Friday, April 20, 2018

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988) 1h 37m


To start, if you've never seen Hellraiser then you might want to click on that and read my review from way back in my first cut.  I glanced at it and it is an epic read compared to how I do these now but it'll fill you in on everything you need to know.  Why?  Because I never realized how much you need to have seen the first Hellraiser to understand all of Hellbound: Hellraiser II.  The first Hellraiser movie we watch quarterly, like it's some sort of solstice celebration.  "Let us celebrate the time of harvest with demons in bondage gear!"  But it's been some time since I've seen numero dos.  So is it time to play?

Hellbound: Hellraiser II takes place shortly after the end of the first Hellraiser (ignoring the very end with Kirsty and her boyfriend trying to burn the Lament Configuration only to have some weird Spawn villain steal it from the fire).  Kirsty wakes up in a hospital where she sticks to her story of her skinless uncle and tramp step-mom (Julia) murdering her dad, a puzzle box that opens the gates of hell, and demons.  It is quickly uncovered that the doctor in charge has had an obsession with the Lament Configuration and the Cenobites.  It comes upon Kirsty to once again deal with Pinhead and his gang, stop the doctor and Julia, and save a young girl named Tiffany.

Despite the fact that Hellraiser II has a ton of spliced-in scenes from the first movie, I tend to prefer this one over the original.  This film takes what little we know about the Cenobites and basically hands us an encyclopedia of expanded knowledge.  We find out there are multiple Lament Configurations, that the Cenobites were all human prior to being changed, how Cenobites can be created (and destroyed), and what their world really is.  It's the kind of lore dump that causes a person like me to pause the film and just try to read and make out everything that's in the scene because it's overflowing with info.

This is an odd statement to make, but this film feels more Clive Barker to me than Hellraiser was.  If you've ever seen Mr. Barker's art then you'll know that he doesn't hold back on sex and sexuality (read as: cocks everywhere).  The concepts of "pleasure" and "pain" have a greater visual representation in this installment.  We see a three way with people moaning all while hooks and chains are pulling at their flesh.  We have covered bodies writhing and moaning before the sheets stain with blood. Then there's Julia, who wields sex as if it were a knife in a mugging.  Just the phallic imagery alone in this film would make Giger froth in anger at all the changes he had to make to his Alien designs.

Hellraiser has become a shadow of what it once was, and that's disappointing.  I know that Mr. Barker stopped having major input after the fourth film and it shows (he had very minor input on the sixth, just FYI).  If nothing else though, we do have these first two films which are great... then three which has a Cenobite that shoots CD's... just fucking shoots CD's.  His name, CD.  Fuck that dude.  But four makes up for it with Angelique.

I give Hellbound: Hellraiser II 4 latex ladies out of 5:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Little Evil (2017) 1h 34m


This is the third fuckin' horror movie I'm doing on here that has Adam Scott in it! Piranha, Krampus, and now the Netflix original, Little Evil!  Is he becoming the new Christopher Walken, popping up all over the place because he doesn't want to get bored?  I'm not complaining.  He became a boy mayor and blew the town's money on a giant winter sports complex named Ice Town!  And if you don't understand that then go watch Parks and Rec you uncouth fart!

Little Evil is a horror comedy based around the premise of The Omen... or maybe just an AC/DC album since the kid looks more like Angus Young than Damien.  Gary marries the woman of his dreams without having ever spent time with her son Lucas.  Lucas is literally the child of the devil, conceived through some strange cult ritual.  Gary just wants to be a good step-dad for his step-son, Lucas wants to bring about the apocalypse, the mother is oblivious.  It's a step-dad support group vs. a doomsday cult while Gary attempts to become the father he never had.

Netflix hasn't really been pumping out good content when it comes to their original horror films (ex: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House) but they do a much better job when it's a cross-up such as this.  It's like an America swing at making a film in the vein of Shaun of the Dead.  We get nods to The Shining, Poltergeist, and some Ghostbusters humor thrown in.  We're also treated to one of the best uses of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" for a device reveal.  I had a good time watching Little Evil.  It's one of those films where you could have some friends over, order some food, and make a Friday night of it.

I give Little Evil 3 copies of High Voltage out of 5:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016) 1h 29m


Someday, I can only hope to have an unknown uncle leave me a house full of mannequin parts and blood magick.  I have an entire branch of the family tree that split from my side a few generations back, so it could happen.  Suddenly I could get a letter in the mail about secret basement rooms in a creep house while I have dreams of a mildly attractive scene girl.  I mean, I don't care about the girl, but the creep house I'm all in for!

So that's part of the plot of The Curse of Sleeping Beauty.  Thomas inherits a large and strange country home from an unknown uncle.  In the letter he is told of how he is tied to the house by blood and to never go into the secret basement.  After a quick visit, in hopes to get the house ready to sell, he finds out that it's associated with a series of disappearances and carries a heavy anxiety with the locals.  With the help of a local woman (that is searching that home for her brother), Thomas uncovers some apocalyptic shit involving demons, djinn, and a mysterious woman known as Briar Rose that is sleeping somewhere below.

This was a surprisingly good movie.  There was a great mix moments where you're holding your breath in expectation and straight up visual horror.  The application of the mannequins in the house and their role in the story improved with each bit of lore.  The set, prop, and character design gave me this sense of Guillermo Del Toro meets City of Lost Children meets Silent Hill:Revelations.  The only thing that felt out of place was the strange hacker character that they bring in to help translate a journal.  He doesn't serve any real purpose except to have an "oh shit" moment while everyone else is traversing the chamber of secrets like Harry fuckin' Potter.

The very ending of this film appears to be leaving things open for another film.  If so, I hope their plan is to work through other fairy tales because this really should be a one-and-done.  If not, they'll kill what momentum they had going for it.  At the same time, this could also turn into a really long and shitty episode of Supernatural if they fuck it up.

I give The Curse of Sleeping Beauty 3.5 copies of Grimm's Fairy Tales out of 5:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Descent (2005) 1h 39m


I'm not sure how, but I have never watched this film before.  I've heard really good things about it, knew the general plot, and liked the fact that the poster copies Salvador Dali's "In Voluptas Mors," yet I have never felt the urge to sit down and watch The Descent.  Then the universe decides it's time and I have to sit down and watch it.  The question is, over a decade later, will I like this as much as other people did?

The Descent leads us along with a group of women coming together to do some cave spelunking.  This is their first group outing since the death of the husband and child of one of their members (Sarah).  While it's meant to be a healthy and healing gathering, their interpersonal issues cause a lot of tension, especially when a new girl is introduced to the group.  What was planned as a simple trip down and through an established cave formation turns dangerous when the planner actually takes them to an undiscovered cave and a cave-in traps them inside.  Lost in unmapped and unfamiliar terrain, they attempt to find a way out but instead find why no one has ever survived to talk about these caves.

Okay, confession:  I don't think this lived up to the hype.  It was close, I'll say that, but I think the difference in time might be what knocked The Descent down a few pegs for me.  About 90% of this film I was down for.  The only things I found lacking were: 1) I wish the Native cave paintings would have included something about the creatures.  Even just one weird little mud guy slapped on there.  2) The creature design didn't do it for me.  I think this is because I've been watching too much FaceOff (the show, not the movie) but it's just this bat/human hybrid which is such a go-to design for something cave dwelling.

Oddly enough they made a sequel to this movie in 2009.  It even has Shauna Macdonald reprising her role of Sarah.  I can only assume this was a cash grab on the popularity of the first movie.  Odds are if it ends up on Netflix then I'll end up watching it for this site.

I give The Descent 3 pictures of why I will never go spelunking out of 5:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nails (2017) 1h 25m


I've recently been trying to get back into shape.  I was never ripped but I played ice hockey from the age of 5 up until I moved to the deep South... where ice exists only rarely and when it does the entire city shuts down.  Why am I sharing this info with you?  Because if I take nothing else away from this film, it's that you can try to be as healthy as you want but you can still get wrecked as fuck by something beyond your control.

Dana is a track coach going through her usual yoga/morning run routine when she is hit by a car.  The driver immediately leaves the scene and only through sheer luck does Dana end up in the local hospital.  When Dana comes to she has the feeling that she's being watched by an unseen figure at night time.  During her recover she finds that the hospital had an orderly that acted as an "angel of mercy" to five sick children before he was found out.  His nickname was Nails, due to his habit of keeping fingernail clippings from the children in envelopes.

This is another film that would've worked out much better if it were a thirty-minute short.  There's a sub plot of Dana's husband having an affair that serves no real purpose aside from the ghost showing Dana a weird video of it.  We also get a large amount of time spent showing that the hospital is poor and practically in disrepair.  It's filler that did nothing to further the main plot and only padded the movie out.

The final act of this film jumps the rails completely.  In fact, it doesn't just jump the rails, it jumps to another rail, grinds that into a combo and finds a secret tape hidden there.  We become established with why Nails wants to kill Dana but now he's just killing anyone and everyone in the hospital.  It's one of those moments where you ask yourself why he didn't just do that shit in the first place.  You're a ghost with ghost powers, use them!  Ghost it up!

I give Nails 2 weed leaf nails out of 5:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Gantz:O (2016) 1h 35m


Here's something new to the 30 Days of Plight.  I've covered live action films of manga/anime with the Netflix Deathnote film, I talked about the anime inspired Castlevania series in my Choice Cuts, but now we get a CG film based on a manga/anime.  I just need a legit video game movie to pop up now.  Maybe one of the three Resident Evil animated films... which I own on blu-ray... shut up!  I like them!

Gantz:O is like watching an hour and a half video game cutscene (I'm looking at you Kojima!).  After Kato is stabbed and killed by some psycho in the train station he wakes up in an apartment with four other individuals and a large black orb known as the Gantz.  In this version of Japan some people die only to resurrect as part of a game where they battle real life monsters in order to gain points.  If a player collects 100 points in a round then they are granted a "wish" where they can get a special weapon, bring back a dead teammate, or be set free from the game and never have to play again.  Kato needs to survive, not only for himself but for his younger brother he cares for.

This is my first exposure to anything Gantz.  I knew of it, but never what Gantz's plot was.  After watching this though I definitely want to check out at least the manga.  I was afraid the use of CGI was going to detract from the film.  Luckily the CGI is just lifelike enough that your mind is kind of tricked into thinking it's live action.  This is in opposition to other similar films such as Advent Children.  Keep in mind though that Gantz:O is years later than Advent Children so technology has only improved.  The creature design for Gantz was impressive, with a great collection of creatures inspired by Japanese mythology with parts swapped out like custom action figures.

I will say that certain plot lines get confusing with this, especially when it comes to the very end.  I had to look up interpretations online but this just left me with more questions as this timeline apparently takes place after Kato's second death and he has no recollection of his prior time in the game.  These elements don't detract from the movie though and even the ending part could be read as set-up for a sequel.

I give Gantz:O 3 Onna Nue out of 5:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ravenous (a.k.a. Les Affamés) (2017) 1h 44m


Do you like Cormac McCarthy?  In particular did you like The Road?  Do you wish that rather than the strange Mad Max raiders he put in there that the big bad were some sort of zombie/cannibal?  Do you also want it all presented to you in Canadian French?  Then brother I have a film for you!

Ravenous takes place in rural Quebec where a viral outbreak has turned people into a zombie-like state with a craving for flesh.  Our story focuses on a single man that tells jokes like your drunk uncle at a wedding.  He exists to lose his friend, gain a new female friend, acquire a small child, and join another small group of survivors.  Who lives?  Who dies?  Who was at risk of falling asleep during this movie?  Spoilers: The answer to the last one is me!

I'm not saying Ravenous is a bad film, it's just slow.  It's slower than most films I've complained about being slow.  Even when we're faced with someone fighting the infected it's not enough to get the adrenaline pumping.  This isn't helped by the generic attempts at getting the audience to establish a personal interest or connection with these characters.

Then I have my personal complaint with this film.  The woman that takes on the "mother" role of our group carries an accordion with her almost everywhere.  I own an accordion and let me tell you that those mother fuckers are heavy.  There is no way in hell I would consider carrying it on my back in an armageddon situation.

I do appreciate the personality of this film's infected.  They retained enough intelligence to be able to set traps as well as have an almost communal or pack mentality.  They don't overexert themselves by chasing prey until they drop and they work together.  They aren't perfect.  We get a few scenes of them just standing in a field waiting for something to catch their eye, but it's progress.

I give Ravenous 1.5 accordions out of 5: