Friday, December 31, 2010

Exploding Typewriters Abound!

I have been trying to write about this movie for over a week now. How do you describe sunshine? How do you describe your favourite colour? But imma do my best.

A woman wakes up with a growth on her back and then it starts to move. Then the doctors determine it's some kind of fetus. Now, this is pretty crazy. And if you're still with me you'll believe that her next logical step is to get in contact with her ex-boyfriend who happens to be Tony Curtis and a sham psychic. Yeah.

And if you're STILL with me, you'll by that it's all about a native medicine man being reborn and that it's eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. And that throwing typewriters stops it. But what stops it even more is a half-naked chick firing lasers out of her hands.

The Manitou is a great example of bat-shit crazy. It's a watch-with-friends kind of movie because ain't no one going to believe you when you tell them about it. On top of all the craziness it's surprisingly watchable. It doesn't lag. It goes over a lot of plot quickly and making up crazy solutions. It's well shot and decently acted.  It's 80s craziness at it's best.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas Miracle.

As 2010 draws to a close I was contemplating the fate of horror movies this year and I struggled. I had to think long and hard to remember what I had actually seen. I'll see any horror movie going but I was stumped trying to think of my favourite. I guess The Last Exorcism was ok. Scratch that, it was good until the last 5 minutes. I watched about 20 minutes of The Descent 2 the other day. The Crazies was good, but that was because the second peeps started coming back to life Timothy Olyphant stock piled guns but it lags in subsequent views. The Nightmare on Elm Street remake made me want to punch myself in the face. Then punch the movie screen. Then punch a few people in the audience. Splice was... like an un-fun Orphan. Predators was pretty badass and a lot of that is because of Lawrence Fishburn. That 15 minute sequence with him is worth all of it.  I managed to have no fun at Piranha  3D and I couldn't get over how pretty Milla Jovovich looked in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Paranormal Activity 2 was interesting but didn't scare me and My Soul To Take ... well, Wes Craven got some strongly worded letters from me.

It was just a whole lot of meh. Until my friend told me about a little Norwegian movie called Rare Exports A Christmas Tale.

I don't want to say too much about this movie because I went in to it nearly blind knowing only that Santa is actually an ancient demon and has just been un-earthed in the mountains. It's the perfect blend of Shaun of the Dead and Let The Right One In. It revived my faith in the beauty of horror films which is reconciling the dark parts of ourselves with our humanity.

It is currently playing in Toronto at the Royal Cinema so check your revue cinema schedules and start believing in Santa and horror again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

BFFs in Horror

This was going to be a "Top 5" but many BFFs don't fair well in horror and none of them add up to mine, Alice. She rules. I would not be would I am without her. I love her forever. And infinity doesn't equal debt forgiveness. So with that in mind, here are my two favourites.

Tatum in Scream (1996)

Not only does Tatum have a rack that lasts for days she's a fuckin' badass. Yes, she goes down but she goes down fighting. She does all girls a service and looks great in a really awkwardly coloured sweater. 

Ed in Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Ed is the friend we wish we all had. He's resourceful, ready with a drink and full of laughs.  His sacrifice is truly touching, the only thing to top that is that he still lives in Shaun's shed post-zombification.

Friends make us who we are. Grab yours close and tell them you'll always come for them, cuz when the shit/psycho killer/zombie apocalypse hits the fan who else do you have?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 5 Horror Best and Worst Movie Couples

I'm lucky enough to have two of my best friends fall for each other. J&D are awesomely cool and amazing friends but are even better together. I alternate between vomit brought on by cuteness and managing to keep some faith in romantic love alive because of them. So in the spirit of the holidays I'm doing a Top-5 Best and Worst Horror Movie Couples list dedicated to them.

Horror movies may not seem like the place to find love but what makes you commit more than a life or death situation? Nothing. Seriously. Fuck e-harmony and Plenty of Fish. If you want to nab yourself a partner trap your crush in an abandoned mental asylum and see if they aren't willing to agree to anything by the end of the night.

Let's work backwards with how NOT to do it.

Top 5 Worst Horror Movie Couples

#5 Marie and Alexa from Haute Tension (2003)
DO ask someone out on a date if you're unsure of their intentions.
DO NOT slaughter their entire family and dog. And DO NOT hold them hostage. Y'know... just a thought. It may leave them with no other options for who to turn to but their side of the church is going to look awful sparse at the wedding.

#4 Peter and Joanna Eberhart from The Stepford Wives (1975)
It's okay to be threatened by your partner. You should aim for someone successful and indepedent. But we're none of us perfect. When you feel threatened you should focus on yourself. Get a new hobby. See friends. Work on getting that promotion. DO NOT give up and turn your spouse into an awesome sex-robot. We're not in Japan.

#3 Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
It sucks to get dumped. It's the least fun thing ever. But if it's going to happen don't you want to be left for their former lover who has cheated death and become immortal just to find them again? At least you know there's nothing you could have really done.

#2 Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse from Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Actors are notoriously fickle. But a lot of their weird neroses can be overcome. And any functional relationship relies somewhat on forgiveness as long as you know what your boundaries are. I'd say letting the Prince of Darkness rape you for fame crosses at least a few of those boundaries.

#1 Sidney Prescott and Billy Loomis from Scream (1996)
Sid, Sid, Sid... woman's intuition is supposed to pick up on the fact that your boyfriend is revenge killing all your friends. Sometimes you really do have to blame yourself.

Now... who gets it right?

#5 Ash and Sheila from Army of Darkness (1992)
This couple can only be described in direct quotes. They work on their honesty: "Sheila: You found me beautiful once. Ash: Honey, you got real ugly." And they are possibly the most outwardly passionate couple on this list. Who doesn't want to hear "Give me some sugar, baby"? No one I want to know.

#4 Mina Murray and Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
When Gary Oldman wants to make you his bride after waiting centuries for you, you do it.

#3 Jim and Selena from 28 Days Later
Jim and Selena are a good arguement for waiting. They spend a lot of the movie just trying to survive and getting to know each other. When they finally mac on each other it's soooooooo worth it.

#2 Shaun and Liz from Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Sometimes it takes a zombie apocolypse to spice up a relationship. But sometimes it makes you realize how lucky you are to have what you've always had. Awwwww.

#1 Oskar and Eli from Let The Right One In
Your first can be your best. Oskar is able to look past Eli's vampirism and Eli kicks Oskar's tormentors' assess.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Inside-Out: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Horror Films

**Beware Los Spoilers**

Many horror film theories are in reaction to gender and how could they not be? Men and women are constantly set against each other and their actions and outcomes. A lone male attacker terrorizing a group of young women until one woman is resourceful enough to fight back is a common horror plot. It is a rare occasion where the woman is the attacker (see Friday the 13th Part1, Misery, Haute Tension) but when the woman is the attacker she must have a clear and direct motive no matter how inconsequential it may seem to the rest of the characters.

Two prominent horror films release in the last two years have dealt with the notion of the female psyche inflicting itself on the world around them with disastrous results for the main characters. In Black Swan (2010) Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) deals with her rising star as her eating disorder overtakes her. Black Swan is explicitly about an eating disorder as the theme is introduced to the audience in the first five minutes of the film. Nina in particular is a tragic figure as her eating disorder is so apparent yet no one does or says anything. It is shown but never talked about.
Sam Rami's Drag Me To Hell is indirectly related to eating disorders. Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a mild-mannered bank clerk looking for a promotion. She struggles contantly with her white-trash roots and a photo of her younger self at a fair with the banner "Swine Queen" above her reveals her over-weight past. A gypsy woman curses Christine when she is not given the bank loan she desires and Christine spends the next few days trying to evade the curse until finally she is sucked into hell. Interestingly, Christine is never attacked unless there is food present and often her attacks involve being vomited on.
In both films it is revealed that the majority of the trauma occurred simply in their heads which leads to the question of why is the female trauma personal and the male trauma public? The regular argument would be that male aggression, anger or tension is more socially acceptable. I think both these films attempt (to different degrees of success) to relate the lack of language present for women. Neither Christine nor Nina has an outlet or someone to aid them. They are already locked in their own hell.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The ghosts in the machine.

I feel like I can't really fault Pulse (2006) because it's trying so damn hard and I watched it for free on Netflix. But I realize I have three readers in Croatia who will be dissapointed if this post doesn't go up.

The basic premise of Pulse is that ghosts are after us... through our wi-fi. Yet another movie based on an Asian horror film but there are some promising aspects - it has Kristin Bell and is co-written by Wes Craven which is why I gave it a shot. I felt dubious about it from the beginning as the movie was release in 2006 and these were the opening credits:

All it made me want to do is watch The Net (1995).  I guess that's the fate of any technology based film. Within a year of being released it's bound to be outdated. I was wondering why the characters had these clunkers:
instead of iPhones. Then I kept remembering it was 2006 in the movie. Y'know a time when people still used chatrooms to talk to their friends in the same dorm.

But I digress.

Ok, Pulse starts with this guy:

acting all paranoid and getting attacked in the library by this:
Then his girlfriend is all concerned so she tracks him down and he kills himself in front of her. Sad, n'est pas?

But then there's a suicide epidemic and people start killing themselves all over the place because ghosts are taking our will to live. But the one good thing to keep in mind is that K-Bell gets a boyfriend upgrade. From this:
to this:
Good things aside, Pulse falls prey to its own logic. It's so convoluted that even on their 7th attempt (I counted) to explain what the eff was going on they confused themselves again.

I swear the explanation was better in the last draft of the script!
On top of that there is next to no characterization in this film. Kristin Bell's main characteristic is that she's needy and wears a shit-ton of make-up and weird hairstyles. Observe:
Yep, that's about all she does...

I also want to touch on the logic of the film. There is none. The ghosts need to suck out your soul or something then you wander around for a bit until you kill yourself and if you don't kill yourself you turn into ash. Okay, fair enough. But can't the ghosts get you wherever you are? Which is what they seem to be able to for the better part of the film. However, when K-Bell and the male model try to get to a dead zone where they will be safe, ghosts attack!!!

Now, I'm no ghost or car-attack expert, but if you could appear anywhere why wouldn't you appear IN the car? Seriously, it's a 3 minute sequence of the ghost on top of the car and flailing around trying to get at them. Make yourself appear INSIDE then you can suck their faces in a minute, tops.

Maybe I'm being nitpick-y and maybe Pulse is making a good point about how we were extra super dependent on technology back in 2006. But I couldn't get over how much this movie wanted to be The Ring, even down to the blue-tint used through the majority of the film. The Ring makes no sense, but it comes up with a few simple rules and sticks to them. Pulse just seems to be making it up as it goes along.

I actually liked the ending. It gave me hope that the human race would continue to thrive in dead zones and only attractive 20-somethings survived to continue building the society. To be on the safe side, I think it's best to start making friends with your local Amish colony now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peter... They have lungs!

Is it possible to review a movie that you've seen a whole bunch of times to the point where you might not be objective anymore and still call it a "review"?

I think Mimic (1997) is a great film. It marks Guillermo Del Toro's first foray into English-language/Hollywood films. It was also a brief but glorious time when Mira Sorvino was fresh off her Oscar win and could have picked any movie in the world. And she picked Mimic which is now an oft cited movie in the Supporting Actress Winner curse (see also: Marisa Tomei). She followed this up with Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion which is a movie I love more than I should... but I digress.

Mimic takes place in New York (or Toronto if you squint hard enough) where cockroaches are spreading a deadly disease and wiping out the city's child population. Dr. Susan Tyler (Sorvino) creates a bug called the Judas Breed that is designed to infiltrate and kill the disease spreading bugs. Since the engineered the bugs are all male they will survive just long enough to do their job then die. And it works!!!

Fuck yeah, Dr. Susan Tyler!!!

But the revelry is short lived as F. Murray Abraham give Dr. Tyler the "I told you so look" 

Dr. Tyler soon discover that you can't tamper with nature ... because...'s the moral of the movie or something.

They start out all small. 

 Then they get big. And mean. And they mimic us because of a survival instinct. YOU MADE THEM TOO PERFECT, SUSAN!!! It's crazy, they even have lungs and stuff. 

So a rag tag group goes in search of them and winds up trapped in a subway car beneath the city. 
They get progressively dirty and bicker and fight off several attacks from the bugs. 

 Then the ending happens. To be fair, it's pretty predictable if not a bit silly. But it's a great creature-feature. You can see the beginnings of Del Toro's style evolving which is interesting enough in and of itself and the whole thing is well-cast. It's defintely a B-Movie but it does it successfully. If you don't concern yourself too much with logic the whole thing is a fun affair. 

Mimic also marks the first and only time I've ever had respect for Mira Sorvino. As told in Peter Biskind's great book Down And Dirty In Motion Pictures, Harvey Weinstein (who's company Miramax produced the film) flew in to Toronto to sort out the production that was in shambles. Del Toro had never worked with a major studio and Weinstein was a about to replace him with someone more experienced mid-way through the shoot. Sorvino stepped in and they had a screaming match in the lobby of the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto. Sorvino kept saying (apparently) "If Guillermo leaves, I leave." Weinstein was loathed to lose what he considered his box-office draw and let Del Toro finish the picture, though Weinstein took a heavy hand to it in the editing bay. 

Unfortunately, Weinstein went all Judas Breed on Sorvino's career which is why she doesn't have one. And no, I don't consider her Lifetime movie about Human Trafficking a career. No matter how awesome her hat is.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Original Cast of ER - Where Are They Now... IN HORROR

Horror is filled with drama and amputations and traumas and various illnesses ... as was the medical drama ER. Ok That was a lazy transition. But quite frankly the original cast has an awesome horror movie resume. So let's skip the niceties and get down to business.

D.O.A. .............

Dr. Susan Lewis aka Sherry Stringfield. She has a tiny part as Leah in 2009's The Stepfather. I'm not a fan of remakes of B-Movies that are from the 80s. The 80s was a special time and place where all sorts of crazy things got made. A lot of them still work on a sheer silliness level. But their remake counterparts in the 00s constantly strive to make sense of things that never need to be made sense of.

Her part is so damn small in the film that I can't even find a good still of it. But I feel the above photo is an accurate representation of the 20 minutes I watched of the film before I got bored and wandered away from my tv.

Still on life support is........

The Nurse/ Julianna Margulies!

After leaving Chicago General, or wherever they were to have a lukewarm film career she did a little film called Snakes On A Plane. I'll be honest. I never saw that movie. I don't like things that aim to B-Movie status. A true B-Movie is something that people clearly believed in, otherwise it's just filmmakers seeing what they can get away with which an audience will still pay to see.

See? This picture should really be funnier than it is. But it ain't. Sorry Jules. Better luck next time.

Who's waking from their coma........

Studly McStuderson! Or Dr. Doug. Whenever I hear the name "Doug" I always think of that joke: what do you call a man with a shovel in his head? Then I laugh and laugh.

My problem with Clooney is his douche-y smug face. I can't stand it, let alone watch it on a 40 foot screen. But he was in From Dusk Till Dawn which I finally saw last year and that's about as much as I remember of it. As I've mentioned before, I'm no fan of Robert Rodriguez's work and this is just another example of why I don't like him. It was 90 minutes of Clooney mugging to the camera and Tom Savini turning into a vampire. I loves me some Tom Savini and that's why Clooney is as high as he is on this list.

God. And he has that stupid tattoo on his neck. I never thought someone could make Tarentino look like he was a half-decent actor.

Who's making a steady recovery......

Eriq La Salle. I always liked him. He yelled a lot but that's all he had to do. He's a way better actor than people give him credit for.

In 1990s Jacob's Ladder, La Salle is a friend of crazy Vietnam vet Jacob (Tim Robbins). While it's not a huge part, it's a pretty decent movie. Though my favourite part is that Jacob's girlfriend in the film is named Jezzie or Jezebel. It's as subtle as an Adrian Lyne film... oh, wait.

Patient with the biggest bouquet of flowers delivered to them is............

Anthony Edwards!

I was pretty sad when Dr. Green died. What bums me out less is that he was in Pet Sematary 2!

I've mentioned before how much the first one freaks me out, but this one is hilarious! And made all the more better that Edwards seems to actually be trying to make it good. It's such a weird movie but defintiely required viewing in my books.

And who's Chief of Staff.....

Noah fuckin' Wylie. Believe me I didn't see this one coming either.

He's kind of a snot on ER but he was in a little movie called Donnie Darko which earns him mad cool points in my book. Also I saw him on the street not to long ago and he's way better looking in real life. As Prof. Monnitoff he was the teacher everyone wanted to have to teach them about time travel. If you can't tell, yes, I'm hot for teacher.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Horror Movie Coolie! - John Larroquette in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

You know what's hot and scary? This!

And for those of you who are inexpicably on a horror blog and don't know that John Larroquette did the voice over on the opening crawl of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I have only sympathy for you. You're probably some freak who hasn't even seen Black Christmas. For shame. Don't even get me started on the weirdos who don't know who John Larroquette is.

Yeah. That's what you were missing.

What's even cooler is what a great comedic actor Larroquette is which makes the fact that his voice sets the tone for one of the most terrifying movies of all time even better. TCM is, of course, fake. It's loosely based on the Ed Gein saga but there was never a Sally or her crippled brother Franklin or a Leatherface. You can stop checking under you bed. But the movie is ridiculously successful at making you believe it is. There is no humour. No light moment. From the moments you hear Larroqutte's voice something ominous is present. And if you get really scared just imagine he's wearing that sweet white sweater.

Terrible Performances in Horror History - Paul Rudd in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.

Remember that kid who was used as a plot device in the seminal first Halloween? Well, now he's done growed up.

From this:

 To this:

Ok... maybe not that... more like this:

See? Don't you love Hollywood? They can take any cute child and turn them into a handsome, albeit short, actor.

As opposed to reality which is this:

Aren't you happier in a fictional world where people age better than they should? I know I am.

In any event, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is the last Halloween film before Jamie Lee started showing up in them again and the last one that featured Donald "Dr. Loomis" Pleasance before he passed. It revolves around a cult that is trying to control Michael Myers and is trying to get a hold of his great-nephew. Yes, Laurie had a daughter who Michael was after for a few movies and now she's knocked up and gives birth in the first five minutes of this one.

You'd think this would all matter. But it really doesn't. But look! Tommy's back from the first movie.... Yay....
And he's all deep and moody. You can tell because he constantly has candles around his well-lit computer area. He talks like he's impersonating Norman Bates to the point where it's almost distracting. Sexily distracting.

I'll level with you. I couldn't get over the fact that it was Paul Rudd in this movie. Shortly after this he learned to act sexy in Clueless. Luckily for us Tommy doesn't do much of anything. We know he's  all messed up from Jamie Lee's babysitting abilities because a character says early on: "On a weirdness scale of 1 to 10 he rates about a 13." Geddit? He's weeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrd now.

Then he has to go to a fair and he's the only one not having fun. He's such a loner/badass. Then he comes up with gems like:  "The power of the ruins stopped him."
Then a body drops from the trees right in from of him. And that's the face he makes. Then he holds that face. I thought something was wrong with my computer because of how long he stands around. But no. You can see extras running around while Tommy just... stands... emoting or something.

Then some other stuff happens that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that for some reason he dons one of the cult robes and runs around in it. Observe:

 I would tell you to watch the whole movie to get the full effect. Hell you can find the whole thing on YouTube but you will lead a much fuller life where you believe Paul Rudd's career began with Clueless and maybe a few "blue" movies to spice things up.