Tales From The Crypt (1972)

OCTOBER 31, 2007


I was all prepared to skip a “new” movie today, in honor of the date and my beloved Halloween. But someone in heaven, probably Peter Cushing himself, said that wasn’t acceptable, and for the first time in 2 years, I got out of work early enough to go do something I was invited to do on a night I had to work late, in this case, a screening of the 1972 Tales From The Crypt in my buddy’s backyard. Usually, if I have nothing to do, I get out around 7, 730 and sit around bored, but if I DO have something to do, I get out around 10 (and if whatever I got invited to started at 10, I’d get out at 11:30). It’s actually pretty amazing.

As I’ve said, I’m not too big on anthology films, but this one was pretty cool. As always, some stories are better than others, and the pacing is jarring (some stories seem longer than necessary, others seem too short to have much of an impact), but there’s a nice black humor streak running through the film which I fully enjoyed.

My favorite story was the one with Cushing, who played a nice, lonely old man who’d give toys out to neighborhood kids and take care of stray dogs. Naturally, everyone else hates him, so after making him lose his dogs, they harass him to the point of suicide. I hate watching stuff like this usually, because I feel really bad for such characters (I couldn’t even read The Pigman!), so it’s great when zombie Cushing comes back from the grave and kills one of the assholes (who looks a lot like a Brit version of perennial movie asshole Bradley Whitford). Sweet!

One of the other stories is a bit puzzling. It’s a Monkey’s Paw homage (Paw is even directly referenced), but the character who dies doesn’t seem to be a bad person like all the others. Also, the 3rd wish, that he wouldn’t die, means he wouldn’t DIE! So how the hell is he in Hell with all the others? Someone needed to take another pass at the script!

The last story, concerning some veterans who take revenge against a penny pinching bastard who’s supposed to take care of them, was completely ripped off in the execrable Hood of Horror. And not very well.

Anyway, as anthology movies go, it’s one of the better ones, but I think they had the right idea with the TV series (one episode was actually a remake of the first story, a killer Santa Claus stalking a super hot Joan Collins), giving each story the same amount of time and sticking to just one. With a film, I just get sort of bored, because the brevity of the stories keeps me from getting fully involved in the story (or stories). Oh well.

What say you?


October Extras #32 - Halloween (1978)

OCTOBER 31, 2007


In the FAQ, which I am beginning to suspect no one has actually read (considering THREE people just this week were unaware that I truly AM watching a horror movie or two every single day, not just reviewing one from memory), I specifically point out Halloween as being a film that I won’t review, because not only have I seen it (obviously), but there are enough reviews of it on the web. But then I began doing the “October Extras” feature, and obviously I wouldn’t let the film’s namesake holiday pass without giving it another look. But, to make things different, I won’t review it or even do my usual style of write-up for the film. Instead I’ll be presenting my rambling thoughts as the film unfolds. I hope it makes sense (might help to put the film on as you read!). Enjoy (it's fucking LONG though)!

OK, here we go... Compass International... and there’s the pumpkin! Halloweens 1-5 all have really sweet credit sequences (Dimension – fucking it up any way they can), most involving pumpkins. Also the music, still the finest theme ever recorded for a horror movie. Carpenter told a story about an exec passing on the film when she saw it without the score, then came back and told him it was the scariest movie she ever saw once she saw it again with the score intact..... I never understood what these kids were saying until DVD came along (there’s a few lines in the film that suffer the same fate).... it’s kind of a stupid poem...

Holy FUCK this guy is a quick lay. Seriously, like, what, 60 seconds has passed and he’s already dressed again? Hahaha the mask POV... I saw Halloween 4 before I first saw this movie, so the great homage at the end of 4 was totally lost on me. Oh well....

HAHAHAH the total non-reaction of Michael’s mom always kills me. Just stands there, hands in her pocket... 15 years later! Loomis! I fucking HATE how they added in “storm” sounds on the new DVD... but it’s either that or watch the film in mono. Come on now.... why does he even look at the matchbook? “Since when do they let them wander around?” Hahahaha oblivious....

Wow she is a really odd panic driver.... just hit the brake, dummy!.... Another bonus of DVD, seeing the wrench in Michael’s hand when he smashes the window... “The evil is gone!” and so begins Loomis’ obsession with saying “Evil” every other time he speaks.

This is actually my favorite piece of music in the film (really soft, over Laurie's introduction), and the sequels sort of ignore this one for whatever reason. I think it’s the most foreboding, even more than the usual DUN! DUNDUN! DUN! DUNDUN! DUNDUNDUNDUNDUN... here’s the West LA neighborhood scene. When I first moved to LA in 2005 it was pretty much the first thing I did, go look at all the filming locations I could find (also where Fletch’s apartment was!)... here’s another one of those lines that I always misheard on muddled VHS, I thought Tommy was asking “Will you rape me?” Hahaha, I’m surprised Zombie didn’t have her do just that in the remake....

Ah, here we go, the first of what will be many scenes that are TOTALLY FUCKING BOTCHED when you watch the movie in pan and scan. You hear Michael breathing but you don’t actually SEE him on the side of the frame, only Laurie singing her depressing song. Goddamn pan and scan.... Dr Wynn! “For god’s sake Sam he can’t drive a car!” A line that would serve to pretty much ruin the 6th film....

Sweet, the teacher just said “Collins” (that’s me!). What the hell book is she talking about anyway? Kudos to Laurie, she can daydream and still answer the question right. Hey Michael, with his mask on, hours before he steals it. A continuity error that Rob Zombie claims is just a nonsensical plot hole that he intended to correct in his film, which had, among other things, magic walls that reappear after being smashed.... hahah smash the pumpkin! There’s the mask again.... why doesn’t Tommy notice a car following him at like 2 mph?

Here’s another part Zombie bitched about, Loomis calling from the same place Michael got his coveralls. Look around, Rob, do you see a lot of civilization? They’re supposed to be in the Midwest, and it’s the 70s. It’s probably one of the few pay phones there actually WERE from Smith’s Grove to Haddonfield. Christ. I thought I was nitpicky...

Hell with understanding what they were saying, I never even HEARD these cheerleaders until the DVD came long.... why is the dance AFTER Halloween? Oh wait, it’s homecoming, not a Halloween dance. Never mind....

I wonder what Devon Graham looks like? He should be in one of the sequels... Does Annie even LIKE her friends? She just said that talking to Laurie is just as appealing as watching a child sleep. Christ, get different friends then.... OK this part I think was a bit botched. Carpenter’s hilarious cigarette smoke aside, it would have worked better if we never saw that Michael was gone (from Annie’s POV) until Laurie got there. Maybe just me. Oh man, this part... when I saw the film in 2003 on an actual film print, the print was totally messed up, missing lots of frames and such. And so when Annie goes “Bye!” the film jumped ahead like 10 seconds, so Annie was already inside. Perfect timing!.... What the hell time do the kids in Haddonfield begin trick or treating??? It’s like 3 o clock. And what the HELL does this “superstition” line mean? Even Carpenter says he has no idea on the commentary track.

Annie says she’ll pick Laurie up at 6:30, but that scene is totally bright. Looks more like 3:30, tops. Oh well. Charlie Bowles story!!! God this part is great. Someone needs to finish the tale... OK now Laurie is sitting outside with the pumpkin, and I STILL don’t see anyone taking the picture that Jamie has in part 4.

OK now it looks a bit later, still not 6:30 late though. “He shouts too!” is a great line. And kind of sad, last time his daughter speaks to him, she’s mocking his attempts to bond with her. Here’s another moment that totally sucks in pan and scan – you don’t see the car approaching on the left side while Loomis looks the other way... How far is it to the goddamn Doyle house? Hey I drove on this street (when they stop and turn right)! Looks pretty much exactly the same ... jeez, Michael follows so close. Back up, man!

OK, the whole “Sister” thing from the sequels really doesn’t make any sense in the context of this film. Not only did he follow Tommy around before, but he’s also seemingly more interested in Annie!... sweet, the Myers house. This whole reel had a farting noise over it at that screening I mentioned.... Another line I never understood on VHS (“You must think me as a very sinister doctor” I think?)...

Well if your mom doesn’t want you to have the comics why don’t you hide them in YOUR room, dumbass? And what’s so bad about Neutron Man? Sounds like he could learn some basic science from that one.

I love how Lindsay hangs up the phone when Paul asks her to go get Annie. Brat.... this is one of the best scares in slasher history (Michael at the door while Annie talks to Paul), and surprisingly it’s not botched on pan and scan... OK seriously, why not just say Annie was his sister? He doesn’t seem to have any interest in Laurie at all at this point. I like the moment where Annie feeds Laurie some popcorn, nice little touch.... Hahaha I sing this song all the time when I’m going to my car. “OH Paul, I give you all... no keys... but please, my Paul....”

Here’s another widescreen moment, but I’ve seen two versions of it on pan and scan. One holds on Annie so you can’t see him at all, and another just makes an edit as they shift to the left so you can see him sit up. Either way it’s fucking awful. This movie should never be viewed cropped, ever.

Wow, Loomis smiling non-maniacally. “Hey, Lonnie... get your ass away from there!” Hahaha. I like that Brackett thinks Loomis is over the top too. Fancy talk!

If you’ve seen the TV version, this line about Lynda’s blouse takes on new meaning. Not a very interesting one, but one nonetheless... Someone on IMDb commented that Bob is a pedophile because he makes the joke about Lindsay’s clothes. Moron...

Yet another scene that loses all its effect unless it’s widescreen ... and Michael is kind of a perv, watching them fuck.... And now he watches again! Also, Bob comes in 20 seconds. What is it with these guys? If I come in under like 4 minutes I feel ashamed. “Fantastic”??? Man....

The creepiest moment in slasher history.

Whoa, Tommy and Lindsay are sleeping in the same bed! Bob’s going to be jealous.... Oh boy, here we go, the dumbest moment in the film. Loomis is standing there all night and just NOW notices that the fucking car is across the street!!!.... Hey Laurie goes out of her way to get the keys, yet they disappear later... where’d they go?

“Meatheads” is such a terrible insult.... man, why does Michael go through all this trouble stringing up bodies and stealing headstones? And how the hell does the door with Lynda behind it even open?.... This is a great moment, amazing reveal. Cundey said it was like your eyes getting used to the darkness and seeing him. Amazing. But on the newest DVD (25th anniversary one) you CAN’T see him until after you hear the sting. Way too dark now, that’s why I actually prefer the 1999 release.

Hahaha I love how Michael drops when she stabs him with the needle. Dammit, don’t drop the knife!.... OK I never got this – why does Loomis have Brackett check the back of the houses when he’s the one with the car? YOU fucking go out back, Loomis! Oh well, I guess it works out OK for him... Hahaha “You can’t kill the boogeymaaaaaah!” Can’t see this part right on pan and scan either. Carpenter’s just a fucking master of the wide image. Or at least, he was back then... the old Media VHS version had a strange error here. When Michael walks down the hall, the glint on his knife used to smear across the screen. Hurrah for DVD! Ah, the Mackenzie’s, always the destination of horror movie characters.

Hahaha “It was the boogeyman!”, which became, for some reason “What’s the boogeyman?” in the remake.... I dig this ending, with all the different locations... hey wait a minute; the knife is back on the floor by the couch!

Oh well, all done. God this movie is so fucking great. My family has been informed that I am to be buried with it (and a copy of Bat out of Hell). I won’t go anywhere without it! I want all 12 of the people who said the remake was better to explain themselves. What the fuck could you possibly find more appealing about the remake? “I prefer incoherency and white trash to atmosphere and suspense”? *Sigh*

What say you?


October Extras #31 - Halloween 5 (1989)

OCTOBER 30, 2007

LAST SEEN: 2006 (?) (DVD)

I think I just watched Halloween 5 again last year, when the new DVD came out. Or maybe I just watched the commentary. I dunno, who cares. Also, I'd like to point out that the "Revenge of Michael Myers" subtitle does not appear in the actual film, which I never noticed before.

Way to start the review off interesting, huh?

Like H20, 5 has great things, and terrible things, and it really depends on my mood which way I go with it. On one hand, it’s got some great and fairly unnerving sequences (Jamie in the laundry chute, the barn chase, and Rachel’s death), but on the other, its got those goddamn goofy fucking cops (with their even more annoying circus music), one of the series’ most annoying characters (Tina), and the fucking “Man in Black” that served to ultimately destroy the franchise. You can literally pinpoint the second the remake wheels began turning: when the man in black first appears, kicking a dog as he gets off a bus.

Yes, for reasons I forget, someone decided this film needed to begin to boost the mythology of Michael Myers a bit, so we have this mysterious man in black following him around throughout the movie, and shown as having the same tattoo as Michael has apparently always had (and, bonus of the large projection – the symbol appears on the wall at the Myers house near the end. Never noticed before.) At the end of the film, while Michael hilariously sits in a jail cell with his mask still on, the man comes along, fires what looks like a tommy gun into the police station, killing everyone and taking Michael away. Six years later, we found out it was a guy who was in one scene of the original, leading some nonsensical cult. Whatever.

There are so many moments in this film that just baffle me to no end. For starters, how does “Mikey” hear Tina calling him from what appears to be 3 blocks away as he DRIVES A CAR!?!?!? Why does Rachel scream in pain before picking up the phone to tell Loomis that Max is gone? Why does Mikey need to apologize to Sam? Why would Michael drive Tina to her party? Why has the Myers house suddenly become a giant gothic thing (complete with spiral room)? Why does “Cookie Woman” suddenly break Jamie’s mute status? Why does the title card say it’s one year later when everything else (Jamie’s age, the time since the night he first went after Laurie) puts it at two years since 4? Why would someone whose best friend’s family was destroyed by Michael Myers be so insensitive/stupid as to play a prank in which her friend pretends to be him (in front of cops no less)?

Speaking of that friend, has there ever been a stranger character in a slasher movie than “Spitz”? He laughs like Dr. Giggles almost non-stop, sings love songs to another guy when his super hot girlfriend is standing right there, and his name is Spitz. At one point in the film, I began to fear for the characters not because of Michael, but because of him. He seems more unbalanced than Michael and Loomis put together.

And yes, Loomis reaches the apex of his insanity in this one (he would only make one more appearance, in Curse, and was relatively subdued in it, when he wasn’t edited out entirely). He borderline assaults Jamie on more than one occasion, and even holds her up as bait at the end. Most of his dialogue is just beyond any sort of rational thought, and even when he does say something normal, he screams it (“If that GIRL! DIES TONIGHT!!!”). And his odd fascination with a scarecrow sitting outside the hospital always gives me a chuckle.

Before the two films, we were shown a brief little retrospective about their creation, with most of the principals in new interviews, plus archive interviews of those who are sadly no longer with us (Moustapha Akkad and Debra Hill). One notable exception is Dominique Othenin-Girard, who is represented only with archive footage from the set of 5. Come on man, even Carpenter offered a few words, and he had nothing to do with these two! But the real highlight was a disturbing recollection from Danielle Harris (who is so goddamn hot now it’s ridiculous), who talks about how Don Shanks (who played Michael in 5) would give her massages and they’d take photos together... it’s probably quite innocent but it sounds so goddamn creepy (especially if you have seen the 25 Years of Terror documentary, in which the film was revealed to have had a fairly ‘wild’ set). The rest of it was nothing special.

As with Halloween 4, the film looked far from great in the manner it was projected, but the sheer size of it, not to mention seeing it with other people (I don’t think I’ve ever watched this one with even a single other person, let alone a crowd) made it a lot of fun regardless. The occasional top notch set-piece elevates this one, albeit slightly, over the bulk of the ones that followed, but nothing can change the fact that this was officially the end of the series being truly special. Thanks a lot, Halloween 5!

What say you?


October Extras #30 - Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)

OCTOBER 30, 2007

LAST SEEN: 2005 (?) (DVD)

I remember it vividly... October 17, 1989. I was mad at my mom for renting Halloween 4 instead of The Great Outdoors. “I haven’t seen the first 3” I told her. She said it wouldn’t matter (now that I think about it – it’s kind of odd that a mother would make her kid watch an R rated horror movie instead of a PG comedy, but whatever), so I decided to give it a shot. On my way downstairs to watch it, I slipped and fell down the last 5 stairs, hitting my arm on the marble foyer (eerily – pretty much at the exact moment, the San Francisco earthquake occurred – and no that’s not a fat joke. I’m not even fat!). Assuming the sharp pain running up my arm would go away, I sat down and tried to watch the film. Right around the point where Loomis first appears, I asked my mom to take me to the hospital, which she wanted to do in the first place (I was afraid she’d be mad if it turned out to be nothing).

As it turns out, my arm was broken. I got a cast and went home, watching the rest of the film at my grandmother’s the next day. And while I liked the film, I had no idea that I was getting my first taste of a franchise that would come to pretty much be synonymous with my love of movies (not just horror). While I obviously would have loved to have seen the original without “knowing” that Laurie was Michael’s sister (then again, I am pretty sure the first time I saw the film, it was the TV version that pretty much said as much anyway), I think 4 is a great place to start, as it represents the best of both worlds. It works as a slasher movie; there are a number of deaths in the film, some of which are even a bit gory; but it also works as an homage to the benchmark that the original set. Many will disagree, but Halloween 4 has the most emphasis on suspense over “action” out of any of the sequels, and has decent character development to boot. Dwight Little is easily the best franchise director since Carpenter (and he wasn’t even matched in the ones that followed, let alone topped); the scenes of Rachel and Jamie running around Haddonfield looking for each other are fantastic, drenched with atmosphere (something sorely missing in the other films), not to mention an actual feeling that the film is on Halloween.

Loomis is even more batshit insane in this one (not as much as he is in the next film though), so there’s plenty to enjoy there. He’s seemingly learned from his mistakes (first thing he does is ask the cops to call the TV and radio, something he advised against in the first film), and he’s got a lot of his more memorable lines here (including the immortal “You talk about him as if he were a human being. That part of it died years ago.”). As Brackett’s replacement, Meeker (Beau Starr) is a perfectly good substitution, with little bits of dialogue and character action that help his scenes come to life (necessary, since he’s got to do a lot of the same things Brackett did, right down to finding a dead dog with Loomis).

And of course, the rednecks. Haddonfield seems to be a bit “too” Midwest in this film, as none of the others ever gave off the impression that the little town was populated with such types, but that’s OK. Red, Earl, Al, etc. are a blast, driving around town with their shotguns, half drunk and shooting poor Ted Hollister. Of course, seeing the film with a big crowd makes the scenes even more entertaining, as everyone cheers their fairly ridiculous actions (the scene where they “posse up” is pretty much the funniest thing in horror movie history. “S’go wake up the sheriff!”). And Bucky... well what else needs to be said about him?

You also gotta love the horribly mean little kids Jamie goes to school with. “How can she [make a costume], her mommy’s dead!” “Jamie’s an orphan!!”, etc. Christ! Then later, she even hangs out with one of the little bastards! I’d fucking curbstomp the little prick. Then again, their parents are obviously assholes as well, as they go around town picking up their kids, leaving poor Jamie all alone. Nice.

Some folks dislike the mask in this one, but I’m not sure why. I think it’s pretty creepy. The hair is maybe a bit too neat, but it’s far superior to the ones in the last 2 sequels at any rate, not to mention 5’s ridiculous one. Someone pointed out in one of my other reviews how insensitive it is that the town would carry the mask at all, which is something I never really thought about, but now that I am, I think it’s great. Also, in a brief note about the town’s history – Rachel has a friend named Lindsay and Brady’s buddy is named Tommy... could be Wallace and Doyle, respectively, right? I always think of them that way, anyway.

The DVD projection, as expected, looked pretty bad, and the sound was seemingly in stereo rather than 5.1 (or even faked surround sound), but that’s OK. It was a blast seeing the film projected larger than life, and even though the crowd was nowhere near as big as it was for Halloween III the other night (not to mention last year’s screening of the original), I’m still glad I chose it over some of the other local revival options tonight (such as Nightmare on Elm St 2!).

Of all the sequels, only two of them really felt like they got what made the original work (that would be this and H20), emphasizing suspense and character over kills and gore. And while H20 was dampened by two annoying characters and some now-dated “Scream” style attitude, 4 remains as effective to me today as it was when I first saw it as a kid. And it was pretty much all downhill from there. It’s not a flawless film (I still haven’t a fucking clue what is happening when Loomis shoots at Michael at the gas station) but the last thing you can accuse it of is being lazy. Little and writer Alan McElroy (and the other 3 guys who worked on the story, presumably) really put in the effort to make a film that lived up to the original, and I think they more or less succeeded.

What say you?


Man In The Attic (1953)

OCTOBER 30, 2007


Earlier this year, I saw Zodiac, and it remains one of the year’s best films (any genre). Like Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac was never caught (at least, not AS the Zodiac; dude might have been picked up for cross-dressing or something), and the film’s strict following of the facts meant that the film sort of lacked a conclusion in the typical way (i.e. the bad guy getting caught). Yet for some reason, many of the Ripper films I have seen, including Man In The Attic, can’t be content with sticking to the facts, instead they're always making up a guy and presenting him as the killer.

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it gives the film a sort of pointlessness. Why use the backdrop of one of the most intriguing serial killer stories in history in order to tell a fairly drab story about a creepy guy who turns out to be the killer (in a film that offers no other suspects to boot)? It hardly makes for gripping cinema, nor does it really teach you anything about the real case. It was Zodiac’s greatest achievement to focus on the obsession of the police/reporters working the case; we didn’t resolve the killer’s storyline (at least not concretely), but we got a great character study out of the deal.

That’s not the case here, as other than Jack Palance as the killer, no one has much to do other than be typical stereotypes (a cop, a maid, a beautiful damsel, the worrisome innkeeper...). The only thing that really makes the film stick out is the ridiculous couple of dance numbers (plus a song straight out of any random musical), which slow the film down and serve no real purpose. Also, the score sounds suspiciously like the theme to the original Star Trek.

In the end, the film (which is a remake of a Hitchcock film called The Lodger, which I assume is much better) is really only worth watching for two things: 1. A young Jack Palance (my first encounter with him was in Batman I think – and it’s sort of upsetting to see him so young yet have the exact same voice), and 2. The idea presented by a few characters that Jack the Ripper couldn’t be married, because no married man would do such heinous things to women. I don’t know if this was a legitimate theory proposed at the time, but if so, it’s pretty damn amazing. If you ask me, ONLY a man who has suffered through marriage could be capable of such things. But to each his own!

What say you?


P2 (2007)

OCTOBER 29, 2007


In the early to mid 90s, there was a flood of “____ from Hell” movies. You take any regular profession (nanny, cop, temp) and assign it to a psychopath, and viola! Instant 40-50 million hit. They’ve since died out, but occasionally we get a movie like P2, which is essentially a “Parking Attendant from Hell” movie mixed with some light survival horror elements, courtesy of Alexandre Aja (who only produced and co-wrote this one, handing direction duties to Franck Khalfoun).

Unfortunately, Aja’s name brings higher expectations (even if I have problems with the 3rd acts of both of his films, there’s no denying he’s gifted, and one of the few dependable horror filmmakers of the decade), which are not fully met in this film. Not that it’s a bad movie by any means, but there is a surprising lack of, well, surprise in the film. For the most part, everything is very by the numbers, with an occasional curveball that serves to elevate the film enough to give it a recommendation.

For example, Rachel Nichols (and kudos to this incredibly beautiful actress for allowing herself to look rather un-hot for most of the film – a true rarity for her age bracket) never does anything really stupid in the film. Most of her decisions are logical and of the “what I would do” variety, at least within the confines of the somewhat absurd premise (we have to believe that no one else who has parked there plans to come back to their car, I guess). And when the film gets to the “turn the tables” point, she kicks ass in a great mini “car chase” around the garage. Also, when she swears, it sounds natural. Maybe I am in the minority, but most of my female friends swear just as much as I do (one even more so), yet whenever a film contains potty mouthed females, it sounds awkward and forced (Halloween remake being a prime example).

The film is relatively tame in terms of violence (the R rating comes mostly from the language), though there is a great, bloody kill about halfway through that’s one of the year’s most intense. However, and this gets somewhat problematic at times, Wes Bentley’s psycho fails to be very menacing in certain sections of the film, even in that kill scene. He’s not given any backstory or anything of that nature, which isn’t usually a problem for me, but here it seems like an easy way to avoid making his character consistent. He claims he’s not out to hurt anyone; that he’s just a lonely guy who has to go to extremes, but he sics his presumably violent dog on Nichols, and also kills another security guard who never did anything wrong (the aforementioned murder is of a guy who drunkenly made passes at Nichols, which at least sort of justifies Bentley’s actions). I would have liked to have seen Nichols’ character have some major flaws that sent Bentley haywire when he realizes she’s not the perfect being he imagined (shades of the underrated One Hour Photo), but the film never explores this idea. He’s crazy, she’s innocent, and that’s that.

Still, there’s enough off-kilter moments (a homeless woman’s response to Nichols’ cry for help is pretty much the best thing I’ve seen all year) and decent suspense/set pieces that make the occasional plot hole (how the FUCK does Bentley throw a body through the top of an elevator???) easier to swallow. It’s nice to know Aja can write a leveled film (as opposed to one that’s great for an hour or so and borderline terrible for the rest); but it’s a shame the results are so relatively “safe”. Let’s hope his next film finds a balance between the two extremes.

What say you?


October Extras #29 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

OCTOBER 29, 2007


Whenever someone talks about their experiences with horror movies as a young kid, I always point out how my mother, bless her, had no problem with me watching them, and even rented Texas Chain Saw Massacre for me when I was like 6 or 7. Now, of course, any Friday the 13th film is more violent, and the irony is that TCM is the type of film that works better on someone with a bit more intelligence and understanding of the way the world works than a 6 year old (I probably thought the movie was boring as a kid). But still, it’s worth noting.

More than any other film in Hooper’s career (and certainly more than the sequels), Chain Saw is a genuine classic that stands far above almost any other horror movie ever made. And of course, it cost less and was, production wise, more limited in its resources than any of its rivals. Everything about the film borders on perfect: the way that the film actually sells the hot Texas heat; the hilariously depressing radio news in the beginning that mixes stories about death and destruction with typical stories about oil and the government, which further sells the film’s light social commentary; the 16mm footage... it’s all flawless. Plus, there’s even some of the oddball humor that the sequels reveled in, particularly in the gonzo graveyard scene, and the gas station (the guy who keeps going back and forth to the van to wash the windshield kills me every time).

Pay attention Zombie – You can be disturbing
as fuck without one iota of violence.

Also: FRANKLIN. God I love this guy. He looks and sounds like Meat Loaf, whines about just about everything, and seemingly has no little voice in his head that tells him when to shut up (due to non-interest on the listener or just plain “who cares”ity). “BOOM! SCHLIPPT! BOOM! SCHLIPPT!” And the scene where he freaks out and begins spitting all over the place is possibly more terrifying than any of the scenes with the Sawyer family. The poor sod appears in the execrable 4th film as well, but let’s not damn him for it.

The new DVD release (from Dark Sky) sort of pisses me off. In addition to a truly botched 5.1 mix (several sound effects are actually MISSING), they tried too hard to “clean” the film. Look, it’s SUPPOSED to look grainy and raw! I’m all for anamorphic transfers (which the otherwise superior looking Image release did not have), but the excessive attempts to make the film look “pristine” sort of backfired. Unless you have a widescreen TV and absolutely hate using the ‘zoom’ feature, I strongly urge sticking with the other releases (there’s been like 4). The strange artifacting that results from Dark Sky’s attempts to “clean” the film in Sally’s chase (from Franklin’s death up to the gas station) alone is inexcusable.

Ignoring all that stuff though, the film works no matter what. The sounds of the camera’s bulb flashing at the beginning is probably one of the most iconic and terrifying sounds in horror movie history, and I don’t think anyone in the world didn’t at least jump when Leatherface slams the sliding door early on. The abrupt ending (another scene that looks WORSE on this alleged “remastered” release) is perfect editing, ending on the exact right frame of Leatherface’s little tantrum that manages to leave you both unnerved and relieved. And of course, the dinner scene (which the remake wisely avoided restaging) pretty much set the standard for any sort of psychological torture scene in movies since.

There are no exceptions – if you’re a horror fan, this film’s in your top ten or so. It delivers on everything a horror movie requires to be successful.

What say you?


October Extras #28 - Scream 2 (1997)

OCTOBER 28, 2007

LAST SEEN: 2004 (?) (DVD)

The only time I ever dressed up for a movie was for Scream 2. And by dress up, I mean: “Wore my Ghostface mask in the lobby for a few minutes”. This was also the days when I didn’t care about spoilers... I had read the script beforehand and even asked someone on their way out if the killer in the script was the killer in the movie (note – it wasn’t). Needless to say, I was pretty excited for the film.

I wasn’t let down too much, and over time I have grown to really like the sequel, almost as much as the original. It’s not as clever as the first one was (though you gotta love a sequel in which characters try to think of sequels that surpassed the original), but it’s still an effective slasher (the 3rd film was neither). And it contains what I still consider to be the most horrifying death in slasher history – Randy. Everyone loved Randy (particularly me, who, like the character, was a movie nerd who worked at a video store and was in love with Neve Campbell), and even now, having seen the film probably half a dozen times, I still sort of hope he’ll survive this time around (imagine if “Navigational Cinema” was employed in a film that was actually good?). His death also results in a true slasher movie rarity – a character’s death actually resonating. There’s a scene shortly after where Sidney says that she could call Randy’s mother, only to discover Dewey already took care of it for her.

Dewey’s character isn’t as dumb in this movie, and his role as Sidney’s sort of big brother/protector is a nice touch. How he manages to survive AGAIN is pretty baffling, but I cheered (along with the rest of the theater) all the same. Also, his “theme” is none other than the amazing Broken Arrow theme by Hans Zimmer. Apparently, they used the score during editing as temp music, but everyone liked it so much that they actually licensed it. As great as the music is, it’s sort of distracting. It happens a lot in films, but usually in an ironic manner (such as having the Darth Vader music play over the introduction of a goofy villain); when it’s a more or less serious situation, the borrowed cues are rarely recognizable, at least to me.

One strange, never fully explained concept was that the killer(s) in this film were killing people with the same names as the victims in the first film. It’s dropped and never mentioned again as soon as it’s brought up, and damned if it ever made much sense to me. Plus, how the hell did they manage to find a couple who happened to share the same names as Sidney’s mother and Casey’s boyfriend? Why strain credibility if you’re not even going to really do anything with it?

Otherwise, solid stuff here. I liked most of the characters (except Debbie Salt, but I guess that’s sort of the point), and there are some terrific set-pieces (particularly the Dewey and Gale in the film building chase) that rival anything in the original. Like the Saw films, Scream 2 came out a year to the day after the first one, so it’s even sort of more impressive how well it came together. Especially when you consider that they took 2 and a half years to make the third and it was total shit.

Oh, and David Warner shows up.

The DVD has what has to be my favorite TV spot of all time. Eschewing almost every possible reference to the killer (or even horror at all), the spot just sort of makes the film look like it’s a romantic thriller about Jerry O’Connell and Neve Campbell’s characters, with O’Connell saying things like “I am here for you!” and Neve looking all damsel-y while Collective Soul yammers on about flowers. Yet it still has the same “SCREAM 2, RATED R!” voiceover that accompanied the more truthful spots. I highly urge you to check it out. This is back when TV spots were a standard feature on special edition DVDs, something that has been sort of phased out over the years (as has listing “3D Motion Menus” as a goddamn special feature, thankfully).

What say you?


Nightmare (1964)

OCTOBER 28, 2007


Gee, another movie about folks pretending to be dead folks in order to freak someone out enough that they’ll do something so drastic that they’ll lose their inheritance/home/ job/collection of cookie jars. Exciting. Christ, even the title (Nightmare), is generic.

Now, is it a bad movie? No. It’s actually kind of fun, especially in the last 20 minutes, when the villain begins going crazy herself and over pronounciates words at random. “She was HEYEYEYEYRE!” and “I’ll FIYIYIYIYIYIYIND you!” are some highlights. I wish I knew how to pull audio off a DVD. Also, this doll is pretty goddamn creepy:

But I’m just tired of this plotline. I called out what was happening almost before the opening credits were finished. Just once, I’d like to see this plot devolve into an ACTUAL ghost haunting. You gotta assume that even the people in these movies are starting to suspect that maybe it’s just their bitchy in-laws pulling off a hoax to fuck with them, because they had to have seen some of the other movies in which the same goddamn thing was happening. If I ever see the “ghost” of my Dad or grandfather wandering around my house, first thing I will do is ask my sister what the hell she wants.

I should note that the brevity of this review is due to the release of Guitar Hero III distracting me away from my true love of rambling about horror movies. Plus, having written 3 reviews in the past 2 months for what is essentially the same movie, I have sort of run out of things to say about them.

What say you?


October Extras #27 - Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

OCTOBER 27, 2007


I must credit the source of today’s October Extra to Ryan Rotten of ShockTillYouDrop.com, who informed me of a theatrical screening of my beloved Halloween III: Season Of The Witch right here in LA. I skipped multiple parties and had to listen to Game 3 of the World Series (which the Sox won, wooo) on the goddamn radio in order to attend this rare event, but I have no regrets at all.

More than probably any other entry in the series, III deserves to be seen with a big crowd and on a big screen. It’s such a delightfully odd and mean-spirited film, there’s no way one could TRULY experience it without the film being presented larger than life, in a room full of appreciative fans. As many times as I have seen the film, I never noticed the totally fake fireman hat in the early hospital scene until it was magnified and pointed out by an audience member. Go back and watch the scene (widescreen version only) after the guy blows up at the hospital, and keep your eye on the fireman on the left. It’s breathtaking in its cheapness.

Also, come on people, let’s be honest: Tom Atkins is Oscar-worthy here. From his rampant hitting on of every woman who crosses his path, to his utterly horrified reaction to a generic cartoon playing at the bar (the one he frequents so much that his co-workers “said he could be found here” – keep in mind he’s a doctor), to his ass scene, the crowd cheered almost every time he appeared on screen. The scene where he calls his wife and tells her he has to go to some medical conference before grabbing a six pack and heading off to visit a mask factory with some chick he just met a few hours before (and of course, nails a few hours later) is possibly the greatest scene in any Halloween film.

Which brings us to the most controversial aspect of the film: the total lack of Michael Myers (something that escaped Roger Ebert, who, in his review, claimed that “the film begins where II left off, with the killer being immolated in the hospital parking lot” – dumbass!). Since we see clips of the original in the film, we are to believe that III exists in the “real world” (if so, I need to buy more 6 packs and make up more medical conferences than I already do), despite retaining the Halloween name. Everyone by now knows that this was Carpenter’s intent all along, to make a different film about Halloween every year, but he was vetoed by the money men and thus left the franchise after this one, and the “franchise entry” Halloween 4 was made, apparently by the people who survived the likely apocalypse at the end of this film. The long running argument is “If they didn’t call it Halloween I would probably like it”, which just speaks volumes as to how ignorant people are. If The Godfather was called “Horse Head In A Guy’s Bed”, I’m pretty sure it would still be a great movie.

Back to the film itself and how amazing it is. Let’s see, we got a kid’s head turning into snakes and insects because a computer chip with a piece of Stonehenge inside it reacted to an epileptic TV commercial, and... well really, what the fuck else do you need out of a movie? Atkins’ ass has already been mentioned.

The film’s most memorable contribution to pop culture is of course, the Silver Shamrock theme. Set to the tune of London Bridge, it is simply impossible to watch the film and not sing along to the ad (which we hear about a dozen times) at least once. Carpenter and Howarth’s score is one of their best collaborations (love the main theme over the computerized pumpkin assembly/credits), and even a die hard Myers fan would be hard-pressed to claim otherwise.

One thing I don’t get about the movie is the timing of the “Big Giveaway”. So this tiny mask company somehow convinced all major networks to show Halloween at the same time across the country (starting at half past the hour no less), and everyone was watching it? At one point, Cochran is told “they” are getting a 41 share, so maybe he owns all the networks and just chose not to sink any of his money into a more impressive factory.

But who cares. I love this movie, and watching in theaters with a couple friends and 30 other like-minded folks was one of the best theater experiences I’ve had this year. Another friend didn’t understand why I would pay 10 bucks and miss out on a party to go see a film I have on DVD (twice in fact) – but people like that just don’t get how important the theatrical experience is in terms of enjoyment. I almost feel bad when I see a film (especially one that wasn’t direct to video) for the first time on DVD. And revival screenings such as this are even more fun, because you get to sort of see the film for the first time again.

I usually never censor my comments, but I will make an exception here – anyone who posts “This movie sucks because there’s no Michael Myers”, even to be sarcastic, that comment will be deleted. I want good feelings and love here! Myers or not, there’s nothing anyone can do to convince me that any of the last 4 films (though H20 I can go either way on) is somehow truer to the spirit of Halloween (the film or the holiday) than III. BUT, if you can explain in a way that has nothing to do with Myers, or the title, why this film is somehow bad, I am all ears. Or, eyes, I guess, in this context.

What say you?


Saw IV (2007)

OCTOBER 27, 2007


Christ, thank God I watched Saw III just a few hours before sitting down for Saw IV, or else I’d probably be pretty baffled as to what the hell I just watched. Despite a new set of writers, the film is probably the least accessible of the entire series, and I can’t imagine how someone who had never seen the last film would react to the finale (let alone someone who had never seen any of the others).

See, despite their intertwined nature with the previous films, II and III were fairly stand alone in terms of basic plot understanding. Sure, some of the references and revelations would be a little confusing, but you’d get the jist of it. But how anyone would be able to understand what the hell was happening at the end of IV is beyond me. A character from III (I wish these movies had subtitles!), who hasn’t even been mentioned in the new film yet, suddenly stumbles out of a room and begins interacting with the new characters, never introduced by name or given any sort of real introduction (there are some flashbacks, but they serve as reminders for the Saw faithful, not Cliff's Notes for newcomers). Granted, I am sure they don’t expect that someone would begin with part IV, but the filmmakers were actually quoted on claiming that IV would be totally accessible to newcomers, and that is far from the truth.

For the fans though, who let’s be honest, are the ones who make up 99.9% of the audience, the film is a lot of fun. Like III, I now have trouble deciding which is my favorite, as I like them all for different reasons. The original remains the best written, but II is the one that surprised me the most, and III has my favorite character (Jeff). So what does IV bring to my table?

Well the opening scene, for starters, is possibly one of the greatest meta-scenes in film history. For a year, everyone has assumed that Jigsaw would be magically resurrected. How can you do a Saw film without, well, JigSAW? So what do Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton come up with? A lengthy, hilarious autopsy scene in which we see John Kramer on the receiving end of surgical procedures that no one could survive. His brain is removed, his chest is torn apart, other organs removed, etc. It’s as if the writers and Darren Bousman were just saying “See! He’s fucking dead! DEAD!” before moving along with the new story.

We also see his balls.

The rest of the film follows a plot similar to III. Like Jeff, Detective Rigg is not a bad person, but he is still guilty of living a life that is devoted to the wrong thing. In Jeff’s case, this was revenge. Rigg’s is obsession (with his work, particularly Jigsaw), at the cost of his family. He neglects his wife, has no friends, etc. So Jigsaw puts him through the tests to see if he is capable of letting go. Now, unlike the previous films, this plan has a bit of a flaw in terms of storytelling – had Rigg just opted to be a better man right from the start, and accompany his wife to her mother’s, the rest of the film wouldn’t work. It’s not so much that Jigsaw was trying to help him, but instead just playing a very elaborate game of “I told you so”.

Another thing is, while it actually makes for somewhat more compelling characters, it’s strange how Jigsaw is going after better and better people all the time. He still dishes out his unique form of justice on criminals (strangely, the hardest scene for me to watch in this one was seeing video of a rapist about to attack a woman tied to a bed, as well as some photos of her after the fact), but his primary targets (in this case, Rigg) are pretty decent people in the later sequels. At this rate, by the time Saw VIII rolls around, he’ll be going after guys who simply forgot their wife’s birthday by tying some sort of death trap to a piece of string around their finger. “Choose to never forget anything again!”

Some folks have been complaining about this one’s wide open ending. To them I ask 3 things: 1. Have you ever seen any of the other films? They all end on an ambiguous note. Christ, they still haven’t even told us Dr. Gordon’s fate, and III’s ending was far more “set-up”-y than this. 2. One would assume big fans would read things like Bloody Disgusting or Dread Central, who have been reporting for over a year now that Saw 5 and 6 are already greenlit, and the director for 5 has already been hired (putting them way ahead of the schedule for IV – Darren Bousman only signed on to return about 8 months before release). Why wrap everything up when the next film is already begun pre-production? Gotta leave SOMETHING for the sequels. And 3. You don’t know jack shit about wide open endings until you’ve seen Halloween 5 or Curse of Michael Myers (aka 6). And at least Saw 5 doesn’t threaten to pretend the sequels never happened and pick up in some prep school where Jigsaw is the headmaster.

All in all, it’s another worthy entry in one of modern horror’s most unique franchises. Sure, they are not perfect, but the effort they put into assembling their stories and complimenting the previous films in the series is quite admirable. As enjoyable as they may be, I really don’t think the Friday the 13th or Hellraiser (a closer cousin to Saw) films really benefit from being watched in sequence, nor do they reward the audience for paying attention to the previous entries. There’s plenty of carnage to enjoy if you’re a gorehound, but you can’t turn your brain off for any of them either (at least not fully). Kudos.

What say you?


October Extras #26 - Saw III (2006)

OCTOBER 26, 2007


At this point in the Saw franchise, I am beginning to have trouble choosing a favorite (or least favorite) among them. Like Saw II before it, Saw III is so entwined into the storyline of the previous film, it’s hard to single it out for any one characteristic (good or bad). Like the others, it has its pros and cons, but nothing so major that sticks out.

As for the good: Bousman’s direction has improved (though the film is very dark at times, everything seems more fluid, and the blue tint to the Jigsaw scenes is about the only thing in the film that can be considered distinguished), and the acting in this film is across the board good (having a classy kind of guy like Angus MacFayden certainly helps). And, while it doesn’t specifically say how long it’s been since II, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) has grown her hair out, and she looks as good onscreen as ever. Also, she must have some amazing healing powers – in II all evidence of her jaw injuries from the original were gone, and now, after having her head repeatedly bashed into a wall by Matthews, her face is flawless. (UPDATE - Saw IV reveals that the time in between is about 6 months)

Also, the Jeff character is probably the series’ best, and his ‘test’ in turn is probably the most compelling. Unlike Detective Matthews or the guys in the original, Jeff is a tragic figure, one we can firmly sympathize with. And while the film is the most violent/graphic in the series (at times approaching the sort of pointlessness the franchise is often unfairly accused of, especially in the overlong brain surgery sequence), most of Jeff’s tests have genuine psychological aspects built into them (such as when he has to burn his son’s toys in order to save the other guy), making them vastly more interesting.

However, as said, the film has a bit too much plain ol’ torture. Before we really begin the plot, we are subjected to THREE torture scenes, including the death of one of the series regulars (and the last “good guy” to appear in all of the films to that point). The tests are overly graphic compared to the previous films, and while this sort of makes sense in the grand scheme of things (Amanda’s “cheating”), it doesn’t make it any less excessive. It’s worth noting that this is also the first Saw film to include nudity, which doesn’t really add anything to the scene if you ask me (is liquid nitrogen LESS terrifying if you have a blouse on?).

Also, the end of the film, while a nice surprise, contains far too much flashback during the big reveal, to the point where I feel I am being treated like an idiot. They literally flashback to things we saw just moments before, and more than once. Plus, I think by now the people watching Saw movies kind of know they have to pay attention, which even further eliminates the need for such lengthy “reminders” (incidentally, this is the longest film of the series as well). And it gets even longer! I do not have the new "director's cut" DVD, only the original unrated one (what if someone wanted the theatrical version?). Bousman told me to my face that this one wouldn't be double-dipped, so I refuse to buy it, even if I am intrigued by what is different, since it runs about 6-7 minutes longer (which would suggest the added stuff is more than just gore). But I am a man of principle, dammit! Also, I don't have time to watch it again.

The most impressive thing about these films is how relatively well written and plot hole free they are, considering how quickly they are made, not to mention how much they have to remain consistent with in order to sell the “Jigsaw Puzzle” aspect of the film in relation to the previous ones. Tomorrow I will be seeing part IV (the first in the series that neither Leigh Whannell or James Wan had any part in), I am curious as to how well the new writers do with all the multiple storylines, not to mention the death of Jigsaw himself.

What say you?


Phantom From 10,000 Leagues

OCTOBER 26, 2007


Few titles are as grossly inaccurate as Phantom From 10,000 Leagues. There’s no phantom, only a very silly looking Black Lagoon wannabe, and he’s about 100 feet under the surface or so. Plus, the movie is barely about him anyway, as the monster has maybe 3 minutes of screentime in the entire film.

No, instead, the filmmakers thought it would be much more interesting to watch a bunch of folks standing around talking about the ocean and science, and occasionally doing some scuba diving as they investigate a few murders. It’s sort of like that horrendous Jessica Alba movie Into the Blue – nothing happens, ever, just people diving and talking about diving. The monster scenes are mostly limited to the monster appearing behind some folks as they swim (never in the same shot) and then not actually killing them. At one point I began to wonder if he was even going to bother showing up in the climax.

Like just about every 50s movie, there’s a cop who bickers with another male character for no real reason, only to team up with him as the film progresses. Their animosity is made clear at the beginning, when the non-cop says, as icily as possible: “I’m an oceanographer... the ocean’s my business, day or night.” Which brought memories of a never filmed Jerry Bruckheimer movie called Tsunami, which was said to be about a “Maverick Oceanographer” (!!!) who tries to stop a giant tidal wave from destroying whatever town it took place in. Why the Bruck never made this film is beyond me, but the idea of a “maverick oceanographer” has been stuck in my mind since; a ridiculous character description that was only topped by Nathan Fillion’s character in FOX’s short lived show Drive, in which he played a “Rogue Landscaper”. GOD I love this town!

Still, that line is nothing compared to this gem. The obvious bad guy doctor talks to his secretary, and then suddenly says “I consider you an intelligent woman... a bit bitter perhaps, and no great lover of mankind, but still intelligent!” What the fuck kind of thing is that to say to someone? The fact that we have seen no evidence of her alleged disdain for the human race notwithstanding, it’s just an unnecessarily mean-spirited backhanded compliment.

And if anyone knows why, at the end of the film, the camera suddenly jerk pans away from the main characters as they walk off into the sunset in order to show the ocean (in which nothing is going on), feel free to explain here.

Mill Creek dubs this as a “classic”. I can only assume they were being sarcastic (they didn’t use quotes, like I did).

What say you?


October Extras #25 - Saw II (2005)

OCTOBER 25, 2007


One of my favorite stories to tell (at least, to fellow horror fans) is the time I went to some convention and met Leigh Whannell, Darren Bousman, and Shawnee Smith at a signing for Saw II. A guy in front of me had a copy of Armageddon for Shawnee to sign (she’s in it for like 17 seconds), and as she did, Whannell commented “That is the worst movie of all time.” Naturally, I immediately told him he was wrong. We debated Armageddon vs Commando for some reason, while they signed my poster. After walking away, I looked and saw that both Whannell and Bousman had signed it commenting about Armageddon (Bousman confessed to kind of liking it). I framed the poster and hung it on my wall, across from my Armageddon poster (which contains no autographs concerning Saw II, sadly).

Anyway, the funny part of the story (well, comparative to the rest of it) is that I hadn’t even SEEN Saw II yet. It had come out right when I moved to LA (literally, the day of, meaning as of tomorrow I will have been here for two years, since they come out the same weekend every year), and as I was unemployed for a month (and barely employed for another 2 after that), I didn’t feel the need to spend what little money I had on a sequel to a film that I didn’t really care for (it has since grown on me, as evidenced by yesterday’s review). But Bousman and Whannell were so funny to listen to I figured I should check the film out, so I rented it that night.

I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it a lot, and I still do (originally far more than the original, though now I put them about even). As most fans know, the script was originally written as another film entirely, and then reshaped into a Saw sequel. So it’s pretty impressive how well they fit together (even revealing a nice bit of backstory concerning Dr. Gordon). Bousman’s direction is different enough from Wan’s to give the film its own look, but not so much that it’s not recognizable as the same franchise (he even copies the idiotic ramped up driving shots from the first film). Clouser’s score is even better this time, and the acting is good (or at least, better) across the board.

This film also gave us a real introduction to Jigsaw. He’s only in the first film for like 30 seconds, but here he gets a lot to do, and his confrontations with Donnie Wahlberg’s character are the best in the film. Also, the well-aging Dina Meyer’s role is bumped up (she’s also in the first for only a minute or so), and Shawnee looks a lot better without half her jaw bleeding. It’s more violent than the original, at times excessively so (seems like this time, some people HAD to die in order for the plot to work, which is not the case in the original). The Franky G character is a horrible invention, and while having a house full of people who are at odds with each other as much as their common enemy is a well-worn plot device, it doesn’t make him any less wretched (he’s also the weakest link acting-wise). Naturally, he lives the longest of all the people who eventually die.

As with the first film, the 2-Disc DVD is pretty jampacked, and I don’t have time to go through it all. I did play the little DVD-ROM game for a little bit, long enough to see a "Saw 2 in 62 seconds" claymation thing that was pretty funny. Some day, I will devote myself to the entire Saw franchise’s extras (hey, if I made it through all four discs of Fellowship of the Ring AND Pearl Harbor, I can make it through Saw 1-3 at least), but rest assured it’s no ripoff like Windtalkers was (where the 2nd and 3rd discs contained less than 2 hrs of extras combined), as it contains a wealth of info, plus a nice little piece in memory of Gregg Hoffman, producer of the films who died shortly after the film was complete.

What say you?



OCTOBER 25, 2007


Where were you when you saw the absolute worst zombie movie of all time? I know where I was: on my couch, earlier today. The movie is called Doomed, and even the info capsule from the network described it as “drivel”. You know a movie is bad when the cable company is basically telling you not to watch it. But when have I ever been smart with my movie-watching decisions? Christ, I fucking PAID to see Captivity.

It’s almost admirable how fucking awful this movie is. You think Boll's House of the Dead was horrendous? That’s a lost Romero film compared to this. The zombie scenes are horrible, and every single one of them is the same. Like the WWE film The Condemned, our cast is made up of a bunch of criminals who are competing in a “Winner take all” survival reality show, with the winner being given a pardon. The entire movie breaks down like this: someone reluctantly teams up with another person, they find a gun or water or something, one of them backstabs the other, suddenly a bunch of horrible looking zombies run out of nowhere and kill one, then usually the other a few minutes later. Not one scene has any sort of buildup or suspense; everything just sort of happens. Narrative cohesion is completely tossed aside; even with constant screen graphics showing the characters’ location on the island, it is never even remotely apparent where anyone is in relation to the others, nor do the zombies seem to come from anywhere in particular.

Gore? None. Every single death is also the same – four zombies (it seems to always be four) surround and close in on a character. The character screams as the screen goes fuzzy, then a graphic reading “TERMINATED” appears. Occasionally the humans fight one another as well (the first 5 minutes is pretty much just two guys we haven’t met yet whaling on each other on a beach), though these scenes are just as bad/boring as the zombie ones, if not worse. And forget about character – the film doesn’t even bother making one character innocent of his crimes, as is standard for any film about a bunch of prisoners. They simply provide screen graphics with their names, crimes, and sentences (which are all pretty extreme – one guy got life for piracy and hacking!), and that is the extent of their backstory. If the zombie action was nonstop, it would be forgiveable, but there’s maybe 15 minutes’ worth of the undead, and again, they are entirely without gore (I don’t think we even see a single person actually bit on screen).

We can only assume that everything in the film that we are seeing is from the point of view of the camera(s) for the reality show, as after they are introduced, we never see a single camera again. This is fine, because the one time we see them, they are horrible CG creations. There are also CG televisions and occasional “blood” splatters courtesy of whoever had After Effects running. But the worst use comes near the end, when they have an honest to god CGI VENTILATION GRATE. I am totally serious. A guy says “we go through there!” and he points to a grate that isn’t even remotely believable. So let’s get this straight – you take what has to be the least interesting object in the world, and make it on a computer, instead of just filming a real one (of which there are dozens in probably any building in existence), and you can’t even be bothered to make the thing look real. Amazing.

There’s also a running theme of the film trying to appear high-tech, but using only sound. Throughout the island are little “Survival packages” that contain weapons and supplies. These are standard trunks made of wood/wicker, yet whenever someone opens them, we hear beeps and boops, as if they were opening some sort of computerized briefcase. Also, a guy pretends to hit buttons on a keypad to open a door, when it’s plainly visible that there IS no keypad there.

Oh and for no reason I can discern, whenever there’s a fight scene, we get quick freeze frames that say things like “Body Blow – 250 points!” Best I can tell, there is no point system implemented into the alleged game they are playing, so what the hell the point of these distractions are is beyond me. Even dumber, they go by so quick you can’t even read them unless you pause. So why bother putting them in at all? Probably just to slow the film down a bit – even with these nonsensical freezes, not to mention a lengthy end credits sequence, the film is only 77 minutes long.

I implore you not to watch this piece of shit. Ordinarily I would assume that the filmmakers were just soulless assholes, or folks with severe mental deficiencies, but the fact that they actually work in a Romero homage suggests otherwise. They ARE aware of good zombie movies, they just don’t care to make one themselves.

What say you?


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