Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Class of Nuke 'em High (blu-ray review)

Release Date: June 1st, 2010
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, 1080p
Runtime: 1hr 28min
Discs: 1

The Package: Troma has finally released Class of Nuke 'em High on blu-ray (after a month delay) and the package is a mixed bag. Coming to us in a standard blue blu-ray case, the cover art is very attractive, using the same art as the theatrical art. The back is, however, very plain looking. I'm not one to complain about back art, but it just looks a little to sloppy.

The Picture: Troma has delivered a surprisingly good transfer. Framed at 1.85:1 (I was scared that they were going to use a full frame transfer) and presented in 1080p, this transfer is good considering the source material. Colors are bright and vibrant. The print seems to be untouched, meaning that Troma didn't clean it up. I like that they didn't do this, as it adds a film like quality to the transfer. There is no evidence of DNR and the grain level is high. Troma has done a very good job with this transfer.

The Sound: Troma gives us a lossy 2.0 Dolby Digital track. Like the transfer, this track just adds to the Troma experience. Dialogue is clear and the effects are well done. Even though this is not a lossless track, it still is pretty good.

The Goodies: This is the first release that Troma has put out that doesn't contain a wealth of special features. I was kind of disappointed until I realized that quality of the special features makes up for the lack of quantity.

-Audio Commentary: Troma founder Lloyd Kauffman is on hand to guide us through the behind the scenes of Class of Nuke 'em High. Kauffman is always and engaging commentator and this is no different. Kauffman talks about his co-director and gives many stories about the shooting of this movie.

We also get 5 deleted scenes that are not really worth the time other than a scene in which a character has a meltdown after smoking some weed.

Nest up is an interview with two of the co-stars of the movie who feel in love and got married. This interview runs about five minutes and is only mildly interesting.

Rounding out the special features is a pointless two minute interview with the cameraman, a two minute segment of a girl taking her top off, and the usual assortment of Troma trailers

All in all, the special features are a little lacking (save for the outstanding commentary). I was hoping for a little more, being that this is one of Troma's more famous movies, but I can live with it.

The Film: Troma's output in the eighties was staggering, considering how many movies they are able to make now. Troma put out a lot of movies during the eighties and each one of them a different beast.

They started out the decade releasing comedies, but soon they were releasing horror comedies. Their first one, The Toxic Avenger, was a monster hit (pun intended) and with their next release, Class of Nuke 'em High, they took the concept of the horror comedy to a whole new level.

I was very entertained by this movie. I had not seen it in a while and it is just as good as I remember it being. Troma has a way of making things funny that shouldn't be. There is a kind of love in every one of their movies.

Troma is kind of like Pixar, in a way. Like Pixar, Troma makes movies that they want to make and they don't care if the movie flops, they just know that they made a good movie. But unlike Pixar, Troma has yet to sell out. Troma has been around for almost forty years and they make the movies that they want to, instead of just making movies for the hell of it.

Class of Nuke 'em High was followed by two sequels. While they are not as good as the original, they are better than most of the crap that Hollywood puts out. Troma is a true original and I hope they stay that way.

The Scores

The Picture: ***1/2
The Sound ***
The Goodies ***1/2
The Film ***1/2

Overall Score ***1/2 (not an average)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have been away for a while, but within the next few weeks, I will be back.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seven Coming to Blu-ray This Fall

John Doe is coming to invade your house this September.

Dexter: Season Four is Coming This August

Everyone's favorite serial killer is coming to dvd and blu-ray this August.

Repo Men Announced for DVD and Blu-ray

Repo Men, the movie that shares way too many similarities with Repo! The Genetic Opera, has been announced for dvd and blu-ray. Read more about this release after the jump.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Psycho Hitting Blu-ray in Time for Halloween

Universal has announced Psycho, as a 50th Anniversary Edition, for release on blu-ray on Oct. 19th, 2010. Featuring a 1.85:1 1080p transfer and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack (the original mono is included as well), this release is shaping up to be one hell of a release. The special features include:

-Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho)
-The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock's most shocking film
-In the Master's Shadow – Hitchcock's Legacy: Some of Hollywood's top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock's influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences.
-Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
-Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film.
-The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous "shower scene."
-The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design.
-Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film.
-The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film's production.
-Posters and Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign.
-Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film's theatrical campaign.
-Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work.
-Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology.
-Theatrical Trailer: Watch the original promotional trailer from the film's theatrical campaign.
-Re-Release Trailers: Watch the promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film.

The only thing missing from this release is the Psycho Legacy documentary. As it stands, I fear that we will never see that documentary. Other than that, I am very excited about this release.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More Corman Coming

Our friends over at The Digital Bits have given me word that Shout! Factory has announced two more Roger Corman movies to be released on dvd and blu-ray on 7/20. I am very excited about these releases and expect them to be the usual bang up job that Shout! Factory is known for.

The Forbidden World: 2-Disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $19.93 & $26.97) will include a new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film from the original interpositives (1.85:1, full HD on Blu-ray), the never-before-seen unrated Director's Cut version (1.33:1, in SD), audio commentary by director Allan Holzman, a new interview with producer Roger Corman, interviews with the cast and crew (including Holzman, composer Susan Justin and actor Jesse Vint), a look at the film's special effects (with John Carl Buechler, Robert Skotak, Tony Randal and R. Christopher Biggs), a gallery of stills and poster artwork, the original theatrical trailer and additional New World trailers. On the Blu-ray version, everything will be included on the BD disc except the Director's Cut and audio commentary, which will be on the included DVD disc. 

The Galaxy of Terror: Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $19.93 & $26.97) will include a new audio commentary with the cast and crew, 7 featurettes - New World (producer Roger Corman, screenwriter Marc Siegler and director Bruce D. Clark discuss the origins of the film), The Crew of the Quest (actors Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Taaffe O'Connell and Grace Zabriskie discuss their experiences), Planet of Horrors (a detailed look into the creation of the film's memorable sets and alien landscapes), Future King (the cast and crew recall working with then co-production designer James Cameron), Old School (a journey into the complicated mechanical and makeup effects with artists Allan A. Apone, Douglas J. White, Alec Gillis and others) and Launch Sequence (co-editor R.J. Kizer walks us through postproduction and a profile on composer Barry Schrader), the film's theatrical trailer (with commentary from writer/director Joel Olsen, courtesy of, additional theatrical trailers, extensive photo galleries including posters, production sketches and designs and the film's original screenplay. 

 In addition to all that, Shout! Factory has announced that future installments of its Corman line will include Attack of the Crab Monsters, the original Not of This Earth (1957), Piranha (directed by Joe Dante), Humanoids from the Deep (starring Doug McClure and Vic Morrow), Deathsport (starring David Carradine and Claudia Jennings), Battle Truck (released in the U.S. as Warlords of the 21st Century) and more. 


A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) ***

Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, released in 1984, changed the rules of slasher movies by adding two things, dreams and a killer with personality. This added much need flavor to a genre that was already running out of steam. Now we get the remake, a movie that really doesn't start until the second half.

Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy Krueger this time around and his performance is good. In the scenes showing Freddy's past he comes off as a nice, quiet guy. But as progress, it becomes clear that Freddy did do the things that the parents of Springwood accused him of. Even though the flashbacks are quick, these were some of my favorite scenes because we get to see Freddy before he started haunting people's dreams.

I stated earlier that this movie really gets going in the second half. The first 45 minutes or so have no structure. Its just one killing after another. While this is fine, it gets to the movie off to a confusing start. Once everything falls into place, however, the movie is very good.

Another complaint that I have, and I have noticed this from other fans, is that this movie doesn't really live up to its potential. The filmmakers had a chance to really do something with this story, but seem more concerned with giving us cool visuals instead of a coherent storyline. This causes some confusion, as some characters are introduced, only to be killed off in the next scene.

Don't get me wrong. I liked the movie. It's just that I wished that more was done with the movie. The movie plays, for a good amount of the running time, as a series of punchlines without any setup. If the filmmakers had worked on the setups, then the kills would have been that much cooler. As it stands, A Nightmare on Elm Street isn't as bad as Friday the 13th, but isn't nearly as good as Halloween.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nightmare on Elm Street Tops the Box Office

This past weekend, the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street topped the box office with $32 million. This is a lot less than the remake of Friday the 13th did a little more than a year ago. I have not seen the movie yet (I plan on seeing it this week), but I can say that I am a little disappointed that more people didn't show up.

I think the reason for this lies in a few places. The first is that a lot of people have been turned off by the constant borage of remakes that have been hitting theaters over the last few years. I believe that people would rather see a sequel than see the original updated.

The second reason is the movie has been getting bad reviews. The reviews are nowhere near as bad as Friday the 13th, but there have been some terrible reviews. But most of the reviews are saying how disappointing the movie is. Whereas Friday the 13th was just plain bad, reviewers are saying that A Nightmare on Elm Street has so much potential but doesn't use it.

The third reason lies in Freddy himself. While Jason and Michael Myers are just as big icon-wise as Freddy, they could be played by almost anybody. You get a big guy and slap a mask on him and you have yourself a Jason or a Michael Myers. Freddy is different. He is a character that has a life to him. In all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Freddy was played by Robert Englund, who brought a lot to the character. He IS Freddy. I'm not trying to bash Jackie Earle Haley, who is a great actor, but I don't think a lot of people are ready for a different Freddy.

That being said, A Nightmare on Elm Street should be able to turn a tidy profit and a sequel is already being planned. Hopefully I'll enjoy the movie and pray that it isn't the trainwreck that Friday the 13th was.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Human Centipede ***

Never in my life did I think that I would see a movie like this. Well, I mean, a movie like this that isn't a send-up of 50's sci-fi movies. This is an ugly movie. A movie that you kick yourself for watching, but can't look away from.

The movie centers around American girls who are on a road trip in Germany. Their car breaks down and they find shelter at the only house they can find. Upon waking up they find themselves being taken captive by a man who is a retired surgeon. This man, who has specialized in separating siamese twins, informs that girls that he has kidnapped them so he can perform a twisted experiment. He plans on combining the two girls with a man, who has also been kidnapped, to create the world's first human centipede.

This concept could have gone in a very lightly, jokey direction but this movie is deadly serious. Of course the idea is absurd, but the director, Tom Six, makes sure that the movie can be believable. The thought that a mad doctor would kidnap people only to make them into a human centipede is the kind of idea that gets you thinking, and, for the most part, our questions are answered.

There are only two reasons to watch this movie. The first is the obvious attraction of the title and description of the movie. After viewing the trailer, we know exactly what we are going to get and the movie delivers. The second reason is for the performance of Dieter Laser as the doctor. He is very creepy and plays the determination of getting the procedure done with a sly wink. In terms of horror movie performances, Laser's is the best of the year so far.

Human Centipede is a movie strictly for the geek show crowd. Anybody going into this movie thinking that it is going to be a fun time will be shocked and disturbed. This is one of the most disturbing movies I have seen in a long time and the fact that there is going to be a sequel disturbs me even more.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Random Notes

-Don't forget that the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is hitting theaters today. I have to work all weekend so I won't be able get to the theater over the weekend. I do plan on seeing it early next week and I will post my review sometime next week.

-Also, if you live in New York, Human Centipede starts its limited run on today. However, if you live outside of New York, the movie will be available through On Demand, so you will be able to see it there.

-Speaking of On Demand, Magnolia will debuting George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead on. The movie is a decent flick that is worth checking out.

-Looks like Psycho will be hitting blu-ray this year. Amazon has put up a page for it. There is no release date, but this is a step in the right direction. Here's hoping that they match the picture and sound with a good amount of extras. The 2-disc Legacy Series is an outstanding set and if they were to put the Psycho Legacy documentary on there, well, we might just have a perfect package.

Roger Ebert and Horror Movies

At the beginning of the year I wrote a piece entitled "Roger Ebert and The Lovely Bones", in which I spoke about how I felt that Ebert's review was wrong and incorrect. Today I am writing in response to his negative review to the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

As I have stated before, I am an admirer of Roger Ebert's. Reading his reviews growing up changed the way that I looked at movies. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. But, for the most part, he has given us solid reasons for liking or not liking a movie.

Over the past year or so, however, he has reviewed movies that he has disliked, by giving very weird reasons. His dislike for The Lovely Bones has been well documented here so I won't go into those reasons again. My main complaint is his review for A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Ebert's review speaks of many horror cliches and entries in his "move glossary", but his review reads like a cliche of his reviews on most horror movies. It is clear that Ebert does not like horror movie, so my question is: Why review them? Why does Ebert, who can choose any movie he wants to review, take time out of his day to review movies in a genre he hates?

There are many probable answers to these questions, many of which he will probably agree with. One, he wants to be the best critic out there by giving his readers a taste of everything. This is likely the best answer, but he fails on this end. He doesn't seek out horror movies and, by doing so, defeats the reason of being the best critic.

The second answer is that he probably likes horror movie, but refuses to give them a pass because it might ruin his credibility. He has given positive reviews to many horror movies, but only the ones that are smart. It seems that he doesn't like the fun ones.

The third answer, and the one that I am going with, is that he looks down on horror movies. Ebert speaks volumes on what are perceived as "classics". He has a series of essays entitled "Great Movies", but has only put two horror moves into this category, The Bride of Frankenstein and Psycho. And while those two are among the best horror movies ever made, it seems that there is a void.

Whether or not A Nightmare on Elm Street is a good movie is not the point of this rant. The validity of his horror reviews is. Horror fans are just as smart as "normal" movie fans and his dislike for the genre and us fans is something that needs to be examined. I don't take any of his horror reviews seriously and this is why I am writing this. I just hope that other horror fans agree with me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Crazies Hitting dvd and blu-ray in June

Anchor Bay has announced that June 29th, 2010 is the date that they will release The Crazies on dvd and blu-ray. The movie, directed by Breck Eisner, is a remake of the George A. Romero movie of the same name. That movie is available from Blue Underground. The remake made $39 million at the box office.

Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Director Breck Eisner
-Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner
-Paranormal Pandemics
-The George A. Romero Template
-Make-up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action
-The Crazies Motion Comic:
   -Episode 1
   -Episode 2
-Visual Effects in Motion
-Teaser Trailer
-Three theatrical trailers
-Ten TV Spots
-The Crazies Motion Comic Trailer
-Storyboards: Building a Scene
-Behind-the-scenes Photo Gallery
-Easter Egg
-Digital Copy (blu-ray)

You can preorder The Crazies from Amazon by clicking on the pictures above. Remember, everything that you order through this blog helps keep this blog running.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Missing in Action: Grindhouse (theatrical version)

This week's Missing in Action is about Grindhouse. The movies have been released separately in unrated versions, but we have never seen the entire experience on dvd. Well, not in this country at least.

Japan saw a 6-disc set of Grindhouse that included everything that we saw stateside and included the entire Grindhouse movie that was shown in theaters. This is something that bugs me and I will probably be talking about this further in another Missing in Action segment, but why do other countries get better editions of American movies. You would think that we would get them, but we don't. Anyway, the only release that has the 3-hour version of Grindhouse is Japan and that release is out of print.

So where is our theatrical version? Robert Rodriguez tweeted that he was working on a 15-minute Cooking School for the Grindhouse release, but that was some time ago. The Weinstein Company need to get on the ball with this release.

So what are we missing? As a whole, we are missing the theater experience. Grindhouse tried to recapture a time in American cinema that few people remember and that was the problem with the movie. Few people even knew what the term "grindhouse" meant. But the movie was an experience. It transported us back to when double features were all the rage.

There is another problem with Grindhouseand it is the second half. Death Proof is a terrible movie. It's a horror movie that has no horror in it. Tarantino tried to mix a car movie with a slasher movie and it just doesn't work. Tarantino is a self proclaimed cult movie nut and yet he makes a movie that they wouldn't have made in the 70's. There is a saying that goes: just because you know the notes doesn't mean you can play the music. Death Proof is a perfect example of this. All the notes are there, but the music doesn't sound the same.

For all of Grindhouse's flaws, there are things that are brilliant. Planet Terror is one of Robert Rodriguez's best movie. This movie looks and feels like a 70's movie, minus the girl with a gun for a leg. And the trailers are spot on.

I own the Japanese set and I love it, but this movie screams to be released here in the states. Even if they were to release the movie barebones, fans would still buy it up just to have to Grindhouse experience at home. The movie has aired on Starz as a complete movie and it has been shown in HD as well, so you know that The Weinstein Company already has the tools to release this and yet, they haven't.

Horror at Home: The Descent 2

This week's Horror at Home was going to be Troma's Tromeo & Juliet, but Troma has delayed the title for a second time. So my pick this week is Lionsgate's The Descent 2. I reviewed the movie in this week's Killer Minis, so I am going to talk about the dvd.

Lionsgate has given us another winner when it comes to this movie's dvd. The picture, presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 tvs, is really good. Black levels are deep and the sense of claustrophobia, that was so well handled in the first movie, is very well handled her too. The sound, a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, is very good as well. The balance between dialogue and effects is good, and the surrounds capture the errieness of the situation nicely.

Lionsgate has given us some decent extras for the movie as well. We get an amusing commentary by the director and some of the actors. The making of featurette has a little too much EPK feeling to it, but it gets the job done. We also get some forgettable deleted scenes and a storyboard gallery.

If you are a fan of the original movie, there is no reason for you not to pick this up. If you are a horror fan, then give it a rental. The movie is good and the dvd is worth checking out.

Killer Minis

Sometimes I don't have time to write full reviews for every movie that I see (I see a lot), so I am introducing Killer Minis. This segment will include short reviews for movies that I see. This way I can give you, my faithful readers a little more bang for your buck.

Mega Piranha zero stars
So why did I even waste my time watching this movie? Well, it was the title. I knew the movie was going to be bad, but I hoped that there would be a few laughs, but there aren't. With so much bad acting, terrible writing, and some of the worst special effects I have ever seen there isn't one laugh to be had. I was so disappointed.

The Descent 2 ***
The original The Descent was a pretty good horror movie, so how do you follow it? Well, you take the only survivor of the first movie and make her go back into the cave. I don't know if a reasonable person would make someone, who is on the brink of being catatonic from the events of the first movie, relive them in this way, but it does make for a pretty good movie. And, while the movie doesn't come close to being as good as the original, it still is pretty entertaining, with enough scares to get you through the night.

Dread (Afterdark Horrorfest 4) ***
This year's Horrorfest isn't as bad as last year's and the standout movie is Dread, based on the Clive Barker short story of the same name. This movie deals with fears and does so very well. The story is a little slow out the gate, but once it gains speed it doesn't stop. It's nice to see that Barker's stories are finally getting the screen treatment they deserve.

Kill Theory (After Dark Horrorfest 4) *
If Dread was the best movie to come out of this year's Horrorfest, then Kill Theory has to be the worst. This movie is a terrible rip off of the Saw movies, but it also takes a lot of cues from the Japanese movie Battle Royale. Since the idea for this movie is not original, you would think that, at the very least, they would do something original with it, but they don't. The characters are standard, the writing and directed subpar, and the kills, while gory, don't really seem all that exciting. What you are left with is a movie that so badly wants to reinvent the Saw mold, but fails at every turn. This is one of the worst movies of the year.

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever *
I was not a fan of the first Cabin Fever. In fact, I hated the movie. So why did I watch the sequel? Because I liked House of the Devil and I wanted to see if Ti West really had talent. From watching this movie, I have come to the conclusion that, no matter how talented the director is, this material is not good. I know that West was kicked off the movie or left, but he directed the movie, so he has some blame in this. I think that this movie is actually better than the original, but that isn't saying much. There isn't much in the way of character development. For once I can say that it isn't a shame because this material is trash.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thoughts About: The Lack of Love For DVD Buyers

In the past year, there has been a growing trend of shifting special features from dvd releases to their blu-ray counterparts. The studios seem to be rewarding people for having a blu-ray player by giving them exclusive special features that are not available on the dvd version of the movie. But what about the loyal dvd owners?

I have no problem with giving blu-ray owners something extra. I am a blu-ray owner and I like getting something extra, but a lot of times these special features are not possible on dvd. Maximum Movie Mode, which is a Warner Bros idea, is not something that is possible on dvd. But there plenty of special features that the studios could give to dvd owners, but choose not to.

Take, for instance, The Lovely Bones. The dvd has no special features whatsoever, while the blu-ray comes with a three hour documentary. And the upcoming release of Shutter Island is the same way too. The studios are forgetting about their loyal dvd customers. When dvds were introduced, one of the main selling points were the special features. I guess the studios are looking at blu-ray the same way now.

And its not just the studios. It seems like every article I read talks about how blu-ray is great and the special features are outstanding, but not everyone can afford a blu-ray player. Sure, you can get them semi-cheap now, you also need an HD tv to enjoy blu-ray to its fullest potential.

I love blu-ray, I'm not going to deny it, but I feel bad for all the people who can't afford it or don't feel the need to upgrade at this time. Studios should give the loyal dvd customers their due. Evantually they will turn to blu-ray, but don't fuck them now.

Guilty Pleasures: Q: The Winged Serpent

I am proud to introduce a new segment here at Horror in Retrospect: Guilty Pleasures. These are my favorite types of horror movies because they are so fun to watch. The movie may be bad, but you have a great time watching it. Today's focus is going to on Q: The Winged Serpent, a movie that I had heard about for a long time, but up until a few years ago, had never seen.

Monster movies are one of my favorite sub-genres. Many of them are the most ridiculous movies you have ever seen, but they hold a special place for many, including myself. I remember when I was a kid, there was a channel that would show monster movies on saturday nights. So every saturday, I would be home by 10:30 to enjoy the current movie. I saw everything from the original King Kong to many of the Godzilla movies.

As I got older, the station stopped showing monster movies and, for a long time, I stopped watching them all together. It wasn't until I started working at a local video, that my interest in monster movies came back. They had all of the old movies that I had watched as a kid, plus new ones that I had only heard about. One of those movies was Q: The Winged Serpent, a movie that would start my love affair with monster movies all over again.

The movie centers around a monster that invades New York City and lays its egg at the top of the Chrysler building. One day a con artist, played by the always great Michael Moriarity, finds the egg while running from the cops. The city, meanwhile, is in a state of panic because the monster has been flying around and killing people. The only person who can really stop what is going on is Moriarity, who, in exchange for immunity and money, will tell the mayor where the egg is.

This is a great movie, but only in guilty pleasure terms. If you were to look at it from the outside, you would find a movie that makes little to no sense, has no flow to it, and has some of the worst special effects out there. But to someone like myself, these are qualities. These are what makes the movie so memorable. You don't go into a movie like this and expect it to be taken seriously. Of course the filmmakers have to take it seriously, to a degree, or else they would be calling attention to themselves.

I'll give you an example. The movie opens with a girl talking on the phone in her office. There is a window washer outside the window. The girl makes a comment about how she thinks the guy is a creep. She ignores him. But as soon as she turns around she notices that he doesn't have a head. The filmmakers know that this scene will incite laughter, so why keep it in? Because if they didn't them the movie wouldn't have the tone set right. This scene tells us that this is going to be a fun movie to watch.

The director, Larry Cohen, is known for making schlocky horror movies. He previously made It's Alive and followed this movie with The Stuff, another movie that might grace Guilty Pleasures in the future. Cohen knows how to take, even the most ridiculous idea, and make it fun.

I don't believe that Q: The Winged Serpent was a box office hit, but it could have been. I could not find any info about how well it did, but I can see a movie like this making money. Everybody, at some point in their life, has enjoyed a monster movie. They are the ultimate guilty pleasure and that is why I have included Q: The Winged Serpent as my first guilty pleasure.

Random Notes

-Since Machete has gotten a release date (Sept. 3rd) and Hobo With a Shotgun is going into production, do you think that we will see the other Grindhouse trailers get turned into movies? I would like to see Thanksgiving, but I don't think the other two will work.

-So the screening of the Nightbreed workprint recently has gotten almost no coverage other than Fangoria talking about it. Why is there no reaction? I have searched and the only thing I found was the Fangoria piece. I want to know what people thought about it.

-Shutter Island has been announced for dvd and blu-ray release on 6/8. Like what Paramount did with the recently released The Lovely Bones, the dvd will have no special features, while the blu-ray will have two documentaries. This seems like the studios are giving dvd buyers the shaft when it comes to special features.

-Speaking of The Lovely Bones, if you have a blu-ray player you should pick this title up. The picture is flawless and the documentary on disc 2 is one of the best I have seen.

-So there are been scenes put up on the net for Human Centipede and I just have to say that I am more curious with every story that comes along about this movie.

-Troma has quietly pushed back the blu-ray releases of Tromeo & Juliet and Dark Nature. This is the second time that Tromeo & Juliet has been pushed back. Now Troma has four blu-ray releases set for May 25th: Tromeo & Juliet, Surf Nazis Must Die, Class of Nuke 'em High, and Dark Nature. Hopefully Troma has pushed these titles back to ensure that the quality is excellent, but they seem to be having a hard time getting their second blu-ray release out. Only time will tell.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Freddy vs Jason ***

By the mid-90's the Nightmare on Elm Street series was dead. They had killed off Freddy in the horrible Freddy's Dead and then tried to bring him back in Wes Craven's New Nightmare. With New Nightmare failing at the box office, it seemed that New Line was giving up on their staple franchise. Then in 2003, they gave us Freddy vs Jason, a showdown that had been eagerly anticipated ever since Freddy snatched Jason's mask and took it to hell in Jason Goes to Hell.

The story here is actually a pretty decent story. The kids of Springwood have forgotten Freddy and this makes him mad. Without the kids remembering him he has no power, therefore he can not haunt their dreams and kill them. Freddy's idea is to resurrect Jason and trick him into killing people so that the people of Springwood will think that it is Freddy, thus giving him the power to haunt dreams and kill again. But Jason doesn't want to go along with the plan and starts stealing kills from Freddy. Freddy is evantualy brought into the real world, where he faces Jason face to face.

The writers of this movie really know their stuff when it comes to the world of A Nightmare on Elm Street. They reference the previous NoES movies a lot, but when it comes to the Friday movies, they only know the basics. This hampers the movie a little, making it more of a Nightmare movie than a Friday movie. I'm sure that some of this is intentional, being that New Line is "the house that Freddy built", but it also shows that the writers don't know very much about Jason. But this is a petty complaint, seeing as Jason gets all the really good kills.

But the story really doesn't matter, afterall the movie is called Freddy vs Jason, and people came to see the horror icons face off. They do come to blows a few times in the movie, but it is the final fight that people are craving and boy is it a good one. Freddy and Jason face off at Crystal Lake and it is literally a fight to the death.

My only real complaint with the final showdown is that it plays like a kung fu movie. Jason throws Freddy all around Crystal Lake, which is to be expected. What I didn't expect was for Freddy to bust out some martial arts skills. It is kind of a funny sight seeing Freddy kick, jump, and spin around like he was studying martial arts in his down time. I guess this is to be expected, since the movie was directed by Ronny Yu, who has directed a lot Hong Kong movies.

In the end, Freddy vs Jason is a very good movie, blending scares, comedy, and gore into a nice overall package. Robert Englund hs said that he has hung up the glove and will not play Freddy again. I wish he would so we can have a sequel to this movie. I guess its a pipe dream now, but one can hope.

Worst Movie Ever: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Worst Movie Ever is a new feature here at Horror in Retrospect, where I take a movie that I consider to be horrible, and put it to shame. Some of these movies are widely considered some of the worst horror movies ever and some of them are considered the best. My tastes differ from a lot of people's, so for the first installment of this series I have decided to play it safe and take on a movie that many people: Friday the 13th Part VIII; Jason Takes Mahattan.

Jason Takes Mahattan starts out well enough with the resurrection. In the films beginning with Jason Lives, Jason was resurrected from whatever grave he was put into in the previous movie. In Jason Lives he was reurrected from the grave that he was put into between the fourth and sixth film. Here is resurrected from his watery grave that Tina, in part seven, put him into. Not only is he resurrected, but it is always done accidentally. For instance, in Jason X Jason is resurrected because he was being thawed out for research. No one on the ship could have predicted that, by letting Jason's seemly lifeless, and therefore, dead body, would allow Jason to rise to kill again.

Here Jason is resurrected by a ship that is passing by. To me, this is the first of many mistakes that the filmmakers have made. It shows how lazy they were when it came to finding a way to bring Jason back into the fold. So now that Jason is back to business the rest of the movie is going to be good, right? Not by a long shot.

The movie moves the main action to a cruise ship, where it will spend the majority of the movie. This is the second mistake the filmmakers make. They put Jason into an extremely limited enviorment, where he doesn't have any room to breath. This takes all the suspense away from the movie and just makes it a series of meaningless kills.

I know what you are thing: Jason is a killer and most of his kills are meaningless. My answer to this is: the best Friday movies have characters that you can relate to. In the first four movies in the series, there are characters that are just like you and me. They are regular people trapped in a situation that they have never been in before and they do things, while some of them dumb, that we might do to get out of said situation. Here the characters are cliches, going through the motions. None of these character think for themselves and therefore we cheer when Jason gets them.

That is one of the problems with the latter slasher movies. The filmmakers don't take the time to give us real characters and the movies suffer because of that. If they would just give us characters with a shred of a brain that would build suspense and therefore giving us a reason to cheer for them instead of the killer. In the original Friday, we cheer for the characters and when Mrs. Voorhees is decapitated at the end, we cheer because evil has been vainquished. We want the good good, or girl, to live and the bad guy to die.

As the series progressed it became thew opposite. We went to a Friday movie or a Nightmare movie and rooted for the bad guy. We wanted Jason or Freddy to win and to do it in the most inventive way possible. And that leads me to the most important part of the this movie: the kills.

The Friday movies have always been known for their inventive kills. Whether it be two lovers killed together with a spear or a camper being stuffed into their sleeping bag and continually beat against a tree, the Friday movies had some of the most inventive kills of all the slasher movies. The problem with Jason Takes Manhattan is that the kills are not memorable. Other that Jason punching a guy's head clean off, the kills are pretty standard. We go into this movie expecting to see some really cool kills and we are let down.

The ending of the movie is probably the most boggling aspect of the movie. The final confrontation takes place in the sewers and when all is said and done, Jason is turned back into a kid. I can take the bullshit that is part five, but this is just stupid. Did the filmmakers really think that this idea would fly? Was there another ending that they could have used? I have no idea what they were thinking, but this ending is one of the worst endings I have ever seen.

Jason Takes Manhattan is not the worst movie is the series (that honor goes to part five), but it comes close. It seems that the filmmakers weren't even trying to make a good Friday movie. It goes to show that this movie was not that big of a hit and, Paramount decided to sell the rights to the series after this movie didn't make a lot of money. It has been twenty-one years since Jason Takes Manhattan and we still have yet to see a good Friday movie, not counting Freddy vs Jason. This is a real shame. Here's hoping that we see a good one come soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Repo! The Genetic Opera ****

Has there ever been a time where you see a movie preview and say that you will never, ever see that movie? This happened to me with Repo. When I first saw the preview for this movie, I thought it looked terrible. Then I heard that the movie is an opera, which means that all the dialogue is sung, and I was sure that it was going to be a bad movie. But something happened. I watched the movie. And you what? I loved it.

The movie stars Alexa Vega as Shiloh, a girl who has a terrible heart condition and has to stay indoors all the time. While visiting her mother's tomb (she has to wear a gas mask to go there), she walks out of the tomb and gets locked out. She discovers that there is an entire world outside of her house that she never knew. During the course of the movie she will find out a lot of things, especially about her past, that she did not know.

Repo! takes place in the future. Organ failure is on the rise and there are not enough people to be donors. A company called Geneco develops synthetic organs and leases them to the people in need. If these people can not pay their debt then a repo man is sent out to get the organ back. This makes murder legal, but only for Geneco.

Like I said before, this is an opera, and I feel that many people will be turned off by this. But if they give the movie a chance, they will find that the movie is filled with ideas. This movie is especially topical given everything that has been going on with our health care system. Are we close to having our own Geneco and thus, our own repo men? The idea doesn't seem to be that far fetched.

I loved Repo! I think, and this has been said a lot, that it is this generation's Rocky Horror Picture Show. But where that movie was about being who you are and not letting people judge you, this movie is a cautionary tale about greed and personal appearance. We live in an age where plastic surgery is more important to some than being healthy and Repo! tears that idea to shreds.

The songs in Repo! are pretty good. Since most of the dialogue is sung, I thought that the songs would suffer, and for the most part they don't. Director Darren Lynn Bousman shows that he has something more to offer than just another Saw movie. There is a small scene in the movie where Shiloh takes to her dad over "phone" while he is extracting someone's spine. It's little touches like this that make the movie rewatchable.

Repo! got shit on by Lionsgate when it came to the release of this movie. The only reason that it played in theaters at all is because Bousman and the writers went from city to city showing the movie, and as word of mouth spread so did the reputation of the movie. This is a movie that any horror fans needs to see, but I think that any musical fan needs to see this movie too. The gore in the movie is comical and over the top. Repo! is a very entertaining movie that you are not likely to forget.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Horror at Home: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Horror at Home is a new segment here at Horror in Retrospect, where I pick a movie that has had a dvd/blu-ray release and I talk about it. The dvd/blu-ray may have been recently released or it may be a dvd/blu-ray that I have found that I think deserves a second look. It all depends on the week.

This week's focus is Nightmare on Elm Street on blu-ray. Let me tell you folks, this is one quality release. Warner Bros./New Line has always been known for giving us the best picture and sound and with this release, they have given NoES a proper blu-ray debut. I have never seen NoES look so good and unlike some other horror movies released to blu-ray, this release doesn't suffer from excessive DNR. The color palette looks natural and there is a great amount of detail in each scene.

The sound doesn't suffer either. I wouldn't go as far to say that the sound is robust, but the surrounds are used nicely and the dialogue is clear and crisp.

And for any Nightmare fan, all of the extras from the outstanding 2-disc, released a few years back, are present and accounted for, except for the trailer. This is my only gripe with this release. WB/NL always gave us the trailer for the movie, even if it was the only special feature, but it seems like lately they have been slumming when it comes to the trailer.

Overall, though, this release is top notch. My only hope is that the studio seems fit to give the rest of the series the hi-def treatment, even if they are released in the double features that Warners seems to like so much. You owe it to yourself to get this release.

3-D or 2-D? Which is it?

I am getting tired of 3-D. Yeah I said it. 3-D is all the rage now, with studios going back to movies that are already in the can, ready to be released, and retrofitting them for 3-D. Why? What is the point? I know that everybody loves 3-D now, but these movies were not shot for 3-D, so I ask again: What is the point?

I recently had a chance to sit down and test out the new 3-D tvs that are being released and I will have to say that I was not impressed. Having 3-D in your house is a burden. You have to have a special tv and a special blu-ray player. On top of that, you have to have special glasses in order to watch the movies in 3-D. The glasses themselves cost $150. I can buy 10 or more blu-rays with that money. Also, you have to be in a somewhat darkened room to get the full effect. This seems like entirely too much work to watch a fucking movie.

Now, sports channels are going to start offering 3-D channels so you can watch sports in 3-D. I don't know about you, but no amount of added dimensions could make golf any better.

Seeing a movie in 3-D in the theater is mostly a joke as well. As much as I liked My Bloody Valentine, the 3-D seemed to hinder the movie. Having this kinda fly at you does not justify my extra $3. There were two movies released last year that used 3-D to the movie's benefit. The first was A Christmas Carol, dreadful adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. As much as I hated the movie, the 3-D added depth to the picture. The second movie was Avatar, which gave us a world that we had never seen before. The 3-D was again utilized well here. We actually believed that we were on Pandora.

So far, this year, a handful of movies are either in release, or about to be released, that were retrofitted for 3-D. Alice in Wonderland suffered by being in 3-D (the movie did, not it's box office. But the worst offender so far is Clash of the Titans. There was no difference between the 3-D version and its 2-D counterpart. I feel bad for the people that paid the extra money, only to find out that they had been suckered.

3-D does not work. It takes away from a movie more than it gives. With all of these studios scrambling to get as many 3-D movies into the theaters before the fad dies out, I applaud the companies that are not retrofitting some of their movies for 3-D. The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street may turn out to be a turd, but at least it won't be a 3-D turd.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Random Notes

-With the release of the Nightmare on Elm Street documentary, Never Sleep Again on May 4th (my 30th birthday), do you think that we will ever see the long-awaited Psycho Legacy documentary? In for one, have been waiting for it to be released forever.

-With the remake of Toxic Avenger announced, I hope that Troma will see fit to release the Toxic Avenger movies on blu-ray.

-Where are the rest of the Friday the 13th movies on blu-ray? They tease us with the first three and keep us dangling. I hope that Warners doesn't follow suit with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

-I have to say I am really impressed by the Nightmare on Elm Street blu-ray. Not only did they port over all the special features from the excellent 2-disc set released a few years ago, but the picture and the sound are top notch. Way to go Warner Bros/New Line.

-Now that MGM has entered the burn on demand business, maybe they can release all of those movies from their Midnight Movies series. I'm lookin' at you Town That Dreaded Sundown.

-I am going to be changing things up a little in the next couple of weeks. The Five Favorites and Worst Five are going to be by-weekly, with one week being a Five Favorites week and the next being a Worst Five week. They will still come on Weds and Fri, but just not in the same week.

-I will, however be able adding features to the site. Dvd of the Week, Guilty Pleasures, Worst Movie Ever will be coming shortly as well as new installments of Missing in Action and Thoughts About. So stay tuned for those changes in the next few weeks.

The Prowler is Coming to Blu-ray

Blue Underground has announced that they will be releasing The Prowler on blu-ray on July 27th. Technical specs have not been released but the special features are as follows:

-Commentary with Joesph Zito and Tom Savini
-Behind the scenes with Tom Savini
-Theatrical Trailer

This is great news, as I love The Prowler. I will update when I get the cover art

Missing in Action: Godzilla

Godzilla has been around for more than 55 years and is world famous. The original Godzilla (Gorjira) opened the doors for giant monster movies. Godzilla would go onto star in 24 movies and spawn two animated tv shows. In Japan he is a national treasure and his movies have been released many times over the years on every popular format, yet here in the states his movies have either been mistreated or remain unreleased.

Some of the Godzilla movies have been given proper releases here. Classic Media has given six Godzilla movies the royal treatment on dvd, giving us both the original Japanese version as well as the American version, along with featurettes and commentaries. This is how Godzilla movies should be treated, but these releases are just a small taste of the overall picture.

Other Godzilla movies have been released here, but their treatment is far from acceptable. Some of the movies contain the American version only (King Kong vs Godzilla, Godzilla 2000 ), released in a modified widescreen (most of the 90's Godzilla movies), or have been released with dubtitles (most of the Sony "anniversary" editions). For such an iconic character, these releases are subpar, but there are a few Godzilla movies that have yet to be released on dvd here.

The first Godzilla movie that has yet to see a dvd release is one that will probably never see release here is the crapfest that is known as Godzilla vs Megalon. This movie is so bad that it even appeared as a featured movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Megalon did get a theatrical release here in 1976, but has been absent on dvd (it did appear on volume 10 of the MST3k dvd releases, but was recalled after the rights holder threatened legal action.)

The second Godzilla movie to not have a dvd release here is both the American and Japanese versions of The Return of Gojira (1984). Released in the states as Godzilla 1985, the movie was edited much the same way the the original Gojira was edited by in 1956, with Raymond Burr returning to his role as Steve Martin. The American version was released on vhs, but has never seen the light of day since.

The final Godzilla movie that has yet to grace dvd is Godzilla vs Biollante(1989). Released on vhs by HBO home video, the movie seems to have been forgotten by the dvd companies.

The reasons that these movies have not seen releases on dvds vary depending on the release. The rights holder to Godzilla vs Megalon is reported to be embaressed by the movie and refuses to let the movie be released in the states. This is why the MST3k version was recalled. Godzilla 1985 and Biollante seem to be caught up in legal issues. Godzilla 1985 was released theatrically by New World Pictures, but since they do not exist anymore there is no telling who owns the rights. Biollante's rights were, at one time, held by Miramax, but it is unlikely that they renewed their rights to the movie.

Since every other Godzilla movie has been released on dvd here in the states, these three releases leave a gap in any fans collection. Sure, the movies can be imported, with the exception of Godzilla 1985, but it would be nice to see American releases of these movies. Be as it may, it seems that the only way that we are going to be able to get these movies is either importing them, or through various bootleg channels. These movies need American release and fast.

Reaction to Reaction

I recently posted my review for Black Devil Doll that seems to have pissed some people off. I was going to leave a comment in the comments section, but I have decided to use the blog that I have created to give you my reaction to the comments given.

I got four comments on this review, two of them were positive, two negative. The positive ones took what I had written and provided the kind of feedback that I encourage, that of debate and question. Both of these comments were clearly thought out and posted with respect to this blogger.

The other two comments, the negative ones, are ones that are typical to the internet: poorly thought out. These comments were so poorly thought out that the commentators resorted to name calling. This is just sad. I don't resort to name calling and I hope that my followers would do the same. I have written a review from my own view point and would hope that people saw it as such. Just because you don't like what I have to say doesn't mean that you can call me a loser. If you don't like what I have to say then stop reading what I write. No skin off of my back.

I started this blog with the intention of having discussions about horror movies. I do understand that there are people out there that have hate in their heart and they feel the need to stoop down low and start calling people names. I do not run a hate filled blog. I may hate a movie, but I will not stoop down so low as to call people names when they are just giving you their opinion.

I stand by my review of Black Devil Doll. I found the movie to be offensive only to my taste in movies. The movie is poorly shot, terribly acted, and so dumb that I felt that I was getting dumber as I watched it. With these thoughts in mind, maybe the movie was targeted at the two people who resorted to name calling. You know what? I think it did.

PS- To the two people who gave me very well written and thought out comments, I just want to say thank you. You guys took what I had to say and gave intelligent feedback. I appreciate that.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Black Devil Doll zero stars

Black Devil Doll is a movie that is so devoid of anything resembling entertainment that I can not figure out who this movie was made for. This is a movie that tries so hard to be outrageous that it fails, simply because being outrageous does not a movie make. To say the least, Black Devil Doll is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. And trust me, I have seen some really terrible movies.

The movie starts out with a black militant being executed. Asked if he has any final words and he replies "I like to eat white butt". It was at this point that I wanted to turn the movie off, but for the sake of you, my faithful readers, I continued. We next cut to the main character, whose name I do not remember, writing in her journal. She narrates that she shouldn't have played with ouijia board because it ruined her life.

It is at this point that we are put into the movie's narrative structure: the old fashioned flashback. She uses the ouijia board and one of her dolls, that is white, turns into the Black Devil Doll. I perked up a little because this movie is sold as a horror movie and I figured that with the arrival of the executed militant's soul into the doll the killing would start. What I would come to realize though, is that the doll just wants to have sex.

And he does. He has sex with the main character, during a montage. Then he demands that the girl invite her friends over. She obliges and the Black Devil Doll proceeds to drug and rape her friends before killing them. Yes, there are killings in this movie, but they are proceeded with scenes of rape. The filmmakers seem to think that by having a doll do all of this, then it must be offensive. I perceived it as desperation. The filmmakers are so desperate to be shocking that they forgot how to make a good movie.

But that is going a bit too far because I am giving the notion that the filmmakers even now how to make a good movie. It is very apparent that they do not. What they do know is how to point the camera and shot something. This movie has no rhythm and no pacing. It goes from one scene to another, with no knowledge of what came before it. Scenes are staged so haphazardly that you wonder who financed this film.

Being shocking is an art form. You can't be shocking for the sake of being shocking. Some of the best movies that contain shock value do so because we have believable characters in order for the audience to have someone to relate to. Showing rape as shock value is just a excuse to show rape and that says something about the filmmakers. This movie shows that they would rather be pimps than filmmakers.

The audience for this appears to be rednecks, racists, and fans of rape. I'm sure that fans of B-movies will find this movie and be excited, like I was, at the possibility of spoof on horror movies. I fully expected this movie to be a low rent black Chucky, but the filmmakers have failed at that. In fact, they couldn't even come close, even if they tried. The filmmakers show that they do not understand what goes into making a movie and as an end result they turn to what they think is shocking, when in reality, the material is just plain dumb.

I am giving Black Devil Doll zero stars, not for the material, but for the way it is presented. It is clear that the filmmakers wanted to be offensive, but in order to that, you have to present something that is shocking. Seeing a doll have sex is not shocking. See this movie is not shocking. Knowing that this movie was made is not shocking. What is shocking is the fact that people are going to watch this movie and believe that they have seen something offensive. In a way they have. Black Devil Doll is offensive to people who have common sense. So, I guess the filmmakers did achieve something after all.

Grizzly Rage (dvd review)

The Movie *
The dvd **

I have been out of the loop when it comes to the current crop of "nature fights back" horror movies. I grew up on movies like Grizzly and Day of the Animals, so when I saw this new line of movies called the Maneater series I blew them off. I figured they would be cheaply made movies that would use a catchy name to lure people in. Boy was I right.

The first movie that I watched from this series was Grizzly Rage. The movie is about four rich white kids who decide to go this forbidden forest. Why is it forbidden? Because somebody dumps toxic waste there, but they only show you this twice and when they do, they glance over it like it's not a big deal. While the kids are hotroddin' it through the forest they run over a bear cub. They get out of the car and check to see if the cub is still alive by checking it's pulse. This made me laugh because I have never seen this happen in a movie before. I know that a bear would have a pulse because it has a heart, but the idea of checking it's pulse seemed funny to me.

The group divides up to look for water and one of them is killed, in an attack so badly shot that you don't even know what is going on. The bear is actually able to sneak up on it's first victim. How this is possible, but it happens.

This movie is filled with enough headscratchers that, by the end of the movie, you may have scratched a hole into you skull. Take, for instance, the scene near the end of the movie, where they lure the bear into their jeep and then blow the jeep up. This is not the part where I scratched my head. It was when the bear came walking out of the fire untouched that had me looking the remote to stop this movie.

As a critic, it is my job to inform you of whether a movie is good or not, and I have to say that Grizzly Rage is a bad movie. Not a so bad it's good movie, but just a bad movie. The movie does nothing to thrill us and the ending is so stupid that I wondered what the filmmakers were thinking when they were shooting this. I still am wondering.

The dvd: Grizzly Rage comes to us in a standard amaray case, with no insert. Disc art resembles the cover art.

The Picture: Arriving to us in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, the picture is very good. The colors come out nicely and there is no blocking during the nighttime scenes. There are a few scenes that really standout. Overall, this is a very good transfer.

The Sound: We are given a 5.1 mix that is over produced. The dialogue is muffled by the many rock music cues and the attack sequences seem weak.

The Goodies: There is not one special feature on the disc. In fact, there is no scene selection either.

Overall: Grizzly Rage is terrible movie that is given a so-so dvd release. Where the picture thrives, the sounds suffers and there are no special features. This is one dvd that I would not recommend to anyone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams Coming to dvd and blu-ray This July

Tim Sullivan revealed, through his facebook, that the sequel to the 2006 2001 Maniacs, entitled Field of Screams would be hitting the home video formats on July 20th. There are no technical specs or special features at time.

Wednsday's Worst Five: Acclaimed Movies

This week's Worst Five is all about acclaimed movies. These are movies that everybody loves, but I can't stand. There are various reasons why I hate these movies.

5. Paranormal Activity (2009) This movie was all the rage last year and there is no reason that it shouldn't have been. People like to be scared and Paranormal Activity delivered the goods. I, however, had a hard time believing that the characters would have acted the way they do and done some of the things they did. I did not give it a positive review because of these things. There are scary parts to this movie, but they are held together with nothing.

4. My Bloody Valentine (1981) I still can not firgure out why I don't like this movie. It may be that they gave the killer a name and a face. It also may be the fact that I find this movie really boring. Some of the kills are cool, but not enough to sustain my interest.

3. Cabin Fever (2002) Cabin Fever is a cult classic, but to me it plays like a highlights reel. There is something inherantly scary about a skin disease, but not here. Because the movie takes place in a small town the threat feels contained. Eli Roth is a good director, but he needs to find a different gimmick.

2. Street Trash (1987) Why do people like this movie? Sure, it has some pretty good effects work, but the movie plays out like it condones rape. I mean, there are a lot of scenes of rape in this movie and yet people like it. I think that, aside from the rapes, this is a poorly written and directed movie. There is no reason for this movie to even exist.

1. Dog Soldiers (2002) I hate Dog Soldiers. This is one of the most mind numbing movies to watch. I have met Neil Marshall and he seems like a nice guy, but his movies suck. Other than The Descent, he has not made a movie that I thought was even remotely entertaining, but Dog Soldiers takes the cake. The few good scenes in this movie don't add up to anything that is scary or entertaining.

Another week, another list down. Check back again next for another thrilling installment of Worst Five.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Lovely Bones (blu-ray review)

I have already reviewed The Lovely Bones here. So I am just going to be reviewing the blu-ray release. I will say this about the movie: My opinion has not changed from when I first saw the movie until now. I find the movie very powerful and believe that it was unfairly overlooked by the public. Now they will get a chance to see the movie.

The Package: The blu-ray comes in a standard 2-disc blu-ray case. There is no disc art other than the name of the movie against a gray background.

The Picture: The Lovely Bones comes to us in the form of a 1080p transfer with the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 being kept intact. The picture looks amazing. The colors in the "in-between" are vibrant and practically leap off the screen. The image is incredibly detailed, with flesh tones being accurate and even the smallest detail getting a focus. This transfer is definately reference quality.

The Sound: DTS-MA HD 5.1 loseless is the audio we are given and it is just as good as the picture. The movie was never heavy on the surrounds in the theater and the audio here perfectly duplicates that. The audio is quiet for most of the movie, but becomes more agressive when it needs to be. This is a perfect compliment to the picture.

The Goodies: Usually Peter Jackson gives us a well-rounded package, but this time around there is no commentary. It is a shame, but we do get a massive 3-hour documentary that takes up the whole second disc and is presented in HD. The documentary, as is the case with the docs that Jackson has created for his other movies, is a great companion to the movie. The doc covers the entire shooting process, from their filming in the US to the visual effects that dominate the "in-between". This is a great documentary and, even if you did not like the movie, you will, nonetheless, find this documentary fascinating.

Overall: I wish that there had been a commentary track, but the package overall is great. The picture is outstanding as is the sound. And while the special features are a bit lacking, what we do get is nothing short of great. This is a definite buy.

Never Sleep Again Announced for DVD

CAV Distributing has announced the Nightmare on Elm Street documentary Never Sleep Again for a dvd release on May 4th, 2010. The 2-disc package will include the four hour feature and another four hours of bonus material. The documentary, hosted by Heather Langenkamp, chronicles all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, from the original to Freddy vs Jason. Special features are listed below:

• Extended interviews
• “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Return to Elm Street”
• “Freddy vs. The Angry Video Game Nerd”
• “Expanding the Elm Street Universe: Freddy in Comics & Novels”
• “The Music of the Nightmare: Conversations With Composers & Songwriters”
• “Elm Street’s Poster Boy: The Art of Matthew Joseph Peak”
• “Fred Heads: The Ultimate Freddy Fans”

Retail is $24.99, which means that you will be able to find it for between $15-$20. I will have the cover art shortly.

Random Thoughts

-Just got the book "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men". The book chronicles the fantasy films of Ishiro Honda. Reading the preface to the book, I was struck by the author's remarks about using the original Japanese titles for each movie. This part did not strike odd to me as purists would know what the Japanese names to the movies are, but when I turned to the chapter about the first Godzilla movie, the author claimed that the original Japanese title was "Godzilla". Any fan knows that the first Godzilla movie is known as "Gorjira". It things like this that makes me not want to read certain books.

-Is it me or do the tv spots for the Nightmare on Elm Street remake get you pumped for the movie?

-Looking at the release schedule for the rest of the year makes me sad. There seems to be a drought of good horror movies coming up after April 30th.

-Watched the trailer for Human Centipede and have come to the conclusion that some ideas should stay within the minds of the creators. My God does that movie looked fucked up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Toxic Avenger Going the Way of Many Remakes

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily, The Toxic Avenger is being remade as a family friendly movie. Here is the original story:

Get ready for a movie makeover for The Toxic Avenger, the anti-hero who became the beachhead mutant in a Troma Films schlock heyday that included such 1980s classics as Surf Nazis Must Die, Rabid Grannies and Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator. Toxie, as the mop-wielding character is affectionately called, is at the center of a remake deal for a film that will be produced by Akiva Goldsman, Richard Saperstein and Charlie Corwin. Corwin's Original Media, a partnership with Dutch reality TV giant Endemol, has financed the acquisition of rights to a franchise that includes four sequels, an animated TV series and comic books. Original Media will finance the development of a script, with writers to be hired shortly.

The group intends to turn Toxie into a green superhero for these environmentally conscious times.

The original film was directed by Troma founders Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz and has become something of a campy classic. It revolved around Tromaville Health Club mop boy Melvin, a gentle wimp whose trusting ways made him easy prey for gym thugs and eventually got him immersed in a vat of toxic waste. The radioactive swill transformed Melvin into Toxie, a misshapen superhero who wreaks havoc on polluters in New Jersey and whose improved muscle tone improved his standing with the chicks. The remake will be mounted as a family friendly PG-13 action comedy akin to The Mask, which Saperstein worked on when he was a New Line exec. It's his second Troma remake property, as Saperstein is teamed with Brett Ratner on a Mother's Day redo that was directed by Darren Bousman

Now, a lot of people are mad by this and they have every right to. But the way I look at it is: This will give Troma more exposure. So what if the remake is PG-13? That doesn't mean that the movie won't be good. It probably won't be, but the movie might be a big hit and then people will want to see the original. Then people will start looking at Troma and we as the fans might benefit from this. I see a lot of bad things coming from this, but I also see a lot of good things too. We'll see what happens.

Dark Sky Returning to Catalog Titles

According to, Dark Sky is returning to catalog titles after a long absence. The first two titles, Bonnie's Kids and Horror Hospital, will be released in June and hopefully more are to come. I love Dark Sky. They have given us some of the best dvds out there, and while some of the movies that they have been releasing lately have been pretty good (Dead Girl), I have always felt that their strength has been in their catalog titles. Here's hoping that the above mentioned titles do well so that we can get more catalog titles.

Missing in Action: Nightbreed: The Director's Cut

This is a new feature here at Horror in Retrospect, where take a look at movies that are in desperate need of a proper dvd release or dvds that need to be given the special edition treatment. I decided to start out with my favorite horror movie of all time: Nightbreed.
It was early 1991 and I was over at a friend's house when we decided to watch a movie. The movie of choice was Nightbreed, a movie that I only seen a trailer for, but otherwise did not know. We popped the movie into the VCR and over the course of the next hour and forty-some minutes we watched before our eyes the birth of a cult classic.

This movie meant something to me. It contained all of the good things that horror movies have to offer, but it was the things in the movie that I had never seen before that would stick with me. The idea of someone not belonging was not a new idea, but the fact that he wanted to go "where the monsters live" was totally new to me. The monsters were the good guys, trying to live a peaceful life, until the townspeople found out where they were and decided to destroy to utopia.
Nightbreed was not a hit when it was released in 1990, but has developed a cult following since it's release. The version that is available now is the theatrical cut and is not the true version that Clive Barker had set out to make. Not only did the studio demand Barker make cuts to the movie, but they made him add scenes to make the movie more of a slasher movie. The MPAA also made Barker cut scenes that they deemed too graphic.

For years fans have been trying to get a special edition released, but the geniuses at Morgan Creek (the company that owns the rights to the movie.) see no value in the movie and refuse to put the time and money into a release. This is beyond idiotic because there is more than enough demand for the movie, but there has been no progress in getting a proper release. Barker has even gone as far as finding a workprint of his original cut and plans to screen it at an upcoming horror convention.
There needs to be a special edition of this movie. At the very least, we need to see a restored director's cut. There is so much potential for a great release that would make Morgan Creek a lot of money, but it seems to me that they do not like money.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Resident Evil: After Life Teaser

Below you will find the teaser trailer for Resident Evil: After Life, which hits theaters on Sept. 10th, 2010. I am not a fan of the Resident Evil movies, in fact, I despise them. I think that they are terrible movies, but people keep going to see them. In this teaser they bring up the fact that the movie was shot with the same 3-D cameras that were used on Avatar. This reeks of desperation to me. You are supposed to be advertising the movie, not the camera that it was shot with. Anyway, enjoy the teaser.

Halloween (1978) vs Halloween (2007)

 Remakes are generally inferior to the original. We have seen this time and time again. A movie that is considered a classic goes to be remade, only to be hated by a majority of fans. The remake of Friday the 13th (2009) is a prime example of this and to many, Rob Zombie's remake of the John Carpenter classic, Halloween, is too. I happen to be a fan of both so I thought that I would take a look at the movies and give you my thoughts.

I want to get this out of the way before I proceed: I am all for remakes. I like to see how other filmmakers see material. There have been a lot of remakes that have worked for me, even ones outside of the horror genre, The Departed being a prime example. So I always go into a remake with an open mind and the thought that even if the remake is bad, it will not be able to touch the original. That being said let's move into the two versions of Halloween.

John Carpenter's Halloween was released to unsuspecting audiences in 1978. People thought that the movie was going to be another cheaply made horror flick that would disappear as quickly as it appeared. But the film gave audiences something that they had never seen before: a cheaply made horror movie that didn't feel cheap and delivered the scares in ways never seen before.

The way that Halloween scared the audience is what I think is best remembered. The scares are more real and Carpenter takes his time in establishing these scares. Take, for instance, the way that Carpenter sets up the main girls. They are just doing what they do everyday, but they are being watched very closely, but far enough away, by Michael Myers. He is like a lion lying in wait, preparing to take down his prey. This is what scares the audience: the wait. Sure, the payoff is the best thing, but Carpenter knows that the longer you make the audience wait, the better the payoff is for them. He also knows that you can't make the audience wait too long, lest they become bored. He strings the audience along until just the right moment then he springs the action on you when you least expect it.

Carpenter's Halloween would go on to spawn seven sequels. The movie would also become the highest grossing independent movie, grossing around $50 million against a $300,000 budget. That is amazing for a small little horror movie that came out of nowhere. The movie would latter be dethroned by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990 as the high grossing independent movie.

Now, Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is a polar opposite to the original in almost every way. Instead of being a mindfuck, the movie throws everything at you and doesn't shy away from being graphic and violent. Whereas the original left things up to the imagination, Zombie decides to show everything.

But that doesn't make Zombie's version worse, only different. Carpenter used a quiet pace to build his suspension, Zombie uses a faster pace that doesn't build suspension, but rather takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride. Don't get me wrong, there are quiet moments in Zombie's version, but they most happen at the beginning during the young Myers portion of the movie. When the killing starts Zombie relies on loud noise to scare the audience.

One major thing that differs the two movies in the way the story is told. Carpenter gives a brief glimpse at the young Myers and then flashes forward to the present. The only thing that we know about Myers comes from Dr. Loomis, who refers to Myers as "pure evil". This sums up Myers nicely as a modern day boogeyman, killing because that is all he knows.

In the Zombie version we are given a back story to Myers. He comes from a stereotypical dysfunctional family and begins killing those who pick on him. These early scenes are pretty standard in any serial killer movie, but the scenes in Smith's Grove Sanitarium are the best of the movie. Here Zombie digs deeper into what makes Myers kill and even comes up with an explanation as to why Myers doesn't talk. Zombie paints Myers as a troubled child who has deeper issues than the original Myers.

By humanizing Myers, Zombie gives us a killer that we can sympathize with. We know why he is killing and therefore understand his frustrations. He is a person who wants to be left alone and when that doesn't happen he kills everyone around him. He stays a child, even after he has grown up.

Some say that by giving Myers a human aspect to him that it takes away from the evil. To some degree it does, but in this day and age we feel more comfortable knowing how is stalking us. Carpenter knew that and that is why Myers is given no backstory. Zombie, on the other hand, wants us to face our fears by giving our fears a face. This makes the two Myers scary for totally different reasons.

Another aspect that has been changed comes in the form of Dr. Loomis. Played by Donald Plesence in the original, Loomis is portrayed as a weather beaten doctor who is pertrified of Myers. After concluding that Myers is "pure evil", Loomis relieves himself of being Myers' doctor. The only thing that brings him back to Myers is the fact that Loomis knows how he operates and has an idea of where he is going to go. Plesence is a wonderful actor who bring a quiet fear to the role. He is a man who is haunted by the thought of Myers, but never shows it.

Zombie's version of Loomis is less complex than that of the Plesence take on the role, but he is still intriguing. Played by Malcolm McDowell, Loomis is not scared of Myers, at least at the beginning. He sees Myers as a child who needs his help and the earlier scenes are played beautifully. Loomis wants to know what makes Myers tick and spends long hours talking to and observing him. When he can get no more out of Myers, Loomis stops being his doctor. Again, Loomis comes back when he finds out that Myers has escaped.

To compare Plesence and McDowell as the two Loomis' is like comparing all of the different actors who have portrayed Van Helsing. Plesence plays the role very close to the body, not revealing everything about Loomis. McDowell puts more of who Loomis is out front and we see that he really does want to help this child.

And last, but not least, let's talk about Michael Myers. Since he is the central part of the movie, it only seems fair. Many have said that Myers is a secondary character in the original movie and this is true. He is not the focus of the movie, but what he does is. Myers spends a majority of the time watching the female characters and their actions. He gets very little screen time because he is waiting. Throughout the entire movie, as we watch the girls going through the motions of mundane life in a small town, we know that Myers is out there, waiting for his time to strike. Carpenter knows this and keeps Myers' screen time to a minimum, so that when he does show up we are shocked. We don't know when he is going to strike, but when he does, his presence is known.

Zombie's Michael Myers is a hulking beast who does some waiting, but not very much. This is the only part of the remake that really suffers. Because we are given so much time on Myers' backstory, we don't get the calm before the storm version of Myers. We know that he is there, but there is not the same dread that is present in the original. The scenes of Myers going after the babysitters is shorten and therefore the impact of his killings is lessened.

So when it comes to pitting the two movies against each other, the original Halloween is the winner by a long shot, but the remake has it's qualities as well. I think that both movies represent the times in which they were made extremely well. The original was made during a time when it was still safe to not lock your door at night and you didn't have to keep an eye on your kids every second of every day. The remake was made during a time of heightened fear and showed us that fear and terror comes from all walks of life.

Halloween (1978) Directed by John Carpenter

Pros: creepy atmosphere, great characters, outstanding direction

Cons: can be a little slow at times, still hate the ending

Halloween (2007) Directed by Rob Zombie

Pros: very creepy atmosphere, good acting, nice brutal kills

Cons: runs a little long, not much time left for the babysitters

The Winner: Halloween (1978)