutes to go. Colonel Spears is never mentioned in the movie until Mo meets him. That's like playing The Legend of Zelda and having someone first mention Ganon right before you're about to fight him. The kid Jason is so annoyingly stupid that I want to smash his face into a pile of old mayo and cow shit. For whatever reason, he climbs into an empty tanker that soon begins to fill with the Stuff. I was cheering for the Stuff to kill him, or at least cover his mouth so we don't have to hear him anymore.

I appreciate the horror satire, but it doesn't work when you don't have good horror. The Stuff and the controlled people are never truly terrifying. They could have went for something like the Blob, but it came off as too lame to be scary. Maybe its because I couldn't get over the origin of the Stuff; a miner sees some white stuff coming out of the ground, touches it, and eats some of it. Now I don't know about you, but if I see some foreign substance on the ground, I'm probably not going to touch it with my hand and I'm sure as shit not going to eat it. The special effects for the Stuff look decent for the time and the makeup-prosthetic work for the mutated faces is actually pretty good. There are some green-screen shots that look absolutely horrendous, though.

It's like we're stuck in an episode of Nick Arcade

Despite all the rave reviews online and inexplicable label of being a classic, I just didn't like The Stuff. Plain and simple. It didn't come off as clever or scarey, just kind of lame and annoying which is never a good combination in horror movies. It's worth watching if you have a horror movie checklist to take care of, but otherwise, don't waste your time.

3/10

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 54: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
Little bark and no bite

What's the best way to follow-up a video game review? A comic book review. Personally, I'm a Marvel Comics fan. DC comics and their characters never interested me. I'd pick up the occasional indie release if the subject interested me or the hype was too much to ignore. Unfortunately, comic books are far too expensive nowadays to keep up. Who wants to spend $3-5 per comic when the story only contains 15 pages and most are splash art? The way things are going, it's easier and cheaper just to wait for the movie to come to theaters. If you're even cheaper, you wait for Netflix and Redbox.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night stars Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) as the title character. Dog is an ex-paranomal P.I. That decided to leave the ghouls and goblins behind when his former love was killed by vampires. He is thrust back into the world of horror when a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Ryan (Anita Briem, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Tudors) comes to his office looking for help. Her father, a wealthy importer was brutally murdered by a werewolf and only Dog can help. Joined by his apprentice Marcus Deckler (Sam Huntinton, Not Another Teen Movie, Superman Returns), Dog scours the city for clues and encounters vampires, werewolves, and unfortunately for Marcus, zombies. Dog crosses paths with his old nemesis, a vampire by the name of Vargas (Taye Diggs, Malibu's Most Wanted, The Wood). A war is brewing between the vampires and the werewolves over an ancient artifact that will shift the balance of power and make Vargas unstoppable. How does this all relate to Elizabeth and will Dylan and a zombified Marcus be able to stop Vargas or will vampires and monsters bring hell on earth?

No, you touch the creepy looking butler holding a cross!

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is based on the Italian comics series, Dylan Dog. In the past few years, it has been adapted by Dark Horse Comics, but it still eluded my radar, so I have absolutely no idea if the movie is faithful to the material. The story is just okay and I have the strangest feeling that I have seen a very similar movie plot before. It's as if someone mashed up Underworld with The Maltese Falcon and added a dash of humor to the mix. Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington have good chemistry, almost reprising their roles as Clark Kent and Jimmy Olson. Routh has his moments, but Huntington does very well in his comedic role. Scenes where he is coping with being a zombie are good for a few laughs. Kurt Angle (TNA, WWE wrestler) also does well a tough werewolf named..wait for it...Wolfgang. Yeah, I know.

There are some decent action scenes, but nothing extraordinary. The film had a relatively small budget, which is unfortunate, because you can really tell. I would have liked some flashbacks of previous cases or some more creative monsters. Heck, I like zombies, vampires, and werewolves, but why not stray from the standards and have some fun? Why not try something with a troll, or a Wendigo, or hell, even a unicorn. It would break up a bit of the monotony and could even be funny. The ending feels cheap and tacked on, making you feel like you just wasted the past 90 minutes.

 Lousy zombie hipsters

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night has a few entertaining moments, but not enough to make it a truly enjoyable watch. It tried to include monsters from different genres, but came off like a cheaper Van Helsing. Routh is decent and Huntington is enjoyable in their respective roles. If you're a fan of the comic book, then by all means check it out. Otherwise, you may want to just read a graphic novel at your local book store instead.

5/10

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 53: Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse
There were lots of posters for this movie. I picked this one. Yay!

I've said in the past that I'm not much of a gamer, but even I know that Resident Evil is an awesome franchise. Any game that involves zombies immediately gets my attention and when you make it have genuinely terrifying moments like Resident Evil does, you've got yourself a winner. Videogame-to-movie transitions are difficult and sometimes have horrible results (see: Mario Brothers, Double Dragon. The first installment of Resident Evil on the big screen had some pretty good horror and action moments and Resident Evil: Apocalypse continued the trend.

RE:Apocalypse begins with a quick recap of the first movie in which Alice (Milla Jovovich) the T-virus spread throughout the Umbrella Corporation's underground lab, The Hive. A special forces team is sent by Umbrella to stop the outbreak, but the employees of The Hive have all turned into zombies and overpower the team and escape into Racoon City. Alice is experimented on with the T-virus by Umbrella and gain superhuman strength, speed, and fighting ability. At the same time, Racoon City has been walled off, by Major Cain from Umbrella to keep the virus contained. At the same time, the creator of the T-Virus, Dr. Charles Ashford has learned that his daughter Angie is still stuck in the city. Disgraced police officer Jill Valentine, Sgt. Peyton Wells reporter Terri Morales eventually team up with Alice to find Angie in exchange for a way out of the city. At the same time, Umbrella soldier Carlos Olivera also gets a call to save Angie and joins up with Alice and her crew. The group is attacked by a powerful zombie soldier named Nemesis, who was originally an environmentalist named Matt from the first movie. Major Cain catches on to Dr. Ashford's plan and cuts off the group's plan. Will Alice be able to defeat Nemesis and Cain and save the world from the T-virus or will the group be eaten by zombies? 

Welcome to the gun show

Sequels have the advantage over their predecessor because the origin story is out of the way and they can get right to the action. RE:Apocalypse thankfully gives a recap of what previously happened, taking into account that some people may not have seen the first movie or that people just need a reminder. This does tack on some more time to the movie, which does feel longer than its 94 minutes. It's certainly not a boring 94 minutes, it just felt longer. I've read that the movie takes parts of several different Resident Evil games, but if you're like me, you did not have to play the games to comfortably follow the movie.

It has to be said that Milla Jovovich is a legitimate action star. She's great in the role of Alice as a strong, confident and capable badass. Sienna Guillory (Eragon, CSI) is equally as good (and hot) as Jill Valentine. Mike Epps (Next Friday, The Hangover) provides some welcome comedic relief as the pimp, T.J. The zombies look good and don't veer from the traditional idea of what a zombie should be. There is plenty of high-octane action throughout, but it should be noted that the action is very much based in the video game world. Impossible jumps, superhuman reflexes, and incredibly accurate shots all occur throughout the movie so if you like your action based in reality, you might find yourself yelling at the screen. Speaking of video games, certain scenes definitely give you the feeling that you should be holding a controller. When Alice confronts Nemesis, you feel like a health bar should be on the screen.

Do I have something stuck in my teeth?

Resident Evil:Apocalypse is a fun horror movie with plenty of pulse-pounding action. Milla Jovovich is once again excellent as Alice and is complimented by a capable cast surrounding her. The movie is easy to pick up if you're not a video game fan. It does have some strong video game-like moments, so that may be discouraging to some viewers that prefer a bit more reality in their action. RE:A is definitely worth your time if you like horror or a good action flick.

7.5/10

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 52: Legend of the Bog

Legend of the Bog
Legends of the Hidden Temple was scarier

Happy Mardi Gras everyone! Some people refer to it as Fat Tuesday, but if you're an American, it should just be called Every Day. What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than with a horror movie set in Ireland and involving reanimated bog spirits. Wait, what? Okay, I admit it. I didn't know today was going to be Mardi Gras so I didn't tailor my viewing to the holiday. I'm sure there are horror movies that involve Mardi Gras, but as you can see, the day doesn't mean that much to me. Feel free to throw some beads at me anyway. WOOO!

Legend of the Bog, also known as Assault of Darkness, stars Vinnie Jones (X-Men: Last Stand, Snatch) as the aptronymically-named Hunter and Jason Barry (Beyond Re-Animator, Mirrormask) as archaeologist Professor David Wallace. David is an expert on bog bodies, ancient mummified remains found in the bogs of Ireland. David's new assistant Saorse Reilly is not impressed with him, but accompanies him as he travels the countryside. During their trip, they hit a cow, and have to walk. At the same time, developer Val Leary arrives at her near-by construction sight where a bog body has discovered. Rather than dealing with the authorities and losing money, she orders the construction workers to dump the body and leaves the sight with her taxi driver, Deano. Also at the same time, two travelers, Hannah and Mallory's car breakdown and they start to travel on foot. All parties converge on a small, seemingly abandoned shack and agree to stay the night. The dumped bog body has become reanimated and stalks the local area, killing people and searching for water, which keeps him alive. The shack actually belongs to the aforementioned Hunter, who arrives and is none too pleased. The group is soon killed off one-by-one by the creature. Hunter knows how to defeat it, but will he be able to save the rest of the group in time.

What's Gaelic for "BOOBS!"?

The best way to describe Legend of the Bog is a big resounding “meh”. It's not bad, but it doesn't really have anything special going on. With the exception of Jones, the cast is pretty much annoying at all times. I know some characters have to be so they can get killed off, but when the main characters are just as unpleasant, the audience doesn't feel any fear for the safety. You end up cheering for the bog monster, who is portrayed as being helpless and almost lovable at times. That would be fine, except I'm not so sure that's what the movie had intended to happen. There's a few decent scenes of violence and blood, but not really enough to keep me entertained.

The story itself isn't anything special. I appreciate that they went in a slightly different direction involving bog people and Irish history, but I feel like it was too much like Frankenstein. Dead creature coming back to life, confused about the world around him, fire is bad etc. All of that was done in Frankenstein. Besides some questionable originality, there was one scene involving Hunter's way to defeat the creature that required so much foresight that he either broke the fourth wall and read the script or is omnipotent. On a side-note, I was happy to discover that a zombie shown in the very beginning of the movie is actually Sheamus from WWE. And to top that off, his character is named the Celtic Warrior. Wresting marks rejoice!

Your new World Heavyweight Champion is...

Legend of the Bog isn't a bad movie, its just nothing special. A bland, played-out story and mediocre acting makes the movie feel longer than it really is. Vinnie Jones does deserve some credit as he is as awesome as always. It lacks in violence and fear, the cornerstone of horror movies. While not an “avoid at all cost” movie, it shouldn't be on your “must see” list either.

5.5/10

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 51: Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians

Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians
Did the British take away his napkins?

Happy Presidents' Day! For my non-American readers, this is a day where we celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Actually, most of us just celebrate having a day off from school or work and have sales on cars and furniture. What better way to celebrate such a holiday than with a horror movie based on an American President. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hasn't been released yet and honestly, I'm on the fence about seeing it. It just feels like a stoned college kid said “Whoa, what if Abe Lincoln killed vampires” and a studio threw millions of dollars at him. Instead, I decided on The Washingtonians.

Based on the short story Bentley Little, The Washingtonians stars Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do, Quarantine) as Mike Franks and Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13, Unforgiven) as Professor Harkinson. Mike's grandmother recently passed away, so he takes his wife Pam and young daughter Amy to go through her belongings. Amy is scared of just about everything and in an effort to confront her fears, kicks a creepy painting of George Washington. The portrait falls and a strange parchment and fork is discovered. The letter, signed “G.W.”, states states, "I Will Skin and Eat Your Children. Upon Finishing, I Shall Fashion Tools Out of Their Bones." After a bizarre meeting with his grandmother's friends at her funeral, Mike shows the letter to the executor of his grandmother's estate, Samuel Madison, who becomes enraged and tries to get the letter. Mike's family is soon attacked by men in powdered wigs and Revolution-era clothing. The family flees to their home, but the attacks continue. Mike contacts his friend, Professor Harkinson, who informs Mike that the people persuing them are The Washingtonians, a fringe secret society of cannibals that will do whatever it takes to protect the true story of George Washington. Mike and his family are kidnapped by the Washingtonians and taken to Mount Vernon. The truth about Washington is revealed as well as their intentions to eat Mike and his family. Will Professor Harkinson be able to save them in time and reveal the truth about George Washington?
No taxation without representation...or toothpaste

I'm not really a fan of movies involving historical or literary figures, throwing in a horror genre, and calling it a day, but The Washingtonians was pretty entertaining. While some may find the story absurd, its absurd in a fun way, with a conspiracy so silly that only a Ron Paul supporter would believe it. (If you're one of Ron Paul's supporters that scour the internet, waiting for people to speak ill of him, please send my blog to everyone you know. It really helps advertise it. Thanks!) The film version is far more campy than the short story, but plenty of the original black humor from the story still comes through. The Washingtonians are very creepy because of their glee at eating people, virgin children in particular. There's plenty of blood and guts as we see the cannibals tearing out entrails and organs and greedily eating them. I should note that Amy thankfully breaks the horror movie cliche of having always making the kid annoying. She's perfectly fine in this movie and didn't get on my nerves.

There are some scenes throughout where people sloppily eat piles of meat, but it's not totally “meat porn” like the movie Parents. If you're vegan, your stomach might turn a bit, but its not in your face the entire time. The movie has a good pace, which plays well in Masters of Horror's hour-long format. For the most part, the acting is good, but some of The Washingtonians are too over the top and take away the horror element. The wardrobes look great and make me want to see a Revolutionary War reenactment.


Is this gluten free? I can't have gluten.

The Washingtonians takes an odd premise of taking historical or literary figures and adding in some horror and runs with it. The idea is already being overdone (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), but this came out in 2007, so I can ignore my dislike of the idea. There is some good horror moments and lots of camp, so it's ultimately a fun watch. On this day, we remember our founding fathers and hope that they weren't cannibals.

7.5/10

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 50: Slumber Party Massacre

Slumber Party Massacre
Oh god. It's Bob Villa without a shirt on!

It's the 50 day anniversary of the 365 Days of Horror Movies blog. We made it, baby! And they said it wouldn't last. Believe me, there were times where I wouldn't think I'd last a week doing this. There have been some good movies and there have been some terrible ones. Here's to another 50. I decided to watch a movie I had been meaning to see for a while, Slumber Party Massacre. I had actually watched the sequel, Slumber Party Massacre II, a few years ago at a friend's house, so I thought it was time to see where it all began.

Slumber Party Massacre tells the story of Trish Devereaux who decides to throw a slumber party while her parents are out of the town. Trish wants to invite new girl Valerie Bates, but Valerie overhears Trish's friends badmouthing her and refuses to go. At the same time, serial killer Russ Thorn has escaped from prison and has set his sights and his power drill on the girls. Typical slumber party hijinks ensue, with alcohol and drug consumption and boys crashing the party. Thorn crashes the party and picks drills, slices and stabs through the girls. Valerie's younger sister Courtney decides to crash the party and Valerie goes after her to bring her back home. The discover one of the murdered girls stuffed in the refrigerator and hide from Thorn. The girl's basketball coach, Mrs. Jana, arrives at the house to check up on the girls and is attacked. Will Valerie, Courtney, and Trish be able to stop Russ Thorn or will he just add them to the growing pile of bodies?

Time to sink some fucking anchors!

When people think of a teen slasher movie, they mention Halloween, but more often then not, they're actually thinking about Slumber Party Massacre. It is the quintessential teen slasher flick. It's important to note that the movie was written by feminist activist Rita Mae Brown and was intended to be a parody of other popular slashers. The movie wasn't filmed with parody in mind, so what may have been intended as satire came off as overused slasher gimmicks. Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, we are treated to two scenes of nudity and one murder. It's nice to set the tone quickly, but this movie is the Usain Bolt of slasher cliches. No time for stories, lets get to the boobs and blood! And when I say blood, I mean blood. Buckets of blood cover the scenery along with decapitated heads, hacked off limbs, and spilled guts. Thorn must've had the worlds most powerful drill because this thing never runs out of power or gets stuck. Black and Decker could really use that type of space-age technology.

Slumber Party Massacre doesn't have sexual overtunes, it has sexual megatones. Phallic symbols smack you in the face like, well, you know. I give the movie credit for going with these themes as it gives the movie a deeper layer that some other slashers ignore. When Thorn finally speaks at the end of the movie, it all comes together and makes a bit more sense. There was one scene where the girls call the police but Thorn cuts the phone line. I know the police didn't hear the entire address, but they heard enough because we hear sirens a the very end of the movie. Why did it take them so long? If they can't get to a mass murder in progress quickly, I'd hate to see the short, flabby arm of the law try to help in a real emergency.
Penis! I mean, "Die!"

By-the-numbers is a good way to describe Slumber Party Massacre. You can practically mark off the slasher checklist when watching: Nudity, helpless girls, a crazed mania, no parents, and loads of blood. There are plenty of “don't go in there” moments as well. If you like your slashers simple and to the point, this one is for you. It does have a few deeper moments, but there certainly isn't much beneath the surface.

6.5/10

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 49: Carnosaur

Carnosaur
Cheese! I mean "Rawwwr!"


Happy Saturday Creature Feature. My Dad used to tell me that a typical Saturday night involved watching a Creature Feature and the New York Rangers. In honor of that routine, I felt it was time to watch a animal-based horror movie. Thanks in part to the SyFy channel, there are tons of critter movies and most of them are a steaming pile of terrible with a side of awful. I decided to reach back into my own youth for a movie to watch and I came up with Carnosaur. I'm pretty sure I once rented this movie once and was too scared to watch it. Oh how times have changed.

Carnosaur takes place in a small Southwestern town. Eunice Corporation has employed former weapons creator Dr. Jane Tiptree (Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose, Ghosts of Mississippi) to work on modifying chickens. Unbeknownst to them, Tiptree is certifiably batshit insane and has be splicing chicken DNA with dinosaur DNA. A dinosaur hatches from a chicken egg and goes on a murderous rampage throughout the town. The story also follows an alcoholic security guard named Doc hooks up with an eco-activist named Thrush. People around town are getting sick from a virus caused by the modified eggs and women are actually giving birth to dinosaurs. Doc breaks into Eunice and gets the typical evil super-genius speech from Tiptree. A full-grown T-Rex escapes and its up to Doc and Thrush to stop it. Will they be able to stop the dinosaur and save the world from the virus?

Gah! Ice cream headache! Ice cream headache!

Carnosaur is pretty much the definition of a B-movie. It is loosely based on a novel of the same name. I say loosely because the movie is vastly different from the book. It's painfully obvious that the movie had a tiny budget. The novel had multiple types of dinosaurs, but the movie seems to only have a Tyrannosaurus Rex-like dinosaurs. They have some weird half-bird, half-human roar that jumps come off as weird and confusing. They look really cheap and rubbery, made worse by the fact that Jurassic Park came out just a few weeks later. Carnosaur does have Jurassic Park beat when it comes to blood and gore. If you ever wanted to see Clint Howard get his head bitten off, this movie is for you. The acting is fine and they do what the can with a ridiculous story. There are a few good one-liners throughout and some intentionally funny moments that actually made me crack a smile.

There are plenty of questions and plotholes. running throughout the movie that kind of bothered me, like how did Doc break into this super secret facility so easily? Why are people's first reaction to seeing a dinosaur complete terror? I know my first reaction would be something like “Holy shit, its a dinosaur!” Why does Dr. Tiptree give the world's longest explanation about why she's so obsessed with dinosaurs? Not one person knew what she was doing? No one noticed a full-grown T-Rex living at Eunice Corporation?!? You don't have to fix everything, but someone must have noticed some of these problems. The movie does manage to have a good down-note horror ending that would make George Romero proud. 

She's my cherry pie, taste so good make a dinosaur cry

I'm not sure if Carnosaur wanted to compete with Jurassic Park or mock it, but they failed either way. It looks incredibly cheap and silly, but they give you a decent amount of blood and guts. While most of the acting is passable, the story itself is just so hard to work around. Gene Siskel actually gave this movie a "Thumbs up!" Go figure. If you like dinosaurs (or Clint Howard), give Carnosaur a shot. If you like good movies, don't bother.

3.5/10

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 48: The Last Man On Earth

The Last Man On Earth
And he still can't get a date

Older horror movies are special. They were made in a time where it wasn't all just blood and entrails. Actual stories were needed to keep the audience entertained and terrified. Nowadays, movies just throw some special effects at you and call it a day. It was time to watch an old horror movie and what better way to jump in than with a Vincent Price movie?

Based on the novel I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth stars Vincent Price as Dr Robert Morgan. A plague has decimated the planet, leaving only Morgan and horrible, vampire-like creatures that terrorize him when the sun goes down. The mutants hate garlic and cannot stand to look at their own reflections in the mirror. Morgan has survived three long years by a long supply of canned food, generators, and meticulous routine. He makes his daily rounds, going through the city, killing mutants with a stake to the heart and throwing their bodies into a burning pit. We learn that Morgan's daughter and wife both died from the plague despite all his hard work at a lab. To his surprise, Morgan discovers a dog and takes him in. He is crushed to discover that the dog is infected and disposes of it. During his rounds, he sees a living woman and runs after her. The woman is named Ruth and Morgan takes her back to his fortified home. Suspicious, he shoves garlic towards her and she recoils. Ruth is infected and reveals that she is part of a society of infected humans that have learned to control the mutation. The society knows of Morgan and plans to kill him because he has been unwittingly killing their loved ones during his rounds. Ruth pulls a gun on Morgan, but cannot fire. With her blood, Morgan is actually able to cure Ruth completely. Will they have enough time to warn the coming horde of the cure or will it be too late?

This is going to hurt you a lot more than it is going to hurt me

The story of I Am Legend has appeared on the big screen many times. The Last Man on Earth sticks pretty close to the basic material. Vincent Price does well in his role as a tortured man, but it feels a little odd when he's shown in flashbacks as a loving father. It just doesn't feel right seeing him as a father. His voice and emotion is perfect for the narration and really sets a creepy tone for the entire movie. You really feel the hopelessness and loneliness in the scene involving the dog. Maybe its because I love dogs, but that really got to me. There's a brief moment where Morgan has hope and says something along the lines of “It's going to be alright”. You know he's really talking to himself and it just breaks your heart when he discovers the dog is also infected.

The mutants themselves take a lot from vampire lore, such as the garlic, reflections, stakes to the heart and only coming out at night, but I wouldn't officially call them vampires. They are able to somewhat talk and the use clubs to smash, but they're not the romanticized (or sparkly) vampires you see today. There is a bit of action, but by today's standards, the movie is pretty tame. Most of the real action is psychological as Morgan wrestles with the knowledge that he couldn't save his family and the crippling loneliness.

These Jehovah's Witnesses just won't quit!

The Last Man On Earth is a good story and well acted. It's a bit light on action and heavy on the psychological, so it tends to drag in spots. There are a few plot holes and you'll find yourself questioning Morgan's actions a bit too much. Overall, its an enjoyable watch for the thinking horror fan. The Last Man On Earth gets you to ask some serious questions about ourselves. In this age of smart phones, wi-fi, and social media, sometimes its hard to imagine being alone, but that can all end in a flash. Think of how many people you would lose contact with or what news you would miss. Once technology goes out, will anyone be there to help you light a candle?

7.5/10

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 47: The Quick And The Undead

The Quick And The Undead
More like the Long and the Painful to watch

Westerns and zombies. That sounds fun right? Plenty of possibilities in two genres rich with good movies. Maybe a mixture of Shane and Night of the Living Dead? Or how about 3:10 to Yuma and 28 Days Later? Those ideas would involve some creativity and thought. Both are absent from The Quick and the Undead. I put more effort into this opening paragraph then they did for this movie.

The Quick and the Undead follows the story of zombie bounty hunter, Ryn (no, I didn't misspell that) Baskin. Apparently, 80 years ago, there was some sort of zombie plague that decimated the western United States and the government is paying bounties in exchange for killing the undead. Ryn is double-crossed by his helper Hans and is shot by a rival bounty hunters. He somehow survives a bullet, getting his pinkie cut off, and being bitten by a zombie, catches up to Hans and finds out that the bounty hunters are headed towards Union City. Ryn eventually (thankfully) kills Hans and heads into Union City, which is zombie central. Will Ryn gain revenge on those that crossed him or will the zombies get him first?

Can I have the next dance?

I'm not going to sugar-coat it; this movie sucks. IT SUCKS! IT BLOWS! IT SANTORUMS! There are so many things wrong with it I almost don't know where to begin. Ryn may be the worst zombie hunter in the history of zombie movies. He lures zombies out with bits of bloody meat and stands about 10 feet away while he shoots them with a slow reloading rifle. He misses plenty of close range shots and doesn't bother hiding. He has some sort of immunity towards he zombie bite, but instead of getting his life-saving blood to the government, he just dicks around ghost towns in clothes more suited for a Ministry concert. He gets shot twice in the movie and gets his pinkie cut off, but still manages to get around just fine. There is barely a story and what little story exists is completely terrible. Why bother risking your life killing zombies when you can just go to a cemetery, dig up some bodies and take their pinkies. It would be safer and easier, don't you think?

Judging by the locations, I'd say this movie cost about $100 to make. It's mostly shot outdoors and the one big scene in “Union City” looks like the theater department of your local community college. The acting ranges from passable to insultingly bad. I want to smash Hans in the face every time he spoke, and I suppose that's the point, but it was to the point where I wanted to turn the movie off. Ryn is supposed to be a Clint Eastwood-type, but his character is so inept, it's an insult to Clint Eastwood. It's even an insult to Clint Eastwood's stunt double. The makeup for the zombies is decent and there is some blood, so I guess I should be thankful for that. I'm pretty sure there's one scene where a bounty hunter gets eaten and shouts “Choke on 'em” ala Captain Rhodes from Day of the Dead. I really hope I just imagined that because I wouldn't want to associate a good zombie movie with this.

Jump. For the love of God, please jump!

I still think mixing westerns and zombie movies could be a good idea, but The Quick and the Undead made me question it's potential. They managed to do just about everything wrong in this movie. Bad story, bad dialogue, bad acting, and the absence of logic made this a painful and unpleasant watch. At least there were actual flesh-eating zombies in this movie. Plain and simple, unless you want to torture yourself, don't waste your time on The Quick and the Undead.

1.5/10

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 46: Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up

Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up
Who's got 1 thumb and likes to murder? This guy!

I've done some traveling throughout the the US and there have been times where I've thought about picking up a hitchhiker. Sometimes you just want to help someone out or you're so bored you're happy to speak to anyone about anything. I've never done it because you're letting a complete stranger sit very close to you in a confined space. Now while most hitchhikers just need a ride, there can be some that are drug-crazed thrillseekers and thrill-crazed drug seekers. I guess the same could be said for the drivers that pick people up.

Based on the short story by David Schrow, Pick Me Up stars Fairuza Balk (Waterboy, The Craft) as the tough, recently divorced Stacia. Stacia's bus breaks down somewhere in Washington state and decides to walk to civilization while a few passengers decide to hitch a ride with a truck driver named Wheeler (get it?). It turns out Wheeler is a lunatic and he kills both his passengers. A hitchhiker named Walker (GET IT?!?) comes across the broken down bus and kills the driver and remaining passengers. Both Wheeler and Walker catch up to Stacia at a rundown motel and a deranged game of cat and mouse begins. Both want to kill Stacia, but the draw to kill each other is just as strong. Will Stacia be able to survive a psychopathic truck driver and a deranged hitchhiker?

The moment when you realize you should have done Waterboy 2

I can definitely see how Pick Me Up would be a good short story. It has two similar yet different villians, a strong but vulnerable victim/heroine, and plenty of excitement. Unfortunately, it didn't translate well to a movie. Michael Moriarty (Law & Order, Troll) plays Wheeler so over the top you expect to get vertigo every time he speaks. His accent is supposed to be New York, but its closer to Stereotype. Warren Kole is far more tolerable as Wheeler. Fairuza is the saving grace of the movie as she is capable of pulling off strong and terrified without much help from the script. There's a decent amount of blood and violence throughout, but this is one of those stories that suffer from the time constraints of the Masters of Horror series. An extra half hour would have allowed more time to develop characters and action. Hell, it feels like Stacia is barely in the first half of the movie.

There was one particular scene that really bothered me. After meeting and being creeped out by both Walker and Wheeler, we see Stacia walking down the highway and ducking out of the way when she sees a truck coming. In the very next scene, she stops to read a billboard and Wheeler pops out from behind it. That wouldn't be a problem if his truck wasn't parked RIGHT IN FRONT OF IT! And to top that off, she accepts a ride from him, even though he shows her he has a gun. If you know someone is creepy and he has a weapon, why would you ever do anything with that person? It advances the story, but it makes absolutely no sense. Throw in an overdone horror ending, and you're left feeling pretty annoyed.

I got your baggage surcharge right here!

Hitchhiking and giving rides to strangers can be dangerous. There is lots of potential for this type of story and we've seen it down in other movies. Unfortunately, Pick Me Up gets lost in poor acting, not enough horror-style violence, and convoluted scenes. It's certainly not the worst movie I've ever seen, but it had a lot of potential, which makes it that much more disappointing.

4/10

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 45: My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine 
 

I cho-cho-choose you


It's a special Valentine's Day edition of 365 Day of Horror. There are plenty of holiday-related horror movies, but only one Valentine's Day horror movie is worth reviewing. Certainly not the 2001 movie “Valentine” starring David Boreanaz. It has to be the 80's slasher classic, My Bloody Valentine. Ignore the crappy remake with gimmicky 3D (it died twice, hopefully it will die again). We're going old school for this one, so grab yourself a handful of chocolates and your miner's helmet.

In the small Canadian mining town of Valentine Bluffs, the community is abuzz with excitement as the first Valentine's Day dance in 20 years is about to occur. Young miner T.J. has returned after abruptly moving out west, and is having trouble adjusting to life back in town. His ex-girlfriend Sarah is now dating Axel, but she still has feelings for T.J. Twenty years ago, miners were trapped in an accident because two supervisors left early to attend the Valentine's Day dance. It took days to reach the trapped miners, and only one man, Harry Warden survived, eating his dead coworkers and going insane. After spending a year in a mental institution, Harry escaped and murdered his supervisor, warning that the same would happen every year if people celebrated Valentine's Day. Now Harry Warden has returned, cutting a bloody swath through the town. The Valentine's Day dance is canceled, but the young people throw a party anyway in the mine. Young party goers are brutally murdered and it's up to T.J. to save Sarah and stop Harry Warden before it is too late.

This light really helps me see the terror in your eyes

My Bloody Valentine came out during the slasher craze of the late 70's and early 80's. It also came in the middle of horror's love affair with holiday-themed movies, along April Fool's Day, New Year's Evil, Terror Train, Hell Night, and all the Halloween sequels. While some of the other movies just happen to occur on the holiday, My Bloody Valentine actually builds it's entire story around the holiday. The story is pretty cohesive for the most part, although the fact that a murderous escaped mental patient doesn't seem to alarm the mental hospital baffles me. You say an insane cannibal used to be a resident here and now we have no record? Oh well, no biggie! The opening scene where a young lady sneaks down into the mine with a miner for some sexy times only to be murdered also confuses me. When did Harry have time to woo a lady, presumably in the same town where he killed people 20 years ago? If he doesn't want to remove his gas mask now, did the woman not see his face before? Is she that desperate that she'll do it with Gas Mask face in a poorly ventilated mine? It's just the opening scene, so they were probably just setting the tone, but what the hell?

What really makes the movie work is all the fun and creative killing. The movie actually had 9 minutes cut by the MPAA due to the amount of graphic violence and gore. I doubt this would happen by today's standards. Plenty of stabbings, guttings, boilings and other means of dispatching people keep the audience entertained in that sick way that only horror movies could do. There is a good amount of blood and gore, but not to the point where the movie throws it in your face like some modern movies like to do. The acting is all passable, though no one was going to win any awards. The play their parts well enough to keep the story believable and moving, and that's all that is really required. We're watching this for the slashing, not for the acting.

Be mine...oh, I get it now!

My Bloody Valentine is a cult classic 80's slasher with a holiday theme that fits with the story. There is a love-triangle storyline that gives purpose to the character's actions, but the main focus is the killing. If you enjoy Friday the 13th and Halloween, you'll enjoy this smaller-budget film. My Bloody Valentine has plenty of blood and guts to keep you feeling all cozy and tingly this Valentine's Day.

7.5/10

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 44: Demonic Toys

Demonic Toys
Now play nice

When you watch a movie called Demonic Toys, you pretty much know exactly what you're going to get. There isn't going to be a deeper meaning. There aren't going to be serious questions that will make you think. No Oscar-worthy performances or fantastic cinematography. Just a bunch of possessed toys killing the shit out of people. It's just a matter if it will be horrible or tolerable.

Demonic Toys begins with police officers Judith Gray and Matt Cable talking about their relationship while waiting for illegal gun dealers to arrive. Judith tells Matt about a strange recurring dream she is having involving two children surrounded by clocks, playing a game of cards. She also reveals that she is pregnant. The deal with the criminals goes south, leaving Matt dead and one of the dealers critically wounded. A chase ensues into a toy warehouse, where the wounded criminal crawls away into a bizarrely lit shaft of light. The toys come to life and brutally kill him while Judith captures the other criminal. At the same time, a delivery boy, Mark, arrives at the warehouse to deliver security guard, Charneski, his dinner. They find Judith and the captured criminal and when Charneski goes to call for help, he is also attacked by the demonic toys. The toys terrorize Judith, Mark, the criminal, and a young runaway girl that was staying in the warehouse. It is revealed that the spirit of a demon, in the form of the Kid from Judith's dream, is the cause for all the mayhem. The Kid wants to become human and in order to do so, he wants to impregnate Judith so his spirit can transfer to her egg and be born of flesh and blood. Will Judith and Mark survive the toys and stop the Kid demon?

I think I just possessed myself

Like I said before, you pretty much know what you're getting with a movie like this. It's very similar to Puppet Master, and for good reason; Demonic Toys and Puppet Master are both produced by Charles Band and Full Moon Entertainment. The toys themselves are actually pretty cool. You have the foul-mouthed Baby Oopsy Daisy, which reminds me of Chucky, Grizzly Teddy, Mr. Static, and Jack Attack. Sadly, Oopsy Daisy is the only toy with any personality, which is a shame, because it's hysterical. The demon is also full of personality, almost to the point of people more likable than the heroes. The acting is decent all around, but special props go to the Kid for being just the right amount of creepy and charming. There are some fun kills and an acceptable amount of blood. The movie has decent effects for the early 90's and the detail to all the toys is appreciated.

The story itself gets far more complicated that it needs to be. The whole demonic “have sex with a woman to give birth to myself” plot is convoluted and confusing. There's a bizarre flashback meant to explain the process and why the demon is at the warehouse, but it just left me confused. In a movie this simple, it should be impossible to confuse the audience, but they managed to accomplish that task. It also doesn't help that there are lots of plot holes in the movie. Why is there only one point of escape in the entire warehouse? At one point, Grizzly Teddy turns into a huge monster. If the demon could do that, why didn't he just turn all the toys into large monsters? The ending itself is downright baffling and I won't even attempt to explain it. I know it's silly to over-think a movie called Demonic Toys, but I just can't help myself.

When your laundry needs a vicious fabric softener

Demonic Toys is a fun movie as long as you don't think too much. There is plenty of excitement and action with an interesting cast of villains. The acting is fine, which is actually a huge compliment when it comes to direct-to-video horror movies. The story itself does get over-complicated and can be confusing at times. If you like Child's Play and Puppet Master, you'll get a kick out of Demonic Toys.

6/10