Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fatal Fears: Phobia (1980)

Phobia (1980)
Rating: **
Starring:  Paul Michael Glaser, Susan Hogan, John Colicos 

Psychiatirst Dr. Peter Ross is up to something revolutionary in treating phobias. Too bad it's also quite controversial; six inmates are given the opportunity to earn their freedom by taking part on Ross' experimental method on curing/facing phobias by showing them recorded simulations of their actual fears through a really big TV screen. How is this revolutionary, or more importantly, help these poor saps is beyond me but problems are abound when these patients began dying one by one, ironically under the nature of their own fears.

By today's standards, this may not be entirely new, significantly since we have better titles with the same gimmick, and, sadly, the steady-yet dull direction of the movie and the lack of any believable reaction 9or acting for that matter (around the cast doesn't do any better in return. Phobia's less of a slasher and more of a thriller with an air of (failed) sophistication and a whodunit angle that barely makes you think since the twist is too darn obvious, thus barely making through with a passing grade for my viewing but have to commend some of the scenes for their shred of effective tension. There's a little trail of cheese through out the movie's plot but seeing this is one of the earlier (if not the first) attempts to do a bodycounter revolving around phobias, I can look over some of these cons and appreciate the effort.

Maybe with a better (and more talented) cast, more inventive kills or at least a tenser and livelier approach, we may get something out of this film but on it's own, Phobia is a viewing for horror completists and/or hardcore slasher fanatics only. Nothing else to note, see it if you're curious.

1 female decimated by a bomb
1 male falls to his death
1 female drowned in a tub
1 male crushed in an elevator shaft
1 male found dead from snake bite
1 male shot on the eye
Total: 6

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Robin Williams


"You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Random Fan Art Post: Mick Taylor

Of Wolf Creek franchise
Shit, been a while since I posted art here, eh?

The Maine Attraction: You Can't Kill Stephen King (2010)

You Can't Kill Stephen King (2010)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Monroe Mann, Ronnie Khalil, Crystal Arnette

Stephen King is the least I would expect to be involved in a slasher, may it be written or filmed. While some of the shorts he wrote does have the bodycount ring to it, when it comes to straight teen-killings, he's just too complex for something quite as easy. (the film version of Silver Bullet is the closest to being a slasher. Watch it and you'll see all the clichés there.)

Now this being brought to light, it's likely to say we will never expect the Master Storyteller to take a jab at this sub-genre, but does this mean we will never see a straight Stephen King slasher? Not entirely, You Can't Kill Stephen King afterall!

Six teens are on a mini-van driven roadtrip to locate and tour the home town of Mr. King, although their main goal once they get there differs for each; Ronnie is an avid SK fan and perhaps the only one in the group who's excited to see the storyteller's town since the rest of his buddies, Iraq vet-slash-jock Monroe, the sisters Lori and Hilary, Nicole the slut and token black dude Lamont are only interested in having fun on the lake or with each other.

Once they reach the town however, the locals were not too kind with outsiders who utter Stephen King's name, quickly dismissing them, warding them off town or just simply act like jerks to the kids. Not that it matters for most of the gang (Ronnie is surely disappointed) but it goes for worse when someone starts to bump them off dead, one clichéd character at a time.

Okay, so technically this is a slasher that pays a tribute to Stephen King in a manner that only a low-budget film can afford. The gimmick here is that the murders are supposed to be based on killings in King's stories but, if you look at it, they're easily passed off as average murders that many other horror titles had done before. A few example of this is a hammer murder that was supposedly based on the twist in the short story The Man who Loved Flowers, and another involving a dead body found with its mouth stuffed with sand, which is a nod to the short Beachworld.

While it brings me joy that this movie pays a little bit more attention to King's more obscure stories, I can't help but think that, with a little more budget, this film could had done better murder-tributes to save itself seeing that, separating this catch of an idea from the story, you're basically left with another backwoods slasher-comedy with cheesey characters and hokey plot holes. It's not really terrible, it's just that You Can't Kill Stephen King felt like a missed opportunity, a movie with something creative to offer if it wasn't for the monetary restrictions.

Then again, it's terrible in a sense it's laughable and while the intended comedy is a hit-and-miss, you can still get a few chuckles along the way in its attempt, making this a good movie to see if your tolerance to the cheddar is amazing! It's a movie made out of passion and respect, humble at its best to keep up glued for a while and just let us have a good time. It gets a little weird at times but it sure is fun as heck!

Far from the deep, terrifying, wondrous amalgam of everything you love and know about the man from Maine, You Can't Kill Stephen King is definitely a package of hammy lines and good ole' dad teen antics with a fairly decent twist. Recommended for King fans with a humor!
1 female bashed on the face with a shovel
1 male gets his throat cut with a knife, slaughtered
1 female brained to death with hammer
1 female found dead with a mouth full of sand
1 female thrown off from height, falls to her death
Total: 5

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dear Dead Rosemary: The Prowler (1981)

The Prowler (AKA "Rosemary's Killer") (1981)
Rating: ****
Starring: Farley Granger, Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Cindy Weintraub

Ah yes, the end of World War II; where good young folks who fought for their country come back home to the warm and welcoming hands of their friends, families and lovers, their service, sacrifice and hardship rewarded in a debt of gratitude. Though some may not get exactly that, as some sacrifices are not without their own consequences and one example of this is the written Dear John letter of a lonely lover who tells her man overseas that she's moving on, seeing she had been waiting for a long time for him to come back, unsure if her lover was alive or not.

While some may get a bit discouraged by this, even upset, this particular trooper didn't take this too kindly. We then cut to the night of 1945 in Antonio Bay where many returning soldiers are escorting their girlfriends to their graduation dance after waiting for them during the war. Rosemary was one of them, and with her new lover, she decided for them to take a few moments alone at a nearby isolated gazeebo for a cuddling. What they don't know is that her ex-lover is quietly watching them, making sure that Rosemary gets what she wants with her new man by skewering them together with a pitchfork.

Thirty-Five years later, the bay is preparing for their first Graduation Dance after Rosemary's father Major Chatham banned it the day he found out about the first killings. While generally, all the teens in town are excited, the local cops are having a situation of their own when reports of a violent man claims that their en route to town. Bad timing for the sheriff to be going fishing but nevertheless he leaves the town to his trusted deputy, Mark, expecting him to do a fine job against this maniac.

Then again, it wasn't too long before we're seeing a man booting up an old GI uniform and preparing a sharp bayonet for an all-nighter slaughtering; teens get killed, lovers stalked and chased, Mark have no choice but to team up with his girlfriend Vicky to figure out what's going on and find the culprit before he kills again.

Now, I will admit that The Prowler is a generic slasher film with its own set of flaws; the plot is a carbon copy of that from My Bloody Valentine, a movie that shares the same gimmick wherein the killer returns the night a supposedly banned celebration is held again for the sake of the new generation, though comparing the two, My Bloody Valentine was more focused on this theme as The Prowler was on identifying the killers' identity instead. Unfortunately, said sleuth just didn't work too well as a good amount of time was wasted on false scares (you would thought two kids screwing around in the backstage of a gym would meant something horrible. Yes this is a spoiler), plot holes (why is it Major Chathams, a supposed invalid, keeps popping up whenever the killer is around?) and pretty much a dead end as the killer could have been anybody.

Thankfully, these dull and lifeless scenes were evened out by what makes The Prowler a worthwhile watch. Tom Savini was again in his groove when he worked on the special effects of this film, showering us with some of the vilest and awfully brutal murders shown in celluloid, at least for its time. (Then again, the bayonet head impalement is still pretty messed up for me) These murders are coupled with a good sense of dread and tension, which works quite well at the end where the final girl was separated from her deputy boyfriend and had to flee-fight for her life against a pitch-fork weilding GI. (A killer concept that's cool beyond a level)

Ending with a Carrie-esque jumpscare, The Prowler have its worth; while not the flawless example of a slasher, it shows great production value and a fun one at that. Good kills with effective intensity, an awesome murderer, a little dragging in the middle but it picks up as soon as it got the ball rolling again, this title deserves more than what it is getting (perhaps a decent remake with a better whodunnit angle?) and should be tried by all true fans of this sub-genre.

1 male and 1 female skewered together with a pitchfork
1 male gets a bayonet through his head
1 female impaled with a pitchfork
1 female nearly beheaded with a bayonet
1 female gets a bayonet to the neck
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male gets his head blown off with a shotgun
Total: 8

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chucky's Father's Brother's Cousin's Second Former Roommate: Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)

Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)
Rating: **
Starring:  Candace McKenzie, Lewis Van Bergen, Ivan Gueron 

I picture this as the movie Child's Play would have been if it did stay with the "did the kid did it or was it the doll?" plot. Of course, with the kind of budget the original Child Play had, I'm confident it would have done a little better than this but seeing that franchise did fairly well as a slasher franchise, let see what this low-key thriller had to offer on its own.

I remember watching this as a a kid barely out of his toddler years via VHS and again as a preteen via cable TV. Of course, I was scared out of my wits at my first round but as I got a little older, I begin to wonder why does it take so long to get around the scary parts. Now, as I write this review, I know.

Rosalind plays Jennifer Garrick, a defense attorney who's currently working to prevent the conviction of a man against charges of multiple child murders, including that of his own son. Strangely, however, the man is more than willing to fry under the chair, claiming that he did do it, and with her defenses overruled, the state had him executed despite her effort.

So, she failed to keep a guy from dying for a crime he may or may not had committed, least she had something to look up for once she gets home, right?

Well, it may not be as bad as getting your client to die at the hands of the government, but Jennifer's daughter Zoe is acting up lately regarding the fact that her father ran away with some girl he kept from the family, getting fights in school and is constantly haunted by night terrors.

While Jennifer is trying her best to turn her daughter's life around for the best, stranger things suddenly plague their household when a missing piece of evidence suddenly appeared on her desk: a wooden puppet boy made by the executed father, supposedly for his son. Not knowing what to do with it, she kept the toy hidden but Zoe finds it, mistaking it as a present, and forms an obsessive bond with her new friend "Pinocchio".

Soon, accidents and deaths are abound, all of which Zoe blames on Pinocchio. Could she be right, or is there a far more sinister force at work?

Seeing how this is made by Kevin Tenney of the solid cult classic Night of the Demons (1988), I'm a little disappointed to what I see here: generic plotting, badly acted characters and some of the hokiest looking practical effects I'd seen that's more laughable now than frightening. The only factor that excels here is the questionable nature of the murders.

Though the bodycount is particularly low, these scenes are well built from the start and it does have you guessing whether the doll is committing these or not. But once we figure out in the end who's the real culprit, the movie doesn't stop making you wonder whether the rubbery looking marionette is behind it or if its presence is nothing but pure coincidence.

With much of the movie's marketing and the cheesy title itself to blame, Pinocchio's Revenge is misleading in regards for those who were expecting a Child's Play rip-off. Sending most of its part as a thriller, the whodunit element is well done but the lack of any exciting action (horror-wise) renders the film a tad dull if not cliched. Just trim off the nudity and you might as well have a made-for-TV thriller here that's bound to scare the pants off any youngsters, or make a good timewaster before you doze off for work the next day.

We may never know what Pinocchio's is revenging for but for a cheesy horror thriller, it had its moments. Makes a good rental if you're up to it.

1 boy seen murdered
2 children seen dead
1 male executed via electric chair
1 male had his life support turned off
1 female beaten to death with a fire poker
Total: 6

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wait? What? Huh?: Sidste Time (1995)

Sidte Time (Final Hour) (Denmark, 1995)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Lene Laub Oksen, Mette Bratlann, Tomas Villum Jensen

Released just a few years before the teen slasher boom exploded and nearly every country in the world wet their hands in blood for masked maniacs hunting down self-aware victims, Sidste Time is Denmark's own little jab at the sub-genre, pitting seven teenagers in a late night detention in their biology lab, unaware that a killer is on the loose in that very building.

Aware of this situation, however, is one Mickey Holm who covers the event outside of the premises. As the death toll rises one by one, the kids soon find out the horrible truth of their predicament and there might be no way out of it alive!

It's most fitting to describe this movie to a Twilight Zone episode, albeit a very bloody one; while it starts like any other slasher, with teens collected in a ridiculously convenient empty school for reasons equally obscure only to end up brutally snuffed off by a killer, Sidste Time turns to a more haunting twist that defies any known explanation ala Lucio Fulci's The Beyond.

Nightmare logic comes in full force when cryptic TV messages appears in units that aren't even plugged in, tabloid news groups covering a crime scene almost an instant after it happened, and even buildings that lock by itself. There's a level of the supernatural thrown into the mix but much of the horror is more on the psychological, on its way on becoming a thinking man's horror.

But, as I mentioned earlier, it feels like there's no real explanation for the events that unfolded in this film but if one would read in between the lines of the movie's climax, you may get a few choice interpretations of what really happened in this night.

On a technical note, the acting is fair and I do give kudos to the amazing lighting and cinematography.but I feel a tad dry when it comes to the killings. However, I could easily disregard this as a minor setback, knowing most of the energy went more on making a psychedelic and psychological nightmare than a standard bodycounter.

Sidste Time is a movie with a divided audience; you could either appreciate its uniqueness as a slasher or abhor it for this fact alone. I'm not much of a fan of it but if you like something a little stranger for your slasher kicks, give Sidste Time a roll!

1 male hacked to death (flashback)
1 male thrown off a roof
1 female found dead with her face burnt to a stove
1 female found strangled with a phone chord
1 male beheaded
1 male found with his face slashed open
1 female found murdered, method unknown
1 female throat cut with knife
Total: 8