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.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Are You Feeling Randy, Baby?

Day 3 of Pre'Ween, kiddos!  And today is a good day.

It is a good day because Horns is available on-demand!

Thank you modern internet age!

Considering that this is from Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, author of Heart-Shaped Box and writer for the AMAZING comic series Locke and Key (which should have been fucking green-lit for TV because that would have been some amazing shit, yo), you should expect quality and you get it.  In spades.  Pitchforkfuls, really.

So, here's the story.  A grief-stricken young man (Daniel Radcliffe and OH how Harry Potter has grown... I don't normally like 'em thin but I'll make an exception 'cause I'm bi-size-ual) who has been accused of the murder of the love of his life is just trying to get through the trial.  He's being hounded by the press, misunderstood by his friends and family and drowning himself in drink.  Only his lawyer seems to have any faith in him. 

And then this happens:

He calls this Blue Steel.
Yep.  Horns.  And the prosthetics are WONDERFUL.  They give him the power to hear everyone's sins.  Not in a psychic kind of way.  People just tell him.  Like ultimate TM-Fucking-I kind of stuff.  The girl who he just slept with (after a night of drunken broken-heartedness) REALLY wants to eat a box of donuts.  NOW.  A little girl wishes to burn her mommy.  Mommy wishes to drive off and desert the spoiled brat and hook up with her golf instructor.  The reception at the nurses's office REALLY wants to yell at the lady to her her screechy brat to shut the fuck up.  There's this fantastic scene with the doctor after he tries to get them removed that you HAVE to see.

Heather Graham as a lying hose-beast.  BRILLIANT!
And when he touches them, he can SEE their sins. 

He decides, like any sane person would, to use his new powers for good and find his girl's killer.


That, right there, is some ominous shit.
Now, I haven't read the book in a while so I can't compare it to the film but I REALLY enjoyed this one.  Even the minor characters and walk-ons were fleshed out in some way.  You knew secrets and lies about EVERYONE.  It was small-town gossip writ large.  It was a little bit like Joe Hill expanded on the idea of his dad's book/movie Needful Things only without the crass commercialism and the "devil" in this was a force for good.and it was delicious.

Plus, there were pretty, pretty snakes.  A lot of them.
About the only thing that I can really dig on with this is that the visual metaphors were kind of over the top but, damn, if you're gonna give the main character literal horns you may as well go big or go home, right?  Besides it all blended nicely with the whole idea that even Satan was once an angel.

I'm not big on religious stuff as a rule but Horns, even with the blatant imagery (Really?  Eve's Diner?  The logo being an apple?), it wasn't ham-handed with it.  None of the characters, barring the priest, were overtly religious and even the scenes in the church were light and poignant to the story of the budding relationship rather than being religious in and of themselves.

Some of this movie is a laugh riot.
And there's really this perfect blend of pathos and humor that makes it a joy to watch.  It feels... real.  It's not a roller coaster of emotions, it's just... life.  Bad things happen to good people.  Bad people get what's coming to them and sometimes karma is a hilarious bitch.  Alexandre Aja knocked this one out of the park.

Truly, if I get the chance to see this in theaters when it comes out on the 29th, I will GLADLY do so but having it come out on-demand first was a glorious treat.  A treat that I can freely engage in without aggravating my pancreas.  I love treats.

HIGHLY fucking recommended.  This is a work of art. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Subtlety... There Can Be Too Much

Day 2 of Pre'Ween and I'm already disappointed.  Not with the event.  With Naya fucking Rivera.

Because At the Devil's Door was sooooo laaaaaame.

It's your standard Rosemary's Baby-esque dealio with a little bit of Fallen tossed in to bitch things up.

It starts with a girl in the 80s playing a game that, seriously, she should have been smart enough to say "no" to.  Fuckin' teenagers.  Why y'all gotta be so fuckin' dumb, for real?  When you see the evil dude with the broken-down aging hooker, you don't play games of chance with them.

Anyway, she gets all possessed and shit and, because this is a body-jumper there's this whole chain of events that leads to Naya Rivera's sister being all dead.  Naya, of course, has to go all Scooby-Doo on it.  Like a moron.

Just an orange sweater away...
She gets all knocked up and shit and bears the anti-christ.  Because duh.

Oh, did I give away the ending?  You really should have seen that coming.  I don't care if you watch this or not because fuck me, I was bored. 

See?  She gets it.
This was some cold boogers on a paper plate.  You want to know what's better than watching this movie?  SEX WITH OTHER PEOPLE.  Do not want.  Sorry this is short but there's really nothing else to say.  Bland and boring and not worth your time.

Ms. Rivera, you're better than this.  Go do better.  Volunteer somewhere.  Whales need help.