Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #31: Jason X

Oh, my darlings, it's that day. October 31st. Halloween. The last entry in my interminable daily slog through horror movies, both good (ahem) and bad for the year. For this final entry in the 31 Flavors of Horror (and yes, I'm just as done with the name for the year as you are, faithful reader), I had no choice but to wrap it up with one last call on my machete-totin' main squeeze... 

I first saw this in theaters when it came out in 2001, making this the X anniversary of number X, no less. It was a sparsely attended matinee, but I still found the movie to be a helluva lot of fun. Does it hold up? Let's find out!

31 Flavors of Horror #31:
Jason X

So here we are, with that last trip to the well before that buttinsky Freddy shows up and then you have to go and reboot with that twink from Supernatural (which, yes, I do secretly watch, obsess, and dwell over, why do you ask?). You've been with me now through nine other entries and damn if our relationship hasn't grown. I met your mother, put up with a certain prude (kaff *Part 3* kaff), put up with stand-ins, your Carrie phase, and went on a road trip with you. Now here we are, at the end of our long and lovely courtship... and you have to go and jet off somewhere new... Hell. This excursion to the very dry well opens in a (now seemingly old school) Hell inside the very crust brain of Jason V. He's being shot up wit hchemicals as there's some serious science going on in this flick. Turns out Jason's quite trussed up and held captive at the "Crystal Lake Research Facility" and they're going to freeze him. It's not quite clear what they're researching, or why they'd want to freeze this psycho... or how he got from Hell at the end of the last flick to here. Also, at some point he grew a different head of hair, got a new mask and a smart look in his eye.

Of all the people to show up, the last one you'd expect is film director David Cronenberg. His Dr. Wimmer is here to yank Jason from Dr. Rowan (Lexa Doig), the obligatory hot science chick, in order to study Jason's ability to keep coming back time and again. It's sequelitis, not biology.

(Sci-Fi cliches abound ahead... and, I use the term "nipplemaster")

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #30: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I kinda take a different approach with this entry in the 31 Flavors of Horror series. A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of those remakes that's been analyzed and parsed to death, and it's not really a flick for me. I'm from the generation who got the Robert Englund series. The new one is for a younger crowd, and it compliments the dark heart of the first one, and is miles away from the morbid humor of the rest of the series.. I meant originally to give it the full rehash, but instead  just wound up with five takeaways.

31 Flavors of Horror #30:
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

1) Kellan Lutz is really pretty and scruffy, so it's kind of a shame that we know from the outset he's toast. He's the equivalent of the Drew Barrymore kill in the first Scream movie. As his character Dean, was the new squeeze for Kris (Katie Cassidy) - who herself is a stand-in for the Tina character, you have to figure her ex-boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker) is happy his competition's so quickly eliminated. Cassidy seems younger than Amanda Wyss from the first flick, but plays that scared, flustered look just as well. She's also played as much more of a traditional "Final Girl" in the flm's front half than the Nancy character is.

Cassidy also has a great set of lungs on her (both as a screamer and, well...). Oddly, you don't get the impression she and Jesse get it on, unlike the clearly freshly-shtupped Tina in the first film (tacky, but true). The fact that Tina is portrayed as a 15 year old (!) who's having what looks to be decent sex always bothered me. I always thought Tina must've had some horrible home life, since Wyss had a hardness about her, which I guess says more about me being "judgy" than anything in either film.

(Four more points, and my general gripe of displeasure of Jackie Earle Hailey being so damn good, are all ahead!)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #29: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (Also, One A Week Reviews #43)

Well, a few days ago we took a look at Terror Tract, so why not visit another TV movie? I know we're getting close to the end of the month, and you were probably expecting me to drag out some of the big, old iconic horror films everyone likes to namecheck this time of year... but instead I'm gonna bring you a class act that's a damn good watch.

This time, it's a classic from 1981 - the year the burlap sack mask was de rigeur, as Jason Voorhees was also sporting one in Friday the 13th Part Dos - and it still has legs, and a screenwriter J.D. Feigelson you may meet at horror cons (I've seen him at a couple HorrorHounds myself) generously offering writing workshops and discussing the film. It easy to see why a screenwriter may want to stay attached to a project that was directed by fellow screenwriter and novelist, Frank De Felitta (The Entity, Audrey Rose)

31 Flavors of Horror #29
Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Larry Drake only ever seems to play two roles - mentally handicapped or malevolent. Here, he's Bubba, a man with developmental issues and a friendship with ten year old Marylee that's looked down upon by everyone's favorite evil-guy, Charles Durning. Otis Hazelrigg is a local postman and patented Durning creep, conspiring with another great 80s creep, Lane Smith, to just do in Bubba. Evidently his "difference," offends. Otis is jonesin' to kill 'im - and has every intention of engineering a way to get his way.

He gets his chance when Bubba breaks down a fence to save Marylee from a vicious garden gnome attack... okay, it's actually a dog, but since this was a TV-movie, a more "artful" choice was made to represent that. Bubba brings the bloody child home, and before you can say "Redneck Jackasses," assumptions are made and there's a posse riled up to lynch him.

The poor man-child runs home to his Mamma, but doesn't have time to explain, as she's got to stash him before the posse arrives.It's hard to be too intimidated by them. Four guys in the bright, California sunshine on the studio backlots. I assume they have to stop filming whenever the Duke boys drive through...

(Don't stop reading, because this one is worth watching)

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Rabbit in Your Headlight

With today's look at the career of serial car straddler Tawny Kitaen, I wound up thinking about another music video involving people rolling around on the hoods of cars, except this one went from creepy, to suspenseful, to awe-inspiring - hope you like it. UNKLE, "Rabbit in Your Headlight"

31 Flavors of Horror #28: Witchboard

Today's film wears out the "ice cream" connection and goes right to the cheese, but it was a big, visible horror video rack hit in the 1980s. Does it deserve your time and attention? The planchette points to NO, but I still had a good time ragging on it. Enjoy!

Bonus: This features Cincinnati native Stephen Nichols, a veteran of multiple daytime soaps, and Tawney Kitaen, former wife of a Cleveland Indian. Maybe this shoulda been set in Ohio?

31 Flavors of Horror #28:

This was a video-store staple, and I have vague memories of renting and catching it at parties during my teens. What I remember clearly is that every copy had those stress-and-rewind lines right before Tawny Kitaen's shower scene. Personally, I think they should have been included as part of the DVD experience. You know, to complete that "retro" feel.

Anyhow, like many an Eighties flick, Witchboard opens at a party attended byclean-cut, mid-to-late twentysomethings (in conservative dress and mom jeans) who're supposed to be wild, crazy college kids. Smug Brandon (Stephen Nichols), buddy Jim (Todd Allen), and pretty Linda (Tawny Kitaen) and her rat's nest of hair are having (ahem) deep discussions and trading jibes during the festivities (which are taking place in a house I've seen in a dozen other movies). Bad music, smoking in the house, mullets? This is definitely showing it's 1986 origins. Some things don't age well. Jim and Linda are a couple, but she used to be with rich-boy Brandon, and it's giving Jim the vapors. I immediately decided, based on his melodramatic guzzling from a whiskey bottle that not only is he insecure, but it's probably Brandon he's really in love with.

The party starts to simmer down, settling into a discussion of completely unsubstantiated convictions about the existence of the devil. You know, it was much easier to say "there are tapes, photographs" and not have to prove it in a time before teh interwebz. Our sulky, lovelorn Brandon whips out his Ouija board and planchette, helpfully defining them for our audience, while one queen with enormous eyeglasses perches on him. New boyfriend? What did Linda see in this guy besides his cash and unthreateningly good hair anyhow?

(Spoilers, man-love, and possible merkins ahead!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Sweet Dreams

As I got to thinking about videos that always creeped me out, the one coming up right behind "Come to Daddy" (Shudder) was my first introduction to the Marilyn Manson - back when we thought he had more to do with some kind of death metal, instead of discovering him the screechy heir to Bowie and Madonna's fashion of excess (which was perfectly obvious by the time "The Dope Show")

31 Flavors of Horror #27: Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

 Number Nine? Nine of these things? You have got to be kidding me...

Well, here we are again. One more (exceedingly long-winded) trip to the well, and this time New Line's payin' for dinner. Since you got melted to childhood by toxic waste last time, I didn't think you'd come sniffing around again, but it's another Friday and you're back to wine and dine me.

Even worse, in this one, there's only slightly more Jason than there was in the first Friday the 13th. Like Charlton Heston in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, or Pinhead in any latter Hellraiser flick, he's more framing device than character.

Shall we?

31 Flavors of Horror #27:
Jason Goes To Hell

New Line opens this flick with some warbly music that leads into the signature musical cues as a sleek convertible drives through the sunset up to a cabin that's supposed to be near a certain lake, but has a decided lack of forest and a mountain behind it. This is not your Paramount Pictures Crystal Lake. The driver is a lone pretty lady, all alone and solo-like, arriving at a well-kept cabin in the woods. I think it's safe to assume where this is heading even if her only defining characteristics are her bee-stung lips and baseball cap. She leaves doors open behind her, ducks out of the mirror frame, and lets us watch her strip down to her thong and beyond as she gets ready to shower. Short of putting a "Come and get it, Jason" neon sign in the window, I don't know what she's hoping to accomplish. When the lights go out, our gal pal puts on a towel and heads out to investigate and, sho' nuff, Jason shows up, swinging his machete and showing off some very stringy hair. Towel-girl evades him and runs off into the woods, somehow acquiring shoes in the long shots, and... lures Jason into a grove filled with armed SWAT team members. Turns out she wasn't just a stereotype, she was a decoy.

Overkill be damned they proceed to shoot up and then blow Jason up to a pile of itty bitty pieces, including his still-beating heart. The job might be well done, but the Captain from 21 Jump Street (Stephen Williams) is lurking in the woods, trying to be his best badass in a duster and chewing a stogie, and says "I don't think so." Being that Jason's heart still seems to be beating I'd think that's a fair assessment.

(After the jump, I pick this puppy apart, and mangle the English language to create the phrase "Mer-Gremlin lookin' Ghoolie")

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Ben

A 31 Flavors of Horror Bonus: I had to share this because I had no idea it existed before I found it as an extra on the Willard DVD. Crispin Glover covered Ben, the Michael Jackson schmaltz classic, for the closing credits, then made a typically quirky video for it. Enjoy!

31 Flavors of Horror #26: Willard (2003)

You don't always need big bucketfuls of gizzards and grue splashing across the screen to make a satisfying horror flick. Sometimes, a few tense chills and moments of sly humor can make a satisfying night in. More odd and stylish than truly spooky, this is a must just for the impressive work by Crispin Glover and some sly, funny moments.

The downside of this is you'll be eyeing all your pets, wondering if they're part of a giant herd, out to take over your home and eat your enemies... and really, aren't those the best kind of pets?

31 Flavors of Horror #26:
Willard (2003)

Willard revisits the 70s original about an oddball with influence over rats. Glen Morgan and and James Wong brought style to the X-Files and Final Destination series, and the direct and produce here, respectively. Willard is a good looking movie anchored by a strong performance by Crispin Glover, who's very relateable, even if he is sporting the same look, and possibly even the same suit, he wore in the Charlie's Angels movies.

Willard Stiles is an exquisitely miserable man who lives in a drab, brown home (loomed over by a portrait of Bruce Davison, the original Willard) in a dreary, generic every-city. The broken-down Stiles mansion is filled with dust and overpowered by his domineering, decaying mother (Jackie Burroughs). They have the sort of dynamic where she's overly invested in his bowel movements. She puts him down, needles him, and clearly needs smothering with a pillow. She's not quite so bad as the house's rat infestation... which seems to have no trouble eluding the traps he sets. The only bright-spot is when he decides to make friends with the colony of rats, starting with Socrates. Willard seems capable of communicating with the rats, getting them trained and organized (too bad he can't do that at work). He also forms a kinship with Ben, the biggest and baddest of them all. Willard wants his relationship with Socrates to be primary, but Ben has his own agenda.

(More rat-droppings, and a surprise porn-star cameo, after the break!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #25: Terror Tract

I love those old anthology horror films, from Asylum to Trilogy of Terror to Creepshow, they're always wonderful ways to pass a rainy afternoon or gloomy night. Usually a collection of morality tales with EC Comics-style twists, they're generally pretty oddball. I'm also a fan of the cheesy goodness of TV movies. So how can I turn down a double-dare like this?

Bonus: Will Estes, who plays Sean Goodwin, in 2005 starred in a little show called Reunion. That TV season was the year of the serial plot, since Lost was doing so well and I actually picked up a few shows that year and I watched a lot of TV then. When I backed Reunion, Commander-in-Chief, Surface, Point Pleasant, and Threshold only to see them ALL cancelled, I shifted my TV watching to pretty much DVDs of seasons so I wouldn't get "dumped" by TV shows like that again. The next year, I thought I'd give it one more shot and backed Kidnapped, Pepper Dennis and Vanished as promising. Needless to say, that's when I cancelled cable and went to an all-Netflix and DVD model of TV watching.

I will never understand the thinking of spending months and millions producing and marketing this stuff, only to cancel it within two weeks. Ridiculous business model. Anyhow, on to the fun TV movie... because THESE we need more of!

31 Flavors of Horror #24
Terror Tract

In my review of The House Where Evil Dwells, I opened with a paragraph that applies pretty well to this film as well:
"In both the movies and real life, a bitchin' piece of real estate will get snatched up off the market even if it is the site of multiple homicides. In the movies, however, they do tend to come with ghosts."

Terror Tract (aka The House on Terror Tract) is a TV-move trio of tales with a framing story involving a young couple (80s TV stalwarts David DeLuise and Allison Smith) getting shown a houses by their charming, but somewhat creepy, realtor John Ritter. He's very driven to close a sale.

The first house a lovely two-story with a bit of a Tudor flavor, but the owners aren't desperate to sell, you see, because they're dead! Bwahahahahahaha! ...and as real estate agents are bound to disclose a property's history, Ritter is only too happy to share.


The first story features those previous owners, the Freemonts. Louis leaves Sarah for his business trip, which is convenient or he would have run into her lover sneaking into the house. Of course, this is a morality tale, so you can guess just how far Louis actually traveled. Lou wants to kill them and make it look like a murder-suicide, but the tables get turned on him. As Sarah is about to find out, between guilt and suspicion, she hasn't quite gotten the last word after all.  His poor bod may be dead and dumped, but his cuckolded, furious spirit won't be stopped. Is he haunting her or is she imagining it?

Considering how the guilt of his death eats her up, you have to wonder if she was any fun at all while sneaking around...

(More moral tales bound to improve your life are after the jump)

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #24: The House Where Evil Dwells

What would getting ready for Halloween be without watching some Haunted House movies. Here's one for the 31 Flavors of Horror that I remember seeing as a kind on USA, some Saturday afternoon, and it messed me up! I remember this one as being bleak, and scary and sad... and I'm sure it doesn't hold up now. But with a cast that's Edward Albert, Doug McClure, and Susan George, how can I not give it another look see?

Bonus: This was directed by the same man who made Motel Hell, and if you've never seen it... go, now! 

31 Flavors of Horror #24
The House Where Evil Dwells

In both the movies and real life, a bitchin' piece of real estate will get snatched up off the market even if it is the site of multiple homicides. In the movies, however, they do tend to come with ghosts. I think it's safe to assume from the title that there'll be ghosts in this.

I think this movie banks on its American audience not knowing anything about 1840's Japan, or Japanese culture in general, beyond what they've seen in Kung Fu pictures. The House Where Evil Dwells opens on a man with a bad, feudal-Japanese pseudo-ponytail haircut visiting a young woman at a country house. She serves him tea, gives him a small sculpture of a beast thats making "the beast with two backs,"and plays that haunting Shamisen string-music that I find completely atonal but mesmerizing. That music is heard by another badly ponytailed man who rushes up to the house to investigate. Ooh, I betcha he's the hubby. He sees the man and woman kissing as shadows through the rice paper wall, and a kimono getting undone.

You can't blame him, I guess, for breaking in like a slo-mo Hulk, through the paper, sword drawn. Our molasses Ninja hubby wrecks the place up and lops loverboy's arm off and then his head. Next, he slashes the Geisha-wife's throat and kills her as well. Then, after doing in her musical instrument - dude, she wasn't that bad- he commits harikiri and... credits.

Well, that was a depressing way to open a movie... and being that it's based on a novel, this doesn't bode well for the rest of the film.

(Bad 80's styles! Over-tanned Susan George! Incredibly uncomfortable Doug McClure! It's all inside...)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #23: Blood for Dracula

One good turn deserves another, and you can't have Yin without Yang, Sylvester without Tweety, or Burke without Hare, so it's a must to follow up yesterday's big scoop of crazy camp mess with it's companion piece film. These are a pair of odd ducks who haunted me in my youth when I'd catch them on cable, and I'll always have a soft-yet-dreadful spot for them... if you haven't seen them, they're a must!

31 Flavors of Horror #23
Blood For Dracula

The flipside of Flesh for Frankenstein, this is the other Andy Warhol-produced nause- fest starring Udo Kier and Joe Dallesandro. As archly grand guignol and overly horny as Frankenstein, but this one is all about Kier, baby. From the long, opening closeup of his fine-boned face as he paints both it and his hair to give the appearance of  health, and life, his Eurotrash Dracula is an epic camp creation. The tired, languid count here is a counterpoint to his manic Frankenstein, and those German "W"s make the word "virgin" a howler. He's whiny, a picky eater, and doesn't appreciate just about anything. He's too busy overacting his tummy aches and hunger pangs. See, these Wampires can only drink the blood of Wirgins, and since the world is so full of, well, sluts, he must abandon his fading sister and head from Romania for conservative, Catholic Italy, which will hopefully be brimming with the chaste.

(Okay, from here, stuff just gets yucky. You were warned...)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #22: Flesh for Frankenstein (Also, One A Week Review #42)

The next 2 scoops in the 31 Flavors of Horror series are two personal favorites of mine.

Some of us lucky few who would haunt the weird late-night grindhouse movies they'd show on USA in the Eighties or Nineties got introduced to many wacky, creepy movies. The nauseating, perverse duo of Andy Warhol's Dracula and Andy Warhol's Frankenstein were no exception. Rare, terrifyingly "other," if you were as young as I when you first encountered them, you know they're exotic, awful, freak-fests worthy of a second look. They freaked me out and stayed with me, they may do the same for you.

31 Flavors of Horror #22
Flesh For Frankenstein

A good deal of the perversity here comes from the duo of Joe Dallesandro and Udo Kier, who exquisitely overacts as the Baron who is lusting after the perfect "nasum" for his experiments in building his specimen of uber-man-meat. His obsession with his master race is all-consuming... and highly comical. You'll savor his German accent as it emphasizes a W in the place of every R and V. (Also: "Pop-o-lates" for "populates." Love it.) Sure, he's building a male and a female, but she's an afterthought. He's got a sister-wife (eww) and a red-headed "Igor" in his assistant, Otto.

One can't imagine why the Baron would be more interested in building the perfect man than in the beauty-obsessed, eyebrow-deprived Baroness, Monique Van Vooren. Considering how these siblings squabble it's a wonder he hasn't chopped her up for parts. He eschews Sis to get his freak on fingering innards down in the lab. He hand-humps his female "zombie" at one point with the immortal line: "To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder." The Baron is all sexual hangups while the Baroness is all repressed need.

Kier's cerebral fey-ness is countered by Dallesandro, who still wasn't much of an actor at this point in his career. He's all meat as a farmhand from the Bronx who has somehow been transplanted to 19th century Serbia. Van Vooren keeps running into him while he's boning Farmer's Daughters. Of course she's going to want him.

(It's all meandering sass, smut, and gore from this point forward...)

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #21: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Another day, another taste of October horror reviews. As I've worked through so much of the Friday the 13th oeuvre this month I may as well start thinking now about tackling the Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, or Halloween series for next October.

Will any of them be able to stand up to my man, Jason? I doubt it... I also have too much respect for both of us to consider the Children of the Corn series, so don't worry your pretty little heads about it.

Picture me biting my knuckle and holding the back of my other hand (which is clenching a handkerchief that is sodden with tears) against my forehead while bemoaning "Oh, Jason! Why can't I quit you? You're no good for me. You don't communicate. You go off and die for years at a time. You're just not responding to my needs... and you're starting to smell a bit."

31 Flavors of Horror #21:
Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Paramount was scratching the bottom of the barrel with Part VII, which I, like many, call "Jason vs. Carrie," but by Part VIII (number eight for you non-Roman types) they'd punched thru said bottom and were clawing the earth beneath it. Personally, I think they must've taken the title from The Muppets Take Manhattan. Someone got the bright idea of the image of Jason Voorhees incongruously planted in the middle of Times Square and a movie had to be built around it.

So, one more trip to the well. One more Friday night with my main dead, deformed man-child camp-counselor-killer squeeze... and right from the start I know I'm in for a crappy Friday night. This movie opens with stock shots of New York and a voice-over from what I'd assume is supposed to be a DJ... but mostly just sounds like a delusional douchebag who thinks he's a poet. Bad Skinamax jazz, set-dressed grit, and some tastefully clad street junkies complete the "NY milieu." This is not just a long way from Crystal Lake, this is a long way from the actual franchise.

A quick dip by Liberty Island and we transition to what I assume must be Crystal Lake, where psycho douchebag DJ spews some ominous plot exposition in a dedication about the senior class of  Lakeview High taking a road trip to the big, bad city. (Lakeview High? Considering this series is populated with bussed in counselors and creepy old coots -there's even a Crazy Ralph in the form of a deckhand in this one- I find it hard to believe there's much of an educational system around Camp Blood.)

(Magnificent, towering amounts of snark follow)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Come To Daddy

Since today's review for Friday the 13th, Part VII did feature a lead who had some serious daddy-issues... I mean, she killed him with her psychic powers as a bratty child then dredged up his body at the end of the movie, which they evidently neglected to bury, what else would pop into my head than Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" with it's creepy man-faced girls running about.

This video still gives me a shudder or two...

31 Flavors of Horror #20: Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood

I think what I like more than my compact, rational reviews are the pieces like this... where I just watch a movie and comment on the proceedings in a generally snark-filled manner. The trashier the cinema, the more I enjoy myself when I'm doing it. And believest thou me, The Friday the 13th series is a delicious, campy (ha- see what I did there) treat. Yesterday's flavor was all boobs and blood, but this is more people who act like boobs at "Camp Blood"...but with superpowers thrown in. Just for funsies. My dates with my main-machete-man, my eye-poppin' squeeze, Jason V., are settling into a comfortable rhythm at this point. Is the romance dead? Keep reading and find out.

Bonus: I've had some trouble deciding if I should use the roman numeral conceit in the titles of these films. I hadn't yet, and really, the original movies didn't really start using them until number six, or VI. So, from here on out, I'm going to use the roman numerals. It only applies to this and the next one, but what the hey? Tradition!

31 Flavors of Horror #20:
Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood 

Oh, Paramount? Why must you shamefully whore out my sweetie so? At a seventh Friday night date I think it's fair to say we're going steady, but you work him to the bone. He brings you money and you treat him like the red-headed stepchild.


Seven opens with a montage and a little narration just to let us know that he's an unstoppable zombie-killer in-the-woods who'll take out anyone who shows up in his path, heavily weighted to clips from Part Six. Ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma, yeah-yeah-yeah big deal. This time he's bringing the Kane Hodder-y goodness and his hussy psychic gal pal along, so it should be a memorable evening.

This is the one that got nicknamed "Jason Vs. Carrie," after all. So first off, we get the establishing shot of Jason still anchored in the lake. He's either drifted or a lot of time has passed because not only has he changed outfits and gotten wrapped up in some vines, but he's now anchored in front of a somewhat rundown house instead of the reformed "Camp Slaughterteens." It's not going to be easy to suspend disbelief here. Telekinesis I'll give you. Unstoppable zombie killers, fine. Put 'em together, I'll go with it. Simple continuity and geography errors... and, oddly,  it's a bit of a stretch.

(Spoilers, and general bitchcraft ahead)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #19: Piranha (2010)

Ok, so in retrospect, maybe the nudity wasn't quite as wall to wall in Piranha as I initially remembered it to be - but it sure makes an impression. It's also more distributed to the distaff side of things, and I'm a proponent of "naked parity" in films, but I've heard many a complaint over the years that movies just don't pack the gratuitous nudity that they did in the Seventies and Eighties. Well, whiners, this one's for you.

Besides, what's better for a playful, fun "Humpday" than a fun, sleazy, party flick like this?

31 Flavors of Horror #19
Piranha (2010)

This whole ethos of this movie can be summed up in three words: "Underwater Lesbian Ballet."

This flick is about gore and nudity- like, we're talking skin levels out of an 80s sex comedy. Seriously, there are a LOT of boobs in this movie. There's also some truly excellent gore effects.
The most stunning effect, for me, even happens just in the background, like a throwaway moment. 2 men are helping a woman out of the water by carrying here and her ravaged torso just splits in half. She even reacts for a moment before fizzling out. Just savage. Swarms of CGI fishies strip bodies down to gristle and reddened bone in seconds.

And, oh, those fish - pardon my French, but those are some ugly fuckin' fish. My first thought is if they've been down there, underground living and evolving for a million years they woulda probably evolved their eyes out of the picture by now. I think they have their eyes still so they can best see all the 3D breasts (have I mentioned there's a LOTTA nudity in this yet?).

So, we have great gore and great globes, what else is there? A great cast!

(More about that great cast, and their respective gizzards, after the jump...)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #18: The Haunting of Amelia

Well, they can't all be winners - this film, reviewed for Exploitation Retrospect wants to surprise with it's few chills and twist ending, but it gives up it's secrets early. If not for some ooey-gooey make up effects, this would play more like an "After-school Special" with a twist than the attractive TV actor's Twilight Zone story it'd like to be taken as.

However, the gentle chills it holds are still worth sharing with you. Anyhow, it's a Tuesday. No one expects big thrills and chills on a Tuesday!

31 Flavors of Horror #18
The Haunting of Amelia

After the last ten years or so of the Asian Horror Invasion, it's understandable that you'd look at the box cover, featuring some ghostly girl staring out ominously through a thick fall of hair, and think “Score, horror movie!” You've just been horribly mislead. Once you see the PG-13 emblazoned on it, you'll know for sure. There's a dearth of horror here, and romance, though these seem to be the genres aimed for. This is really more a coming of age drama with a supernatural bent.

If the maudlin adult contemporary songs don't send you running, there's a story here. Rusty (Chad Lindberg) returns for a high school reunion after a decade away. Meanwhile, his friend Josh (Brendan Fehr) stayed, unmotivated, traumatized and shuffling through life like a semi-catatonic. While Rusty tires to spark a little life into him, Josh is paralyzed by memories of his high school girlfriend who died in a train accident.

(gentle horror gets gentle spoilers ahead)

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Sober

Another 31 Flavors of Horror "creepy music video bonus. Sober by Tool.

This song... this video... all these years later still just leaves me disquieted.

I just keep asking "What the hell is that? And what the hell is that? AND THAT?" and then I tend to look away... Great song, and the album it's on, Undertow, is also terrific. (I may be reviewing the documentary about Maynard James Keenan's winery, Blood Into Wine: The Arizona Stronghold, soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that!)

31 Days of Horror #17: Friday the 13th: Part 6: Jason Lives

 Another night out with my main-machete-man, Jason Voorhees, and he's back to the boring, driven killer zombie and mama's boy that I first fell for, lo those many moons ago. Another helping of Friday the 13th action for you during the 31 Flavors of Horror month of October.

My little bonus anecdote is towards the bottom of the review and it regards Jennifer Cooke. Our leading lady wound up relaxing after her time in the trenches with a cup of Sleepytime, my most favorite of teas. Check it out!

31 Flavors of Horror #17:
Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives

Ok, now these dates are just getting predictable. This is our sixth "Friday night" together, and you brought your mother for the first 3...

Is the passion waning? After the "Dead Fuck" of part four and dead fish that was part five, you gotta bring your A-game if you wanna spend this Friday night with me, Jason. Are you up to it?

Well, at least this one looks better. Films three and five were pretty damn bland and ugly and four wasn't much of a winner. A newer, blonder Tommy -this time the dishy Thom Matthews of The Return of the Living Dead and Albert Pyun's muse -and Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter ditch the asylum and go dig up Jason's coffin - an act the movies always make look much easier than it'd really be. I think the editing helps. So they crowbar up the lid and reveal one gruesomely cobwebby, rotted, worm-riddled bag of bones. Well, Tommy wisely chooses to grab a big iron bar and stab the crap outta that corpse (Horshack wisely observes "oh, shit") and chucks the mask in. Then shit gets hokey. Two big lightning bolts hit that iron bar, and our decayed corpse proves to have beautifully un-decayed brown eyes.

(Lots of Spoilers follow, and if you had psychic powers like Tina, you'd know that...)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #16: Dead & Buried

 Today's 31 Flavors of Horror entry, Dead & Buried, is a cult classic that if you haven't seen it yet, you should stop now and go get a copy and give it a watch. It's a great fall movie, to save for some drizzly night when you just wanna stay in and enjoy something a little cerebral, a little trashy, and a lot of fun.

I think it really does have the heart of a Twilight Zone episode, and it's a twisty and sometimes nonsensical ride. But if you're taking it, may I recommend as a bonus getting the "Inflation Fighter" from Adriatico's Pizza? It's a delicious, heaping monstrosity of a pizza - one I first had the night I rewatched this -and perfect for the rainy night-good spooky movie-delicious pizza trifect!

31 Flavors of Horror #16:
Dead & Buried

I first saw Dead & Buried 10 years ago and didn't remember much about it beyond loving it. Upon seeing it was available now on Blu-Ray I figured it was time to order in from Netflix and give it another shot.

No bones are made about the fact that you do not want to be welcomed to the lovely sea-side village of Potter's Bluff. The first esteemed guest we meet gets flashed by a pretty girl and then set on fire. This... is a village of mixed signals.

The Sheriff is unaware, but all the local mechanics and waitresses, fishermen, and families are all in on a big secret. They like to film and photograph it, but the star of the show's busy getting murdered, so unlikely to care about their best angle.

(Spooky twists and turns lie after the jump!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #15: Vampire Circus (Also, One A Week Reviews #41)

 I liked Vampire Circus so much that, even though I wrote this review for DVD Snapshot back in April, I saved presenting it on my own site until October so it could be part of the 31 Flavors of Horror. I also thought it should be one of the titles doing double duty as a One A Week Review.

This Hammer Horror came in a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack chock-full of goodies and it's definitely worth getting your hands on. A seriously fun, old-school movie watching experience.
31 Flavors of Horror #15:
Vampire Circus

Official Synopsis:

A little girl is brutally slain by a vampire in a tiny 10th century Austrian village. Seeking revenge, the townspeople invade the foreboding castle of Count Mitterhaus and kill him for the crime. As the Count died, he curses the villagers and vows their children will all die so that he may someday return to life. Fifteen years later, as the village is ravaged by the plague, a traveling circus comes to town and distracts the villagers from their current hardships. Little do they know that their troubles are only beginning! The circus is actually a troupe of shape-shifting vampires and, as the local children start disappearing, they realize the prophecy of the long dead Count is coming true. Synapse Films is proud to present Vampire Circus, now available for the first time on home video in glorious 1080p high-definition and loaded with amazing extras you can really sink your teeth into!

Our Take:

The above synopsis accurately captures the prologue of Vampire Circus, but neglects to mention the dark sexuality implied in it. A mother feeding her own child to her vampire lover is just as deliciously wrong now as in 1971. When the aggressively lascivious circus folk roll in to the already plague-ridden Austrian berg where our tale is set, the line between staid old-guard values and Seventies permissiveness is clearly drawn. Will our staid Burgermeister be able to uphold the society's conventions against a circus featuring a writhing body-painted snake woman and dark-eyed panther boy? How can he when they can seduce every local lady in sight?

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror BONUS: Hammer Horror

While putting together these posts for my 31 Flavors movie review project, I stumbled up on the news that Kate Bush has a new album coming out around the end of the year.  (She once took over a decade off in between albums and now two in eight months? That's just showing off...)

These two acts in tandem got "Hammer Horror" stuck in my head for an hour, so I thought I'd (pass the earworm along) share her tribute to the studio and the spooky movies they made as a bit of a 31 Flavors of Horror bonus...

 Wow... what a ham. I'm a fan, mind you, but some people play to the back row. Can mugging for the camera be scary?

Another thought - I used to do a Song o' the Day feature on Big Lug Land when I first got her started - think I should try again? (My taste in music is, I assure you, wide and varied. Little of it comes with weirdly dance major performance art videos...)

31 Flavors of Horror #14: Night of the Demons (2009)

Ha! It's Friday and I just know you were expecting another Friday the 13th review, but I thought I'd do the (really not at all) unpredictable and mix it up a bit here for the 31 Flavors of Horror. However it is a remake, which is practically the same as a sequel, street cred-wise.

This redux of Night of the Demons has some painfully dumb moments, but there's some flashy graphics and lots of fun to be had. When I actually wrote this, quite a while back, there was a lot going on. It was a few days before my birthday, I was snowed in, and I also had a friendship limp to an end that day. There's a story there probably more interesting than any told by this movie.

31 Flavors of Horror #14:
Night of the Demons (2009) 

Angela's throwing a party in an abandoned mansion in New Orleans this time around, and this time the guest list is full of ho-bags. The reheated Night of the Demons is all loud noises, jump-scares, and decent gore. It's lots of noise but is there payoff?

Monica Keena is the lead, but Diora Baird and Bobbi Sue Luther are her pals. Are they here to just be shameless eye candy and characters we don't have to invest in? Their first conversation involves Brazilian waxes. so 'nuff said.

(A few spoilers after the break)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #13: Friday the 13th, Part 5: A New Beginning

I had no choice but to feature a Friday the 13th title for the 13th entry of 31 Flavors of Horror... unfortunately I shoulda timed things out better so it wouldn't be one of the really bad ones. This is as opposed to the others, who're just "the bad ones." This was not the best of my "dates" with Jason. It's like he wasn't even there... 

I found it best to pass the time with this one by coming up with nicknames for characters... 

...and napping.

31 Flavors of Horror #13
Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning  

Another Friday, another night in with Jason. In this, part five, things start to get a little unusual, as it's the "whodunnit" of the Friday movies. This one opens up with a bang. We're immediately stomping around in the stormy woods, in impossibly heavy rain. Corey Feldman is back, in a raincoat visiting the annoyingly well-tended grave of serial killer Jason. He arrives just ahead of a few profoundly stupid men, egging each other to dig faster into the grave in what sure seems like their sublimation of their attraction to one another.

Anyhow, int he well-lit woods, during this typhoon rain, the two dumb-asses open the casket and get killed by the worm-riddled Jason. It was probably irresponsible of whoever buried him to throw the machete in there. I mean, clearly they didn't read the script. Jason then stalks after terrified little Tommy and brings the machete smack down on him... but it was all a dream. Stupid cop-out.

Tommy wakes up as a different actor who looks nothing like him, who could be anywhere from 6 to 15 years older. Evidently he also wakes up a whack-a-doo, as he's a van labeled for the loony bin.

(Lots of spoilers ahead)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #12: Blue Sunshine

A deeply WTF, seventies time capsule reviewed for DVD Snapshot. This entry in the 31 Flavors of Horror is not the tastiest, but I definitely enjoyed it. You may find that a bald, 70's LSD-fueled maniac is YOUR Halloween costume of choice. I rewatched Jeff Lieberman's Squirm recently and, while it terrified me when I saw it on the USA Network as a kid, it didn't pack quite the same punch now. Still a lot of fun, though!

Blue Sunshine: For the "This is your hairline on drugs" campaign?

31 Flavors of Horror #12:
Blue Sunshine  

Official Synopsis:
The classic cult horror film, from acclaimed writer/director Jeff Lieberman, is a masterpiece of psychological suspense and terror.

At a party, someone goes insane and murders three women. Falsely accused of the brutal killings, Jerry (Red Shoe Diaries' Zalman King) is on the run. More bizarre killings continue with alarming frequency all over town. Trying to clear his name, Jerry discovers the shocking truth... people are losing their hair and turning into violent psychopaths and the connection may be a drug all the murderers took a decade before. Soon, if Jerry can't stop it, the horror will become uncontrollable... the horror caused by Blue Sunshine!

Our Take:
Jerry Zipkin has a problem. A nice guy, he sticks around at a party to try and find an upset friend and winds up the number one suspect in multiple murders after the real culprit winds up hit by a truck. It's a pretty stirring set up to Blue Sunshine, a story seemingly about LSD paranoia in a cocaine age.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #11: Friday the 13th, Part 4: The Final Chapter

Number 11 in my 31 Flavors of Horror series, and it's another night out with my main-machete-man, Jason Voorhees. I fear Significant Other will start to get jealous, but then I just picture Jason getting run over with a Volvo and I know my home life will be just fine. Tomorrow, we're taking a break, but since Thursday is the 13th of the month, you can probably guess what's coming then...

31 Flavors of Horror #11:
Friday the 13th, Part IV: The Final Chapter 

Oh, my gosh, it's like I'm in some sort of masochistic relationship ("He hit me with a machete and it felt like a kiss") and I'm back for part IV, or "4" if you're not a Classical Roman.

We kick off with a zippy montage that mixes footage from the first three to get you up to speed, not that much homework is required to know what's going on. We then pick up at the scene of the last film, with police bagging axes and taking away bodies. "He got seven kids and three bikers," so, perhaps sadly, Dana Kimmell lives to bore another day.

An antsy ambulance crew takes Jason to the morgue where we meet my favorite movie type, the sloppily-eating coroner! The staff here is as randy as Haddonfield General's, and we all know that it's the proximity of mediocre sexual activity that provokes Jason. I'm not sure what channel ran soft-core aerobics, but that's what the horny coroner's watching when he gets a saw to the neck. Jason guts his sexy nurse friend, and we jump to the jiggly mom and daughter Jarvis jogging in the woods.

This is where we meet our real star, Corey Feldman, as Tommy Jarvis, the video-game and movie make-up obsessed stand-out of the series. His story kinda mirrors Jason's by the end of things. His life will be ruined by horny teens calling up the murder of his mother in the woods beside Crystal Lake (the movie came out in 1984, so I don't care about spoilers).

(Lots of spoilers ahead) 

Monday, October 10, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #10: Friday the 13th, Part 3 in 3-D

Day 10 of the 31 Flavors of Horror - 1/3rd of the way to Halloween, and we have... yet another sequel. Well, in my defense, I was given a three pack and then, as you'll see soon, I got a bit carried away since. I happen to be a bit of a compulsive when it comes to sequels. If I see one, I feel I should see 'em all. In sequence. So, four Resident Evils last week and now we're on our third Friday the 13th... sensing a trend yet? I am. Don't worry, they won't ALL be sequels... just a fair bunch of them will.

I also like to pretend that watching the movies are like little "dates" I'm going on with my main-machete-man, Jason Voorhees. I adore him so. The strong, silent, rotty type...

Don't like it? Pick 31 for me to watch and review for next year. (Gee, I hope I don't regret saying that...) 

Bonus: I stumbled across this terrific blog from 2009 featuring 3D images from the movie. This whole blog is worth checking out.

31 Flavors of Horror #10
Friday the 13th, Part 3 in 3-D

Date number three with Friday the 13th should be the big one. Third dates are traditionally where the fireworks go off, right?

As Part 3 opens, we go straight from Ginny from number 2 to one really annoying local couple. Billowing 3D laundry isn't the most exciting way to start a horror movie, but seeing the low-rent blowsy Sandy Dennis wannabe get it for whining at hubby Harold is worth it. They're really such a cartoonish and awful couple that it's practically a delight to finally watch them die (especially after we have to join him on the john before he does). As they're locals and not related to the camp, one can only assume he kills them because they're awful people.

Then, sadly, you meet Kris, Dana Kimmell, and learn they'd be a much better pair of leads. Kris is a sex negative stiff who immediately mentions something ominous happened to her a long time ago at the lake. Plot exposition also introduces us to the obnoxious jokester Shelly ("would you be yourself, if you looked like this?") the walking fat joke, 4 sex-hungry teens, Kris, and a pair of stoners who could out-toke Cheech and Chong head off to a vacation on Crystal Lake at her family farm.

(Lots of spoilers ahead) 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #9: Friday the 13th, Part 2

Another day, another taste of the 31 Flavors of Horror. Most of the genre's success is owed to horror movies. In fact, most of Paramount's fortunes during the 1980's is built on the cash brought in by Jason Voorhees and his lovely mother. Both of those things mean that sequels are unavoidable in general, and this month in particular. So, settle in... over the next few weeks I'm going on several excursions with my main-machete-man, Jason.

(Significant Other isn't worried about this assignation, having self-esteem healthy enough to not be threatened by a zombie-slasher with bad social skills from the movies.)

31 Flavors of Horror #9:
Friday the 13th, Part 2

Why am I trudging through the Friday the 13th movies again? I haven't seen them since my teens, and they are at heart movies directed at teens. My teens were a while back, so it seems I'm choosing to revisit the series as a supposed grow-up out of some need to re-embrace the fun distractions of my youth. Can it really be juvenilia if you never give them up, these comic books and horror movies? I like to think my embracing them to this day means I was a prodigy with advanced interests for my youthful years.

Part II opens with Alice (Adrienne King), the "final girl" from the first film, and her ever expanding mushroom-hairdo in her fern-filled, badly decorated apartment. Seems Jason, the dead kid from the first movie is not only (retconned into being) alive, but has bothered to drag his rotting ass out of the forest and over to Alice's clutter-filled home. He even considerately brings his mother's head along with him. I kinda picture him carrying it around in a bowling bag. Alice gets one final shower, crank phone-call, and "spring-loaded cat" in before (sadly, I think) getting her loose end tied up. It may be just as well as the apartment made it look like she was turning into both a bad artist and a hoarder.

(Lots of spoilers ahead) 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #8: Basket Case (Also, One A Week Review #40)

It's time for a new scoop of the 31 Flavors of Horror, and it's also Saturday, meaning it's my One A Week Review. What better way to celebrate both of these occasion than with the 42 St. Grindhouse superstar, Belial the deformed, murderous Siamese Twin in his debut, Basket Case, which was just released on Blu-Ray. I was lucky enough to get to review this for DVD Snapshot, but this is a fun, sleazy, playful flick I revisit every few years.

C'mon, you know you want to! 

Bonus: if you ever wondered what happened to the beautiful leading lady Terri Susan Smith, she now works as an artist who creates amazing, one-of-a-kind stone bowls.

31 Flavors of Horror #8:
Basket Case

Official Synopsis:
Carrying a mysterious wicker basket wherever he goes, Duane Bradley checks into a flea-bag hotel in New York's Times Square. What's in the basket, you ask? Why, it's Duane's hideously misshapen Siamese twin brother, Belial! Together, they're in town to hunt down and wreak havoc on the sleazy surgeons who separated them...

With memorably gruesome scenes – such as the screaming woman with the scalpels stuck in her face – and some disturbing stop-motion animation, Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case is one of the most beloved, cheerfully demented cult classicks of all time. And now, for the very first time, Basket Case has been remastered in high Definition, making Belial look even ghastlier than ever before!

So go ahead and open the basket... if you dare!

Our Take:
Calling this a “Cult Classick,” as they do in the official synopsis, isn't really a typo. Basket Case revels in it's cheap “grindhouse”aesthetic. Everything on-screen is dilapidation and peeling paint. If nothing else, the footage of seedy circa-1980 Times Square would make this a must watch.

This horror-comedy hybrid is about two forcibly separated but psychically linked Siamese twins. Duane is (Kevin Van Hentenryck) normal looking and na├»ve, but Belial is a deformed, tiny monstrosity with disturbing eyes and outsized claws. They gleefully go about “The Big Apple” tracking down the doctors that split them up to get revenge. As Duane would like to be free to pursue a girl and Belial requires constant attention and a wicker basket, there's a running theme about striking out from one's family and claiming independence. (Just because that family member is a murderous, lumpen head with arms cleaved from the torso doesn't mean a general audience can't relate to them.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

31 Flavors of Horror #7: Friday the 13th (Uncut) (1980)

Many horror review bloggers - as opposed to those of us dilettantes who just fancy ourselves to be - are probably more original than I and not using the first Friday in October as an excuse to post a Friday the 13th review. I, however, am shameless and have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. What can I say? I throw myself on the mercy of the court! 

There's not much you haven't heard about this one, so I really just pinged out a few thoughts here about the cast. In the event that you haven't seen it... and if you're enough of a horror movie fan to bother to read even this far I'm going to assume you have... but if you haven't, check it out. Since this was made before most of the "slasher rules" were set it almost plays out like a very gruesome version of Ten Little Indians. Check it out -- the original is still the best!

FRIDAY THE 13th (UNCUT) (1980)

Here's what I never noticed before about Friday the 13th - just how dingy, drafty, damp and moldy that damn camp looks. Camp really does look like a miserable, cold place; full of dry-rotted wood and mud everywhere you look. It also seems to be a place so devoid of creature comforts that the killer shouldn't be blaming the counselors for shacking up. They're just trying to stay warm and stave off the boredom.

Anyhow, this hoary old chestnut, the one that started it all, has been reviewed to death. I'm not sure I'd have any new observations about it, even with this remastered, uncut version, but watching the DVD goosed up on a Blu-Ray player through an HDMI cable really brings the chill home. The sound of rain is constant once it gets started. The arrows through throats and axes to faces look darn good, too. This was the first time in years I'd watched it, and this uncut version does deliver a few extra (nice-looking) pumps of blood.

And *why* didn't Laurie Bartram have a film career? She's a strutting, sassing junior Paula Prentiss, gorgeous and personable. By far, she shows the most personality of any of the neophyte actors, including Kevin Bacon.

Adrienne King, who only recently returned to film acting after years of being harassed by a stalker, seems strongest in the scenes where she's alone or with Betsy Palmer. With the other counselors she tends to blend in, though that actually works for the mousy character and to give you the sense that maybe there just might be a question about who survives.

(Spoilers ahead)