Wednesday, January 29, 2020

HELLIONS

Hellions Movie Review

Style over substance--if ever challenged to summarize the film Hellions in just three words, reply "style over substance". Honestly, I could close the review right here, and you would likely have a pretty good idea about this movie, but I will go a bit more in depth...though with such little depth to the film to begin with, this may prove to be a challenge. Teen Dora (not the explorer, but actress Chloe Rose) finds out she is pregnant. It happens to be Halloween as well, and as she is handing out candy, a group of children in scary costumes begin terrorizing her.

She actually opened the door when they knocked

Dora hallucinates, then the colors all around her begin to change (insert the style portion of my opening sentence), and we're not really sure what we are seeing is really happening...I'm not sure we really care either. Dora's pregnancy also seems to be accelerating, and she's not quite understanding that either. Thankfully, the movie's Ahab, Sheriff Corman (Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 and Fire in the Sky fame), comes along near the end to explain it all--by this time, you have given up on the story itself (good thing too, as his explanation is a very familiar story) and are just watching for visual satisfaction.

Look at the colors, man

I would say Hellions had potential--I mean, it's set during Halloween, so naturally it got my attention, but the holiday is almost an afterthought here. Instead, what we have is a cliche-filled film right from the start. The interesting use of colors, however, almost makes this movie one worth watching...almost.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Hellions Movie Trailer

Saturday, January 25, 2020

TERROR TRAIN

Terror Train Movie Review

A group of college kids pull a prank on youngster Kenny Hampson (Derek McKinnon), scaring him so badly he ends up in a mental hospital. Three years later, the same college students throw a party on a train, and one by one they are getting knocked off by an unknown assailant...well, unknown is a bit of a stretch. This 1980 film is remembered primarily for one thing--starring Jamie Lee Curtis, who became an instant horror icon after her appearance in Halloween just two years prior. The movie also starred another young star at the time, magician illusionist David Copperfield, who, fittingly, plays a character named The Illusionist The Magician.

"Illusion Jamie Lee. A trick is something..."

This movie plays out very much like a whodunit, and even though you probably know who the killer is, you may second guess that a time or two. The acting is about what you expect from a slasher from this era--some decent mixed with some rather bad, but it has that 80's charm, so we forgive this. The bloodshed is on par with most other films from this time--it's nothing that is really memorable, but is enough to satisfy. One cool thing about this movie is the killer looks different each time we see him--this is a costume party, and he dons several. The ending (and Kenny's freak out in the beginning especially) leaves a lot to be desired, but the visual of the train trestle is very appealing to a self-confessed train lover. Terror Train is a decent little slasher flick--it's certainly not the best of its time, but is one worth checking out. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



Terror Train Movie Trailer

Monday, January 20, 2020

BUG (1975)

Bug Movie Review

A giant earthquake opens the ground, unleashing mutated cockroaches that not only bring the whole "cockroaches are gross" thing, but these suckers can start fires too! Not to be confused with the 2006 snoozefest of the same name featuring the legendary Harry Connick Jr., this masterpiece hit screens in 1975--yes, these bugs were kicking tires and lighting fires long before Jimmy Wilder was.

They may be smarter than Wilder too

When I read the premise of this film, I went into it thinking this was going to be a bad movie--the funny thing is, it's really not. Sure, we have bad acting and the scientific explanations are absurd, but one of the things we want in a horror film is to be creeped out, and we certainly get that here. As they begin to die off, Professor James Parmiter (Bradford Dillman) saves one of the roaches from within the deepest parts of the planet, and decides to breed it with a regular cockroach. The result is super-cockroaches that can not only start fires, but are smart enough to write things on walls, carry personal vendettas, and they even fly! Of course these are cockroaches, so when you breed them you're not going to get just one or two more as a result. Unfortunately, the ending is a bit underwhelming, but the ride to get there is a fun one. It should be noted this was the final film horror/gimmick master William Castle (Mr. Sardonicus, The Night Walker) had a hand in prior to his death (he wrote the screenplay). Castle proposed the idea of having something near the ankles of the movie-goers that would simulate a bug crawling on them, but unfortunately, by 1975 these type of movie house gimmicks were all but gone and his idea was rejected--unless you happened to see this movie in Florida, where you likely had the real thing crawling on you.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



Bug Movie Trailer

Sunday, January 19, 2020

FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS (aka Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette)

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks Movie Review

Have you ever watched a movie that foregoes any sort of logical plot, choosing instead to just throw of bunch of weird randomness together, mix it up, dump it out, and see what happens? That's seemingly the approach with Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, a 1974 Italian film. We have yet another version of Baron Frankenstein, only as Count Frankenstein here. He has a daughter and a love interest, who seem to only be in this movie to provide gratuitous nudity. Naturally, the Count has a hunchbacked assistant named Igor. Trust me when I say, it's about to get weirder. There is a perverted, evil dwarf who looks like the love child of Vincent Price and Ted Levine. There are even cavemen (!), one of whom becomes the corpse Frankenstein brings back to life.

"It's Neanderthal, NOT CAVEMAN!"

The story, as it were, is similar enough to the Frankenstein story we know to very loosely be related--we have Frankenstein creating a monster that eventually escapes and terrorizes the locals. Outside of that, this is just stuff happening, such as the dwarf spying on every naked woman in the movie to him befriending another cave dweller to help seek revenge on Frankenstein for throwing him out of the castle of freaks. The dialogue is nonsense, and the movie mistakes are plenty--notable is seeing one of the villagers of the 1800's wearing jeans. Even with all this, the movie is oddly entertaining. It doesn't quite reaching the "so bad it's good" level--it's more "this is better than it should be". The fact that it's even a little bit entertaining puts it head and shoulders above most Italian Gothic takes from this era. In fact, the only truly unbearable element of this movie is the caveman grunting--there are few things I hate more in movies than cavemen grunting. Now that I think of it, the grunting of the modern-day knuckle-dragger is one of the things I hate most about real life. Anyway, give Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks a shot if you are in the mood for a completely off the wall horror flick. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks Movie Trailer

Friday, January 17, 2020

THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER

The Blancheville Monster Movie Review

Emilie (Ombretta Colli) returns home to find her father has been disfigured, the help has changed, and she only has five days to kick the family curse, or else she will die the day she turns 21. Along the way, he father is encouraging her to just go ahead and die because, hey, it's really not too bad! This is still another Italian Gothic tale from my Chilling Classics collection, and is as sleep-inducing as most of the rest. 

"You feel your eyelids getting heavier..."

Allegedly inspired by the works of Poe, this movie seems more a mess created all on its own. Have you ever been so bored you watched a snail crawl from one destination to another? I haven't either, but I can imagine it moves along faster than this film does...and is probably more entertaining. Colli seems confused by everything that is happening around her--not the character, the actress--and her acting skills far outweigh those of everybody else in the film. The makeup is laughable. The reveal at the end will make you yawn (assuming you are still awake at this point). The movie visually is identical to hundreds of others from this genre. The opening credits are actually kind of cool, and some of the director's shots are a bit interesting--I'm in a really good mood right now, so I am trying to be positive and think of some good things to say about this film....I have nothing more.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

The Blancheville Monster Movie Trailer

Sunday, January 12, 2020

HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (aka Expose)(aka Trauma)

House on Straw Hill Movie Review

A writer (Udo Kier) suffering from writer's block hires a secretary (Linda Hayden) to help him with his next book. What the writer doesn't know is the secretary has a secret and is there to do more than help with his writing. This movie of many names is from 1976 England, and my goodness, is it ever dull. The lead character, Paul, is as boring and unlikable as any lead you will ever find in a movie, and another actor's voice is dubbed in for Kier's. Hayden is more interesting, particularly when she brings out the dark side of her character. After a lot of patience, and false visions of things happening (it's actually all in Paul's paranoid mind), we finally arrive at secretary Linda doing a bit of killing after being raped by some backwards locals.

This may or may not be happening...you may or may not care

This is one of those movies where the strategy seemed to be "throw in some nudity to keep the viewer watching", as there is plenty of Hayden and another woman, Suzanne (Fiona Richmond), walking around without clothing. The little twist at the end is kind of interesting and brings the movie up a bit, though the ending is...actually, let's talk about that ending. I watched this movie on Frightpix. Just as Linda is attacking Paul with the knife, the movie stopped and I found myself back on the Roku home page. Curious, I went back to Frightpix and to the movie, and the same thing happened again. Thinking the third time is a charm, I tried once more, but Frightpix refused to show the rest of the movie, so off to YouTube I went. I was able to find the ending, and the five minutes or so left off Frightpix were atrocious--honestly, the random part where the movie stops playing in Frightpix would have been a better ending! No matter what title this one goes by, House on Straw Hill is fairly tame, both as a horror and sexploitation film.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

House on Straw Hill Movie Trailer

Monday, January 6, 2020

INTO THE DARK: NEW YEAR, NEW YOU

Into the Dark: New Year, New You Movie Review

Four women, best friends while they were in high school, reunite for New Year's Eve. Danielle (Carly Chaikin) is internet-famous after creating "inspirational" videos, and is about to get her own television show. Alexis (Suki Waterhouse) is a babysitter who seems very jealous of her friend's fame, as she believes she is the one who should be where Danielle is. What will happen when these two get back together? Before we get more into this, let me address the title. Into the Dark is the name of a television series on Hulu, and New Year, New You is episode three of the first season. Unlike most television shows, however, the episodes of Into the Dark are feature-length--this one is 90 minutes. So essentially the series is a bunch of unrelated movies, and there is no need to watch the episodes sequentially if you don't want to. This brings us full-circle to New Year, New You, which, of course, I watched in the spirit of the new year.

Her year is starting rough

This movie takes seemingly forever to take off. We are introduced to the four women, see them get reacquainted, find out how they have changed, what they are up to these days, and so on, until FINALLY some tension starts to build. Once we find out the real purpose of this reunion, things really pick up and most of the rest of the feature is filled with twists and turns, some of which are a bit surprising, while others are rather predictable. The acting is fine--nothing stands out as being particularly good or bad. The ending is a bit of a letdown, and as predictable as much of the rest of the story. One takeaway from the movie is the message of what is defined as a celebrity these days, and how so many people can buy into the nonsense spewed by them, to the point they not only make that person rich and famous, but also somebody they practically worship. After all is said and done, New Year, New You is a forgettable film--while there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your day, there is no reason to set aside that time to watch this episode either. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Into the Dark: New Year, New You Movie Trailer

Saturday, January 4, 2020

MOM AND DAD

Mom and Dad Movie Review

Parenting is tough...or so I'm told, as I don't have children and, God willing, never will. Sometimes kids, and especially teenagers, are so annoying and difficult, parents just want to kill them. In Mom and Dad, something gets into parents, making them actually kill their kids. Don't ask why this happens--the movie never quite explains it. The parents seem absolutely rabid at times, filled with a rage that cannot be contained--think 28 Days Later--but also are still very much able to communicate. The movie centers primarily around one family, with the legendary Nicholas Cage (Knowing) and Selma Blair (W Deltz Z) as the parents. Can this get any more insane? Oh yeah, plenty! For good measure, we get another legend, Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead) in a brief appearance as Cage's father, more blood and guts than you can shake a stick at, some dark humor, and, possibly most surprising, a very emotional speech from Cage that really cuts to the heart of what this roller coaster of madness is really all about--reaching middle age and wondering what you have done with your life. Few parents will admit it, but many wonder what could have happened with their life had they not had kids...or got locked into the mortgage, maybe even got married, and, worst of all...had they not had to grow old. Wow...I'm depressing myself here.

"At least you don't have kids!"

Like I said, the movie never really explains why the parents snap all at the same time, but I like to think it is a world-wide realization that sends them into a frenzy, and fuels the rage against what they, deep down, resent more than anything in life. If you don't want to dive too deeply into this movie, there is plenty to enjoy on the surface, and the ride, once it starts, is a wild one. The primary drawbacks of the movie are the directing and the editing. We have far too many extreme close ups of peoples faces for my liking, and the framing of many of the shots is questionable. The editing is also rough at times, as much of the action is cut so quickly it makes it impossible to really appreciate what is happening. Some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired as well, but Cage, Blair and, for the brief time we have him, Henriksen are all on their game. Cage is as over the top as we have seen him, and his delivery of his pain of growing old is actually really, really good. Blair's performance turns downright creepy near the end. Many viewers will complain about the ending, but I rather liked it. I wasn't expecting much out of Mom and Dad, but I am happy my girlfriend and I gave it a shot. It was a fun way to bring in the new decade!

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Mom and Dad Movie Trailer