Sunday, October 30, 2011
I know what you're thinking. You're going to say, "Stabford always says the movie contains few of whatever the title of the movie promises.". Well, that's usually true. Not in this case, however. The Screaming Skull actually has several screaming skulls in it. It sucks, but they're there. Here's a trailer:
Friday, October 28, 2011
There really isn't much to be said. The Haunting is arguably the best haunted house story ever filmed. The almost imperceptible turning of a door knob, whispers and laughter in the night...in the dark...there are many chilling moments in this great film. Watch it this weekend. Here's a trailer:
Sorry, it's not available for instant streaming through Netflix.
It's been dark, rainy and gloomy. Perfect pre-Halloween weather. The trees are very beautiful, many are still red and yellow. I've been very busy eating fistfuls of fun-sized candy bars and being awesome, so this review will be brief. I watched The Ghost And Mr. Chicken. It's silly and awkward, has nothing offensive in it, and could be shown to children wanting a scare but won't leave them screeching in terror in the night. Here's a Don Knotts and haunted pipe organ filled clip:
I watched it on DVD, but it's available on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Monday, October 24, 2011
It's difficult to tell, but I think the film Meatball Machine is about moist trilobites who journey from space to Japan where they possess people, turn the victims into low-budget Gigeresque androids, and make them kill and eat one another; and what makes it hard to tell is probably all of the tentacles. Hearts are eaten, heads are sawed in half, arteries spray, strange organs that are probably hand-puppets laugh, wiggle and glisten, gore covers everything, eyeballs are drilled, and viscous gels ooze. Very little sense is made. Although it's only about 90 minutes in length, it seems like it will never end. The overall effect is like watching a very sticky month long music video sans the music that stars the mutant offspring of GWAR and the Power Rangers that was directed by a very gooey David Cronenberg. Avoid, unless you're a fan of all the tentacles. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Consider yourself lucky that there doesn't seem to be a trailer.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Arguably Kevin Smith's best film from a technical standpoint, Red State is hard to categorize. Not exactly a horror film, not exactly a cop movie, not exactly a Kevin Smith film. I wouldn't exactly call it enjoyable, either, although it's well shot, acted, written and directed. Those looking for a horror film will be disappointed. Those looking for a typical Kevin Smith movie will be disappointed. Someone looking for a thought-provoking blend of all of those things and hoping to see a director experiment may find it to be a satisfying experience, but one you may not want to do twice.
I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Bella meets Edward, and she discovers he's a vampire. Wait a second, that doesn't seem right at all. That seems like the completely cape-less, castle-less, cobweb-less, and crypt-less plot to Twilight, and not the plot to the classic Dracula from 1931. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. I realize I'm a grumpy old guy and not the target audience for Twilight, but for fun let's contrast and compare Dracula and Twilight just to show today's young people what they're missing. There's this:
...where the cast looks like they ate funnel cakes, rode the Tilt-A-Whirl, and need a Dramamine. For crying out loud, would you just look at them? What's up with that backdrop? Are they at the Sears Portrait Studio? So scary! I hope they got enough wallet-sized pictures for everyone. They look depressed, or maybe they just got news that the carpool mom is running late and it's raining, but I wouldn't say they look threatening. I can tell someone is having something that looks vaguely like an emotion, but it could just mean that one of them lost a flip-flop. If I were forced at gunpoint to shop at Abercrombie and Fitch they probably wouldn't be the salespeople I would go to, but they're not especially terrifying. Did they get that black v-neck tee at Abercrombie, or did they get it from H&M? That horrific odor they pump into Abercrombie is garlic to anyone over the age of 22, so I wouldn't really know. The jacket is definitely from H&M, and it strikes terror in my heart and makes my blood run cold, but only because it looks itchy.
And then there's this:
He's smiling. You know that smile. It's the smile of the truly insane and diabolical, or maybe a television news anchor. I'm not sure which, but neither one is good. He's not happy about killing you...he's happy about the ghastly things he'll do with your corpse and he's going to take his time. Plus, he's wearing a cape, carrying a candle, and he's standing in a crumbling castle that is clearly the home of 7,000,000 spiders. He's also pointing to what could only be the Murder Room, or in other words, anywhere where you're alone with him in the dark.
So what's scarier? The scarier thing is that look on Kristen Stewart's face. Let's look at it again:
Really? What is that? Is it fear? Seasickness? Confusion? Did she get an F in Algebra? Is she trying to figure out why Wardrobe rolled up the sleeves on that H&M jacket? Has she spotted a distant cupcake and she can't tell what flavor it is? It's probably carrot cake.
It's always carrot cake.
Let's review. In order for everyone to know you're a vampire you need to wear an outlandish royal get-up with medals and a cape. Having a Transylvanian accent helps, too. Here's a clip that settles the matter once and for all:
Seems like a no-brainer to me. I watched the slow-moving and melodramatic but still pretty awesome 1931 Dracula on DVD, but it's available on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
One or two of those guys from the television westerns of the 50s are unconvincingly terrorized by picnic pests in this gigantic creature thriller. I watched it with some children who started shrieking to turn it off at the 15 minute mark, so I'm assuming it was effective. There's a lot more antennae and mandibles for my liking, but it was entertaining. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. Here's a trailer:
Paleontologists I guess with daringly unbuttoned shirts and a variety of hats and pith helmets are hunted by a 6 foot fish in this Universal Monsters film. Dragged down by an unconvincing love triangle, there's some very good underwater cinematography, an excellent brassy theme song, and one of the best rubber monsters. Sure, you can see the strings on occasion, but it still entertains. Here's a trailer:
I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming.
Vincent Price plays Vincent Price in this film where a guy throws a murder party in a haunted house where the survivors get a big stack of money the next morning and is then surprised when the bodies start piling up. There's a bad script, dodgy acting, awful actresses who were clearly hired for their screaming ability, and you can see all the strings. However, there's Vincent Price, some kinky subtext, a vat of acid, little coffins containing guns, a head in a box, skeleton marionettes, and in one particularly effective scene, a witch on wheels. Entertainingly crappy in that way that only William Castle can pull off. Here's a trailer:
I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. I've seen it multiple times, and I get something new out of each viewing.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
There has been some rather exciting happenings occurring around Deathrage Towers. From what I gather from the internal corporate memos I didn't bother reading thoroughly, there is a large crowd carrying signs demonstrating in the streets below. I can't read what the signs say from my rooftop helipad, but I was told by my administrative assistant that the legal department said they read "Occupy Deathrage". As I do not follow current events, I'm not certain what that exactly means. I live here, therefore I occupy my own building. Whatever. In lieu of health insurance, I ordered the minions, I'm sorry, unpaid interns in the marketing department on the 30th floor to dump cauldrons filled with boiling oil on them. I develop a rash whenever bongos are played nearby. I know what you're thinking...that my behavior seems unkind and selfish. I only want the best for everyone, so I used extra virgin olive oil and the most expensive cauldrons I could acquire, and by everyone I really mean me.
Meanwhile, I watched the film Calamity Of Snakes. I have very little idea what the plot of this film was, but I'm assuming it's about a guy who builds a skyscraper that's haunted by snakes. Warning: If you are squeamish about snakes, this movie features snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. In fact, there isn't a cell of film that doesn't have at least one snake in it. Even the extremely awkward and unnecessary love scene has some snakes in it. You will see a guy in a huge box full of snakes, people hitting snakes with shovels, construction equipment crushing snakes, several mongoose (mongeese?) eating snakes, cardboard boxes getting knocked over, snakes being thrown, snake swallowing, a little bit of kung-fu, throbbing snake hearts, snake bladder squeezing, snakes being set on fire, mid-air snake chopping with a sword, disco dancing, and literally thousands of actual and rubber snakes being killed. If there are any animal activists reading this review and wondering if the snakes were really killed of if the film-makers employed snake stunt doubles, well, the answer is all the snakes died a gruesome death and were probably eaten. I watched this distressing and awful film at bmovies. com, and everyone should avoid it. Here's a link if you can't stop yourself:
And here's a trailer if you think I just make this stuff up:
Monday, October 17, 2011
Even after 80 years, the original Universal Monster film still has the ability to horrify. The creature's undead pallor, a corpse being cut down from the gallows, a drowned child being carried through a town preparing for a wedding; these images can still shock.
Awesome. I watched it on the Universal Monsters DVD set, and you should, too.
William Castle's gimmicky 13 Ghosts isn't as bad as some of the dreck I've watched, so I'm giving it a passing grade. Sure, you can see the strings, and the acting leaves a little to be desired, and the plot's a little shaky, but it's still fairly entertaining. There's a ghostly decapitation, a seance, a Ouija board, and The Wizard Of Oz's Wicked Witch Of The West. Sorry, no flying monkeys.
I watched the episodes Treehouse Of Horror V and VI. It contains the bits "The Shinning":
and "Time and Punishment", where Homer tries to fix a toaster and alters time, and "Nightmare Cafeteria":
There's also "Attack Of The 50 Foot Eyesores", "Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace", and the less-successful "Homer 3". Pretty much solid classics. The dvd also contains episodes VII and XII, but I didn't get around to those. You should watch them.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Here it is October 16th, and I've gotten very little Halloween done. The month is now half over. In two weeks I have only eaten 4 boxes of Halloween Pop-Tarts, 4 packages of Halloween Oroeos, 1 box of Kreepy Kakes, 1 bag of candy corn, and my bag of autumn M&Ms remain unopened. My Halloween Funfetti cake mix has not been baked. Trick or treat candy has not been purchased. Deathrage Tower has been partially decorated for this wonderful holiday, and I've only turned on my candy corn lights once. I zombie walked. I've only visited one graveyard, and I've only visited a handful of haunted houses. Not the cheezy attraction where a teenager covered in vampire blood chases you with a chainsaw after you buy a $15 ticket, but an actual supposedly haunted house. Halloween is serious (and delicious) business, you only get 31 days to do it, and I have a lot of work still to do.
My October monster movie viewing has really suffered. Out of my beloved Universal Monsters dvd box set, I've only watched The Wolf Man, and I Netflix'd that. So on this dark, rainy, windy and gloomy day, I decided it was best to watch The Invisible Man. I was right. Unmistakeably directed by the great James Whale, it's one of the best of the Universal Monsters films. Claude Rains howls, raves and cackles like a lunatic. Here's a clip:
It's available on Netflix Instant streaming. It's great.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
A vampire pines for the love of his life, but he must watch her be killed by a peg-legged pirate every 20 years in this musical featuring the talents of Toni Basil, Thomas Dolby and Bo Diddley. Amidst hideous music videos and abundant '80s cliches you'll see mullets, schtick, and bad lip syncing. Do we have a clip? I sure hope so:
"Oh Rockula, you're so bad, you're so bad you blow my mind. Hey, Rockula!". Here's another:
Whoa. The secret to a great rock-n-roll performance is to keep spinning so no one can see you can't play your instruments, I guess. Yikes. I watched it on Netflix, and unless you like overly-produced derivatively mundane 'rock' music, synthesizers, Linn drum, and wooden acting I would avoid it.
UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, this film was actually made in 1990. Really? And they chose to go with Thomas Dolby and Toni Basil? That's odd. They were a big draw in 1990. While it does have some Richard Marx-y, Roxette-y or Salt-n-Pepa-y moments, this movie seems at least 3-5 years out of step with the world.
Oops. According to Wikipedia, all those things happened in the '80s.
I'm not in the market for another television series. With the gradual realization that Ghost Hunters has been the exact same show for the past 6 or 7 seasons, I have abandoned television. Look, don't judge me. I know GH is an awful show. If you haven't noticed, watching supposedly scary stuff that sucks is kind of what I do. And don't start flaming me about the non-existence of ghosts or how reality TV sucks. I'm quite aware of all of those things. But what's not to like about the premise? It's about hunting ghosts in haunted locations. It should be creepy, and scary, and quite often it was not and like an idiot I tuned in anyway. Here's a clip:
Crap. Wasn't that just awful? Look at the art direction. That's an actual black tablecloth. They spared no expense. Being blatant self-promoters I'm actually surprised they didn't have a banner saying "Tune In To Ghost Hunters On Wednesday On SYFY". Clearly a missed opportunity. So, it was a guilty pleasure, and one of the last shows where I tuned in regularly. That's over now, and has been for a while. Sadly, that also means I have forsaken Family Guy, The Simpsons, Archer, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I still try to catch the occasional episode, but I'm not going to tune in just because that's when someone at some television station says I have to. Television is not the boss of me. I'll watch what I want when I want. I'm much too busy being awesome. If I miss an episode or 10, so be it.
I Hulu'd American Horror Story. Word on the street has generally been favorable, and many folks have called it 'disturbing'. It was fine. Maybe I'm just too jaded. I think they're trying too hard to titillate and not trying hard enough to scare ending up with an overall feeling of meh. Here's a link to the 'viral' website where you can explore the haunted house:
The show has all the ingredients needed for a good "old dark house" story; a creepy house, ghosts, and murder, but I probably won't tune in for additional episodes. Here is a clip of the opening credits:
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Plot: After some awkward humping, corny squares take a tour to an island in the middle of the night because that seems like the right thing to do, they watch a voodoo ceremony, then they're unconvincingly killed. I'm not sure why. Some plot mysteriously appears when the film is nearly over and it makes very little sense, but it doesn't really matter because anyone wanting to watch this movie is clearly wanting to see screaming bikini girls or ravenous zombie action. Viewers looking forward to screaming bikini girls or ravenous zombie action should look elsewhere, as there are very few bikini girls of any variety and almost no zombies to be found in this film. There's a naked girl in a shower for a minute, a guy dressed as a potted plant and the talk of cannibalism; but the shower girl scene disappoints, the potted plant guy disappears pretty quickly and the cannibalism never materializes. Avoid at all cost. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. I would include a trailer, but all I could find were redbands so I'm skipping it.
Slapstick and monsters abound in this funny entry in the comic duo's filmography. I've always liked it, and I'm not going to say anything bad about it. It has Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman, and it's a pretty good choice for kids who want to watch something 'scary' for Halloween but you don't want them shrieking in the night after bedtime. So there you go. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. Here's a trailer:
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Southern relatives drink brandy and bicker over the family fortune while the body count rises from axe wounds in this sudsy (and gory) thriller. Features severed limbs, bloody nightgowns, wooden acting, suspect drawls, camera shadows, stagey dialogue, scenery chewing, a convoluted plot-line, several WTF moments, and Agnes Moorehead. After a promising opening sequence, the real action doesn't get started until the 40 minute mark. Recommended if you like stuff that sucks or watching Agnes Moorehead crawling in the grass. I watched a scratchy Grindhouse-style print at bmovies.com and it made me nostalgic for the drive-in for some reason.
Here's a link:
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Having a thing that won't stop screaming locked upstairs in the attic of your creepy house is a pretty promising way to start your movie. Then suddenly and with very little warning, yuppie college students appear; and everything gets all tweed jackety, and top-sidery, and ankle-length skirty, and blown-out permy, and acid-washed jeansy, and several people wear a sweater cavalierly draped over their shoulders like a necklace which is a sure sign you're a gigantic douche and completely deserve to be slaughtered by a monster. If you're unsure what I mean, it looks something like this:
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Joan Collins wears gauchos, rides a tram, uses a loudspeaker, and serves canapes to suckers wearing leisure suits in the hope that they buy beachfront property that's also conveniently located next to a mangrove swamp infested with gigantic radioactive ants whose heads looks suspiciously like overlarge coconuts. Special effects consist of 'ant-vision' and split-screen. Sets consist of a mangal, various tents, and picnic tables. Art direction consists of chafing dishes, paper plates and those colorful flags one might see at a used car lot (BTW, I looked those up on Google and I found out they're called pennant strings. You learn something new every day.). Costumes consist of leisure suits. So many leisure suits. Here's a clip. Warning! Not recommended for viewers afraid of swarming ants, polyester slacks, or bell-bottomed high-waisted jeans.
I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. Here's a trailer that's filled with ants and Joan Collins, both of whom seem to be screaming if you're into that sort of thing:
Serial Rabbit 3: Splitting Hares is terrible. Everyone involved in the making of the film knows it's terrible. They flaunt continuity errors, technical problems, and flubs. They gladly break the fourth wall. They crack wise, wink knowingly, and hope the viewer gets it. Well, I get it. A person stumbling out of a cave into the light of the modern world for the first time and having never seen a motion picture would watch 5 minutes of Serial Rabbit 3 and probably say, "Dude, that's really bad.". Just because you know you're making a bad film doesn't make it OK. I want to be entertained, and one of the worst offenses in making a bad film is making a boring one. The worst is including a musical number:
Yep. That was a thing that happened, and we can't do anything about it. But I'm certain that somewhere in the world there's a scientist working on a time machine who's hell bent on going to the exact time and place where that happened and making sure it never happened in the first place and he deserves a Nobel Prize. I watched this movie on Netflix. Here's a trailer:
Monday, October 3, 2011
I would not have named this film The Flying Serpent, as the film only contains about 10 minutes of actual flying serpent action. A more accurate title would have been, "The Black Sedan, Or Possibly A White One, That Drives People Around The Desert After They Look For Flying Serpent Feathers In The Bushes", but no one would want to see that. Did people in the 1930s pay good money to watch movies where people drive a lot, or where people in suits broadcast on the radio, or where people wearing high-waisted pants use a "Gold Finding Doodlebug" (no, I don't know what that is, either), or watch comic relief make feathered flying serpent related double-takes amongst matte paintings of ancient Aztec temples? I find that extremely unlikely. Here's a flying serpent filled clip where merely holding a flying serpent feather causes a flying serpent attack which results in a severed jugular and loss of all your blood, but you don't get to see the jugular severing because that would be cool:
Wow, wasn't that gripping? No, I didn't think so, either. I watched it on Youtube, and you can watch it below:
I'd give you a synopsis of the plot, but I have no idea what Maniac is about. Here's what you'll see featured in this film: crypts, dead bodies, coffins, mad scientists, hammy overacting, strange accents, scenery chewing, maniacal laughter, a heart in a jar, objects blocking the shot during dialogue, abrupt and random intertitles, an extremely unlikely makeup case, suspect psychology, and a cat named Satan (who needed a stunt double) who eats the heart in a jar who then has his eye eaten by the mad scientist's assistant who is now impersonating the mad scientist after killing said mad scientist. Got it? Nope, I don't either. This film is a lot like Stonehenge. It's right there where everyone can see it, but no one knows why it's there or what it's supposed to do. Here's a clip:
My sentiments exactly. Watching that gives me darts of fire in my brain. What's happening here? What am I looking at? No one knows. Here's another clip that just as mysterious and intriguing:
Is this happening in the cellar of Stonehenge? Possibly. Again, no one knows. Anyway, I watched this dreck on Youtube, and I shouldn't have.
Plot: A dude climbs a mystical mountain searching for a rare plant when he's attacked by a wolf. Sometime later, lycanthropy happens. The film features several very cool transformation scenes, jacob's ladders and wacky mad scientist equipment, anatomically correct plants, outlandish hats, jodhpurs, men in dressing gowns, homosexual subtext, cravats, freshly laid sod, old ladies punching each other, a few hookers, and a few actual wolves. I found it to be surprisingly entertaining, although probably not in the way the film-makers intended. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. Here's a trailer:
I love The Wolf Man, and I've seen it many times. However, I've only watched it for fun and never really with a critical eye. Why would I want to? I don't want to suddenly see problems in a classic iconic film that I love. I'll never be able to unsee them. Well, it's too late now. The Wolf Man has great sets, lots of fog and atmosphere, and crypts and coffins. Unfortunately, it also has some camera shadows, a moment of lens flare, plot inconsistencies, and two wooden performances in Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi. I still love it, though, because I'm a sucker for the Universal Monsters, and I give it a passing grade. I watched it on Netflix Instant Streaming. Here's a trailer: