Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 3

The world continues to be scary, but not as scary as the past. Last October anyway when I ventured deep into the scary movie cannon and really started to binge hard. Join me, wont you?

054 10/20 Microwave Massacre (1983) Blu-ray 3/5   Call it low expectations, but this one is pretty good. Stand up legend Jackie Vernon stars as a man who’s so sick of his wife’s fancy microwave meals that he eats her. It’s played for laughs, but there’s few laughs to be found. It’s cheap, the acting is terrible, the gore is lousier than Herschel Gordon Lewis but it manages to work. This is one I would of skipped in the VHS era but it managed to surprise me.

055 10/20 Slugs (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   Another one from the VHS era I would of skipped, and another case of low expectations. Surprisingly they play this one pretty straight considering the stupid plot of slugs attacking an American small town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to unseat Jaws or anything, more of a case of it’s not completely shit.

056 10/20 The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) Blu-ray 3/5   Pretty typical giallo that focuses more on police procedure than the actual murders. The plot is the typical convoluted “Who done it?” thing, this time trying to find the “Park Killer”. That said, it’s good enough to keep you interested.

057 10/20 Vamp (1986) Blu-ray 3/5   A couple of frat boys looking for strippers stumble upon a club full of VAMPIRES! I had forgotten all about this one having not seen it since the VHS debut. It’s not bad. Grace Jones manages to pull off a silent performance, it’s garish in the 80’s look and it’s fun despite being a bit shit.

058 10/21 Dracula Bites The Big Apple (1979) Blu-ray 3/5   Short film from the director of Vamp is basically a mini-version of “Love At First Bite.” It’s fun and at 20 minutes, better than “Love at First Bite.”

059 10/21 Dead-End Drive-In (1988) Blu-ray 3/5   This one is more of a Mad Max style Ozploitation than a proper horror. People love this one but it left me a bit flat. Youths are corralled into a Drive-In Prison camp. If it didn’t have such good action set pieces I would have given it only 2.5/5. UPDATE: The Arrow blu-ray of this one is fantastic with a couple of shorts: The Stuntmen and Hospitals Don’t Burn that are both amazing!

060 10/21 Basket Case 2 (1990) Blu-ray 2/5   Continues right where the last one left off, this one finds the brothers being cared for in a home for freaks. It’s lacking all the charm that the first one had, and the make-up is terrible for the most part. It’s played mostly for laughs, only it’s not funny.

061 10/21 Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Continues right were part two left off, and finds the gang of freaks on a road trip to visit a Doctor to help with the birth of Belial’s child. It sucked, but it’s better that the second one. Skip these and watch the original cult classic. I give that one a 4 out of 5.

062 10/21 The Vampire (1957) DVD 3/5   A Doctor accidentally takes pills derived from vampire bats and becomes a Dracula. This is a typical cheap 50’s monster film, which means I enjoyed it and am probably rating it higher than I should. It had everything I look for in a cheap 50’s monster film: terrible monster make-up, incredibly stupid scientific explanations and a plot that moves briskly.

063 10/21 Fright Night (1985) Blu-ray 4.5/5   Loved this one in 1985, still love it today. Easily one of the best films of the 80’s. I continue to have no interest in the remake.

064 10/22 In The Mouth of Madness (1995) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Revisited this one and I still find it mostly boring. Carpenter does Lovecraft to a degree, only its more silly than scary and oh so serious.

065 10/22 The Green Inferno (2013) Blu-ray 4/5   Eli Roth does his take on the cannibal picture. This one seemed to get hated on by pretty much everyone but I don’t know why. It’s as good as any other cannibal picture (so your taste may vary…) only without the gross animal cruelty. I thought this one was just fine and one of the better ones.

066 10/22 The Cat and the Canary (1939) DVR 3.5/5   A group of heirs must spend the night in a haunted house in order to see who gets the inheritance of their deceased uncle. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard star in this horror comedy, and they are perfect in it. The film manages to balance the spooks and the laughs. I might have to check out more Bob Hope films.

067 10/22 Knock Knock (2015) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Eli Roth updates “Little Miss Innocence” (though Chris Warfield gets zero credit since they technically remade “Death Game”). Two girls show up in the rain and torture a dad who has the house to himself while his family is away. I really liked this one. Roth goes subtle (which in Roth terms means no gore) with this one and allow Keanu Reeves to do some character work. It get’s a little over the top plot wise in the third act, but not enough to ruin the film.

068 10/22 The Witch (2015) download 4/5   A pilgrim family is banished from their town and must contend with the woods. I really enjoyed this one. It plays out like a drama with a rather slow burn and skips the typical jump scares and horseshit you typically get in modern horror. It makes for a spooky film that can stick with you.

069 10/23 The Blob (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This remake amps up the gore but otherwise stays pretty true to the original. As updates goes, this one is not only pretty good but might be better than the original.

070 10/23 Hardware (1990) Blu 3.5/5   In a “Mad Max “like apocalyptic future a scavenger brings his girlfriend home a robot head that ends up being a military robot that terrorizes her in her apartment. It is at it’s bone a Terminator knockoff, but it’s done with such style and flair that it mostly holds up as it’s own thing. The problem is the small scale ends up compromising it.

071 10/23 Street Trash (1987) Blu-ray 3/5

072 10/23 Street Trash (short film) Blu-ray 3/5   A liquor store owner starts selling contraband hooch to the homeless that causes them to literally melt. The only thing missing from this one is the “Troma” label in that it’s plot is just an excuse for every gross out gag in the book. Which is fine by me. I just found it a little tedious between the gross outs.

073 10/23 The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) DVR 3/5   Roman Polanski does a Hammer Horror send up that largely left me flat. I didn’t find that the gags held up and it couldn’t seem to find it’s footing between broad spoof comedy and something more subtle.

074 10/23 Possession (1981) DVR 3.5/5   This one starts off more as a drama about a marriage unraveling in one of the most brutally portrayed ways I’ve seen. Then in the second half it gets completely fucked up. To say any more is to ruin it, just trust me, this is absolutely a horror film.

075 10/24 Sugar Hill (1974) Blu-ray 3/5   A woman recruits a voodoo zombie army to get back at the gangsters that murdered her boyfriend. Probably one of the more gonzo blaxploitation epics you’ll find. I didn’t think it held up as well on this second viewing, but that may be due to my first viewing taking place in a bar full of drunken film fans. That said, the plot is irresistible.

076 10/24 Blacula (1972) Blu-ray 4/5   It’s easy to write this one off as simply a “Black Dracula” movie, but it’s actually one of the better contemporary versions of the Dracula myths that helps it to transcend its exploitation bases. It ends up being a ton of fun.

077 10/24 Tentacles (1977) Blu-ray 2/5   I’m fine with a Jaws rip-off, and I can get by with cheap effects. There is no excuse though for horrendous plotting, stunt casting – I’m sure Henry Fonda didn’t spend more than a day on set – extraneous scenes that do nothing and worst off all, setting up a joke with no punchline. I hated this one. I’m only giving it two stars out of respect for Fonda, John Huston and Shelley Winters.

078 10/24 Dark Water (2002) Blu-ray 3/5   This one arrived yesterday fresh from Arrow Video so I thought I would spin it. Everything great about J-Horror is here, stylish atmosphere, creepy sound design and a unique ghost story. It just all leaves me flat.

079 10/25 Scream Blacula Scream (1973) Blu-ray 3.5/5   The sequel sees the good count resurrected by voodoo. It was fine for what it was but I prefer the original.

79 films and still not done! It was an epic challenge for me, so there will be one more post next week provided the internet isn’t abolished.

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Movie A Day! 001- 010: “A New Beginning”

Decided to keep this going since I track what I watch (and read) anyway, but I’m having second thoughts and it’s all due to formatting. Depending on the browser I use, it adds spaces that I don’t want between the move number title thing and the mini-review. It’s ridiculous and drives me crazy. I have to go into the weird text editor and delete spaces added from the copying and pasting. Nice job, stupid website! So much for for finding an easier way to do this.

A weird hodge-podge of porn, cartoons, Shakespeare and special features to start the New Year.

001 01-01 I Am Always Ready (1978) 1.5/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekaRama disc with THE ULTIMATE PLEASURE, and boy, was it the lesser film. Another Carlos Tobalina title, this one is about a woman who comes into some cash and decides to make a porn film so she can meet John Holmes, and that’s just the opening 3 minutes! I thought I was watching the trailer! The rest of the film is scene after uninspired scene of the porn being shot. It’s dull with nothing to elevate it and will have you reaching for the fast forward button since the horrendous wigs and set dressing are more entertaining.

002 01-01 The “Scanners” Way (2014) 4/5
I watched all the special features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray that I watched last October. They’re all really good, the main doc going into all aspects of the filming, including the legendary head exploding scene (achieved via SHOTGUN BLAST!), and the rest featuring new and classic interviews with the key players. You typically can’t go wrong with Criterion, and this is no exception.

003 01-01 Frozen (2013) 3/5
This is the Disney film about the Ice Queen, not the horror film about a trio of skiers stuck on a ski lift. This one was good, there are some fun characters and even better, a kickass “Girl Power” vibe. These Princesses don’t need no Prince Charming to save them and who new Veronica Mars could sing like that? My problem with the film is my typical one with modern animation. The CGI characters look ugly and generic with zero personality and there are way too many songs in the first three quarters. Disney seems to think animated features are the same as Broadway musicals. As a result, the story pacing is completely killed. I liked the little snowman guy, and his little music video summer song thing was cute, but completely unnecessary to the narrative. Cut half the songs (not “Let It Go”, that one was actually placed perfectly) and I’d add another star. The ski lift FROZEN also got three stars from me, in case anyone was curious. Also, the new Mickey Mouse short on the blu-ray was pretty great. Man, I miss “Rubber Hose” animation.

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004 01-01 Stereo (1969) 2/5
This is the last of the bonus features on Criterion’s SCANNERS blu-ray. It’s David Cronenberg’s first film! It’s simply not very good! It’s more of an experimental art film about a Canadian testing on telepathy. So it sounds like a prequel to SCANNERS, but it’s not. A group of people silently (there is no soundtrack) wander around a testing facility, communicating only by telepathy. The only spoken words are chunks of narration throughout explaining the technical experiments that aren’t really being shown. So despite being incredibly well shot and looking fantastic in stark black and white, nothing really happens and my brain just kept buzzing away.

005 01-02 Joe (2013) 4/5
Thanks to the internet and some whack-o parts in the past, people forget just how great Nic Cage can be. Like in this movie, which is one of the darker, more bleak films you see in the “Southern Gothic” genre. I’m guessing that’s what you’d call it. Anyway, Nic is the title character who helps out a kid in town whose dad is a degenerate drunk. A hell of a film that goes all the way, like films of this type should. As a bonus, Cage does a bit where he teaches the kid how to make a “cool face”, which when demonstrated, is the face Cage makes ALL THE TIME. (Make your face like you’re in horrible pain, then smile. That’s the secret Cage Cool Face, I expect pictures.)

Macbeth Movie Poster

006 01-03 The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) 4.5/5
I’m no Shakespeare expert, far from it. Macbeth would be my favourite of the plays though, and this one is one of my favourite movies based on his works. Roman Polanski shoots this one like a movie, not a play, and with the sets and exteriors you forget you’re watching one of the most famous plays every performed and instead get swept up in the story of the doomed Scottish king. There’s not a single bad performance, the wordplay is accessible and since everything is done realistically, everything seems dripping in fog, dirt and blood. It actually plays as much like a horror film than it does a typical tragedy, and I highly recommend the new Criterion blu-ray that looks breathtaking, especially since my only exposure to the film prior was via a VHS dupe since this one seems to be one of the more forgotten films of Polanski’s filmography.

007 01-03 SexWorld (1977) 4/5
First there was WestWorld, then FutureWorld, of course there should have been a SexWorld since really, all those movies are about are fucking robots. This one is directed by legendary Anthony Spinelli, and he gets a higher budget than the porno chic films typically gets and it shows. Featuring many stars, including cult favourites Annette Haven and Kay Parker (her film debut), this one surprisingly hedges on the Sci-Fi elements (so after three films of robot sex, we never learn who has to clean the cum out of them) and instead deals more with the emotional aspects of being able to live your sexual fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nearly wall to wall sex scenes, but they’re presented in a way that it feels like a “proper” film instead of a loop carrier. So this is a good one, and the Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray puts to shame many legit releases from the major companies from the same period.

008 01-04 Toil & Trouble: Making “Macbeth” (2014) 4/5
009 01-04 Polanski Meets Macbeth (1971) 4/5
These are the main two documentaries on the Criterion blu-ray reviewed above, and both are exactly what you want to see. The first one from 2014 features recent interviews on the history of the film, while the other is a shot on set look at Polanski actually making the movie. They perfectly complement each other without being repetitive and are well worth watching on their own. The other extras, a couple of TV clips, one with the writer of the film on Dick Cavett and the other has Polanski debating Macbeth adaptations with a theatrical director are great as well. So in typical Criterion Collection fashion, this is about as thorough a set as anyone will need for this film.

010 01-04 Throne of Blood (1957) 4/5
Figured I go all out and watch Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth as well. They do a fantastic job adapting the play to feudal Japan, with some neat substitutions like evil spirits in the forest instead of witches. Otherwise, it’s “Macbeth” in plot and Toshiro Mifune is as god as ever in the title role.

Boy, just look at that Criterion cover art for MACBETH. Pretty great eh?

Well, there it is, a new year, an old blog, and more movies no one else is watching. Ten films in 4 days, though most were just around the hour mark so it’s a bit of a cheat. Fun? I hope so. Maybe this year I’ll make it out to the theaters a bit so there are actual current, helpful reviews. (Don’t hold your breath though….)