Tag Archives: horror

Dawn of The Dead (2004) – The Good The Bad and The Odd 377

Dawn of the Dead 2004

Mark and Sam talk about fast zombies and the Dawn of the Dead (2004)

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Of Unknown Origin 2.5/5

Man fights rat in a battle to the death. Yep, one rat.

The only good thing about the movie is Peter Weller, the internal reference to The Old Man and the Sea, and the music. The ideas behind is, and the majority of direction, is poor. There’s very little tension, the rat is not threatening no matter how many times you do a close up of a rat, and it just feels odd.

It’s alright to pass the time I guess.

Hour of the Wolf 1.5/5

Pretentious flimflam of the highest order. An hour in, the film actually picked up dramatically and looking like it might have something worthwhile to it, but that ground to a halt after 10 minutes and went back to the tiresome, vacuous navel gazing that strangled the first hour for me.

Looked beautiful, but I’ve come to expect better from Bergman.

Viy 4/5

Viy

Whacky Russian (and I mean Soviet Russia, not this namby-pamby post-Iron Curtain Russia) horror, with some bizarre, funny and quite memorable sequences… Old witch jumping on a guy’s back and flying him over fields, corpse-witch trying to break his mystic circle, assorted demons/vampires/skeletons attacking our poor hero… I even saw a trace of Evil Dead 2 and Pan’s Labyrinth anticipated in this movie. Rather fun, and odd.

The Conjuring 3.5/5

The Conjuring

A solid, though derivative, entry into the haunted house/evil spirit/possession cycle that’s current, reminiscent somewhat of Insidious (and I’m ignoring that Patrick Wilson is in both), and supposedly based on true events, that works really well in act one, but gets less creepy and more gross-out as the story unfolds – so I think the first act is most successful.

However, it’s a pretty decent horror movie all around, with the only flaw in it being a section where the psychic investigators’ own daughter is somehow threatened at their home – this I think fractures the movies internal logic and feels more filler than intrinsic.

Otherwise, quite enjoyable.

Valerie and her Week of Wonders 4/5

Valerie and her Week of Wonders

This was an oddity, and the first few minutes feel like some dodgy European softcore porn in how it plays, but you quickly get used to that, and it becomes a deeper movie, albeit reeking of sensuality, carnality and primal urges.

It’s quite beautiful in places, and lacking any clear coherency or relationship to reality. It was more a dream-composition, always hovering around the theme of awakening female sexuality, and showing imagery and sequences that seemed influenced by Alice in Wonderland, early surrealist movies like Age D’Or, and more obviously by 1922’s Nosferatu, and the more metaphysical work of Ingmar Bergman, and even, maybe the TV show The Prisoner.

I can also see it has either influenced or run a similar, parallel path to such movies as those by Jodorowsky (it reminded me of Santa Sangre), Daughters of Darkness, The Wicker Man.

A beautiful, odd movie.

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus 0.5/5

There’s very few movies where you watch it and think ‘this could have been better if Michael Bay directed it’, but this is one of them.

An atrocity of the art of film making mostly, though it did earn a score above 0 because of the shark taking out a plane, and a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge (and let’s be clear, the point is for the ‘idea’ of these things, not the execution).

Night of the Hunter 5/5

Night of the Hunter

Superbly crafted movie directed by Charles Laughton, and it’s a damn shame it was its only directorial effort. It looks great, with some very stylised scenes borrowing from German expressionism, and reminds me a lot of another film that similarly borrows, The Bride of Frankenstein (Laughton was actually married to the Bride, Elsa Lanchester!)

It’s beautiful, constantly suprising, has one of the most imposing and scary performance ever put to film by Mitchum, and whilst he imposes, he meets his match in the upright, kind-hearted Ms Cooper.

The scene where they sing as she sits guard with a shotgun is one of cinema’s greatest. And the children floating downriver through a fairytale depression America isn’t far behind.

Revolt of the Zombies 1/5

Revolt of the Zombies

Quite dreadful movie from the 30s that has two redeeming features – it’s only an hour long, and it apparently features Bela Lugosi’s eyes (lifted from White Zombie). The script makes very little sense, the zombies are kind of hypnotised guys, and the melodrama is quite sickening.

Avoid.

Freaks – Odd One Out 061

Freaks

Mark covers the half-silly, half-sympathetic, half-shocking movie, Freaks

Cloverfield 3/5

Cloverfield

I’m sure glad I didn’t see this at the cinema, the shakeycam would have been unbearable, I’d have vomited.

Watching at home, you can at least avert your eyes and look at something else, which I ended up doing for a lot of the running time. I found the first 25 minutes or so really hard going, setting up this twentysomething angsty love affair issues, which was quite tiresome (and didn’t need to be there – a fully formed couple would have worked just as well dramatically, and stopped all the annoying angst-drama), but the film did improve dramatically once they got on to the streets.

There were some nice tense parts and it was effective for the last hour, and quite enjoyable (as long as you looked away from the irritating shaking frequently), and it was nice to see a big monster movie played out with dramatic tension and fear.

Kingology 001 – Carrie

Carrie by Stephen King

First in a chronological monthly series about the books of Stephen King (and associated media).

In this one Mark covers the book, the audiobook as read by Sissy Spacek, The 1976 De Palma movie, the 2003 TV movie, and the 2013 movie.

King of the Zombies 1.5/5

King of the Zombies

Rather lame comedy horror from the 1940s that’s not funny or horrific. It also relies on racist stereotyping for its light relief, but the main comic relief does have some comic timing talent, but unfortunately his material is desperately poor. I did like he was supposed to be zombified, but continued acting normally, whilst accepting his fate as a zombie.

However, I didn’t get bored, and it was mercifully short.

Repulsion 4/5

Repulsion

One of those movies that represents a primal nightmare, in this case of a single woman who is not comfortable with men. She hates her sister’s boyfriend leaving his razor etc in the bathroom over her things, she hates any intimacy shown both towards her and towards other women, she even find women talking about men uncomfortable.

Slowly, she imagines attacks, and descends into her own private madness where her imagination and reality become mixed and interchangeable.

A masterful movie, with the usually upright and confident Catherine Deneuve giving a mousey, timid performance, and looking more waifish than lovely.

Her look also is echoed in a later movie by Polanski – Rosemary’s Baby – where Mia Farrow looks like a short haired version of this poor girl.

Polanski would go on to reexplore urban alienation and madness in the masterful “The Tenant” several years after this.

Masque of the Red Death 4.5/5

Masque of the Red Death

I saw this before as a teenager, and thought it was deliberately overwrought and contrived just to fill the running time, and I had that general opinion of Corman’s Poe cycle.

However, I watched The Haunted Palace for the first time not too long ago, and thought it was wonderful, and thought maybe it was time to give the whole Corman/Price cycle another chance.

Watching it again, I realised I was totally wrong. It is weird, vivid, a mashup of pulp and existential horror that’s works superbly, and apart from Witchfinder General, I think this might be Price’s best performance as the black-hearted Prospero.

I loved the garish colours and the very fine set design and rather good costuming, and I particularly liked the Red Death and his brethren.

A fine film, and a classic of horror.

We Are What We Are (2010) 3/5

We Are What We Are

An everyday story of a dysfunctional family who happen to be ritualistic cannibals…

The film has all the elements to work and be great, with nice camerawork, acting and tension, but it’s lack of proper setup or explanation, even through indirect dialogue gets frustrating in the end, and ultimately you really don’t care about these people. It felt like it could have been so much better if the script had had a little more work.

We Need to Talk about Kevin 4/5

We Need to about talk about Kevin

What would it be like to have to raise a kid who is a psychopath? To live among people who vilified you for the actions of your child? To blame yourself, and be in fear that people will confront you with your fears every minute of the day?

It’s a very difficult subject, and front and centre to this movie. Very well acted, directed and written, it has a central coldness in tone that is probably unavoidable, but isn’t helped by the nonlinear nature of the presentation. I felt more at ease with this difficult subject when the narrative stayed linear, but even then it was disconcerting.

A fine movie, one that would make a good double bill with Stoker, but by no means an easy watch.

Stridulum aka The Visitor 3.5/5

Stridulum

Completely bananas movie with an impressive cast (John Huston! Shelley Winters! Glen Ford! Franco Nero as Jesus Christ!) and with a young Lance Henrikson, this is a nutty cross between The Omen and the theatrical cut of Highlander 2, with elements of The Boys From Brazil and The Exorcist 2 thrown in.

Enjoyable, but don’t expect any sense.

The Haunting 4/5

The Haunting

Lovely, atmospheric, tense, watchable. Not scary, but mesmeric.

It adheres very closely in both story and tone to the Shirley Jackson book it’s based on, even using parts of the beautifully written opening and closing paragraphs of that book in voiceover at the beginning and end.

Beautiful horror.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? – Odd One Out 057

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

If you want to hear about a movie where you’d see some messed up psychological and physical torture by an old lady, this is the movie for you!

Even if you don’t watch to see a movie like that, listen anyway!

Pontypool – Odd One Out 055

Pontypool

The nicely original horror movie about an unusual form of zombification, Pontypool

Mark of the Vampire 3/5

Mark of the Vampire

This movie reinforces my view that Todd Browning was great at eerie and odd, but pretty terrible at conventional drama. He did it in Dracula, and he does that here. Only his ‘Freaks’ remains a pure masterpiece, because the conventional drama is completely soaked by the odd people, script and final act in that movie.

However, this film does fly when he’s doing spooky/eerie. Lugosi and the woman playing his vampire daughter are terrific, and their scenes, filmed like a silent movie, really work well.

Otherwise the movie is pretty leaden when it’s focussing on more conventional drama scenes.

The ending was fun.

The Tingler 3.5/5

The Tingler

A very fun horror movie, and I think in some shots, The Tingler looks pretty good (okay, in others, it looks terrible). I always liked the bath full of bright red blood right in the middle of a black and white movie, and laughed a little about the lengths someone went to within the movie to do that (I have the same problem with Les Diaboliques). Also, Vincent Price drops acid.

A fun, trippy movie.

Pontypool 4/5

Pontypool

Ferocious and very original, this shows what someone with talent can do with a small cast, a single set, and an idea seen through to the end.

I have to confess I did not follow what was going on in some parts, but I did appreciate the talent on show. All the acting was rather fine, especially Stephen McHattie, who came across as a wrinkled mix of Willem Defoe and Joe Spinell (but was always his own, clear, self).

It didn’t scare me, but it did keep be switched on and intent through the entire time.

Lesbian Vampire Killers 2.5/5

Lesbian Vampire Killers

Passably entertaining and benefitting from some good cinematography and sound design, and some quite great-looking ladies, giving it an old Hammer vibe, it could definitely have been funnier, but James Corden and Paul McGann as a potty-mouthed vicar and a not-too-long running time make it a reasonable, lightweight diversion.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter 4/5

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

Made at the tail-end of the Hammer era of horror movies, this is a rip-roaring, swashbuckling horror movie, with Captain Kronos killing vampires with a Katana many years before Blade got to it, this is just a lot of fun. There’s whole new vampire mythology being made up in this one, with vampires coming in a lot of varieties and with distinct ways to kill them, and whilst the lead is a little uncharismatic (he looks like Bjorn Borg), it really cracks along at a fair pace, and is thoroughly entertaining. I think this guy was Hammer’s attempt to provide a hunk for the ladies maybe. Hammer were always good at providing attractive young ladies for guys to look at, and whilst Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are fantastic, they aren’t exactly hunk material for the ladies.

The central friendship between Kronos and Grost is also pretty good, with a few lines giving a decent feel for how much they mean to each other. I also liked the scenes involving the inn bullies, which I suspect was padding to fill out the time as it really didn’t connect with anything else, but were actually pretty good at illustrating what a badass Kronos was. The whole working out how to kill this species of vampire was cool too, and there were other nice imaginative touches to this (the time-freezing during the vampire attack; Kronos making the vampire self-hypnotise and freeze; the entire sword-fight).

Also, Kronos gets a little roughsex with Caroline Munro.

Deserves a remake.

Oh, and the gorgeous Caroline Munro is in it.

Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum is in it too.

Galaxy of Terror 2.5/5

Galaxy of Terror

Well, it’s really cheap, but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, basically ripping off Alien and throwing in a good dose of Solaris as the driver for the mayhem. And some yucky alien-worm rape. However, to break it down:

The Good – some of the set design and ideas. Robert Englund!

The Bad – Not scary at all, blatant, poorly executed rip of Alien.

The Odd -Joanie from Happy Days acting all grown-up actress/nutty. Nutty ending. Alien worm/tentacle rape. It tries to get all existential at the end, which doesn’t fit the cheap and cheerful vibe.

Doghouse 3/5

Doghouse

Goofy horror movie that just about works. Some of it isn’t great – the dialogue is not good (it’s clichéd) but delivered with some gusto, and you can tell some of the scenes probably seemed much better on paper than was actually delivered, but there was some good stuff. The zombie/monster design and choreographed movement was pretty good, and it wasn’t just plain zombies, it was part-zombie, part-resident evil mutant, and part deadite. There was an obvious riff on the eyeball scene in Evil Dead 2 that involved a golf ball, and there were several well-set-up scenes.

Abby 3/5

Abby

This was a film of that was a distinct mix of good and bad (fittingly). Condemned to purgatory by legal threats from Warners about it being a ripoff of the Exorcist, it’s been hard to catch, and even now it’s only possibly in a terrible print.

It’s an interesting take on possession, and this time it’s about a Nigerian demon possessing a church-going, demur housewife who becomes sexually aggressive/rampant, and violent. So here’s the breakdown:

– Good: William Marshall is masterful; Carol Speed is pretty decent as Abby; the sound design is very effective in places, there was even one decent song in the middle of the movie playing as background.
– Bad: Rest of the cast. Even Austin Stoker, who went on to be pretty decent in Assault on Precinct 13, is bad. The direction, scene-setting is poor; the set design/budget is super-cheap, and whoever was involved didn’t have the talent or time to hide it.
– Odd: Why the hell was Warners threatened by this? Legal action seems ridiculous to me, and I’m guessing the makers of this movie didn’t have the financial clout to make a case (they’d have won against Warners imo).

Enjoyable, for a one-off watch.