REVIEW: V/H/S 2 (2013)

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V/H/S 2: B+

Although I’m the resident found-footage expert at Bloodcrypt, I let Bloodcrypt Keeper have a go at reviewing the original V/H/S because I was busy buttfucking a hobo.  He did ok, though.  Although I probably would’ve gone B-/C+ with the first installment, I couldn’t quibble too much with his assessment of the film’s vignettes.

Usually, when a sequel comes out within a year of its predecessor, it’s a rushed hack job, intended to capitalize on the success of the previous installment (lookin’ at you, Saw franchise).  V/H/S 2 actually improves on the formula it established.  First of all, the narrative arc binding together the found footage on the tapes is more intelligent and scarier than the first movie.  A private investigator and his partner are investigating a teen’s disappearance and enter a seemingly abandoned house with a bunch of computers and vhs tapes.

The original had five mini-movies; this one opts for quality over quantity with four.  The characters in the film sit down to watch them, and just as before, they’re a mixed bag.  But a better mix this time: more peanuts and cashews, and fewer almonds.  Almonds suck.

The first short is about a dude who has ocular surgery due to losing his sight in an accident, and a permanently-running camera implanted in his eye documents his every waking move (cleverly sidestepping the found-footage Achilles heel of “why are you still filming this?”).  He starts seeing creepy dead people, and this chick who saw him at the hospital comes over and tells him she had an ear implant (cokeular?…cochlear?…cockular?) and sees the same fucked up shit he does.  She tells him not to pay attention to them and then strips off her shirt and rides him, beautiful breasts bouncing.  Some other stuff happens after that, but that’s the high point.  Anyway, pretty good: B(oobs)

The second vignette puts a unique spin on the current zombie craze.  It’s shot almost entirely from the p.o.v. of a mountain biker’s  “Go Pro”-style helmet cam.  He runs into a bleeding woman in the woods, stops to help, and whoops!  He’s a zombie.  A zombie with a helmet cam.  He and other fellow zombies attack hikers/bikers and then a kid’s birthday party.  Flesh-eating ensues, but from an original perspective: B+

In the third clip, shit gets bananas.  A t.v. news crew goes to Indonesia to do an exposé on a cult with one of those charismatic leader types.  It’s got an underground bunker, classrooms full of creepy kids getting indoctrinated, and, of course, mass suicide.  It’s completely bonkers in the best way, and the climax is splendid, when the thing the cult has been worshipping manifests and brings doom.  Fucking phenomenal: A

The final story is about some clichéd-looking aliens who invade a slumber party.  It suffers from the usual “why are you still filming this?” problem much more than the other vignettes.  I have no idea why the filmmakers chose to end with this relative dud, but it robs the movie of a lot of its momentum.  It’s still better than the worst stuff in the first V/H/S, but I would’ve put it earlier to get it out of the way: C

According to the main plotline, though, watching the tapes in a certain order is imperative, so maybe the worst one HAD to be last, I dunno.  At any rate, this franchise is starting to earn some serious horror street cred.  Who knew old tapes could be so scary?  Well, other than the ‘90s hairstyles (both above and below) from those old pornos I can’t seem to let go of…

REVIEW: Terror Tract (2000)

Terror-Tract

Terror Tract: B

This day will go down in history as the day you learned that you can watch a horror anthology movie where John Ritter tells a story about Bryan Cranston hiring Buff Bagwell to assassinate an evil knife-throwing monkey.

I’ll let that sink in….

And one more time: John Ritter tells a story about Bryan Cranston hiring Buff Bagwell to assassinate an evil knife-throwing monkey.

What are you waiting for? Go watch this.

Terror Tract liberally borrows from the Creepshow playbook (even to the point where there is a Water-Zombie story) and the result is a goofy and enjoyable anthology movie about a shitload of unfortunate events that occur in the homes that jittery real estate agent J-Ritt is trying to slang to some hesitant suburbanites. “Full Disclosure” laws prompt Ritter to reveal the sinister history of each house and these histories give us our stories in the anthology.

There’s a story about a cheating wife who has a crazy husband. Put them together and apparently you get Water-Zombies. There’s another story about a dude with uncontrollable psychic powers that force him to unwillingly endure 1st person slayings committed by a serial killer who wears a granny mask and says “COME TO GRANNY!” while he stabs people. The killer is called the “Granny Killer.”

These stories are all fun enough but there’s one that eclipses them: the one about Bryan Cranston hiring Buff Bagwell to assassinate an evil knife-throwing monkey. Before he was the one who knocks, Cranston was the one who gets upset about his daughter’s pets. It’s the same story as Tina the Talking Doll; Cranston’s daughter finds an adorable monkey and brings it into the house and only Cranston realizes the monkey’s secret homicidal intentions. He knows that monkey is up to something but his fucking wife and daughter just won’t listen! Cartoonish violence escalates at Roadrunner pace; you half expect Cranston to blow up his own house with a missile from Acme. Did I mention that Buff Bagwell shows up out of nowhere and Cranston pays him to fight the monkey? There are dead animals, corpses dissolving in barrels, a monkey throwing knives and shooting guns, Cranston channeling Heisenberg against the monkey (and his whimpering daughter), and some of the most high-brow comedy there is: a monkey in a baby carriage.

REVIEW: Barrio Tales (2012)

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Barrio Tales: F

More like Barrio Fails. Hey oh! But seriously I am a pretty big fan of horror anthologies mainly because if you are watching a shitty story, it is only like 25 minutes from being over instead of 75, but this movie had 2 awful stories and 1 average one, so it left much to be desired.

The first story, “Maria,” looked like it was made just so the guys in it can show how much they party, as only like 4 minutes of the story involved a ghost and actual kills.

The second story was about a fat guy named Tio who made the best tacos in town out of human flesh. Of the three stories this was the only one that was entertaining on even an average level.

The third story was about some rednecks who kidnap some Mexicans to torture them, only to have the Mexicans fight back in one of the worst gun battles of all time. The story was titled “El Monsturo” and was allegedly about some monster but the monster did basically nothing cool, and at the end he was shot.

Overall this is the second worst anthology horror film I have seen next to Death 4 Told (I googled Death 4 Told and it has one of the lowest IMDB rankings I have ever seen).

REVIEW: Creepshow (1982)

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Creepshow A

This is another Stephen King anthology film and was directed by George Romero.  It has 5 stories. It’s an homage to horror comics from the 50’s. In fact, the first time I encountered the stories in this film was in the tie-in comic book (drawn by the great Bernie Wrightson) that was published at the time the film was released. I found it in a Safeway magazine rack while my Dad was taking his blood pressure at that free thing Safeway has. The comic and the movie are both on my list of favorite things (at # 57 and 58, respectively. # 56 is making crack heads do footraces for crack I don’t really have).

Anyway, he best films are the ones with characters that have desires and motivations the audience can relate to. Creepshow has that in spades.

For instance:

  • A ten-year-old boy who wants to voodoo doll his dad.
  • A put upon daughter who wants to bash in her awesome father’s head
  • A dirty hillbilly who wants $200 for the meteor he found.
  • A rich guy who likes videos of drowning people.
  • A college professor with a loudmouth wife and access to an abominable snowman.
  • An old man who hates people and bugs, but not in that exact order.

I know I’ve felt all of these exact feelings, and if you’re being honest with yourself you know you have too. What I like about Creepshow is that it delves into these everyday human desires and fleshes out what would happen if only we had the freedom to indulge in them. You know…a FREE country. Not “Obamerica”.

This film might seem dated to today’s douchebag viewer like you. It was cheesy for its own time-but that’s intentional. The comic-booky visual scheme works well. It provides an otherworldly feel that makes the outrageous events more acceptable and makes the 80’s seem less lame.

This movie is perfect example of how enjoyable the fun/scary thing can be when done properly-with respect and affection for the genre and its history. It’s not even too scary for kids. You should buy it and watch it. Then you should leave it out so that your 9-year-old can find it with minimal effort and then show it to your 7-year-old. They’ll watch and end up just sort of traumatized. But more importantly, they’ll feel like they got away with something. Occasionally, you just have to give kids these little victories.

Why? Because if you don’t they’ll voodoo doll the fuck out of you. The prologue/epilogue of this movie makes that clear.

But even if your kids don’t have voodoo dolls, you have to let them win a few. If you don’t, the next thing you know your son wants to be a nurse and your daughter’s dating outside her race.

You listening, Dr. Loomis?

REVIEW: Sanitarium (2013)

Sanitarium

 

Sanitarium: C-

This is an anthology movie that has three separate tales about insanity presented to us by Malcolm McDowell who plays the “cryptkeeper” character and the head doctor of a sanitarium. In between each tale, he gives us a cryptic monologue about insanity. Who is he to talk? Have you seen the movies he’s been in lately?

Case 1 is about a crazy artist who likes to talk to his dolls. Sometimes the dolls tell him to murder, so he murders. The guy looks like Sideshow Bob and he gets REALLY intense while bickering with his dolls. This was the worst tale in the anthology. Most of the time he is having REALLY intricate arguments with the dolls and the audience can’t even hear the fucking dolls. He pushes Freddy Kruger off of a building and he lynches some woman whose boobs are exposed within the first 15 minutes of the film.

Case 2 is a lot more fun. It’s about this nerdy kid named Steven. His teacher at his Catholic school is the brunette Mean Girl and his dad is an alcoholic who likes to beat/molest him. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also being stalked by a giant homeless looking dude who wears a hood because his face looks like 1990’s Venom from the Spiderman comics. I won’t tell you what happens but it does involve Steven stuck in a burlap sack and does NOT involve his dad having a change of heart regarding rape/beating.

Case 3 is about Lou Diamond FUCKING Phillips! Through a series of flashbacks we see he was a professor / doomsday prepper who believed in the 2012 apocalypse nonsense. He lost his job because all of his lectures devolved to his crazy rambling/prophesying and he lost his family because he started ignoring them and building an underground bunker. Flash forward and we see him chilling in his bunker listening to opera music, talking into a tape recorder, doing push-ups, and other stuff a psycho would do in a bunker. He thinks he has to hide down there because up top, everyone is dead and there are aliens. Maybe he really is hiding from aliens. Or maybe he killed his family and he’s hiding from the truth. DUN DUN DUUUUN! His acting is actually really good and the guy looks great at 51.

Overall nothing special but the movie keeps you interested. No explicit carnage or really any on-screen graphic violence. The soundtrack is LOUD AS FUCK. I kept waiting for McDowell to ask some cliche rhetorical questions about society; “aren’t we all trapped in our own cell?” kind of thing. Never happened. So I guess the movie was surprising and unpredictable too.

REVIEW: Tales from the Hood (1995)

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Tales from the Hood: A

I saw this in the theater when I was twelve and it was awesome. Since then, I’ve probably seen it another fifteen times and I’ve enjoyed it each time. In my opinion, it is one of the most charming and creative 90’s horror films. The social commentary is relevant and the make-up, effects, writing, and acting are all extremely entertaining. I will concede that my history with the film might make my biased because of my own nostalgia.

This is one of those Creepshow style anthology films with a frame story setting up four “mini-films.” The mini-films each have, at their core, a social issue that affects African Americans who live in the hood which are also allegorically represented amidst all the panic and gore:

1. Police corruption / racism: A black rights activist is murdered by corrupt cops. They even gloat and go pee-pee on his grave after. Fucking meanies! He rises from the dead to fuck them up with extreme brutality. Zombie Black Rights Activist can teleport, has telekinesis, and can modulate his voice.
2. Domestic violence: David Alan Grier plays this asshole abusive boyfriend/dad who is also a monster. A teacher gets wise to what’s going on and one of DAG’s victims tries some voodoo type magic on his ass. Sounds fucked up, but when you get to the end of this one, there will be lulz.
3. Political racism: A racist white senator lives in a house that used to be a plantation, a fact that gives him an abundance of joy. Too bad for him that the house is haunted by a tribe of living dolls who are possessed by the souls of tortured slaves. You can imagine that they don’t think the senator is very cool. There’s some Child’s Play-esque terror as the dolls stalk and attack him.
4. Gang violence / prison rehabilitation: A gangsta named Crazy K goes to jail because he was being a gangsta named Crazy K. A new rehabilitation method allows the souls of his victims to kick it in the solitary confinement cell with him. These visitations make Crazy K become Crazier K and he has to ask himself if he still wants to go hard in the paint or instead, take responsibility for the evils he has committed.

Clarence Williams plays the Crypt Keeper character and his gap-toothed maniacal cackling punctuates each story. It’s a real treat.