Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 267: Trick R Treat

Trick R Treat is a pretty unique anthology horror movie set on Halloween. It should be available for streaming somewhere.

The interesting thing about this movie is that the four narratives in it overlap and intertwine in fairly unique ways. The Hell themed anthology Southbound tries this same trick but I think they pull it off slightly better here. The first story is about a murderous principal from the local school killing off problem children who come to trick or treat. He has a lot to deal with on this particular Halloween. The second story is about a group of kids going to the local quarry to give a sacrifice to the kids who died during the Halloween school bus massacre, years earlier. The third story centers on a group of girls having a fun night out but one is kind of bummed out. Before her night can turn around she appears to be attacked by a vampire. Fun ensues. The fourth story is about the neighbor of the principal from the first story being terrorized by a little guy named Sam in a homemade costume.

While none of the individual parts are all that amazing, the world they weave together works pretty well. Characters who don't get a comeuppance in one story meet their fate in another. Dangling plots from earlier stories are resolved later and even the future of this little town is hinted at by the end. Michael Dougherty directs the whole thing pretty well (although  I would argue he is a little more comfortable with the comedy parts than the horror). Dylan Baker as the principal, Brian Cox as the old man neighbor and Anna Paquin as Little Red Riding Hood all do a great job.

If you like anthology horror, this is a good modern example. I would recommend this movie for most any horror fan.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 266: The Lost Boys

A childhood favorite that I saw on HBO too many times to count, The Lost Boys were cool.

The Lost Boys is about a pair of brothers being raised by a single mom who move to the seaside town of Santa Carla, that is overrun by a gang of teenage vampires. The older brother (Jason Patric) falls in with the charismatic gang leader (Kiefer Sutherland) while Corey Haim, the younger brother, befriends a pair of vampire hunting kids named the Frog Brothers. Haim becomes obsessed with saving his big brother from a life of bloodsucking and decides he needs to find the head vampire in town. Also, our heroes' mom has started dating again. Things do not go smoothly.

This is just 80s glam horror at its best. The Lost Boys (the vampire gang) dress like leather night at the gypsy camp and, of course, they make you think you are eating maggots when you eat Chinese food. The action styling of Joel Schumacher (which would later make Batman and Robin so horrible) is put to good use here with lots of good tension and some practical effects fight scenes between vampires that were quite good for the time.

I don't know if this ages well. I am a fan from my youth so I will always be a little tilted towards it. I remember it being angsty teenage vampire fun.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 265: The Houses October Built

This one was definitely on Ain't It Cool's list of best horror and I watched it off Netflix. And here we are, 100 days from Halloween!

As far as found footage movies go, this one is unique enough that I feel a strong liking for it. The premise is that a group of friends are renting a Winnebago a riding all over Texas (I believe) to visit the most extreme haunted houses set up for Halloween. They are recording the whole thing and basically looking for something off the charts scary. When they offend a couple of the workers at one haunted house, their camper gets vandalized and they start noticing some of the same performers popping up at different locations. All of this is in service of finding a private invite only spookhouse that is so scary it changes locations every year. And of course, they find it. Fun ensues.

What I dug about this is they filmed inside several real, functioning haunted attractions for the first half of the movie. You almost get a documentary style look at how the houses are run and what sorts of people they attract. For found footage premises, it has one of the stronger hooks I've seen. Of course, by the end you know you are purely in horror movie land but the first person aspect keeps things as fresh and immediate as a real funhouse.

I'm not saying this is groundbreaking horror or anything but they put some effort into the production and I appreciate it. You could do worse than this one.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 264: Antichrist

Not sure why I watched this one...but oh boy.

Lars Von Trier has always made provocative movies but I heard Antichrist was a little extreme. Sure enough, the opening sequence is hardcore sex between a married couple while their toddler wanders out an open window to his death. This wrecks Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as the couple. They then decide to travel to a remote cabin to help the healing process only, one of them is not interested in healing so much as punishing themselves and the other...graphically and horribly.

A meme popped up around this movie as there is a talking fox in one part who just says "Chaos Reigns." That is about as comforting and cutesy as you are going to get in this flick. Otherwise, there are mutilated sex organs, bloody orgasms and enough gender politics to make you think you aren't watching a snuff film.

I can't, in good conscience, recommend this movie to anyone but it is, in fact, horrific. You will see things you cannot unsee and it is brutal. In the end, there might be a class of horror film I am too wussy for and this is in that class.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 263: Would You Rather

Definitely learned about this from Ain't It Cool and then watched on Netflix.

Would You Rather is about a young woman named Iris who is caring for her sickly brother. When faced with mounting medical bills, she is introduced to a shady millionaire by her doctor. The rich guy (played by Jeffrey Combs) offers to let her attend a dinner party where she can play a game to win all the money she will ever need. She attends and finds herself in a motley group where they are almost immediately put to ethical tests for money. Iris violates her vegetarianism for $10,000 and a recovering alcoholic (played by John Heard) gives up his sobriety for $50,000. And then, the real game begins. I don't want to give too much away but it involves electric shock, ice picks, buckets of water, razor blades and worse.

This is a pretty good cast considering how small a movie it is. June Squibb, fresh off of Nebraska, plays an old paralyzed woman playing the game. Heard and Combs do their thing pretty well. The guy who plays Penguin on Gotham is Combs' sadistic son, who attempts to rape one of the guests. Enver Gjokaj (from Joss Whedon projects galore) is Lucas, the kind of heroic balance trying to keep all the guests from losing their humanity.

Hard to watch at times but again, pretty well made for such a small budget. The cringe factor is high but the ending is pure O Henry.  I can't recommend it for everyone but for those wondering where their own limits are, maybe see this and Cheap Thrills to find out.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 262: Dead Snow

Pretty sure I found this one through Ain't It Cool News and caught it on Netflix.

Dead Snow is a kind of loving Norwegian homage to Evil Dead 2. A group of adults (acting as students on spring break) heads to a remote cabin in the snowy mountains to have a party and do some skiing. Little do they know that under the cabin is a stash of gold taken by the Nazis when they invaded. When one of the party pockets some of the nazi gold, the Nazis come to life and begin killing anyone in the area they find to reclaim what they believe is theirs. As the body count rises, one of the party, Martin decides to get proactive and fight back. Fun ensues.

The tone of this is pretty wacky, all told. Despite playing everything completely straight, the slapstick violence is hard to deny. Once the chainsaw comes out and one of our heroes loses a hand, the Evil Dead comparisons are inescapable. This is actually a pretty fun time as far as modern zombie movies go. The ending is one of those great, "oh crap" moments that horror does so well in letting the protagonists know they are more screwed than they thought. If you like funny horror, this movie is well worth a watch. The sequel (which I reviewed earlier in this blog) is also lots of fun and has Martin Starr.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 261: The Crazies

Random topic generator is kind of paying homage to George Romero as this Romero remake popped up today.

The Crazies is a lot like 28 Days Later in that some contaminated drinking water turns a whole town into violent psychopaths. The Sheriff, played by Timothy Olyphant, is just trying to get his wife and get out of town as the military barges in and starts killing everyone indiscriminately as part of a containment effort. Caught between the two groups and with a deputy getting angrier by the minute, the Sheriff has a rough road ahead of him if he wants to escape this set up.

This was a perfectly serviceable horror movie with the thin premise leading from set piece to set piece. Olyphant brings his laconic cool to the role from the very first scene where a little league game is interrupted by the town drunk carrying a gun onto the field. Breck Eisner doesn't bring any real flair to the proceedings but the editing and music create the tension in these sorts of movies anyway. I do remember it has a pretty extreme ending, taking a recent movie cliche to its furthest point of absurdity.

Not a bad flick, not great. You could do worse for an afternoon of horror.

 NOTE: I've never seen Romero's original so I can't compare the two, sorry.