Saturday, February 27, 2010

TUFF TURF

Tuff Turf Movie Review

WARNING: This movie is not horror, or even science fiction. I just felt like reviewing it--hey, it's my site. I can do that if I want to!

I remember that as a kid this 1984 film was one of my favorite movies. That said, I had not seen the movie for at least 20 years, so when I saw that Netflix had it, I had to put it in my queue. Morgan (James Spader of Less Than Zero) saves a man from a mugging. The next day, his first day at a new school, he sees that the thugs he saved the man from attend his school, and they are out for revenge. Morgan falls for the lead thug’s girlfriend Frankie (Kim Richards, Hello Larry, Black Snake Moan), only adding to the tension. I was afraid this would be like so many other films I watch for the first time in a long time: better in memory than actuality. While not quite the classic I remembered it being, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. The cast is pretty strong in this movie. Spader has been one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood for a very long time and he does a fine job here (though I always prefer him as a villain). A very young Robert Downey Jr. has a supporting role as Jimmy, a drummer in a rock band and Morgan’s only friend. Richards and Olivia Barash bring the 80’s hotness as the tough girls who fall for Morgan and Jimmy. At least two scenes could have been cut from this film, but their inclusion are an 80’s staple (a couple dance scenes that add nothing to the movie) so I guess on those grounds they can be forgiven. Also worth notice is the soundtrack, which, other than Jack Mack songs, is pretty solid, especially the Jim Carroll band stuff (and Carroll himself appears in the film as the lead singer of Jimmy’s band). You will also notice a couple of scenes that would be ripped off very closely mimicked in movies that came out in the years following this. This is not a great movie by any stretch (the directing and editing really makes you wonder at times), but I love it for what it is and recommend it, especially for any Spader or Downey fans.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Tuff Turf Movie Trailer

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE BURNING

The Burning Movie Review

A camp groundskeeper is horribly burned when a prank by the camp kids goes wrong. Five years later he come back to the camp, garden sheers in hand, seeking revenge. This 1981 film is a fairly standard 80’s slasher film with a good bit of blood, death scenes that you don’t actually see, fake “the killer is going to attack” scenes, nudity, irresponsible teenagers, etc. Patience is a must with this one as, other than some scenes involving a prostitute that are totally out of place here, you have to wait a while for the first kill.

Sheer madness

You will recognize a few faces here: Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) makes his movie debut, much younger and thinner than you are likely used to, and with a full head of hair, but every bit as irritating as he is now. Holly Hunter (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona) also makes her film debut in a very small role, and fans of Fast Time At Ridgemont High will be happy to see Rat (Brian Backer) in one of the lead roles. Probably the best thing about this movie is the work of horror special effects master Tom Savini, making for some memorable death scenes, in particular the legendary “raft scene”. For the most part the acting is pretty poor here, especially Leah Ayres as Michelle, the female lead. This is not an outstanding movie by any stretch but it's worth a look if you are an 80’s slasher fan or a Savini fan.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

The Burning Movie Trailer (This is a really good trailer)

TRIANGLE

Triangle Movie Review

Jess (Melissa George of The Amityville Horror and 30 Days Of Night) and a small group take a boating trip out to sea, where they encounter an unexpected storm. They hang onto the capsized boat until a mysterious ship comes along, but after they board it things get even worse. Unfortunately, to say too much more about the plot would be a major spoiler. It is easy to get frustrated early by this movie because it moves slow in the start, the special effects, especially of the storm, reminds you of a cheap made for television movie, and once they board the ship it starts to come off as a Ghost Ship rip off. However, once this movie starts, it really takes off on a mind-bending journey that will leave you hooked and wondering right up to the end (and possibly beyond).

"A little help?"

George does a typically outstanding job here, and the rest of the cast is actually pretty likeable as well. The plot makes the movie, and the real key to the film (as I saw it anyway) is explained in passing and very briefly during a conversation. That is actually something I love about this movie--you have to pay attention, even when it seems nothing important is going on, because you find out later just how important some of the stuff is. After the slow start, Triangle becomes a pretty entertaining, and as I said before, a mind bending film. I recommend it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Triangle Movie Trailer

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE EVIL DEAD

The Evil Dead Movie Review

Today being Ash Wednesday, I decided to watch a classic: The Evil Dead. Ash (legendary Bruce Campbell) and a group of friends go to a cabin in the woods to party for the weekend. There they find The Book Of The Dead and recordings from the previous tenant regarding the book and the evil it unleashes. Written and directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 1-3) this 1981 film, and its follow-ups Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness, is truly groundbreaking in the horror-comedy genre, and is seldom matched. The blood is so over the top and the obvious dummies used in some scenes make for outstanding visuals, and the comedy genius of Campbell only adds to the laughs. Only making this all the better is the fact that there actually are a few genuinely creepy moments in the film.

Yes, I'm talking about you

Raimi’s directing style is really stunning at times and it gives you unique looks that add a lot to the emotions of the movie. The only thing close to bad I will say about the movie is that it does slow a bit before really taking off. The acting, other than Campbell, is bad at times, but that really only adds to the enjoyment of this movie. I will also warn that some people will be very put off by the first attack of the film too, but when taken in the context of the film, I personally don’t find it offensive. I give a HUGE recommendation for this movie, especially if you are a fan of recent horror comedy and want to know where it all started.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9


The Evil Dead Movie Trailer

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THE SEAMSTRESS

The Seamstress Movie Review

Allie (Kailin See The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford) and her friends go to an island to find her father. While there they come across the curse of The Seamstress, a woman who was wrongly accused of torturing and killing children, and as a result, tortured and killed by an angry mob herself. This movie starts off fairly well, with flashback scenes and a bit of gore.

Like this

Once the group gets to the island, however, the movie just falls apart. Terrible dialogue and inexpiable actions on the behalf of the group drag this movie down fast and it never recovers. They actually do a good job building up the suspense leading to the end of the movie, but again, it just falls apart into a series of twists that make little to no sense at all. One of the few bright spots is that horror legend Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead and tons more horror and science fiction movies) brings his typical awesomeness, albeit toned down a bit, as he seemed to phone this one in. The Seamstress looks pretty cool at times but the scenes with her, and the death scenes in general, are edited and cut so fast that it is hard to tell what is going on. Overall this is a mess of a movie that I cannot recommend.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

The Seamstress Movie Trailer

Sunday, February 14, 2010

THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY

The Haunting Of Molly Hartley Movie Review

The movie starts with a father killing his daughter, explaining he cannot allow her to see her 18th birthday. We flash forward twelve years where we meet Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett), a high school student who has visions of her mother (Marin Hinkle of Quarantine and Two And A Half Men), who has been in an institution since stabbing Molly sometime in the past. A somewhat promising premise soon evaporates into high school drama, complete with the overly religious girl, the rich preppy boy, his jealous ex girlfriend, a rebel girl, et cetera.

Stereotypes

This fills up a large part of the movie and does nothing to advance the story. Finally, toward the end, we find out why Molly is seeing visions of her mother and what happens next, all leading to a very disappointing and nonsensical ending. There are a ton of moments put in the movie to make you jump—you know, the typical cat jumping out, birds flying toward you, all complete with the jarring music. This is effective the first couple times, but because it happens so much you come to expect it, resulting in it just being a distraction. The acting is mediocre to poor with the only real exception being Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead), who does a fine job as Molly’s dad. This is not a terrible movie but it's certainly not anything I would recommend either.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


The Haunting Of Molly Hartley Movie Trailer

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DEADTIME STORIES

Deadtime Stories Movie Review

As a kid, some of my favorite horror movies were anthologies--movies that told three or four stories within the movie--the stories were tied together or were told by one person to others, classics like Creepshow, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie and Twilight Zone: The Movie. Those were all very enjoyable movies; Deadtime Stories, a movie that re-tales three classic fairy tales with modern updates, is not. Uncle Mike (Michael Mesmer) is telling these stories to young Brian (Brian DePersia), an irritating, whiny brat of a kid who can’t sleep.

The first story, about two sister witches and their somewhat innocent…son? Adopted drifter? Not sure who he is to them, but he is played by Scott Valentine (Nick from Family Ties)..., is dull and lifeless, but does include a fairly cool scene of a skeleton coming to life, and it gives a bit of a laugh in the end.

Yo

The second story, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is the best of the three, but is still far from good. It does have an interesting scene or two and is not a bad update to the story. So far, the movie is okay. Then comes the third story, based on The Story Of The Three Bears. This is absolute torture. It seems to ignore the fact that this is a horror movie and goes to almost a hundred percent comedy, which in itself may not be bad but it's so terribly unfunny. Honestly, it is so bad that if this story were the entire movie it would rank as one of the ten worst movies I have ever seen.

One redeeming thing throughout the movie is the music, especially during the opening sequence. Still, it is not nearly enough to make this worth watching. This is a huge disappointment.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

Deadtime Stories Movie Trailer

DEATH OF A GHOST HUNTER

Death Of A Ghost Hunter Movie Review

Ghost hunter Carter Simms (Patti Tindall) is hired to check out a house that saw the massacre of an entire family in 1982 and may now be haunted. She is joined by a writer (Davina Joy), a cameraman (Mike Marsh, also the co-writer of the film) and a young Christian woman (Lindsay Page). Simms is killed while investigating the strange sounds and visions in this house (this is not a spoiler. If the title does not give it away you learn in the first few minutes that she dies conducting the investigation). This is a low budget film that has a ton of potential story wise.

A lot of it looks like this

What really drags this movie down is the poor acting, especially that of Davina Joy. Marsh is almost as bad and Page, who has a good, naturally creepy look that lends itself well to this role, is awful. Tindall is the only half decent actor in the movie…that, or the rest are so bad it makes her look better than she is. Interestingly, this movie pokes fun at The Blair Witch Project more than once, yet steals quite a bit from it. These things can be overlooked for the most part (except Joy) because the story is a pretty good one and the scenes are well shot, especially for the budget. The ending is pretty good, if not predictable and a bit too long. The main problem with this movie is a HUGE one in that the audio is terrible. It goes from a whisper-like silence to practically screaming levels and back constantly. This is a real bother if you, as I did, watch it online and don’t have a remote to control the volume. It is so bad that during several conversations one person would be too quite while the other one (usually Joy) is way too loud. It’s not that one is whispering and the other shouting. They are both talking at a normal level. Given a decent edit on the sound and better actors, this one could have been a gem. As it is, it’s just average.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Death Of A Ghost Hunter Movie Trailer

Sunday, February 7, 2010

THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS

The Madmen of Mandoras Movie Review

A group of Americans are kidnapped and taken to Mandoras, where a small army of madmen, lead by the head of Adolph Hitler (you read that right...his head) plan to release a gas that will kill everybody.

.....

I cannot state enough how bad this movie is. It is dreadfully dull, the acting, with the exception of Dani Lynn as Suzanne (a small role), is horrible, the dialogue is a joke and the fake accents in “Mandoras” (a fictional country) are unbearable. The only reason it even gets any score at all is because I got a good laugh watching the scenes go from day to night as soon as people got in a car and back to day when they got out, and because the fate of Hitler’s head made me laugh pretty hard, reminding me of a scene from Killer Nerd. Interestingly, some years later another company took this disaster, added twenty more minutes to it, and released it as They Saved Hitler's Brain. This movie is only 73 minutes long but it seemed twice that. Put simply, this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 2

The trailer is MUCH better than the movie itself.

THE DEVIL'S HAND

The Devil's Hand Movie Review

Rick Turner (Robert Alda, father of Alan Alda) sees visions of a “beautiful evil witch” (Linda Christian) at night while trying to sleep. She eventually tells him to pick up a doll of her and bring it to her, bringing him into a world of voodoo, where the members of the occult worship “Gamba: The Devil God of Evil”. Obviously based on the above description you know to expect a fair bit of silly dialogue throughout this 1962 movie.

Dreamy

The setting of the voodoo rituals, the basement of a doll shop, is pretty Ed Wood with obviously flimsy blades and what one would assume is “natives” dancing and playing drums. Alda is pretty bad here, as is Ariadna Welter as his fiancĂ©e Donna, but the rest of the cast is actually fairly solid (especially Jeanne Carmen in a bit part in what would be her final film for over forty years), and the story isn’t too bad. Coming in at 71 minutes it does not carry on too terribly long, though I believe this would have been more suited as a Twilight Zone episode than a feature length film. I enjoyed it, though it is not a great movie by any stretch.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

The Devil's Hand Movie Trailer

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

The Last House On The Left 1972 Movie Review

Two teenage girls on their way to a concert are captured by a gang of criminals and taken into the woods, where they are beaten, raped and humiliated. This 1972 film is Wes Craven’s movie debut and it is quite a way for him to start. This movie has such a raw, real feel to it that it is actually kind of hard to watch at times. The victims (Sandra Cassell and Lucy Grantham) do an outstanding job showing fear (it is said this is because they actually WERE scared during the shooting). There are a couple rape scenes, murder, humiliation and more, and this movie does not apologize at all for any of it. The gang, as brutal as they are, at times come across as somewhat likeable and caring, briefly showing a bit of discomfort and remorse after one scene, and you may find yourself actually hoping one or two of them gets away in the end.

Remorse?

Be warned: This movie does not go for a happy ending. It leaves you with a feeling that all hope is lost for everybody. Oddly, with all the gloom in this movie, there are actually a couple funny spots, giving the film a very disjointed feel to it, leaving the viewer truly not knowing what to expect next. They did a fantastic job with the music here too. It flows just as the movie does, from an eerie “The road leads to nowhere” tune that comes up throughout to some strange poppy, windy sounding music (complete with kazoo!!) that these early 70’s movies were filled with. Make no mistake: this is a grindhouse movie and it is not for everybody (actually, it’s not for many). I personally like it a lot, even if it is hard to keep watching at times.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

This is one of the greatest trailers ever made.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ZOMBIELAND

Zombieland Movie Review

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, Cursed, The Village) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) meet up as they live in a world overrun by zombies. They agree to team up to try to find a place where there are no zombies. Along they way they meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and her little sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin of Signs), a couple of girls who cause them almost as much trouble as the zombies. This is a horror comedy that is very enjoyable and quite funny throughout, though a lot of the humor is borrowed from already established movies. There are two running gags through the movie that are hilarious: one involves Tallahassee’s obsession with Twinkies and the other is the rules of survival. Eisenberg is likable as the lead who, prior to the zombie outbreak, was scared of everything and seldom left his house. Harrelson is outstanding as Tallahassee, and Bill Murray makes a wonderful cameo appearance as himself.

Zombill

Unfortunately, there are a few spots in the movie, centering on Columbus and Wichita, that drag and take a lot of steam out of the film, as do a couple serious (albeit brief) scenes. Breslin and Stone are just sort of there throughout the movie, neither really bringing much to the characters. Still, these things are not nearly enough to bring down this movie. There is a good bit of gore and the zombies are pretty well done, though they are really not in the movie enough. Look for a particularly scary zombie near the end. This movie was clearly inspired by Shaun Of The Dead, and though it is a good movie, it falls well short of SOTD. Still, I recommend it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Zombieland Movie Trailer

Monday, February 1, 2010

NIGHTMARE IN WAX

Nightmare In Wax Movie Review

One thing you notice as a fan of horror is that often when a horror movie is a success, there soon comes direct to video movies that basically rip off the successful horror movie with just enough difference to, I don’t know, not get them sued I guess. Most are bad with a very few select exceptions (Lost Voyage, an ode to Ghost Ship is an example). I thought this was a fairly new thing--Nightmare In Wax, a 1969 rip off of the 1953 Vincent Price classic House of Wax (which itself was a remake of another film, Mystery of the Wax Museum) proved me wrong. This is just an awful movie that I won’t bother to even talk about much. A scarred wax museum operator paralyzes people with an injection and turns them into living wax figures. The word boring isn't even strong enough to describe this snooze fest. There is one, ONE, enjoyable scene in the movie, a surreal club scene where women “dance” in strange rhythms to a pretty decent song by a band named The T-Bones. Truly the only other enjoyment I got out of this movie was watching the “paralyzed” wax figures blink and move. These two things save this movie from receiving my first score of a 1. Skip it (unless you have tried everything else to get to sleep).

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 2

The One Decent Scene--You're welcome