Tuesday, January 18

That's Gotta hurt (it did) and a new ratings system!

Last Monday afternoon I took a bit of a spill on a snowy bank. It was a really hard fall, and happened in a split second. Afterwards everything seemed okay besides some tenderness in my side. Things continued this way for a day or so, and I even went to work Tuesday - however, later that evening things changed for the worse, and to make a long story short I wound up in the ER where x-rays revealed I have a cracked rib. I have plenty of sick leave built up at work, so I was able to take the rest of the week off.

Therefore I found myself propped up on the couch trying to stay comfortable with a lot of time on my hands. Fortunately, there was Netflix to the rescue!!

The following is a list of movies I watched while recuperating... I decided to institute a rating system on reviews for now on, and thought this a good starting place for this system. This system actually dates back to my very first season of horror hosting, 1999. Back then I used a four skull rating system that I later expanded to a five skulls, one being the lowest and five the highest. I actually had little plastic skulls on bases that I would set on the table as I gave the rating. Well, I decided to bring back the skulls, but add a bit of Mad Science flair to them as well. So here is my Mad Science Meter for Movie Reviews...

(NO SKULLS) Abomination

Freak of Nature - (Avoid)


        Medical Mishap (Decent)


       Successful Transplant (Recommended)


        It's Alive (Highly Recommended)


        Monsterpiece (True Classic)



Now very few movies will receive the Monsterpiece rating. They must be one of those rare pieces of cinema history that every viewer must see to call themselves a horror fan. Even fewer will receive the abomination rating. There are VERY FEW movies I deem bad enough to be an unholy abomination - they must have no redeeming qualities to get that rating, and I generally find something to like in almost anything.

So, without further adieu - here are the movies I watched last week...


SESSION 9 - Medical Mishap
                                    
An asbestos removal company begins working in an abandoned insane asylum. It's a major rush job as they promised to get a 3-week project done in only a week. During the course of the job one of the crew members disappears. Another stumbles upon a box of audio tapes of a patient's therapy sessions and begins listening to them. Each session is on its own reel-to-reel tape (not sure how this guy finds the time to goof off listening to these tapes without his boss cracking down on him, but hey, guess he's just good at loafing). These tapes are of a patient with multiple personality disorder, the worst of which is called Simon, buried deep within, a murderous personality which isn't revealed until - wait for it - Session 9! The crew members begin fighting amongst themselves, and in the end Simon makes his presence known again.

The best thing going for this movie is the location they shot it in. I'm pretty sure they shot in a real abandoned asylum. It is a truly creepy place that made for some spooky scenery. Props to the cinematographer and lighting crews, as they made the most of this building. Otherwise there's very little to recommend in this pseudo-horror movie. After watching it I can honestly say I hate this movie. Awkward story structure, cliche' storyline, irritating musical sting repeated throughout, and an overall dumb premise. Avoid this movie.



THE HORSEMAN - Successful Transplant
                                                     

This is the story of a father whose daughter is found dead, victim of a drug overdose. Weeks later the grieving father receives an anonymous package in the mail. Inside is a pornographic videotape showing his daughter, heavily drugged, being sexually assaulted by a group of men. He goes on a rampage, his own personal vendetta to kill everyone involved with her death and this video tape. Along the way he befriends a runaway girl who is slightly younger than his own daughter. In the process of helping he he rediscovers his own humanity he almost lost along the path of mindless vengeance and death. The title is a biblical reference to Revelations and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Interesting revenge story - drama, not horror. Very violent, but not bad.







SUCK - It's Alive!

This movie rocks! It follows a struggling Canadian punk rock band called The Winners on tour in a series of grungy dive bars. They're having little success until their bass player meets up with a vampire named Queeny after a show one evening. Rather than spend the night sleeping in a crowded hearse with the rest of the band she goes home with this mystery man. When she returns the following day there is something just a little bit different about her. She has become irresistible, and the crowds suddenly begin to react enthusiastically to their stage shows. Their popularity grows by leaps and bounds with each show, and one by one the band members each become vampires.

Malcolm McDowell plays vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (which of course conjures images of Eddie Van Halen, at least in my mind, anyway) on the trail of these bloodsucking rock n' rollers, who have left a trail of bodies along the way. This film is a horror-comedy with an awesome cast and a true rock-n-roll vibe. Alice Cooper, Malcolm McDowell, Dave Foley, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Alex Lifeson, Moby and others make an appearance in this one. Stylish visuals, good music, fun film - Highly Recommended.



Runaway - Successful Transplant
                           

Gene Simmons (of KISS fame) and Tom Selleck star in this 1984 sci-fi flick. I remember seeing this one in the theater, and wanted to watch it again and see if it's as good as I remembered. Set in the near future where robots are household items, Selleck is a cop on the Runaway Squad, a special division of the police set up to deal with out of control bots. Simmons plays a technological terrorist who has created a number of killer robots and terror devices. Although the robots are a bit dated, the movie is still pretty good. Simmons does a good job as the villain. Recommended.










Night of the Demons (remake) - Successful Transplant
                                                                              
Remake of the 80s classic. In this version the action takes place in a dilapidated Gothic mansion. It's Halloween night, and a huge party is being thrown here. Unfortunately, this house also just so happens to be the spot of a murder/suicide/seance/demon worship from decades earlier. Never a good sign. GREAT soundtrack in this movie with the likes of Wednesday 13, The Ghastly Ones, Psychocharger and more. Great special effects and a good cast make up for a slightly cheesy and predictable storyline. Also has a quick cameo by Linnea Quigley, who of course starred in the original version. Overall recommended as it is entertaining. I HAVE to get this soundtrack - it is an awesome collection of first-class

Halloween punk rock! Movie recommended, soundtrack's a Must Have!






A Dirty Shame (John Waters film) - Medical Mishap
                                                                                          
An uptight, sexually repressed town awakens to all forms of sexual awareness and depravity thanks to an epidemic of concussions and a sexual healer named Ray Ray, played by Johnny Knoxville. This movie is entertaining, goofy, and offensive, pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a Waters film. However, I have a feeling this movie was severely edited for Netflix, as it was pretty mild by Waters standards, Hairspray not withstanding. Certainly the language was edited, but I suspect some footage was removed as well. A decent film, entertaining but recommended only for John Waters fans.











The Mormon Proposition - It's Alive!
                                                                  
Interesting and well-researched documentary about the Mormon Church's underhanded funding of anti-gay legislation, specifically the recently passed Proposition 8 that repealed same sex marriage in California. Also sheds light on the church's overt opposition to homosexuality (while incredibly still embracing Polygamy), as well as their own fiscal misrepresentation and strong arm tactics raising funds for these hate campaigns. Eye opening documentary - kudos to Netflix for including this one.











Plague of the Zombies - It's Alive!
                                                           

I have been meaning to rewatch this one for a while now, and was glad to finally have the opportunity. This is a Hammer Studios film starring Andre Morell, who was Watson to Peter Cushing's Holmes in previous films. In this movie Mor\gfvbell plays a doctor called to a neighboring town to investigate a series of strange occurrences and unexplained deaths. Its a bit slow paced but well acted with creepy elements. The titular zombies in this movie are created through voodoo rather than a plague like modern zombie movies. This is a terrific, lesser known Hammer film with zombies, voodoo rituals, grave robbing and that glorious bright, bright red Hammer blood. Highly Recommended!



Troll - Freak of Nature
           

I've actually seen Troll 2, the infamous "worst" movie, but had never seen the original Troll. My son found a copy at Goodwill, so we popped it in the VCR late one evening. Now I had a pretty good idea what I was in for with Troll, but it incredibly managed to exceed my expectations (which in this case ain't a good thing). Made in 1983, it tells the story of a family that moves into an apartment building full of quirky tenants. It also turns out this apartment building has a dark secret - it is the home of an ancient troll. This troll (which stands a menacing three feet high) possesses the body of the family's daughter, then begins attacking the apartment residents one by one, turning them into Trolls themselves. There is also a 2,000 year old witch (who looks not a day over 60) living upstairs in this building. The family's son, Harry Potter, works together with this witch to defeat the troll and return things back to normal. At one point young Harry asks the with if she can teach him magic. Hmm - a young boy named Harry Potter learning to be a sorcerer? Wonder if this had any influence on those Potter books? Interesting.

Why anyone thought this movie was a good idea to make is beyond me. It makes little sense, has laughable special effects and makeup (even if I'd seen this in 1983 I'd have busted out laughing at the makeup job on the troll, guaranteed), terrible music and worst of all, Sony Bono - absolutely nothing of value to offer. Recommended for fans of bad movies only - otherwise avoid this stinker.



FROZEN - Successful Transplant
                            

FROZEN is the story of three friends who go on a skiing trip together. They convince the ski lift operator to let them take the lift up the hill for one last run, despite the fact a storm is headed their way and the lift is officially closed. Due to a series of mistakes they are forgotten about and the lift is shut down midway on their trip to the top of the mountain. They are stuck, sitting alone in the dark, forty feet in the air with no one around for miles. Worse yet, it is Sunday evening and the resort will be closed for the week. This is a psychological drama rather than a horror movie. Despite the fact the characters are young and obnoxious the story is well done and the acting very good. Interesting story, left me wondering what I'd do in a similar circumstance.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you're recovering from that nasty fall! Session 9 would get a 4 skull rating from me - I have a soft spot in my heart for David Caruso...

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  2. Hey thanks! It's healing slowly - at least I can get around now. Yeah, I probably should give Session 9 a second chance. I had a laptop and wrote my impressions as they were fresh in my mind - Session 9 was also one of the first ones I watched, truth to tell, and I was taking Pyridium and Valium at the time ... :)

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  3. I had the kind of the same reaction to SESSION 9 -- high hopes because I'd heard lots of folks raving about it on the horror blogs, but man, I didn't like it at *all* and neither did my horror-loving lady friend. Despite the awesome setting, there was no atmosphere whatsoever. The only scene that stuck out was the younger guy trying to outrun the lights going out so he wouldn't be left in total darkness. FROZEN needs to be added to my queue, though...

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