Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Lords of Salem Review

Rob Zombie has really outdone himself with The Lords of Salem.  The film plays like a throwback to the psychedelic satanic Horror Movies of the early 70s.  The movie starts out with a slow build getting to know the lead character, Heidi.  Heidi, played by Sherri Moon Zombie, is a recovering addict that works for the local radio station as a DJ for a popular late night radio show.  She lives in Salem, Massachusetts, which is famous for its witch trials during the 1600s.

When Heidi arrives at the radio station for her show she receives a demo record from a band called The Lords.  Thinking the album must be from a new and upcoming band, the DJs play it on the show.  When the sound goes out over the radio, many local women go into a trance, very much like when the tape is played in Evil Dead!  Heidi has severe headaches when the album is played and from that point on starts having hallucinations.  There are many flashbacks to the 1600s, when a coven of witches were having their Sabbath or Black Mass, dancing around a fire nude, praying to Satan, and playing music.  The local Salem Authorities catch all the witches and put them on trial. Found guilty of witchcraft, they are burned alive at the stake.  While dying, the leader of the coven curses her accuser, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and all of his ancestors.

Heidi lives in a historic building with an older lady that lives in the apartment below her.  She invites Heidi for tea with her friends, but right away you can tell the older ladies have something to hide.  Heidi starts a slow decent into madness after hearing the Lords of Salem album again.  And that’s when we get the flashbacks to the ancient evil witches and their strange satanic rituals.

Sherri Moon Zombie does her best acting to date, but she is still no match for the older scream queens that play the witches…Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson, and Meg Foster steal all the scenes.  Meg Foster and Dee Wallace especially shine in their roles.   One of things I like about Rob Zombie is that he casts a lot of familiar faces from the horror genre and Lords of Salem was no exception.

Lords of Salem has a real art-house artistic feel to it, which Zombie’s previous films did not have.  There are several shots that remind me of classic Argento films like Suspiria.  The use of colourful architecture and background scenery is almost like another character in the film.  The movie was visually stunning and it owes a lot of its influences to classic Horror films like The Devils, The Sentinel, Eraserhead and The Shining.  The only part of the film I was not all that keen on was the psychedelic ending.  It just seemed out of context, but maybe I will like it better on a second viewing.  It also had way too many gratuitous shots of Sherri Moon’s backside which was a little distracting from the storyline in my opinion.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Lords of Salem will appeal to the general public and will probably not get a wide release the way his previous films did.

In the end, I think this movie will get very split reviews from horror fans.  If you can appreciate an art-house independent horror film you will enjoy it.  If you prefer a grindhouse style gory action movie, you will hate it.  I am sure this movie will surprise and divide Rob Zombie fans.  Up until now, Zombie has earned a very well-deserved reputation for films that push the limits of good taste.  For the most part I have enjoyed most of his films (yes, even Halloween 2!) For me, Lords of Salem showed that he is not a one trick pony when it comes to his writing and I really appreciate that.  I highly recommend you go and see it when it comes out and form your own opinion about it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Loved Ones (2009) Review

Lola, a quiet loner,  works up the courage to ask Brent to the School Dance.  Brent lets her down quickly and politely because he is already planning on going to the Dance with his long time girlfriend, Holly.   Brent is racked with guilt over the accident that caused the death of his Father six months earlier.  He wears a razor blade around his neck and cuts himself on a regular basis to remind him of the pain and guilt that he feels about his Father dying in a car accident while Brent was driving on a country road.

Unfortunately for Brent, Lola doesn't handle rejection very well.  She is Daddy's little princess and usually gets anything and everything she wants, and right now she wants Brent.  Lola's father kidnaps Brent and brings him home for his little princess to do with what she will.  Lola is looking for her Prince Charming among all the frogs in High School and none of them seem to measure up to her Father.  After  Lola decides a boy is not good enough for her, she likes to torture them with knives, power tools, or anything else she might find around the house.

The Loved Ones is a strange mix between an 80s Romantic Teen Comedy and a Torture Porn movie.   This unusual combination makes for an extremely  unique and different kind of  Horror Movie.   It was quite beautiful to look at with pink dresses, glitter, and a disco ball during the Dance scene.   But don't be fooled into thinking The Loved Ones is all pretty girl stuff though,  there are some real cringe worthy horrific moments to be had as well.  The pretty prom scene is in very sharp contrast to the brutal torture that Brent has to endure from Lola after she has decided she doesn't want him anymore.

Lola is the type of girl that blends into the background at school.  The quiet girl that sits in the corner or the Teacher's pet that gets straight A's.  She hasn't quite grown up yet and she is looking for her version of the Perfect Prom King.  It's as if she watched too many Disney movies when she was a little girl and no boy can ever measure up to her high standard.   Lola and her Father have a very unique and close relationship though.

What Lola failed to plan for , was Brent's addiction to pain.  No matter what she seems to do to him, he has the strength to endure.   If anything it spurns Lola on and makes her even more vindictive and vicious towards Brent.  The moral of the story seems to be don't ignore the quiet girl in the corner.  It's always the quiet ones in the end that you have to watch out for.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Spit On Your Grave (1978) Review

A young beautiful New York writer, Jennifer Hills,  rents a cottage in the country in order to finish her first novel.   She stops at a Gas Station on the way to her Cottage to fill up and stretch her legs after a long drive from the city.  The Gas Station Attendant, Johnny,  finds her very attractive and flirts with her while he pumps her gas.  After she arrives at the Cottage on the lake,  Jennifer has some groceries delivered by Mathew,  a slightly mentally challenged boy that works at the local grocery store.  Matthew delivers the groceries, and then goes to tell his friends about the beautiful woman that he met by the lake.
Johnny, Matthew, and two other friends decide that Matthew needs to get laid. They conspire to attack Jennifer and hold her down so that Matthew can lose his virginity.   Jennifer fights with all her strength, but she is quickly over powered by the four men.  The men each take their turn raping and beating Jennifer until she can no longer stand or fight back.

I Spit On Your Grave AKA Day of the Woman  is infamous for the 25 minute long rape scene in the middle of the movie,  and for being on the Video Nasties list made in the UK.   Some films age gracefully and lose their shock value over the years.  After all, morals and values are quite different today than they were 34 years ago.  This is one of those rare films that are just as shocking and thought provoking as the day it was made.  The rape scene is truly disturbing to watch and will shock even the most seasoned viewers.  It shows the gang rape of a young woman in a very realistic and believable way.  Just when you think the rape is over and she will make her way back to the safety of her Cottage, she is attacked again and again.
I Spit On Your Grave does not use any type of music score to warn the viewer that something bad is about to happen.  Instead, the film is minimal and basic in telling the sad story, which makes it seem even more brutal somehow.  The only sounds during the rape are shrill screams from Jennifer and maniacal laughter from her attackers.

I remember watching I Spit On Your Grave when I was very young because it used to play on late night Cable TV.   I certainly remember it more vividly than most films I watched a long time ago, so it left a huge impression on my young mind.   Although the during the second viewing,  I found it wasn't as gory as I remembered all those years ago.  In fact most of the gory scenes don't even take place on camera.   The most disturbing scenes are during the rape not the revenge scenes.   The only revenge scene that is hard to watch is the bathtub scene, but it is mostly done with suspense and no real gore.

It might seem strange for a woman to say, but I actually enjoy a good rape/revenge movie.  It allows for the female character to be as evil and ruthless as she wants to be, but the audience still feels sympathy for her because of what happened to her.  A few of my favourites are Thriller A Cruel Picture, Ms. 45, Last House on the Left, and Sudden Impact I Spit On Your Grave is certainly one of the better exploitation films of the 70s.

Monster Mary's Top Ten Women of Horror To Fear

Horror Movies are well known for screaming girls as they run for their lives being chased by a murderous Villain.    Women in Horror Movies aren't always the victims though.  In fact sometimes they are just as evil as the guys, maybe even more so.  Whether they like to tie up and torture their victims slowly or kill them swiftly the ladies can hold their own in the scary Villain category.  The old saying "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"  is certainly true in Horror Films.  So be careful not to tangle with these ladies or you might end up missing a few body parts.

10-   Ginger (Ginger Snaps)
Ginger and her younger sister, Brigitte, like to pose like they are dead and take Macabre pictures of themselves.  Ginger has her first period and gets bitten by a werewolf on the same night during a full moon.   Ginger doesn't mean to be bad, but her inner wolf comes out and wants more than just a light snack!

9- Baby Firefly (House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects)
Baby Firefly seems to get her thrills from torturing other people just for fun.   Don't let her pretty face fool you though, she is seriously evil and demented.  Baby Firefly is very skilled on the dance floor and with a knife.  She carves up her victims and laughs about it!

8- Jennet Humfrye  (The Woman in Black)
Jennet's son was stolen from her by her sister because she was a single mother. Her sister adopted the little boy and then in a tragic accident he died in the Eel Marsh.  Jennet never forgave her sister and commited suicide over the tragic turn of events.  Her vengeful spirit haunts Eel Marsh and the Village nearby by entrancing the children and leading them to their deaths.

7-  Lola (Loved Ones)
Lola and her Father have a very close and strange relationship.  Anything she wants, her Father will try to do his best to fulfill her wishes.   At the moment, she wants the boy who turned her down for Prom, so Daddy kidnaps him and brings him to Lola.  Lola is truly evil and not good girlfriend material.   She gets her kicks by kidnapping guys and torturing them while Daddy watches.

6- Julia (Hellraiser 1 and 2)
Julia will do anything for the man that she loves.  She lies, Cheats, and Kills just to bring her man back from Hell.   Julia seduces innocent men and brings them back to her skinless lover, Frank,  so that he can devour them and regain his strength.  Unfortunately for Julia, the Cenobites have other plans and she ends up as helpless as her lover was.

5- La Femme (Inside)
The Woman will stop at nothing to get back the child that she lost.  Months earlier, The woman and Sarah were involved in a fatal car crash that killed Sarah's husband and The Woman's unborn child.  The Woman has come to exact her revenge and take Sarah's baby for her own.   A bloody battle ensues and The Woman is ruthlessly determined to take the baby any way she can.

4- May (May)
May is a very lonely girl and she wishes she had a friend more than anything else.   She finds a boyfriend and a girlfriend, but May soon starts to reveal her true creepy self, and they are both scared away.  May decides if she can not find friends easily, then she has to make them from scratch.  She is very skilled at sewing and doll making, and stitches up a new friend from "perfect parts"  in no time!

3- Pamela Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
Mrs. Voorhees has never gotten over the drowning of her only son, Jason.   She   carries out her revenge on anyone who tries to reopen Camp Crystal Lake.  She especially hates teenagers that have sex,  drink alcohol, or smoke pot.  She blames teenagers because it was a group of partying camp counselors that let her son die in the lake.  Mrs. Voorhees is quite skilled with a bow and arrow!

2- Annie Wilkes (Misery)
Annie Wilkes is Paul Sheldon's number one fan, she is obsessed with his novels about a character named Misery.  She finds Paul after he crashes his car on a mountain road and brings him back to her isolated house in the woods.  Paul broke both his legs and dislocated his shoulder in the crash, so he is bed ridden and must rely on Annie for everything.   When Annie discovers that Paul has killed off her favourite character in his latest book, she goes into a rage.  Annie forces Paul to burn the manuscript he has worked so hard on and forces him to write a new book instead.  It turns out that Annie has a very troubled past and he is being held captive by an insane killer.

1- Auntie Ruth (The Girl Next Door)
Auntie Ruth is a widow that takes care of two young girls after their parents die in a car accident.  At first everything seems normal to her friend, David, that lives next door but eventually Meg tells him that Ruth is cruel to her and her younger sister.  Meg tells a local policeman about Ruth's abuse, and ends up getting caught.  Ruth ties her up and tortures her using a small group of children  in the neighbourhood  to do her evil deeds for her.  One of  the most evil and vindictive female characters in Horror, Auntie Ruth,  is actually based on a real woman that tortured a young girl to death.  Real life is is sometimes worse than fiction!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012) Review

In the opening scene of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter we see a very young Abe Lincoln rush to the defence of his good friend, Willy,  who is being beaten by a Slave Trader named Barts.  Abe's Father, who works for Barts, ends up joining in the fight.  Barts is extremely angry that his employee stood up to him and demands full payment of a debt owed to him.  Abe's Father refuses to pay, so Barts tells him there is more than one way to collect a debt.  It turns out Barts is a Vampire and sneaks into Abe's house that night and kills his mother with a single bite.

Nine years later, Abe  swears revenge on Barts and tries to kill him with a bullet through the eye.   Barts, being a ruthless vampire, survives and completely over powers Abe and very nearly kills him.  At the last moment, Henry steps in and saves Abe and explains everything about the Vampires.   Henry asks Abe to join his cause to rid the world of Vampires.  Henry then trains Abe to be a Vampire Hunter.  Abe's weapon of choice is a silver plated Axe, that he wields like a sword.   Abe can chop through a tree with a single blow from his Axe.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith's popular History/Horror mash-up novel of the same name.   In the original novel,  The story is told through the long lost journal of Abe Lincoln.  It mixes real factual American History of the late President with supernatural Vampire fiction, an interesting combination to say the least.   If you can manage to suspend your disbelief at the absurd storyline, Abe Lincoln has plenty for a genre fan to enjoy.  I was expecting a light hearted movie, but actually the story is told very straight forward and serious.  In fact I don't remember a single joke being uttered, even though the story line was a perfect set up for one- liners.

Despite all  it's short comings, Abe Lincoln was really campy and fun to watch.  The action scenes are completely over the top but well done, especially the Train scene.  Lincoln comes across as an axe wielding Van Helsing character instead of the real  "Honest Abe"  from the History books.   The 3D seemed to add to the big action scenes but I don't think the film really needed it.  The CGI enhanced Vampires looked good, but I would have preferred old school fangs instead.  The over the top effects on the Vampires seemed out of place in a historical drama, but maybe that's just me.

If you are looking for a Grindhouse style movie like Hobo With A Shotgun, you won't find it here.  Abe Lincoln seemed more like a mash up between Wild, Wild West and The Matrix and came across as a "Steam Punk" movie.  There were plenty of slow motion action scenes and blood spurting from axe wounds.  Also there is a very cool action scene with Abe riding on the backs of wild horses while dodging horses being thrown at him by the Villain.  If anything Abe Lincoln is a completely original idea and not your typical Vampire story and for that I am very grateful.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Monster Mary's Top Ten WTF??!! Moments in Horror Movies

Have you ever been watching a movie,  everything seems normal and then all of sudden something completely outrageous happens?  All you can do is sit there thinking WTF!! What just happened?  Did they really go there?  Sometimes it's a twist at the end of the movie, sometimes a character dies that you weren't expecting, and sometimes the scene is just so strange that you sit there glued to the TV with your mouth hanging open.  Here are my  Top Ten WTF!!! Moments in Horror.

I feel I need to give a spoiler alert on some of these movies because there is no way to make this list without giving away a few story lines!  So you have been warned!  If you don't mind on!

10- The Orphanage (2007)
A woman goes back to her childhood home that was in an Orphanage.  She intends to buy the Orphanage and fix it up to take care of orphaned children again.  She is a lovely woman and obviously cares a lot for her own son and the orphans she takes care of.  Her son goes missing and she is extremely distraught over it.  There is also a Ghost of a small child in a mask  that keeps following her around the Orphanage.  The huge twist is at the end, and I won't give it away here so you will have to watch it for yourself!  This movie is heart breaking and moved me to tears (and that doesn't happen often in a Horror movie.

9- Saw (2004)
In Saw, two men are chained to opposite walls in a bathroom.  In the middle of the room is a corpse with a gun and a mini tape player.  They also find a bag with two hacksaws in it. The two men  soon realize the hacksaws were meant for their feet not the chains and that Jigsaw set everything up.   I think everyone who has seen Saw remembers the WTF moment when John, Jigsaw, gets up and walks out of the room.  I remember yelling at the screen "What?...What just happened?"

8- Inside (2007)
Inside has a lot of shocking surprises through out the whole Film.  I think I was saying WTF?  through the whole Movie.  Just when you hope that there might be a way for the girl to survive, something terrible happens.  The end is pretty brutal with lots of blood and a very sad turn of events.

7- The Wicker Man (1973)
A police  officer travels to a remote island looking for a lost little girl.  He is very conservative and is appalled at the local customs of the Pagans living on the island.  The first time I saw the original Wicker man, I thought it was pretty shocking.  It mostly has to do with all the Pagans singing and dancing joyfully while the Wicker man burns alive.

6- The Mist (2007)
The Mist is based on a Stephen King novel.  The military accidentally open up a portal to another dimension.  Some big bad Beasties make their way into our world through the portal and a group of people end up hiding in a grocery store waiting for help to arrive.  The ending is quite shocking and really sad.  Frankly, it left me a little depressed and also thinking WTF?

5- Sixth Sense (1999)
A young boy sees ghosts all around him.  Ghosts follow him down the street, he sees them hanging in his school, and they even follow him home at night.  He is terrified and wishes they would just leave him alone.  A Child Psychologist, Bruce Willis, tries to help him get over his fear and tell his Mother about what is really bothering him.  If you don't already know the twist to this movie, then you must have been living under a rock for the last ten years or so.  It was quite a surprise the first time I saw it and had me thinking WTF?  It's one of those Movies that is fun to watch again after you know the twist so you can pick out the clues you might have missed the first time.

4- Deadgirl (2008)
Two teenage boys find a dead girl (a Zombie) chained to a table in an abandoned building.  It's what the boys decide to do with the Zombie girl that is really shocking and leave you thinking WTF?   Who would do that?

3- Psycho (1960)
Psycho is one of the first Horror Movies I saw when I was younger.  It has some nice twists in it including killing off the big star in a very famous shower scene.  But then there is also the final reveal of who has really been doing all the killing.  What a great twist ending!  And one that will always have new fans saying WTF?

2- Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is a typical 80s slasher with lots of gory kills and probably would have been easily forgotten except for one thing...that ending!  Talk about your shock endings!  This Movie tops them all in that department.  I had no idea that was coming.  This is another Movie where I was yelling at the screen  "what?  Angela is a what?"

1- Zombi 2 (1979)
Zombi 2 was the unofficial Italian sequel to Dawn of the Dead.  It was directed by Lucio Fulci and has some great gory scenes in it including a particularly gruesome eye puncture.  But it also has one of the greatest WTF? moments in Horror history.   The scene I am talking about is the underwater fight scene between a Zombie and a Shark.  Yes, you read that right...A Zombie and a Shark! WTF??!!!

Hammer Horror Series- The Horror of Dracula (1958)

There is nothing I like better than to sit down with a nice cup of tea and a Gothic Hammer Horror Film. Hammer movies never seem to disappoint me. They are well written, beautifully shot, and most importantly well acted! They also have a very distinctive style to them including heavy dialogue, a slower pace, lavish Gothic sets, and beautiful Costumes. Hammer Film Studios have been making a comeback recently with some new movies such as Let Me InThe Resident, and The Woman in Black. I would like to start a new series on the classic Hammer movies, by reviewing a different one each week or so. I am going to start this series off with a bang by reviewing one of my all time favourite films by them...The Horror of Dracula.

The film opens with Jonathan Harker arriving at Dracula's Castle and pretending to be a librarian.  We soon find out that Harker is actually there to kill Dracula.  Harker ends up being  seduced by a female Vampire that is pleading for his help. She bites Harker on the neck, but Dracula arrives just in time to stop her from killing Harker. Harker awakes the next morning, realizes he has been bit and makes his way to the catacombs under the Castle. He finds Dracula and his Bride asleep in their coffins and stakes the woman. Dracula wakes up and attacks Harker.

Dr. Van Helsing arrives at Dracula's Castle the next morning a little too late because  Harker has been turned into a Vampire already. Van Helsing stakes Harker and then travels back home to tell Lucy and Mina in person that Harker is dead. When he arrives, Lucy is already gravely ill. And as soon as night falls, Lucy opens her window and bares her neck anxiously awaiting another bite from Dracula. Despite all of Van Helsing's help, Lucy dies and turns into a Vamp. Vampire Lucy is then caught trying to lure small children into her crypt, so Van Helsing promptly stakes her as well. Van Helsing then turns his attention towards trying to find Dracula's coffin so he can stake the Count himself.

Hammer intended to do a remake of the Universal version of Dracula from 1931, but Universal was watching closely and waiting with a lawsuit, so they had to strike a deal with Universal in order to loosely base their film on Bram Stoker's Dracula. There are a few significant changes from the original story but they were necessary for Hammer to make the story their own. Hammer also had to change the original title Dracula to Horror of Dracula in order to avoid any confusion with the original Universal Film starring Bela Lugosi which was still playing at some theatres at the time. Horror of Dracula stars Christopher Lee as Dracula, Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, Michael Gough as Arthur, and was directed by Terrance Fisher. The film was shot in Technicolor which caused quite an uproar with the censors at the time because of the excessive amount of blood used. One Critic was quoted as saying "I came away revolted and outraged. This film disgusts the mind and repels the senses." That statement seems a little silly now a days doesn't it? Dracula was the second Horror film released by Hammer in 1958 after the hugely successful The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957. There were eventually eight sequels to Horror of Dracula, including Brides of Dracula, Prince of Darkness, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

I know that it might shock the Bela Lugosi fans but Christopher Lee is my favourite actor to play Dracula! He just seems so imposing the way he speaks, the confident way he walks, and I love the way his cape billows around him. He plays a very proper Vampire but also a sexy one. He is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome after all. Christopher lee had to wear special contact lenses for some of the scenes in Horror of Dracula and he has stated that not only were they extremely painful but he was quite blind while filming those scenes.  During one scene he was supposed to run to a Vampire and stop, but he ended up running past the camera and had to do it over again.

Originally during the death scene at the end, Dracula peels away his decaying skin to reveal raw skin underneath. This scene was deemed too shocking at the time and was cut out by the censors. The additional death footage was thought to be lost until an uncut version turned up recently in Japan. Hammer Film Studios vowed to restore Dracula to it's full original length by restoring the lost scenes and releasing the film in Blu-Ray format. The lost Japanese footage includes an extended and very gruesome death scene for Dracula as well as another scene that was considered too erotic for the censors at the time.  There is no word yet when the restored version will be released in the US and Canada on Blu-Ray.  But, you can be sure I will be first one in line to buy it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monster Mary's Top Ten Horrible Fathers

Horror Movies are full of Evil Fathers who love to teach their young children their evil ways or maybe they just want to kill their own offspring in some twisted horrible way.   What better way to spend this Father's Day then with an Evil dad?  You know the type...keeps an axe close by, buries his children in old cemeteries, or even keeps a leather suit around just in case he needs to shoot a few kids in the wall.   So here is my list of some of the most vile and evil Fathers around....  Happy Father's Day!

10- Creepshow (1982)
The first segment in the anthology Creepshow is written by Stephen King and called "Father"s Day".   A woman who is taking care of her abusive elderly father, kills him in a fit of rage while shouting "Happy father's Day!".   However Dad, still wants his cake years later and might just come back from the grave for it.

9- Amityville Horror (1979)
James Brolin and Margot Kidder move into what they think is their dream home, but the house has other plans for the young family and they barely escape with their lives.  So if you find a house that seems to good to be true , be sure to check out the history first or dad just might go Psycho!

8- Pet Sematary (1989)
What lengths would a Father go to if he lost his young son in a tragic accident?  What if there were ancient burial grounds nearby that could bring him back to life?  What Father wouldn't at least try to help his son?   But at what cost?  What will the toddler come back as?  All I know is when Stephen King is writing the story, it's guaranteed not to end well!   Also check out Pet Sematary 2 for a very evil Zombie  stepfather.

7- Eyes Without A Face (1960)
A young girl that was horribly disfigured in a car accident, is forced to wear a mask at all times.  Her Father, an Evil Doctor, is trying to fix her face.   The Doctor and his assistant kidnap young girls and surgically remove their faces in hopes that he can graft a new face on to his daughter.  His daughter is not very happy about the situation and takes matters into her own hands.

6- The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Robert Mitchum stars as an evil minister and grifter that will stop at nothing to find the money that was stolen by his cellmate.  He figures out where the man's family lives and romances the woman into marrying him so that he can be closer to the family and steal the money.  The children know where the money is hidden but they aren't telling anyone!

5- The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Daddy and Mommy live in a very large mansion while their tenants live in slums.  After Daddy and Mommy try to evict families from their slum buildings, some of the tenants try to break into the mansion to steal gold hidden in the walls.  What the thieves end up finding instead, is pretty terrifying.

4- The Woman (2011)
Chris seems like the perfect father and business man to the outside world, but his family know all his terrible secrets.  He finds and terrorizes a wild woman by locking her up in the shed.  He then teaches his son all his evil ways , by encouraging him to follow in his foot steps.

3- The Stepfather (1987)
Terry O'Quinn (John Locke from Lost)  is deliciously evil as The Stepfather.  He marries a widower but her daughter (Jill Schoelen from Popcorn and Cutting Class) is very suspicious of her new Dad.  She looks into his past and finds some very suspicious details.  The sequels are worth checking out also.

2-The Shining (1980)
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  It also seems to make him chase after his family with an axe!  Jack Nicholson goes Psycho after arriving at the Overlook Hotel to be the caretaker for the off season.  He becomes possessed by the Hotel and terrorizes his wife and young son.

1- Frailty (2001)
Frailty is one of my favourite psychological thrillers starring Bill Paxton and Matthew MacConaughey.   The Father claims to see Demons whenever he touches an evil person and is convinced that he is ridding the world of evil.  He then has his young sons help him kill and dismember the victims.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Personal History of Horror...From VHS to Blu-Ray and back to VHSagain!

Why am I such a Horror Geek? That's a really good question and one I can't answer easily. Honestly, I think I would have to put myself through psychoanalysis to figure out the answer. The Horror genre in general definitely has some very dedicated fans!

I can however tell my own personal tale of Horror. When I was very young, I had a small black and white TV in my room. I was the only one of my friends, who had this luxury. I used to scour through the TV guide section of the Sunday newspaper and circle any movies or TV shows that I wanted to watch the following week. This is where my love of Hammer Horror and the classic Universal films developed. I can clearly remember watching Frankenstein all those years ago on that little TV in my room. Every weekend on Channel 13, there were several movies for me to watch...  Creature From the Black Lagoon, Dracula, and The Mummy just to name a few.

Lucky for me my Dad also loved going to the movies and usually took me to the dollar theatre downtown or the theatre on the nearby Military Base. He loved a good scary movie, so I probably saw a lot of movies that I was way too young to watch! The one I remember vividly was The Exorcist. It scared the crap out of me, but I loved every minute of it.

When I got a little older my friends and I would watch the 70s and 80s slashers on late night TV, usually during a sleep over on Saturday nights. These always involved us screaming our heads off and sleepless nights.John Carpenter's Halloween and Friday the 13th were some of my favourites. Then along came Cable TV with Showtime and HBO. My weekends were sometimes planned around what movie was playing late nights on Showtime. I am pretty sure I was introduced to the classics like Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, Dawn of the Dead, and The Shining by Showtime on cable TV. Of course all that has changed for my son's generation. He can watch whatever he wants at any time he wants. No more waiting until midnight for the late show. He can just pop in a DVD or switch on Netflix.

About the same time as Cable started the local VHS Movie Rental place opened up. The Horror section of the rental store was right next to the Action section, so
we often rented a Horror and an Action movie for the weekend. Suddenly picking a movie wasn't so much about the story line or subject matter, but more about picking a VHS title that had a great cover. I would always read the back of the case and scrutinize the small pictures (if there were any). I think this is where I learned to appreciate a good cheesy movie. I also remember renting some really weird stuff too...I think Faces of Death and Cannibal Holocaust almost turned me off Horror forever!  But then I discovered my personal favourites was drawn back in.

Next up, came the DVDs....I had a few VHS I had collected, but I really didn't start to buy movies until DVDs came along. I could normally buy a used copy of a movie pretty cheap after it was too old for the New Release shelf. In fact most of the time, Horror wasn't even all that popular and I was able to buy loads of DVDs really cheap. This is when my Horror collection really started to grow and take over my family room. I have over 1000 Horror DVD titles now, but I bought most of them a long time ago when they were still relatively inexpensive. Now all those rental places are long gone and most people have no where to rent a movie anymore. It is really sad actually that the LVS has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Now everyone seems to watch movies on the Internet...You can use services like Netflix, HBO Go, VOD, or you can even find a lot of great classic films on You Tube. I still prefer buying the DVD or VHS though. I love to look at the artwork and watch all the special features that come along with a DVD. I think I need a bigger house soon for my collection!

A few years ago, I found a really fun little video store in the next city over from mine. A privately owned Video Store, The Vault, that rents and sells exclusively Horror films. When I went into The Vault for the first time, it was like stepping back in time to the 80s again. The store has rows and rows of VHS for rent or for sale. So many movies, that I will never run out of a good selection to choose from. So here I am buying VHS again! It really is comical to think I have come full circle. The Owner is very friendly and knowledgeable about the Genre. I have learned quite a bit from him and he always shows me something I have never even heard of every time I go in.  So now I am discovering all those great movies that I somehow missed years ago.  All I can say is thanks to The Vault for saving the day with his Little Shop of Horrors!

Now I write, tweet, and blog about my love of Horror movies.  I sometimes wish my Father was still around so we could go to the theatre like we used to.  If only he knew what he started way back when!  Instead, I am passing my passion and my torch on to my son.  He has become quite the Horror Geek himself.  He loves to suggest movies to his friends and they raid my movie shelves on a regular basis.  They are always looking for something to top the last movie they watched.

As for what will happen to the future of Horror? I don't know for sure but I am optimistic that eventually we will have great DVD or Bluray stores again or maybe better online services that have a better selection than what is offered now. One thing I know for sure, is that I will always find new ways of watching my favourite genre!  So what is your history of Horror?  How do you find your movie fix?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus (2012) Review

Prometheus is the long awaited prequel to Alien directed by Ridley Scott.  The same Ridley Scott that brought us Legend, Alien, and Blade Runner.  Like many fans, I have been eagerly waiting for this film.  We were all hoping that many of the unanswered questions of the previous Alien series would be explained.  Who are the Space Jockeys?  Where did they come from?  Why were they on that planet? Where did the Xenamorphs come from?  All we could hope for is that some of these questions were answered in the new Prequel Prometheus.

Two Archaeologists,  Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway , working in Scotland find primitive cave drawings of Alien beings while on an expedition.  They believe they have found proof that there is a higher intelligence of beings that visited Earth long ago and left maps for Humans to find their Universe.  The scientists go to Peter Weyland, of the Weyland Corporation, to get funding for an expedition to the star system outlined by the ancient cave drawings and carvings.  They believe the Alien visitors were Mankind's maker and that we are somehow related to them, so they intend to go on a search for the meaning of life.

Prometheus, the Starship, is built to carry a small crew to the distant star system.  David, an android, watches over the crew on their long journey.  David is a very unusual Android, he enjoys playing Basketball, riding his bike, and learning new languages.  David in fact really steals the show, with an excellent performance by Michael Fassbender.  When asked why he wears a space suit, he informs a crew member that androids were designed to be indistinguishable from Humans so he must blend in.  David very much reminds me of another famous computer, Hal in 2001, A Space Odyssey.  He is extremely knowledgeable but devoid of all Human emotion.  When the ship finally reaches it's destination, David awakens the crew.  They don their spacesuits and set out to find proof of the Alien's existence.

Unfortunately, we don't have Sigourney Weaver to pick up a blowtorch, but we do have a very good substitute in Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, who is best known as the first and still best Lizbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy of films.  Charlize Theron plays Vickers, a character very similar to Burke in Aliens.  She manages to annoy everyone on board very quickly.   The biggest surprise is Weyland, who is played by a very unrecognizable Guy Pearce.  I am still asking why he was cast to play an elderly man?  Perhaps, we will find out later on in the series.

There are a few gory and terrifying scenes to satisfy the Horror Geeks, but most of the film is character building and suspense. Meaning, that if you were hoping for a new version of Aliens, you are not going to find it in Prometheus.  The cinematography is stunningly beautiful though, we are treated to long sweeping shots of the planet and the interiors of the Space ships.  But really, what else would we expect from Ridley Scott?

Prometheus isn't just a simple Prequel, instead it is a definitely a set up for a new Trilogy in the Alien series.  The film doesn't tie up all the loose story lines with a neat little bow the way The Thing (2011) did.  Oh no!  In fact it raises more questions than it seemed to answer.  Hopefully there will be sequel to Prometheus to explain everything we wanted to know.  The film is hardly perfect, but it is still a very good SciFi Thriller and an excellent addition to the Alien series.

3/5 Skulls