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Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 121: Blood Creek

Blood Creek
"Nazi Punks Fuck Off" - Dead Kennedys

After a weekend of wacky horror movies, it's time to get back to the serious ones. What better way than with an supernatural zombie Nazi trying to take over the world? I'm reminded of a line by Jon Lovitz from the underrated 2001 comedy “Rat Race,” “Eh, they're always pissed, Honey. They're Nazis. It's like it's their job.” This could be interesting...wait. Joel Schumacher directed this? Joel “Batman & Robin” Schumacher made a horror film? This I gotta see.

Blood Creek (also known as “Creek” and “Town Creek” because, I assume, they needed a really bland, unassuming name to draw in horror fans) is a 2009 horror movie starring Henry Cavill (Stardust, Man of Steel), as Evan Marshall. Evan is a paramedic in West Virginia. His brother, Victor (Dominic Purcell, Prison Break, Blade: Trinity), an Iraq veteran, went missing three years ago on a camping trip. Evan blames himself for his brother's disappearance and believes that he is dead. Much to his surprise, Vic returns in the middle of the night having escaped his captors and tells Evan that he needs his help. The travel up Town Creek until they reach an old farm. In 1936, a German family named the Wollners were contacted by the Nazi embassy to host a Professor Richard Wirth (Michael Fassbender, Inglorious Basterds, X-Men: First Class) Wirth has been sent to the farm to uncover an ancient rune stone on their property and unlock it's occult powers. He is able to bring back creatures that have died and gains great power. The family is able to contain Wirth through magic, thus freezing their aging process. Keeping him prisoner requires the family to kidnap people and feed Wirth their blood. Vic was able to escape and now lays siege to the house, gaining a measure of revenge. Evan and Vic unwittingly release the monstrous Wirth who will become unstoppable once he consumes enough blood in time for a lunar eclipse. Will Evan, Vic, and Liese Wollner be able to stop Wirth before he becomes all-powerful and destroys the world?


This movie can best be described as two separate movies; a pretty good emotional thriller and a generic, over-the-top B horror film. The first 40 minutes or so has a lot of exciting action and an air of mystery. The audience wants to know what exactly happened to Vic and wants to see him get revenge for losing three years of his life. The emotional heartstrings are pulled when we see Evan taking Vic's children trick-or-treating and when their father blames Evan for Vic's disappearance. Both Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell put on very good performances The movie kicks into high gear when they attack the farm. It's good, heart-racing action with a touch of fear, not knowing what is going to be around the next corner. Initially, I was thinking the family would be a supernatural family of killers similar to the Firefly family from House of 1,000 Corpses/The Devil's Rejects. Unfortunately, they went off in a different direction and brought the whole movie crashing down.

Blood Creek gets bogged down in a poor, convoluted plot involving an immortal vampire/zombie Nazi that can raise the dead. He actually kills a horse and turns it into a zombie horse. Interesting and different, but not particularly good. It's never really clear why the family has to kidnap people to keep feeding Wirth. In the 70 years of keeping him prisoner, they couldn't figure some way of killing him? The whole drinking blood and lunar eclipse thing is all very convenient and cliched. Michael Fassbender does well enough in his role. He's a good evil Nazi and an ok monster. His makeup is pretty good looking, but the special effects could have been better. Joel Schumacher actually does a fairly good job in the director's chair, which makes his Batman Forever/Batman & Robin fiascoes all the more terrible.

Less awesome

This is really the tale of two movies. The first half of Blood Creek is grim, gritty, realistic and exciting. The second half is ridiculous, played out, and ultimately disappointing. The performances are good and there is a decent amount of action. When the movie decides to delve into the realm of horror, it loses all of it's steam and becomes a confused mess. If they had stayed away from the supernatural and just made this an escape and revenge movie, it would have been awesome.It's still better than Dawson's Creek, though.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 120: Proteus

Who wants omelets?

Time for another Creature Feature movie. Rather than suffering through the crap-o-rama that is SyFy “exclusive movies” with ridiculous titles and even more ridiculous concepts (Ice Spiders, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus), I thought I go for something in the mid 1990's. Oh, how I miss the 90's. It was a simpler time back then. Bill Clinton was President, cartoons were still great, and Mike Tyson was still the baddest man on the planet. Surely this movie wouldn't have some insane Roger Corman-like creature that would make a bad acid trip look like a Disney movie. Surely.

Proteus is a sci-fi/horror movie from 1995 starring Craig Fairbrass (Dead Cert, Cliffhanger) as the drug smuggling Alex. Alex takes a heroin-filled yacht out to sea with smugglers Paul, Linda, Rachel, Christine and Mark. An accident occurs, leaving them stranded on a life raft in the middle of the ocean. The come across a seemingly abandoned oil rig and climb aboard. The rig is not abandoned because they come across a few workers and a Dr. Shelley. Shelley informs them that the rig is actually a hi-tech research facility being used for biological experiments. The research is being paid for by a rich old man named Brinkstone who is looking to unlock the secrets of immortality. Shelley disappears and the group encounters a security guard, who tells them to hide from someone or something named Charlie. As they are waiting for Charlie to attack, the security guard transforms into a hideous monster. Rachel is attacked and they take her to the medical facility. While she is resting, the creature drops down from the ceiling and into her mouth, possessing her. The creature then possesses the others, leaving Alex and Linda to fight for their lives. Alex, who reveals that he is a DEA agent, finds a video of Dr. Shelley explaining that Charlie their creation from a mixture of DNA splicing and a shark. Charlie is evolving and supposedly cannot be killed. His one weakness is heroin. Will Alex and Linda be able to kill Charlie and get off the rig alive?

Heroin is one helluva drug

A heroin-addicted, possibly immortal creature that can possess the bodies of humans? Yeah that's pretty far out there even in the science fiction/horror world. Proteus is best lumped into the category of monster movies that you'd rent from the video store and then feel completely stupid that you wasted your weekend movie pick on something so stupid. It would be right there on the shelf next to Carnosaur and Dentist II. The movie has a pretty small budget, with shots in the ocean looking like it was done in a swimming pool at the local YMCA. Just because the movie is cheap, doesn't mean that the story has to be cheap as well. For a majority of the movie, we believe that Alex, despite being the hero, is a drug smuggler. I found myself thinking “Why the hell should I cheer for these people? They're drug smugglers and drug users. Fuck them. Get 'em, Proteus!” It's hard to be sympathetic when you have contempt for the characters. Usually that's reserved for one specific character so when they day, the audience can shout a collective “Good!” It doesn't work so well when most of the characters are scumbags.

Despite a barely-coherent script and some bad dialogue, Craig Fairbrass actually does a good job. He's actually had a pretty long career and was even in the very first movie I reviewed, Dead Cert. I hated that movie, but his acting was still good, even in that garbage. He doesn't get much help from his supporting cast, who's acting skills range from balsam to oak in terms of wooden acting. The makeup on the possessed people actually looks pretty good. The big payoff when “Charlie” is finally revealed is pretty laughable. It looks like a mixture of a great white shark, a dinosaur, and an octopus. And it's addicted to heroin. How convenient. Even watching a movie from the mid 90's, I can't avoid seeing a Sharktopusasaurus. It didn't help that one scene where Charlie attacks people looks like something out of a Japanese tentacle rape scene.


Proteus is a weird creature feature/science fiction movie that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are some decent action scenes and even a good amount of blood. The term “blood sprinkler” comes to mind for one scene. Craig Fairbrass does well with his limited script and even more limited supporting cast. The monster looks very silly and pretty unoriginal. The movie was able to hold my attention, but that's about it. No need to run out to the local flea market and dig through the used VHS movies for this one.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 119: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes
The only good tomato is in a bottle of ketchup or a jar of sauce

Cartoons in the 80's and early 90's were the best. Granted, most of them were made just to sell toys (G.I. Joe, Dino Riders, Go Bots), but they were still really fun to watch. Saturday morning were filled with hours of cartoons on multiple channels. Seriously, CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX all showed cartoons. Those were usually followed by WWF Wrestling and American Gladiators. I played soccer, Little League baseball, and eventually travel hockey, so it's not like I was glued to the TV, but I still have fond memories of waking up early and soaking in the cartoons. One I specifically remember is Attack of the KillerTomatoes. Sure, it was mostly based off the Return Of The Killer Tomatoes (starring a mulleted George Clooney!) but this is where it all started and it was time to figure out just what the hell I was watching as a kid.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is a 1978 horror comedy directed by John DeBello and starring David Miller as Mason Dixon. A serious of violent attacks on people committed by sentient tomatoes is gripping small communities and the government is desperately trying to keep it under wraps. The President's press secretary, Jim Richardson (George Wilson) tries to convince the public that there is no real threat from tomatoes while the President assembles a team to stop the tomato menace. Led by FBI agent Mason Dixon, his team includes Sam Smith, a master of disguise, Navy diver Greg Colburn, Russian Olympic swimmer Greta Attenbaum, and parachuted soldier Wilbur Finletter. Reporter Lois Fairchild has been given the task to break the story wide open and follows Dixon. The tomatoes kill Greta and push back the humans after a big battle. How will Mason Dixon and the humans defeat these killer tomatoes and who is behind their murderous rampage?

Not when they have such stylish ear muffs

Just from the title, you can tell that this is a silly movie. The real question is, “Is the movie funny?” The answer is sort of in the middle. There are some genuine laughs and creative ideas. There are plenty of spoofs and send-ups to famous horror movies such as Jaws and The Blob. People screaming in horror while tomatoes roll down the street are good for a few chuckles. The theme song along will get stuck in your head all day. The movie is very dated and stuck heavily in the 70's. While some of the jokes and references are timeless, a bulk of them do not hold up to the test of time and the humor is lost on a modern audience. I couldn't get over the hideous clothes, furniture, and buildings. Granted, that's more the fault of the 70's beyond a drug-filled waste of a decade, but good comedy movie should be funny no matter when you see them. Just take a look at some of Mel Brooks's films. Those are still funny to this day.

The acting throughout is not particularly good and when you have a comedy, the acting is everything. A quick search on imdb for some of the actors yield very little in the way of other movie credits. Another big component to a good comedy is smart and competent writing. The movie has small flourishes of good writing, but not enough to carry the movie. It seriously drags towards the end, which should never happen in a comedy. Granted, the movie is still better than say Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans or any of those terrible spoofs Hollywood keeps cranking out, but it's not Airplane or The Naked Gun. 

The horror...the horror

It was nice to finally see the original movie that spawned a strange and fun cartoon from my youth. It's actually quite surprising that a children's cartoon ever came out of such a weird movie. Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes has it's moments, but as far as spoofs go, it just didn't make the cut. The acting and writing is sub-par and a lot of the jokes are dated or just plain not funny. Still, it's a cult classic for a reason, and still worth a viewing just to check it off your list.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 118: Mask Maker

Mask Maker
Stupid mask. We can see the zipper.

I have to get this out of the way before I can start. Mask maker, mask maker, make me a mask. Find me a find, catch me a catch. Ok, I feel much better now. I haven't watched a slasher movie in a while and decided to give a modern movie a try. It feels like most modern slashers just go through the motions and come off like Friday The 13th and Halloween rehashes. Will Mask Maker show me something new or just the same old stuff?

Mask Maker (originally and unfortunately titled Maskerade) is a 2010 horror slasher starring Nikki Deloach (Days Of Our Lives, Ringer) as Jennifer and Stephen Colletti (One Tree Hill, Kill Katie Malone) as her boyfriend Evan. Evan secretly purchased a 19th century plantation home and takes Jennifer out to see it. At first she is mad that he made such a big decision without her, but she quickly gets over it pretty quickly. They invite their friends for a house warming/fixing party. The house has a history and locals refuse to talk about it. One man, Mr. Peck (Terry Kiser, Weekend At Bernies, Friday the 13th Part VII) is particularly afraid of the house and refuses to answer questions. The group unknowingly resurrect the man who used to live at the house. He suffered from some sort of skin condition and had to stay wrapped in bandages. Though some sort of voodoo, he has come back and is an unstoppable killing machine. He goes on a killing spree of the friends, cutting off their faces and wearing them as masks (hence, Mask Maker). Jennifer discovers that Mr. Peck is connected with Mask Maker through their sordid past. Will Jennifer be able to stop Mask Maker and get out alive?

Fork you

If this feels like you've seen this movie before, you're not alone. On the surface, it's pretty much your average “College Kids Go To Murdertown”. There are plenty of slasher movie cliches, including people going off to have sex only to be killed, the silent, faceless inhuman killer, and secretive townspeople. There's the usual nudity and the killer uses an axe as his weapon of choice. The movie deserves credit with their attempt to add some voodoo/magic curse into the mix, but it's never fully explored and just left me kind of confused. Ultimately, none of the back story is important, which is a shame because it could have helped set the movie apart from other slashers. Really, its just a combination of all the good slasher tropes with a dash of originality.

The film is well shot and looks good compared to some of the lower-budget affairs that are now polluting the horror genre. The directing is fine and the acting is passable, though Terry Kiser plays a drunk the way Andy Dick plays someone normal. There are some good acts of violence, though the movie lacks the amount of blood and gore necessary to make it particularly thrilling. That's not to say there isn't plenty of stabbing and chopping, just not as much as I expected. I mean, the killer wears people's faces. You'd think that'd be incredibly gorey and violent, but not really. In fact, there is one scene where he wears one of the female friend's faces complete with long hair. It is unintentionally funny as he looks like a cross between Leatherface and Bjork. 
Weekend At Bernie's gets a gritty reboot

If you've seen a slasher movie before, you've already seen most of Mask Maker. While it's not particularly original, it still has some entertainment value. There are some good kills, though the lack of extreme blood and gore is unfortunate. The movie has it's moments and it's not a bad watch, but it could have been better.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 117: Waxwork

Hunter S. Thompson's brain on a good day

A friend of mine that reads my blog, who is a big horror fan himself, asked me if a movie quote came from Dolls or Waxwork. I had never seen Waxwork, so I wasn't entirely sure at the time. In fact, I had never even heard of Waxwork. I wasn't sure what to expect, especially since I had no idea what a “Waxwork” was. Would the movie be a mixture of House of Wax and Dolls or something completely different? Judging from the poster art, it looks like it could really be scary! Seriously, look at the poster. That is some crazy shit right there. Let's give it a shot and see if I can figure out where that quote came from.

Waxwork is a 1988 horror/comedy starring Zach Galligan (Gremlins, Infested) as rich student Mark Loftmore. Mark is having trouble in school and his ex girlfriend China is going out with the school jock. China and her friend Sarah are invited to a viewing of a Waxwork museum at midnight by the strange David Lincoln (David Warner, Cross of Iron, Tron) and are told to invite their friends. The group splits up to look at the very life-like displays and two of the friends step beyond the velvet rope and are transported into the living scene. One is a scene involving a werewolf that kills the boy that walked into the scene and the other involves China being attacked by Dracula. The wax scenes alter to make the dead bodies look like they are not real. Mark gets a detective to investigate the waxwork, but Lincoln shoves the detective into the scene containing The Mummy who kills him. Mark and Sarah do some research and find out that Mark's grandfather was murdered and the only suspect was a man that looks exactly like Lincoln. They speak with his grandfather's friend Sir Wilfred, and learn that Lincoln sold his soul to the devil, stolen trinkets collected by his grandfather from the 18 most evil beings who ever lived. By feeding each wax scene a soul, it will bring about the being's resurrection, which will destroy the world. Mark and Sarah go to the waxwork to burn it down, but Mark ends up in a zombie scene and Sarah in a Marquis de Sade. Mark escapes the zombie scene because he does not believe it is real. Sarah does not want to leave de Sade, but Mark convinces her that the scene is not real and they escape back to reality. Unfortunately, Lincoln was able to get 2 other souls to be sacrificed and the 18 beings come to life. Will Mark, Sarah, and Sir Wilfred be able to stop them and save the world?

"Did you eat all the raspberry pie?

This movie has an interesting, if not weird concept. I couldn't get over the fact that of the 18 most evil beings, most of them come from horror and literature. They use zombies, Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolfman, and body snatchers for example. If you're going to use fictional characters, why would you include the Marquis de Sade, who actually existed? I guess they wanted to get across some weird, Cinemax After Dark thing with Sarah (which was incredibly uncomfortable and unnecessary), but why use a real person? They clearly got lazy because we see flashes of unknown, generic beings like some sort of mutant baby and an axe murderer. What, there wasn't enough famous monsters to use? I like the idea, but the execution wasn't very good. Waxwork is also classified as a comedy, and while there are a few scenes worth cracking a smile at, it wasn't particularly funny.

It was weird seeing a movie where the protagonists are rich yuppies. Watching this through 2012 eyes, I can't really think of a reason why they made the characters rich snobs. It just seems odd and unnecessary. There are a few good scenes of violence and plenty of nods to classic movies and literature. The acting is decent, with David Warner putting on the best performance. Mihaly Meszaros (Big Top Pee-Wee, Freaked) is enjoyable in his small role as Hans the butler. The directing is good and makes the best of an odd and sometimes convoluted story.


Waxwork is an interesting and fun premise, but unfortunately the execution is poor. The movie doesn't know if it wants to be horror or comedy and achieves neither. The story is a bit confused and jumbled with logic taking a backseat to cramming in different classic horror references. There are some good scenes of violence and decent acting, but not enough to overcome the weak writing. Waxwork is good if you're looking for something from the 80s that you may not have seen before. Otherwise, you can probably skip it. Oh and to answer the question, the quote came from Dolls. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 116: H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb

H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb
No, bullshit will lure you in

I really enjoy H.P. Lovecraft's work. I'm such a fan that I even visited his grave. The first story I ever read by him was The Rats In The Walls and I was legitimately spooked by the end. There's something about his brand of horror and science fiction that has an ageless quality to it. His worked has lead to the creation of the Cthulhu mythos (modern writers building a universe based off his works), video games, and movies. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his works have not translated well on film. There are a few exceptions (check out my review of Dreams In The Witch-House), but overall the movies based off his stories are just not good. There has been talk of Guillermo Del Toro working on Lovecraft's “At The Mountains Of Madness,” but it is mired in studio and creative trouble. In the meantime, there's Ulli Lommel's (Zombie Nation, Zodiac Killer) movie The Tomb.

The original short story tells the tale of Jervas Dudley who sneaks into a mausoleum belonging to the Hyde family. He begins to sleep inside a tomb bearing the name of Jervas Hyde. He is unaware that he is being spied on and against his better judgment, goes to the tomb on a stormy night. He sees that the old Hyde mansion restored to it's former state and joins a party going on inside. Lightning strikes the mansion and Jervas loses consciousness. He is awoken by men working for his father and brought home. There he finds an antique box with a porcelain figure inside bearing a striking resemblance to Jervis and the initials J.H. Jervas becomes obsessed with the crypt and begins to lose his sanity. 

Even H.P. Lovecraft couldn't make a movie so terrifyingly bad

The movie follows a bald man and a blonde woman (Victoria Ullman) are trapped inside some sort of warehouse by a shrouded killer. They discover various other people trapped in the warehouse who have all been tortured and die shortly after we are introduced to them. The scenes are interspersed with cuts of a masked person riding a horse for some reason. The blonde and the man try to escape the warehouse. How are they all connected and who is this mysterious killer?

If you couldn't tell, the movie has noting to do with Lovecraft's short story. Nothing. Not a fucking thing. It's flat out wrong to include Lovecraft's name in this visual and mental trainwreck. It's a cheap trick to get people to watch a movie that would languish at the bottom of the $1 bin at the Dollar General. The story just that its such a confusing nonsensical mess that I can barely explain what is going on. It's as if someone watched Saw, took out all the good parts and puked on the camera used to shoot this abomination. The acting is downright horrendous. I've seen better performances by schizophrenics on a New York subway. It's not like the have much to work with because of the inane dialogue given to them. 

Cute puppies will lessen my rage at this movie

Lommel wasn't content with writing this piece of shit, but felt the need to bring his assness (if that's not a word, it should be) to the director's chair. Scenes are too dark and the sets a woefully cheap. I guess it's technically set in a tomb, but it looks like a half empty warehouse or beneath the bleachers of a local high school. Scenes jump too often with unnecessary and confusing shots. There's some violence, but its just so incredibly stupid that I can't even enjoy it. The ending is so confused and moronic that I am actually insulted for having watched this. It's like they said “Congratulations, you sat through this putrid pile of fuck, here's an ending so terrible you'll actually lose a few IQ points.”

The Tomb is so bad, I actually stopped two teenagers from getting it. If you like H.P. Lovecraft, I beg you not to watch this. If you like good stories, do not watch this. If you like good acting, or directing, or action, do not watch this. I would rather sit through a 24 hour marathon of Battlefield:Earth than watch this again. I would rather sleep on a bed of angry porcupines and use fire ants as a blanket than watch this again. I would rather have a naked jello wrestling match with Rush Limbaugh after he swallowed an entire bottle of Viagara and Siracha than watch this again. Fuck this movie with the power of a thousand suns.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 115: Masters of Horror: Sounds Like

Masters of Horror: Sounds Like
I can't ear you

Personally, I like noise. Now, I'm not saying I like to hear gunshots or screams coming from the other room. I'm talking more about background and ambient noise. I prefer to sleep with music or a fan on, just so there is something going on. There's something comforting about a background that breaks the silence. Maybe it's because it stops the mind from focusing too much on the everyday problems. But what if every sound was excruciating to you? What if a scratching pen was like a rake being dragged over your brain? How would that effect you?

Masters of Horror: Sounds Like stars Chris Bauer (The Wire, Face/Off) as Larry Pearce. Larry is a quality control supervisor for a tech support call center. His job is to listen in on his worker's conversation to insure that they are meeting the customer's needs in a timely manner. Larry has an extremel ability to hear even the slightest sounds. He can hear conversations from across the room or the clicking sound of his wife Brenda's (Laura Margolis, Dirty Sexy Money, The Strangers) knitting needles. It was this ability that allowed Larry to hear that something was wrong inside his son. Despite hearing the anomaly, Larry was unable to save his son. Wracked with grief, Larry can no longer stand his wife Brenda, who desperately wants to have another child. Larry overhears a tech giving comforting personal advice to a woman caller. Rather than fire him, Larry confides in the tech and even takes him out to lunch. He is shocked when he finds out the tech reported him for being inappropriate. Larry's heightened sense of hearing gets worse, slowly driving him insane. He finally snaps when Brenda tells him she is pregnant by smashing everything making a noise in his house. The next day, sounds no longer bother him. That does not last long as the sounds become more intense with a very specific, almost squirming sound. What is the sound and what will Larry do to silence it?

"What's this horrible noise? Dubstep you say?"

While it may not seem like Sounds Like is a horror movie, in fact, it fits in very well with the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. You can practically hear Ron Serling's voice talking about an ordinary man with an extraordinary ability. To me, that's a very high compliment. The movie doesn't have any supernatural monsters or loads of horrific violence. It makes it's horror through the slow, agonizing torture of one man just through his sense. Chris Bauer puts on a very convincing role and without him, this movie would not have succeeded. Laura Margolis is just the right amount of annoying to make us feel like we are in Larry's shoes. When Larry hears a sound, the audience hears it too. It can be very grating, and I know that's the point, but it does become unpleasant at times. If you have sensitive ears, turn down the volume while watching.

The Masters of Horror hour-long format usually works for the short stories the movies are based on, but it felt too long for Sounds Like. Some episodes have too much crammed into them, but this movie was stretched out with not a lot of action. There is some mystery and intrigue to keep the audience from drifting into boredom, but there could have been a little bit more action. Maybe another flashback with Larry's son or an explanation of how his hearing became so sensitive. 

Larry smash!

If you're a fan of old school horror like Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and even Hitchcock, I think you'll enjoy Masters of Horror: Sounds Like. If you prefer monsters and bloody violence, you're be incredibly bored. The story is simple, but creative and the acting really makes the story work. The hour-long format is a bit of a stretch, but not enough to stop watching. Sounds Like is the thinking man's horror movie and worth your time.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 114: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money
The blood money comes from the paying audience

Sequels are a complicated thing. Sometimes there is clearly a need for future movies, such as with comic book characters or a series. Other times, it's a cash grab after some unexpected success from the first movie. And something more common in today's crowded market is the direct-to-video, almost completely unrelated sequel. Welcome to From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is a direct-to-video vampire moving starring Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Sopranos) as criminal Buck. Buck finds out that his old partner, Luther (Duane Whitaker, Tales From The Hood, Feast) has escaped from prison. He is being pursued by Texas ranger Otis Lawson (Bo Hopkins, American Graffiti, Radioland Murders) who pays a visit to Buck to see if he knows Luther's whereabouts. Luther gets in touch with Buck and they bring together their old gang for one last bank robbery south of the border. The group gets a motel room while Luther goes to scout out the place they are planning on robbing. While driving, Luther accidentally hits and kills bat that flies in front of his car. His car won't start, so he heads to a local bar, The Titty Twister, where calls to tell Buck he's getting a ride from the bartender, Razor Eddie (Danny Trejo, From Dusk Till Dawn, Machete). Razor Eddie finds the dead bat, which turns out to be his vampire friend, and Eddie bites Luther in revenge. The gang heads to the bank with the now undead Luther, who slowly turns each member of the gang into vampires. The break into the vault when Otis finally catches up to them and has the place surrounded. Will Buck, the only gang member still human, be able to fight the vampires with Otis and avoid being arrested?

Machete don't text

This movie has very little to do with the first From Dusk Till Dawn. With the exception of Danny Trejo, the Titty Twister, Mexico, and vampires, Texas Blood Money has nothing to do with it's predecessor. At least they made a half-assed effort with the inclusion of Danny Trejo, but why not have him be a bigger part of the movie? You can tell that it was written as a separate vampire movie that just happened to get “From Dusk Till Dawn” tacked on to the name, similar to the Steven Seagal movie, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Everything about the movie is half-hearted. The acting is phoned-in, the humor from the first movie is seriously lacking, and the plot is far too simplistic. The violence is decent, particularly the final scenes of the movie with a good amount of blood.

Another thing that seriously bothered me is that the movie was advertised as starring Bruce Campbell and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. Don't worry, they are actually in the movie...for about the first 5 minutes. It's wrong of the movie to lure in people thinking Bruce Campbell is going to be a big part of this movie when he is barely in it. It's not false advertising, but its definitely deceptive. It just acts as a reminder that the movie could have been fun, but comes off as a mediocre B-movie with a weak connection to the original movie. There's also a third movie, which acts as a prequel to the first movie and rumors of a fourth movie being made. Maybe those will have a stronger connection than this one.

Taken from the DVD's perspective in the $5 bin

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money isn't deserving of the moniker. It's name and mention of Bruce Campbell lure horror fans into purchasing or watching the movie in hopes of seeing something great. While the movie is ok with some good violence, it just doesn't live up to the hype. If you don't have high hopes and want to watch some vampires in the desert, this movie isn't half bad. If you loved the first From Dusk Till Dawn, you're going to be severely disappointed. Especially because there is no Salma Hayek.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 113: Night Of The Comet

Night Of The Comet
Good night and good luck

I was in the mood to watch a zombie movie, but the ones on Netflix all had terrible reviews. It's hard to gauge a movie based on the words of complete strangers on the internet. You have no idea if these people know what they're talking about or if they have some weird ax to grind with the filmmakers. Anything is possible. Sometimes the reviews are right and sometimes they're dead on. I didn't feel like taking a risk, so I decided to watch something that I had seen bits and pieces of in the past; Night Of The Comet.

Night Of The Comet is a 1984 sci-fi/horror/comedy starring Catherine Mary Steward (Weekend At Bernie's, The Last Starfighter) as Regina “Reggie” Belmont. Reggie is an 18 year old living in southern California with her younger sister, Samantha (Kelli Maroney, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Chopping Mall). A comet is passing by the Earth and while most people are gathered outside to watch it, Reggie spends the night with her sort-of-boyfriend Larry in the projection room of the movie theater they work in. Unbeknownst to them, the comet has changed the Earth, altering the sky to a reddish haze and vaporizing almost everyone not protected by a lead shelter. The next day, as Larry leaves the theater, he is killed by a zombie who had not been completely turned into dust. Reggie fights off the zombie and makes it home, where she finds her sister still alive. Sam had spent the night in a shed after punching her stepmother in the face. They hear on the radio that a DJ is still alive and playing music and head to the station. There they find the station abandoned and that the DJ is actually automated. They find a survivor, a truck driver named Hector Gomez, at the station. Sam plays around with the DJ equipment and receives a phone call from survivors part of an underground think tank that were prepared for the comet. Hector leaves to check on his mother while the girls head to the mall for new clothes. They are attacked by a gang of men, but are saved by the soldiers and scientists from the think tank. Reggie goes to their compound while Sam is kept behind because the scientists believe she is succumbing to the comet's effects. At the underground compound, it is revealed that the scientists do not want to help Reggie, but just want to study her blood. Will Reggie and Hector be able to help the young children at the compound that have also survived and was Sam really sick from the comet?

Welcome to Ronald Reagan's wet dream

This movie is a lot of fun. While it is pretty light on the horror, it actually contains a lot of themes used in good horror movies, such as political commentary, doomsday scenarios, and questions of who the real enemy is. Night of the Comet draws from such horror and sci fi classics as Dawn of the Dead, The Omega Man, and Last Woman On Earth. It never gets bogged down in one genre, although I would have liked a bit more zombie action than what we were given. There's plenty of gunfire, but not a whole lot of violence and blood to speak of. The story is pretty basic, B-movie stuff, but that's ok because it never treats the audience poorly and does a good job of entertaining us.

Visually, the movie does an excellent job of convincing the audience that the world has died. It is actually startling to see a blue sky after seeing it be rust colored for the majority of the movie. Both Catherine Steward and Kelli Maroney put on great performances and have good chemistry together. It's the end of the world with almost no one alive, and they're still having discussions about boys, school, and clothes. The conversations are legitimately funny without coming off as dumbed-down or stupid. It's hard to tell nowadays how much of the movie is satirical and how much of it is legitimate. For example, when the girls go to the mall and shop around, Cyndi Lauper's “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” plays in the background. Nowadays, that comes off as funny and ironic, but keep in mind, that song was brand new when this movie came out. Either way, the scene still works, I just think its cool that it adds a new level to the film. Not a lot of movies can say that.
Zombie mustache. That is all.

Night Of The Comet is a fun genre-masher of a B-movie. It is deeply trenched in 80's culture, but only feels slightly dated. The smart script, funny dialogue, and good chemistry between the main actors help push the movie beyond the usual pit falls of apocalypse movies. Sadly, there isn't much direct horror in the movie, with zombies getting only a few short scenes, but they do employ the use of horror themes. Overall, it's a fun and entertaining movie. Take that, Netflix reviews.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 112: Black Sheep

Black Sheep
Oh sheep!

Happy Creature Feature Saturday everyone. It feels like I haven't done one of these in a while. Saturdays tend to be slow days for blog traffic, so I usually watch the particularly terrible horror movies, which happen to be animal-based movies. Blame SyFy and lazy writers everywhere. It seems that every animal has been used for a horror movie; sharks, crocodiles, bees, bears, spiders, hell even slugs and worms. So I might as well watch one starring sheep. That's right, sheep. Now I don't know about you, but sheep don't exactly strike fear into my heart. In fact, here in the United States, during the elections of 2010, a Republican named Carly Fiorina was running for Senate in California and released a downright insane political ad called “Demon Sheep.” For my international readers (and I do have a lot, apparently. You should say hi in the comment section), most of our political ads are not this crazy and thankfully, she did not win.)

Black Sheep is a horror/comedy movie from New Zealand starring Nathan Meister as Henry Oldfield. As a young sheep farm boy, Henry was traumatized by a cruel prank played on him by his brother, Angus (Peter Feeney). Angus killed Henry's pet sheep and wore it's bloody carcass to scare his brother. Directly after the prank, the boys learn from their housekeeper, Mrs. Mack, that their father had been killed in an accident. 15 years later, Henry returns to the family farm to sell his share to Angus. Henry is now terrified of sheep, to the point where he has to call his therapist when surrounded by them. Angus has been genetically modifying sheep in hopes of making a more profitable creature. Environmentalists Grant and Experience steal a mutant lamb preserved in a container, but accidentally drop it when they are pursued. The mutant bites Grant, infecting him with the mutant sheep strain. Meanwhile, Henry goes for a drive with his old friend Tucker. They are confronted by a sheep that refuses to move from the road. When they get out, Experience steals their gun and holds them hostage. Unfortunately, she is no good with guns and Tucker takes it from her. They see a farm house filling with smoke, go to investigate and are attacked by a vicious sheep. Tucker shoots it multiple times before it dies. Angus is stopped and bitten by Grant, who is slowly turning in to a sheep monster. Henry, Experience, and Tucker fight their way through the sheep, but Tucker is bitten and begins to change as well. They go to Grant's lab, where they see the horrors he has created. One of the scientists there sees Tucker's now sheep-like hoof and injects him with the cure. With investors coming to the farm to witness Angus's new creation, will Henry and Experience be able to stop the killer sheep from mutating more people and get off the farm alive?

 "Not baaaaaad. Needs salt."

As crazy as it sounds, this was actually a very entertaining movie. Black Sheep could have easily been some cheap, CGI, Saturday afternoon on basic cable garbage fest, but surprisingly it had a fun story, good acting, nice special effects and makeup, and tradition horror. Black Sheep can best be described as a zombie movie with sheep. There is a horde of infected creatures looking to eat humans and if you are bitten, you become one of them. Pretty simple stuff and its amazing when you think of how many zombie movies out there suck when a movie about mutant sheep can be good. The direction is very good, with not shots particularly wasted or unnecessary. Above all else, the movie is just entertaining, something that is becoming increasingly rare in horror.

There is plenty of comedy throughout the movie, and for the most part, its actually funny. They did a good job with the writing and the actors are able to pull off their parts convincingly. There are a few cringe-worthy moments when it came to the comedy, but it's still better than some of the stuff you'd see on Comedy Central. There is a good amount of action and loads of blood and gore. Seriously, there are more entrails, severed limbs, and bloody wounds in this movie than some of the Saw movies. The locations used for the movie are absolutely beautiful and really help set the rural tone of the movie. Despite being a movie from another country, there were only a few times where local sayings were used, and it never took away from the story.

Half man, half sheep, all terrifying

Black Sheep takes a silly idea of killer mutant sheep and makes it into a great horror and comedy movie. The horror is solid and the comedy is good enough to make me crack a few smiles. The acting is very good, which helps the overall movie not look like a joke. The effects and makeup add a sense of realism to a movie that really shouldn't have had any. It helps that the movie had a serious budget. If you're looking for a fun horror movie that is a little left of center, Black Sheep is a good choice.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 111: Wind Chill

Wind Chill
Even the poster is boring

I had started watching another horror movie, when about 5 minutes in, I realized that it was going to be so horrifically bad that I could not bring myself to finish it. Reviewing it would have been like criticizing a non-English speaker on their pronunciation of the word “susceptible”. So I decided to try something else. How about a movie produced by George Clooney? That could be good. Emphasis on could. Damn you, Clooney!

Wind Chill stars Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Adjustment Bureau) as a college girl looking to make her way home for Christmas break. She's not given a name and is referred to as “Girl” in the credits, so I'll just refer to her as such. She cannot fly home and decides to check the ride board to see if she can tag along with someone driving to Delaware. As luck would have it, she finds that someone is driving there and sets up the ride. The driver is an awkward college boy (Ashton Holmes, A History Of Violence, The Pacific) who is labeled as “Guy” in the credits. The ride is very awkward as the girl is rude and bitchy while the guy is awkward and weird. The guy takes a short cut up a snow-covered rural road and the girl calls him out on not knowing where he is going. A car headed in the opposite direction hits them and they are left stranded on the side of the road. After some discussion, it is revealed that the guy is not from Delaware and is in fact using this time to get closer to the girl. He has been watching her for a long time and even knows the food she likes. As the night goes on, the being to see apparitions. A policeman comes to their window and, unaware of their predicament, tries to get the girl in the back of his car. The guy rescues her, but they are terrorized throughout the night by spirits of people who had died on the road by the hand of the policeman. Will the guy and the girl be able to survive the ghosts and the cold?

"Wait, Bob Marley is dead? But I just bought his cd!"

Wow these people are annoying. They are so incredibly unlikable that it was a chore to get through this movie. Why should I care what happens to the characters when I hate their guts. The girl is particularly nasty and the guy is a creepy stalker. There are plenty of warning signs and red lights telling her that this guy is weird, but despite eventually finding out that he is just a creepy stalker, so still goes along for the ride and stays with him. And why does she care if something bad happens to him? WHY?! I haven't cheered for a villain this hard since The Blair Witch Project. I want only bad things to happen to them and no one else while sitting through this movie. The audience will never have sympathy for the characters, thus negating making it a horror movie. They might as well have made it a revenge movie for the ghosts. At least that way I would have had something to cheer.

The movie's story is fairly rudderless, jumping from the present, to flashback, to sort of present within a flashback within the blah blah blah. What is the real story here? Is it two unlikable people being stuck in a car or is it a murdering policeman from the 50's? A majority of the movie is spent with just the two in the car, which is very boring. Why not introduce the ghost aspects sooner than 45 minutes into the movie? There aren't a lot of special effects used in the movie and when they are used, they're not too impressive. There is very little action and the only scares are jump-at-you-from-the-dark moments and musical flourishes. I feel like they were going for some sort of psychological, slow-build thriller and ended up with psychological torture of the audience. Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes are both very annoying. The cast is very small and they are relied heavily to carry the movie, which is unfortunate. I suppose it is not entirely their fault because they are written to be complete assholes, but it's not enough to excuse poor performances.

"Are you two under the influence of shitty character development?"

Wind Chill was an incredibly annoying and boring movie that barely registered as horror. The characters are unlikable and the story is jumbled and confusing with no real purpose. There is no real action to speak of and any effects that are used look poor. The acting was not good and the directing not much better The movie was clearly made on a tight budget, which makes me wonder what exactly George Clooney produced, because it sure wasn't a lot of money. Overall, Wind Chill is not worth your time and I have to wonder if I would have been better off watching the previously mentioned first movie.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 110: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Harlem Globetrotters ain't got nothing on us

I specifically remember being a little boy and seeing parts of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. It was usually after watching Saturday morning WWF wrestling and American Gladiators. For whatever reason, FOX showed KKFOS multiple times on Saturday afternoons. I also specifically remember being scared of the movie. I wasn't scared of clowns or anything like that, I guess I just was scared of giant monsters killing people. Looking back, it seems pretty silly to be afraid of such a silly movie, but I can still see why it would scare a little kid. Its also easy to see why it has become a cult classic.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a 1988 horror/comedy starring Grant Cramer (New Year's Evil, Hardbodies) as Mike Tobacco. A small town is invaded by aliens that look like demented, nightmarish clowns. Their clothes and faces all look like they belong on real clowns, but they are much larger and far more terrifying. Their spaceship looks just like a big top circus and lands in a farmer's field. He goes to investigate with his dog and they are both wrapped up in a cocoon that looks like pink cotton candy. Mike and his girlfriend also investigate the circus tent and discover that its really a spaceship and the clowns are aliens. They try to explain what happened to local police, but the crotchety old police chief doesn't believe them. The clowns terrorize people in town through various and hilarious means; popcorn guns, riding invisible motorcycles, shadow puppets, and balloon animals. They gather up the bodies in cotton candy cocoons. Mike and his friends decide to take the fight to the clowns. Armed with their ice cream truck and a young police officer, the group head into the spaceship. Will they be able to defeat the clowns and save the world?

Limp Bizkit: The Later Years

Everything about this movie is 80's. The concept is crazy, the execution is over the top, and the acting is silly. It even has it's own theme song by The Dickies. All that being said, it's a fun movie. It never takes itself too seriously, almost to a fault. The movie tends to focus more on how many ways the clowns can kill people. And man are there some fun kills throughout the movie. When you watch a movie called Killer Klowns From Outer Space, you know you're not going for a cerebral horror thriller. The story is coherent enough and gets the audience from point A to point B and that's all that's really needed.

The clowns are the true stars of the movie. They look great especially when you know that the budget for the movie was pretty small. Their faces are particularly twisted and horrific looking as if they came a twisted fever dream from a mental patient. The set design for their spaceship is pretty cheap, but they make do with what they have. The Chiodo Brothers, who wrote, produced, and directed the film have stated that they are planning a sequel for 2013. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it would be fun to revisit the evil clowns, but on the other, it might cheapen a beloved cult classic. I suppose if they can make toys based on the movie, a sequel can't cheapen the legacy much more. 

Dr. Klown, DDS

I can safely say that I am no longer scared of Killer Klowns From Outer Space. If you suffer from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), though, you'll probably be terrified. If you don't, you'll have a great time laughing along and at the movie. The clowns look fantastic, their outfits are fun, and the story is easy to follow. You know exactly what you're going to get with Killer Klowns From Outer Space and there's nothing wrong with that.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 109: Masters of Horror: Right To Die

Masters of Horror: Right To Die
Not a mummy movie

Creating stories “ripped from the headlines” seems like a pretty popular idea these days. CSI, Law and Order, and the million other crime and court shows love to do this. It gets people interested and, if we're being honest, it's easier than coming up with an original story. Creating a horror movie based off a real life events is a bit trickier, especially when the events are politically charged and divisive in nature. Could it at least be entertaining?

Masters of Horror: Right To Die stars Martin Donovan (Weeds, Saved!) as dentist Cliff Addison and Julia Benson as his wife Abby. On a deserted road, Cliff gets into a car accident and Abby is badly burned. In the hospital, Cliff is told that there is a procedure that will allow her to live, but she would not be able to take care of herself. He consults with his attorney, Ira, (Corbin Bernsen, Major League, L.A. Law) about her condition and is convinced to end her life. Cliff reveals that he had an affair with his dental assistant Trish and that Abby knew about it. Cliff hallucinates that he is having sex with Abby who then turns into her current burned form. Meanwhile, Abby briefly died in real life and Cliff appeared to have a strange burn mark on his skin. Abby's mother arrives at Cliff's house and tells him that she will not let him end Abby's life and that he will never get her money. While a public fight breaks out over the right to life and right to death, Cliff continues to have strange hallucinations involving Abby. Cliff eventually wins the decision to let Abby die within 48 hours. Ira goes to the hospital and thanks Abby for allowing him to win lots of money off her death. He walks into an MRI room and a mysterious force turns the machine on. The metal on his body starts to pull him apart when Abby's spirit appears and sets him on fire. Cliff puts out the fire and then publicly offers the money from the settlement to anyone who can provide skin for Abby's transplant. Will that be enough to save Abby and more importantly, save Cliff from Abby's spirit?

Snap into a Slim Jim

If it wasn't obvious, Right To Die relies heavily on the right to die case of Terri Schiavo. That heavily politicized incident still has ramifications today. If you type “Terri” into Google, her name is the first to come up. Does something so personal and political make for a fun horror movie? No, not really. It's one thing to have your horror movie “based on actual events” like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is very loosely based on Ed Gein, it's another to have your movie literally based on actual events. It's kind of like having a horror movie based on the Trayvon Martin killing. Too soon, too political, and it's something that we do not to continuously relive. As for the actual movie, the way the story is told is a bit stunted as we only find out more of the story at the very end, thus negating most of our conceptions of the previous 50 minutes.

Another problem is that they make Cliff too likable. He cheated on his wife, got her into an accident, and can't decide if he wants to take her off life support. All of this and they still manage to not make him come off as a terrible person. This is supposed to be some sort of supernatural revenge movie and the audience is conflicted with cheering for Abby and cheering for him. The acting is decent enough throughout, with Corbin Bernsen putting in his typical Corbin Bernsen performance. If you've seen Major League or really anything else he's done, you know what I'm talking about. There are some decent horror scenes, violence, and nudity, so you'll have plenty to look at. The makeup on Abby is pretty realistic and the team involved should be commended for making her look so gross and beef jerky-like.

"I should have stayed with the Cleveland Indians!"

Making a horror movie out of a sad and divisive news story makes me feel all types of uncomfortable. Add that to a pretty boring story and you're not in for a good time. There's some action and horror, but nothing spectacular. The acting and directing are fine and there's enough nudity and sex to make you think twice before seeing this with young people. Overall, Right To Die is not a must-watch.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 108: Return To Horror High

Return To Horror High
Well, at least her hair looks good

Whoa, a horror movie starring George Clooney? This has to be good! Stupid DVD cover lying to me again. That, a picture of a skeleton in a cheerleader's outfit and a cheap price are what possessed me to buy this relatively unknown sequel to a relatively unknown 80's slasher. I feel like horror, more than any other genre, relies on cool poster and cover art to reel people in to waste their money. Just check our local $5 bin, look at the covers and without reading the back, tell me which movies you'd want. Well, at least this is a slasher. It can't get too complicated, right? RIGHT?!

A few years after the horrible serial killer murders at Crippen High School, a movie crew has come to town to film the story. Sleazy director Harry Sleerik (Alex Rocco, That Thing You Do, Get Shorty) sets up to film in the actual high school where the murders occurred, much to the concern of some of the actors. Oliver (George Clooney) stars as the leading man when he receives a call for a role in a different movie. As he is leaving the set, we hear the squeaking sound of a custodian bucket. Oliver looks into a room and is brutally murdered. Is the killer back or is it a copycat? Is it one of the actors or the creepy janitor? What is real and what is the movie being made? 

Head of the class

Return to Horror High cuts in and out of flashback scenes, scenes from the movie being filmed, and scenes happening outside of the movie being filmed, if that makes sense. It is really, really confusing and I guess that's the point. You're not supposed to know what is real, what is happening in the movie being filmed, and what already happened. That being said, it doesn't really make for a pleasurable viewing experience. Every time something interesting or a murder happens, the movie shifts gears and pulls a swerve on the audience. It's one thing to be creative, its another to just be lazy and not really have anything happen. I haven't seen the original Horror High, so I can't say if this is true to the material.

The movie is classified as horror/comedy and it does have a few moments of humor, but not enough to call it a comedy. There is a good amount of violence and blood, certainly enough to keep you entertained. The acting has it's ups and downs, nothing particularly great or horrible. It's fun to see George Clooney before he hit it big and his mullet is quite impressive. The ending will probably annoy most viewers who spent the time to get through the entire movie only to be let down. I won't spoil anything, but think “April Fool's Day.”

Sexiest Mullet Alive

What should have been a simple slasher became a sometimes confusing and sometimes clever mindfuck. You never know what is actually happening and what is a filmed scene for the movie-within- a-movie. There are some good killing scenes, but once again, you don't know what is “really” happening. Ultimately, Return To Horror High is a mediocre slasher that became far more confusing and convoluted than it needed to be


Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 107: The Host

The Host
With the most

We're going international for this day's edition of 365 Days of Horror. South Korea to be exact. Why Japan has hogged the spotlight for Asian horror, South Korea really raised the bar with this monster movie. A mixture of science fiction, horror, slapstick, and heart-felt emotion make The Host a film to be reckoned with.

The Host (also known as Gwoemul) tells the story of a dysfunctional Korean family. An American army scientist tells his Korean assistant to pour formaldehyde and other chemicals down the drain. The assistant warns him that the drain leads to the Han River, but the scientist doesn't care. Cut to a few years later and a giant mutated fish/tadpole creature now lives in the river. Park Gang-du works in a snack bar along the river with his father, Hee-bong. Gang-du has a young daughter named Hyun-seo, an alcoholic unemployed brother named Nam-il and medalist archer sister Nam-joo. Gang-do is a bit slow and sleeps a lot, but he loves his father and daughter. The creature emerges from the water, terrorizing and eating unsuspecting visitors. Gang-du and an American soldier fight the creature, but cannot stop it. Hyun-seo is grabbed by the creature and believed to have died. The family comes together at a memorial to mourn her death and are taken by the government for testing. They are believed to be infected with a virus from the creature and are isolated. Gang-du receives a late night cell phone call from Hyun-seo saying she is stuck in a large sewer somewhere. Gang-do tries to tell the police, but they do not believe him. The family escapes the treatment facility and begins to search the sewers from Hyun-seo. In their search, they encounter the beast and Hee-bong is killed while Gang-do is captured by police. Nam-il contacts a friend who is able to trace Hyun-seo's cell phone, but is pursued by people who want to turn him in for a reward. Gang-do is taken to another treatment facility where he overhears that that is no virus and both the American and Korean governments are perpetuating the myth. Gang-do receives a frontal lobotomy, but is able to escape afterwards. Will Gang-du, Nam-il and Nam-joo be able to say Hyun-seo and stop the monster?

I'd be running in the opposite direction

I truly believe that for a horror movie to be great, it needs to have social commentary and The Host has plenty of it. The movie hits on environmentalism, government distrust, conspiracies, chemical warfare, and government ineptitude. For example, the Korean government uses a chemical named “Agent Yellow” (a thinly-veiled reference to Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War). This is similar to the Japanese monster movies, such as Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. Like a good Romero movie, The Host gets the audience to question who the real villain is in the movie. The good thing about The Host is that it also includes humor and slapstick to keep the movie from plunging into political theater. There is always a concern that movies from another country will not translate well, especially for an American audience. While there are some cultural nuances and differences, you never feel lost or out of place while watching The Host.

The monster looks absolutely fantastic thanks to a few different teams involved with it's creation. It was designed by Chin Wei-chan, modeled by Weta Workshops, animatronics created by John Cox's Workshop, and the CGI was done by The Orphanage. Despite having a lot of horror chefs in the monster kitchen, the creature is both original and scary looking. Unlike many other monster films, the creature is seen very early in the film and has multiple scenes in broad daylight. The acting is very good throughout the film, with Song Kang-ho putting on a good performance as Gang-du. He is able to capture the both the humor and tragedy of his character very well. The supporting family cast also does a fine job of mixing drama and some comedy. The movie clocks in at close to 2 hours, so your are required to commit some time to watching it, but it never drags.

"Oh jeez, he's behind me, isn't he? Well, this is embarrassing!"

For my first Korean horror movie, I am so glad I chose to watch The Host. It is entertaining, exciting, scary, and funny. The political commentary is solid without ever being overly preachy or ham-fisted. The monster looks great, and despite having a limited budget, never looks particularly fake. Director Bong Joon-ho does a great job along with his actors in making a wide-ranging horror movie. Defintely see The Host if you get the chance. You won't regret it.