Friday, 29 March 2013

The Wizard of Gore

"The Wizard of Gore" (2007, Jeremy Kasten, Open Sky Entertainment, Sick-O-Scope Motion Pictures, Wizard of Gore LLC) is the modern remake of the 1970 Hershell Gordon Lewis film.

Off-beat backstreet magician, Montag the Magnificent (Crispin Glover) performs gory tricks where he randomly selects a beautiful girl from the audience and brutally murders her on stage, before revealing her completely unharmed... or is she?

Ed (Kip Pardue), after seeing the show, becomes obsessed with the trick, wishing to write about it for his article, but it isn't long until he finds himself too deep into the 'magic'.

With some splatter-iffic scenes, a sleazy, mind-boggling storyline and more Suicide Girl boobs than you could shake a stick at, "The Wizard of Gore" certainly lives up to its cover. Although, having not seen the original, I must admit my lack of comparative capability (for now).

It's like an old 'whodunnit' with added crazy people, sleaze, blood and illusions. Maybe not a 'horror' in that sense of the word, but certainly worth a watch.

[Image: Wizard of Gore LLC]
It may change the way you see Marty McFly's dad for a while....

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


"Slugs" (1988, Juan Piquer Simón, New World Pictures) is a nature-bites-back B-movie so latter day 80s, you could die.

Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) is the health inspector of a small town which becomes overrun by mutated, flesh-eating slugs. It is up to him, an English scientist and his sanitation department friend to put a stop to the epidemic before it's too late.

From the rocker teens to the terrible dress sense, this film is just delightfully B-class. The slugs are pretty gross and I'm pretty sure in one scene they really do cut a real one in half...!

It might put you off eating salad for a while, and there's certainly some fun 80s gore to enjoy. Slugs have to be the least threatening of all the gross legless things out there, but this film does pretty well to make them into an entertaining 'threat'.

There are explosions, a gardener who pulls an (Evil Dead) Ash (replacing chainsaw for another cutting tool), unconvincing biting slug puppets, naked chicks being eaten alive, gouged eyes, flamboyant restaurant death scenes, buckets of fake blood, screams, a lake scene, half-eaten corpses, lab hamsters, incredibly flawed action plans and terribly 80s B-movie dialogue. What more can you ask?

Hardly scary, but definitely bad-movie fun. So underrated and definitely not to be taken seriously!

[Image: New World Pictures]

Monday, 25 March 2013

Grave Encounters

"Grave Encounters" (2010, Darclight, Digital Interference, Twin Engine Films, The Vicious Brothers) is a found footage horror about a Ghost Hunting Reality TV show who are filming in a supposedly haunted old insane asylum where unethical practices had been performed on the patients.

The team, consisting of occult specialist Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko), tech guy Matt (Juan Riedinger), cameraman T.C. (Merwin Mondesir) and guest 'psychic' Houston Grey (Mackenzie Gray) are led by Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) the entrepreneurial host. But now that they have their wish for some real paranormal stuff, can they survive the night in a real house of horrors?

I'm not usually a fan of the found footage genre, but I really enjoyed this film. The characters aren't much to write home about, but the acting was good, and it really felt like one of those crappy shows like "Most Haunted".

The build up is nicely paced, and I was happy to see that the terror slowly builds, not using every possible opportunity for a jump. It was like being on a haunted house rollercoaster in that I was anticipating what was about to happen, but it was still thrilling. It was really one of the best ghost movies I've seen in a while with some fairly impressive jumps and a nice spiral-into-madness theme going on.

The only thing I would add is that there was a scene that was just too similar to my favourite bit in 1999's remake of "The House on Haunted Hill", which felt a little too lifted. Although, to be honest I can't imagine how I could avoid making parallels between the films, considering the similarities in plot and setting.

Really, a fun little jump-and-boo film for a dark and stormy night in!

[Image: Darclight Films]


Sunday, 24 March 2013


"Stoker" (2013, Park Chan-wook, Scott Free Productions, Indian Paintbrush, Fox Searchlight Productions) is more of a tense, slow burning, intellectual thriller than a horror movie. And it has nothing to do with vampires.

India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is an 18 year old girl who lives with her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) and father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a grand house. She is an intelligent introvert who doesn't like to be touched. And something about her makes her different from others.

When her father dies in a car accident on her 18th birthday, India feels suddenly alone. After the funeral, she is introduced to her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she neither met before nor had even heard of. Her mother throws herself unceremoniously at Charlie, while India is cautious of the strange man.

It becomes apparent that Charlie is indeed more than he appears and has a very dangerous side. But India begins to find herself sharing traits with her uncle. She has to decide whether to be like him or to be something else.

A very artistic film, I found the camera work fascinating, especially the creative scene transitions. Some people might find these a bit ostentatious, but I thought they were really pleasing to the eye and helped to build the feeling that each character is trying to work out what the other characters are thinking.

The horror to this tale isn't anything bloody or even the actual violent scenes in the film (of which there are several), but the building dread as we see our lead character grow into a person that we hoped she wouldn't. It's a nice visual study on human emotions and our darker thoughts.

Not a happy film by any means, there are some tense sexually themed moments and some dark drama as we follow the film's overall theme of growing up. The atmosphere is a little mixed with the large house with servants and the clothing of the main characters feeling more old-world, while obviously existing in the modern day. There's also a weird shoe fetish going on.

But, I really liked it and would see it again! Not one for the gore-hunters, but certainly a dark and intriguing hit.

[Image: Fox Searchlight Productions]


Saturday, 23 March 2013

Open Graves

"Open Graves" (2009, Álvaro de Armiñán, Alchemedia Films Manufacturas, Open Pictures, Voltage Pictures) is basically "Jumanji" with college students and horror.

A group of friends are enjoying life in the Spanish sun. Jason (Mike Vogel, who you may recognise from the Texas Chainsaw remake or from "Cloverfield") is a fresh college graduate enjoying some gap year opportunities, Tomas (Iman Nazemzadeh) is a photographer who is sleeping with as many models who are willing, Lisa (Lindsay Caroline Robba) is an aspiring model and girlfriend of Tomas, Elena (Naike Rivelli) is another model who is more than happy to give Tomas what he wants, and Miguel (Ander Pardo) and Pablo (Boris Martinez) are local guys who are good friends with Tomas and Jason.

Jason has also found a love interest in the form of Erica (Eliza Dushku), an American surfer chick out to explore the world and 'find herself'.

While wandering around the shops, Jason comes across a strange place peddling trinkets and spooky knick-knacks. He is convinced to take a game called "Mamba" as a 'gift' from the shop's owner.

At night, the gang and Erica are enjoying a beach front fire party, when a storm suddenly begins. Heading to cover inside, only to find that the power is out, they decide to check out the strange board game which Jason was given.

Each player rolls their turn and is put out of the game via a creepy 'Epitaph' card. They all dismiss the game as nonsense, but it isn't long before each 'player' begins dying in real life, and in ways ever so closely matched to their 'Epitaph' card from the game!

As the remaining friends frantically try to stop their impending doom reaching them, their number becomes increasingly small as the grisly deaths pile up.

A nice little yarn which is passable for a one-view-only, but not really what I'd call a 'good horror movie'.

The CGI isn't the best, but that's relatively forgiveable. There's a lot of would-be gory scenes ruined by it, though. The film's not scary, but it did a bring a smile to my face once or twice with the death scenes which are creative to the point of hilarity.

The game prop itself is quite impressive, though! English-written cards not withstanding... 

Really, this is just a film made to showcase the ever awesome Eliza Dushku as a sexy surfer lady, rather than a particularly serious horror film. There are a lot of good plot points hinted at and just never brought to fruition, and generally, didn't add any depth to the film.

It has potential and could be fun as a drinking game, but really next time I'll just watch "Jumanji" and then an episode of "Dollhouse"...

[Image: Voltage Pictures]


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Death Proof

"Death Proof" (2007, Quentin Tarantino, Troublemaker Studios, The Weinstein Co., Dimension Films) is a Grindhouse film about a killer in a stunt car whose favourite victims are young, drunk bimbos.

Kurt Russell plays 'Stuntman' Mike, an ageing Hollywood stuntman who stalks young, attractive women and drives about in an old stunt Chevy Nova (and later a Dodge Charger) which he maintains are 'death proof'.  He then proceeds to demonstrate this by using it as a weapon, for you see, it is only 'death proof' for him!

But his reign of terror can truly not last forever, and maybe, just maybe, one day he'll meet his match!

A fun modern Tarantino exploitation film which aims for the Grindhouse vibe, complete with the Grindhouse-y camera-work we have come to know and love. The first half of this film is pretty great with lots of bar scenes and build-up followed by some truly disturbing scenes with our charismatic antagonist. It does slow down in the middle, but generally the car chase scenes make up for those bits and the film picks up the pace for last few acts.

I adore Kurt Russell, and he's very good at bringing this asshole character to life. Stuntman Mike is a complete douchebag! The character completely epitomises the sleazy and the entitled. It's hard for me to not love a character portrayed by Kurt Russell, but Stuntman Mike is really hard to like. And that's a great thing!

Most of the other characters, outside of a few of "The Girls" are mighty disposable, but it's a movie about a maniac in a car, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of character development. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find such a good build up of our main victims. And, in true Tarantino style, we also get to enjoy their brutal, brutal deaths.

Kurt Russell delivers a fantastically creepy stalker character who has a very nasty side, and we have some cameos in the forms of Eli Roth, Rose McGowan, and Mr. Director himself. Stuntman Mike is also pitted against some truly strong characters including stuntwoman, Zoë Bell, and the kickass Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson.

"Death Proof" starts off promisingly with some good dialogue, some creepiness, some lap-dancing and then some horrorshow brutality. Although the film wonders a little in the middle, this is completely typical of the Grindhouse genre and makes it all the more fun when it picks up the pace again. While it's far from Tarantino's best film, it's still a entertaining thrill ride and, as ever, a vehicle for his foot fetishes...

[Image: Dimension Films]


Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Devil's Rejects

"The Devil's Rejects" (2005, Rob Zombie, Cinelamda, Liongate) is the blood-drenched sequel to Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses".

It wasn't what I was expecting, but you have to hand it to Mr. Zombie that he managed to keep up the blood spurting, degenerate momentum. Not that I was expecting anything less from him, really.

It's a sick ride as we follow Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley) on the run from the police after a large shoot out had them fleeing their cosy, disturbing home.

Being known as "The Devil's Rejects" the small gang wreak some torture and havoc on their way, leaving a trail of mutilated corpses and traumatised on-lookers. But away from their base they have nowhere to hide and there's a vengeance-driven police sheriff, Wydell (William Forsythe) on their tail...

A little different in style, feeling more like a Grindhouse piece than "1000 Corpses" did, "Rejects" delivers the demented goods, but in a different way. Like most violent horrors, it leaves you feeling a bit dirty afterwards, and you're never quite sure who you were routing for....

It feels more complete and rounded off than the first film, but it just didn't quite hit the same ludicrous, twisted and chaotic notes for me.

It did have me looking forward to listening to Rob's new album though!

[Image: Cinelamda & Liongate]

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


"Insidious" (2011, James Wan, Stage 6 Films, IM Global, Alliance Films, FilmDistrict) is a modern supernatural horror.

When Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick) moved into a swanky new home with their new baby girl and two young boys, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor) they didn't expect to find themselves victims of a haunting. They expected it less when they moved out of the 'haunted house' only to find that the entities had followed them! Soon it becomes apparent that perhaps it wasn't the house that was haunted, but a member of their family!

Starting as a relatively atmospheric slow-burning haunted house flick there are some very good jumpy bits and a building dread that is effective! The creep factor is spot on and the interestingly shot camera work works for the atmosphere, rather than against it.

At the start I felt it had a lot of 'Poltergeist' to it, but by the third part I realised it was pretty much a retelling of 'Poltergeist'... right down to the lost child and the weird medium lady with her two sidekicks. Not necessarily a bad thing, though.

The only problem is that the plot aimed to get too much in there and winds up with a hokey ending that doesn't match the incredibly spooky start to the film. It's as if they lost their way into a different movie and the ghosts really start to lose their effect due to the 'too-much-shown-factor'.

However, for the unseasoned horror viewer this film will certainly give you some chills and have you jumping. I just felt that the end lost something after such a spot-on start!

[Image: FilmDistrict]