Sunday, January 29, 2017

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II Movie Review

Thirty years after being killed during the prom, school slut/mean girl Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) returns, possessing high school senior Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon) and wreaking havoc on prom night. Though considered a part of the Prom Night series of films, this movie has little to do with the Jamie Lee Curtis classic--in fact, it was written as a stand alone film, and was only renamed to tie into Prom Night after being shot. Far from being just another slasher flick, this movie dives head first into the bizarre--there's a chalkboard whirlpool, haunted rocking horse, a ghost crawling out of a body, a computer killing a person...lets let some pictures do the talking for a moment...

Our Queen

Her victims, in all their 80s fashion glory

The Jester

The Royal steed

The acting is actually much better than you would expect in a movie such as this and from a bunch of  people who didn't do many films beyond this one. It will surprise no one that Michael Ironside turns in the best performance--more interesting is that he looks as much like Hunter S. Thompson as Jack Nicholson here.

"This is Mary Lou country"

Unfortunately, the weakest performances are from Schrage and Lyon, the actresses playing the two most important roles in the film. The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, as does the reemergence of Vicki after Mary Lou's grand return. Still, these shortcomings are made up for by the aforementioned wonderfully wild scenes coupled with other hallucination-driven madness that unfolds--yes, one could make the argument they were largely inspired by A Nightmare On Elm Street, but hey, if you're going to borrow from a movie, that's a pretty good one to use, and these scenes certainly don't come off as a poor impersonation. I could also make the obvious comparison to Carrie, but one can assume people are going to make that connection themselves based on the title alone. Until today, I had not seen this movie in a very long time, and it is considerably better than I recall it being--it screams 1980s weirdness, which is always a plus in my book.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II Movie Trailer

Saturday, January 28, 2017

PROM NIGHT

Prom Night Movie Review

Four children bully a little girl, leading to her accidental death. Six years later somebody is avenging the girl's death, killing off the tormentors one by one on prom night. This 1980 film is a forerunner of sorts in the slasher genre--not that it had not been done before, but this one is an early example of the 1980s style slasher that shaped the future of the horror subgenre. The film also stars one actor who was already somewhat established (Leslie Nielsen, Creepshow) and another, Jamie Lee Curtis, who had just come off her big screen debut in Halloween and would become an A-list actress in years to come. Most of this movie is light on the horror while being heavy on the...


So if this is not your cup of tea, you have a lot to sit through before we get to anything actually happening--for me, it was torture. Once we finally do get to the killings we are treated to a mixed bag of off the screen action to a fairly wicked decapitation scene. The real point of the film is trying to figure out who the killer is, and that reveal is a decent one, albeit one that comes after seeing the killer practically prance around like a Russian ballet dancer in the final battle. Prom Night will always be recognized as a film with historical importance in the world of horror, but taking all that away, it's really a just above average movie.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Prom Night Red Band Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 26, 2017

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (Original 1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Movie Review

Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns to his small town to find people claiming their loved ones are not really them--initially dismissing these claims, Bennell soon finds the folks are telling the truth, and discovers the horrifying reason behind it. I will let you all know right up front that I am NOT going to go into the political themes that may or may not be present in this film--we will not be discussing Communism, McCarthyism, or any other ism for that matter, except to say this: I believe these themes, or at least the speculation of them, is why this movie has been talked about, remembered, and acclaimed so much over the years.

Well, and the pods of course

The acting is really hit or miss in this movie--McCarthy (not responsible for McCarthyism, in case you're wondering) really nails it when he gets frantic, but as a smooth talking Doc, he leaves a lot to be desired. Speaking of which, half the time spent in this film is Bennell trying to woo long time friend, and married woman, by the way, Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter). 

He could do worse

Naturally, this forbidden affair takes up too much time and really takes away from the film, particularly when they realize the entire town has changed into Pod People and, whilst running away from them, Bennell is STILL trying to seduce Becky Outside of this, however, the story is very good and the much talked about ending, abrupt as it may be, is satisfying. The scenes involving the people emerging from the pods are also absolutely fantastic. If you watch this movie expecting one of the all time great science fiction films, you may be disappointed--if you watch with zero expectations, you will enjoy it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Invasion of the Body Snatchers Movie Trailer

Monday, January 23, 2017

MAGGIE

Maggie Movie Review

A zombie outbreak has taken over the United States, but unlike in most zombie films, once you are infected you don't instantly turn--instead, it is a process that takes several weeks. Maggie Vogel (Abigail Breslin, Signs, Zombieland) is infected, and after her father, Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), brings her home, they live out the final days of her life. The federal and local governments take the infected to quarantine once the final stage of the infection sets in, and Wade faces a terrible decision--he can let his daughter go into quarantine, where the infected are neglected and left to kill each other until doctors eventually get around to injecting them with a lethal dose--or, via a hookup from his doctor friend, Wade can inject his daughter with the dose himself, but the result is a long, painful death--or he can kill his daughter quickly. Set in a post-apocalyptic Midwest town, this is as somber as a zombie film gets, but in all the right ways.

Father and Daughter

The movie is shot extremely well, and the largely grey visuals match the tone perfectly. The story is one of the more unique you will find in this genre, and the delivery is outstanding. However, it's the acting that really carries this film to the next level. Breslin is wonderful as Maggie, and Schwarzenegger delivers a dramatic performance so spectacular you have to see it to believe it. Don't expect a lot of the typical blood and gore associated with a zombie film, but the visual of Maggie slowly deteriorating as the movie progresses is more than enough to make up for this. Be warned--if you allow yourself to get involved in this movie (which I recommend, by the way), it can certainly be a mood-altering movie--I'm still feeling the effects the next day. You will TRULY feel for these characters, right up to the tragic end. I ended up liking this film way more than I expected to, and I think it's one that should receive a lot more attention than it does.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

 
Maggie Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 19, 2017

URBAN LEGEND

Urban Legend Movie Review

Students at an upscale New England university are alarmed when a killer, apparently inspired by popular urban legends, begins taking them out one by one. This 1998 slasher flick has a ton of people you will recognize--Brad Dourif (Halloween, Graveyard Shift), Joshua Jackson (Shutter), Robert Englund (Freddy himself), Danielle Harris (many Halloween movies), Alicia Witt (Four Rooms), Tara Reid (Sharknado), Rebecca Gayheart (Noxzema Girl), and even Jared Leto (Fight Club, Panic Room) stop by and deliver about what you would expect from each of them, though Leto has certainly been better.

This one's for the ladies in the house

The kills, while not overly graphic, do keep you interested, and have a warm throwback to the 1980s feel to them. If you are a fan of urban legends in general, as I am, you will take additional interest in this movie, and may smile to yourself when things like Pop Rocks and spider eggs are mentioned. The pace of the film is good, and the reveal, while not fantastic, is effective--the final scene is very entertaining. Some of the acting and generally annoying characters bring this movie down a bit, but overall, in a time when horror movies were beginning to make a comeback, and the market was flooded with really bad ones, Urban Legend still stands out as one of the better horror flicks from that era.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Urban Legend Movie Trailer

Friday, January 13, 2017

DON'T BREATHE

Don't Breathe Movie Review

Three burglars find more than they expect to when they break into the home of a blind man (Stephen Lang, The Monkey's Paw, Tombstone)--not only does the old man have tons of money, but he also has a mean streak they were unprepared for. I'll get the typical stuff out of the way for this review--there is a fair amount of blood, some gruesome death scenes, and lots of action taking place in the dark--none of this is the reason to watch this movie.

"Then why should I watch...err..."

The suspense! The wondering what will happen with each step, each turn of the corner, each...yes...breath. This film has a way of bringing you into the situation, making you feel like holding your breath as the blind man gets closer and closer. This movie also makes for a good character study--the blind man lives in the ghetto, is blind as the result of an explosion while he was in the Armed Forces, and only has tons of money because his daughter was killed in an accident. The three thieves are shown robbing a different house in the film's opening scene, and you will immediately dislike them as a result. But alas, as the story unfolds, we learn why the thieves do what they do--Rocky (Jane Levy) wants to escape her trailer park nightmare life, Alex (Dylan Minnette) is in it for the girl, and Money (Daniel Zovatto)...well, Money only seems here to give the audience somebody to truly dislike, annoy Alex, and he's dating Rocky. We also discover much later in the film the blind man is hiding a few dark secrets...wait, that one wasn't intentional. The intention is obvious--make you cheer for the three youngsters--but for me (and my girlfriend for that matter) there was just one problem with all this: it's hard to cheer for three people who, for all they knew going in, was robbing an innocent, blind old man who had lost his daughter and had done nothing wrong. Regardless of what unfolded in the house, had they not been greedy bottom feeders, they would have never found themselves in this situation to begin with. As you watch this film, if you share my opinion, you will be very disappointed in the ending--going with how writer/director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead 2013) wants you to feel will likely lead to a more pleasant ending for you. All told, Don't Breathe isn't quite the movie it's cracked up to be--that said, it is still a pretty good film.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Don't Breathe Movie Trailer

Monday, January 9, 2017

THE SHADOW OF THE CAT

The Shadow of the Cat Movie Review

After witnessing the murder of her owner, Tabitha, a cat, seeks revenge on those responsible for the death. This is one of countless movies made through the years that revolves around a lot of greedy people gathering at the mansion or castle of the wealthy recently deceased and wanting their share of the inheritance. We’ve seen it all a million times before and this movie really brings nothing new to the table except, well, the killer looks like this…

Meow

This is a Hammer film, so your patience will be tested—if you happen to be watching this movie between the evening hours of ten and midnight on a Saturday night and you are running on very little sleep, the only thing that may keep you awake for the entirety is the awesome horror host presenting the film, and his bits going in to and coming out of commercial breaks.

"You're welcome, Josh!"

The acting here is pretty rough, and other than the cat occasionally tricking somebody into their death, little to nothing is actually happening either. Unlike most Hammer films, this one doesn’t even leave us with a good ending—merely a promise of a sequel. How exciting. Unless you are looking for assistance with that nagging insomnia issue, skip this movie.


On A Score Of One To Ten: 3

I couldn't find the trailer, so here's the Svengoolie The Shadow of the Cat opening

Saturday, January 7, 2017

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS

The Beast of Yucca Flats Movie Review

After fleeing into the desert, a Russian scientist (Tor Johnson of Plan 9 From Outer Space fame) feels the effects of a nearby a-bomb blast. Does it kill him? No--it turns him into a savage monster. As a movie that appears on practically every worst movies ever list, I have long said I would watch this one some day (watching it on MST3K doesn't count), and that day was today. So lets get right into this--the film starts off with a woman...

Specifically, this woman

...being choked to death by a mysterious man.

Presumably, this man

This scene is worth noting for two reasons: it is never mentioned at any other point in the movie (and is not, storyline speaking, possible for the Beast to have done this), and there is actually an extended version of this scene not typically seen in most showings of the film. Inept writer/director Coleman Francis allegedly put this scene in the film after initial shooting wrapped, and did so only because he liked nude scenes. So this is the opening scene, and when edited, it is about as hard an opening as one could imagine, and, as edited as it is, fails to serve the only purpose (as thin as that purpose was) it had in the film--to serve up that cheap trick known as gratuitous nudity.

Here's a shot from the uncut version...for historical, not gratuitous, reasons, of course

And beloved readers, it only gets worse from there. The entire film was shot with no sound (it was all dubbed in during post production) and this is painfully obvious--the actors deliver their lines in shadows, off camera, behind their hands--you get the point. This is during the rare occasion there actually IS dialogue--most of the film is a narrator (Francis himself) doing a virtual play by play--picture the opening of The Twilight Zone, but uninteresting and delivered in a monotone that will put you to sleep--and it stretches the ENTIRE film. The writing is some of the worst you can imagine. Here is a direct quote: "Joseph Javorsky. Noted scientist. Dedicated his life to betterment of mankind." Would you like to play a fun drinking game? Take a shot every time the narrator speaks an incomplete sentence. You think to yourself "Maybe the action will save the film!"--and you would be wrong. The Beast, according to the narrator, "unleashes his fury". Does he do this by tearing somebody to pieces? Morphing into an unimaginable evil? Destroying furniture? No--he grunts and throws his arms in the air a couple times. The narration borders on social commentary at times, but don't picture George Orwell here--think more, I don't know, that ex-high school football star turned drunkard at the bonfire who has had a few too many. The acting--should you dare call it that--is as stiff as a board--just watch the cop as he is unloading bullets into the Beast--you get the sense he had absolutely no clue what scene they were shooting. I could go on and on about how awful this movie is (and sadly, not in a good way), but this IS called QUICK horror movie reviews, so let me get to the positives and wrap this up...Tor Johnson looks like a beast, I have a natural love for the desert, so I found many of the shots to be visually appealing, and the movie is a mere 54 minutes long...yeah, that's all I have. If you have ever wondered to yourself "Is The Beast of Yucca Flats really as bad as everybody says it is?", rest assured...it is.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 2

The Beast of Yucca Flats Movie Trailer

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

THE DESCENT

The Descent Movie Review

Let us kick off the New Year in a big way--a group of friends set off to explore previously uncharted caves, but once down there they discover terrors they could never imagine. I was astonished when I realized I had not yet reviewed The Descent. I first saw this movie when it hit theatres back in 2005 and I’ve loved it since.  The creatures the gals inevitably come across are rather scary, but they are not the only scare here—arguably, they are the least effective scare in the film.

Sorry...yes, you're scary

Writer/Director Neil Marshall does a fantastic job keeping the viewer squirming with the more natural fears in the film. Your stomach will turn many times if you are scared of heights. If you’re scared of the dark, you will be running to turn the lights on. If you have a fear of tight spaces, you may faint. THESE are the things that make this movie truly terrifying. If that’s not your cup of tea and you are just in it for the gore, you will also be quite satisfied with this movie—the sheer amount of blood and broken bones is more than enough to quench your thirst. The human element is strong, with friendship and loyalty called into question. Still not enough to convince you? How about enough twists and turns in the end to keep your head spinning, and an ending (the theatrical one, not the more conventional one you will likely see if you watch this on television) that will leave you gasping. My only complaints are a somewhat slow opening and some rough acting from a minor character or two, but these distractions are so small they are easy to get past. The Descent isn’t just one of my personal favorite horror films—it is truly one of the best horror films of the last several decades.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9 

The Descent Movie Trailer