Posts Tagged ‘horror’

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Like we always do about this time….let’s go!

1. We Are What We Are (2010): A nicely disturbing Mexican horror movie about a poor family of cannibals living in the modern-day.  While the gore is there, this is not a slasher flick that follows typical American studio formulas. No hot young teen actors to come save the day, etc. The movie focuses on the family members themselves, their disturbing heritage and belief system, their struggles to survive and stay hidden, and their apparent genetic predilection to stalk and hunt human prey.  I think we can all relate.  Not for the meek or those against immigration (Mexican cannibals! Ahhhh, build higher fences!).  And it really hammers home a moral we all could learn: Never eat a prostitute!

Prostitutes: they're NOT what's for dinner.

Prostitutes: they’re NOT what’s for dinner.

2. Dark Skies (2013): It was in theaters for a millisecond and then went off to the world of DVD and Netlflix.  You probably remember seeing the trailers on TV and that’s about it.  While not a financial bomb (it only cost $3.5 million), a $23 million haul isn’t considered a hit by most standards.  It’s been panned by many who did see it (which were few) but it deserves your attention.  It’s a solid flick about alien abduction that builds well, holds the suspense, and delivers the right amount of “jumps” to keep it fun and scary.  Its spin on alien abduction isn’t new, but it’s intelligently vague…vague to enough to keep it terrifying but not too sci-fi.  There have actually been very few good alien abduction movies over the decades…and this is really among the better made.

3. Salvage (2009): A seriously good British monster flick that works even though the monster in on-screen for maybe 60 seconds total.  The creature is just a plot tool, this movie is pure psychological horror done lo-fi…and right.  There is little rote or trope about this.  The acting is fantastic.  The action is messy but realistic.  It’s gritty and sad.  It’s desperate and suspenseful.  And there is sustained full-frontal nudity and sex, so…shit, what are you waiting for?

4. 6 Souls (Shelter, 2010) 2013: A box office disaster by any measure.  It’s release and re-lease under a different name was bungled to embarrassment, and virtually every critic who did see it treated it like the Trayvon Martin verdict (Oh YEAH, not too soon).  But this is actually a pretty solid, if not great movie (and I think it fucking is).  It weaves a tale of faith vs. science as a psychologist gets mixed up in a generations old serial killer legend.  A serial killer who steals souls and uses them as needed.  Or is he just a legitimate case of multiple-personality disorder?  Help us, Julian Moore!

"Ha...yeah, no.  I deny all knowledge of this movie now."

“Ha…yeah, no. I deny all knowledge of this movie now.”

5. Lunopolis (2009): THIS movie.  Jesus.  You will love it or hate it, but I really dug it.  In the found-footage format (stay with me), two documentary filmmakers stumble upon a time-traveling, moon-worshipping cult just in time to try to prevent a world-ending prophecy that may have all ready happened…a bunch of times.  That’s not even the weirdest shit.  It was done on the super cheap so the acting is serviceable and some dialogue is kinda forced, a few scenes were obviously shoe-horned into the story on-the-fly to move it along faster-complete with long-winded monologues that explain what they don’t have time to explain with the story..but…BUT….it’s pretty fucking cool.  You can find it on Netflix or maybe on DVD if you dig.  Probably find it online for free also.  Sci-fi, bitches.

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You know the drill by now: I dig (a little) to find some pretty decent horror flicks you either never heard of or never thought worth your time (and YOU’RE WRONG!).  Don’t argue, don’t doubt…just go find ’em and watch ’em. You’re welcome.

The Hoard (2009) – This little French zombie ditty (yes, it’s subtitled, get over it) is a really well done tale of the undead apocalypse from the eyes a small group.  Yeah, nothing original there.  But this group happens to be made up of two warring criminal families who happened to be in the middle of a bloody fucking shoot-out in a run down housing complex when the dead suddenly start to rise.  That’ll give ya’ perspective.  Surprisingly great acting and dialogue, gory as fuck, and an interesting study on loyalty and vengeance in the worst of circumstances.  And don’t worry, the french chick shaves her pits so it’s cool…

Scarier than zombies?

Scarier than zombies? Or just less hygenic?

Stake Land (2010) – Another tale of apocalypse survival (vampires this time) that actual takes it’s time to develop the characters it kills and gives you plenty of time to suck in the rotting, depressing environment in which it’s staged.  The frigid landscape is as much a character as the actors.  No one is safe and it really surprises with some gutsy (no pun) character kill-offs.  And any movie that has vampires being dropped from helicopters as undead viral bombs is worth the viewing.  Nothing happy here. You can probably find it on cable once in a while…it was in like five theaters for five minutes and made zilch.

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) – You probably remember the trailers for this on TV a little while back…but you didn’t go see it.  It only hauled in like 37 million, which actually is great considering its budget of 1 million, so technically it didn’t bomb. But do you know anyone who saw it?  Nothing ground breaking here, but still a solid, taut, suspense thriller shot on location, again, using the sparse and depressing landscape and architecture as a character.  Expect misery, pain, no happy endings, and lots of disfigured fucking mutants.  And a big russian bear (sadly, it does not ride a unicycle).

Which if unfortunate, because what's more terrifying than this?

Which is unfortunate, because what’s more terrifying than this?  I just shit myself.

Black Death (2010) – The Brits do the Dark Ages justice.  A tiny band of knights are charged to find out why some remote village has yet to be struck by the black plague.  Lucky?  Immunity? A cure? Witchcraft?   This movie is less about answers and climactic resolutions, but rather about the fear and weakness of man, and the tragedy of vengeance.  And there’s a fuck-ton of gory violence.  Four-way horse pull, anyone?  Who wants the torso?

The Tall Man (2012) – A box office dark hole but mostly because it was marketed terribly.  While it appears to be a horror movie (a slasher), it’s not…or rather it’s not the horror you expect.  It starts out as a decent, mysterious boogie man movie…then flips 180º and turns into a very dark social commentary.

 

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Most horror movies suck donkey balls.  Most movies suck donkey balls, but horror movies tend to suck the donkey balls even harder…really draining every last drop of donkey juice they can muster.  A true shame, because the horror genre is unquestionably my favorite…and many other’s favorite-hence the ridiculous flooding of the movie market with shitty, shitty horror flicks.

Still, there’s always a few gems that shine through this stew of steaming bile.  Some make it big and pull in the big blockbuster bucks, earn the praise of esteemed critics and discriminating fans alike and take their place among the legends.  But not every gem is found, not by enough people anyway.  There are always a few shiny bits that people just pass over for some fucking reason, maybe the stench of the surrounding stew of slime overcomes them, and they are cursed to sit on back shelves of Blockbuster or deep in the digital bowels of Netflix.  Also, most people are fucking retarded.

Relax and fear not…as before, I am here to shine a light on these missed opportunities and resurrect them back into the horror stream.  I know, I know….you’re welcome.  Shut up.  Now pull up a chair and get out a pen…I’m about to make your pathetic weekend festivities a lot more interesting:

Absentia (2011) – Super low-budget indie that made the absolute most of what they could afford.  A clever spin on The 3 Billie Goats Gruff (sort of) that dispenses with bow-tied, happy endings.

The Innkeepers (2011) – Ti West strikes again.  This movies actually did pretty good in the theaters and generally got good reviews, not a bomb by any stretch and actually tripled its budget.  Yet, I’m baffled when I can never find a single person who has seen this.  It made $70million…but no one fucking saw it.  Another mystery within itself.  The Innkeepers is another masterful super-slow burn of mounting suspense, paranoia, and doubt.  Nice, bloody payoff and some really great performances (including a brief cameo by the annoying Lea Dunham). If you need your horror fast-paced, spoon-fed, and traditionally told….look elsewhere, you mental midget.

Ravenous (1999) – I’m still surprised by how few people ever saw this flick. A brutal bomb at the box office too.  But a truly gross and grossly involving story of desperation, lust, and the lowest depths of the human soul.  Depravity can be really entertaining.  Great cast with some big names.  Great for dinner parties.

Dog Soldiers (2002) – A little Irish werewolf flick that got no love in the US, but it was really well done.  Not many werewolf movies can claim to be coherent and somewhat believable, and still maintain an action atmosphere.  The special effects were pretty decent as well….thankfully no shit-barrel CGI.

The Ruins (2008) – This movie got no love in the theaters and I have no idea why.  Based on the book, this one will give you pause the next time you go to weed your garden.  Very well set up scenario that forces you to feel the helplessness and hopelessness of the characters as death literally grows around them in a foreign land they know nothing about.  See, this is why I don’t travel much.

Pulse (2006) – Quickly panned and ignored in theaters, this movies was immediately categorized as teen-horror fodder with a dash of “wannabe Asian”.  Not fair, not fair.  Yes, the cast is gorgeous and sexy and its flat, dystopian atmosphere does smell a bit Asian…but this movie stands on its own and bucks the trend of “pretty girls gets a bloody nose, overcomes fear, and saves everyone”.  No, there is no saving anyone in this flick.  It’s more “find a dark corner and hide till you die.”

You’re welcome.

I do love me some drama.  As you may have guess from previous posts, I attract it in my life like a magnet…or maybe I’m attracted to it.  But I also love watching me some drama, particularly on the big screen.  I’m not talking of the “English Patient” variety (I guess that shit has its place)…I’m talking the true epitome of drama and high emotion: Horror. To me, a single mom battling against the odds to raise her children while she tries to keep her job at…*yawn*….yeah, never mind.  Shit doesn’t hold a  candle to a single mom fending off mutant serial killers attacking her home with nothing but a steak knife and a tight-fitting tank-top.  Get my adrenaline going, don’t try to make me cry by killing a child with cancer while the family looks on and grows together because of…*YAWN*..fuck me…ANYWAY…so if you are of like mind as myself (good choice, wise choice), how do you find the top shelf in movie-land horror?  The Oscars? No, you fucking idiot. You can’t look to the Academy for help on that one.  Not anymore, anyway.
In the early days, horror got plenty of Academy love all they way up to Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and even Jaws.  Then, horror was suddenly relegated to “Achievement in Special Effects” and shit like that.  Except for Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense, the Academy mostly treats horror like fireworks: “OHH…isn’t that…visual.  How visual.” They generally ignore the horror genre almost as much as the comedy genre-which they routinely shit on and despise like the unwanted fifth child in a trailer-park family (YOU’LL SLEEP IN THE CLOSET AND LIKE IT!).  They’re far too busy circle-jerking to art house films or “powerful” biopics.  To them, that’s the sexy stuff.  In fact, that really is what the Academy Awards are: It’s an institution set up by Hollywood, staffed by Hollywood, to give awards to people in Hollywood…it’s a giant, televised orgy that we are only allowed to watch.   Like a couple who tape themselves having sex and wank-off to it…Hollywood just does it on the grandest of scales.  And we all know what gets them going the best:

“Ohh…it’s foreign!” (faster…harder..), “Oh…and it’s in black and white!” (I’m almost there…keep going..), “My God!  It’s a silent film…in 2012!” (MONEY SHOT!!), “THE ARTIST SWEEPS THE OSCARS!” (phew…will you get me a cigarette and a towel, baby?).

So, again, where do you go to get the goods in horror?  I mean, there’s no shortage of them in the theaters, and a few of those big productions are pretty decent.  But while the horror genre is a plentiful sea, the fucking system is set up so that only a handful ever get through the net to a theatre near you, and they are rarely hand-picked on quality…it’s more about marketability to the target demographic.   If you don’t have hot teen models running from something scary, you probably ain’t getting through that net..and it’s off to the DVD basement for you.  Others may make it through the net and hit a theatre, but get marketed like shit and disappear before you even knew they existed.
But that’s okay, because you have me. You’re welcome. Now let Uncle Rick take your hand.

Here’s a list, in chronological order, of ten horror flicks you probably have never heard of, and sure-as-fuck never saw, but damn well better see:

Last House on the Left (1972) : That’s right, 1972. NOT the fucking remake.  I did not see the remake but I can tell you it’s inferior by default because it’s lacking one of the key qualities of this original 16mm shocker….it doesn’t look like shit.  I mean, terrible film grade, grainy, seedy.  It feels like your watching a recently found snuff film.  And that’s why it’s so goddamn great.  The story is shocking and there is plenty of gore, but this movie shakes you to the core for what it doesn’t show you just as much as what it does.  Some scenes that it pans away from force you to imagine the rest in your mind…taking you to those nasty places you did NOT want to go.  Also, read up on the release history of this movie…total “fuck the man” bad-ass-ness.

The Brood (1979) : If you’re even a moderate horror fan, you’ve probably heard of this Cronenburg flick.  You might even have hazy memories of it.  Watch it.  Very dated but just beyond fucking creepy.  And the schlocky, gross-out ending is just epic.

The Funhouse (1981) : I’m sure you know The Texas Chainsaw Massacare…but very few know of this other Tobe Hooper entry into the teen-slasher genre.  Again, very dated, but very seedy and more disturbing than you would expect and a ridiculous amount of saliva for some reason.  And a fantastic, highly mean-spirited ending which always makes me smile.

Wolfcreek (2005) : This should ring a bell, it actually hit theaters for a few weeks and made a little money and got some controversy going.  But still too few have watched this Australian blood bath.  Don’t want to give too much away…but SOOO worth it for the infamous “Head on a Stick” scene. I tried to get my wife to go as that for Halloween.  No dice.

The Acolytes (2008) : Another Australian entry.  They are fucked up down under.  This is a truly brilliant look at the serial killer genre.  What do three teens do when they figure out a local loner is a serial killer?  The wrong thing. The VERY wrong thing.  Fucking idiots.  Some kick-ass, early acting work from Joel Edgerton too.  That guy is boss.

The Burrowers (2008) : A horror set in the 1800’s wild west.  Yeah.  Think “Screamers” with cowboys and indians.  Solid, brutal, and no happy endings.

Splinter (2008) : This was in theaters for like a microsecond and then off to the DVD racks it went.  Shit, now it’s on SyFy Channel.  You probably flipped past it on a saturday afternoon and thought “ehh…SyFy Channel?…fuck this.” Watch it.  Brilliant monster movie on a shoe string budget, but the special effects are still top-notch and gross.

Carriers (US version) (2009) : Another one that made a brief entry to theaters and had some marketing..but bombed terribly and was pulled.  Not sure why.  Oh, probably ’cause it was waaaaay darker than the target demo was expecting.  Extremely nihilistic and sad.  No cute, stupid romances or last second saves.  Slow but engrossing.  Vile and depressing.  Shit, isn’t that the recipe for an Oscar?

House of the Devil (2009) : A homage to very early 80’s teen splatter films..centering on that late 70’s/early 80’s satanic cult scare.  Beautifully shot and edited.  I’d fucking swear it WAS shot in the 80’s and I was on my dad’s couch sneaking in another saturday afternoon gore-fest before I went out to ride my Big-Wheel. I was waiting for a cameo from Kolchak.  A VERY slow burn…but the tension builds nicely and pays off pretty well.  Now this movie is NOT about the ending, it’s about the ride, so recognize.

REC 2 (2009) : From Spain.  They are weird people. The kick-ass first one made enough of a splash to get remade in the US under the title “Quarantine” (which was also pretty decent). Continuing immediately where the first one ended, the sequel takes the “viral zombie epidemic” model of the first movie and turns it on its fucking head.  Clever and bloody.

There, I’ve done all I can for now.  Go forth and disturb the shit out of yourself.