Thursday, January 18, 2018

THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Movie Review

A young man named Francis (Friedrich Feher) tells the story of how he and his fiancee Jane (Lil Dagover) survive the madman Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) and his murderous, sleepwalking sidekick Cesare (Conrad Veidt). This 1920 German movie has been on my list of movies to watch for many years, but for whatever reason, I never got around to seeing it--having little else to do at work this afternoon, I decided the time had finally come, and my goodness, do I ever wish I had watched it many years ago. The term "ahead of its time" is used far too often in describing movies, but this film is the epitome of those words. The twists and turns are frequent and, at times, shocking, the ending is as mind-blowing and unexpected as anything else you will ever see, and the political themes would influence many films to come. As if all that isn't enough, many people consider this to be the first true horror film ever made--though, to me, it is more a psychological whodunit type movie than a horror flick, there are some truly terrifying scenes here.

Hold your breath

Visually, this movie is nothing short of stunning. The colors and shadows used certainly set the mood, and the background--actually, you can tell the film was shot on a small stage, and at times you think to yourself "this looks like somebody filmed a theatre performance", but once you accept that, you truly appreciate what is happening here--anyway, the backgrounds are painted beautifully and are so twisted (both literally and figuratively) they draw you into the film more than push you away from it. Speaking of visually stunning...


Jane

The movie is tragically just 74 minutes long, moves at a wonderful pace, and that ending--I REALLY want to talk about the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for anybody. Oh yeah, this is a silent film, and I know that's not everybody's cup of tea, but the accompanying music is fantastic and the dialogue shots are even really cool--even if you're not into silent films, give this one a shot. Honestly, there's not a whole lot not to like about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari--I recommend this to not just horror fans, but movie fans in general.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Complete Movie

ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies Movie Review

A professional snowboarder, his buddy, and his girlfriend get stranded in the mountains after a commercial filming goes wrong. The trio stumble across strangers in a small resort and soon, as the result of a chemical spill, zombies are on the loose. This weird 2016 Austrian film is a horror/comedy that leans very heavily on the latter--as I have said many times before, however, in order for a horror/comedy to work, the comedy part of it has to actually be funny, and very unfortunately, most of what we get in this film simply isn't. For every witty pun we get, we are thrown a few painfully unfunny moments. On the fortunate side, the movie is somewhat saved by the impressive visuals and over-the-top gore.

"Eye can't find my poles"

This movie proves that you can make a more visually appealing horror film with a shoestring budget than many in Hollywood make with many millions, and it's simply a matter of using practical effects instead of computer generation--the amount of gore and even some scenes may remind you of Dead Alive, but this movie doesn't come close to matching the awesomeness of that masterpiece, which I am realizing just now I have yet to review for this site--one of these days...anyway, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies is a fun little film that you will watch once and forget about, and will ultimately be lost in the pool of many other similar movies.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies Movie Trailer (I wish the movie turned out as entertaining as the trailer is)

GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS!

Godzilla, King of the Monsters Movie Review

In 1954, the Japanese film Godzilla was released—this film introduced the world to, well, Godzilla, a sea creature that was sort of the result of nuclear attacks, and whose destruction of Tokyo kind of reflected the damage done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a result of atomic bombs near the end of World War 2–Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is almost that movie, but not quite. Essentially what happened was, in 1956, the original film got an Americanized makeover--about sixteen minutes from the original were cut, English dubbing was done, and new scenes, primarily featuring Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame were shot, all in an attempt to make the film more appealing to the American audience--it worked. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is the film most of us referred to as the "original" Godzilla movie growing up, and is the film that holds a special place in many of our hearts. If you are only familiar with the later Toho versions of Godzilla--ones where Godzilla has become a hero and even a comedy act--seeing the big guy here might be a bit shocking to you--there is no comedic nonsense, and instead of a hero, he is a destructive force, truly annihilating anything that gets in his path.

This plan doesn't work

Some reports state the Americanized version pulls back on the political overtones of the original, while others say this isn't the case at all--regardless, this version does, in fact, imply Godzilla is the result of H-bomb testing by the United States, an interesting story that vanishes after this film. As is customary with this genre, you have to have patience before seeing the monster completely unleashed, but this story moves along at a better pace than in many similar movies. Burr, who was typically a pretty good actor, really drags this movie down with a performance that is as wooden as any you will see--Burr simply seems uninterested in what he's doing here. The ending is also disappointing, but really, other than these couple things, there's not much not to like about this movie. If you're a fan of creature features, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is a must-see.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


Godzilla: King of the Monsters Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 11, 2018

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Review

Father and son coroners Tommy (Brian Cox of Trick R Treat) and Austin (Emile Hirsch, Into The Wild) are puzzled when they try to figure out how a Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) died, and the more they examine, the more horrific it gets. This one starts off with something most of us find rather unsettling--an autopsy--so right out of the gates this movie is creepy. For much of the film we see Jane Doe lying on the table, and get plenty of shots of her lifeless eyes, missing tongue, and torso split open--I'll spare you the pictures of any of this and instead present one of the few pictures of this movie I could find that isn't disturbing...

"You're getting soft, old man"

There are a few twists and turns along the way, but you will likely see the major spins coming. The acting here is decent, much of the dialogue is interesting, and the film moves along at a good pace. The major strength of the movie is in the sheer scare level--as if starting off with an autopsy wasn't enough to make you on edge, we are later introduced to themes involving claustrophobia, darkness, and the supernatural. The build up of the film is intense, and there are moments that are genuinely frightening, but unfortunately, the ending is somewhat disappointing--still, this has to be one of the finer films to fall under the IFC Midnight banners, and is a movie worth checking out.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Trailer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

THE SCAREHOUSE

The Scarehouse Movie Review

A house of sorority chicks prank a college dude by drugging him and taking embarrassing photos of him, but when he dies, two of the sister, Corey and Elaina (Sarah Booth and Kimberly-Sue Murray), are prosecuted and sent to prison. After being released, the two girls open a haunted house to seek revenge on the six sorority sisters who played an equal role in the crime but were not punished for it. Released in 2014, this Canadian horror flick has plenty of potential, but fails terribly in its delivery. The most glaring problem with the film is the set up of it--why did Corey and Elaina take such elaborate measures to seek out their revenge? Though the victims enter through an entirely different area of the building, there are still hundreds of potential witnesses in the same building--why?! Where did they get the money for this? The film goes down the torture porn road, but much of what we see is so far-fetched that it isn't interesting in the least.

Eye got nothing here

The acting is the second level of awfulness you will notice--actually, you will notice this fairly early on. Murray is a bore, and Booth's overacting is so bad it makes you uncomfortable. The dialogue is appallingly awful, and forget character development--there's little to the two main characters, the remaining sorority sisters are interchangeable parodies of themselves, and the few guys who show up in the film are essentially the same person. There are attempts at dark humor, but it is so poorly written and delivered that the attempts are futile. It's not until near the end of the film that anything even remotely interesting happens--there are a couple twists and turns that, while not good, seem genius compared to the rest of the movie. Take away the haunted house, improve the writing, and hire better actresses and you may have something in The Scarehouse--unfortunately, in reality we're stuck with a movie that floats just below the surface of mediocrity. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


The Scarehouse Movie Trailer

Thursday, December 28, 2017

SCROOGED

Some may argue that this movie doesn't belong on a horror blog, but if I were in charge...and I am...here's the kind of thing I would do...

Scrooged Movie Review

In this 1988 telling of the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol, we see Frank Cross (Bill Murray), the often-angry, always mean President of television network IBC, visited by three ghosts. The network is running a live performance of the Dickens story on Christmas Eve, and the ghosts arrive on this day to show Cross the mistakes he has made and the results of his future actions. Okay, so this movie is almost straight up comedy, but I can justify putting it on here because there are ghosts, death, and a disturbing scene or two.

You see?

Our ghosts are an interesting bunch--we first meet Cross' former boss Lew Hayward (John Forsythe), as he appears in Frank's office to warn him of the visitors he's about to meet.

Lew paid for the women

Soon after, Frank meets the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen of The New York Dolls, aka Buster Poindexter of the song my girlfriend often sings during the Florida summers) and gets a trip down memory lane.

via an NYC cab

It is here we meet Frank's lost love, Claire (Karen Allen of Raiders of the Lost Ark fame), and see perhaps the best sequence in the film--the couple falling in and out of love in the late 1960's and early 1970s. From there we get the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Carol Kane (Simka from Taxi) and The Ghost of Christmas Future.

It's not a bright future

There are also a ton of fun cameos in this one, including...

Lee Majors

Buddy Hackett

Bill Murray's real life brothers...

Brian Doyle,

John, 

and Joel

We also get Mama Fratelli from The Goonies...

Anne Ramsey

...as well as Rebeca Arthur, aka Mary Anne from Perfect Strangers 

and her Christmas present for everybody

As if that wasn't enough, we also get, in their final public appearance, the acclaimed Solid Gold Dancers.

And possibly their nipples

This movie is laugh out loud funny, and is possibly my favorite Bill Murray role. There are a few shortcomings here--the end scene does seem to drag a bit, and as awesome as he can be in some movies, Bobcat Goldthwait (Shakes The Clown, God Bless America) seems very out of place as Eliot Loudermilk, an IBS employee Cross fires early in the film. After many years of watching Scrooged on VHS or Netflix, I got this on DVD for Christmas a couple years ago, and at one point in the film, subtitles randomly appear for a second, then disappear just as quickly, which is pretty awesome. Scrooged has been a Christmas tradition for my girlfriend and I for seven years now, and as much as anything to do with the holiday, I look forward to watching this movie.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9


Scrooged Movie Review

Saturday, December 23, 2017

GIRL HOUSE (aka Girl House)

Girl House Movie Review

After falling for the new girl of a porn site, a psychopath calling himself Loverboy (George Carroll, aka rapper Slaine) notices somebody in the all-girl house featured on the website has posted a picture of him in their house, poking fun at him--humiliated, he shows up at the brothel seeking revenge.

Yes, this guy is a rapper

The film starts off strong--we see Loverboy as a shy child, being tormented by two young girls. Deciding he's had enough, Loverboy kills one of the girls and throws her--and her bicycle--off a bridge--not expecting much of anything from this film, this impressive opening caught my attention, and it only waned slightly as the movie progressed. We meet Kylie (Ali Cobrin), the new, "wholesome" girl, so we know pretty early who will survive this one. A lot of the time spent between the opening sequence and the third act drags--we are introduced to the guy who runs the website and a lot of inevitable victims interchangeable porn women, and Kylie starts up a relationship with an old classmate (Adam DiMarco), but things don't ever really pick up again until Loverboy arrives on scene.

Looking like this

While the acting throughout the film is shaky, it's not as bad as you likely will expect, and it actually improves when the killings begin. The death scenes are pretty gory, which always scores points. The ending is far too predictable, but it is rather brutal as well. While it doesn't bring anything really original to the table, and occasionally suffers from timeless cliches, Girl House is a better than expected slasher flick that turned out to be a pleasant surprise. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Girl House Movie Trailer