REVIEW: Dreamcatcher (2003)

dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher (2003): D

This is a movie based on a Stephen King novel, so you already know it has about a 75% chance of sucking pretty bad ass. Guess what? It doesn’t beat the odds. Dreamcatcher was a fucking nightmare in which several talented actors are trapped in a convoluted mash-up of old Stephen King ideas, PG13 action movie cliches, and CGI aliens that crawl out of rectums.

Some childhood friends get together for a snowy weekend of male bonding in a secluded cabin. No rectums involved yet, but just you wait! It is slowly revealed to the audience that the buddies share a telepathic bond.

The testosterone and wasted movie minutes really start to flow and then some stranger covered in a weird fungus shows up and dies, really bumming everyone out. Even worse, a worm-like alien organism slithers out of the corpse’s butthole and starts killing the friends. The butthole alien, which resembles a three foot long hookworm with rows of shark teeth, kills Jason Lee and some other guy and then lays eggs / farts fungus all over the cabin. For a few minutes, it is trapped in a toilet, which I guess is supposed to be ironic because it came out of some dude’s asshole. How clever!  Luckily, the cabin gets burned down later, cooking the alien/fungus/larva to death and saving dozens of human buttholes from future shredding and saving the movie from something possibly exciting happening.

Then some larger alien calling himself “Mr. Grey” possesses the body of Sgt. Brody from Homeland, who narrowly avoided being slaughtered by the anal eel back at the cabin. Mr. Grey wants to contaminate the water supply in Boston with worms and have a big sphincter-shredding party. Sounds good to me at this point because so far, not much has happened.

As Brody’s Mr. Grey-controlled body treks to Boston, Brody has an internal struggle with the alien in a metaphorical mental “library” that houses all of Brody’s memories. Mr. Grey is rummaging around in Brody’s head looking for a specific memory. You find out later what it is. It has nothing to do with buttholes. Or dreamcatchers.

The military gets involved, some people get infected with the fungus and get “quarantined.” Many of the infected are exterminated because this secret branch of the military is familiar with the fungus which matures into the angry butthole worm. “Angry Butthole Worm” would be a pretty cool band name, by the way.

Come to find out, one of the friends was secretly an alien… a good alien disguised as an autistic dude! Not some cavity eel that sprays moss everywhere and bites people. We learn that Mr. Grey was looking for the memories associated with this benevolent alien friend, who also gave everyone their telepathic powers. At the last minute, good alien reveals himself, battles Mr. Grey at the reservoir, and stops the water supply / butthole murder plan. The CGI fight scene thankfully lasts just a few seconds.

If you were already at the end of your rope with this messy shit, sorry: The product of the CGI alien fight is a big CGI explosion that looks like a dreamcatcher and there’s no more butthole stuff.

The fraternal childhood bond, flashbacks, and subversive alien plot remind me of ItTommyknockers, and Stand By Me. The direction was nothing special and all of the worms look like that really liquidy CGI from the late 90’s.

REVIEW: Link (1986)

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Link (1986): D+

“For years man has enslaved the ape. Now the tables have turned!” promises the original subtext on the VHS cover for this mushy simian fecal matter. Not really. There are no enslaved humans in the film. Sorry. The updated DVD cover reads “An Experiment in Terror.” Experiment failed. It’s about as terrifying as most made-for-TV creature features.

Thanks to some unethical and typically arrogant experiments, this ape named Link has super-intelligence. In his spare time, he likes to stalk/torture/kill small animals and commit random, minor acts of arson, like all super-intelligent organisms do. So, it’s no surprise that the professor in charge of the experiments that gave Link his intellect decides Link should be euthanized despite his many years of service as a ridiculous, cigar smoking monkey-butler. Mysteriously, the professor vanishes shortly after making his intentions known like an idiot. I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

Link does some charming monkey antics like wearing a tie and smoking. Actually, not “some”; he does A LOT of circus-comedy antics and is wearing cute little monkey outfits for most of the film. These are intended to be consolation moments for the glacial pace of the film, I suppose. “It’s okay nothing has happened in 25 minutes! Link ate a cookie with his foot!” you exclaim as you watch Link alone all by yourself.

He is an orangutan but the filmmakers dye him brown and pretend he is a “chimp.”

They edit together 1st person camera scenes of Link-carnage and footage of him knocking on windows and screeching to make it look like he is actually “turning tables” as promised on the cover. When this timid student fully grasps that Link has killed the professor and has other homicidal tendencies, Link holds her prisoner. For a good chunk of the movie, she is trapped in a house in the remote countryside with a murderous animal lurking around outside, just like the woman trapped in the Pinto in Cujo. All she can do now is wait until Link decides to murder her and juggle some oranges while doing a handstand or something.

While this girl is sniveling and pleading, “Please don’t turn the tables, Link! Please stop this experiment in terror,” Link inspires the other lab monkeys to break free and act like wild assholes like him. There is some full scale monkey-pandemonium, or rather, random shots edited together to create the illusion of an ape-revolt. Not enough poop-throwing in my opinion, which brought the film down from an A to a D.

I have to give the movie this: There some funny-as-fuck kills. My favorite is when Link rips some guy’s arm off through the mail slot.

I won’t say exactly how it happens, but Link suffers a long fall into a flaming abyss at the end of the flick. The effects for this are totally fucked; it is ANIMATED. Like, a cartoon. Link’s cartoon silhouette rotating in slow motion as it descends into a pit of fire looks like a scene from Disney’s Fantasia. Check out the image for this review and you’ll see what I mean. There is a “twist” at the end that you’ll see coming from miles away. I’ve smelled farts with more mystique and integrity.

You can watch the whole film for free on Youtube if your curiosity is just that morbid.

 

REVIEW: Event Horizon (1997)

event-horizon

 

Event Horizon (1997): B-

The guy who directed Mortal Kombat, some Resident Evil movies, and that terrible Three Musketeers movie directs this one which is, in my opinion, his best work.

One of my close friends, who used to work at a video store with me, claims this is the scariest movie he has ever seen. For fun, coworkers and I used to cue up gruesome scenes from the movie and play them on the TV’s in the store just to mess with him. He would get really upset. There’s a great scene where all this gore dumps out of this guy’s eyes; it would make yelps (and maybe a little poop) dump out of my friend.

In the future, Sam Neil (who has some impressive horror credentials, by the way) and Morpheus take a crew of people to investigate this missing spaceship called the Event Horizon. The ship uses some fancy black hole creating technology that makes it move really fast. Sam Neil explains it to the crew using an extremely condescending diagram on paper. He folds the paper in half to demonstrate how space-time bends in the artificial black hole, allowing the ship to basically teleport. “Now the opposite sides of the paper are touching! Yay! I understand physics!” you say to yourself. Yeah. Just like you understood Chaos Theory when Jeff Goldblum dribbled water onto Sam Neil’s hand in Jurassic Park. You have seen some version of this scene in probably a dozen movies and it is all you get to legitimize the sci-fi technology and batshit intergalactic demonomania of Event Horizon.

It is discovered that the ship traveled to a foreign dimension where it was contaminated by evil spirits and gained a malevolent and homicidal sentience. Now it is back in our universe and it gets its jollies by torturing/possessing people on board. I liked this idea. It is a haunted house / exorcism movie about a spaceship and it doesn’t totally suck like some “In Space” movies. It’s a cross between Solaris and The Shining but directed by the guy who did Mortal Kombat.

The “rules” are sort of blurry. Is the ship possessed by a single consciousness or are there spirits automating functions of the ship? Is the ship a demon now? Does the ship have feelings? Why does it hate this crew of people? How are crew members getting possessed? Which things on board are hallucinations and which are real? What exactly happened to the original crew?

Some token “In Space” elements stick around. People are blasted into space, airlocks are manipulated, and black holes are a threat. Instead of a self-destruct sequence, we get the black-hole drive activated by the possessed ship which threatens to teleport everyone to the shitty dimension where the evil shitty spirits come from.

Not much in the “answers” department but the scares/visuals are creative and it was refreshing to see a space/horror movie that didn’t totally blow.

 

REVIEW: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

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Cannibal Holocaust (1980): A

This grandfather of the found footage genre is so grotesque that it makes Dead Alive look like Monsters Inc. The first time I saw it, it went from brutally violent, to funny, to brutally violent-er, to just plain sick, to art. The guy who made it was arrested after purporting that some actors died on camera. Right after it was released, the film was banned in multiple countries because they killed REAL animals for the movie (totally fucked) and there were all sorts of snuff legends surrounding the movie after the director got busted.

This film reviews the found footage of some white kids with their shit-eating white grins who go into the Amazon to look for a missing film crew. They find clues about where the crew disappeared to and they also find some cannibal tribes. I’ll let you fill in the blanks there.

You’ll get your gore-fix for sure with this one. There are plenty of gruesome corpses and quivering soon-to-be corpses including an iconic impaled American girl at the end (many believed this to be a real corpse, feeding the snuff rumors).

For me, the most fucked up scene is where the white search party tortures and butchers a large tropical turtle; the turtle dies slowly and painfully on camera. Why is this so messed up? It is a real turtle, not a fake turtle. No CGI turtle or turtle puppet. There is a real suffering animal dying on-screen. Ask anyone who has seen the film about “the turtle scene” and watch their facial expression change. It’s one of the few times in a horror film where, for me, there isn’t an ounce of amusement. The white kids rip it open, play with its guts as it squirms, and they do some eating. There are also real deaths of a snake, a tarantula, a couple of monkeys, and a pig, all of which are fucking sickening and sad.

These scenes are all onion-layers of depravity; it’s a totally evil Lord of the Flies style commentary on the real meaning of the words “civilization” and “savagery” because the American city clickers enter the mysterious “tribal” regions of the jungle and act like bigger barbarians than the actual cannibals who live there and cannibalize people. Then, when you zoom out another layer, you have to think about how the filmmakers sat there and filmed the torturous murders of real living things to try to convey the moral.

The “we are the real monsters” vibes are amplified in a way I have never seen in another horror movie. I can’t say that this film “scared” me, but it certainly pushed the envelope (and all my buttons) in a way that I will never forget.

 

REVIEW: The Swarm (1978)

Swarm

The Swarm-C-

Would you like to see a movie that is mostly just Michael Caine in a leisure suit yelling at people while he tries to bang that Stepford Wives lady? And bees are killing Texans? And it’s 2hrs and 35minutes long? And that homosexual guy from Shogun plays the skeptical bearded doctor? And then the Air Force sets the ocean on fire? Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Well, get ready to scratch your heads because they already made that movie and it sucks. This is the movie Michael Caine himself calls his worst movie.

I know what you’re thinking-what the fuck does Michael Caine know about movies? He’ll be in anything.

But in this case, he couldn’t be more right. This movie is worse than Jaws: This Time It’s Personal or whatever that was. It’s also not as funny as Blame It On Rio and has less boobs. The humor is mainly lacking in that it’s about African Bees invading Texas and none of those pig-fucking Texans’ deaths are played for laughs. If they had made the exact same movie but with the Bee attacks in fast motion and set to Banjo music….hell, you could call me a fan. But no one has the strength of vision to push it all the way any more.

There are some cool bee-poison hallucinations and bee’s-eye-view special effects. There’s also a shot of a real bee sitting on a leaf looking at the humans and -I shit you not-the bee actually somehow looks shifty-eyed and sneaky. Great casting and direction.

But everything else sucks, except for Michael Caine and Dr. Shogun. There’s not even a Queen Bee to fight at the end.

Basically a rip off of The Birds with bees instead of birds, which sets up an obvious franchise-merging sequel to both called “The Birds and the Bees”. I just thought of that idea right now. ©The Saddest Clown in the World 2013.

I’m in the book, Hollywood.

REVIEW: Inferno (1980)

inferno

Inferno (1980): B

This is the second movie in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, these three movies about witches. The first one is really good, this second one is pretty good, and the third is notoriously shitty.

Evil spirits that take the form of girls from the 1980’s nightclub scene terrorize American dipshit Mark as he walks around Rome (and later New York) with this stupid mustache on his face, partially paralyzed by all the sudden attention he is receiving from spirit women and real women all at once. “Way to go, Mark!” he must be saying to himself at one point, while these incredibly white Paula Abdul back-up dancer looking ladies stare at him like he’s a piece of meat. I mean, look at the image I posted for this review. How is poor Mark going to pay attention in his stupid class when this Bond villain / Cyndi Lauper clone suddenly materializes? Answer: he isn’t. He is pretty alright with it until like a dozen stabbings happen.

He comes to New York to visit his sister Rose who suspects that she is living in a haunted apartment that was once home to an evil witch. Mark narrowly avoids being stabbed in Rome and then comes to New York where he narrowly avoids being stabbed again. Most of the movie involves sniffing around for the truth, sniffing that is punctuated with stabbings and maulings, narrowly avoided stabbings and maulings, and appearances by various female members of the New Kids on the Block fanclub.

Did I mention that there are stabbings? There are. We get multiple knifings to death and cat scratching to death that occur in typical overly-gory Argento fashion. There are some funny underwater dead bodies. Mysterious hooded strangers and a flock of Madonna stunt doubles everywhere.

There is an attempted lethal injection, which I LOVE in horror movies. It’s like when someone is stuck with a hypodermic needle, that gives the filmmakers carte balanche to do any crazy shit they want to them. Veins protrude, people turn different colors, or there is crazy black mouth blood. But, sadly, the needle never meets its mark.

The end is really fun too.

The movie has its downs, I suppose. Acting level: infomercial. The blood is some goofy-ass kool-aid looking shit (like most Argento) but the kill scenes are classic.

Strong recommendation.

REVIEW: Lady in the Water (2006)

Lady-in-the-Water

Lady in the Water: F

At first, after seeing all the trailers and being brainwashed by marketing, I thought this was going to be the “Death of a Salesman” of fantasy-horror movies where some archetype-defying low-man (played by a great actor) is the unlikely hero, and the genre is forever affected, but I was wrong as fuck. Instead, we get typical M. Night Shyamalan with his signature “twist” in the final act. This movie is just another tragic point along the director’s steep decline.

I always like the trailers for this guy’s movies and I am usually intrigued during the first fifteen minutes or so, but then everything falls apart. His movies remind me of a five course meal gone wrong. The appetizers are always good as hell and get your hopes up, but then later, he takes the lid off of a dogshit casserole that he spent the whole night disguising as prime rib, even though it smelled like shit for most of the night and all the guests KNEW they would be eating shit. Then while you are sitting there bloated and sick, feeling worse than you’ve ever felt in your life, for dessert, he dumps melted ice cream in your lap while flipping you off.

There are some neat camera angles I guess. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of something redeeming about this movie. Sure, Giamatti is a good actor, but that just makes it even more painful to watch this guy try to sincerely deliver this garbage movie he’s stuck in. I wonder if his agent called him and was like “it’s going to be like The Neverending Story except it’s going to suck really bad” and Giamatti was all “finally! A challenge worthy of my skills!”

I want to give Shyamalan some credit for being ambitious, but the movie was too hideous and ridiculous. I think maybe he was trying to make parts of it overly-simple or silly to give it a “fairy tale” vibe, but he is inconsistent with this; just when you start to think he is committed to a simple “fable,” the plot gets so sloppy that it was a challenge to watch the whole thing.

There are lots of characters, but not a single lovable one. Avoid at all costs.

REVIEW: Screamers (1995)

screamers

 

Screamers (1995): C
Based on the Philip K. Dick story “Second Variety,” this movie kind of shows how Karl Marx was pretty good at predicting the evolution of capitalism but not very good at predicting the evolution of killer androids.

When the biggest intergalactic corporation in existence finds a new radioactive minable energy source to replace fossil fuels, everything’s great and they totally get some poor schmucks on an obscure planet to mine it for them. When studies reveal that it’s hella poisonous and it is responsible for massive fatalities, the corporation does exactly what you would expect: they stop mining the highly profitable material, responsibly compensate the families of the dead, and they give everyone hugs and kisses…

SIKE!

The corporation suppresses the truth and wants more, more, more, mining! “Civil war” breaks out between the corporate bosses and their “Alliance” of workers who refuse to die working the mines, and just like how ol’ Marx predicted, the capitalists dispatch military forces to keep the exploitation of the working class going; if you don’t work in the toxic mines, goons will bust a cap in you. This conflict matures and basically turns everyone on the planet into a soldier.

Added into the equation are robots created by the workers which are programmed to slaughter the corporate sponsored soldiers. They are called Screamers because of the sound they make as they fly through the air and chop motherfuckers. The Screamers’ AI becomes self aware and they decide that their mission should not be to chop corporate motherfuckers, but instead be to self-replicate and kill all humans, even their Alliance creators. They evolve into different “species” of Screamers that the humans are unprepared to combat including ones that look/act exactly like people. Ironically, Robocop is the head of the Alliance forces.

CGI is really bad, but it’s the 90’s, so get over it, I guess. Lots of funny kills and robot antics. One of them quotes Shakespeare. There are some cool philosophical undertones that touch on themes common in Dick’s work such as technology turning on / mimicking humans, perpetual human conflict beyond the planet Earth, and robots go boom. It’s got the isolation/paranoia aspect of The Thing and the corporation is the bad guy like in the Alien movies. All in all pretty fun and totally 90’s.