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Cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers or C.H.U.D's are the
hideously deformed mutants living in the sewers of New York City.
Although back in the eighties it wasn't that much better on the
surface. Like many of the 80s horror movies I've reviewed this one has
also become a cult classic. From its B-movie style monsters to its
dirty and sleazy depiction of the big rotten apple.
George Cooper is a fashion photographer who lives with his girlfriend/model Lauren in a small apartment in the city. She gets pregnant and they have the should we or shouldn't we talk about weather to keep the baby. They give a very strong pro choice message and she chooses to keep the baby and that's all were ever hear about it. Professionally George is in kind of a rut and is looking to break out of it. He got his start in photography by documenting homeless people in the sewers. So he decides to revisit his roots and meets A.J. , played by Daniel Stern, a young and energetic soup kitchen owner. People have been disappearing and they set out to find answers. This movie made me think a lot about the Clive Barker story then movie "Midnight Meat Train" which has a similar plot involving a NYC photographer discovering horrifying people within the endless sewer tunnels. Although Barker's story is pretty hardcore and violent, while "C.H.U.D" has more of a comical side to it.
George and A.J. find out that the nefarious city employees have been storing nuclear waste in these tunnels until they can move it somewhere else. Its too late as it has started to change the sewer people into the C.H.U.D.'s who hunger for human flesh. When the C.H.U.D's start appearing on the surface the city they must be dealt with. The C.H.U.D's themselves look like guys in big slimy latex suits with glowing yellows eyes and are kept mostly in the shadows for obvious reasons.
With the NYPD now on the job we go inside a cafe and meet a couple of New York's finest eating breakfast with one of them being played by the yet to be famous John Goodman. The city plans to gas the sewer to kill off the C.H.U.D's but our heroes are still down there. Will they survive both the C.H.U.D's and the NYPD? This is a fun and schlocky movie from the 80s horror vault that is available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix watch instantly.
In 1986 famed horror writer Stephen King stepped behind the camera to
personally direct his one and only movie. "Maximum Overdrive" is based
on his short story called "Trucks" and stars Emilio Estevez as Bill
Robinson, a short order cook at a truck stop who must save the day from
a bunch of evil self driving big rigs.
A comet passing by Earth triggers machines to start going haywire. Pop machines shooting lethal cans of pop, Lawn mowers running amok and big trucks out to kill. Yes it's just as ridiculous as it sounds. All played to several songs by AC/DC. The comet is said to remain in the Earths atmosphere for eight days, but will humanity survive? The never ending battle between man and machine is resumed. To quote the waitress "We made you, we made you!" This is an appalling stupid movie but works as a sort of trashy fun entertainment. The events take place at the Dixie Boy Truck stop in Willmington, North Carolina, and has its share of stereo typical southern characters. The cigar chomping owner who calls everyone Bubba. The slightly retarded grease monkey attendant. There is also the story of an annoying just married couple and a twelve year old little leaguer. There are several characters that I assume came from the short story, but on film they seem quite one dimensional. Estevez does his best with the material but its quite the step down from the previous year of 1985 when he broke out with "The Breakfast Club" and St. Elmo's Fire". I'm sure he got paid and I don't blame him for cashing in on his new found celebrity.
With the Stephen King name this movie gets instant recognition but viewer beware. Surprisingly it's unavailable from Netflix as the DVD is out of print. Although if you still really want to see it go over to Amazon On Demand.
Released in the Spring of '84 "Children of the Corn" is another in a
long series of classic horror movies based on a story by Stephen King.
It mixes two popular horror sub-genres in religious horror and creepy
killer kids. Although there have been numerous sequels, 7 to be exact.
Nothing compares to the original in its iconic evil main characters
Isaac and Malachi. It's a great story that really is pure evil.
The story opens in the small Midwestern town of Gatlin, Nebraska in a little cafe where many of towns people gather. Little do they know that the children have planned a sort of reckoning and soon they will be left to fend for themselves. Their leader being the child preacher named Isaac. Isaac is probably about 12 or 13 and is short for his age. His voice is fairly high and has quite the violent temper. His second in command is the equally vicious red haired Malachi. They're a couple of little Christian fundamentalists that rule with an iron fist and warn to fear "The one who walks behind the rows". They all congregate in the corn fields and listen to Isaac spew his sermons.
Our adult hero's are Burt and Vicki (Linda Hamilton) who are traveling across the country back to Seattle when they accidentally hit a kid who ran out a corn field. They find that his throat was slit and stick his corpse in the trunk. Trying to find a phone (no cell phones it's1984) they run into one of the oldest horror cliché know to man. The run down gas station in the middle of nowhere run by a crazy old man. The station's phone is not working and is also out of gas for that matter. They are told to avoid Gatlin and to go to the next town over for help. Although they do try to find the other town, it seems that all roads lead to Gatlin. When they arrive they find nothing but a ghost town and no working phones. They search a few houses and end up finding Sarah, a little girl drawing pictures. She has the power to see the future and her drawings are very important to the group. Her and her brother Gob are two kids who want to get away from Isaac and the cult but are too afraid to do anything about it. Vicki stays with the girl while Burt goes to look for others. The house is then attacked by Malachi and company, taking Vicki hostage.
The plot is pretty simple but the characters are memorable. Some of the visual effects are pretty laughable, but it's still a scary film even by today's standards. Just like the classic films "Village of the Dammed" or "The Lord of the Flies" the children form their own society and things get pretty intense. However the "Children of the Corn" have a bunch of help from the devil himself or is it an angry God? The movie is currently available on Netflix watch instantly.
Writer/director Bradley Rust Gray's debut feature "The Exploding Girl"
was a mild indie success with its star Zoe Kazan, a twenty-something
girl dealing with life and relationship issues. It's a slow burn
character study that felt very real and relatable and looked to be a
good starting point for the young filmmaker. His follow up film "Jack
and Diane" is here and it has taken a pretty vicious critical beating.
It stars current "It" girl Juno Temple and Riley Keough in a brief but
intense affair, that includes metaphoric intercuts with a werewolf like
beast. The film also features brief stop motion tidbits from the
brilliant Quay Brothers. In some ways I think it has been unfairly
picked on and doesn't deserve such a thrashing.
Diane (Temple) is a British girl in New York City who while trying to find a phone runs into Jack (Keough) the stereotypical tomboy. The two girls are complete opposites. Diane is tiny, meek and insecure. While Jack puts up a tough and rigid exterior, full of false self confidence. After partying the night before, Jack is hit by a car while on her skateboard and for the rest of the film she has a nasty scrape on the side of her face. We find out both characters are caring around some heavy emotional baggage.
Diane has frequent nosebleeds and strange dreams about a big nasty beast ripping people apart, but this is by no means a horror movie. The animated sequences are thick strands of hair moving around the inside of a persons body like a rope tightening around a heart. It's sticky, grimy and a little gross, but then again so are some of the critics. Early on in their relationship Jack finds out that Diane is leaving for Paris in a few weeks and she tries to distance herself and forget everything about her, but she can't. Eventually they start to embrace the time they have left together. The film does feel a little awkward and strange but then again this is what the characters are feeling. The story also meanders and goes in a few different directions but overall I didn't find it annoying. Towards the end of their time together Jack starts getting the nose bleeds and having these awful visions almost like Diane infected her with something.
I know I'm in the minority on this but I kind of dug the film. It's currently available on Netflix watch instantly, so take a chance and give it a watch.
Canadian director David Cronenberg is the king of bodily horror. Ever
since his debut feature "Shivers" he has build a strong cult following
with a long list of critically acclaimed films.
"The Brood" was released in 1979 and looks to be one of his most personal films. Its about a dad fighting for the custody of his young daughter from his mental unstable wife Nola. Cronenberg himself was involved in a messy divorce at the time and this film looks to be his way of venting in some extreme and bizarre ways. Art Hindle plays Frank Carveth, a father who after seeing signs of abuse on his young daughter, confronts his wife and psychiatrist.
The story begins with Dr. Hal Raglan showcasing his revolutionary new treatment called psychoplasmics. Its a very theatrical approach as his patient, Mike, is on stage with Dr. Raglan impersonating Mikes father. Mike then starts to develop these welts all over his body when they seem to have reaches a breakthrough. The doctor has also authored a best selling book called "The Shape of Rage". He seems to be comparable to a modern day Dr. Phil, but in a very extreme sense. Frank is furious with his wife and accuses her of beating their little girl Candace. Candy as she normally goes by is a sweet and innocent little blonde girl who if very reminiscent of the girl from the "Poltergeist" movies. But is she one of those devious and creepy horror movie kids or not? The story only gets more bizarre as it progresses. Frank's mother in law, who is quite the lush, is babysitting for Candy one night when what looks like a little kid breaks into the house and bludgeons the grandmother to death. Candy doesn't seem to be to shocked by this. Repressed anger and frustration play big rolls in the film. Candy's teacher Ruth Meyer is the only comforting female presence in Candy's life and Frank asks her to dinner to discuss her behavior.
After Franks father in law is also beaten to death by a child like person, Frank is this time able to kill the perpetrator and finds it to be a kind of mutated troll like being with no genitals or belly button. The source of these creatures or the brood is the disturbing secret to this mystery. "The Brood" is about the bitter anger and rage that people go through during a breakup or divorce. It's about betrayal and retribution. There are also themes of the lasting effects of childhood trauma and how it shapes us as adults. "The Brood" is definitely strange but it is also classic David Cronenberg.
After the success of "The Ring" every studio was looking to cash in
with their own Japanese re-make. Columbia Pictures and Sam Raimi's
Ghost House Pictures set out to make an American version of "Ju-on" or
"The Grudge". They got the director of the original film Takashi
Shimizu to do the re-make and all things look great on paper for and
epic film. Unlike "The Ring" which relocated its story to Seattle, "The
Grudge" takes place in Tokyo.
When "Americanizing" a foreign film something is always lost in the translation. The cultural gaps and customs are just too big to overcome. "The Grudge" does alright in this respect but is still comes up a little short. First let me say that the movie really is scary and has a great atmosphere to it. The fact that it takes place in Tokyo is a big plus and adds to the whole experience.
The myth goes: When some dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse a born and consumes everybody who come in contact with it. This is explained in a prologue. Sarah Michelle Geller plays Karen and exchange student who lives with her American med school boyfriend Doug, played by Jason Behr. Both lead roles are miscast with Behr's part being completely useless. Gellar is no stranger to horror and she does a serviceable job, but they could've found someone better. In a bit of good casting famed Japanese actor Ryo Ishibashi plays Detective Nakagawa who investigates the cursed house. Ishibashi, played the male lead in the horror classic "Audition".
The story is structured in a way that shows how each character has encountered the house. Starting the family who bought it for there invalid mother Emma. We see what happens to her kids, then her care takers Yoko, then Karen. They all encounter the vengeful ghosts of Kayako and Toshio. The curse is an unstoppable force of pure rage that seems to literally scare people to death. Karen researches the house and the curse and we find out the history of the family that use the live there. She and the Detective aim to somehow stop the curse, but Kayako and Toshio are some pretty bad ass ghosts that are not nearly ready to give it up. The ending gives some decent scares but is pretty uninspired and ambiguous. The movie spawned a few sequels that didn't even stand up to the low standards set by the original.
*Contains Spoilers* Based on the Japanese horror sensation "Ringu" the
American remake "The Ring" launched the J-horror craze in the fall of
2002. Ever since several Japanese and Asian film have had remakes but
none have had the power and success of "The Ring" Before you die you
see the ring.
Set in the wet and ominously gloomy city of Seattle single mother Rachel, played by Naomi Watts, works as a journalist who comes across the mysterious story of a video tape that has deadly consequences 7 days after watching it. Her son Aidan is a strangely mature and articulate little boy who seems deeply troubled but he is just another part in the thoroughly creepy and inventive story. The opening scene of two teen girls talking about the tape has been spoofed many times but effectively sets up the urban mythology of the killer tape and gets Rachel involved as the victim was a relative and one of Aidan's closest friends.
When Rachel starts to investigate she finds out that a bunch of teens that stayed in a cabin at some resort all watched the cursed video have all recently died. So what would be the logical thing to do? Watch the video of course. Rachel drives to the resort and stays at the same cabin, number 12, she views the short black and white video of bizarre images and immediately afterwards the phone rings. When she picks it up a voice echoes 7 days and the countdown begins. She enlists the help of ex-flame and current co-worker Noah to help her find out the origins of the tape.
The technology portrayed in the movie is in that period where everybody still had the big tube television and VCR's were still hanging by a thread. Those two things made all the difference in making it as creepy and scary as it is. HDTV's and DVD's are just too cold and clinical. The old technology has a worn in grungy feeling that is indispensable. But also in a strange way the movie invented the term viral video.
Their research has lead Rachel to a horse farm on a remote island where what's left of the Morgan family resides. The old patriarch Richard Morgan lives there alone with nothing to do but work the land. His wife Anna had committed suicide years earlier. But wait there's more, desperate for a child the Morgan's adopted a daughter named Samara. Now this is a creepy kid and the key to the cursed video. We learn the disturbing back story of Samara and the Morgan's and its Rachel's job to set things right and stop the curse. Then comes the clever twist that sets this movie apart and brings us the movies signature moment.
Almost three years later we were given a lame duck sequel directed by the guy to did the original Japanese version. Needless to say the original stands alone as an entertaining and frightening experience.
"Excision" is an exercise in angsty teen horror. A shocker with many
disturbing images in the shell of a well worn story. Actress AnnaLynne
McCord goes "ugly" for her role as Pauline, a frumpy social outcast at
school and at home. Her younger sister Gracie is the favorite daughter
who gets all of her parents and not just because she has cystic
fibrosis. Pauline's parents are pretty well cast with Traci Lords and
Roger Bart (Hostel Part 2) chewing the scenery. Lords play the frosty
evil bitch mother to Bart's weak and emasculated father to great
effect. Overall the movie is very well cast.. "The" Jon Waters plays a
small part as a repressed catholic priest to dry comic perfection.
There is also a cameo by Malcolm McDowell as high school teacher.
Most of the horror and gory bits come from Pauline's demented dreams and fantasies. She bathes in blood, microwaves a fetus, you know regular teenage stuff. Although she gets bad grades and has no college plans, she dreams of becoming a surgeon with the ultimate goal of saving her sister. Along with the gory and surreal dream sequences their are also cutaways to her in a church kneeling and talking to God, not really confessing her sins, but trying to defend her actions.
Pauline seems to hate everyone and everything except her sister. She openly provokes her classmates to tease and harass her. Although she does have a bit of sick fun in the process. She is eighteen and decides she wants to lose her virginity so she makes a no strings attached offer to a popular boy at school and they meet up at motel. She happens to be on her period and has the guy go down on her. Needless to say the guy is mortified. The movie revels in any kind of vulgarity it can think of with Pauline being the queen of gross.
When Gracie's condition takes a turn for the worse, Pauline must put her final plan into action whether she is ready or not. All those dreams and fantasies are now turning into reality and we see just how crazy and delusional she really is. A last ditch effort to win the love and approval of her parents. "Excision" is an extreme version of the outcast teenage girl seen in countless other movies, but with pitch black humor and a complete disregard to tastefulness. I applaud the boldness of director Richard Bates Jr.'s decisions and if you're a fan of the films of Jon Water's you will probably like this one.
Many horror movies have been made about high school outcasts. High
School in itself can be and is a real horror story for many kids across
the world. "The Loved Ones" tells such a story that goes to extreme and
disturbing lengths. The movie is from and based in Victoria, Australia
and when it comes to bat s**t crazy movies the Aussies really go all
out. Lola (Robin McLeavy) is a seemingly shy and meek girl who gathers
her courage to ask her crush Brent (Xavier Samuel) to the prom. While
Brent who looks a lot like the late Heath Ledger, already has a
girlfriend he is going with. He politely declines her offer and leaves.
Obviously hurt and disappointed Lola who with help from her father have
plans to make it a night to remember.
Ever since Brent was involved in a car accident that took his dad's life he has never been the same. He was driving at the time and blames himself for his death. His mom has also become an emotional zombie. He spends his days smoking pot, listening to heavy metal music and contemplating suicide. His girlfriend Holly is caring and supportive but can only do so much. Just before picking her up for the dance he goes on another one of his lonely contemplative walks, when he is assaulted and kidnapped. If you can connect the dots you'll guess that it was Lola and her father. They bring him to their house and tie him to a chair.
A lot of what we see in the first half of "The Loved Ones" is nothing new, but things do get a lot better. Brent is tortured by Lola and her father. The family along with their creepy comatose almost dead mother is somewhat reminiscent of the crazy family from "Texas Chainsaw" but so many films have gone there it has become quite the horror cliché. At one point Brent does escape, but is quickly rounded up.
There is another storyline going on that really doesn't seem too fit. It follows Brent's BFF Jaime as he takes this Goth chick to the prom. They spend most of the time in the car drinking, smoking pot and being uncomfortable with each other until they start making out. There are some good character moments and the filmmakers do try to link up some of the characters and their "loved ones" towards the end but the whole storyline seems a little misguided. A third story line involves Holly, Brent's mother, and a policeman as they search for Brent.
Lola's torture of Brent starts going to extreme lengths and we also find out a bunch of disturbing back story of the family and what is really going on in their house. Brent is not her first play thing as there have been many others just like him, and she is getting good at it. The movie continues to go down a very dark path and gets just as insane as Lola and her father. Brent throughout his ordeal shows a strong will to live as he fights back against his captors with every chance he gets. The movie comes in at a very trim hour and twenty minutes and although it was made on a tight budget it looks and feels like something that cost a whole lot more. The violence and gore is pretty intense and extremely well done. This is director Sean Byrne feature debut and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. "The Loved Ones" is available on DVD or Blu-ray and is a must see for any horror fan.
"Sinister" follows a recent trend of low budget horror films to make it
to theatres and do quite well. Usually done in the found footage
format, a sort of evolution of the Blair Witch style. This film is
director Scott Derrickson's return to form from the disastrous crap
fest "The Day the Earth Stood Still". His breakout film "The Exorcism
of Emily Rose" was one of the sleeper hits of 2005. What's different
about "Sinister" is that it owes a lot to its clever premise and script
by first timer C. Robert Cargil.
Ethan Hawke anchors this film as true crime writer Ellison Oswalt, who has been trying to recapture the success of his first book "Kentucky Blood". His wife and two young children move to a new town for each new book and now they have arrived in a small Pennsylvania town where an entire family was hanged, except for one of the kids that went missing. Ellison also fails to mention to his family that they are moving into the actual murder house. The local authorities are not to happy with their new residents as Ellison usually paints the local police as inept bumbling idiots who botch investigations.
Instead of the standard creepy basement, we get the standard creepy attic where Ellison finds an old box of super 8 movies and a projector. The movies all have innocuous titles like Family BBQ, Pool Party, Lawn Work, Hanging Out and so on. Desperate for leads and information on the family he views the old home movies, only to find that they end up being snuff films. Sort of reminiscent of the Nic Cage Film 8 MM. Ellison is now determined to find out who made these films. Although he does think about reporting these to the police, he is blinded by the thought of what this could do for his fledgling career. Ellison is a very self absorbed and fame obsessed man. He tasted celebrity once and will stop at nothing to feel it again, even it means putting his family at risk. His son already suffers from night terrors which are becoming worse while at the new house.
After repeated viewings of the films he starts to notice a shadowy figure in each of them. He finds out that this is a pagan deity called Bughuul, the eater of children, who lives inside the images. The films are a gateway to his world that Ellison has now opened, putting his kids in grave danger. Ghosts and demons living in images is something you see in a lot of Japanese and Asian horror like The Ring, Shutter, and many others. "Sinister" does a good job mixing and matching several common horror elements into a cleverly made film. It's not something that's going to reinvent the genre, but it's always nice to see new twists in the same old thing. The way the story and the whole mythology is structured they could and probably will make several sequels.
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