Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Slaughter Family - 1994

Well, it’s is that time again… the time of the year where we sit down with the family to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner and carve the turkey. So, this year I present this turkey of a film; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: New Generation. Oh yes, not only is it unwatchable and damn near stupid the family is also pretty stupid. Now, I only saw it once in my life so I can’t really remember what the family was like but from what I remember, the family was just unappealing. I do remember Matthew McConaughey being a total freak but that’s really all the family has going for it. It says a lot when I can’t even remember what was going on in the film. Very forgettable.

As for Leatherface , I can’t remember if it was a girl or a guy but the mask that he normally wears has been replaced by an entire woman suit. It’s as if Ed Gein replaced Leatherface but was dumb down and he was given no character. I remember laughing when I saw him rather than being scared. What made the last three so memorable and even scary was the fact that Leatherface wore a human mask that was dead, decaying and dirty. It was frightening. This Leatherface was just stupid and laughable but perhaps that was what they were going for.

Family heirloom: McConaughey’s hydraulic leg.

Note: I don’t have any pictures of the leg so bare with me.

With that said, I wish all of you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Be safe and I hope you enjoy this time with your family and friends.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Sawyer Family - 1990

What do you think Viggo Mortensen will be remembered as once he becomes a little older and retires? Probably anything but Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3. Yes, this time around we are discussing the Sawyer family of the sequel to the sequel to the original. This family, like the Sawyers from the second movie, don’t have any official connections to the family from the original but they still bare a lot of similarities. However, this family has been a little more expanded and there are some major changes. This isn’t really my favorite family because they just seemed a little… strange, and that is something to say when it comes down the TCM families. So, let’s discuss them.

Two of the biggest changes were the addition of two new family members and the disappearance of another. Drayton is no longer there, probably because he died since that was in the 90s. The two new characters were the little girl, who might be the younger sister or cousin of Leatherface and the old woman in the wheelchair who, I assume, was Leatherface’s mother. Again, these changes mean that they have nothing to do with the other Sawyer families unless this is another part of the family. There is also the addition of three brothers. Viggo plays the ‘cute’ brother, there is a hick-like brother that does the cleanup and there is another one. I haven’t seen this movie in a while so I can’t be sure of the third brother. Despite the changes, this family is a little closer knit than the rest because they do things together like bashing somebody’s brains in and they value their mother’s cooking. It seems like they are more of a family than the rest even though it’s a nutso family.

In this film, Leatherface is an idiot and he isn’t charismatic nor is he sympathetic but rather just a character they threw in there in order to call it Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He is the brother of Viggo and the other two and he walks around with a limp. Why? Because he has some sort of metal brace around his leg. He also has a more acute learning disability as seen threw his breaks where he tries to spell on a spelling machine. There isn’t much to say about him because he is so one-dimensional. Not the best Leatherface but certainly not the worst.

Family heirloom: The chainsaw

“The saw is family!”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sawyer Family - 1986

It’s almost that time of the year again and it’s approaching fast. Yesterday I talked about the aspects of the Hewitt family and although their names are never mentioned, I had to assign them the names given to them by the remake. However, this time around I will be discussing the Sawyer family. Even though Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was a sequel, they are two different families. They bare similarities but ultimately it’s a different monster all together. Gather around the table for some of Drayton’s award winning chili… we’re about to dive into the realm of absolute comedic madness.

The Sawyer family is crazy. Not just insane, demented or even childishly twisted but rather bat-shit crazy. Chop Top, the family’s ‘Nam vet, is practically a cartoon gone wrong. He hollers, jumps up and down, fidgets, pants like a dog, eats his dead scalp skin and takes twisted pleasure from murdering people. He is what would happen to any hippie had they went to Vietnam. Drayton, the father of the clan, is an old gas station attendant who, like Chop Top, is twisted and gets very physical. He goes off on sporadic tangents, complains a lot, loves cooking and is a little viler. Even in the face of danger he will stop to think about things. Much like the first movie they have a grandpa, who is half dead, who needs pure blood to live.

Now lets talk about Leatherface. In this one, he is given a little more character. Rather than being a big, dumb, hulking madman from the first he sort of has a childish persona. He’s like a 12 year old in this film. He falls in love with the radio station girl and even tries to rescue her from his family. He distracts them many times so that she could get away. It seems as though he is a little more sympathetic. Also, I’m sure he has a small dick since he likes sexually assaulting women with his chainsaw. I see it as penis compensation.

Perhaps the family isn’t a direct descended from the first movie but it can be argued that it is the same family just different locations. The dad from the first looks almost identical to Drayton, Chop Top plays with a dead corpse who many people think it’s Nubbins, they are both in Texas and Leatherface still has his trademark antics. Upon further research, I found out that the orginal family DID have a last name and it was Sawyer but this was never directly stated in the film.

Family heirloom: Scalping hanger

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hewitt Family - 1974

The Hewett is perhaps one of the greatest, villainous families ever portrayed on film. What can be more terrifying than being trapped, alone and isolated in the backwoods of Texas being chased and hunted down by a cannibalistic family? Well, in some cases, for the holiday season, some of use would rather have that than spend time with their families during Thanksgiving. So I got thinking and came up with a good idea. Considering Thanksgiving normally brings our families together… I’m taking the time to present the different families portrayed in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. They are pretty much your typical family; they do things together, they eat at the same table, they fight but in the end they really love each other. I know it’s a bit dark and grim but hey… isn’t that what makes Texas Chainsaw great is the dark humor? Well, here is the first family.

Even though the official name for the TCM family wasn’t given out until the remake and the TCM prequel, we’ll refer to all of them as the Hewett family. In the first movie the Hewett’s are portrayed as dead on psychopathic sociopaths. They are twisted, dark, violent and very frightening. Their means of killing rely on the stupidity of teenage drivers, Leatherface and sometimes dumb luck. I think the dinner scene perfectly shows how crazy they are because they are torturing this poor girl while mocking her for crying at her dead friends. It’s childish but also very traumatically frightening. Aside from Leatherface himself, the family doesn’t seem to have that much characterization aside from a back-story.

Now lets talk about Leatherface briefly. In the first one he is portrayed the best. We assume that he is mentally challenged but at the same time very disturbed. Despite his handicap he is actually very clever and very artistic; making small little knick-knacks out of bones and other random stuff. Out of the rest of the family, he is the only one with some personality that is revealed through the ‘masks’ he chooses to wear.

Iconic object: Leatherface

Thank you MC Sex for the pictures.

Note: I know Hewitt is spelled wrong.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Horrors of Embassy Home Video

In effort to try to get some writing done, I will post another edition of Video Store Horrors and this weekend shall be Embassy Home Entertainment. Back when I began to loose interest in my library’s selection of videos I turned to other outlets like Hollywood Video, Block Buster, Family Video Store and a local store called Video Vault. While searching through these stores, mainly Video Vault, I came across a number of horror movies from Embassy that I would rent over and over again. See, I only remember Embassy for its jingle because I would constantly whistle to it. When people ask me where I got it from I would say that I took it from a video company logo… and they would in turn away from me and think I was a freak.

Below are the Embassy videos that I used to watch as a kid courtesy of Critical Condition.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Defending The Village

Everybody always seems to jump right on top of the M. Night Shyamalan hate bandwagon and it seems that the trend started when he released his film called The Village. You see, back when this came out everybody was already a little Shyamalan crazy after he directed three great Hitchcockian movies Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense and Signs. When The Village preview was shown it was marketed as a horror movie and I remember seeing the trailer and being really creeped out by it. I mean, just look at it… doesn’t it look like a horror movie?

When people when to the theaters to see it… they came out angry, disappointed and let down. The general gripe about this movie was either it was too boring and nothing happened or the twist ruined the film. I’ll admit, I didn’t like the twist but I thought the rest of the movie was pretty good. I was one of the few people to ever thing that this movie was not only scary but also very well made. I didn’t like the twist… I thought the film could have been better if they took it out. I stood by M. Night and defended The Village and I’m here to say that I still will defend it. I just watched it yesterday and I realized that this is a very misunderstood film and probably one of M. Night’s greatest movies. The problem was how it was marketed and that’s what let a lot of people down. Sure, there are some that wouldn’t have liked it no matter what but I believe the trailer’s lie had something to do with it.

I will not deny the fact that this is a very boring movie but it has to be for good reason. You see, this film is a drama and NOT a horror movie. Sure there are ‘monsters’ but are they really monsters? I believe that The Village is a drama in disguise because Shyamalan has such a profound appreciation for psychological horror that he incorporates little snit-bits of it in his films. Think about it for a minute and try to forget how it was marketed… there are hardly any scenes with the monsters in the woods and when there are, it’s very brief. The majority of the film is character interaction and love and I think that’s what this film boils down to.

Lets look at the characters in the movie because that plays the most important part of this film. The problem of this film comes about when Lucius asks the Elders to go to the towns to receive medicine, however he is asked by Kitty to marry him. After declining her offer she uncontrollably wept. As times goes on and as Lucius defies the rules by crossing over into the woods he captures the eye of Ivy Walker, sister to Kitty. The two become engaged and become something more than just friends. Noah, who appears to have development problems, becomes jealous of the courtship between Ivy and Lucius and stabs Lucius and nearly kills him. It is such a powerful love story that shows two people breaking the boundaries of this town. It seems as though this town is a sexually repressed village and the marriage of Ivy and Lucius is almost seen as blasphemy.

Everybody complains about the ending and everybody feels as though it was a copout that everything was made up but here is where the story gets really sad and throws the whole tone of the film into a somber state. When you find out the Elders created the town and invented the monsters in the woods, you have to take in mind what happened to these people to make them want to live in the 1800s. The picture of the ‘Elders’ standing in front of a counseling building shows us that all of them had a great loss in their lives because of the hatred, violence, greed and lust of other people. It must have drove them mad knowing that there are people out there that will do terrible things to others so they decided to force themselves to live in a time where things were simple and quiet. They made up the monsters to keep their secret from their new family because they didn’t want them to feel the pain brought on by people in modern society. It’s a heartbreaking tale of how far people will go to preserve their innocents.

It’s also interesting to note the color in which the Elders have chosen to be “the bad color,” which is red. It’s a discussion for a completely different time but it’s rather poetic to see them choose a color that stands for love and passion and like I mentioned before… this seems like a town that has repressed their feelings from one another. Maybe it’s because they realized that nothing good could come out of loving somebody so much.

All in all, I can’t chance the minds of people who will hate this movie no matter what but realize that this film was one of M. Night’s best. It was greatly misunderstood and misleading. It’s not a horror movie by any means but rather a drama and character study. It taps into the psychological nature of simple societies and it shows that, if given something truly special, M. Night can turn it into something great. I think The Village proves that he is a good director but he was just given bad films to direct. The Village may not stand the test of time but hopefully people will see it for what it really is and maybe people won’t drastically underrate the film.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Comedic Antics of the Crites

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Critters? Not necessarily the movie but the critters themselves? Probably their appearances as ‘cute’ balls of fur with razor sharp teeth, however when I think of them I think Loony Tunes. It’s sort of strange and you’d think that I would choose a more popular critter like movie, like Gremlins, to compare that to but no… I think Critters is dark Loony Tunes; that’s not to say that Gremlins isn’t dark. Personally, when I think of Critters I think of that scene where one of them gets blown away from a shotgun and the other one watching says, “Fuck!” and rolls off. In fact, it sort of reminds me of when one of the Loony Tunes says something like “Dang nabbit” or when they say, “Son of a…” and it cuts away from them.

There are several little things that the Crites do that sort of mirror any given cartoon. They don’t mirror that many actions but it’s enough to consider them a cartoon brought to life. One of these instances comes when one of them gets caught on fire and they roll to the bathroom and bounce into the toilet. It always seems that when somebody or something gets caught on fire, the best way to put it out is by taking a nice little dunk into the toilet. But what’s funnier is that once the Crite puts himself out, its followed by a slow sounding sigh of relief. What I like even better about this scene is that the other Crites look on with amazement as they watch their friend roll into a toilet. It’s a perfect formula.

If you want to look further into this, you can look at the relationship the Crites have with each other. They are always bickering, arguing, swearing and picking fights with one another. Their task is to try to eat the humans or at least take one with them for the road, but they do it half ass. The Crites have such a unique bond with one another I can’t help but think they bare a resemblance to Marvin the Martian or even the non Loony Tunes characters Mutt and Jeff.

One of the trademark quarks of Loony Tunes, or any cartoon for that matter, is that you can’t really kill them. Aside from blowing them up, the Crites are almost unbeatable. There is a scene right out of the Loony Tune handbook of one of them grabbing a stick of dynamite and eating it. Does it blow them up? No! In fact, the bomb goes off in their stomach… followed by columns of smoke rising from its mouth. I half expected him to say something like “That’s a spicy meatball!” in Crite. I loved it, it just reassured us that this movie is campy and it knows it.

Perhaps all this support isn’t enough to say that it’s a tribute to Loony Tunes or cartoons, that’s something for Gremlins, but it just enough to say that the Crites are pretty much cartoon characters brought to life. Their humor is unintentional but at the same time… they are very dark. Critters is part comedy, and it would be a lie if the creators didn’t admit they got some of the quarks from the Loony Tunes. What I can be sure of is this: I would love to see a spin off TV show where the Crites go from planet to planet trying, in vain, to conquer it. I could foresee myself laughing my ass off from it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Skyliner: Cronenberg's Society

It took me a while to make it through Shivers, not because it was scary or too disturbing but because I kept falling asleep through it. When I finally saw the entire movie I leaned back to reflect on what I saw. I already knew what Cronenberg’s stance on sexual promiscuity was and how he is sort of anti-sex but there was something that really struck me about this film. The way that Cronenberg portrayed American society by confining it to an apartment building was brilliant. You can almost view the apartment complex as town on stilts because it has everything. There are a diverse group of people who are all in danger of contracting these parasites and it spreads just like how a normal town would.

However, I want to talk about the beginning of the film. What do we first see when we pop this movie into the player? We are bombarded with slideshow images of this luxurious apartment called the Starliner. Photos upon photos of clean apartments, on-site markets/delis, spacious parks and recreation, beautiful panoramic views of the city and the building’s Olympic sized swimming pool. The voice that is speaking over these photos is a realtor for the building and he is so convincing, mainly because of his clear and persuasive voice. He uses lot of descriptive words to beautifully sugar coat the amenities that come with the Starliner. As an audience member, I feel as though I would want to buy an apartment there when I know that everything is practically bullshit. Everything from the picturesque scenery to the friendly neighbors; its all bullshit.

But what makes this opening even better is that after you are done watching this convincing slideshow, you are thrown into a fight between a mysterious old man and an adolescent girl. The fight is very sexual and you can’t help but feel that this old man wants to ultimately rape her if not kill her for sexual pleasure. While this is going on, we follow a young yuppie couple as they are shown Starliner by a realtor. It’s one of the most meaningful openings to a horror film that I’ve ever seen. It’s so rich in context and it means so much to the film’s theme.

It’s such a perfect ying to Starliner’s yang; the contrasting between a happy picturesque life as opposed to scene of violent sexual assault, which takes place inside the presumed picturesque apartment, funnily enough. Even though this has been analyzed over and over, it’s a perfect visual representation on how Cronenberg views the idea of ‘standard’ living as well as society. Perhaps this is Cronenberg’s way of showing how we are only killing ourselves (not literally) into thinking that we can live in a perfect society. If you think about it, the people who inhabit Starliner are far from perfect despite what they think but once an unstoppable or unexpected agent is introduced… everybody goes made. It’s almost like a psychology lesson. Perhaps the slideshow and the brutal homicide/suicide aren’t that much different. It’s a very interesting idea to think about. It begs the questions: is there such a thing as a perfect standard of living, let alone society? Is it possible that one can live in this perfect society?

Thank you Classic Horror for inspiring me to write this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carpenter's Campfire Ghost Story

It was one of those nights where the air was crisp and fresh, slightly blowing against your face as the approaching winter was right around the corner. The darkened skies begin to fall upon you as the glowing hot campfire sparks with orange ember. It’s the perfect night for a ghost story and what better ghost story than an old sea legend; a tale of betrayal, revenge and retribution. This story is entitled The Fog and it’s one of the greatest ghost stories ever told by a film director. I never really noticed it until watching it again but… The Fog does a perfect job turning a ghost story into a film but still making it retain it’s ghostly aspects.

Ever since man first set sail upon the seas there have been stories of ghostly ships and manned by crews of the walking dead. Throughout history sailors and traders have seen eerie green lights and strange noises coming from the horizon of the oceans and these stories manifested themselves into old sea myths. Carpenter’s The Fog is exactly what one of these stories is: After stealing some golden treasure, Blake (he’s the head pirate) was killed and murdered along with some of his men after some conspirators decided to turn on him. Now, a hundred years later the town of Antonio Bay celebrates their 100-year anniversary honoring a group of killers. As an act of revenge, Blake and his men decided to kill the descendents of the original conspirators.

After the captain’s ghost story, the film seemed so surreal, picturesque and somber. Think about it: in most seaside ghost stories, it’s always a small picturesque town that has been subject to haunting. Carpenter does an excellent job of making you feel like you are in a real ghost story while paying homage to great ghost stories of the 40s and 50s. Aesthetically, the film uses a lot of blues and greens giving it that sea-like feel. It has fog of course, but it rolls in like a classic scene out of any given horror movie from the 40s. The ghosts themselves you never see, but rather silhouettes of their bodies. They are shrouded in the fog. There are some scenes that feel so noir-ish that it makes the film even more rich and spooky.

It’s a story about revenge and grudges, a perfect formula for a ghost tale, accompany that with the film’s slow eerie score, its ‘small town in peril’ narrative, and Carpenter’s love for ghost stories and you have one of the greatest horror movies of all time. As you watch it, you can’t help but feel like you are sitting around a campfire in the woods, listening to your counselor tell his fable and when it’s over… you look behind you waiting for somebody to pop out of the woods but it never happens. It lingers with you and you can’t help but feel a little chilly afterwards. It’s hard to explain because it’s a feeling based on the movie’s visuals, but if you want to feel that feeling… pop this movie in on any given cold, stormy night and you’ll see what I am talking about.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Horrors of Vidmark Entertainment

I just realized that I would occasionally remind people about the Golden Years of video stores. Well, for today’s’ installment I want to show you some of the horror movies I grew up with that were distributed by the great Vidmark Entertainment. I mainly remember Vidmark for the Leprechaun movies but there were others that I used to watch over and over. Below are just some of the Vidmark videos that I watched as a kid, courtesy of Critical Condition.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Love Letter To B-Movies

There are a lot of movies out there that pay tribute to b-movie cinema. Many of them have gotten theatrical releases, some have been put straight to video or DVD and some are so buried in the indie world that we might never see them. For my money,the 1995 slasher film Evil Ed is probably one of the greatest tributes to b-cinema that I have ever seen and it’s not even American. Yes, these Sweden based film tributes so many classic American b-movies that it goes to show you just how much of an impact that genre has. Simply put, Evil Ed is about a film editor named Ed who, after watching so many violent movies, goes insane and begins killing people he encounters. As Horror Watch once said, “Evil Ed is a loving, campy, completely over-the-top satire of 1980s American horror flicks” and here is why:

If you can’t tell already, the title Evil Ed is sort of like an homage to Raimi’s Evil Dead, in fact, the film seems almost like a love letter to him rather than b-movies. If you look the direction of the film you can see how much of Raimi’s skills rubbed off on the director. There are a lot of experimental camera angles, POV shots, swoops and low angles. More specifically, I think Evil Ed and Evil Dead bare striking resemblance but it seems like director Anders Jacobsson was only honoring Evil Dead and none of the sequels. Raimi uses the angles to enhance the frights or for comic relief and Jacobsson does the same thing. You can also look at the gore and violence that is so over the top that it comes off as hyperbole. This was also something that Raimi was known for but wasn’t full used until Evil Dead II.

There is a scene in the film in which the producer of the films that Ed has to chop tells him that he has to keep the ‘beaver rape scene.’ Though it comes off, to the casual audience, as sort of a disgusting joke… I see it more as the director’s personal commentary towards Evil Dead. Thinking about it; in Raimi’s film a bunch of trees rape a girl so why not have a beaver rape a girl? It was jabbing at the film in a harmless way. If all this isn’t enough to prove that half of the movie was influenced by Evil Dead than consider this: the producer of these horror movies, appropriately named Loose Limbs, is named Sam Campbell… a cross between Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.

Speaking of Loose Limbs, lets talk about those films for a minute. Right off the bat any horror fan will tell you that the title alone sounds like a cheesy b-movie from the 80s, in the same vain as Body Bags, Slumber Party Massacre or Pieces. It’s a title that describes what the gory actions will place in the film. Loose Limbs features an overly psychopathic madman that goes around with an arsenal of serrated knives and dices up women but it seems like the film follows the antagonist rather than the protagonist. Either way, the film depicts extremely graphic nudity, gore, and a lot of vulgar language. Here, the director is poking fun at the formula of a slasher movie: you have to have a deranged psychopath, breasts and lots of blood. Perhaps Loose Limbs is less of an homage and more of a parody of the genre.

In terms of tributes, there are dozens of posters all over Sam’s house and office. See, Ed is staying at Sam’s other house so that he can get some editing done and there are dozens of posters all over the place. Cape Fear, Evil Dead 2, Halloween, The Fly and Price of Darkness are just some of the posters littered throughout this film. Even the monster in the fridge is sort of similar to that of the Mogwai in Gremlins. The green skin, the tattered ears, the stripes, the antics, all in loving fun of the classic Spielberg/Dante film. All the classic horror movie archetypes are in this film as well; zombies, demons, psychopaths, monsters and even the military.

When Ed fully descends into madness at the hospital, the army is sent to try to stop him and by this point Ed has turned into loon. What’s funny is that he’s almost monstrous and when the military tries to gun him down, he somehow manages to escape and remain unharmed. That plot is lifted from any given monster movie where the military has to try to stop the thing from destroying the town. Even the general himself is your typical hardboiled, gun toting asshole.

Evil Ed plays on the myth that people become killers and crazy people because they are exposed the graphic nature of horror movies. However, if you look past it’s camp, schlock, bad ADR and hammy acting you’ll see that this film is literally a love letter to b-cinema. Written and directed sincerely in it’s dedication.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Personal Horror: The Sheridan Camp Monster

When I was young my mother and I would travel down to middle of Illinois to visit her sisters during the summer. I would always tag along so that I could have fun with my cousins and usually, for about 1 week, we would the night over in my Aunt’s camper. We would go to a local campground in Sheridan. The area was shaped like a crescent moon with a giant lake in the middle. All the campers, all the tents and all the trucks would have to park on the south side of the lake because the north half was covered in trees. Well, during one of those nights, around midnight, my cousin told me about these black tanker train carts that sped by on the railroad behind his house. He was curious because the train track was never used until then.

That night, around 2 or 2:20 in the morning, I was woken up by my cousin, who had a frightened look on his face. He told me that something was outside of the camper and trying to get in. I thought it was a wild animal or something but I remember looking out of my window and seeing a bright aqua colored light coming from outside. See, my cousin and I slept in the back of the camper on bunk beds. I had the top bunk and my cousin had the bottom. I was both scared but curious so I grabbed a metal baseball bat and began walking down the camper hallway towards the front door. I was going to confront it. The light was shining in every window and I was surprised that our parents didn’t see anything. When we both reached the front door, we stepped out into the quiet darkened campground.

The light was originating from behind the camper but when my cousin and I quickly turned to see what it was, the light was gone and replaced by a series of strange tracks. Suddenly, we heard and briefly saw something that darted into the forest behind the camper. When we looked down at the tracks they came from something that had webbed feet but human-like. That morning, my cousin and I decided to do some sleuthing around.

Local legend tells of a ‘monster’ that came from the sky and lived in the woods that the Sheridan campground was built on. Surprisingly, it’s not a Native American myth or anything like. I heard the myth when somebody was telling it at the campground. The guy mentioned that a long time ago (specifically the 60s), the campground was booming with tourists and locals. Well, one night, in the middle of the night, a few people we startled by a loud noise coming from the forest. It was mechanical. What happened afterwards was a disaster. The entire lake began to flood and hills that the campers were parked on began to sink and slide into the river. I don’t know if anybody survived or what but all I knew was that most of the campers were buried under the ground. The story was confirmed by my Aunt who told us to never go to the other side of the lake.

That night we saw the strange light again but this time it was floating around in the forest. My cousin woke me up and we decided to go after it. We equipped ourselves with a gas lantern, two baseball bats and a BB gun. The bright object kept its distance from the campground but we proceeded forward. We were frightened as we came closer and closer to the object; we were staying quiet too, the last thing we wanted was to have a monster chase us through the woods. We were within a yard or two away from the object and I tried to get a close look at it. I didn’t see any type of bodily structure or anything for that matter… it was just a ball of light. Suddenly, a squirrel ran by and it frightened whatever the thing was. We jumped back as it sped away from us. My cousin took out his BB gun and chased after it. I followed him while he followed the footprints it was leaving behind until he stopped in a small clearing and began firing his BB gun up at the trees. The thing disappeared. My cousin told me he saw it jump up into the trees but later on that night, we never saw it. It just vanished.

We didn’t sleep that night. My cousin was anxiously watching the window while I was listening to the radio. When dawn came we decided to venture out to the other side of the campground. It took us forever to get to the other side because we had to walk along side of the water and there were tons of logs, roots, branches and gaps the stood in between. We wanted to get into the forest to see what was there and then my cousin, while climbing up a hill, tripped over a piece of metal and fell. After he gathered himself up we investigated the metal bar; it looked like it was the top of a metal wall or something. We began digging up the metal and soon we realized that it was part of a metal wall. We dug more until we were standing on a giant metal plate with a window opening in the middle. My cousin cracked the widow using a giant stick and there was just a small space between the piles of dirt and the window opening. He stuck his head inside and looked around. We were standing on the roof of a metal camper.

That evening we left the campground… headed back home. Perhaps there really was a flood that took out an entire campground way back when and perhaps we weren’t really chasing anything more than a trick. I don’t know what to make of what I encountered and I know I wasn’t dreaming the entire thing because my cousin and I would talk about it. We don’t know what we chased, we don’t know what happened and we don’t know what made those tracks. All I know is that we felt real horror than and that’s something that never leaves.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saving The Alien Predators

I’ve seen plenty of bad movies and plenty of campy but enjoyable movies as well. When I saw the movie called The Falling (Alien Predators in some countries), I thought it would be fun enjoyable flick. I was wrong. The plot was pretty much The Thing meets X-Files: Fight the Future. Though one thing really saved the film, not enough to make me want to watch it again but just enough to finish what I started. The characters were so likable that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Spoiler alert: I was so glad to see the three of them live to the very end.

These kids are typical, goofy teenagers that are out for a little fun and games and happen to stumble upon an alien that goes around killing and taking the form of it’s host. The cast has Dennis Christopher as the typical friend that always jokes around and I feel that he is the one that I connected to the most. He doesn’t get the girl but he’s funny, has a great personality and can get really serious when the time calls for it. Our main hero, Hollywood’s fasted driver, is just a great guy. There isn’t anything special about him but seeing him outrun that car through the town’s alleys just ‘felt’ right for some reason. The whole time you are just with him till the end. Even his girlfriend doesn’t seem like your typical 80s teen and by that I mean she isn’t a ditz, she isn’t an airhead, she doesn’t do drugs but she isn’t a prude either. She is one of those people that is very average but knows how to have a good time. Save for the special effects, this movie didn’t have anything going for it until I realized how much I love the characters. Hell, I think it would have been a great comedy drama sort of in the style of John Hughes.

Of course, I am strictly talking in terms of indie horror movies. If you compare them to other bigger titles than they’ll fall flat but for me… there was a special kind of magic that surrounded them. They saved the world, they survived the alien outbreak and they partially saved an entire movie. Maybe it was something in the air the night I saw this but those characters gave me a warm feeling that I never really felt for that many movies.

Thank you Unkle Lancifer for the pictures!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rock Stars, Cowboys, Monsters, Dogs & Werewolves

I learned a lesson these past few days. When you get the guy who directed and wrote Troll 2 and hire Alice Cooper to be your main character, you are going to get what you deserve. I love Alice Cooper but man… he shouldn’t be given a lead role. However, that wasn’t the problem with Monster Dog. No, the problem laid between the movies 3 or 4 different genres. Normally I wouldn’t care if the film made a point to homage a specific film genre; hell QT did pretty well with Kill Bill but this film literally felt like 3 different movies (bad movies at that) rolled into one. The overall genre was supposed to be horror but it rarely felt like one. Now you are probably asking what are the three genres that were in this film?

Considering that it is Alice Cooper, what do you think the first genre was? It opened up the film and 1/3 of the movie was this. That’s right, it’s a music video. Coopers ‘Mistaken Identity’ and ‘Face In The Mirror’ totaled to about 7 minutes, which isn’t bad but the rest of the music video came from the film’s montage sequences. This was the first time I ever saw a montage that had 3 separate melodies to go with it and what was being shown during the montage? Why, behind the scenes shots of Alice Cooper making his music video. Though I do want to get something straight, Cooper plays a musician that has to travel to his boyhood town to shoot his music video so the footage fits with his character.

Half way into the movie I began to space out (I was really tired) and the next thing I noticed was five cowboys walking up to a Mission style home, guns drawn and long down filled coats swaying in the breeze. It felt like an ugly cross between Demon Knight and Once Upon A Time In The Old West. These ‘cowboys’ were supposed to hunt and kill the werewolf that was destroying their town but they had on the cowboy hat, the boots, the dirty old coats, the big belt buckles, the spitting, the giant rifles and the dirt plaid ascot. When Cooper shows up the whole film takes a dive into a Western shootout. Gunpowder fills the air and gunfire is heard. It was like High Noon with werewolves. Funny, that’s what I kept thinking about: what if John Landis collaborated with Sergio Leone? That would make a hell of a team and I’m sure they would be able to dish out something better than this.

Lastly, and almost forgettable by the movies midway point, is the horror genre. If they only decided to focus on this part of the film that I probably would have liked it. I probably would have looked at it as a cheesy lowbrow werewolf movie but they didn’t. I ain’t going to comment on the scares because there isn’t any but there are some creepy transformation scenes. If I was a kid I would be pretty creeped out by it.

Overall, with the jumbled genres I felt like this movie didn’t know what it wanted to be. I guess I should have expected nothing more from Claudio Fragasso. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some people out there would actually like it. Personally for me, I wanted a werewolf movie… not a western music video.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


If you haven’t guessed it already I will be briefly talking about scarecrows and more specifically a 1988 horror film of the same name. Scarecrows is exactly what the film is about… a bunch of scarecrows violently attack a group of military mercenaries after they followed one of their teammates who stole their stolen money. With that aside, the main stars of this film are the straw stuffed demons that run around the field killing and turning the dead bodies into walking scarecrows. I’ve said it before to my friends and I’ll say it here: scarecrows freak me out. They always have.

Though my obsession and slight fear of scarecrows didn’t just start recently. If you want to get technical, ever since I read the Goosebumps book The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight I was hooked on the notion of living scarecrows. When the TV episode came out, that’s when got spooked by them. They were scary human-like objects to begin with but to see them attack people, unable to be stopped, sort of sent me over the edge. Their appearance always fascinated me; something about being hung up on a cross, head down, left in a field was somewhat terrifying but also esoteric. That scene in the Goosebumps episode where one of the kids looks outside only to see the scarecrows, in a row, hanging by the cross was one of the most frightening scenes in the episode.

Perhaps one of the greatest effects that these farmland decoys had on me was from the Batman comics. I’m sure, with the recent success of Batman Begins, we’re all familiar with who The Scarecrow is. I was an avid Batman comic reader and after seeing what John Crane could do, while in his Scarecrow outfit, I was sort of obsessed with his character. The idea of using hallucinogens to frightening and torture people was devious and… well, frightening. To me he was worse than the Joker in some cases. However, the scarecrow moniker would be further altered when I saw the Batman TV show, at least the new one after the revamping.

Up until then Scarecrow was just what he was, a guy in a scarecrow outfit but when the series took a turn… they made the Scarecrow look like a walking corpse. His face, hidden behind a mask that looked like it was made out of dead skin. Those beady white eyes and that crooked smile. He looked like he was the walking dead, literally. The noose around his neck gave him the persona that he was cut down from the hanging pole and let free on society. Accompany that with dark, tattered, Southwestern preacher clothes and you have a person that can easily fit in any horror movie slasher. When the feature film came out, it was such a great interpretation of the Scarecrow that I felt they didn’t use him to his full potential. They retained that Scarecrow look but still managed to make him appear ‘dead.’

With all that being said, the 1988 horror movie Scarecrows was what I wanted to see from a scarecrow themed horror film. Now, I know there are several movies out there where the scarecrows are the villains but they are all half-ass or it’s just some guy in a mask. This one is about scarecrows that come to life. If I saw this film when I was younger, I think I would have been scarred for life. Essentially what it’s doing is bringing my childhood fear into a film where they go around killing people rather than spooking them… than cutting those people open and stuffing their chest cavities with straw/money. Trust me, I would have been scared to attend my family’s reunions because they usually are in the farming countries.

What separated these scarecrows from most is that they looked like real scarecrows that came to life. They had human characteristics, they looked liked dead people that were crucified and you only see quick flashes of their demonic faces. Unlike most movies (Hallowed Ground, Scare Crow, Scare Crow Gone Wild I’m looking at you), these ones didn’t look like they belonged in ICP. They walked around slow, like zombies, they had tattered clothes, like zombies and when they got pissed they revealed what they really look like. Even better, not all the scarecrows were alive… some just stayed on their cross. There was a certain presence about them.

I’m well aware there are other scarecrow movies like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Night of the Scarecrow, Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2, and Sleepy Hollow but they all have one thing in common: they only use the scarecrow symbol briefly. 1988’s Scarecrows is the perfect movie for anybody who is looking for scarecrows on a rampage. It’s times like these where I wish I saw this movie as a kid. It would have been a childhood classic. Who am I kidding? It’s a classic to me, despite the fact that I didn’t watch it until later on.