Thursday, 30 May 2013

Humanoids from the Deep

"Humanoids from the Deep" aka "Monster" (1980, Barbara Peeters, New World Pictures, Roger Corman) is a slice of schlocky good-Mc-badness. A low budget 80s sea misadventure which is just a bit of cheesy fun!

The small seaside town of Noyo, USA is terrorised by humanoid fish creatures with a thirst for blood and a lust for human women.

Gloop, nude ladies, blatantly obvious jump scares, rubber monster suits, wooden acting, a plot so thin you can see through it & 80s clothing galore: what more can you ask?

A wannabe drive-through film that harks back to the old 1950s creature features, "Humanoids from the Deep" is a thoroughly 80s attempt. And that's what makes it so damn entertaining!

It's hardly a nail biter, and winds up being more funny than scary with its splattering blood and 'monster noises'.

Not one for the dog lovers, though, with a high canine death count. Be warned!

Things of note:
One of the tunes played by the band at the festival sounds a lot like 'head, shoulders, knees and toes'...
A guy with a ventriloquist dummy as part of his chat-up line actually almost gets laid! 

The monsters also seem to love boobs. Well, what self respecting salmon-monster doesn't?And the film's quota of naked ladies was certainly used to the full extent!

Something for when you're in a not-too-serious mood and you want to watch some slippery villains try to kill a bunch of fishermen and get as many blonde chicks naked as possible, with an ending that will make you snort cola out of your nose (or red wine in my case!).

[Image: New World Pictures]


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Brain Damage

"Brain Damage" (1988, Frank Henenlotter, Palisades Entertainment, Ventura Distribution) is from the twisted mind of Frank Henenlotter who is also responsible for "Basket Case", so you have to understand what you're going in to before you click 'play'.

Brian (Rick Hearst) becomes addicted to (and accomplice of) a gross little parasitic creature called Aylmer (terrifically voiced by John Zacherle) that can inject highly addictive mind altering fluids directly into people's brains and also eats human brains. Basically, he likes brains.

Definitely a story about drug addiction, the gore is delivered in classic late 80s B-movie fashion with buckets of innuendo on top for good measure.

Funny, sleazy, disgusting and like a bit of a bad drug trip itself, if you don't like the sound of a film about phallic-like slug monster that eats brains, you probably want to avoid "Brain Damage". However, if you think that sounds hilarious then you're probably as weird as me.

[Image: Palisades Entertainment]

Monday, 27 May 2013

Child's Play

"Child's Play" (1988, Tom Holland, United Artists) is the first of the Chucky the killer doll series.

I was never allowed to watch any of the Chucky films as a kid because my mum was freaked out by them and also due to the links to the tragic torture and murder of James Bulger here in the UK. Although, I've often thought the media had more to do with those links than reality. The real tragedy is that those murderers were given new identities and not made to rot in prison like they deserved! And we all saw how that worked out... And also the horrific torture and murder of Suzanne Capper, who's murderers took the movie links to a whole new level of sick.

So Chucky was off the watch list. And I was always somehow intrigued by the films, just like I was with Hellraiser (for similar reasons).

Karen (Catherine Hicks) buys her young son, Andy (Alex Vincent), a 'Good Guys' doll (his favourite kids TV show) from a homeless man for his birthday. Unbeknownst to her the doll, Chucky, is actually possessed by the soul of infamous murderer, Charles 'Chucky' Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) who has been learning voodoo. The doll hadn't been Chucky's first choice for a replacement body, but it was all that was available at the time.

When the doll begins to murder people, no one will believe little Andy that it is the doll that is doing it! But, as Chucky begins to focus his murderous intentions onto his past colleagues and the cop, Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), who 'killed' him it becomes a fight for survival against the little plastic monster.

Really good special effects and models make this movie all the more creepy and Dourif's memorable voice made the Chucky doll into a horror icon. But in general if you've seen one killer doll film, you've seen them all.

The effects, disturbingly good doll facial expressions and with a few jump scares, this iconic horror remains one of the best known killer doll films out there.

[Image: United Artists]


The Stuff

"The Stuff" (1985, Larry Cohen, New World Pictures, Anchor Bay Entertainment) is a schlocky little bit of American 80s B-movie comedy horror.

When a group of miners discover some white gloop bubbling out of the earth what can they do but taste it to discover it's delicious? Soon the stuff is being marketed as a yummy, addictive new dessert called...well, The Stuff!

Quickly replacing ice cream before replacing all food, The Stuff is being eaten obsessively by every family in America! But what is it? And why does it move around so much by itself? It's up to a little boy called Jason (Scott Bloom) and ex-FBI agent David 'Mo' Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) to uncover what is really going on before everyone has been taken over by the sweet dessert and melted from the inside!

Low budget and tongue in cheek, Cohen's satirical homage to the food-horror zombie-conspiracy style is good fun. From the painfully 80s marketing jingle to the scenes where it seems like a good idea to set The Stuff on fire while it's stuck to peoples' faces, it will keep you chuckling, but probably not guffawing.

Definitely not cerebral viewing, but good fun. And it may temporarily put you off eating marshmallow.

[Image: New World Pictures]

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Frankenstein Created Woman

"Frankenstein Created Woman" (1967, Hammer Film Productions, Warner-Pathé, 20th Century Fox, Optimum Releasing, Terence Fisher) is the fourth Hammer Horror Frankenstein feature and it is one of my favourite Peter Cushing films. I'm watching it today to celebrate what would have been his 100th Birthday. Happy Birthday, Peter Cushing you were an excellent actor and a gentleman!

The film opens to a guillotine and the beheading of a father while his young son, Hans looks on.

Fast forward several years and Hans (Robert Morris) is now a young man working for Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters) and assistant to Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing).

Frankenstein has developed his work of 'giving life' much further than his previous patchwork creations and is now dabbling with the more spiritual theories of the soul. He has found that the soul remains intact after death and can be restored after life. Yep, ol' Frankie's outdone himself with his new bolt-free creations!

After a series of unfortunate events and general mishandling of situations, feisty young Hans is sentenced to the guillotine for a murder he did not commit. Facing the same fate as his father, Hans cannot explain that he has an alibi because he was making love to the local barmaid, the disfigured but kind Christina (Susan Denberg), a love interest he has been barred from pursuing by Christina's father. Plus who would believe a murderer's son over the word of three snobby young toffs with lots of cash?

Christina is too late to save Hans from his fate and, in despair, she commits suicide inadvertently providing Frankenstein with two fresh bodies to experiment on! But, perhaps the Baron's scientific theory is not fully correct...! Could his beautiful new scar-free creation be just as much a monster as his last attempts?!

Cushing delivers a cold and calculating Dr. Frankenstein who is witty, clever and driven. His Dr. Frankenstein character is always the best in my opinion!

Susan Denberg also excels in her role switching from sweet and innocent bar wench to sultry vixen to crazed lady.

A fun little Hammer Horror with a nice alteration to the usual Frankenstein story and some really lovely decapitation scenes filmed in characteristic Hammer fashion; showing little while letting your imagination fill in the gaps with some dripping blood here and there.

If you haven't seen this film yet, I recommend giving it a try from some old school Hammer viewing.

[Image: Hammer Film Productions]

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Apartment 143

"Apartment 143" (2012, Werc Werk Works, Kasdan Pictures, Likely Story, Carles Torrens) is a 'real footage' (not really 'found footage' in this particular case) film about a family who think that their apartment is haunted.

Alan White (Kai Lennox) and his children Caitlin (Gia Mantegna) and little Benny (Damian Roman) have had to move home to try to escape the violent ghostly manifestations that appeared after the untimely death of Alan's wife, Cynthia (Laura Martuscelli). Unfortunately, the ghost appears to have followed them to their new home.

In a desperate attempt to rid themselves of this menace, they have called in a paranormal investigation team who are setting up for a few days in the apartment to get to the bottom of things. But what will they uncover?

Following a lot of ghost movie jump scare conventions almost completely to the letter of the book, I wouldn't say this film was original. It does kind of cross lands from ghosts to poltergeists to The Exorcist territories, but on the whole it's not really that creative a film.

In its merit, however, the banter between the characters is quite realistic, if often dull. And the jump scares are well orchestrated, if you can bare the long-winded wait for it. Some of the scenes were a little too like those emails you used to get where you watch the little car drive along and then BOOM! Regan McNeil's little demonically possessed face is suddenly on the screen and you've let out an entirely embarrassing squeak of surprise!

On the whole watch-able with some entertaining jump scares, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again.

[Image:  Werc Werk Works & Kasdan Pictures]


Wednesday, 15 May 2013


"Hell" (2011, Tim Fehlbaum, Oliver Kahl) is a German-language film about a dystopian future where the sun has become too hot to stand and the world has become a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Surviving in a small group, Marie (Hannah Herzsprung), her little sister Leonie (Lisa Vicari) and Phillip (Lars Eidinger) are foraging the barren wasteland for water and fuel, now uncommon commodities.

They happen across another survivor, Tom (Stipe Erceg) on their travels as they head towards the Alps, where they hope there is more to live off of. Unfortunately for them they aren't the only ones still alive, and not everyone is surviving in such friendly ways.

Since I was in Germany visiting friends, I thought it would be cool to give this film a try. It's title works out rather nicely in both German and English. In German it means 'light', which is apt considering the main theme of the film, and then 'hell' also has obvious connotations in English which fit well with the post-apocalyptic scenery.

The film seems to be in two halves; the first of which is a believable and very organic feeling film about survival and human emotions; And then the second half which seems to jump into a more chaotic movie with a bit of "House of 1000 Corpses" thrown in for good measure (but admittedly much, much less crazy and a bit more realistic).

That's not to say that this film is gory. It actually does quite well to be a nail-biter without much blood actually being spilled on screen and is more an intense thriller than a 'horror'.

Nicely realistic, shot with some interesting camera work and with a hue to the screen that captures how bright and fatal the sun has become. Everything feels suitably dusty and dry.

I wouldn't say it was my new favourite, but I watched it thoroughly rapt to the screen for the full run time.

Not for those who don't like to read subtitles or don't happen to speak German, but it's an interesting concept and a film I'd recommend giving a try!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Case 39

"Case 39" (2009, Christian Alvart, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Pictures) is a demon-spawn kind of film.

Emily (Renée Zellweger) is a social worker working 38 child abuse cases. She is handed yet another case; that of little Lilith/Lily (Jodelle Ferland) who appears to be being abused by her parents. Feeling that this case is particularly important, Emily steps in and soon becomes the actual guardian of Lilith. However, soon she begins to suspect that perhaps there was good reason for Lily's parents being the way that they were...

Starting off as a bit of a slow burner, I have to admit I was verging into boredom. There are a few scenes where the building feeling of threat is really effective, but I don't think the feeling of panic I was expecting was ever fully developed.

I think this film might have been better had I not seen "Orphan" first, which is a far superior adopted-child-is-actually-evil film. Although I can't fault the creepy acting from Jodelle Ferland in "Case 39", she really can jump from 'butter wouldn't melt' to 'I know too much and I will use it against you' very well.

I wouldn't say I didn't like it, but I'm glad I saw it on Netflix rather than bought it on DVD. It's just a little dull is all.

[Image: Paramount Pictures]
Lilith from "Supernatural" was much scarier, though

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Carrie (1976)

"Carrie" (1976, Brian De Palma, United Artists) is the movie adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name.

The story, in case you've been living under a rock, is about Carrie White (Sissy Spacek); a strange and put-upon misfit teen with no friends or social skills who's mother is an abusive and unsupportive religious nut.

Carrie's mother (Piper Laurie) tells her nothing of puberty and thinks of everything to do with anything to be unclean and sinful. And so, when Carrie finds herself bleeding from an intimate place in the girls' shower room at school she panics and is resultantly ridiculed by all of her peers until a well-meaning teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley), intervenes.

Throughout the film timid young Carrie becomes stronger and begins to exhibit telekintetic powers which finally manifest with tragic consequences after the bullies (including John Travolta) get the better of her in the infamous Prom scene.

A great book and an equally great adaptation, I really like this version. Spacek's performance as Carrie is really excellent, especially in that tear-filled slow motion prom scene. Typical of King stories, however, I would say it is not scary in a conventional sense... well, except for that key iconic end scene. That hand coming from the grave always gave me the chills as a kid!

Looking forward to the remake to compare.

[Image: United Artists]


Evil Dead (2013)

"Evil Dead" (2013, Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, FilmDistrict, Ghost House Pictures, TriStar Entertainment) is the remake/reboot/sequel of the classic 1981 Raimi film.

Finally, I got around to seeing this!

Well, what can I say, as much as I missed Ash greatly, (Evil Dead without Bruce's fabulous on-screen presence is just never going to cut it for me) I have to give credit where credit is due, this film is brutal. Gory doesn't even begin to describe this film.

While gory, though, I wouldn't say it terrified me more than it had me awestruck at the sheer brutality of the special effects. It is safe to say that this film is disgusting, but in that special way that gorehounds love. It's well made, the special effects are brilliant and, while the characters all seem to exhibit some form of the original Ash character in one way or another, they hold pretty well for a splatter film and the actors and actresses' performances are excellent.

Changing the plot slightly to a bunch of friends (and a brother) trying to save their friend/sister from her lethal drug addiction, saved this film a lot. Had they tried to rehash the whole original Evil Dead plot I would have been sorely disappointed. But I rather enjoyed this new plot with its several well-placed nods and homages to the original films. Instead of recreating the first or second films they altered just enough to make this version a film in its own right.

I would also have to commend this film on its sheer energy, which is also reminiscent of the original two films. Truly an unrelenting torrent of blood and insanity, it barely gives the audience breathing space to recover from each scene without losing any of that agitating, squirmy appeal.

While it will never replace the original film for me, and certainly with the straight-faced quality of the storytelling it will never become one of my must-watch-several-times-a-year films, "Evil Dead" really brings everything it promised to the table: gallons of gore, creepy demonically possessed twenty-somethings, a suitably nostalgic cabin, tree rape and a lot of nice jumpy bits. Definitely something to see, even if you're not a gorehound.

[Image: Ghost House Pictures & TriStar Entertainment]