Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bleeders (aka Hemoglobin)

Sorry for the long delay, readers. I've been going through some personal stuff this month and it became hard to work up the motivation to write again.

Tonight's movie is Bleeders, aka Hemoglobin, one of two film adaptions I've seen of the classic H.P. Lovecraft story The Lurking Horror, and sadly the only one I own. I wanna start off saying that as with many other fans of the horror genre, I'm a tremendous fan of Lovecraft. I have everything he's written, I've both played and GMed Call of Cthulhu, and every Christmas since release I've ha to listen to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's mythos-themed Christmas album.

What saddens me is that, for the most part, outside of HPLHS's silent film Call of Cthulhu, we've never had a faithful H.P. Lovecraft movie. We've had a lot of in-name-only adaptions (the film Necronomicon only got one story right, Cool Air), we've had a lot of really loose adaptions (From Beyond, Reanimator, Dagon.) We've of course also had a lot of tribute films or relatively Lovecraftian movies in general (In The Mouth of Madness being an excellent tribute to the man, from the always fantastic as long as you pretend Ghosts of Mars doesn't exist John Carpenter.) We almost had a faithful film begin production this year, an adaption of In The Mountains of Madness directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade 2, Pan's Labyrinth) and supervised by H.P. Lovecraft expert S. T. Joshi. Sadly, Universal refused to greenlight it because Guillermo del Toro wouldn't promise a PG-13 rating. Fuck Universal.

Bleeders begins in Holland with twin aristocrats having softcore sex, because some films just want to get to the sex as quick as possible before the opening credits are even done with. When the credits do arrive, we see Rutger Hauer in the list, and it becomes even more obvious why I would review the film. Besides loving H.P. Lovecraft, Rutger Hauer is something of a b-grade horror icon, beyond just being in the always awesome Blade Runner and Ladyhawke. Besides that, this film was also written by Dan O'Bannon, the writer behind Alien, Darkstar, Return of the Living Dead, Total Recall, and Director Gets Excuse For Hot Naked Woman To Roam London, better known as Lifeforce. Surely with those two working on an H.P. Lovecraft film this has to be awesome, right? Right?

We flash forward to the modern era where Pale Rich Guy and his wife arrive at a small, crappy looking New England fishing town just in time for PRG to seize up and bleed from multiple orifices. Instead of cutting to medical diagrams while Massive Attack's Teardrops plays, he's taken to the local doctor, played by everyone's favorite Hobo with a Shotgun, who for some reason looks more like he's cosplaying as Charles Bronson here. We also cut to a mean old mannish chick carrying luggage into her house and some kids playing in her basement. The kids are messing around with a dog when old mannish chick screams for them to come up, and... we get a shot of our lurking horror: Some white thing with bone tools. Really, as long as it looks better than the ones in the Full Moon adaption, I'm fine.

Pale Rich Guy, who we now know is named John, was apparently raised in France under an anonymous trust fund (is this as silly sounding to everyone else as it is to me?) and has some "serious congenital medical disorder". We don't know what one, it's not named, so I'm gonna go ahead and call it blooditis. His wife, Kathleen, apparently was trying to find information on his parents, and tracked his birth back to the island. Well, at least the exposition is handled alright. Or at least it is until even Dr. Rutger Hauer feels the need to give a backstory out of nowhere involving alcoholism. Still, it's Rutger Haeur, so I don't mind. Rutger Hauer, Tony Todd, Linnea Quigley, Clint Howard, etc. are among the few b-grade horror actors where a scene of them giving bad dialogue or doing something stupid is generally more enjoyable than anything else in the film. Oh what I'd give for a film with all of them. We need the b-grade horror equivalent of The Expendables wherein Bruce Campbell, Tony Todd, Rutger Hauer, Linnea Quigley, Clint Howard, Brad Dourif, and Jeffrey Combs fight a bunch of monsters played by Kane Hodder, Doug Jones, Doug Bradley, Robert Englund, etc.

We get to meet a bunch of the townsfolk including a sweet but shy girl that works at the mortuary that the main couple are staying at (I'm not joking), a slutty girl that wants to hop Pale Rich Guy's bone and seems to think his non-french french accent is Italian, and some woman that has apparently never said a word since she was six. That's totally not a setup just for her to struggle to say something and overcome her silent later, surely not. We also get an update on what Dr. Hauer thinks is going on with John: He's a byproduct of inbreeding and may be part of the Van Damme family, which apparently was very big on inbreeding. Also Dr. Hauer keeps a fetus with heterochromia in a jar for some reason. ...we also get this little jewel randomly shoved into the end of that scene: "I'm pregnant." There was nothing prodding it, it almost seemed like the actress only just remembered she was supposed to tell Dr. Hauer that she was pregnant.

For some reason, or for no reason, later that night John tries to rape Kathleen. It's not explained, and he stops and apologizes after ripping her dress, so it just seems kinda... random. The scene doesn't even last that long as we cut to the graveyard where the cute mortician chick is gonna do some graverobbing, because dammit only Rutger Hauer should be likable in this film, and he keeps jarred fetuses around! While stealing the necklace, the coffin gets broken through from below and the corpse gets taken off by some unseen thing. She runs to get out of the grave, but a bone tool digs into her leg and she's pulled down by some deformed midget unmasked Jason Voorhees into the tunnels below. I'm not sure how the creature is able to pull her off while she's still alive just using that, and I don't think anyone involved with the film knows either, but maybe they just didn't care.

The next day we find out some huge storm is happening and trapping people on the island. Shortly after some woman's going through shipping crates when another deformed midget pops out of the box, scares her, runs off the dock, and gets diced up by a boat. I guess deformed midgets like hanging out in empty crates? Elsewhere Jack and Kathleen are heading towards the Van Damme home with the mannish old chick who gives them some exposition about the Van Dammes in such a rapid fire way that the actress actually has to pause for breath during it, which made me laugh. It turns out that the mannish chick is just there to steal the necklace as well, but she presumably meets the same fate off camera. We'll never know, because we cut to Dr. Hauer performing an autopsy on one of the deformed midgets, wherein he finds that it's a functional hermaphrodite that can apparently have sex with itself. I'm not joking.

Up at the old Van Damme house, John and Kathleen run into a crazy old woman with a rifle who knows the secret of John: He is a Van Damme, but was named after the composer Strauss when he was given away. The old woman gets creeped out hearing that he has some craving he doesn't understand, and then threatens to shoot them with her rifle. She kinda reminds me of the batshit insane southern version of the old woman that owns Tweetie Bird and Sylvester. Because this film didn't have enough scenes to cut to in the middle of other scenes, we cut to the kids from earlier playing hide and seek in the same graveyard where to people have already died this film. Surely this will end well. Predictably, the only girl of the group gets pulled underground to her death while the other kids watch.

John decides not to trust the old woman because she claims she saved him from the fire that happened 75 years old, and eventually he realizes that he's not 75 years old and therefore the Van Dammes have to still be alive. She gives in and takes them inside where she admits the house never burned down, and probably couldn't due to the materials used in it. It turns out that the Van Dammes were horribly deformed, and she decided to save John because he didn't look as monstrous as they did. Why she saved Jean Claude as well, I'll never know. Before she can give us an explanation of what happened, one of the deformed midgets comes out, and we get a good look at it in all of its Muppetlike glory as it kills the old woman, only to be scared off by sunlight. The creature effects in this are... pretty hilariously bad looking. Remember that one fun scene in the first Troll where the creatures sing? The creatures in this look on par with them, at best. On the bright side, at least they're better than the goblins in Troll 2.

Rutger Hauer decides he hasn't done anything badass yet in this movie, and since he's still dressed as Charles Bronson, he explores the tunnel system and gets a good view of both the muppet monsters and the bodies of their many victims. We also get a random shot of the cute chick's breast as she's hanging upside down causing her shirt to hang, and we find that the obvious wig on the mannish chick was in fact a wig, whether or not she was actually a man is not stated. I found the random boob kinda funny, since it's just the one and the camera really focuses on it, making it feel hilariously gratuitous. I find it funny that every 30 minutes something sexual has to happen. The film starts with fucking, 30 minutes in we get attempted rape, 30 minutes after that we get gratuitous boobage. If the film wasn't an hour and a half I'd expect more nudity in half an hour, maybe they'll work it into the ending or the credits. Dr. Hauer runs off to gather the towns people to warn them about the monsters and give them all the knowledge that he shouldn't have but does because he read the script, and tells them all to head to the lighthouse because the muppet monsters hate light.

Instead of waiting half an hour, we get a gratuitous sex scene about ten minutes after the gratuious boobshot. The sex scene seriously comes out of nowhere and goes on far too long during a time where the townsfolk are supposed to be running off to the lighthouse for shelter. Thankfully they still have time to get there! Some chick's hanging out outside of the lighthouse keeping guard with a flashlight when one of the muppet monsters comes out and attacks her with a bone weapon. The silent girl tries to warn her but predictably fails. She comes back down to tell the others, and is given a knife so she can go Rambo on them or something. The monsters start dragging themselves towards the lighthouse using bone tools, at times forgetting they hate light, but eventually continuity doesn't have to matter anymore as the light from the lighthouse dies out.

The monsters get into the lighthouse and start attacking the kids and some random townsfolk, dragging them into the tunnels to their doom. One of them stabs Kathleen in the arm with a bone tool, causing the mute girl to jump down into the pit, shout out "No fucking way", and stab one of the muppets to death. She's quickly grabbed by another though and decides to let her throat get slit rather than try getting away. Honestly I don't see hoe these things can be considered menacing. They're like one foot tall, legless, slow as fuck... These people suck at surviving, big time. Seriously, these things would be easy to kick away, they can't realistically reach shit that they're allegedly able to attack... it just doesn't make sense.

John ends up deciding that he likes the killer muppets, and starts eating a little boy with them for some reason. It's kinda out of nowhere and honestly just feels ridiculous. A cave in randomly happens seperating him and the muppets from the townsfolk, saving them and allowing John to leave his wife and have cannibalistic hermaphroditic midget adventures for the rest of his life. His wife's a little saddened by this, but she has Rutger Hauer to keep her company, so I guess everything works out in the end.

Remember me joking about how every half hour something sexual has to happen, and how they'd probably work that into the ending since it's 1h30m? The film ends with him finding his very human looking but severely overweight hermaphrodite sister who, according to narration, can have sex with herself, she also has sex with him too. I'm not joking. What an ending. This film was just... wow. It's not the worst H.P. Lovecraft film I've ever seen, and although from years back I remembered this being better than the Full Moon adaption of the same story, it's... really not better. Still, if you can find a copy of the film, I'd suggest picking it up just to help save this film from obscurity. It's damn near impossible to find a copy on DVD under any of its three names (Bleeders, Hemoglobin, The Descendant.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The 10 Greatest Comedy-Horrors

Comedy/horror films are becoming more and more common in the last decade, but for the most part it's still hard to find genuinely good ones, so while digging around for some I thought "Hey, why not make a list of the ten best films of the genre?"
However, first off I want to clarify that for the most part, these are films that are more comedy than horror. There's a lot of good horror films that are less than serious, so I decided just go to for the films that are closer to the 50/50 mark of comedy and horror, or more comedy than horror.
Also a quick warning: Expect spoilers, as always. I wouldn't normally mark this, but I want to set up a sort of spoiler policy for my blog. If it's relatively new and not a piece of crap, I'm going to either avoid spoilers altogether or put up a warning before a spoiler.

#10: Feast

This movie honestly came as a supreme surprise to me. Seeing the previews and reading up on it before giving it a buy (It's got Clu Gulager and Henry Rollins, of course I gave it a buy), I thought it was going to basically just be a super gory tongue-in-cheek flick reminiscent of the kinds of 80s b- grade gorefests I was raised on. Instead? I got TV Tropes: The Horror movie.

Almost the entire point of the film is to showcase and tear apart numerous horror cliches ranging from infant immortality to sex = death. I'm probably gonna catch some crap for this, but Feast was pretty much what Scream could have been. I've always had a dislike for the Scream franchise, as it's less a deconstruction of slashers and more a generic slasher film that references other, better slasher films. Do you want a smart, meta horror film? Pick up New Nightmare. Want a good parody of horror tropes and cliches? Watch Feast.

I think my favorite part of the film is Henry Rollins' character, where he's, in the films' own words, a poor man's Tony Robbins. There's just something hilarious about seeing Henry Rollins of all people as a scumbag, pacifist self-help douchebag, and he does it well. Of course, this isn't the first time he's done horror, as fans of the short lived Night Visions will remember, or fans of the Wrong Turn series. I'm just hoping that, someday down the line, we get a movie where he fights Kane Hodder.

A warning though, I'd recommend against seeing the sequels to Feast. Whereas Feast is mainly a parody of horror cliches with some grossout humor, the sequels drop the former and focus entirely on the grossout humor. I mean, if you're a fan of lowbrow humor go ahead and watch them, just don't expect anything similar to the first film.

#9: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

God I don't even know where to begin with this film. Mainly a parody of outrageously silly low budget horror films from the 60s and 70s, Killer Klowns is exactly what it says on the cover: Killer clowns from outer space invade a town in order to eat humans.

This film is absolutely hilarious. You've got shadow puppets eating people, pies that, when thrown, melt people... you've got killer popcorn, people being cocooned in cotton candy, it's all just fucking hilarious. The effects are also pretty awesome, as the creators of this film also did effects work for Critters, Team America of all things, and the nostalgic Halloween special classic Ernest Scared Stupid.

Easily one of my favorite things in this film is John Vernon, who most of you will remember as the dean from Animal House, or for his role in Dirty Harry. He plays an assholish, overzealous cop who is so overly skeptical about the whole clown thing that he actually repeatedly insults one of them and even attempts to lock it up.

It's hilarious, crazy, and a great tribute to low-budget 60's flicks with unbelievable premises, and on top of that it's actually fairly frightening to any coulrophobes that watch it.

#8: Comedy of Terrors

I love Vincent Price movies, even the bad ones. There's just something so awesome about the man so of course I have to throw his best comedy-horror on this list. Vincent Price and Peter Lorre were pretty much the horror equivalent of Abbot and Costello, and holy fuck were they awesome together because of that. This extended to real life where, at Bela Lugosi's funeral, upon noticing that he was buried in his cape, Lorre turned to Price and asked if they should stake him through the heart just to be safe.

The plot follows an evil mortician/funeral director who, in an attempt to cut costs, has been using the same casket each time. That is, he dumps the body out of the casket after everyone leaves and just buries it in the ground, taking the casket back with him. Eventually he ends up having to turn to murder in order to keep himself from being evicted, which leads to wacky situations when one of his victims has a habit of slipping in and out of a seemingly deathlike state.

On top of having Vincent Price and Peter Lorre giving great performances, the film also has Boris Karloff as Vincent Price's elderly senile father-in-law and Basil Rathbone as a particularly assholish victim. Having all four actors together in one film by itself is amazing, but on top of that it's also quite hilarious and is easily my favorite classic black-comedy, besting even Arsenic & Old Lace.

#7: Re-Animator

Easily a classic, this film is one of my favorite b-grade horror films of all time. Before there was Evil Dead, there was Herbert West. Before there was Bruce Campbell, there was Jeffrey Combs. The film combined gore, gratuitous nudity, and dark humor in such an awesome way that it helped to popularize a sub-genre of b-grade gorey horror-comedies, often with Jeffrey Combs at least making a cameo, such as Cellar Dweller (which I reviewed maybe two months back.)

For those that have somehow never seen the movie, it's about Herbert West (played by Jeffrey Combs, who fellow trekkies will remember as DS9's Weyoun), whose goal in life is to reanimate the dead, much to the chagrin of the teachers at the teaching hospital he works at. He succeeds in making a concoction which reanimates the recently deceased, only to discover that if they've been dead for awhile they come back violent. Cue shennanigans as he and a well-meaning college student he's roped into helping him have to fight off zombies and the decapitated head of an evil, perverted professor.

There's two sequels, both of which are also hilarious, but not quite as good as the original. The first sequel takes place not too long after the events of the first film and contain the same two male leads, while the third film takes place long after and only Dr. West remains. The third film also gave us this catchy, hilaribad music video.

If you've somehow never seen the trilogy, I strongly recommend picking all three up, especially if you're a big fan of zombie films and/or The Evil Dead trilogy.

#6: Return of the Living Dead

Shockingly, this film is responsible for about as many zombie cliches as Night of the Living Dead, including being the popularizer of the cliched zombie that only wants to eat brains. The movie was written and directed by Dan O'Bannon, who many will remember as the writer behind such movies as Alien, Total Recall, Lifeforce, and the best segment from Heavy Metal: B17, so you already know you're in for some quality.

The film follows two seperate groups that end up eventually connecting: A medical supply seller (the always awesome Clu Gulager) and his young assistant accidentally releasing a chemical that raises the dead and having to turn to a moritician friend to dispose of a zombie, and a group of teenage punks that party in a cemetery where the dead rise up after the previously mentioned zombie is tossed into the cremator, spreading the chemical into the atmosphere and causing it to come down as acid rain.

The makeup effects are amazing, the writing is hilarious, and the acting is pretty damn awesome. The film's also pretty notable for what I'd consider to be the greatest nude scene in horror film history. That is, Linnea Quigley (easily my favorite scream queen of all time) stripping naked for the other punks, and remaining naked in every scene afterwards. Quigley has a great body, and many a bad 80s flick turned to her showing some skin to make their film worth watching (see: Jack-O.)

There's numerous sequels, each of varying quality. The second film is like a wackier, more family friendly version of the first film (no nudity, much less gore). The third film is pretty fun, but not as good as the first, but still worth a rent. The fourth film is something to avoid at all costs, while the fifth film is at least worth a view if you liked the first two.

#5: Gremlins

There are certain films and shows some I watch at a certain time each year, like The Twilight Zone marathon that occurs every New Years Eve. With Gremlins, I used to make it a solo tradition to watch it each Christmas, simply because it is the greatest Christmas related horror film. In your face, Silent Night Deadly Night 2!

I seriously doubt anyone reading this has somehow avoided the film all of this time, but to play it safe: A teenager gets a pet mogwai (think a Furby only cute), but is given strict instructions to not feed it after midnight, get it wet, or expose it to sunlight. He fails at following rules, and eventually from the mogwai we get a bunch of tiny green skinned demons that kill people and wreck havoc on Christmas day.

The film is hilarious but at the same time fairly dark, like Loony Toons without the immortality. The gremlins are all complete goofballs, but they do actually -kill- a few people, and they are kinda creepy despite being so silly. Sadly, the sequel removes most of the dark elements and keeps things strictly wacky, but is still awesome in the same way that Rocky IV is awesome. I mean what other film gives us Hulk Hogan threatening gremlins, Daffy Duck riffing credits, tiny demonic things singing New York, New York, etc.?

This and Critters (which is also pretty awesome) ended up inspiring numerous clones of varying quality, including Hobgoblins (which MST3K fans will remember as an epic about two men fighting with lawn equipment) and Ghoulies (and hey, Ghoulies 2 was a fun movie.)

#4: Beetlejuice

If you didn't automatically start hearing the theme music in your head, I feel sorry for you. This film is just pure awesome. The humor is just how I like it: Slapstick, abstract, and dark all at the same time. I mean what other comedy film can begin with two people dying in a car accident?

This may just be my favorite Tim Burton movie of all time, beating out Batman, Mars Attacks and Nightmare Before Christmas. That's saying a lot, as I love all three of those as well. Honestly, I love all Tim Burton films except for his god awful Planet of the Apes remake, his Alice in Wonderland (I got enough 'Lets watch Johnny Depp be wacky' in the PotC trilogy), and his remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (it really says something to me when Tim Burton's remake somehow is far less nightmare fuel filled than the original... that and Depp just kinda annoyed the fuck out of me here.)

Michael Keaton deserves special mentioning here, because he seriously makes this movie as the titular Betelgeuse. His performance is so amazing that you forget you're watching -Batman- doing all of these things. The man's a fantastic actor and it makes me sad that I don't see him in much anymore.

There's also an animated series, which... okay. I'll say this: The theme song? Is still fucking awesome. I did like the show as a kid, but after going back and rewatching it lately I find it to be way too pun filled. There's way too much "Hey Lids, I'm tired! *turns into a tire*." It's like the episodes were written by Schumacher's Mr. Freeze.

#3: Creepshow

About here, I'd say my top three are pretty much tied. It was so hard deciding where to put these, so just keep that in mind. Creepshow is easily one of my favorite films of all time, a movie that I go out of my way to watch each Halloween just because I feel it is easily the best movie for the holiday. It's just so chock full of references and homages to classic EC horror comics that it's just... a fantastic holiday film.

For those that haven't seen the film, it's an anthology story centered around a kid's horror comic: Creepshow. We get segments about an undead old man that wants his father's day cake, Leslie Nielsen killing Ted Danson, Stephen King as an ignorant hick that turns into a plant, a killer ape-like beast within a crate, and a swarm of cockroaches. All done in a tongue in cheek manner based largely on stuff like the old Tales from the Crypt comics, and directed/written by George Romero and Stephen King.

The music is fantastic, this was one of the first horror films I ever got the soundtrack for, and I still treasure both it and my The Thing soundtrack. The cast is top notch and includes such greats (on top of the previously mentioned Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson) as Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Ed Harris, and Fritz Weaver. The special effects are among my favorites in a horror film, done by the always amazing Tom Savini who also cameos in the film. God I love Savini.

As with many of the other films mentioned here, Creepshow did get a couple of sequels. There's Creepshow 2 which is pretty fun, but avoid Creepshow 3 like the plague. Don't buy it, don't rent it, don't download it. Just avoid it. It's a god awful in-name-only sequel with horrible writing, terrible production values, and god awful acting. If you want a true sequel, watch Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.

You see, Tales from the Darkside was originally meant to be Creepshow: The Series, but the studio suggested a different name. The movie based on the show even uses a segment that got written out of Creepshow 2 involving a killer black cat. Tom Savini himself as gone on record as saying that TftD is the true Creepshow 3. Also hey, it has Christian Slater!

#2: The Evil Dead Trilogy

I know, I'm cheating by having all three films share the #2 spot but I really, really could not pick between them, and if I didn't group them together this list would get be hogged by them. Admit it though, you knew this'd be on the list, and high up on it.

The Evil Dead trilogy... had so much impact on entertainment for what they are that it's just hilarious to me. I mean without them, would we still find chainsaws popping up constantly as an efficient zombie-killer? Think of all the pop culture references directed at the trilogy, or all of the comedy-horror films it spawned. On top of that, the trilogy basically brought mainstream attention to other shlocky low grade horror films, creating an even larger fanbase for the kinds of movies I love so much.

Think about all the big careers this film series started, too. Sam Raimi went onto do a bunch of big name films, including the Spider-Man trilogy (which admitedly I hate. I'm a big fan of the comics, so I hated seeing Parker turned into a whiny, mopey douchebag that spends more time being awkward around Mary Jane than anything else). The Coen Brothers also got their start with Evil Dead, moving on to make some of my favorite films of all time like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother Where Art Thou.

Similarly, the trilogy gave us Bruce Campbell. The man is like the horror genre's answer to Seagall and Chuck Norris. The man became a symbol of manliness within the horror genre, the image of the ultimate badass horror protagonist, and his fanbase grew so strong that even the worst pieces of crap could gain a following just because he was in it (I still love all the people that saw Serving Sarah just because he had a minor role in it.) I mean hell, he even got two big shows based around him going around and doing badass things: Brisco County Jr. (which was epic) and Jack of All Trades (which wasn't.) All of this thanks to these three movies.

I'm still upset knowing that Diablo Cody, the screenwriter behind Juno and Jennifer's Body, is doing a remake of The Evil Dead, but I think I've finally just grown to accept that Hollywood is... horrible. I mean seriously, we're getting remakes of this, Creepshow, Toxic Avenger, Total Recall, Hellraiser, Fright Night, The Birds, etc., etc. Originality seems to be almost dead when it comes to major theatrical releases. We get crappy remakes, crappy sequels that just repeat the same shit the previous film(s) did, and movies that just repeat the same fucking script over and over (comedies lately are especially guilty of this.) And all of this is because we actually give them our money. I mean, bash shit like Disaster Movie all you want, but it's become hard for even awful movies like that to financially fail.

#1: Ghostbusters

If anything beats the above in terms of impact, it's this. Ghostbusters is easily the greatest comedy-horror to me. It's a perfect blend of the two genres, managing to actually be pretty frightening at times while still being completely hilarious at others, and started a franchise that is still alive today.

The cast is completely awesome, and each character is extremely memorable, you've got so many big quotables that still pop up even today (my favorite being the "dogs and cats, living together, mass histeria" rant.) We've got a film that, ontop of inspiring a fairly good sequel, also inspired multiple tv shows, gave us an easily recognizable an extremely catchy theme song, an amazing game that acts as a third film... it's a beast of a franchise.

I remember that, as a kid, the library ghost scared the -shit- out of me. It may sound odd, being scared by a film starring Dan Akyroyd (though it probably doesn't to anyone that recognizes what my banner quotes), but jesus fuck I jumped when I first saw the movie. Then you've got that fucking demon dog...

The movie is a childhood classic, and a great example of the comedy-horror genre as a whole, so the degree that it's easily a film that needs to be shown to every kid, alongside other important movies like the classic Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Honorable mention goes to Cannibal! The Musical, which was originally on the list, but in the end it just didn't seem to fit with the others in terms of genre. Still, it's a fantastic film, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone reading this.
It's from the creators of South Park (who also star in this) and is about Alferd Packer, the cannibal that inspired such films as Ravenous.

Singing, dancing, eating people. Amazing movie.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Willies

Today's movie came as a recommendation from the same friend that suggested Sorority Row, so I braced for the worst. I mean it's got Donkey Lips and some other names I recognize in it, but the box looks cheesy, so it seemed like a good idea to brace anyway.

Our film begins with some kids (including Sean Astin, aka Sam, the true hero of LotR) sitting around a campfire, one of them telling some gross out jokes that I'm used to hearing in the form of dead baby jokes, like "what's grosser than 10 dead puppies in a garbage can? One dead puppy in ten garbage cans." One of them tells us a story, which we see enacted, of some fat woman ordering chicken at a KFC parody and getting a deep fried rat. The way it's filmed, and the way they act in the enactment, reminds me a lot of the original Toxic Avenger film. In fact, the guy behind the counter even kinda reminds me of pre-mutated Toxie.

After this story we cut to an old guy who I swear I've seen in like a hundred movies, including Home Alone the other day, as he's going through a haunted house ride thing, but he dies of a heart attack from fright! This is also a story about how the theme park had to tone down the haunted house. Please tell me the whole film isn't like this.

We cut to another story, an old woman washes her puppy in the sink next to a microwave, and before I can finish saying "She's gonna microwave it," she microwaves it. For some reason though, the poodle doesn't blow up until a few seconds after the microwave's done. It's odd thinking back favorably to fucking Urban Legends. Thankfully the prologue finally ends with one kid saying his next story will give them... the title screen!

The story begins with some dorky kid getting bullied... inside the school by some kid with a mullet and his goons. They tie him up to the ceiling with a firehouse, rip up his prize winning drawing, and put the prize ribbon in his mouth... in the middle of the school hallway. What horrible school is this? By the way, believe me on this, Rudy, the main bully? His goons are called Frick and Frack. I'm not kidding. Lucky for the kid, he gets saved by a kind old mustachioed janitor.

So, the kid's doing a test on fractions when he suddenly has to use the bathroom. The teacher's hesitant to let him go, but the class votes on it and lets him. Once there he finds the janitor's cart is blocking him, so he checks the stalls for him, only to find a crappy monster in one! Shock! He runs back to the class, tries to tell the teacher about it, but the bully points out he peed himself. The teacher promptly mocks him for this, in front of the class. She -insults- the kid. Then sends him off to clean himself. He goes back to the bathroom, and there he finds... a body suit of the janitor. Shock! The janitor was a monster all along, and is trying to use the bathroom, but the kid just won't let him for some reason. Seriously kid, let the monster take a crap.

He runs back to the teacher to tell her that the monster killed the janitor, and shock, she still doesn't believe him, and is still being a complete and total cunt. Shockingly, the janitor's door is now locked, the stall is now empty, and she continues insulting him. Cue the monster... dropping down, she hits it in the head with a book a few times, he pulls her up and then kills her. Surprisingly, for a film this immature, there's actually some blood!

Anyway the kid leads the three bullies to the bathroom to show them he's not lying, an that it ate the teacher, and they decide to follow him in there for some reason. They aren't too bright. Once in there he pushes over the drinking fountain to prevent them from leaving, because obviously the best revenge against a bully is to have them die a horrible death. Cue the monster killing all three bullies offscreen while the nerdy kid just walks away to happy music. Happy music just feels odd when it's set to three children dying. We get a shot of someone walking into the bathroom and finding the bloody mess before it pans up to reveal what was already obvious to begin with: The monster is putting on the janitor's body as a suit.

Well, the janitor moves to another town after this, according to the narration, and gets a job at another school as a janitor. The principal and the older woman from Hatchet, the one who went on the tour with her husband (the Jump to Conclusions guy), come up to the janitor and ask if he's seen Jordan, some kid who is apparently a bully at this school too. As soon as they walk away, he pulls out a torn kid's shirt to use as a washrag, complete with dramatic music to imply that that was Jordan's shirt! And that's the end of that story. So, this continues as an anthology, then? I was wondering why the pacing was so god awful.

The next story begins at Gary Spivey's place, the father of that kid that got poison ivy at Camp Grenada. He's apparently some farmer/scientist guy! Well, Donkey Lips from Salute Your Shorts waltzes in and steals a jar of his manure, but as he's trying to run off the farmer goes crazy and tries to shoot him. But Farmer Spivey, if you kill him now, who will Budnick befriend? Well, Donkey Lips turns out to be a no good kid in general, as he later goes into a pharmacy just to shoplift some nail polish remover. He also tries to scare a cat into traffic, but a car swerves to miss it, almost hits an old lady... and instead a big plastic bug from the car falls off the roof and scares her. That was... silly.

It turns out Donkey Lips is doing all of this because he has a weird fascination with flies, and we're shown a scene of him examining them and feeding them all to some... oddly pretty music. Because when you look at Donkey Lips, you think insect loving classical music fan. Well, maybe not, as we then pan over to some dioramas he's made of a castle, a diner, and a church, each one with flies glued to them. So he raises flies just to glue them in a small scale representation of Barf's Diner? Moments later he and his dysfunctional parents are sitting around eating friend chicken and watching the local news station: KORN (I'm not joking) where the farmer, who is being interviewed by KORN, reveals that his special manure makes things grow. So what, we're gonna get giant flies killing Donkey Lips?

What is it with kids movies and furthering the whole parents suck and school is hell theme? There's also the recurring thing about how kids with odd interests need to be punished, and how horrible it is to not have a social life... and there's even several films I've seen where a kid is at fault for not dating, and it just kinda blows my mind. Want to have your mind blown? Later that night Gordy (Donkey Lips)'s watching TV, and he changes the channel to fucking Growing Pains, where Mike Seaver seriously kills flies and says he's saving them for Gordy. I'm not joking. Also if we wanna talk about crazy, Donkey Lips in this film is far less crazy than Kirk Cameron in real life, just wanna go ahead and say that. He wakes up from this nightmare, only to find himself in a bed covered in mealworms. Why is it movies typically use mealworms instead of maggots? Well, that's also a dream, and he wakes up in his normal bed.

The next day at school, Gordy sits down with some girls at lunch where he tries to get one girl just to try talking to him for once. Well, turns out she shouldn't show any pity for him, as the second she does and takes a bite into an offered cookie he made, we find out it was covered in flies. Still less crazy than Kirk Cameron. He gets sent home because of this, and the last we see of the girl she's being checked out by the school nurse for some reason. I mean eating a fly sounds disgusting, but I can't imagine the nurse being that necessary.

On his way back, the creepy farmer guy tries acting friendlier to him, and gives him a huge jar of the suped up magical manure. He goes home to find that his mom has already heard about the whole cookie thing, and has thrown away everything related to his hobby in anger. Luckily for him, his mom's kind of absent minded and managed to miss a flystrip, so he gets to keep three flies in the jar of magical manure! Predictably, that night, this makes the flies gigantic and angry, and they attack Donkey Lips! They seriously look like Power Rangers villains here, which made me think back to Bulk of Bulk & Skull instead.

His parents hear the noise and go into his room to fin that the flies have ripped off Gordy's arms, leaving hm crying in a corner with two bloody stumps. They turn around, see the flies come out of the closet wielding his arms, and then the lights go out as they scream, and the farmer watches from outside smiling. Gordy wakes up the next morning in a hammock, leading to a false "all just a dream" scene again as the camera zooms out to reveal he has hook hands now. I couldn't not laugh my ass off at this scene. I figured at first they were going to imply that he was glued to it and it's all a big diorama, but no, it's just a hammock.

We cut back to the wraparound story where the the kids argue about how the stories couldn't have happened, when the light suddenly goes out. The main storyteller's dad (apparently the uncle of the other two kids) comes out to check on them, and the kids ask him to prove the janitor story wasn't fake. he predictably takes off his mask, revealing that he was the monster from that story, and judging by the silhouette as the camera moves outside the tent, probably kills the kids? Or not, I don't know, they're related somehow...

Overall, this movie was about on par with some of the better Goosebumps episodes, like How To Kill A Monster, but not as good as Werewolf of Fever Swamp. If you grew up on stuff like Are You Afraid of the Dark, Goosebumps, etc. and enjoyed them, I'd recommend digging this up and giving it a view.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Teeny Tiny and the Witch Woman

Hey guys, sorry for the delay on a new article. While doing some yardwork I managed to expose myself to so many allergens that the itching and burning has become a distraction. So, just been digging around for some stuff I feel nostalgic about.

Whilst doing this, I managed to find a bit of nightmare fuel from my own childhood, and thought I'd spread it around, see if anyone else saw this as a little kid and was creeped out by it.

Speaking of nostalgia, my next article will be a review of a film featuring Donkey Lips, from Nickelodeon's Salute your Shorts. If you didn't watch Nick in the 90's, SyS was a live action show about a crappy summer camp, starring John Connor's friend from Terminator 2 as a jackass bully. Was pretty good for the time, at least better than Hey Dude.

I figure it's obvious now from my posts that I do have a love of the late 80's-90's, and pretty much bury myself in nostalgia fuel on top of all the nightmare fuel. Not that it's a surprise to anyone I know who is reading this, as I even made this to use as a wallpaper a year or so back:

And am using a similar, though smaller version as a mousepad.

On top of that, enjoy some possible nostalgia that didn't age as well:

Oh Tim Curry, even at your cheesiest and most awful you're still awesome. Would Congo be tolerable without you? Would Fern Gully even be watchable without "Toxic Love"? I think not.

Now if only the two videos were linked, Tim Curry narrating Teeny Tiny. Hell, Tim Curry reading scary stories in general, that would be awesome. I for one am going to try reading creepypasta in his voice from now on.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

7 Creatures That Still Scare Me

I see a lot of lists like these around the net, but for the most part I tend to disagree with a lot of them. Partly it's because a lot of them tend to rely on urban legends surrounding actual animals (candiru, camel spider, earwig, etc. are nowhere near anything like they tend to get described as), or I just end up finding the creature way too fascinating to be afraid of it (I fucking love komodo dragons.)

Do note though, that this isn't the 7 scariest creatures on earth, nor even the 7 scariest things on earth to me (It'd just be the word "spiders" over and over.) These are merely 7 horrifying things that, well, amaze me in terms of how creepy they are, like they never really get any less creepy the more I know about them. Hell, they may even get -creepier- the more I read up on them. These are the living equivalents to horror films that manage to remain scary even on the 10th viewing, after you've read up on all the behind the scenes stuff and watched it with commentary.

#7: Lamprey

I am so amazed that, in all my time watching horror movies, I can't recall a single time ever seeing a lamprey used. Slugs, rabbits, an AI controlled stealth jet, sharks, baboons, ticks, spiders, and even Clint Howard, but never a lamprey.

Basically, imagine an eel that attaches to your skin via suction, cutting into you in a circular motion, and then sucking your insides out. That's a fucking lamprey. That sounds so much like something from a Roger Corman movie, but I never see it happen.

Beyond that, their appearance is so unsettling that photoshopping their "mouth" of sorts onto anything instantly makes that image nightmare fuel. Just so many teeth, and really, the more teeth something has the more visually horrifying it is.

There's just something so strange about how they work, I guess. I mean there are more horrifying ways to die in animal kingdom, but the lamprey's manner of killing just reminds me more of something in a 1980's low budget New Horizons kind of movie rather than something I can watch a documentary on.

#6: Spider Wasp

Speaking of creatures that seem more like horror movie monsters than anything you'd find in reality, let's think back to one of my favorite films, Alien. You've got the facehugger, which orally rapes John Hurt, let's go of him, and then sometime later a fucking xenomorph breaks out of his chest while he's minding his own business eating breakfast (not to be confused with an unrelated incident where John Hurt was minding his own business at a restraunt when a singing alien burst out of him and imitated a racist singing frog.) Obviously, nothing like that could ever exist in real life, right?

In comes the spider wasp, one of the inspirations for the chestburster.

Let's say you're a spider. You're just roaming around, being a horrible abomination that doesn't deserve to exist, when that wasp suddenly attacks you. You try to fend it off, but in the end the wasp paralyzes you, carries you up to its nest (as seen in the above photo), LAYS AN EGG INSIDE OF YOU, and then traps you within the nest. After awhile, the egg develops into a young spider wasp larvae which begins EATING YOU FROM THE INSIDE. It does this over several months, until eventually emerging from your hollowed out corpse. Seriously.

That's just fucking horrifying. I hate spiders with a passion, but holy fuck that's just... god damn. It never gets any less creepy to me.

#5: Brown Recluse

First off, I wanna go ahead and say, yes, I know the brown recluse isn't that deadly in terms of its venom. It's the necrosis that brown recluse spiders are known for. Although there's heavy debate as to how many of the claims are related to actual brown recluse bites and not bites from similar spiders, that does little to make the brown recluse not utterly horrifying. Why?

Unlike many other dangerous spiders, brown recluses can be found across a good chunk of America. Sure they aren't as common as the black widow, but the black widow... depends way more on urban legend and exaggeration than the brown recluse. I wish I'd known that a long time back. I was cleaning a small gargoyle statue I had on my porch, when a few small black widows came out from a hole in it and onto my hand. Cue me bashing my hand with said statue to take care of them. I idiotically injured my hand way more than they could have injured me.

The brown recluse is hard to exterminate, found across most of the US, and will fuck your shit up. It doesn't need to be lethal to be horrifying as fuck. I'm not going to upload pictures of any of the injuries people have allegedly sustained due to them, but feel free to hop on google images and check them out yourself. I just wouldn't recommend it to anyone in southern Appalachia, especially if you ever plan on being around lumber for a long period of time.

#4: Humboldt Squid

I know what you're thinking, "How could a squid rank higher than a brown recluse?" Because this squid is pure, concentrated evil. It reminds me less of any other squid and more of the stereotypical demonic shark seen in multitudes of horror films. We're talking about a squid that will rip apart one of its own kind purely out of suspicion in no time at all, a squid that will even rip humans apart in a frenzy.

Although many who have studied them write that the humboldt squid is "more curious than aggressive" and tends only to be aggressive when feeding, it does little to paint a more positive light on a type of squid that has basically been exterminating large chunks of aquatic life with the frenzy that the humboldt squid has.

Deadly, aggressive, intelligent, the humboldt squid is easily one of the most horrifying (but not -the- most), creatures beneath the sea.

#3: Botfly

I don't know if words alone can sum up how horrifying these are, so I wanna go ahead and warn the squeamish: Bot fly larvae images unsettle even me.

Imagine yourself in her place. Just... god damn. These things lay eggs under the skin of not just squirrels, rabbits, cats, dogs, etc. but often times even -humans-. You might not even notice it, as it feels very much like a mosquito bite. Can you imagine that?

You're sitting there, thinking you just feel a mosquito bite, and you're annoyed at that. Mosquito bites suck. Time passes, and you get -that- nasty surprise. Seriously, that terrifies me. There's just something horrifying about something that can, rather sneakily, lay eggs beneath your skin.

They even go for your eyes! Jesus fucking tap dancing Christ. If this was the seven most -unsettling- creatures, they'd be number one, but I'm going by more than just unsettling with this list. Still, nothing makes me shudder and twitch more than fucking botfly larvae.

#2: Irukandji Jellyfish

The Irukandji jellyfish is a meter-long, nearly invisible jellyfish found in Australia, so you might be wondering how the hell they're more terrifying than anything else on this list. If you're wondering that, you've obviously never heard of Irukandji Syndrome.

Get stung by one of these things? You won't necessarily die, but you'll want to. Immense pain that anesthesia can't assist with that covers your entire body, nausea, vomiting, sweating, hypertension, anxiety, tachycardia, pulmonary edemia, and a crippling, doomed feeling that causes many of its victims to beg to be put out of their misery. When even anesthetized victims have been reported to still be screaming in agony, despite not even seeming concious, you know you're dealing with one of the most fucking horrifying things ever.

So what could possibly beat that? Well...

#1: Portuguese Man o' War

This is, without a doubt, the strangest, most horrifying thing on earth to me. Because it doesn't seem like it's from earth. This thing is... this thing is something H.P. Lovecraft would look to for inspiration. Seriously, take a look at that thing.

First off, that isn't a jellyfish, despite how it looks. It's actually multiple organisms working as one. The 'tentacles', which again are living things, are extremely venomous which they normally use to consume large quantities of fish, but they're also responsible for over 10,000 attacks on humans each year. The severity of these attacks range from intense pain and red welts, to, in some cases, -death-. These things are more dangerous than fucking sharks, and yet most non-Australians have never even heard of them.

Beautiful, yet very alien looking, this horrifying thing fascinates me so much. I think that, if I had to list my favorite aquatic creature, it would be this. It's the closest we've come to anything Lovecraftian beneath the sea, and I shudder to think we'll find anything worse.