Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bride of Chucky (1998, Jennifer Tilly)

Seven long years after the Child's Play series came to a screeching halt, Chucky returns...though this time he's not alone. Chucky found a bride who's just as deadly as he is.

Bride of Chucky starts with Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), who was the girlfriend of Charles Lee Ray, the killer who transferred his soul inside the Chucky doll. She tracks down Chucky's body and resurrects him using voodoo (for dummies!). Before long, Chucky kills Tiffany and revives her as a doll. To become human again, the two dolls must recover a voodoo charm from Charles Lee Ray's corpse. They pay a teenage couple trying to move away from their hometown to bring them to the site. On the trip, as always happens when Chucky's around, murders start occuring and the young couple are the main suspects. Will the cops intercept the teenage runaways before they can bring the dolls to their destination?

I saw Bride of Chucky in the theater and I didn't really know what to think of it. I had only seen part 2 at the time and didn't know much about the Child's Play series other than that Chucky was a murderous doll. Watching this film again ten years later and after seeing the first three, I can now appreciate Bride of Chucky for the gem that it is. The film is funny, clever, gory and very entertaining. It was great that the producers decided not to just make another Child's Play sequel like parts 2 and 3. Jennifer Tilly was a great addition to the series and make for a perfect companion to the great Brad Dourif.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Child's Play 3 (1991, Brad Dourif)

They killed him twice, but 8 years later Chucky is back! What new interesting spins can they put on the infamous possessed killer doll?

Andy Barclay, Chucky's original owner is now living at Kent Military School after a series of foster homes. It's not too long before Chucky is reborn and seeks a new human body to transfer his soul to. He finally settles on a young boy at the school named Tyler. Will Andy manage to stop Chucky before he becomes a human?

Child's Play 3 is a fun little movie, though not much more. Chucky is as hilariously devious as ever and there are lots of clever kills too. The film doesn't stray too far from the format of the first two Child's Play films, which is a blessing and a curse. It wouldn't be for another 7 years before the series would detour into something a little different.


Child's Play 2 (1990, Alex Vincent)

Chucky's back and even more vulgar than the first time we saw him. It was only a matter of time (two years to be exact) before Chucky joined Freddy, Jason and Michael as his very own Horror franchise.

This time Andy, the boy terrorized by Chucky in the first film, is living in a foster home after his mother was locked away. Chucky, on the other hand, has been refurbished by the company that made him and he escapes to find Andy. Andy's new foster parents don't believe his stories about the killer doll...until it's too late. It is up to Andy and his foster sister Kyle to stop Chucky before he can take over Andy's body and become human.

Child's Play 2 is a good continuation of the story of Chucky. There is a lot of humor, gore and scares. Not as good as the first but still pretty solid. The cast is also fun ensemble for Horror fans, including Jenny Agutter from An American Werewolf in London and Gerrit Graham from Phantom of the Paradise.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Child's Play (1988, Tom Holland)

What respectable horror fan has never seen the original Child's Play? Well, up until today, ME! That's the great thing about blogs is that you find yourself revealing your deepest, darkest secrets without the least bit of shame. Halloween is less than a week away, so what could be better than a Child's Play marathon?

As I'm sure all of you know, Child's Play is the story of a doll named Chucky who kills people. Why, you ask, does Chucky kill people? Well, it all started with Charles Lee Ray, AKA the Lakeshore Strangler (and avid voodoo practitioner). After being chased into a toy store and shot by police, Charles uses voodoo to transfer his soul into a talking doll. The doll is then stolen by a homeless street peddler and sold to a single mother looking for a birthday present for her son. A series of bizarre killings begins, but who will believe Andy, the doll's young owner that it is Chucky doing the killing?

The premise seems pretty silly, but Child's Play is actually a fairly scary film. There are lots of suspense and Chucky, in all of his over the top vulgarity, is great. It's not every day you see a movie about a foul mouthed doll come to life and kill. When Child's Play came out on video, the local video store had Chucky dolls hanging from the window. I was a little frightened (being about 8), but also intrigued. The idea of the movie is a great one and 20 years later, even after all the Puppet Masters and Demonic Toys, Child's Play still delivers.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Halloween Mix to Download

One just wasn't enough. Here's another:

1. AFI - Fall Children
2. The Amazing Royal Crowns - Do the Devil
3. 45 Grave - Evil
4. Michael Jackson - Thriller
5. Iron Maiden - Phantom of the Opera
6. New York Dolls - Frankenstein
7. Jackie Morningstar - Rockin' in the Graveyard
8. Rob Zombie - How to Make a Monster
9. The Meteors - Michael Myers
10. The Five Blobs - The Blob
11. The Pavers - Oscillator
12. MX-80 Sound - Theme from Halloween
13. The Ramones - Worm Man
14. Alex Chilton - Walking Dead
15. Gerard McMann - Cry Little Sister (theme from The Lost Boys)
16. Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead


Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment.

Martin (1978, George A. Romero)

George A. Romero, creator of the famous Night of the Living Dead series decides to make a vampire film. Not just your standard vampire film, but a modern day (well, 70s) vampire film. Only instead of fangs and a trance, this vampire uses razor blades and sedatives. Who is this vampire?

Of course, it's Martin! Martin is a young man accused of being a vampire and he goes to live with his strict Uncle (and vampire killer) Tata Cuda and his cousin Christina, who thinks her Uncle is crazy. Cuda owns a grocery store and hires Martin to deliver groceries. One of his older, married, female customers takes a liking to Martin and they start an affair. Though on the side, Martin needs to get his fix of blood and sex, so he goes off into the night with his razor blade and sedatives and targets his victims. Is Martin even a vampire or just a maniac?
Will his new found love become a victim? Will his Uncle be able to cure Martin of his curse?

George Romero has stated that Martin is his favorite of his own films and for good reason too. The thing that sets Romero apart from other genre directors is the fact that his main focus is on the story and the characters, all of the other elements are then added to make his films complete. Martin is no exception. You really get to know and like the characters, which is rare for most horror films. You can't help but feel a strong connection to Martin and feel a little sorry for him, despite the fact he goes out in the night to rape and drink the blood of women. Sounds pretty warped, but it's true.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Starmummy's Halloween Music Mix - (download)

Halloween, a time for trick or treating, carving pumpkins and costumes. Don't be fooled folks, that photo above is not the real Michael Jackson, but myself at the tender age of 5 merely pretending to be the King of Pop. Anyway, another tradition I like to celebrate every Samhain season is the almighty Halloween mix tape. Below is a link to download one of my Halloween mixes. Here we have the following:

1. Halloween Montage (theme from Halloween III: Season of the Witch)
2. The Dickies - Killer Klowns from Outer Space
3. The Sharks - Skeleton Rock
4. Ministry - Everyday is Halloween
5. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Demon
6. The Damned - Temptation
7. Oingo Boingo - Dead Man's Party
8. The Cramps - Zombie Dance
9. Hasil Adkins - No More Hotdogs
10. The Misfits - Spook City USA
11. The Meteors - Hills Have Eyes
12. TSOL - Silent Scream
13. UK Subs - I Walked with a Zombie
14. Zacherle - Dinner with Drac
15. The Shaggs - Halloween


Hope everyone gets to download and enjoy this. I encourage everyone's comments after they listen to it. Let me know if the link expires.

Happy Halloween!

The Hills Have Eyes part 2 (1985, Wes Craven)

Eight years...the mutant cannibals are back. It's surprising that it took so long for a sequel to be made considering how great the original was. After watching the sequel though, maybe eight years was too soon.

The Hills Have Eyes part 2 begins with one of the survivors from the original, Bobby, recounting his first run in with the cannibals (in one of many flashbacks). Bobby is now the maker of a new brand of motor oil (can you say random?) which he and a group of bike racers plan on showing off at a bike show. Sounds all fine and dandy, right? Except for the fact that the bike show is in the desert near the happenings of the first film. Bobby decides he can't go but the rest of the group soldiers on, including Bobby's wife Rachel, whom you may also remember as Ruby, the escaped cannibal woman from the predecessor. On their trip, they unsurprisingly break down and end up in a deserted mining town. Turns out it's not so deserted when one by one, the group keeps turning up dead.

Let's start with the good things about this film. It's good to see some of the characters from the first film, especially Michael Berryman as the cannibal Pluto and Janus Blythe as Rachel/Ruby. The mining town location is also a great atmosphere for scares. The biggest problem with the film though is those damn flashbacks. It's like watching a double feature only half as long and twice as sucky. Even the fucking dog in the film has a flashback. Another problem is the supporting characters. To put it plainly, they all just suck. There is nothing likable or interesting about them whatsoever. The scene where one of the female characters decides to make use of an abandoned shower that she finds out in cannibal country just proves how little thought went into these characters (outside of physical traits). In case you can't tell, this movie isn't worth your time.


The Hills Have Eyes (1977, Wes Craven)

You've all seen the infamous poster above with Michael Berryman (aka That Scary Ass Bald Dude). Wes Craven's first big hit after the classic Last House on the Left was (like Last House on the Left) way ahead of its time. The fact Craven is now a household name (after Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream) is hardly surprising. At the same time though, it's hard to believe that someone who could make films with as much sadism as Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left could become a household name.

The Hills Have Eyes is about a family taking a scenic trip through the desert to get to California. Their car breaks down and they soon realize they are not alone. Turns out a family of mutant cannibals are living in the desert's hills (don't you hate it when that happens?). After being terrorized, the remaining few are forced to kill in order to protect themselves, blurring the line between the civil and the savage.

The Hills Have Eyes is not only brutal and outrageous but also classic. Craven stops at nothing to make you identify with the heroes and what they must go through. He also creates a terrifying atmosphere, with the help of Robert Burns' (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) art direction. The thought of having your car breakdown in the middle of nowhere has crossed through everyone's mind and Craven uses that to heighten the level of fear for the viewers. Overall, a great film...if you can handle it.


Sleepaway Camp (1983, Robert Hiltzik)

Sleepaway Camp, huh? Oh great, another Friday the 13th ripoff. Well, there are a few basic similarities (gruesome kills, summer camp, unknown psycho killing people) but Sleepaway Camp is very much its own film. There really is nothing like it.

After a freak boating accident, a young girl's family is killed and she goes to live with her Aunt and Cousin. Several years later, the girl Angela and her cousin Ricky are now teenagers and off to summer camp. Angela is very quiet and gets made fun of by her promiscuous fellow campers. Ricky can't stand it and uses every opportunity to get into fights and shoot his mouth off. Suddenly, a series of heinous "accidents" start occuring to the staff and fellow campers who tease Angela. Who could be causing these "accidents"?

I still remember the first time I watched Sleepaway Camp with a few friends in High School. I also remember when I made my then girlfriend/now wife watch it. This is simply one of my favorite horror films of all time. Why? Simple, it has everything I love about horror films: Incredibly realistic makeup effects (created by Oscar nominee Ed French), a great whodunnit plot that keeps you guessing until the end, sex, profanity and an unmistakable 80's feel. The best thing about the film (and I'm sure most fans will agree) is the ending. One of the creepiest, most unexpected endings of all time.

(Though there were some decent sequels in the 80s, check out director Robert Hiltzik's true follow up Return to Sleepaway Camp, finally coming to DVD on November 4th, 2008. Yay! There is also a 3D sequel in the works as well. Double yay!)


Night of the Living Dead (1990, Tom Savini)

Uh oh, remake territory. Another of the greatest Horror films of all time being remade has been done so many time sin the last few years that...wait. What did you say? This remake came out almost 20 years ago? And it was made by George Romero and John Russo, the creators of the original? Hmm, let's reevaluate this.

I'm sure you're familiar with the story of Night of the Living Dead. Barbara and Johnny go to the cemetery to visit their dead mother. When they get there, they are attacked by a maniac. Suddenly more crazed people start attacking them. Barbara escapes to a nearby farmhouse, Johnny does not. Also taking refuge in the house are a young couple, an older married couple with a sick daughter and Ben (Tony Todd aka Candyman), a man who becomes their self appointed leader. They soon discover that these madmen are in fact the dead coming back to life. The group fight to stay alive against the zombies...and each other.

It's unfortunate that all the new remakes aren't as well done as Night of the Living Dead (a prime example being Night of the Living Dead 3D. Blech!). The filmmakers (especially Tom Savini, Makeup effects genius in his directorial debut) did a good job of adapting the original story but made enough changes to entertain the biggest fans of the original. The only real problem I had with the remake is that (like most remakes) it just wasn't entirely necessary and didn't improve on the original.


My Bloody Valentine (1981, George Mihalka)

Ah, 1981. The golden age of the slasher. After Halloween and Friday the 13th came a legion of slasher films, some good, some bad. We'll forget about the bad ones and talk about one of the great ones.

My Bloody Valentine, or as I like to call it "Look Oot, it's My Bloody Valentine, Ay" (the film is Canadian, get it?...I'll be here all week folks, try the fish) is the story of a small town called Valentine's Bluff. 20 years ago on Valentine's day, a bunch of miners got trapped in a mine shaft when their bosses decided to leave early to go to the town's Valentine's Day dance. Several weeks later one of the miners, named Harry Warden, is found in the mine shaft having survived by eating the other miners. Warden was institutionalized but legend has it that he escaped and killed some people the following Valentine's Day and vows to keep killing if the town ever celebrates Valentine's Day again. Flash to the present (well 1981 present) and the town decides to have a Valentine's Day dance again. Guess who comes back?

My Bloody Valentine is a classic slasher filled with twists, oodles of suspense and some really great kills (courtesy of Tom Burman). The killer, in his black mining outfit made for a great looking villain. This film never really received the praise it deserves and it is surprising that it was never followed up by a sequel.

(Keep an eye out for My Bloody Valentine 3-D, coming Valentine's Day 2009. Can't wait).


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkinhead (1988, Stan Winston)

All of us have those movies that we have wanted to see but just never got around to it. For yours truly, one of those films is Pumpkinhead. I have always enjoyed Oscar winner Stan Winston's makeup effects and was curious how he would do in his directorial debut. Also, Lance Henriksen is always great too. So was Pumpinhead worth the wait?

Pumpkinhead is the story of Ed Harley and his young son Billy, who run a small grocery store in a rural town. One day a group of young city folk stop at the grocery store and, in a freak dirt bike accident, one of them kills young Billy. One of the friends stays with Billy while the rest go to the cabin to call for help. The one responsible for the accident gets scared that he will be arrested and takes the others captive. When Ed finds his son, he is so angered that he seeks the help of a witch in the woods. After performing a spooky ritual, she conjures up a hideous creature named Pumpkinhead to help Ed get revenge.

Pumpkinhead more than lives up to its legendary status. The creature in the film is both terrifying and realistic, one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time. Stan Winston proves he is more than capable of directing, providing a creepy atmosphere filled with lots of gothic hues of black, blue and white. I was impressed by how the director contrasted the dark scenes with light pouring in through the windows and branches. Richard Stone's musical score is also a highlight, complementing the film perfectly. I am happy that I finally watched this and can truthfully call it a classic.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace)

Here it is, finally. The black sheep of the beloved Halloween series. Definitely one of those movies that you either love or hate. This film disappointed a lot of unsuspecting viewers when it was released because it had nothing to do with Michael Myers. Which is understandable, but disappointing this film is definitely not.

Halloween III, as I stated before, is a departure from the story of the first two. There is no Michael Myers, Laurie Strode or Dr. Loomis. Instead, the film centers around a Halloween mask company called Silver Shamrock. After a man is found dead clutching a Silver Shamrock mask and his killer blows himself up, Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) starts to believe something is fishy. He, along with Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of the man found dead, decide to go undercover as Halloween mask retailers to investigate how Silver Shamrock plays into this man's murder. They eventually meet up with Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy), the owner of Silver Shamrock and discover an evil plot beyond their wildest imaginations.

Halloween III is plain and simply brilliant. The way the story develops, the characters, the suspense, the music ("3 more days 'til Halloween/Silver Shamrock"), the gore (courtesy of makeup master Tom Burman) and most importantly, one of the greatest endings in cinematic history, all add up to an incredible film. Pundits may look down on some of the over the top plot elements, but the real reason this film is hated is because there is no Michael Myers. The producers decided to carry on the name of Halloween but feature different stories which took place around Halloween. After the disappointment of Halloween III, the idea was scrapped and soon Michael Myers returned from the grave to kill again. My only gripe about this film was the fact it was called Halloween III. I'm sure it would have gained far more appreciation if fans looked beyond the fact Myers' was absent and focused on how great this film stands on its own.


Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)

After the box office success of H20, it was inevitable that the series would continue. And it did, sort of. Four years later, Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis are back. Will history repeat itself by continuing the Halloween series into a creative new direction? I'm afraid not.

Halloween Resurrection begins, once again, with Laurie Strode. Her son is nowhere to be found (major plot hole) and she is now living in a mental hospital. It's only a matter of time before Michael comes after her, but she is ready for him. Or at least she thought she was. After 24 years, Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode finally dies at the hand of Michael Myers. Obviously, Michael must then kill her son from H20, right? NO? Ok then, the producer's decided to bring back Jamie Lloyd's child from part 6, which would in turn be Laurie Strode's granddaughter, right? NO? WTF? Michael goes back to the Myers' house and hunts down a group of teenagers filming a reality show there? You've got to be frickin' kidding me? And the two people running the show are Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks? Ahhh! No! Wake me up! Ok then, so what relative is Michael trying to kill then? NONE? Ahhh! Make it stop!

So, what we have here is the epitome of a truly pointless sequel. The whole reason behind Michael's killing spree in the previous films is thrown out the window. Now he's just a mass murderer with no purpose to his crimes. The characters are unlikable, the story is garbage and there is really just no point to this film whatsoever. Even the return of Halloween 2's director, Rick Rosenthal, can't save this movie. What a shame. It would be five years before another Halloween film would come out (a remake of the original, no less). Maybe this great series should finally be laid to rest?


Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998, Steve Miner)

H20? Seemed like a clever title at the time. Now...not so much. But who cares, because Jamie Fuckin' Lee Curtis (or is it Jamie Lee Fuckin' Curtis?) is back as Laurie Strode. SHUT YO MOUTH! Nope, it's true. I thought she was dead? Well, when the last two Halloween films took a direction that wasn't garnering huge box $, it was time to pull out the big guns. Plus, Donald Pleasence had passed away so it seemed that a big name was needed for the series.

H20 brings us 20 years after the events from the first two Halloween films. Laurie Strode, Michael Myers' sister, faked her death years ago and is now living as the Headmistress for a prestigious private school, with her 17 year old son . She suffers from visions of Michael and soon realizes that he has come for her again. After most of the students leave for a field trip, Laurie, her son and some friends are suddenly being hunted by Michael. Will Michael finally finish his 20 year chase to kill Laurie? Will Laurie kill Michael once and for all?

H20 is a nice return to form for the series. The characters are all pretty likable, the setting is creative and there is a lot of suspense. Though I liked the direction the series was headed by explaining who Michael was, most of the fans did not. I do admit that the dismissal of Jamie Lloyd's child from part 6 is disappointing, the rest of the film delivers.


Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995, Joe Chapelle)

What happened to the 666? I thought when I saw this in the theater it was called Halloween 666: The Curse of Michael Myers? Whatever. After many fans' disappointment with part 5, the series that brought us Michael Myers seemed to have come to an end in 1989. Six years later, Michael came back. This time, the origin of Michael Myers is finally revealed.

The story begins with Jamie Lloyd, who is about to give birth in some creepy-ass underground hospital lair (can I get a Mwahaha?), filled with candles and other Gothic ephemera. This is the point where you pull the dvd out of the player and make sure this is really part of the Halloween series and not some movie with the name Halloween in the title. Once you determine it really is part of the Halloween series, you are quickly made aware that it's not going to be just some standard stalk and slash flick. After Jamie gives birth, she escapes from the mysterious cult holding her captive and makes her way to a bus station. Before she is finally caught and murdered by Michael Myers, she manages to hide her baby. We are then reintroduced to Tommy Doyle, one of the children Laurie Strode was babysitting in the first Halloween film. He hears Jamie make a final phone call to a local radio station, warning the town of Michael's return. Tommy figures out where the call was coming from and show up, only to find the baby, Michael's last living relative. Tommy knows the truth about Michael's origin and only he can save the baby from the clutches of Michael Myers and the evil cult.

Halloween 666...I'm still kind of on the fence with this one. I like the occult direction the film took and the origin of Michael Myers. There are many things that I would have done differently though. I liked Tommy Doyle's character and thought he was played with the right mixture of heroism, obsession and insanity. At any point in the film he could have become Michael Myers. Other than that, most of the characters are forgettable, with the exception of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence in his final film) and his mysterious colleague, Dr. Wynn. Like part 5, the Curse of Michael Myers has a good story and is a good continuation of the Michael Myers legacy. Unfortunately, though there are some fans that lose a lot of fan's respect and diminish the impact the material.

Pointless anecdote: When my friend and I went to see this in the theater, we were only 16 and they wouldn't let us in. I remember being so pissed but we eventually got one of our parents to buy the tickets ahead of time, the following weekend.


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989, Dominique Othenin-Girard)

Halloween 4 brought a promising continuation to the classic Halloween series. A follow up one year later should hardly surprise anyone, with much of the same cast returning from part 4 and some new plot twists, there is no way this sequel couldn't be great, right? I said, right? The fact no one is answering may be an indication to the contrary. Read on...

It's one year later and Michael Myers' last remaining relative, his niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is now living in the Haddonfield Children's Clinic after the shocking event at the end of part 4 (you expected me to give it away, didn't you?). She has been under the care of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) since her run in with Uncle Mikey and is suffering from visions of him murdering again. Little do we know that her visions are actually part of a telekinetic bond that she shares with Michael. Dr. Loomis tries to help Jamie use her powers to find Myers and lure him back to where it all began..the Myers' house.

Halloween 5 has one main problem which would continue on through the rest of the series: useless supporting characters. Similar to the sex starved, brainless hospital employees in part 2, this one features several sex starved teens whose only purpose here is to provide Michael with a blank canvas for his imaginative killings. Once again, not necessarily a bad thing for us gorehounds, but it makes it hard to feel any sympathy for the characters. There are also a pair of bumbling cops that appear throughout the film. There is actually zany, looney tunes music playing whenever they appear. I swear I could smell my brain cells melting away every time those two dillholes were on the screen. The film also has a mysterious figure dressed in all black who appears often, without a hint of who the character is, though he seems to play an important part. Though this character's identity is revealed in part 6, the filmmakers of part 5 admitted they had no idea who the character would become. Despite all of these shortcomings, I actually liked this movie. The main story with Michael Myers, Loomis and Jamie was a good step forward for the series . There was also plenty of frightening scenes and the makeup effects by KNB Effects Group were top notch.


Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988, Dwight H. Little)

Image result for halloween 4

Wait, where's Halloween 3? I bet you think I'm one of those guys who thinks part 3 shouldn't be part of the series? A blasphemy to the almighty Halloween name? Survey says...You couldn't be wronger (or is it wrongerer?). You'll just have to wait until my review is up on that one...coming soon.

Halloween 4 takes place ten years after the events of the first two Halloween films. Michael Myers has escaped from an asylum and he's headed back to his hometown of Haddonfield. Michael's target in the first two, Laurie Strode, died about a year prior but she left behind a daughter named Jamie (Danielle Harris), who becomes Michael's new target. When the word gets out, Dr. Loomis (Michael's old doctor who tried to destroy him ten years ago) makes his way back to Haddonfield to prevent another massacre. Unfortunately, Michael gets there first and begins his killing spree. Will Loomis save Jamie before it's too late?

After part 3's departure from the Michael Myers story, the Shape is back. As far as sequels go, part 4 is a solid continuation of the Michael Myers legacy. Lots of scares and some nice gory kills, courtesy of the great John Carl Buechler. Unfortunately, the series started going downhill after this one.

(Note my dvd of part 4 signed by the lovely and talented Miss Danielle Harris. Yes, I rule.)


Monday, October 13, 2008

Rock and Shock Horror Convention - The Aftermath

Ok folks, here's the blog entry you've all been waiting for. So last Friday night I went to the 5th annual Rock and Shock Horror Convention/Concert in good old Worcester, MA (pronounced Wuss-ter if you're not from around here...or Wuss-tah if you are). This is the first time I went and what a great experience it was. There were lots of Horror memorabilia, tattoo artists, makeup effects people and other random weirdness. It was fun walking around and looking at all of this great stuff, but the highlight was the horror celebrities. Among the people I didn't meet were Corey Haim and Brooke McCarter from The Lost Boys, Derek Mears (Jason from Friday the 13th 2009), Jason Mewes and Brian O'Halloran from Clerks, Chris Sarandon and Stephen Geoffreys from Fright Night, Zach Galligan from Gremlins, Tony Todd from Candyman, Doug 'Pinhead' Bradley from Hellraiser and several more. Here are the guests I did meet:

Tom Savini (Makeup Effects wizard for Friday the 13th part 1 and 4, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow, The Burning and many more). He was very interesting and had a fondness for shooting rubber bands at Corey Haim the whole time. He was kind enough to sign my hardcover copy of his Grande Illusions book.

Next up was Michael Biehn, aka Kyle Reese from one of my all time favorite films since I was a teenager, The Terminator. He was also in Aliens too. Very cool guy.

Then came Ken Foree, aka Peter from another one of my favorite films, Dawn of the Dead. He was also in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, The Devil's Rejects and Rob Zombie's Halloween. Ken was very funny and easy to talk to.

After Mr. Foree, was the brilliant William Forsythe. This man is one of the greats, appearing in recent films like Devil's Rejects and Rob Zombie's Halloween as well as Dick Tracy (as Flattop) and (another all time favorite) Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America. William was very down to Earth and nice enough to answer all of my questions about his incredible career.

Danielle Harris, aka Jamie Lloyd from Halloween 4 and 5 as well as Annie Brackett in Rob Zombie's Halloween, was next. She was super nice and signed my Halloween 4 Dvd. Yay!

Last, but definitely not least, was old Choptop himself, Mr. Bill Moseley. Bill, who has appeared in House of 1000 Corpses, Devil's Rejects and Silent Night Deadly Night 3 (among many others), was wildly zany and did a bunch of his signature Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Choptop voices.

Meeting all of these people whom I have been a big fan of for a long time was a great experience. They were all more than happy to talk and answer my stupid questions. Thanks guys, and keep on choppin'!

Halloween 2 (1981, Rick Rosenthal)

When Halloween came out in 1978, it was the largest grossing independent film of all time. It was only a matter of time before a Halloween sequel would be made, starting a franchise that has continued almost 30 years.

Halloween 2 takes place directly after the first, continuing the story of Michael Myers and his hunt for teenager Laurie Strode. Laurie is brought to the local hospital while Dr. Loomis, Michael's old doctor, continues his chase for Michael. After breaking into his childhood school, Michael heads for the hospital to find Laurie. After Loomis discovers the real reason Michael is after Laurie, it becomes a race to see who will reach her first.

Halloween 2 is a solid follow up to the original. There are plenty of scares, though this time it's more shit jumping out at you than the atmospheric creepiness of the original. Another new element is gore, obviously to attract fans of the new wave of splatter films popular at the time. Fortunately, the bloody killings are original and realistic. The main drawback to this though are the pointless characters added for the sole purpose of being killed in creatively gross ways....then again, maybe that's not such a bad thing. I guess it depends what type of horror film you like. Overall, I think this film should appease most fans of the original, especially compared to some of the lackluster sequels to come.


Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)

What is October without watching Halloween? Sacrilege, that's what. John Carpenter's horror classic has all the ingredients to make for a perfect Autumn slasher. Despite the fact that the movie wasn't filmed in Autumn and they had to use painted leaves, it's still the perfect spooky shocker for the season of Samhain.

Ok, if you've never seen Halloween, you need to get off your computer, go to your nearest Dvd retailer and buy a copy. Don't rent it because you will want to watch it every year. Halloween is the story of Michael Myers, the embodiment of pure evil. As a boy, Michael killed his sister and was institutionalized ("All I wanted was a Pepsi...", sorry, I got off track again). 15 years later, Michael escapes and goes back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again. On his trail is Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), the only person who understands how dangerous Michael is. A teenage babysitter named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut) and her two friends end up in the middle of Myers' killing spree. Will she and her friends survive?

Halloween has been called one of the first slasher films (following 1974's also holiday themed Black Christmas) and has spawned an infinite number of ripoffs (some good, many not). Seriously folks, it don't get much better than this. It's not very gory but it has some of the scariest moments in film history. The theme music is also classic and instantly recognizable. Throughout the whole last half hour of the film, you will be on the edge of your seat.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rock and Shock Horror Convention - Tonight!

So in about 15 hours or so I should be at the Rock and Shock Horror Convention (www.rockandshock.com). Can't freakin' wait. So many good horror guests attending. Makeup Effects Master Tom Savini, Michael Biehn from The Terminator and Aliens (and "Ooh Navy Seals!"), Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead, William Forsythe from The Devil's Rejects and (one of my favorite non-B movies) Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, Chris Sarandon (see my Fright Night review), Bill Moseley from The Devil's Rejects and (another favorite) Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Derek Mears (Jason from the new Friday the 13th 2009) and many more.

Hopefully I'll get some pics up this weekend

Fright Night (1985, Tom Holland)

Another one of those supposed "lost classics" that I am watching for the first time. I'd recently stumbled upon Roddy McDowall in a bunch of random films (Class of 1984, Planet of the Apes and Legend of Hell House) and really liked him. This one I actually bought about 3 years ago on VHS at a flea market for $2.00 and am finally getting around to watching it. The video box is kind of weird. It looks like a normal video box but it is completely closed all the way around. The side of the box actually opens up and the tape comes out that way, as opposed to the bottom, like most VHS tapes. What's that? Oh you're still trying to get over the fact that VHS tapes still exist. Understandable.

Fright Night is the story of Charley (William Ragsdale), a teenage boy who has a mysterious neighbor Gerry (Chris Sarandon) move in next door. One night, Charley witnesses his new neighbor turn into a vampire and kill a woman. After Jerry reveals himself and tries to attack Charley, he runs away to tell his friends. None of Charley's friends believe him so he turns to ex-TV Horror host/Vampire Hunter (Roddy McDowall) to help destroy Gerry.

Fright Night is a fun little movie. Pretty dated but the makeup/vampire effects are pretty good, especially the transformations. Acting all around is good (especially McDowall) and the story has a nice mix of comedy and gore. Nothing out of this world, but decent.


Hellraiser (1987, Clive Barker)

Ok, I love horror movies. Should be pretty obvious by now. That is why you should be shocked that, until tonight, I had never seen Hellraiser before. I have seen so many of the greatest horror films ever made and just as many of the worst. But occasionally a classic movie comes around that I have heard of since I was a little kid and somehow just never got around to watching. Hellraiser is definitely one of those movies.

Hellraiser is the story of Larry and Julia, a couple who go to live in a new house that they inherited. When they move in, they find traces of the Larry's brother Frank living there. They assume he has left, but he is still very much there, though he is trapped in a another dimension. One where pain and pleasure are synonymous. After cutting himself on a nail, Larry's blood releases Frank from this hellish world, in the form of a skinless creature. Frank needs more blood to become whole. He enlists the help of Julia, whom he once had an affair with, to bring victims to him so he can use their blood. Kirsty, Larry's daughter and Julia's stepdaughter, finds Frank and accidentally opens up a portal to the other dimension via a seemingly harmless puzzlebox. Enter Pinhead and his group of Cenobites, to find the escaped Frank.

WTF? Yeah, I know. Pretty wacky stuff. What makes this film such a classic is a combination of its grisly makeup effects and a completely original story. Seriously, what other movie is like Hellraiser? Certainly nothing that came before it. My friend Yeti described this movie best when he called it a "very wet movie". The makeup effects are all over the top but very realistic and gory. It's a shame it took so long for me to see this.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween (2007, Rob Zombie)

How do you remake one of the most iconic, classic horror films of all time? First of all, you shouldn't. But if you insist, I guess you should get someone like Rob Zombie. Someone who's whole career has been somewhat based upon horror, from his early days fronting the band White Zombie to his role as filmmaker, which began a few years ago with House of 1000 Corpses.

You all know the story of Halloween so I won't get too into it. Kid kills his sister, gets put in a psych ward under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis, 15 years later he escapes and goes after his other sister. All of those elements remain here except Zombie has put more focus on the origin of Halloween's killer, Michael Myers. In this version, Michael kills not only his sister, but also his sister's boyfriend, his mother's abusive alcoholic boyfriend (played by the great William Forsythe) and a bully at school. Michael still gets locked up and put under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (Caligula himself, Malcolm McDowell), escapes 15 years later and goes after his younger sister (Scout Taylor Compton). Though unlike the original, we are unsure of what his intent is when he finds her.

I definitely had mixed emotions when I heard there would be a Halloween remake. Everyone knows remakes suck and the amount of remakes coming out nowadays is dizzying. When I heard Rob Zombie was doing it, my pessimism turned into a mix of curiosity and excitement. Overall, Zombie did a good job re-telling the classic story, keeping a lot of the trademarks of the original (the mask and the music) and adding his own elements to it as well. My biggest problem with the film is that it took the scariest thing about the original, which was the mysteriousness of Michael Myers and tried explaining it. The original series took five sequels before explaining who or what Michael really was. Michael is supposed to be pure evil, not some disturbed kid who lives in a fucked up family with a stripper mom and abusive father figure. At the same time though, I commend Zombie for adding a different twist to the film and not just retreading the same ground covered before. One other thing I liked about the film (actually all of Zombie's films) is the cast. Zombie stays true to his roots with plenty of genre actors (Bill Moseley, Sherri Moon Zombie, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Brad Dourif, Ken Foree, Sid Haig, etc) as well as some bigger names (Malcolm McDowell).


Monday, October 6, 2008

The Dead Zone (1983, David Cronenberg)

Ok, what do you get when you cross the master of horror Stephen King, the master of slimey things David Cronenberg and the master of cool Christopher Walken? A pretty frickin' sweet movie, is what. Actually one of the best Stephen King adaptions, in my opinion.

The Dead Zone is the story of Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken), who is in love with fellow schoolteacher Sarah (Brooke Adams). One night, Johnny gets into a car accident with an 18 wheeler and ends up in a coma. Five years later, Johnny finally wakes up to find that Sarah has moved on without him. Oh yeah, he also woke up with psychic powers (don't you hate it when that happens). When he touches someone's hand, he can see into their past and future. The word gets out about Johnny's gift and he does his best to stay out of the spotlight. He is then contacted by the local police to help catch a serial killer. After helping apprehend the murderer, Johnny has a chance meeting with politician Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) and has a vision that could change the world if he doesn't react.

This is one of those films that I avoided for a long time in fear that it would be mediocre. I was very wrong. The great cast along with Stephen King's brilliant story makes this movie a classic. Not to be forgotten though is David Cronenberg's directing. This film is much different from his other classics Videodrome, Scanners and The Fly, but at the same time it ranks up there with them.


The Fog (1980, John Carpenter)

What comes to mind when you think of Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter? Halloween, dumbass. Of course, Halloween. Often overlooked though is The Fog, which again paired Carpenter and Curtis, along with several other Halloween cast and crew members.

The Fog revolves around the coastal town of Antonio Bay, which is getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Unbeknownst to most of the residents, the town holds some dark secrets. When a seemingly harmless fog rolls in, people start dying at the hands of ghostly creatures out for revenge. What crime did the town commit and who are these murderous apparitions? Rent the damn movie, fer crissakes!

Seriously though, rent this. It's great. Carpenter does an excellent job of creating a creepy atmosphere and the whole cast is great as well. Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins (Halloween 3) make a great duo trying to uncover the truth of the fog. Adrienne Barbeau (who was married to Carpenter for awhile) also does an excellent job as radio DJ Stevie Wayne, warning the townspeople of the fog's whereabouts from her radio station at the top of a lighthouse.


Terror Train (1980, Jamie Lee Curtis)

Another one of Jamie Lee Curtis' early horror films, Terror Train is another whodunit thriller, this time taking place on a boat.

Just fuckin' with you.

A bunch of college seniors organize a New Year's Eve masquerade party aboard a train. All is well until a killer sneaks on board and begins killing off the students. The killer slips through the train unnoticed by switching into each victim's costume. The killer is believed to be a former student who went loco after a cruel practical joke was played on him by some of the students on the train. But when it is discovered that the train's entertainment, David Copperfield (you may have heard of him), wasn't hired by the hosts, the killer's identity becomes even more mysterious.

Terror Train is a nifty little thriller with some good scares. Jamie Lee Curtis is great as usual and the rest of the cast exceeds expectations for a slasher film. The train's claustrophobic setting of the film really enhances the creepiness as well. The film could be trimmed by about 10 minutes, but overall it's a pretty effective thriller.


Prom Night (1980, Jamie Lee Curtis)

I think people in the world of horror underestimate the importance that Jamie Lee Curtis had on our precious slasher films. In the late 70's/early 80's, she was the queen of horror and is the epitome of the naive girl who has to get tough quick to protect herself against a killer. Starting with the classic Halloween in 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis starred in six horror films before really branching out and becoming a household name. Here is one of those films...(cue disco dance beat)...PROM NIGHT!

Prom Night is the story of a group of ten year olds who accidentally cause the death of their friend. They swear never to tell anyone in fear of going to jail (you know, those jails for ten year olds). Six years later, as the now sixteen (ten, eleven, twelve...yup sixteen) year olds are getting ready for their high school prom, they each begin to get mysterious phone calls. The calls are from a person who knows what they did that summer (whoops, wrong movie). Anyway, it turns out that someone else witnessed the girl's death...and wants revenge! (mwa ha ha).

Prom Night is a mediocre thriller, probably the worst of Ms. Curtis' Holy Horror Quintilogy (is that a word? It is now). In this story, she plays the sister of the girl who was killed. Leslie Neilsen plays Jamie Lee's father, who's character really has no point in this film. The film is pretty "by the numbers" and offers little in the thrills department. Obviously cast to cash in on her new found fame in Halloween, Curtis once called the film "Disco Death", referring to the over the top use of disco dancing and music. Even the killer wears a black ski mask with glitter on it, though that was probably just so you could see the damn thing. See this film could kick any Tim Burton movie's ass as the darkest film ever made. Though I'm not sure how intentional it was because you can't see what the hell is going on half the time.

So if you have a craving for a disco themed slasher film, this would be it. Otherwise, I would just rent Halloween again. I will admit though that I do have a sentimental attachment to this film, since I watched it the day of both my Junior and Senior prom with friends. It's actually pretty amazing that I had friends, let alone prom dates!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cannibal Holocaust (1980, Ruggero Deodato)

My cannibal film festival has come to an end with Cannibal Holocaust, the holy grail of cannibal films and one of the most infamous shock films in history.

An anthropologist, in search of three filmmakers who disappeared in the South American jungle while making a documentary, sets up an expedition and finds more than he bargained for. He is trusted by the local natives and escapes with the film reels from the missing film makers, who we learn were killed. After returning from his search, the film reels are viewed and the truth about who the real savages are is revealed.

Ok, so if you haven't seen this film already, I'm sure you've heard of it. If not, then you were probably looking for "Bed Bath and Beyond blogspot" or something. Definitely the sickest cannibal film I've seen and probably one of the sickest films period. This is perhaps the most banned film of all time and one of the most notorious as well. Because many of the killings looked so real, the director (Ruggero Deodato) was even arrested on murder charges (which were eventually dropped when he had the actors appear in court). Still, above all the brutal murders (decapitation, cannibalism, castration and the famous impalement) is those fucking animal killings. I'll admit, this movie wouldn't have nearly the impact it does if it weren't for the animal torture but even Deodato regrets and is embarrassed by these scenes. The muskrat and the turtle scenes are so cruel and nauseating that it just brings the film to a whole new level, for better or worse. The one completely positive thing I can say about this film is Riz Ortolani's music score. Not only is it beautiful but it contrasts the subject matter so much that it just makes the film even more of an experience.

So if you were curious about seeing this film, hopefully this review will help you decide. I can appreciate it as a work of art, but would say it's more of a love/hate relationship.


Cannibal Apocalypse (1980, John Saxon)

My "Cannibal-O-Thon" is going well so far, half way done. Cannibal Apocalypse is actually a film I have had in my possession for several years and just never got around to watching...until now.

The story of this one takes place mostly in the city (except for the intro which is a flashback of Vietnam), a big change from the usual Amazon jungle setting. Charlie Bukowski (great name huh?) gets released from a mental institute years after coming back from Vietnam. As soon as he is released he goes on a rampage killing and eating people. Apparently he brought back a virus from 'Nam which causes cannibalism in those that are infected. Also infected is his commanding officer Norman Hopper, who coaxes Charlie to turn himself in. Norman eventually sides with Charlie and a cannibal outbreak begins.

Much of Cannibal Apocalypse reminded me of Dawn of the Dead and other zombie films more than any cannibal film. The scenes of cannibalism were well executed and John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) as Norman and John Morghen (aka Giovanni Lombaro Radice from Cannibal Ferox) as Charlie are both great. I enjoyed the shootout in the flea market where Charlie turns himself in a lot but the ending of the film was a little hokey and expected. Overall a decent film and pretty original for the genre.


Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978, Ursula Andress)

Number 2 in my "Cannibal Weekend" brings us Mountain of the Cannibal God, directed by Sergio Martino. These wild and crazy cannibals sure are nasty mofos. This is one I was thinking about watching for awhile but never got around to it. Figured this would be the perfect time.

The film centers around a wealthy woman (Ursula Andress) and her brother who go on an expedition in New Guinea to try to find her husband, who has disappeared. They seek the help of Professor Edward Foster (Stacy Keach) who was one of his colleagues and has a pretty good idea where he might be. What ensues is plenty of cannibal madness, double crossing and (groan) more senseless animal torture. When they finally reach the spot where her husband is expected to be, Andress' character is captured as the cannibal tribe thinks she is their goddess. The cannibals perform a ritual filled with sex, body painting and...well....something involving a pig that needs to be seen to be believed.

The main title sequence of the film blundered the title as "The Mountain of of the Cannibal God" (yes, two of's, I giggled like a school girl). Made me kind of weary of the film and what I was getting myself into. The movie started out a little slow and didn't really get to most of the action until the last half hour. Check out the interview with the director on the Blue Underground dvd where he states that a specific animal killing was accidental and there was no explicit sex, only to be disproved by the folks at Blue Underground. Also, I did like the cast in this one. Stacy Keach I never really cared for until I saw him in Road Games (review coming soon) and Claudio Cassinelli was very good as well. The real prize however was Ursula Andress. When I first saw her in Dr. No when I was ten years old, I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. With her infamous "painted body" scene in this film, I am convinced that if I had seen this as a tender young fifth grader, my weiner would have exploded.

What was I saying? Oh yeah. Mountain of the Cannibal God was a decent flick with plenty of gross out scenes to satisfy the hardened gorehound and plenty of nudity to satisfy the hard-on'd fifth grader.


10 Random Gas Station Occurrences

As I stated in my first post, I work at a gas station on the weekends (that's not me above and I don't work for Mobil). Something I'm not too proud of, but it allows me to watch all of these great movies I review on here. Anyway, I will take a short break from reviewing and post this list I came up with of.....

10 Random Gas Station Occurrences:

1. I sold cigarettes to a 15 year old
2. Witnessed 3 parking lot vomits
3. Rescued a bat by scooping it up with a shovel and throwing it into the air
4. Was almost attacked by the bat I rescued in # 3
5. Have been flipped off, called stupid, an asshole, a bitch and plenty of other things that have escaped me
6. Was threated by a middle aged woman that she would urinate (my word, not hers) on the floor if I didn't let her use our Employees Only bathroom
7. Found the following interesting things in the trash barrells: vomit, blood, 1/2 full bottles of beer (which poured out on my shoes), poopy diapers and an empty box for a "Cockpit" vibrator
8. Watched 7 Lucio Fulci films over the course of one weekend.
9. Experienced the after effects of consuming a Gas Station Hot Dog (similar to the "entrail vomit" scene in Fulci's City of the Living Dead)
10. Offered an electrical outlet so a customer could plug in his dead cellphone, who in turn used it to set up a drug deal (this actually happened to me last night)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cannibal Ferox (1981, Umberto Lenzi)

My Friend warned me about this film, calling it one of the worst movies ever made. I told him I was going to watch it this weekend, he warned me again. We have similar tastes in movies though often agree to disagree.

So was he right or will we agree to disagree? Well, keep reading and you'll find out.

Cannibal Ferox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) is the infamous tale of Gloria (Lorraine De Selle from House on the Edge of the Park) who travels to the Amazon jungle to dispel the myth that cannibals exist. Why, you ask? Because she is going to use this topic as her thesis to get her doctorate in Anthropology. Duh! Along for the trip is her brother Rudy and new found friend Pat (wouldn't you bring along an acquaintance to explore the Amazon with you?). After reaching their destination, they stumble upon Mike Logan (John Morghen aka Giovanni Lombardo Radice, also from House on the Edge of the Park) and his friend Joe (who looks like Clark Kent on the show Smallville), who came in search of cocaine and emeralds. They say they are on the run from the cannibal tribe that Gloria came to prove didn't exist. The fact these two groups meet up in the middle of the Amazon is an amazing coincidence, wouldn't you say? Actually I'd say it's more of a silly plot device, but I digress. Pat ends up going off with Mike, who we find out actually tortured and killed one of the tribes people, shedding light on the real reason for the tribe's hostility. Will Gloria and the others live to tell the truth about cannibalism?

Now, the moment of truth...(drum roll please)...No, Cannibal Ferox was not the worst movie ever made. Other than some weak acting and dialogue, the film was actually pretty watchable. The main thing that would probably turn off viewers is the animal killings. This seems to be a common occurrence in Cannibal films, most likely for shock value. I have no problems with people being castrated or having the top of their heads chopped off and their brains eaten by cannibals (both happen in this film) mainly because I know they are fake. The scenes with the animals though, really bug me. See, even gorehounds have heart.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Funhouse (1981, Tobe Hooper)

"Who will dare to face the challenge of the Funhouse? Who is mad enough to enter that world of darkness? How about you, sir...?"

Well, how about it? C'mon! What? You have nightmares of clowns touching you in bad places? Wah Wah Wah! Suck it up and don't be such a little bitch. What? That's what the clown says in your dreams? Oh. Oops.

Well October has started and so has my scary movie marathon. I decided that I would go with Tobe Hooper's (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) The Funhouse to start the festivities. The film is about four teenagers who go on a double date to a local carnival and decide to sneak in and spend the night in the funhouse. While inside they witness a murder by a mute carnival worker wearing a Frankenstein mask. The carnies soon discover that there are witnesses to the murder and try to hunt down the teenagers. Will the kids escape the maze of the funhouse?

The Funhouse turns out to be a well done horror flick by Hooper, one of the masters of the genre. The atmosphere is incredible and there are lots of good scares. Makeup Effects master Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) does an incredible job creating the hideous monster hidden beneath the Frankenstein mask. Though the film's stalk and slash formula has been used many times before, the setting adds a new twist that a lot of horror films lack.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Venom (1982, Klaus Kinski)

What's this? Two reviews in one night? I'm a friggin' machine! Next up is a little film that appears to be just another cheezy killer snake film, but it's way more than that. The dvd cover is kind of scary. Kinda feels like that snake is just going to jump out of the computer screen and bite your eyeball. Maybe it's just me.

Venom is a film that has two things going on at the same time. The movie takes place in England and is about a boy who is kidnapped/held hostage by his chauffeur, maid and some German guy. At the same time though, the boy's harmless, new, pet snake that he just picked up that day from a local animal store was accidentally switched with a Black Mamba, the most poisonous snake in the world. Once the kidnappers find out about the snake (which naturally gets loose in the house), their plot starts to turn sour.

Venom was directed by Piers Haggard, who replaced original director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and featured a cast of well known stars, including Klaus Kinski (Herzog's Nosferatu), Oliver Reed (Gladiator) and Susan George (Straw Dogs). There was a lot of tension during the scenes with the snake and some good scares, but overall the movie is just a little two slow. The cast is great though especially Oliver Reed, one of my new favorite actors.

Blue Underground's dvd release is really nice with a director commentary and trailers. The transfer of the film is crystal clear and Michael Kamen's musical score helps build tension. Overall, the film has originality and really only suffers from it's slow pacing. It would have been nice to have seen the snake more in the film as well.


Contamination (1980, Luigi Cozzi)

Another review, you say? But Mr. Starmummy Sir, it's only been a day since your last review? Don't fret, son. I plan on delivering a poopload of reviews as quickly as possible. I wonder what the metric conversion would be for a poopload?

For my second review, I have chosen the low budget Italian sci fi film Contamination (aka Alien Contamination, Toxic Spawn or the director's choice Alien Arrives on Earth) directed by Luigi Cozzi, who previously helmed Star Crash with Caroline Munro (Maniac), Joe Spinell (mention #2 in my blog) and a 26 year old David Hasselhoff. Contamination stars Ian McCulloch (Lucio Fulci's Zombie) and some other distinguished thespians (by distinguished I mean totally devoid of any acting skills whatsoever). The movie is about a bunch of eggs from outer space that spray liquid which causes its victim's chests to explode. McCulloch's character (so memorable that I have no idea what his name was) holds the secret to these eggs and joins a government researcher and a correspondent from the White House to stop whomever is behind this deadly plot to eliminate the human race...at least I think that's the plot.

When I started watching this, after the first 15 minutes I was saying to myself "this is better than Alien". By the end I was shaking my head wondering how a movie could start out so good and quickly tumble face first into a pile of dogshit. This movie reeks of a ripoff of Alien. Even the director admits the studio wanted to cash in on Alien, which is where the whole bumpy green eggs and chest bursting came from. I will admit, the chest bursting scenes were great. I can definitely see myself going back to the film and watching those scenes again.

Despite the bad acting and the obvious Alien ripoff, the climax is easily one of the most laughable in film history. Without giving too much away, the creature responsible for all of the eggs finally makes its appearance at the end of the film. Let's just say that...how can I put this nicely...it's probably the worst designed creature ever put in a film. It does open up one of its orifices (I couldn't really tell what part of the creature it was supposed to be) and sucks a guy up in it, which was cool. Other than that, crap.

To end this review, I want to say a little bit about the dvd out now of Contamination on Blue Underground, probably my favorite company putting out dvds. The picture is in great shape, especially considering the budget and age. The dvd features an interview with Luigi Cozzi, the highlight of which is when he calls the female lead ugly. There is also a behind the scenes documentary with footage filmed at the time the movie was released.