Friday, October 31, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A girl tries to make peace with the death of her mom by dragging a bunch of idiots into the infamous suicide forest of Japan.
Review: For the final Halloween movie of this year I wanted to do something special. So I searched high and low in the hope that there would actually be an Asian horror movie that took place on Halloween. This was the best I could come up with--a half-assed sci-fi channel original. FUCK...this is going to be wonderful. Come on Asia, you're sitting on an untapped plot device! I can picture it now... Makoto Myers: stalks schoolgirls on Halloween...huh, huh?! Fine, I'll make it myself. I know there are still a handful of Halloween-themed horror movies out there, but, unfortunately, I couldn't get to them all; next year I'll finish and probably start exploring family movies.
Where to begin with this movie? It's not that it's completely horrible, but it's stupid and lacked any sense of direction. They simply cherry-picked ideas from better movies and mushed them together in the hope it would make sense. It didn't. Dumbest of all was the lack of Japanese characters in a film set in Japan; the only Japanese actors are background players and, of course, know English. The main characters are all conveniently international students who, apparently, made no Japanese friends while staying in Japan. The characters can't speak Japanese either, and they joke about this; they pretend like the main girl can speak and read it but, clearly, she cannot. They don't even know basic shit like what a yurei or okaasan are! Okaasan, really?! Rika, darling, do you believe this shit? Now, I'm not saying I'm some master of everything Japanese, but, seriously, come the fuck on, man! And aren't these idiots supposed to be film students? You could learn more than this from a single "Ju-on" movie. Finally, that main girl, Maiko, played by Kaitlyn Leeb, is cute, but she's not Japanese despite the movie claiming otherwise; she's probably best known as the triple-titted woman from the "Total Recall" remake.
You may be wondering what the hell does any of this have to do with Halloween. Well, nothing really. They clearly used it as a marketing gimmick with a character or two saying "Happy Halloween" and one lonely pumpkin in a single shot. The only way it connects to the plot is that Maiko supposedly must perform a ritual that can only be done on Halloween--called segaki; segaki is like a purifying process to alleviate spirits of their past misdeeds or whatever. While some people do, indeed, perform this ritual on Halloween, they didn't start that until recently so the urgency of this ritual in the plot is questionable. Anyway, Maiko has decided to make a documentary out of her attempt to do the segaki ritual on her mother's spirit. Maiko's mother committed suicide in Japan's infamous suicide forest called Aokigahara. This was the best idea going for this film since it's a truly disturbing, real life setting. The only reason why I think Japan doesn't use the setting themselves is because they're trying to discourage people from going there as it is. I actually wrote a story that started off in Aokigahara. Should I post it?
I don't really understand the logistics of Maiko's mother committing suicide, but somehow she sent personal belongings to Maiko in order to lure her out there; this makes little sense by the end. Maiko tries to find the exact tree the mom hung herself from which is pretty stupid to do in a place also nicknamed the "Sea of Trees." The group coincidentally runs into a weird Japanese guy speaking English as well as cops or something. We get the typical get out of the forest/respect the dead spiel we've heard a million times that no one listens to. Making matters worse are more white kids playing pranks. Oh good lord. Blah blah blah the spirits get mad and start killing people. The deaths are pretty lame as well, but what do you expect when this was made for TV. Then there is supposed to be a twist that the weird guy they ran into is actually a ghost and a pissed off zombie. Hell if I know.
The movie's remaining running time is comprised predominantly by a bunch of screaming in the woods with minor instances of Sadako clones running around. With everybody dead, Maiko does come across her mom's body, and we learn she's evil or whatever. I'm going out on a limb here to explain this but...I guess the mom wanted to become an evil spirit, because she's crazy, and took random items from other suiciders (not a real word) to make her request to Maiko appear sincere. Then I guess she wanted to kill Maiko as she originally planned to do when Maiko was a child. Maiko also had a sister who was killed by the mom when people came to institutionalize her. Something like that at least. It makes no sense really. Plus, how did the mom mail that shit...by owl? You're a wizard, Maiko! Eventually Maiko is helped by the ghost of the sister in order to escape the forest. Okay, why is the sister haunting this forest if she was murdered at her house like 10 or more years ago? The cops magically show up to end this fiasco, but Maiko realizes that dead, weird guy from earlier is driving. Oh noooess...the zinger!
I was hoping to end this Halloween with a bang, but we are going out with a whimper. This movie is bad. It had potential, no doubt about that, but it squandered it quite readily. Nothing makes any sense, and they mindlessly incorporated too many slasher tropes in, what should be, a ghost story. There are decent moments, but they are overshadowed by the extraordinary moments of idiocy. Ms. Leeb was okay as the lead, but everyone else was atrocious and their characters were inconsistently sensitive to Japanese customs while other times not giving a flying fuck. I liked the use of Aokigahara, but putting a bunch of clueless foreigners running around in it was the worst move possible. This is an easy pass, and a prime example of how not to do Asian horror. Oh well. Happy Halloween, everyone!
Notable Moment: When you see the token, plastic pumpkin sitting on a table. That's it? That's the best you got? A plastic pumpkin you probably found at a yard sale that day of shooting? Oh for fuck's sake.
Final Rating: 4/10
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: On Halloween, a babysitter decides to watch the disturbing scenes from an unmarked VHS tape found in one of the children's bag of candy.
Review: What is with the ridiculously low rating on imdb--did this hit the mainstream at one point? Forget the rating--this is surprisingly much better than you would expect. The only legitimate criticism I've read laid against this film is that it feels like a slightly tamer version of "V/H/S" which I can agree with to an extent. My main gripe is actually that two of the segments were already in existence ahead of time and were simply incorporated into this film; that's lazy as fuck. Other than that, the one entry they did create for this film was easily the weakest of the bunch. If you overlook those grievances, and the bouts of shoddy acting, there is a lot to enjoy. The atmosphere is respectable, the gore is decent, the stories are imaginative, and the music is amazing. The ending is even unexpected in the fact that it plays with your expectations.
Wraparound Start: Now this is how you do a wraparound; if anything, it's better than the actual stories presented. Since they made the wraparound important and lengthy, I've decided to break it into two sections in order to fully do it justice. While it does feel like they borrowed heavily from "V/H/S," I thought this film established a more reasonable and interesting reason why people would watch a creepy videotape. Anyway, a babysitter, who looks more like she'd be the mom, is watching two brats after they recently finished trick or treating. When going through the candy, the boy finds an unmarked VHS tape someone must have slipped into his bag. This concept unto itself is unsettling and opens the door for limitless potential. The kids pester the babysitter until she decides to put on the tape, but she checks first to see if it's a scary movie or someone's private sex or snuff video (or whatever). I do need to point out the outlandish idea that a 10 year old would know what a VHS tape was instantly. And even if such a kid were out there, what average household these days still has a VCR front and center hooked up to their TV (besides a geek like me)?
Segment 1: The kids fire up the tape, and after a few bullshit establishing shots, we see a woman waiting for a train. The footage should have been given shitty picture quality, but I can overlook this detail. The woman goes to the bathroom momentarily and returns to find a weird-looking clown staring at her. The clown, apparently called Art, is the overarching antagonist in the segments so hopefully you will find him intimidating enough. Art drugs the woman and she wakes up in a subway tunnel, bound by a chain, and accompanied by two other chained women. After small talk, one of the women is dragged off down the tunnel as the remaining two chase after. The two women are then attacked by freakish-looking individuals and one woman is killed; I'm not sure if the freaks are meant to look this way or we are to assume these are masks. The main woman is restrained as she is being prepared to be raped by, I guess, the devil. At the same time, a pregnant woman has her fetus cut out of her belly to create a bloody drink for this devil. And that's pretty much all that happens before the babysitter turns off the tape; this is followed by her sending the kids to bed. Eh, this segment has good effects, but we don't know jack about what's happening. I guess we can simply assume this is supposed to be a satanic sacrifice of sorts. The music was awesome though and enhanced the mood; honestly, if someone only played the audio to me, I wouldn't be able to tell it was from a modern film.
Segment 2: With the kids being pains in the ass about getting into bed, other kids are egging the house it would seem. There appears to be something or someone in the house as the babysitter gets back to watching the mysterious videotape for whatever reason. This is the only original segment created for this film, other than the wraparound of course, and boy did they waste the potential. A woman, alone in a house in the middle of the woods, discusses how her artist husband created a painting he doesn't remember doing; apparently he had a nightmare, and when he woke up the painting was there. That sounds really awesome, right? That opens up the possibilities to all kinds of scary avenues to pursue. Now what if I told you this segment was actually about aliens and that painting story has absolutely no relevance? FUCK! This tale does build itself up slowly with alien abduction-esque ideas, but you think it will have a connection to the painting rather than outright aliens. Sure enough though, the woman stumbles upon an alien, who looks too much like a scuba diver, that moves about the scenery like they're swimming. Ugh...what a waste. Again, we have no idea what's the point as this segment ends with the alien dragging the lady off to god knows where. At least it did end by showing us that the creepy painting the husband made was actually of Art. Shortly after this, the babysitter turns off the tape and thinks she sees the alien in their house.
Segment 3: The babysitter decides to check in on the kids who mention that they are annoyed she keeps checking in on them; this is coupled with the girl claiming someone is in her closet. Hmm...the kids you are babysitting say someone is in the house and mention how the door keeps opening when you're not around...yeah, best to ignore that shit and get back to watching a weird videotape! This segment begins with a girl stopping at a gas station where Art is being driven off by the attendant. For some reason, this is the first segment that tried to have shitty picture quality. Look, this is an all or nothing kind of situation; now it has become an inconsistency in your film, people! Shortly after filling up the gas, there is a noise from within the gas station that the attendant investigates. When the attendant doesn't return, the girl checks in on the guy to find that Art has cut him to pieces. Fleeing in her car, and trying to call for help, Art appears in the distance to taunt the girl. Finding a car pulled to the side, the girl tries to get this person to help her, but they are badly mutilated and the girl returns to her car...which you can easily guess now has Art in the backseat. After narrowly surviving a suffocation, the girl slams on the breaks, fucking up Art, and runs off toward a barn or something. Locked in, the girl notices somehow Art has dug his way up through the ground and lashes at the girl with a makeshift cat o' nine tails. When a few blades fall off mid-strike, the girl uses one to stab Art in the eye and back--believing to have killed him. A passerby picks up the girl, but he is blown away by art who stole the girl's car and seemingly pulled a gun out of his ass. The girl wakes up from the car crashing and finds she has been completely dismembered by Art who has also carved profanities into her flesh. The segment simply ends with Art laughing at her screams of horror. Well that was fucked up. This was a decent tale and a lot better than the first two in its presentation and storytelling ability.
Wraparound Ending: When the babysitter tries to turn off the tape, it lapses back to Art killing the attendant before finally going off. Then the phone rings and the babysitter hears dialogue from the third segment. The tape turns itself back on with Art coming at the screen trying to get through it in a sort of mime gag. The footage transitions to showing the babysitter in the house and Art is sitting behind her on the couch honking his horn. Before Art can get her, the babysitter destroys the tape and the clown has disappeared. The little girl screams from upstairs, and the babysitter finds a blood-covered Art laughing at the top to the stairs. Art disappears yet again and the babysitter finds that the kids have been decapitated. Oh great, I don't think you're getting paid anymore, hun. And that's pretty much the end of the movie--I was just surprised the babysitter didn't end up dying.
Overall, this is one of the better anthology movies I've watched, and it being a Halloween horror helps a lot. It's not perfect by any means, and "V/H/S" is unquestionably better than this, but that doesn't take away from this film's efforts. The main reason I couldn't rate any higher was due to the recycling of existing stories rather than coming up with all new entries; the second segment also dropped the ball big time when it was the only real addition. I think this is a worthy "Halloween" alternative, and is probably easier to get a hold of compared to many of the others I've reviewed thus far.
Notable Moment: When Art tries to come out of the TV screen. He's no Sadako/Samara, but I appreciate the effort.
Final Rating: 6/10
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Obsessed with a video game, a boy unintentionally befriends a serial killer and helps with a Halloween killing spree.
Review: Taking a much different approach to comedy-horror than "Murder Party," this film actually plays it more subtle yet is simultaneously over the top and slapstick; eh, it's hard to explain. Think of this movie as a R-rated, made for Disney channel movie. Yeah...that makes sense, right? This weird approach works for the most part, but the characters make overly stupid decisions, and the film drags needlessly in a way to emphasize that this would have served better as a 30 minute special; there simply was not enough material to warrant a full 90 minute running time. This doesn't necessarily make the story bad, but it sure doesn't make it good when it's overstaying its welcome.
Compared to a lot of the other films I've covered this month, it was a breath of fresh air that Halloween was incorporated and essential to the plot. We are introduced to one of the dumbest kids ever presented in horror history, a moron named Dougie. Dougie is obsessed with the shittiest-looking video game called--you guessed it--Satan's Little Helper. In this pathetic game, you play as a little devil boy wreaking havoc, and Dougie, for some reason, believes this is real. Dressing up as this helper for Halloween, Dougie's sister comes to visit from college as we are led to believe this is a kind of tradition. They creepily mention that Dougie wants to marry his sister, and the oddball reaction from the parents should be telling as to why this kid appears mentally challenged; you can, somewhat, excuse the idiocy of this character, because his parents are imbeciles themselves. As for that sister, Jenna, played by Katheryn Winnick, oh boy, we've got another one on our hands! But she has Callisto syndrome where I didn't really become blown away by her until she put on the "Renaissance whore" outfit; she looks more like a flower child but whatever. I think it's absolutely safe to say Ms. Winnick was the best aspect to the movie, and she never takes the outfit off as well! Wait...that's not necessarily a good thing. Though, her character was almost as stupid as the rest so there's that to consider.
Annoyed that Jenna has a boyfriend, named Alex, Dougie goes outside to pout when he comes across a serial killer dressed like the devil. Observing the kills, Dougie believes the game is coming to life, and he must become the helper to this devil. Since this killer is nuts, he readily accepts Dougie's assistance as the two plot to kill Alex. They never reveal who the killer is, but they imply it was perhaps this guy recently released from prison for arson; not sure why they felt they needed ambiguity. Anyway, through shenanigans, Jenna thinks the killer is Alex in disguise and allows him to grope her a little too much considering her family is right fucking there. This is probably the point where you will realize the film is trying too hard to stretch out the running time. Dougie and the killer go shopping pointlessly, but, to be fair, this does lead to a genuinely funny moment. When rampaging through the parking lot, the killer runs over pretty much every taboo character you're (typically) not allowed to kill in horror movies (disabled people, babies, pregnant ladies, etc.), and I'll give the film credit for this.
Later on, after a few more contrivance kills, Jenna realizes the killer is not really Alex. Shortly after, the dad comes home and is killed by the killer as even Dougie realizes the truth. This feels like it should be the end, but the killer takes the mom hostage in order to go to a party full of idiots. A beat up Alex joins back up with Jenna as the two try to stop the killer. Also, Jenna sure is taking the brutal killing of her father and orgasmic groping at the hands of a killer in stride. The killer pours a little drain cleaner in the punch and this magically insta-kills anyone who takes a sip. Still not wrapping this film up, the killer fakes everyone out by pretending he was really Alex's father who was already killed earlier. The killer then pretends to be Jesus and tricks that fucking idiot Dougie yet again. This leads to the film recreating the gag they just did 5 minutes ago! Now everyone is tricked into killing Alex dressed as the killer. Really?! Finally, we get an abrupt ending as the killer pretends to be a cop and appears to kill this family at long last.
This movie probably sounds dumber than it really is, but it does contain near overwhelming moments of stupidity. If they had downplayed the gullibility of Dougie, or explicitly addressed his apparent retardation, that may have made things more bearable. At the same time, the material could have been condensed and shortened to create a genuinely enjoyable experience. On the other hand, the humor isn't totally bad as it's almost a parody of the genre; we could even attribute the monumental idiocy of the characters to this parody element. There are a lot of kills, which are decent as well, and the true usage of Halloween was satisfying. Last, but not least, Ms. Winnick is extremely easy on the eyes. Overall, it's a mixed bag with slightly more in the negative column than good. Make of it what you will.
Notable Moment: When Jenna realizes that it's not Alex wearing the costume. Simply painful. Hmm, I just found out my boyfriend is god knows where, and I've been molested by someone creeping around with my brother...what should I do? I know! Stand around and do nothing. Oh well, she looked hot doing it.
Final Rating: 5/10
Ms. Winnick making every scene more tolerable:
Monday, October 27, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After finding an invitation on the ground, an idiot goes to a party where a group of flunkies await to kill him.
Review: I really don't know what to make of this film. I've read rave reviews and glaring ones alike, but I think it's actually something in the middle. The divide is probably stemming from the attempt at mixing the horror with the comedy and it didn't mesh. I know this is going to sound, admittedly, stupid, but "Idle Hands" managed to blend the genres better since that film's internal logic had a flow (did I just write that?). "Murder Party" starts off with a quirky sense of humor, that plays it low key, until an abrupt turn into a real slasher. Then the film ends limply without a proper resolution to the events in a way that is neither funny nor scary.
The story is kind of simplistic as we meet a dork, named Chris, who randomly picks up an envelope off the ground. It's Halloween and the envelope contains an invitation to something called a "murder party." Having nothing better to do with his time, Chris decides to go to this party for whatever reason. This is already where things fall apart for me. Halloween is used as a mere plot device rather than an actual element of the story; it doesn't need to be Halloween for people to have costume parties. Besides that gripe, I kept thinking we'd learn more about Chris, and why he'd care to go to this party, but Chris' character is a huge void in the story. He's clearly an imbecile but so is everyone in this movie. Wouldn't it have been more humorous to use him as a buffer for the audience? If the intention was to make it seem like Chris fits right in with the other idiots, he is kept gagged for too much of the film for this to be effective.
Anyway, the moment Chris shows up to the party he is confronted with a group that intends to kill him. The group, as mentioned, are complete buffoons who want to murder someone for their "art." It would appear they are a bunch of pretentious artsy types except they don't realize how shitty their art is in the eyes of their peers. I did like the oddball costumes each character has chosen ("Blade Runner," "The Warriors," etc.) as it was a nice touch. Obviously the group is inept at murder as one of the flunkies ends up killing herself, they have no clear aim or strategy, and they appear unaware of any real world consequences. Chris tries to escape a few times which serves as the more humorous moments, but the film wanted me to laugh more at the characters' quirks--which wasn't doing it for me. After a night of zany antics, the group realizes that their leader, of sorts, is a fraud which results in everyone dying and going crazy. When the one character, Bill, finally snaps, the film transitions into horror while remaining relatively serious with only sprinkles of humor added; coupled with the music, this change merely makes you wish the film was horror the entire time. After much chase, Chris manages to kill Bill (see what I did there) and becomes the last man standing when everything is said and done. Then the film overstays its welcome as we see Chris walk home and then just sit around for 5 minutes before the credits roll. And that's it. These lackluster endings I've been watching lately really hurt the overall experience for me.
I'm probably making the film sound worse than it is, because there are a lot of highlights. The acting is decent, the music is surprisingly good, and the cinematography was excellent with lighting worthy of a better horror film. The humor is more quirky, as I keep mentioning, and I'd imagine others finding it funnier than I could. Even though this is an indie film and pretentious dorks are naturally drawn to this kind of thing, the story is making of fun of those types at numerous moments--yet this film is bordering on pretentious at the same time. (In Neo voice) Whoa...that's some next level art house "Inception" shit right there. Overall, this is an average film improved by interesting ideas and a nuances (plus bonus points for the line about pizza), but hindered by a failed genre blend. It's worth checking out, but it's certainly not for everyone. Finally, this barely qualifies as a Halloween horror, and there's no reason to seek it out over films like "Trick or Treat," "Night of the Demons," or "Trick 'r Treat."
Notable Moment: When the one guy has his werewolf mask melted to his face. This was a cool effect and an all around awesome idea in general.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Friday, October 24, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A man escapes from a mental institution on Halloween in order to seek revenge on his wife.
Review: I know I said "Hack-O-Lantern" was the worst Halloween horror movie so far, but I'm changing that already. What the hell was this? I have yet to read anything mentioning whether or not this was a halfhearted parody or am I to take this film completely serious? Besides being a blatant "Halloween" ripoff, it turns into self-mockery at multiple parts. That had to be intentional, right? Right?! Well, whether or not the attempts at humor were intentional or not, this movie blows stale candy chunks. Calling this boring would be a gross understatement as nothing happens until the last 15 minutes or so; and even then it's still stupid. Characters are written out and useless to begin with, there are a ton of loose ends, and the attempt at a final twist was hilariously retarded. This is the second time I've brought this up, but the actual best part for me is simply the shitty VHS quality making it feel more nostalgic. Other than that facet, this film offers nothing of interest unless you consider seeing scenes of kids trick or treating late at night as a reminder of better times when parents were not little bitches. For the love of fuck people, trick or treating should start when it gets dark...not when it ends!
The film begins with some guy getting his ass 302'd (forcibly institutionalized). I guess he's supposed to be our Michael Myers, but there doesn't appear to be any reason why he's locked up. This entire scene is embarrassingly bad and overacted; the first 10 minutes in general are especially bad. Years later, there's something with a babysitter coming to take care of the guy's house on Halloween along with watching his brat. The implication is that the wife had the man committed so she could take his money and date a magician or whatever. Honestly, none of this matters since these characters disappear for the majority of the film. Same with the babysitter having drama with her dumb boyfriend who serves no purpose. The babysitter also has a friend who works as a film editor and we get a mindless tangent with that friend who ends up as one of the few kills. Considering this movie jokes about how editing is more important than a director, it's rather poetic that this film is a fucking mess.
The little brat keeps performing elaborate pranks on the babysitter throughout the night, and, like an idiot, she keeps falling for them each time. These dumbass gags comprise a good portion of the film and get old fast. While this is happening, the killer escapes from the mental institution with ease as he dresses up like a nurse; the film thinks it's being funny by making everyone the killer runs into call him ma'am. For some inexplicable reason, the killer keeps calling his house (since they didn't bother to change the number), and is never confused by the babysitter's voice not being that of his wife. Blah blah blah, the killer sneaks into his house and tries to kill the babysitter while ignoring the fact that she's not his wife. The brat had a guillotine, that was apparently a real one, and they somehow get the killer's head into it and he dies. Then we get a final zinger of the brat trying to stab the babysitter. Wow, what a buildup. If it weren't for the random set of tits, this would have been better as a Disney special.
This movie was terrible! I mean, let's face it, a lot of these Halloween-themed movies have been trash, but they all had something going for them. This film, on the other hand, is torturously boring with a ton of filler and unexplained subplots. I hate having to break a movie up into multiple viewings, but this was more than I could tolerate to sit through. If you're adding all these movies to your Halloween viewing list this year, just do yourself a favor and hand this one out to a trick or treater; you'd be better off watching "Halloween III" on loop all day.
Notable Moment: The first 10 minutes, as painful as they are, should be enough to decide whether or not to torture yourself any further.
Final Rating: 3/10
Monday, October 20, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A group of friends looking for an extreme horror experience find more than they bargained for.
Review: Just in time for my reviews, we get a new Halloween horror film that is the first to add found-footage to the mix--whether that's a good thing or not. Upon my initial viewing, I was surprisingly impressed, but the more I think about this film, the lower the rating goes. It's an odd situation because they do a lot of things correctly, and I applaud them for creating an unsettling atmosphere. However, the ending is lackluster and a lot of the coolest aspects were borrowed. At the same time, the direction itself was off as the film was attempting to make the events feel believable while introducing farfetched scenarios; you can't go for realism while simultaneously introducing events that could only be explained away through the supernatural. Okay, let's have a little look, shall we?
Right from the beginning, the film establishes that they will be portraying the evils of "regular" humans; I use quotes not because "regular" is a subjective term, but because I question the capabilities of an everyday person to pull off this shit. Anyway, I think this approach worked in the movie's favor to a degree. The story is simply a group of friends who (allegedly) have a high threshold for scares and want to take things up a notch. They are exploring the backwater parts of the USA trying to find a horror attraction that goes balls to walls and beyond. Despite many attractions interacting with the visitors more directly, the group is still unimpressed. Along the way, however, the group has caught the attention of a truly underground horror attraction that takes things to the limits--big shock, this attraction actually kills the patrons. There is a decent, and downright respectable, setup for this attraction, but it's a lot easier to accept its existence at face value than if you take a closer look. You also have sprinkles of, what's supposed to be, real people discussing the limitations, or lack thereof, to the lengths people will go to scare others. These edits give the audience the implications as to why there would be killers working at attractions since most are hired with little constraint. So the group finds themselves semi-stalked and invited to this underground attraction where they obviously meet their fate. This leads to an abrupt ending that was already showcased in the opening as a lame attempt to build tension.
Starting off with what the film did correctly, I will once again reiterate the successful use of atmosphere; this is the single best thing going for the film. You have a countdown to Halloween, creepy characters from each attraction following the group and lurking in the background, and an overall sense of dread. In this instance, the found-footage did help enhance the sense of realism as the camera was catching the stalkers when the characters weren't paying attention. The backwater aspect to the USA is always disturbing since not even people in the USA want to be stuck alone in those areas, and this aspect was presented reasonably well. I must give credit to the horror attractions featured as they looked well done, and I'd love to visit them myself. Plus, who doesn't love the notion of a haunted strip club and a paintball fight against zombies?! Lastly, I think the heart of the story was original and kind of creative even if many, many aspects felt like a ripoff of better films.
Unfortunately, the film has a ton of faults to be addressed. Just as I chastised "Hallow's Eve" for using an existing set, the majority of this film's highlights are taken right from existing Halloween attractions around the USA. Yes, I said this was a positive, but it's also a negative since it's unoriginal material being used to enhance a film that should have a story worthy to speak for itself. When you take out the indirect advertisements for those attractions, there's probably only 30-40 minutes of original material. The characters are mostly cliches we've seen a hundred times in found-footage; it's hard to explain, but writers try so hard to make the dialogue feel legitimate that it has taken on a whole new cliche that is tiresome. Beyond that, this really didn't need to be found-footage and would probably have benefited from a standard perspective. As I mentioned, the ending is anticlimactic and ends out of the blue with little to no resolution. So...uhhh...are the cops looking for the characters or who is supposedly behind the mockumentary style? I know it might be scary to believe this series of events could be possible, but, honestly, this is about as probable as Natre being at the end of my bed tonight. This brings me to the worst part for this film: you have a group of crazy people that have somehow organized in massive numbers across the country just for a few lulz killings once a year. You're telling me they're willing, and able, to drop what they're doing and stalk a random group of people? How were they tracking this group? They never seem to have a means of travel. The movie implies they communicate together through the internet, but how are they coordinating while supposedly performing at horror attractions?! The crazy people also materialize and dematerialize at one point. How did they make an envelope appear in a solid pumpkin?! Grow it that way? I know it's cool, but it's stupid at the same time. The way they have their killing attraction setup is too elaborate with too many factors that have to play out for it to even work. Ugh...I could go on all day with how ridiculous this setup is and why there would have to be a supernatural element in play to cover all the contrivances. This blatant disregard for logic, while claiming to want realism, hurt the film considerably. If things had been left ambiguous they could have easily covered their bases but nope.
Overall, this film is a mixed bag that can probably go either way with your first viewing. There are plenty of admirable qualities to be found, and the film's approach was done interestingly enough. I can certainly understand someone seeing this as a genuinely scary movie while a closer look will reveal the lack of polish. The main trouble spots clearly being the underwhelming ending and the lack of scope to the villains. At the same time, I think found-footage is burning many casual viewers out; and I'm growing weary myself. In light of my criticisms, I would still recommend checking this film out as a "Halloween" alternative, because it's entertaining enough to warrant a rental or more. Just keep in mind the problems and your expectations should be met.
Notable Moment: When the porcelain girl is brought into the RV. This was a good use of a cool character, but, in the end, she was fundamentally wasted.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: The leader of a satanic cult attempts to induct his grandson into the fold on Halloween night as antics ensue.
Review: This movie has like a million alternate titles, but I decided to go with the coolest sounding one; it has that perfect, cornball ring to it, don't you think? Sadly, the film does not even come close to living up to that title. It's weird too, because the story comes out swinging, falters, and then limps its way to a predictably lame finale that leaves a shit ton of loose ends. Confounding the situation is the ridiculous, and unforgivable, abundance of filler. We're talking, at best, maybe 40 minutes of material in a 90 minute movie; storyboards, people...storyboard that shit ahead of time. There is an attempt to pander with a surprisingly large amount of nudity, but, once again, I'd rather these chickadees remained clothed. Finally, the body-count is far too low for an '80s slasher.
The story starts off going balls to walls as we learn a child molester-ish grandfather has a disturbing interest in his oldest grandson. Oddly enough, everyone seems to know the grandfather is the leader of a satanic cult yet no one cares or is shocked; it's just this casual thing. We quickly discover the grandfather is grooming the grandson to become a member of the cult when he's older. Why this particular favoritism--is he the next Damien? You'll love this--apparently, on the mother's wedding day, she was raped by the grandfather and the grandson is actually the grandfather's son! So your dad is an incestuous rapist satanist (say that 3 times fast!) trying to brainwash your son and everything's cool? Oh, and the grandfather killed the husband for talking smack one Halloween night as a sacrifice or something. Sigh...only in the '80s.
Okay, well with that kind of a setup, surely this movie is going to be epic, right? I wish. From here on out it's filler and lame drama out the ass. The story jumps to when the grandkids are older and now that one grandson is bordering on evil--well, evil by '80s standards. I like how nobody realizes the grandfather killed their dad, and the grandfather is hanging out with them in that creepy, molester way still. We get way too much drama with the grandkids and their love interests who are all killed off feebly; by the way, these are the only people who are killed. The movie introduces a masked killer that it wants you to believe is the grandson preparing to join the cult, but it's beyond obvious it's not him. We then come to the vast majority of the filler which includes, but not limited to, these wondrous moments: pointless rocker dream, some chick getting her ass branded, fucking on the cold ground in a graveyard while on police duty, constant cuts back to a party with characters no one cares about, endlessly lingering scenes, unnecessary attempts at character development, and the notable moment--a truly torturous scene to behold. One part I really liked was when the granddaughter finds her boyfriend murdered in a graveyard, is almost killed herself, and then simply brushes all this off by going to a party. I'm glad she's taking things so well. The Halloween aspect is definitely lacking as well, but I guess I shouldn't expect much. Eventually, the grandson rejects the dumbass cult which pisses off grandpa who ends up dying in a duel with the real killer. Before grandpa dies, he magically turns another grandson evil or something...I really don't know. What I do know, however, is that the revelation that the killer is the mom is not much of a twist. But mom, why would you kill your kid's love interests? Whatever, hun. The film then ends with the second grandson now taking over the cult. Ehhh, maybe he's possessed by the grandfather; I don't really care.
Typically I'm a fan of this kind of shit, but they dropped the ball big time. Things started off well enough, and the potential was right there, but the film somehow transitioned into somebody's home video by the end. The acting, direction, and story were horrendous. The music, while acceptable, was horribly timed and way too loud. The kills were uninspired, cheap, and too spread out considering this is a film called "Hack-O-Lantern." The mom as the killer is predictable as fuck and retarded if you think about it; I know I didn't describe it that way, but, believe me, if you saw the movie it's obvious especially when they show the whereabouts of the likely suspects just as someone is dying. I think this might be the worst Halloween horror movie I've covered to date, and that's certainly saying something. I did like the shitacular VHS quality though...so there's that.
Notable Moment: When we suddenly cut to a random striptease followed by an equally random, and painfully TERRIBLE, standup routine. Uhh, what the hell was that?! The jokes are so embarrassingly bad it made me wince a little.
Final Rating: 3.5/10
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Unbeknownst to a dumbass stoner, his hand has been possessed and is murdering people in town in order to perform a satanic ritual.
Review: I may be stretching things a bit to call this a Halloween horror movie, but it fits most of my criteria. While the film is more comedy than horror, the kills are decent and the look fits your typical '90s horror style. As for the Halloween aspect--ehh--it is downplayed and used as a contrivance to explain away why no one would notice the shenanigans occurring in the story. With that cleared up, this film is mostly on the meh side. It's certainly better than all the other Halloween films I've covered so far (except "Trick or Treat"), but it's not as fun or charming as the rest. I think I'm bothered by the 1999 date of the film the most. There was just this nihilistic vibe to the late '90s, in general, that films like "Fight Club" highlighted brilliantly. Ironically, "Idle Hands" demonstrates the kind of characters Tyler Durden (and me) would want to punch. On top of that, the jokes are extremely dated to the point that people who lived the decade would forget half the references. BUT...this movie did star the barely legal (I so rarely get a chance to type that phrase) Jessica Alba looking hot as hell. That has to count for something.
Aside from zany hijinks, the story is mostly simplistic in presentation. You have the main character, Anton, played by Devon Sawa, who is living the stoner dream of doing nothing all day but getting high, eating, and watching cartoons. Speaking of Mr. Sawa, I hate Hollywood heartthrob types, but I can forgive him for doing "Final Destination." Anyway, after a string of murders, including that of his own parents, Anton realizes he is, in fact, the murderer, but he doesn't remember these actions for whatever reason; the real culprit is his demonically possessed hand. We are never told what exactly is the reasoning behind this hand possession shit. The only thing we know is that the demon or devil possesses the laziest person it can find and kills enough people until it can take an innocent soul to hell with it. I don't know if this is meant to coincide with Halloween or that's just a coincidence. Most of this back story comes from Vivica Fox's character who is apparently a demon hunter from a druid legacy. By the way, is it weird that I preferred Ms. Fox in the nun outfit? Don't judge me!
Upon realizing the horrible truth, Anton accidentally kills his two, equally stoner, best friends who magically return as zombies for no discernible reason. Since we needed more shenanigans, Anton's hand inadvertently allows him to finally approach his crush, Molly, who is Ms. Alba's character. Predictably, instead of Molly being disturbed by Anton's hand trying to kill her, she is turned on by this. Look, I can accept that someone like Jessica Alba would just happen to be a regular girl next door, but I can't accept her falling head over heels for a stoner dork, covered in blood, that tries to strangle her. It's comedy though--get it?! After one make-out session, the two are seemingly a couple as they plan to go to a Halloween dance. The only problem is that Anton can't take the hand any longer and ends up cutting it off with the help of his undead friends.
Cutting off the hand proves to be a big mistake as now it is free to move about and kill more idiots. The hand has chosen Molly as the innocent soul that it wants to take to hell as it goes to the Halloween dance to find her. More antics ensue as Anton, his zombie friends, a neighbor, and Ms. Fox all head to the dance to stop the demon or whatever the hell the hand is. At said dance, the hand kills a few more people as it seeks out Molly--somehow managing to tie her up and prepare to crush her to death. Anton's stoner friends get the hand high (oh for fuck's sake) and that gives them the opportunity to save Molly. Then Ms. Fox uses a magic dagger to kill the hand anticlimactically which is even addressed in the film; this isn't funny but to each their own I suppose. At the end, the stoner friends go to heaven, then return as Anton's guardian angels who fuck with Anton by making him think the hand is under his hospital bed. It would have actually been better if the hand really were under the bed.
Considering the sheer, underwhelming nature to this film, I'm really surprised it has such a high rating on imdb. It's not that this is a bad film per se, but it doesn't quite hold up. The gags are mostly dumb and the jokes being dated hurts the longevity of the film. The stoner mentality definitely translates into the overall lazy presentation of the film in general. On the other hand, there were a few entertaining and funny moments; I especially liked the scenes involving Anton and his doggy which sort of felt like Shaggy and Scooby. I can't ignore the galore of Jessica Alba fanservice as well as that addition of Vivica Fox...although she needed a bigger presence in the film. Let's just say that this is a love it or hate it kind of situation and call it a night.
Notable Moment: When Anton is hiding under his blankets with his little doggy. The "Scooby Doo" nature of this scene did make me smile.
Final Rating: 5/10
Ms. Alba, the ultimate girl next door!
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: At a haunted house attraction, a spell book transforms the actors into whatever costume they're wearing.
Review: Awww, this movie actually had deleted scenes. That's cute. How to describe this film--it's like they combined the, appropriately titled, Halloween episode of Buffy with "Bible Black." While that episode of Buffy wasn't the first to have people turning into the costume they're wearing, they did do it the best. As for "Bible Black," fair warning, that's an erotic horror series that dropped the horror and focused on the sex the longer the series continued; not the greatest decision either. Anyway, this film is on the same cornball level of the others I've reviewed, but it did have a certain, lame charm to it. Maybe I'm being too generous with a few of these movies, but I continue to find myself strangely entertained nonetheless.
Although the story did have a script-in-a-blender feeling, it (mostly) had a logical flow to the events; also, it should take minimal effort to spot the Buffy and "Bible Black" parallels. After a coven magically gets killed when using a spell book, that book finds its way into the hands of idiots who run a present-day haunted house attraction. This feat is accomplished through shenanigans and incorporating a goofball named Pumpkin Jack who looks like Santa. The movie tries to play up the drama between the characters which can be super annoying. I mean, you've got a cowardly bitch for the main character, his not-suspicious-at-all girlfriend, lesbian angst duo, token Asian girl with token horny boyfriend, wannabe comedy relief dork, and the most over the top asshole imaginable, named Dan...just for starters. Dan will either be the funniest guy you've ever seen or the most insufferable character since Jar Jar. I think the movie spends a good 30-40 minutes establishing these imbeciles, which was unnecessary, but it's surprisingly amusing to see the banter. At the same time, we are presented with a mystery as we see one of the characters lurking about trying to use the spell book. But who could it be?!
You know, was it even Halloween in this movie? They mention the days left until Halloween and then an undetermined amount of time passes. Don't care...it was Halloween in my eyes! The haunted house they set up is on the flimsy side, but I liked the main bitch's presentation of the tour. Oddly enough, his acting during this segment is better than his performance in the real film. Unbeknownst to everyone, the mystery character has performed a spell amidst their haunted house that transforms everyone into the costume they're wearing. Don't expect anything cool though--it's just bullshit like a vampire, zombie, pirate, etc. Most of the effects in this film are cheap as fuck, but I found them charming in their amateurish presentation; they gave it their best, and I'll cut them a little slack. At this point, I think the creators forgot how annoying Dan was shaping up to be, and he does not receive a fitting enough fate deserving of someone his caliber. Oh well. Eventually everyone is killed or transformed but the main bitch boy and his ex-girlfriend who is both Dan's girlfriend and one of the lesbians--yeah, don't ask.
Then we get the startling revelation that the one using the spell book is the bitch boy's girlfriend. If you don't see this coming, you may want to give up on horror films. I know, I know, I wanted the shady character to be the token Asian girl too, but we rarely get what we want! Her motive is that she is the ancestor to the last owner of the spell book, and because she wants to rule the world. Whaaaaat? Well, that came out of nowhere--I didn't realize the fate of the world now hung in the balance. Maybe this kind of bullshit is why I enjoyed this movie more than I should have. So the girlfriend wants the bitch boy to kill Dan in order for the two to rule the universe as father and son, or something like that, but he refuses. Everything is magically screwed up by the other lesbian who breaks free of her zombie costume control and kills Dan. This makes all the minions turn on bitch boy's girlfriend while simultaneously breaking the spell...which makes everyone go back to normal...but they're dead anyway...hell if I know! Bitch boy's girlfriend is shown still alive later, but Pumpkin Jack shows up to retrieve the spell book and acts like he's badass; he claims he's been giving the book to losers for centuries. All jokes aside, that was a cool twist and Pumpkin Jack's laugh was effectively creepy in that child molester kind of way. The film ends with bitch boy's ex-girlfriend having the spell book and contemplating whether to resurrect her lesbian lover. Can't wait for the sequel...coming never.
What can I say, this movie is shit, but it's kind of amusing shit. Sure, the acting is pathetic, the special effects are pitiful, the sets look borrowed, the plot is unoriginal, the characters are annoying, and it has an overall sense of incompetence to the production. What the film lacks in quality it makes up for with raw, zany antics. Come on, you have to appreciate a movie that takes its most annoying character and has the cojones to use one line of their dialogue to make an entire song! There's a fine line between genius and idiot, and I'm not sure which side of the line this film falls on.
Notable Moment: Although I did love Dan chewing up the scenery, I think I'm gonna go with the scene when the Asian girl and her boyfriend bang. HOLD ON--hear me out on this! It's not even what you think. In the background of those two screwing, crawling on a wall, is a really cool Regan dummy with the head spun around. That's honestly the scariest thing shown in any of these Halloween movies I've covered thus far.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Friday, October 10, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After a bizarre and ritualistic attack, a family is tormented by a demonic force seemingly connected to a doll.
Review: Don't worry, I'll get back to reviewing Halloween horror films after this--just taking a minor detour. I really can't believe the plethora of negative reviews regarding this movie. While I'll be the first to admit this was not as good as "The Conjuring," and it was a tough act to follow, this film was still great in its own right. As a reviewer discussed on imdb, people seem to judge horror films unfairly these days with the notion of "it didn't scare me, therefore it sucks" mentality. This has been a persistent criticism for, at least, the past 15 years, and it's a stupid way to look at horror; like this reviewer mentioned, you don't watch a drama and say this wasn't dramatic enough or a kid's film wasn't kiddy enough. There are many aspects to horror to appreciate beyond the main elements of fear (like atmosphere, tension, suspense, etc.) which this film presented excellently. Why are these aspects overlooked so easily along with the awesome production values of what was an otherwise low-budget film? We know what is considered "scary" is a subjective concept, but "Annabelle" appeared to be much different than people thought it would be. For me, I'm glad the trailers were deceptive since it lowered my standards significantly. I was seriously worried this would be Chucky with a girl doll. While I love "Child's Play," "Annabelle" is on a whole different level of scares in comparison.
Let's take a look at what worked first. I do take into consideration the possible validity to the doll being possessed. I don't necessarily believe in the supernatural, but I am open to anything if there is enough proof. This movie is fiction, of course, but the real Annabelle doll is out there as we speak. This leads me to what the movie did the best: the demon. It's said the real doll is possessed by an especially malevolent demon biding its time to escape. Assuming this is true, it is interesting to imagine the circumstances that led to the demon inhabiting the doll. This movie tries to fill in those gaps, and I think they tell a decent story. The main characters are interesting, their plight is compelling, and I liked the '60s feel. Plus, Annabelle Wallis, playing Mia, is a mega-housewife-milf; but did they seriously cast her just because her name was Annabelle? Anyway, the demon looks fantastic! My god, this is how you properly use lighting to enhance an already awesome makeup design. Forget Darth Maul from "Insidious;" this is the kind of creature you truly imagine would be seething in the depths of hell. That scene where Annabelle stands up and you realize it's the demon picking her up--whoa--time to change your pants if that were real. And when Mia is trapped on the elevator...aaahhh! I don't know why people said all the scares were cheap, jump scares when there were plenty of atmospheric moments like this. Granted, there were jump scares, but I thought they were done well enough like that little Samara/Sadako wannabe running around. More so, what about when Mia seemingly beat her own baby to death? That wasn't disturbing in a primal way? I can't accept the criticism that the film wasn't scary, but I can accept that it wasn't the type of things that scare everyone. But, as you may have noticed, I am more scared of unstoppable forces than random humans who I could easily dispense with myself. Lastly, the look, production value, and cinematography are top-notch. The film looks gorgeous and that lighting is clutch. The primary usage of practical effects should also be mentioned as contributing to the aesthetics.
Okay, let's take a look at where the film falters and its flaws. By far, the weakest aspect for me was the ending. It doesn't even make sense if you think about it, it's lackluster and forced, and doesn't actually explain how the doll ended up at the thrift store; they were kind of like, "well, we can't beat a demon so...the end." I was totally on the edge of my seat and then it sort of ended out of the blue; the final shot of Annabelle herself was a nice touch though. Speaking of which, Annabelle surprisingly plays second fiddle. Yes, the demon is the star, since that is what is allegedly inside of the doll, but I expected more usage of the doll for scares. I can understand the parallels others make with films like "Insidious" and virtually every satanic-themed film out there. I would agree it is a fair assessment to say you have seen most of these scares before, BUT I would not agree that those films did them better; this is easily the best demon depicted thus far. Likewise, the story does contain a certain, by-the-books sensation as it progresses; this does hinder excitement a bit as you know what direction the story will go.
Forget the critics, judge this film for yourself, and consider its merits beyond whether or not it scared you. If you're going into this expecting "The Conjuring 2" or a female Chucky movie, you may be sorely disappointed. However, if you have researched the real Annabelle, and have an understanding of the manipulative demon that is said to reside within that unassuming-looking doll, this film puts a face to that evil. The story does have its problems, especially in regards to the ending and predictability, but it's not anything significantly detrimental to the overall experience. I greatly applaud the technical accomplishments and wish more horror films had this level of polish and sheen. I'm on the fence with recommending to run out to the cinema to see this, but "Annabelle" is a definite rent without a doubt.
Notable Moment: There are a lot of cool scenes, but the first time you see the demon lurking in the shadowy basement of the apartment complex is near perfect usage of lighting. And that's how you pull off intimidation in a villain. Uh oh--looks like you've got some competition, my dear Natre!
Final Rating: 7/10
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After accidentally killing his sister's boyfriend the previous Halloween, a mentally unstable man finds himself at a party tormented by a mysterious killer.
Review: Not sure why they spell carver with a "K," but if you think this is "Mortal Kombat" that's your business. Most of the reviews I read were tearing this movie to shreds, but I didn't think it was all that bad. With a little polish, a few actor replacements, and more deaths, this could have been a cool film. In fact, if it weren't for the incoherent, yet predictable, ending, I would have gladly recommended this as a "Halloween" alternative. Sure, it has a lot of problems, and it's certainly no "Trick 'r Treat," but it is mildly entertaining in the right aspects while trying to build up a decent mystery; there was even a slight twist I didn't think they'd go with to which I must give extra credit. However, I have to mention the mindless confidence that they thought this would get a sequel. Never assume too much, people. There were multiple plot tangents introduced unnecessarily that indicated a possible sequel, and that's downright moronic in a situation like this. Or did they seriously think those loose ends added to the story?
So one Halloween, a guy named Jonathan is hanging out at home with his sister when her annoying boyfriend stops by; I cannot emphasize the levels of annoyance emanating from this piece of shit. The sister goes to get ready for their date, I guess, and the boyfriend appears to leave. Through shenanigans, the boyfriend sneaks back into the house to scare the sister until she cries out for help. Thinking the boyfriend is an intruder, Jonathan (thankfully) kills that idiot which, in turn, completely fucks up his mind. Then we skip to the following year as Jonathan and the sister are going to a Halloween party in the middle of oblivion. Johnny is clearly still unhinged from the incident, but the sister wants him to move on and intends to set him up on a date with Minka Kelly, playing a character named Tammy. Now, this isn't going to make sense, but hear me out for a second. Although Ms. Kelly isn't looking quite as sexy as in other films, she pulls off this dorky, girl next door vibe that suits her well and actually makes her appear more attractive; she even has a quirky personality and geeky voice. Hey, it works for me at least.
We are introduced to a lot of characters at once, which is a bit overwhelming, but they are mostly background fodder as opposed to the fuck up presented in "Hallow's Eve." The only important characters are some old man that claims to own the farm where this party is taking place and Tammy. Even though there is lame drama with Tammy's ex-boyfriend, that guy is barely in the movie. I think they did go about this in the wrong manner, but I suppose they were trying to offer up red herrings as to who the killer would be. But come on, it was really obvious who the killer would turn out to be. Anyway, Jonathan and Tammy hit it off well enough despite things moving too fast. Over the course of the night, there are stupid games and shit as people begin to be picked off. Unfortunately, the film introduced significantly more character than they killed, and that is a horror no-no. They also spread the deaths out too far when a bunch should have happened in succession toward the climax. Regardless, the deaths were interesting with the faces of the victims being carved up like pumpkins.
In between kills, we see Jonathan having visions along with antics from that old man I mentioned who tells the audience sheer nonsense. He speaks about pumpkin carving like it's some ancient art that no one appreciates. Dude, this isn't the secret to building the pyramids here...it's fucking pumpkins! Nice attempt at being Crazy Ralph's long lost cousin though. The old man mentions vague knowledge about Jonathan and that there's evil in him and whatever--bullshit about the carver legacy. This fact is coupled with Jonathan mentioning a mystery surrounding his father's disappearance. Look, sequel-baiting is never a good thing--especially in a movie that was arguably lucky enough to get a direct to DVD release.
As the night progresses, Johnny loses more of his marbles as people start to notice other characters disappearing. With the group splitting up idiotically, a Jar Jar level character is mercifully killed off in a ridiculous manner as well as that dumb ex-boyfriend. In that surprise twist I was talking about, they kill off Tammy. I know, I can't believe it! That kind of character always survives, or maybe dies in the final zinger, but not before the end. I have to give the film kudos for a ballsy and unexpected move like that. Plus, her face gets carved into a jack-o-lantern and it looks cool. The sister stumbles onto this scenario as we are led to believe the killer is the old man. Jonathan shows up, thinks the old man is possessed by the spirit of the sister's boyfriend, and kills the old man. This aspect is really confusing, but it should be abundantly clear that all the seemingly supernatural moments are in Johnny's head. In the end, Johnny finally snaps and you realize he was the killer all along. Gee...really?! My problem with a blatantly obvious killer is you have to properly do something to change the audience's mind or leave them alone as a red herring. "Scream" is one of the few slashers to do this correctly.
As you can probably tell, this film is a mixed bag for the most part. I completely understand why others trashed the quality of the film, but they don't know what true shit looks like. Yes, the acting is shaky (even from Ms. Kelly), the characters can be annoying as fuck, the body count is way too low, and the ending practically ruins the film. Not going to disagree with that. But there are positive things to consider. The pumpkin farm provided an appropriate setting, the carved faces on the victims was an interesting concept, and the sudden death of Tammy was a nice touch. Not to mention, there were quality babes besides Ms. Kelly. Although, this film probably would have benefited from pandering fan service; and don't think I didn't notice you, little kitten and girl scout cookie! To sum it up: this film isn't as bad as others make it out to be, but it's still not that good. But hey, when you trick or treat, not everyone is going to give out candy--sometimes you get a penny or an expired coupon for ice cream. Just roll with it.
Notable Moment: While it is fascinating to see a guy piss on his own decapitated head, I think I'm going to go with the two kids dressed up as Agents J and K from "Men in Black." That scene was great.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Ms. Kelly...a little pumpkin herself:
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After escaping a mental institution, a deranged man returns to his childhood home to embark on a murder spree.
Review: Whoever wrote the wikipedia and imdb pages for this movie is either a complete imbecile or a trolling genius. Yeah...this movie is simply about the killer trying to prove his innocence. Good one. When I said I was going to scrape the bottom of the barrel for Halloween horror, I meant it! Imagine a movie completely comprised of ripoff moments from better horror films, and you have this movie. Come to think of it, most garbage being produced in the last 10-15 years has been excused by low-budgets, but the original "Halloween" was low-budget and look what it accomplished. The worst part of this film is definitely the killer himself. Despite having the superhuman strength to put his hand through an orderly's throat, and being a big guy, this idiot is beaten up by a skinny girl (badly), disarmed on two separate occasions, and taken hostage! HOSTAGE?! Wow...just wow. Can you imagine--say--Michael Myers taken hostage by some fodder character? The idea is so ludicrous it's hilarious to even consider it. Well, I must hand it to this film, it certainly made me laugh.
The film opens by fusing "Silent Night, Deadly Night" with "Halloween 4" by introducing us to our bitch boy killer as a child. The kid's mom is raped and killed by some masked goons who were hired by the dad to kill the mom...for whatever reason we never learn. When they shoot the mom in the head, the bullet goes through and hits a boiler that magically burns the kid horrifically. Riiiiight...because that would totally happen. They later explain the dad boarded up the mom's body in a wall and then the dad killed himself. I honestly don't know; the film is extremely vague on details. Maybe the kid killed the dad--who cares--but this leads to the kid being locked in a mental institution for years while also being the most over the top burn victim. The actor is clearly wearing a shitty mask, but I'll give them an A for effort. Seriously, the kid was not burned on his whole body, the burn wouldn't have been that bad, and even if it were, he would have undergone surgeries to look more normal. Nice try. Anyway, the orderlies conveniently torment the killer until he snaps and escapes. Way to ripoff the stupid "Halloween" remake! Hold on...(checks imdb)...this movie was made in 2006 and that godforsaken Rob Zombie piece of shit came out in 2007. Robby, you ripped this movie off?! THIS MOVIE?! I might have to go back and lower my rating even more.
Due to contrivances, a group of losers are having a Halloween party at the killer's house. The main loser has a prank planned that conveniently allows the killer to slip into the party unnoticed, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. First off, the main loser gives his girlfriend a necklace that, as you may easily guess, belonged to the killer's mom. I'm glad that was pointlessly hanging around--and that scene definitely wasn't completely forced. The killer is hanging out at a gas station (probably looking for a jumpsuit) when one of the losers show up just as they are preparing to get into costume. The killer takes the costume and the abundance of cornball weapons he, again, was conveniently carrying. I mean, what are the odds that a crazed killer obsessed with Halloween would escape on Halloween, run into a guy dressing up for a prank at that killer's very house, on the exact night a group are having a party at said house?! Sounds legit. The killer suddenly teaches himself how to drive a car through sheer willpower. Wait, are you honestly trying to take a shot at the original "Halloween" with that scene? Fuck you!
With the lame party underway, the killer shows up just in time for shenanigans. Although, didn't he kill like 3 people when he first walked in the door? No one noticed those dead bodies when leaving? I have to say, this party is utterly pathetic. It looks like someone panicked and threw it together in a couple hours. The costumes people wear are especially terrible as well. I mean, one asshole is wearing a paper plate for god's sake! Oh for the love of fuck. The only redeeming aspect was a random pirate girl, that shows up late, who was very attractive; I would have enjoyed a movie about her! Anyway, the prank plays out with the dumb hostage scene I was talking about. This entire sequence is too painful to explain, so let's move on. Once the killer is alone with a few losers, and realizes it was fake, he kills them in an attempt to make it back to the party. This killer loves slinking around like a fucking goofball too. The party is broken up by one, horribly acted cop as the remaining losers are sort of mad at the prank. The killer eventually picks everyone off but spares the girlfriend due to that dumb necklace and ties her up. Never would have seen that coming. Good lord, did the "Friday the 13th" remake rip this movie off too?! We then come to the scene when the killer tries to kill one of the better looking chicks and gets his ass kicked. He only narrowly survives this encounter; come the fuck on, man! There's something about the killer going apeshit and uncovering the mom's body from the wall followed by that girlfriend shooting the killer anticlimactically. When the cops are cleaning up, in a nearly unbearably acted scene, we realize the killer did a switcheroo with his body and the main loser's body. The movie ends with the killer escaping, wearing that fucking stupid paper plate mask, and conveniently being picked up by a passerby. Believe me, no one in their right mind would pick this guy up even if it were Halloween. Also, I like the cop's sunglasses appearing and disappearing between shots.
I know I'm technically rating this higher than "Hallow's Eve," but, in truth, I preferred that movie. This movie is overwhelmingly dumb and the ripoff moments are hard to tolerate; although, it is amusing to think this piece of shit inspired other movies! This killer is one of the worst I have ever had the misfortune to come across, and that's saying something. The acting is terrible, the story is weak, and there is a general sense of incompetence at every turn. With that said, the kills are not bad, the dialogue can, at times, feel believable and genuinely funny, and there was a fair amount of chickadees going topless (although none were really my type aside from pirate girl who remained clothed). Considering this film was made by "The Asylum" company, it isn't as bad as the rest of their abominations. Overall, this is a terrible movie, but it has its moments and straddles the so-bad-it's-good line to the point that I imagine others will enjoy the story.
Notable Moment: When the killer is taken hostage of course. New levels of idiocy were achieved with that feat. Congratulations.
Final Rating: 4/10
Random pirate girl: I think her name may have been Natalie Defay.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Ten years after a girl is disfigured in an accident, a hooded killer seeks revenge--I guess--something like that anyway.
Review: I think I can safely say I have never been so confused while watching a movie, in my entire life, as I was watching this piece of shit. What the hell is happening here?! I don't know where to pinpoint the blame, because the editing is all over the place, the story is script-in-a-blender, and the plot holes are shamelessly paraded like a badge of honor. On top of that, the acting is pathetic and something was going on with that audio unless I got a defective DVD. If that weren't enough--I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is one of those movies with characters so annoying you will wish you were the killer! You dare create characters this insufferable and don't start the deaths until, nearly, the 40 minute mark? Grrrrrr! The surprising aspect is that there are things to actually enjoy in this film that only serve to exasperate its dismal failure. For example, this film stars my dear Danielle Harris in another Halloween based horror film! Danielle, darling, I love ya, but this movie is pure shit. The other thing that was cool is that the setting is a real life horror attraction, called "Bates Motel," and I've really been there! There are also a few hot chicks and decent special effects so how did they create this colossal fuck up? My god...what a complete waste.
I'm not exaggerating one bit, I had no clue who the fuck any character was except like one. The movie starts with a bunch of teens picking on a little girl for no discernible reason; their "acting" makes me shudder. They make fun of the little girl's stuttering, which never comes back into play, but, come on, the poor kid is like 8 years old and these dorks are like 15; KEEP THIS IN MIND for later. These losers chase the little girl around a cornfield until she accidentally walks in front of a tractor and seemingly dies. Yeah, okay, "Prom Night." Well don't worry about the little girl, because you will, sort of, figure out she never died and simply got away with a wannabe "Phantom of the Opera" wound to her face. This is the only character I understand in the entire film so I, too, may not make much sense after this point. All of a sudden it's 10 years later and there are a slew of characters I can't keep track of; it's not as though the movie even attempts to explain who the fuck they are either. Everyone either works for this horror attraction, "Bates Motel," or lives nearby and has connections to the staff. I suppose it's Halloween as well but hell if anyone can know for sure. The characters are too busy fighting over one douchebag, bullshit with pot, and some bitch trying to be Jesse Pinkman. The sheer, overwhelming idiocy of the characters coupled with the horrid acting is definitely enough to send any rational individual into a homicidal rampage! I was quite surprised to learn I wasn't, in fact, the killer...but I sure wish I could have been.
For no apparent reason, all fifty million characters end up at "Bates Motel," over the course of the night, as they continue to be annoying until a benevolent killer relieves the audience of their stupidity. Believe it or not, they're still introducing characters even in the last 10 minutes! For the love of fuck. At one point there are fights over a girl and a douchebag, Jesse Pinkman wannabe gets high and has a dream, there are two annoying drug dealers that serve as comedy relief (and never even die!), something with the disfigured girl, pointless cuts to real visitors coming to "Bates Motel" (who remain oddly absent from the film), and I don't even know who Danielle is supposed to be! The only bright side is that the deaths are amusing enough, but they aren't anything you wouldn't have seen before and done better. There are titties, but I'd rather the girls that show 'em kept them covered up. I get that the characters are annoying enough to set anyone off as a killer, but this is one of the most roundabout motivations for a killer. Despite waiting like 10 years, the killer is the disfigured girl's dad or friend or brother or whoever the hell he's supposed to be. He wanted revenge...I guess...for the disfigurement or something...I have no clue. Another reason why nothing makes sense is because the killer decides to kill the disfigured girl's boyfriend, spares Danielle for whatever reason, and pretty much winged this scheme at the last second. And I don't know if it was due to horrendous editing, but the movie greatly implies there are two killers. Really...you're going to ripoff "Scream" now? Rika...I'm trying, hun, but this movie keeps claiming I wasn't the killer! Now remember how I said to keep in mind about those losers from earlier? Well, the movie insinuates that all the characters that have been dying are actually the children of those losers!!! AHAH! That's a good one. So, what, those losers were really in their twenties with young children already? It's only been 10 fucking years! Hey, I could be completely wrong, but that is the implication by the final two characters who show up to be killed. Nobody can know because we have no clue who the fuck anyone is! Ugghhhhh...whatever--Danielle shoots the killer and one moron is taken to a hospital where they are killed by an unseen killer. The end.
This truly is something to behold. Don't people watch their own films anymore? Like...the crew saw this movie and was fine with it?! It's sad that they had to drag "Bates Motel" into this monstrosity, but I'm guessing it saved the crew a ton of money to borrow the existing sets. Danielle is the obvious highlight, as she usually is, but there were a few legitimately cool things that are completely overshadowed by the shenanigans. The story, flat out, makes zero sense no matter how you try to analyze it. Half the, already short, running time is essentially bullshit filler (and mindlessly idiotic filler at that) which leaves maybe 10 minutes of real mayhem; the rest of the time is establishing characters, and their drama, without actually establishing them. A lot of people confuse plot holes with other film errors, but this is the rare instance I will mention a movie being overloaded with plot holes. I really wanted to enjoy this film, but, overall, this is just stupid shit that had plenty of potential to be awesome if done correctly. How disappointing. And who the hell is that chick and killer on the poster?!
Notable Moment: Uhh...tough to sort through this nonsense, but I suppose that idiotic dream the pothead has is the weirdest of 'em all; that sure came out of nowhere and made absolutely no fucking sense.
Final Rating: 3.5/10
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A bullied teen inadvertently unleashes the evil spirit of his dead, rocker idol.
Review: So it's October again, and I'm trying to gather up the last of the horror films that actually take place on Halloween; there should only be a few oddball stragglers left after this year. I suppose you can always watch "Halloween" for the 100th time, but it's nice to know the alternatives, right? As for this film, it's surprisingly really good...well, as long as you appreciate '80s slasher shenanigans. While there are plenty of '80s cliches, the story felt original and a straight up nod to rock and metal of the era. You even have amusing cameos from Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne; Ozzy, specifically, had an awesome role. My main gripe is that they did not make Halloween integral to the plot; seriously, if you removed the holiday the movie would not change one bit. Also, there seemed to be confusion in regards to how much humor they should include. Was this due to Skippy, from "Family Ties," being the lead?
The story involves a fake rock star, named Sammi Curr, who is idolized by Skippy whose character is called Eddie. For some strange reason, Sammi wants to play a Halloween concert at his old high school, but he's banned. This doesn't seem to matter since Sammi kills himself to perform a satanic ritual that imprints his spirit onto a record. As you may realize, certain parts of the story do not make sense. Speaking of which, Eddie is bullied at said high school for appearing like a freak even though he's just dressed like a rocker. One minute they say Sammi is popular with the kids, yet, they pick on the one kid showing his fandom? That makes perfect sense. But since this is '80s cornball-land, there is a pretty cute chickadee, named Leslie, that likes Eddie for no reason ever specified. Anyway, Eddie is upset over Sammi's death and seeks solace with the local DJ who just happens to give Eddie the record with Sammi's spirit inside. The DJ also mentions they're going to do a Halloween tribute to Sammi where they play a copy of that record.
Later on, Eddie is further bullied and thinks Leslie set him up. This is when Eddie realizes Sammi's record is communicating with him when played in reverse. This supernatural assistance gives Eddie the confidence to fight back against the bullies, but eventually things get out of hand when the spirit of Sammi tries to kill one of the bullies and Eddie must intervene. For some reason, Eddie still tries to screw with one of the bullies despite his growing fear; this felt out of place to me. The one bully is given a copy of Sammi's record, but the bully's girlfriend listens to the tape instead and is somehow molested by a demon. Ehh...I don't know, they needed a titty shot or something; to be fair, she was into it. This molestation melts the girl's ears and finally Eddie realizes he doesn't want to hurt anyone. The spirit of Sammi grows angry that Eddie wants to stop and escapes from the record to wreak havoc. The effects for Sammi are decent for the time, but I think "Shocker" ripped this movie off big time. In fact, a lot of the special effects were surprisingly well done like when Sammi burns his hands through a door.
Eddie realizes the only way to stop Sammi is to destroy all the copies of the record. What is this, "The Ring?" Eddie enlists the aid of his friend, mostly due to zany antics, in order to recover the molesting-demon tape from the bully. Idiotically, the friend listens to the tape and Sammi forces the friend to play the tape at the high school Halloween party that night. At the dance, Leslie calls Eddie (since she pulled his number from her ass) and he overhears the Sammi tape and rushes off to save everyone. Sammi tries to stop Eddie since Sammi can manipulate radios which magically allows him to control a car with a radio; I'm okay with it since the car chase was cool. When a band tries to play at the dance, Sammi takes over and everyone thinks it is a stunt. Before they even know what's happening, Sammi goes all Carrie White on their asses and blows people up with his guitar; this scene is definitely sweet. Eddie arrives and saves Leslie and his friend who try to stop Sammi by overloading the school's electricity. Further shenanigans causes the police to blame Eddie for the killings as he and Leslie run around town just as Sammi pursues them. Eddie remembers that the DJ had another copy of the record that he was playing at midnight. Eddie and Leslie also realize Sammi is hurt by water. Okay, a little bit of "Signs" thrown in for good measure? At the DJ's radio station, they discover Sammi is guarding the last tape and Eddie concocts a plan to end this nightmare. Eddie puts a radio in the backseat of a police car and provokes Sammi to come out of it. Leslie takes this opportunity to destroy the last tape as Eddie drives the car into water, thus, killing Sammi's spirit. Yeah...just roll with it. The movie ends with Eddie making out with Leslie and some final zinger of Eddie putting on a different tape...whatever that's supposed to mean.
There was a certain charm to this film that is hard to explain. It hit on the right notes (see what I did there?) that made '80s slashers so much fun to watch. At the same time, I felt the crew was having fun with the material as well. There were too many weird nuances and highlights that enhance the cheesiness and allow the film to stand out amongst its peers. I think fans will certainly appreciate the ridiculous nature of the story and the engaging way it's presented. The Halloween aspect was admittedly weak, although, I did like the one trick or treating scene and the ghost kid that almost got ran over; however, the dance didn't need to be Halloween themed, the setting didn't feel like Fall, and a few token decorations aren't cutting it. While I liked the cutie playing Leslie, Lisa Orgolini, her character was completely unnecessary except to give Skippy a love interest. With a few tweaks, especially in regard to the abundance of shenanigans, this movie could have been a classic, but it's still worth checking out for sure.
Notable Moment: Hmm...the chick being molested by a demon and Ozzy as a reverend that hates metal are good contenders, but I can't overlook that boom mic scene. Just wow. How did they not catch that?!
Final Rating: 6.5/10