Thursday, October 1, 2009

Short Reviews for 2009 Horror Films

Here are some of the highlights of the mid-2009 horror DVD releases:

Trick R Treat- An anthology of four interwoven horror stories takes place on Halloween night. The film was originally slated for theatrical release in October 2007, but since movie studios are run by retarded shitheads, it is now being released direct to DVD on October 6, 2009. This movie gave me a nice warm feeling inside. Five stars.

Drag Me To Hell- The best horror film that was in theaters this year, and the best movie that Sam Raimi has made since the Evil Dead series. This film has something for everyone.

Pig Hunt- Great, great fun dealing with a group of kids who go wild boar hunting in Northern California. Meth-snorting rednecks, pot growing lesbian hippies, and a 3,000 pound monster wild boar make for a wild ride. Les Claypool does the soundtrack! So incredibly awesome!

Dead Snow- A group of typical teen horror movie characters go up to a ski lodge way up in a Norwegian glacier and encounter Nazi zombies! During WWII Nazis occupied areas of Norway, and a handful were left behind as zombie to punish the Norwegian villagers who resisted them. There is loads and loads of gore in this one, and pacing is a mile a minute. Available in Norwegian with subtitles or dubbed in English.

Histeria- This weird slasher-type film from Malaysia takes place at a muslim girls school and features a demonic monster and lots of gore. A great choice if you want to see something different, like a Malaysian horror film.

It's Alive- The remake of the 1970s horror film was tame and really dumb. Total waste of time. One or two good scenes, but mostly a waste of time.

The Hills Run Red- Direct to DVD slasher-in-the-woods movie, with a movie-within-a-movie, and a few good parts. This is a decent time-waster if you have already seen some of the better stuff. Gory with lots of nudity.

End of the Line- Canadian supernatural horror takes place entirely on the subway. A doomsday religious cult kills people and at the same time a bunch of demons show up. Great underground cinematography. Recommended.

Header- An awesome piece of hillbilly exploitation trash. If you like disgusting humor, this bud's for you. Made in 2006 but not released until this past summer on DVD from Synapse. Header attempts to create it’s own little world of revenge tradition. The film starts with a big goofy goober coming home after a long stint in prison to his Grandpa, a wheelchair-bound dirty old man who lives in a cabin in rural Appalachia. The two embark on their age-old tradition of having a “Header,” their slang for abducting a person, drilling a hole in their head, and skull fucking them. Classy stuff. Anyway, if you enjoy endless amounts of profane dialog and redneck jokes, as well as some extreme gore, you will enjoy this one. Cannes film festival anyone?

The Skeleton Crew- This film is from Finland, and is another "self-aware" horror film about some people making a horror movie. It's okay, but it's great that Scandinavia has started cranking out horror films. Filmed entirely in English. Worth checking out.

Rovdyr (Norway)- AKA Backwoods, AKA Predator- A typical Deliverance-style backwoods slasher film with some city slicker kids running afoul of the local inbred hillbillies. Except it’s in Norway. I loved this one. The violence was cruel and gory, and it clocks in at a tight 70 minutes, so there was never a dull moment. I think shorter is better when it comes to low budget slasher movies because unless the film has a really high body count, the filmmaker has to be good at stuff like humor, character development, and other stuff that most horror filmmakers aren’t good at

Train- Supposedly the movie was originally going to be a remake of Terror Train (1981) but I guess David Copperfield wasn't available for another cameo, so it morphed into it's own project. The result is a tasteless, retarded cliche that is basically a blow for blow remake of Hostel taking place on a train ride across Russia. There's lots of gore but the film is so bland it is a total waste.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Demonwarp (1988)

Oh wow...For the 80s horror fan who feels they have seen it all, Demonwarp has it all in one. This is not your average Bigfoot/aliens/zombie movie. No sir, this one is weird!
The film opens with a guy dressed like an Amish person walking in a field spotting a UFO (offscreen) crash in the mountains (offscreen). Cut to a cabin in the woods, present day, and George Kennedy, the grizzled B-movie veteran and star of countless Brady Bunch-era TV shows, is playing board games with his teenage daughter. A large Bigfoot type creature crashes through the door, knocks George out, and carries off his daughter. Some idiotic kids show up later for a weekend of sex, drugs, and monitoring paranormal activities in the area with a load of electronic surveillance equipment. One of the kids (actor Billy Jayne) played Mikey, Corin Nemec’s best bud on the short-lived teen sitcom Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
The Bigfoot stalks and kills the kids, who then turn into zombies later on in the movie. The zombies, as well as the Bigfoot, steal various types of electronic equipment from people. The Bigfoot also likes to chase hikers and rip their head off, then throw it like he’s spiking a football. Then the alien conspiracy is uncovered. The aliens, who crashed their UFO at the beginning of the movie, need to use the stolen radios and electronics for spare parts so they can fix their spaceship. But these aren’t just ordinary aliens, they are demons from outer space. Demonic rituals take place on their UFO, parked deep in the haunted woods and guarded by the Bigfoot creature.
Demonwarp is a laughably bad film, and plenty weird. It’s not weird in the schizo “acid-trip” way, more like a “stoned-on-lots-of-weed-and-xanax.” It’s like the directors and writers (there were probably several of them) forgot what was going on in the film from scene to scene, sometimes from one line of dialog to the next. Whenever they were bored and wanted more action, yet another fantasy-horror subplot was added. The film started out with space aliens, then Bigfoot got thrown in the mix, along with some demons, a little gunplay, sex scenes, then a bunch of zombies show up and it turns into a zombie movie.
The Bigfoot monster was designed by John Carl Buechler, the veteran effects artist who created better known monsters in films like Re-animator (1985), Ghoulies (1985), From Beyond (1986), and Demonic Toys (1992).
Buechler is quite the renaissance man when it comes to making horror movies, having also directed films such as Troll (1986), and Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988). He did gore effects for Halloween 4 and Halloween 6, Nightmare on Elm St. 4, and Freddy’s Dead, so he has been involved in the three biggest franchises in horror movie history.
This poor film does not have the bad-movie fan base that other 1980s absurdities has, probably due to how hard it is to come across a copy. It was released direct-to-video by Vidmark Entertainment, a B-movie only VHS company that distributed tapes from 1984 to 1997. Vidmark brought renters their first glimpse of films like Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1992), Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper (1984), and the Leprechaun series. The company was eventually absorbed by media monster Lionsgate. Naturally, they have not released Demonwarp to DVD.
I would give them an A for effort at least, and the C stands for creativity. Or something. This film is insanely enjoyable. I would put this film, along with Night Train To Terror and Nightmare Weekend, in my list of horror films that I suspect were secretly made by 13 year old boys.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Creatures From The Abyss (1994) AKA Plankton

If you like your cheesy horror to be psychotic, then this is your new favorite film. It’s a shame this movie doesn’t have more of a cult following. It makes films like Piranha and Reanimator look sedate and boring. It wreaks of cocaine and suntan lotion and looks like a Hawaiian shirt. It’s an extravagantly weird 1980s (even though it was made in the 90s) luxury yachting acid trip. Everything about this film is surreal, from the opening scene on the beach shot through an orange filter, looking as though there were a pair of pantyhose over the lens, to the pastel lit interior scenes, all accompanied by an ambient synthesizer score. It is Creatures From The Abyss, AKA Plankton.
It’s all a big excuse for some gory set pieces, slapstick, alcohol consumption, and sex. And line after line of obscenely stupid dubbed dialog.
Some teens set out from a beach in Miami in a rubber dingy, with no apparent destination in mind, and happen across an abandoned luxury yacht with a scientific laboratory aboard it. Apparently some genetic experiments have been taking place, resulting in monstrous little carnivorous fish, a contagious virus, and other slimy stuff.
The yacht is guarded and narrated by a talking computer system who states “Hi, I’m Jessica Rowland, I give good times,” (Who?!) and many more bizarre statements. Fictional technology is abundant aboard this ship, and there’s even a perverted, talking shower. At one point in the movie these words are spoken: “Professor, how long have you been fucking fish?” To which he replies,” They were old enough!” The inquisitor responds in an understanding mumble “These things happen…” Need I say more?
If you’ve ever seen the Discovery Channel programs about the fish inhabiting the deepest ocean depths where sunlight does not penetrate, and how freaky they look, then you will appreciate the “creatures” from the abyss. The killer fish in this movie can live out of water as well, and like to scamper across the floor in search of dumb teenagers to chow. Many of the fish POV shots are accompanied by growling noises, and of course they can fly through the air to attack as well.
The soundtrack reminded me of some of the 80s movies scored by Tangerine Dream, such as Manhunter, Risky Business, or The Keep. Knowing Italian horror directors, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was actually partially lifted from one of those films. They’ve certainly stolen music from other movies before, like when songs from Dawn of the Dead played repeatedly in Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead (1980).
Not a lot is written about this film. I would love to know how ridiculous the filmmaker was trying to make the film. There is a short interview on the DVD where he claims there were many difficulties and budget problems while making the film. It is perfectly plausible that he was trying to make a serious film. Claudio Fragasso, who directed Troll 2, still does not understand why so many people laugh when they watch his movie. I’m sure he is equally clueless as to why a documentary being made on the cult following of Troll 2 is going to be titled “The Worst Movie Ever Made.”
Massimiliano Cerchi, who also calls himself Al Passeri, was the director. I have not been able to track down any of his other films, although after having viewed this one repeatedly, I must confess that I would rob a video store armed only with a plastic fork in order to see them. With titles under his belt like Satan Claus (1996), Brainmaster (1993), Kendall Ransom: Bounty Hunter (1998), and Mummy Theme Park (2000), his films sound amazing.
Creatures From The Abyss is a maniacal cackle of a movie that must be seen to be believed. It would take too long to adequately describe the manic, “what next?” type of atmosphere this film runs on. Fortunately it won’t take long to find a copy of it because it is available on DVD from Media Blasters and on sale at Amazon and Netflix under both titles, Plankton, and Creatures From The Abyss. This is quite possibly the best bad movie ever made.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Red Spirit Lake (1993)

Red Spirit Lake is a no-budget shot-on-video horror film that is guaranteed to offend and mystify. Anyone looking to see what the world of SOV gore-fests has to offer should consider this essential viewing. The film is an artistic, surreal, supernatural tale of witchcraft and demons.
The film begins with three thugs torturing a woman to death because she won’t sell them the property on Red Spirit Lake. Her sister inherits the property and goes to spend a little time at her dead sister’s house. There she encounters some mentally deranged locals (the more psychotic of the two is played by director Charles Pinion) who tell her the lake is a dwelling for demons and the angels that fight to keep them locked away. The same thugs who killed her sister show up, as do some of her friends looking for a party. The stage is set for demonic possession, rape, mutilation, torture, and horrific and creative deaths as people are killed by the evil spirits and by each other.
Here’s a quick sampling of what happens at Red Spirit Lake: a woman is tied up for some kinky sex, then burned with a lit joint, and gets her throat slashed. Her ghost comes back to haunt her attacker and kills him by shoving her fist up his ass. A man is cooked alive inside a haunted sauna. All the while there are numerous stabbings, beatings, shootings, and hammerings, sometimes happening to the same person all at once.
This is a great example of surreal SOV filmmaking at its finest. The director makes great use of the dismal winter setting, and the acting is pretty good for this type of film. The film walks a fine line between not taking itself too seriously and having some of the usual horror movie in-jokes without making the film a mockery of itself, something very few SOV films do. It is a moody, atmospheric and creative film, with an almost psychedelic tone. With a runtime of about one hour, it is well paced and compact. Some entertaining trailers for other films by the director follow the film. If you can locate a copy of this film, it is highly recommended. Originally put out by Something Weird Video. I learned about this film in the "Films on the Fringe" section of Critical Condition Online (, the most comprehensive source of shot-on-video horror film info on the net.