Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Houses October Built (2014)

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I’m not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted houses. I’m afraid of what real human beings do to other real human beings. – Walter Jon Williams

What does that opening quote have to do with anything? I’ll let you guess. Long story very short, a group of frenemies sets out to find the most extreme haunted house. The first 50 minutes is clips from other haunted houses, a strip club where the dancers wear masks, and are occasionally harassed by creepy actors from…I’m not really sure where. The premise is semi interesting. I mean I absolutely love haunted houses. However I just can’t get on board for the “extreme” or “avant garde” ones. For those that are blissfully unaware, opting for an extreme haunted house means you’re paying about $75 to be psychologically and sometimes physically tortured.

I don’t mean a light spanking or briefly being handcuffed. We’re talking being made to believe you’re being buried alive, all the way up to having feces, semen, and even used tampons thrown at you. Actors will kick, punch, and degrade you for about 45-60 minutes all in the name of a scare. And people pay for this shit. I am aware this doesn’t quite have anything to with the movie, but the movie was so boring I might as well talk about this. Yes, every year I pay to have the living daylights scared out of me. But I’ll be damned in I ever pay to have someone toss shit at me in the name of “art”. That’ll be the day I end up with an assault charge.

Anyways, our group of dumbasses doesn’t pay, though. They just follow rumors and clues from the locals on how to find the Blue Skeleton, which I’m assuming is the name of the place, but it’s never made clear as to what that name refers to. The whole movie really reads like a C+ film school final project. The props are sometimes interesting, the acting is just really annoying, and the first 3/4 seems like a really long ad for haunted houses across the country. This gets a 0. I’m trying really hard to support independent cinema, but it’s impossible to do when crap like this is what gets released. If you want something that’s actually scary, wait til September and check out a haunted house. Don’t even bother watching this.

Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

Frankenstein's_Army_DVD_coverI found out about this when I got back into writing after my car accident. I bought some back issues of Fangoria, and this actually had a lengthy article. As soon as it was released onto Netflix DVD, I made sure to get it. I thought it was incredible. The creature designs and effects are insane. The overall story and acting impressed me as well. Once again, I was in a nostalgic mood and decided to take a trip to cinematic memory lane. Am I still impressed? Is this still one of my favorite horror movies of all time.

Well…not exactly. You can’t ignore all of the work that went into designing and fabricating the creatures. It is mind blowing to see how every one has a different function and movement. That’s…about it. After watching again, I see the story is a bit lacking. The first 20 minutes or so is just filler to get to the first round of monsters/soldiers. Every scene after that feels like it was added to stretch out the running time. If you take out those moments, I believe the whole thing would have only been about 25-30 minutes. The biggest issue I have is the idea to make it found footage.

On the one hand, it is a great choice. The aged and oftentimes grainy footage makes you feel like this really was a part of history, even though the concept is a little nuts. On the other hand, a part of me wonders if the found footage angle was a way to hide flaws or a lack of ideas. Given the plot, you do expect to see quite a bit of insanity. But it seems like it decides to hold back quite a bit. You see a lot of body parts and gore, but I was hoping to actually see more of the assembly of these creatures.

I give it 3/5. I love the special effects team behind this. As far as I’m concerned, this is award winning work. However, that’s really the only redeeming factor. The rest of the movie seems to have been created as an afterthought. I’m starting to think that choosing to make it found footage did more harm that good. I say check it out, and just hang in there for the monsters. Other than that, don’t set your expectations too high.

V/H/S 2 (2013)

MV5BODg4OTMxNDAxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjM4ODQ0OQ@@._V1_SX214_I absolutely loved this almost 2 years ago, which resulted in a 5/5 rating. I mean it legitimately creeped me out, each “video” was straight forward, gory and just a lot of fun. I’ve actually watched this a good 6 or 7 times since then, and I have to say I might’ve jumped the gun giving it a perfect rating. Let me start by saying there’s no denying it is a vast improvement from the first V/H/S. It seems to have way more focus that just showcasing random mayhem. Even the acting and overall writing has taken a turn for the better. However…after several watches I noticed something still seems a bit off.

While the writing is better, I have to wonder if it still seems amateurish. Each segment builds suspense, but instead of an actual release, we get gore and murder. You all should know I love my gore, but here it causes everything to be very superficial. This also leads every ending feeling like it was just tacked on just to end it. No real resolution, just the same murder and mayhem from the first one. It does get old after a while. I found myself asking “What else is there?”. And that’s never a good sign when trying to terrify your audience.

I give it 3/5. I still appreciate the fact that everyone seemed to at least try to make a decent movie. The problem is, I’m not sure if this group of writers and directors know how to create anything of substance in a segment format. Each one separately is truly amazing. When lumped together, everything seems fuzzy and sometimes lazy. The thing that really bothers me is this is part two, and we still have no friggin idea as to who or what is creating these godforsaken tapes. I don’t know about you, but something that damn evil deserves a bit more back-story. If you haven’t seen it before, give it a shot just to see something semi different and entertaining.

Dead Snow (2009)

200px-DodsnoI first came across this when I worked at Blockbuster, and since the premise seemed absolutely ridiculous, it was one of my free rentals for the week. I mean, Nazi zombies? It’s right on the line between horribly offensive and just plain hilarious. Long story short, I thought it was spectacular. It was over the top gory, and filled just enough black humor. I was in love. Fast forward to present day, and I decided to give it another shot. So is it still as magical as it was 6 years ago? Am I still head over heels for the gore?

The answer is somewhat. Upon a second viewing, I realized a good chunk of the movie is a bit like dead air (no pun intended). We start with a frenzy, but for about 30-40 minutes after the first blitz there’s nothing except your typical “friends on vacation” fodder, complete with a PG sex scene. Didn’t think that was possible, but I digress. I think what happened was the anticipation for the gory made me ignore the fluff in between, and there is a lot of fluff. Even after the action restarts, it doesn’t have the same intensity as it did in the beginning.

I still give it 3/5. It’s just outlandish, but after a while it grows on you. Given the subject matter, the acting is pretty decent. What steals the show is the gore and the zombies. Then again, how bad would the movie be if everything looked fake, and the zombies were lazy? That’s almost depressing to think about. If you’ve never seen it, give it a shot if you have 90 minutes to spare. It’s far from Oscar material, but any horror lover will enjoy it.