Sunday, February 28, 2010

Five Favorites: John Carpenter

This week's "Five Favorites" focuses on John Carpenter. Carpenter is one of the very few director's to have a track record that spans over ten years of classics. Every movie that Carpenter made from 1974 to 1988 is regarded as a classic in some form. Name another director that has been able to do that.

5: Prince of Darkness (1987) This has to be John Carpenter's darkest movie. This is the first time that he has dealt with religion too. This movie was not liked by the critics at the time of it's release, but now it is regarded as one of his movies. I happen to agree.

4. The Fog (1980) After making the horror classic Halloween, Carpenter decided to tell an equally scary but different kind of story. This time his focus is a group a dead pirates out for revenge. Trust me, the movie is way better than it sounds.

3. Assault on Precinct 13 (1974) I know this isn't a horror movie, but it is one of my favorite Carpenter films. This is like an urban western. I still remember the first time I saw it. When the little girl goes to complain about her ice cream shocked the hell out of me the first time.

2. Halloween (1978) This is one of the scariest movies ever made because it is so realistic. The "pure evil" of Michael Myers has been copied countless times, but never has it been replicated, not even by Carpenter himself (see Body Bags)

1. The Thing (1982) This is one of the best alien movies ever made and is made all the better because we never see what the thing really is. The closing shot of the movie pissed a lot of people off upon its release, but it works perfectly, given what has proceeded it.
John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors and he has made a few movies that didn't make the cut. I'm pretty sure that he will show up on future lists.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New "Nightmare on Elm Street" Trailer

I will have to say that I had my doubts about this movie and it is getting horrible reviews, but damn it all to hell if I didn't think that this trailer is pretty kick ass. Take a look for yourself:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rogue (dvd review)

The Movie ***1/2
The DVD ***1/2
I am a huge fan of monster movies. From the early Universal monsters all the way through Godzilla, I love them all. That is why it surprises me that it took me so long to watch Rogue.
The Story: A group of tourists take a boat trip through the rivers of Northern Australia. This area is known for it's crocodiles. When one of the tourists sees a flare going off in the distance, when pilot of the boat decides to go investigate.
The group stumbles into a remote area and are attacked by a huge crocodile. They lose their boat and are stuck on a tiny island. With the creature in the water and darkness falling, the group has to make it to land before their tiny mud island is engulfed by the incoming tide. Some of them die while trying to get off of the island, while the survivors have to find help.
The Skinny: Greg McLean made his directorial debut with 2005's Wolf Creek and Rogue couldn't be any different. While they both take place in Australia, the similarities end there. While Wolf Creek was down and dirty "torture porn", Rogue is a sparkling clean monster movie.
Wolf Creek was a movie about a serial killer who traps his victims and then let's them go, only to capture them again. McLean made that movie for very little money and a go as you shoot attitude and turned out a horrific horror movie. Now with Rouge, he is giving us a different side of the horror genre: the fun side.
Horror movies for the most part fall into three categories, at least for me. The first is the "horrific" horror movie. This a movie that you need to be strong in mind and stomach in order to make it through the movie. Movies like Wolf Creek and Hostel fall into this category. The second is the "fun" horror movie. This is a movie that, while trying to possibly be realistic, the movie is not out to mess with your mind or scar you for life. Most monster movies fall into this category, along with the Final Destination films. The third and final category is the "numbers" movie. This is the type of movie that is made by a "committee" of people, in order to make money. They don't care if the movie is scary or gory, just as long as the movie turns a profit, movies made "by the numbers". Movies like Darkness Falls and most horror remakes fall here.
Rogue is a "fun" horror movie. It is a movie that tries to scare you, not by horrifying you, but by making you jump and then wait in anticipation until the next jump. I love these kinds of movies because they are fun, just like the category says. While I do take in the "horrific" and "numbers" horror movies, my heart lies firmly in the "fun" category.
McLean and director of photography Will Gibson give us an Australia that many of us have never scene before. If Wolf Creek was a warning of the dangers in Australia, then Rogue is a travelogue for people to come to Australia, just stay away from the water. The movie is a beauty to look at. Every color pops off the screen and makes you want to live there.
It is this beauty that captures us. McLean takes his time, setting up the enviorment before unleashing his killer croc on us. We are given many long looks at the river all around us. This helps give us a sense of our surroundings before he starts killing people off.
McLean has said that he wanted Rogue to be more of an adventure movie than a horror movie. He is right in some regards, but I look at Rogue as a disaster movie. The movie has all the trappings of a disaster movie- the stranded group of survivors trying to get out of a situation, the man with no patience who tries to get out without thinking and gets some people killed, etc- but by adding the horror element to it McLean makes the material fresh. Sure, we get all the standard characters, but something makes the dialogue and most of the actions realistic.
There was another "killer croc" movie made around the same time as Rogue, called Primeval. That movie was released to theaters and bombed, so Rogue was shelved and then released straight to dvd. It is a shame because Rogue contains everything that Primeval strived to achieve: beautiful cinematography, good acting, and some really good scares. Rogue should have been the one in theaters, not Primeval.
The DVD: Even though Rogue didn't go to theaters, we are given a really good DVD.
The Picture: Preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Dimension has given us a great picture. The colors are vibrant and the black levels are deep.
The Sound: The 5.1 track provided is very good, using the surrounds very wisely.
The Goodies: We are given some pretty decent extras, although they begin to become repetitive.
Commentary: Greg McLean provides a very good track, loaded with information, although some of it overlaps with the rest of the features.
The Making Of Rogue (45 min, 16x9) This is a very informative documentary. We learn that there was a crocodile in the 70's that terrorized fishermen in Austarlia. We also get some behind the scenes footage of how the movie was shot and how the special effects were done.
Welcome to the Territory: This is a set of three featurettes. The first, The Effects (17 min, 16x9) goes into more detail about how live action and CGI were blended together to make the movie more believable. The second, The Music (15 min, 16x9) gives us a look at how the music was created. The third, Northern Territory (15 min, 16x9) gives more history about where the movie was shot. All of these featurettes play like extended footage from the documentary. They should have edited it all together to give us the ultimate look at Rogue, while cutting out the bits that overlap.
The Real Rogue (3 min, 16x9) Here we get another look at the crocodile that terrorized Australia in the 70's
And finally we get the movie's Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 16x9)
Overall: Rogue is a great monster movie that, while ignored for some time by the studio, is given a lot of love on DVD.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (dvd review)

Movie 1/2*
DVD **
The Movie
Trailers for movies are sometimes misleading. Sometimes they give us exactly what we want and sometimes they convince us that a movie is going to be something that it is not. Cirque du Freak is one of the latter type of trailers.
In the trailer for Cirque we are promised laughs and a unique vision involving vampires and freaks. While we do get the vampires and the freaks we really don't get anything more than that.
The movie stars Chris Massoglia as Darren, a do-gooder kid who always gets good grades and stays out of trouble. He and his friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) find out about a thing called Cirque du Freak and decide to check it out. The event takes place in an old abandoned theater and the freaks are on full display. We get a snake boy, a wolf man, a breaded lady, a tall man, and a host of other freaks. This is the only time in the movie where the freaks are on full display, showing what they can do.
The main attraction at the Cirque du Freak is Crepsley (a terrible John C. Riley) who carries around a spider and is a vampire. Darren is fascinated by spiders, so after the show he goes and steals Crepsley's spider. This leads to a terrible scene where the spider gets loose in the school and bites Steve. Darren goes to find Crepsley and is offered the chance to become a vampire in exchange for saving his friend's life. He accepts and his friend's life is spared.
The movie by this time is half over and we only get a glimpse of what the trailer has to promised us. Also by this time I was bored to tears because I didn't care what was going on. None of the characters are given any sort of development and we are left asking more questions than we are given answers.
The lead character has strange lisp and reminded me of Telly from the movie Kids. He is a terrible actor who gives one of the film's many bad performances. Every performance in this movie is bad, as if no one believes in this material.
The direction, by Paul Weitz, is lazy and uninteresting. It seems that Weitz just set the camera up and let the actors "act", hoping to make the movie in the editing room. Scenes go on for far to long and are so poorly shot that it is hard to tell what is going on.
Cirque du Freak is based a popular series of books. I have not read the book and I'm not sure that I want to, based on this movie. It is hard to believe that a cast that includes John C. Riley and Salma Hayek could make a movie this bad, but actors need to eat and these types of movies keep food on their tables.
The DVD: The dvd comes in a standard amary case. The cover art is poorly photoshopped and there is not disc art other than the name of the movie.
The Picture: Preserving the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the picture is good. The movie is very dark, but that is the way the film was shot.
The Sound: The 5.1 track is good, handling the film's many action scenes with ease.
The Goodies: Freak flopped at the box office so I was not expecting a lot of bonus material. What we do get is instantly forgettable.
Deleted Scenes (10 min, 4x3 widescreen) We get 20 scenes here and each one doesn't last very long. A lot of scene extensions. Nothing here would have made the movie any better.
Guide to Becoming a Vampire (20 min 16x9) This a pretty standard making-of. We get a very brief history about the books and then the standard talking head interviews. Not very interesting.
Tour du Freak (18 min 16x9) This featurette seems like it was made as a promotional featurette to sell the movie to exhibitors. We get a visit to the main set and again we get the talking heads. This is mildly interesting.
Overall: Dealing with a bad script, terrible acting, and lazy direction Cirque du Freak has no chance of being remembered five years from now. Given the poor reception at the box office, I doubt that we are going to get another one.

The New Horror Handbook (book review)

I am always weary when I read a book about movies. I hate when they get the dates wrong or if they present information as fact and you know it to be the otherwise. That is why The New Horror Handbook is so refreshing. It is written by someone who KNOWS and loves horror movies.
The book begins with a definition of what "new horror" is, and then gets right to the point. The first chapter is about Eli Roth, who the author likens to Lenny Bruce. Many people do not like Eli Roth- I think that his movies are well-made, but no very good- but the author makes it very clear that he is a fan and he is not ashamed of it.
That was one of the biggest things that I learned from this book, not to be ashamed. Throughout the book, the author covers topics and people that a lot of horror fans simply do not like. But the author makes his case for each and every thing that he says here. He makes his case and moves on. While we might not agree with everything that he says-Repo! The Genetic Opera has more than "one or two catchy tunes"- we can see his point. We like the things we like and shouldn't care what others have to say about it.
Other movies covered in this book are:
-the Saw movies
-the Ginger Snaps trilogy
-and many more.
This book is not chronological text about new horror movies, but a more focused look and some of the best. The author even takes a look at the smaller names in horror and even devotes a whole chapter to the horror magazine Rue Morgue.
I really dug this book. I had a really hard tie putting it down. The book is incredibly well written and well researched. This should be required reading for any horror fan.

The Collector Coming to DVD and Blu-ray

Vivendi has announced The Collector for release on dvd and blu-ray on April, 6th. As you know I have been given early access to the DVD and you can find the review here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (blu-ray review)

Movie ****
Blu-ray ***1/2
Troma has been around for more than thirty-five years and they are one of the only studios (yes, I consider them a studio) that hasn't changed what they are about. Sure, they have changed with the times, if they hadn't then they would have gone under a long time ago. But they are the only studio that actually listens to their fans. This is what makes them successful. So it comes with great joy that I can tell that, with Poultrygeist, Troma is sticking to what they do best: entertain and offend.
The story of Poultrygeist is very simple. A fast food restaurant has built their building on an ancient Tromahawk burial ground. Even though they are told this they do not care because it's all about making the money. This, of course, is a bad mistake as the people who are eating the food are being turned into chicken zombies. Yes, I said chicken zombies. Anyway, it is up to our hero, Arby, to save the day.
That is the plot in a nutshell. Of course, there is a lot more going on, but Troma tries to keep their plots simple. No one is going to argue that, but what Troma is good at is giving us honest satire masked by the plot of a horror movie. The biggest target, in this and many other Troma movies, is big corporations. Troma has a big problem with corporations taking everything from us and turning us into drones and this movie is not exception.
While taking on big corporations, Poultrygeist also has the aim set at racism, stereotyping, terrorism enviormentalists, and of course, greed. Troma has always been about the little guy and they go to great lengths to appease to the people who have been screwed by the system. I love Troma satire even though it isn't very subtle.
You can also tell that a lot of hard work and passion went into this project. In the early to mid-90's Troma had hit a creative wall. Their output wasn't very good, but here and in Citizen Toxie you can see that they have gotten past that wall and are back on track.
Poultrygeist also features some of Troma's best production values. The restaurant always feels like a real restaurant- they shot the movie in a closed down McDonald's- so they get some real bang for their buck. Also Poultrygeist doesn't have a micro budget feel to it. Some of their older movies had a guerrilla feel to them, but here the movie looks and feels like a Hollywood movie. That's not a slight against Troma, but goes to show how much they have grown.
This is also the first time that Troma has done a musical. (Cannibal! doesn't count as they didn't make that movie, they were just the distributors) The songs are pretty catchy and song with enthusiasm, but they don't really add anything to the movie. You can take them out and still have a great movie, but they are welcome and keep the spirit of Troma alive.

As always, Troma movies are gory and Poultrygeist doesn't disappoint. The make-up for the chicken zombies is very well done and some of the other effects are pretty effective. Resident tromite Joe Fleishaker probably gets the worst death in the movie. I would describe it to you, but you have to see it for yourself.

In the end, Poultrygeist is a great Troma movie. I would go so far as to say that this is their best movie since the original Toxic Avenger. Poultrygeist is filled with everything a Troma fan could want and a little more.

The Blu-ray: Poultrygeist comes to us in a standard blu-ray case with very attractive artwork. There is not insert, but there artwork on the inside of the case.

The Picture ***
Preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this is a pretty nice 1080p transfer overall. Comparing it to the dvd, this appears to be the same transfer. This is good and bad news. The good is the black levels are deep and the transfer has a film quality to, no DNR applied. The bad is that there are a few instances where there are blemishes on the print. They go by pretty fast and are hardly noticeable. Having seen the movie in theaters, I can say that this transfer is very close to what I saw in the theater and I am very impressed with this transfer.

The Sound ***
Troma has given us the same 2.0 mono sound that was found on the DVD. It's kinds of weird though, as I found this soundtrack clearer and more distinct then it's DVD counterpart. Still it would have been nice to have a 5.1 mix, but give Troma time and they will deliver.

The Goodies ****
Troma has always been good at giving fans the best when it comes to special features and the Poultrygeist blu-ray doesn't disappoint. They even throw in some blu-ray exclusives to sweeten the pot. All of the special features- except for the introduction are presented in standard definition.

Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman (blu-ray exclusive) 5min This is the first thing plays before the movie (obviously) but this is a new introduction to the film. Lloyd, in his own funny way, explains the difference between blu-ray (or in Tromaville, brown-ray) and dvd. This is a very funny introduction and should be viewed at least once.

Audio Commentary #1- This commentary track features Lloyd Kaufman and writer Gabe Friedman. This commentary is more technical than the other commentary, but the two seem to be having fun talking about the movie and it's rocky road to release.

Audio Commentary #2 (blu-ray exclusive)
This commentary features stars Jason Yachanin and Kate Graham and is a pretty good track. The actors were recorded separately and sometimes their info overlaps, but it is a pretty good track so this is something that can be overlooked. Yachanin dominates the track.

Poultry in Motion 82 min
This is a fly on the wall documentary that has become a staple on Troma dvds. We see everything about the production and the doc doesn't hold back in showing how Lloyd directs. This is a fascinating documentary.

Chewing the Fat With Joe Fleishaker blu-ray exclusive) 3 min
Shot during the shooting of the introduction to the blu-ray, this little interview shows just how fat and immobile Fleishaker has become over the years. This is actually the saddest thing on the disc.

Poultrygeist NYC Premiere 10 min
This featurette was shot at the New York premiere of Poultrygeist. We get the cast and crew's reaction to the movie that they bled for.

Designing the Monsters 8 min
This featurette shows the monster designers not really showing how they designed the monsters, but having trouble getting the muscle suit out of the mold.

Recording the Songs 6 min
The title says it all. It shows the cast recording the songs that are sang in the movie. More musicals need to have a special feature like this as it shows how much hard work actually goes into making these songs work.

Filming the Meat Grinder 4 min
This is just an alternate take of what is shown in the documentary.

Rooftop Reshoot 6 min
This featurette focuses on a reshoot that Lloyd did so that he could have Debbie Rochon in the movie. It is incredible to see how they shot this one shot then to see how it is flawlessly integrated into the movie.

Joe Fleishaker Gets a Head Mold 9 min
The title of this featurette is pretty self-explainatory, but we learn how a head mold is made. Very informative.

Chicken Ass 5 min
This is a short film about a disease known as, you guessed it, chicken ass. The short is one note and not very good.

Cellu-Lloyd Closet- This is a section with a series of featurettes.

-Make Your Own Damn Omelette 2 min This is a commercial for the Make Your Own Damn Movie box set.
-Blow Me...Away: Shooting the ACB Explosion Sequence 14m
Here we are given a look at how Troma made the restaurant blow up at the end of the movie, without really blowing it up.
-Make Your Own Damn Sound Design 23m
Troma has always been known for the aggressive soundtracks. They use a lot of ADR to create new jokes and atmosphere. Here we are given a look at how much work goes into creating their soundtracks
Deleted Scenes: Here we find four deleted scenes. 8 min

-Ron Jeremy's Alternate "Happy Ending"
-Charlotte Kaufman's Death Scene
-Time Bomb!
-The Humus S-U-I-C-I-D-E song

Theatrical Trailer

Lovely Scenes from Bergman's The Virgin Spring
This is the promo reel shown to exhibitors to spread awareness for the movie.

2 Music Videos, and trailers for The Hanging Woman, Toxic Avenger, and Combat Shock round out the special features.

Overall: Troma has entered the high-def game with a very impressive debut. The picture and sound are both top notch and the bonus features are outstanding (they even threw in some blu-ray exclusive special features). If Troma keeps this up (and I know they will) then they will be one of the leading independent companies releasing movies on blu-ray.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Lovely Bones Announced for DVD and Blu-ray

Dreamworks has announced The Lovely Bones for release on DVD and Blu-ray on April 20th. The movie, directed by Peter Jackson, did modest box office due to poor reviews. To me, however, the movie was very moving and a feast for the eyes. The specs are as follows:

16x9 Widescreen (2.35:1) blu-ray will be in 1080p
5.1 Dolby Digital Sound blu-ray will have  DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio

The blu-ray will also contain an immersive documentary hosted by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens.

I am very excited about this release and I hope that people discover the movie that should have done better at the box office.

Suicide Girls Must Die Trailer

I don't know about you, but I don't find anything appealing about the Suicide Girls. Maybe it's just me. But here is the trailer for them new movie, a "reality horror" movie.

Horror on Blu-ray

As this blog grows and matures, you will find all different types of reviews. DVD, theatrical, books, music, blu-ray and anything else that I decide to right about. One thing that I have noticed is the lack of horror movies on blu-ray. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of horror movies on blu-ray, but it doesn't seem like enough. And I'm not just talking about the usual horror movies. I am talking about any type of cult movie. I mean, we only have two Godzilla movies on blu-ray (the original and the 1998 remake), but where are all the other ones. Fanboys, like myself, would eat that up.
When it comes to horror movies on blu-ray, we get a mixed bag. Virtually all the "big" horror movies from the last few years are on blu-ray and some of the "big" old ones are on blu-ray, but what about the smaller ones? Companies like Blue Underground and Lionsgate have given us some classics, but what about the Universal Monster movies? They seem to get a lot of attention on DVD, none on blu-ray. These are movies that could really show what blu-ray can do and they are MIA.
And where are the Hitchcock movies or the Argento movies? These are master directors who have virtually no representation on blu-ray. It is a shame. There are so many movies that scream to be on blu-ray, but are not.
I know that the blu-ray market is still maturing, but give us fans something to tide us over until you get to the big titles. Blue Underground just released The Crazies and they have City of the Living Dead coming in a few months. They are doing a great job at getting their movies on blu-ray. I just wish that other companies would follow their lead.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alien Anthology Blu-ray This Year is reporting that Alien Anthology on blu-ray will hit blu-ray in time for Christmas. I love the Alien movies and have been awaiting their release.

Avatar DVD and Blu-ray all but announced

In a recent interview, James Cameron let it slip that Avatar will be available on DVD and blu-ray on Earth Day, which is April 22nd. Cameron goes on to say that the April 22nd release will be barebones, but that a full-on release will hit around the holidays.

I hate when studios do this, but at least we know in advance instead of it being sprung upon us at the last minute.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Five Favorites: Troma

In honor of Poultrygeist being released on blu-ray next week (Troma's first blu-ray), I have decided to start a new feature. The feature is called "Five Favorites" and will be updated every week or so with a different list. This week's list is about Troma movies.

5. Terror Firmer- This was the first Troma movie that I didn't like the first time I saw it. I felt that the movie was too long and had to much business to attend to. Now, after viewing it a few times, I find these criticism as virtues. Lloyd Kaufman is giving us an abridged look at how a Troma movie is made. This is like a behind the scenes documentary played for laughs and horror.

4. Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV- The first time I saw this movie was at a screening in Nashville, TN. Lloyd introduced the movie, then showed us the making of documentary afterwards. This was the first time I had seen a Troma movie on the big screen and it was worth every minute. I love this movie. This is the best Toxic Avenger movie since the first. (I happen to enjoy two and three as well) Citizen Toxie is a great movie that you can watch when you are feeling down.

3. Tromeo and Juliet- This is the only Troma movie that I showed to my friends and, needless to say they are no longer my friends, but not because of Troma. They found the movie to be weird and boring. I found it to be funny and entertaining. The movie takes Shakespeare to a place he has never been taken before and we are better because of it.

2. Toxic Avenger, The- Instead of making a straight forward horror movie, Troma decided to make a horror-comedy where the monster was the hero. While this movie was not my first Troma movie (Toxic Avenger Part 2 popped my Troma cherry) it was the one that showed me what a great Troma movie is. Filled with equal parts horror and comedy, The Toxic Avenger is one of the best movies to come out of the eighties.

1. Poultrygeist- I know that this movie is relatively new, but it contains everything that a Troma movie is known for and adds a new element: singing. The music is very catchy and this is the best looking Troma movie. It is funny and disgusting all at the same time.

Alligator (1980) ***1/2

There comes a time in everyone's life when they come across a monster movie that really entertains them, even if they aren't monster movie fans. Alligator is one of those movies.
The Story: In 1968 a young girl gets a pet alligator only to have it flushed down the toilet by her father. Twelve years later that alligator has grown to monstrous proportions due to a research company dumping the corpses of dogs that they experimented on in the sewer.
Bodies, or rather body parts, start appearing top side and the police think that it is the work of a serial killer. They assign a detective (Robert Forester) to investigate. After loosing a fellow officer to an attack by the alligator, Forester tries to explain what happened, but no one believes him, not even the local alligator expert. It isn't until a reporter is killed by the alligator that people start believing Forester.
Forester leads a S.W.A.T. team into the sewers, but the alligator is not found. The alligator makes his way to the surface, where he kills a lot of people, including the people that made him the way he is. Eventually, Forester has to go up against the alligator in order to destroy it.
The Skinny: Alligator is an above average monster movie. This is due to the conviction of the alligator. The special effects- a mixture of real alligators and animatronics- are really good. This movie was made thirty years ago and the effects still stand up. That can not be said about every monster movie.
The director, Lewis Teague, goes to extraordinary lengths to make this movie seem as real as possible, but always winking at the audience as well. Teague knows his stuff and it shows. He uses all the monster movie tricks there are and making up a few as he goes along.
Very rare do you see a child get killed in one of these movies, but here you do. This adds a little credibility to the movie and makes it stand out from the crowd. This movie doesn't discriminate when it comes to who lives and who dies.
While the movie does try to keep things pretty realistic, there are things that keep the movies feet firmly planted in the monster movie genre. The alligator- who is as big as a car- is able to sneak up on some of his victims. Also he is able to hide in his new urban setting. There is a scene where a big game hunter, who has been brought in to kill the alligator, is searching an alley where knows the alligator is. The alley comes to an end, where a big pile of garbage is, so that is the only place he could be. The alligator pops out and kills the hunter. How the alligator was able to hide under the trash is never explained, we just buy it.
Alligator is a very good monster because it takes everything very seriously. Nothing is played for laughs, and because of this the material is elevated to a higher degree of believability. This movie is well-made and thrilling.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Evil Dead Coming to Blu-ray?

According to Fangoria, Evil Dead will be making its high-def debut sometime later this year. I am very excited about this. I just hope that Anchor Bay gives this movie the treatment that it deserves and not doing what they have done with previous Blu-ray releases.

Frozen DOA at the Box Office

With all the talk about The Wolfman doing well at the box office, I had completely forgot about how Frozen did. Well, it appears that the movie was dead at the box box office. In its opening weekend Frozen pulled in $132, 000 at 106 theaters. That is not a good number. This past weekend it fell off the charts. I just wish that Anchor Bay had given this movie a little wider of a release, but they didn't. I sure that the movie will do great on DVD.

I Sell the Dead Coming to DVD and Blu-ray

MPI has announced I Sell the Dead for a DVD and Blu-ray release on March 30th. This horror comedy has been available at Blockbuster as a rental DVD and know you will be able to own the movie on DVD and  Blu-ray. The specs as I know them are:

-2 audio commentaries: the first with stars Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden, the second with director Glenn McQuiad
-The Making-of I Sell the Dead
-Behind the scenes dealing with the visual effects
-Original Theatrical Trailer

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gamera, The Giant Monster Coming to DVD

Shout Factory has announced that they are bringing Gamera, The Giant Monster to DVD on May 18th. This is the first time that the movie, known in the states as Gammera: The Invincible, will be available uncut with english subtitles and in anamorphic widescreen. The widescreen print is coming to us via an all new HD master. Specs are listed below.

16x9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
Original Japanese Language track
English subtitles
12 page booklet with an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa
Photo Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer

I am very excited about this. After spending countless years in public domain we will finally get to see the original cut of Gamera.

Wolfman not #1, but still packs a bite

The weekend numbers have come in and The Wolfman came in at #3 with $30 million. While it wasn't enough to take the top of the box office (#1 went to Valentine's Day) it was enough to impress this writer. With all the delays and the trailers not offering a lot of hope, I was dreading the worst. I fully believed that people would stay away from this movie and I am glad that I have been proven wrong. The Wolfman still has a long way to go to make its money back (according to box office mojo, the movie cost $150 million), but I am sure that we will get a kick ass DVD/blu-ray come early summer.

Horror Movies and the Oscars

The last time a horror movie a horror movie won an Oscar was in 1992 when Silence of the Lambs won. My question is: Why don't horror movies get the recognition that other genres get?
That question is pretty simple. While the general public enjoy horror movies, the voting groups do not. If a horror movie was to be nominated for an Oscar, people would stop taking them seriously. The movies that get nominated are movies that are made to get nominations. While some movies slip through the cracks (District 9) most of the other movies are made with the intent purpose of winning awards. You can not tell me that The Blind Side was made to make money. I know that they were hoping to make money, but they knew that the movie would get some acting noms.
While horror movie continue to rake in the dough, both at home and in theaters, only the true fans take them seriously. Most people rent horror movies in October, but once halloween passes those same horror movies are packed away, saved until the next halloween. True horror fans are fans year round, but most people aren't horror fans. They will watch a horror movie, but they do so because it is the "in" thing.
A lot of people believe that it is easy to scare someone. Sure they are right in the loosest sense. It doesn't take a rocket scienctist to jump out and scare someone. It does, however, take a lot of skill to really scare someone, to get underneath their skin so they won't sleep at night. Outside of the horror realm this talent goes unnoticed. No Oscars, no praise, nothing. Just another horror movie that people will soon forget and then say they were fans from day one.
I hold out hope that one day a horror movie will get the praise it deserves. I hold hope because I don't see it happening anytime soon. I love my horror movies, but I have to be realistic. But many believed that we would never have a black president, so there is hope for horror movies at the Oscars.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lionsgate Pulls "Season of the Witch" from release

Even though the release was less than 2 months away, Lionsgate has decided to pull Dominic Sena's Season of the Witch. Why? Who knows. Lionsgate has been known to do this in the past, and who is really surprised that this movie got pulled? I know that Knowing did really good box office around the same time last year, but period horror movies are a hard sell. It does suck, as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, but who knows what Lionsgate is up to.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Collector (DVD review)

The Movie ***
The DVD ***
The Collector comes billed as "from the writers of Saw IV, V, and VI". This did not build hope in me because I thought those Saw movies were terrible. Luckily The Collector doesn't fall into that same realm.
The Story: Home renovator Arkin is down on his luck. His wife owes money to a loan shark and Arkin's last paycheck wasn't enough to cover the money owed. Arkin hears that the family he is working for has a rare gem hidden in a safe somewhere in the house. Arkin decides that this is the only way he will be able to save his wife from being killed.
Arkin breaks into the house he has been working on, in search of the safe. While he is there he hears screams coming from the basement. The family, who is supposed to be on vacation, is being tortured in the basement by a masked psychopath. Arkin decides that he is going to save the family, but he has to out wit the killer. He finds that the killer has booby trapped the entire house, making escape virtually impossible. Now it is up to Arkin to save the family and get the gem so he can save his family.
The Skinny: Horror movies are a dime a dozen and torture movies are becoming even cheaper than that, so it is a relief that The Collector is actually good. I was worried that the movie would set up its premise- which is a good one- then settle in with countless scenes of people being tortured, but The Collector is smarter than that. It takes the premise and works with it, building up suspense while give us some pretty well thought out scares. I am not ashamed to say that I jumped a few times during this movie.
The movie takes place in one location, but we never feel tired of it. Yeah we see the same places over and over, but the movie sets each one of them up for the payoff. There were a few times that I wasn't sure where the characters were, but that is a minor problem.
What is a bigger problem, one that kept this movie from getting a higher star rating, is a few questions that popped into my mind as I watched the movie. If you don't want the movie spoiled for you then stop reading. SPOILER ALERT! How is it that the killer was able to set up these elaborate booby traps in such a short amount of time? I mean, the whole house has traps. It would seem that the killer would've needed more time. Also, how does the killer get away at the end? The police know who they are looking for and, surely, they would have seen a van leaving from the area around the house after it blew up. SPOILER ALERT OVER!
Other than these questions, I had a fun time watching The Collector. It's nice to get a well-made, well paced horror movie that doesn't rely on blood and guts- which it has plenty of, but you could take most of them out and still have a good movie- and tells a story that is simple, yet involving. I definitely think that The Collector is one of the best over-looked movies of 2009.
The DVD: The Collector come in a standard amary case with full color disc art. There are 16 chapters.
The Picture: Vivendi has given us a pretty good transfer. Presented in it's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the transfer is pretty solid. I detected some noise at the begining of the movie, but it goes away pretty quickly.
The Sound: We get a very good English 5.1 surround mix. This movie depends on loud noises and the track handles them well.
The Goodies: We are given some decent special features. Except for the alternate ending and deleted scenes, the extras consist of advertisments for the soundtrack.
Audio Commentary: Featuring the director and the writer with a few phone calls to others that worked on the movie, this is a very solid commentary. The particapants talk about the origins of the movie-originally titled The Midnight Man-and how they got the rights to the various songs used in the movie. If you only watch one extra on this movie, this should be it.
Deleted Scenes: Here you will find two deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The two deleted scenes are pointless and would have dragged the pacing down. The alternate ending is a real big downer and if the filmmakers had used it, the runtime for the movie would have been cut substantally.
Nico Vega Music Video "Beast": Pretty standard music video featuring clips from the movie. The song is very forgettable.
The Collector Music: This is an audio-only sampling of the movie's soundtrack.
Rounding out the extras is the red-band Theatrical Trailer.
Wrap Up: The Collector is a very well-made and intense horror movie that gets a decent, but not great DVD release.

The Descent 2 Coming to DVD

Lionsgate has announced The Descent 2 for a DVD release on 
April 27th. No specs have been given yet, but when they 
become available I will post them. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Video Store Remembrances

Back when I was a kid, the video store was my sanctuary. I loved going there and seeing what new movies I could find. Every friday my father would take me and my brother to the local video store to see what we could find. It was during this time that my love for movies, especially horror movies, started to grow.
My mother was a big part of nurturing my love of movies. From a very early age I was able to distinct between real and imaginary. This is why my parents were not so restrictive with the movies that I watched. It's not that they didn't care, they just knew that I was able to hold my own.
Since my love for movies began I have used them as a way to escape my fears. I was never really a people person so I found refuge in the movies. Luckily as I have gotten older I have found someone who gets that I am obsessed with movies.
I have been married for almost eight years and have found someone who cares that I care about movies. She doesn't always understand some of my choices, but she let's me be myself. She knows what it was like to grow up during the golden age of video stores, something that no one will understand today, and she knows what a movie means to me.
Suffice it to say, but I love my wife. She has been able to hold me together throughout the years that we have been together. She loves me for who I am. She understands that I am a movie geek and she's ok with that.
Growing up now, the kids will never know what the true meaning of the video store was. You could go to the video store and not only get a movie but find friends as well. The video store was the movie geeks sanctuary, much like a barbershop is sanctuary for black people.
I miss the video store mentality. With everything being on the internet, that feeling of belonging to something has dulled a little. Sure, you can talk to movie geeks from all over the world now, but it's just not the same. Long live the video store.

My First Run in with Troma

I still remember my first Troma movie. There was a video store across the street from my house and my parents would take me and my brother to it every weekend. I was browsing the horror section, looking for something that would catch my eye, when I saw it. The box art had this monster on it with a girl on his shoulder shooting a machine gun. I thought to myself that this movie has to be seen. The movie was The Toxic Avenger Part 2 and even thought I had not seen the first one, this video store didn't carry it, I snapped it up.
When I got home I went into my room and popped the cassette into my VCR. What I saw was something that I had never seen before. The monster was the good guy, his girlfriend was blind, and he fought very unusual bad guys. This was far from the movies that I had grown up watching. Even though I had watched a lot of horror movies, this had something different to offer. After I finished watching the movie I knew that I had to see the first one.
After weeks of searching I finally found a copy of the first Toxic Avenger movie. Aftr watching the movie I became a life long Troma fan. With their politically incorrect material and an anything goes attitude, Troma has given me more than twenty years of solid entertainment. They are just what I need for when I am feeling down.
Throughout the years Troma has given us one masterpiece after another and they don't seem to be stopping anytime soon. With the introduction of their Tromasterpiece collection in 2008 to their recent adoption of blu-ray (their first, Poultrygeist, hits shelves in a few weeks) Troma is gaining a brand new audience. That's why they have been around for more than thirty-five years. I love Troma and will continue to support them. When I have kids I will introduce them to Troma and all it's wonders.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood *

There are many times, being a horror fan and critic, that I ask myself "why do I watch these movies?". This happens about once or twice a month. I ask this of myself because of movies like Bordello of Blood, a movie that thinks that by having gore and nudity it gets a pass. I'm sorry but I could not.
The movie stars Dennis Miller as a private investigator who is helping a woman find her brother. Her brother went to a whore house looking for some action, but picked the wrong one. This one is run by vampires and funded by a Christian evangelist who believes that he is doing God's work by running this bordello.
This plot could make for a good movie and it might have, but somewhere along the way the filmmakers forgot that gore and nudity a good movie they do not make. I am not saying that I don't like either of this in movies, in fact I look at them as a bonus, but when your movie's primary appeal is the above then you probably don't have a good movie.
There were a couple of things that I did like about the movie. I liked Dennis Miller, for example, because he brings some much needed humor to the movie. I say "much needed" because this movie wouldn't know funny if it sat on it's face. This movie is a funny dead zone whenever Miller isn't on screen.
Bordello of Blood could have been good if they had spent some time on the movie. Everything feels rushed and cheap. There is almost no humor in the movie that is actually funny and the performances are pretty bad. In the end, I wish that this movie had never been made because I want the time I invested into this movie back.

Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight ***

In the late eighties and the early ninties, Tales from the Crypt was THE show to watch if you were a horror fan. Every week they would give you a different story and they always mixed it with dark humor. The show lasted for eight seasons and it is a beloved childhood memory for me.
Demon Knight is the first of three movies that would bare the Tales from the Crypt title. There was also Bordello of Blood and Rituals, which went directly to video. Since Demon Knight was the first, it seems like they put all there time and effort into this one. The production value is top notch and the photography is incredibly moody. This looks like it cost more than it probably did.

The plot is pretty standard stuff. A loner (William Sadler) comes to a gothic-looking motel looking for a place to sleep. There is another man (Billy Zane) who is looking for the loner and what he is carrying. Both men hold secrets that I dare not reveal here.

The movie is set up like a disaster movie with the people in the hotel trying to get out before the demons get them. Of course there is one character who plays Judas by the giving the bad what he wants and then the bad turns around and says "I lied".

Like I said, this is all pretty standard stuff, but director Ernest Dickerson knows how to give the movie some flair. There is a scene, for example, that plays out while a comic book flips through pages to show us what happens next. I also liked how there are more than one black character and they don't die first.

The performances are pretty standard too. William Sadler is good as the loner and the rest of the cast pulls their own weight. Billy Zane is given the key role of the villain and he chews the scenery apart. It's to bad that Zane didn't go on to become a bigger star because he knows his way around the role of the bad guy.

I enjoyed Demon Knight and watching it gave me found memories of sitting in the theater and watching it when it first came out. Watching it now I can see how some parts of the movie don't stand up as they did when the movie cam out, but I accept that. What we have is a pretty good horror movie that is still enjoyable today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Frozen Coming this Friday

Alright everyone, it is time to get to the cinemas. Stop going to see Avatar for the fouriteth time and go see Adam Green's Frozen. Adam Green is the man who directed Hatchet and we all know how great that movie was. i wasn't completly sold on Frozen until I got the chance to view a few scenes and it looks like it's going to be a nice little movie. Now, this movie is being released limitedly by Anchor Bay so there will be almost no TV coverage, but we need to do our part in getting this film seen.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Release Tuesday 2/02/2010

This is the big release for the week. I disliked this movie in theaters, but it wasn't until I got it on blu-ray that I realized how much of a failed effort this movie is.

A great throwback to 80's horror movies, this movie is a great mix of scares and nostalgia

I have not seen this movie, but based on Anchor Bay's track record, it has the possibility of being a great blu-ray.

I have wanted to see this, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

This seems to be a rerelease of the previous Wolf Man DVD. That being said, that was a very solid DVD release so this should be no different.

Horror in January

January 2010 saw the releases of quite a few horror movies, but almost none of them was really worth it. To me, it seems that 2010 has gotten off to a stutter of a start.

January, like September, has always been a dumping ground for movies, not just horror movies. The movies that the studios don't have any faith in get dumped into these months. Horror movies actually benefit from this, as there is almost no competition. Sometimes this works, as in the cases of Daybreakers and Legion, but sometimes it backfires, as in the case of Sorority Row.

This also has something to do with marketing. Daybreakers and Legion had great marketing, offering the viewer something different. Sorority Row's marketing couldn't get past the fact that the movie was a slasher movie. If they had done some thinking then maybe Sorority Row would have had a chance at the box office.

But it really isn't all about the box office. For every horror fan it is all about how good the movie is. So let's take a look at January and see what we were given.

The Final Destination (DVD/blu-ray)
I am still trying to wrap my head around why a lot of people actually thought that this was a good movie. I know that the 3-D is really well done, but the movie is crap. I guess people just like the 3-D and don't care about the movie.

Halloween II (DVD/blu-ray)
The theatrical version of this movie was total mess, but thanks to DVD and blu-ray we can finally see what Rob Zombie was really trying to do.

Daybreakers (Theatrical)
From the directors of Undead comes this movie where vampires make up most of the earth population. Very moody and well shot, this movie is just ok. Could have been better.

Blood Creek (DVD)
This movie was dumped into one theater in Kentucky, where no one went to see it. The movie is a tad weird, but who am I to complain when there are killer horses.

Pandorum (DVD/blu-ray)
Think Event Horizon mixed with an action movie and you get picture. If you don't know Event Horizon then you need to go rent it right now.

Legion (Theatrical)
This movie has really good special effects, but the overall movie is not very good.

Saw VI (DVD/blu-ray)
This movie is so much better than Saw V, but it still doesn't come close to being a good movie.

This is just a sampling of what January had to offer us. Check back next month when I give you an overview
 of what we got.