Tuesday, October 31, 2017

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA

It Came From Beneath The Sea Movie Review

When a submarine comes in contact with a mysterious object, the Navy enlists the help of Professor Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue of This Island Earth and Cult of the Cobra fame) and Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis) to find out what it was. It is soon discovered that the object was a giant, boat-attacking octopus.

It likes attacking buildings too

A lot of this movie's time is spent trying to figure out what the octopus is, convincing the important people it is, in fact, a giant octopus, and thinking of ways to destroy it, while at the same time developing a relationship between Joyce and Commander Pete Mathews (Kenneth Tobey)--of course he eventually wins her over, proving that, even in 1955, hot chicks fell for the biggest jerk in the room.

"Yes, he's a jerk...but he's so handsome!"

This is a lot to sit through to finally get to something actually happening, but when the octopus is revealed, it is 1950s science fiction gold. The miniature models and stop-motion effects of the octopus are outstanding, and it's attack on San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are the stuff of nightmares (Sani, never watch this one). The acting is fair, and Domergue is as good as ever, but the dialogue is weak and the sub-plots uninteresting. Watch this one for Domergue and the octopus--outside of them, there's not much else to this film

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


It Came From Beneath The Sea Movie Trailer

Friday, October 27, 2017

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

30 Days Of Night Movie Review

The residents of Barrow, Alaska are preparing for 30 days of darkness--what better time for a tribe of vampires to pay a visit? That's the basic story of this 2007 horror flick based on a series of comic books. The film stars Josh Hartnett (The Faculty) and Melissa George (Triangle, The Amityville Horror), and both do a fine job in this one--in fact, the acting across the board is pretty solid in this movie. Ben Foster (X-Men: The Last Stand) is very memorable in his brief time in the film, and Danny Huston (The Number 23) is terrifying as the head vampire.

You've got red on you

This movie has a very dark feel about it--even without the vampires, the mood of a town suffering a month straight of darkness is somber as it is. Gorehounds will be very pleased with this film--once the vampires attack, the violence and bloodshed are unrelenting--the aerial shot of the town under attack is particularly awesome. Not only is the film bloody, the violent scenes are often so realistic looking they border on being disturbing. The vampires themselves actually look scary, and, in a nice touch, also speak their own language. The body count is high, and the movie moves at a great pace. The movie is visually stunning, adding to the viewing enjoyment. Unfortunately, for everything this movie has going for it, the ending is a tremendous letdown, preventing this from being among the all time great vampire flicks--that said, 30 Days of Night is still a very good horror movie, and is one I have watched at least a dozen times.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


30 Days Of Night Movie Trailer

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

DARK HARVEST

Dark Harvest Movie Review

After inheriting a farm and the accompanying house, Sean (Don Digiulio) brings five friends along to check it out--what the group doesn't know is that Sean's great-grandfather, as a way to be sure his crops would always grow, made a deal with the devil--the following night, during the harvest moon, Satan is sending some demons, in the form of scarecrows, to collect on the debt still owed him. I first came across this movie years ago when I bought an entire box of rare horror on VHS at a yard sale for next to nothing--almost all the films were of the low budget variety, and some brought in a pretty penny on Ebay. Most of the movies were pretty awful, and while I wouldn't call Dark Harvest a good movie, it really isn't as bad as I expected it to be. There is next to no budget and the movie looks like it was filmed on a camcorder, but the story, while not entirely original, works enough to allow the viewer to see past these things. The acting is a step up from what you would expect, but none of these people are likely to win an Academy Award any time soon. There are several scenes in the movie that produce in the blood factor, but that only makes it all the more frustrating when the death scenes occur off screen.

"Hey miss, did I really kill you?"

There is a bit of CGI in this movie, and it is laughably bad but mercifully limited. The directing, and especially the editing, leaves a ton to be desired--slow motion is used WAY too often, there are more unnecessary cuts within any given scene than one can count, and there's even a scene that is randomly thrown in between two other scenes that make two characters appear to be in two different places at the same time. Speaking of the two scenes that wrap around the one scene--it is of the four chicks in the movie swimming naked, just because. This movie is very much a throwback to the 80s--coupled with the fact it's about scarecrows, something I'm always a sucker for, I probably like Dark Harvest more than I should.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Dark Harvest Movie Trailer

Monday, October 23, 2017

TARANTULA

Tarantula Movie Review

Professor Gerald Deemer (Hitchcock film regular Leo G. Carroll) and his colleagues have devised a formula that rapidly increases the growth of animals, but when a tarantula escapes the lab, the results are deadly. I really love watching 1950s sci-fi monster movies, and this 1955 classic is no exception. Let's face it--as much as we love this genre, most of the films are filled with awful dialogue, bad acting, horrible directing--this can certainly add to the enjoyment of some of the films, but Tarantula separates itself from a lot of the pack by actually delivering competency in these areas as well. The acting across the board is actually good, the dialogue is smart, the story is interesting, and the film has a wonderful pace. The makeup and special effects are quite impressive as well, but fear not, monster movie fans--some of the visuals and cheesiness we love are here too.

"..and then he said "Spider? I never even..."

The movie teases romance between our lead, Dr. Matt Hastings (husband of Shirley Temple and regular John Wayne sidekick), and understudy Stephanie Clayton (former Playboy model Mara Corday), but that really goes nowhere. It also...oh, you want to see Corday? Well, if you insist...

You're welcome

Tarantula is also known for the very brief appearance of a young Clint Eastwood, in an uncredited role.

"Get off my desert floor"

The 1950s produced dozens and dozens of giant, mutant insect and creature movies, but few are as good as Tarantula. While it falls short of what I would consider a "great" movie, if you are a fan of this genre, it should be considered a must-see.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Tarantula Movie Trailer

Friday, October 20, 2017

KISS OF THE TARANTULA

Kiss of the Tarantula Movie Review

After learning her mother and uncle plan on killing her father so they can be together, creepy, spider-loving little girl Susan uses a tarantula to kill her mom. We flash forward a few years and see Susan is now in high school, still loves spiders, and is picked on by several people from school and around town--I'll let you guess what happens to them.

"Want to hold my friend?"

This movie came out during the mid-seventies, and was one of several movies of that decade that revolved around loner weirdos with some connection to animals, which they use to exact revenge--Jennifer and Stanley are two other good examples, and I am realizing now I have yet to review Jennifer--stay tuned. While certainly tame for a horror film (it is rated PG, though would likely get a PG-13 these days), it does have some pretty horrific moments and a small bit of gore. The music is pretty good in this one, helping to set an unsettling mood throughout. Suzanna Ling does a good job as the teenage Susan, and I was surprised to learn this was the only movie she ever appeared in. The rest of the acting is pretty rough, and the pace does slow down incredibly, making it seem longer than its 91 minutes run time. The dialogue is really bad here too, and the directing is awful, but the story itself is interesting enough to keep you hooked. Stick with it--you'll love what happens to the creeper uncle in the end. I wasn't expecting much out of this movie, but Kiss Of the Tarantula turned out a little better than I thought it would be. I give this one a mild recommendation in general, and a must-see if you are into the films I mentioned earlier.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Kiss of the Tarantula Movie Trailer

Thursday, October 19, 2017

SEE NO EVIL

See No Evil Movie Review

A group of teenage criminals are brought to an abandoned hotel to clean it up in exchange for shorter sentences--while there, they are stalked by a hook and chain wielding killer (Glenn Jacobs, aka WWE wrestler Kane). After the initial scene, where we see the killer has been shot after gouging out some chick's eyes, the movie drags, as we are introduced to the herd of victims--none are developed beyond the superficial, and not a single one of them is even remotely likable. Once the killer, named in the credits as Jacob Goodnight, a name never actually used in the film, shows up in the hotel, the body count begins adding up and we finally get what we came for.

Through hell, fire, and brimstone!

While the kills are often and the gore great, the style of shooting, and especially the post production work, absolutely kill the movie. There are more jump cuts than one can count, lots of light flashes, and editing so choppy it makes the film almost unwatchable. The movie is obviously a ripoff of ode to Friday The 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and doesn't come close to being as good as either. While Kane is a decent choice to play a killer--he's a huge guy who just naturally looks scary--the rest of the acting is beyond bad--many high school productions have more natural talent than this film. Watch this one for the sheer number of death scenes and the gore, but be warned--there's nothing outside of that going for it.

On A Scale of One To Ten: 4

See No Evil Movie Trailer

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CREEPSHOW 2

Creepshow 2 Movie Review

Hitting theaters five years after the original Creepshow, the sequel is kind of brought to us by the same people--Stephen King wrote the stories and George A. Romero created the screenplay, but handed over directing duties to Michael Gornick, a cinematographer in the original film. While still an anthology, this one scales back from the five stories in the original to just three here, with a wraparound story, just as in the first. The largely-animated wraparound story is, unfortunately, fairly weak and uninteresting--a young boy, who happens to be a fan of the Creepshow comic, is bullied by classmates, and The Creep (played by Tom Savini when not in animated form) introduces the stories. Thankfully, the stories are far better and more entertaining than this.

Old Chief Wood'nhead

Our first story finds an older couple (George Kennedy of Cool Hand Luke fame and 1930s beauty queen Dorothy Lamour in her final role) harassed and eventually killed by local thugs. The wooden Indian outside the couples' general store soon comes to life to seek revenge on the troublemakers. 

The good chief himself

This story is a wonderful way to kick off the anthology. Kennedy and Lamour do a great job in their roles, making their demise all the more tragic, and Holt McCallany was so over the top as Sam Whitemoon, the egotistical leader of the youngsters, that you will cheer out loud when he meets up with The Chief at the end of the story. Much like in the original Creepshow, the second film was a regular in my house when I was young, and from an early age, every time I have seen a wooden Indian, I have referred to him as "Old Chief Woodn'head". This one also gives us a small sampling of the amount of blood and gore to come.

The Raft

The second story begins with four young people smoking pot and going to a lake to swim out to a raft--when they get there, they find a weird blob-like, oil slick-looking thing in the water, and soon discover it has a taste for human flesh. This story seems to drag quite a bit, especially in the build up to the group arriving on the raft. The characters aren't particularly likable, and the actors don't do much to help this issue--Daniel Beer is especially unbearable as Randy--his reactions to his friends dying are so bad they're must-see. The saving grace in this story is the wonderful makeup job and terrifying death scenes.

Groovy

One scene--the first thing that happens after the remaining two wake up the following morning--is so out of left field and uncomfortable it makes you wonder what the writers/director were thinking, but it leads to a moment (see the picture above) that will have you questioning if what Randy did was all part of his plan. The final seconds of this one are also pretty cool, if not predictable.

The Hitchhiker

The third and final story revolves around a woman (Lois Chiles) who, in a hurry to get home to her husband so he doesn't suspect she's cheating on him (she is), accidentally loses control of her car and kills a hitchhiker (Tom Wright). The hitchhiker comes back to haunt the woman as she continues to drive, repeatedly saying the same thing to her...

"Thanks for the ride, lady!"

For sheer amount of blood and gore, you can't beat this one. This story is interesting in that while you feel the terror the woman must be experiencing, you simultaneously have trouble feeling sorry for her, as she really deserves what is happening to her. Wright is fantastic here as one of the more memorable characters in any Creepshow film. I spoke earlier of growing up on this movie--this segment had such an impact on my mom that to this day she doesn't refer to the movie as Creepshow 2--to her, it has always been, and will always be, known as Thanks For The Ride, Lady

Without question, Creepshow 2 is a step or two below the original Creepshow. I wish they would have cut some of the fat off the three segments and added a fourth, I wish the wraparound would have been more interesting, and one can only imagine how much better this movie could have been with better acting--all that said, Creepshow 2 is still a ton of fun to watch, and remains a personal favorite of mine.

On A Scale Of One Too Ten: 7


Creepshow 2 Movie Trailer

THE FOG

The Fog Movie Review

The small town of Antonio Bay, California, is celebrating their year number one hundred, but most don't know the town was founded by a group of thieves who intentionally shipwrecked a boat of lepers and stole their treasure. The lepers, accompanied by a thick, glowing fog, have returned, and are killing anybody who gets between them and their gold.


He sword he's be back

It had been a long time since I watched this movie (probably before the girl who requested I review this one was even born---hello Ashley!), and I remembered it being pretty good--unfortunately, this is one of those movies that turns out to be better in memory than it actually is. There are a ton of names and faces you will recognize here, including Adrienne Barbeau (Creepshow), Jamie Lee Curtis (Prom Night), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Nancy Loomis (Halloween), and Hal Holbrook (also from Creepshow), and the movie was written and directed by horror legend John Carpenter. The whole evil-in-the-fog thing will put you in mind of The Crawling Eye, if you've ever had the pleasure of seeing that classic, and the biggest drawback of this movie is the sheer amount of time it takes for the leper ghosts to arrive. The story just sort of goes around in circles until the evil beings finally appear--during that time, the characters are not well developed and, worse, the actors seem uninterested--a shame considering the cast. Once the ghosts finally do arrive, however, the movie picks up, delivering a good amount of creepiness. If you're looking for gore, look elsewhere--all the violence takes place off screen. The final scene is so cheesy and cliche you will either shake your head in disgust or smile with pleasure--just don't try to make too much sense of it--or anything else in the film for that matter.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


The Fog Movie Trailer

Monday, October 16, 2017

CUBE ZERO

Cube Zero Movie Review

In this prequel to Cube, we see the men responsible for the cube as we simultaneously see the latest group of people go room to room in their attempt to escape. The third, and to date, final, movie of the franchise attempts to answer some of the questions left open by the other two films, while also presenting new ideas and concepts--this is a tricky endeavor in prequels, and unfortunately, this film does not pull this off well at all. As this is a prequel, one would expect the rooms to look just like they do in the first film--they don't. In fact, the rooms look very different here. Cube 2 is completely ignored (thank goodness), which means all the parallel universes and other such nonsense is out, the CGI is an improvement from that film, and this is probably the goriest of the three movies.

"I'm melting...melting!"

You know the type of characters to expect, and it's obvious from early in the film that behind the scenes man Eric (Zachary Bennett) will eventually enter the cube to help Rains (Stephanie Moore) attempt to escape. While we don't get to see who the top man of the cube experiment is, we do see who is presumably the top man at the actual location of the cube and he's...well...

Eye don't have the words

This character, Jax, is so over-the-top, and actor Michael Riley hams it up so much, that it's really hard to take him seriously, and worse, after waiting three movies to see who is pulling the strings here, this reveal is a major let down. If that's not bad enough, the final scene is beyond absurd. While not as bad as the second installment of the franchise, Cube Zero still falls well short of its potential, and is a rather disappointing finale to the series. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Cube Zero Movie Trailer

CUBE 2: HYPERCUBE

Cube 2: Hypercube Movie Review

Just as in the original Cube film, a group of strangers awaken in a square room with no memory how they got there. They must maneuver from room to room as they attempt to find their way out of this hyper-cube. Unlike in the original, all the rooms are white, and very few are actually booby trapped--and the ones that are are, well, uninteresting. This movie relies WAY too much on CGI, and unfortunately, the CGI is all pretty awful.

It doesn't get any better than this

The characters are almost carbon copies of the original film--the caring motherly type, the back-stabbing jerk, the math genius--you get the picture--and other than maybe Jerry (Neil Crone, It), they are pretty unlikable. The story becomes overly convoluted, as we discover the hyper-cube includes alternate universes and time distortions, among other ridiculousness. The rooms are far less interesting than in the original--it's as if the people making this movie were more interested in what they could do in post-production than actually presenting a decent film. Watch this movie if you are having a Cube marathon--otherwise, skip it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


Cube 2: Hypercube Movie Trailer

CUBE

Cube Movie Review

A group of strangers awaken in a seemingly never-ending maze of rooms--some of which contain deadly booby traps. As they get to know each other and learn of each others' individual knowledge and strengths, they work together to figure out how to escape. This low-budget Canadian film from 1997 is incredibly original and somewhat ahead of its time. As a viewer, it's exciting watching the characters go from room to room and discover if the next room is a trap or not. The film is also visually pleasing, as each room is filled with a different, vibrant color.

Red room, red room

This movie leans more toward science fiction than horror, but there is a fair bit of blood and gore, none surpassing the opening sequence.

When he saw this room he should have split

The acting is hit or miss here--half the cast is pretty good, while the other half is really, really bad. The characters are not developed much, making it a bit challenging to care what happens to them--except Quentin--you WILL want to see him killed. Director Vincenzo Natali provides some very interesting camera angles--you will either love or hate this approach, and I personally think it is very effective. Cube is not a great movie by any stretch, but it's uniqueness, presentation, and variety of rooms are enough to make it a very enjoyable film.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Cube Movie Trailer

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Review

A group of friends on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert seek help from the sheriff (R. Lee Ermey) of a small town after a hitchhiker they picked up kills herself—unfortunately for them, the sheriff is also the patriarch of a family of killers and lunatics. This 2003 version of the 1974 classic still stands out to me as one of the best horror movie remakes of the 21st Century. Because this movie is so different than the original, I will keep the comparisons to the original to a minimum here—I will say this outing is a lot bloodier than the original, not as scary, and much more slick—to that point, when you watch this movie, you have to understand two things: the original was a low-budget grindhouse film with no expectations of achieving any sort of huge commercial success (much less becoming the iconic film it is today), while the 2003 version had a much larger budget and was created for mainstream popularity and acceptance. It is important to keep that in mind while watching this movie, or, if you saw this one before the original, keep that in mind while viewing the 1974 film. Anyway, some of the more ominous themes of the original film are dropped here, but that doesn’t necessarily make this version any less intense. The actors do a decent job, and director Marcus Nispel and cinematographer Daniel Pearl do a fine job making us believe the events of this film are actually happening in 1973. Another nice touch to the film is bringing John Larroquette back to narrate the film, as he had done the original. The story itself, of course, is a disturbing one, and some of the scenes are likely to leave you feeling a bit uneasy.

This scene certainly ruffled some feathers
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We know from the beginning which of the friends will be the one to make it to the end, so no surprises there, but after such a strong build up, the climax of the film feels a bit disappointing—still, the 2003 edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very enjoyable horror flick that, for better or worse, kicked off the trend of remaking classic horror movies that continues 14 years later.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Trailer

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Original) (aka The Texas Chain Saw Massacre)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Review

Sally (Marilyn Burns) and her invalid brother Franklin (Paul A. Partian), along with a few friends, visit an abandoned house they had spent some time in as children--after encountering some strange people along the way, they eventually wander into a nearby house, which is the home of a masked, chainsaw-wielding killer.

THIS leatherfaced killer, to be exact

Director, producer, and co-writer Tobe Hooper made a huge splash with this low-budget 1974 horror film, which is far more suited for a local grindhouse or drive-in of the 1970s than any sort of mainstream theatre, but somehow broke through to a massive audiences and gave us one of the all-time great characters in horror history. Practically everything about this movie is unsettling, from the plot to the way it's shot to the music--everything comes together perfectly to tell a horrific tale. This landmark slasher film, which many consider one of the scariest movies ever made, is all the more impressive in that it manages to terrify the audience without actually showing much blood or violence. The acting is also very impressive here--Burns is really good as Sally, and Edwin Neal does such a good job as The Hitchhiker that you can't imagine him NOT being that insane in real life. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, a title it very much deserves--there is a lot to like about this movie, its shortcomings are very few, and it is basically a blueprint for tons of movies that would follow it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Trailer