MorallySound's 31 Days of Horror

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by MorallySound, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 14: My Soul to Take (2010)

    Wes Craven is practically a household name, and not just to fans of cinema. Craven has crafted some of the horror genre's most memorable scares and one of the genre's biggest icons - Freddy Krueger. From setting the template for the extremely unsettling rape-revenge sub-genre with Last House on the Left, to vicious killer mutants in The Hills Have Eyes, to inducing nightmares to practically every child who caught a glimpse of the 'clawed man' with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven's name is engraved on more than one horror classic. Hell, all of the above mentioned have even been remade! But lately he's been downhill with crap like Cursed and Red Eye, and we can only hope to forget Vampire in Brooklyn... And his latest effort My Soul to Take, which was also post-converted into 3D (yuck!), is probably his worst since Eddie Murphy donned fangs!

    Some years ago the small town of Riverton was terrorized by a knife-wielding serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper whom was supposedly captured and killed. Now sixteen years later the Riverton Seven, seven teens born on the same day the killer was allegedly put to rest, are being killed one by one by the very legend that shadows their births. Adam "Bug" Heller (Max Thieriot), one of the seven, is trying to figure out the truth and save his few remaining friends before the Riverton Ripper gets them all, but a bigger question must be answered first: did the original Riverton Ripper actually survive that night and has returned to seek vengeance, or has the serial killer's soul possessed one of the teens?

    Completely inept and a giant mess, My Soul to Take is an absolutely horrendous exercise in horror filmmaking where continuity, common sense, and fact are completely ignored. Characters spout insanaely sophomoric dialogue such as "Epinephrine kicks ass!" after a medic sticks the original killer with an EpiPen, or the soon-to-be-cult-catchprashe "If it's too hot out, just turn on the prayer conditioning." Whoah! Really? The fact that Wes Craven not only directed this mind-numbing experience but also wrote it is so unfathomable it hurts the brain. The only neutral thing that My Soul to Take has going for it is that the actors portraying the 16-year old teens actually look their age, which you usually never see in a horror film involving teens.

    My Soul to Take's biggest downfall however is that it doesn't know what its target audience really is. Since the main actors portraying the Riverton Seven do in fact look high school age, you would think that high school age teens would be the film's demographic, but the film has a 'hard R' and the violence and language are both explicit. Right there the R-rating eliminates that would-be audience from seeing it in the cinemas. The overall content dealing with the characters, their lives and relationships, the music, and the horrendous dialogue, aside from the foul language, is written for the PG to PG-13 crowd so there is some inept miscommunication for the marketing and execution of this film. The only way to describe it is as an R-rated slasher for the Olsen twins crowd. And just thinking about that is enough to make anyone's head explode as that makes about as much sense as the movie. My Soul to Take is a disaster. Inept, unoriginal, and juvenile horror filmmaking. And the 3D wasn't even well put to use and barely noticeable! Wes Craven, you've got some explaining to do!

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/ripped-to-shreds.html
     
  2. Egg_Shen

    Egg_Shen broomhead

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    I just wanted to chime in to say I've really enjoyed all of these reviews. Between you and the sites reviewers it's been quite a month here so far. I'm definately going to track down a copy of Blood Rage.
     
  3. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 15: Opera (1987)

    You know a Dario Argento film when you see one - vivid and hypnotic colours, elaborate camera moves and sets, beautifully graphic violence, and horror on a grandiose scale. A Dario Argento film has a specific stylized stamp that's practically a brand of Italian cinema in and of itself. A master of the giallo with such films as Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Deep Red, and Suspiria, Argento would tackle Opera, his most difficult and wildly elaborate and epic giallo, as not only a tribute to the curse of Macbeth but to the grandious scale and class of the opera itself.

    Betty (Christina Marsillach), a young opera singer, is offered a starring role in a production of Verdi's Macbeth after the main actress is injured in a car accident. Familiar with the curse associated with the play, Betty, under the pressure of her agent (Daria Nicolodi), accepts the role and goes onto rave reviews. But it isn't long before she is terrorized by a masked fan who tapes needles under her eyes and forces her to watch her friends and co-workers get killed in increasingly grisly fashion. It's now a race to find out who the real killer is, and what connection he has to her dreams, before the final curtain falls on Betty's life.

    Opera showcases Argento at his insane stylistic best that rivals the Technicolor mastery of Suspiria. With extremely elegant sets, Ronnie Taylor's well-constructed scope cinematography, and murder-set-pieces shot and choreographed so beautifully that watching the blood flow is in itself a work of art, Opera is exactly what it appears to be - an operatic horror film achievement. Dealing with the curse of Macbeth, the production itself went through many mishaps, including the death of an actor and the loss of almost half of the crows that were set free in the opera house, but it did not cease Dario Argento from crafting a richly complex and visually stunning giallo.

    Being an Argento film where the style is forefront you do have to forgive some of the flaws in the storytelling, and Opera is no exception. The ending may feel tacked on, or unnecessary, but Opera is so grand in scope that the sheer ride it takes you on is all worth it. Opera is one of the last great Dario Argento films that truly incapsulates the mind of a genius of cinema and visual storytelling. A filmmaker who knows how to use light, camera angle, position, and movement to make every frame a sinister work of art, Opera showcases Argento's flair for the over the top. Stunning, beautiful, ultra-violent, and larger than life, make sure to reserve a date and spend a night at the opera.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/beautiful-death_15.html
     
  4. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 16: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)

    They are big, ugly, grotesque, slobbering, and sometimes found under your bed. They guard treasures, they eat children, they live in caves or in forests. They are monsters. Not only existing in our nightmares or on home video, monsters can be traced back through legends and myths throughout the ages in every culture. Everyone has looked under their bed or in their closet, and we've all been afraid of them at one point or another. But more importantly, monsters in the past in cinema were physical things - people in suits, costumes, make-up, actually giving life to the character. With the advent of CGI, while they can do things we could never have dreamt of physically, these computer-generated monsters lack an actual presence. They lose the fear from our emotional attachment to the characters on screen because we can spot that and subconsciously we know it's not actually there - it's not real. But back in the day when the craft of monster making was practiced, even a guy in a crappy rubber suit, take Slithis for example, somehow becomes a fearful reality on screen. And this is what Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer promises us - big, scary, slimy monsters actually created and performed by an actor in a suit. The good ol' days are back!

    Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews), a plumber by day, has got anger problems stemming back to his childhood. He constantly flips out at the littlest things and is desperately trying to find a solution. Relaxation doesn't work. Therapy doesn't work. His girlfriend has enrolled him in a night science class to help keep his mind off things, but it too is not doing the trick. After helping his professor, Gordon Crowley (Robert Englund), with some home plumbing problems something evil is let loose and possesses the quirky professor. Now the night class is more than just about grades, but about survival, and Jack Brooks must man up and face his own personal monsters... as well as some new ones!

    Absolutely no CGI was used during any of the effects in Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. Everything is a physical thing on screen interacting with the actors - a man in a rubber suit, a puppeteered tentacle, buckets of slime and fake blood. It's an achievement in todays independent horror scene where shoddy CGI runs rampant and a worthy homage and love letter to the monster makers of yesterday. The effects are impressive, considering the budget, and will hopefully inspire more filmmakers to go the practical route when it's possible because it just looks better and adds to the believability they all are trying to achieve anyway. Trevor Matthews is great as Jack, the anti-hero turned monster slayer. Robert Englund is quite comical and slapstick, especially mid-transformation, as the science professor with a now demon heart and it's great to see him outside his usually typecast villain characters. But attention really has to be paid to David Fox who has a small, but absolutely hysterical and memorable role, as Howard, the old hardware store employee with an important story for Jack. Fox's performance as Howard is probably the greatest senile old man character ever put to celluloid, hands down, and other then the practical monster effects is a highlight of the film.

    But more then just a full blown monster movie, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is well-written, entertaining, and knows who it's audience is. Really its only problem is the story itself is fairly short, but that does't really hurt it as it's not bogged down by unnecessary subplots. Jon Knautz and John Ainslie have created a fun and extremely fast paced monster movie with laughs and scares. In a day and age where practicality gets left behind it's refreshing to see that talent shine on screen once again. Films like these don't work with CGI, they'd be relegated to the bargain bin at a dollar store if they did. You wouldn't even want to fathom what The Evil Dead would have looked like if it was all modern CGI, would you? Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is old-school fun when horror cinema is relying too much on technology to scare us when all they need to do is place a monster back under our beds or in our closets.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/rubber-suit-returns.html
     
  5. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 17: Piranha (1978)

    Deep down in the big blue abyss so many creatures, known and unknown, lurk. Sharks, barracudas, jelly fish, and other beautiful but deadly fish swim the waters and put caution to taking a dip. Jaws practically had everyone staying on the beach, not yet prepared to go back into the waters. Fear of seeing a big fin in the distance looming closer and not knowing what exactly is underneath chilled movie fans to the bone. And Roger Corman, being the low-budget maverick he is, decided to make sure it wasn't safe to go back into the water anywhere, and this time it's not giant lurking terror but a whole school of pint-sized aquatic carnivores in Piranha!

    Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) is on the job looking for a missing couple. With the help of a local man Paul (Bradford Dillman), Maggie finds evidence that the couple was last present at a restricted military fishery in Lost River, Texas. And unbeknownst to them, after emptying a pool at the military compound, Maggie and Paul have released a genetically engineered school of piranha capable of surviving in cold salt water systems into the rivers running through the Lost River region. Now they must struggle to warn the population before the local people, a kids summer camp, and a lake resort village are turned blood red by the carnivorous piranha headed downstream.

    New World Pictures director Joe Dante tackles Piranha with both menace and humour, allowing us to relax and breath in between flowing blood red water. The story is fast moving and intelligent with great characters and a lot of piranha action. Bradford Dillman is great as the rough and tough single father and Heather Menzies is complimentary to him as the strong-headed heroine. Corman regulars Dick Miller and Paul Bartel have small, but hilarious, roles and international starlet Barbara Steele also has a cameo. For a low-budget picture the creature effects are surprisingly creative and effective. Phil Tippet and the rest of the effects crews ferocious fish are quite frightening and will truly make you think twice about getting into the water! Piranha also features some early make-up effects work from Rob Bottin, who eventually went on to legendary special effects status with John Capenter's The Thing.

    Piranha is a fun cult classic with lots of blood and a great script, usually something that doesn't always go hand in hand, especially in low-budget cinema. Featuring a great score by Pino Donaggio that's a classic example of a great, subtle orchestral score that stands up with the big boys like Jerry Goldsmith is an unexpected highlight. Piranha will leave you gasping, chuckling, and cheering, and if you didn't already have a fear of open water from Jaws or if you think you've gotten over your open-water phobia, you'll likely be heavily examining any murky waters from here on in. Because big or small, there are many hungry fish right below your treading feet!

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/not-safe-to-swin.html
     
  6. Iron Jaiden

    Iron Jaiden New Member

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    Dude great reviews.
    Just watched Blood Rage for the first time and it was awesome.

    Keep 'em comin!
     
  7. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 18: Vampyros Lesbos (1970)

    The vampire has taken on the illusive illusion as a sexual object symbolizing carnal desire and the danger of temptation throughout literature and cinema. The idea of being seduced by a dangerous creature whose goal is to make you a slave to their cravings melds both horror and erotica. An idea that appeals over and over again to audiences as the tale of the vampire has been, and continues to be, recycled, re-imagined, and remade throughout cinema history. Not just a blood-sucking ghoul, but the vampire is a consuming entity that encompasses the darker, or more misunderstood, aspects of human sexuality. And leave it up to cult cinematic legend Jess Franco to combine vampirism, lesbianism, and psychedelic music in the long-lost erotic horror classic Vampyros Lesbos.

    Linda Westinghouse (Ewa Stroemberg) is getting bored and frustrated in her straight-laced relationship and continues to have reoccurring erotic dreams about a mysterious woman. She's seeing a psychiatrist (Dennis Price) who suggests that she seek out another lover. Through her work as a lawyer, Linda meets Countess Nadine Carody (Soledad Miranda) who has inherited the estate of Count Dracula, and upon travelling to the island estate is cast under the spell of the Countess, a vampire with an insatiable thirst for female blood.

    Vampyros Lesbos erotically charges the vampire genre with plenty of softcore lesbianism, nudity, and one of the greatest psychedelic music scores in the history of Euro-horror cinema. Jess Franco alludes to previous films involving Dracula through his imagery and set design. Instead of a flapping bats there are colourful kites, instead of armadillos we have a scorpion walking across the ground, so Franco, even subtly, is playing homage to the original classics even if it doesn't have quite the horror or suspense the original images cast. As briefly mentioned, Manfred Huebler and Siegried Schwab's famous score is something that will have you dancing out of your seats and takes you right back to the late 60's/early 70's, and perfectly suits the long dialogue-less dance sequences.

    However, issues do plague the film. Vampyros Lesbos is very slow-paced and drawn out, and most viewers may find it quite boring. A lack of structural story and dialogue give the film more of an expressionistic music experimental feel which, while not necessarily a bad thing, will turn those viewers off who were seeking more of a standard horror film. Soledad Miranda and Ewa Stroemberg are beautiful to look at, but the film isn't as exciting as the premise would have it perceived to be. Vampyros Lesbos is worth a look for fans of erotic horror and Jess Franco completists, but for the rest of world there's probably not enough coherence, plot, or horror to keep one's interest.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/blood-lust_18.html
     
  8. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 19: Seventh Moon (2008)

    Legends and myths both enlighten and horrify. Back in 1999 Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick used the idea of legend and myth to new heights of terror in what took audiences by surprise and became the most successful low-budget horror film of all time, The Blair Witch Project. Dividing audiences and showing Hollywood you really only need a great idea and story to scare the pants off people, The Blair Witch Project kick started low-budget horror, but both directors never really went onto direct anything for quite a few years after. But in 2008 Eduardo Sanchez would return to the theme of legends and myths with the extremely underrated Seventh Moon.

    Melissa (Amy Smart) and her husband Yul (Tim Chiou) are spending their honeymoon in China and are taking in the exotic festivities of the "Hungry Ghost" festival. With the help of their tour guide Ping (Dennis Chan), the couple are to travel across the countryside to meet Yul's family, but at nightfall are soon lost and stranded near a remote village. And tonight being lost is the least of their worries as it happens to be the seventh lunar cycle and, as the Chinese myth goes, on the night of the seventh moon the dead are free to roam among the living.

    Seventh Moon is an extremely creepy, smart, and inventive low-budget horror film. Shot digitally with multiple cameras and minimal lighting, the fast-paced and kinetic editing keeps the tension tight and the suspense looming and looks beautiful, despite the so-called shaky cam aesthetic some viewers may find it has. Eduardo Sanchez breaths a fresh and energetic life into the script weaving the ideas of myth, ghost stories, and develops a new legend that almost feels as real as what The Blair Witch Project achieved. Amy Smart and Tim Chiou are fantastic as the couple who make real life choices, both good and bad, that Hollywood films are afraid to take. Their chemistry on screen is very good and really draws you into their characters and the situation they are faced with. The creatures themselves are very convincing and creepy, as ghosts illuminated under the moonlight. Never fully revealed, but shadowed in the blur the cameras create, these lunar ghosts are haunting, frightening, and tragic.

    The Chinese locations are authentic and the cinematography lush and frantic, Seventh Moon achieves what most low-budget horror films simply cannot, creating true suspense while remaining beautiful, realistic, and haunting. Well written with realistic dialogue and believable characters who make real choices given their situation is rare in any horror film, and Eduardo Sanchez proves he's an independent filmmaker to watch. Seventh Moon is an extremely effective chiller, both absorbing and downright scary, that develops myth and legend into unrestrained terror. Highly underrated and overlooked, this ghost story deserves to find bigger audiences and is truly a great independent horror film with a truly haunting and beautiful ending.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/lunar-ghosts.html
     
  9. indiephantom

    indiephantom Horny Spirit

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    I'm just getting caught up on these reviews! Some choice picks in here.
     
  10. Hatchetwarrior

    Hatchetwarrior Well-Known Member

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    Keep up the good work dude, these mini reviews are awesome!
     
  11. Darkside

    Darkside New Member

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    Great stuff man. 7th Moon is one of my recent pick ups and I loved every second of it.
     
  12. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Glad you guys are all digging the reviews!

    Review for Day 20: The Last House on Dead End Street (1973)

    Since the 80's with the boom of home video films that were considered lost or urban legends began to pop up in the mom and pop shops across the world. Here legions of movie buffs could finally catch a glimpse of these once-forgotten gems now playing before their very eyes. But even the rarer titles only whispered about by fanzines and word of mouth still were the talk of myth to most, and sometimes the only way to see these films was by a handed down degraded third-generation dupe from the bootleg circles. One such film is the notorious Last House on Dead End Street which, until 2000 when Roger Watkins finally stepped forward, not one soul knew who actual directed, starred in, or made the film because the credits were all obviously fake. So even 30 years after a films release, and the advent of DVD, can the true history of these once lost but now unearthed films finally be revealed.

    Terry Hawkins (Roger Watkins) is fresh out a jail and looking to make a buck. Upon meeting some seedy friends, and knowing how to use a camera, Terry is hired by a few local pornographers (Steve Sweet and Ed Pixley) to create something unique that will keep them on the market. But Terry, with the aid of some twisted individuals, is looking to get back at the society he despises, and turns the camera on the people around him. Capturing, punishing, and killing those for the camera becomes sick and twisted art as Terry transforms the murders into snuff films.

    Vile, disgusting, depraved, and shocking, The Last House on Dead End Street is more than just grindhouse exploitation. Combining complex ideas of corruption and decadence with drugs, greed, and sex, Last House on Dead End Street showcases sleazy Manson-esque ideals as both bred, influenced, and tainted by the society it ultimately was born of and in the end devours. Roger Watkins displays a raw talent that unfortunately didn't lead to a more prominent film career, but for a film nearly lost for 30 years it can now be rediscovered properly. With cheap 16mm camera work, gory and grotesque murders, and shocking juxtaposition, Last House on Dead End Street takes you into a gritty world of horrors.

    The Last House on Dead End Street is avant-garde artistic horror filmmaking with hidden layers under the grime and gore. In one scene in particular one of the pornographers held captive is forced to fellate a deer hoof while a mirror is held in front of him, which perversely symbolizes his character to look at himself, where he can see too that he is also a monster. Like the earlier works of Wes Craven or Monte Hellman, nihilism in filmmaking makes for an interesting and disturbing viewing experience, and Last House on Dead End Street doesn't hold back. The Last House on Dead End Street is a tough watch, but all the better for the experience - a grindhouse cult classic with complex ideas that goes straight for the jugular.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/lost-horror.html
     
  13. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 21: The Entity (1981)

    Some of the most haunting films in the history of horror cinema, no pun intended, deal with spirits or ghosts or possession. The Changeling, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Legend of Hell House, and on and on. The idea of something we cannot see invading our lives is something truly frightening, and something we've all over-thought about on more than one sleepless night. In Culver City, California in 1974, two scientists interested in paranormal phenomena came across Doris Bither in a bookstore, and Doris indicated to them that not only was her home being invaded by some unknown entity, but it physically attacked her and her children, and most frightening of all, she'd calimed to have been raped by it. This unbelievable and supposed true story would become the basis for Frank De Feliita's fictionalized take on the events in both his novel and adapted film, The Entity.

    Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey), a single mother with three children, is struggling to keep her family fed when one night she becomes victim to an unseen attacker. Thrown on the bed and physically abused, Carla is at first convinced by her son that it was just a dream. But soon Carla is attacked again in front of her family and even raped by the invisible terror. Convincing herself she's not going crazy, Carla sees a psychiatrist (Ron Silver) who cannot comprehend the idea of 'spectral rape' and is determined it's all a manifestation of past abuse. With the help of a group of paranormal scientists, Carla tries to prove her sanity and be rid of the abusive demon for good.

    The Entity is a truly frightening ghost story. The idea of a physically abusive manifestation of spectral energy is extremely scary, and the fact that spectral rape may exist is even more disturbing. Barbara Hershey is both strong and fragile as Carla Moran and the scenes of her abuse and rape by the entity are haunting, terrifying, and profoundly disturbing. Sidney J. Furie's direction is taut and tense and the film doesn't waste time at developing terror. Stephen H. Burum's cinematography is both claustrophobic, off kilter, and always exudes a sense of danger and possibility of invasion that always leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat. And to add more fuel to the fire, Charles Bernstein's repetitive and driving guitar-heavy score is so effective it exudes the feeling of violence and abuse that makes each scene difficult to watch, yet impossible to turn away.

    Whether or not the claims to the original case of Doris Bither are 100% true (her son Brian Harris claims they are) The Entity is a truly haunting take on a real life ghost story that is far scarier than any fictional ghost story Hollywood has yet told. Although the film's third act falters heavily and loses most of the true sense of terror and dread, The Entity is still one of the scariest movies ever made. Powerful performances, a pulse-pounding score, and true unseen terror culminate in a film that will have you shivering and thinking afterwards, and will likely have you lose some sleep over. Don't watch this one alone!

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/spectral-violation.html
     
  14. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 22: When a Stranger Calls (1979)

    Prank phone calls, heavy breathers, crank callers, all of these are effectively creepy when heard on the other end of the line and you have absolutely no idea who it is, or their motives. But they keep calling back, and your nerves are shot before you know it. But when you're on the job looking after a home and its young inhabitants, you really cannot go anywhere else and are almost certainly trapped. The babysitter legend has had its fair share of screen time with films like Halloween, Babysitter Murders, etc. But one of the most effective and chilling takes of the lone babysitter who has to deal with a psychopath is the original When a Stranger Calls.

    Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) has it pretty easy as a babysitter. The parents won't be out overly late and the two kids are already sound asleep in bed when she arrives at the Mandrakis residence. But soon the phone starts ringing every fifteen minutes and it's not her friends calling, but a menacing voice asking her if she has "checked the children." Terrified, Jill calls the police who soon trace the call and inform her it is coming from within the house! Now seven years later Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), the convicted psychopath, has escaped from a mental hospital and has returned to the city. Private Investigator John Clifford (Charles Durning) is determined to locate Duncan and put an end to the terror before Duncan returns to finish his sick motives with Jill.

    The first 20 minutes minutes of When a Stranger Calls are tense, claustrophobic, and terrifying. When we actually find out the crazy caller is inside the house chills immediately go down your spine. Carol Kane is perfect as the frightened babysitter and the choice to never reveal the psychopath or the murders until quite later in the film is a wise decision by the writers and director. However, after the initial opening sequence when the film shifts to the escaped lunatic seven years later, the overall tone of the film also changes drastically from a tense and unbearable horror film to a slow, seedy dramatic thriller almost akin to the depressing character study of Taxi Driver. Quite unexpected this change doesn't really work for the film as a whole and these two sections feel like separate films with different agendas.

    When a Stranger Calls is an entertaining and chilling film, but because of the pace and tonal change midway through the climax of the horror is in those first 20 minutes and the remainder never fully pays off to its setup. Likely to terrify every soon-to-be-babysitter, When a Stranger Calls set the rules for future scary phone call films and families were sure to disconnect secondary lines in their homes afterwards. Unfortunately When a Stranger Calls doesn't fully deserve its classic status it has in most circles but still works as an effective cautionary tale.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/have-you-checked-children.html
     
  15. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 23: The Devil in Miss Jones (1973)

    The history of cinema is an ever evolving entity that advances exponentially each decade in regards to style, substance, technology, and most of all taboo. In the fifties for example you were hard pressed to find graphic violence or nudity in mainstream cinemas, but with each turn of time barriers are shattered and what can be shown on screen begins to become more dangerous. In the late 60's/early 70's explicit sex became a staple on the silver screen, especially on the likes of seedy 42nd Street New York. But the thing that sets pornography apart from today and for what it was back then was the fact that it was legitimately an art form that was part of storytelling through cinema, and not just a sexual aid as the majority of it is today. You had actors committed to performance, an actual storyline, a 35mm print, and nation-wide theatrical exhibition. Now this doesn't make it art or cinema itself, but these were movies with something to say about their society just like Easy Rider or Catch-22, but they just happened to show sex - raw, explicit, and as it was.

    Justine Jones (Georgina Spelvin) is a lonely spinster who is sick and tired of her drab and boring life. Going through a bout of depression, Miss Jones commits suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathtub. When she comes to she finds herself in a room where Mr. Abaca (John Clemens) explains to her she is dead and although she had lived a 'pure life' up until her death, the unfortunate act of suicide has condemned her to an eternity in Hell. Through this discussion Justine discovers there is a bit of a wait before her damnation actually begins and she strikes a deal with Mr. Abaca. Because she had lived a 'pure life', but is still condemned either way, she would like to use her waiting time to truly make up for the damnation by fulfilling her desires and living a life of lust.

    The Devil in Miss Jones is a landmark film that draws a very fine line between pornography and the art house. Director Gerard Damiano followed up the most successful film of all time financially, the rather boring and dull Deep Throat, with a film that really delves into themes of moral decency, karma, sex, and the effects of our actions, and considering this is a porno, these actually come across rather cinematic and heavy which makes The Devil in Miss Jones a very important film. Georgina Spelvin is really terrific as Miss Jones, embodying that stark truth almost akin to those "moral crusaders" against pornography whom viewed sexuality as something wrong or dirty, but in actuality it's just part of being human. Harry Reems, also from Damiano's Deep Throat, returns as a sexual liberator in the role of The Teacher who frees Miss Jones from her sexual limbo.


    The themes the film explores - suicide, death, sexuality, and consequences of action - are forefront to the story. Damiano's script manages to tackle these taboo and intellectual topics in its short 62-minute runtime amidst all the explicit sex, something of an enormous feat that most Hollywood films can't even come close to accomplishing in their two plus hour runtimes! The horrifying fact that Miss Jones, a woman who lived a wholesome life, is indeed damned by her final action is a truly horrific ideal that comes across effectively and haunting and without sympathy. And in the end, when time is finally up, a sexually freed Miss Jones is finally condemned to her own private Hell in a shocking and powerful climax that truly works to tell something that seems to go against the common perception of pornography - that there is a moral to the story! The Devil in Miss Jones is an unexpected cinematic masterpiece that is as haunting and thought provoking as it is titillating.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/death-before-liberation.html
     
  16. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 24: Terror on Tour (1980)

    Shock Rock was big in the 70's. Acts like Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and KISS were taking the live concert to the next level by combing elements of the Grand Guignol with the heavy rock 'n' roll, and audience were eating it up. Transcribing that same effect to a horror film should work wonders as you've got everything a young audience should want in a film - sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and well, violence. So of course to cash in on this sure-fire idea producer Sandy Coby and director Don Edmonds bring us Terror on Tour!

    The Clowns are selling out a local concert theatre to screaming fans left, right, and centre. The biggest rock sensation in town, The Clowns combine rock 'n' roll with theatrics involving girls on stage being hacked up and thrown out into the audience. Of course, it's all just an act and a bunch of special effects, but soon someone dressed up like a member of the band is killing groupies off one after another! Under suspicion, the band is being watched closely by a police detective who plants an undercover operative to act like a groupie and uncover who the crazed psychotic killer is before the deadly encore.

    Terror on Tour follows in the footsteps of the equally horrendous KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park by taking a great horror concept and completely butchering it. Hell, the band The Clowns look like cheap knock-offs of the members of KISS, except they all look the same! While it does have its campy moments great for a laugh, Terror on Tour is dull, boring, and uneventful. The few deaths are all by knife and rather uninventive, and the acting even more deadly - it's atrocious! Don Edmonds direction is phoned in and a giant let down since he can do fantastic work; an example, the extremely sleazy and graphic exploitation classic Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. The only entertaining aspect of the film aside from the unintentional laughs is the original music of The Clowns by a band called The Names which isn't too shabby for such a low-budget horror film based around a rock band.

    Shot in just seven days, the lack of time and effort really shows as nothing is fully scripted and the ending just ends, nothing is resolved or made sense of. You're left wondering what the hell you just watched, and unlike a good rock concert, Terror on Tour might have you leaving well before the encore. With a group of friends around to heckle the picture Terror on Tour would work as a fun party movie, but watching it alone is a chore. It's poorly paced, there's not enough action or violence, and the rock 'n' roll is just mediocre to pass as listenable. It's got some camp and kitsch value but still no swan song. Terror on Tour doesn't seem to be coming to your town anytime soon, but if it does, it's not worth the ticket price.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/shock-rock.html
     
  17. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 25: Blood Feast (1963)

    Blood! Guts! Grue! Gore! All these wonderfully gooey, splattery, and deep red markings of violence became a horror staple that continues to upset stomaches to this day and has effects wizards coming up with ways to kill someone that outdoes the previous. But violence in film has never always been extreme and it wasn't until the 60's when David F. Friedman, a carnival barker working in film, and his business-savy partner Herschell Gordon Lewis decided they needed a new approach to get people to the drive-ins and make a quick buck off their low budget films. Prior to creating the splatter genre, or gore film, the two had been working in nudie-cutie flicks, but with market saturation they needed a new angle to hook young and daring audiences, and that angle was on-screen death and blood - lots of wet, messy, and deep red blood!

    Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold) is a caterer who caters to all his customers' needs, specializing in the very unusual dining experience! Fuad is currently carving up women in increasingly gruesome fashion as he prepares his sacrificial offering to Ishtar, an Egytian Goddess he is trying to bring back to life, using his victims' body parts as the main ingredients. When Mrs. Fremont (Lyn Bolton) chooses Ramses to cater her daughter Suzette's (Connie Mason) party it'll be more than just an Egyptian Feast as s detective (William Kerwin) tries to stop the madman before he completes the main course of the Blood Feast!

    Blood Feast ushered in a new experience in horror that audiences had not experience before: the shocking visual overload of grisly and gruesome violence and death. Limbs are cut off, eyeballs removed, bloody lashings, scalping, and more! Lewis, who also shot the film and scored the wonderfully atrocious "thematic music", splashes on bucket after bucket of bright red blood. The colours are so vibrant you almost need to be wearing sunglasses while watching the movie. But don't go in expecting masterful filmmaking, Blood Feast is the epitome of low-budget drive-in fare, but it's so bad it's good. The acting by all is so gloriously overacted you can't help but laugh and some of the dialogue is pure comic genuis. Police Captain: "Ramses was the killer we've been looking for. Mrs. Fremont, I'm afraid this feast is evidence of murder!" Mrs. Fremont: "Oh dear! The guests will have to eat hamburgers for diner tonight."

    You really can't have a campier time at the movies then with Blood Feast. And with its short run time the movie is jam packed with blood and gore but you don't feel stuffed after this feast of gruesome excess. Bad acting, bad writing, bad cinematography, and bad music somehow come together to shock viewers into wincing while chuckling out loud and becomes a horror classick. Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Godfather of Gore, created a new movement in repulsive and sickening horror filmmaking that would influence the likes of John Waters and Peter Jackson and Eli Roth and ensure that cinema would never be the same again, one where the silver screen gets soaked by sprays of the wet crimson red and would have audiences squirming in their seats. And possibly throwing up into the vomit bags provided by the theatre ushers prior to showtime.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/ancient-weird-religious-rites.html
     
  18. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 26: Dumplings (2004)

    The pressures and forced notions of staying young, looking young, and youth as we age becomes a grotesque mockery as time takes its toll. Society itself generates an image that we must all look the best we can if we want to succeed in life or attract the attention of others, a perceived ideal that doesn't always bring out the best in people. Obtaining the Fountain of Youth is a myth that too many of these companies and products sell to consumers to establish a hip culture that everyone must be a part of if they are to be somebody. Fruit Chan plays with not only this theme but many more disturbing controversies in a tale about consuming youth in Dumplings.

    Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung Chin Wah) is an aging actress past her prime who is losing the interest of her rich husband (Tony Leung Ka Fai). They are living in a five star hotel while their home is being renovated, and Mr. Li is too busy to pay any attention to her as he's off on "business trips" and taking a fancy to the hotel's young masseuse. To attract the attention of her adulterous husband and regain her youth Mrs. Li is secretly going to Aunt Mei's (Bai Ling) home-run dumpling shop, where the supposed special dumplings turn back the clock. But more than just special spices and mixtures, the key ingredient to consuming this Fountain of Youth are the fetuses of aborted babies.

    Dumplings is a deeply disturbing and thematically heavy horror film. Dealing with abortion, adultery, greed, cannibalism, and societies distorted views on beauty and youth. The reveal of the key ingredient is not a spoiler as the fetus-filled dumplings are shown being prepared in the opening scene. This is not the main ingredient to the horror, but a symbol of the true horror that the film represents - that the corruption of the idea of youth as pressured by society as we age can make people do ugly, evil things just for perceived beauty and power. Bai Ling is fantastic as Mei who's character contrasts Mrs. Li as being this slithering mockery of youth, a conniving devil, who fully represents societies demands to look and act young. Miriam Yeung Chin Wah is detestable and someone we like less and less as her character Mrs. Li slowly consumes her innocence and naivety until she's nothing left but a corrupted ideal and is forced to be the face of evil Aunt Mei represented.

    Not for the squeamish, or easily disturbed, Dumplings contains some shocking images that elevate its controversial and disturbing themes to darker places. Fruit Chan paces the film slowly and steadily as the dread and terror lingers from scene to scene creating an extremely unsafe and haunting atmosphere. Dumplings was also cut down and re-edited as one of the three short films in the also recommended Asian horror experience Three... Extremes, which features two other terrifying tales by Japan's Takashi Miike and Korea's Chan-Wook Park. Dumplings is a disturbing main course of horror that's after taste will linger long after you've finished it.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/devouring-youth.html
     
  19. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 27: Buried (2009)

    We all have our worst fears; being stranded in the middle of the ocean, a plane crash, death by a thousand cuts, and so on. Phobias, paranoia, and nightmares all contribute to a climax of terror that is unique and personal to each one of us, and quite possibly the scariest thing we can each imagine. When filmmakers prey on these fears and we're daring enough to watch them they can be quite unsettling entertainment, such as Open Water. Trapping an individual (or individuals) in a confined location (or as vast as the ocean) that they cannot escape and where hope of rescue is slim to none is terrifying. Quite difficult to pull off continued suspense in such capacity, director Rodrigo Cortés and writer Chris Sparling invite us into the smallest and most claustrophobic of fears - waking up in a small wooden box buried alive.

    Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds), an American truck driver working in Iraq, wakes up to total blackness. It's hard to breath and he has confined movement. Upon igniting a lighter Paul discovers he is buried alive in a coffin, and where exactly he is or whom did this is completely unknown, and fear immediately takes hold. To his shock, a cell phone at the base of the coffin starts vibrating and on the other line he discovers he is being held hostage and will die buried alive if he does not get the kidnappers five million dollars by 9 PM, and that's only an hour and a half away. Now Paul is running out of oxygen, time, and cell phone battery power as he must figure out a way to let the FBI, his family, or whomever he can get a hold of on the phone, find out where he is and rescue him before it's too late.

    Buried takes a giant cinematic risk and confines the whole film's running time to one terrifying location - inside the coffin with Paul Conroy. Not once do we leave the claustrophobic space as we are forced to endure the same paralysing terror and frustration as the character. Rodrigo Cortés' direction is unflinching as he masterfully creates an unending sense of dread where the audience is literally white-knuckled to their seats not moving an inch in their seats, eyes and ears completely locked onto what is going on, for the entire film. Ryan Reynolds, being the only on-screen actor the entire film (aside from a few short clips displayed on the cell phone screen), is heart wrenchingly brilliant and truly makes Paul's worst fear ours as well, as we are emotionally wrung through fear, terror, sadness, hope, and anxiety. Eduard Grau, quickly becoming a masterful cinematographer who so beautifully painted love and death through the camera in A Single Man, inventively takes us directly into a cinematic coffin we cannot escape for 95 minutes, and so claustrophobically captures the essence of what it must feel like to be buried alive.

    Emotionally exhausting, anxiety onsetting, and fear taking hold, Buried is an absolutely perfect showcase of realistic suspense. Ryan Reynolds' performance is flawless and electrifying and not once do you not believe the situation unfolding onscreen. Cortés and Sparling have created the cinematic equivalent to our worst fears and locked us in that very box. Making the audience endure one character's inescapable horror for an entire film is a daunting and near-impossible task to pull off, and here the filmmakers successfully nailed it. Buried is a white-knuckled experience that will leave you gasping for air and hoping for survival until the lights in the theatre finally come up.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/gasping-for-air.html
     
  20. MorallySound

    MorallySound Mad Mutilator

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    Review for Day 28: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

    Horror used to rely on well constructed suspense, connections to characters, and the haunting notion of impending doom or frightening situations to truly scare audiences. Frankenstein is frightening because it connects with the viewer with the idea that we create evil. Rosemary's Baby is absolutely terrifying because it takes the idea of pregnancy and shows us the turmoil of a woman who is frightened by what could be inside her. The establishment and attachment to these characters in their dire situations is what gives us nightmares and what makes us cover our eyes with our hands in sheer terror. But today's idea of scary has drastically changed, and instead of a true sense of mortal dread we are shocked into jumping out of our seats by nothing other than a cheap jump scare.... BOO!

    Daniel (Brian Boland) and Christie (Sprague Grayden) are new parents to a new baby boy, Hunter. Also living in the home is Ali, Daniel's daughter from a previous marriage, their nanny, and their loyal German Shepard. Upon returning home one afternoon, the family discovers their home is in complete shambles but no evidence of intruders or anything stolen is present. To ensure the safety of the family and the home, Daniel has multiple security cameras installed throughout the house. However Christie feels something is not quite right and mysterious and unexplainable happenings begin to happen and are captured on camera. Soon something far more sinister surfaces as a dark family secret emerges targeting their one-year old son, Hunter.

    Paranormal Activity 2 fails miserably at being a horror film. The characters are all one dimensional and no depth is given to any of them other than their adjective description - jerk dad, scardie-pants mom, know-it-all daughter, spiritual nanny, etc. Getting to the scares, Paranormal Activity 2 relies on exactly what the first film generated and that is nothing but cheap jump scares. You don't get to really know the family, you cannot connect with the characters, it's just a series of the same camera angles over and over where nothing happens. And then a low grumbling sound slowly builds, that obviously doesn't actually exist in the scene otherwise the characters would suspect something is about to happen, and so you already suspect the BOO! coming. And when it finally arrives it really only wakes you from your sleep since you've nodded off because of how incredibly boring the film is. How this passes as "scary" these days doesn't make any sense... If your friend gave you the same type of fright in real life you are not left thinking "Oh my god! I won't sleep tonight because that was so scary!", no, you're thinking "You're such an asshole!" and you're now pissed off at your friend. Paranormal Activity 2 is that friend.

    Oh, and Paranormal Activity 2 is not a sequel, but a prequel. The explanation to tie-in the film with the first, and this is not a spoiler, is that Katie is Christie's sister. And when the film expands on the demon haunting them it takes any of the unknown terror that actually existed in the first film and throws it out the window because now we have an idea of what it is and what it's motives are. And not only that but it's straight out of a Grimm fairy tale and it's completely ridiculous! The entire twist at the end is poorly thought out and heinously laughable. Paranormal Activity 2 is nothing but dull jump scares targeted at teeny-boppers who don't have the attention span to understand plot or characters.

    http://reeltoreelradio.blogspot.com/2010/10/grimm-attempt.html
     

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