Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flatliners

1990

Directed by:  Joel Schumacher
Written by: Peter Filardi
Starring by: Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt and William Baldwin




From IMDB:
"Medical students bring themselves near death; their experiment begins to go awry."

This movie came about at a time when the log line was king.  Everything was about high concept.  "The bus will explode if it goes under 50 miles an hour."  That's all you needed to get asses in the seat.  I remember the stories around the bidding war for "Falling Down" - that was a strong idea.
Now the studios are looking for sequels and super heroes.  Surprising that the indie scene is now where we can find those high concepts.  I still love 'em.  I love a strong, clear idea.  "A down and out club fighter gets a shot at the world championship."

So to be clear, I don't really think Flatliners is a horror movie per se but it's a psych thriller - close enough. 
It was meant to be scary.  It tried to be scary.  It wasn't scary but it was still a fine film. 
The ensemble cast are all still drawing down huge salaries, even two decades later - except poor William Baldwin who has been relocated to the B/C movie world.  Still and I think it's pretty safe to say that he's living better than most of the people reading this blog - all four of you.
I suspect the script was better than the movie.  Smart dialogue - but over acted almost every step of the way.  I don't blame the talent.  I blame Joel.  He's big in life and wants his acting delivered big.

So one at a time the characters go into the dark zone and bring something back with them on their return.  Oliver Platt - the best actor of the bunch, never does go step over to the other side.  Not sure what he was doing there, other than comic relief, but I'm glad he was there.  I could watch that guy read the dictionary.

Julia's dad tells her it's okay - not her fault.
Kevin says he's sorry to someone he's wronged.
William - well that's never clear.  He has to deal with all the gals he's wronged.  He loses his true sweetie so I guess that's the price you pay.  If a woman (or a man) falls for the line of a Jack The Lad (or a Jill) then I have little sympathy for them.  If you get picked up in a bar or some other 1st time meeting place - the words uttered are only a ritualistic preamble to the inevitable dance - a necessary, not-so-secret exchange.  There was no youporn.com in 1990 so the video collection was personal.  Hardly seems worthy of afterlife retribution but who am I to judge.  Beaning some kid out of a tree with a rock - causing him to fall to his bloody death - now that's bad.
So it all works out in the end - and with zero body count - another reason we can't call this a horror move - but as I said - it's fine movie.

I'm going to give this one 3 Bloody Eyes out of five.

The Fog 2005

2005

Directed by: Rupert Wainwright
Written by: Cooper Layne based on original work by John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Starring: Tom Welling, Maggie Grace and Selma Blair

From IMDB (for the original - the new log line was more like a log page)
"A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, is the target for revenge by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths."




So I've seen this already, of course, but if I didn't write about the movies I've already seen then there wouldn't be too many for me to choose from.
And I should also say that I really try to watch a movie as a stand alone piece.  I'm a big fan of the original - as any true fan of the genre is, but I will endeavor not to hold this up against it - for it can only be left wanting.

I suspect any big fans of Smallville (never seen an episode) might have troubles taking the Super out of the boy.
I've read a lot of negative reviews on this one but I'm not having any trouble watching this.  A few hic cups - but minor.
What a coincidence that the boyfriend should happen across upon the return of the prodigal girl friend walking down the road.  I don't like coincidences.
I also don't like it when people don't answer the telephone - or take ten rings to do so.  In my experience most people answer before three rings if they're going to answer and those who don't, have an answering machine that kicks in after three - so when the baby sitter watching Jeopardy takes ninety eight rings to finally grab the phone that's sitting six inches from her hand I'm not anxious - I'm pissed.

Still, when I read in the IMDB comments page - some moron claiming this is the worst movie they've ever seen I can only assume they've only seen three movies their entire life, the Godfather and Rocky being the other two.  Not only is this movie not the worst movie ever made, it's not even a bad movie.
Production value is good, acting is fine, score is good - though to break one of my own rules - is no where NEAR as good as Carpenter's original eerie piano - though I thought I caught a tap or two of the original theme here and there.  Not sure.  It was subtle if it was.

It's hard to scare me these days.  I've seen them all.  Worked on too many sets and have seen the wires.  But I still love horror movies - even when they don't scare me any longer.  And once in awhile I find myself jumping or looking away.  I love those moments.  The Fog (2005) didn't give me any of those moments but I enjoyed the film none the less.  Nice feel and a sincere effort by all the parties involved.

So I'm going to give this 2.5 Bloody Eyes - but it was close to making 3.


Bottom Feeder

2006

Directed by:  Randy Daudlin
Written by:  Randy Daudlin
Starring:  Tom Sizemore and Wendy Anderson

From IMDB:
"A group of utility workers are trapped in a series of tunnels which, unfortunately, contain a scientist mutated by his own creation. The creature feeds instantly on a rat, becoming what it has eaten."

It's late.  I've had a few beers and I'm watching Bottom Feeder.  I'm enjoying the evening but I confess this may not be my finest effort.

If you click on this picture you can see the trailer -
I'm just not sure you can get back to the blog.  Oh well.

Okay - whenever evil isn't motivated it's boring and unbelievable.  I've spoken before about the banality of evil and these guys are just a little too spot on - the thugish henchman (in this case a woman) is cruel for no other reason than it was written in the script.  The bad guy is a badly scarred intelligent Billionaire in a wheelchair.  That's new.
This doctor is a pretty good guy by the looks of it - what's the motivation for using him as the first tester?  Makes no sense.  It's self destructive.  He even said - if you don't eat the meta protein right way - bad things would happen.  Bad writing.

So Tom is always good but he's looking pretty tired and worn here - not quite what you expect to see in your protagonist but not necessarily a bad thing.  Makes him more real.  I'm pretty tired and worn so I can put myself in the movie easier.

Sarge - ugh.  Just not working with the Rastifarian thing.  Holy cliche.

The monster - bad rubber suit.
A few decent gore effects.

I enjoyed the ending - 4 beers didn't hurt I'm sure.

I'll give it 2 Bloody Eyes out of five.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Return to Horror High

1986 (so says the DVD box - but IMDB lists it as 1987)

Directed by:  Bill Froehlich
Written by:  Bill Froehlick & Mark Lisson and Dana Escalante & Greg H. Sims
Starring: George Clooney, Alex Rocco, Vince Edwards, Brendan Hughes

From IMDB:
"A few years ago, a mysterious serial-killer caused panic on Crippen High School. The killer was never caught. A movie company, Cosmic Pictures, has decided to make a feature movie about these events - on location, at the now abandoned school. Since members of cast and crew disappear without a trace, it seems as if history is repeating itself."



Watching Return to Horror High was like revisiting a childhood home - and not one where your uncle brought you candy and made you promise to never tell your mother about the games he liked to play with you.
What a wonderful time in genre film making.  Long before the digital age, a producer needed a lot of zeroes to get 85 minutes or more of film in the can.  The video rental industry was booming and the hunger for product was fierce.  So if you could come up with a bag of cash and some good intentions you could make a movie and a tidy little profit.  Beautiful man!
So out of this perfect genre storm RtHH was born - and it delivers it all - some blood, some boobs and some campy acting centered around a rambling, largely incoherent script!  I loved it!
At no time does the film ever take itself too seriously - though there was one scene, when the killer has the lecherous bio teacher strapped to a table where, even after all these years, it actually holds up.
So straight out of the gate - even before the film starts there's a wonderful typo.  On the DVD's main menu you can STRAT MOVIE.  Love it.  Gives you an idea of the quality control you're in for.
And then right away we see a parade of actors you've seen before (Alex Rocco, Richard Brestoff, Philip McKeon to name a few) - strong working talent!  There's even Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) as well - and she looks hot! 
Strong, sharp strings and organ are all you need to hear. You know this is from the 80's!
The big name, of course, is George Clooney.  He's meant to be the lead in the film within the film but books a TV series (presumably ER) in the first scene and so, with little compunction, breaks his contract and walks off the set - only to be one of the few actual kills in this slasher flick.  As he departs the set his costar, Callie prophetically asks him "You gonna be a star, Oliver?"
And so it goes.  If you can find this film somewhere - crack a beer, kick up your feet and take a walk down memory lane to a simpler time.

 Four out of five Bloody Eyes!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Texax Chainsaw Massacre - The Next Generation

1994
Directed by: Kim Henkel
Written by: Kim Henkel
Starring: Rennee Zellweger and Mathew McConaughey

From IMDB:
"A group of teenagers get into a car crash in the Texas woods on prom night, and then wander into an old farmhouse that is home to Leatherface and his insane family of cannibalistic psychopaths."


So I've got nothing on the PVR because Dusk Channel on Shaw sucks and there's not another proper horror movie on for another four days.  I've pulled this one off my shelf(I have a big shelf).  I just don't remember ever watching it.
An A list cast before they were A list - and not one but TWO of them!
Nope.  I don't think I've seen this.
Leatherface lite.  Jeezuz! 
This film is so full of "that would never happen" moments I'm not even going to bother to list them.
It's like they're making it up as they go along.
Mathew is good. He's a good actor but his character utterly lacks any charm at all.
Mmm? Leatherface is a cross dresser?  Missed that in the past.  I guess Ed Gein had some issues in that regard so the idea's not too bad - just wasn't executed too well.
There is a LOT of screaming in this movie
There's been three opportunities for Renee to escape and either by incompetence or stupidity she failed to take advantage of them.
Descending further into the deeper circles of stupidity.
Who did she think was going to be in that limo?

So I understand the budget was $600,000.  In 1997 before you could buy a good HD camera for a $1.50, that was a very low budget.  These guys got some good production value for that.  Too bad they didn't invest in a script.   Henkel wrote the original TCM.  I suspect he was trying something a little different than simply shooting off the page here.  Perhaps he recognized the talent he had in Renee and Mathew and simply gave them(and the others) too much loose rein?  I don't know - but it didn't work.

I'm giving it 2 Bloody Eyes for the talent and the production value.


The Exorcism of Emily Rose

2005
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson
Starring: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott.



Another one I've already seen.  I don't recall being overwhelmed with terror or anything like it but it's on the PVR so it's up next.

Nice opening scene from a production point of view - great camera work.
Hey - it's Debra from Dexter!
The score is good.  That's for damn sure.
AHHHHH - Christopher Young - the stone cold genius who gave us one of the all time great scores - Hellraiser!!!
Campbell Scott is here as well - never weak.

Okay - now I remember why this film left me wanting - it plays more like a courtroom drama than a horror movie.  I guess there's room for both in the world but if memory serves, this one attempted to merge the two and did neither that well.

Well now - scratching the walls and pulling out the hair has me mildly uncomfortable.  Too bad it took some 55 minutes to get there.

When all else fails pull out the shaky cam.  Ugh.

Alright - it was a better courtroom drama then I remembered - a courtroom drama set amongst the supernatural but it has little to offer the horror genre.  It's just not scary.
When we watch a movie we always have a few things we're looking for, whether we recognize it or not.  One of those things is the "this movie is over when..." moment.  In this movie we were looking for two such moments. One - Would the priest be found guilty and was Emily Rose really possessed by a demon?
The guilty/not guilty moment was a bit anticlimactic - and confusing, and the film makers decided to take the well travelled path of "allowing the audience" to decide the matter of the possession.  Come on guys - have some balls!!!  Take a stand!!!

I'm going to give this one 3 Bloody Eyes out of 5 - not for what it brought to the horror field but just as a movie in general - and damn that was a good score by Chris Young!


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Amityville Horror

2005
Directed by: Andrew Douglas
Written by: Scott Kosar based on novel by Jay Anson
Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George


 




SHIT - I don't know what happened but my Movie Experience disappeared.  Something to do with inserting the trailer.
Pain in the ass.
I know I gave it 2.5 Bloody Eyes out of 5 and said that it lacked the fun I like to see in my horror movies.
Maybe one day I'll go back and rewrite it.  Sorry.

 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Darkness Falls

2003

Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Written by: John Fasano and James Vanderbilt and Joe Harris  Story by Joe Harris
Starring: Emma Caulfield, Chaney Kley, Grant Piro


From IMDB "A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before."
So if you stay in the light you will live.

Clearly there was a budget and more than 12 days to shoot for this one.  Good cast.
A couple nice tense moments in the opening scenes.

It would seem this vengeful ghost is intent on framing both young Kyle and older Kyle for murder.  She sure manages to wreak a lot of havoc and leave him holding the shitty end of the stick.  Weak.  That kind of a tension device doesn't feel right in a good horror film.
It also appears the town of Darkness Falls is largely populated by red neck bullies of limited intelligence.

After about 95 people die badly, it seems the rocket scientist deputy (who is clearly another bully at heart) is starting to realize something is up and maybe Kyle isn't the murderous psycho everyone believes him to be.

Caulfield is wasted here.  I would have liked to see her as more than the confused sister just trying to understand it all.
I do like the Tooth Fairy effects.  She's suitably foul.  I understand Stan Winston created her.  I'm told there was a previous incarnation that was pretty impressive.  Haven't seen it though.

This was a sincere attempt to make a scary movie and they succeeded here and there.  I didn't care too much about the characters though but I enjoyed the comic relief from Grant Piro as lawyer Larry.  Many horror movies drop the ball in this regard.  Even Shakespeare understood you need to give the audience at least three chances to breathe.
Not too many logic flaws.  You don't find yourself groaning with the "That would never happen" line too often.
In horror when we utter that line, what we're usually referring to is when people do things we don't believe they will do - like split up to find a way out of the haunted house.

So in the end - well made horror movie but the script was a bit weak.  It just didn't land as well as it could have.  Still - it's worth seeing if you love the genre.
3 Bloody Eyes might be too generous but what the hell.

Friday, January 21, 2011

House of the Dead 2

2005
Directed by Michael Hurst
Written by Michael Roesh and Peter Sheerer - story by Mark A. Altman
Starring (the lovely) Emmanuelle Vaugier, Ed Quinn and Sticky Fingaz



From IMDB: "A virus breaks out at a University and people start to become zombies. After 29 days, a team of AMS scientists and soldiers are sent in to deal with the problem. But while they search, things go wrong."

Oh this is starting out promising!  There's Emmanuelle Vaugier!  Had the pleasure of working with her on a nightmare shoot back in '98.  She was a pro and great to work with.

Just enough buget here to keep things comfortably in the B range.
Acting is fine.
Writing weak.  Stupid is seldom a good characteristic for any one.
These guys are pretty caviliar around zombie blood.
And what do I think of the zombie fx? Does the job.

The big African American soldier (he's called Griffin I think) just couldn't be any thicker.  After nearly being bitten because he assumed some nerd wasn't a zombie makes exactly the same mistake less than three minutes later!  Natural selection takes care of him.
"They're so fast!  So fast!!"
What?  They're slower than... well zombies.

Everybody knows you have to shoot zombies in the head.  Why is the blonde soldier wasting all her ammo with the body shots?  I'll tell you - because head shots are expensive and time consuming.  I love B movies.
In a shrewd bit of directing Hurst kills off the worst actors before too much of the film goes by.
Although Sticky Fingaz is pretty talented.  I guess his contract was limited to only a few days on set.
Did I just see the character of Ellis actually wipe the blood of a Zombie into his mouth.
Rewind.
Yes he did.  That's the kind of thing that puts geeks like me over the edge.
But otherwise I'm enjoying this little flick.
Ugh - the football scene was ridiculous.
Wow - he's spreading zombie inards over himself as a decoy.  The folks at Walking Dead would do the same thing a few years later.
They've got less than a few minutes to get out there and they just spent 1 of them chatting with a bitten soldier.  That gets a double Ugh!
Why didn't they just do the innards trick again when they were trying to make their escape?  It worked the first time.
This James Parks is a pretty good little actor.
And with a bound she was free?  How did Emmanuelle get out from under the pile of the un-dead - and then escape the warhead?  Nice move!
A deliberate bit of horror/comedy.  Worked for me.

2.5 Bloody Eyes out of 5

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beneath

2007
Directed by Dagen Merrill
Writers: Kevin Burke, Dagen Merrill
Starng: Nora Zehetner, Brenna O'Brien and Carly Pope


 

From IMDB: "Christy (Zehetner) returns to her hometown years after a car accident that disfigured her older sister. Haunted by the accident in which she was the driver, she learns that her worst nightmares have either come true ... or are about to."

So as I'm typing I'm rocking my 8 week old in her little chair and watching the opening of this movie.
Right out of the gate - the music and look give it a Canadian made-for-TV feel.  I don't mind Canadian films in the least - as long as they don't feel like Canadian films.  This one does.
A quick look in IMDB confirms - this one is from North of the 49.
So right away - a touch confused.  The log lines reads that her sister was disfigured in the accident - however in the opening scene we see the funeral and grave site of the sister.  So I'm assuming they've kept the disfigured gal hidden away.  I guess that's a little creepy.
Gabrielle Rose is playing the matriarch of the family a little too spot on.  Clearly she's hiding the burned girl.  Evil should be a little more banal.  Not - "Look, I'm evil - you can tell by how I my hair is pulled and piled and my inability to show emotion."
"Guilt is good.  It's the price you pay for an honest soul." Good line.
This guy Warren Christie (plays Deputy Jeff) is pretty good.  He's been working lots since this film as well.  Deserves to.
"John says you attacked him and took Amy to the boathouse."
"It was a misunderstanding.  I never hurt anyone."
Instead of "WTF!!!  I never attacked that guy??!"
Shitty dialogue - and for Christ sake - REACT to something!!
This movie is transparent.
Why is it so often that a character in a movie is unable to pull off a ruse - even if it means their life?  So Jeff calls Christy to tell her she's been right all along and John is the bad guy.  The trouble is, Christy is standing with John.  So all she has to do is put on a smile and walk out the door - "Gotta go to the store.  I'll be right back." But no, she widens her eyes in horror and runs.  Slick.
But then when Amy "kills the monster" which is in fact her ridden hard mother, Christy puts on a smile and says "Well done" - so clearly she was able to pull off a ruse - except when it suited the story.  Poor form.  Either the character can "pretend" or she can't.

So this thing ended up playing like a made for TV movie from the W channel - Ugh!!.
I really need to find something with a higher fun factor for the next one!

1.5 Bloody Eyes out of 5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soul's Midnight

2006
Directed by Harry Basil
Written by Brian and Jason Cleveland


 


Starring Armand Assante and Robert Floyd
Another Vampire job - but this time the vampires are trying to resurrect the dragon slain by St. George.

Well this one is certainly B but I love B so I had no problem sitting through it.
There's always a legion of flaws one can point out in any B movie and that's why I started this blog.  I like to point out those flaws but I also like to find the jewels in the junk.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was the miscasting of Robert Floyd.  The guy wasn't a bad actor, just bad for this part.  He doesn't pull off the leading man role - Charles Milford.
The second thing to jump out was the nice location of the hotel.  Little bit of The Shining going on - at 1% of the budget I'm sure.
Armand Assante is always watchable but he's overdoing it bit here.  Drips just a little too much!
The meatpacking tough guy played by Miguel Perez is a pretty good.
The film opens with a guy being so incredibly rude as to almost be cartoonish.  He dies quickly in a display of natural selection at work 
Quote of the film - "Maybe we should call 911?" Charles upon finding the grounds keeper stuffed in a box and in a very sorry state of decay.
Lucila Sola - what can I say?  Beautiful.  That's all.  Sorry.
How come Simon seems surprised when Charles "knows something is up" after finding the grounds keeper stuffed in the box?  What was he expecting?
So in the end I have to ask - why did the "dragon" (guy in a rubber suit) kill the only guy who was working with him - there by sealing his own demise?  Suicidal dragon.
This movie was made in 2006 but plays like it was made in '86.  And that's not entirely a bad thing.  The problem here is those classics of decades gone by worked because they were played with sincerity - even if ridiculous.  Like good comedy - it's best played seriously.
These guys just didn't believe in what they were doing.

2 Bloody Eyes out of 5

 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

S.S. Doomtrooper

2006
Directed by David Flores
Written by Berkeley Anderson
Starring Ben Cross, Corin Nemec, James Pomichter and Marianne Filali


Fuck - Movie blog #2 to disappear on me!?!?  WTF?

This was the first one I wrote about.
I gave it 1.5 Bloody Eyes out of 5 - but that was likely generous.

My Bleeding Pen - Intro

So this is my new blog. It's going to be dedicated to my passion for horror movies. It's a passion I have little opportunity to share. I read, write and watch a lot of horror but rarely am I afforded the pleasure of discussing it. So I'm going to discuss it here even if it's just with myself but hopefully I gather some readers to help facilitate this aspect of my life. I'm always interested in recommendations of books - graphic or otherwise, and movies.
AND - I'm going to set a goal - I want to put up a 1,000 blogs before I'm 50 - that's 2.5 years from now.

I watch a new horror movie almost every day so I will try to write a few thoughts on each of those films. I'm not going to give standard reviews. I'm just not interested in that and if you're worried about spoilers - don't read the posting because I'm not going to worry about avoiding them.
I recommend opening the blog and following along as you watch the movie in question, if you have the opportunity.  I write them as I'm watching them so the comments I make are as though to someone watching with me.
A few lines about myself. First and foremost I'm a writer of narrative fiction. I have been since I was eight years old. Most of my writing is in the screenplay format and I've been blessed to have a few things produced.  I was also able to direct my first feature last year. As well I write short stories, a few poems now and then and I have a novel in the works.

I'm a father and a husband and I live in Victoria British Columbia.