Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkinhead (1988)

This is a pretty standard troublesome-teens-get-their-comeuppance revenge slasher, but what sets it apart for me is how well they sell the father-son relationship in the beginning. I was really genuinely upset when the little boy got killed, and was looking forward to the obnoxious city kids getting picked off. This is basically a slasher that does everything just right. Thumbs up, Pumpkinhead.

Re-cycle (2006)

Didn't that look awesome? Well, it's not. While watching it, I was thinking of so many glowing things to say about this movie, but now I won't say any of them. As it turns out, this entire movie is one big anti-abortion propaganda film. No, seriously.

As part of her journey through this 'world of abandoned things', the protagonist has to pass through a tunnel full of aborted fetuses (they are sure to specify that they are aborted, not miscarried). In the end, you find out the little girl that has been her guide through that world is the potential daughter she aborted 8 years prior, after her married lover ran off. Then it's all, "why did you abandon me mommy? you want me now, but you had your chance and you threw it away". There, now I ruined the end for you.

I think what's most upsetting is how great this movie could have been if it stopped trying to preach and just let itself be a good story. It's outright shocking to me that so much effort went into creating what is undeniably a propaganda film. Re-cycle just broke my heart. FUCK THIS MOVIE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Troll (1986)

That's right, not Troll 2, but the original Troll. While not as hilariously bad as the infamous sequel, Troll is hilariously awesome. Seriously. There's Sonny Bono (who likes to swing), June Lockheart (a princess-turned-witch), a (very) partial recitation of The Faerie Queene, not one but TWO Harry Potters (11 years before the books hit shelves), and some very odd musical interludes, like this:

Just watch it already.

The Church (1989)

I had a really hard time watching this movie. There are some cool moments, but they are spaced apart by long periods of boring nothing. I actually wished it was worse so I could just stop watching it, but the good parts were actually pretty damn good, including a guy ripping out his own beating heart and someone's face getting attacked by a prehistoric-looking fish monster. Also, Dario Argento's daughter plays rebellious teen Lotte, who is now my idol. If this movie had been seriously edited down, it would have been great, but as it stands it is unfortunately just okay.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

The story isn't the most original and the dialogue is as stilted and cliche as you would expect, but the animation is fantastic and there are some incredibly cool-looking creatures. Worth watching if only for the lady who blends into a tree with crazy vine/branch hair. Overall I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Suspiria (1977)

I'll admit I was hesitant to see such a highly-regarded movie. I hate hype; movies almost never live up to it. But I will also admit that I loved Suspiria. The story is simple but strong and effectively creepy, very much like an old fairy tale. And of course, it is absolutely stunning visually. Even if you have no idea what's going on, you can really enjoy just looking at Suspiria, it's that beautiful. Add perfect atmospheric music and you have a real masterpiece. So I guess sometimes movies DO live up to their hype.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Keep (1983)

The Keep is a really frustrating movie, because with a little more work it could have been a classic. The characters--and especially their relationships--in the movie are severely underdeveloped, but are also pretty important to the plot. The whole story feels pretty skeletal, but it's so great visually and the concept is interesting. It's basically about Nazis being jerks, and a cool-looking Golem-like monster that may or may not be able to fight them.

Best of all is the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. Below you will find what is probably the most famous scene in The Keep. It's just some Nazis trying to steal silver, but the music and everything makes it seem like a unicorn is about to leap out of the wall.

Intruder (1989)

So the killer in this movie is supposed to be a surprise at the end, but I guess whoever made the trailer didn't realize that because it really goes out of its way to show you who the killer is about a million times. HOWEVER, if you already watched the trailer, don't worry. The end has another fun twist that's pretty worthwhile.

Oh, and if you think you recognize a familiar face, it's Renee Estevez! She's Molly in Sleepaway Camp II and Winona Ryder's nerdy friend Betty in Heathers, and sister to Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. I wonder if she ever does horror cons? I would like to get her autograph.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

The things that always freak me out the most in horror movies are the somewhat mundane things, things that seem like they could really happen. I can't even watch The Strangers because of the part in the trailer where someone is in the house standing behind Liv Tyler and she doesn't know they're there. That's the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night, so I generally like the Paranormal Activity movies. I get genuinely creeped out, but then they always really go for it and go over the top at the end to remind me that this is just a movie after all.

Also, I have concluded that the problem with this family was too much house and not enough dog. The number of dogs you have must increase in proportion with your house size, or else demons will just take over. Plus the dad was too racist to take good demon advice, so that should be a lesson.

Pulse (1988)

Apparently there are quite a few horror movies called "Pulse". This one obviously wins though, because it has not one but TWO Lawrence brothers. Joey Lawrence is, of course, the star, while his younger brother Matthew plays neighbor kid Stevie, though I could have sworn it was Jonathan from Who's The Boss. Either way, this is obviously a star-studded event not to be missed about how electricity is evil or something.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Haunting (1963)

I'd seen the remake of this a long time ago, but for some reason never seen the original. The original is better. Also, it has a psychic lesbian in it, so it's automatically good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Double feature: Ginger Snaps (2000) and Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)

Oh Ginger Snaps, where were you during my adolescence? If this movie had been made in 1995, I would have been obsessed. Essentially Ginger Snaps is like Teen Wolf, but with girls and a hell of a lot darker. As a former angsty teenage girl myself, I felt Ginger and Brigitte were extremely well-written and relatable. Non-cliche lady-centered horror is hard to find, and this is a great one. AND it's one of the better werewolf movies I've seen. Seriously, Ginger Snaps rules.

This is the not-so-happily ever after of our brave heroine Brigitte from Ginger Snaps the First, which is great because more Brigitte is exactly what I wanted. This movie also introduces the character Ghost, a creepy-yet-awesome little girl who teams up with B. Say what you will about sequels; Unleashed is as good or possibly better than its predecessor. I LOVE GINGER SNAPS.

Out by 16 or dead in the scene. Bitch.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

This movie renews my faith in modern American horror (something that needs periodic renewal). It may not be the scariest movie you've ever seen, but it's clever, it's original, and it's just an all-around enjoyable movie. My only regret is not holding off on this one until Halloween; it would definitely put you in the spirit. I'll probably re-watch on Halloween anyway, that's how much I enjoyed it. I should also note that I am a total sucker for anthology movies (Creepshow, Cat's Eye, etc), so that fact that this has four interwoven stories gets extra points from me.

Man's Best Friend (1993)

Man's Best Friend is basically like Turner and Hooch except instead of drooling on everyone the dog bites people's throats out. I feel like the experience of this movie is pretty different if you saw it as a kid. Like Brainscan, it sort of walks the line of really being horror. Some parts even feel like lighthearted comedy, but people (and other animals) do get killed and and the end gets pretty tense so horror it is. Also there's dog rape set to "Puppy Love", which is just disturbing.

Side note: how amazing is the video trailer?! I can't believe they're even pushing merch in it. I also can't believe that it cost $15 million to make this "effects-driven" movie. What? Do animal trainers count as effects? Are they just lying? This is nothing like Terminator, no matter how much you say it. Psychotic Lassie, I'll allow.

The Brood (1979)

This movie was MUCH weirder than I expected. I'm still not entirely sure what happened. That's all I have to say.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dead and Buried (1981)

Just to be clear: this is not a zombie movie, this is a ZOMBI movie. Like the kind where a body is reanimated and controlled through voodoo (or Vodou), not the mysteriously infected brain-eating kind. It also falls in to the 'creepy small town' category of horror, and starts off a little slow and obvious, but it's pretty well done and picks up significantly toward the end. Overall a solid movie, but nothing really spectacular.

Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for Robert Englund in a non-speaking role as an anonymous townsperson. I love Robert Englund!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brainscan (1994)

This movie is so 90s, I'm not sure where to start. Most 90s actor ever (Edward Furlong) in the lead role? Check. Disaffected youth? Check. Featured music from bands like White Zombie, Mudhoney, and Primus? Check. Character wearing two plaid flannel shirts at the same time? Check. Outdated technology? Triple check. Just hearing the phrase "interactive CD-ROM" is enough to get a laugh, but I have to admit this movie made me nostalgic for pre-internet days when you found out about cool stuff by subscribing to special niche magazines and forming clubs with your friends.

Brainscan falls into a weird space between kids' scary movies (like Little Monsters or Lost Boys) and real horror. You've got teens as protagonists, adults that don't get it, and very little graphic violence. But very little isn't none; a man does get pretty brutally stabbed, plus there's talk about suicide and some stalking. Possibly my favorite thing about Brainscan is the ending, where you think the main character has learned a valuable lesson, but then NOPE, not really. It's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Thing (1982)

THE THING! Why did it take me so long to see this movie? It just hits so many perfect notes. The cramped, poorly-lit interior spaces create the feeling of tension and paranoia, while the eerie blue light on the snowy exteriors contrasted with giant orange blazes is beautiful and other-worldly. The set design and lighting are so carefully crafted here, and so effective. The story is genuinely engaging and characters authentic. And just when it's all getting a little too serious, this happens:

also, FLAMETHROWERS! I love this movie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Return To Sleepaway Camp (2008)

There's a reason they don't show you more than two seconds at a time in the trailer.

I'm generally a huge fan of terrible horror movies, but this was just a disappointment. Sleepaway Camp 1-3 are all such great movies. They each have a different feeling to them, but all have creative death scenes, clever dialogue, and are generally engaging. Return to Sleepaway Camp has none of those things. It's fun to see a couple of cameos by actors from the original (bleach blonde Ricky!), but overall there's too much poorly-done setup and not enough payoff. I'm only willing to sit through something this bad if it makes up the difference in splatter, and this doesn't. Best just to skip it and re-watch one of the earlier movies instead.