‘The Green Inferno’

Posted in Found Footage, Halloween Horror Movie Marathon on October 5, 2015 by Justin T.

The Green Inferno

The Green Inferno (2013) — Directed by Eli Roth. Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Ignacia Allamand, Daryl Sabara, Nicolás Martínez, Sky Ferreira, Ramón Llao, Antonieta Pari.

Feel like going on a trip? Eli Roth thinks you’re better off at home. Cabins in the woods, Eastern Europe, and now the Amazonian jungle have all come under his scrutiny and the world he sees is dangerously unaccommodating to outsiders. Woe to you, oh traveler, who wanders this wicked world!

Columbia University freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo, Eli Roth’s wife) doesn’t care if her dorm mate Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) snarkily proclaims “activism is so f**king gay”, she joins a campus activist group anyway. The group’s leader, Alejandro (Ariel Levy), sees her father’s connection to the UN as a vital piece in his plan to save an Amazonian tribe in Peru threatened by deforestation carried out by a company mining fuel in the area. The activists aim to halt the company’s progress by chaining themselves to the demolition equipment and streaming the protest online via their smart phones. They succeed surprisingly quickly, though there is a dubious reason for that, and while celebrating on the small plane taking them out of the Amazon, an engine explodes and the plane crashes… wouldn’t you know it, right next to the tribe they were trying to save. And they’re just in time for dinner! You can probably guess who is on the menu…

The Green Inferno is Eli Roth’s tribute to cannibal films of the kind that flourished in the 70s and 80s, peaking with Ruggero Deodato’s controversial Cannibal Holocaust. If you want to get caught up you can go through the filmography presented near the end credits of Inferno and then see how this one compares. The Green Inferno is the highest profile cannibal film in some time. The only other cannibal film I’ve seen is the infamous Cannibal Holocaust so I don’t have much to compare it to but as an exploitation/horror film in general, The Green Inferno held my interest but wasn’t all that impressive.

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‘Bad Biology’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon on September 29, 2015 by Justin T.

Bad Biology

Bad Biology (2008) — Directed by Frank Henenlotter. Starring Charlee Danielson, Anthony Sneed, ‘Rude’ Jude Angelini, Eleonore Hendricks, Vinnie Paz, Reef the Lost Cause, Bjorn Milz, Vicky Wiese, J-Zone, Remedy, Tina Krause, Jelena Jensen, James Glickenhaus.

If you’re put off by a movie that opens with the main character stating, “I was born with seven clits”, or the other main character later exclaiming, “I got a drug-addicted dick with a mind of its own!” then you might want to skip this movie, and this review. But if you’re up for a movie that takes you on a campy ride through the world of a pair of sexually mutated human beings, then you must check out Frank Henenlotter’s Bad Biology.

Jennifer (Charlee Danielson) is a woman with seven clitorises, that she knows of, who feeds on sex like it’s food. Her metabolism, perhaps working to support a sex drive accelerated by her seven clits, operates so quickly that not only does she have to wolf food down like an animal after every sexual encounter, she also conceives, gestates, and gives birth to what she calls “fake, unfinished freak babies” two hours after copulating. During her quest to find men that satisfy her intensely advanced libido, she often kills her mate during climax. “Oops.”

Is there anyone who can fulfill her freakishly insatiable needs? Enter Batz (Anthony Sneed), a man who is a slave to the ravenous sex drive of an enormous, sentient (though mute) penis. The two foot long dick is addicted to steroids, literally slurping down liquid drugs like a child drinking a milkshake. Poor Batz does not enjoy being controlled by his drug-addicted penis but he goes to great lengths to satisfy its enormous cravings. What will happen when our twisted pair of sexual misfits finally cross paths?

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‘Berberian Sound Studio’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon on September 19, 2015 by Justin T.

Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio (2012) — Directed by Peter Strickland. Starring Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, Salvatore Li Causi, Chiara D’Anna, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Lara Parmiani, Gido Adorni.

It is the mid-70s and English sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) has been hired to work on an Italian film called The Equestrian Vortex. But the slimeball director, Giancarlo Santini (Antonia Mancino), has brought him in under false pretenses; while Gilderoy anticipated working on a nature documentary, much to his surprise Vortex is an Italian horror film. Although this isn’t our poor little sound engineer’s cup of tea, he agrees to continue working on the film. But participating in the presentation of the film’s dark violence takes a toll on his reserved, fragile mind.

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‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies, Slasher on September 12, 2015 by Justin T.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

“Morality sucks…”

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) — Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakely, Nick Corri, Lin Shaye. 

We lost one of the great ones recently. On August 30th Wes Craven, age 76, succumbed to brain cancer. Director of landmark horror films such The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have EyesScream, and A Nightmare on Elm Street he is probably one of a handful of directors whose name might even be familiar to those who don’t pay attention to the genre.  Folks, let’s pour one out for Wes…

RoxieTo commemorate his passing San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre ran A Nightmare on Elm Street each night over the Labor Day weekend. A buddy and I headed to the Mission District to eat some grub, drink some brews, and watch Elm Street on the big screen. …if you can get away with calling the screen at the Roxie “big”. I wondered if there might be a big crowd of enthusiastic fans dressed up as Freddy Kreuger but there was not a clawed glove to be found. There was a noisy guy a few rows behind us who spouted random film-related comments (“I’m a Dapper Dan man! This theater’s a geographical oddity… two weeks from everywhere!”) but he quieted down when the movie started.

Obligatory plot synopsis: High school student Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends are all experiencing the same dream of being chased in a boiler room by a crazed, snarky killer with burned flesh. The teenagers get together for a sleepover to comfort Tina (Amanda Wyss), who is the first to share her dream with the small group. But she is brutally murdered in her bed by an unseen presence while her boyfriend, Rod (Nick Corri), watches in horror. Soon Nancy learns that the evil presence terrorizing their dreams is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a child murderer who evaded the justice system of Springwood, Ohio and then subsequently killed by a vengeful mob of angry parents, burned to death in the same boiler room where the dreams are taking place. But he’s back and seeking to return revenge on his killers by invading the dreams of their children. After a week of no sleep Nancy vows to defeat Freddy and the battle is on to bring the fight into the real world.

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The Sixth Annual Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Begins!

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies on September 3, 2015 by Justin T.

I hear a faint, desperate howling on the wind, accompanied by a persistent piano melody… Is that a mask outside the window, its hollow eyes gazing into mine? Is that a Shape lurking among the shadows in the dark corner of my room? As a chill raises goose bumps across the back of my neck I begin to comprehend the horror creeping along fringes of my mind… it is the ghost of the Halloween Horror Movie Marathon 2014 returned to haunt me. The 2014 marathon wrap up that never was bears a year long grudge against me…. But what was I, father to a demon child, to do? I’m now caught between the ferocious claws of a beast and the ghost of Michael Myers…

Yes, I failed to produce a wrap up post… oh well… last year’s fall was a busy one, with a one year old terrorizing the home while a close family member stayed in the hospital waiting for surgery. The good news is that the family member is now well and continuing on with their daily routine almost as if nothing happened while the younger of my two demons is at least somewhat easier to maintain these days. His spells and sacrifices involve me and his mother less often. He now focuses his diabolical energy on his older demon brother. The satanic siblings are still a force to be reckoned with as their battles are epic. But at least they sleep more often than they used to, perhaps weary from the energy spent attempting to destroy each other.

I reread last year’s reviews and if I were to give a quick, single paragraph wrap-up of last year, as best as my memory will allow, it might be this: Of all of the Halloween films, the original is the best. The most brutal kill was of the nurse played by Octavia Spencer in Zombie’s second Halloween film. The worst Halloween film was, predictably, Halloween III, although Resurrection came pretty close. The worst film from last year overall was Annabelle. Yeah, hard to believe it could be worse than III, I know… Favorite campy performance was by Donald Pleasance as Doctor Loomis. Scariest performance by Nick Castle as Michael Myers in the first film. Special shout-out goes to The Corridor, which was about as unique a horror film as I’d seen in a while.

But now we’re back to horror movie season 2015 and it’s time to get things started. I’ve already got one movie under my belt and that is…

The Black Sleep (poster)

The Black Sleep (1956) — Directed by Reginald Le Borg. Starring Basil Rathbone, Herbert Rudley, Akim Tamiroff, Patricia Blake, Phyllis Stanley, Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Tor Johnson, George Sawaya, Sally Yarnell.

The Halloween Horror Movie Marathon tradition is to kick things off with an older film. This year I picked The Black Sleep because I was intrigued by its large cast of classic horror film actors and… well, it was one of the few older horror movies I could find while perusing the catalog on Netflix.

Basil Rathbone is Sir Joel Cadman, an esteemed neurosurgeon of the late 19th century who helps former student, and wrongfully accused, Dr. Gordon Ramsay escape death row. To accomplish this he fakes Ramsay’s demise by feeding him an East Indian drug that simulates the death of whoever ingests it, a state Cadman refers to as the eponymous Black Sleep.

Dr. Ramsay, his “body” brought to Cadman’s estate via the machinations of Udu the Gypsy (Akim Tamiroff) and revived by Cadman, becomes an assistant to his mentor. Through operations performed on human bodies, they set out to map the human brain. Of course Dr. Ramsay will soon learn that nothing is as it first seems and he’ll soon be wishing he became an angry chef instead of a gullible surgeon.

As with any mad scientist, Cadman cannot be trusted with this powerful substance. He has tricked poor Gordon into operating on living subjects, not the expected cadavers. His home is filled with subjects of his failed experiments, including Mungo (Lon Chaney Jr.), Casimir (Bela Lugosi), “Bohemund” (John Carradine), and Curry (Tor Johnson). They’ve all been induced with the Black Sleep and then operated on, resulting in either their madness, disability, or deformity. Although Cadman haughtily huffs and puffs about tossing aside common morals for the sake of scientific progress, it is all done as a lead up to operating on his comatose wife who suffers from a brain tumor. It appears that even a cold, callous man of science can be swayed by tender matters of the heart.

The Black Sleep is a run of the mill mad scientist tale that isn’t quite campy enough to merit ironic viewing, nor does it contain any of the tension or compelling drama of the films it is a tribute to. Basil Rathbone, ten years after his final turn as Sherlock Holmes, is fine. Although he’s not very menacing, his slick stiffness manages to convey some sense of evil in the well-worn role of the mad scientist who eschews morals for the sake of progress. You know, how most films of this era tend to portray scientists. Or of just about any era, come to think of it.

Although it is novel to see all of these classic actors together in one film, they’re under-utilized. I love Chaney so much in The Wolf Man that every time I see him I feel like I’m revisiting an old favorite uncle. Here his talents are wasted. With no lines, he grunts, lurches about, and attacks random characters. Bela Lugosi has some amusing facial expressions but, his character being mute, he has no dialogue either.

It’s not all so disheartening. Akim Tamiroff provides some comic relief as Udu the Gypsy and John Carradine is fun for the scant minutes he’s around. There’s also a brain operation with effects convincing enough that they might induce some squirms and queasiness. But overall The Black Sleep might be more interesting as a historical horror curiosity.

Here’s a post on the film with a lot of cool promo stills.  And, if you have the time, another review that is quite well written.

If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can watch The Black Sleep here on Dailymotion, along with many other old horror films. Don’t expect high definition quality on any of them…

I couldn’t post this without mention of the passing of horror legend Wes Craven. It’s fitting that I should revisit some of his classic films this year. I’ll be starting with a special showing on Friday night of what is perhaps his most famous film.

Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ Films

Posted in 'Halloween' series, Halloween Horror Movie Marathon on November 19, 2014 by Justin T.

Halloween (2007) poster

Halloween (2007) Directed by Rob Zombie. Starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Kristina Klebe, Nick Mennell, William Forsythe, Dee Wallace, Pat Skipper.

In 2006 Dimension Films founder Bob Weinstein asked musician turned horror director Rob Zombie to helm a remake of the original Halloween, granting him nearly complete control over the entire film: script, music, direction, and production. Before setting out to make the film Zombie contacted John Carpenter, who urged him to go ahead and “make it [his] own.” Having a blessing from one of the great masters of horror, that’s precisely what he did… For better or for worse.

I have mixed feelings about Zombie’s films. House of 1,000 Corpses I found entertaining but forgettable; I may revisit it in the future. The Devil’s Rejects showed that he has a talent for intense, visceral horror that hearkens back to similarly styled films from the seventies. Unfortunately the structure of the film places a group of reprehensible mass murderers, the titular Rejects, into the role of “good guys”. These were killers that, unless I misunderstood something, I was supposed to root for but instead I found so detestable that I cheered for their deaths at the end. I understand that there are times when it is appropriate to root for the villain, particularly when the moral code of the characters is reversed or if the “bad guys” are somehow more honorable than the lawmen that are pursuing them. But there is none of that in Rejects. The Rejects perform horrible, terrible violence upon undeserving people and I hated them. Their fate seems intended to evoke an emotional resonance that I rejected. In spite of all of this, I was drawn towards the intensity and the gritty, throwback style. Not to mention that when a film elicits such an emotional response from me, I grow more fascinated by it no matter what I felt. But now that I’ve gone on enough about Rejects, it’s time to move on to the movie I actually intended to review…

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Three ‘Halloween’ Films: ‘The Curse of Michael Myers’, ‘H20’, and ‘Resurrection’

Posted in 'Halloween' series on October 31, 2014 by Justin T.

'Halloween: The Cures of Michael Myers' poster

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Directed by Joe Chappelle. Starring Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Donald Pleasance, Mitchell Ryan, Devin Gardner, George P. Wilbur, J. C. Brandy, Susan Swift, Janice Knickerehm.

It’s six years later and we learn that poor Jamie (J. C. Brandy this time, since the studio didn’t feel like paying Danielle more than scale for a week’s worth of shooting) is a captive of the mysterious cult that broke Michael free from jail. After giving birth to a boy, Jamie is guided to freedom by a sympathetic nurse. Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) kills the nurse and chases Jamie down, brutally killing her on some farm equipment. But during the chase beforehand she managed to hide the baby in a bus station bathroom where it would later be found by Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd). You might remember Tommy as the boy Laurie Strode babysat during the first Hallowen film. As a result of his experiences Tommy is obsessed with the idea of killing Michael. And with the help of his neighbor, and cousin to the deceased Laurie Strode, Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) he may just get his chance.

Apparently with the box office failure of Halloween 5, they held off on starting the next film in spite of its quasi-cliffhanger ending. Who is the man in black who broke Michael Myers free from the police station, blowing it up in the process? What was to become of poor little Jamie?

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