Symbiote Jamboree: Venom, Absolute Carnage & More!

I’m not sure about anyone else out there, but I’ve always found myself drawn to certain characters in comics and repelled by others based on nothing more than their designs. I’ve read very few Creeper comics, but can say that he’s absolutely one of my favorite characters based solely on design and aesthetics. As a kid coming up in comics fandom in the 90s, I saw a lot of darker themed characters that I did not want anything to do with. One of those characters was Venom. Back then, the large-tongued symbiote muscle man was the king of of the edgy miniseries and I was admittedly a bit nervous about his whole deal (which, as a die-hard DC fan, I only really knew about from looking at covers and reading Wizard). The great thing about being a human, though, is that we can grow past our early thoughts and evolve into new people who are ready, willing and able to read Venom comics (that’s what evolution’s all about, right?).

Continue reading Symbiote Jamboree: Venom, Absolute Carnage & More!

Halloween Scene: The Burning (1981), The Mist (2007) & From Beyond (1986)

The Burning Scream Factory 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)

Halloween Scene: Re-Animator (1985)

re-animatorWhen I was about 15 or 16 and just getting into the world of horror movies, it seemed like I’d never be able to catch up on all the classics. Of course, I knew about the big franchises like Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street — what kid in the 80s didn’t? — but there were so many nooks and crannies in this new genre to explore. Being the somewhat obsessive sort that I was, I combed the internet — such that it would have been circa 1999 or so — and remember printing off a list of something like the 666 best horror films of all time. I did a quick Google search that turned up basically everything and nothing at the same time, but if this strikes a chord in your memory, please leave a comment.

Anyway, one of the movies I kept seeing pop up all over the place — in addition to Evil Dead, George Romero’s zombie films, the Texas Chainsaw movies and some choice Vincent Price films like The House On Haunted Hill and The Abominable Dr. Phibes movies — was Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator. I remember combing my beloved Family Video for these films (the videos were organized in a general alphabetical order instead of by genre), so I’d grab whatever I could. Luckily, Re-Animator was one of those films, so I saw it relatively early on. I remember liking the film — how can you not get into Jeffrey Combs’ craziness and those amazing special effects? — but I’m fairly certain it’s been about 15 years since I’ve watched this film all the way through. That has very little to do with the film itself and more of a focus on slasher films as well as a desire to branch out and watch as many unseen films as possible.

So, while flipping around on Netflix the other day, I saw Re-Animator was available on Instant and decided to give it another whirl. As you probably already know, the movie follows mad scientist Herbert West as he inserts himself into the lives of a med student and his girlfriend. See, West has developed a serum that can bring the dead back to life, an experimental process that he takes very seriously. So seriously that he cares about rekindling human life so much that he’ll extinguish it when he feels it to be necessary.

As it turns out, the two things I remembered most about this movie also happened to be the two best things about it. Combs is pretty much on another level compared to everyone else in this film. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s that he plays the obsessed scientist so well that he deservedly represents the prototype of that longtime character in the minds of many fans. The effects are also pretty fantastic, though I think my memory was reminding me more of the ones from the sequel than the original. Still, that bit where West drills through the corpse’s body is bonkers. And, of course, you’ve got the all-out zombie jamboree craziness at the end of the film.

I should note that I’ve only read a story or two of H.P. Lovecraft’s and can’t speak to this film’s accurate portrayal of the original story. I want to say I did read the original story — Herbert West-Reanimator — but honestly can’t remember. I have heard from people far more well versed in Lovecraft’s work that the film does a solid job of capturing the feel of the story, though. Even if I did, though, I’d be comparing the story to the book anyway.

I’ve got to admit, while I enjoyed this film, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites. Even with Combs being amazing in this film, it seems like I’ve seen a million movies where scientists eschew standard moral practices in order to follow their intellectual pursuits, so the originality in this one comes more from the Combs’ performance and the special effects which isn’t enough to launch this film into the upper echelon. I think if I’d seen this movie a few more times in my younger days, I’d be a lot more into it, but with more story experience under my belt it doesn’t pop nearly as much as it could have back then. Still, I have zero problem recommending this film and think it would easily find a place on the 666 horror films I’d recommend to a genre newbie.

Halloween Scene: Dolls (1987) & 10 To Midnight (1983)

As much as I’ve been digging 007 lately, dedicating so much time to that franchise–whose movies tend to all hover around the two hour mark–has kept me away from watching other kinds of movies, specifically horror flicks. I still have to finish Die Another Day (almost finished last Friday before running off to New Hampshire) and the Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, but the missus wants to watch those as well, so it might take a while for me to get to them. Anyway, I had a great time today going through Netflix Instant and checking out three movies (I also watched Dollman, which doesn’t have enough horror elements for me to include it here, but I might do a Quick Movie Review of it). Anyway, I must have been going through the “weird movies that begin with D” on Netflix a while back because Dolls was the next movie on the ol’ queue and I went for it, especially after realizing that Stuart Gordon directed it. I’ve seen embarrassingly few of his movies only seeing Re-Animator once a long time ago as well as Robot Jox which was a lot of fun and the strange/bad Space Truckers. I even had the pleasure of interviewing Gordon once, but I’m sure I’ll post something separate about that sooner or later.

Anyway, Dolls is about a young girl in England with her asshole father and stepmom whose car breaks down so they have to spend the night in a nearby mansion owned by an old couple with a penchant for doll-making. A nice guy played by Stephen Lee (he’s fantastic in this movie) also shows up at the house with a pair of British punk rawk chicks in order to up the body count and give the little girl someone to confide in. As the night–the longest one of the year, or something–the dolls start coming to life and taking out various guests with only the little girl knowing what’s up. Of course, her folks don’t listen to her because she apparently has visions or daydreams or something and is constantly talking about monsters and fairies and whatnot. The only one of these we see is early on when she envisions her thrown-away teddy bear becoming a giant, turning into a real bear and killing her parents. This scene convinced me this movie was worth watching. See here:

I don’t usually like killer toy/doll movies because I’m always thinking “Just crush it.” This movie handles that well by throwing tons of dolls at our house guests. The sheer numbers, not to mention their weapons like tiny knives, overwhelm one person, while another uses a makeshift weapon to wreck shop on a bunch of them, so it’s not like everyone is being taken out wholesale by these tiny things. THEN, things get flipped even more SPOILER when it turns out that the dolls aren’t normal dolls. They have little creatures inside that turn out to be previous guests who proved to be immoral and were thus turned into mini monsters by the couple who own the house who are also witches. It’s a great turn that makes them more dangerous and threatening. A good work around to a pretty great movie, possibly my favorite killer toy movie of them all!

It’s kind of funny how similar Dolls and 10 To Midnight wound up being. Like Stuart Gordon, I haven’t seen nearly enough Charles Bronson movies with some Death Wish flicks, The Mechanic, The Dirty Dozen, Breakout and maybe a few others under my belt. It also wound up being a kind of movie that I don’t usually like–gritty, real life killer in the slasher role–that I wound up digging. Heck, I wasn’t even expecting a horror movie when I selected the movie. It was in my head because my buddy Rickey mentioned it over on his excellent VHS review site Crucial VHS when talking about Death Wish 4 the other day.

Honestly, had I not wanted to write about two of the three movies I watched in one post, I probably would have dubbed 10 To Midnight as an action/crime movie. I was going to say that it’s about as much of a horror movie as something like Dirty Harry where you wind up seeing a good deal of the action from the killer’s perspective, but as I write, I’m turning more towards the idea that this is actually a horror movie in the vein of Maniac or something like that. We spend about equal time with the killer–a young man with sexual issues who kills his victims in the nude (there’s a lot of man butt in this movie)–and the cops one of which is Bronson. Plus, there’s a good deal of blood in the kills. From the very beginning we see the face of the killer who actually looks like Josh Brolin, but isn’t and the movie’s kind of a cat and mouse game with Bronson crossing a line and planting evidence which he later admits to. Of course, this pisses the killer off and he winds up going after Bronson’s daughter. It’s interesting because, after the court scene, Bronson actually takes on the role of a slasher, constantly following the killer, calling him at all hours, breaking into his house and even hanging pictures of the killer’s victims at his place of work. That’s another reason I labeled this one a horror movie, though the flick’s never really scary even if it has it’s suspenseful moments.

All in all, I’m realizing it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with a Bronson movie. He’s just so cool and such a badass and he always does the thing that people want to do, but usually don’t thanks to moral or legal concerns. Plus, I love his freaking voice. People always say stuff like they could listen to someone read the phone book, I wouldn’t go that far, but I wish he had had a career as an audiobook reader before passing away because he could make even Tess Of The d’Urbervilles interesting (hate that book). Thanks to Rickey for putting this movie on my radar and Jesse for also encouraging me to watch it. Great pick bros!

Live Blogging Dennis Hopper’s Space Truckers (1996)

Inspired by the Dennis Hopper list I already mentioned for Topless Robot, I just had to watch all of Space Truckers. It’s definitely ridiculous and (I’m hoping) tongue-in-cheek, but worth a look, especially if you’re drinking with your buddies.

*30 seconds in and the effects are already more convincing than Spirit.

*Pretty good killer robot attack scene.

*”You astonish me.” [Heh, I have NO idea what this refers to.]

*Ooh, double cross.

*It really is a space truck, looks like a Transformer.

*Zero grav mustarad and hot dog, that’s goofy but a great way to apply condiments.

*Hauling Square Pigs.

*The space truck chair looks like an amusement park ride.

*Magnetic floor, extra arms, they really had fun with this. He looks like Doc Ock.

*Yup, those are square-ass pigs, probably have space pig flu.

*”That’s not how you throw a punch in zero gravity, this is the recommended technique.”

*Stephen Dorf and Debbi Mazar (Empire Records!!!!)

*Even with all these space effects, they can’t make it look like George Wendt is punching Hopper

*Space bar brawl!

*Bathroom lady robot secret passage – crazy.

*Anti grav lingerie!

*His computer sounds like annie potts

*”It’s black rock!” – Lost tie-in!!!

*Zero g strip “tease” – looks ridiculous.

*Boarded by pirates.

*”Is he talking about my dick?”

*”Is this your dick?” “No.” “That one’s mine.” – weird.

*Woah, this guy’s a crazy cyborg with a cyborg butt, he looks kind of like Metallo.

*Haha, pull cord penis like lawn mower.

*Everyone on the crew is gonna bone Debbi? Ew.

*They’re spending a LOT of time being captured.

*The killer robot is a dick! and he looks kinda like ROM.

*How are there 30 minutes left? I’m already sleepy-drunk.

*The robot activation scene actually looks pretty cool.

*His plan is to actually crash the truck full of killer robots onto planet Earth hoping the reentry will fry them? Not a great plan Dennis.

*Oh okay, he could parachute to safety, no worries.

*And the president of the world is…an old guy? It seemed like they were making a big deal of him, but I don’t recognize the guy.