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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Horrorphile - May 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie poster
It’s a little tenuous reviewing this movie on my site, I’ll freely admit that; hardly a horror movie, but more importantly does it feature enough “nightmare” elements for it to qualify inclusion? The simple answer is yes; the longer answer is not really. It’s a swashbuckling adventure tale across the high seas that happens to involve a couple of menacing zombified pirates and some very alluring mermaids-cum-fang-bearing sirens, but more on that a little later. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) is what I term “supertrash”, all $250m of it. Directed by Rob Marshall, the guy who made Chicago and Nine, and written by series writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (although apparently inspired by a historical novel by Tim Powers).
On Stranger Tides Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz
Johnny Depp as Cap'n Jack and Penelope Cruz as Angelica
First up, the movie as a whole; overlong, though not nearly as overlong as the previous three instalments in Disney’s hugely successful movie series based on Disneyland’s original splashy cavernous boat joyride. There’s way too much dialogue, and the dry-docked first half plods along with numerous two-handed conversation pieces. Still, it ended up being more engaging than The Curse of the Black Pearl, and possibly Dead Man’s Chest (I never saw At World's End).
On Stranger Tides Ian McShane
Ian McShane as Blackbeard
However, if the two rows of obnoxious brats seated in front of my wife and I were anything to judge by, the movie was simply not engaging enough; they had the attention spans of flies and the wholly irritating presence of flies as well, constantly leaving their seats and chatting incessantly. I reprimanded the bunch three times. Two-thirds of the way into the movie there were only two of them left, the others had buggered off. I know I was never that rude at twelve or so when I went to the cinema, treating it like my living room. But enough of the annoying younger generation, I’ve digressed something chronic!

On Stranger Tides Geoffrey Rush
Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa
Johnny Depp is still chewing the scenery like a drunken demon; his Captain Sparrow characterisation now so deeply etched as to no doubt haunt him for the rest of his career! Geoffery Rush returns as the yellow-eyed Captain Barbossa, now hobbling with peg leg. Arrrr! Ian McShane steps out of the shadows as the dreaded Blackbeard, complete with smouldering dreadlocks, although his presence wasn’t nearly as formidable as I had hoped (he’s actually quite short I discovered). Let’s be honest here, McShane was slumming it dreadfully. Penelope Cruz made a memorable entry, as Angelica, but initially as Sparrow’s “doppelganger”, only to have her heaving bosom threaten to steal everyone’s thunder. She too appeared to be in it for the money, but still a joy to watch strutting her buccaneer stride.

It wasn’t until the half way mark whilst questing for the Fountain of Youth and the mermaids’ arrival that On Stranger Tides started to lift its mythological game (of which the entire series rest its heels on). It was about time mermaids entered the Pirates’ picture! Gemma Ward, the wide-eyed Australian supermodel, played Tamara (as she’s named in the end credits), a blonde mermaid who is first to rise from the depths and lure the sailors into a deadly kiss. But it is the young dark-haired beauty Syrena (Astrid Berge-Frisbey) - named by the awestruck young missionary Philip (Sam Claflin) – who is netted by Blackbeard. He needs a mermaid’s teardrop, genuinely spilled in joy or sorrow (joy is the more potent), to add to one of the two chalices he has purloined. With the chalices the Fountain of Youth will bring him eternal life!
On Stranger Tides Astrid Berge-Frisbey
Astrid Berge-Frisbey as Syrena
Watching the rather chaste depiction of the mermaid sirens (one must keep in mind this is an M-rated movie, PG-13 in the States), all carefully positioned hair and immaculate fangs, it made me yearn for a movie depicting the mythology of mermaids and sirens in all their unbridled eroticism and ferocity. I want voluptuous nudity and mouths full of serrated, shark-like incisors. I want the dual appearance of goddess and succubus played to the hilt. The mermaid sirens of On Stranger Tides didn’t ride that particular nightmare wave, but they certainly provided a piqued interest.
On Stranger Tides zombie quarter-master
Zombified quarter-master
One other memorable moment was Blackbeard’s demise (no real spoiler there, we all know he got his beans), caught up in the whirlpool of destruction courtesy of the Fountain of Youth, having unwittingly saved his daughter, thanks to Sparrow’s sly confusion, Blackbeard’s flesh is torn from his face, his skeletal hand bursting through the watery dust devil in three dimensions (yet On Stranger Tides is one of those movies that hardly seems worth the extra money spent on 3D glasses.)

There’s a straight-to-DVD release called Siren, more of a straight horror, about a hapless group on a yacht in the Meditteranean. It’s probably terrible, but I think I’ll have to hunt that one down.

Here’s the trailer:


Coffin Joe Collection

May 26th 2011 02:26
Coffin Joe DVD cover art
Brazilian maverick filmmaker Jose Mojica Marins practised his own form of movie witchcraft, tackling religion, sexuality and mortality with little regard to convention or good taste, yet he possessed a distinct cinematic style, a strong, imaginative vision, and a twisted existential voice, and although his movies weren’t seen by audiences outside of Brazil for many years after the movies were made (and they were often banned in Brazil as well), Mojica Marins garnered a feverish following of fans.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse movie poster art
He began making Super-8 and 16mm movies in his parents backyard. After he moved out of home he bought a disused warehouse and transformed it into a film studio. It was here where he shot many of his early features. The character he is most remembered for is his diabolical sadistic creation, Zé do Caixão (Joseph of the Coffin). When Something Weird Video first distributed his movies in North America they took the liberty of abbreviating the name to Coffin Joe, and it stuck.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse
Coffin Joe was a strange man indeed; a loner utterly obsessed with finding the perfect woman; a woman without feeling, no love, no hate, simply pure so that she can bear him a son that would provide him with the immortality he craves. Coffin Joe’s concepts of good and evil go beyond normal comprehension, and his quest pushes him into the realm of darkness. He finds it necessary to be abjectly cruel to women (and to men also, but mostly women); degrading them, terrifying them, torturing them, and if they don’t live up to his idea of the perfect woman, then they must perish. Coffin Joe appears to be a misogynist, and for all intensive purposes his arrogance and behaviour confirms this, but there is something much more complex at work toiling away in the mind of this perverse and megalomaniacal undertaker.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse
Mojica Marins began a trilogy in 1964 tracing Coffin Joe’s pursuit for a superior woman to deliver him the perfect son. The first two he produced few years apart in the mid 60s, the third, Embodiment of Evil he didn’t make until 2008. Umbrella Entertainment have released a deluxe four-feature edition; The Cult Tour Guide of Terror – Coffin Joe Collection, encompassing the first two movies of the trilogy, plus a surreal exploration of “drug-addled” morality and mortality that uses Coffin Joe as a pawn of psychological manipulation, and a documentary that focuses on Jose Mojica Marins’ bizarre film career and the character that has occupied so much of it.

At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul movie poster
À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul)
Coffin Joe terrorises a small town whilst operating as the local undertaker, which is a front for his nefarious activities. This is the bad man’s introduction, his appearance in black, with flowing cape, top hat, lycanthropic eyebrows, and hideously long fingernails. He dabbles with supernatural forces, taunts the locals, and scoffs at their religious beliefs (in one memorable scene Coffin Joe enters a bar on Holy Friday and demands to eat a lamb cutlet, much to the disdain of the locals, he responds with violence).

Shot on what looks like the smell of an oily rag in black and white and released in 1964 At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul has a spare and striking atmosphere. Despite its limitations the imagery lingers, especially that of Coffin Joe and his witchy cackle. His obsessive hunt for the perfect woman and the supernatural energy he conjures eventually overwhelms him, but despite his ocular injuries he survives to continue his quest.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse movie poster art
Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse)
The sequel, released in 1967, and mostly in black and white, picks up directly after the first movie. The production values are of the same low fidelity, but invested with much passion. Coffin Joe has made a miraculous recovery, much to his dark pleasure. He can continue his search, and he makes up for lost time by hypnotising and abducting six women. He then subjects them to horrifying tests to see if they are pure enough; tarantulas are set loose while the women sleep and they crawl all over them, then most of them are locked in a pit full of snakes while Coffin Joe looks on from a bedroom hole above the cell where he amorously tests the sixth woman.

Unnecessarily longer than the first movie, but filled with more nightmarish imagery This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse features a fantastic ten-minute sequence in vivid outlandish colour when Coffin Joe is swallowed up by cemetery earth and falls into Hell. “Lost in a labyrinth of egoism and dominated by an imaginary power: the faith in the immortality of the spirit.” The only truth of life for Coffin Joe is the immortality of blood! Weird electronic “science fiction” sounds emanate.

Awakening of the Beast movie poster art
O Ritual dos Sádicos (Awakening of the Beast)
Man will only find truth when he searches for truth, and in this experimental study of perversion and suggestion Coffin Joe features as a figure of extreme manipulation masquerading under the cloak of psychotropic narcotic use. A faux-documentary, Shining Light in the Dark, uses the appearance of LSD and hashish use to project the concept of overt suggestive power that is really the manipulation of an existing terror a la Coffin Joe.

According to Coffin Joe women are the willing slaves and instruments used through the millennium, yet cannot be tainted by man’s evil stench. There is an apparent love/hate relationship going on that is skirted and swerved around, disguised by fear and paranoia, abuse and depravity. The last half and hour of Awakening of the Beast, which was made in 1969, but banned by the military censorship regime of Brazil for twenty years, is in wild, garish colour. It’s a difficult movie to penetrate, but much of the imagery and editing is more than a little curious.

Jose Mojica Marins Coffin Joe
Maldito - O Estranho Mundo de José Mojica Marins (The Strange World of Mojica Marins)
Made in 2001 this fascinating documentary reveals the man behind the Coffin Joe mask, the poet of the macabre. A director described as a cross between Russ Meyer and Luis Bunuel meets Alejandro Jodorowsky. Mojica Marins wasn’t the shrewdest of businessman and as such, despite his movies doing great upon release (unless they were banned), he never made the riches many of his colleagues expected him to make. But they also admit to understanding that Mojica’s methods were never going to serve him well financially.

Awakening of the Beast
He courted controversy like a pyromaniac plays with fire, and a cloud of bad luck was never too far from his movie shoot. Oddly enough many people connected with his movies died, but as Mojica was quick to point out, never on his set. The documentary takes a turn for the seriously perverse when Mojica reveals that due to his movies receiving such terrible distribution (and frequently heavily cut) he was forced to resort to a more base (but a guaranteed sell), level of filmmaking: pornography. He and one of his regular actors talk candidly about a woman and a very enthusiastic German Shepherd!
This Night I Will Posses Your Corpse

Coffin Joe Collection (4-disc set, including additional director interviews) is courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment, many thanks!

Here’s the trailer to At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul:

Here’s the trailer to This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse:

Here’s the first ten minutes of the doco The Strange World of Mojica Marins:


The Crow

May 24th 2011 06:17
The Crow movie poster
“People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.”

It’s a shame the version of The Crow (1994), Australian director Alex Proyas’s adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic book vigilante Eric Draven’s dark hunt for justice, that was released had much of its violence (and even a pivotal character) cut in order for an R-rating, that wide demographic blessing executive producers are looking for. The movie’s tenebrous heart is squeezed dry of much of its nightmare blood, its Gothic wings clipped, its angst-ridden soul left to wither and writhe in the rain-soaked gutter of the backstreets. Still, the movie commands a cult following, although much of that was garnered due to lead actor Brandon Lee’s untimely death on set, only eight days before principal photography was due to be wrapped.
The Crow Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee as Eric
Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) is a Goth-rock guitarist in a band known as Hangman’s Joke (their album is called Last Laugh). He is about to get married to his sweetheart, Shelly (Sofia Shinas), but tragedy strikes them both in the most cruel and heinous fashion; a clutch of thrill kill junkies invade their apartment and are raping poor Shelly when Eric bursts in on the scene. The fiancées are murdered, Shelly lies broken and bleeding on the bed, Eric is shot and thrown through the window where he plummets to his death.
The Crow Michael Wincott and Bai Ling
Michael Wincott as Top Dollar and Bai Ling as Myca
A year later a crow is the harbinger of death-life for Draven (raven, get it?), and the man is resurrected from his grave, brought back as a kind of supernaturally-enhanced human vessel for vengeance. He’s a zombie, essentially, but a broodingly good-looking one with a stylish, festishized wardrobe and make-up to boot. I’m sure Heath Ledger took a page from his book when her played The Joker in The Dark Knight Returns (2008).
The Crow Rochele Davis
Rochele Davis as Sarah
The crow acts as his guide, leading him through the darkened, rain-swept city to his killers: knife thrower Tin Tin (Lawrence Mason), smack addict Funboy (Michael Massee), car buff T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), and the runt Skank (Angel David). Eric employs extreme prejudice when meting out his brand of justice. Their blood fills the drains. But it is their boss, a perverse drug lord with a penchant for the dark arts and the way of the sword, known as Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), who gives Draven a run for his money in the combat stakes when he exposes the secret to Draven’s invincibility.
The Crow Ernie Hudson
Ernie Hudson as The Cop Who Cares For The Crow
Screenwriters David J. Schow and John Shirley provide a threadbare narrative on which director Proyas shovels on the visual stylistics with a spade; it’s like a cross between the silhouettes, moody weather and MTV machinations of the Scott brothers; Blade Runner (1982) and The Hunger (1983) meets the Western revenge spectre of the Pale Rider. What appeared super-slick and ultra-sophisticated fifteen years ago looks frightfully hokey and claustrophobic when compared to similar contemporary adventures.
The Crow David Patrick Kelly
David Patrick Kelly as T-Bird
That’s not to deny The Crow’s primary cult appeal; the somewhat androgynous swagger of Brandon Lee as the walking wounded, his phantasm-clown visage and the true grit of his mission to avenge the death of his beloved … and himself. The use of miniature models for the sweeping camera shots of the unnamed city (Detroit, I assume, since there’s a reference to “motor city”) doesn’t hold up so well to the modern eye of scrutiny, and neither does the compositing of the crow soaring through the night air above the skyline, but the anamorphic-stretched crow POVs are still kinda dinky.
The Crow flame crow
Eric Draven, the artiste

But like I said, the real problem doesn’t lie so much in Brandon Lee’s stilted performance (it actually suits the role), but that the movie isn’t as dangerous and frightening as it could have been (what happened to the Skull Cowboy role played by Michael Berryman?) It does capture a comic strip visual essence that is certainly the tightest string to its bow, and Michael Wincott and Bai Ling as Myca are thoroughly enjoyable as the wicked villain lovers, but the whole crow as a power source and the sub-plot of juvenile street kid Sarah (Rochele Davis, who has only made one other movie since) shadowing Draven’s movements, feeling his sorrow, sleeping in the cemetery, and being there to comfort the Emo-esque ghost was all way too tenuous.

The Crow is far more a cinema curiosity than essential viewing. Why am I not surprised to discover a remake begins shooting in January 2012. Bradley Cooper is in the Draven role and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo who helmed the excellent 28 Weeks Later (2007) is in the director’s chair. I wonder if The Cure and Nine Inch Nails will provide new songs for the soundtrack?

NB: Bandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was accidentally shot when a supposed prop-gun being used in the flashback scene where Eric and Shelly are murdered suffered a prop department malfunction and fired an empty cartridge that hit Lee in the abdomen, mortally wounding him. He died in hospital several hours later. The movie is dedicated to Lee and to his fiancée Eliza Hutton who he was to marry two weeks after filming wrapped.

Here’s the trailer:



May 20th 2011 03:28
CDC's zombie apocalpyse
A friend and fellow Orbler (although she doesn't post in this neck of the woods much anymore) hosts a curious and fascinating website called Extraordinary Intelligence that deals all things paranormal, supernatural and conspiratorial. Basically all the mysteries and oddities that keep life (and beyond) interesting.

Natalina, the site's host, editor and writer, posted an amusing story about an apparently imminent zombie apocalypse and the measures we may need to take to deal with this potentially catastrophic event

[ Click here to read more ]

The New Daughter

May 18th 2011 01:49
The New Daughter video cover art
John James (Kevin Costner) has moved into a large isolated house in South Carolina with his two children, pubescent Louisa (Ivana Baquero) and her kid brother Sam (Gattlin Griffith). The family is in turmoil; John’s wife, and mother of his children, has left him, and now he is struggling to concentrate on his work. Louisa is moving into adolescence and harbours a deep-rooted grudge against her father for the breakup. Sam has become wary of his sister who seems so different than the younger girl he used to play with. But there is something else affecting Louisa, a dark supernatural energy on the property, emanating from a large earth mound, that draws Louisa to it night after night. She returns to the house soiled and vague, much to her father’s concern. He’s losing her to something more powerful than human family ties.
The New Daughter Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner as John
The New Daughter (2009) is the debut feature from Luis Berdejo, the Spanish co-screenwriter of [REC] (2007). Working from a short story by John Connolly and adaptation for the screen by John Travis, Berdejo is aiming squarely at the American market with an English-language horror-thriller starring Kevin Costner as the beleaguered father. But it’s not your typical American horror movie narrative, especially the ending. The New Daughter is a complex, atmospheric, handsomely mounted production with a superb central performance from Ivana Baquero, who impressed as the young heroine in Pan’s Labyrinth (2007). It’s a creepy tale of strange arcane ritualism, Pagan-like in its focus on creatures of the soil, fertility and sacrifice, sex and death.
The New Daughter Ivana Baquero
Ivana Baquero as Louisa
I real shame this movie didn’t receive a theatrical release, but I can understand why it no doubt under performed in the US, and suffered poor distribution: the pessimistic ending. It’s a surprise ending, but wholly satisfying to horrorphiles who like an apocalyptic nod. The New Daughter doesn’t pull too many punches (until the very end), relying on suggestion for much of its story, but the imagery is still vivid and nightmarish when it needs to be; a humanoid beastie scuttling up the roof of the house by Louisa's window in the dead of night as she peers out into the nocturnal abandon; the family cat lying eviscerated in the grass; spiders spilling from within a Native Indian occult-infused straw doll; Louisa clutching herself in the bath, recovering from an incident on top of the mound, her body smeared with mud and twigs in her hair, menstrual blood trickling between her legs down the sink hole

[ Click here to read more ]

Cabin Fever

May 17th 2011 04:54
Cabin Fever movie poster
I'm not entirely sure where Eli Roth gets all his kudos and acclaim from. His good looks and charisma seem to have carried him far, because his talent as a filmmaker hasn’t impressed me much. Of the three features he’s made only Hostel: Part II (2007) made any impact. I re-watched Cabin Fever (2002), Roth’s low-budget debut, having seen it several years ago. I couldn’t remember much from it, and on a second viewing I understood why; it’s an over-rated piece of forgettable schlock. Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, and Tobe Hooper all heaped praise on it. Roth must have been getting them all drunk on moonshine and holding a shotgun to their heads. Cabin Fever is like an annoying scab you just wanna pick off and flick away.
Cabin Fever Jordan Ladd and Rider Strong
Jordan Ladd as Karen and Rider Strong as Paul
Eli Roth’s obviously got the gift of the gab, oodles of enthusiasm and a passion for the movies, just like his mate Tarantino. Roth made dozens of Super-8 films as a teenager before attending NYU Film School, graduating in 1994. After many years in the industry he ended up working for David Lynch producing content for the director’s website before entering into production on Cabin Fever, a script he’d penned with buddy Randy Pearlstein and had been shopping around since 1995. Made for $US1.5m Cabin Fever ended up becoming the most sought after distribution deal after its screening at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival.

[ Click here to read more ]


May 16th 2011 00:03
Snowtown movie poster
It was inevitable that a movie would be made about the heinous South Australian murder case commonly known as “the bodies in the barrels”. It is the worst known serial killing in Australia’s history and unusual in that it involved several killers working together, like a pack of wolves with an alpha male. John Bunting was the alpha male, a charismatic psychopath. Under his wing was young Jamie Vlassakis, a lost soul in need of a father figure. Snowtown (2011) is a slow burn nightmare that focuses on their relationship: a manipulative monster and the innocent victim who became hopelessly trapped in complicity.

Inspired by the books Killing for Pleasure by Debi Marshall and The Snowtown Murders by Andrew McGarry, Snowtown details how a close-knit group of Adelaide suburbanites become a nest for the evil agenda of John Bunting and his accomplices, hell-bent on cleansing the neighbourhood of paedophiles and those that he deemed degenerates, which included homosexuals. The screenplay is by Shaun Grant, the movie is directed Justin Kurzel, the cast is made up mostly of complete unknowns; the end result is a powerful and disturbing drama that resonates with the frightening reverberations of a vivid nightmare; where everything appears strangely normal, yet there is something so very, very wrong; an atmosphere of dread and foreboding that culminates in horrendous violence

[ Click here to read more ]

Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter movie poster
The Friday the 13th series of movies, like the majority of the Halloween series, and the majority of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, are pretty terrible. Some of them are low-budget shite and others are big-budget crap. There are one or two exceptions; John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is pared-back, terror brilliance, and Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is shonky, but very imaginative slasher surrealism. I have a soft fleshy spot for Halloween II (1981), but that’s more a guilty pleasure. I know there are lots of fans of the later Freddy Krueger sequels, but I’m not one of them. As for Crystal Lake’s champion of menace, Jason Voorhees; in all th
e sequels that followed the first Friday the 13th (1980), he certainly pulled the sack over millions of eyes.

[ Click here to read more ]

Amityville II: The Possession

May 12th 2011 02:47
Amityville II: The Possession movie poster
saw Amityville II: The Possession (1982) at the cinema when it was first released, having not seen the first movie (which I didn’t see until only a few days ago). My memories of it as a dark and brutal movie with cool special effects and some shocking violence were seemingly etched in my mind. I saw it again on VHS sometime in the 90s and I suppose it must have held up for the most part … so I bought a copy on DVD for my archives. I watched it again after my recent double-act session of The Amityville Horror (1979) and The Amityville Horror (2005) remake. I must have had the Devil’s goggles on during those previous viewings of Amityville II
Amityville II Jack Magner
Jack Magner as Sonny
Amityville II: The Possession is a prequel (they should have dropped the "II") and takes its cue from the true crime story of the DeFeo family who occupied 112 Ocean Avenue before the Lutz family. Unfortunately for the DeFeo’s they didn’t escape with their lives; well one did, young Ronnie DeFeo, the eldest son, but he ended up serving several life sentence for multiple murder in the second degree (although his defence sought the plea of temporary insanity with Ronnie claiming voices in his head told him to kill). Ronnie DeFeo Jnr. confessed to killing his parents and four siblings, two sisters and two brothers, dead with a rifle despite weird details surrounding the homicides; neighbours didn’t hear any shots even though other homes were only 50 feet away, none of the family members appeared to have been woken by the gun shots suggesting Ronnie didn’t act alone.
Amityville II James Olsen
James Olsen as Father Adamsky
In Amityville II it is the Montelli family; the father Anthony (Burt Young), the mother Dolores (Rutyana Alda), the elder son Sonny (Jack Magner), the elder daughter Patricia (Diane Franklin), the younger daughter Jan (Erika Katz), and the younger son Mark (Brent Katz). They move into their new home and almost immediately weird shit starts happening. A partially hidden and filthy fly-infested room in the cellar releases an evil spirit that spooks the mother, but possesses Sonny

[ Click here to read more ]

The Amityville Horror (2005)

May 10th 2011 01:57
The Amityville Horror (2005) movie poster
Not a lot to say here. It’s not that director Andrew Douglas has made a bad movie, but he’s made a mediocre one. The Amityville Horror (2005) is visually more dynamic and arresting than the original Amityville Horror and dramatically it’s a better movie, but at the end of the day much less of it is memorable. By the next morning I had forgotten much of what happened, despite it following the original movie’s narrative quite closely. The Amityville Horror remake is essentially a vehicle movie for Ryan Reynolds’ menacing good looks and his taut-as-a-washboard six-pack, oh, and is notable as Chloe Moretz’s first major role on the big screen.
The Amityville Horror (2005) Melissa George and Ryan Reynolds
Melissa George as Kathy and Ryen Reynolds as George
The Lutz family buy a huge waterside property for a steal. It’s a deceased estate, but Kathy (Melissa George) wants it bad, and George (Ryan Reynolds) is okay with it too. I doubt I’d move into a home where the eldest son murdered both parents and his four younger siblings with a shotgun, claiming voices told him to do it. But hey, it’s a lovely place complete with boat shed in a leafy Long Island neighbourhood. I’m sure the evil energy has moved on or dissipated at least. Wrong.
The Amityville Horror (2005) Chloe Moretz
Chloe Moretz as Chelsea
George turns into a complete bastard, possessed by the evil vibe that permeates the house. His eyes become bloodshot and he treats everyone badly. But it’s not just George who’s under the influence of something malevolent. Young Chelsea (Chloe Moretz) has started conversing with an imaginary friend, Jodie (Isabel Connor), who isn’t so imaginary, but more an apparition. The ghost of the youngest of the DeFreo family who were brutally slain as they slept, Jodie, had hidden in the closet and her deranged older brother shot her dead at point blank range as she started plaintively at him. Nasty brother

[ Click here to read more ]


May 9th 2011 03:38
Insidious movie poster
Australian director and screenwriter duo, James Wan and Leigh Whannel, have returned to their low budget roots and made a supernatural fright-fest that is pushing panic buttons with both the critics and audiences. Insidious (2011) is one of the best PG-13 horror movies I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s not the amazing movie it wants to be, but it certainly provides more than its fair share of “Boo!”s, even if they’re all delivered with the blunt predictable effectiveness of a well-worn Ghost Train ride. Hell, it may be shonky, but there's a certain "olde world" charm about it.
Insidious Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson
Rose Byrne as Renai and Patrick Wilson as Josh
Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) and husband Josh (Patrick Wilson) have moved into a new house with their two sons, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor). But something’s not right. There’s a strange energy. Renai picks up on it. Dalton investigates the attic and has a spill. Next morning the poor boy’s slipped into a weird coma. Three months later, with Dalton still comatose, the distraught parents bring the boy home to care for him there. Weird shit starts to happen, and Renai is convinced the house is haunted, so they move. But as the movie’s tagline says, it’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s Dalton.
Insidious Ty Simpkins
Ty Simpkins as Dalton
Cue even more scary paranormal shit, especially shadowy spectres, strange voices, and things that go bump in the night. Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) contacts a friend of hers, Elise (Lin Shaye) who happens to be a professional in the field of paranormal activity. Elise bring with her two assistants, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), who appear to be a comedy duo. Elise explains to Renai and Josh that Dalton has the ability to astral travel (groovy!), to be able to wander around the spirit world during his sleep. However it seems Dalton has wandered too far into a realm Elise calls The Further, a void where the lost souls of the dead linger, and where demons lie in wait, eager to inhabit the vessels of those who have become lost whilst astral travelling

[ Click here to read more ]

Insidious poster art
Attention supernatural freaks, the lovely folk at Icon in association with Horrorphile have five double-pass in-season giveaways to see the new fright-fest movie Insidious (2011), which opens in Australian cinemas this Thursday.


The Amityville Horror

May 6th 2011 01:31
The Amityville Horror movie poster
A few minutes into watching The Amityville Horror (1979), directed by Stuart Rosenberg, I realised I hadn’t seen it before, although I thought I had. I had seen Amityville II: The Possession (1982) when it was first released, so I must have got my supernatural wires crossed. I felt a bit sheepish, realising one of the “classic” haunted house stories had evaded me for over thirty years. As it turns out, I hadn’t missed much. Despite all the brouhaha over the real Lutz family claiming all the weird paranormal activity actually happened, the movie hasn’t dated very well, and for the most part is very dull, with unconvincing special effects. Still, the hammy performances and true story elements keep it unintentionally amusing.
The Amityville Horror James Brolin
James Brolin As George
In late 1974 George (James Brolin) and Kathy (Margot Kidder) Lutz, newly married, bought a large Amity Island house and moved in with Kathy’s three young kids from a previous marriage. It was a deceased estate, the previous family, the DeFeo’s (parents and three children) having died at the hands of a deranged 20-year-old son who shotgunned them whilst they slept. The kid claimed voices told him to do it (his story is told in the superior prequel, The Possession). George and Kathy paid $80k, down from $120k, a steal considering the size and location of the place, on the water’s edge, in a quiet leafy neighbourhood. But there was hell to pay as well.
The Amityville Horror Margot Kidder
Margot Kidder as Kathy
The Amityville Horror dog
The family dog furiously barking at nothing is never a good sign
the movie it only took two weeks for the Lutz family to be driven from the home in terror. The real Lutz family lasted 28 days. The screenplay is by Sander Stern, based on a book by Jay Anson (who in turn was provided with first-hand accounts from George & Kathy Lutz). Apparently the home was built on the grounds where black magic, Satanism, and sacrifice were practiced long ago. Cursed soil feeds the seeds of horror. Flies gather at the windows, voices echo through the house, the husband becomes mildly possessed, a walled-up room is discovered, painted red, priests and nuns are driven in abject sickness from the property, even maimed at a distance, blood trickles through the walls and down the stairs, orange porcine eyes gleam in the darkness. “For God’s sake, get out

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Prince of Darkness

May 5th 2011 03:27
Prince of Darkness movie poster
The problem with John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) is not so much the content and visual style, but with the screenplay; it doesn’t really deliver what it promises, and it takes ages to get anywhere. Carpenter employs some striking imagery, his score is compelling, and his performances are, for the most part, solid. But we’re talking about the presence and potential revelation of the most ancient evil the world has ever known, pre-dating civilisation. Prince of Darkness focuses on the discovery of the father of Satan through an arcane society known as The Brotherhood of Sleep by a group of physics university graduates, a very anxious priest, and a concerned lecturer. Prince of Darkness is John Carpenter’s stab at theology and superstition, and of the supernatural energy that lies coiled under the rock of religious curiosity.
Prince of Darkness Jameson Parker
Jameson Parker as Brian
Apparently The Holy Ghost will not save humankind, nor will the God Plutonium save us. In fact, we won’t be saved at all! According to scriptures the father of Satan burned his son inside a container that was buried somewhere in the Middle East eons ago. He was a God who once walked amongst man but was banished to the dark side. Then along comes Jesus Christ to warn us, a man of extra-terrestrial ancestry, but a human-like race. Christ gathers a large following, but is eventually deemed crazy, and despite having gained power and converting many people he is executed.
Prince of Darkness Donald Pleasence
Donald Pleasence as the priest
However, Christ’s disciples maintain his secret, waiting until society could develop a science sophisticated enough to prove Christ was right, and that the evil that lies in slumber will one day awaken to seize the day and turn it into perpetual night. Apparently every particle has an anti-particle, a mirror image, a negative side, and it is through this inverse, this dark reflection that the Prince of Darkness, the anti-God, will emerge once his energy and power have been rightfully harnessed and released

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The Beast Within

May 4th 2011 02:48
The Beast Within movie poster
Before Tom Holland lent his hand to the screenplay of Class of 1984 (1982), and several years before he gained critical and commercial success with Fright Night (1985) he was credited with the screen story and screenplay of The Beast Within (1982), which was very loosely based on a far superior novel by Edward Levy. An American production directed by Australian Phillipe Mora, the man responsible for The Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch) (1985) and The Howling III: The Marsupials (1987), The Beast Within sported a very alluring, but utterly disappointing publicity campain via the movie poster. I remember it clearly during its initial theatrical run, salivating at the prospect of such a movie, but I never got to see it, for whatever reason, until now.
The Beast Within Paul Clemens
Paul Clemens as Michael
The story begins in the American south of 1964, newlyweds Eli (Ronny Cox) and Caroline McCleary (Bibi Besch) on the road at night. When the car breaks down Eli is forced to walk back to the nearest gas station for assistance leaving his wife alone. Caroline follows the pet dog into woods where some kind of humanoid beastie attacks and rapes her leaving her unconscious. Eli returns and has her rushed to hospital.
The Beast Within Ronny Cox and Bibi Besch
Ronny Cox as Eli and Bibi Besch as Caroline
Seventeen years later and Michael McCleary (Paul Clemens) is a teenager with physiological problems, and we’re not talking adolescent angst. He’s slowly changing, evolving, metamorphosing, one murder at a time. After escaping from hospital where he’s being treated for an unknown malaise Michael befriends a sweet young Southern girl, Amanda (Kitty Moffat). But he’s plagued by a desperate hunger that is born from a cursed birth. Small town bigotry and dark secrets abound, and Michael has an affinity with creaking cicadas! Cue insect life cycle plot point! Big question time: why in the hell didn’t Eli and Caroline have an abortion if she was raped by some hairy slimy ghoul

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Class of 1999

May 3rd 2011 02:32
Class of 1999 movie poster
ark L. Lester’s sequel to Class of 1984 (1982) makes the earlier movie look like a damn fine piece of filmmaking. Which it is not. Class of 1999 (1989) is gutter trash. Class of 1984 is more like the kind of deep trash that smells, but it’s a curious odour, you can’t help but hang around, picking through the garbage in search of the odd trinket that might have value. Class of 1999 stinks, and the stench doesn’t warrant rifling through its slime for any kind of exploitation guilty pleasures. Even the "cult" presence of Pam Grier, Malcolm McDowell, or Stacy Keach can’t save it; in fact they only add to the movie’s cringe-inducing odour of fermenting fruit.
Class of 1999 Kennedy High
Now that's one scary school entrance!
The screenplay by C. Courtney Joyner is a truly dreadful piece of work, it makes Tom Holland’s screenplay for Class of 1984 read like serious literature. Mark Lester’s direction makes Turkey Shoot (1981) look sophisticated. If you thought the wardrobe was a hoot in the first movie, you’ll be Gaffaw City with the sequel. From the look of it 1999 looks like 1984, and the music is trapped in a MOR punk-rock nightmare. Class of 1999 is about as progressive as a hole in the ground.
Class of 1999 Bradley Gregg and Traci lin
Bradley Gregg as Cody and Traci Lin as Christine
According to the movie’s statistics during the 90s violent crime in schools rose dramatically, and by 1997 gangs had taken control of large sections of the major cities. These gang-controlled areas became known as free-fire zones. A drug called Edge surfs the waves of the reckless youth, it’s “the best new high since Skin.” Two gangs compete for supremacy; the Razorheadz and the Blackheartz. In Seattle Kennedy High is the epicentre of extreme violent incident, one every 2 hours and 38 seconds to be precise. Inside the classrooms the students are out of control, throwing balls of scrunched up paper at each other! OMG! Is no one paying attention to the school signs?! Respect. Obey. Learn. There’ll be hell to pay

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Class of 1984

May 2nd 2011 01:33
Class of 1984 movie poster
Mark L. Lester's Class of 1984 (1982) is one of those cult movies that manages to beguile the viewer on a superficial curio level, but is far less effective than it could have been, and what it ultimately wants to be. What may have seemed shocking and reprehensible for some audiences in 1982 doesn't cut any real mustard thirty years later. That's not saying other movies of the time (and earlier) don't possess the calibre to cause some moral outrage or offense or disturb with their portrayal of violence, but Class of 1984 just isn't convincing, not at any point of the movie; it's a brash and aggressive cartoon and is similarly absurd and unsophisticated as well.
Class of 1984 Perry King
Perry King as Andy Norris
Class of 1984 is The Blackboard Jungle of the future. Mr. Norris (Perry King) has just started teaching music at Abraham Lincoln High School. He's a little green, and needs a few pointers on just what he's in for. Mr. Corrigan (Roddy McDowall), the biology teacher, walks him through the process of turning a blind eye to the students smuggling weapons and generally keeping one's wits about you. Lincoln High is one of those bad schools where the bullies rule the corridors and the classroom, where teachers are paid no respect whatsoever, and chaos and violence is the (dis)order of the day.
Class of 1984 Keith Knight, Stefan Arngrim, Timothy Van Patten, Neil Clifford and Lisa Langlois
Barnyard (Keith Knight), Drugstore (Stefan Arngrim), Stegman (Timothy Van Patten), Fallon (Neil Clifford) and Patsy (Lisa Langlois)
"Last year there were 280,000 incidents of violence by staudents against their teachers and classmates in our high schools," reads the movie's opening scrawl, "Unfortuately, this film is partially based on true events. Unfortunately, very few schools are like Lincoln High, yet." Alice Cooper's I Am the Future kicks in, as we see the kinds of kids who populate Lincoln High arriving for class. Apparently punk-rock is the mode du jour, although by no means traditional, this look is more new wave than no wave. Class of 1984 is Bronx camp, whether it was intentional or not. The bullies are more like reckless fops than a genuinely menacing gang. They look like they're heading to an audition for The Rocky Horror Show.
Class of 1984 Roddy McDowall
Roddy McDowall as Mr. Corrigan
Stegman (Timothy Van Patten) is the bully gang leader, a good-looking lad with style to burn. His partners in crime are Drugstore (Stefan Arngrim), Barnyard (Keith Knight), Fallon (Neil Clifford), and Patsy (Lisa Langlois). "They paint on the walls, they piss in the corridors, they steal anything that isn't bolted down." They all look much older than teenagers, but that's just part and parcel with many high school movies of the period. The only student who actually looks young enough is Michael J. Fox, who was twenty at the time, but looks about fourteen tops. He plays a pudding-bowl pussy and ends up in hospital.
Class of 1984 Michael J. Fox and Erin Noble
Arthur (Michael J. Fox) and Deneen (Erin Noble)
So Norris is harassed by Stegman and his gang and does his best to reason with Stegman, whom he believes is a talented kid gone off the rails. "What's the matter with you?" Norris exclaims, "What's the matter with you?! What's the matter with me? What's the matter with matter?!" Stegman responds like a true revolutionary. Stegman's talent is "proven" when Stegman hammers out a self-penned "concerto" in class, much to the rest of the class, and Norris's, amazement. Norris doesn't let Stegman get the upper hand though and orders him to leave the classroom, his insubordinate attitude having no effect.
Class of 1984 smile for the camera
A Polaroid moment = a momento for Norris
Stegman takes to torching Norris's car, so Norris retaliates and totals Stegman's car. Game is definitely on. Arthur (Fox) is caught in the crossfire, as is Norris's wife after Stegman and gang make an unannounced house invasion whilst Norris is at the school orchestra performance, conductor's wand in hand, waiting for his wife to arrive. Patsy delivers him a Polaroid of his wife being raped, and Norris decides enough is enough.
Class of 1984 Timothy Van Patten
Stegman spills blood to frame Norris
Class of 1984 is mostly a curiosity; the funny anti-fashion/fashion sense. It's amusing to think director Mark Lester and his wardrobe designer thought that the punk rock ethic was going to monopolise culture and fashion, when the reality is it simply went underground falling prey to a more gaudy and much softer look; New Romanticism. For all intensive purposes punk rock was dead by 1984. Stegman and his gang wouldn't look out of place on Saturday morning Video Hits. The movie is Canadian, but curiously I was hard pressed to pick the Canadian accent ("out" pronounced as "oat" is the usual giveaway). The violence is far from realistic; the fight scenes are poorly choreographed, and there is nothing graphic except one brief moment near movie's end when Norris and Fallon confront each other in the school woodworks room. This is the scene I remember from when I first saw the movie many years ago on VHS (the movie during its theatrical release was given a rare R20 in New Zealand, probably because paranoid censors didn't want teenagers involved in any copycat behaviour in school). I had remembered a nasty buzz saw amputation, but it was very tame. Supposedly that amputation and the rape scene of Norris's wife were trimmed to avoid the dreaded "X" rating. I'm very curious to know what was cut out, as I can't imagine either would have added much.
Class of 1984 Lisa Langlois
Come and get some teacher!
The performances are enthusiastic, but very hokey. Roddy McDowall, bless him, is as camp as ever, but commands the movie's best scene when he takes his class at gunpoint. Lisa Langlois as patsy is the movie's most interesting character, after Stegman. An interesting fact is Timothy Van Patten went on to be a very successful television director working on numerous highly-praised shows such as The Wire, Deadwood, The Sopranos, early Sex and the City, Rome, and most recently, Boardwalk Empire. I love the poster art for Class of 1984, and for me, that conjures up a far more vivid, atmospheric, and compelling scenario than the movie actually delivers. At movie's end, after Norris has resorted to the only language the criminal kids know, an end scrawl reads, "Andy Norris was not prosecuted because the police could not find anyone who actually saw what happened." It has to be one of the most fatuous and inane reasonings for an exploitation flick, ever.

Still, great poster

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