The Dead Zone (1983)


The… Dead, Zone?

The Dead Zone: A-

This is a great horror movie and one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made.

Christopher Walken plays a jolly English teacher who gets in a car accident and goes into a five-year coma. Somehow, this gives him psychic powers. His life is all fucked up because he was comatose all those years and these psychic powers help alienate the few people he has left because they all think he is a ranting wack-o with brain damage.

At the beginning of the movie, he reads “The Raven” to his class (I have audio of him reading the whole poem; so badass) and then assigns Sleepy Hollow (Walken of course, went on to play the Headless Horseman in Burton’s version). I think you are supposed to remember this later in the film. “The Raven” is about a really lonely guy who thinks a bird is bringing him supernatural messages; Sleepy Hollow is about a terrorized English teacher. His character fits well with this: an abandoned English teacher who gets supernatural “visions” of the future, visions that only bring him pain. Walken plays it straight; no garbled Walken-talk or deranged facial expressions.

Walken only uses his powers for good, saving lives and even helping the local sheriff solve a murder case. I like that the movie isn’t about the origin of his superpowers and how they work, but rather about what to do with the power that you have. This Spidermanian theme is at the heart of the film’s conflict: Walken meets a politician named Stillson who is running for senate. Stillson is a real piece of shit (in the book, one of the first things you read about him is this time he killed a dog for fun). In Stillson’s future, he becomes president and authorizes a nuclear holocaust just because he wants to be remembered in history books (depicted in a hilarious scene where Stillson is screaming like a lunatic while some absolutely inappropriate/cartoonish oboe music plays in the background). Stillson seems to “know” that this is his destiny and Walken has to decide if he wants to assassinate this prick or what. So what you get is this guy who only wants to use his powers to help people vs. this guy who wants to use his powers to incinerate people.

Cronenberg directs this movie and but it has zero crazy-Cronenberg carnage. Even though this movie is not saturated in gore and violence, it never seems slow. There is one scene where a guy lethally head-butts a pair of scissors though; what a fucking awful way to end it all.

Ultimately, the developed characters and the theme are what make this movie great. You actually feel really bad for Walken’s character and want him to succeed and you want to choke Stillson the whole time. Watch this if you think you would like a Stephen King thriller that is more about suspense than grotesque monsters.

REVIEW: Berberian Sound Studio (2012)


Berberian Sound Studio: B

Witness Toby Jones assume the role of Gilderoy, a soft-spoken virtuoso of sound who is tormented in this grim psychological thriller in which he is hired to toil on a gory Argento-type Italian horror film, the very essence of which eludes your gaze for the entirety of the runtime. Yet despite never laying eyes on the frightening film-within-the-film, the anxiety and brutality that pervade the accursed sound studio alone are enough to rend the nerves asunder! It is this unique horror that caused me to lose my wits and inadvertently imbibe a double measure of the accursed medications prescribed by the court, which now course through my veins like a poisonous elixir. Alas! 

Gilderoy, a seemingly meek soul well-versed in the art of crafting idyllic nature films, ventures forth, unsuspectingly, under the belief that his talents shall grace yet another of these films: a cinematic equestrian escapade! So Dear Reader, you can quite easily imagine the torment that befalls him as he finds himself working on a most abominable film of Giallo carnage! With ease you envision his disgust as he squirts scalding water upon a skillet, striving to recreate the abominable act of an undead witch vaginally impaling her hapless victim upon a red-hot poker!

And this is only the beginning, Dear Reader. Women’s agonized screams are captured, vegetables mercilessly chopped and stabbed, all in service of the ceaseless demand for the symphony of gore that this movie so requires. And then, Dear Reader, like your humble Keeper hunched over my bloody parchment, he stoops over his console, devoting endless hours to the arduous task of blending these vile sounds with the haunting strains of synthesizers and pipe organ chords reminiscent of a bygone era. Unsurprisingly, his sanity and happiness crumble like the ruins of forgotten civilizations. This unholy parallel triggered another unfortunate lapse and I am afraid I have taken a triple dose of my legally mandated capsules… Verily, my oral cavity, bereft of moisture, doth suffer from an insatiable drought, whilst the echoing whispers that once plagued my tormented soul seem to have manifested themselves anew… And somehow amplified!

In stark contrast to his own mild-mannered gentility, Gilderoy finds himself surrounded by a crew of macho Italian ruffians, undeterred by a ten-hour day of chain-smoking, imbibing spirits, and subjecting the female voice talent to their lecherous advances. By degrees, through a combination of the aforementioned workplace toxicity and the antecedents for his hideous sound work, Gilderoy’s gentle nature succumbs. He soon obsessively devotes his talents to dubbing sound for increasingly wicked and depraved scenes, diverging ever farther from the serenity of his previous cinematic endeavors. Ah, dear reader, behold the dire consequences of this tragic calamity: I was driven to seek solace in the intoxicating embrace of Irish whiskey! Alas, I failed to recall the ingestion of a triple measure of my prescribed medications! Hark! Do you not hear the solemn tolling of church bells, Dear Reader? These bells, once mere figments of my deranged imagination, have now assumed corporeal form to ring the death knell of Gilderoy’s innocence! Be you damned if you doubt me now!

I… tire… but persist in this review… The film, a captivating thriller at its inception, swiftly devolves into a tar-pit of surrealism and nightmare logic reminiscent of the spells of the malevolent sorcerer David Lynch. I shall not unveil its secrets, but I implore you, dear reader, to hold tight to your sanity as you traverse the labyrinthine nightmare that unfolds in the final twenty minutes, a macabre dance of metaphor and terror intertwined.

Have you, perchance, borne witness to the bewildering conclusion of Twin Peaks? Pray, spare me your inquiries, for in comparison to this wretched film, the confounding events of that series assume potent coherence! Oh, the wretched bewilderment that beset me did impel me to partake in the inhaling of forbidden narcotic powders, Dear Reader! I confess! Is it a sin to seek respite from this maddening abyss?! And in this demented state, my tongue not quite my own, spewed forth the most venomous invective upon my innocent feline companion when the poor creature momentarily stepped in front of the television! 

One cannot deny the allure of this accursed film, for it ignites within the viewer a newfound appreciation for the arcane craft of sound engineering and the diabolical creativity that lurks behind the scenes of the silver screen. Oh, the wicked delight derived from immersing oneself in the auditory symphony wrought by Gilderoy! For it is in his torment, not the unholy cauterization of infernal vaginas, but his consuming and palpable revulsion and distress, do we manage to revel in the true horrors of this film. Exhaustion doth overwhelm me now Dear Reader, for this arduous review hath occupied me most feverishly for a span exceeding three days and nights. Perspiration cascades from my trembling brow and… what’s that?… Ah, a beckoning voice, doth resonate from the depths of the cavernous unknown, captivating my senses with an irresistible allure. Some dark compulsion compels me to heed its  call, plunging me deeper into the abyss…

REVIEW: Dream House (2011)

Dream House


Dream House: F

The only thing “Dreamy” about this movie is Daniel Craig. I mean, seriously, his eyes alone are Dreamy as fuck. They’re like two cobalt planets made entirely of virginal arctic ocean. Two shards of a warm autumn sky, just for you. Dim crystal tunnels that spiral to a world of passion where their cold gaze steams from an inferno of desire.

The rest of the movie is an pitiful labyrinth of horse shit…

Actually, there is a lot of good acting in the movie but the convoluted story and quintuple “twists” are simply too much and thus build the aforementioned maze of excrement.

Daniel Craig and his family move into the Dream House and they are happy. Then there’s weird dudes staring at the house all the time and some things going bump-in-the-night. Craig gets curious and he starts digging around in the past to figure out why people are malevolently staring at his house instead of lazily staring into his two azure skull-portals.

Cliche alert: You’ll never guess where his detective work leads him… TO A CREEPY-AS-FUCK MENTAL INSTITUTION!

Well then we have to ask ourselves if Craig might be a patient in the mental institution. Perhaps the Dream House is nothing but a delusion cooked up by that brain hiding behind Craig’s glamorous, flirty, cornflower whirlpools.

Go ahead and hold that thought for a fucking nanosecond because before you have time to explore that possibility, in comes Naomi Watts to spoil everything. Now the Dream House Fantasy is looking more like a Dream House Criminal Conspiracy or a Dream House Small Town Cover-Up.

“Well okay,” you think to yourself. “Maybe it is just a case of -”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” bellows the movie. Suddenly: ghosts. And fire. And hired assassins. And revenge killings. And duel-layered cases of mistaken identity. And ambient music. And more mental institution. And murderous psychos. And benevolent ghosts. And more coincidences than snowy flecks of white in Craig’s sexy sapphire marbles.

What a goddamn mess.

REVIEW: Compliance (2012)



Compliance: B+

When I was a teenager, I used to make prank calls with my friends. We used to convince people of all kinds of crazy stuff. We had one really elaborate one that involved calling Denny’s and telling them that we were driving the pancake batter truck.

Before I go on, let that sink into your head.




Got it? Okay, so then we’d tell them that the truck crashed and there was pancake batter all over the road. One time, we even told them that the hot pavement turned it all into one giant pancake, and that pancake was blocking holiday traffic.

The best thing about these calls? We never had to struggle to get people to believe what we were saying. The argument would always come from us telling some poor assistant manager that they had to send somebody down to clean the stuff up. Nobody ever just hung up and told us that we were being stupid; instead, they’d argue that they couldn’t afford to send somebody down. Also, they’d get confused with the imprecise directions we’d give, as we always told them that it crashed on “the freeway near there” and would only repeat those directions in an annoyed, condescending manner when they questioned it.

What do pancake batter trucks have to do with this movie? Nothing. However, when you’re watching it, you might find it implausible that a simple prank caller can get people to do all kinds of stupid, twisted stuff. When that thought enters your head, think of two things: 1) this is a true story and the basic setup happened more than once, and 2) pancake batter trucks.

The point is, people are stupid. When I was a kid, I thought it was funny to get people to believe that there was a big pancake on the road. This movie taught me what I could do if I didn’t have a conscience, and I thought it would be amusing to get people to violate a young woman.

When you watch this, you’ll yell at the TV and want to find all of the real-life people that this was based on so you can beat the shit out of them – except for the victim, she’s already been through enough. I think I got a lead on one of those fuckers. Want to join me in busting some heads? I can pick you up in my pancake batter truck.

REVIEW: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


Rosemary’s Baby: A+

This is one of the best horror films ever made. It’s psychologically creepy as fuck and the writing/acting/direction are fantastic. Structurally, each scene is like a scene from a play with a beginning, middle, and end that all contribute to the overall plot. There is no wasted screen time or pretentious/frivolous scenes thrown in for the hell of it.

Rosemary and her struggling actor husband Guy move into a New York apartment building and befriend local weirdos Roman and Minnie Castevet. The four of them drink fancy cocktails, and swap stories by the fire with Guy and Roman having plenty of private after-dinner chats while Minnie distracts Rose in another room. I wonder what they’re talking about in there…

The film starts by getting you hooked on Rosemary. She is so sweet and charming it’ll make your face hurt! Guy, on the other hand, has all the charm of a pedophiliac car salesman, which is probably why Rosemary begins to suspect him of selling their first born to the Castevets in exchange for material wealth and success. After a few weeks of Guy and Roman’s private time, good news! Rosemary is pregnant! She is a little distressed when she wakes up with scratches all over her body and what feels like a roofie-hangover, with no memories of sex with Guy, only remembering how the night before, Guy was fucking FORCING HER to eat this creepy ice cream sundae that tasted like chemicals. But, regardless, she knows right off the bat that she is with child and this makes her super-stoked.

This paranoia she has about Guy, by the way, is so entertaining to watch because the events that inspire it increase in intensity exponentially, starting with really subtle pangs of doubt to full-blown suspicions of murder and occult rituals, making for great pacing for a psychological thriller. While at first, she is only weary of what appear to be coincidences, she starts to freak the fuck out because she thinks she’s uncovering a global Satanic conspiracy that centers on her baby! 

Guy’s career mysteriously takes off and his rival in the biz contracts a terminal illness. The neighbors all take a special interest in Rosemary’s pregnancy, feeding her funky herbs and monitoring her every move. The Castevets act even weirder and become obsessed with her baby and it seems like everyone is in cahoots, ganging up on Rosemary. People die and stuff.

This is a movie like no other and you owe it to yourself to see it.  

REVIEW: Hotline (1982)



Hotline D

Wonder Woman works in a bar and gross men hit on her. Then one follows her home and breaks in while she’s sleeping to smell her hair or something, but he doesn’t hurt her. I actually kind of related to this, because I don’t want to hurt anybody, but there’s lot of hair I want to smell all the time all around me everywhere.

So she starts also volunteering at a psychiatric help-line for some reason, and she starts to get stalker calls from this guy whose first pitch is:

“Barber barber, shave a pig, how many hairs to make a wig?”

He wants to kill her and chop off her hair or something, which I also relate to because I really like long black hair and Wonder Woman, she has tons of it.

Once in high school, there was this girl with beautiful black hair on whom I had a big crush. She came to school one day with a short pixie cut, which was pretty sexy as well. But she asked me how I thought it looked, and I said:

“Great. But did you save the old hair?” and she said:

“No. Why?”

“I could’ve made a hand puppet out of it.”

Then I stared at her. And she laughed. She laughed because she thought I was joking. Then we started hanging, and we made out a couple of times and once went skinny dipping at midnight in this Irish guy’s pool in which we weren’t allowed.

And she let me hold her wet body afterwards ‘because it was so cold. I couldn’t close the deal, though.

Maybe I should give her a call.

Anyway, it’s a mystery and he keeps calling and her co-workers start calling him The Barber. He wants her hair and she doesn’t want him to have it so that’s the conflict.

The ending doesn’t make much sense, but it’s still cool because it’s not the guy who is openly obsessed with her for the whole movie who turns out to be The Barber. It’s actually open-obsessed guy’s best friend who hates her for not returning his friend’s love. And he wants make something for his friend out of her luxurious hair. And he’s her boss also.

And Frank Stallone’s in it.

If this was hard R (hard 80’s R) instead of made for TV it might have been good because there could’ve been a lot more detailed hair-fetish stuff and Wonder Woman could have gotten (tastefully) naked.