Friday, April 30, 2010

The Good, The Bad and the Freddy

With my Twitter name being FreddysFingers and my extreme geek pride in my Robert Englund photo, one can assume that I am a huge Nightmare on Elm Street fan and if you are one of those people… you assumed correct. Elm Street is my #3 favorite horror movie of all time so naturally I would think the remake would be good or at least fun. I was wrong. It was bad, really, really bad. I have good things to say about it but not nearly as many as compared to the bad things that I found.

What I liked:
➢ I loved what Steve Jablonsky did with the score. He took the original synth score of Charles Bernstein and made it darker, grittier and little more heavy-handed. I kept with the original tune right down to the nursery rhyme.

➢ The set pieces in the film, especially in the dreamworld, were pretty damn good. The restaurant was dark and almost surreal with the color and the boiler room was actually a pretty frightening place. They managed to keep the set looking like it was straight out of a nightmare… a great aesthetic part of the film.

➢ The scene in which Kris was thrown around the room by Freddy and when she gets hurled on top of the ceiling was done quite well. It was brutal and an overall great adaptation of the original scene. Even the gore, when Freddy slashes her, was pretty well done.

➢ The scene in the pharmacy when Nancy experiences the ‘micro naps’ and Freddy attacks her was brilliantly lit, shot and edited. It was probably one of the more frightening scenes in the movie and it played out like a real waking nightmare. The cuts back and forth make you disoriented but at the same time you are forced into the mood.

➢ The other scene when Nancy sees Kris in the body bag was also pretty intense and I’ll admit it freaked me out. I guess it was just so bizarre and a great take on the original scene.

➢ I don’t want to say anything about the appearance because I will get to that but what Freddy does with his glove is actually pretty cool and intimidating. He flexes his fingers to make his blades scratch up against each other and I thin it’s a great taunting mechanism.

➢ Freddy himself had some good lines here and there but I think one of the best ones is, “How’s this for a wet dream?” I almost plays on his sadistic, pedophile nature.

That’s pretty much all there is good about this movie. Now, onto the laundry list of bad things.

What I disliked:
➢ I thought I would actually like the new design of Freddy but I didn’t. He looks so weird and alien. I couldn’t take him seriously because he had weird teeth and everything. I don’t want to be mean or anything but he looked like an ape at one point.

➢ They also made Freddy serious, which I get because they want a more realistic approach I guess but that’s not who Freddy is. Freddy is somebody who enjoys killing and who has a perverted sense of humor. They could have gone serious and still be a little goofy but I guess it would be too much like Joker from The Dark Knight.

➢ I hated Freddy’s back-story. They turned him into a groundskeeper and took away the haunted and fucked up childhood that Freddy had as a kid. Plus, to have the parents burn Freddy down in a warehouse made now sense because that’s really overreacting to alleged pedophilia.

➢ There was so much redundancy throughout the movie both spoken and action wise. Why does Nancy burn herself to say awake but then leaves the car a second later? Wouldn’t leaving the car wake you up? Also, my favorite exposition dialogue is this: Nancy: “I think this is where he lived.” Quentin: “This is his home.” Those are just a few to name.

➢ The transitions between the dreamworld and the real world were so awkward, they weren’t fluid or random just awkward. It felt like somebody took two different movies from two different genres and spliced them together.

➢ I didn’t really understand the purpose of the boiler room considering that the basement of the pre-school wasn’t that complex in its pipework nor did it have the look of the overly exaggerated boiler room they had in the dreamworld.

➢ Personally, I think they just threw the glove in there because they needed it. Freddy himself did not need the glove at all.

➢ Freddy was just Freddy throughout the whole movie and he didn’t make himself into anything. The original had him literally part of his dreamworld (ex: having his mouth become a part of the phone). Here, he just is and doesn’t take the form of anything. It was kind of a let down.

➢ The whole ‘Freddy popping out of the wall’ scene was terribly computerized.

➢ I really did not like the ripoff of The Faculty when Quentin breaks off the blade from the giant paper cutter.

➢ Nancy just right away jumps to conclusions thinking that her mom is hiding something when there is nothing to allude, before, to that. It just seemed rushed.

➢ I hated Nancy in this one. She is a quiet, whiny teenager who likes to draw a lot and nowhere near the commanding and quiet ballsy Nancy of the original. I didn’t feel sorry for her nor did I identify with her at all.

➢ The rest of the characters are also really unlikeable.

➢ When Quentin flips out at the pharmacy because he couldn’t get his prescription pills, why couldn’t he just buy caffeine pills?

➢ I hated that they kept flipping back and forth between Freddy’s innocents. First it hints that he was innocent since Freddy had a pretty convincing monologue, then picture reveal that he wasn’t, then a flashback contradicts that and then we realize that he wasn’t innocent. MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

➢ One of the biggest problems that I had was; how the hell did those kids block out what Freddy did to them? Even if you were five-years-old, you would remember having a creepy groundskeeper abuse you with knives! Either you would turn into a mute or you would have nightmares throughout your entire life and not have them sporadically turn up. It was a huge plot hole.

➢ Nothing ever really occurred on Elm Street aside from a few actual nightmares. The preschool was out of the neighborhood and most of the kills were too… Freddy never lived on Elm Street so the title, a Nightmare ON Elm Street, doesn’t serve as a double meaning. It just seems pointless.

All in all, it seems like I loathed this film and that’s not true. When I went into the screening, I went in with an open mind and I turned out hating it. I didn’t read any reviews or anything so I was completely untainted. The reason why I nitpick is because I hold the original one very close to my heart, in fact, I rank it as my #3 greatest horror movie of all time so I feel like Platinum Dunes could have done so much more with this but they just rushed it out and didn’t do Jack. Honestly, this isn’t the worst remake because I would rather watch this than Friday the 13th or Halloween 2.

My buddy and I were talking and I think that we were able to isolate one of the problems with this movie: The horror fans/movie fans who grew up in the 80s watching the original are about 30 or so years old and those of us who grew up in the 90s watching the original are about 20 years old; there is a generational gap where you have a lot of people who will always remember the first one for how scary it was and you don’t have a lot of younger kids who know that feeling. A majority of the moviegoers are within the ages of 18-35 years old and they all hold the original one in high regard because of the memories they have attached to it. So, the problem is this: they are dishing out the remakes way too early and way too rushed. The end result is an unsatisfactory remake.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freddy Krueger in Retrospect

With the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street movie right around the corner I decided to take this time and explain to folks why I personally think Freddy Krueger is my favorite villain in a horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Mike Meyer’s boogeyman persona, or Norman Bates’ complexity, or even the simplistic yet terrifying idea of Jaws… but for me Freddy has a few elements to him that make me connect to him on a certain level. That’s not to say that I identify with him.


Freddy has a great personality but it’s not as complex as some horror serial killers, which can be good and bad but for me it’s one of the most defining things that makes Freddy stand out. Krueger is a very brutal killer even though some say that he isn’t but he has this goofy, playful persona that just freaks me out. He actually enjoys it and knows what he is doing and has no problem with it. Most killers kill just for the hell of it, or somebody tells them to do so, or they do it don’t even know it but Freddy gets a perverse pleasure out of doing it. In all the Elm Street movies he doubles as the antagonist and the comic relief. What’s even great about his comedy is that it’s so serious and he taunts his victims by playing around with them.


The other most defining quality of Freddy, that almost all horror serial killers don’t have, is a psychical personality. Most killers would just lumber around after their victims or chase after them but Freddy, he chases them but in the process he acts like a maniac waving his arms around and ‘squat-running’ as he does so. It’s terrifying. He looks like a troll running after you. When I was interviewing Robert Englund he stated that he wanted to make his character more threatening to compensate for his short height, so he created a killer that was so fluid and so lanky and he could act like clown with his actions. Englund also sited the fact that Freddy is almost like a reincarnation of a Western villain, and being a huge fan of Westerns, it was really nice to see another genre bleed into horror.


I was always scared of burn victims because they don’t look human anymore, and I’m not saying this to be offensive but as a little kid when I saw one, I would normally be freaked out. Melted and exposed skin/veins just scared the crap out of me and that’s probably one of the greater reasons why he frightened me as a kid. The twisted, warped, bubbly skin gave him this monstrous look and it added to the fact the he was living nightmare. Also, unlike most killers, Freddy shows his face and doesn’t hide it behind a mask or a veil and considering the Englund has played Freddy in all his movies, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.


When he isn’t in the Dreamworld Freddy reminds me of The Scarecrow from Batman; since he is so limber, it’s easy for him to maneuver around when it comes to hand to hand combat (no pun intended). When he is in the Dreamworld, he can turn himself into anything or do anything to kill off his victims. It’s so intresting to see the different reincarnations of Freddy and to see all his methods of killing somebody… but again, it goes back to what I said earlier about him taking a perverse joy in his murders. Also, the idea of somebody attacking you in your sleep is very frightening. You can always avoid campgrounds, move to a different town/state, shoot somebody or something but everybody has to sleep. It’s the most vulnerable place you have because it’s a place that you can go to and relax and dream about your fantasies but now that’s not safe.

Back Story

Considering this is something that I had a lot of experience with, there is nothing more frightening than a child rapist/murderer. We had one in our neighborhood and the fear that we had when we found out was almost unbearable. We were afraid to play outside, our parents kept us on our toes and we were genuinely freaked out. Take away the whole raped-by-a-thousand-mental-patients story and focus only on who he was before he became the monster that the is today; Freddy Krueger’s story is very realistic and I think that’s another reason why I like him as a villain… cause it can happen. The chances of a mental patient escaping from a hospital or a somebody finally going crazy and goes on a killer spree is pretty slim, but child molesters are extremely real.

I guess in retrospect, because I was an insomniac and I was one of the few people that enjoyed the night atmosphere… I can really relate to the characters in that movie. I know how it feels to not be able to sleep and have waking nightmares/dreams and not even know about it. I have a very weird opinion on sleep and dreaming and I guess that’s why I love Nightmare on Elm Street and the concept of a dream demon so much. Personally, there is not greater fear than falling sleep and not waking up… it’s scary stuff and since I had several relatives that went this way, it’s just meant to be that I can connect with this film and it’s antagonist.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Look at Sexual Imagery Inside The Videodrome

“The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”
- Brian O’Blivion

As you can guess by the quote that today’s post will be about Videodrome. This is a movie that, after repeated viewings, I finally realize that there is a greater subtext than just the theme of TV appealing to our sadistic tendencies. There is a more profound theme in the film that I cannot fully grasp until I watch it a few more times and maybe do some research on it. I have always thought of Videdrome as great commentary on the media and their influence they have on our minds, much like the film The Live. However, I want to briefly scratch the surface of the sexual perversion that is Videodrome and talk about its imagery.

The imagery in Videodrome, obviously, reflects the sexuality that is in the film and this is one of the main reasons why I love David Cronenberg as a director. His gore, his violence, his bizarre distortion of the body has a method behind it. Much like Videodrome, it has philosophy. As we already can tell by the quote above, there is a distinct connection that the television screen has with the viewer’s eyes and it’s implying that the TV has become a part of our bodies. Considering the theory that we are attracted to violence in a somewhat sexual way, we can see why these images (below) are important to the film.

Here is one of the less obvious examples of sexual imagery. If we look at the dynamics of how a VCR works we know that by putting a Beta tape into the VCR will make it play… however in this scenes the VCR ‘player’ is Max’s chest. The opening for the tape to go into bares a striking resemblance to the vagina and I think it’s intentional. In the same scene, Max pokes his gun into his chest opening causing him to squirm in a somewhat pleasurable pain. Guns, even in other genres of film, are almost always seen as phallic symbols so it makes sense that Max would use a gun. The theme that violence causes sexual stimulation is not going unnoticed since the gun causes violence.

In this scene, Max became seduced by Nicki just after she killed Brian O’Blivion (of course this is all a hallucination) and she proceeded to tell him to “come to her.” Then television then became a living, breathing thing that became sexually aroused by Max’s presence. I think showing Max burying his face in the TV’s protruding screen shows, further, that the television is becoming a living thing that is sexual appealing. The way I see it, the TV is representing a woman and that Max has become attracted to this ‘woman,’ and the screen is like the woman’s chest. If you look at the detail and the texture of the TV screen it’s soft and squishy, which arguably could be the woman’s breasts. This would also explain why Max puts his face into the screen.

Much like the distinct similarities between Max’s chest VCR and a vagina, here there is a distinct resemblance between the TV’s gun and a penis. Yes, in this scene the TV screen becomes more flesh like and a hand holding a gun extends out from it and aims it at Max. The tip of the TV gun resembles that of the meatus or the head of the penis and it proves my argument that the gun in Videodrom doubles as a phallic symbol. The gun is flesh covered and has veins circulating through it. It’s ridged, almost as though it’s becoming slowly infected. I also find it interesting that a gun has to be fired at Max for him to be re-brainwashed against Videodrome.

When I first saw this scene I was actually pretty grossed out by it, not to say that the entire movie had some gross scenes, but than I realized that Cronenberg almost always incorporates some kind of object or person that is a metaphor for a venereal disease. I say venereal because in his films like Shivers, The Brood and The Fly, there is always some subtle theme of sexuality and it’s consequences of unprotected sex. In a later scene, Barry takes a Beta tape that is alive (it was breathing) and inserted it into Max’s chest and this caused him to kill somebody. Here, Harlan is about to insert another tap. I love the look of this particular tape because we can tell that it is a complete twisted, distortion of blood and human skin yet it’s still sexual in the sense that it’s breathing and moaning. This particular tape is badly infected by a venereal disease and the disease is Videodrome. The first sexual experience with Videodrome wasn’t nearly as bad as this one would have been and I think it’s the juxtaposition between the two tapes that I love. The deeper you get involved with Videodrome’s agenda, the more you plague your body with its sickness.

A major part of Videodrome that I really enjoyed was the progression of the television becoming a living thing. At first the TV, or when Max beings to hallucinate, just breaths and has veins coursing throughout its structure. The screen resembles that of a chest but its still a TV screen with static and everything. However, as the story progresses the design of the TV becomes more flesh colored and veiny and at the end the movie the screen becomes an actual human chest. It’s a brilliant way to show that the TV is literally becoming a character in the film.

As you can see, Cronenberg’s Videodrome is probably one of his masterpiece movies in terms of metaphors and personifying the sexual attraction we have towards violence. Aside from The Fly and The Brood, Videodrome has some of the most grotesque sexual imagery that I had ever seen and there is a reason for it and just thrown in there at random. Personally, I think it’s safe to say that I am a huge Cronenberg fan because of this: his movies are so heavily seeded with subtext and theme that he is like the North American version any Japanese horror director. Videodrome, much like the Videodrome in the movie, is raw experience for anybody who watches it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aztec Vampires and the Titty Twister

For the longest time I had always wanted to talk about a certain subject of Dusk Till Dawn that I really liked and I didn’t want to bring up the over-the-top violence because than that would turn into a discussion about Quentin Tarantino, so I sought out some kind of inspiration. That was until Hellbound Heart from Twitter had this to say: “Talk about how it’s the 1st horror to conflate Aztec history with Western myth. (i.e. strip club backed onto pyramid)” I swear, her and I were on the same wavelength because at the end of the movie the camera pulls back from an amazing matte of the strip club that was build on top of an Aztec pyramid. I always though it was a cool little twist but I never thought there was a method behind the drawing… how wrong I was.

A lot of people who don’t know about the entire span of the Vampire myth will tell you that vampires first came around in the 1800s or when Bram Stoker wrote his infamous book entitled Dracula. However, some die-hard vampire fans will tell you that vampirism went as far back as the Middle Ages with Vlad Tepes or the Countess Elizabeth Bathory. But, those who are experts in vampire mythology and lore will tell you that vampirism first stared in about 5000 BC in early Mesopotamian cultures. This is where we start our history lesson about Aztecs and their vampiric beliefs.

The early South American cultures had several gods and myths that revolved around vampirism from the Chonchon of Peru and Chili or the Cihuateteo, which were the sprits of women who died in childbirth. The subject that I want to briefly discuss is a god-like monster called Camazotz. The monster was usually associated with night, death, and sacrifice and had the body of a human and the head of a bat. Soon the Zapotec tribes began forming cults around the monster god. People have suggested that the myth of the Camazotz was spawned from real life giant vampire bats called Desmodus Draculae in which there is are numerous fossilized evidence to support this claim. However, other people have suggested that the myth was inspired the Spectral Bat.

There is a specific legend that was first seen in the Mayan records about bat-like monsters that were encountered by the Mayan heroes known as Hunahpu and Xbaladque. According the writing, these two heroes had to spend a night in the ‘House of Bats’ while embarking on their quest through the underworld of Xibalba. The leader of these bat-like monsters was Camazotz, which is translated to “death bat”, and his call was similar to an eek.

Knowing this we can assume that Titty Twister in Dusk Till Dawn is some kind of reincarnation of the House of Bats, considering that there are bat-like humans that occupy the temple and midway into the movie there are bats surrounding the temple. In the myth, the heroic twins had to battle the bat-like humans and we can assume that those monsters were in fact vampires to some degree and in Dusk Till Dawn they are portrayed as more stylized monster. They still retain their human bodies but their facial features resemble that of an actual bat. Hell, we can even interpret the temple as one of the ‘meeting places’ for the Camazotz cult and that after a while Camazotz’s people inhabited the temple and lured truckers so that they could feed on them.

Going on what Hellbound Heart said, I do think it’s very interesting how Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez somehow took what was thought to have been a strictly Western or Eastern myth and blended into Aztec and Mayan history. I also find it very interesting that they used a strip club to lure unsuspecting truckers because strip clubs are always synonymous with North American tradition. I’ll even go as far to say that Dusk Till Dawn is a study in the male complex because why use a strip club to lead men into? It’s something that all men want and crave… sex. It’s universal. To be honest, I can go on and on about this but I have to cut it off somewhere. I think Dusk Till Dawn is not just some run-of-the-mill vampire movie but rather a melting pot of different cultures and the reason why I didn’t grasp it until now is because of its subtly. That’s what QT and Mr. Rodriguez are known for; the art of subtly.

The Vampire Rave: Aztec Vampires

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Felt Sorry for Clover

“I think there is almost nothing scarier than an animal that is much bigger than you that’s terrified. Because that animal is going to do anything.”
- Matt Reeves (Director)

I wanted to make a post about Cloverfield but I felt that if I did make one I would have to tap into the viral marketing of the movie and that would take pages and pages to describe. Well, I sat there watching the movie and then it hit me… not the idea for the post but a new look on the movie. I remember J.J. Abrams stating that the monster in this movie (sweetly named Clover) was actually a baby monster and not a full grown up. At first I thought, “Holy hell, imagine how big the mother must be,” but then I realized… I kind of feel sorry for the monster. I felt for the characters in the movie but I also felt this feeling of sadness for Clover.

“It is an infant. It’s newly hatched, newly born. And all the pain that goes with something being exposed to a foreign environment and temperatures, and things and sounds and little pests, almost like ants… people.”
- Neville Page (Creature designer)

Even if you didn’t pay attention to the viral marketing in which it was explained that Clover was an infant there are still a lot of hints throughout the movie that tell you that it may be a newborn. Notice how, near the end, Clover is actually galloping away from the military as they bombard him with bullets and bombs. He does not once attack the military purposely but rather runs away from it because they are attacking him. Occasionally Clover would look around and let out a loud shriek of pain looking for his home or his mother. It’s sad to think that this poor monster is only trying to get back to his home but doesn’t know where it is.

It’s very arguable that the monster is the main villain in the movie and to the general audience it is, but if you look at the clues that I stated before you can easily see that the monster may not necessarily be the villain. Our main protagonists are Rob and his friends but I think that Clover is an anti-hero of sorts. This leads me to believe that there are no real villains at all in this movie. The military is doing their job but at the same time they are helping the citizens as much as they can and one of the soldiers goes against his regulations to help Rob and his friends. It’s one of the few monster movies where there is no real villain.

In comparing Clover to Godzilla; it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Godzilla represents the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki whereas Clover represents the 9/11 bombings. They both emerged from a national tragedy. Godzilla himself can be considered a tragic villain because he didn’t ask to be mutated from the nuclear fallout however Godzilla than goes out of his way to purposely attack the city. Clover on the other hand is not purposely attacking the city… he is trying to maneuver his way around while the military is blowing him up.

As much as I adore Godzilla and most of his movies I didn’t really have any solid memory of me being captivated by the movie even though I still love it. With Cloverfield, I spent hours of the night trying to find what the movie was about after I saw the teaser trailer before Transformers. I have such fond memories of talking to people and revealing clues about the movie and what the monster looks like that I developed a bond to the movie. Perhaps this is why I would place Clover as my #1 favorite movie monster. With that said, I will leave you with a quote from the creature designer of the film. I think this quote really sums up that tragedy that is Clover.

“But to know that when it is screaming, when it’s roaring, it’s not a threat display kind of thing. It’s crying out to its mother, perhaps. It’s lost.”
- Neville Page (Creature designer)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On the Set of Greed

Well yesterday I had the opportunity to star in a horror-drama film that was being directed by my friend Frank Holly (he is the person I hang out with and end up doing crazy stuff around the city with) Well, I was the main character and his film was entitled Greed. The story is about a young man who runs into a mysterious Nomad and he offers the young man a red bean. Well, the beans give him what he desires most but what he doesn’t understand is that if you abuse this power, there are dire consequences to from it. It’s based on the saying “Lust, greed and anger are the gates to Hell,” which for my character is absolutely true.

Below are the production photos. We were shooting up off the Linden stop on the Purple Line all the way in Wilmette. We were shooting up near the Bahai Temple.

Nomad under a bridge

Close-up special effects shot of lighting a card on fire.

It just didn't want to stay lit.

Changing the film.

Painting the sign.

Ricky's babushka

The Nomad trots down the cobblestone road by the Temple

Private residence that looks like a White Castle.

Bahai Temple.

Ricky being an asshole!

Ear test 1.

Paint test.

Director - Frank Holly
Nomad - Joe McGahan
Young Man - Rick Romanowski

As you can see it was a fun time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sci-Fi Spectacular 4 Coverage

As many of my Twitter followers know, I was fortunate enough to attend the Sci-Fi Spectacular screenings at the Music Box here in Chicago. I was unable to go with my friend however I met up with my old teacher/mentor and the producer of his podcast known as The Harvey and Bob Show. It was great to finally meet them after all these years and we had a blast watching all the movies they showed.

The lineup was as followed:
Planet of the Vampires
Dark Star
Flash Gordon
Q: The Winged Serpent
They Live

Larry Cohen was actually there too to present Q and then do a quick Q&A with the audience. He was a very straightforward and very wacky person. While filming Q he actually filmed at the top of the Chrysler building without any kind of permit, which he stated that it would never fly in today’s world. It was very entertaining to hear him talk about filming Q and Black Caesar.

Larry talking about his experience while filming Q

It was great seeing all those films on a 35mm print with the film scratches and the cigarette burns… it felt more realistic to me. Throughout the night the theater played old 70s, 80s and 90s sci-fi trailers ranging from Tank Girl to Clockwork Orange to Single Room Furnished. It made me feel like I was watching a true grindhouse movie or movies.

Now, I want to do a brief reflection on all of the films that I watched. I was unable to see Dark Star because I had dinner then.


Seeing this on the big screen was a breathtaking. I always had an appreciation for the special effects but now I think I have a huge appreciation for the sound design. The sound the ants make with their antenna is so spine-shivering that it will get stuck in your head. For that time, it was truly revolutionary.

Planet of the Vampires

This was a really bad movie with really bad acting but what made this movie for me was the set design and the effects. The set design was wonderfully crafted and looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel. The effects were great, especially the laser gun… it sounded pretty good and overall it was really creative.

Flash Gordon

This was the first time I actually saw this movie. It was… okay. I think the only thing that it had going for it was the costuming and the set design, especially the costuming. Everything was glossy, over the top and ridiculous.

Q: The Winged Serpent

I thought this was a really good movie in terms of character and effects. The winged serpent is like a second hand character while the rest of the movie is like a crime drama. Although I liked the stop-motion effects more than I liked the story. Larry Cohen stated that it was a satire on the fact that everybody is suing everybody nowadays.


Ever since I saw it on FearNet at one point I always wanted to see this movie and now I finally did. I thought it was a decent flick. I liked the pacing of the story but the effects really steal the show. They are some amazing puppetry and animation… oh and the sound design was great.

They Live
There is way too much to talk about when it comes to this film but what I will say is that it was really fun to see this on the big screen. Midway through the epic fight scene the film ran out and they had to change reels. Oh it was great, it made me feel like I was in the 80s watching this movie at an old movie theater.

Right: My teacher/mentor who influenced my horror hobby.

Other than that I had a blast. I met up with Nicki Nix who runs Hey Look Behind You and I met up with Mitch, Kristen and Bryan of Horror Society… haven’t seen them in ages. So it was a fun night.

**NOTE: These convention coverage posts are meant to be bragging about going to these events. Honestly, I had more fun talking to high school teacher than I did with the actual event so I hope that I don't piss anybody off.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Illuminati References in They Live

I actually found this short 30 minute or so documentary completely on accident. The documentary is entitled They Live, We Sleep (The Illuminati System). Essentially it’s about the movie They Live and how it relates to the Illuminati and not just aliens taking over the world. It’s a very jarring video and it made me think for a minute on some of the undertones that Carpenter put into this film and it’s even more proof that They Live is a very underrated movie to begin with. I knew that that movie was about the declining economy and how the world is fueled by a culture of greed and consumption and inevitably there will be an uprise of the common man. I never thought of seeing this film as an anti-Illuminati film… and I still don’t, however, it’s a great perspective on the movie itself.

Below are the videos. Watch them in order:

Now, I personally think there is an Illuminati although I don’t think They Live has anything to do with the group whatsoever. I think that the movie is a sociopolitical commentary on the Yuppie generation of the 80s and how their ideology is only based on greed and money, which this film does point out. The point of me showing these videos is to see what your reaction of the documentary is… do you agree with the documentary or do you see another subtext within the film?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Revisiting Phantasm 2

As a child I loved the Phantasm series and I distinctly remember having a profound love for the second Phantasm movie than the first one. I could never understand why and I was itching to find the second film but the DVD was never at the library, I didn’t have the money to buy the DVD off a website so I waited until an opportunity came. Well, that opportunity came in the form of Corey from Evil on Two Legs… ‘cause he gave me a whole bunch of VHS’ that he didn’t want and one of them was Phantasm II. This was perfect for me because I used to watch that movie all the time on taper rather than DVD so I got to watch it the old fashioned way. It was a blast to the past for me.

While I sat there watching the movie I tried to figure out why I liked this movie so much and why my love for it overshadowed the original. The acting was pretty bad and the dialogue was very corny and seemed scripted, however it had it’s good moments like the entire montage of Reggie and Mike raiding a tool store and making custom guns and flamethrowers. After the second act (or after the car exploded) things got really good and I finally found out why I loved this movie as a kid; it’s because of the action and the gore/effects. Compared to the original movie, this one had some of the best action and some of the best gore that I had seen as a kid.

In terms of action there is a lot of it and it starts off in the first few minutes of the movie when Reggie is battling the minions inside the home. I counted about 3 explosions in this movie, which was eye candy for me as a kid and still is. I also was pretty thrilled to see a car chase between Mike, and Reggie and The Tall man because to me it felt like the situation got more serious and at that point there is more at stake; neither of them are going out without a fight and that it was almost like a prelude to an epic battle inside. Psychologically this is what it felt like although I am sure most of you might just think it was another shitty car chase.

I also noticed that there were more sentinel spheres, which I also enjoyed and these ones were particularly different. There are two that look and do the same thing but the gold one is a tad more brutal than the other ones. The scene where one of the undertakers gets attacked by the gold sphere was amazing, even as I watched it now I was captivated by it. The sphere bores into his back and starts shredding his insides as it makes its way towards his head… but it gets stuck in his mouth. It was unnerving and it made me cringe. The scene in which the Tall Man attacks Mike was the best scene out of the entire movie. Reggie stabs the Tall Man with a metal tube and begins pumping acid into his body. Yellow slime starts to spray all over the place as the Tall Man’s skin begins to melt. It’s a fantastic scene of utter disgust. I can tell you right now that scene alone made me want to watch this movie over and over again.

Another one of the most memorable things from this movie that has stuck with me all these years were the two funeral henchman. I could never understand why but I guess the reason lies within the fact that I used to enjoy when there was more than one villain. As a kid, it made the journey tougher and it I just enjoyed the idea that funeral workers would turn evil and attack people with hatches for no reason. By the age of 8 or 9 I had been to 8 funerals and 1 wedding, so I really got used to the whole funeral setting. Not only were there just two henchman, the Tall Man’s minions played a huge part in this and you had the guy with the gas mask and chainsaw. The best part was the introduction to the three sentinel spheres.

When the movie ended I ejected the tape and I sat back in my chair for a minute to reflect on what I just watched. I then realized something that I knew about but never fully understood until now: the acting may be bad and the dialogue a bit corny but if the imagery has stuck with me all these years than it must mean that the movie is more than just a bad movie. A movie can be bad in terms of filmmaking but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad in entertainment value. If a movie can entertain you, than I guess it did it’s job and I know that other things entertain some people. I would categorize this under my guilty pleasures… no wait! This is a guilty pleasure because I am proud to say that this movie is a favorite of mine. Sure, it’s not the original and it no longer holds to place as being my favorite of the series but it’s a pretty good film. It’s 80s cheese at it’s best and for me, it’s the nostalgia of the film that will always make me sit through it from beginning to end.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Gory Nature of Frontier(s)

The one After Dark HorrorFest movie that has plagued me for some time now has been Frontier(s) because I missed out on the showing and I heard rave reviews about it’s brutality and it’s performances. Well, I had a chance to finally watch it and I thought it was a pretty good movie. I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the performances and I especially enjoyed the fact that it pays homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, what I want to talk about is the gore and the brutality of Frontier(s). I enjoy seeing gore and I enjoy seeing a little brutality but with this movie, it seems like an excuse to spray blood and guts on beautiful woman.

Note: I think I am probably one of the few people who is actually bothered by the gore and brutal nature of the film.

When we see the main heroine push one of her captors over a table saw and starts sawing him in half blood is sprayed all over as she is screaming and yelling and crying and everything but she doesn’t leave. She still stands there letting all the blood spray all over her and the camera is more focused on her screaming, as her face is drenched in blood than anything else. I guess psychologically you would be traumatized but I just find it a tad idiotic.

I guess the way I see it, considering how long it was and the fact that the camera was ore focused on the blood spraying on her face, this scene is just a last minute excuse to make the movie more brutal and make an attractive female lead go through an even more unlikely traumatic experience. Of course a lot of parts in this movie are unlikely but to me this one is just pushing it. I already felt for the character but I didn’t need to see her caked in blood to make me feel like she went through a truly life changing experience.

This isn’t the first movie that I felt this way, in fact I felt the same way when I saw High Tension when Alexa was in the back seat of the car and Marie was sawing the guy’s face in half as blood and brains coated Alexa’s face. She is just seated there letting herself get drenched in blood and not moving out of the car. Again, I think it’s just an excuse to take a pretty woman and soak her in blood to stimulate horror fans.

Though these scenes didn’t really ruin the movies for me at all; I loved High Tension despite its flaws and I enjoyed Frontier(s) quite a bit. I just think scenes like these don’t have to be in movies to try to out-beat other horror films in terms of blood and brutality. However, for those of you that really know me… you’ll know that I am not a big fan of gore because I don’t think excessive amounts of it are scary. I don’t know, I know I am in the minority on this but it’s just a concern that I have. I still enjoyed the movies.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dreadville: The Lottery and Love, Death & Blueberry Pancakes

Recently I was contacted to review a couple of short movies that were made by Jason Patfield; those movies were The Lottery and Love, Death & Blueberry Pancakes. Though they are not horror per say, they do have elements of horror and they are mostly pulp movies similar to that of Seven. This intrigued me so I requested them and to my surprise… they aren’t bad. There is always room for improvement but they were entertaining and they all took place in the same town of Dreadville, which is something that I love. To see unrelated movies somehow interconnect with one another. Well, here are my short reviews of the short movies:

The Lottery

This tells the story of a man who is down on his luck when playing the lottery but he needs the money to pay his abusive landlord, a mob debt and other things. His friends meets up with him and they plan to leave the states to Mexico but what isn’t said is that the friend also has a dealing with the mob that hasn’t been paid back… and trouble arises.

The Lottery is easily my favorite movie because I fell in love with the main character/hero. You feel for him because all he wants is a chance at luck when his entire life has been nothing but bad luck. The performance was great and very realistic. Even the idea of the story was pretty well thought of and that the surgical scenes as well as the ending has a sort of pulp to it that I only saw in films like Once Upon A Time in Mexico and Sin City. With that said, the rest of the acting can be improved on; it’s not bad but it can be a little stale or over the top. The only other major improvement that should be taken into consideration is the camera effects. I didn’t really like slow motion effect, or the doubling, or the distortedness because it kind of took away from the movie. Other than that, The Lottery is a pretty good short film.

Watch the trailer

Love, Death & Blueberry Pancakes

I think this one has a good story that was told in very little time. It’s essentially about a father who struggles with his daughter after she falls for a sleazy gang member, although at the time he doesn’t know it. During this time, the gang is put on edge after an assassin is going around killing its members. I don’t want to give anymore that that otherwise I would give away the ending.

As I stated before, there is a lot of story here and I think the biggest problem was that it was told is such a short time. If this was a longer movie I think it would have been better but that’s not to say that as a short film it fails to deliver. I was engaged in the story and the characters; the characters were believable and performed quite well. This story is lacks the pulp of The Lottery but it still has a certain style to it that I liked. I would argue that this story could be on par with Quentin Tarantino’s style of crime if given the chance. I can say this, after watching this short I had a huge craving for blueberry pancakes.

Watch the trailer

Overall, I think the stories that come out of Dreadville are told very well and they are engaging and I think the characters are the strongest parts of the story only because of their intentions. I think the acting can be improved on a little but that’s something that every indie director faces as he or she is starting out. I enjoyed the experimentation and I think that by doing that, Patfield is learning the ropes quite well. I hope to see more Dreadville productions and I am also hoping for a feature length movie from them as well.