I’ve never actually watched a season — or even an episode — of American Horror Story. It took me a while to finally get on the TV terror train and when I did, I’d heard not great things about the show’s ability to stick its landings. However, when I started seeing ads this past fall hyping the ninth season’s totally 80s feel, I just had to give it a look!
Well, I guess I’ve been at it again. Even though I spent a good deal of my last vacation burning through the first few books of Alan Moore’s amazing Swamp Thing run, I’ve also taken time out to plow through another pile of trades, most of which come from my local library.. I thought about separating them out into various themes and writing a bunch of different posts, but don’t want to forget too much and have decided to do a good, old fashioned quick-shot pair of pile posts! You know you want to hear what I thought about these books, so hit the jump! Continue reading Trade Pile Part 1: Lumberjanes, Gotham Academy, Mockingbird, Batman & The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
As I mentioned in my first post in what felt like forever, I was awful busy looking at Halloween related material for work throughout September and October, which resulted in a lack of posts here on the site, a first if I’m not mistaken. Sure, Halloween season is technically over, but I wanted to write a bit more about a few of the newer movies I saw on Netflix in preparation for two Spinoff lists: 5 Recent Indie Supernatural Horror Movies Worth Watching and 5 Recent Slasher Flicks to Take a Stab at For Halloween.
First off a little background that I mentioned in those posts, but didn’t get fully into. While looking around for horror movies on Netflix Instant back in September, I realized that a lot of movies I’d heard good things about on Killer POV (my favorite horror podcast) were on there. I tend to avoid new horror movies out of a kind of fear, not necessarily a fear of being frightened by them, but a fear of being subjected to awful depravity. Let’s face it, that was the subgenre du jour for a while there. It seemed like every new movie I watched was just filled with torture. Not my bag.
But after hearing about so many quality movies that had come out — many of which don’t work for everyone, which is fine my me — I decided to focus my viewing efforts this season on new movies from this decade. With only four years to choose from, I was a little worried about slim pickings, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the results. In fact, I think I enjoyed everything I watched (at least on some level).
Alright, let’s start with the Supernatural list. I covered them pretty well, but to take things a few steps further Don Coscarelli’s John Diest At The End and Resolution are two of my favorite scary movies in a long time. I loved The Innkeepers. Like I said in the review, between the on-screen scares and my anticipation of scares based on lesser films, I was pretty wiped by the end of that viewing experience. I thought about watching Ti West’s Sacrament, but wussed out.
I’d seen Odd Thomas on Netflix several times, wasn’t sure about it, but finally watched it and really enjoyed it. It kind of reminded me of Brick, but with less melodrama and more death-monsters. I liked it so much, I’m actually reading Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours from the library. It has the same feel as the movie. I’d like to see Anton Yelchin star in a series of films or, better yet, a TV show based on the character. I still can’t tell if All Cheerleader’s Die is a super clever film or I’m just reading too far into it, but it was definitely worth the watch.
Over to the slashers, this was another pleasantly surprising batch of films. I was especially surprised by how much I enjoyed Curse Of Chucky as that’s not exactly a series I’m in love with. I also wasn’t sure if Maniac would be my bag because I’ve never seen the original or its fellow real-killer-in-NYC ilk, but I found it chilling and Elijah Wood captivating in the lead role. I actually felt super creepy walking anywhere near a woman when I was going from the hotel to the bar during NYCC because of that viewing experience. Stage Fright was so much fun, but that might be solely because of my experience in high school musical theater. It’s goofy and weird, but I’m okay with that.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually watch Hatchet II again, but those films are still some of the best slasher flicks I’ve ever laid eyes on from any decade. I didn’t really think about it until I wrote that list, but it’s difficult to think of any other series with that much consecutive quality. Finally, I really liked the look and mash-up feel of Rites Of Spring. It’s on the shortlist of movies I watched this year that had a distinct color pallet and style. I found myself wondering if the Stranger was actually satiating a kind of crop god or just a crazy person throwing blood down on a man in a weird mask for decades. It would have been nice to get some of those answers, but I didn’t think they were necessary.
I also watched American Mary. I’ve got a blog post written that I’ll throw up this week. Here’s a preview, I thought it was pretty damn unique, but I’ll probably never watch it again. I still really dig the You’re Next viewing experience and do think I’ll return to that one at some point. Speaking of repeated viewings, that was the focus of my late-October horror movie schedule which will make up another post!
I’ve seen a lot of horror movies since I started getting into the genre around the age of 16. Like a lot of horror fans, I feel like I’ve become somewhat jaded over the years. Once you see enough of these things, you can see the Matrix a little bit and know when a scare is coming — if you can tell the difference between an impending jump scare and a legit one, you’ve got the super scardar. And yet, there are still the scenes that scared us when we started out and even though they’re fewer and farther between these days, the new films that still give us the willies or come out of nowhere to spook us. I figured with Halloween still in the air — and inspired by awesome horror blogger Stacie Ponder doing something similar over on her excellent Final Girl blog — I’d run down the ten movies that scared me over the years. I’m sure there’s more out there in the world, but these are the ones that came to mind, either because they entered my life at just the right time, scared me for a moment or created an atmosphere that still ooks me out to this day. So, in no particular order, here’s the ten movies the still spook me in no particular order. Consider yourself warned, spoilers abound after the jump!
Halloween’s the best you guys! I’ve been able to watch more horror flicks than I expected considering our toddler staked her claim on the TV long ago. Still, I’ve been able to go back and watch some old favorites and also check out a few new films like the amazing Sinister.
A few weeks back, after earning a few extra bucks at NYCC, I decided to splurge on some Scream Factory Blu-rays. I snagged The Burning and From Beyond on sale. A subdivision of Shout Factory, Scream is a horror centric imprint that goes all out when it comes to special features, extras and great looking transfers. Continue reading Halloween Scene: The Burning (1981), The Mist (2007) & From Beyond (1986)
Awkward Jayden Smith “freestyle” aside, this video of his dad reuniting with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribeiro is a wonderful thing to behold. I bust out the Fresh Prince theme song, no kidding, at least once a week much to the chagrin of my wife.
Brian Cronin attacked one of the weirder arcs of comics I’ve ever read in his Abandoned Love column on CBR about the Justice League Task Force character Mystek who was apparently in the process of being sold by writer Christopher Priest to DC. when the deal went south and he killed the character. That’s all news to me!
I am very much looking forward to the July 10th premiere of Camp on NBC.
Chris Columbus directing a big screen version of Patrick Jean’s short film Pixels sounds like a fantastic idea. Plus, writing that last sentence lead to me rewatching Pixels which is, in and of itself, a fantastic idea. (via Collider)
THR reports that Paramount and Warner Bros. made an interesting deal recently. To get Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar fully under their roof, WB gave Paramount their share of a potential South Park movie and the Friday the 13th franchise. Hopefully this means a new chapter in the Jason Voorhees series.
It was fun seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone together in Expendables 2, but that movie’s a little goofy. I’m hoping Escape Plan is a bit more serious. The poster I saw on Collider is pretty rad.
Whoa, Amazon created something called Stroyteller, a program that allows you to upload your screenplay and create storyboards. I wonder how my slash script would turn out?
Stephen Merchant has a new show coming out on HBO called Hello Ladies. This is a good thing for humanity.
Francesco Francavilla‘s Batman 1972 – -dubbed Batploitation, though I personally think it should be Batsploitation — is amazing. This should be the next series of DC Nation shorts!
There are three types of movies I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of: coming of age stories featuring nervous young men, anything set in a camp and movies featuring any of the “extreme” sports. So, when I came across Dishdogz on Netflix Instant and saw that it included all of those themes and included Marshall Allman (AJ from my beloved Prison Break), Luke Perry and Haylie Duff who wound up being pretty charismatic, much like she was in Backwoods, I was sold.
The story is that Allman finds his way out west and winds up working at a camp for extreme sports kids (skateboarding, BMX bike riding and even rollerblading which I didn’t think was cool anymore back in 2006, but what do I know?). Allman works in the kitchen where he has to earn the respect of his new co-workers and also discovers that Perry SPOILER used to be a skater in the Lords of Dogtown era. He also falls for Duff who also works there and also skates, making her essentially perfect except for the fact that she has a dickish ex who goes to the camp and gives Allman trouble. So, as you can tell, it really hits all the notes for this kind of thing.
I’m no expert on skating in the 70s and 80s when it was the most popular thing around, but Perry’s dialog seemed to reflect it accurately to the best of my knowledge. The film also boasts a guest spot by Tony Alva who was part of that whole Dogtown & Z-Boys movement. Speaking of cameos, Ryan Sheckler popped up too and looked so young. I remember him looking young when he had that MTV show, but he’s 14 here and looks like a fetus.
At the end of the day, the movie gets a little melodramatic at times and might feel like a rehash if you’ve seen pretty much any camp, coming of age or extreme sports movie, but I enjoyed seeing them all together and performed by these actors. Perry comes off a little too “zen master” at times, but he pulls off the “I used to be somebody” schtick well, while Allman does the same for his “good guy just wants to get the girl and be good” character. All in all, fun stuff.
As faithful readers might remember from my review of Friday The 13th Part VII, I’d never seen Part VI even though I’d seen the next two and the previous installments. I can’t really account for this occurrence aside from guessing that my local Family Video didn’t have all the movies (I’ve also never seen Jason Goes To Hell, but that’s on the Netflix list for when I finish what’s in the box set).
Anyway, I remedied this embarrassing oversight last night after realizing the copy of Near Dark I got from Netflix was cracked (it looked like someone hit it with a ball peen hammer) and Battle Royale only came with subtitles (I can’t write and read a movie at the same time, so back it went). I really dug this installment in the F13 franchise. It starts off with TV’s Horshack which is already a step in the right direction (Welcome Back Kotter is one of my all time favorite sitcoms). We then get a series of kills that don’t really matter because they’re just random people who happen to be hanging out in the woods for the most part, many of which take place during the day which is kind of a nice change of pace.
Story wise, we’re back at Crystal Lake, though it’s been renamed to try and put the Camp Blood era in the past. There’s a lot of people hanging around without fear. Jason’s been dead for a while, but the timing for these movies has always been really wonky, so I’m not sure exactly how long it’s been. Horshack and Tommy Jarvis head to the graveyard to make sure Jason is dead and inadvertently bring him back to life (which is kind of a classic part of a hero’s journey). Jarvis spends the rest of the movie trying to warn the cops who don’t take him seriously (you’d think they would considering the kid has put Jason down more times than anyone else). The plot revolves around the newly opened camp (not a good idea) and the counselors there trying to make things work even though the bosses haven’t shown up (Jason killed them in an awesome scene early on). For the most part, they’re a very likable group who doesn’t completely treat the campers (yes, there’s actually campers in this one) like a disease. I especially like Cort, a dude who’s never without his walkman and ripped jeans (unless he’s having sex in a camper–the vehicle). His explanation of Native American tracking methods is hilarious. Sure he’s vapid and stupid, but in a likable way.
Though I dug the movie overall, I guess it could have been more violent. I read that there were some more violent scenes filmed but not put into the movie (or at least the box set version I have). Does anyone know if the latest Jason Lives DVD has those scenes added back in? That could make an already solid slasher even better.
While watching the excellent new version of Piranha from Shout Factory’s Roger Corman’s Cult Classics series, I was pretty excited. I had never seen the movie before, though it started feeling familiar at a certain point which is when I remembered seeing what I thought was the original on TV a few years back and it turned out to be a 90s TV version. Luckily I quit watching that one so my viewing of the original turned out to be a 97% original experience.
Here’s what the movie’s about. A couple 20 somethings go hiking and find what looks like a water treatment place and go swimming. They die. A reporter comes out to find out what happened to them and comes across a local recluse and the pair of them discover that the government had been experimenting on weaponizing piranhas to take out enemies in the Vietnam jungles years ago. They’re trying to warn everyone, especially as the mutant piranhas head to both the recluse’s daughter’s summer camp and a lake where tons of teenagers hang out and have drunken fun (it’s like two horror movies in one!).
Going in, I was worried that the flick would wind up just being a lame Jaws rip-off (to be fair, I think that of any movie about monsters in the water), but they reference Jaws so hilariously in the beginning with the use of a video game that I had already given the movie a pass it didn’t need because, as far as I’m concerned, the difference in plot and execution separated this film enough from the classic, which probably isn’t too surprising when you realize this was one of Joe Dante’s earliest films (Gremlins is awesome). Sure it’s got a vacation spot ruled by a guy in a goody suit (played by the awesome Dick Miller (Walter from Corman’s amazing Bucket of Blood and Murray Futterman from Gremlins) in danger of being put on hold thanks to rabid sea creatures, but there’s so much else going on before it gets to that part that it doesn’t matter (at least to me).
The effects, which let’s be honest is the reason a lot of people will check a movie like this out, are pretty great too. There’s a weird scene with a land-walking fish creature in the lab that doesn’t really play much of a roll in the film but looks pretty good (he’s composed using stop motion) and the kills look pretty good (though it’s hard to do the ol’ “water and blood bubbling up from the water” trick wrong). The crappy inserts of fish painted on a background zooming around only seem to add character to the movie even though they look pretty lame.
My favorite scene in the movie is when the dude is skiing behind the boat with a girl driving and another one spotting (watching the skier to see if he falls or wants to go faster, slower or stop). Now, I grew up on a lake and learned how to ski at a pretty young age and I’ve done my fair of both slaloming and spotting and I can tell you that the scariest part of the movie was how inattentive the spotter was and how ridiculously fast the driver was going. That guy was getting yanked around like crazy and then the spotter chick tells the driver to go faster when the skier makes wild hand gestures. For the record, as I learned it, the universal symbols while skiing are thumbs up for faster, thumbs down for slower and flat hand across the neck for cut it (like a pirate threatening to cut your head off). We also devised a signal where you tap the top of your head and then your back for “head back.” Had this guy gone over the signals before going out and not been randomly pointing in the air (or not gone with a pair of women who clearly have no value for his life) maybe they wouldn’t have cut the engine in the middle of lake only to offer a tantalizing treat to the piranhas. Thus ends the skier safety portion of the blog post.
I haven’t gone through all the extra features on the DVD yet, though thanks to my new found love of the flick, I’m sure I will, so the rewatch value here’s pretty good. Plus, if nothing else, this movie feels like a really good primer for Piranha 3D which I’m super duper excited about (I keep telling myself I will absolutely positively go see this 3D flick in the theater after missing My Bloody Valentine). So, do yourself a favor and check out this new presentation of the movie out, I think you’ll dig it.
Are you guys psyched? It’s almost October and you know what that means? Hundreds and hundreds of horror movie reviews on blogs just like this one. After a brief sabbatical from horror, I’m back in the game myself as any regular reader might have noticed. So much so, that I’ve actually got a list on my computer with all the backed-up reviews I want to do. One such movie is Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film (note to NetBox users, it’s missing the “Going To Pieces” title in the beginning, but, as far as I know, it’s still on there). Holy crap, this is a great movie.
I haven’t seen too many documentaries about horror, in fact, I haven’t seen too many docs on the whole, but that’s for another day. What I loved about this movie is that it doesn’t just cover the obvious like Halloween and Friday the 13th. You also get fairly long segments from the likes of Jeff Katz (a dude I got to interview before being bounced from Wizard, who was rad) and the girl who starred in Sleepaway Camp on movies like Sleepaway Camp and Slumber Party Massacre. These are the weird slasher flicks that I cut my horror teeth on back at the Family Video in Toledo and it’s cool to see other people talking about them with such gusto.
You also get a look at horror luminaries like John Carpenter and Wes Craven today, which is interesting. One problem I had with the movie is that they didn’t show who each person was on a regular basis. So, seeing as how I was working on the computer part of the time and have a generally crappy memory, I had no idea who the tall man sporting sunglasses and long white hair was until the very end, and it turned out to be Carpenter.
Like I said, though, I loved this movie and it is an absolute must for slasher fans. I was even jazzed to find out that movies I have only seen recently like Graduation Day, The Burning, April Fool’s Day & My Bloody Valentine. It’s also a great way to check out new movies to add to your “to see” list, though beware of spoilers. Now I gotta check out Happy Birthday To Me! Thanks Going To Pieces!