jk2two's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Psychomania
Psychomania(1971)
½

What better way to fight "the man" than kill yourself and return from the dead to raise havoc in your motorcycle gang? The members of "The Living Dead" gang do just that - returning as super-strong and essentially invincible zombies with no visible difference from their previous, living, forms. Psychomania is a radical exploitation film from 1972 England, focusing on your typical drive-in movie themes of teenage rebellion and stunt bike riding. Fans of cheesy B-grade cult films should be pleased, but those expecting a "motorcycle zombie" movie may be a bit disappointed. The dead return without any benefit of makeup and though they are murderous, they leave not a trace of blood or gore behind. And though one may feel a bit silly complaining that the plot of Psychomania is paper-thin, well... it is. With enough friends and enough beer, it should be worth a few laughs. As long as you're looking for crazy bike stunts and 70's style cheese and don't expect a horror film in any way, you won't be disappointed.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)

The Third installment of the Alien series begins with an insulting killing-off of the three characters saved in part 2. Suddenly all of the hardships suffered in Aliens were a colossal waste of time. Where part 2 took the original concept and made it bigger, faster, and louder, part three slows things down... way down. And while there may have been an attempt to return to the dark eeriness of the original, this time it seems a bit more forced. Ripley finds herself on a planet of double-y chromosome murders. Part 3 returns to the original film's stow-away motif with one stray "dog-like" alien running around the prison. After the grand scale of part two, this return to the original format was not a horrible idea, but it's badly executed. Fincher had his hands full to try and direct this weak script with poorly developed characters. He tried his best, but it was more than he could adequately handle.

Heckler
Heckler(2008)

Interesting little doc about criticism in showbiz... worth an hour of your time.

Massacre in Dinosaur Valley
½

This ambitiously campy Italian film from 1985 gets erroneously lumped into the cannibal subgenre just because of the appearance of natives in the jungle. This is more of an exploitation-style adventure movie made with that certain 70's Italian flair that was still holding on in 85. Though produced in Italy, there is a sizable amount of American influence to be seen in this film. The campy one-liners and overly smug hero will appeal to the American audience. Though it is said the Tarantini was going for an Indiana Jones in his main character Kevin, Michael Sopkiw will make genre fans instantly think of Bruce Campbell's Ash with his smugness and clumsy heroism. In a classic moment, he sets the native slaves free to run immediately into the hands of the approaching guards who quickly beat them to a pulp. This is classic B-Grade campy exploitation magic and it will certainly find a treasured place on the shelf of Italian horror fans.

[Rec] 2
[Rec] 2(2010)
½

The sequel is literally more of the same - taking up where the first film left off, [REC]2 offers more shaky camera work and rabid infected attacks. The second film adds a new plot point - the disease is actually a form of demonic possession, and the crew needs to find the "first infected" in order to stop it. The second film feels more tedious and downright frustrating at times whereas the first film was much more focused. Part two has plenty of infected attacks and scares, but it just feels derivative and tired this time. About half way through, the film switches to a completely new batch of characters for about 15 minutes, and it feels completely out of place. All of these complaints aside, the last 15 minutes of the film are genuinely creepy and effective. The climax of this film is really fantastic and it almost makes up for the frustrating hour beforehand. Almost... but not quite. {REC}2 is a sequel, and as is typical for these types of films, not nearly as good as the original.

The Curse of the Werewolf
½

This one starts off innocuously enough, like an old fable of sorts, but then it spirals into a goofy story about forbidden love, silver bullets made of crucifixes, and too much wine. The great Oliver Reed gives his all in his performance as Leon Corledo, but the script is hopelessly shallow and the wolf makeup is god awful. The actual wolf scenes consist of a stuntman jumping from rooftop to rooftop on set. Sure the sets are ambitious, the costumes are probably period appropriate, and the dialogue is authentic. But ultimately, Hammer was phoning this one in. It's a tired exercise in the werewolf mythology and the end of the film comes with as little impact as possible.

The Thing from Another World

John Carpenter's remake of this film did so much for the horror genre and the special effects industry, that comparing his film with this 1951 original is not fair to do. What's probably more accurate to say is that both Carpenter and Nyby and Lederer made their own versions John Campbell Jr.'s story. The 1951 film takes a less grim approach - though the setting and overall premise is the same, the characters are much more matter-of-fact in dealing with the monster. The monster is also more traditional in the style of the classic monsters - moving and acting much like the Universal Frankenstein's Monster from the 30's. The dialogue is fast and snappy and the script is well written. There is a clear theme of science versus common sense here as the actions of the scientist endangers the entire crew for the sake of discovery. The Thing from Another World is an enjoyable watch and, again, much more light-hearted than Carpenter's approach.

The Fly
The Fly(1958)
½

Though I was a huge fan of Cronenberg's remake, it still took me 20 years to finally watch the 1958 original. A much different film than Cronenberg's, The Fly's premise of a scientist working on teleportation remains the same. This film has a framing device as it opens with Andre's death and the bulk of the film is relayed in flashback. The performances are solid from Patricia Owens and David Hedison as the scientist and his wife - his transformation becomes downright heartbreaking and the supernatural elements seem completely plausible thanks to the acting. Vincent Price's Francois is a necessary character for the framing, but he adds less impact to the story. The effects during the climax are fantastic for the time and downright unsettling. The effectiveness of 1958's The Fly completely floors me, and it is a pity it took me so long to watch it.

The Blob
The Blob(1958)

Steve McQueen made his feature debut in this 1958 classic monster movie that touches every cliché. McQueen stars as a teen named Steve who nearly hits a farmer with his car late one night. The farmer turns out to be infected with a bizarre ooze that came off of a meteorite. Try as he may, McQueen cannot convince any of the adults of the impending alien menace. This film stutters out of the gate with some poor writing and some powerfully bad performances from the supporting cast. McQueen is quite good in his role, but his girlfriend and various cronies are not. It doesn't help that the script is a tad overwritten and many of the characters simply talk too damn much. That being said, The Blob is enjoyable in that 50's monster movie kind of way. Once it kicks into gear, it's quite suspenseful and engaging,, and even quite funny at times. The interaction between the police and the kids is hilariously typical for the era - appealing to the misunderstood teens who were no doubt the majority in the audience. All in all, it's a decent classic horror flick from the drive-in era, though the remake may be a bit better when all things are considered.

Alligator
Alligator(1980)

Another in the chain of monster animal movies that followed Jaws, Alligator fully explores the urban legend of pet alligators flushed down to the sewer. To it's advantage, Alligator has director Lewis Teague behind the camera and Robert Forster in front. It also has a crisp pace with plenty of bloody alligator action. Like the campy Piranha, Alligator has no qualms about being a B-film which is what makes it so successful. Despite limitations of budget, the effects are downright fantastic and obviously made with love. That alligator looks awesome, and Teague knew how to shoot it and make it look its best. Forster's David is an instantly likeable and genuine character - he gives the film that extra push that would've gone missing with an inferior actor. Alligator is a well put together film with that 80's cheese that many of us grew up with, and still love today.

The Grim Reaper
½

D'Amato followed up the dirty Beyond Darkness with the similarly filthy Anthropophagus. This Italian gore-sploitation flick is notorious for a few select scenes - particularly one involving an unborn fetus, and those scenes certainly push the boundaries of taste. Unfortunately, much like in his previous film, D'Amato pads this sucker with long stretched scenes where literally nothing is happening. This gets frustrating, particularly towards the end of the film when the gore is interspersed by 3-4 minutes of someone walking around. Compared to Beyond Darkness however, Anthropophagus is much more engaging and easier to enjoy. It's your basic monster movie at its core and that seems to work better with this kind of pacing. That makeup job on the monster is cheap, but genuinely effective. Don't get me wrong though, it's still sloppy as hell and edited with a randomness that defies explanation, but I suppose that was part of these Italian films' appeal during this period. There is plenty to laugh at and enough blood and gore to keep it interesting, though slow. It's definitely slow.

C.H.U.D. (Chud)

This infamous 80's monster flick about underground mutant monsters has a script right out of the 50's drive-in craze. This one is thoroughly eighties though, on the soundtrack, and in the characters. A then-unknown Daniel Stern runs a soup kitchen and contacts the police when all of his "underground" customers stop showing up. Sure enough, it turns out the whole sewer system is overrun with Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers - CHUD. This is a fairly safe but entertaining flick with a quick pace. The monster effects are pretty cool - particularly the glowing eyes which look extra creepy in the darkness. Everything is taking pretty seriously, so you'll have to be able to laugh even if the movie doesn't know it's being funny. During the last 10 minutes there is a car explosion that makes the top of the list of "why the hell did that blow up?" - watch for it. Though this film's concept is probably why it's remembered, it's not badly made and it ends being a pretty fun cheesy 80's horror.

Black Christmas

The granddaddy of all slasher films, Black Christmas is actually a very smart and well written indie flick that was years ahead of it's time. It's Christmas time at the sorority house and someone has been making obscene and genuinely terrifying prank phone calls to the girls. As they make repeated frantic calls to the police, it becomes apparent that they are on their own in dealing with this menace. Watching this move AFTER all of the films that it inspired makes it seem derivative and formulaic. In actually, this thing was a pioneer. Not only that, but it's an entertaining and engaging film in its own right. It is suspenseful without being gratuitous or blatant. There are also some superbly written characters and dialogue which make this a suspenseful flick that really does live up to the hype. From a writing standpoint, it is a superior film to all of the holiday slashers, and that includes Halloween.

Dracula A.D. 1972

This flick breaks the record for number of red flag moments in the first 20 minutes. And by red flag, I mean warning signs that this is gonna be a tough one to get through. 70's rock blares on the soundtrack as we are introduced to Johnny Alucard (a bit patterned after Alex from A Clockwork Orange) - a no good punk who convinces his friends to participate in a ritual of black mass to reincarnate the prince of darkness. Christopher Lee stars as Dracula and Peter Cushing is VanHelsing's son in this trendy English flick that tries to modernize the Hammer Dracula motif. Lee and Cushing try their hardest to keep some hope alive in a series that was obviously losing it's relevance. The soundtrack is straight up awful - it belongs in a blacksploitation flick, not a Hammer horror film. Though parts of this are laughable and entertaining, it is really missing that gothic flair so present in the other Dracula flicks. And when did vampires start dying is plain water, when did that become a rule? Not without it's moments, Dracula 1972 AD is far from being a worthy addition to the Hammer saga.

The Hills Have Eyes 2
½

The dream collaboration of Wes Craven and his son teamed up to write and direct this sequel of a remake. This film had nothing to do with the lackluster sequel of the original film, but that doesn't save it from being lackluster itself. Where Aja treated the source material like a true love, Craven and son seem less passionate, at times even indifferent, towards the franchise. After reports of the missing family in sector 16, the army sends an unseasoned band of recruits and their cliche sergeant to investigate. The film takes a predictable route that is essentially going trough the motions. The family Craven end up producing a soulless and empty entry into a series that helped make Wes what he is today. Though the two sequels are worlds apart, the feeling they leave you with is the same - that you just watched a cash-in part two that was not made for any other reason than to turn it's guaranteed 2/3s of the original (or in this case, the original remake). Even the gore is boring which is difficult to admit, because it is a fairly bloody movie, but all of the characters are so pointless that the violence Is meaningless. The pairing of Craven and Craven was an exciting concept, but it ends up being a colossal disappointment.

My Bloody Valentine

A typical but well made slasher flick from very early in the sub-genre's life, My Bloody Valentine boasts a competent cast, flashy direction, and an interesting, if somewhat generic, storyline. Twenty years ago, several miners lost their lives due to the negligence of the townsfolk during the Valentine's Day dance. The lone survivor of the tragedy gets revenge on the town through bloody murder, and he warns the town never to celebrate the holiday again. Flash forward to the present day, 2 days before the first Valentine's Day dance in 20 years, and the killings resume. A pickaxe wielding killer in a gasmask, a nice dramatic love-triangle subplot, and creative and original kills place this one well above average for the slasher genre. Though the gore appears to be all but completely cut out (this is one film that would really benefit from a director's cut release), the film establishes great atmosphere and the use of the mine during the film's climax is a nice touch. My Bloody Valentine makes use of all the slasher clichés (except for nudity) and retreads several ideas from previous entries, but the production value and competent direction is enough to set this film apart.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

This remake of the 1981 classic tries very hard to engage it's audience, unfortunately in all the wrong ways. Instead of a "tragic accident" at the mine where Harry Warden was left for dead 10 years ago, in the remake Harry is a notorious killer, shot and killed, and now killing again a decade later. Originally presented in 3D, My Bloody Valentine 2009 features your typical scenes with things flying at the camera. There's even an almost direct quote of Fulci's famous eye gouge scene in Zombi 2. It gets ridiculous towards the end of the film and it simply feels like a dated gimmick that should've been left alone. The gore is definitely cranked up a notch as Harry assumes quite a "Jason-style" of stalking and killing victim after victim. MBV09 fails in that it forgets to build and maintain tension. It also takes liberty with the characters from the original film, spending a great deal of time with pointless drama and over-acting that will make you feel like you're watching a soap opera. In slasher film terms, MBV09 is competent and the body count is impressive. Tom Atkins also gives the film an instant old school appeal. There is also a plethora of pickaxe kills that was lacking in the original, and fans will certainly appreciate the amped up gore and kills. In end, however this is another modern remake that cannot compete with the charm of the original. The result is MBV09 is must more a substandard slasher than the original film and it leads one to wonder why anyone felt it was necessary to do a remake.

Puppet Master 4

Four films into the series and then comes this dangerously stupid entry about a young "scientist" who stumbles across Toulon's puppets and employs them to do battle against the forces of evil. This marks the first film that does not feature Toulon as a central character. Instead, we have dubious scientist Rick Myers, his girlfriend Susie, his best friend Cameron, and hot psychic, Lauren. The characters are paper-thin and the cutaways to the evil demons look like they were shot on the set of the muppet show. This film is bad... I mean REALLY bad. Even the cool puppet animation cannot save this one from heading straight to the toilet. The evil puppets aren't even that cool - they look like some 8 year-old's toy. Most of the gore and killing is done at the puppet level (only one human dies) which makes this feel like it may have been targeted towards a younger audience (yet, still the R-rating?). Fans of the series should find this a hard pill to swallow. What the hell is wrong with those guys at IMDB giving this a 10 out of 10?

Cloverfield
Cloverfield(2008)

The Cinema Vérité style takes on your classic monster movie from the writing / production team that brought us TV's Lost. Cloverfield sets the scene with Rob (Stahl-David), a 20-something up-and-comer, and his going away party. The usual party scene ensues, only to be interrupted by a monster attack on New York City. The remainder of the film is shaky camera work as Rob and his friends try to flee the city. Cloverfield is a pretty innovative concept with some really impressive effects. An early scene involving the destruction of the Manhattan Bridge is particularly impressive, and then a later scene with two adjacent apartment buildings, slammed together. Where Cloverfield struggles is in the acting department. Hud (Miller), the man behind the camera, is especially grating and unnatural in his delivery - but the leads are really no better. This should amount to a minor complaint in a high-action monster film, but it really hurts the film in the end (the closing sequence in particular). Luckily, there are enough moments to make this one exciting and ultimately entertaining, and for that it gets the recommendation.

H2: Halloween II
½

The best part about Rob Zombie's Halloween II is that it does not even attempt to mirror the insipid original sequel that had absolutely nothing to it. No, if Zombie errs, it's by adding too much to his sequel - taking the story in bold and surreal directions that was perhaps unwarranted and at times, too much. He uses all of his street cred to assemble a cast that features the same star power that fleshed out the original, plus more. Zombie's true strength as a horror filmmaker lies in the fact that he is a true fanboy at heart. He casts actors based on their horror resume which is a powerful nod towards other fans. Devout fans of Carpenter's original mythos will pick Zombie's version apart for every deviation and yes, he does take it a little far. On the other hand, Zombie is also adept at giving horror fans what they want: brutal and savage killings with style and substance. This flick goes far beyond Zombie's original film in terms of cold-hearted savagery and on screen brutality. Yes there are times when it tries to hard, but on the slasher scale, Halloween II knocks it out of the park, plain and simple. So now, tell me how blasphemous it is to make Loomis a sellout and alter Myer's mother's back-story... In the end, does it really matter?

Il Cartaio (The Card Player)
½

In The Card Player, we see a mature Dario Argento who is well aware of his strengths as a filmmaker. This 2004 Giallo throwback is the story of a serial killer who kidnaps young women and plays internet poker with the police for the women's lives. The Card Player's screenplay is very much a retread of much of Argento's earlier Giallos in that there are no supernatural elements at play here - no witches, no knife-wielding monkeys, etc. This is a straight whodunit thriller with a few grisly moments to remind you it's Argento's work. Argento's style is what is truly different here - he is still very competent behind the camera, but you're less aware of his influence. This is not the grand baroque style of Opera or Tenebre, this is a modern film and very competent. The problem is, it never really rises beyond anything other than competent - the screenplay is tedious, the story predictable, and the concept, though modernized, is a rather tired one. Nods go to the electronic score and Silvio Muccino's performance as Remo, the cop's poker playing ringer. An average film with a master behind the camera is still an average film.

Castle Freak
Castle Freak(1995)
½

Stuart Gordon brings his favorites - Jeffery Combs and Barbara Crampton - to Full Moon Productions for this 1995 monster movie. John Reilly (Combs) inherits a castle in Italy and travels from the states with his wife and blind daughter to figure out how much it's worth. While there, they struggle with family discord and uncover the mystery of John's missing half-brother. Gordan's monster flick is very much by the book, but there is some decent blood and gore including an uncomfortable scene where the freak breaks his own thumb. Combs and Crampton give it their all, but the writing is a bit of a weak point - the dialogue is awkward at times and the characters are rather one-dimensional. Consequently, there is little worry about what happens to them, so the suspense falls a little flat. Richard Band's Elfman-esque score does not fit the grim darkness of the film - its far too "whimsical" at times. Gordan seems to be filling out his catalogue with this one - sleepwalking through a predictable climax that falls flat at the end. Castle Freak is competent, but not much more.

The Invisible Man
½

This Universal monster movie is a special effects showcase that must've been quite a spectacle in 1933. A dedicated scientist accidentally turns himself invisible during an experiment, he then goes in search of a cure but finds some advantages to not being seen. The effects and camera trickery in this sucker are quite impressive, but the same cannot be said of the writing or the acting. The first 2 actresses on screen are downright awful, and Claude Rains' voice acting is rather difficult to tolerate. Unlike the Universal classics, The Invisible Man is not well rounded - it's not the least bit scary and the comedy consists mostly of over-reacting and screechy females which is more grating on the nerves than actually funny. The action scenes are the most tolerable, but even those are permeated by corny one-liners reminiscent of Bugs Bunny (obviously an influence to cartoons in general). Slapstick humor wears a bit thin after a while and it's questionable whether or not The Invisible Man belongs in the same conversation as the rest of Universal's monsters.

The Mummy
The Mummy(1959)

Hammer Film's version of The Mummy is much more a traditional monster movie than the Universal original. Peter Cushing stars as John Banning, son of an archeologist who opens the tomb and pisses off the wrong Egyptian. The Egyptian then follows John, his father, and his assistant back to England where the mummy is set loose to get revenge. Long scenes of backstory and flashbacks feel like a misstep in this one as it slows down the action. It takes about an hour for the mummy to show up and that is a major misstep for a film of this type. Once the monster is on screen however, the film kicks into gear. Christopher Lee is perhaps misused as the monster because you cannot tell it is him, but that's because the makeup is fantastic and Hammer Film's workhorse director Terence Fisher was not afraid to show tight close ups in full light. The effects team made an impressive monster and Fisher does an excellent job of making the mummy seem huge and imposing. Despite a few stumbles and a rather boring 2nd act, this ends up being a decent Hammer flick. The mummy treatment alone makes it worth seeing and no film staring Peter Cushing can be a bad film, he's just so damn cool.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
½

Jack Finney's story gets another go around in Philip Kaufman's 1978 Sci Fi / horror shocker that brings more meat to the table than the 1956 original. Donald Sutherland gives a rather straight performance as Matthew Bennell and he's given support by a non-Vulcan Leonard Nimoy and a strikingly young Jeff Goldblum. The main thread of the story remains, but there are many changes to modernize the story for the 1970's. The subtle metaphor of communist fear prevalent in the 1950's version is replaced by the fear of modernization creating emotionless, and sterile families. There is also an outerspace explanation for the invasion which is filmed in the movie's prologue with some surprisingly good effects for the time period. The sequence where the clones emerge from their pods onto the lawn is a powerfully crreepy and disturbing one. Kaufman's version also portrays the assimilation in a much grander scale - creating suspense far greater than the original film. Fans of the classic era and movie purists will undoubtedly prefer the 1956 film, but those of us who cut our horror teeth on films from the 70s and 80s will easily see this remake's superiority.

The Brides of Dracula
½

A Hammer Films classic with the mighty Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing and directed by Hammer mainstay Terence Fisher. A young teacher is delayed on her way to her new school and ends up being tricked by a young vampire - The Baron Meinster. She sets him free and he quickly begins preying on the young women of the school. Cushing is cool as can be in this flick - acting as the town's savior and professional vampire slayer. Though the "brides" themselves are fairly useless, David Peel makes a fine vampire and all of the mythology is discussed and used appropriately. They may have cranked these movies out back then, but this is a decent Hammer vampire film with a brisk pace, enough action, and a final reel that will set it apart from most of the others.

Tales From the Crypt

This horror anthology lent its name to an HBO series and is therefore instantly recognizable. Five people are given visions of their own deaths which take the form of 5 shorts. Joan Collins stars in the first one which is Christmas themed and rather lackluster, the second short is brief with a fairly good scare in the end. The third has an incredible performance by Peter Cushing as a tender-hearted widower who is targetted by his neighbor. This third sequence is easily the film's strongest thanks to Cushing and a nice makeup job in the climax. The fourth short is a take on the old short story, "The Monkey's Paw" and it seems somewhat aimless in it's execution. Patrick Magee gives a sympathetic and dramatic performance as a blind man in the final segment about a greedy super intendent at a home for the blind. This last segment is engaging, if a bit long, with an elaborate ending. Ultimately Tales from the Crypt is a mixed bag of shorts with an interesting premise tying everything together. Three out of five of the shorts are worthwhile which makes this anthology worth it for the most part, though only the third segment stands out as anything special.

The Host
The Host(2007)

At the heart of every good monster movie is a narrow-minded government ready to jump on the first easy answer offered up as a solution. The Korean-born Host is a savvy and satirical monster flick with high class effects and a wicked sense of humor. When a young girl is kidnapped by the monster, her family goes through hell trying to rescue her. There are less-than-subtle jabs at both the Korean and American governments. The men in charge create a city-wide panic about a nonexistent virus that serves as a distraction from the mutant fish monster. One can't help but think of the whole SARS panic from several years ago - misdirected panic at a grand scale. The Host is topical and thoroughly entertaining through it's 2 hours, which is a feat in and of itself. These classic sub-genre films are especially successful when they are able to laugh at themselves, and The Host is hilarious and frightening at the same time. I could complain about the overly digital monster, but it doesn't seem too hurt the film too much. Ultimately the hype behind this film is warranted - is old school and new school at the same time... Great stuff.

30 Days of Night
½

Shortly after the zombie's rebirth, the horror genre took a renewed interest in the vampire. 30 Days of Night is a film adapted from a graphic novel about a small town in northern Alaska that spends an entire month in darkness every winter. Somehow the undead catch wind of this and setup an attack on the town after the last sundown. 30 Days is a rather fresh take on the vampire genre and it is good to see the creatures of the night portrayed as beasts once again. The vampires are dressed like they're in a gothic band and they speak a mutated tongue that sounds like a variation of German. Director David Slade, who cut his teeth directing music videos, definitely has a modern flair to his style and there are times when the rapid cuts and high energy camera work reminds one of MTV. There is also a painful amount of CG used for the blood and gore fx which is a damn shame because bright red blood falling on virgin-white snow does not need to be digitally enhanced to look cool. Over used Josh Hartnett is stiff but likeable as male lead Eben, and Melissa George plays well as his co-star. Putting this film up next to it's vampiric competition, it measures fairly well. It's certainly more watchable than the bulk of the vampire movies that have hit the screen in the past decade.

Eyes of a Stranger

Here's a typical slasher from 1981 that breaks a few essential rules: mainly the killer's identity is not a secret and he doesn't wear a mask. These violations aside, Eyes of a Stranger very much follows the early 80's slasher formula. Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as a deaf, dumb, and blind girl named Tracy, who lives with her older sister Jane, who happens to be a reporter for the local news. When a serial rapist starts preying on the local women, Tracy takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. Eyes of a Stranger is very predictable and seems to be very content to be so. There is some good gore and a few moments of true suspense but for the most part, it's just going through the motions. The film debut of Leigh is hardly enough to recommend this sucker, though she is topless for a brief moment, so maybe it is.

Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror)

Gothic imagery and ice cold atmosphere characterizes Mario Bava's horror anthology that not only influenced Italian horror for decades to come, but also gave its name to a band that would pioneer an entire new genre of dark music. After the derivative and Hitchcock styled "The Telephone," the gothic vampire themed "Wurdulak" features a sinister Boris Karloff in the twilight of his career. The grand sets and wind-filled soundtrack make this a perfect movie for Halloween night. The "Wurdulak" is undeniably the centerpiece of this film, but the third segment is a close second. Poe's The Telltale Heart is modified in "The Drop of Water" which featuures some of the most ghoulish corpse makeup to ever grace the screen. The closing momrents of this segment are just plain chilling. Bava's mastery of mood and pure creepiness is at its absolute peak in this film - it's spooky as hell. Fans of horror anthologies should have this towards the top in their collection because, despite a lackluster 1st segment, Black Sabbath is a solid old school horror and showcases the very finest moments of Mario Bava.

Visions of Suffering

Turn off your brain, grab a drink, and relax with the visceral overload that is Visions of Suffering. This 2 hour Russian indie flick is difficult to critique in a traditional way, because it is far from a traditional film. The bulk of the film is dream sequences and visions of main character whose real life is about as bleak as his crazy ass dreams. This movie is an absolute overload on the senses. The amount of work put into this sucker is impressive, but it is a difficult flick to give your full attention because it is so extreme. It qualifies as horror as many of the images are disturbing and gory and it will certainly test genre fans. Iskanov would go on to produce the massive Philosophy of a Knife which is an even greater test of endurance and personal fortitude. enjoy.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The first adaptation of Jack Finney's short story was this 1955 classic staring the prolific Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Bennell. Though firmly rooted in science fiction, IOTBS is a thinly veiled commentary on what it means to be human. Universal themes of love, heartache, and loss accompany the prevalent 1950's fear of assimilation and governmental control. Here is a film that plays on the basic fear of the powers-that-be removing our freewill with a science fiction twist of alien invasion. The influence of Finnley's story and this initial adaptation cannot be overstated. I'm not sure The Twilight Zone series would've existed without this film. Though conceived as a cheap drive-in thrill, IOTBS ends up being something much more broad and widely appealing. Simple storytelling is really what this is all about. McCarthy and Wynter are fabulous, and the screenplay is flawless. It was certainly a simpler time, but the appeal is undeniable - watch it and love it.

Boogeyman
Boogeyman(2005)
½

The traditional Boogeyman myth is fully explored in this 2005 Hollywood Horror with a pinch of ambition to boot. As a child, Tim witnesses the famous boogeyman taking his father to the netherworld. After 10+ years, his mother passes away and Tim decides to confront his childhood fears by staying a night in the old house. As one could guess, Tim discovers that his memory of the events that happened so long ago is fairly accurate. The biggest problem with this film is the countless number of jump scares - surges of noise, visual jumps, music cues, it gets downright ridiculous towards the end. It's a shame too, because much of the content of this flick is fairly good. It's a tired story to be sure, but there are enough creepy and surreal twists to give it some new life. The over-stylized direction is what does this film in - jumping on the "Saw" bandwagon of music video style editing. The digital effects heavy climax serves to dash any hopes of the movie redeeming itself: it simply shows too much - more than it should, and any creepiness established earlier on is completely destroyed.

Alone with Her

Alone with Her is a first-hand look into the life of a stalker - fully equipped with all of the "widely available" digital spy stuff from the internet. Doug (Tom Hanks' brother Colin) singles out young Latina Amy (Talancon), and starts to follow her every move. As the audience we are given a direct window into all of the hidden camera footage - nicely edited for our convenience. The two leads are really what makes this sucker tolerable, because it would be boring and weak without their performances. One has to hand it to first-time writer / director Eric Nicholas - he came up with an inventive (and economical) way to tell a somewhat typical and derivative story. Alone with Her is so real and natural that one can believe this stuff actually happens. That guy Doug actually exists somewhere, and he's not an easy guy to like. For that reason, it's actually a bit unsettling to watch this at times so, mission accomplished I guess...

Audition (Ôdishon)

This unusual J-Horror entry is a slow burn with a sudden explosion of visceral overload in the final 20 minutes. Seven years after the death of his wife, Shigeharu's son suggests that he remarry because he is looking old. He solicits the help of his movie director friend to stage a phony audition to select a new wife. His selection is Asami Yamazaki, a young ballerina who was forced to give it up due to injury. Audition plays its cards very close to its jacket throughout the first hour - barely hinting at the horror lying in wait at the climax. Takashi Miike weaves the story masterfully behind the camera - toying with the audience like a cat toys with its prey before the kill. A sudden and jarring bolt of surrealism accompanies the shift to a savage and torture-filled closing which seems to create more questions than it actually answers. As a foreign art-house horror / character study, Audition leaves itself open for plenty of speculation. There are hints at statements regarding traditional gender roles as well as suggestions of incest and victimization throughout. Whether it is a political statement or an abstract piece of art, Audition is a powerful film and one of Miike's most traditionally engaging.

Grace
Grace(2009)
½

Jordan Ladd stars as expectant mother Madeline, with two previous miscarriages in this 2009 directorial debut for Paul Solet. After a tragic accident, Madeline loses her husband and her baby, but decides to deliver the baby at term anyway. Ladd's performance along with an awesome performance from Gabrielle Rose as the mother-in-law, makes this movie entertaining and worth watching. As a horror film however, Grace is kind of a light weight with "disturbing" scenes that mostly fall flat. Even the climax, which finally gets bloody, seems rather underwhelming. For a debut this is an impressive effort and rather good from a filmmaking perspective. Let's see how Solet does with his other work.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)
½

A late entry in the zombie revival that started back in 2001 with 28 Days Later, Zombieland is a familiar story of 4 survivors, toiling their way from city to city during the Zombie apocalypse. Unlike so many other recent zombie films however, Zombieland incorporates humor successfully while still providing enough zombie mayhem by the end of the film to make it a legitimate horror entry. While there is obvious big profit-minded studio money backing Zombieland, there still manages to be enough irreverent charm to give it some street cred with genre fans. Harrelson is more likeable than he's been in years - the sarcastic yet good-hearted Tallahassee seems to be the ideal character for him. Bill Murray makes a nice cameo as well - adding to the fun and light-hearted feel. Zombieland is essentially aimed at those who like their comedy with a side of horror - "Shaun of the Dead" is probably a fair comparison, however that film was not nearly as intentional with its marketability. Still, as mainstream horror goes, Zombieland is likely one of the best to come out in the past 5 years.

The Haunting
The Haunting(1963)
½

Mental illness and the paranormal are explored indepth during this 1963 classic ghost story directed by the prolific Robert Wise. Adapted from a Shirley Jackson novel, The Hauting tells the tale of an experiment / study of the supernatural conducted by Dr. Markway (Johnson) and his ill-informed assistants: Eleanor (Harris), Theodora (Bloom) and Luke (Tamblyn). From a filmmaker's perspective, The Haunting is a near-perfect film - Wise's direction is flawless, but so is the editing and cinematography. This film is absolutely gorgeous and dripping with sinister and malevolent atmosphere. Countless films inspired by this gem have filled the genre over the past 50 years. Nearly every ghost or supernatural film borrows at least some element from this masterpiece. Searle's haunting score is an essential addition to this film's chilling atmosphere and unrelenting mood. We are given a first-hand view into Elenor's madness as she slowly slips from reality, grasping at the strong Dr. Markway for help. The sardonic Theodora is perhaps the only slightly far-fetched character, but she is an essential foil to Harris' Eleanor. Lovers of well-told ghost stories or just excellent filmmaking should find plenty to appreciate in this one - highly recommended.

Nekromantik
Nekromantik(1987)
½

Jörg Buttgereit's 1987 German art house film has topped many a list of most disturibing films ever made. Nekromantic is about a death and gore obsessed disaster-clean-up worker named Bernd, who brings a rotting corpse home to his like-minded girlfriend, Beatrice. There are a couple scenes of blury necrophilia followed by the loss of Bernd's job which result's in Beatrice leaving him, and taking the corpse. The rest of the film is concerned with Bernd's plunge into madness and creative depravity. Though most people will find Nerkromantik a disturbing film, it may appeal to fans of the darkest comedy out there - Takashi Miike's Visitor Q comes to mind. There are moments of true creative gross-out briliiance in here, and despite the rather heavy subject matter, it often feels somewhat light-hearted. Also, for an obviously self-financed film, Nekromantik actually has some decent effects work, particularly for a few scenes in the final act. The last gore scene is truly one that needs to be seen to be believed - and that scene alone makes me recommend this film for anyone with the stomach to take it.

King Kong
King Kong(1933)

This 1933 marvel is an absolute technical miracle with a meaty script and a positively captivating female lead to back it. I don't think it's possible for those of us that did not witness the release of this film, to truly appreciate the complete spectacle that it truly is. This is a monster movie that blends cool stop-animation with live action in a convincing way. Kong is absolutely impressive, and once he shows up, the movie never really lets up. His rampage from island to city easily out does any other horror film from this time period, and the technical difficulties that accompany the creation of this spectacle in 1933 is what really makes King Kong something to behold in wonder. In one of the first truly brilliant moments of black humor, Kong pulls the wrong women out of a hotel window and discards her nonchalantly to the street far below. Kong is convincingly ape-like, analyzing his new environment in a state of child-like wonderment. This film is absolute genius, and though many of these classics are put on a pedestal due to their age, King Kong was a masterpiece then, today, and tomorrow.

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
½

STFU Alan! That should be most sensible people's reactions to the first 25 or so minutes of this tedious and slow-as-hell low budget flick. A pompous idiot director recruits a bunch of aspiring actors to help him with some amateur black magic meant to raise the dead from their graves. One could surmise by the film's title that it works, but only after 64 minutes of unfunny, poorly written, over-acted BS that's dominated by Alan Ormsby's smug rantings. Though this film is painfully low budget, that's really not an issue - the zombies are the best part. Though most of the makeup is poor, the zombie mayhem is ultimately enjoyable (the zombie actors are way more effective than the leads). The tricky part is making it through the amount of movie necessary to get to the final act - it's a great deal of self-important and "see how smart we are" dialogue with slow-paced, drawn-out scenes that really accomplish nothing. Zombie movie completists will certainly want this for the collection, but all others would e better to avoid it.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
½

The basic "nature versus science" theme so prevelent in the 50's drive-in movies is the running theme in this Universal classic about a group of scientists who discover a prehistoric creature. Mark (Denning) and David (Carlson) present the two sides of the argument - study and understand versus capture and destroy. The philosophical debate takes a backseat to what is probably one of the most impressive man-in-a-rubber-suit monster movies from the 1950's. Originally presented in 3-D and filled with incredible underwater cinematography, this movie literally has it all - a hot scream queen in Julia Adams, comic racial sterotyping with Paiva's Lucas, and one of the more practical and versitile moster suits of its time. Director Jack Arnold manages a nice brisk pace that gets us right into the action and pretty much keeps us there for the duration of the film. They were not shy about filming the creature close up for long periods of time, and the mask is still effective and creepy so many years later. My only complaint is the use of stock music for the score as it gets downright grating at times. Film score aside though, for a classic film, The Creature from the Black Lagoon is really timeless and is bound to convert those who think they can't love an old movie.

Wolfen
Wolfen(1981)
½

An odd political agenda runs through this 1981 horror / cop thriller about bizarre killings in New York City. A rich real-estate tycoon, his wife, and his driver are murder and mutilated in the Bronx and burned-out detective Dewey Wilson (played with no enthusiasm by Albert Finney) is on the case. Wolfen explores the spiritual connection between wolves and the Native American population of New York City. Edward James Olmos plays the primary native suspect for Dewey and he also supplies the bulk of movie's left-wing propaganda. The POV shots of the wolves are accompanied with a filteing effect that comes stock with most digital cameras nowadays, but in 1981 I'm sure it was expensive. Though there is a nice bloody set of kills in the openning scene, Wolfen is painfully short on meaningful action until the last 10 minutes and even then it is accompanied by a WTF kind of moment in the plot. Whether or not this movie was meant as a statement is irrelevant really. As a horror flick it's slow and rather uneventful and as a thriller it's less engaging than it should be.

The Mummy
The Mummy(1932)

This 1932 Universal classic is thick with mystique and ancient subtext that feels authentic and characteristic of big budget Hollywood at the same time. Karloff is indeed an intimating charcter, bringing a command to the role without so much as a trace of an Egyptian accent. This is a classic Universal monster movie with a dark and evil plot that has a least some level of historical legitimacy, which sets it apart from all the others. This is a classic film that keeps the suspense taut and the pace rapid. The effects are top notch for 1932 - particularly impressive is the final transformation scene which showcases a fluid rapid camera trick that is truly amazing for the time period. Either you can love these old films or you can't but one thing is certain - it sure beats that Stephen Sommers remake with Brenden Fraser... and all the awful sequels as well.

Mirrors
Mirrors(2008)
½

Aja directs this remake of a Korean Supernatural thriller about a retired police officer who takes a job as a security officer of a closed-down department store. The store has a rather colorful history tht centers around demons and mirrors. Aja's trademark over-the-top gore is present in a few choice scenes, but a few more would've help the pacing of this film as it runs over 111 minutes and is a bit slow in parts. Kiefer Sutherland is actually easier to take than usual in a rather restrained role as the officer, Ben. The CG effects are plentiful as the mirror images of Ben and his family begin to take on a life of their own. There is something naturally unsettling about leaving the front of the mirror and having the image remain, and this is an image that occurs several times throughout Mirrors. It begins to feel a little like a one-trick pony towards the end of the second act, but thankfully the final act kicks everything up a notch. Though the true terror of this film seems to fall a bit short, it fires on enough cylinders to make it worth a watch.

Son of Frankenstein

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein comes to the infamous castle to collect his inheritence and there he finds Ygor and a comatose monster. Inspiried by his father's work, Wolf sets about trying to heal the monster. Lugosi steals the show with an elaborate and subtlely funny (unintentional?) Ygor, his delivery laced with menace and inuendo. Rathbone also delivers - particularly when he is trying to act nonchalant, as if the moster isn't running amok and killing again. The production values in this 3rd Universal Frankenstein film are really impressive, particularly when compared to the previous films. This one obviously had unprecidented financial backing evident in terrific set design and monster effects. What's more, the third film has a rather inspired story with engaging characters and well managed suspense. As classic era films go, I would argue this one over even the over-referenced Bride of Frankenstein in terms of fluid storytelling and a fabulous climax.

Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge

This long running series about a group of crusading and murderous puppets is a mixed bag at best. Part 3 is a prequel of sorts as we see the puppet master, Toulon back when he was creating the little guys back in Nazi Germany, during the war. The Nazis want Toulan's recipe for animation in order to bring back fallen Nazi soldiers to keep fighting the war. Guy Rolfe makes his first appearance as Toulon and this film marks the first one to have limited contribution from Charles Band, the franchise's creator. For a direct-to-video release in 1991, this really has a decent budget with good production values and decent writing. Part 3's story is a bit easier to care about as the main enemies are Nazis, and obviously up to no good. Rolfe's Toulon is a kind but mysterious wise-man type and much less nefarious than in the previous films. Even if you're not a fan of the series as a whole, part 3 should keep you engaged and entertained. Oh yes, the puppets are still the best part.

Color Me Blood Red

H. G. Lewis' third in his "blood trilogy" is a tale of a struggling artist who discovers the missing ingredient in his work is human blood. Once he creates a painting soaked in blood, he starts receiving accolades from the art community and sets out to find more sources of his new found "paint." Though conceptually this is a compelling film, it suffers from some serious pacing issues - in other words, it's slow as hell. Adam Sorg stars as the artist, Don Joseph, and his performance generates the most laughs in this flick as he is completely over-the-top. The plot is rather easy to predict and Lewis offers little to surprise anyone. What's worse, there is a significant less amount of gore in this one compared to the previous two of the trilogy (maybe three scenes worth mentioning) and it's not near as festive as the awesome Two Thousand Maniacs. The real problem though, is that Lewis only wrote enough for about 20 minutes worth of film, but this sucker runs on for 79 - it's full of padded scenes wheere nothing happens. The score is pretty hip and the acting is its usual: awful and laughable, but it just doesn't measure up to his other work.

Altered States

Paddy Chayefsky adapted his hallucinogentically-charged novel for this 1980 horror flick staring the great William Hurt as a research scientist studying alternate states of consciousness. The experiments get increasingly elaborate and begin to combine long periods of time in an isolation chamber with strange hallucinogenic drugs from the native populations in Mexico. Altered States is a tripped-out exploration of some pretty heavy concepts like love, the origin of the species, and our human connections to our primal ancestors. On the other side, this is also a horror film with a similar theme to The Wolfman. William Hurt shows his future greatness in this flick along with a very strong supporting cast. Director Ken Russel was a good choice for this as many of his films deal with primal and sexually charged themes like this one. For horror fans, Altered States will present a challenge as a very deep and philosophically complex film with some dated looking effects and a bizarre science fiction twist. If you're up to the challenge though, it can be a rather rewarding film as well

Salem's Lot
Salem's Lot(1979)
½

I was 4 years old in 1979 and I can safely say I have no memory of this film from when it originally aired on TV. The odds are, my parents didn't let me watch it for if they had, I have a feeling I would've been traumatized. Salem's Lot is a faithful adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a vampire that terrorizes a small New England town. This must have aired over 4 nights of an hour a piece or so, because it clocks in at just over 3 hours. The characters are likeable, though it feels as if there are a lot of them to keep track of in the beginning. As the story progresses, the mystery slowly unravels and what we have is a very old school vampire film in a modern setting. The long running time is actually utilized very well in the film and it never feels like it is going too slow. I am floored that the last 30 minutes of this film originally aired on television - it is violent and rather intense for the late 70's. As King adaptations go, this one has to rank somewhere near the top - it's faithful to the original material, highly suspenseful, and thoroughly entertaining.

Taste the Blood of Dracula
½

After being shown up by a young man at a gentleman's club, 3 aging high society types agree to help the man with a ritual of black magic. The ritual ends up killing the young man and bringing Dracula back to life and Christopher Lee shows up once again as Hammer's favorite prince of darrkness. Unfortunately for them, the man they helped kill was one of Dracula's servants, so Dracula decides to use the men's own children to get his revenge. This 1970 Hammer horror is a compelling story with good performances from the supporting cast and the usual brilliance from Lee. Even without Peter Cushing this one ends up being on the upper end of the Hammer series and is engaging enough to be considered a must-see for Dracula fans. With these earlier films the most important element is the strength of story and that's where Taste the Blood of Dracula stands out from the crowd.

From Dusk Till Dawn
½

Quentin Tarantino hired Robert Rodriguez to direct his script about a couple of bank robbers who run into trouble with vampires after crossing the boarder into Mexico. From Dusk Till Dawn is essentially two films: the first half is your standard, early Tarantino bank robber film, and the second is a CGI-heavy vampire flick. The transition from one film to the other is very jarring, but I think that's the point of it. George Clooney delivers a great performance as does Tarantino who is usually very hard to take. Casting Harvey Keitel as a preacher is a bold move, but he delivers as well.There is some good gore and plenty of over-the-top, cartoonish violence thrown in. The point is to deliver a genre film that is heavy on laughs while still maintaining an intense horror atmosphere, and this is done quite well. My main complaint is the heavy use of CGI for the vampire makeup - it really brings the effects down a notch and looks pretty dated nowadays. Tarantino's dialogue also suffers from being too self-indulgient (which is typical for him), and it seems to get in the way once the action starts. Overall though, this is a decent vampire flick with Robert Rodriguez's flair behind the camera.

Machete
Machete(2010)

Robert Rodriguez has more integrity than anyone else making mainstream films in the states nowadays. Machete is a superb throwback to the exploitation flicks of the 70's with an all-star cast and tons of blood and violence. Machete is an ex-federale who is setup by a man who hires him to kill a Texas senator. The senator is a firm opponent against immigration, south of the boarder, and Machete is soon recruited by "The Network," a group of Mexicans fighting against the senator's cause. It's a cliche, and super cheesy script meant as a vehicle for Rodriguez's satire. Much of Rodriguez's work seems like it's a fan boy's tribute to the films of his youth, and Machete definitely fits that category. There is an impressive list of premium actors in this flick: Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, and Don Johnson are all impressive additions to the cast. Danny Trejo is perfect as Machete and one has to respect Rodriguez for staying true to the actors who have been there for him since the beginning. Jessica Alba is a bit hard to take, but the rest of the cast is excellent, and they seem to be having a great time making this film. Most fans of Rodriguez will go into this film completely knowing what to expect, and they will get plenty of it.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The real problem with this remake is that it is not a remake of the original classic horror film. Fundamentally, a remake should include the same basic story and the same principal characters of the original (Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is a good example of this), but this version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has NO original characters, other than Leatherface, and the story's basic framework is completely changed. Though the 2003 film is well made and maybe even a decent horror flick, the overhaul of the original classic (and I emphasize CLASSIC) is the worst kind of blasphemy I can think of. Plain and simple: these cash-in remakes need to treat the original material with respect, and this film simply does not do that. Instead, it pisses all over the story, omits all the classic scenes, and alters the only remaining original character. This film needs a different title (much like that Dawn of the Dead remake) - that might lessen the blow a bit. If the original film is not in your top 20 of all time, you may be fine with this film. As I said, it's well made, more overtly gory, and even has R. Lee Ermey playing his usual shouting drill sargeant type guy. What's mssing is the rawness and crazy realism and the labor-of-love honesty of the original, this one is very much a high-budget Hollywood horror that fails to stand out as anything special DESPITE its title.

Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps(2001)
½

This Canadian-born teen werewolf flick combines themes of womanhood and coming of age with the well known werewolf mythos. Ginger gets bitten by a werewolf on the same day she starts menstruating which creates some confusion about which "curse" is actually causing the changes in young Ginger: her increased interest in boys, her drug use, and her more aggressive nature. The key to a good werewolf flick is the ability to present the werewolf elements in a laughable way (because it's pretty ridiculous) while still maintaining an appropriate horror atmosphere. Ginger Snaps does just that, developing characters and a believable bond between sisters along the way. Young Brigitte tries to help cure Ginger of her condition before she is discovered and solicities the help of the school's pot head. This is a hip modern horror flick with some surprisingly competent teen actors and a well conceived script that creates a less-than-subtle metaphor for budding adolescent sexuality. Even the werewolf fx are not too bad and there are moments of blood and gore in the third act. This is definitely a obscure hit and it has taken me a while to discover it, but it is worth the hunt.

Ghost Ship
Ghost Ship(2002)

If the movie "The Event Horizon" is "Hellraiser" in space, "Ghost Ship" is "The Event Horizon" on the high seas. Gabriel Byrne's talents are powerfully wasted in this derivative, high-budget horror flick about a rough-and-tumble salvage crew who discover an unmanned ocean liner. The ship is haunted, of course, and the crew is at her mercy. The flick has its moments - the opening sequence is fantastic, despite the cg effects, and the set and sound design create some effective atmosphere throughout. On the other hand, there is an abundance of cheap shots in the first act, and the story progresses in a tired and predictable fashion. The characters are one-dimensional and hastily constructed and by the time the climax rolls around, it's hard to still care. This one will work for mainstream horror fans who are not particularly picky about script or originality. The high production values will be enough to pass the time, but that's probably about it.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

This made-for-TV film from 1981 is a classic tale of vengeance for crimes left unpunished. Charles Durning stars as the local mailman who rouses 3 others to hunt down Bubba, a mentally-retarded man thought to have killed a local girl. After killing him, the 4 discover he was innocent, so they begin to cover up the crime. After they are found not-guilty in court, Bubba's mother promises vengeance from one source or another. For a TV movie, this sucker is rather thick with atmosphere and some genuine chills. It is a familiar story, but the execution is fantastic along with a great performance from Durning whose character grows gradually more desperate to save himself from persecution. The story progresses in a rather predictable fashion and offers few surprises, but that itself is probably not a surprise. Family-friendly and perfect for Halloween viewing, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a solid 80's effort. The newly released, restored DVD is a thing of beauty.

Rosemary's Baby

Polanski's classic about the son of the devil is a oft quoted and oft referenced thriller based on a Ira Levin novel. Farrow and Cassavettes are the Woodhouse's, a young couple who move into an old apartment in New York. Their neighbors include a kindly old couple that befriend the young couple and become heavily involved in their lives. Great performances with great writing make this a terse thriller capable of rivaling Hitchcock in terms of believable characters and the development of suspense. Rosemary is a character easy to sympathize with and Farrow plays her with a conviction that is downright rare nowadays. Polanski is a master behind the camera and his cast in front makes him look that much better. This film is essential horror for any fan of the genre and it simply must be seen.

Rogue
Rogue(2008)
½

Doug McLean's sophomore effort after the surprise Wolf Creek was this typical monster movie about a giant crocodile on the hunt for unsuspecting tourists on a tour of Australia's swamps. The croc capsizes the boat and leaves the survivors trapped on a small muddy island, forced to work together to either escape, or fight back. Though by no means an original or unique film, Rogue is competently made and entertaining enough. The Dimension Extreme label seems to be churning these suckers out as fast as they can and the quality of most of them is quite questionable. Rogue is a probably a step above most of their catalogue, though that probably isn't saying much. As beast-run-amok films go, Rogue is entertaining fluff and worth 90 minutes of your time.

Frozen
Frozen(2010)
½

Hatchet's Adam Green wrote and directed this much different horror film about 3 20-somethings who get stranded on a ski lift overnight. Joe, his girlfriend, and his best friend get stuck due to trying to sneak off a final run. It soon becomes evident that the temperature is going to make survival impossible, so the group try to find a way off the lift. There are some conceptual challenges presented in a film with 3 actors in a 8 foot by 4 foot area for most of the time. Green actually does pretty well with the dialogue which is a bit of a surprise given the clunky scripts in the Hatchet series, but Frozen actually has some natural sounding lines. The effects of the extreme cold are actually well done and quite painful looking. The same can not be said for the digital wolves who don't look real and also don't behave remotely like actual wolves. Frozen definitely requires suspension of disbelief during a few scenes in order for the tension to be effective. In other words: don't think too much and you'll be okay. The performances from the three leads really help sell the script which makes this one a rather suspenseful and engaging thriller. It's nice to see a indie flick with integrity and class from an obviously versatile director.

The Dead Zone

Christopher Walken stars as a school teacher who receives psychic powers after awaking from a coma. He begins having visions of tragic and apocalyptic themes that start to come true. He then becomes preoccupied with preventing these events before they come to pass. This Stephen King adaptation is a bit slow at points, but it is also very unique in terms of story and a rare restrained performance from Walken. Martin Sheen shows up as a corrupt politician who becomes Walken's main target. His friends and neighbors begin to distrust him as his visions worsen and his behavior becomes more bizarre. The visions are oddly cut with a feel of stock footage at times and the film overall feels very dated. Though not a bad film, The Dead Zone is a bit of a slow burn and takes some patience to truly appreciate.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I was completely prepared to hate this film as the remake train has begun to frustrate me, but I can't say I havn't been impressed by a few lately (The Crazies, I Spit on Your Grave for example). The Friday the 13th relaunch left me feeling cold and empty however, so I was skeptical about the same company relaunching Freddy. I was completely surprised that not only did I not hate this film, I kind of liked it. One popular complaint of these re-inventions is that they explain too much and yes, the new Nightmare film is guilty of plunging deep into Freddy's backstory, but this seems somewhat justified. This new film follows the story of part one with the same characters and some scenes reshot faithfully. What it adds is story elements from all the sequels and presents Freddy much more as a creepy child molester than a boogeyman. Haley made a good move with his performance as Freddy, straying far from Englund's version so as not to be directly compared. Even hismakeup got a new, more authetically burned look. This is a new Krueger in an old story so if you're open to the changes, you might just be able to enjoy this one as I did.

American Psycho
½

Christian Bale has his outbreak performance in this lovingly crafted modern horror classic about a successful and narcissistic businessman whose sterile, perfect life leads to a life of destruction and murder. Bale's character Patrick Bateman is so well written and performed with such enthusiasm that one instantly feels compelled to root for the bad guy. As the film progresses, so does his violence and lunacy. American Psycho is a well conceived stab at plastic, superficial young adults and the need to present appropriately in high society. The idea that rich successful tupes are just as crazy and murderous as the low-life degenerates just hasn't been explored so thoroughly in a horror film before this. The high budget and the A-List of actors doesn't hurt the film either as the violence and gore is still very present - not to mention dark humor that fills the final act with laughs thanks to Bale's way over-the-top performance. This is how mainstream horror films should be... but usually they're not.

The Last Exorcism

The old trustworthy Cinéma vérité style is used for this story of a preacher who has made his living off of theatrical sermons and fake exorcisms. He agrees to do one last service to expose the lies behind the practice before he leaves the church. He takes along the handy two-man film crew and starts his act for a young daughter of a recluse farmer. This flick creates some mixed feelings for me. On one hand, it is well made and well acted by Fabian and Bell with a fabulous performance from Louis Herthum as the girl's father. It is also very well edited - maintaining the cinéma vérité illusion while still keeping things fluid. On the other hand, there are a couple of plot holes / cheats that take some patience to overlook and the movie seems to change its mind about what it wants to be. These shifts are jarring and probably should've been fine-tuned on paper, before they filmed it. Ultimately though, The Last Exorcism is a fresh take on some old ideas and while it exists in cliche, it has an original slant that sets it apart from most of the other films that came out in 2010. Definitely worth your time.

The Dentist
The Dentist(1996)

Brian Yuzna dirrects and Stuart Gordon writes (along with Paoli and Finch) this bizarre 90's horror about a dentist who goes nuts after he sees his wife cheating on him with the pool man. LA Law's Corbin Bernsen stars as the confusingly wacko dentist who starts to see everyone as diseased and full of "decay." The first half of this sucker is a bit slow and one begins to wonder when it will start to resemble a horror flick. The DVD proudly bears the "from the creators of Re-Animator" promise, but this one certainly fails to deliver at that level. The premise of a dentist gone mad and murderous is wide open with great possibilities, but this film just seems to be holding back - afraid to go all the way. Ken Foree shows up as a cop and offers the film's best performance, but the rest of the supporting cast is wooden and stiff as hell. Though there is some good tooth-related gore, it just feels like it is missing something. Don't get me wrong, The Dentist is not an awful film by any means, and many of the lines are worth a laugh or too. This one plays better in a crowd of people than watched alone, the concept alone will entertain, but don't expect the next Re-Animator.

Beyond Re-Animator
½

Almost 15 years after Yuzna's disappointing sequel, he did another one. This time, West is in prison because of his questionable medical practices - namely creating murderous zombies in the interest of science. A new prison doctor knows West from his past and quickly names him his apprentice. West then returns to his battle against death, creating similar mayhem to the previous films. Though their heart was in the right place, Yuzna and team made another sequel that was probably better off not being made. Jeffrey Combs is still brilliant as Herbert West, making the supporting cast look very inferior indeed. The script is also rather weak, though the main premise is decent, the reporter, the prisoner with a pet rat, and hot tempered warden are all stupid and underdeveloped characters. The relationship between West and Dan is sorely missed and this new doctor is a sorry substitute. Fans of the series will no doubt still enjoy seeing Combs' West reinvented and back to work, but the rest of the film is quite a hurdle to get over. Even the last act is hard to get through - there's some good gore, but most of it is tainted with stupidity so as to make it harder to enjoy.

Die You Zombie Bastards

If anyone ever tells me they have an idea for a movie but can't get it
made, I will tell them about Die You Zombie Bastards! - an ambitiously
bad indie horror flick packed full of every single bad idea everyone on
set could think of. An involved and needlessly complicated script tells
a story so completely amateurish and grade school that it simply can't
be funny. Lead Tim Gerstmar deliberately overacts which is always a bad
idea for a non-actor. I understand they're taking delight in being
cheesy and stupid, but it is just too much to handle. Unless you are a
huge fan of independent cinema, or actually had a part in making this,
I can't imagine liking it. This reminds me of films I made with my
friends on a camcorder when we were in high school. I go back and can
barely watch those, and I was in them. This is like watching those
films, but without the personal connections. While I appreciate this
film took 5 years to make, and the editing and soundtrack are
respectable, it can't make up for the complete lack of humor, horror,
or anything worthwhile. The only thing I could say is that there are
plenty of boobies... but most of them aren't very good, well they're
good, but it doesn't seem to help matters much. Though I'm not a fan of
rating 10s or 1s.... this one really is a waste of your eyesight -
don't bother.

Videodrome
Videodrome(1983)

Cronenberg is the master of making you think you're watching one thing and then suddenly switching it on you. In these modern times where every single movie has a "twist" ending, one can certainly appreiciate the hallucinogenic craziness of 1983's Videodrome. James Woods stars in this bizzare mind scramble of a film about the programmer of a small cable channel, specializing the violent and the obscene. When one of his technicians intercepts a pirate transmission of bootleg snuff footage, things start to get truly weird and soon, he can't tell his hallucinations from reality. Cronenberg would later mimic the feel of this film in his wildly successful Naked Lunch, but here it is much more raw and unrefined. Videodrome has several unsettling scenes of uniquely disturbing body horror - Cronenberg's specialty. Mix this with an undercurrent of sex and fetishism and you get one of Cronenberg's most genuinely grotesque films. Rick Baker does a stellar job with some supremely gruesome sequences - all with practical fx, 80's style. If surrealistic and visually overwhelming cinema is your bag, you better watch this one now.

The Final Destination

The fourth entry in this series was originally presented in 3D but other than that, is very much business as usual. A group of friends cheat death thanks to a clairvoyant dream, and then fate comes back to even the score one-by-one. The one glaring inconsistency this go-around is that the characters' eventual deaths do not accurately reflect the original cause of death. The only reason for this could be laziness in the script department. The inventiveness in the deaths is still there, but it just doesn't play as well as the other three. For one reason or another, this entry lacks the charm of the other films in the series and plays very empty and matter-of-fact. One can only reason that the allure of 3D distracted the production to the point of getting this sucker finished without ironing out the flaws. There's some hot girls and some good blood but other than that, this one is a disappointment.

Red White & Blue

This IFC flick is a low-budget character study of 3 very different adults in Austin, Texas. Erica is a party girl who implicates two other men - Nate who wants to save her, and young Franki who doesn't know what he wants to do with her. The writing is good and the character development is fantastic. These are very bleak and unlikeable people, but you'll feel you know them well. This flick is a slow burn, so those expecting a lot of horror-type action will need to wait until the last act. Once it kicks in, it is some pretty potent and powerful stuff - though not at graphic or gratuitous as many of us have grown accustomed. This movie has a more disturbing effect than many of it's torture porn brethren. That being said, the closing scene is pretty damn gruesome all the same. Simon Rumley made a psychological horror with some balls and it's a movie like this that will renew your faith in the genre as a whole.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D(2010)
½

Gore hero Alexandre Aja directs this re-imagining of Dante's classic film. This is not a remake in the sense of following the story of the original, though it is centered around killer fish and a beach party. Aja got Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, and Christopher Lloyd to star in this 80's horror send up. Unfortunately, the gore fx and the fish are almost entirely digital, and glaringly so. The openning sequence features absolutely horrid CG (and an unexpected cameo from Richard Dreyfuss) which makes one question if it is even worth continuing. They succeeded in making a cliche horror flick with plenty of nudity and lots of blood, but the charm of the original film is completely gone. Hollywood's stain is firmly across this film and it is obvious that plenty of corners were cut to make this sucker quick and cheap. As party films go however, you go do worse - there a few laughs to be had and after a couple beers, you'll probably be able to look past the awful CG.

I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman)
½

This one comes 2 years after Craven's rape/revenge flick, The Last House on the Left, and it changes enough elements so as not to be a rip-off. Jennifer (Keaton), a young writer from New York, arrives at a small cabin in the woods to write her first novel. A group of four locals from the nearby town have a couple of interactions with her and then decide to brutally rape and kill her. Unfortunately for them, they leave the murder part up to the most mentally challenged of the group, and Jennifer survives. The remainder of the film is Jennifer's revenge on her assailants whom she easily outsmarts. In true exploitation fashion, the budget is minimal, the cast are non-actors, and the sound was 100% soundstage (and obviously so). Despite the lack of funds, the film is well crafted and the performances have a touch of realism to them. There is no traditional score and the cinematography has the style of voyeurism. Jennifer's revenge is as cruel and hard to watch as her initial victimization, and this is truly satisfying. In order for a film like this to be effective, the perpetrators have to be completely detestable and the revenge needs to go all the way. I Spit on Your Grave covers all the bases and if exploitative realism is your bag, few films do it better.

I Spit On Your Grave
½

A modern influence from the Saw franchise makes this remake of the 70's classic nice and inventively gory. This is a remake that honors the original and brings all the elements of that film and multiples it by a thousand. It follows the original story fairly closely with some modern alterations, but it is a very successful retelling. The rape is difficult to watch, but the ensuing revenge / torture is completely thorough and over-the-top. Those who thought the original was too subtle may be satisfied with the overly graphic climax of this version. The effects are a nice blend of practical and CG effects with only a few moments of overtly digital looking gore. Small time director Steven Monroe does a fine job behind the camera, and Butler is plenty sexy in front of it (which may be wrong to say, given the rape scene), and she plays the revenge exceedingly well. It is a bit impressive that an actress of that calibre would agree to do a film of this nature. The original film is at the top of my exploitation film list and this remake is just as effective as that one.

Alien Resurrection
½

I absolutely loathed this film when I first saw it in the theatre. So much so, that it took me about 15 years to give it another chance. The confusing part is that it is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet who directed the excellent "City of Lost Children," and it is written by cable-tv darling Joss Whedon. In all fairness, trying to build on a story arch that was utterly completed in part 3 is a daunting task. The movie was a bad idea out of the gate. Now that I am older and a bit less cynical, I can admit that Resurrection has some good moments. Not only that, but the fx on this episode make #3 look like utter garbage. The slimey aliens are back and though there is a great deal of dated-looking CG, but there is an abundance of practical effects as well. Ripley is brought back to life through cloning so that they may extract the alien that was growing inside her. The twist is that now, both Ripley and her alien "baby" are hybrid species with abilities from both parent species. There is the usual evil corporation motif and many cliche moments from the rest of the series show up here as well. But, sadly, I must admit this episode is not nearly as bad as I remember it, and I would even go so far as to say it is a notch above the previous film (though no where near the same class as the original and part 2). At any rate, if you own the first 3 films, you should probably own this one as well.

Abominable
Abominable(2006)

First time director Ryan Schifrin also wrote this direct-to-Scy-Fy monster movie about a paraplegic confined to a cabin in the mountains. He witnesses a monster attacking a young girl in the cabin next door and decides to get involved. Schifrin managed to get Jeffrey Combs, Paul Gleason, and Lance Henriksen to star in this low budget melding of Rear Window with a generic monster movie in the woods. Henriksen and Combs are just plain awesome, though they're not in it long enough, and the leads are not nearly as strong. Truly, as Scy-Fy creature-features go, this one is a bit above the standard dreck, but it's still lacking quite a bit. The monster fx are pretty bad and most of the script is a bit difficult to wade through, but there is some decent gore and a few laughs to be had. From what I've heard, most of the Scy-Fy films are utter garbage, and this one is perhaps a healthy step above that,

Jaws 2
Jaws 2(1978)
½

Jaws 2 just may be the first sequel to be generated with the sole purpose of riding on the coatails of the original film. Roy Scheider reprises his role as Brody - years after the original shark attacks. Without explanation, another great white shark has moved into the beach resort and starts eating up tourists and locals. Though Jaws 2 is not an awful film, there certainly is not a lot to it. It is very much a retread of the original with an obvious reduction in budget. The shark is noticeably cheaper and therefore less menacing. There is also a shocking reduction in carnage and gore which made the original so appealing. There are a plethora of teenage side characters who are rather difficult to care about and subsequently, the tension is drastically reduced in the sequel. As mentioned, this is not an awful film, but it is not particularly good either. I hear Jaws 3-D was worse than this one, but I won't bother to find out.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)
½

My initial response to this remake was: "don't touch it, it's one of Romero's best..." But beyond my initial cynicism, Kosar, Wright, and Eisner actually made a good remake that honors the original while tending to the weaker points. Romero had too many cutaways from the main action to show the military's side of the infection. 2010 stays with the action of the four main survivors of the Trixie virus and therefore, maintains a more feverish pace (no pun intended). Though Romero's film feels more savage and more human, the big budget Hollywood remake actually has more soul than one would initially expect. It also has a preference for practical rather than digital effects which brings a smile to this old schooler's face. Like it or not, the classics are being remade, even the more obscure ones. As I am beginning to accept that, I'm also beginning to see that it is not always a bad thing.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

An American remake of a 2008 Swedish film, Let Me In is a rather straight retelling of the original story. Matt Reeves takes the original screenplay, throws the story in New Mexico and puts the calendar back to 1983. Other than that, Reeves version nearly mirrors the Swedish film in most aspects. The US film is more graphic and less cold and bleak in comparison, but it is a well made movie with great performances and some great sequences. The US film also has more technical and expensive-looking effects which probably takes away from the story's mystique somewhat. One could argue if a straight up remake of a foreign film that is only 2 years old is really necessary, and I guess I would have to say: probably not. But since it was made, I guess things could've been much worse and staying true to the story was definitely a good idea. It is just a shame that the majority of the American movie-going public are too closed-minded to really appreciate a foreign film with subtitles, and therefore it needs to be remade with American actors in order to be appreciated in this country. Man, do we suck.

Jungle Holocaust (Ultimo mondo cannibale) (Cannibal) (Carnivorous) (Last Cannibal World)
½

Deodato's warm up to the infamous Cannibal Holocaust was this 1978 cannibal film starring Massimo Foschi. While traveling in New Guinea, Robert Harper and his friends crash their plane and are forced to wander the jungle in search of help. Robert is then captured by a cannibalistic native tribe who torture and humiliate him in bizarre ways. This film spends a great amount of time exploiting the natives with an exceptionable amount of child native nudity which I could do without. This movie was obviously the first step towards what would become the most notorious cannibal film of all time - Deodato's 1980 film. In comparison, Jungle Holocaust focuses on the torture from the natives and one really does grow to feel sorry for poor Robert as he clings to a desperate hope for escape from his prison. The film wears on and feels far too long towards the end however, and the payoff seems light compared to the films that came after this one. Still, as the Italian cannibal subgenre goes, this one is entertaining and definitely worth it if you're a fan of Cannibal Holocaust and Deodato's other work.

Planet Terror (Grindhouse Presents: Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror)
½

Robert Rodriguez's half of the "Grindhouse" project is a bloody mess that remains loyal to the beloved genre with heaps of good gore, rough film stock, and tons of nods to the horror films of the 80's. An all-star ensemble cast star in a cliche biological disaster film with mutating, rampaging infected monsters. Rodriguez knows how to write genre-specific material that feels original yet also lets fans feel they are in on it. Great performances from an A-list of actors in a B-grade film really makes this movie something special. Rodriguez may be the last big-budget director who is impervious to the corupting qualities of fame and creates films that he wants to make, regardless of studio pressure. The result is that Planet Terror is uncompromising, gory, cheesy, and a damn good time all around. One may argue that it runs a bit long with a sluggish second act, but that amounts to a rather minor complaint. Let's face it - Rodriguez is a hero to all fans of campy film everywhere.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever
½

A crazy and bloody-as-hell sequel, Cabin Fever 2 is actually a rather well made film that honors the original while actually being able to stand on it's own. The killer virus finds its way into a high school, just in time for prom night. The blood vomitting and disgust-factor is raised to a whole new level in the sequel featuring scenes that will turn the stomach of even the most seasoned gore fan. Not all the fx are stellar, but they're good enough to be effective. There is actually some decent writing with likeable characters - similar to the style of Roth's original, but this takes a backseat to the outrageous scenes of the infected spewing blood and puss from every orifice. You have to respect director West and writer Malkin for taking the franchise in a new direction that makes this movie more than just another throw-away sequel.

Dagon
Dagon(2001)

Another H. P. Lovecraft adaptation directed by Stuart Gordon, Dagon tells the tale of a small fishing village overrun by a monstrous cult who prey to a god from the sea. After a boating accident, Paul and his girlfriend Barbara are marooned on the island, and the cult members don't take kindly to outsiders. Gordan shows his usual prowess as a director, melding tension, horror, and subtle humor seamlessly. Gordon's adaptations always manage to modernize the story while still respecting the source material. Dagon has some great fx on the monsters and some good gore - including a scene where one character's face is ripped off while he is still alive. There was some decent money put into this one, and it is a particularly strong story to begin with. Good performances, great set design, and expert direction. Dagon will not disappoint. I recommend watching this one with subtitles - they switch from English to Spanish, and many of the actors are difficult to understand.

Babysitter Wanted

This new school horror presents itself as something completely different than what it eventually becomes. The twist / shift in the middle of the film is so jarring, it may put some people off completely. It almost feels a bit goofy, though I'm sure that's not intentional. Still, the originality and ambition is something to be admired, and a savagely graphic butchery scene is a nice addition. First time writer/director Jonas Barnes shows promise and a decent understanding of what it takes to make a polished, mainstream film behind the camera - even if his script is a bit rough and disjointed. He manages some good performances, particularly from Bruce Thomas, the young boy's father. And as a side note, Bill Mosley as a police officer is a fantastic thing to see. The third act is a nice payoff, and it becomes a decent and rather bloody horror if you can handle the transition at the halfway point.

Chopper Chicks in Zombietown

Here's a film that delivers exactly what the title promises: a goofy tale of a female motorcycle gang that wanders into a town that is later overrun by zombies. There is really no honest attempt to explain the zombie outbreak, and it probably isn't necessary anyway. This film is pure Troma-style fun with gun-wielding blind school students, foul mouth biker chicks, and yes, Billy Bob Thorton. This is typical 1980's late-night cable horror fodder and with an empty head and a fridge full of beer, it's perfect entertainment. Don't expect anything earth-shattering and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Quotable, laughable, and a few moments of zombie mayhem - Chopper Chicks is a good time.

Phantasm: OblIVion

Coscarelli made this fourth sequel some 20 years after the original film. Number four has the same characters and cast and the same confusing non-linear storytelling. Mike travels through dimensions and time, once again confronting the Tall Man in a bewildering and seemingly aimless fashion. Fans of the series will get what they've come to expect - a visually striking and fx-heavy string of disconnected sequences that loosely hold together as a complete film. Four films in the franchise and I still couldn't tell you what the hell these movies are about, but they're entertaining and uncompromising. Coscarelli should be respected for believing in his franchise and never letting anyone else monkey with it. This leads to the consistency that makes these crazy films make some bizarre sense. Oh yes, Heidi Marnhout is hot too.

Rasen
Rasen(1998)

This quickly-made sequel is apparently based on the novel-sequel of Ringu. The story begins right where the first film left off, but it follows Takayama's classmate / girlfriend after his death. The backstory is clunky and far from creepy and engaging as the first film. The film and, no doubt the novel too, were created to capitalize on the success of the original. Ando receives the video from Takayama from beyond the grave. In a weak moment, he watches it, and must solve a mystery to save his life. The task at hand is fairly different from the first film, but it still follows a familiar path. The problem with this one is that it fails to establish mood or build character to a point where one cares. The clever extension of Ringu's plot feels rather trivial as we sort through the muck of backstory and plot twists. The movie is competently made, but the script / screenplay feels rushed and unorganized, and that may be the fault of the source material.

La bestia in calore (SS Hell Camp) (SS Experiment Part 2) (The Beast in Heat)

I can'r say I am an expert in Nazi-sploitation cinema, but this one is apparently the Citizen Kane of that subgenre. This film is full of savage rape and ludicrous cruelty. Dr. Krast is a hot young Nazi scientist who has created a man-beast with an unsatiable urge to rape the lovely young girls thrown in his cage. This is on ly a subplot though, and one of the few that make sense. What all this has to do with the war is anybody's guess as the rest of the film is a muddy mess, probebly due to the film containing footage from other movies as well as stock footage. This is a mild complaint though, because plot is certainly not why people watch this kind of stuff. People watch this kind of stuff to see Nazi soldiers steal a baby from a woman on the street, throw it up in the air, and shoot it with a machine gun. Yes sir, this movie has plenty of stuff like that as well as lengthy rape scenes, killing children, and eating pubic hair - fully passing the realm of restraint. There is no taboo left unexplored, but I guess that is what exploitation cinema is all about. Somehow this gem lacks the appeal and shock of the cannibal subgenre and just feels like it is missing something. If you fancy yourself a person who cannot be offended and who can sit through anything, this may be your film. If you are some one who demands integrity or taste in your cinema, you should probably steer clear.

Night of the Demons

The 80's horror C-list yields this 2009 remake with has-been stars Shannon Elizabeth and Edward Furlong. This remake follows the original's plot but has a bigger budget and cooler set design. It still suffers a bit from the pacing and overall conceptual problems of the 80's film, but the acting is a bit better - particularly Furlong who is surprisingly likable as a strung-out and unsuccessful drug dealer. The same cannot be said of Elizabeth whose lack of acting ability is made more glaringly obvious by her fading good looks. There is some bizarre and downright unsettling gore, but the film maintains a nice balance between horror and good honest fun. Essentially, this remake is a solid step above the original in terms of execution, performance, and effects. The only thing missing is that cheesy 80's charm, but you won't miss it much.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

One of the most original takes on the slasher genre in decades, Behind the Mask begins as mockumentary of a Jason / Freddy / Mike Myers style psycho killer and becomes something very different. Darkly satirical and deliciously self-referential, this film will appeal to all hardcore horror fans everywhere. It delights in being completely stereotypical while being completely original at the same time. First time writer director, Scott Glosserman shows great promise and perhaps a little luck as he manages to score bit parts from Robert Englund and the late Zelda Rubinstein (this was her last film). The slasher genre is picked apart piece by piece and big time fans will appreciate the film's accurate summary of the genre as a whole. The film is well made with an impressive budget, and excellent performances from relatively unknown stars Baesel and Goethals. One could only wish for a little more gore, but this was an R-version so maybe it exists somewhere. In a world of disappointing remakes and pathetic sequels, Behind the Mask offers a little glimmer of hope that not every one is out of ideas.

Tremors
Tremors(1990)

Kevin Bacon stars in this high budget throw back to the classic monster movies of the 50's. Val and Earl, two handy men in a small rural town in the middle of the desert, find themselves attacked by a bizarre race of underground monsters that hunt by sensing vibrations in the earth. A fairly strong supporting cast helps make this flick a suspenseful yet family friendly horror with a few intense and scary moments. The direction is competent, the script average, and the fx are excellent. Though it may not top any lists, Tremors is a good time and will keep you entertained if your not too picky.

Inseminoid (Horror Planet)
½

An Alien inspired, English-made B-movie, Inseminoid is low in budget, big on cheese, and rather short on talent. While investigating a deserted planet, a crew of spacemen are hunted by an alien presence with the power to possess and breed with humans. This film cuts every corner possible with lazy sets, a clunky script, and a lack of costumes and props. When they are not in their "space suits," the actors look like they are wearing the clothes they showed up to work in - which is a bit awkward for a production set in the "future." Though there is some blood to be had, most of the fight sequences are ridiculous with a true lack of anything futuristic or what would count as science fiction. Case in point, during a big battle, one of the characters appears, armed with an ordinary hammer which she then promptly throws at the enemy. Though some parts are so bad they're laughable, it's more painful than anything else and may only be tolerable while inebriated.

Grizzly
Grizzly(1976)

"Jaws in the woods" or "Jaws with claws" is what they call this 70's cash-in about an eighteen foot grizzly running wild in a heavily populated camp ground. This maybe an unfair generalization as Grizzly uses the framework of animal-gone-crazy-in-a-popular-resort and establishes itself as it's own entity. There is a scene where the hunters are in the woods and one of the rangers tells a story very similar to Quint's war story and yes, it feels a little like plagiarism at that point. But this film is a great deal cheaper and certainly not as well written. POV bear shots and extreme close ups help dance around actually having to use a bear in most of the shots of the first 2 acts. For the most part, Grizzly is an enjoyable B-film with some amusing "bear" attacks and an impressive third act once the actual bear shows up. Comparing it to Jaws will lead to disappointment, but if watched as campy fluff, it's a pretty good time.

Hardware
Hardware(1990)
½

What starts as a bit of a Terminator clone, becomes a big heaping mess of over zealous direction and lackluster effects. It is the post-apocalyptic future, and Mo, a tough-as-nails soldier, brings home a dismembered cyborg for his neo-artist girlfriend on Christmas. While she's sleeping, the cyborg re-assembles itself and tries to take her out. One solid hour of wandering and pointless build-up proceeds any of the kick ass robot action in this film and sadly, the climax is so tedious and drawn-out that it feels almost as frustrating as the first hour. Director / writer Richard Stanley saw fit to try every grating and annoying camera trick in his arsenal to create drama and suspense. It does neither of these things and really makes the film look cheap. The characters are so unlikable that any fate that finds them is really meaningless. Though this film has a solid reputation as a cult-worthy sci-fi horror, it fails to deliver on almost all counts. A few chosen moments of intense gore are the only things that make this one worth watching, and even that may be debatable.

Turistas (Paradise Lost)

Released during the torture porn boom, Turistas is an aesthetically beautiful film with lovely actresses dressed in bikinis for most of it. A group of young American travelers in Brazil get drugged, robbed, and coerced into the home of a twisted surgeon with plans to harvest their organs for the poor and disadvantaged locals. As a film to rival the gore and gruesomeness of films like Hostel and Saw, Turistas does not measure up (with the exception of an extensive surgery scene and a graphic eye gouge). The bulk of the film is concerned with building character and creating tension and suspense which it does quite well. Good performances and a decent script put this flick a step above much of it's modern competition in the more mild arenas of horror. So the film's only real disadvantage is that it was marketed as something it's not - to no doubt capitalize on the trends and sell tickets. If you enter with modified expectations, you will not be disappointed.

Galaxy of Terror (Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror) (Planet of Horrors) (Quest)

This Alien knock-off has a minimal budget and an admirable amount of ambition. An assembled team of spacemen go out in search of a crew that has gone missing. Along the way, they get pulled to a planet with a bizarre alien force that feeds off their greatest fears. The cast features cult icons Robert Englund, Grace Zabriskie, and Sid Haig who help trudge through an initially stiff and awkward script, reminiscent of science fiction television of the 60's. The true allure is the gore factor with scenes of dismemberment, rotting bodies with maggots, and gruesome killings. There is even a giant maggot / human female rape scene that just has to be seen to be believed. James Cameron got credit for production design and he did an amazing job for the budget. The set design is amazing and the gore is plentiful. Though it stumbles out of the gate, Galaxy of Terror ends up being a very memorable and rather twisted sci-fi horror.

Piranha Part Two: The Spawning
½

This sequel is the feature film debut of director James Cameron who would release the successful Terminator as his next film. Lance Henrickson is rather wooden as the cop who trolls around the shore in his police boat, until he is called into action by our familiar deep water carnivores. He's not the worst though, some of the supporting cast are downright awful. This time, the Piranha fly and can somehow live outside of the water. This sets the scene for a sequel that rivals the original for ridiculous premise, but somehow lacks the crazy charm. That being said, it still manages to generate a few laughs as the sight of stiff, plastic fish flying through the air and biting people's throats is a crazy good time. This one can be pretty fun, though the build up to the climax is not nearly as enjoyable as in the original. The script has some issues, but with these the actors, it didn't have a chance anyway. Cameron would go on to prove himself, though this one does not stand out as anything particularly special.

Kaw
Kaw(2007)
½

This ScyFy movie with an excellent name falls in line with the rest of the network's films. A small farming town loses a bunch of cattle to mad cow disease and the crows that eat them get infected. Apparently the disease turns crows into carniverous killing machines with a taste for human flesh. Things are rather reminiscent of Hitchcock's The Birds, except that film was a masterwork and this one is lazy as hell. The computer crow fx are the worst CG I've seen since the early 90's. Also, like Hitchcock's film, this one takes itself completely seriously. But in this case that's not a good thing because a film called Kaw should be able to laugh at itself but it doesn't. And as the crows pick up rocks in their talons to throw at a school bus, it should be hilarious, but it is supposed to be terrifying and somehow it misses the mark on both fronts. It is a state of affairs because I really wanted to be able to recommend a movie called Kaw, but I just can't.

Rabid Grannies

Troma saw fit to release an R-rated "directtor's cut" DVD of this film that carries a notorious "super gory" reputation. So, after a major search to obtain an uncut, import version, there is a bit of a disappointment to be had. 2 minutes of gore were spliced from the R version, and yes, they are 2 pretty bloody minutes. But, I'm not sure it makes up for the desperate lack of a substantial story to cary the film through it's 92 minutes. A plethora of guests show up to the Grannies' birthday party and an univited, satanic uncle gives a gift to the two which turns them into murderous monsters that spend the rest of the film hunting the guests down and killing them in bizarre ways. One must remember this was 1989, and the gore is way over the top for that era. Still, there is far too much wandering and aimless dialogue that makes this sucker a bit of a slow burn with a lackluster payoff. Granted, the uncut version is better than the R, but I'm not sure the moments of gore really fix the problems with this film. The deleted scenes include a particularly disturbing moment of cannibalism of a little girl which was no doubt a complete taboo in 1989. Still, despiite all of the complaints, this was a very ambitious low budget undertaking that deserves at least a legitimate director's cut release by somebody - I just shouldn't of tried so hard to obtain a copy of the import.

Species
Species(1995)

A high budget sci-fi horror with incredible star power and a decent script, Species is staring to show it's age. Like film from it's era, this one utilizes cutting edge computer graphics which have been far surpassed over the past 15 years or so. Still, hiring H.R. Giger for creature design is always a good idea. This flick plays like an urban-based Alien flick with a touch of influence from Star Trek. A scientist hires a group of specialists to hunt down his escaped experiment after she escapes an execution. She enters the city in search of a mate, with no working knowledge of human culture. Ben Kingsley and Forrest Whitaker star... yes that's right, so the performances are above par for a sci-fi creature feature. Though it is formulaic and rather safe, an A-list of actors and an incredibly sexy Natasha Henstridge make for an enjoyable Hollywood style horror.

Humanoids From the Deep

So here's a film that puts most 70s / 80s b-films to shame. A race of sea monsters are attacking a small fishing community to mate with the women, and kill the men who stand in their way. The monsters can strip off clothes or rip off skin with a mere touch. Thanks to a gorgeous remastered director's cut DVD, the film is plenty gory with fountains of blood, guts, and a fantastic decapitation. The movie defies logic and is filled with moments that will make your head hurt if you try to make sense of it - for example: the decision to dump gasoline in the lake so they can set it on fire. As a cheesy b-grade monster movie however, this sucker is solid gold - tons of skin, blood and laugh-out-loud ridiculousness. The massive climax at the town fair is massive carnage with creative kills and tons of guys in rubber monster suits. I have no idea how this film has eluded me for so long. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, it's an absolute blast.

Needful Things

A Stephen King export with some star power, Needful Things is a high budget entry in the King catalog. Max Von Sydow plays a fairly trite villain who manipulates the simple townspeople of Castlerock by selling them their deepest material wishes in exchange for sinister deeds. Ed Harris gives a rather typical role as good natured law man his full enthusiasm. The story is standard King faire and the script offers no real surprises. It is a decisively competent and efficient horror film that will appeal to a wide audience. There is a choice scene where two ladies fight to the death with a meat cleaver and butcher knife that offers the film's best and most intense moment. That scene alone makes it worth sitting through.

Jaws
Jaws(1975)

Cited, quoted, and sometimes straight up ripped off, Jaws is the essential animal horror film. The dialog and writing from Gottlieb is excellent with superb characters from Benchley's novel, and director Speilberg had some true talent, there's no denying it. Say what you will about his later work, but Jaws is a true masterpiece with enough realism to keep one thinking twice about jumping in the water. The classic opening scene, the build up, and the lengthy climax are all solid and timeless, and that theme song brings you right back to your first viewing every time. The impact of Jaws is right up there with classics like Night of the Living Dead and Friday the 13th in terms of genre-shaping and trend-setting. Jaws is a film that lives up to it's status.

Let the Right One In
½

The vampire is a movie monster that has been much abused as of late, but this film treats the legend with some class by creating a plausible context for the vampire to exist. In addition, Let the Right One in focuses on the developing relationship between Eli and Oskar - the whole vampire thing is a subtext that adds a grim layer of darkness on this excellent Swedish export. A palid and virtually colorless pallet characterizes the interior and exterior scenes - that is, until the vibrant red blood shows up. Eli's secret is a difficult one to keep, and her desperation is conveyed perfectly by young Leandersson. It is rare to see a film that respects the horror genre so dearly, yet has enough film making sensibility and access to young talent to transcend genres and appeal to a wider audience. It is bizarre to think that a movie this bleak and gruesome could convert some genre haters out there, but I bet it's possible.

Girls Nite Out
½

This mid 80s slasher spends a ridiculous amount of time trying to build character for the miscellaneous body count. There is a late night scavenger hunt on campus and young girls wander off by themselves to be killed by someone in the school mascot's bear suit. There is a long-winded backstory that is probably supposed to engage the audience, but there are too many characters to keep them all straight. If one lowers the bar enough, Girls Nite Out is a watchable slasher flick, if you have enough beer and friends to help pass the time between kill scenes but iff you sit down and watch this sucker carefully, you might be too bored in the first 20 minutes to allow it to keep running. On a positive note, most of the acting is decent and Hal Holbrook shows up as a cop to give the movie some b-grade street cred. The main issue is the writing - they were perhaps too ambitious and someone should've had enough sense to cut this down to about 80 minutes or so. A little more creativity in the kill scenes might've been helpful too. Good for slasher completists only.

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!
½

Easter Bunny Kill Kill is an independent film that struggles to establish story and character along with overly ambitious and ultimately amateur direction. A mentally retarded boy is terrorized by his mother's new boyfriend. One night, when mom is working a double shift, things take a sudden turn. Chad Ferrin wrote and directed this homegrown film that often tries too hard to be something other than a low budget horror - camera tricks, rapid cuts, and too much dialog cause this flick to sputter about and cause more frustration than true horror or anything truly "disturbing." Once a killer in a bunny mask shows up, things pick up a bit and many of the on-screen kills are inventive and well done for the limited budget. This flick has received some rave reviews in some circles, but it really doesn't offer anything that hasn't been done before, and the "disturbing" factor was completely lost on me. That being said, there is a fair amount to respect about the great deal of work Ferrin put into this production, and as far as independently produced films go, this one easier to get through than most.

John Carpenter's Vampires
½

John Carpenter directs this Steakley novel adaptation about a bad ass vampire killer played by James Woods. A strong cast supports this fairly aggressive and high profile production which sees Carpenter at his most comfortable. Woods plays his part like a mobster - roughing up priests to get information that will lead him to the head vampire. Though the flick feels a big long at times, there is plenty of action to be had. This one came out during horror's drought in the mid-to-late 90's, and it was nice to see a solid horror film with some integrity, and even a little gore here and there.This may be one of the last Carpenter films that needs to be seen, thanks in part, to a solid script and high-class production values.

The Fly II
The Fly II(1989)
½

Making a sequel to one of the greatest remakes of all time seems like a pretty bad idea, but the execution is actually a little better than expected. A young Eric Stoltz stars as Seth Brundle's son, Martin, who is carrying the mutated Brundle gene. Growing up in a lab, by the age of 5, Martin is full grown. The mutation is much more complete this time around and there is more puppet action than before. The movie actually has a pretty strong story behind it and Eric Stoltz does a decent job (though his female co-star is awful). There is some quality blood and some good fly vomit scenes that somewhat makes up for the slow middle act. 105 minutes is a tad long - particularly because the ultimate ending of this film is downright insulting and unfair, 5 minutes shorter and this would be worth 3 stars.

Stepfather II
½

A somewhat bloodier retread of the excellent 1986 film, Stepfather II sees Terry O'Quinn reprising his role as the family-centered killer. The stepfather kills his way out of his mental hospital to set up in another generic American suburb, in search of the generic American dream. He poses as a psychiatrist, helping neighborhood ladies going through divorces and marital dischord. He, of course, finds a new victim family and begins working his way in to become the new stepfather. Though this sequel adds very little in the way of new ideas, it hits on the winning formula of part one - namely O'Quinn's performance as the likable psychopath. The kills are more savage and lead to a somewhat overly dramatic climax.

Ringu (Ring)
Ringu (Ring)(1998)

Sadly, I saw the American remake before I watched this original film. In comparison, the Japanese version plays much more like a folk tale, and there are several plot points added to the American film to keep us high-speed westerns focused for more than an hour. Going from remake to original is difficult and if I could, I would go back and see this version first. Ringu is a bit slower with less of the high budget production values that graced the American flick. Still, the engaging story is still there and there is no getting away from the creepiness factor. And there is just no denying an original idea is a rare thing now-a-days and for that, this one must be heralded as a true classic.

The Woods
The Woods(2006)
½

Part Suspiria and part Evil Dead, The Woods is a well put together, high gloss horror film that mysteriously sat on the shelf for 3+ years. A troubled teen, whose parents are played by Bruce Campbell and wife Emma, is brought to a boarding school out in the middle of the woods. The plot and script are fairly derivative, and often you will feel as if you have seen this movie before. It appears to be a well backed production, financially speaking, and it has a rather powerful cast including Patricia Clarkson as the school head master. It takes a little while for things to get "supernatural" and when they do, the effects sequences are impressive, but not nearly enough. The Woods tries to stand on it's mystery and suspense to carry it through but for some reason, it just doesn't hook you in. It migh be the somewhat familiar nature of the story that causes it to be less suspenseful. Despite all of this, it is a fairly well put together production and seeing Ash, er... Bruce, pick up an axe again is always going to make me smile.

28 Days Later
½

Boyle creates an exceedingly raw and gritty send up of 1970's survival horror. Rapid shutter speeds, red contacts, and gallons of vomited blood make this sucker a memorable and highly intense piece of modern horror. Holding firm to genre standards and traditions, Boyle does horror proud and also keeps his style intact with excellent dialog and character development. Thus, 28 Days Later may have a greater emotional impact than your typical horror film.

Squirm
Squirm(1976)
½

A sluggish 70's B-movie about a small southern town under siege by bloodthirsty, carnivorous worms. An out of towner and a cute redhead investigate the mystery which crawls by at a snail's, er... worm's pace. The first interesting thing doesn't happen until the half way point when the worms finally begin to attack and burrow themselves into the skin of the locals, creep out of shower heads, eat people down to the bones, etc. The effects are actually very well done initially, but it eventually settles for shot after shot of huge masses of worms spilling out holes, ceilings, etc. There's something inherently funny about people running in terror from a bunch worms which makes the last 20 mins of this one pretty amusing. After the slow-as-hell beginning, Squirm ends up being a fairly watchable monster flick.

Waxwork
Waxwork(1988)

A horror anthology placed in the framework of 4 college students taken in by a neighborhood wax museum that opens at midnight. Werewolves, vampires, mummies... This movie tries to be every movie at once which is very confusing. The wax sculptures have the ability to transport the guests to other dimensions which can lead to their demise. The story that's supposed to anchor the whole thing is flimsy at best, and it just ends up being a loose pretext to showcase a bunch of homages to classic films that don't hold up under the film's obviously limited budget. There's some decent gore (particularly the werewolf segment) and entertainment to be had for those in search of meaningless fluff, but the lack of focus may turn more discerning viewers away.

Puppet Master II
½

The highlights are, once again, the top notch stop-animation and Richard Band's whimsical score. The revived Tulon looks like the invisible man and acts much more devious and evil compared to the original film. A new bad ass puppet with glowing eyes and a blow torch arm is definitely this film's most marketable toy, which is a big reason why these films are still being made. The sequel suffers from a more clunky script and some pretty wooden performances. Actor Steve Welles brings a bit of a Strangelove flavor to Tulon which is enjoyable, but the bulk of the supporting cast are difficult to stomach. The fx are the true stars here with great make up on Tulon (once revealed) and fantastic puppet animation. There is some blood to speak of as the puppets do their damage, but overall it is not a particularly gory film. Not nearly as compelling as the original, but sequels rarely are.

Slaughter High

It's a formulaic slasher with horrid acting but somewhat ambitious effects and direction. Though the writing is rather lazy in Slaughter High, the overall production is rather carefully crafted and lovingly put together. A Writing / directing team led by Georgre Dugdale put together a rather dark but clunky slasher with creative kills and the aforementioned plethora of jump scares. The killer wears a jester's mask and slaughters with an unique flair with a decent amount of blood, and the last reel of the film somewhat makes up for the slow and jumpy hour that preceded it.The final product is admirable from a indie filmmaker's perspective, but a bit rough and sluggish your average horror fan.

From Beyond
From Beyond(1986)

Decent flick, but not nearly as good as Re-Animator. I'm not sure this Lovecraft story was nearly as easy to get on screen as some others. In the end, it's very bizarre and rather gruesome, but I'm not sure it's great. Love seeing Ken Foree in anything though, he's so freakin cool.

Hellraiser - Bloodline

I hate to admit it, but I actually watched this one in the theatre. Man this sucker is one convoluted aimless piece of pain. Still, this is miles above that wretched part III and pinhead has some great moments in it. But if you're not a diehard Hellraiser fan, forget it.

Demons 2: The Nightmare Returns

Decent sequel of an Italian horror staple. This one is nearly all action after the first 20 minutes with a demon dog, a demon kid, and just a straight up demon (read- rubber puppet). Good crazy cheesy fun.

Incubo sulla città contaminata (Nightmare City) (Invasion by the Atomic Zombies)

Awesome Italian zombie flick from Umberto Lenzi. Loads of violence, blood, gore, and nudity, and like most of the Italian gore flicks from this era, the dialog will crack your ass up. Most of those modern "infected" movies owe a bit of debt to Lenzi for setting the standard.

Just Before Dawn

Fairly typical but enjoyable slasher from the director of squirm. Good kills and decent acting, this one should appeal to 80s fans. A bit influenced by TCM, this movie dares to include a naked red head - gotta respect that.

The House on Sorority Row

Havn't seen the remake of this one yet - but the original isn't a bad little slasher. Good kills, lots of skin, and a few laughs. Final scene is good but that ending is abrupt as hell.

Deliria (Bloody Bird)(Sound Stage Massacre)(Stage Fright)

This is the directorial debut of one Michele Soavi who would later direct the excellent Cemetery Man. This is a nice slasher with an Italian flavor, but it is certainly a slasher and not a giallo. Stagefright is shot very well with great fx and gore for an independent. The best part of this film is the killer's mask which is a giant puffy owl mask that is so completely far from menacing. Since all of the kills happen in a theatre, you think he could've scored a scarier mask. Enjoyable stuff.

Martyrs
Martyrs(2008)
½

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Friday the 13th
½

Well... I did it, I paid the $9.50 and let Michael Bay's company hurt me another time. This movie is not technically a "relaunch," but after part 9 and 10, you pretty much had to start over anyway so... Part 11 is an average Jason movie - good kills, same plot (partying teens and sex = death). There are some definite eye rolling moments and they over use many of the scares, but overall, within the context of the whole series, it is average.

Freaks
Freaks(1932)

This is possibly as close as we can come to the original cinematic experience nowadays. This film is truly a spectacle, and it's got a decent story to boot. As the warning says, you can't see freaks like this anymore... Browning was truly ambitious and incredibly ballsy to release this thing in 1932. Freaks is an amazing film and without a doubt worthy of its reputation.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
½

Man, they really cut the budget from 2 to 3 here... This sucker is thrown together and it looks like most of the important decisions were made to meet a deadline. Pinhead spends 1/3 of the film stuck in a statue, and then the new cenobite designs show up... Camera Head? CD Man? Am I stuck in a megaman game all of a sudden? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

High Tension (Switchblade Romance)

Third time through this film and I can't help it - I HATE that ending. Shave off the last 10 minutes and this is a 5 star film no question - bloody and gory as hell and such an awesome film score. But the ending is complete BS - they cheated, it's unfair and it just pisses me off everytime. It negates the whole movie. Anyways... It's all been said before, but if you havn't since this movie - you have to.

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door
½

Yes this sucker is a hard one to get through, and it sort of bothered me that it seemed to be the only point to this film sometimes. Nevertheless, the writing is spot on, the performances are fantastic, and that mother is the most evil bitch you will ever see on screen. It has Stephen King to the 10th power kind of vibe to it and it is definately a movie that will stick with you long after you get done watching it.

Bride of Chucky
½

I'll say it, I'm a Chucky fan... and really I challenge anyone to hold this series up to Friday 13th, Halloween, or Nightmare on Elm Street and tell me it's not far superiour. It's good fun and this one is absolutely hilarious. Cheesey gore, kick-ass one-liners, a doll sex scene (pre-Team America), Jennifer Tilly's smoking body, and one of the last appearances of the late John Ritter. "Shouldn't we use a rubber..." "What?!? I'm ALL rubber." awesome.

Basket Case 2

No where near as cool as the original film, BC2 does have some choice moments in it, but Henenlotter just went too far with the freaks in this. Anyway you slice it, that freak with the giant frog head is just stupid looking. The fx are hit and miss throughout, but the story was decent, particularly for a sequel. Nothing in this film comes close to the raw gritty beauty that is Basket Case however...

Mangiati vivi

This flick has one of the funniest openning sequences I have ever seen. Other than that, it's pretty unremarkable cannibal exploitation fare. You've got your animal gore and your scads of naked women. I particularly like how every male's instinct when he gets a woman alone is to rape her... Anyways, I got tired, the cannibals finally showed up and the first piece of flesh they ate was boobie. Now, I'm no cannibal, but I question that selection. Cannibal Ferox is better as far as Lenzi goes, watch that instead.

The Blob
The Blob(1988)

I managed to miss this one back in the day, but I've got to say - not too bad. The blood and gore were actually very good, and most of it even holds up to today's standards. It's your typical monster movie, but most of the performances are soliid, the pace is nice and fast, and there are plenty of good gore scenes. Hell - they even waste the 10 year-old kid which is really gutsy in a mainstream film. BTW - remember Shawnee Smith in summer school (and later the Saw films)... she's pretty hot in this one.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

I'm not trying to make the month of December all about the worst movies I've ever seen, but it is sure ending up that way. SNDN part 2 is possably the laziest sequel I have ever seen. It essentially recaps the entire first film in the initial 40 minutes - scene by scene. What's left is a completely thrown together pile of pointless slasher garbage that is told entirely in flashback. This movie is twice as offensive as it took one of my favorite old school slashers and made a sequel that just spits on its memory. This thing is about as bad as anything I've ever seen, and if it were not on the flip side of my Silent Night, Deadly Night part 1 DVD, I'd burn it or ritually sacrifice it, or something... God help us.

Class of Nuke 'Em High
½

The only other Troma I would say is necessary other than the original toxic avenger. I forgot about all the fun gore in this film and how the high school is kind of a nod to FAME or GREASE or something... with less dancing and singing. Favorite scene: two thugs trick an old lady into giving them her purse, and then they beat the crap out of her anyway. Pure tasteless brilliance.

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

Man, I will never understand why anyone defends the sequels in this series. Don't get me wrong, I love the first one (it's where I get my profile photo doncha know), but part 2 and this one are so damn lazy and full of disappointment. Plus, Angela is the worst killer in a slasher that I've ever seen. Her one-liners are bad, but they are also delivered with such boredom that I could barely fight the urge to fast forward. I could go more into how this movie angers me, but what's the point?

American Gothic

This is one of those flicks that I saw in high school, so the rating is probably inflated for the nostalgia factor. The acting is painfully cheesey, but it's enjoyable. You get your 6 20-somethings stranded on an island with a weird backwoods family with 3 adult children weirdos. Kind of a slasher with a twist, I really like revisiting this flick once in a while. FUN FACT: One of the brothers is played by the same actor who play "Porkins" in Star Wars, new hope.

Bloody Pom Poms (Cheerleader Camp)

All the naked porn stars in the world couldn't save this travesty of a film. Poor acting aside, nothing except for the naked girls is even remotely entertaining in this one. I don't want to sound unreasonable, but by 1988, there was simply no excuse for a slasher executed this badly.

Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan

Yes sir, it's that bad... and now I've sat through it twice. What can I say about this piece of crap that hasn't already been said? There are so many WTF moments during this film, I lost count - Crystal Lake dumps into a body of water that leads into New York? How is that possible. And why is this movie called Jason Takes Manhattan when he spends over 60 minutes on a boat? Man... the bar had been lowered to the ground by the time they hit part VIII, and they still didn't come close.

Prom Night
Prom Night(1980)

Yawn! This slasher is pathetic by slasher standards, and yes I know it was part of the original first wave of American slashers. Though it has a pretty good foundation and starts off with a lot of potential, it becomes a Halloween meets Carrie rip-off and just fails to execute. Total lack of gore save one decent decapitation (that comes way late in the preceedings) and... Is that supposed to be a twist ending? Because a blind new born fawn could see that sucker coming a mile away. This one makes Terror Train look kick ass in comparison.

Terror at the Opera

Standard Argento fare... It's good and many of the gore scenes are just incredible - I particularly like the pins underneath the eyelids trick - very original and perhaps inspired the SAW series a little bit. Overall though, the story frustrated me, particularly the last 10 minutes which were just goofy as hell. As a filmmaker, Argento impresses the hell out of me, but as a storyteller, well...

Horror of Dracula
½

This is one of the first hammer films I've seen, and I am certainly impressed. Peter Cushing is just a total badass in this flick. Christopher Lee is good too, but he's no Bela. This movie is a great deal of fun, there's subtle humor and even a little blood (tempura paint). Definately a good Dracula film and seemingly worthy of its reputation as one of the best Hammer films.

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (City Of The Living Dead) (The Gates of Hell)
½

Vomiting up guts, drills through the head, and blizzards of maggots - Fulci is simply the man. Of all the films in his gore quartet, this one really gets a bad rap. It's story is much more cohesive than The Beyond, and the gore plays out as part of the film rather than just a bunch of cool scenes. I won't even go into how much this smokes House by the Cemetery. If you havn't watched this film in awhile - bust it out. The gore is incredible, the zombie/ghoul makeup is awesome, and I even enjoy the story and rough dialog. Bring it on.

Kill, Baby, Kill (Operazione paura) (Curse of the Living Dead) (Don't Walk in the Park)

This is a nice ghost story complete with a spooky little girl who keeps appearing in the window. As Italian horror goes, this one is actually fairly easy to follow. Bava does a fine job and I really like the overall look of this film. The performances are well done and the editing is fantastic. But when all is said and done, I felt a little bored at times... Perhaps I am spoiled by modern horror and cannot appreciate sublty anymore.

To Kako (Evil)
½

This movie's claim to fame is that it is a zombie film made in Greece. While it's true that I don't know of many that fit that catagory, that doesn't make it good on its own. Yeah it's gory... and I'd even say REALLY gory, but it just fell short for me. It is very derivative - think 28 Days Later meets Dead Alive, but without the charm of either of those films. Don't get me wrong, this is an admirable effort for a low budget indie foreign film, I'm just not sure it lives up to its cult status.

Return of the Blind Dead (El Ataque de los muertos sin ojos) (Return of the Evil Dead)
½

The 2nd in the Templar series is almost as cool as the original. Though it's a tad bit more "grindhouse" and less dark, part 2 has plenty of good templar monk zombie action as they ransack an entire town. I think Ossorio is a bit underrated as these films are on par with about any other 70's horror film. If you havn't checked this series out, it's time you do. The zombies are some of the coolest looking things around, and when you realize this was made over 30 years ago, it's downright impressive.

The Bride of Frankenstein

The biggest problem I have with this film is the "bride" doesn't show up until the last 3 minutes. 3 MINUTES! WTF? The other problem I had was the inclusion of comic relief which is so dated I probably cannot speak objectively about it. On the other hand, I really liked the monster making a friend with the blind violin player and his learning to talk was rather amusing too. A good sequel, but a few shortcomings that I had a hard time looking past.

Blood Feast
Blood Feast(1963)

"The first gore film ever made" is H.G. Lewis' Blood Feast, and now I can say I finally saw it. I tell yah... there's bad acting, and then there's this. I can't even begin to describe how poorly written and performed this movie is... and yes, I thought it was funny for about 10 minutes, but then I found myself screaming "come on!" as it continued. There are porns with better writing and acting than this. I have to give it 2 stars, because it started the whole blood & guts thing, but I certainly will never watch this sucker alone again, and I probably couldn't get through it with a bunch of friends either... This made Wizard of Gore look fantastic.

The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man(1941)
½

Now here's a classic that I can truly appreciate. Lon Chaney does an incredible job and is worthy of his fame. What is more, the fx in this film are just astounding for 1941. I am amazed at the time lapse sequence and the appearing and disappearing pentagrams. This is one Universal Studios monster movie that really belongs in the collection.

Sette note in nero (Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes)(The Psychic)

I think I'm a little too critical of giallos sometimes. This flick is pretty and Fulci actually looks more like a great director here than any of his horror pictures. It is just too slow for me and the climax left me feeling... meh. You know, it's all about the mystery which is slowly revealed piece by piece and I could say it was fairly engaging... but it was also fairly boring too... Worth a watch if you're in the mood, and it's nice to see Fulci manipulate tension and mood with a coherent story.

Pieces
Pieces(1983)

Thanks to grindhouse releasing we now have an unrated and digitally remastered version of this Spanish slasher from the early 80's. This movie is simply hilarious. The dialog and english dubbing are just incredibly bad and I laughed my ass off several times... and I watched it alone. I saw this years ago on a bad VHS Rated-R copy, and this is like a completely different film. Standard premise: 10 year-old kid kills his mother, grows up and terrorizes a college campus. Bloody and funny as hell. Enjoy.

Black Sunday
Black Sunday(1960)
½

I am quite ignorant when it comes to Mario Bava, so I decided to start at the beginning with his 1960 debut. This is one of those Italian witch movies with a convoluted plot and bad dubbing. It's not bad, but I don't understand its status as a classic - it would make a good MST3K episode. There are definately some good visuals and Bava is obviously a step ahead of the competition, but I assume his films improved throughout his career.

Dracula
Dracula(1931)

Visually speaking this movie blows me away. Given its age, it really looks fantastic and the lighting is incredible. Lugosi is sufficently sinister, but some of his reactions just seem to fall a little flat. Also, Dracula seemed a bit slow compared to the lightning pace of Frankenstein, but maybe that's not a fair comparison. Love that bat puppet.

Frankenstein
Frankenstein(1931)

I decided that November will be dedicated to classics and/or foreign entries exclusively. This was the first time I watched the 1931 version of Frankenstein, and yes, I now see why such a big fuss was made over Boris Karloff. He is heart-wrentching in this film. The scene with the little girl blew me away. I regret having waited so long before I saw this film, and I am a little ashamed, but I'm on my way now...

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Not a genre film, I know, but everyone who ever liked Metallica needs to see this movie. Lars and James are amazing babies in it and you get some very choice moments: therapy with Dave Mustaine and Lars - Dave tells Lars how being kicked out of Metallica really hurt his feelings... You also get alcoholic James, and then James in recovery. I don't go for a lot of reality TV stuff, but this movie was a good time.

Them
Them(2007)

Definately heard a whole lot about this one before I saw it, and perhaps it was built up a bit much. The French certainly have a leg up on the US when it comes to horror though. Them certainly establishes a mood and the suspense is definately a factor here, but I just couldn't help feeling a little let down at the end. Again, I probably set the bar too high given everything I've heard/read about it. Not bad... just not what I had hoped for.

Bacon Bits
Bacon Bits(1987)

The famous "Buddy's got an axe to grind... a big axe!" I believe I saw this one about 15-16 years ago, but revisiting it today I was rather amused. It is an above average 80's slasher with some decent gore and the acting wasn't bad either. Also, a cool premise having a pork farmer extract revenge via his retarded, overgrown son.

Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn
½

Ambitious DIY monster movie from the early eighties. This flick is a whole lot of fun... The alien/monster design is somewhere between Gieger's Alien and the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Every red cent of the budget went into the fx - the acting is horrible, the sound is awful, and the story is as simple as they come. All that said, it is heads and shoulders above any of the other cheap crap I've watched lately. Those responsible obviously really believed in making this sucker and it is a true labor of love. Fun stuff.

Teeth
Teeth(2007)
½

Maybe I waited too long to see this, or maybe I had read too much hype about it, but I was a bit let down. Honestly, the concept of a gal with a full set of teeth down there made me roll my eyes, and I had doubts going in. It's not a badly done film and the lead actress does an incredible job for such a ridiculous role, but after about half way in, it just starts to feel redundant. Consequently the sight of severed male genetalia does not have the impact that it probably should anymore...

Brain Damage
Brain Damage(1995)

They just don't make movies like this anymore. Brain Damage is the tale of Brian and a 12 inch monster named Alymer that dispenses drugs directly into Brian's spine as a reward for finding someone who's brains Alymer can eat. If you're not sold on that, you've forgotten what campy 80's horror films are all about. I saw this years ago, but I didn't realize how good it was. Most low budget directors were content to churn out a slasher film or zombie film or something, but not Hennenlotter. This one and Basket Case are worth your time and you owe it to yourself to see it. (or see it again)

Hell Night
Hell Night(1981)

For those of you that thought Linda Blair needed to continue her career after The Exorcist, here's proof you're wrong. Hell Night is a 80's slasher flick complete with the old legend of horrible murders on this very night many years ago... It's quite typical and tragically slow, and long. The climax is actually cool, but you have to wait so long for it to happen, you just might not care. If it were about 20 minutes shorter, I'd give it a 3.

Chopping Mall (Killbots)
½

You've got to respect a movie this ambitiously bad. It's got absolutely everything you would ever want from a terrible 80's film: bad acting, breasts, ridiculous dialogue, good ol' Barbara Crampton, and those old squiggly film scratches for lazer beams. I definately had fun watching this sucker again - I remember the old days on USA Up All Night, Chopping Mall was in standard rotation back then, and its still quite a lot of fun - but I just can't justify giving it anymore than a 2 and a half.

Splatter University

Wow... I mean I like low budget, poorly acted, badly written, cheesey horror films but... Wow. A thrown together slasher from 1984 that has the foul stench of Troma and even the credit of Kaufman as creative consultant. Some people need to accept the remaining balance on your mastercard is not enough to make that horror movie you always wanted to make.

Tombs Of The Blind Dead (Noche del terror ciego)
½

Wow... I can't believe this movie was made in 1971. The visuals in this thing are amazing and I was really impressed with the direction - it is actually a very artistic and beautiful film - those Europeans do gore with such class sometimes - particularly in the 70's. The Zombies in this film are so old they practically look like dust. Sometimes they're puppets and sometimes they're guys in suits, but they always look pretty damn authentic. Plus, zombie knights on horse back, is there any thing more beautiful than that?

Hellbound: Hellraiser II
½

Just a hint more clumsy than the original, this one still blows my mind. How the hell did the MPAA let this pass with an R while they were simultaneously editing the crap out of the Friday the 13th sequels? Who knows, but as I've been watching more Japanese horror I started to think that was the inspiration for the cenobytes in this series... but I could be wrong.

Happy Birthday to Me

Another 80's slasher into my collection, but man this one is painful. Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary from Little House) stars in this Canadian born plot twist fest that dares to go 110 minutes. And oh course the kills are cut to almost nothing in the R version which begs the question why not director's cut, but they are spread out so far apart anyway it probably still wouldn't hold my interest long enough.

Dog Soldiers
Dog Soldiers(2002)

I expected a little more from this one as I love The Descent, but Neil Marshall's debut is a bit mashed together and has a rushed feeling towards the end. Though it is nice to see a werewolf revival, the throwback costumes didn't really fit the serious and modern tone of the film. Good gore though, and the dialogue and characters are good enough to keep yah interested throughout. I have mixed feelings, but I definately need to watch it again.

Hatchet
Hatchet(2006)
½

Heard a whole lot about this film so I had to be careful - too much hype. But all in all it does what it sets out to do - reinvents the 80's slasher with all the cliches and corny acting. The gore was awesome, reminiscent of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. The story is goofy and much of the dialogue is too, but that is part of the fun.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors
½

I remember thinking this was one of the best sequels, and that still might be the case, but it's not very good. Arquette and Langenkamp are the acting team from hell - man they both suck, and neither of them ever got better. The effects are pretty impressive and Freddy's kills are cool, but this one set up his "personalized" kills - he kills based on the one-dimensional character's unique trait. So he has the "puppet" kill and the "TV" kill and the "heroin" kill and so on... Not the great movie I remember, I must be getting cynical in my old age.

The Signal
The Signal(2008)

It's so refreshing to see a new horror movie that's actually a new idea. One story in 3 segments written/directed by 3 different guys, and, for the most part, it works very well. I thought part 2 was a bit jarring with its change in mood, but it ends up making up for it. Definately recommended.

The Crazies
The Crazies(1973)

I just heard Romero is going to allow this seldom talked about gem to be remade, so if you havn't watched it, you better before it is soiled by the reimaging. This flick is super raw and fairly bloody for 1973. In many ways it is Night of the Living Dead with lunatics rather than zombies. This might be better considered a precursor for Boyle's 28 Days Later. Great stuff.

Land of the Dead
½

Now that I've seen Diary of the Dead, this movie isn't too bad in comparison. You know, Romero used his cult status to get an established cast and make a large scale zombie film in the modern era. Sure there's too much digital blood and much of the dialogue has that overly scripted feel to it, but I think it was the logical step for him as a director. Just watching Diary and seeing him try to "recapture" the old magic made me realize this was a much better move for him at the time.

Student Bodies
½

This is one of those covers from my youth that I always remember. I had no idea back then that it was really a spoof and not a horror par se. It has its moments when it's pretty funny, it reminded me a lot of Kentucky Fried Movie in terms of the humor. But I found myself laughing less and less as the film went on - probably would've been better watching it with a group of people, but there are times when it just seems like its trying to hard.

The Thing
The Thing(1982)
½

Forget Halloween, this is the best carpenter flick. I totally forgot how brilliant Willfred Brimly is in this film. The effects are still some of the best in 80's, or in horror period, and you got to love that minimalist score. A classic!

Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter
½

Good old Feldman & Glover in this one, and it's probably the last decent one until part 9. Tom Savini returned to do the effects and it definately shows - this one has the best gore of all the 80's Friday movies. It was a fun one to revisit which is more than I can say for part 3.

Puppet Master

After Dolls, I had to get that bad killer doll movie taste out of my mouth so I watched this. Man, I forgot how cool the puppets are in this thing, and that scene with the doll vomiting leeches is about the most disturbing thing I've ever seen. Awesome 80's flick and a great soundtrack.

Dolls
Dolls(1987)

Oh Stuart Gordon, how could you fail us so? This sucker is just painful, and I'm a man who enjoys a killer doll movie... The writing in this thing is awful - I could've written better dialog when I was in the 7th grade.

Inside (À l'intérieur)
½

I much prefer the french cover of this DVD as it gives nothing away. This sucker is about as intense as anything that has come out this year. I have complete and utter admiration for the filmmakers ability to show this much blood & gore and still have it feel artistic rather than exploitative. If you havn't seen this yet, rent it tonight.

Night of the Comet
½

More of a comedy/satire than a horror film, Night of the Comet is actually pretty fun. No real gore here but everything in this movie is so 80's you can't help but enjoy it, at least a little.

House of 1000 Corpses

Zombie tries to cram everything he ever wanted to put in a movie into this one. It's as if he thought he'd never get a chance to make another one. There are some cool scenes, but the story falls all over itself and I can't stand the MTV editing job. Was stoked to realize Dwight from the office is in this one... Didn't notice that before.

Resident Evil
½

A high budget and slow starting film. The acting is a bit forced and the gore is quite pathetic for a zombie film, but there is certainly worse Hollywood BS out there.

Leprechaun
Leprechaun(1993)

So ambitiously bad, it's good. Starring a hot and young Jennifer Anniston, this movie is just plain awful. But it definately is one of those that is so bad it's a lot of fun to watch. The leprechaun effects are pretty damn good to boot.

Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 2: Freddy's Revenge
½

What starts out as a promising follow-up quickly becomes a sorry mess of special effects excrement. It has been five years since the first film, and Jesse (Patton) has moved into the notorious Elm Street house. He?s not even unpacked yet and he has already started having dreams starring the sweater covered psycho. Freddy moves much quicker in this one and the dream world and reality world are quickly mixed together, often causing more confusion than terror. In this installment, Freddy means to possess young Jesse and use him as a vehicle to commit more murder. At times the effects are well done, but most of the time they are being used on really stupid concepts (vicious parakeets attacking Jesse?s father for example). It culminates into a parent-approved pool party when Jesse, his Freddy transformation complete, decides to wreak havoc. The climax, and probably more honestly the last hour of the film, is thrown together and plays like the writer and director tried to jam all of their insipid ideas into it before they got their funding cut off. Freddy is still rather menacing, but his methods are just stupid this time around (including exploding hot dogs, boiling pool water, and wet towel fights). Skip this one and head to Dream Warrior, that one essentially takes it from where the first movie left off anyway.

Dawn of the Dead

10 years after creating zombie horror, Romero finally gave us a sequel. Two special forces members, a pilot, and his wife flee the city by helicopter. They land and hold out in a shopping mall ? hoping to wait out the epidemic. Along the way they need to address the basics of survival as they try to spend their days in the mall. Rarely is there a sequel this is more influential and more accomplished than its processor. Dawn of the Dead is that exception. It is essentially the same concept as NOTLD, but it?s on a much grander scale. Instead of a house, it?s a mall, and instead of trying to survive a single night, it?s several weeks. Romero took all of the basics from his earth-shattering original and stretched them out to epic proportions. Though the zombie makeup is a bit lacking (particularly when compared to Fulci?s Zombies a year later), the gore is well done and inventive. The social commentary is also stronger in this installment putting zombies in direct comparison to consumers in a mall. Romero?s dialog and direction are spot on with incredible performances by the leads (only Reiniger is occasionally lacking). The depth of story and the extent to which the characters are developed are rarities in horror, and this film would spawn (and truly continues to spawn) a much larger number of imitators than the original. Though 124 minutes is ridiculous for a horror film, I have to let it slide for the king of the zombies.

Cannibal Holocaust

Before there was Faces of Death, there was Cannibal Holocaust ? ?the one that goes all the way.? Professor Harold Monroe (Kerman) leads an expedition into the Amazon jungle to discover what happened to a crew sent 2 months ago to film a documentary. Monroe eventually discovers the crew were killed and eaten, but he is able to obtain the footage that cost them their lives. The remainder of the film is the viewing of this ?found? footage. There is no overstating how infamous this film is. It proudly touts ?banned in over 40 countries? on its cover, and there is no wonder ? Cannibal Holocaust is quite possibly the most blatant and potent exploitation film from its era. There are scenes of gang rape, animal cruelty and mutilation, cannibalism, decapitations, burying of a newly extracted fetus, and much more. The real potency lies in not being able to tell what footage is real and what has been staged for the film, it is all presented in a grainy and cut up format which makes all of it appear genuine. The mystique surrounding this movie lies there: what atrocities on screen were actually taking place and how many crimes did the crew actually commit? This is not a film one actually enjoys, but it is certainly a powerful and somewhat nauseating testament on the depths of human depravity. Its notoriety is well earned and it is something every horror aficionado should see.

The Return of the Living Dead

An American Zombie effort that plays more like a B movie from the 60's. Everyone overacts and the dialog is far from subtle. It is Freddy's first day of work at the "Uneeda" medical supply. His coworker shows him a couple of bodies the in basement that were once re-animated corpses thanks to a government-created chemical. An accident causes one of the canisters to break and out comes the chemical. The supervisor is called in and he helps them dismember one of the zombies. The parts are then cremated, releasing smoke in the air, it starts to rain, and then here come the zombies. This film breaks some of the zombie rules: 1) destroying the brain does not stop the undead 2) the zombies talk, sprint, and are out to eat "brains." 3) Limbs, parts, and animals are also reanimated. The zombies are essentially unstoppable. That being said, ROTLD is a lightning-paced cheese fest that is quite a lot of fun. Though the gore is a bit weak for a zombie film, some of the makeup work is superb. The performances are over the top, and there are quite a few laughs throughout.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Take the slasher formula and apply it to the old tried and true boogeyman story and voila - Wes Craven's cash cow Nightmare on Elm Street. All the kids on elm street are having nightmares of the same knife-finger using, red & green sweater wearing, burnt skin having maniac. Once the lines between dream and reality begin to blur, one particularly brave teen, Nancy (Langenkamp), attempts to unravel the mystery and save her friends. Craven could not have guessed what he was starting with this film. If he owes anyone for his success, it is most certainly Robert Englund who added a personal flair to Freddy Krueger that made him an icon - the first 80's icon who is not hiding behind a mask. In this installment Freddy is brutal and vicious - the one-liner quips are used sparingly (unlike many of the sequels) and the blood flows freely. There is also the instantly recognizable theme music (composed by Charles Berstein) which is fresh and powerful here. The movie does stall a bit in the second act as Nancy investigates the Krueger legend. Langenkamp's obvious limitations as an actress are all the more obvious next to a competent supporting cast. Overall a solid film that spawned a mix bag of sequels.

Hell of the Living Dead (Virus)(Zombie Creeping Flesh)(Zombie Inferno)(Night of the Zombies)

Obviously influenced by the success of Dawn of the Dead, HOTLD starts with a chemical accident caused by "rat attack" - this creates zombies throughout the region. A special forces team is dispatched to deal with the issue. The plot skips around and gets quite confusing at times. (I can hear Tom Servo shouting: "It's just a simple matter of WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" At 75-80 minute running time, this would be a much better movie. Unfortunately Mattei saw fit to drag this sucker to over 100 minutes, the greatest insult coming in the last 15 minutes when he introduces completely new characters, separate from the main ones. The Zombie makeup is excellent and the gore is plentiful, but over-the-top and painfully low budget at times. It is laughable, and certainly not the Zombie epic Mattei was gunning for, but it's not a complete waste of time.

Dèmoni (Demons)

A theatre in town is handing out promo tickets for an unknown movie Cheryl (Hovey) and her friend Hannah decide to attend. The mostly empty theatre begins watching a movie involving demonic possession, and not long after the start of the film the patrons find the events on screen are also happening in the theatre. Lamberto Bava directs a script co-written by the legendary Dario Argento and it is a solid Italian horror with well done creature effects, a kick-butt 80's soundtrack, and loads of gore. The concept is essentially The Evil Dead inside a movie theatre, the same rules apply: there is no way to tell who the demons are going to possess next, and there is no way to reverse the process once it occurs. Though it is not an original concept, Demons is well executed. There are weaknesses in the demon makeup and there are some issues with the English-dubbing, but much of that is expected from an Italian horror movie, especially any film carrying Argento?s name, and they are easy issues to overcome.

Army of Darkness

Ash is in medieval-times to fight the deadites once again. He gets caught in the middle of two kingdoms at war with each other that he must unite to battle the undead. Ash is much more slapstick in this one and the comedy elements are really played up. The result is the 3rd installment of the series becomes the weakest and at times is far too cheesy for its own good. Some criminally bad blue-screen effects in the middle really hurt the film as a whole. There are significant changes to the character of Ash, and whereas he used to be a zombie killing badass, he's now a Maxwell Smart type hero who screws everything up. Still, it manages to be a lot of fun, if overly juvenile, and it ends with an impressive battle with the undead army. It certainly is the grandest scale an Evil Dead film has ever been presented on, but I can't help but wish it were a bit darker.

Night of the Living Dead
½

The movie that put zombies on the map (though the word zombie is never uttered). Johnny and Barbara (O?Dea) are visiting the grave of their father when they are attacked by a strange man in the graveyard. Barbara escapes to a house where she finds Ben who is boarding up the house to defend against the growing hoard. Eventually, thanks to radio and television broadcasts, they find they are up against the walking dead and need to find a way to survive through the night. Whenever one comes across a film that essentially created an entire subgenre of horror, one must take care to view that film without the influence of its many children. Having said that, Romero?s script comes across bleak and dark on the black and white print and does not suffer from the lack of gore. He creates a very real sense of being trapped and hopeless and we see how differently people can handle it: some take charge, some argue, and some become hysterical. At times the horror inside the house among the living is more horrible than what awaits them outside. Thus Romero sets up the ?social commentary through zombie horror? that is present throughout the series.

The Evil Dead
½

Even though this one will forever live in the shadow of its bigger-budgeted and overall superior sequel / remake, The Evil Dead must be respected for its guerilla film making style and its gritty bargain-basement gore. Much darker than either of its sequels, the film begins with Ash (Campbell) and his 4 companions traveling to a secluded cabin in the woods. Ash stumbles across ?The Book of the Dead,? an ancient text of demon resurrection, and the tape-record notes of Professor Noby. Playing the tape awakens a dark force in the woods. Slowly Ash?s friends are possessed and he must fight for his very life. Given the film?s minimal budget, the gore fx are astonishingly savage and grim. As the night progresses and Ash?s situation becomes more dire, one can?t help by sympathize. Though on a whole the acting is far from stellar, Campbell plays Ash wonderfully as the pathetic and unwilling hero ? far from the zombie-killing badass he would eventually become. Raimi?s inventive direction and wonderful use of the POV demon camera helped raise The Evil Dead far above its low budget peers.

Silent Night, Deadly Night
½

It?s Christmas Eve and after a creepy visit to grandpa in the sanitarium, Billy witnesses his parents? rape and murder at the hands of an assailant dressed as good ol? Saint Nick. Placed into an orphanage, Billy is then physically and mentally abused by an angry nun (Chauvin) who has little sympathy for children who have been through trauma and feels she can help him through punishment. Flash forward to present day when teenage Billy (Wilson) is forced to wear the dreaded Santa outfit for his job. This sets the scene for a mid 80?s slasher that is far better than many of its higher-budgeted and better remembered peers. Though the dialog is somewhat amateurish and the acting is occasionally sub par, Silent Night Deadly Night?s story is strong enough to carry it through. During the initial 20-30 minutes of back-story, we are provided with an explanation for anything the movie throws at us for the remainder of the film ? a much more solid foundation than is ever given during Halloween or Friday the 13th. And yes, the film is unintentionally laughable as many of its genre, for its extremity and creativity of kills (including an antler impaling!) but this simply adds to the fun. Silent Night Deadly Night is a tragically overlooked and underrated ?calendar slasher,? and while not necessarily original, it delivers the formula more adeptly than many others.

Bad Taste
Bad Taste(1989)
½

The Astro-Investigation and Defense Service are called into the small town of Kaihoro to investigate the disappearance of the town?s population. They find a group of aliens employed by an intergalactic fast-food chain who have come to earth to harvest humans for their restaurant. This is Peter Jackson's debut film which was entirely self-financed and lovingly edited on his kitchen table. That being said, the ambition of this film is staggering. It is a nonstop gore fest that is just simply good fun from start to finish. Homemade plastic guns, a cast made up of Jackson?s friends, and a do-it-yourself musical score are just a few of the modest touches to Bad Taste. In most cases this formula would lead to an annoying and poorly executed film that leaves the audience feeling like they?re not in on the joke. Bad Taste is the exception due entirely to Jackson?s natural sense of storytelling and direction. The film?s low budget only serves to make it more appealing and it is an enjoyable watch every single time.

Dead and Buried
½

The quiet town of Potters Bluff is a small and tight knit community but recently out-of-towners have been turning up dead. It seems the majority of the townspeople are banding together and murdering out-of-towners. The victims are often horribly mutilated and need to be brought to the local mortician, William Dobbs (Albertson) who fixes them right up. Some of the folks start to notice that those who die don?t exactly stay dead. Sherman?s bizarre early 80?s sleeper cannot really be called a zombie film; there is no flesh eating and the ?zombies? are fully functioning people with no real evidence of decay (except when convenient to the story). It is more akin to an early episode of The Twilight Zone, your basic: crazy town with a secret, scenario. While its heart is in the right place, Dead & Buried truly suffers from a rather sluggish pace and poor production values. And granted there are certainly some worthwhile scenes, the gore is just spread too thin across the entire film and not frequent enough to really keep one engaged. A worthy effort that just falls a little short of being anything more than average.