Archive for » May, 2007 «

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Omnibus: Fear and Loathing in Gozovision

Throughout the years there have been few writers that have stood out quite as much as the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Those in the know are quite familiar with his deranged mind and his gift of gonzo journalism. Those not in the know, BBC’s ‘Omnibus’ documentary, Fear and Loathing in Gozovision is a crash course in who exactly Hunter Thompson was, and what helped shaped the man who single handedly destroyed Las Vegas in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Known primarily for his aforementioned book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a tale of a man in search of the American dream all while bending reality with the heavy use of drugs, the man was rather prolific in the day in pursuit of exposing the seedy underbelly of America and it’s politics. An outspoken opposer of Richard Nixon, many of his books were rambling exposes of American politics and the typical bullshit that is packed within. Other books, such as his in depth look at the Hell’s Angels show a side of America that most fear and could not imagine; yet it still exists and Thompson set out to show the truth.

In Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision artist Ralph Steadman, illustrator on nearly all of Thompson’s books, is sent by the BBC to film an up close and personal look at the madman of gonzo as they trek cross country from Colorado to Hollywood. Along this trip we watch along as they revisit Las Vegas some six years after HST’s famous visit, fire hand guns into the country side around his Colorado compound, and break down under the on looking eyes of random passers by in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre simply because there is a camera present.

All in all, this is an up-close and personal look at Dr. Gonzo as many may not have seen him before. Quite possibly the must touching, and saddest part of the documentary is the revelation of Thompson’s struggle with his Raoul Duke character. Dreamt up to give the reader a person to identify with, the Duke character took on a life of its own. Struggling constantly with this it became cumbersome for Thompson as people identified he himself as Raoul Duke, often leaving him wondering which character he is supposed to be; The Duke, or HST. In a rather sobering moment for a change with this man, when Ralph Steadman points out that he always thought the line between Thompson and Duke was blurred, the man actually pauses as he grows angry at the prospect that maybe he is indeed the Duke himself.

For fans of the late doctor, this is a must watch and will be highly enjoyable. For those that have never heard of him, or know nothing aside from Johnny Depp’s portrayal in the Terry Gilliam movie, you’re going to walk away with a sense of ‘that guy’s nuttier than a fruit cake’. Regardless, the man was a journalistic icon through out the years who never shied away from the gritty truth, and this is about as close as we’ll ever get to seeing the reclusive man in action.

5 bat countries out of 5

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Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Big Bad Wolf

Now, in fairy tales, I have always been fascinated with the character the Big Bad Wolf. Even so much to the point that I have started to write my own little tale revolving around the character but, I digress. The movie Big Bad Wolf tries to take on the B-movie falling a tad short of the mark. Where this may be yet another werewolf film, it gave a little more in some places where it was lacking in others. It lands in between camp and Sci-fi Channel original.

The story revolves around a young college student named Derek (Trevor Duke), who lost his father ( Andrew Bowen) in a strange hunting accident. His new step father ( Richard Tyson) was one of his dad’s hunting buddies. The step-dad has this hunting cabin that no one is supposed to visit, but the boy steals the keys in an attempt to impress the local fraternity and goes up with his best friend Sam ( Kimberly J. Brown, who you will remember from Rose Red as the cute little girl…she still looks the same, but in this movie with piercings and tattoos) for a weekend getaway. Unfortunately it is the weekend of the full moon… and well, yeah you know what is going to happen. Now, this could have made for a typical and fun movie. I mean we had all the basic elements. Slutty girls, drunken frat boys, tough chick with a heart and nerdy guy with a spine, crazed lycanthrope and a full moon…. however, just like my prom date, all that build up and it was over in the first fifteen minutes.

The movie then switches into a different gear. However, by trying to take us to a whole psychological and personal level, it gives us no twist, no unknown. We know who the killer is. We know they need to stop him, and we know they are going to. It is too formatted to be any other way. We know exactly what is coming, so there is no heart pounding jumps. We know these types of characters by heart so there is no surprise twist to it. And worst of all, we know who the werewolf is so there is no wondering who to trust. This makes for a boring movie.

The saving grace I felt, was the writing. Lance W. Dreesen , who also directed this film, added some very humorous elements to the film. It made me want to watch to find some more of these little gems. Plus, where as in most werewolf films we get a grunting and growling more-animal-than-man, in this the creature talks. And to me, it made me giggle. However it felt more Freddie Krueger-esq in its deliveries. I still enjoyed it.

Creative deaths; not really, however when our villain is in post-wolf form and finds a finger stuck in his teeth… that was classic. Special effects were on the low scale, the transformation was just poorly CGI’d to death. But then again, after American Werewolf in London, most transformations pale in comparison. And speaking of which… take a look at who makes a cameo as the sheriff. David Naughton! Also making a brief appearance, Clint Howard.

All in all it was ok; I recommend it for the humor alone.

2 Geraldo wannabes out of 5

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Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

28 Weeks Later

In 2002 we watched in wide eyed horror as the UK disappeared under the shambling mass of the infected and Cillian Murphy fought his way free in 28 Days Later. At the time, this was a pretty fresh look at a near zombie plight and one man’s gambit in waking up in the middle of said nightmare. It’s now 2007 and with the release of 28 Weeks Later we get to watch as the US led Nato forces begin to take back the city and repopulate London section by section. As the title implies, 28 weeks have passed since the outbreak of the virus in the first film. All of the infected have died off from the natural progression of the virus and the Nato Forces begin to clean out the corpses and debris left behind in modern day London. With safe sectors and high military presence, every precaution is taken against a second coming of the infected holocaust. As we watch the reunion of long separated father (the ever awesome Robert Carlyle) and his children, we get an up close look of a trauma torn family getting back together and resuming a normal life after the loss of their mother. Soon there is a slip up in security and all hell breaks loose once again, this time in the confines of a locked down London, with little to none in the ways of escape.

As a big fan of the original I was indeed quite pumped up to see the sequel, especially since it had an entirely new cast as well as a different angle and time line. With the trailers promising a tale of more infected fuckery and the plight of a father attempting escape with his two beloved children, I pretty much expected the sappy side of the story with the over dramatic plight of dad and kids, and the usual heart breaking scene where the dad turns into a baddie just moments before their escape forcing the kiddos to leave dad behind as he sacrifices himself for their safety. So heading in I was a bit apprehensive; this is pretty cliché territory as far as plot turns go, but I still had hopes because it had a flock of zombie like goons tearing up London, and it had Robert Carlyle. Can’t be all bad right? Much to my surprise as the move clicked along, I found out at about the thirty minute mark that trailers were in fact heavily misleading. It was then that I realized that they were going no where near the sappy territory I expected and it was also then that I realized, ‘this is going to be a pretty damn good flick!’

Where the first 28 Days gave us a view of the apocalypse from a lone man’s view, 28 Weeks implies a bit of fleshing out for the story line. It would appear that the outbreak was contained mostly to the UK, leaving the rest of the world mostly untouched. This time around we are given a military point of view, and an armed response to rebuilding after the initial outbreak. Throughout the flick there are many comparisons that can be made between the ‘war’ being fought and film, and the way wars are handled in real life. How things can spiral quickly out of control under the guise of aid, the cold handling and response to rebuilding efforts, etc. etc. Luckily the socio-political commentary is not something that flows as thick and syrup here, but it’s there and helps to connect us the viewer to the story just that wee bit more. Moving on, we are shown how the cold hard ‘kill ‘em all!’ ethos of a military state can be what’s needed, as human compassion could further escalate problems. Seems harsh, looks harsh, but with a virus that spreads with a single drop of blood, some times the only thing you can do is sever and start over. This angle in itself makes you feel both sympathetic for the hundreds of dead being shot down in the street, yet you can see the cold hard reality that what needs to be done, needs to be done.

With all the heady talk out of the way, we get to the nuts and bolts of 28 Weeks, which is your basic zombie themes even though our bad guys aren’t technically zombies. (Nerd Alert! These folks are ‘infected’ they never ‘died’!) With fairly taught sequences of zombie massacre, we get a pretty gooey blood bath through out the streets of London. With scenes of a flock of infected being cut down by chopper blades, and the streets of London being fire bombed to clear out the stampeding horde, 28 Weeks bridges into a fun action flick as well. The aerial shots of streets full of napalm were quite well done, and quite enjoyable from the man’s ‘Woo! Shit blows up!’ perspective.

The writing stands out as well here. Managing to flesh out the story of the original flick without rehashing the first story completely, we get a wholly new story in the series ‘universe’. Feeling like the next logical step in the franchise, they still manage to touch back on a few elements of the first flick to tie them together. The first ten minutes revisits the plight of Robert Carlyle and his wife at the end of the first epidemic. This scene in itself goes leaps and bounds to set some of the tone for the rest of the flick as well as proving to us that the trailers have been highly misleading. (Which is a good thing) While the writing was quite enjoyable throughout, my one issue with the movie came from the writing at the very end of the flick. It was apparent that they were setting up a third movie for the series, however the final product (that being the final five minutes of the flick) felt muddy and somewhat confused. It was apparent what had happened and what was happening, however it felt disjointed and a bit obscure. As it was the final five minutes, I honestly didn’t care at that point because the ride up until this point was so fun that it really didn’t matter.

So, aside from a slight stumble at the end, 28 Weeks Later is a worthy sequel and an enjoyable horror flick in it’s own right. The movie has it’s naysayer’s out there, but what movie doesn’t. For my money, throwing real world military tactics into a zombie plot, some high end explosives, snipers, and general chaos to make this zombie feature tied closer to a real world epidemic as to a fantasy viewpoint seen normal makes this one all the more engaging. Corpses rising from the dead chasing around nubile blondes for a light snack? Its fun to watch, but it’s not going to happen. Bio-chemical mishaps creating vicious monsters out of your neighbors, spreading like wild fire across an entire country? Still a pretty out there idea, but far more plausible in today’s age of chemical warfare and viral infections. This twist of realism will make the 28 Days Later shake in your boots a little more than others.

And aside from all that? This flick made me jump at least 3 different times! When I jump, you know it’s pretty darn good.

4.5 napalm street sweepers out of 5

________________________________________

Great googly moogley, I appear to be getting awfully wordy in my old age! Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? You be the judge! Comment below!

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Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Oliver Twisted

The title of the movie Oliver Twisted captured my interest. Anytime a movie plays on a classic work of art, I want to see how it plays out. Usually I am pretty disappointed with the outcome and this time…let’s just say I was left with a whole “heh” feeling.

The basic plot revolves around a basic single parent home consisting of a mother and her son and daughter. The son is your typical pre-teen, full of snappy little comebacks and smart-assed remarks. The sister is 19 and is medicated for some unknown ailment, presumingly dealing with headaches and seizures as well as some mishap with a kid that they never divulge from what I could grasp from the dialogue. A fourth member of the family is an institutionalized cousin, who after killing the staff of the facility he was in is overdosed on tranquilizers and is in a coma, named Oliver ( Jason McMahan). So the doctor (Erik Estrada) decides he is now safe enough to go home. The mom ( Karen Black) has to go out of town. It is the weekend of the daughter named Olivia’s (Signe Kiesel) 20th birthday, so of course she invites her four friends over for a let’s-wash-our-cars-drink-beer-have-sex party.

However, since the arrival of Oliver, Olivia has decided to go off her medication. Because of this, she is having flashes of either what Oliver is doing, or what Oliver is going to do. Now, the worst part of this is that they give us way too much. Now you all know from my reviews, I hate when they don’t give enough, but giving us too much, well that is just worse. They blow the entire climax of the movie. Granted it wasn’t much of a climax, nor was the whole twist any surprise at all. So plot wise, little tension, since we knew what was going to happen already and not enough information kept from us to give anybody a real shock.

Gore effects we decent, some lovely little deaths here and there, but nothing really new and exciting. A lot of it had the feel of the second Friday the 13th, oh hell with any of the Friday the 13ths. Deformed, brain-damaged psychopaths on a lake with a machete is so 1980′s. Also, for you boob-hounds, there are none in this movie at all. There are hints of sex, some focus on some passionate heavy petting which really didn’t do much for the progress of the film, it was more like “Hey we have about 3 minutes of film left, let’s put in some boring sex scenes!” The scenes were awkward. And where they held a lot of sweetness to them, it didn’t really hit the mark where the characters involved were concerned.

The writing was decent, however the delivery not so much. The phone conversations actually had me talking to the screen “You need to pause a little more to feign response to what you said moron!” Some of the funny lines were impotent, so they only got an eye-roll from me. Though I must say the character Bill ( Dave Kramer who was also a stunt coordinator for the first Jackass movie) was very charismatic and brought life to an otherwise lame cast. Plus his death was the most interesting.

As indie films go, it wasn’t all that bad. It could have been better.

2 bowls of cornflakes with whipped cream out of 5

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Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

The Shuttered Room

Ah, curses and crazy people… my movie today was The Shuttered Room which was based on a H.P. Lovecraft tale. At the tender young age of 4, Susanna Kelton (Carol Lynley) was visited by a demon-like creature who lived in her house. Shortly there after her parents die and she, for her own safety, is shipped off by her Aunt Agatha (Flora Robson) to live in New York. Upon her 21st birthday she gets a letter from her parent’s lawyers telling her she has inherited the family home, an abandoned old grain mill. She and her husband decide to check the place out to see if it is fit for making into a summer home.

The house is on a small island and all of the inhabitants are related to each other in some way or another. None of them are too pleased by the fact that Susanna and her husband are there. They attempt to warn them off, telling of a curse on the property, and if anyone stays in the house, they will get maimed or killed.

I have always enjoyed H.P. Lovecraft tales of horror. Most of them tend to revolve around large mansions and demons returning to devour the souls of the innocent (and normally not so innocent). However this story was more along the lines of Jane Eyre. The movie was made in 1969, so it was very tame as far as the genre goes. It was more suspense than an actual horror film. The death count was only 2, and those deaths were lackluster and simple.

This is one of those movies that really demands a remake. The story line was left so limp and begs for a facelift. This could be a horrifying tale, it could have been… but it wasn’t.

1 stolen pair of silk stockings out of 5

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Thursday, May 24th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

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976-Evil

Just when you thought it was safe to call the phone sex hotline once again, 976-Evil spoils it for us once again!

We all know Robert Englund from his stint as the five fingered fright monger of our dreams (and yes, the First Lady of Fright’s dreams, don’t ask), but how many of you remember his first (and at the time only) foray into feature length film? I’d have to imagine that there are a great many of you out there that remember the work, but not the maker as it caught me by surprise as well when his name popped up on the opening credits!

Spike (Patrick O’Bryan) is a bad boy; Harley, pony tail, beer drinking, smoking, the works. Spike lives next door to his cousing Hoax (Stephen Geoffrys; everybody mutter with me now ‘oooo that guy from Fright Night! Who uh…went on to do a whole lot of gay porn evidently!); the mild mannered and nerdy boy that everybody loves to pick on. Hoax’s mom is a bible beating woman who cannot comprehend what has led Spike to his depraved ways while she sits on his family inheritence spending it as she see’s fit until Spike turns 18.

Spike also has a gambling problem and he’s a bit down on his luck. Fed up with his harpy of an aunt and his bumbling cousin Hoax constantly harshing his gig, he’s feeling pretty down and out of sorts. While flipping through a magazine one night he finds a card advertising free ‘Horrorscopes’ if the 1-800 variety. Figuring what the heck, he decides to give the hotline a call and see what it’s all about. Generic horroscopes spew out, he shrugs, Spike continues on as usual. Figuring it was mindless fun, Spike continues to call day after day until one night, the hotline tries to get him to steal a pair of biker gloves. Deciding he wasn’t quite the thug he thought he was he opts out on the shoplifting. When the hotline calls him back urging him on and eventually attempting to kill him with a runaway Camaro, he starts to think something’s up. Que Hoax. Hoax is watching Spike and his awfully cute Cindi Lauper inspired girlfriend (Lezlie Dean) going at it through his telescope. When spike and awfully cute head out to the local Cineplex, Hoax decides to plunder the room for any leftover treasures. (He saw London, he saw France, he found Suzie’s underpants!) While digging through the room Hoax finds the advertisement for the hotline and gives it a call himself. Promising him the girl of his dreams if he went to the late show, Hoax sets off in search of true love. When said true love turns out to be Suzie, who first befriends the awkward boy and soon finds him packing her panties in his back pocket, she embarrasses him in public and runs away. Distraught and angry, Hoax calls the hotline once more for tips and soon sets off for his first kill as guided by the deeply evil sounding Mark Dark (Robert Picardo!) who runs the hotline. From this point on Hoax begins to lead a life of demonic evil as he becomes more and more eeeevil every time he contacts the eeeeeevil hotline. EVIL!

Phew.

So that’s it in a nutshell; a computerized 1-800 call line possesses it’s callers in an attempt to wreak havoc on the mortal plain. Sure this isn’t your typical horror movie slant but really, that’s what makes it worth watching. It’s different. In the days of masked mongoloids killing naked co-eds, burned nerds slaying people in their sleep, and countless other generic slasher icons, 976-Evil tweaks the formula just enough to keep it interesting. There’s some other plot points that help tweak your gourd as well. As we watch the first thirty to forty minutes as Hoax is belittled and bullied by his own family, thugs at school, chicks, you start to feel a little sorry for the guy. As he gains a bit of power and backbone from his Horror Hotline, you start to feel for the man as he gets his vindication and revenge. Just as you smile a little as he beats the hell out of the punks threatening him the school bathroom, he quickly turns the corner to full blooded beast and soon our little roller coaster ride of emotional attachment has gone full circle.

Aside from these little touches, the story in itself is pretty straight forward and standard. What helps to make this fun is our connection with Hoax’s character, and the fun makeup and gore work once the mayhem gets rolling. Stephen Geoffrys, while not in a lot of horror flicks, (gay porn, another story) (per iMDb, not first hand experience) always manages to turn in a stand out b-movie performance. You may not know his name, but I guarantee you’ll recognize his face. Hamming it up with the best of them as he turns into his full demonic form, soon you will begin to grin as the cheesy one liners begin to come forth.

So, horror fans of my generation and older should remember this little nugget, and hopefully you’ll be intrigued enough to make a return visit. It’s campy original story makes for something different while still managing to provide the slasher staples we all know and love. This ain’t Master Piece Theatre but it’s not Ed Wood either.

3.5 mouth breathing monsters out of 5

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Thursday, May 24th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Don’t Look In the Basement

1973, the year of my birth, and the year the movie Don’t Look In the Basement (Also known as The Forgotten) shocked audiences in theaters. The movie takes place in a small privately owned sanitarium out in the country…. you know, miles and miles away from any other living thing. Run by Dr. Stephens ( Michael Harvey), who has some interesting theories on dealing with the psychological issues that his patients have.

He feels that instead of attempting to bring his patients back to the real world, that he should nurture their delusions and fantasies causing them to develop, eventually causing each patient to fight it on his or her own (yeah, made little sense to me too, but hey I wasn’t the writer!). Unfortunately, his little plan backfired while he was helping one of his patients with an anger management problem take his aggressions out on a wood pile… oops axe to the head. Other than him, there seems to be two other employees at the facility. One being a nurse, who I might add, though they never really showed her complete death, eluded to what was going on and I might say I thought it was pretty cool… but that had to be a really large suitcase. Anyway, I digress; the other is another doctor, a Doctor Masters (Annabelle Weenick). The day of Stephen’s demise, a new nurse shows up that he had hired ( Rosie Holotik who was also a Playboy model in 1972, though she did not show any skin for this flick), how ever Masters was not informed. (which raised up some red flags there, don’t you think?)

In the home, the patients are treated like a strange dysfunctional family instead of truly like patients. There are no locks on any of the doors; they have very little structure or any thing. They just go about living in the fantasy world they have created for themselves. Some of the patients make sense to me, some of them do not. There just seemed to be too many of them with their own little story line that it got a little confusing trying to understand what was going on with them. We of course had our typical personality disorder types. We had massive aggression ( Gene Ross), schizophrenia (Camilla Carr), post-traumatic stress disorder ( Hugh Feagin), nymphomania (Betty Chandler), dementia (Rhea MacAdams), manic personality disorder ( Jessie Kirby), depression (Harryette Warren), and a post-lobotomy mishap (Bill McGhee, who was one of the first black members of the SGA, and just passed away this past February of breast cancer). Each one brought an interesting story line to the plot, though some more than others. I had wished to see more focus on some o f the characters that they only spared a fleeting glance at.

For a 70′s slasher film, the movie was just an infant in a new genre, so on many cases they were afraid to push the envelope too far. The movie held more human interest than suspense or terror. It was enjoyable, and though the twists were very obvious, I wanted to see what was going to happen next. How it would end.

And always remember, there is always room for a Popsicle for a nice refreshing treat after a long day of work.

2 nurses stuffed in a suitcase out of 5

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Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Pumpkinhead II: Bloodwings

She said:

It seems that in most horror franchises there is always one film that sticks out like a sore thumb. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Star Wars: Attack of The Clones, Leprechaun 4: In Space… well all the Leprechaun sequels really…. Pumpkinhead 2 is that sore thumb.

The movie takes place in a different town, different characters, similar story line. Now I can look at this and say, just like with many different folklore tales, this version is this town’s very own Pumpkinhead myth, the same yet different. So if I look upon it that way, I can give this movie an alright review. Though I am one to say, if you are adding to a set franchise stick with the main storyline, I can look past that this time.

Our story takes place in a sleepy little town. A new sheriff has arrived, though he has grown up there and knows the legend. His daughter had caused some troubles in the previous town, so they are starting fresh. She of course meets some new friends, the “bad” kids…one of which is your favorite Punky and mine, Soleil Moon Frye, post-boob reduction. The kids, on a night of drinking and pot smoking accidentally hit an old woman and upon checking to see if she is ok, track her down to her little old shack. Finding a spell and some strange things including a vial of blood, they decide to raise the dead, and accidentally burn the old woman’s house down with the old woman in it. Of course the body they resurrect is that of Pumpkinhead (who wasn’t in a pumpkin patch in the swamp this time).

Now in this version, we see a different storyline for Pumpkinhead. Instead of being a demonic form caused by the need for revenge, this version was about a deformed young boy who lived in the woods and was the subject of ridicule. A group of young boys, back in the 1950′s end up beating him and hanging him above an old well. The old woman buried him as he had no family of his own and was apparently waiting for the right moment to resurrect him, but the kids beat her to it. So this time, Pumpkinhead’s revenge is not for the ones who returned him to life, but for the ones who took his own and his surrogate mother’s.

The storyline was very lax. The “dramatic” acting was almost comical at times. And who knew that the pathologist was so good that at the murder site she could match up blood samples without a lab! We did have the luxury of seeing a nice little topless cameo by scream queen Linnea Quigley, to which my husband shouts “I know those boobs!” Not too much on the creativity part as far as deaths go, and trying to match up who was who from the boys who killed the boy to present time was a little annoying because they never really introduced any of the characters. They focused more on the kids who raised him up instead of the people who put him down. That, to me, made the kills very detached and uninteresting. And, with the kills, most of them were very bland for Pumpkinhead standards. Though I must say, the death at the cockfight was my favorite when the guy got his eyes pecked out by the chickens. That was clever and it made me giggle.

I give this one 2 not so dramatic pauses out of 5

He said:

Hehe….she said ‘cock fight’

This one’s a hard one to go over. While the First Lady points out above the many inconsistencies and problems scattered throughout the Pumpkinhead sequel, I still can’t help feeling that I had an overall decent time throughout. Sure, the plot has holes miles wide, the characterizations were laughable at best, the PH Mythos is completely thrown to the wayside, and worst of all…there’s no Lance Henriksen. Regardless, it still boils down to a semi-fun watch for one simple reason: a big ass monster killing the shit out of anything that crosses it’s path!

While the carnage was indeed somewhat low key, the basic tenants of the Pumpkinhead revenge fantasy are indeed intact. Where in the first film you have someone wronged selling their soul to achieve said revenge, this time around you have a bunch of bumbling bad boys kicking off the cycle for no apparent reason. Since there is no soul selling for the beast to focus on, he figures he’s awake and out and about with no specific agenda, so why not enact his own revenge.

The characterizations are a joke. Our gaggle of misfits comes across mostly as band geeks gone bad. Hot rodding, skipping school, smoking, and drinking are about the extent of their bad boy designs. The new sheriff’s daughter who is our main character came from the inner city, chased out of school by her street wise ways. Why she felt drawn to this gang of idiots in their small town version of anarchy, and not doubling over in laughter at their antics I’ll never know! The character building is pretty much non existent through this film aside from the main chickie babe; the rest are just canon fodder and nothing else. (Although gothy Punky Brewster was entertaining to look at none the less) As the First Lady mentioned, even the tacked on back story of the old school bad boys and what they’ve grown into as Punkin stalks about the country side was nothing but confusing. With a brief glimpse in the opening credits and one or two minor flashbacks, we really have no idea who’s who until about half way through the flick. There is still no real story telling us who’s who mind you; at the half way point you’ve just managed to figure out the formula that if it’s an adult in frame who’s not the sheriff or one of his associates, they picked on the little mongoloid boy back in the 60’s. For my final bitch, what the hell is with the Blood Wings in the title? While the baddie drew it on the walls in his victims blood, for a subtitled phrase this bit was tacked on at the very last second tying the former gang of idiots together letting us know that they all used to be buds. Again this is an over looked plot angle that they completely wasted. If you’re going to use it as a subtitle, I’d think that it should hold a little more water to the overall plot. Maybe that’s just me.

So, Masterpiece Theatre this is not. A well told story? Wrong again. Monsters destroying shit and a cameo of Linnea Quigley’s boobs? You betcha. If you can look at it in this light and not as part of an epic trilogy, well then there’s still some fun to be had.

3 murderous monsters out of 5

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Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Bad Dreams

Today’s film is the 1988 movie Bad Dreams. Again, here is another movie I sat down to watch with only knowing the synopsis. I do this on occasion; don’t look at who is in it only what it is about, just for reasons like this… when I can say “OH MY GOD IS THAT CHAINSAW????” (Insert sigh of pure unadulterated lust here… that’s right, he is hot….)

Anyway, our movie of choice starts in the 70’s right when the era of flower children was coming to a close and cults such as Jamestown were the religion of choice. Groups of people living together in a tight community where everything (and everyone) was shared and the idea of a utopian society was given to them by some crack pot looking to make it big, only to kill everyone all of with some fruit punch laced with arsenic, hold the old lace. A young girl named Cynthia ( Jennifer Rubin) is a member of such a group called Unity. This group was run by a man named Harris (Richard Lynch) who brought to his followers the idea that through death we all become one, feeding them the ideas that if he killed them, it only shows how much he loves them. Baptizing his flowers in gasoline, he lights a match and KABOOM. However Cynthia isn’t all that excited about the idea and makes a break for it as the flame starts for her. The shock wave of the blast as it hits the nearby gas tanks send her flying and knocks her out. 13 years later she wakes to find herself in an institution.

Her doctors tell her she has to unlock the memories of what happened to her. They put her in a group with people labeled with Borderline Personality Disorders. The doctor who runs the group, Dr. Alex Karmen ( Bruce Abbott who you know from the Re-Animator films), doesn’t feel she belongs there but is willing to give it a try. In this group we have your usual group of interesting misfits. A married couple, he has violent outbursts and breaks things, she only sleeps with him because she enjoys hating herself in the morning; a middle aged chain-smoker who started believing the stuff she was writing in her Enquierer-esque magazine; a young woman who, well I have no idea her purpose she just preached about things, I didn’t get it; another young woman ( E.G. Daily) who felt she was missing out on love and couldn’t give it or bring it to her; and then there is Ralph (Dean Cameron …sigh…oh those blue eyes…ahem, sorry) who has rage issues which he expels by making little holes in himself to let the negative energy out. Cynthia doesn’t feel like she should be there, however it seems to be helping unlock the memories none the less. The only problem is that when her memory starts to open, she is also being visited by the ghost of Harris, sometimes in the regular looking way, other times with all his flesh burnt off. You see, Harris is pissed that she ran and because she didn’t die with the rest of them, apparently she is holding them all back from their final destination of utopia. However Cynthia really doesn’t want to die as she has now discovered the joys of VCRs, CDs and MTV (remember, this was the 80′s so it was back when they actually played music videos). So Harris starts taking a few of her friends to convince her she really should join him.

The movie was interesting. It confirms my whole hate of hospitals, and how I know they are actually trying to help me or just giving me new symptoms for them to “cure”. I also loved the cast. I mean IT IS CHAINSAW!!!!!!

Other than the one character Gilda, who to me was uninteresting. I think she was supposed to be like a soothsayer type being, but to me her big spooky stares she gave just made her seem more cartoonish than anything. Writing was fun, the plot made sense in most aspects, well, until the end; I got a little confused on what the whole point was.

Gore effects were lovely. Harris’ melted face was beautiful, and the whole death by turbine, though not shown, the after effects were beautiful.

Not really scary, no massive jump scenes, it was almost elegant in its story telling. The actors gave the characters life and made us feel for them. I enjoyed getting to know them and understanding them. The only other character I did have a problem with was the police detective ( Sy Richardson) who had a whole “I don’t care” feel about him. He seemed very detached and even at one point when the killer is thrown over the side of a building he shrugs like “Whatever”.

3 dreamy blue eyes out of 5

Ed Note: My wife’s got bizarre taste in men, which really doesn’t say much for me does it?

Category: First Lady of Fright, Movies  | Comments off
Friday, May 18th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Arang

The movie Arang, is one of the Asian Extreme films I have been meaning to watch. As I mentioned before, they do like the whole long hair over the face with only one eye showing. It is in every one of these movies! This film is somewhat based on the Korean legend of Arang. As the legend goes, Arang was the virginal daughter of a diplomat. She would go off at night with her nurse to view the full moon. On one of these moonlight visits, the nurse had conspired with one of the other servants who waited on her and attempted to rape her. She fought him, and lost her life in the struggle. The nurse and servant ditched the body in the bamboo and made up a story that she was kidnapped. Every night she would return and appear to the new captain of the guard to ask for her murderer to be found. Unfortunately, each time she appeared the captain died of fright. Finally after a few years, one was appointed that didn’t have such a weak constitution. He told the ghost he would do his best with the clue she gave him, which was a red flag. The next morning, he starts his investigation only to find the people were working on his funeral arrangements as every other time the officers died on the first night. He demanded a list of all the people who worked there Glancing down the list he found the name Ju Ki (주기- 朱旗). The name Ju Ki means “red flag”. Remembering the red flag waved by Arang, he demanded that the nurse and the servant, Ju Ki, be brought before him. The nurse and the servant eventually confessed. The servant led the new deputy delegate into the bamboo grove to where he had hid Arang’s body. Arang’s body lay with the knife still in her breast. They were startled to see that the body had not decayed and was still in perfect condition. The deputy delegate removed the knife and the body immediately decomposed until only the bones were left. The bones were then taken and given a proper burial.

The movie, though named for the legend, has very little to do with the actual legend itself. It takes place in Korea and deals with rape and a very strong female detective who is getting dreams of the young woman, but there the similarities end. The story revolves around a group of friends who after finals, went to a village to celebrate and get into a fight with a local boy and kill him. 10 years pass and one by one the now successful men are getting a strange e-mail. Eerie music plays and they each die in some strange fashion. A woman detective is brought in on the case with a new partner. She starts having dreams and while dealing with her own inner demons, works to solving the mystery.

The movie was really good. I loved the story line and the detective, So-young (Yun-ah Song) was a great role. As most of these films in the Asian extreme horror line deal with revenge however, it all seemed to be rehashed. A lot of these films seem similar but tend to have some aspect that makes them unique in one way or another. This one had a nice little twist to it that I didn’t really see coming until halfway through the film. I always like it when it takes me a little bit of time to say “Oh, I get it now”. Also, unlike the last few films, this one actually showed more of the deaths and explained a bit more on why these guys were getting killed off. Unfortunately there were quite a few plot holes, especially when we get to the end and start to wrap it up. Where Arang was very much like Shutter, I felt that Arang carried the story much better and was handled in a more entertaining fashion.

On a side note for this branch of the genre, where these films do come up with some great ghost stories, they tend to only focus on the main character. The people who die off during the film you really don’t get to know so well. I mean yes, we don’t like these guys for what they did. However, it makes the deaths detached. You only get to see a glimpse of the person they became and the person they were but other than that, you get no emotional attachment to the characters. This just makes the kills so impersonal, especially when the revenge aspect is such a personal thing.

On the gore factor, there really isn’t that much. As the ghost movies tend to base the mood on the atmosphere rather than the blood and guts. This was carried off very well. I think the most disturbing was the dead dog part, which still eludes me on how So-young figured that part out…. “Something hidden…” oh well that means we should dig up that dead dog from the first guy’s house to find the clue! Now, being a dog owner myself, I know dogs will eat just about anything, but that is not what I would have thought of…I guess I would make a crappy detective!

So, what we have here is not anything new. But it is handled in a better way than some of the others like it. Plot holes and all, it was an interesting film and the tie into the legend was a nice touch.

3 hair showers out of 5

Category: First Lady of Fright, Movies  | Comments off