Tag Archives: horror

“Night of the Creeps” (1986) REVIEW

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Ho-lee shit this movie is great. It’s so perfect, it’s not even funny. It somehow manages to blend three styles of horror film into one. It takes the 50s B-movie genre, the zombie genre, and the space alien genre and mashes it together into this beautiful, funny, cohesive gem. This is yet another late-80s classic that is very ‘punk rock’ in its execution and isn’t afraid to be funny. That’s the main problem with horror films today — they lack humor.

As I mentioned above, this film somehow manages to bring together three of the most opposite genres perfectly. The first third of the film is in black and white. A couple sits on lovers lane. Over the radio they hear an announcement: a maniac has escaped a hospital for the criminally insane. The girl, scared, wants to go home, but the guy isn’t having it. He leaves to take a leak, and while he’s gone she ends up being slaughtered by the escaped maniac. However, the boyfriend isn’t so safe either, as he discovers a weird canister on the ground from which a leech-like alien jumps out of and into his mouth.

Years later, a young college student falls in love with a girl on campus and decides in order to win her over he must join a frat. As part of his pledge, the young guy has to steal a cadaver from the university medical center cryogenics lab. He and his buddy do so, but little do they know the body they attempt to steal is the corpse of the young man who ate the alien leech many years ago.

You can see where this is going: upon defrosting the body, the leeches reanimate and cause the body to come back to life. The leeches also multiple and spread from person to person, usually by flying from the infected’s mouth into the victim’s mouth. Hell breaks loose on campus and it’s great.

This was directed by Fred “The Monster Squad” Dekker and stars genre staple Tom Atkins. What’s not to love?

“Eden Lake” (2008) REVIEW

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Upon watching this movie, initially I was really afraid it was going to take the easy way out and go down the ‘torture porn’ route, but I was pleasantly surprised when that just happened to just be a fleeting moment in the second act. The movie actually borrows from my favorite genre: the home invasion. However in this case, in an interesting spin, the protagonists in this film are actually the interlopers.

A young couple decide to take a woody retreat one weekend. While on a secluded beach, some loud and thuggish youngsters show up and blast music and let their dog run free. The young couple request that they keep it down and keep the dog leashed, to which the kids reply “you’re on our territory”. Here’s where the reversal comes in. Suddenly it’s the good guys who are invading the bad guys territory. The couple is insistent, but the young punks don’t relent. Soon it escalates well beyond what it should and all fucking hell breaks loose. The movies becomes very bad very quickly.

I really, really, really enjoyed this film. I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, nor did I realize the handsome lead was a pre-fame Michael Fassbender, but the movie is full of surprises, including the ending (which I won’t give away). The movie had me edgy the whole time, wondering what was going to happen next. It also brought to mind something that happens on a daily basis: when do you back down? When do you swallow your pride and move on? I guess you never know until you’re being chased by a group of drugged-up teens.

“Timecrimes” (2007) REVIEW

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I can’t explain much without giving the coolest parts of the film away – because things get real weird about a third of the way in. But I’ll try. In fact, I’ll use Wikipedia’s explanation: “In the Spanish countryside, a middle-aged man named Héctor and his wife live in a home that they are renovating. Héctor looks at the forest behind their house with binoculars, when he sees someone who turns out to be a young woman undressing. His wife leaves to go shopping so he investigates, only to be stabbed and chased by a mysterious man wearing pink bandages on his face. After fleeing and breaking into a mysterious building, Héctor is contacted by a scientist who warns him of the bandaged man and guides him to his location, promising safety. The scientist convinces Héctor to hide from the bandaged man in a large mechanical device. However, when he leaves the machine, he discovers that he has traveled several hours back in time.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I better stop there. That’s already giving far too much away. But seriously, the dude with the bloody bandages on his face is awesome. This movie blew my mind, and despite using hyperbole often, I really mean it. My brain hurt a little after watching this. It’s pretty incredible.

 

“Zombi 2” (1979) REVIEW

ZombieFleshEaters2While this movie should be shown in school as some sort of requirement to graduate, I still feel it’s unwatched enough by entry-level horror fans to be included on this list.

Maybe Lucio Fulci’s best known work, it was oddly marketed as a sequel to Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” — which it most certainly is not.

When zombies are found on an abandoned yacht in a New York harbor, the vessel is traced back to an island where it’s owner, a doctor, was last seen. The island, as it turns out, was suffering from a ‘strange disease’. The doctor’s daughter, along with some allies, stupidly goes in search of her father on the contaminated island. You can guess what happens next.

This is an Italian production, so you know what to expect: fast, cheap production; slow pacing; funky music; gore; tits. The movie contains several memorable scenes, including ‘the eyeball gag’ and ‘zombie fights shark’. It’s also notable for its creepy portrayal of the zombies, going for an earthy, decaying, ‘claypot’ look.

With Tisa Farrow (Mia’s sis) and Ian McCulloch as your leads you can expect at least decent acting. As I said, this is required viewing. Take notes — there will be a test.

“Wake in Fright” (1971) REVIEW

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“Wake in Fright” is not a horror movie in the traditional sense.  There’s no murder, no death, no overstated violence; There’s no boogeyman, no stalker, no creature that lunges from the shadows.  But the contents of “Wake in Fright” are indeed horrifying, and the peril the lead character finds himself in is far scarier than your typical slasher film, because the circumstances are much more real.

A teacher in a small, Australian town leaves class on the first day of Christmas vacation, boarding a train in hopes of seeing his girlfriend a couple hours away in Sydney.  There’s a layover in an even smaller, more desolate town called Bundanyabba where the teacher decides to grab a hotel room.  With nothing but time on his hands, he heads to a nearby bar.  Despite keeping to himself, he’s immediately greeted by the local sheriff who buddies up to him, buying him round after round deep into the night.  At first the teacher is cold and aloof, thinking himself above the locals.  But soon he’s drunk, and he eventually warms up to the sheriff, who introduces him to a gambling circuit happening in the back room of the bar.  The teacher starts out hot, winning hand after hand, resulting in fistfuls of cash.  He runs back to his room, awed by the amount of money he has won.  It is not enough, however, and soon greed consumes him, and he heads back to the bar where he proceeds to lose every dollar to his name.  Broke and stranded in a town he does not know, he must rely on the sketchy locals he earlier shunned for sympathy and support.  What started out as a stop for the night winds up being a three day plunge into the depths of humanity.  I don’t want to give it all away.  But I assure you, you’ll feel yucky when it’s all over.

I believe the film “U-Turn” — a movie I really enjoy — was inspired greatly by this movie.  A very similar set of circumstances befall both leads.  But while the small town characters in “U-Turn” are over the top, cartoonish caricatures, the people of Bundanyabba are flesh and bone, and as real and frightening as any person with nothing left to lose.

Lastly, sometimes you see a movie and the subject matter happens to coincide with current events in your life that make the movie all the more important and memorable.  When I was younger, I saw “Twister” during a particularly active tornado season in my small southern town.  Afterwards, walking down my street, gray skies overhead and wind whipping the trees back and forth, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scene I’d viewed just a few hours earlier in which a tornado rips through a movie screen at a drive-in theater.  The similarities between the fictional and factual incidences coalesced to create a memory I can recall to this day in vivid detail.

“Wake in Fright” worked similarly: I watched the film during a particularly hot stretch toward the end of summer.  Plus, I got drunk while watching it, which is kind of the best way to see it.  As I sat there, sweating while guzzling down copious amounts of ice cold beer, I couldn’t help but feel like one of the characters: trapped by the inescapable heat and my own drunkenness.  I could almost taste the dust and hear the flies buzzing.  A truly hopeless feeling.

Trivia: Directed by the guy who did “First Blood” and “Weekend At Bernie’s”.