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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wake Wood (2010) Horror Cult

Wake Wood (2010) - The film smartly uses the opening credits for a lot of the setup. A couple Louise (Eva Birthistle) and Patrick (Aidan Gillen) have a younger daughter Alice (Ella Connolly) who is mauled by a dog and dies. The couple leaves the town they are in to live in the small village of Wake Wood. Patrick a veterinarian and Louise a pharmacist seem to setting into the community but the loss of their daughter has strained their relationship. Louise can't let go and Patrick feels she needs to move on. All while the credit are playing.The tone through the music is sedate and meditative and the camera not particularly active.
  Things begin to change when there car breaks down on a country road and Louise while looking for the local who lives there runs into a pagan ritual being performed. She does not know what it is but sees the blood covered man emerge from a cocoon. When arriving home on of the participants Arthur, from the event is in their house just so they can know that she was seen too. As the days go on Louise learns from the local woman what the deal is and since she is in such grief she sees it as a way to see her child again.

  A unique ritual can be performed where the dead can be brought back to life for three days. Stricken parents should not be making this decision and this couple in there struggle lie about how long the girl has been dead. In the ritual know one should be brought back only if they have been dead less than a year. Its a big contract, a body of a recently dead person is used to pull the spirit into transforming it into the the earlier deceased. Then the parents and the child will be bound for life to the village limits. The child then must go back after three days. This is about grieving and it is a sad thing so you get the feeling while watching that there is no way this is going to turn out well.
  What is so wonderfully gruesome about this film is some of the things that need to be done to the receiving corpse prior to the ritual. banging and cutting and crushing. Then of course it the need for living blood and a bit of fire and the couple crack the protective shell and have their daughter back.
  Alice is back and the first day is a delight for the family but this is really a temporary condition. These are parents who can not let go so things are going to be strange, and during the next too there are incidents that make the girl more strange and creepy than kind and loving. The film has a nice slow build towards the end and as little Alice gets more and more evil we see why this ritual should not be taken lightly. Overall I think the film delivers in mood proving just how chilling little evil kids can be. Since Alice is a child dead for more than a year she can't be controlled the ways other could and soon the wee one is on a killing spree in the village.
  Satisfying in a small film kind of way this is a nice little flick for a dark night. Not great but certainly enjoyable.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tusk (2014) Horror Psycho

Tusk (2014) -  Probably the strangest movie I have watched in a while for sure. About a traveling pod caster, Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) looking for a story who gets way more than he is expecting. After a story he was following falls through he finds a note from an old man, Howard Howe (Michael Parks) who lives in an isolated mansion who says he can share a lifetime of tales. So Wallace heads to the edges of Manitoba to meet with Howe. How appears kind if a bit strange while talking to the abrasive Wallace about his life. They drink tea and converse pleasantly all until the drugs in the tea leave Wallace unconscious and we start to see a change in Howe. More menacing he is a character coming out in pieces. Played so well by Parks a veteran actor who can hold the mood of a scene with with nuance ans vocal tone it is a pleasure to watch him act. His resurgence as a main player seems to have started after appearing in Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), playing Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. When Long wakes the his story has taken quite a unexpected turn. He has an amputated leg and learns that Howe intends to make him into his walrus companion. Through the use of a human skin suit shaped like a walrus and a series of operations the physical transformation is undertaken.
  Probably known by most is the story of how this film came about from a conversation on his podcast. So I won't go into detail here but lets just say writer director Kevin Smith followed through and not only made what could have been a completely ridiculous turned it into not only a serious as hell horror story but also had just enough humor to keep the audience entertained with the unbelievable plot. Taking a light-hearted look at stereotypes of Canada and Canadians Smith mixes in quirky characters including Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe a slightly off his rocker detective seeking the serial killer played by Parks. It is a strange role with prosthetic to change his look Depp half crosses his eyes and airily plays the detective who has been so close to winning that it made him loose just a piece of his mind. The name itself must mean Smith is a Montreal Canadians fan, nice touch.
  While Wallace is traveling we cut back to he and his girlfriend Ally, the lovely Genesis Rodriguez showing a relationship sort of on the rocks. It both builds some background for Wallace as a once nerd who started wearing a different personality so he could be successful but how it hurts those close to him. In this case driving Ally into the arms of his fellow pod caster and best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), not cool man.  She is torn between the two and because she has feeling for him gets up to Canada when he manages to leave a message when he is trouble.  It also helps with the ending which probably should have ended with a gunshot. During the closing credits though we hear the podcast that  created the story and hear that the ending actual is true tom that conversation.
  So quirky and cool this film walks the line between believable and absurd maybe being just on the latter side. Enjoyable throughout mixing humor and dread in equal measure allows this to be a very enjoyable viewing. So as far as I am concerned this was a crazy idea successfully pulled off by a very good film maker.
  As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment.  Last week Producer, Writer, Director followed me back becoming the first to do so in this experiment. So Thanks David I appreciate it. I certainly am not a difficult follow since I usually only tweet about movies I have seen and on occasion about good food and beer. So on we go!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fangoria Oct. 2012

  Clearing space in my television room means years of hoarding has to come to an end. I have two giants stacks of magazines that I have read over the years just waiting to be sorted and or disposed of. The trouble is they can grab my attention again just by picking them up, they are all about my interests over the last twenty to 30 years. Mostly attractive women, horror movies and screenwriting are what are reflected in them. Not that these were my only interests but they are the ones that take magazine form. Looking at the books shelf above the magazine there are lots of hiking and outdoor skills books, a fair number of political philosophy, science, and film writing books as well as some comics and books about the making of various films.  I decided recently though that room has to be made, things just can't sit and collect dust, especially since new materials keep coming into the space. So out with the old and in with the new, but how to part with these beloved zines? Do I just discard them or how about reviewing some of them on my blog? Would anyone care? Maybe not all of them but some are really decent issues of this or that magazine. Then maybe I give some of them away or toss them.
  Fangoria Oct. 2012 Halloween issue:  This magazine is great because it is chalk full of interviews and this issue does not disappoint with the main feature Actress Barbara Crampton interviewing Stuart Gordon. She of course appeared in the Gordon classic Re-Animator (1985) and is a friend who sits down for a chat with him and we the readers get to listen in.
Other interviews include Damiano Damiani on Amityville II, Dwight Schultz Alone in the Dark, Mark L Lester Class of 1984, Doug Bradley who I recently saw at Rock and Shock, well because he is Doug Bradly of course, and The Devil's featuring a interview with Ken Russell enthusiast Richard Crouse. As well as so many more this magazine gives you your money's worth.
  Also are tons of articles on the films of the day coming releases and articles on the actors and actresses.
Bait 3d, FDR American Badass, Devil's Night, Velvet Road, VHS, The House at the End of the Street, Hypothermia, Sinister, Dolls, Halloween III Season of the Witch, Lovely Molly, Jaun of the Dead, Atomic Brain Invasion, Retrobution, Hammer House of Horrors, The Blood Beast Terror, Burke & Hare, The Loved One
There was a lovely article on the young actress Jodelle Ferland whose experience in the horror genre at that point made her a veteran. She is 21 years old now amazing but it was a thoughtful piece written by Michael Gingold. There is also a nice little piece on performer Kate Moir as well. All in all a very decent issue of the Magazine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Darkest Hour (2005) Horror Slasher

 Darkest Hour (2005) - I have too say I wrote some really terrific stuff on this film but this damn blogger and my touch pad highlighted everything and deleted then auto saved leaving me with part of the word "and" nd. Swearing can only do so much to relieve the frustration and in the end if I am going to write about this film I will have to try to dredge the thoughts back up and repeat them. Still i felt I was so in the mood to talk about this low budget first feature by Dan Zachary that finding that groove again is going to be hard.
  Not a lot can be expected from a low budget first horror feature and I have to say this one is a bit on the cliche side. Ben Traimer (Todd Hann) is making a movie, a Slasher and is having a murder mystery weekend at a local campground to promote it. there is something about this location being the actual site of a slashing adding to the sensationalist tone of the event.
  Early in the film we get to see the actual killer in action, a reaper dressed robed character with a skull face and a scythe, as he stalks a couple rednecks going down a rough dirt road in their truck. The scene plays out in expected fashion, ugly people acting mean and stupid coming across a body in the road. Then the music and the stalking by the killer all cliche and as expected. So cliche in fact that at the end of the scene the woman runs down the dirt track being chased by the Reaper Killer and instead of running into the trees and bushes on either side of the road, runs down the path chased by the killer driving the truck. On top of that she falls down in the road. (A part of me thought maybe this was satire but another part fear it is not.)
  Then we start getting introduced in a minimalist way to the characters. The women apparently chosen to be attractive, Ben's  ex-girlfriend Lauren (Lee Tomaschefski), and current fling Stacey (Tamara Pender) as well as participants Lisa (Angie Zachary, any relation? and I have a personal weakness of brunettes with raspy voices.)  and Rosemary (Patricia Nudd) finishing with the sexy goth Therese (Tristan Risk @littlemissrick) who also has her first IMDB credit in this film and later went on to play the wonderful role of Beatress Johnson in the Soska Sister's American Mary (2012), and last year appeared in my friend Izzy Lee's Innsmouth (2015) (It may be presumptuous to call her my friend but I think she is great), a real up and coming feminist film maker who is sure to make waves. Preetty standard for low budget horror. Then the men who are pretty much dogs trying to get laid. Really not my favorite variety of character.
  It does not matter in the end though, there are a lot of characters but the plot is driven by story and not character. A flaw in most schools of screenwriting but not in the Slasher sub-genre where a minimal  introduction and basic personality conflict is all that is needed before slicing and dicing. The characters are introduced and somewhat pair off with some being successful at sex and other not. Surrounding this though is the story. A murder mystery weekend hosted by Dreighton Sawyer  (Benjamin Gutknecht) a face painted fiend setting the participant up for a weekend "Who wants to host a murder". except little does he know that because the real life killer from the area was never caught that actual death is just around the corner. Sure the story is known and shared by the participants but belief is a tough thing in a low budget horror flick.
  There are parts of this film that are promising like early in the film there is a kill. A strobe effect where the girl is attacked and a knife is seen and we know that it her end. Well done but the timing is sort of off. Instead of building the fear with strobe, the movie spend 20 or so seconds. It would have been so much better to draw this kind of scene out. Instead of lots of this we get a lot of daytime scenes with a large cast who explain to us all the different serial killer stories from twentieth century America.  This stuff is really filler until the real killing gets starting and mostly accomplishes that role playing games should only be done with friends and when everyone is willing to fully participate.
  Once night comes and the slasher starts slashing we get a lot of what you would expect, in any one of the multitude of Friday the 13th movies. The stalking the stabbing the He is right behind you and you don't see it, moments. Then there is the woman crawling and screaming for help as she is being murdered, I was never much of a slasher fan and it may be the misogynistic stereotypes that really turn me against it. I get the psychology of the final girl but there is so much running and screaming by women in these movies. I much prefer the always capable always strong heroine like  the character Erin (Sharni Vinson) in Simon Barrett's & Adam Wingard's You're Next (2011) . Unfortunately even when there is a final girl in this film it is a trope of the guys trying to protect the women and it is just so Slasher. failing at it and we always seem to get so much running and screaming and falling while being chased
  Even with all this criticism I have to say there is a part of the horror me that really does not mind the attempt. It did not work particularly well but there is always a place where the slasher movie even if sub ar has a part in my consciousness.
 As with every film this year I am doing an experiment where I will follow a lot of the people involved with the films I see this year to see my Twitter account grow.  Then see where it sits at the end of the year. I am hoping that some of the people involved follow me back @Soresport like recent  Actor, Director, Producer @davidheavener did this week. He is the first and I really appreciate it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fright Night (2011) Horror Vampire

Fright Night (2011) - There are remakes that do not have to be seen. This was one of those films I for a long time now just past on. It had something to do with the timing of the original. In 1985 I was just a few years out of high school the original was right in a sweet spot for me. Sort of goofy but also a bit scary (just a bit) I was now in an apartment in the Boston surrounded by people who could be anyone, maybe even a vampire. I remember really liking the original when it came out. Over the years revisiting it and realizing what campy fun it really is. Written by Tom Holland a wonderful actor, writer and director who also wrote Child's Play (1988) and Thinner (1996) it is a genre staple with a unique personality. The original with capture more of my youth with it's Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), a face I knew so well. Not from the first role I saw him in as Galen in Planet of the Apes (1968) and a couple later films in that series but from a film I loved as a kid, The Legend Of Hell House (1973), but you have to understand this guy was showing up on our little black and white screen all through my life. Appearing in probably every popular TV show for fifty years. His appearance in Fright Night (1985) was almost nostalgic. Not only that but he was so good as the washed up horror a host who reluctantly finds the courage to help a kid with a vampire living next door. In recent viewing that film was a bit too tame for my liking, I think my exploration of the Italian giallo masters and other more hard core gore filled movies has broken me a bit when it comes to this campy, fun style of horror. Still this film holds a place in my heart. When the remake came out I really had no interest in it. I stuck it on my 300 movie long Netflix queue and forgot about it.
 When it came I was luke warm about watching it putting it off for about a week. The film changes some of the setting and wisely does not try to reproduce the Peter Vincent character. Instead of a washed up horror host Peter Vincent (David Tennant) is a hot magician doing a vampire themed act in Vegas. An expert on vampires according to his website leading to Charlie (Anton Yelchin) recruiting him when the Vampire Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. Screenwriter Marti Noxon does a good job in transplanting he story to Las Vegas, one a large city with unrestrained growth into the surrounding dessert, capturing a time when the house bubble has exploded leaving neighborhoods mostly empty and easily preyed upon by the vampire. Less thrilling was the dynamic of dorky kid being pulled into the popular kids group by the pretty girl who likes him. Amy was well played with a very attractive confidence by Imogen Poots. Not that it is not well thought out and written in a way that makes sense, Noxon is a true professional and has lots of references and side comments that fully round out the characters and how they came to be. Just seemed that the left behind friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) was so hurt being left behind that he came across as too mean spirited. The weakest parts of this film I think is writing in the victim role for the Peter Vincent character, it is way too much of a coincidence that this magician would have the backstory he has to this particular vampire. Lets be clear here though the script is solid and the acting good but I don't know about that particular back story and if it is believable that things came together in just that way.
  The effects are more numerous and enjoyable in this remake and the cameo from Chris Sarandon was great. I have to say when the film finished I was pretty pleased with it.  So as with all the movies I watch this year @Soresport my twitter account will attempt to follow some of the actors in this film.unfortunately well established actor often do not have twitter accounts and there are a lot of those in this film.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Neighbor (2009) Horror Psycho

Neighbor (2009) does not leave you guessing very long, bringing us into the very deranged character of  "The Girl" (America Olivo). We are introduced to her through a couple short scenes where she has bound and tortured people in their homes. Cutting their flesh biting their skin while showing a psychopathic joy in their suffering. We can see her cruel actions in purposely killing an elderly woman by switching out her life saving medication, her nonchalant reason of wanting to see how long it would take the lady to die exemplifies her callous glee in killing. Already you can see that a lot of this film will be carried by the lead.
As the movie sets up the other characters we see The Girl on the edges of the action, in a bar or a bookstore. She is infiltrating the community looking for the link that will get her in, In this case it seems to be anyone she comes across, but mainly we see Don Carpenter (Christian Campbell) a love lorn musician who with his friends are the only ones we see in the film that are not already victims. Director Robert Angelo Masciantonio is taking the common middle class neighborhood and showing how behind the closed doors we do not know what is happening. Safety is thinking that it can't happen to you, even though gruesome murders are on the nightly news next door is never a place you would consider as the next target.
   The Girl is successful because everyone thinks they are safe in their cul-de-sacs, Don with his sound proof recording studio wakes to realized that the sinister Girl is a real threat as she proves it with a pair of clippers. The very gruesome realistic torture affects make will make the squeamish turn their heads and block their ears as holes are drilled into flesh. Casual in her approach knowing that neighbors never knock on each others doors she rips and cuts her way through Don as he goes through the stages of being a victim. First his rage and then he negotiates, then he begs and hallucinates, all the while Olivio plays the part of loon with a zeal essential to pull off the role. So cruel and fucked up that she does the one kind of torture a man does not want to see.
  Masciantonio plays the lines between reality and fantasy well and leaves the viewer in a state of anxiety guessing what evil act will come next. Upping the ante each time we let relax in the slightest. The torture is well cut with closeups and the after affects of her acts even when not seeing the gruesome cuts. This said so there are enough bloody gory fake blood spurting practical effects to satisfy the most depraved viewer.
  What is underwhelming about this film is that although The Girl is strongly motivated in her killing ways we never really get why she is how she is. Willing to harm without regard but just being motivated does not round out the character. The viewer is left with "just a crazy bitch". Leaving the turn that she will totally get away with her crimes because of her amazing luck that another killer had escaped from prison just at this time. Or did she mastermind that too?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Legion: The Final Exorcism (2006) Horror Demon

Legion: The Final Exorcism (2006) aka "Costa Chica, Confessions of an Exorcist"- The pre-credits scenes were promising with the girl being possessed by a demon at the family pig sty.  Here mother discovering her had some nice quick cut imagery. Definitely showing that this is a lower budget production but that the creators have some imagination and skill for creating scary flashes even if there seemed to be a lack of patients to really let them develop. As we go into the credits we get the (dreaded) voice over from former Priest Michael San Chica (David Heavener) telling us that demons are running amok in the word and he can see them coming and is just the guy to exorcise them. Not only that but we quickly learn that he has been threatened by the church with excommunication for doing these rituals without consent. He is in a tough spot because he has visions that tell him when someone is possessed and the "angel" that appears is persistent that he needs to get involved. What's an honest priest to do? On top of this is the back story where he loses his family to demons. I am sure the intent is to deepen the internal drive for main character. This haunting will be what drives him forward with the current situation.
  Heavener is the force behind this film, the writer and director this is his project. An Actor, Producer and Director he has a a list of credits that at least the IMDB users seem not to like very much. This film starring Heavener as the main character also includes Roddy Piper, Ariel Teal Toombs, Lee Benton, Jackeline Olivier, to name a few. One can say this film is not quite as low budget as it seems. Made for 1.5 millions in today's scheme of things in the horror would this is a decent budget. The choice then to make a film that uses voice over as a way tell us a story while at the same time showing us what the voice over is relating is a bit of a strange choice. Is it he is a detective telling us about a case? Also considering how many times we have had the demon possession story told it is incredibly difficult to be original. The mechanics of this tale are not original but really live in the cliche that we have seen many times before. I suppose that the use of the voice over, the chronicling via San Chica is what Heavener thought was new and original but really just comes across as stating the obvious.
  He tells the story of Tatiana (Ariel Teal Toombs) who is part of a religious family, a Minister Father and a family that has no idea what to do with the events happening. They try to explain it away  as mental illness or epilepsy but will soon have to deal with the very real possession. We don't really stick with this story as the narrative, instead following the San Chica character around as this is a vehicle for Heavener to perform. He is not just trying to solve Tatiana's case but it is all tied up in the loss of his his family and his idea that there was a conspiracy to cover up his wife's demonic possession.
   The voice over really pulls the story apart, instead of building mood through the things the film does do well, flash imagery and music and sound. It tells the viewer exactly what should be felt which makes no  sense, Let the characters and story build the tension don't explain it. Once at the McMurter's ranch Father San Chica has enough visions to know something is going on. As the film moves along in this manor it became more difficult to focus on it. Heavener really is using the v. o. as a way to make the story more of a procedural but to less than positive results. Instead of leading us through the story heightening the plot with the v.o. it makes it seem like one really long slow buildup to the exorcism. It does not help that there are so many cliches thrown at us. Like the disbelieving father who as a minister himself does not trust the Catholic ritual. Then there is the worker at the morgue eating while working on corpses, how many times have we seen that? Thrown in is the cardboard portrayal of Venessa (Jackeline Olivier) another morgue worker with a shoehorned in relationship with San Chica, she loves him and wants him to back away from this case. Still primarily this is a procedural with the priest as the hard boiled detective telling us about the case as they show bits and pieces of it.
   When we finally get to the exorcism its self  a full three quarters of the way through the film we have no idea what to think of this film. It has been a meditative slow burn up to this point and as a viewer the wish for some sort of action is strong. Still though very little happens, sure there is swelling music as San Chica's past starts leeching into the present. He is spoken to by the pig that says it is Legion and is his enemy. WTF! Even after the exorcism starts it is completely broken up by the subplots around San Chica, his relationship with Venessa and his family history. These scenes are mixed in with cliche exorcism scenes where unlike better movies the director didn't think actually doing an exorcism really is what the viewer wants. So there are these 15-30 second scenes of the demon showing itself and the priest praying, cut with the other characters comforting each other or explaining what an exorcism is. Straight from the original "The Exorcist" father Michael asks the demon to take him but then he walks out of the room as the demon agrees just to have a heart to heart with Tatiana's step father. The final 15 minutes is ruined by this approach and so when the final 20 second confrontation between the demon Incubus and San Chica happens it is beyond underwhelming. Never getting to build any momentum the film ends with an explanatory voice over and thus an underwhelming experience was had by all.

NOTE: This year's experiment will be to follow a bunch of people whose movies I see this year. In my twitter account @Soresport I have currently 6 followers and follow 5 people so this will be an interesting little test to see if following people actually increases your own followers.