Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Truck Review and Interview with Lee Vervoort

Roger and Alice are a young couple in love.  Roger decides to surprise his girlfriend by taking her on a road trip in his classic car.  Not thinking clearly, Roger accidentally tosses a bottle at a passing truck. Unfortunately for Roger the driver is not in a forgiving mood and begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with the young couple.  Now Roger and Alice must fight for their lives.

I am lucky enough to know a very talented filmmaker as a regular on, Lee Vervoort. In his second independent Horror Movie, The Truck, Lee has decided to take to the road by bringing us a car movie that is set in the 80s. Lee's first film, Gun Town, was a fan favourite at HM.  The Truck stars John Morris and Rachelle Christine as Roger and Alice. And also Tim Emery and Andy Grace as the sheriff and his deputy.

I love a good car movie. Give me a chase scene with a cool classic car and I am a happy girl! The Truck does just that. It is full of old fashioned car chases and a hilarious shoot out. And at a budget of only $6000 it pulls off the look of a much more expensive film. The movie is full of interesting characters that play off each other well and there are several familiar faces returning from Gun Town. My only complaint was that the movie ended way too soon. I would have liked to have seen more key stone cops style hijinks from the sheriff and his deputy.

Lee has graciously agreed to answer some questions about his micro budget horror movie for me. Here is a behind the scenes look at making an independent car/road horror movie and some of the challenges he faced while filming The Truck.

DG- Have you always wanted to do a car movie? What inspired you to make this film?

Lee- Yes I have. I Love car movies. All of the classics like DUEL, The Wraith, Christine, The Car, etc. have always inspired me.

DG- What are the challenges involved in making a road movie? Did you have to get any type of special permission to film on the street?

Lee- There are safety challenges all the time. Everyone must understand what's going on at all times and have a clear head. I made the local Sheriff's dept. aware of what I was doing and most everyone in town knows me, so it wasn't hard to film what we needed.

DG- I loved seeing the classic cars in the film. Can you tell us what make/models they are and if you had to modify them in any way in order to film them?

Lee- The "Truck" is a 1980 Plymouth Trailduster with a 413 big block. The car was a 1970 Ford Fairlane 500 with a 302 V-8. The Camaro was a 1973 Z-28 with an after market 383 "stroker" engine. It was Extremely fast. The Cadillac was my personal car. It's a 1989 Sedan de Ville with a 4.5 liter fuel injected V-8 and front wheel drive. No modifications were needed for driving them, although I had to buy a new carburetor for the truck because the old one kept clogging up.

DG- You make a cameo appearance in The Truck as Captain Leadfoot. Can you tell us more about the character and the racing that he does with Roger?

Lee- Well, Captain Leadfoot was an extra character who's purpose was to appear in a badass muscle car. I wanted that in the movie to raise production value. I couldn't find anyone who has a car that was willing to be in the movie, so when Jimmy came along he said I could go ahead and drive it since he knew me. I went ahead and played the part myself because I wasn't about to let any actor drive a 30,000.00 muscle car.

DG- Roger and Alice are a cute young couple in love. Being married to a car guy myself, I didn't quite get why Alice was so against Roger's passion of car racing. Can you tell us more about their relationship?

Lee- Roger and Alice were the perfect "80's couple" for the film. Alice was more of a girl who wanted to accelerate into a more stable relationship with a solid future. At her stage in life, she didn't mind the racing thing, but it wasn't exactly her cup of tea. Roger being young and wild, wanted to make a career of it.

DG- My favourite characters in the film were the Sheriff and his deputy. They seem to have a great on screen rapport. Are the Actors good friends off the screen as well?

Lee- Yes. Tim Emery and Andy Grace have known each other for years. They naturally gab like that with each other. They are very good friends and work very well together in any type of film or theater project. Andy especially has always had the dream of being in movies, that dream has come true.

DG- The stunts were great. How difficult were the car stunts to film? Did you use any type of special camera or other equipment to film the driving scenes and who did most of the driving?

Lee- The vehicle stunts should have been much more than what they were, but I'm happy with them considering the time/budget we had. There was no special equipment really, other than the home made mount Jim Dougherty constructed for the side of the truck/hood of car shots. It consisted of pvc tubing and suction cups like they use at auto body repair shops. I did most of the hard riving. Chad Fuller and Glen Hecker filled in where needed.

DG- Since I own a classic car myself, I know that they do require some maintenance. Did you have any "technical difficulties" while filming? And if so, who was your mechanic?

Lee- Yes indeed. The Fairlane dropped the pin that held part of the shifter linkage together. I kept putting bolts in it's place to keep filming. They kept falling out, so I replaced them several times. The truck carburetor had to be replaced, so I did that as well. I did the mechanic work and it was all on the spot.

DG- There were some great locations in this movie (like the warehouse). Where did you find a town that was willing to look deserted for a film? And did you have to modify any buildings in order to make it work?

Lee- The locations were awesome, all of them. The abandoned town, Lafayette, Ky. was a ready made set. It's stuck in time with old buildings and such. There was no modifications necessary. All we had to do was block traffic once in a while. Mayor Francis granted us permission to do what we needed. It helped that I have known her for 20 years, lol.

DG- This film looks like it would be a lot of fun to work on. How much did you enjoy creating it and will there be a sequel in the future?

Lee- This film was a blast to work on despite some of the weather we had. I planned for 2 days of bad weather and we had 4. It was fun though. The fact that it was a road horror/vehicle movie made it all worth it. A film like this hasn't been made in a while and we wanted to give the fans something to enjoy, they are the most important reason for everything. Yes, if we do well with this one and acquire the proper funding...there will definitely be a sequel....and it will be 10 times more action packed than this one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep Book Review

Have you ever wondered what happened to little Danny Torrence and his mother after the destruction of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining? Well, Stephen King has finally answered that question 35 years later for his fans with his latest novel, Doctor Sleep.  Doctor Sleep is the long awaited sequel to one of King's most popular books, The Shining. One word of caution though... If you have only seen Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining and not read the original novel, there are several differences between the two stories including the ending and some major characters. So be sure to read The Shining before starting Doctor Sleep.

We pick up with a grown up Danny Torrence who is struggling with many demons of his own. Unfortunately for Dan, alcoholism runs in the family. He finds himself fighting the same battle his father lost all those years ago. Dan can not just stop at one or two drinks and this leads him to do some terrible things that he regrets later very much. Some of the ghostly guests from the Overlook Hotel still haunt him, and Dan finds the best way to deal with them is to drink to excess. Stephen King portrays a struggling alcoholic with a realism that only a writer that has experienced it first hand can describe so well. After hitting rock bottom, Dan is able to control his addiction by attending AA meetings regularly and lots of help from friends that support him.

Dan eventually settles down in a small New England town and begins work at a hospice helping dying patients pass on peacefully. He still has the shining but it has dwindled to only a small glow now because the shining decreases with strength as he ages. Dan becomes psychically linked to a young girl in town named Abra. Abra is very young and has the shining as well, only her gift is much stronger than Dan's ever was. She is being terrorized nightly by visions of a horrific death of a young boy with the shining. Abra is able to reach out to Dan for help dealing with the nightmares. They figure out together that there is a troupe of vampiric gypsies called the True Knot that roam the country in search of children with the shining. When they find them, the children suffer a long and agonizing death because the True Knot feeds off the steam created by their suffering. The True Knot has been in existence for hundreds of years and is run by a woman called Rose the Hat. Each True Knot member has a special ability and Rose's ability is to track down children with the shining. Rose the Hat knows about Abra and is coming to get her. It will take everything Danny and Abra have to fight off the ruthless True Knot.

I am sure what you really want to know is whether or not the sequel lives up to the original? That's a hard question to answer because the two books are not really that similar at all. The Shining was a classic ghost story mixed with the story of a man slowly going insane. Whereas, Doctor Sleep is more of a thriller that ends with a showdown between good and evil. After all, Stephen King was a very different person when he wrote The Shining all those years ago. What Doctor Sleep lacks in scares it more than makes up for in suspense. Make no mistake, Doctor Sleep will make a great movie some day filled with complex and unforgettable characters that are begging to be brought to life on the big screen.  It is a must read for any Stephen King fan.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Horror Lovers Challenge (Part 1)

While reading one of my favourite horror blogs to follow called Freddy In Space  , I came across a post about a Horror Lovers Challenge that was originally posted by @Lizzyiztwizted on twitter. Lizzy made up an interesting list of questions that any Horror Fan would enjoy answering.   Considering I am always up for a challenge and because I had a lot of fun reading Freddy in Space's responses, I decided to take the challenge myself!  So here goes nothing...

1-  Scariest Kid Character in a Horror Movie

Salem's Lot- If you have seen Salem's Lot, then you know it is hard to erase the image of little Ralphie Glick floating outside his brothers window.  After Ralphie mysteriously disappears in the woods on the way home one night, he reappears at his brother's window as a "child of the night" floating in mid air.    Danny mistakenly lets his brother in the room and soon turns into a monster also.  

2- Best Sex Scene Murder

The Hunger-  When it comes to best sex scenes in Horror Movies, the Vampire genre wins every time.   Because Vampires use sex appeal to lure their victims, naturally Vamp movies and sex scenes go hand in hand, so of course the best sex scene would be in a Vampire movie!  The Hunger has a couple of sexy scenes that are worth watching, first the shower scene with Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie and later in the movie, another love scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.  

3- Creepiest Dead Body

Black Sabbath-  This Mario Bava anthology full of classic horror stories and a great performance from Boris Karloff.  The shortest but most memorable story of the three is called The Drop of Water.  A woman with questionable morals decides to steal a ring from a dead woman's body.  Of course things don't turn out very well for her and she is haunted by the woman she stole from.  The final scene of the dead body rising is creepy as hell!

4- A Horror Musical You Enjoy

Rocky Horror Picture Show- Although I really enjoyed Repo the Genetic Opera, I still have to go with my favourite musical of all time: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I love watching Rocky at home, but the best way to see it is in a packed theatre with a shadow cast.   I was even lucky enough to see it recently with a shadow cast and introduced by none other than Magenta herself, Patricia Quinn.  That was a fun evening!

5- Funniest Horror Movie Character

Shaun of the Dead- This is one of my favourite Horror comedies of all time.  Shaun of the Dead is actually three movies rolled into one:  Romantic comedy, Buddy movie, and Zombie Apocalypse movie.  Some how the combination is an absolute perfect mix of horror and comedy.  "So let's go to the Winchester, have a pint, and wait for this all to blow over. "

6- Favourite Woman in the World of Horror

Ripley-  Now this is a tough one to answer.   There are so many great women in  horror.  In fact we have a whole month to celebrate all the best ladies in the genre.  One of my favourite things about the horror genre is "the final girl"concept.  I love that there is almost always a girl who survives and kills off the bad guy at the end of most slashers.  And who better to represent them all then Ripley, who seriously kicks some alien butt in Aliens.  

7- A Horror Movie You'd Be In

Horror of Dracula- I would give anything to travel back in time and play the part of Mina Holmwood in Horror of Dracula just so Christopher Lee can bite me!  I really should have been born earlier so I could have been a Hammer Glamour girl.  

8- Favourite Alien Related Horror Movie

Alien-  The chest bursting scene in Alien is what lifts this Sci-Fi thriller above all the other alien related movies for me.  Along with John Carpenter's The Thing, it is one of my favourite Sci-Fi movies of all time.  Alien is truly terrifying and plays out like a classic gothic horror movie but in space! 

9- Best Horror TV Series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- What can I say?  I am a die hard Buffy fan through and through.  I have watched the series at least three times now.  Not to mention the original movie starring Donald Sutherland and Kristy Swanson and the excellent spin off series as well, Angel.  There were so many great episodes in Buffy, but my favourite one has to be Hush.  Hush is by far the scariest episode in the series. 

10- A Serial Killer You Hate

Ed Gein-  I am not really sure with this question, if Lizzy means a fictional serial killer or a real one?  If I had to list a real serial killer, I would have to say Ed Gein.  Ed Gein was such a notoriously evil serial killer that he inspired many Horror Movies including Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre just to name a few.

11- Most Ditzy Horror Character

Zarabeth in Witchboard- Zarabeth is a very ditzy psychic that is called in to help a couple with an evil spirit problem they created when they played around with a friend's Ouija board at a house party.  Witchboard is one of those movies where you start out not really expecting much from it ( it is pretty cheesy after all), but actually end up enjoying it quite a bit.   And it stars a young and very pretty Tawny Kitaen. 

12- Favourite Horror Movie of the Year

The Conjuring- I love it when modern movies are a throw back to classic horror.  The Conjuring was a good old fashioned ghost story.   I am starting to become a fan of James Wan because of it, and am looking forward to seeing what he directs next.  

13- Best Impalement

The Omen- The Impalement scene in The Omen is such a classic horror scene. After Father Brennan tries to warn Robert Thorn about his son, Damon, he ends up being "chased" through a park to a church.   It is almost as if the Devil himself is chasing Father Brennan through the park and the scene ends with a spectacular impalement from a lightning rod.  

14- Killer Who Has the Best Weapon

Freddy Krueger- Freddy wins this contest hands down. Or should I say gloves down?  What other Horror character has such an iconic weapon?  

15- A Horror Love Story

Return of the Living Dead 3- Curt and Julie are young lovers.  After a tragic accident in which Julie dies, Curt desperately tries to reanimate her.   He succeeds in bringing her back, but now she is a soul less zombie.  She feels no pain and is constantly hungry for human flesh.  Even though I enjoyed the Zombie love story Warm Bodies recently, Return of the Living Dead 3 was a much better film.  Maybe because the end was more tragic and not glossed over with a happy ending the way Warm Bodies was.  

That is the end of part 1 of The Horror Lovers Challenge for me.  Please feel free to leave your own answers to the questions in the comments below.  I look forward to reading everyone's lists.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nightmare Castle (1965) Review

Poor innocent Jenny has married a psychopathic Mad Scientist and moved into a castle of nightmares that is haunted by her late sister, Muriel, and her lover, David.  Jenny's new husband, The evil Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith, tortured and then murdered his ex wife and her lover when he finds them making love in the greenhouse.  In a fit of jealousy, Stephen ties the lovers up and then electrocutes and burns them with acid. After they are dead he removes their hearts so that he can cure his own lover, Solange, of a disfiguring disease.

What Stephen does not realize is that his wife's fortune passes onto her sister in the event of her death.  So Stephen then has to court and marry the sister, Jenny, in order to carry on in the lifestyle he has grown accustomed to... A huge castle, his own laboratory, and his now youthful and lovely assistant.  Stephen Brings his new bride home to the castle.  Unfortunately his plans all go out the window when the restless spirits start haunting the very emotionally fragile Jenny. She quickly goes mad from the stress of it all.  
Scream Queen Barbara Steele plays the duo roles of  Muriel and Jenny.  The two characters couldn't be more different,  Muriel is conniving and adulterous, while Jenny is sweetly innocent and mentally unstable. This duality creates a perfect venue to showcase the talent of Ms. Steele.  Barbara Steele is best known for her striking good looks and grace in The Pit and the Pendulum, where she co-starred along side Vincent Price.   Nightmare Castle was directed by Mario Caiano and was originally filmed in Italian but has been dubbed over in English.  The DVD version I own is uncut, but when this film was originally screened in the US, all the best scenes were cut out of it. In fact 20 minutes was cut out from the Italian version because the torture scenes were considered far too risqué for american audiences.

Nightmare Castle and The Whip and the Body are good examples of classic Italian Gothic Horror that pushes the limits of the sensors of the early 60s.  In a lot of ways these movies were way ahead of their times for the torture and sex that is depicted on screen.  The Gothic scenery is beautiful with exquisitely decorated Victorian rooms and the leading ladies are dressed in ruffled and corseted dresses of the time.  The Castle is charming and creepy at the same time, with carnivorous bleeding plants, dark shadowed corners, and cobwebs.  Even though the movie is beautiful to watch, the dialogue and storyline is a little far-fetched at times. 

In the end, Nightmare Castle is a real treat for Gothic Horror Movie lovers that love the scenery and costumes but for those who don't know and love the genre might find it a little slow and tedious.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Conjuring Review

I always love a good ghost story that is based on a true haunting.  The saying goes that the truth is stranger than fiction and this is definitely true in the case of the Perrons.   In The Conjuring, The Perrons, a close family of seven,  Carolyn, Roger and their girls Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April all move into a beautiful farm house in a rural picturesque property by a lake.  They bought the farmhouse at auction and don't know anything about the history of the house.  As soon as they arrive strange things start to happen.  All the clocks stop every night at 3:07 am (The witching hour).  While playing a game of Clap and go seek, one of the girls finds a hidden doorway to the cellar filled with antiques from the previous owners of the house.

April finds a small jack in the box toy hidden in a tree on the property.   The smallest girl, April starts talking to an imaginary friend named Rorry, whom she claims can only be seen through the mirror on the Jack in the box.   Another game of Clap and go seek leads to a strange discovery in an antique armoire in one of the girls rooms.  The Father of the girls is a long haul trucker and has to leave on an extended business trip, of course that's when things start to escalate around the house.  After several sleepless nights in the house,  the family seeks help from professional Paranormal Investigators, Lorraine ( a clairvoyant) and Ed Warren (a Demonologist).  The Warrens are well known in the Paranormal field and come to stay with the family in order to help.  The Warrens tell them that there is a demon attached to the family and they must contact the Vatican for permission for an exorcism.  And in order to get permission they must show proof of the possession.  And so the Warrens and the Perrons set up house to catch a demon by installing cameras and recorders all over the house that only trigger with a sudden drop of temperature.  They are hoping to get a few snapshots of the ghosts or demon.

The Conjurring is a classic ghost story directed by James Wan who also brought us Saw, Insidious, and Dead Silence.  The film pays homage to older ghost movies like The Haunting, The Amityville Horror, The Changeling, Burnt Offerings, and Poltergeist without outright copying any of them.  What makes The Conjuring different is that it focuses not only on the family but the Paranormal investigators.  The film has a slow and deliberate build of tension but is never boring.  There are a few jump scares along the way but for the most part the movie relies on old fashioned scare tactics and practical effects.  This is the type of ghost story that I love.  I always find myself doing research on the real story behind the movie.  Usually Hollywood takes a real story and changes it dramatically to make it scarier, but in this case the real story was just as frightening.  The biggest surprise to me was that the doll named Anabelle is real!   If you don't already have a fear of dolls, you might just develop one after watching this movie.

Now, I am one of those people that have seen so many Horror movies over time, that they no longer scare me.  This is something I truly hate!  The big scare is what drew me into the genre to begin with.  I love the adrenaline rush of a truly scary movie.  Besides jumping a few times, I didn't find The Conjuring very scary at the theatre.  I emphasize the theatre part, because late that night when I went to bed,  I kept imagining or perhaps dreaming that someone or something was trying to grab at my legs!  So those of you that are easily scared may have a few sleepless nights with the lights on after watching The Conjuring.  But, those sleepless nights are what being a Horror Geek are all about, so enjoy the thrill of the scare.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Five Richard Matheson Movies

One of the greatest American Horror and Sci-Fi authors of all time has passed away at the age of 87.  Richard Matheson wrote some incredibly influential novels such as I am Legend, The Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, Hell House, Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come just to name a few.  Several of his short stories were made into episodes of the Twilight Zone and Rod Serling's Night Gallery such as Nightmare at 20,000 Feet featuring William Shatner In the lead role.

Matheson also wrote some excellent made for TV movies in the 70s including Duel, Kolchak:  The Night Stalker, Kolchak: The Night Strangler, Dead of Night, Dan Curtis' Dracula, and Trilogy of Terror.  Trilogy of Terror was un
forgettable with an amazing performance by Karen Black in an anthology of three short stories written by Matheson.  Kolchak went on to inspire a very successful TV series starring Darren McGavin that in turn inspired many modern shows like X-Files and Supernatural.  Matheson has often been compared to Ray Bradbury, another prolific Sci-Fi author,  for his many contributions to classic TV.  Even Stephen King says he was a huge influence on his own writing.

Matheson will be sorely missed in the Horror community but he leaves behind an impressive following.  What a legacy of Horror to leave behind for his fans.  Thank you Mr. Matheson  for all the stories and nightmares, but thanks especially for the dreams that may come.

After going through the extensive list of movies and TV shows that Matheson was involved with, I have come up with an excellent list of movies to try out...

5.  Duel (1971)
Duel is a perfect example of how a simple story with only a few characters can be full of suspense.  The film was directed by Stephen Speilberg and is based on one of Matheson's short stories by the same name.  It stars Dennis Weaver who is on the run from a psychotic Truck driver toying with him on a long road trip.  During the filming of Duel there was only one truck on hand for the shooting of all the scenes, so Speiberg had just one shot to get the final scene right.

4.  The Devil Rides Out  (1968)
The Devil Rides Out is actually based on a 1934 novel by Dennis Wheatley.  The screenplay was written by Richard Matheson for Hammer Studios and was directed by Terence Fisher, one of the best directors employed by Hammer.  The film stars Christopher Lee in one of the few roles where he gets to play the hero instead of the villain and is one of my favourite Hammer Movies  starring Lee.  Lee finds a strange Cult that is worshipping Satan and even manages to manifest the devil himself in a ceremony.  Lee and a group of friends must fight off the evil Mocata before he raises the Devil again for good.

3.  The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Matheson wote the screenplay for Legend of Hell House and is based on a novel of his simply called Hell House.  It stars Roddy McDowall as a psychic medium that is invited back to Hell House in order to provide proof that it is haunted even though he barely escaped with his life on a previous visit.  An out of the ordinary and extremely effective ghost story is the result.  The suspense is slowly built up and you are not really sure what is going on until the surprise ending.

2.  The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
During the sixties Roger Corman and Vincent Price collaborated on several films together based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.  It became a very successful franchise and attempted to compete with the wildly popular Hammer Horror Studio from Britain.   Matheson wrote the screenplays for several of Roger Corman's well known movies such as House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, and The Raven all starring Vincent Price.  Roger Corman recently tweeted "Richard Matheson was a close friend and the best screen writer I ever worked with.  I always shot his first draft.  I miss him".  Pit and the Pendulum is the second movie from Corman and Matheson, and its a true classic of Gothic Horror.

1.  The Last Man on Earth (1964)
There are several movie versions of I am Legend including the recent one starring Will Smith and the 70s version, The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston.  However the closest adaptation of the novel is the original movie starring the one and only Vincent Price.  Not only is it one of Mr. Price's best performances but I think it best depicts the despair and agony that Dr. Morgan feels being the sole survivor of world wide plague of Vampirism. At night Morgan locks himself in his house safely away from the vampires but during the day he ventures out to stake as many vampires as he can and burns their bodies.  Matheson has said that he was inspired by a screening of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi when he was very young for the story of I am Legend.  He said if one Vampire is scary, then what if the entire world were Vampires and you were the only human left?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Evil Dead 2013 Review

I fully admit that when I first heard there was a Evil Dead remake in the works I felt the exact same way most old school Horror fans did:  Oh no!  not another remake!  Then word started to get out that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were on board as producers and that the film was not going to rely on CGI but use practical effects instead.  So I slowly started to come around, and think maybe this is worth checking out.  By the time the trailers were released, I was sold.  In fact, Evil Dead became my most anticipated film of the year.  

The original Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are genuine cult classics with a huge following of devoted fans.  Think about it...How many lines can you recite from those movies?  I bet you can even recognize the most obscure screenshots from them too.   So why mess with a classic that is so universally loved by the fans?  Why not come up with a new concept instead?  Why keep remaking movies that we all know and love inside and out?  We fans seem to enjoy picking apart and analysing the remakes when they come out and naturally comparing them to the originals.  But, the thing is...the remakes will never live up to their originals.  The original movies are a product of the times they were made in.  They are a snap shot of an earlier time that we look back on with nostalgia.   The other inherit problem with remakes is that most of the time the actors in them have gone on to become cult heroes.  This is especially true with the Evil Dead movies.   Let's face it Bruce Campbell is practically a God in the Horror universe.  So who is going to fill those rather large shoes?  Even with all of  that running through my head, I thoroughly enjoyed the remake.  I decided to go into the theatre with an open mind and leave all my prejudices behind me.

Evil Dead starts out with a group of twenty-somethings going to a family cabin in the woods.  Unlike the original movie, they are not there for rest and relaxation.  Instead, they are there to help a friend kick her Heroin addiction.  She ceremoniously declares that she is starting a new life and dumps out all of her stash.  However, her friends are hesitant to believe her because they have been through all of this before and failed.  This was a rather clever addition to the storyline because when she starts to see Demons, naturally no one believes her and blames her behaviour on the withdrawal process instead.  It also means that they have committed to staying for the long haul or until she breaks her habit.  It doesn't take long for the group to discover the Necronomicon in the creepy basement, and against their better judgement the nerdy guy opens the book and begins to read the incantations.  By the time he realizes his mistake, it is too late to get out.   

There are several reasons this remake is well done.  First, it is gory as hell!  Even more so than the original was and the effects are very well done.  It is by far the goriest movie I have seen in wide release at my local theatre.  Second, there is no humour to lighten the mood.  It is a straight up old-fashioned Horror movie.  A roller coaster ride of blood and guts.  But don't get me wrong, there are very few outright scary scenes.   Third, there are several Easter Eggs from the original movies sprinkled throughout.  If you are an Evil Dead fan, you will enjoy picking them out when you see them.  Several scenes and props are reused from the originals, but they are all slightly tweaked or changed a bit.  Like the writers did a shuffle between all of the characters,  resulting in a very interesting mix.  Things just don't quite line up the same way as before.   However many of Raime's original ideas are there... the Chainsaw, the shotgun,  the tree rape scene, and even the Oldsmobile.  

The one part I found a bit strange was that I kept thinking of  Cabin in the Woods during several opening scenes.  Yes, I realize that CITW was spoofing Evil Dead, but the characters were eerily similar.   However, the dialogue was lacking in comparison to CITW.  

As a whole, I thought Evil Dead was an extremely clever remake.  It paid homage to the original movie without copying it exactly.  Even the gore was over the top and cringe worthy yet still not exploitative like some of the more recent torture porn movies.  The remake updates the story while remaining true to the Indie, low-budget feeling of the original.  All of this makes it a must see for the big screen in my opinion.  So get to the theatre because the Deadites are calling for you...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Top 25 Greatest Monster Movies of all time

Monsters are the things that nightmares are made of. They are the things that go bump in the night. They are the reason why small children (and perhaps some adults) sleep with the lights on. I know many of us grew up watching these classic monster movies. I am sure most of them are some of the first horror movies you remember seeing when you were a kid. Remember those days? Staying up past your bedtime on a Saturday night to catch the late show? Maybe you even had a local horror host introduce it? Anyway, here is my list of 25 Monster Movies that are absolute must sees for any Horror fan. What better way to spend a lazy afternoon than watching a good old fashioned creature feature?

25. Them! (1954)

During the 50s the threat of the cold war and nuclear war created an entirely new sub-genre of monster movies. Big Monster movies were very popular in the 50s. A few examples include The Black Scorpion, Tarantula, and It Came from Beneath the Sea. Them! was one of the most popular of the big bug movies. The story is about a colony of Ants that get irradiated during some early nuclear tests and grow to an enormous size. Yes, the giant rubber Ants seem pretty cheesy now, but Them! is still a really fun film to watch.

24. Humanoids From the Deep (1980)

Roger Corman's Humanoids From the Deep has a lot going for it... plenty of violence, nudity, gore, and monsters. The creatures are a result of some military experiments that involved blending Salmon and Humans together. The Humanoids escape and try to kill all the local men and rape the women in order to get them pregnant with fish babies! The final scene with the Humanoids attacking and killing or raping everyone at the Salmon Festival is really something.

23. Trollhunter (2010)

I guarantee you will never look at natural rock formations in the same way after seeing Trollhunter. This found-footage movie shows giant Trolls living in the Norway countryside. A film crew follows a Troll Hunter as he tracks and kills as many Trolls as he can. He finds them under bridges, living in caves, and hiding in forests. Trollhunter is hilarious and the CGI Trolls are amazingly life-like and well done. However the real star of the film is the beautiful Norwegian scenery in every shot.

22. Slither (2006)

Slither is something straight out of an H. P. Lovecraft story. A meteorite crashes into a small town and tons of space worms invade the locals. The first person (played by Michael Rooker) that is infected slowly turns into this giant tentacled monster. But all he wants is to get his wife back. Slither is full of some really great special effects including a balloon like woman that explodes into thousands of space slugs! EWWWww!

21. Monster Squad (1987)

Monster Squad is like watching The Goonies with the Universal Monsters mixed in. The kids have to battle the Monsters, led by Count Dracula, in order to stop them from taking control over the world. The monsters have an updated 80s look thanks to Stan Winston. The Gill-Man (Creature From the Black Lagoon) gets a whole new scary look. What makes Monster Squad really special are all the funny one-liners including "Wolfman's got Nards!" and the nostalgic look back at what it was like to be a kid in the 80s.

20. Nightbreed (1990)

Clive Barker's Nightbreed is about a group of mutants that hide away in an underground city called Midian. The mutants are monsters that must hide from the Humans that want to destroy them and their home. Nightbreed is actually one of my favourite movies based on Barker's work along with Hellraiser and CandymanNightbreed is based on Novella called Cabal by Barker. Clive Barker has talked about a television series that is in the works for Nightbreed, saying that it will be made for cable TV so it has a chance to be as sexy or as graphic in terms of violence as it needs to be.

19. Q the Winged Serpent (1982)

Q the Winged Serpent is directed by Larry Cohen, the same guy who gave us God Told Me To, Maniac Cop, The Stuff, and It's Alive. The Q stands for Quetzalcoatl, an ancient Aztec deity that is brought back to life by an evil cult in New York City. Michael Moriarty plays a thief that stumbles upon Q while running from the cops after a robbery. Q is in fact a girl and has set up her nest in the Chrysler building by laying a giant egg. The monster resembles a Harryhausen style of rubber stop motion monster. It might be slightly on the cheesy side of the FX scale, but the performances by Moriarty and David Carradine more than make up for it.

18. Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 tells the story of 5 friends that are filming a Zombie infection movie on a Super 8 camera. While filming, they witness a spectacular train derailment, and soon realize that someone was trying to stop that train on purpose. After the train accident, people all over town start disappearing, all the dogs run away, and soon the military marches into town. Super 8 feels like an old time movie. You would swear it was from the early 80's instead of the 2000's. JJ Abrams has been compared to Spielberg a few times in his career and much like Spielberg before him, Abrams tells a charming coming of age story. The best part of Super 8 is the movie that the kids made at the end. Apparently Romero chemical was to blame for everything!

17. Nosferatu (1922)

One of the first Monster movies ever made was Nosferatu. Even to this day Max Shreck's portrayal of the famous Vampire is one of the most chilling to watch. Rumors are that Max Shreck was actually a real Vampire and that is why the film is so haunting. In reality though he was a well known Theatre actor and went on to do many more films after Nosferatu. For an interesting and very entertaining movie about the "real" Max Shreck check out The Shadow of the Vampire starring William Dafoe.

16. The Host (2006)

The Host is a bit of a throwback to some of the classic monster movies also on this list. The Host is a giant mutant killer amphibian that wreaks havoc on a South Korean beach. However the Monster isn't the real story in The Host. The movie centers on a dysfunctional family that is trying to survive the Monster mayhem around them. A small girl is kidnapped by the monster and the rest of her family has to organize themselves enough to rescue her. Sometimes oddly comical and sometimes heart breaking, The Host has some strong messages to tell about politics and family.

15. Gremlins (1984)

All Randall wanted to do was bring home a cute little Mogwai named Gizmo for his son for Christmas. Gizmo was the perfect present, all he had to do was follow three simple rules... Do not get him wet, do not expose him to bright lights, and whatever you do, do not feed him after midnight Unfortunately Mogwais have a way of getting into trouble and when they go bad, they really go bad! They are not that hard to control when there are only one or two of them, but any more than that can quickly get out of control. Gremlins is one of my favourite Christmas movies, but it is fun to watch any time of year.

14. Cloverfield (2008)

There are only a couple of found-footage movies on this list. I have to admit I am not really a big fan of the genre, but I know a good one when I see it. Cloverfield is a modern version of the 50's B-Monster Movie. It tells the story of a group of people on the run from the monsters. They really don't know what is going on and only get fleeting glances of the giant monster that is attacking their city. Of course they have to get to the other side of the city in order to rescue a friend, and run into all sorts of trouble doing so. Cloverfield is a great example of when the found-footage style of movie is done right.

13. The Mummy (1932)

A group of archaeologists accidentally revive an ancient Egyptian Priest when they read aloud a life giving spell. The Mummy comes alive and searches for a way to bring back his lost lady love. The Mummy was the second monster movie for Universal, after the huge success of Frankenstein. Once again Boris Karloff plays the lead role. Unlike the Universal Monsters, The Mummy didn't have a sequel. However, it has had a few remakes... The Mummy's Hand, The Mummy by Hammer Studios, and The Mummy (1999)

12. The Mist (2007)

Who better to write an amazing Monster movie than Stephen King? The Mist takes place in a small town, where a group of people get trapped in a grocery store because a mysterious mist has rolled in. Anyone who attempts to go into the mist is quickly killed in a violent way. Giant Bugs and other miscellaneous Nasties show up making life hard for the people left in the Grocery store. The Mist definitely has some Lovecraftian overtones to it. Ancient tentacled monsters invade earth through a porthole to another dimension. Like most Stephen King movies, the story focuses on the characters and how they deal with each other and the impending apocalypse.

11. Jurassic Park (1992)

Who doesn't find a giant T-Rex or a Velociraptor chasing you scary? If you are one of those people who don't consider Jurassic Park a horror movie, I suggest you watch the scene with the two Velociraptors in the kitchen again. I love the idea of an amusement park filled with all sorts of dinosaurs. As a child, I was fascinated and at the same time terrified by dinosaurs. Maybe that's why I loved Jurassic Park so much, it was one of my favourite movies of the 90s.

10. The Fly (1986)

Brundle is a brilliant and eccentric scientist that is working on teleporting humans through Telepods that he invented. After several failed attempts at trying to transport animals, he thinks he has ironed out all the kinks. Brundle decides to transport himself, but unbeknownst to him a fly is in the Telepod with him. David Cronenberg's The Fly is truly horrific to watch. I loved the original The Fly starring Vincent Price, but this version is one of the best remakes ever made. The special effects are incredibly gory and is one of the best body horrors by Cronenberg. You truly feel bad for Brundle and his girlfriend and what eventually happens to them. At the very core of the film is a very tragic love story.

9. King Kong (2005)

There's no denying the original King Kong from 1933 was great. Fay Wray screams her head off as the stop motion monster King Kong comes after her. Peter Jackson remade King Kong in 2005. The remake is much more scary and of course the special effects have come along way since the original. But the touching love story between King King and his lady love was still there. I loved the remake! Why can't all remakes be as good as this one?

8. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Some scientists discover a skeletal hand with web fingers and decide to go further into the Black Lagoon in order to find more evidence of the ancient creature. They soon discover that the creature is still very much alive. The creature becomes infatuated with Kay and abducts her and brings her back to his underwater cavern. The best scenes in The Creature From the Black lagoon are the underwater scenes of the creature stalking and mimicking Kay while she swims. It is very apparent, even without any dialogue, that the Gill-Man is falling in love with her. Originally the film was released in 3D as one of the first Horror films of the 50s to use the gimmick. The Gill-Man was played by Ricou Browning in the underwater scenes and Ben Chapman on land. The latex suit was extremely difficult to swim in for Browning even though he was a very skilled diver.

7. Godzilla AKA Gojira (1954)

Godzilla was one of those movies I remember watching as a kid. I loved the big monster when he stomped his way through Tokyo, taking out half the city. And let's face it, half the charm of Godzilla is the incredibly bad dubbing and the rubber suited monster shooting out flames. And when you think of the great movie monsters of the past, Godzilla should be one of the first ones to pop into your head. Godzilla went on to fight many monsters... King Kong, Mothra, and Ghidorah just to name a few in the sequels that followed.

6. The Blob (1988)

A blob from Outer Space invades a small town and devours everything it comes in contact with. The Blob continues to grow as it consumes and even the military can not stop it! Here we have another remake of an earlier classic horror movie. The original Blob from 1958 starred Steve McQueen and although the original was great the remake has much better effects. Kevin Dillon may not be Steve Mcqueen, but he still does a good performance as the Rebel that none of the adults believe.

5. The Wolfman (1941)

The Wolfman stars LonChaney Jr. as the tortured and guilt ridden Wolfman. I love all the Gothic scenery when they are running through the trees with all the fog rolling about. Such a classic horror movie! The Wolfman is not the first Werewolf movie, Werewolf of London was actually the first one. However most everything we know about werewolves comes from The Wolfman including that he can be killed with a silver bullet, he changes form during a full moon, and that he was infected from a bite of another Werewolf. Jack Pierce created the make up for The Wolfman and all the Universal monsters. It took 6 hours to make up Chaney and 3 hours to take it all back off again.

4. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter's The Thing is one of the scariest monsters on this list. The Thing is able to take on the exact form and shape of any organic creature. It can easily hide in plain sight by seamlessly blending in and only attacking when the moment is right. Anyone around you could be the Monster and you would not even know it until the moment the monster was attacking you. The Thing is a great character drama and shows how quickly people can change under unusual and frightening circumstances.

3. Alien (1979)

While returning to Earth, the spaceship Nostromo and its crew detect a distress call. They stop to investigate the signal and find a very large corpse that appears to have been killed by something inside it. Eventually they find a nest of Alien eggs. One of the eggs hatches and a creature attaches itself to one of the crew's face. Against their better judgement they bring him back to the Nostromo with the facehugger still attached. The chest bursting scene in Alien is by far one of the most famous scenes in Horror movie history. Alien is full of suspense and incredible characters that hold your interest. I never get tired of watching it over and over again. Alien also has one the best female protagonists of all time. Ripley kicks Alien butt in the first Alien and all the sequels too!

2. Jaws (1975)

I am sure most of you can remember the first time you saw Jaws. Did you seriously consider never swimming again afterwards? Even in a lake or a pool? Jaws is one of the best thrillers ever made. The plot is actually quite simple though. A small seaside town is being terrorized by a giant shark. The local police chief is a shark expert and tries very hard to get the mayor to issue a warning. Of course no one believes him until it is too late and the shark has had several good meals. My favourite part of Jaws is on the boat when Brody gets a good look at the shark, slowly stumbles backwards, and utters the now famous line "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

1. Frankenstein (1931)

What Monster movie list would be complete without Frankenstein's Monster? The most famous of all the monsters listed here. Frankenstein's monster was sewn together from corpses and then reanimated by Dr. Frankenstein. Even though my favourite version of Frankenstein is actually the Hammer version, The Curse of Frankenstein, I still really love the Universal film starring Boris Karloff. Unlike the Hammer version, the Universal movie is more focused on the Monster rather than the doctor. The iconic make up by Jack Pierce is by far the most famous version of the monster that we know and love. Unfortunately for Karloff, the make up took up to 4 Hours to apply everyday and was quite painful to wear. The makeup would melt into his eyes by the end of the day and he has said that some days he didn't think he would make it to the end of the shoot.