Time to start getting caught up on the list. Here are my first two:
1. The Gate (1987) (FTV) – 3.5
This was going to be our soft-start (Sept. 30th), because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting with this. I was aware of this movie freaking a lot of people out when they were kids, but it looked like a normal kid adventure movie with some fantasy elements in it. Well, this turned out to be a legit horror movie. People’s faces were melting off, kids were dream-dancing with their dead dogs, Stephen Dorff was in it – there was some crap going down. Certainly not scary for an adult, but it was well put together and set a very ominous tone. I think of it now as Evil Dead for kids. I look forward to passing it on one day.
2.Night of the Demons (1988) (FTV) – 3.0
I thought this was a well done movie. My rating is a little tempered due to expectations. The DVD was extremely expensive for a long time, causing this one to sit on my list for a while. Maybe it was the buildup, but, after finally getting it and watching it, the movie felt somewhat average. It had all the right elements, and you could tell they were trying to ramp up the danger, but it never hit that frenetic pace you get from ROTLD or Re-Animator. I will say I was surprised by the way they handled Roger. He was both a sonuvabitch and a magnificent bastard. Also, I ended up getting the Scream! Factory release. I really love what they’re doing. If I spent that much on movies (I tend to buy used, locally, so I can feed the habit frequently), I would buy most of their catalog. I watched the DVD, and the remastered video was phenomenal. Tons of detail in all the dark scenes. Also, every time there was music, my subwoofer kicked on. I’m used to it remaining fairly silent with most ‘80s movies in all genres. There were no level issues here at all between the effects, dialogue and music.
3. Night of the Creeps (1986) (FTV) – 3.5
This one almost lost me at the beginning. The naked, baby aliens running around were pretty cheesy. So, they have advanced technology, but have evolved beyond the need for clothes…and functioning buttholes, apparently? Anyway, it picked up from there. I thought it was an excellent horror/comedy. It had Rusty in it from European vacation, and Tom Atkins. It made me sad that Fred Dekker’s career fizzled out so quickly. I had also never realized that college ladies wear so many different types of negligée under so many different types of circumstances. The ‘80s were such a classier time.
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – 4.5
Watched it last year, posted my review of it last week, then just watched it again. The wife wanted to check this one out. We’re going to see the sequel at a local venue next week and she wanted to know the backstory. My comments remain the same. A lot of implied gore and a phenomenally set atmosphere. It was just so odd from the very beginning. There was a lot more screaming during the last 1/3 of the movie than I had remembered. That got a little old, but excellent all around. The wife was a little ambivalent. Shows like Criminal Minds have desensitized her to some of the serial killer stuff.
5. Slumber Party Massacre (1982) (FTV) - 3.5
I really liked this one. It was a little slow in the middle, but had enough good parts overall that I can forgive it. I loved that it was an unintentional/intentional parody of the genre (the writer and director created it as a comedy, but the producers saw it as a normal slasher). There were so many things I wanted to make fun of as I watched, but couldn’t, because it was already making fun of itself. There were a wide variety of female characters who had jobs/interests traditionally held by men (in movies), faux-macho locker room talk, “Y’know, I think your tits are getting bigger,” (is there a male equivalent to this? “Hey, looks like you grew an inch longer over the summer, brah!”) The camera lingered gratuitously over some of the characters while they showered (scanning over various parts of their bodies unnecessarily). One guy slowly presses his bulge into his best friend’s back as they leer at some girls undressing and wonder aloud if they had died and gone to heaven. It goes on and on. There was actually a surprising amount of background detail involved, which raised the level of parody as well. It was clever, and even more impressive for being released in 1982. The genre was still new, but they nailed a ton of tropes that have been in continuous use.
6. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - 3.5
Every October we have to watch a selection from Elm Street, Halloween or Friday the 13th. It was very likely to be F13 this year, because we went to an outdoor screening of the original on Friday, June 13th (coincidentally, the movie takes place on Friday, June 13th, and the characters make reference to there being a full moon. There was a full moon on June 13th this year as well – spooky). We watched Part II at home, so we're already geared up for Jason. Anyway, this was a pretty strong entry. I don’t like Part III as much (I hate you Shelly!), but have a fondness for IV-VI. I think they really hold up well. Also, people tend to bash the numerous sequels for being low quality, but the kills in this really demonstrated why this series generally stands apart. A lot of the standard slashers have some slashing and stabbing, etc. But, Jason goes the extra mile. He stabs, and then rakes it across the body. Cuts the throat, and then twists the head around. He gives you your money’s worth (in terms of murder). Still relatively tame by today’s standards, but more diverse and interesting than what you get from the copycats (which is why I appreciate it when a copycat picks a theme and takes it to the extreme).
7. Trilogy of Terror (1975)(FTV) - 1.5
Wah waaaahhh – got my first dud last night. This doesn't usually happen to me, because I buy most of my movies. So, I’m usually pretty well researched before I dive in. This one has almost universally positive reviews. It is a three-part anthology that was made for TV. As most of the reviewers stated, Karen Black did a good job, but overall there was nothing special about this movie. It was worse than the worst episode of Tales From the Crypt. The third segment was probably the primary reason most people remember this movie, and that segment was pretty decent. But, that was only 1/3rd of the entire thing. It doesn't transform the overall experience into something other than rolling in a pile of turds. At least it was short.
8. The Mist (2007)(FTV) - 3.5
Just finished this up. It was a good movie overall. I watched the black and white version. I can’t say if it was better or added anything to the experience, because I haven’t seen it in color. I’m going to guess it probably helped with some of the CGI effects. There was a lot of tension, and there was a good balance between dealing with internal and external struggle. And, I think Frank Darabont has a good track record adapting Stephen King’s work. I think the main thing that kept this out of the 4 range for me was that it was by Stephen King. I’m not going to pretend like I knew
what the ending was going to be. However,
It was fun to see what was basically an audition tape for The Walking Dead.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)(FTV) – 4.0
This was a really fun experience. The wife and I saw this at a small, local venue that has a bar. Mmmmmm, bourbon and viscera. It added to the experience for sure. I thought this was an excellent follow-up to the original. The tone was completely different, but well done and still extra-weird. There were parts that were genuinely funny, and lots of little one-liners that it seemed like the actors ad-libbed (I’m pretty sure Jim Siedow expressed relief that he wouldn’t have to go to the hospital for his hemorrhoids after getting chain-sawed in the ass). With all the action on screen, it was easy to miss some of it, which means this will probably hold up well to repeat viewings. At the core of it all was Dennis Hopper, trying to act the hell out of his part while clearly having no idea what kind of movie he was in.
10. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)(FTV) - 3.5
I feel like I’m doing horror-lite this year. I need to get to some darker stuff sometime soon. Anyway, this was a well thought-out movie with a lot of nods to the genre. It was well done and I’m rating it higher than how I currently feel about it, because I may be feeling overly harsh. I was really intrigued by the concept of this movie, but was hoping for something darker. It really has a lot of comedic elements to it. So, again, well done and lots of little details for fans of horror, but not what I was in the mood for. It’s shot as a documentary about someone who aspires to be like Michael Myers/Freddy/Jason in a world where those characters actually exist. An example of the details I alluded to above: There is a Dr. Loomis-style character in the movie who actually dresses just like Dr. Loomis, and is played by Robert Englund. I was hoping for more of a disturbing look into the mind of a burgeoning psychopath, but the movie is mostly tongue-in-cheek fan-service.
11. Fright Night (1985) – 4.0
I don’t think I have anything new to say about this, I’m sure everyone is familiar with it. Classic ‘80s vampire movie.
I managed to squeeze in a triple-feature on Saturday. We had a couple of friends over to watch a movie. I wanted to make sure I picked a crowd-pleaser, so we started out with Return of the Living Dead, which is a classic and one of my favorites. While we were all talking afterward I started up Pieces to play in the background. We made it through about 30 minutes of that before the wife requested either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Monster Squad as background noise, so I switched to Monster Squad. We ended up making it all the way through that before our guests left. After they were gone, I went back to Pieces and finished that up. No FTVs, but a strong lineup:
12. Return of the Living Dead (1985) – 5.0
There is nothing I don’t love about this movie. Watching it with a group really accentuated how good Clu was, because there were people to laugh along with you. He was such a natural badass, it felt like he was making the whole thing up as he went (and he may have been). Also, I think I’m going to have to adopt “dick-brain” as my new go-to insult.
I just reviewed these two for my 2013 list. If you’re interested, they’re numbers 11 & 32 in the list linked in my sig.:
13. Monster Squad (1987) – 4.0
14. Pieces (1982) – 4.5
15. Brain Damage (1986)(FTV) – 3.5
Oh yea, now we’re sinking into the filth, but in a good way. Brian wakes up one morning to find a weird turd-looking parasite has attached itself to his brainstem. It occasionally injects his brain with its juice, causing euphoria, in exchange for being fed human brains. It’s a simple concept, executed well, full of ‘80s cheese, but also with a ton of gross out nightmare-fuel including two of the least sensual sex scenes ever filmed (For me…so far, although I think I have a few movies on the list that may top this, we’ll have to wait and see). Also, the voice they went with for the creature was absolutely hilarious to me.
16. Street Trash (1987)(FTV) - 4.0
I’m not really sure how to rate this, or really how to describe it. I’m rating it high, because it was well done and had some pretty cool effects. Also, the plot was like a waking nightmare. So, from a horror perspective, I think it has to be considered good. It’s a sweet little story about a liquor store proprietor who finds a case of liquor in his basement called Viper. He decides to sell it for $1 a bottle, which is an attractive price for hobos. Unfortunately, the drink causes the drinker to melt in a horrific, albeit colorful, manner. This is the crux of the movie, but it’s also about the full extent of how this substance figures into the plot. Beyond this, it’s pretty much wide open. A police officer beats the crap out of a guy, then sticks his finger down his throat and pukes on his unconscious body. There is a multitude of hobo sex, both consensual and nonconsensual (most of the plot elements revolve around the hobo life). Some guys play a game of keep away with a man’s severed organ, etc. The experience leaves you feeling like you need to take a shower.
17. Wer (2013)(FTV) - 3.5
Hey look, I’m being helpful and reviewing a recent release! I saw this in the Redbox and thought it looked interesting. It is a take on the werewolf story where the mythology unfolds as a defense attorney and her team investigate their client’s alleged involvement in a brutal murder. It was pretty interesting, because it attempts to apply a practical, medical explanation to the phenomenon since they are approaching it from the perspective of building a defense. The fact that it ultimately supports a plausible explanation for werewolf lore is secondary. It had some gory moments, and did a good job of building a suspenseful atmosphere. It did have some CGI blood, unfortunately.
18. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) - 3.0
I was pretty tired the other night, and got a late start, so we ended up putting on another Friday the 13th just to keep things moving. We watched Part V, which is the odd one of the bunch. It was fine, but I think being sandwiched between IV and VI accentuates some of its weaknesses. I always feel like something is off with this one (other than the twist ending), and I think I realize about 3-4 kills in each time that it’s because the deaths are much more straightforward, and most of them are committed by a disembodied hand. The sudden appearance of a hand with a knife making a slashing movement at the camera doesn’t do enough to build tension for me.
19. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)(FTV) - 3.0
The wife suggested this one, after enjoying the first two so much. She did not like this one nearly as much. It was a lot more torture-y than the others, and she does not have a stomach for that at all. I thought this was a good remake, but it certainly was missing some of the charm of the original.
20. The Stuff (1985)(FTV) - 2.0
Everyone was talking about it, and I have it, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Ehhhhh, this didn’t quite do it for me. It started out promising in its hilarity. I love how casual the main character was about everything. Like when they were regrouping at the diner and all he could talk about was how gross that guy’s mouth looked when it was open really wide, completely ignoring the fact that he had just punched a man’s face clean off. Or how he and his lady friend did a full day of espionage activities (I think? That’s how it started, but everyone was always so welcoming) before relaxing at their motel room, completely forgetting the fact they had flown in with a child they left on the plane. It’s okay, though. He eventually found himself safely locked inside an empty oil tanker. After that, it wasn’t intentionally or unintentionally funny enough to keep the momentum going, and they were pretty light on the special effects, which were cool when they used them. Oh yea, and I also enjoyed the marketing campaign that involved having ladies in fur coats telling the camera how much they liked the product…genius!
21. Cemetary Man (1994)(FTV) – 3.5
I was really looking forward to this one, and it was a pretty unique movie. However, it lost me during the last part. Still, props for trying something different.
22. Halloween (2007) – 3.5
I like the RZ remakes. They deviate from the tone of the original, somewhat. But at least he tries to do something visually interesting with it, rather than just rehash the many, many sequels that came before. A common criticism of this movie is that he spends too much time on Michael’s youth, and tries to give reasons why he turned into a psycho killer, but I don’t agree with that. Most of the events we see were mentioned at some point in the original series, and they don’t go very far in explaining Michael’s actions. Yea, he got bullied and his step-dad was a turd, but there was a clear distinction between the boy and the boy with the mask. It developed slowly over 15 years, but there is never a good explanation as to why it was happening or what motivated him, which is why Dr. Loomis ultimately leaves the facility. When he emerges, he has lost the last shred of humanity he had, and he is an unrepentant killer whose motivations are unknown by everyone he kills.
23. Tetsuo, the Iron Man (1992)(FTV) - 4.0
(Original review with photos)
My first two thoughts after finishing this movie were: Dafuq!? And:
This movie is about a fetishist who enjoys inserting pieces of metal into his body (although, the one time we see him doing it, he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it much). He is struck by a car, and the driver slowly begins to change from a human to some sort of cyborg-type thing, I’m not really sure. This is what the director thinks that looks like:
This is a subtitled movie, but I’m not sure they are even necessary. As weird as it was, it was actually fairly successful in that regard. It was tightly paced at 67 minutes, and despite the oddness, it was actually a pretty straightforward narrative. You get most of what you needed from the visuals (surreal as they may have been), and it all linked together nicely. I’m sure it deals with themes of industrialism and man’s dependence on technology and a bunch of other stuff like that, but it also had a guy with a massive drill-wang giving his girlfriend the business. So, don’t think about it too hard, or you may descend into insanity.
24. The Howling (1981)(FTV) - 4.0
I liked this one a lot. It had a very different storyline than I expected. Also, the effects were very well done. I’d actually put them above other more recent attempts like Dog Soldiers. I think in DS the costumes were too huge to capture the movement of the actors inside. I also appreciate that they balanced the playing field a little by making the wolves killable. The tension disappears when you put the characters in an impossible situation.
25. From Beyond (1986)(FTV) - 4.0
Hmmmm, I’m starting to notice a lot of phallic symbolism in the movies I’ve been watching this month. In this case, it was in the form of an overdeveloped, prehensile Pineal gland protruding from the main character’s forehead. The symbolism was initially lost on me, until a female character bit it off and I involuntarily crossed my legs. This movie is another team up of Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon adapting subject matter from an H.P. Lovecraft story. I thought it was great. It had a creeping sense of dread, some good build up, some gross-out gore effects. It didn’t have the frenetic pacing of Re-Animator, but it was still a very enjoyable movie. Oh man, I just looked up Mr. Gordon’s filmography to verify what other Lovecraftian movies of his I had to look forward to, and saw that he directed Robot Jox! I’m going to have to keep an eye out for some of his other movies (possibly excluding Space Truckers and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit).
26. Dead Snow (2009)(FTV) - 4.0
I’ve been getting pretty abstract in my viewing recently, so I decided to switch over to straightforward zombies. This movie adds a lot to the genre, I think
. We’re past the point where we need another zombie movie that attempts to show the beginning of the apocalypse, or provide some explanation of why there are zombies. We’re way past the point of having that one dumbass character who doesn’t believe zombies exist (lookin’ at you, Survival of the Dead). This movie took people, put them in a situation that involved zombies, and then watched how they tried to work themselves out of it. Add in some humor, excellent effects and some novel shots like
. It all adds up to a good time.
27. Frankenstein's Army (2013)(FTV) - 2.5
Mixed reviews + more recent release date usually causes me to stay away. However, this one looked like something I would be into, so I went for it. The movie was fine, but mostly disappointing. I’m not even sure what caused it to fizzle. All the elements were there, it just didn’t have any impact. I think I was hoping to keep the energy from Dead Snow going.
28. Maniac (1980)(FTV) - 4.0
Oh yea, as soon as this started up, it was looking pretty seedy. It did not disappoint. Psycho with mommy issues kills women and takes their scalps. It’s a low-budget affair, but has Tom Savini doing makeup, and clearly was a labor of love for those involved. The main character did an excellent job of playing a creepy weirdo. I think the motivations of the killer and his descent into a state of mania was fairly sophisticated for the type of movie this was and when it was released.
29. Maniac (2012)(FTV) - 4.0
This started off great. As soon as the music started, it put me right back into the mindset I had with the original. I ended up watching this in several parts, because I didn’t have time to get through the whole thing at once. I found myself thinking about it a lot in between viewings. It sticks with you. Also, I felt that it passed the remake test in that it added to the original. There was a lot more POV than I was expecting, but I think it was done well. Overall it had the feel of the original, but with some necessary changes to keep it current, and then ramped up the gore.
30. House (1986)(FTV) - 3.0
We had company on Saturday, and let him pick the movie. He went with nostalgia, and we ended up watching House. This was a decent ‘80s cheesefest. A haunted house does stuff to people who live there, and took a boy from a pool once…Honestly, they were probably trying to go too high-concept with this one, and I dozed off a little while watching. So, I have nothing of value to add.
31. Hellraiser (1987)(FTV) - 4.0
I was really impressed by this movie. I was vaguely familiar with it; everyone knows about Pinhead and the box. I was expecting a traditional horror movie, which would have the Cenobites as monsters the protagonists have to run from, figure out the puzzle to escape, etc. This was nothing like that and it took me by surprise. There was great atmosphere and a decent amount of gore. This probably would have blown my mind in 1987.
32. Event Horizon (1997)(FTV) - 4.5
Whoa!!(<-Think Joey Lawrence-style). I wanted to stick with the general tone of Hellraiser, and this movie definitely hits it. I know it is highly regarded around here, so I don’t think I have much to add, or need to convince anyone this is an excellent movie. Aside from just being put together well, the atmosphere had me tense the whole time. Something about possibly seeing the worst thing each of the crew members could think of really opens up a diverse range of possible horrors. The only thing that kept it from being a full 5.0 for me was that it didn’t string me along all the way through the ending.
33. Rawhead Rex (1986)(FTV) - 3.5
Welp, I was having a hard time picking tonight. As I've said before, I have way too many unwatched movies left to choose from, and I'm chasing the high I got from Event Horizon. I was hoping I could go 3 for 3 with Clive (he was a consultant during pre-production on EH), but I was wrong. However, I'm trying not to take my disappointment out on the movie. It was an excellent B-movie, I was just looking for something that would blow me away. The premise is a demon is brought back to life in Ireland and terrorizes the countryside. It was competently put together, and the actors clearly put in a huge effort. The result is you get some pretty good performances balanced out with some laughably crazy performances (like the pregnant lady in the beginning - the actress tried so hard, but just made me chuckle). It also had a bunch of great (unintentionally?) hilarious dialogue. "Get upstairs, f***face!" or "Would you care for a cup of tea?", "Why don't you go f*** yourself!" The 2nd half of the movie was stacked with crazy lines that came out of nowhere with great delivery. Also, I think someone got peed on. It was hard to tell, because the monster tended to stand around a lot anyway. I'm sure it was intended to come across as a grand statement about religion and humanity, but it didn't work out that way at all. Worth a watch if you can, certainly not worth the $100+ it's going for on some sites.
34. Phantasm II (1988)(FTV) – 4.0
35. Halloween (1978) – 5.0
36. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – 5.0