Archive for December, 2009
Santa, son of Satan has a bet with an Angel, some 1000 years ago involving the punt of a stone, nearest to a water hole wins. Santa loses out and is forced to stop being nasty for the 1000 year duration, to end the reign of the day of slaying once per year. Times up and he’s back to settle the score, with humanity, the Angel and family of the Angel. It’s all a bit crazy, loads of kung fu kick boxing Santa moments, candy cane in the eye is good, but for the majority, it’s a glossy all American pie with some over the top ‘Three Stooges’ violence which is trying to far too hard to look like Gremlins and Home Alone. That said, it is what it is, and it’s damn good fun and entertaining with a good cast of actors. Emilie de Raven and Rebecca Gayheart as horror’s newly acclaimed veteran scream-queens and are both great in this, Raven stealing the show in every scene, although this role is obviously not as taxing and/or rewarding as her outing in Hills Have Eyes. Bill Goldberg is 100% Satan Santa, a great huge performance which keeps the focus on this crazy little story, whilst Douglas Smith, although has some ability, will not be picking up any Golden Globes this time around and for the most of it, blends into the scenery. Plenty of bad taste humour and bawdy one liners fill out the script which is all good and fun but what lets the film down is some cheap looking blue screen and nowhere near enough gore. Shame, but beyond this, it’s good, rude, offensive rock n roll B movie slay ride.
10/12/77 – 20/12/09 RIP
Bob Clark famous for his Porky’s films, here follows his banned classic, ‘Children shouldn’t play with Dead Things’ with a classic 70’s slasher preceding the likes of Friday 13th and the Burning, even Halloween for christ’s sake, by a handful of years, (1974) but interestingly lifting from many of the European giallo classics of the time, Bava in particular. Is this where it all began?
Here we have a Sorority house with many of the residents leaving campus for the festive holiday. A few stay behind only to be disturbed by a growing number of obscene threatening phone calls in a disturbing cackling and laughing creepy kinda way, later influencing Fulci’s ‘New York Ripper’ with his quacking phone call killer. The opening scene of the film also shows a bloke sneaking into the house and hiding in the attic. Slowly, one by one he picks off the girls in a gruesome and grisly manner, each followed up with a quick call to the remaining girls. It’s a scary situation and a great plot to hang a stalk n slasher on. There is some other stuff going on too, the subject of abortion and women’s rights is a strong and relevant thread.
John Saxon offers a solid classic performance, under recognized in this role in my opinion, favored for his other horror outings in Cannibal Apocalypse and Tenebre. Margot Kidder is stunning in what is probably her best role, charismatic, gleaming and full of pure natural charm and talent, although, does she have a glass (or bottle even) of whiskey in her hand for every scene?
It’s a great film, recently remade along with many of the other greats from the 70s & 80’s. I don’t think this film ever gained the respect it deserves.
I’ve not seen this film for many years, but have always had extremely fond memories. With the untimely passing of Director, Dan O’Bannon, I’ve rewatched especially as a homage. I was a bit worried really, as usually, revisiting a film after many years could go either way. Rose tinted glasses. On this occasion I needn’t have worried. It’s still as clever, enigmatic and colourful as I remembered it.
Set some time after Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Dan drops a bunch of teen rebel punks into a graveyard awaiting a friend whose just got his first job at the local medical supply store which, unknown to them is the military holding point for the contained living dead, stored in chemical tanks, lost and almost forgotten about. During his first days training, Freddy (Thorn Mathews) gets a look at these units as his bumbling boss Frank (James Karen) unfortunately gives one a crack, releasing a chemical and starting the whole undead process off again.
The film wins on so many levels. It looks great with crisp clean colours which reflect in the characterisation and contrast between the older and younger characters perfectly with a fast witty realistic script. It’s this interaction between the young and old which is so enjoyable and engrossing to watch. Another interesting point is the zombies themselves are fast and vicious and speak. Well, mainly shouting ‘Brains’, but some great lines also, ‘bring more cops’, and ‘bring more paramedics’. They don’t die either with many attempts to hit the brain, remove the head and eventually cut them up into small parts leaving them jiggling about. Superb. The running also, is highly inventive and adds a real edge to the situation. I don’t think it was the first film to have running Zombies, but it defiantly uses it better than Nightmare City, which has them using machine guns and flying a plane. The Zombie from the chemical tank has got to be my favorite from any film, so wet, black and slippery with great movement.
Ernie (Don Calfa) steals the show as the local mortician and friend of Frank. The scene in which Frank is convincing Ernie to burn a bag of rabid weasels is pure cinematic class with stunning dialogue. Linnea Quigley is also sensational and captivates the audience with screen presence. But it’s credit to Dan O’Bannon who masterminds this whole scenario, encouraging great acting, perfect clever script and beautiful ‘All American’ looking cinematography. It’s an outrage that he only directed two movies. (The other being the impressive adaptation of Lovecraft’s ‘Charles Dexter Ward’ – the Resurrected’. His scripting skills are exceptional with credits on Dark Star, Total Recall, Lifeforce and the Alien franchise to name a few. A great loss to the industry, but The Return of the Living Dead should be recognised as his legacy.
Christmas time already. Only seems like 2 minutes ago it was Halloween and this whole project was just about to begin. 2009 has had some great films so far for this project, but we must now look towards a lighter part of the year, good will to all men, Merry Christmas to all. Here’s this weeks to get us in the Festive mood:-
- The Return of the Living Dead (Homage to Dan O’Bannon RIP)
- Black Christmas
- Santa’s Slay
- Christmas Evil
- Don’t Open Until Christmas
- Silent Night, Deadly Night
- Silent Night, Bloody Night
- Santa’s Claw
Thanks, and Merry Xmas!
I’ve made the slight amendment this week due to the passing of Dan O’Bannon. Living Dead will be included early as tribute. Festive films will commence from Monday, Santa’s Claw will hopefully be included next week.
Calvaire, UK title ‘The Ordeal’. This is a close description of what is forced upon a young singer, looking for fortune and fame, Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas). Leaving his home town, he sets off to take his act to the big city, losing his way on the country roads; his van breaks down and is met by some strange but helpful rural living folk. Bartel (Jackie Berroyer) offers a room for the night and gets to work o fixing the van. The next day, Marc realises he’s stumbled onto a strange community of males who soon mistake him as Boris’ lost wife, Gloria and lover to local village leader Rob Orton (Philippe Nahon). It’s a brutal situation to be in with some nasty beatings, dressed in a frock, nailed to a fence and raped by crazy inbreeds. Horrific.
It’s beautifully filmed with dynamic cinematography care of Benoit Debie, which sets the Belgian countryside off with a cold wintery chill, you actually feel like you’re there with Marc and can truly feel his anguish. A scene in the local Inn also harnesses this feeling of closeness as the village males hug and dance together to a crazed piano composition; you actually feel like you need to push them away. With the claustrophobia.
Philippe Nahon is brilliant as always, notable for his role as The Butcher in Noé’s ‘Seul Contre Tous’, here offers an equally memorable performance. Lucas is believable and emotional in his role which is traumatic viewing.
It’s a great film which takes influences from Deliverance, Last House, Straw Dogs etc in that crazed local derangement destroys the life on an innocent through misfortune and wrong place at the wrong time. Captivating to watch due to it’s quirkiness and somewhat black comedy script. I love the crazy bloke looking for his dog in the woods, and happy late in the film when he mistakes a calf for his Belle. It’s also good to see Brigitte Lahaie take some brief screen time. Director Fabri Du Welz is yet another young director to look out for future work.
This has got to be where it all begins as far as deranged weird families who abuse and murder unfortunates, i.e. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hills Have Eyes, House of 1000 Corpses etc… 1968. This is the grandfather of all of these films and what a film it is. Black comedy, kitsch, disturbing, schlocky, demented and depraved. It’s bad taste with pure charm and a magic not often seen.
The plot centres around the Merrye Family. The three remaining children are being looked after by the family chauffer Bruno (Lon Chaney Jnr.) after the passing of their father; all have a rare genetic disorder, Merrye Syndrome caused by inbreeding resulting in mental regression. All is good until distant family gold diggers come looking for their share in the family estate.
Jack Hill Directs this dangerous film with stunning casting and memorable performances. Sig Haig is amazing as Ralph Merrye in one of his earliest films. Jill Banner has real screen presence and a real unforgettable role as Virginia Merrye, arguably one of the greatest Scream Queens. Beverley Washburn is the other sister, Elizabeth who is equally as captivating. All three offer childlike innocence to their roles as they play demented games such as Spider, where a victim is tied up with rope and then stabbed with a pair of scissors. It’s beautiful, and deadly and totally irresistible and impossible to take your eyes from the screen.
Another highlight, Lon Chaney Jnr. who propels the three young actors whilst sitting back in this role, instead taking the spotlight through singing the track over the opening credits which instantly sets the mood for this disturbing little piece of quality B Movie class.
If you were expecting a second outing of kitsch and craziness from the circus sideshow of blood and guts, (House of 1000 Corpses) you will be sorely disappointed. Rob Zombie shifts the goal posts and brings to the table a much more sophisticated piece, still over flowing in 70’s homage with neat ‘swipe’ cuts between scenes. The film stock is softer, giving a more Sam Peckinpah look. The gore is still here in abundance and it’s far more brutal, vicious and realistic. Otis, (Moseley) Baby (Moon) and Spalding (Sid Haig) return with their character’s, this time given depth and lose their cartoon feel from 1000 Corpses, replaced by depraved, monserous, serial killer personas. Sound track also oozes class with some lesser known road trip style country rock n roll which adds to the menace and perversion at play.
The story is set some time after the last film. Otis (Bill Moseley) has a beard and there seem to be more bodies in the basement. The police are onto the house of carnage and turn up for the arrest, only to be met with a gun battle with the Firefly family wearing plate armour. It’s a great scene, reminiscent of Ned Kelly (the Jaggar one). From this point on, we have a crazy road movie/police chase situation. A crazy setting at a motel which leaves a family and friends in a destroyed bloody mess in a very disturbing scene. But from this moment on, Zombie does a strange thing, turning the premise of a Gore film in which crazed people plan traps, to lure people into their web, into a hunter becomes hunted. situation Cop becomes the killer with the axe and a deranged look in his eye. Baby (Sheri Moon) runs around the deserted house in tears and bleeding from the beating and torture she’s just received as Sheriff Wydell (Will Forsythe) becomes the threat.
For the part, mostly it’s a sleek moving vehicle, but i found a few flat tyres during some of the scenes at Fun Town. Ken Foree and Michael Berryman, both pure horror veterains and real quality at that, here are wasted with what seemed to be additional plot for the sake of using these guys. The script dropped and the direction changed to almost slapstick which would have been much more at home in 1000 Corpses. The whole thing with the Marx Bros character names was also wasted air time as this was all noticed first time around. On a positive, the Unholy Two (Diamond Dallas Page and Danny Trego) are both dynomite on the screen and seriously add some dangerous charm. Ginger Allen makes a small cameo too.
It’s a nasty film, but what more could you expect?
Severance brings some fine humour, fast witty script and some poetic imaginative death scenes by careful reimagining of the classic slasher plot in the vein of Deliverance, Hills Have Eyes etc. The story focuses on a weekend team building event for a bunch of work colleagues. Tim McInnerny who is probably most famous for his acting contribution in Black Adder plays Richard, a company man and team leader who takes the trip off the beaten track and into uncharted territory, lost in the hills of deepest Eastern Europe. After finding what is suspected to be their luxury chalet, they discover an abandoned hunting lodge. Bunking down for the night, they realise they are not alone.
As I say, the story and plot has been done to death so I was honestly surprised at how enjoyable this film is. It’s clever and fast moving. Characters are obvious but it’s refreshing to see British actors, (Danny Dyer, Andy Nyman, Toby Stephens to name a few, and token Canadian Laura Harris) in this tried and tested scenario who all put in a very good performance and offer a familiar affection. Blood and gore flows thick and fast. This film is really not for the squeamish, although it’s executed in a comical, somewhat Raimiesque manner. I love the opening scene also and like it even more when it’s made apparent later on in the film when the time line syncs up. It also have a very enjoyable ending.
Chris Smith is building up quite a following amongst gore hounds, with Creep, Severance and his latest, Triangle rewriting the pages. An interesting director, one I’ll be looking out for, but for now, Severance is a scortcha.