Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark- 2011

Just got back from the local theater, where I took in Guillermo del Toro's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. So here's what I thought!

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark begins with a backstory of a house where a famous wildlife artist named Emerson Blackwood lost his son, and eventually his own mind and life.
Many years later, a young architect, his girlfriend (an interior designer) and his young daughter move into the famous house to restore it, and kick start his career.
His daughter has a few problems, and the three of them begin an uncomfortable coexistence in the old mansion.
Fairly soon after moving in, the little girl discovers a hidden basement and begins hearing little voices beckoning her to come to the basement to set them free, so they can be friends. This plays on the little girl's loneliness and isolation so she complies. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers the voices belong to little creatures that are quite wicked, and are literally out to get her.

First off this film is beautifully shot. The way the house is represented really make you feel familiar with it quickly. The acting by everyone is solid, and the characters are well represented. Bailey Madison does an excellent job portraying Sally, the sad, lonesome little girl.
I felt the script was well thought out, as Sally's isolation makes her initial relationship with the voices seem plausible. With that, the little monsters are great! They are revealed with near perfect pacing, and pack a couple of really nice jump scenes. One of these jump scenes brought to mind one in The Sixth Sense, where the boy is in the little fort in his room, only a little more claustrophobic.
While it is not an overly gory movie, the effects are done nicely, and a scene near the end with Katie Holmes made me cringe. And then there is what happens to Mr. Harris! One more thing I really appreciated, was that there was no silly comic relief in this movie. So few are made that don't feel it necessary to give the audience a break.
There some implausible things, but nothing so glaring as to detract from the enjoyment of the show.
I enjoyed this movie alot, and was never bored. I don't think you will be either. I give it a 7.5 out of 10, and recommend you go out and see it! Let me know what you think!

One side note: Don't miss the Terror Troop podcast in the post underneath this one!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here it is! Enjoy Episode 1 of: Terror Troop!

Well, all the hard work is over on the first podcast! I really hope you all enjoy it! The first episode is available here, and soon on Hellhunter and Bloody Lizzy's sites. Subscription links won't be available until we have the new Terror Troop website up, which should be relatively soon.

Please keep in mind, this is the first in a series, and we will be improving with each outing. Your feedback is GREATLY appreciated!

In this episode, we cover the three host segments first. Hellhunter recommends Trollhunter, Bloody Lizzy recommends Shutter Island, and Boss Butcher recommends The Lair of the White Worm. The main feature is John Carpenter's The Ward. Plus, we have a special surprise guest!

We plan to have a new episode available every other Friday, so the next one should be available on September 8. So enjoy it and let us know what you think! Thank you so much for your patience! Just push the "Play" button on the little podcast image at the bottom of this post to hear it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A podcast has been recorded!

Ok, I know it's been a while since I posted, but I can report that a podcast has been recorded, and I am in the middle of editing it.  I feel it will be ready fairly soon, but since this is my maiden voyage into audio editing, I can't say yet.
I can also tell you that Hellhunter, Bloody Lizzie and myself are the hosts at this point, but we do have a special surprise on the podcast so stay tuned.  Your patience is appreciated.  I will post here as soon as I have a concrete day for it's release!  Thanks for all the support everyone!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Priest (2011)

The quote on the cover of this new Blu Ray claims it is "quite possibly the most original vampire you'll ever see!"  That may well be...if all you ever watch are vampire movies.  And if don't watch anime vampire movies.  But more on that in a moment.

Priest is based on the graphic novel by Min-Woo Hyung, and was Directed by Scott Stewart (Legion).  It is about the quest of a warrior priest, portrayed by Paul Bettany, as he seeks to rescue his niece from the clutches of an evil Vampire and the hordes of other vampires and creatures that follow him. 

The priest has a problem to start with. Mainly, the leadership of the church he belongs to, won't recognize that a vampire threat exists anymore. This is is due to the warrior priests supposedly annihilating the vampires, and banishing them to reservations.  The leaders of the church disbanded the priests because they felt they were a threat to their power.  So the priest is told if he goes against the church he goes against God.  Good thing for his niece, he follows his conscience rather than the corrupt leaders.

He joins forces with Hicks, his niece's suitor.  Hicks is the sheriff of the outpost where the priest's niece and her family lived.  They set out to find out the source of the vampire army, and are joined by a priestess (Maggie Q).  They ultimately discover the vampires live on a huge train, and are being lead by Black Hat a big, almost cowboy looking guy with a few secrets.  They begin to battle it out to save the niece and ultimately many more.

I really went into this thinking I would like it, even though it didn't look like a horror movie (and it isn't), but ultimately, it left me cold.  It wasn't for a lack of trying: the film boasts a $60 Million budget, and it looks it.  The special effects are largely great,  the action scenes are good, the musical score is rich and the creatures are scary looking.  The performance of Paul Bettany is very good, as is that of Carl Urban (Black Hat).

My problems with the movie are:   The story didn't draw me in.  I did manage to feel empathy for Priest, but nothing for the other characters.  The movie also has the post-apocalyptic world that somehow has reverted back to the old west as a backdrop.  To me this is just soooo overused.  The action, while good, shows the overwhelming influence of The Matrix, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Some of the themes in this story seem typical (to a non-enthusiast) in the world of anime and manga (see Trinity Blood).  It actually plays out more like and action western (with vampires) than anything else.  But...even I could deal with it if it managed to entertain me, and to be honest, it just didn't do it for me. 

One particular scene near the end really sums it up for me, but I don't want to spoil it for those who want to watch it.  All I will say is that if the build up of the priest's convictions had been properly handled, there would have been alot more contrast and would have made the scene much more compelling.  As it was, it became just another snap decision that faded away.  I can't possibly recommend a purchase of this movie.  Maybe a rental, if you want an action movie, and haven't watched much sci fi.  Priest gets a 4.5 out of 10 from me.

Thank you to Sheng Wi for the recommendation!  Sorry I didn't care for it, but we all have different tastes!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vampyres (1974)

I have to say, this is one I've meant to watch for some time.  I just love good '70s vampire movies, and this is a pretty good one.  The film was shot in the UK , and was Directed by Jose Ramon Larraz and stars Mariane Morris and Anulka (aka Anulka Dziubbinska) as two lesbian vampires, who lure unsuspecting men into their world of freaky sex and bloodlust. 
The movie starts quickly, with the two lovers in a torrid, albeit silly tryst in a gothic-looking room, a doorknob turns, and they are gunned down.  And off we go!  The movie follows three plot lines, the first is a man named Ted (Murray Brown) checking into a hotel.  The second, a young couple John and Harriet (Brian Deacon and Sally Faulkner) beginning a camping trip near the old dilapidated castle where the two vampires, Fran and Mariam live out the third plotline.
John and Harriet are driving toward their destination, and spot a woman by the side of the road.  Harriet, who is the passenger, also notices a second woman hiding back in the trees a bit. This begins to eat away at her, but John of course poo-poos it, wanting to focus on their camping and trying his hand at fishing the next day.  Later, Ted drives by, and picks up the Fran, and like a fly in her web enjoys and evening of wine drinking and wild sex.  He awakens to find he has been cut on the arm, and drained of energy.  He begins to look for answers…
This movie has a lot of nudity, and it would be easy to dismiss it as a soft-core porno if you don’t stick around past the midway point.  In fact, at one point I began keeping score between the sex scenes and the deaths, and sex scenes were winning!  Fortunately, I stayed with it, because it really is a creepy, scary movie.  Most of the good jumps come toward the end, but the mood is certainly eerie, and doesn’t let up.  No comedic relief here (not that there aren’t some unintentionally funny 70s moments).
As far as vampire standards, I wish they had stayed a bit more consistent.  The girls seem to be able to stand out in broad daylight most of the time, but at one point, they have to hurry to the wine-cellar because “it’s day”.  Also, no fangs.  These girls need knives.  Their supernatural qualities are only hinted at, and their connection, and others, to the opening scene are vague.  On the upside, the deaths of one male and one female victim later are truly terrifying and disturbing.  The movie ends pretty strong, and I will definitely watch it again.  That being said,  at this point, I can’t recommend buying the blu ray.  It’s $26.49 on Amazon!  I will try to find it on Ebay, however! I would recommend buying it on DVD at around $15, and it is certainly worth streaming on Netflix! But hurry, it’s only available on Netflix until 8/16/2011!  I give Vampyres, a 7 out of 10. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Missing the Horror Jungle podcast?

As many are already aware, and many have just discovered, The Horror Jungle podcast has been discontinued.  I will leave it to Bill and the Horror Jungle website to explain it all, as it was a personal decision.  What I can tell you is that several of the other hosts, along with myself, are planning right now on what it would take to launch another podcast that will provide horror movie recommendations.   The format would be much like that of the Horror Jungle and the content will be PG13 quality.  We would have segments, such as the Bloodbath segment which I have done, and would review and recommend movies as a group.

This is a big undertaking for us, as most of us don't have experience in producing a podcast, and the proper planning it takes to ensure a quality show that people will want to listen to.  Basically we have to try to do what BillChete was doing, which was a tremendous amount of work!  The fact that BillChete put in that much work for free, shows his dedication to the fans of the show.  I am so grateful to have worked with him, I can't tell you!  He really helped me alot (and so did Dr. Shock and Bloody Lizzie) to channel my passion into something so rewarding.  I will do my best to contribute in this future project, as I'm sure the other participants will.

For the near future, all of the hosts have websites listed to the right, and many of them write movie recommendations.  Please continue to stay in touch as we move forward. I myself am learning how to do little solo podcasts that I hope to put up here on the site.  They will be a continuation of my segment on the Horror Jungle, and will cover one Vampire-themed  movie, per podcast.  Stay tuned!  In the mean time, thank you so much for all the feedback and support.  It means alot to all of us!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pig Hunt!

Pig Hunt is and independent movie in the Fangoria Frightfest series.  Released in 2008 Directed by James Isaac.

It is the story of a group of "friends" led by John (Travis Aaron Wade), who go on a hunting trip in the woods of Northern California.  John's late uncle owned a cabin on some land there, and John hunted with his uncle a bit as a kid. When they get there, they run into a hippie of sorts, who saves John's girlfriend  from a rattlesnake.  He gives the movie it's first warning that things are a little different than they were back in San Fransisco, where the friends are traveling from.  As they are preparing to start their hunting trip, they hook up with some of the local hillbillies, who accompany them.  The bunch form an uneasy hunting party, and set out to see what they can get, all the while discussing "The Ripper": a local legend, 3000 lb wild boar.

The hunting party dissolves when, during a confrontation, one of John's friends kills one of the two redneck brothers.  The surviving brother, played by Jason Foster, vows revenge and runs off to rally his hillbilly brethren.  (The leader of the hillbillies is played by Les Claypool of Primus, who also contibuted to the film's soundtrack.)  As the hunting group scatters, and prepares for the pending battle, they begin to fall prey to the  hippie, who runs a commune filled with women, who have a marijuana operation and belong to a cult that follows the Ripper.  This begins a four way battle between the city folk, the hippie cult, the hillbillies, and the Ripper.

Now this show is far from perfect.  It is a low budget horror movie, and you can tell. That being said, it is pretty entertaining!  The effects used to create the Ripper are good.  It is all practical effects and no CGI.  Overall, most of the special effects are good. Lots of gore and tons of blood!  The acting is a bit uneven, but Jason Foster's portrayal of the older redneck brother  is great!  I was wary of the way the film was being set up, with John's girlfriend coming along, the almost overly diverse group of friends, but it doesn't sink into typecasting as I feared it might.  It is well into the movie before you get to see the Ripper, but it ultimately is worth the wait.

Some reviews I've read call it a horror comedy, but I felt it was campy.  Not an over the top comedy at all.  It also is not an over the top horror movie either.  It isn't scary, but it is bloody, and it is entertaining.  Definitely worth a rent, but not worth the prices I've seen for the DVD ($17.00+)  I give it a 6/10

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jenifer (Masters of Horror Season 1) Directed by Dario Argento

Streamed this one last night.  It is one of the episodes of Masters of Horror, which if you are not familiar with it, is a series of 1 hour, made for TV horror shows.

Jenifer starts out very quickly with a detective named Frank Spivy (Steven Webber) happening along a man attempting to murder a young woman with a meat cleaver.  The man won't stop, so Spivy guns him down, and rescues the woman (Carrie Anne Fleming).  As he comforts her, he sees that she is disfigured.  And I mean DISFIGURED!  After he takes her in, she is sent to a psychiatric hospital, because there is no where else to put her.  She is mentally impaired, and is mute to go along with it.

Spivy can't stand that she is forced to live in such a deplorable situation, so he takes her to his house, much to his wife's disappointment.  As he is trying to figure out what to do with her, Jenifer begins to act out sexually toward him, and heck, she does have a dynamite body so he succumbs to her, uh....charms.  Soon there are major drawbacks to his relationship with Jenifer, starting with her animalistic  devouring of the family cat!  It only gets worse from there.

This idea has so much promise, and it does deliver to some degree. However, it is a 1 hour tv show, and that is all you'll get out of this.  It is ok to watch for free, or as part of your Netflix subscription, but I would never spend any money to buy it.  The story is engaging, but there are many holes in the plot, but the incredible body of Carrie Anne Fleming will help you stick with it... or better yet, just watch Deadgirl which is top-notch! I have to give Jenifer a 4.5 out of 10.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heartless (2009)

Thanks to Benny in N. Cal for the recommendation!  Streamed this one on Netflix yesterday, Here goes!

Heartless is a 2009 horror film from the UK.  This is the story of Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess), a young man with a large, heart-shaped birthmark over the left side of his face.  The birthmark has made him the target of ridicule his whole life, and presumably has completely crippled him socially, as he lives with his widowed mother in a flat.  The city is rife with thugs, and gangs of violent, aimless youths.  Jamie happens upon a gang of them one night and is shocked to see they are not human.  They are reptilian looking demons.  He begins noticing the demon gang's graffiti around the neighborhood, and sees and hears all the reports of their evil deeds, which include torching individuals with molotov cocktails. Ultimately, he and his mother are accosted by the demons, and they torch his mother right in front of him.  This, coupled with the loss of a new friend  to the demons, drives him to buy a handgun and try his hand at being a vigilante.

Getting even doesn't last to long as he meets a mysterious little girl and her Papa (played by Joseph Mawle).  Papa B, as he's called, appears as a disfigured man, but possesses supernatural powers.  He offers Jamie the wish to not have his birthmark so he can fall in love and have a family of his own, which his mother wanted for him. All he has to do in return is contribute to the chaos in the city a little, by doing graffiti once in a while.  Jamie decides to accept the exchange, and is transformed.

Everything seems to be going well, until Jamie discovers that he's been deceived, and the price he must pay for his gift is much more involved and terrifying than he was led to believe.

This movie was enjoyable, overall.  The acting was really good, the pace was adequate, and I really felt for the lead character in his quandary.  I did have some issues with it, however.  Some of the CGI used to make the demons' faces was sketchy,  I also felt that Jamie's character kind of fell to the dark side a little too quickly, given his close relationship with his pious, loving mother.  I don't want to give the ending away, but I think it was a bit rushed in relation to the levity of the situation he was in.  The ending also is not a typical "horror movie" ending, so that might be worthy of your consideration.  I give Heartless a 7 out of 10.  Worth a watch!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Near Dark (1987)

This movie was recommended by a couple of listeners, and I actually hadn't seen it since way back in '87 at the theater! Thanks for recommending it, Lianne Preisser and Wes! 

The first time I saw this flick was in the theater back in 1987. It was probably a date night, but that was a long time ago, so I'm not so sure...  At any rate the beginning of this movie is definitely date-night friendly.  The good news is it starts out quickly, the bad news is that is resembles Footloose a little too much! But it's not a total loss, as we will see.
Near Dark is a movie from 1987, a few months after The Lost Boys.  Of course it was tough for this little independent to compete in theaters against a film released by Warner Brothers, but as far as content, I prefer Near Dark.  It is the story of Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) who falls for a beautiful, young-looking female vampire, named Mae (played by Jenny Wright).  As their enchanted evening comes to a close, Caleb is bitten (but not bled out) by Mae.  She disappears into the night, and as the sun rises, Caleb discovers, he can't handle the sunlight. In fact he begins to smolder!  As he struggles across his family farm, an RV races across the farmland and someone swoops him up into the rig.  As it happens, his father sees this and thinks he's been kidnapped.  Turns out Caleb has been "rescued" by a band of vampires that Mae belongs too.  Mae is glad he's there, but the rest of them aren't nearly as thrilled.
That is the basic plot of the movie.  We follow the story as Mae tries to get Caleb used to his vampire lifestyle, and to earn his way into the little clan, which consists of Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen ), Severen (Bill Paxton), Diamondback (Janette Goldstein) and Homer, a child vampire played by Joshua Miller.  The main dilemma for Caleb is:  he has a big problem killing someone in order to live. So, poor Caleb is stuck having to feed from Mae's wrists in order to survive.  This doesn't sit well with the other vamps, especially Hooker and Severen.
This movie definitely has that whole lighthearted take on the Vampire story for the most part, but it does give us some originality.  It was one of the first vampire movies to examine the vampire that happens to become transformed as a child, the struggles of a new vampire, and it involves one scene in the middle of the film, that makes this one worth watching.  The scene involves the group of vampires locking the door behind them as they enter a bar, and follows them as they taunt, torture and kill nearly every patron to fulfill their bloodlust.  This is where Henriksen and Paxton really take over the movie, and this scene stuck with me for 25 years!  I honestly didn't remember anything else about this movie until I watched it again.
I won't give away the rest of the story, in case you watch it, but will say, it holds your interest, and the performances of Henriksen, Paxton, and Goldstein (fresh off the filming of Aliens) make this show worth the watch!  Not a perfect horror film by any stretch, but the middle scene is a must see!  The Blu Ray has a nice featurette with Henriksen and Paxton, as well as first time director Kathryn Bigelow.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, August 1, 2011

What now?

Well, the news is out there about the Horror Jungle, and all of us are as disappointed as you listeners.  I have to thank BillChete for letting me take part in this great experience, and to Bill, Dr. Shock, and Bloody Lizzie for the help they all  gave me to get this site off the ground.  Thanks, too, to the other hosts.  It has been great getting to know such a talented bunch of people.  Especially, Thanks to you listeners for enjoying the show and providing us all with feedback, it means so much!
Much still remains to be sorted out, but I assure you, I will be updating this site as frequently as I can with mini reviews, and other subjects.  I would be glad to have any of you jump in and suggest movies to discuss or other topics that are interesting to you.
It sounds like several of the hosts want to attempt to put together a podcast, but it is a monumental task ahead of us.  If we get beyond the discussions and planning stages, we will let you know what progress we are making.  In the mean time, please check in at KC Canton's , as KC has invited us to participate on his site.  I am planning on contributing reviews there, and he has his Creepcast linked to the site.  Also please support the hosts of the Horror Jungle by interacting with their websites. The links are listed in my Freaky Links box to the right.
Thanks so much listeners, and I  encourage you to stay in touch with us as we move forward!