Saturday, March 28, 2015

Put the Fucking Shovel Away

For months, now, I've been hearing about the fanTAStic "mockumentary" by Adam Green, director of the cult favorites Hatchet and Holliston, both of which are friggin' awesome, by the name of Digging Up the Marrow.  

"It's AMAZING," they said.  "You'll LOVE it," they said. "It will change the way you view the world," they said.

No, really, they actually said that.

What we have here is another found footage nightmare.  And by "nightmare" I mean "I want my 6 bucks back from the cable company because this movie is so suck-tastic that it should have bought me dinner first."

The deal is that Adam Green gets this crazy motherfucker trying to get him to make a movie about "The Marrow" except the dude is so fucking paranoid you'd think he said "Fuck it.  I don't need those anti-psychotics and I think I'll start my day with a dime bag."


* The Management wishes to inform you that while he does not enjoy the mystical properties of marijuana himself, others are perfectly free to indulge.

In the process of all of these shenanigans, they lose a camera, find the freaky fucker tampering with the cameras, catch him in some gigantic lies, find out that he's approached other horror directors since they would be the only ones to believe him (they don't) and see a few sort-of-legit monsters. Most of the movie, though, is that dude from Reaper telling Adam Green and his crew to shut up and turn the lights off.

So, yeah.  90 minutes of the movie are wild goose chase.  10 minutes are a little freaky and about 2 seconds of it are actually scary.

 What kills me is that this could have been very good.  It could have been the monster movie to end all monster movies but, no, we had to suffer through a couple of hours of exposition.  No legit plot, very little in the way of scares and some half-ass latex makeup. 

Y'all can skip out on this one.  It did not please me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Found Footage Can Still Suck It.

I will say it again and again, found footage films can eat a bag of dicks.  They're cheap, they're disorienting and I'm tired of them. 

But here's the thing.  I found one that I almost like.  Almost.

See, this here is a found footage film for art history and antiquities majors.  I appreciate that, not because I'm an art history or antiquities major, but because I do enjoy a thoughtful movie from time to time.  The title, As Above, So Below comes from the basic tenet of alchemy and Hermeticism, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing" and the movie itself is an abridged version of a journey through the seven circles of Hell a la Dante's Inferno.

And it's a good damn thing that Inferno is in the Public Domain because somebody would be pantsless for a long time after the lawyers got through with them.  Meh, who needs pants?  I don't.  I'm pantsless right now.

Hey!  Let's fuck with a priceless fucking antique in a museum!  Loads of fun.

ANYWAY, a recurring theme in the movie is that they have to keep going down.  Down through the fucking catacombs of Paris.  Because that's a direction everybody wants to head.  Even their buddy La Voule (The Mole) who basically just wanders around down there in a daze because he's stuck in fucking boneyard purgatory.   Much like watching Catacombs, that abysmal movie with P!nk in it by FearNet. 

So, yeah, they have to keep going down because the only way out of Hell is through the very bottom of the very last circle.  In the meantime, another motto of alchemy is "VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENFIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM" or "V.I.T.R.I.O.L." (a term that people who play White Wolf's "Prometheus" should recognize right out of the gate).  The phrase translates to "Visit the Earth's interior parts; by rectification you shall find the hidden stone".  Remembering that the purpose of Hell is to punish sinners for wrongdoing in order to make their souls right enough for Heaven (which apparently never works because "eternity" is neverending by design, should you believe in that sort of thing) the phrase in the movie's case lends itself to characters that "rectify" their own perceived wrongdoings, such as Scarlet's self-imposed guilt over her father's suicide or George's undeserved guilt over his brother's death, neither of which they were truly guilty.  Vitriol is another name, by the way, of sulfuric acid.which means that it literally rectifies things by eating away at the surface and revealing what's underneath.  HA, HA!!  Now we get it.  Get on with your bad self pretentious director-man!

See, I would have actually stopped because it tells me to.  I'm rebellious but I'm not fucking stupid.

Now, all of the artsy-fartsy shit being said, let's talk about why this is not so great a film.  First off, it's TOO artsy-fucking-fartsy.  I'm all about intelligence, don't get me wrong.  I appreciate some brains with my slaughter (See what I did there?) but fuck me if this was some high-brow shit.  There's no way I could watch this with some of my friends.  I'd spend half of the movie explaining what shit meant and no, I don't like talking through movies unless it's someone saying "I seem to have lost half of my foot in a freak stadium seating accident, can you excuse me, please?" or "I'm sorry.  My water just broke and that's why the floor is all sticky.  May I pass and buy you a new pair of size 10 1/2 Joker chuckies?"

Meh, partie deux, because it needs to be said in fucking French, is that it's disorienting and confusing.  I know I said that before but because I like CLARITY in all things unless I'm on the good post-surgery drugs, it needs to be said again.  This movie needs to be followed constantly to get it and, seriously, there are some things you need to frame advance on your blu-ray player to even see which make the movie make a little more sense.  But only a little because, dammit, this is art-house horror.  Bitch, if I want confusing horror, I'll watch L.A. Zombie.  At least with Bruce LaBruce I'll get porn out of the deal.

Dead babies.  Always good for a laugh.  Only not.
Et enfin (That's "and finally"), while there's decent exposition as to why they need to get into the catacombs, there's too much that doesn't get an explanation at all, like the cult people that are just kinda hangin' out down there, moving all spooky-like and just generally being a pain in the ass.  You know I hate dumbing shit down but SOME background would be nice. 

To wrap this up, the concept and premise of As Above So Below were kind of awesome but the delivery made my head hurt.  It's not a bad watch but it's not a great one either and it could probably have been told better without relying on the found footage format.  I say if your audience has to watch it twice to get shit in the beginning of the movie that's almost but not quite explained at the end, you have failed as a storyteller.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bomb Pops

In the annals of history, one horror movie villain stands out as the most heinous, the most cruel, the most diabolical, the most... fattening?

No, today on Tropefest, we're talking about that perennial children's favorite person in the whole wide world on a hot, summer's day, the ice cream man.  A person so ubiquitous in our childhoods that it always comes as a shock when they're portrayed as anything other than peaches and cream, lily-white, "this-person-wouldn't-hurt-a-fly"-ness.

Oh, HELL, Naw!
We all know about the windowless, white van we're supposed to stay away from but in moves like Ice Cream Man, Maximum Overdrive, Legion and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, getting a Drumstick™ is going to take a lot more than cadging a buck off of your mom.

Now, the creepy ice cream truck isn't a new thing.  Well, it's newER since we needed delivery trucks to actually exist but as long as they've been around they've been a symbol of the corruption of innocence which, as we all know, is a popular theme in horror.  In the Masters of Horror episode  "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream", the truck istelf isn't evil, but the driver is a revenge story gone oh, so right because the driver is a ghost who's feeding the kids of his tormentors magic ice cream that melts their fathers.  Into sherbet-y goo.  It's hilarious.

This also ties into people's fear of clowns since, y'know, a lot of horror movie ice cream men appear as them. 

As a trope, though, this one can only take so much mileage even though the fear of having a child harmed weighs heavily on, well, everyone's mind.  Kids don't want to be kidnapped and parents don't want to hunt down good pictures to place on milk cartons.

Or end up in a waffle cone.
This is a silly trope and it knows it.  It relies on sight gags and puns and, while that's OK, they can get stale real fast.  There are very few instances of this trope in any kind of serious horror film and, y'know what?  I'm OK with that.  We all know how much I love my horror-comedies.

Now, I believe there was some mention of a sundae?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Return of... What? Exactly?


I missed you.  Did you miss me?  I'm sorry that I just off and left you and said I was just going to get a pack of smokes at the corner store but I'm back, baby.  C'mere and give daddy some sugar.

No, seriously, my life took a minor turn for the suck.  It happens.  But I'm back, now, and I'm here to stay!  And, also, I may be in the market for a co-blogger to prevent this shit from happening in the future.  More about that at another time as I gaze pensively into the sunset and weigh decisions like a fuckin' BOSS.

SO!  Without further ado, let's dig into today's emotionally damaging shitheap, shall we?

Run for cover, motherfuckers.  Mutantis has z-grade trash written all over it and I'm 'bout to get wordy.

Let me first begin by saying that I am INCREDIBLY grateful that Mark Leake contacted me and asked me to review it.  In October.  Right before I took an enforced sabbatical.  Making me look like a complete tool.

ANYWAY!  No, seriously, I am profoundly pleased that this happened because I truly enjoy getting to see the off-the-wall indie stuff.  And this is about as off-the-wall as it gets.

Ya don't say?!?
Our story follows a greasy psuedo-scientist who's using his pull with his step-daughter's mom to take her, her friend (a sexually generous gal who isn't afraid to suck a dick or two) and the other boy who lives with them who is the scientist's step-son but not the step-daughter's brother and fuck me if I didn't need a damn flow-chart to keep all of this straight because it took me a while to pare down the relationship described, camping.  And by "camping" I mean, "use them as bait to catch a hideous man-beast called, you guessed it, Mutantis.


And that's all I'm telling you because you REALLY have to watch this one to understand how well and truly fucked up it actually is.  This is one of those movies that is so wrong, so offensive, so, dare I say it, morally reprehensible that it passes right on through to FUCKING HILARIOUS.  Three (and a half) words, kids:  Paper-Maché Monster Dick.  No you did not read that incorrectly. 

As you can tell from the fake French Tickler up there, this was shot on a shoestring budget.  Like, I'm pretty sure they were surviving by eating shoestrings and the leftover paper-maché that they used to create Mutantis' penis.  We're talking Goodwill costuming and no hair-stylist to be seen ANYWHERE and, much like Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter, I loved every goddamn minute of it.  I know I SHOULD have been offended and on some level I WAS but I couldn't stop laughing long enough to care.

Plus this guy with the black Riff-Raff do?

Played by two very different looking dudes.  They swap back and forth.  It's deliberate and horrifyingly appropriate.

Make this one a staple of bad movie nights, kids. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

See No Evil, Have No Fun.

Jen and Sylvia Soska WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?!

I say all halfheartedly because, believe it or not, I liked their latest piece of horror fluff, See No Evil 2.

Not to tell you too much about the movie, 'cause it's all new and shit, picture it.  A birthday party in a morgue with a recently "deceased" serial killer with religious mommy issues.

And that's all you need to know for now.

It's rectangular and under a sheet in a morgue.  I wonder what it could be?
Now, first let me start by saying that this movie is NOT perfect at all.  We've got some serious Scooby-Doo bullshit going on but that kind of OK.  All peeking around corners and "Hey, gang!  Let's split up!" like that's going to really help anybody because everybody knows that those slasher fuckers can teleport.  Plus, how fucking big is this morgue, anyway?  How many morgues do we know that are made up of miles and miles of fucking corridors and still only have 3 people working in them, let alone not let all of the morticians have access to all of the doors?

She can't even.
Also, if someone can tell me exactly what the giant serrated machete Mr. Goodnight finds when he opens the goddamn Batcave weapons stash, that would be appreciated because I really don't see any reason for a morgue to have that sort of thing lying around.

On the other hand, pretty drunk people get slashed in a goddamn morgue!  Am I right?  That's awesome, yes?  Oh, look.  Death and dismemberment where death gets brought to finish up the paperwork.  Look at all the nifty surgical implements.  Preeeeeeetty.  Too bad none of them get used in favor of the giant serrated machete thingy.

But then there's all of the trope-heavy bullshit that, seriously, Soska sisters?  You need to get over.  You're better than this.

For fuck's sake, just walk toward the door.
BUT!  We also have the lovely and talented Katherine Isabelle who brings some much needed humor and lightness to the movie and she's kind of hilarious.  She reminds us that we shouldn't be taking this 90 minute slab of eye-candy too seriously.

She drunk and doin' crazy shit.
I'm not going to say that this is a masterpiece of horror because it's really not.  The Soska twins know what they're doing and this is an enjoyable watch (but, seriously, don't make a drinking game out of it, you'd be dead in the first half-hour from the stupid) and, thankfully, they don't rely on the religious aspects of the first film too much but it's a little blasé about the whole "Hey, we're stuck in a morgue with quite a few exits but our phones are locked in a safe so we can't go for fucking help 'cause he's EVERYWHERE, man!  EVERY-FUCKING-WHERE!"

It's brain-candy and I appreciate that.  Just don't expect award-winning caliber.


Speaking of Brain Candy!  Y'all should check out Carl Bachmann's Kickstarter for his new project Party Slashers.

It looks like it's gonna be awesome and I like helping.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oddball, Screwball. What's The Difference?

OK, so, I'm going to admit something I've never told anyone before.

I hate Dean Koontz movies. 

His books are OK and I kinda liked some of them but I prefer Stephen King, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire or Robert McCammon for my horror reading pleasure.

That being said:

Odd Thomas is an absolute delight.

Our main character, Odd Thomas (yes, that is really his name, played by Anton Yelchin), has the ability to see spirits.  He can't talk to them because the dead don't speak, but he can see them and help them let go of whatever fetters they have to this world, whether it's a murder or a lost puppy or what have you.  The movie only shows us the murder bits but I'm assuming that getting them to be able to let go is the majority of his job description.

Along with being a fry cook.
His girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin), is the yin to his yang.  The cobbler to his peach.  The daily dose of what were you thinking to his hairbrained-ness.  (No, really.  Hairbrained-ness.  She calls him Pooh Bear because his head's full of stuffin'.  Not literally but you know what I mean.)  It's all very adorable in that whole "eventually they end up in danger" kind of way.

Odd doesn't make his abilities known to everyone but the police chief (Willem Dafoe) knows about it and helps him create more believable tales when he gets involved in the weird in a more physical fashion so he doesn't end up incarcerated.  It's a good arrangement.  They're like family  Again with the "awwwwww."

But then trouble comes in.  BIG trouble in the form of bodachs, evil beings who are drawn to carnage and mayhem (aren't we all)?  The more of them there are, the more carnage there'll be and this one guy in the diner has them dripping off of them like butter at a fuckin' lobster festival.  Odd can't let this one go.  He has to go save the day.

Eeeeew, it touched her!
So, before I give the story away completely, I have to say that this is fun supernatural horror.  It's not dark and it doesn't have to be.  It's a breeze to watch, it's not overly complicated, the dialogue is fun and it's got that right mix of up and down that I like.  It's like a mouse coaster.  Hills and bumps enough to be fun but none of the loops (which are also fun but in a different way).

No, seriously. This is quick-witted and almost perky.  Well, as perky as Anton Yelchin gets.  He's got some comedy chops, though, and he's not your average "Adventureland/Superbad" kind of Judd Apatow nerd in this one like he was in the Fright Night remake.  He's grown and it shows.  There's a maturity to his snarkiness in this one that I really liked.  The interaction between Odd and Stormy is just shy of perfection and, because I'm a weepy nerd, I wattered up a little at the end.  It's a bittersweet one, kids.

This is not a gore-fest.  This is not full of jump-scares.  This is about a Ghostbusters level of creepy which makes for an excellent kids-introduction-to-horror movie.  Yeah, there's some violence but it's no worse than your average police procedure drama.  The more gruesome stuff is implied and not seen.

I really did enjoy this one.  Give it a go.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Blood Bath

WOO, it's been a week, kids.

Let's just jump right back in.

HA!  See what I did there?
In any horror fans worldview, blood is a key component of film enjoyment and that's why blood is what calls a "Super Trope".  Yes, we watch different types of horror movies and, yes, you can have bloodless horror but, for the most part, horror is raw and visceral as fear is wont to be.  Since the word "visceral" comes from "viscera", organs, such as the heart, are bound to take up a large portion of the horror real estate and with organs comes blood.  Buckets and buckets of blood.

See, the thing to remember about blood is that we don't expect to see it at all.  Blood, from a human perspective and regardless of whatever your spiritual beliefs tell you about its power, immediately symbolizes pain and damage.  Our blood is not supposed to be seen, it is supposed to remain all neat and tidy within our fucking veins; supplying our big, beautiful brains and muscles with the oxygen and nutrients they need to, oh, say, RUN FROM THE HATCHET-WIELDING PSYCHOPATH!

Not on the fucking floor.
No, kids.  In horror, blood plays to its strengths.  If you see a smear of it on the floor, it's usually a path to a corpse.  Got a room full of it?  Stabby time.  Got a bathtub full of it?  Suicide/murder victim, idiot with a missing kidney or vampire countess.  Got a bucketful of it hangin' around during Prom season?  Angry, telekinetic teenager.

Blood is what MAKES horror imagery horrific.  By itself, not taking into consideration the circumstances of its actually being visible, it's just salty red liquid.  But seeing it makes us wonder... how did it get out of the person who owned it?  And if it didn't actually COME from a person, where did it come from?  Even haunting stories, which are essentially bloodless, will use blood for that extra kick of macabre that we all love.  Amityville Horror, anyone?

Waaaaaaait for it.
Just to reiterate, we don't like to see blood.  It's a delightful shade of red which makes it visually stunning but it's the visuals our lizard brains are concerned with.  "Oh, hey.  Blood.  Who's hurt and how badly?  I don't believe I'm safe here, anymore.  I don't want to be lunch.  MOMMY!!!"

To mitigate this, particularly in kids' programming, many TV shows will show blood either not at all or with a different color.  Personally, I think this is bullshit because kids like gross stuff but the censors have a different idea. 

American Horror Story is not one of those shows.
And, like a whole lot of other tropes I've covered, Haemophobia is a real thing.  Caused most often by childhood trauma (direct or vicarious), there's not much of a genetic link to the phobia but if you managed to get splattered with blood as a kid, whether or not it's your own, that's bound to do some damage.

On the other hand, blood sausage is actually one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten  (Just a note?  Don't order a sundae in Korea.) and Finnish blood pancakes and Sanguinaccio Dolce actually exist.

Now, I'm not saying that this can't be overdone.  There actually IS such a thing as overkill when it comes to movies.  That doesn't mean that I don't love gallons of gore when it's called for but blood can be one of those "Chanel" moments.

Before you film the set, remove one gallon of blood.  It highlights the surroundings and makes the gore more poignant.

Oh, and for Great Blogathotep's sake, STOP trying to recreate it with CGI unless you work for fucking PIXAR.