Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Funhouse (1981)

Final Girl Film Club time. It's been way too long since I got involved in this.

Grah... Disappointed!

After a promising first sequence involving a showering girl being stalked all POV style, this falls into the old trap of taking too damn long to get going. The Funhouse is 96min, thirty of which are taken up with the main characters simply wandering around the carnival. It's scene setting, sure, but it's to the extent of being bor-ring.

Favourite thing about the film was these moments:

What the...?

When we finally do get inside the funhouse itself, things improve a little, with some fairly creepy anamatronics and nice use of lighting.

The foursome pair off for some heavy petting but are interrupted by overhearing - and upon investigation, witnessing - a commotion which results in murder. Their presence is discovered and a deformed carnival worker is dispatched to take care of them by any means.

Obviously it's here the film is at its best. There's some nice work with the mannequins.

Ultimately however, the characters were either annoying or weak, so their being in peril didn't mean much.

The opening credits suggest some effed up shit involving creepy motorised dummies. I am sorry to report that we're subjected to too much of the bad acting kind of dummy, as opposed to anything else.

You laugh it up all you want love, we shan't be meeting again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

House of Wax (2005).

House of Wax, in this blogger's humble opinion, fails as a horror film. However, it does succeed in pleasing mine eye on more than one occasion.

Yeah yeah, 50s America makes Jo hot. We know this.

One of the few moments I believed her.

Watching the film and capping the best bits so you don't have to. You're welcome!

Mum & Dad (2008).

It takes a certain something to get under the skin of a horror fan, I think. Not only have we seen a fair amount of messed up stuff, we actively seek it out. That alone usually means our expectations of "sick and twisted" are way worse than your average Joe. Our points of reference for fucked up are, well... fucked up.

This film includes a scene where a man wanks off using a disembodied uterus. There, I said it. Moving swiftly on...

When I speak about Mum & Dad, the word I keep using is "solid". It seems appropriate. There's nothing extraneous about it, everything seems to serve a purpose. At 84mins long it's a simple, stout little flick.

Lena, a quiet Polish girl, is lured from her workplace of Heathrow airport into the home of a couple known only as Mum and Dad. With the co-operation of their adopted children (read: promoted past victims) Birdie and Elbie, she is held captive and subjected to torture of just about every kind.

The viewer and Lena both, are plunged into this world. The first time we see Dad (Perry Benson, someone who most Brits view as anything but threatening in his roles) he's straight from dismembering a victim; covered in blood, panting and agitated he looks ready to destroy Lena in at least three ways. Then in comes Mum, a soothing voice and apparent good cop to his bad. Of course, it transpires that she is just a colder more controlled kind of insane.

The foursome function as a family unit would, but with some shocking tweaks to the traditional. As they eat breakfast in the kitchen, a porn film plays noisily in the background; household chores include disposing of entrails and burning the clothes of victims. In moments of anger Dad shouts phrases one might hear from an irate parent ("When you live under my roof you'll abide by my rules!" etc) but they have far more disturbing consequences than a simple grounding.

Once Lena is in the house, this is where the story plays out, with only frustrating glimpses of the oblivious outside world. She attempts to escape and is punished multiple times, and one of the more alarming involving her being shut in a suitcase and beaten with a mallet.

Time after time she tries and fails. She discovers an atrocity in the attic and a fellow hostage she can't save in another room. Her spirit is still there, but it is dwindling. As she grows thinner and more bruised, we are forced to wonder if she might just give up and accept her place in this perverse household.

Her very last bid for freedom is like the film itself: bloody and intelligently paced. I didn't feel able to guess with any confidence how this story would conclude and I liked that.

This appears to be director Steven Sheil's biggest project to date and it shows - in a good way! Keeping things uncomplicated means keeping things strong. The narrative, characters and location all feel as well rounded as they need to be. The film has weight.

Definitely one to check out if nasty little Brit flicks are something you get a kick out of.

Monday, October 11, 2010

hanging on the 📞 ...See No Evil.

The telephone. More specifically, the mobile telephone. The bane of a horror movie set in a modern age.

"Why don't they just use their cell?" ... This question has to be knocked on the head, and early on. Cue the ever-present sequence of something happening to somehow disable the thing.

In See No Evil, the solution is more creative than simply losing a signal...

in the post.

Seriously guys, I know I am rubbish at updating this and it breaks my heart. If only I had MORE TIME. Or... could manage the time I do have, better.

In any case, it's my birthday tomorrow so as a present to myself I'm gonna watch a film of the horror persuasion tonight. Either I will bash out a review quickly thereafter, or start one to be posted later this week. I have some ideas for themed, screencap only posts as well (inspired as ever by my hero Stacie Ponder) so this blog WILL become more juicy and full of life soon. This cat just needs some discipline.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dawn Of The Living Dead / Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya (2004)

"Don't mind him, he's a bit protective. And retarded."

Good lord. Okay well, this film isn't very good. And it isn't from 2004* as that link suggests.

For the most part it's just plain dull and for the remainder it's laughably absurd and kind of confusing.

Renee has just been released from a psychiatric hospital and her fiance Martin Sheen Jeffrey buys them a house in the middle of nowhere to help her convalesce.

As with all best laid plans in horror movies, this goes horribly wrong. Renee isn't imagining all of these increasingly weird encounters. She's not crazy you guys! In fact, she's just about the only sane character in this mess.

It transpires that a Mayan family were murdered in the house, and their zombie spirits are wandering around, requiring a proper burial to put them to rest. Needless to say, a good few extras die before this fact is unearthed.

The deaths and the gore are the film's only strength - unless you count the theme song (and yes, the entire film is available on Youtube, so I'm glad I only splashed out 99p on it).

The zombies claw and gouge and it's all very mucky and smooshy in their rotten hands. So that's cool.

Best gore/special fx/my jaw just dropped off moment has got to be the zombie baby.

Yes, you read correctly.

Good guy (hunky handyman love interest) turned bad guy (Mayan murdering a-hole) Michael gets attacked by his ghoulish offspring. It looks like something from Brain Dead.

He punches it, by the way. He punches a zombie baby in its face.

Apart from that though, the film stinks worse than an undead diaper. Find that part on Youtube and save yourself the pain of having to watch the other 88mins.

There's a rape scene that might not actually be a rape scene at all, it's hard to say; many instances of shitty CGI...

...a bizarrely scored "sexy" dance and let's not forget the fact that much of the film is shot in eye aching half-light.

Your money isn't in question here, but I'd say don't even waste your time on this one, ladies and germs.

"The dead don't know they're dead.
"Wait, are you telling me... the dead don't know they're dead?"

*I was wrong. It IS from 2004. Mind blowing. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Masters of Horror.

Have I ever mentioned that I find the opening titles to Masters of Horror gives me the willies more than any of the actual episodes I've seen?

There's just something about them that spooks me.

Unfortunately from my experience, the features themselves never come close to this creepiness.

Does anyone have a MoH episode they enjoyed enough to recommend? I used to own this but none of those movies did anything for me at all. Granted, I'm basing my opinions on that boxset and one other episode alone, but I'm starting to wonder if it's worth continuing dredging through hours of shit in the hope of finding a hint of gold.

What may have tipped me over the edge was The Washingtonians. Jesus H Christ it was bad.

Why are they all varying shades of bad? Is there any reason as to why the episodes aren't genuinely chilling? There were certainly enough impressive names to put some weight behind this, why was the end product so thoroughly mediocre?

Scratching around for an answer, I wondered if it might be a case of the laws of TV being somehow restricting to the material. A little sniffing around revealed that the show was broadcast on Showtime, on a Friday night at 10pm (EST). According to IMDb its certification was"TV-MA"
Mature Audience Only
This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).
So it's certainly not a matter of not being given enough "freedom" to make a decent story. Made-for-TV horror doesn't have to suck. It is possible to do, and do well.

We're talking basic genre knowledge here. A lot of the episodes I've seen are pretty gore-filled, but that alone does not a great horror yarn make.

Am I being too harsh? Would seeking out more of these lead to further disappointment? Advice and recommendations welcome.

Monday, July 26, 2010


So er, I've been given a(nother) award. You people are CRAZY.

This time around the bearer is Jinx, of Totally Jinxed blog. She has given me this little beaut.

Thank you so much, Jinx! I am honoured.

However I don't know that I can think of another seven "interesting" facts about myself, so I may have to play the cheek card here and direct anyone who's interested in such a thing (and my blog recommendations) here. Everything still stands!

Bah, always when I start feeling like this blog is a silly idea, something happens to snap me out of it. Cheers guys ♥

Friday, July 23, 2010

not really a review of Jennifer's Body.

Y'know some people have motivational pictures on the refrigerator, to help them lose weight?

I might put this on mine.

Jennifer's Body has highlighted to me how sick I am of being an armchair critic. Whilst watching I began to feel angry that this film wasn't more - that too many films aren't more. But this anger never really goes anywhere constructive. If I manage to wring a review out of it I'm lucky; more often than not, though, I'm just frustrated and inarticulate about it all.

I think it might be time for a different approach.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Five Across The Eyes (2006).

Five high school girls get lost in the backwoods and are chased for the entirety of the film by a psychopathic killer (also female - here's a nice promo image of her).

Even though the DVD artwork hints at a higher budget, the moment I saw the Imagination Worldwide logo glowing on screen, I got flashbacks of The Hamiltons (review here) and knew exactly what was in store: not the worst movie ever but more than likely one which, a couple more drafts and edits down the line, could have been greatly improved upon.

To start with the good: the low budget look and feel does lend itself nicely to the more grisly moments. Watching someone getting their teeth bashed in on what looks like a home video is always going to have more impact.

Smaller scoped flicks like this are also prone to push the envelope with what type of atrocities are committed, and how. Five Across The Eyes has a rape by screwdriver in it, downplayed to the extent you almost miss it. You've got to respect that.

Now, the less good.

The running time of 95mins feels much longer and considering that the action in the movie amounts to watching these kids drive, cry, scream, get tortured, retaliate, repeat... a huge chunk of this should have been sheared off to make for a tighter, tauter story. This isn't rocket science and I don't know why it happens so bloody often.

By all means have much of the story take place in (and all of it shot from, apparently) the van, but realise that over an hour and a half of this is going to get a bit repetitive? Kill your babies in the edit people, c'mon!

There's also the fact that - and maybe I'm just speaking with my gender representation hard-on here - all of the characters are women, but nothing is ever really done with this. Yes okay, on the one hand that's cool, because why should it be an issue? Can't they just be characters in a narrative, women are people too, etc etc? And yet I still feel the tagline of this film should have been "An Opportunity Wasted".

I don't need something to write a thesis on, but a little more depth and a lot less screaming wouldn't have gone amiss.

There's a glint of something here, which makes it all the more frustrating. Although it may feel like it for the most part, not all characters are screamers. Within the group there is a spectrum of toughness and like the previously reviewed Eden Lake, as the ordeal becomes worse and more prolonged, the likelihood of vengeance wreaking from the good guys increases.

Indeed, a leveling shift in all of the girls at the end of the film means they've experienced enough to be able to fight back, setting upon their enemy like a pack of dogs.

And they really go to town on this bitch. Not stopping at beating her; they also repeatedly stab and... set her alight.

Intense! Yet the above doesn't happen until the final twenty minutes or so - AND another mistake is made of not ending with this bleak, cold sequence. Instead, everyone clambers back into the van, we're treated to more driving and a really lame joke before the credits finally roll.

The film feels like someone trying to pick up a ball but every time they get close to it, their big clumsy feet kick it away again.