Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Death Note (2017) 1h 41m

I knew this day would come.  I fucking knew it!  I just hoped that it would be much later than this, and on Halloween of all days!  So I've read all of the original Death Note manga, saw all of the anime, and own two of the three Japanese films (Death Note and Death Note II, but not L Saved the World).  When Netflix said they were going to make their own movie based on Death Note it was met with some excitement and some skepticism.  Then it came out and all I heard about it was that it was trash upon trash.  So how does this really measure up?

If you're unfamiliar with the premise, Death Note is about an ultra intelligent teenage boy named Light.  He finds a notebook labeled as a "Death Note" and a list of rules inside of how to use it.  The book itself belongs to a Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk who acts as an influencer and voyeur to Light's use of the Death Note.  After donning the name "Kira" (an indirect form of the word "killer" in Japanese), Light uses the Death Note in a self-conceived notion of global morality by eliminating criminals.  A special operative, another teenage boy of extreme intelligence, known only as L is put on the case to flush out Kira.

That pretty much sums up what is maybe the first quarter of the original story and more info than you're given for the entirety of this film.  If you know nothing at all about Death Note then you might like this film.  If you know even the slightest bit about Death Note then you know this is a bastardization of the source material set in America.  I could go on and on about why this wasn't good, but those reviews already exist so I'll jump to the two things I did like about this.  First, Ryuk (and more importantly Willem Dafoe's voice acting) was a shining star in the black void of this film.  The lines were dead on, the look was great, and Willen Dafoe fucking kills it with his laughs and line deliveries.  Second, this version of L was much more proactive than the original.  He took risks that were out of character for L, but it made him a bit more interesting.  It doesn't help that I'm not really a fan of L in the manga/anime and much prefer Near, but with this film you have no clue what I'm talking about.

So is this movie the turd sandwich people say it is?  Ehhhh... Like I said, if you have even flipped through the manga then you know this movie is trash.  Although, for people that have no clue about Death Note, maybe this will be their gateway into the real thing, or maybe it will be their intro to manga and anime.  So I can't really shit on that.  Kids still get into metal based on new Metallica albums.  If it leads to them finding good metal or visiting the old Metallica albums, then good for them.  Metal up your ass...

I give Death Note 1 apple out of 5 (in honor of Willem Dafoe's Ryuk):

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Black Room (2017) 1h 31m

There had to have been some house, empty since the mid-80's, that was getting renovated and they found this script hidden in the floorboards.  The only catch is that it was written by some 14 year old boy that was sexually repressed and this was the closest he would ever get to woods porn.  Then this cursed script found its way to a director who adjusted himself and decided to make it come to life!

The Black Room has a traditional horror premise: house has a demon in it, new couple moves in, demon attempts to use them for his evil purpose.  The difference here is that the demon is hyper-sexual in order to create a human/demon hybrid child.  So think Amityville Horror meets Species.  You know, two films you never thought you'd hear compared in the same sentence.

I feel like this would be one of those VHS tapes I would see for rent as a kid and the cover would scare the shit out of me. It looks so 1984 horror.  The entire film had that vibe, just under a modern lens.  The old school rotoscoped lightning effects existed with modern practical effects and make-up for a good blend.  I will say that The Black Room had a few sloppy moments with such things as showing a full hand after the fingers just got cut off or, and this is more of a personal gripe, a brand new GBH patch on the goth/occult girl's bag.  Seriously, she's not listening to GBH.  Fuck, I'm not sure anyone still listens to GBH and that includes people that were in that fucking band.

There are also unexplained elements that aren't important to the story but still confusing.  Did this couple buy the house fully furnished and just moved in?  Are they not creeped out by that?  Who has a giant Tibetan Buddha statue when you walk into your house?  Why would you not cement over that door in the first place?  Scorpion tail dicks?!

I give The Black Room 2.5 Mortal Kombat Scorpions out of 5:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015) 1h 39m

You know what's delicious? Bacon.  You know who was in the original Tremors?  Kevin Bacon.  You know what Kevin Bacon is doing right now?  NOT FUCKING MAKING TREMORS SEQUELS!

Tremors 5 is a hot fucking mess.  The original Tremors came out in 1990 so the fact that this release is 25 years later should let you know that they're really cashing in on that current hot Tremors' cash.  In the first movie it was just "Graboids" that existed in the ground.  Think Shai Huluds in middle America.  I didn't keep up with the films or lore but apparently there are multiple types now including one that shoots fire out of its ass.

Speaking of fires, this fucking dumpster fire takes place in South Africa.  The monster hunter/survivalist that has apparently taken over as the main character for these films comes there after a poacher tricks him into thinking he's from some wildlife organization.  Jaime Kennedy (who I don't really have anything against, but whatever) is a professional douche bag/side kick during this too.

I didn't care about Tremors in 1990.  I won't care about Tremors X in 2090.  This franchise needs to die and stay dead.  I don't even know who the audience was for this movie.  Is it for people that only buy movies from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart?  Because if that's the case then fucking score for you.  The really sad thing is that this movie has decent acting and better than average CGI.  I hope all of these people got paid well, because I shop in that $5 bin a lot and I wouldn't buy this shit.

I give Tremors 5: Bloodlines 0 Shai Hulud out of 5:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Choice Cuts: Haunted House season!

The House of Shock (New Orleans) from NOLA.com

When I was a young kid I always wanted to go to the haunted houses or whatever there was going on during the season.  The few times I did get taken to them I made it to the first scare and from then on had to be carried through while I hid my face in a family member's shoulder.  I liked the idea of being scared but wasn't able to grasp the concept of these ghouls will not harm me.

As I got older though I still kept an interest every October when you'd see signs for corn mazes or haunted hayrides or whatever.  As a young adult it was worth it to get a group of friends together and see who would get scared and who wouldn't.  Hell, even as an older adult I still love going with a group of people and watching them get scared.

While I've matured quite a bit from the crying child clinging to someone's neck, I learned to love a good scare.  I don't react to most things in haunted houses now.  In fact, a lot of times I'm the person that will walk up to an actor and just say "do you need a hug," but I've learned that these scares are controlled.  It's still worth it though, come every October, to go through the cobwebs and fake blood even if it's just for the laughs.

From fire departments, to community organizations, to full blown haunted house companies, there has to be something going on somewhere for you to go to.  So go have fun!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Under the Shadow (2016) 1h 24m

War is hell.  Ghosts might be from hell.  Therefore, Ghosts might come from War?  Oh shit!  Things got too real in this intro...

Under the Shadow is an Iranian film set during the Iran-Iraq war of the 80's.  A family is split up when the husband is sent to be a medic on the front lines and the wife stays behind with their child.  After a series of unexplained incidents and strange behavior from the daughter, the mother begins to believe that the building may have a spirit haunting them.

I have the reoccurring complaint that a lot of horror films have poor pacing.  While this film is guilty of crawling to the supernatural elements I feel like it's a conscious decision by the writer/director.  The supernatural horror is such a small piece of the greater horror that surrounds the mother and daughter.  Cultural misogyny, the fear that comes with living in a war zone (a missile actually crashes into the building at one point but doesn't detonate), parenthood, losing direction as a person, all of these are the anxieties that people can face and I think the ghost or whatever here is just a physical manifestation of these.  We get a brief description where it says these spirits come on "the winds" where there exists a lot of fear, anxiety, and trauma so why would that not exist in corporeal form?

I think that if you want just a surface spooky movie then this probably isn't going to be the film for you.  It took me a bit to recognize the deeper thread running through it and I was ready to just let this one fall off.  I'm glad I didn't but Under the Shadow is kind of a one-and-done.

I give Under the Shadow 2 clip art bombs out of 5:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Rezort (2015) 1h 33m

When working with a fuse one should give themselves enough time to get to a safe spot after lighting it.  Sometimes someone fucks up and it blows up in their face.  Sometimes it takes too long and becomes more trouble than it's worth.   Then there are times where it takes just a moment too long and lures you into that sense of security...

If The Rezort were a mixed drink, you would take one part Jurassic Park, one part The Most Dangerous Game, and blend it all with a large amount of the Dead Island video game series.  After an almost apocalyptic viral outbreak caused the living to fight the dead, an island exists with the last remaining infected on it.  Vacationers can come to The Rezort to have a controlled zombie hunting experience and work out whatever fantasy or internal anguish they might carry.  You probably have a good idea what happens in this film.

I mentioned that false sense of security previously because this film has that slow burn that takes you to the point where one can assume exactly how the rest of this movie is going to play out.  Instead though, when it blows up, there's a pause and you find out that there were some fireworks mixed in with that explosion.  It leads to some serious "oooo's" and "ahhh's".

The character development is done really well.  They don't waste time trying to hide anything about the "surface" people and the characters we want to know more about get teased right until we are given that informational relief.  I personally loved that one of the women came to the island to deal with her PTSD from the previous "war."  The end of this film delivers some fantastic reveals and creates a couple more questions that I would love to have answered.  Just not in a sequel form.  Maybe in short film format.  I could live with that.

I give The Rezort 2 copies of Dead Island out of 5:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Raw (a.k.a. Grave) (2016) 1h 39m

If this movie has taught me anything then it would be the following information about France (or possibly a French speaking area like Quebec): 1) You apparently either become an aggressively homosexual truck driver or go to vet school, 2) Vet school in France is the fucking worst, 3) French woman (especially those from vegetarian families) have the possibility of becoming cannibals.  I think I just accidentally summed this movie up too early.

Raw is the story of a girl going away to vet school (which her older sister is also attending) and going through some serious life changes.  For instance, she starts off being vegetarian and then, after a hazing ritual has her eat a raw rabbit liver, she begins to crave meat.  Normal meat isn't enough though and, after eating her sister's severed finger, she finds she craves human flesh.  None of this is as cool as you may think it sounds.

This movie is less of a horror film and more of a slow drama with cannibal elements.  It takes a while to get anywhere and when it does the party sucks and you would much rather be back home playing video games.  I like the concept of this film.  They take it from a very "outside the box" perspective when it comes to having those jagged horror edges.  Yet I found myself checking the time left on the film because I really just didn't care about our leading lady's transition from virgin vegetarian girl to deflowered cannibal woman.  Dammit!  I made this movie sound cool again.  It's not.  At least not to my American horror senses.

I give Raw 1 severed finger first aid image out of 5:

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Tortured (2010) 1h 19m

I've never really been a fan of "torture porn" style horror.  Sure, some of the Hostels were okay, the first one or two Saw movies had their moment, and a few others are definitely watchable but just not my thing.  However, this may be my first foray into what could be considered "revenge porn."

The Tortured begins with a couple dealing with the kidnapping, murder, and subsequent trial of the man that did this to their six year-old son.  After he gets 25-to-life as opposed to life without parole, the couple decide that the kidnapper needs to be punished, tortured, for his crimes.

This film is basically broken into two sections with small bridges in between.  You have the establishment of the agony of losing a child in such a terrible manner and how devastated the couple is.  It's mainly to allow themselves and the viewer to feel that this course of action is justified.  The other revolves around the torture of this man.  There are a combination of introspective moral moments and a questioning of the couple's actions.  We get handed some serious twists here and there, but what this comes down to is do the means justify the ends, vice versa, or, is there any real justice at all?

The saving grace of this film is the ending.  I really don't care about the guy's nipple being burnt with a soldiering iron or any of that other crap.  The couple has an odd catharsis to which only the viewer knows the truth and that made me run back through the film in my head.  So it makes me actually think of it when it's done, but honestly I'll probably forget about it in a month.

I give The Tortured 1 prison jumpsuit costume out of 5:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Don't Kill It (2016) 1h 23m

I really like Dolph Lundgren as an actor.  I don't think he's one of the best actors in the world, but he has done a great combination of iconic and really fun roles.  Frank Castle in the original Punisher movie, Ivan Drago in the Rocky Films, the street preacher in Johnny Mnemonic, all favorites of mine.

Don't Kill It is a really good take on demonic possession films.  The demon jumps from host to host when someone kills the possessed.  The killer then becomes the then new vessel for the demon.  It gets explained that this is a specific type of demon and that others move through humans in different ways.  After a deer hunter happens across a container that once held the demon, a small town in Mississippi is plagued with a string of murders.  Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) is a demon hunter that catches wind of the killings and sets out to contain the presence.

If I had to describe this film in a single word, then it would be "fun."  It's completely aware of what it is and doesn't try to make any kind of award winning cinema.  Instead it's an entertaining horror movie with strong comedic elements, some decent lore (which does have one thing I wish become expanded upon more), an excellent use of practical effects with some CGI, and probably the best delivery of a "what the fuck?" I have ever heard.  In all honesty, I would be okay of Jebediah would return for a series of demon hunting films, so long as they stay with this quality.

I give Don't Kill It a solid 3 net guns out of 5:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Scherzo Diabolico (2015) 1h 31m

When we watch a film, most of the time we're engaged in some form that allows us to feel part of it.  Jump scares, the moment of cringe when we get a close up of a needle going in, or the relief you can feel from someone escaping death, these connect us to the screen.  With Scherzo Diabolico, I felt less personally engaged and more like I was a voyeur to our main character's life.  Spying on him while he has his breakdown and develops his subsequent plot.  It felt perverse at moments to see his planning and begin to have that become my engagement with the film.  Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here...

Scherzo Diabolico is a film out of Mexico where we follow Aram, an accountant that, despite his hard work, is under compensated by his manager.  Aram formulates a plot to kidnap his boss' daughter and let the mental breakdown of his higher up lead to the manager's removal so Aram can move into his position.  It works, but the emotional trauma to the girl leads to her finally being triggered and she seeks out revenge.

This film falls under the "thriller" umbrella much more than horror but it was a good watch regardless.  Each character is defined well in their role.  Aram himself is done in such a manner that even if you wanted to celebrate him getting his due recognition you can't because of the layer of scum that surrounds him.  It's not just a greasy film that encircles him, but it's revealed that he is covered in it as the movie progresses.

When I started this review I mentioned that I felt more of a voyeur.  I saw a review on IMDB where someone complained about this movie being non-engaging.  I think it just depends on how you watch this film as to what your engagement really becomes.  I enjoyed it, but odds are I'll probably never watch it again.

I give Scherzo Diabolico 2 day of the dead masks out of 5:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Spawn (1997) 1h 36m

If I ever have a child and he asks me "Papa, what were the 90's like," (I picture my child as a small British boy if you're wondering what that should sound like) then I would show him this movie.  Then if he asked me what "horror" is then I would tell him "not fucking Spawn the movie!"  Unfortunately Netflix thinks Spawn is a horror movie, so here we go.  Fuckin' 90's out the ass!

If you're not familiar with Spawn, this is a film adaptation of a comic book.  Originally created by Todd McFarlane, Spawn really pushed comics in both good and bad directions.  I could go into this for more than I could talk about this movie but this is a fucking horror film blog!  Not comic nerd talk!  That's if I want to start another blog.

The plot of Spawn is simple:  Al Simmons is murdered, then he gets offered a chance at revenge by the ruler of Hell (Malebolgia) if he promises to lead the army of Hell once Al is done.  Thus, Al becomes Spawn.  We have our angel and devil characters in Cogliostro and Clown.  The one attempts to turn him to the side of good while the other works for Malebolgia and pushes for chaos.

Clown is what truly makes this movie.  John Leguizamo fucking destroys everyone else in this film with this character.  Who would have thought?  You don't hear much about him, but this one film he nails the role perfectly.  Also he actually bit into a piece of pizza covered in live maggots during the filming.  Way to go the extra mile, John.

As for the rest of Spawn... well... this film combines the worst elements of the early comics and puts them in here while also glossing over the concept of "when you use up your power you die for real."  Hell, the comics eventually dropped this plot device too.  There used to be a counter at the end of every issue telling you how much power Spawn had left, then they deus ex'd it and that was that.  So this movie is mostly guns and really really dated CGI.  Fucking goofy flames, Malebolgia does not hold up in CGI form, an army of CGI spawns that move in 3-second loops and have multiples of themselves... shit is wiggity wiggity wack by today's standards.  As a kid though I fucking loved all of it...

So while not a horror film, and still tinted a bit by nostalgia, this film ends up being a fun mess.  The soundtrack is full of spooky 90's bands like Marilyn Manson and "techno."  I use quotes because electronic music and the EDM scene has come a long fucking way from when we used to just refer to it as solely "techno."

You don't have to know a thing about Spawn to watch it, and that may work out to your advantage.  Otherwise you end up nitpicking shit like me.

I give Spawn 2.5 bad CGI bee things out of 5:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sweet Home (2015) 1h 20m

I don't know how, but there has been an obvious trope in both horror films and video games that I've been overlooking until now.  It may already have a name, but for this blog I'm going to refer to it as the Boss Fight trope.  Basically the viewer/player is given a standard bad guy.  You see them as being the primary evil that the protagonist(s) have to overcome.  Suddenly a much larger bad guy is revealed and his introduction is spent quickly destroying the already established bad guys just to show how fucking evil this one really is.  There are no loyalties except to chaos or destruction brought by itself... and now you're fucked!

That's too good of a set up for what Sweet Home really is.  It's a home invasion movie where it isn't even the protagonists' home. They're in a mostly abandoned building where they thought it would be okay to celebrate one of their birthdays there.  We're given a quick introduction of text explaining that in Spain, real estate progress causes people to leave their home by choice, force, or a more sinister third option.  It's murder.  I'm spoiling that for you right now.  I wish it was something like demonic possession but it's literally just murder.

Our protagonist couple get stuck in this building when three people come to murder an old man that's holding out.  The couple take two of the three out and trap the third.  This is when we get introduced to the Boss Fight and their "back-up" comes and cuts up the third guy while he's trapped.  Then he freezes the bodies with liquid nitrogen and crushes them with a hammer.  Finally he sweeps them into garbage bags.  Shit is pro.  It's so pro that it's created its own tier, it's godlike.  The rest of the film is the couple trying to survive and escape.

This film really wasn't that great.  The major bad guy was interesting in how methodical his work was.  It was precise and emotionless.  He's just shy of being considered a "slasher" because, in the end, he was still just human.  Everything else here was just flat.  Stare out as the highway goes into the horizon flat...

I give Sweet Home 1 gingerbread house out of 5:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jaws 3 (aka Jaws 3-D) (1983) 1h 39m

This has to be the worst partnering deal in the history of forever.  Why the fuck would Sea World willingly let these people use their name for a movie about killer sharks?  It could've been any made-up sea park and you'd be fine!  Also, why the fuck is this park set up like it's goddamn Sealab 2021?!  Who thought that was a brilliant idea?! "I want our park to have all the most expensive shit underwater... in case those commie bastards come!  Those pinkos won't get my giant metal box with a useless reel-to-reel stuck on the outside!  Those are my Johnny Paycheck albums on those reels!"

Jaws 3 is a hot mess of 80's in 3D!  A great white shark gets into a Sea World park and kills some people.  They capture it but then it dies while a bunch of people watch it sadly turn over like a goldfish from a carnival game.  Later they figure out that our dead shark was the baby and the mother is somewhere in the park!!  Momma Jaws then fucks some shit up before she gets blown up by a hand grenade.

I went into this thinking it was going to be trash.  It actually wasn't as bad as I thought.  There is a large amount of time spent on unnecessary character development and they attempt to have some plot more than just "Oh shit! Giant shark!" and I really didn't care.  Will this male/female couple stay together while he studies whatever in Central America or wherever the fuck he's going?  I don't care!  Let the shark eat your fucking face!

The shark puppet was nowhere near as good as the original Jaws.  This one was more foam-rubbery looking.  Then we get the 3D elements... I didn't get to experience the full 3D immersion here but you can tell exactly when each moment is meant to be by the awkward floating object with the weird outline looking like a bad Photoshop.  Some text, a severed arm, an underwater craft, Jaws slowly crashing into some glass, and then the exploding chunks of Jaws (including her literal jaws here), in 1983 it might have been cool.  However, I've watched ever episode of those VH1 80's nostalgia shows at least 10 times a piece, and those people all said it looked like shit back then.

Jaws 3 did have two of my favorite things to ever happen in a horror film though.  First, there's a scene where a half-eaten corpse floats up past a window and scares a bunch of visitors.  Someone reacts to this moment by pressing a teenage girl up against the glass so she just has a few inches of glass between her screaming face and this dead body.  I don't know why that happens but it's hilarious.  The second thing is a t-shirt that a man is wearing.  He's with the group trapped inside one of the Sealab tunnels and his shirt just says "Let a gargoyle sit on your face."  I don't know what the fuck that means.  I did a quick Google search and all I found were reproductions of that shirt for sale but not explanation.  I don't think I want an explanation.

I give Jaws 3 1 blue squeaky shark out of 5:

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

6th Cut Begins!: Come Back to Me (2014) 1h 30m

Netflix had to have this movie come up as a joke.  It is some strange sentient being and it knew I was ready to start our 6th Cut with 30 Days of Plight and wanted the most ironic film title to come up.  Not only is it an ironic title, but it belongs to one of those movies where I wonder why I do this to myself.  It's the first film this time and I'm already questioning my personal sanity and thinking of better things to do with my time.  Do you know how much pornography there is on the internet?!  I could be looking at all of the pornographies!!  ALL OF IT!

Come Back to Me is like being forced to sit on a metal folding chair during an hour and a half lecture.  At first you're okay with then, then it's uncomfortable and you squirm a bit, and by the time you should feel relief that it's over your ass is already numb and you don't care.  Our primary characters are a married couple that want to have a baby but the husband finds out he is infertile, and a creepy neighbor boy that can afford a nice house while his only job appears to be bagging groceries.

The married woman begins to have a series of blackouts where she would loose large chunks of time with no memory of what happened.  A few times she wakes up with some sign of trauma, such as blood in her hair, but no wounds.  Eventually she finds out that she is pregnant but this is after we find out the husband has been firing blanks the whole time.  I'm not sure why but the term "firing blanks" caused me to get an image in my head of intercourse being a man and woman dressed in Western clothing and dancing while the guy shoots his gun in the air.  For some people that might be sex.  I don't know.  Different strokes for cowboy folks I guess...

The creepy neighbor boy develops an obsession with the married woman after meeting her.  I need to back up a second and mention that this kid is partially creepy because he has an insane background of living in a meth lab home where his father was violently abusive with the boy's mother.  It escalates until one day the father slices the mother so badly that she dies.  It just so happens this time the boy called the cops.  It also happens to be the first instance where we get a hint of the supernatural.

As the movie progresses we find out that our married woman's blackouts are caused to her being raped and murdered.  The creeper has the ability to bring people back from the dead simply by breathing into them and saying "Come back to me," so he attacks the woman every chance he gets.  It's not only that, but we put together that he has done this to others as well.  In fact, the ending of the film goes on to show a lot of his victims.

In truth, the introduction of the supernatural element gave a renewed interest to this film, but it was far overshadowed by the sexual assault.  When the addition of an Oedipal Complex came in, I checked the fuck out.  It was one of those unfortunate cases of the primary idea of a boy with this power was a really good one, but then they wanted to add "shock" or "edge" and the film became mess.  I'm not trying to say that pushing the limits of film, especially in horror, is a bad thing.  What I'm trying to say is that people need to find the individual limit for a film, and then keep from taking that extra step over the edge.  Get right up to it, maybe hock a loogie over it or throw a rock down, but don't take a running leap and think you'll be okay.

I give Come Back to Me 1 picture of Oedipus out of 5:

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Heads up!

Hey everyone, I'm pushing back the start date of the 6th Cut by a week because where I am is going to get hit with a tropical storm/possible hurricane this weekend.  So if all comes out okay then I'll be starting the next cut on the following Sunday, October 15th.