Category Archives: Horror Movie

Clown (2016) – Raw Review

If news reports are to be believed, professional clowns are lamenting the imminent release of the IT remake later this fall. They argue that clowns too often are the victims of public enmity, subject to stereotypes that are perpetuated in popular cinema and the most horrific of true crime. Despite some validity to their argument, the guise of the clown has entrenched itself as a mainstay in popular horror and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Between the fictional characters Pennywise and Twisty to real life killers like Pogo, something about their abstract appearance and unconventional antics stirs fear in the masses. Harness that fear, channel it into a narrative that is engaging, paint a pallet of menace and uncertainty at once both visceral and thrilling, you get a damned decent horror film in Clown.

In the opening minutes of the movie we see Kent (Andy Powers), a loving and dedicated father, presented with the problem of finding a replacement clown for his six year old son’s birthday party. Kent happens to discover a clown costume in the basement of a foreclosed house he is preparing for sale. Unwilling to disappoint his son, he dons the outfit and saves the day. The next day he finds that it cannot be removed and as time passes it begins to change him.

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Co-written and directed by Jon Watts, the film is not a typical spin on the killer in a clown suit. Toss any expectation of circus style clownery (a la Pennywise) out the window. There are no clown cars, lethal pies or cotton candy guns. Instead, what we receive is a compelling and emotionally charged trip through a horrifying metamorphosis. As the costume assumes more and more authority over Kent’s mind and body, his wife Meg (Laura Allen) sets out in a desperate gambit to save him by uncovering its true nature. This focus and attention to their relationship injects a complexity  into the the film, elevating the emotion and is essential to the success of the closing act.

Watts also handles the subject matter with a deft touch. The gruesome murder of children is certainly not uncommon in horror movies, and filmmakers will often inject dark humor to soften the impact of seeing a child ripped to shreds, but many films make the fatal mistake of crossing the line into exploitation. Inserting violence and gore for shock value, at the expense of story and character development. Watts seems to understand this, and while he gives the audience a significant amount of gore, it is always attune to the needs of the narrative.

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Where the movie suffers a slight hiccup is in the murky and underdeveloped relationship between Kent and Meg’s family. There is a clear level of tension between them, and it’s obvious that Meg’s father does not approve of the marriage, or at the very least Kent, but it is explained well and feels like the result of the editing process. The opening also feels a tad rushed and introduction of the clown costume occurs very nearly before anyone else, even Kent. Fortunately, the film moves forward at brisk pace, sweeping the audience into Kent’s nightmare almost immediately, leaving little time to reflect on the introduction.

Indie (a.k.a. low-budget) horror is an extremely fickle beast. More often than not they appear promising, either due to the presence of an esteemed actor (looking at you Lance Henricksen) or a well cut trailer; yet, more often than not they flounder in a morass of poor storytelling, terrible acting and boredom.

Not Clown. This film is an exception. A strong exception. I will be adding to the rotation for horror movie night.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) – Trailer

“Killer Klowns from outer space…holy shit.”

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Yes, I’m in a clown frenzy today. I’m fully fixated on the horrible rubber nose circus monsters. They’ve been around forever and many a film maker has taken a crack at clowning around the horror genre.

The best of the best of the best be the fabulous Killer Klowns from Outer Space. A elegant movie, from a more civilized decade. Plus, movie trailers from back in the day had so much more heart (and a lot less plot reveal).

Clown (2016) – Trailer

I know its been out for a bit now, but I just had to post the trailer. Let’s face fact. Clowns can be scary. Very scary. Done well they can make you shit your pants and them some. Case in point.

This one has been on my radar for several months and I’m tired of waiting around and avoiding spoilers. Look for a new Raw Review of said film this week. In the meantime, if you have seen the film enjoy trailer as a reminder of how horrible clowns are for birthday parties. If you haven’t seen the film, well… use your imagination.

Oh, and keep in mind that the director, Jon Watts, he is directing Spiderman: Homecoming. Muy loco am I right?!

Enjoy…

The Incredible Melting Man (1977) – Retro Review

Genre film fans, particularly old genre film fans, tend to be very forgiving when discussing terrible films of yesteryear. Most old-timers, including myself, can always find redeeming values that overcome problems of writing, directing, acting, or budget to create an entertaining experience. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Birdemic!, where there are no redeeming values to be found. A review of which would require only one or two sentences if that much. Not worth the effort.

Don’t misunderstand — The Incredible Melting Man is a very bad movie. It is also approaching cult status, if it hasn’t already reached that objective. Part of the rationale for this phenomenon lies with the delay in transition from VHS to DVD, which created a small-but-vocal demand from people like me who saw the film first-run at drive-in theaters in 1977, and have time-weakened memories. VHS print quality varied, probably due to generational duping, indicating that the film wasn’t taken very seriously by the distribution industry, and that lack of attention continued with a few DVD releases. But the main reason for its growing popularity is the special effects provided by a young Rick Baker (1950 – 2015) whose stature as a makeup artist was beginning to emerge out of low-budget genre films (John Landis’s first film Schlock, 1973; Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive, 1974; Jeff Lieberman’s Squirm, 1976; Batman artist/writer Bill Finger’s Track of the Moon Beast, 1976). This film was also the second (uncredited) appearance of special makeup superstar Greg Cannom (The Howling, 1981; Dreamscape, 1984; Dick Tracy, 1990; Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993). Together, these two practical effects experts were responsible for lifting The Incredible Melting Man out of obscurity and into genre film semi-stardom.

This new release, viewed for the first time over a period of three decades, is unintentionally hilarious all by itself. It needed absolutely no help from the egregious Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) that targeted the film for derision in 1996. As if it isn’t obvious, I am no fan of any production that takes older genre films, edits them down to smaller chunks for the benefit of idiots who toss off one-liners to make themselves look good. Viewers can, and should, make their own humorous comments from the comfort of their own couches – and true entertainment is derived from a complete, uncut film released in excellent Blu-ray format by Shout! Factory. Visually, the film is a crisp and clear 1080p HD delight that amplifies the extreme close-up photography used (or misused) throughout.

The story is linear and simplistic – the sole survivor of America’s first trip to the rings of Saturn (Alex Rebar in his only screen credit) is pulled from (unseen) wreckage and isolated in a nearby warehouse… er, hospital, cared for by one doctor and one nurse. He’s suffering from the effects of watching our sun through Saturn’s rings. How the sun and its flares got so big from that distance is not something to dwell upon. But his eyes bleed while out in space, and back on Earth he begins to melt. He kills the overweight nurse because somehow the only doctor around reached a diagnosis that the astronaut needs blood to survive. The now-monster escapes the conveniently- unguarded “hospital.” The rest of the 84-minute film is a chase through a lightly-wooded area populated by cannon fodder, one hilarious encounter after another (I have to reference the “fisherman.” I just have to.) But it will be more fun for viewers if I don’t provide details. Strangely, though, the film concludes with a confrontation that generates a modicum of suspense, and a final scene that’s successful in portraying black, bittersweet humor.

In addition to Baker and Cannom, above, there are a few recognizable names involved with the film. In the acting department, veteran TV personality Burr DeBenning (1936 – 2003) sleepwalks through the lead role of Dr. Ted Nelson, former friend of the afflicted monster, and enemy of extreme close-ups designed to minimize low-budget background exposure. Another veteran familiar to fans of 50s and 60s genre features ( a very late serial, Panther Girl of the Kongo, 1955; Jungle Moon Men, 1955; The Unearthly 1957) and virtually every TV series up through the 70s, is Myron Healy as General Perry. Of those two, Healy fares just a bit better as far as dialog is concerned, throwing orders around in his trademark deep, booming voice.

But the true villain of this piece – if you don’t include the mindless melting creature – is Writer/Director William Sachs. Responsible for story logic (there is none), dialog that is painful to hear, and direction that displays his limited range (and fondness for extreme close-ups) unless you’re a fan of his only other genre credit (Galaxina, 1980). Included in the DVD extras is an interview with Sachs in which he blames the producers for all of the budget constraints that destroyed an otherwise viable film. Take him at his word if you will, but I have difficulty putting responsibility on a group of producers that include an uncredited Max Rosenberg of Hammer Films and Amicus Productions, and production manager Peter Cornberg (first assistant director, Blade Runner, 1982; production manager, Testament, 1983).

Despite its myriad flaws, however, The Incredible Melting Man has survived time and troubles, hanging around for a decent treatment that presents its positive aspects in hi-def glory. While the film still generates loud guffaws (as it absolutely should), both old and new viewers will experience a highly entertaining piece of genre history.

Tales from the Crypt Reboot Might Not Be What We Expected

It turns out the widely announced M. Night Shyamalan reboot of Tales From The Crypt is going be very different than the original HBO series.

Bloody Disgusting is reporting that while TNT is planning to air the new series, HBO in fact still has the rights to the lovable and hilariously gruesome Crypt Keeper character we’ve all come to know and love.

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This means TNT will most likely be using The Old Witch or The Vault-Keeper to host the show.

Oh and did I mention TNT thinks the show is better as a season long anthology (i.e. continuous story) rather than the weekly anthology style?

Click the link. Read the article. Let me know what you think.

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The New Trailer for The Conjuring 2 Is Awesome

I’m not a huge fan of ghost stories but The Conjuring is one of my favorite horror films. This is why I’m genuinely excited to see the next installment and if this trailer is truly capturing the heart of the movie we are in for a treat.

The supernatural thriller brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Reprising their roles, Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as Lorraine and Ed Warren, who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.

 

The Conjuring 2 in theaters June 10, 2016.

Bone Tomahawk (2015) – Raw Review

It’s hard enough to get a western made in Hollywood these days, let alone one infused with significant amounts of horror, but thank god someone green lit production on Bone Tomahawk.

Bone Tomahawk is without a doubt one of best movies of 2015. Smart, sophisticated, violent and atmospheric, no only is one of the better western films in the last thirty years but a damn brutal and terrifying horror movie as well.
Set in a small frontier town, the premise follows the Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) as he leads a small group of volunteers (Patrick Wilson, Matthew Hunt, and Richard Jenkins) into the open prairie in pursuit of Troglodytes who’ve kidnapped several of the towns folk.
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Writer/director S. Craig Zahler’s screenplay is fantastic, setting a methodical pace for our heroes all the while fleshing out every character with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film. The look and feel is immersive to the point that Bone Tomahawk transports the viewer into the time period thoroughly, engaging us with its attention to location and set designs, superior acting and a willingness to show the brutality of the old west.
The horror elements are largely held in reserve until the third act, but when they come they are as brutal as anything seen in more over the top horror films. Bone Tomahawk stands out however because Zahler does such a magnificent job establishing the narrative and context in the first two acts that the crescendo of violence leaves us paralyzed with anticipation and genuine fear for our heroes.
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I would be remiss if I failed to emphasize just how impressive Richard Jenkins, who plays Chicory the back-up deputy, is throughout the film. Jenkins performance is far and away the best of any I’ve seen in 2015 and although Bone Tomahawk is unlikely to be short listed for any of the Oscar categories Jenkins deserves a golden statue as much as anyone who receives one next month.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s easily in my favorite horror movies of 2015 along with It Follows, Spring, and We Are Still Here. Additionally, it fits in nicely with more mainstream violent films such as Sicario.
And for those hardcore horror fans out there, Bone Tomahawk features a cameo from Sid Hag, in a role that is probably the best he’s ever done.
Bone Tomahawk is now available on Blu-ray and Amazon Prime. DO NOT miss this movie.
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Anger of the Dead – (Official Trailer)

Calling All Fans of Italian Horror Movies!

Here is the official trailer for the upcoming film Anger of the Dead (aka Age of the Dead). Not sure how this one looks but we will probably do a review in the near future. IMDB provides the following synopsis:

 In a world ravaged by a virus that turns people into cannibals, a pregnant woman (Alice) manages to survive. Alice, in the company of two other men, strives to reach an island untouched by the plague. Meanwhile, a dangerous individual is on the trail of a mysterious girl, which causes Alice to realize that the Zombies are not her biggest and only threat.