Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poltergeist review by Vincent Daemon

Before we get into the review I want to wish all the loyal readers a Happy Holidays and a special shout out to blog writers Vincent Daemon, Jules Brudek and William O'Donnell whose constant support makes this blog possible with their unique cinematic points of view. And a big announcement coming soon. With that enjoy the review!

Year: 2015
Director: Gil Keenan
Review by: Vincent Daemon

By all rights, I knew what I was getting myself into. And I knew it wasn’t going to be any good. But this bad? In fact, bad isn’t even the right word. Atrocious. Yes, that fits perfectly. However, it was one of those dullard post-Holiday nights where there is nothing but fucking sports on the tube, nothing to do, and no money to go get a lil altered. Nope, stuck in the house, couldn’t decide what to watch, then curiosity finally struck the cat. And the after effects left me indeed feeling like a special part of my childhood had been ripped out of me and set aflame before my very eyes, killing that same curious cat. Shit, when the best thing about a movie is the poorly done cover of a classic punk song *(“T.V. Set,” originally by THE CRAMPS, I have no clue who did this version, and don’t care), that rolls through a portion of the credits, it just makes you sick that they couldn’t even use the original song. Why’s it ALL gotta be bad rehash? *(I wonder if this is how all the STAR WARS fanatics felt toward the last 3 films, and will most likely feel over the next 3 as well.)

What we get is a 101 minute rehash of the original *(and aspects of POLTERGEIST 2 thrown in for no reason whatsoever) that would make a five year old laugh. The original is one of my favorite films, to this day retaining certain elements that still keep it creepy to me on a nostalgic level. Sam Rockwell *(a man who admittedly loathes children) plays the father, and the family has just moved into some kind of dream home, yet suffering some kind of rich person financial strife. The house itself has none of the strange ambience it had, even in the daylight shots, of the original. Craig T. Nelson originally played the father, convincingly and of the times. Sam Rockwell’s portrayal comes off as, well, a man who loathes his children. Horribly miscast, he just kind of funny-faces his way through the film.

The whole storm scene, with the grabby tree, is rendered not only entirely neutered of the tenderness of the *(absent from this film) “lightning count scene,” but also the sheer terror of the monstrous oak tree attack - - - here it’s the world’s softest fern tree attacking the children and whisping against the house. Oh, and the children - - - yeah, all their names have been changed. WTF? That’s just as offensive as changing the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE’S “Leatherface”/Bubba’s name into Thomas Hewlett for that shitheap reboot - - - and makes about as much sense. “Carol Ann” is supposed to be “Carol Ann,” damnit, not “Madison” - - - who the fukk is “Madison”? And the boy, “Clifford”? They couldn’t have made the family more dislikeable if they tried.

And in the first ten minutes they are aware of the fact the housing development is built on top of a “removed” cemetery - - - and have no problem with this! The teenage daughter, named “Kendra” keeps fukking around with her computer, taking the film momentarily into that “First Person” niche of current filmmaking. The paranormal idiots that show up to try and fix everything the first time are completely inept - - - and of all scenes, what they did with my personal favorite from the original - - - the maggot-steak and subsequent hallucinated face-tearing - - - are nowhere to be found, replaced by a lame drill gag that never pays off. And instead of bringing in some kind of oh, say, creepy-ish ZELDA RUBINSTEIN-esque *(though she’s truly irreplaceable) medium, they bring in some “John Edwards/Edgar Cayce” type late-night paranormal internet show host - - - who happens to be the lead scientists ex, which ends the film on a seriously angering, neck-hackle raising note. After the terrible cover, of corpse.

And that’s pretty much what we’re looking at here, a film that makes constant allusions *(sometimes for no reason whatsoever, like Sam Rockwell’s sudden vomiting of a slithering leech thing into the sink, seen for merely seconds, as opposed to Craig T. Nelson’s tequila-worm nightmare from POLTERGEIST 2, again no payoff, unlike that forever branded series of nightmare inducing visuals Craig T. endured) to the first film/series, with nary a moment of originality nor fright, nor even fun, to be had, Which is not unexpected.

Hollywood’s been pulling the wool over our eyes since celluloids inception in various ways. We’re at that point where it’s all superheroes, remakes, and reboots, ever since Abbot & Costello met Dracula and the HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN *(both of which I love, incidentally) collapsed in on themselves in a fiery tumult of retrospective embarrassment, unfortunately, the real gems being found only after sifting through the piles of shit and half-realized nostalgia out there to find the real gold *(fukk, I’d be happy with bronze half the time).

The film in general seems forced, and far overindulged in all the wrong aspects *(do we really need not one insipid looking clown, but the whole fukking brigade as well?) - - - and the end is just a blithering, blathering mess that I’m not going to even bother going into. I’ll tell you this, however, I never want to hear the words “This House Is Clean” uttered again for as long as I live. Avoid the curiosity, save your feline self a life, and avoid this insulting remake altogether.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Goodnight Mommy: Innocent fun and games? Spoiler Free.

Title: Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh,Ich seh)
Directed By:
Written By:

**As always this review is Spoiler Free***

Creepy children in horror is a long standing tradition not only in America but all over the world. There is something in those angelic faces that can often be misleading. I put hype aside and went into this film knowing virtually nothing about it.

After a horrible accident a mother undergoes cosmetic surgery and must take care of her identical twins Lukas and Elisa while recovering from the psychical and mental strain. She is also going through a separation from her husband. To make matters worse her appearance is rather shocking as her face is wrapped in bandages. As the children try and coup their behavior becomes increasingly more strange.

Getting tired of horror movies about bratty annoying teenagers in painfully predictable situations, only to die but who cares because they are terrible anyways? Well your in luck because "Goodnight Mommy" is a refreshingly new take on the old "creepy kid" troupes. Like Takashi Miike brilliant 1999 film "Audition"it is a film that slowly builds during which time it explores real characters and character development all the while ratcheting up the tension until its almost unbearable.I was impressed by the writing and how only little by little do you find out whats going on, even throwing a Hitchcockian Macguffin in for good measure. This is a nice change of pace from the typical smash you over the head with exposition and serves to keep the audience both guessing and in suspense. It also has some interesting symbolism and subtext that makes the film a must in repeat viewings. One theme the film explores is the idea of doubles. Besides the obvious one of the twin boys there are numerous times when pairs of things come into play and use of reflection shots.

Another things that serves this film well is the inventive camera work and wonderfully moody cinematography which at times is beautiful and other times dark and foreboding. A lack of a soundtrack gives the film a more stark reality and its a bold choice. Speaking of reality the film is grounded in it but also playfully sways into the realm of the surreal without going to over the board.  But you might be asking yourself, is it gory?  After a nice slow tension filled build up fans of gritty violence do get what they`ve come for, sort of. Its not ultra gory however I feel it works in the films favor. What is so effective about the gore is its not done in a cartoonish way but is kept unflinchingly real, to the point of being hard to watch.

Unlike other movies the splatter isn't used to justify the movie and that may disappoint "gore fans" And dont get me wrong i love a good mindless gut fest but the movies that actually get under my skin are the more psychologically driven.  Seriously why is this film hated by some? Not only is it ballsy with its pacing and harrowing subject matter, its also fresh, original and creepy as hell. I kept the plot short for a reason, its good to go into this movie totally blank and avoid the jaded "horror buffs". Easily in my best top films of 2015.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sticky Boxes Xmas Edition by Jules Brudek

Sticky Boxes: XMAS EDITION By Jules Brudek

A column about cult and horror movies ONLY available on VHS
 I named the column “Sticky Boxes” because that's what I touched everyday working at a video store in the nineties. 

Sweaty handed customers returned their rental tapes encased in gooey grime. Habitually, I would check them back in, wipe them off and re-stock. Humorous note: The bigger the babe's boobs on the cover art, the stickier the VHS box upon return. Each week, I will review a forgotten cult or horror video never released on DVD or Blu-ray.

I will review two from 1972. Please enjoy tonight’s “Christmas” Sticky Boxes:

 Home for the Holidays (1972) 
November 28th, 1972 ABC “Movie of the Week” Starring Sally Field, Julie Harris & Jessica Walter Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Produced by Aaron Spelling
Available on VHS from Starmaker Entertainment
Never officially released on DVD or Blu-ray

"Shut the door. That woman has ears that can hear sunshine.“ 

If Clue, the board game, was played with four unstable sisters and an anti-social stepmother you’d be half way to describing the soap opera Christmas horror movie, Home for the Holidays. Not to be confused with the dramedy, Home for the Holidays (1995), starring Holly Hunter, this film won’t make you projectile vomit your egg nog into your VCR.

It begins, when Alex Morgan, the eldest and codependent daughter of a dying millionaire, summons her three estranged sisters to their father's estate on Christmas Eve. Their father, Benjiman Morgan, Oscar award winning character actor, Walter Brennan, has a special message for his four daughters. From his bed, he tells them to kill his impassive second wife, played by Julie Harris, because she is slowly poisoning him to death. The bedside meeting is adjourned and the four sisters deliberate in hysteria.

A campy hoot that John Waters would die to revamp!

The guileless, youngest daughter, Christine Morgan, played by Sally Field, fights to restore balance by keeping her sisters from considering murder. But then, people start dying and Christine must stay alive to discover the real identity of the killer. As the bodies pile up, Christine takes to the woods and comes within inches of being killed by a mysterious rain slicker-clad stalker. Is it really her unassuming stepmother? Is there any truth behind her father’s accusation? What can Sally Field do in a “Movie of the Week?” Why didn’t anyone eat their scrumptious looking Christmas dinner? To find out all the juicy answers and to see why this film deserves a reboot from a director that could truly milk those disingenuous sentimental moments for comic gold, please get a copy of Home for the Holidays on VHS or watch it now on youtube.

If you think Friday the 13th (1980) was the first horror film to use a maniacal woman murderer in a yellow rain slicker hunting down young adults in the woods? Try again. Eight years before Friday the 13th (1980) and To All a Good Night (1980), ABC's “Movie of the Week,” Home for the Holidays, began the slasher tradition of women brutalizing their victims in the woods with complete abandon. Sadly, this made for TV movie has little blood shed to offer however, the clashing personalities, corny 70s dialogue and the audacious twists will make up for it!

I give this movie and its VHS presentation: Four sticky gloops out of five.

 Dead of Night: The Exorcism (1972) 
 AKA Night Of the Exorcist
TV Movie for BBC2 Starring Anna Cropper and Edward Petherbridge Directed by Don Taylor
Available on PAL VHS from Cougar Video
Also available on Region 2 DVD (UK) 

“It takes twenty minutes for a hanged man to die.” 

Here’s a cruel idea: Put on a seemingly harmless TV Movie and scare your unwitting family to death during the holidays.

Here’s how. This glum, British, made for TV Movie, haunts me to this day. Rarely, does a horror film resonate so deeply that it scares me into better behavior. And that is exactly how it got under this jaded horror fan’s skin. Ultimately, all good Christmas movies should put the fear of God in you. Right? Hmmm. Hopefully, I can explain.

Deceptively scary as hell! 

The story begins almost like a one act play or chamber piece. A sparse one room set, four friends and a Christmas dinner about to begin. A year ago, a wife, Rachel, played by Anna Cropper and her wealthy husband, Edmund, played by Edward Petherbridge, purchased an abandoned cottage in the countryside with plans for renovating it. Now, a year has passed and the cottage is refurbished with all the updated goodies a vacation home needs. Later, they invite another swanky couple to share in a relaxing Christmas holiday vacation. (Brits say, “Holiday,” Yanks say, “Vacation,” so I put the two together. VoilĂ ) 

After being lured into a false sense of simplicity, the film changes tone. Suddenly, while both couples ready dinner, meanwhile, sport debating politics and philosophy, the power goes out. As the dinner transitions from slightly eerie to macabre, each person experiences a different sensory disturbance. Rachel is affected first. Sitting down at the piano, she begins playing a strange tune unknown to her. Edmund tastes blood in his otherwise normal wine glass. At first, the other couple thinks they are being pranked with a sadistic joke, then, they too, experience some of their own frights.

The film culminates with Rachel’s body being possessed by the spirit of a woman who starved to death many years ago in the same cottage. The woman uses Rachel to communicate her plans to avenge those who wronged her and her family. She seeks justice for her husband’s wrongful execution which led her family to starvation. Without food or the means to make money, she watched her children die helplessly while the wealthy families responsible for her husband’s death enjoyed a festive and abundant Christmas. Her unbearable wails continue: “Whilst my husband laid dead and my children were crying for food, I thought this can never be forgiven. No circumstance, no degree of self interest, not even ignorance could excuse this feasting and dancing whilst on the same planet, in the same village, people are starving!” 

As the film hunches somberly to its finale, another shocking horror is revealed. The ending is worth the wait! Watch for yourself and you will understand why it penetrated my soul.

Merry Christmas United Kingdom! I guess us Americans never had the guts to make Christmas “bloody” devastating!

 I give this movie and its VHS presentation: Four sticky gloops out of five.