Posts Tagged ‘Slasher

05
Apr
09

Dead Snow: The Next Great Zombie Film

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

For those of you who may not know, I have a serious love for anything involving the use of zombies or the undead.  From movies to video games to literature, I am fascinated by how versatile they are in any storytelling medium.  So imagine how excited I was when I first heard about a foreign zombie flick, taking place in the snowy mountains, that feature…(drum roll please)…Nazi Zombies.

Oh yes kids, it’s true.  And you know what is even better?  It is a superb horror flick.

Now, a little history.  There have been some exploitation style movies, back in the 60’s, 70’s and I think even up until the 80’s, that have tackled the idea of having undead nazi soldiers, but most were completely and utterly terrible.  I’m not talking “funny Ha-Ha get drunk with your friends and watch it” terrible.  I’m talking bad to the point of nausea.  For evidence of this, please see (read: download illegally for free) Zombie Lake. /End history lesson.

But enough wasted time establishing the immense uphill battle that Dead Snow faced, and let’s get on with the review.  The plot of Dead snow is a simple one, but simple doesn’t imply that it isn’t well utilized and perfectly solid.  Some 20 somethings are going on vacation, and decide to go up to a cabin in the snowy mountain woods.  The “old crazy story teller guy” warns them of some old wives tale about soldiers who died in these woods surrounding the cabin.  Of course, our 20 somethings, including a great “movie geek guy”, cast him off as a crazy local, and shortly there after, all hell breaks lose in the form, you guessed it, Nazi Zombies.

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

The magic of Dead Snow isn’t it’s plot though, it’s in the characters and the fantastically rewarding pace.  The group of friends aren’t typical zombie fodder, there isn’t a clear cut stereotypical “slut”, nor is there the guy who is hopelessly in love with a girl he can never get, and there isn’t a clear “dick” character, who is rude and crass but painfully funny and accurate in his social observations.  Instead, everyone character feels a bit more three-dimensional, they all seem to have a good, general sense of wit, and while they each have unique personality traits, like a knack for humor or a knowledge of movies, they come on as more than just TV sitcom characters who are helping to strengthen rigid stereotyping.  Also, characters evolve, something rarely seen in horror today.

The pace is the second most important piece to the Dead Snow puzzle.  From the opening scene, we are treated to classical music as a Jane Doe gets hunted down by our ruthless zombies at night.  This is a great way to introduce people to the movie antagonists without spoiling there appearance, and combining it with a classic misdirection “boo” scare makes it all the more fun.  There is no notion that in order to create good characters, that we the audience can relate to and invest in, we have to stare at them doing mundane things for 45 minutes.  Dead Snow introduces everyone quickly, letting you adapt to their personal behavior and traits on the fly, all the while keeping the tension high by inventing some new and resurrecting some old classic boo scares.  And when the well dries up on tension and suspense, the movie goes into absolute overdrive, providing the kind of kick ass orgy of violence only true horror can deliver.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

The last thing I would like to touch on is the special effects.  Minimal CGI means that lots of fake blood, limbs, and intestines get strewn all over the place, and the choreographing of the fight scenes is so tight and visceral, that it really helps bring you into the struggle.  It’s a scrappy, survivor type of fighting, nothing fancy or cool about it.  It’s a nice contrast to the modern day practice  of ridiculously complicated and illogical battles between good and evil in horror movies, when instead you would just be reduced to dirty tactics and savagery in the case you were ever attacked by the undead.

So, in the interest of keeping this one short and sweet (just how I like my women) I will wrap this up by saying that Dead Snow has all the earmarks of the next big independent horror film, especially in the flooded sub-division of Zombie films.  It shows an intimate knowledge and respect of its’ ancestors, most notably Raimi and Romero, but it also comes packing a slew of original ideas, as well as innovative implementations of standard tricks of the horror movie trade.   It is  unpredictable, direct, funny, unapologetic, and wholly satisfying.

It is at this point in time where you should be googling your ass off trying to find this flick.

BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!

BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!

12
Feb
09

Friday the 13th: A Midnight Showing Fanboy Retrospective

Curse or Creative Genius?  We'll soon find out how well the Marquee player from the slasher genre holds up in modern day.

Curse or Creative Genius? We'll soon find out how well the Marquee player from the slasher genre holds up in modern day.

Good day to you, fellow Midnighters, and welcome to my first ever Retrospective piece here for Midnight Showing.  I want to handle this a little differently than most “retrospective” pieces I see on the Internet.  Instead of simply trying to impress you with my harmfully encyclopedic knowledge of this series and it’s many quirks and idiosyncrasies, I want to take a look at it from a relatively spoiler free perspective of a fan who is analyzing the overall impact of such a lucrative and beloved,  yet heavily criticized series that’s bread and butter was the apparent exploitation of sinful teenagers who just so happened to be fucking around with the wrong psychopathic serial killer.

And what a wonderful place to start.  The Friday the 13th series (which I will refer to as F13 for the rest of this piece since it’s much shorter and easier to type!) has become a source of ridicule and comparison.  Whenever a movie series begins to take a turn for the worst while cranking out sequels, everyone seems to jump to equate that failure, with the failure that was the endless stream of entries into multiple horror franchises in the 80’s.  Also, people in general (people in general meaning not fan-boys and horror geeks) seem to feel the movies have absolutely no value or merit, and serve only to fulfill a misogynistic, predatory sexual desire only experienced by guys usually aged 14 to 35.

The funny thing is, now a days dressing like a homeless manical serial killer is kind of an "in" look.

The funny thing is, now a days dressing like a homeless manical serial killer is kind of an "in" look.

For those who feel this way, do me a favor.  Got to your local movie theater on Thursday the 12 of February of 2009.  Get there about 11 o’ clock.  Stand in the parking lot, and see how many people go up to the ticket window and buy tickets to see F13.  Note how many of them are women.  You will then be prompted to SHUT THE FUCK UP by me.  The notion that F13 is some kind of soft-core porn for men who have trouble with women, is an asinine, paranoid delusion created largely in part by ultra-sensitive people with too much free time.  They claim its to protect their innocent children (who undoubtedly have porn underneath there bed mom doesn’t know about) from on-screen violence and the temptation of sex and drugs.  The irony of course, is that even back then in the 80’s and especially in today’s media, we glorify and report on death, rape, famine, disease, torture, executions and everything else that’s horrible and desensitizing.  Apparently, by many folks sense of logic, real death and other horrible acts of humanity are perfectly acceptable to be reported 24/7 on the news, but if we perhaps want to get scared a little, in a safe and communal environment such as  a movie theater and watch some dumbfounded teenagers fuck, do drugs, and get ripped to shreds by a masked iconic serial killer, to whom we relate to more than those dying on the news, we are bad people.  Apparently a lot of people who criticize the already marginalized horror genre don’t own any mirrors in their houses.

But before I dig any deeper into the messy pit that is morals and standards, let’s explore the soul of the series a bit.  F13 (the original) is actually more of a cautionary tale than anything else, it’s just told in such a where were relatively innocent teenagers (Hey, they smoked pot and had sex, so of course they are a little guilty) are brutally slain.  For those who haven’t seen the original F13, what I’m about to say will be a major spoiler, so now would be a good time to scroll down to the next paragraph or watch the goddamn movie, since it is still quite good.  The mother of Jason Voorhees is in fact the killer throughout the entire first film.  Although since you never see her, you just assume it’s Jason taking revenge for the negligence of the camp counselors who let him drown.  This twist should intrigue anyone looking to see the remake, as Jason is clearly visible in the trailers and commercials, yet it’s widely known he didn’t start his body count until Part 2.

Marijuana

Marijuana

+

sex

sex

=

Equals Death.

Equals Death.

So if F13 isn’t just useless trash spit out into the cinematic world by perverts, than what is it really?  Surely, it’s still a horror film, with the fact of whether or not it is actually scary still being hotly debated.  What I never hear in conjunction with F13 conversation and retrospectives is the fact that F13 was a movie made in a completely different time and social climate than the one we are currently in.  In the 80’s Reagan was president and he and his wife were trying desperately to clean up the world many saw as full of filth and sin.  The world’s major threats were Russians, not low-tech religious fanatics hiding in a cave in a desert of a 3rd world country.  Aids popped up, and subsequently scared the shit out of almost everyone.  All these factors, and about a million more, made the perfect breeding ground for escapism theater, a brand of movies that weren’t all based on history or current events, or even reality for that matter.  Even though F13 takes place at a very earthly and mundane looking summer camp, the idea that a undead, superhuman monster of a man, who seems fully grown by the time he makes his triumphant entrance in Part 2, can rise from the dead again and again to exact his bloody revenge against really anyone who gets in his way is quite out of the realm of possibility.

Why So Hockey?

Why So Hockey?

But it’s just that “unreal events in a familiar setting” that gets people all worked up.  Proper horror is all about taking something you may use or see or interact with in your life, and turning into a source of fear, tension, and discomfort.  The fact that because there is a certain amount of familiarity with something in the movie, in this case a normal summer camp in the woods, we can then use our imaginations and our disbelief to begin to believe how a place where so many have created cherished childhood memories, can turn into a labyrinth of pain, death, and mutilation.  The 80’s were chock full of repression, and from repression comes niche markets.  The aforementioned social climate saw a tidal wave of movies misdirecting our fear from the ones the nightly news we talking about, to indestructible bogeymen who can get us when we least expect it.  The only thing was, the niche was exploding at the seems, too much of a popular thing, and when niches become mainstream, they rarely remain the edgy, alternative , cathartic, and even experimental forms of entertainment they once were, they instead become just a vehicle for making a lot money.  F13 did have some surprisingly good sequels such as the ultra-violent and fast paced 4th entry (Friday the 13th The Final Chapter), which was originally slated to be the series finale, and the underrated 7th entry (Friday the 13th The New Blood) where Jason is confronted by some form of a meta-human with psychic powers who accidentally awakes him from his slumber (I call it slumber because it’s surely never death).  When it was all said and done though, most people didn’t see any of the newer entries as anything more than cannon-fodder for critics, porn for the perverse gore-hounds, and a cash cow for the big wigs pulling the strings.

Yet, there F13 sits, primed to make millions during one of the hottest movie going weekends of the year, Valentines Day Weekend.   Marcus Nispel and Michael Bay are directing and producing respectively.  This is the same tandem who delivered the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake back in 03, for what that knowledge is worth.  In the decade where Hollywood has completely abandoned any ability to create original content, especially within the horror genre, Jason Voorhees has been dug out of his 6 year nap, as Hollywood scrambles to put together a Reunion tour of sorts.  Michael Bay is surely kicking the tires on what once was a proud, thriving series to see if maybe now is the right to re-unleash the Camp Crystal Lake Slasher.

It will no doubt be financially successful, and will probably pay for itself within the first weekend, but I still feel uneasy.  Were less than 48 hours away from go time with the remake, and the Internet is buzzing, both good and bad.  Will my beliefs hold up?  Can a series that was at one point laughable, find a new home in the hearts of a new generation of film goers?

There’s only one thing I know for sure though.  It can’t be any worse than Rob Zombie’s Halloween.  Oh wait, fuck, what if it is?  Holy shit.  I need to lay down my head is starting to hurt.

Happy viewing this weekend fellow Midnighters, and do something nice for your girlfriend…oh wait who am I kidding, none of us have girlfriends.  But seriously, if you do, take them to see Friday the 13th.  They get all touchy feeling.  Trust Me.

Or just watch the recently released UNCUT version of the 1981 slasher sleeper hit My Bloody Valentine.

11
Feb
09

Internet Oddities – Feburary Edition

While I put the finishing touches on my Friday the 13th retrospective in anticipation of what be the most hyped up and possible disastrous remake of all time, I will share with you my recent Internet video findings.  This will be a mix of both upcoming horror trailers, along with some funny stuff.  Enjoy!

YEAH I KNOW YOU ALL HAVE SEEN THIS TRAILER BUT I DON’T CARE.  I CAN’T FUCKING WAIT FOR WATCHMEN!

GET PUMPED KIDS.  FRIDAY THE 13TH IN 2 DAYS, QUICKLY FOLLOWED BY THE WATCHMEN MARCH 6TH!


24
Jan
09

REPO! The Genetic Opera Review (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman of SAW fame)

Badass.  Digging the Communist theme.

Badass. Digging the Communist theme.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is the brainchild of Darren Lynn Bousman, who most of you know as one half of the team that made SAW such an immensely popular and lucrative franchise, and buddy Terrance Zdunich, who is mainly a storyboard artist working on movies and TV shows.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the plot.

In the year 2056 – the not so distant future – an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Out of the tragedy, a savior emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by villainous Repo Men. In a world where surgery addicts are hooked on painkilling drugs and murder is sanctioned by law, a sheltered young girl searches for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her family’s mysterious history. After being sucked into the haunting world of GeneCo, she is unable to turn back, as all of her questions will be answered at the wildly anticipated spectacular event: The Genetic Opera. Written by Lionsgate

If there’s one thing that is grossly apparent right off the bat, it’s that Bousman and Zdunich have a lot of respect and love for cult classics such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and also seem influenced by more elegant and classic opera works such as Phantom of the Opera.  There’s even a bit of The Who’s rock opera Tommy in there.  It’s no shock that the mind that helped push the SAW franchise forward would be able to create a Gothic, dystopian future, but credit must be given for slick, yet earthly atmosphere embedded in the sometimes hallucinogenic visuals of the film.  It looks great, period.

Bousman manages to keep the narrative moving along swiftly with great focus, even while dealing with the difficult medium of opera.  That’s right kids, an opera where no word of dialogue is ever simply “said.”  Unlike musicals, where there can be breaks in between musical passages to drive the story home with normal movie dialogue, Bousman ensures that every word is “sung”, which can be very awkward at first when your not expecting it.  It’s difficult to accurately describe, but once you see and hear it you will clearly understand what obstacles must have popped up from this bold and daring choice.  Other than that, Bousman also unleashes some incredibly awesome graphic novel panels to fill us in VERY quickly of a particular characters background.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

It may be a tricky type of film to make, but Bousman is a razor-sharp horror producer and director, and knew that if he brought in the right talent, he would have a chance to lure in a slew of fans regardless of the experimental nature of the film.  Paris Hilton (Super Global Slut) , Anthony Head (Giles from the Buffy TV Series), Sarah Brightman (acclaimed opera/classical singer and once married to Lloyd Weber who wrote Phantom of the Opera), Bill Moseley (Of House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects fame) and Paul Sorvino round out the eclectic nucleus of the cast.  Terrance Zdunich also has a fairly large role as the Graverobber, and steals the show with his “Zydrate Anatomy” song.  The cast is, like so many aspects of this brave venture into total cult cinema, uneven throughout, with those who can sing clearly being more enjoyable and tolerable than those who can’t, with Alexa Vega and Bill Moseley probably being the two biggest culprits.  Hopefully the star power and notoriety brought by those actors outweighs the damage they have done by simply being the weak links vocally.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes.  And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way.  She probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes. And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way. She's probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Which leads me to my assessment of the acting itself, which again can be easily defined as uneven.  While some amount of over and under acting is perfectly acceptable in horror, especially in something this theatrical and over the top, but sometimes the cartoon like personalities crossed the line between tasteful and embarrassingly out of place.  At times the actors would play very serious, as if this carried the same weight as The Phantom of the Opera, and at other times it was clear everyone was having fun and things were much more airy and carefree.  I waited for the flick to settle down, and choose a definite mood and direction, but it never did, as it gleefully jumped back and forth between trying to be emotionally heavy and serious, and being grin-worthy, funny and lightweight.  Maybe I am reading to much into something that can’t truly be defined, but I would have loved to see some lines drawn pertaining to acceptable behavior from all characters, as you would with any other film.

She got the creepy, goggley eyes.  Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

She's got the creepy, googly eyes. Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

The final piece of the Repo puzzle is one that isn’t a very common problem in movies, the soundtrack.  That’s not to say all movies has great soundtracks, but they also don’t rely as heavily as Repo does on its’ music.  So how does the song selection hold up?  Take a guess.

UNEVEN.

Some of the songs, like Zydrate Anatomy and Legal Assassin knock it completely out of the park, while others are either too short or too gimmicky to be considered truly great. While taste is bound to vary from viewer to viewer, I felt the music was acceptable, but could’ve benefitted from maybe one or two ballads complete with verses, chorus, and a bridge and a few more rock and roll anthems.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

I, like so many of you, have waited for years, eagerly anticipating this movie to be released in any format, anywhere.  And while it may look and sound like I have nothing but negative things to say about Repo!, I feel it’s a case of me being exceptionally critical of a piece of work I felt had all ingredients to really show the world how versatile the “horror” genre can truly be.  Repo is by no means a failure, but instead comes off as a combination of over-indulgence and lofty ambitions.  It succeeds at what it aimed to do, but the cost for achieving that goal may be a dent in Bousman’s reputation, depending on how this is received in the community.  There’s no doubt in my mind that this vehicle can be used to create an amazing, genre-bending film, but Repo! isn’t that flick.

There’s a lot of psychotropic, semi-gory fun to be had with Repo!, but it’s kinda like looking for a 20 dollar bill in your friends extremely messy room, you know it’s worth it to look, but your gonna have to sift through some shit to get what you want.

09
Jan
09

Internet Oddities January 2009

It may be a new year, but there is no shortage of viral lunacy circulating the Internet.  So, while we cook up some new original material behind the scenes, have a gander and kill some brain cells from this garbage, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.


P.S. I also included some trailers for upcoming flicks I think we should have on our collective radar.




21
Dec
08

My Favorite Christmas Flicks

Christmas is a time of giving.  Unfortunately,  fans of darker, more alternative cinema usually get nothing in the way of movies geared towards there interests. So for all of you out there who think Santa should be more like this:

gothsantaOR THIS:

hailsanta

Here are my suggestions for a few holiday films that should satisfy both your desire to get into the “spirit” of the season, and your unquenchable lust to see blood split.

santasslaySanta’s Slay is every bit as silly and wild as it’s title and casting (Ex-Wrestler Bill Goldberg stars as Santa) suggests, but despite being a movie i laughed at when I first heard about it, I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was.  Plus, it starts off with one of the best scenes in cinematic history.

And if that’s not enough reason to watch this movie, I just don’t know what is.

batman_returns_ver41

Batman Returns, the last Batman movie to be directed by Tim Burton, is kind of like a superhero, Christmas themed acid trip.  Along with a lot of maiming, killing, and a terrific role by Christopher Walken, people often forget that Gotham city is heavily entrenched in the Winter season during the film, making it the perfect movie for all you comic books fans to turn on while remaining in the holiday spirit.

Samuel L. Jackson's Christmas Motherfuckin' Special Motherfuckers.

Samuel L. Jackson's Christmas Motherfuckin' Special Motherfuckers.

The Long Kiss Goodnight, directed by the criminally underrated Renny Harlin (who also directed Die hard 2, which pops up on this list as well) is a great little action movie taking place around Christmas.  The whole movie is full of winter scenes, and of course, the awesomeness that is any word Samuel Jackson speaks.  A great flick in it’s own right, made appropriate for this list by the time of year in which it takes place.

Fucking Terrible...but so much fun.

Fucking Terrible...but so much fun.

It had to be done.  A Killer, Mutant Snowman movie.  Words can’t describe how terrible this movie is.  But, if you have friends with a high tolerance for garbage, a great sense of humor, and lots of alcohol and/or illegal drugs, this movie can be really really fun.  Shannon Elizabeth is in it, and she is “raped” by the snowman.  How can you not watch?

Remember when Mel Gibson was the fucking man?  I do.

Remember when Mel Gibson was the fucking man? I do.

Another 80’s action classic, taking place mostly on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  This one really put the “buddy-cop” movies on the map, fusing intense, over the top action with quality, mostly conversational humor.  Add a Christmas theme to the proceedings and you got yourself another violent winter classic.

Poor Ol' John McClain can't even enjoy Christmas without having to waste some Jerkoffs and Scumbags.

Poor Ol' John McClain can't even enjoy Christmas without having to waste some Jerk offs and Scumbags.

John McClain has a second run in with some terrorists dirt bags in Die Hard 2, this time in the form of William Saddler, character actor extraordinaire.  Die Hard 2 is universally seen as the only weak link in the “quadrilogy”, but it’s still a perfectly serviceable late night Christmas action romp.  Plus Dennis Franz is in it, and he kind of looks like Santa anyway.

Holy shit.  That's so cute I just want to squeeze it.

Holy shit. That's so cute I just want to squeeze it.

Gremlins is one of the best, and only true, Christmas time creature feature movies.  Made back in the golden age of puppets and robot controlled dolls, Gremlins isn’t tainted by shoddy computer graphics or green screen trickery.  It’s an old fashioned mini-monster movie made the way they should all be made, with convincing puppets and prosthetic effects that give you something tangible to fear, or love in the case of Gizmo.  And like most 80’s movies, this one has some truly dark and scary moments, making it perfect for younger audiences and adults.  Long live the Mogwai.

yippee kiya mother fucker.  Merry Christmas.

yippee kiya mother fucker. Merry Christmas.

Die Hard is not only the holy grail of “one man army” action movies, it’s also one of the best Christmas movies ever made.  John McClain’s wise ass comments, the perfect “radio only” sidekick in Ellis, a tremendously devious villain in Gruber, and a supporting cast chock full of talent.  Add to the mix a phenomenal pace, some of the most impressive action scenes to date, and a not one, but two, finales and you have yourself the perfect action movie.  Oh yeah, and it all takes place around Christmas, complete with a Christmas music credit scene.  Truly a gift of a movie.

That’s it for this years edition of my personal Christmas movie favorites.  Hopefully some of these selections will help ease the pain of having to see another Hallmark Christmas special starring Tony Danza on your TV.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to share this gift.  It’s some power metal band who wrote a Christmas song about how Frosty and Rudolph never liked each other.  It’s really funny, and actually pretty well done.




14
Oct
08

EDDIE LOVES YOU!!!!!!

PLEASE GO WATCH THIS SHORT FILM!!!!

Funny and creative…and best of all FREE!

Here is your link

http://www.darklineonline.co.uk/ely.html

06
Oct
08

Top 5 Halloween Flicks

Hold onto your hats, boils and ghouls, it’s time for Alex’s top 5 picks for October movie viewing.  Some are safe, comfortable picks you may see coming, and some may throw you for a major loop.  Enjoy kiddies.

In no particular order:

Classic.  Nothing like a full moon and a headless horsemen to get me in the mood.

Classic. Nothing like a full moon and a headless horsemen to get me in the mood.

Tim Burton’s legacy will always be tainted by the few stinkers he’s done, especially as of late, but I can’t hate the man because he’s having a bad streak.  Sleepy hollow is an effective little horror period piece that faithfully retells the legend, while spicing things up just enough to make it feel hip and modern.  Add some great use of clever humor, as rock solid cast, brutal and gory death scenes, and Christopher Walken as the Headless Horsemen, and you have yourselves a winner.

Look at that hard drawn cover art.  Can't beat it with a stick.

Look at that hard drawn cover art. Can't beat that with a stick.

The Witches, from the brilliant writing mind of Roald Dahl, is an often forgotten spooky movie that is intended for kids, but comes with a heaping helping of adult size fun and scares.  Incredible make up and effects litter this film, as does a cute story about a boy turned into a mouse who must stop the evil Witches from taking over the world.  A sleeper hit no doubt, and one you probably haven’t heard of or never paid much mind to, seeing as the audience it’s geared towards.  Take a chance on this one to mix things up this October.

The mask looks even better in the movie.

The mask looks even better in the movie.

Another sleeper gem that most would overlook due to an overly cheesy cover art and no real hype at it’s time of release, this fun little slasher takes place on Halloween, and has a few interesting gimmicks and noble ideas that makes things more interesting than your average slasher.  The well-placed dark humor and twisted nature of the whole tale more than make up for it’s other shortcomings.  If you think you’ve seen every Halloween based slasher flick, pick this up.  It might be more entertaining than you think, even for the diehards.

Yeah.  This still kicks so much ass its not even funny.

Yeah. This still kicks so much ass its not even funny.

Call it nostalgia.  Call it being  a Tim Burton Fan boy.  I call it a masterpiece of animated cinema, one of the best holiday themed movies ever made, and Tim Burton’s crowning achievement.  Nothing will ever eclipse this, even when people try to enhance with updated soundtracks and 3-d glasses.  I’m begging for the hate mail to come pouring in now, and I may even lose the trust of my co-writer here on Midnight Showing Ronnie, but I still feel as much love and devotion to this film as i did 15 years ago.  A masterpiece.

AS IF YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING…

All hail.

All hail.

THE Halloween movie to end all Halloween movies.  John Carpenter’s timeless classic is the epitome of how to create tension, atmosphere, and intrigue with simple pieces. Most don’t even realize that some of the movie is simply shots of interiors and exteriors of houses and neighborhoods, with just the theme laid over top of them.  That’s how genius it is.  He takes a dark stairwell and makes it terrifying.  Combine that with some shots through wide screen and other strange lenses to give it a surreal feel, the most memorable killer of all time, and the emergence of Jamie Lee Curtis as the “door next girl babysitter” and you have one for the ages.  Who would’ve thought one of the most recognized movies in the history of horror cinema would be as tame and bloodless as this flick?

We hope you enjoyed our picks for the Top 5 Halloween flicks this year, and stay tuned for more themed content coming throughout the month of October.

Sleep tight and remember, the killer about to call you is already in your house.

01
Oct
08

Drive-Thru from one of the Producers of the SAW Series.

Need i say more?

Need i say more?

And his name is Jason Constantine.  I mention him because on one of the DVD covers, it makes mention that this slasher comes to us from the producer of SAW 1 and 2.  What a hollow and shameless marketing ploy that turned out to be.  Most fans of the genre would see that, and be intrigued.  Sad for us however, that instead of even getting a passable slasher that could at least be considered a guilty pleasure, we served a hot steamy pile of poo that even the Sci-Fi channel would be embarrassed showing at 3 am on a Tuesday morning.

Even if you were stoned and drunk, hanging with your best buds and doing a bad movie marathon, you might want to overlook this.  I’m a very tolerant horror fan, and one things I’m even more lenient toward are slashers.  Why?  Because slashers are very difficult to make.  Pacing, a clever heavy (bad guy), a descent motivation for the killer, a good gimmick for your killer in the way he kills or where and how, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Then you have to make sure you have somewhat likable characters that have to face-off against your villain, and somehow mix all this up and create tension and atmosphere on top.

It’s a tall order, and that’s why we see so many fail.

But even the “bad” ones still seem to have something offer.  Exceptional special effects, gore, and innovative kills can carry an entire movie, or even a series, to becoming successful.  Sometimes a great twist about who or what the killer is can make watching 90 minutes of “bleh” cinema completely worth it.  Or having a killer that the audience roots for instead of fears to make your film rise above it’s competitors.  Drive-Thru delivers none of these characteristics, and fails at following the tried and true formula of slasher movie making in general.

The plot concerns a vengeful guy (or spirit, were never told of course) in a “Horny the Clown” costume, fully imagined with a mouthpiece that distorts his voice just like those talk boxes in old run down burger joints, running around killing the children (all teenagers, how original) of the people who wound up killing him when he was a teenager when a prank went horribly wrong 20 years ago.

On paper, this isn’t exactly crippled from the start, but you got to expect that a sense of humor would be included to make such a plot, and such a ridiculous gimmick for a killer, easily digestible.  Wrong.  Besides a few stabs at republicans, the American government, epically failed pot and pot head humor, and trying to shit on the “O.C.” California lifestyle, Drive-Thru tries to play it straight.  None of the humor comes off as genuine, original or funny, and seems to be there just to fall in line with flavor of the week politics, trends, and habits that the youth they hope will buy this piece of shit will relate with.  Its obvious their target audience was the the anti-establishment kids, the kids who are sick of the “McWorld” we live in, but instead of making astute observations about how, fast food for instance, is a microcosm of our whole country and even world today, we are instead treated to one liners like “Fast food kills, fucker.”

How incredibly enlightening.

Delivering this poignant dialogue is a cast and crew full of nobodies, with the exception of Morgan Spurlock who has that “30 Days” show on F/X and did that “I’m gonna eat McDonalds every day for a month” or whatever movie.  Either the actors are to young and talentless to handle even these see through characters, as the case is with the main friend group who is terrorized by the killer clown, or they are just “I’m here for the paycheck” older actors and actresses who you probably have never seen before, and hopefully will never see again.  Throughout the whole ordeal, either over-acting or just not giving a shit is the two varieties of acting we get.  Great.

All this is nothing compared to the directing though.  It makes rap videos look like Titanic.  Every time someone is killed, the director feels its necessary to speed up and slow down the kill, seemingly at random, and BLAST really bad hard rock/heavy metal over top of it.  This means once you hear the butt rock kick in, any suspense and tension has been removed, as the fact that someone will die in the next few seconds is announced.  Not like the director has enough skill to even TRY to create tension and atmosphere.  Nowhere in Drive-Thru is their even an attempt at a stalk and kill sequence.  Sometimes people walk into a room and Horny the Clown pops out and kills them, but that’s about it.  Awesome job.

The kills and “gore” are all very poorly done.  Good violence can help almost any movie out, and apparently that memo wasn’t passed on to these filmmakers.  The kills just make you shake your head in how they are terribly executed and how talentless you have to be to not even be able to give your audience a serviceable pay off for sitting through your dreck.  Speaking of pay offs, the ending is so mishandled, it hurts to think about it.  It makes no sense, but does…somewhat…answer the “is it a man or a spirit” question, because somehow even though Horny the Clown is killed at the end, one of our main characters takes up the reigns and continues the slashing.  How they came to this conclusion I have no idea.  Unless there’s some brilliant plot revelation they will reveal to us in the sequel.  Have no doubt folks, someone will ressurrect this, and I’ll die a little inside when they do.

I could go on for a few pages slamming this film, but I won’t.  I honestly wanted to like this movie.  I want to like pretty much everything I see.  And indeed I did actually finish watching this movie, however much I now regret that decision.  If you are the most passionate and fanatical slasher freak out there, I still don’t suggest you even download this movie for free.  It’s not even worth the look to say “Yeah, I saw that.”  Avoid it like you would avoid watching a porno with a family member in it.

As for Jason Constantine, hopefully the paycheck for this was worth it, because he’s seriously got to redeem himself after allowing his name to be put on a movie he had know was this bad.

26
Sep
08

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film

Much better than the dvd cover.  Simple and to the point. (he he)

With the horror in general seeing a major revival in the new millennium, horror fans have seen their fair share of documentaries on the subject pop up both on TV and on DVD.  Most are around to cash in on either the Halloween season, or plug their own horror related ventures by recapping all the movies and characters that came before it that it will ultimately rip ideas from.  Going to pieces isn’t some shameless ploy to get you to watch something else though.  What it is is a entertaining, informative and passionate look back at how we got to where we are in the slasher sub-category today, while simultaneously showing us a portion of the history of the horror genre as a whole as well.

It opens by introducing us to some of the humble beginnings of horror in the theater, and then rockets us to Psycho, shows us a bit from that time period (the 60’s) as a foundation for what’s to come.  It really picks up when they begin to discuss the immense success of Halloween, and really champions it as THE slasher movie to see, not only as a perfect example of everything a slasher can be, but as the ignition of societies relationship with killers in film.

The whole gangs here, from Nicotero, Savini, Carpenter, Cunningham, Craven, Winston, Rob Zombie, and more.  Familiar faces talk about their work and contributions to the genre, and talk about how and why they came upon the ideas that wound up shaping the face of horror forever.  The special effects guys run us through some of their favorite and more notable kills, and touch on why people seem to enjoy watching people getting killed in horrible ways.  Coming from the elders of not only the slasher set, but horror in general, this is somewhat of the gospel to us fan boys, and i suspect many of you out there will enjoy just hearing your heroes talk, let alone actually listening to exactly what they are saying.

They also go into the political and social controversy that plagued these films in the 80’s, and show clips of Siskel and Ebert claiming that the slasher film is anti-women, misogynistic, and so on and so forth.  Going to Pieces fights back however, standing up for our beloved serial killers by providing some nice commentary on the subject that isn’t just your typical “HEY…leave us alone” rhetoric.  It acknowledges the fact that horror films are the easiest to go after, and that many critics have made a name for themselves slamming them and standing up for morality.  Rob Zombie then chimes in with an interesting point.  If you were to show a prison full of criminals Disney movies non-stop, would they turn into good people?  I thought that was a fairly astute observation, and a convincing argument from someone very passionate about our beloved movies.

My major complaint is that in examining some better known movies, they reveal the twist endings to many of them.  So if you haven’t yet seen Prom Night, Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th, and some others, you may want to watch these first, as the whole surprise will be ruined and you’ll never get to experience the thrill of not seeing these fantastic finishes coming.

If you love the masked murderer sub-genre, this is a must see.  Rarely do you see this much care and accuracy in a documentary, and while there are some mistakes, most notably that Halloween wasn’t truly the FIRST slasher the American audience had been subjected to as many predated it, it still comes off as an in-depth, and more importantly, highly entertaining look into what has been, what is, and what will be in one of the most extreme types of scary flicks around.