Monday, October 31, 2016

VAMPIRE JOURNALS

Vampire Journals Movie Review

Zachary (David Gunn) is an 18th Century vampire in modern times searching to kill Ash (Jonathon Morris), a more powerful vampire and descendent of the vampire who forced Zachary to kill his own mistress hundreds of years ago. This 1997 Full Moon movie will, unquestionably, put you in mind of Interview With The Vampire, and for good reason--it pretty much rips off many scenes, moods, and characters from that film, but Vampire Journals is actually a spin-off film from this series. We discover Zachary has destroyed Serena from that series, and after several other killings, Ash is his last great battle. This movie starts off slow, and if you can make it past the horrible acting (and even worse narration) of Gunn, you may find yourself getting in to this film. Morris actually does a very good job as Ash, Starr Andreeff stands out as club owner Iris, and Ilinca Goia steals the show as Cassandra, Ash's right hand woman/worshipper. The movie delivers what you would expect from a film of this genre and time--a story-driven, dark gothic tale filled with lots of blood and boobs.

He's had his fill of both

Mercifully, the movie is short on CGI, instead going with the more traditional form. Unfortunately, much of the action is bland and the end sequence is rushed and...well...boring. A decent story ultimately dissolves into clichés, more Interview With The Vampire theft, and a lead in to a sequel that, almost twenty years later, has not happened. Slightly better than you would likely expect it to be, Vampire Journals is vampire flick worth watching.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Vampire Journals Movie Trailer

NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW

Night of the Scarecrow Movie Review

The Goodman family once crucified an evil warlock, crucified him, and stole his book. The warlock has now returned, in the form of a scarecrow, to seek revenge on the family and retrieve his book, which will give him unlimited--and unstoppable--powers. The Goodman family features an interesting cast, including Stephen Root (Office Space, O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Dirk Blocker (son of Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame), and Bruce Glover (father of Crispin). Speaking of actors you will likely recognize, future Academy Award nominee John Hawkes (Identity, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer) appears as Danny, the town troublemaker (and presumably a teenager, though the actor was around 34 years old when this was shot). The scarecrow is scary enough looking, but in a most peculiar way.

I hate it when I lose a button too

The acting ranges from pretty good to fairly awful--unfortunately, the worst of the actors are probably the two leads, Elizabeth Barondes as Claire and John Mese as Dillon, The dialogue also leaves a lot to be desired here--Claire, in one of the most predictable hero one-liners, even quotes The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz at one point. What makes this movie so enjoyable, however, are the memorable death scenes. We see everything from farm equipment being used to slice and dice to somebody being killed by straw--from the inside.

And what is about to happen here is awesome

This low budget 1995 film has, in many ways, flown under the horror radar for over twenty years, but it has long been a favorite of mine, and ranks among the better horror films of the 90s. Night of the Scarecrow is not a great movie, and it likely won't scare you out of your boots, but this is a really fun movie to watch and one I recommend. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Night of the Scarecrow Movie Trailer

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE

Maximum Overdrive Movie Review

A comet passes by Earth and, somehow, makes machines turn into...yes...killing machines. Now a group of survivors, including Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club, Young Guns), try to ride out the onslaught at a truck stop. I will always remember the first time I saw this movie--my Mom rented it for my 13th birthday and, yellow cake and chocolate milk in hand, I sat down to watch one of the most awesomely awful films ever made. The movie is based on a book written by Stephen King, and is also, to date (and probably will be forever), the only movie King ever directed. If you wonder why King never directed again, well....just watch this movie.


"Ah yes...I see what you mean"

We see everything from soda machines to lawn mowers to a steamroller (my personal favorite) go haywire and kill people before settling on our primary villains: 18 wheelers.

The baddest of the bad guys...not Emilio

So it pretty much goes without saying that a movie with this premise will never be mistaken for an Academy Nominated masterpiece, but the mid 1980s (this one was 1986) were a time when Stephen King was on top of the world, and pretty much everything he wrote became a feature film--the five year span of 1982-1986 alone saw Creepshow, Cujo, The Dead Zone, Christine, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Cat's Eye, Silver Bullet, Maximum Overdrive, and Stand By Me, all films based on King's writing, hit the big screen. For added measure, rock icons AC/DC were brought in to score the film, and while I am by no stretch a fan of AC/DC, there is something very fitting about their music pairing up with this movie. So we see lots of blood, lots of death scenes, terrible dialogue, and lots of horrible acting--Yeardly Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson), in one of her few film appearances, is especially dreadful as one of the more irritating characters...ever really---you'll want to cry for the poor man who just married her and all the while think to yourself "holy smokes, doing the voice of Lisa Simpson is really just her talking normally". Still, with all that said, I am a fan of Maximum Overdrive. I don't know if it's because I still have the memory of my first viewing and what that meant to me, or because it's just so out there it connects to some particularly odd part of my subconscious, but I usually find myself watching this movie at least once a year. While Maximum Overdrive will never be classified a horror classic, it is certainly in the "So Bad It's Good" hall of fame.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

 
Awesome Maximum Overdrive Television Spot

Monday, October 10, 2016

TEENAGE ZOMBIES

Teenage Zombies Movie Review

Four teens out for a good time on a lake stumble upon a mysterious island--there they are captured by scientists attempting to create a potion that will turn people into mindless zombie slaves. Fortunately for the teens, at least one person, a lad who may remind you of Wally Cleaver, misses them and is looking for them. Jerry Warren directed this movie, and if that name means anything to you, you probably know what to expect here; if that name means nothing to you...you are more fortunate than you know. Warren's legacy in the world of Hollywood is on par with that of Ed Wood. Warren made a lot of no budget B movies known for being considerably worse than, well, almost any other movie ever made. This brings us to Teenage Zombies, a film that many consider one of the worst movies ever made. One can see why this accusation would be made--the lighting whites out the faces of the actors in many scenes, practically every scene is a medium shot, the plot is beyond ludicrous, the acting is laughable, the dialogue is mind numbing, and the utter lack of anything happening is only outdone by the unexplainable nonsense of when something actually is happening. Zombies? Not really...but there IS a gorilla...for some reason.

See...a gorilla

Still, there is something oddly endearing about this movie. The teens are generally likable, the female scientist is an interesting character, and the end actually supplies a small twist (albeit one you see coming from a mile away). Is Teenage Zombies one of the worst movies ever made? No. Is it a good movie? Not even close.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

Teenage Zombies Movie Trailer

Saturday, October 8, 2016

NOSFERATU

Nosferatu Movie Review

Real estate agent Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) has a potential new client named Count Graf Orlok (Max Schreck)--unfortunately for Hutter, Mr. Orlok has his eyes on Hutter's wife Ellen (Greta Schroder)...oh yeah, Orlok is also a vampire. Yes, this 1922 film is essentially a knock off of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula--so much so that Stoker's wife sued and had all known copies of the film destroyed; fortunately for the rest of the world a few copies survived and we all get to enjoy this classic to this day. First, what I absolutely love about this film is Schreck as Orlok. Every since I first saw this movie as a youngster I have always said THIS is what a vampire should look like.

Notice nothing is sparkling

To this day I still have not seen a scarier vampire in any film. It's not just how Schreck looks that makes him so scary, but also the way he moves, his facial expressions, his elongated fingers--EVERYTHING about this vampire is scary.

Even the shadow of the vampire is scary

One thing that may turn some people off to Nosferatu is the fact it is a silent film--I personally love silent films, so this fact only adds to the enjoyment for me. The movie is not without its faults, however. A plodding subplot adds unnecessary time to the film and takes away from the tension, von Wangenheim turns in a questionable (at best) performance, and the end is very unsatisfying. One thing I have always wondered about this movie is why, in several scenes, the film has a blue saturation--it turns out night scenes were shot during the day, and that became painfully obvious upon viewing, so the scenes were splashed blue.

They blue this scene

Nosferatu, for better or worse, is a horror classic, and it's easy to see why. While I would not rank it among the best horror movie ever made, if you can handle watching a silent film, this really is a must see. It laid the groundwork for many, many vampire movies to come.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Nosferatu Movie Trailer

WARM BODIES

Warm Bodies Movie Review

A romzomcom with a twist--the presentation is from the view of the zombie, in this case R (Nicholas Hoult of the X-Men series), a zombie who rescues a girl (Teresa Palmer, The Grudge 2) and brings her to his abandoned airplane to hang out. This 2013 film, based on a book of the same name, adds a bit of uniqueness to a genre that is largely becoming stale. While we have seen films from a zombie standpoint before, this one keeps things interesting, as the zombies absorb distorted memories of the brains they consume, they can speak (at least a little) and, somehow, the zombies begin to heal...think The Grinch here.

He's a beast

It is interesting to see R gradually transform as the movie progresses and Hoult makes the character very likable. We also get a whole different, more gone version on the zombies--the Boneys, the zombies' eventual enemies. The comedy portion of the romzomcom format is pretty spot on--it's often subtle, often obvious, but never sophomoric and/or moronic. The zombie portion could be better--a little more gore would have gone a long way here. The romantic portion is where the movie falters, as, beginning late in the second and continuing into the third act, the movie almost forgets about the comedy and horrors aspects and becomes a chick flick. Despite this short coming, Warm Bodies is a fun, albeit somewhat disappointing, film to watch.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Warm Bodies Movie Trailer

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Movie Review

In 1976 a movie titled The Town That Dreaded Sundown was made--this film was based on actual events, specifically a 1946 killing spree dubbed "The Texarkana Moonlight Murders". That is a fairly terrifying film that I will one day get around to reviewing--the 2014 The Town That Dreaded Sundown is some sort of strange hybrid of remake and sequel. We start this film with a scene of people in Texarkana gathered at a drive in theatre to see the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown on Halloween night--this is a take on a real life event wherein the city of Texarkana shows the 1976 film every year around Halloween. So we establish right from the get go that the 1976 film was just that--a film. However, the 1946 killings were very real, and now the killer appears to be back to wreak havoc on the town in 2013. The killings are practically identical to the ones from the 1976 film, which were similar (but not really) to the real life murders.

Don't think too hard about it

We see early that this film delivers in the gore, and that's done very well here. The cast is pretty likable--for the most part they don't hit us with the usually horror cliché characters, except the pastor, who is of course a lunatic (and played wonderfully by Edward Herrmann of The Lost Boys in one of his final film appearances). The direction and editing of this film leave a lot to be desired--it is so jumpy and distorted that it unintentionally ads a comedic element that feels way out of place in this film. The movie is actually fairly enjoyable and will keep you interested...until the reveal at the end takes absolutely all the air out of the balloon. A movie that feels so plausible should never deliver such an impossible ending, but alas, The Town That Dreaded Sundown does just that.

They should have gone with the ending from this one

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Movie Trailer

FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

Frankenstein Movie Review

Mad scientist Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) sets out on a mission to create a human out of body parts of the recently deceased. When his plan actually works, Frankenstein and crew are not prepared for what comes next. This 1931 classic is a great way to start off my favorite time of year--October. Horror movies, falling leaves, Halloween, haunted houses, postseason baseball...what's NOT to love about October?! What's that you say? My birthday? Okay, yes, there's that, and getting older is no fun--the psychological scarring of another year gone is a lot to deal with, but my girlfriend always makes that dreaded day special, so I can get past it.

"I wish you would"

Okay, right, back to the movie. Frankenstein is considered one of the all time great horror classics, and I am a bit ashamed I have never reviewed it before. Boris Karloff brings the monster to life in one of the most legendary performances in film history. His ability to effectively scare us and make us feel a connection to, and even compassion for, this character is a true testament to what a fantastic actor Karloff was. To me it's not necessarily anything the monster actually does in the film that makes him so memorable--it's Karloff's performance that has stood the test of time. Tragically overshadowed is the performance of Clive. The sheer number of emotions this guy goes through in this film, from the feeling of being God to the ultimate regret, requires a special kind of actor to pull off successfully, and Clive does just that. Visually the movie is stunning. The movie is not without its drawbacks--the acting of some of the secondary characters comes to mind, along with the borderline absurd plot and outcome--but it's easy to see why Frankenstein is considered one of the all time greats.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Frankenstein Movie Trailer