Monday, July 12, 2010

Domo Arigato, Porno Chainsaw Roboto.

Noboru Iguchi, Asami, my enormous head, and Yoshihiro Nishimura

This was the third long weekend I've spent in the company of Tokyo-based directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi.

Nishimura, famous for his high-octane TOKYO GORE POLICE, is the type of guy who will quietly keep to himself, puffing on a cigarette and calmly discussing the cinematic benefits of a character's massive arterial spray. His face permanently framed within his trademark glasses, the man sips gingerly on a glass of shochu, editing his latest feature with the calm, steady-handed determination of a Renaissance artisan.

It almost doesn't matter that the scene in question features a zombie woman using her zombie baby (still attached to her via umbilical cord) as a projectile weapon. The man is clearly entertained.

The outlook of MACHINE GIRL and ROBO-GEISHA director Iguchi, on the other hand, hints at an upstart Peter Jackson; the type of genius filmmaker who can coat the screen with screaming, skinned bodies and still have you rolling with hysterical laughter as he works his demented magic. Toss in a prolific porn background and a very public infatuation with things entering or exiting butts, and it would be a fair assumption that Iguchi is, without a doubt, a truly one-of-a-kind action filmmaker.

After all, Robert Rodriguez's résumé never included BEAUTIFUL GIRL ON TOILET 2: SECRET EXCREMENT.

You never seen a girl with a machine gun butt before? Ya must not know Iguchi very well.

Their casts include everyone from model-turned-AUDITION star Ehi Shiina to burgeoning superstar Takumi Saito. Some, like adorable AV idol Asami and bartender Demo Tanaka, have been with them from the start - and as the directors' films have grown, so have their casts' onscreen talents.

Through sheer willpower (and a touch of Cronenberg-inspired body horror), Iguchi and Nishimura have shaped these everyday people into skilled character actors - now holding their own against some of Japan's finest.

Pole dancer-turned-actress Cai Izumi and Asami - with swords coming out of their asses.

But what makes Nihismura and Iguchi so special to me is that they're actually having fun. They're not making award-winning films about the history of their country or the struggles that they, as a people, have endured. They're making movies about girls with chainsaw legs and wristcutters who bleed fire.

But now, not only are sizable audiences now enjoying them - the big boys are finally paying attention. Nikkatsu, one of the oldest film studios in the world, recently created the Sushi Typhoon branch under the supervision of veteran producer Yoshinori Chiba, with the goal of financing even more low budget slapstick splatter. We're talking about the American equivalent of Universal Pictures giving Lloyd Kaufman $500K to make THE TOXIC AVENGER 5. It just doesn't happen - yet somehow, these men have found a way.

In a time when anyone with a camera can make a film, these movies - these wild, brilliant, and fun movies - are the future of cinema. Maybe not your cinema, but certainly mine. I've loved movies for as long as I can remember, and only a few times in my life have I actually stepped back from one and thought, "This is where I want film to go."

These are filmmakers who are bucking the industry, throwing caution to the wind, and finding a way to make the world embrace their perversions. Their passions, fetishes, and beautiful insanity are up there for the whole world to see - hopefully inspiring others to do the same.

My friends Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi are gore-drenched deviants, and have done what I can only dream of. They've proven to major studios that the social dementia they have to offer is just as valuable as the social norm.

Martial arts robots, cars made out of human limbs, and sword-sprouting breasts aren't going to win these men Oscars... but try as I might, I can't think of anything else I'd rather watch, support, or be a part of.

Viva La Revolución, Japan.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Six months later...

Why haven't I updated this blog in six months?

Easy. I've been busy as Hell on various projects and just haven't had the time.

Thank you so much for checking back in, and when things finally slow down, expect an update.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

DRACULA 2010 - My Favorite Direct-to-DVD Horror Films of the Last Decade

Yesterday's list didn't scare you off? Well then, up next, I've got my ten favorite direct-to-video/DVD horror, suspense, and splatter films of the last decade. Now I know some of these had very limited theatrical runs in the U.S., but for the sake of 99% of the populace who saw it first at home, they're getting listed here. Deal with it.

And whereas you probably heard of my theatrical favorites, I hope you'll find a few unheard-of ones on this list, take a little time off from your mainstream cinema, and seek them out.

10. (2004)
DRACULA 3000 - the only movie on the list that's so goddamn horrible, it supersedes being unwatchable and ends up amazing. Casper Van Dien, Coolio, and Erika Eleniak stop their spaceship on Planet Carpathia and pick up a coffin containing a man wearing a Dracula Halloween costume. Really. Watch it. Now... With booze.

9. (2006)
What starts as a fun, cinema verite look at what goes on "behind the mask" of a slasher movie villain turns into a genuinely creepy modern slasher with an amazing final act! Robert Englund delivers a very solid performance as Vernon's "Ahab", again proving he can actually act. Why there isn't a sequel already, I have no idea.

8. House of the Devil (2009)
The slowest burn in the history of slow burns, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL makes ROSEMARY'S BABY seem like doing crystal meth at Six Flags. Halfway through, you're shocked so violently that you'll levitate off the sofa, but the film then slams right back into quiet creepiness for another 45 minutes. If atmosphere and dread are your cup 'o tea, this film is an absolute must.

7. (2004)
HELLBENT is all about a group of young friends' night on the town, unaware that they're being stalked by a masked psychopath. Oh yeah, and everyone's gay. What makes it work however, is that it actually functions as a great slasher movie - and not just a gay movie. The guys are likable, the kills are brutal, and the film is just a ton of fun.

6. (2007)
Defying every genre expectations, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END somehow manages to be a far-superior direct-to-DVD sequel than the theatrical original. Why is it so great? Probably the gallons of gore, Henry Rollins, and the only time a reality show has ever worked as a plot device in a genre film.

5. (2009)
A graverobbing ghoul dishes on his life of crime in this wonderful throwback to Hammer horror, combining comedy and the supernatural with just a touch of raucous Irish thuggery. The script is amazingly tight, lively, and entertaining - and having heavy-hitters Dominic Monaghan and Ron Perlman in your cast certainly doesn't hurt, either. Fun and beautiful, ISTD is the kind of film I ultimately aspire to create.

4. (2006)
HATCHET is another film that embodies everything I love about movies: a group of Mardi Gras misfits end up trapped in a swamp with Kane Hodder, who leaps through clouds of red mist to tear them all limb-from-limb. It never takes itself seriously, pours on the excess, and practically forces you to cheer for each and every kill.

3. Splinter (2008)
A couple runs afoul of a pair of criminals and a bloodthirsty, porcupine-like parasite in this absolutely amazing film that was somehow sent directly to the Sci-Fi Channel and then shuffled off the DVD. The effects are mind-bogglingly good, the performances are amazing, and the action and scares are completely unrelenting.

2. Trick 'r Treat (2008)
I've already fondled this movie enough to be on a watchlist, so I'll just say that I adore it. It makes me feel like a kid again, and not a lot of horror can accomplish something that special. I absolutely love it.

1. Battle Royale: Director's Cut (Collector's Edition) (2000)
Wide-released (and amazingly successful) in its native Japan, this powerful look at school violence was all but ignored on US shores - and took somewhere around eight years to get a solid DVD release. What America missed, however, was one of the most poignant, beautiful, gory, and action-packed non-genre genre films ever made. It doesn't matter how you feel about Japanese cinema - you owe it to yourself to watch BATTLE ROYALE. Immediately.

Honorable mentions go to BOY EATS GIRL (amazingly cute), THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (I dug it), MACHINE GIRL (schoolgirl vs yakuza? I'm in love!), FRANKENFISH (Really. Its actually fun), JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER (the pacing's off, but the movie is a riot), and DOMAIN OF THE DAMNED (a movie so good, I called the director and said "We need to make a film together." And we did.).

So, there you are - my favorite DTV horror of the past ten years. Please feel free to complain, comment, or otherwise say hello below.

And for those of you wondering if I'll do a "Worst of" list, the answer is no. Truth is, there were so many horrible films released over the past decade, and I hated a great number of movies that my peers loved.

If you ever want to hear the hate list, buy me a beer and we'll discuss it like adults... Drunk, ranting adults.

Friday, December 18, 2009

LET THE WRONG ONE IN - My Favorite Wide-Release Horror Films of the Last Decade

With everyone compiling their "Best horror films of '09" lists, I thought I'd do my usual one-upsmanship routine and take it one step further - offering you my "Favorite horror films of the oughts." That's right, I've taken the time to put together not one - but two (the next appears tomorrow) - Top 10 lists covering my favorite horror, suspense, and splatter since the dawn of the new millennium.

And before you start having multiple crygasms over the titles I've chosen, please try to remember whose blog you're reading. I don't cream jeans when I catch a great performance or a cinematic treasure that chills me to the bone. For this guy, its all about firehose-like fountains of blood and multiple bad puns. If that ain't your bag, feel free to go jerk off whatever garbage Lisa Schwarzbaum is currently praising.

So, without further ado, my ten favorite theatrical wide-releases (U.S.) since 2000:

10. (2005)
Narrowly beating out DOG SOLDIERS as my favorite Neil Marshall film, THE DESCENT managed to take a guy who wasn't afraid of enclosed spaces or crazy blind albino mutants and somehow scare the precious life out of him. The first time you see one of those critters, I dare you not to leap out of your skin.

9. (2001)
Two brothers play a prank over a CB radio, and turn a faceless, gravelly-voiced trucker into a murderous sociopath. There should have been a lot more love for JOYRIDE - a totally unrelenting thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, with great performances from the entire cast and truly gasp-inducing tension.

8. (2004)
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said... SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a spot-on brilliant homage to Romero's zombie films, filled with lovable characters, amazingly quotable dialogue, hilarious laughs, and (as a bonus) some truly disturbing moments of genuine horror.

7. (2000)
Eat it. This movie has flaws, but I think BLAIR WITCH 2 is a wonderful mindfuck of a film that was brave enough to avoid the trappings of a traditional sequel while taking on the unavoidable pratfall of the first film's celebrity status. And its got great boobs... and spooky dead kids.

6. (2008)
College kids. South America. Me actually looking away from the screen. The less you know about it, the better... but the best part is that real gross-out shock moments aren't from the "monster" - but from man. Had this movie come out at the height of torture porn's popularity, it would have been a blockbuster.

5. (2007)
Forget THE MIST's gut-wrenching finale (I always do) and you've still got one of the best monster movies ever made - period. If THEM! had a baby with H.P. Lovecraft's brain, it might look something like this beautiful, character-driven creature feature... And Mrs. Carmody? Its been a long time since I've begged that desperately to see a character get what's coming to them.

4. (2007)
This movie embodies everything I love about cinema, from the bad puns and disembodied genitals to unbelievable celebrity cameos and gratuitous, improbable gore. But the very best part? Writer/director Robert Rodriguez never, ever forgets that its all just supposed to be fun.

3. (2004)
I bitched and bitched (and bitched) about DAWN OF THE DEAD '04. Every part of me was ready to hate this action/horror remake of one of my favorite films... but after its breathtaking intro and the opening credits rolled to When the Man Comes Around, I leaned over to my wife, smiled, and said, "Okay. I'll kindly shut the fuck up now."

2. (2005)
Angry about BLAIR WITCH 2 being on this list? Well, prepare to fume even harder. A zombie-filled 9/11 political drama starring Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, and Asia Argento?! Romero, like me, was never subtle about his political beliefs, and this is his big, unapologetic "fuck you" to conservative ideals. I love it.

1. (2002)
Say what you will about Eli Roth, but CABIN FEVER is an all-out riot. It is the kind of film I would love to make, and the only movie that has actually driven my wife to drink. I could watch it once a month and always find something to laugh at or gag upon.

Honorable mentions go to HOSTEL (I loved it), THE RING (but I loved the original more), THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (wherefore art thou, Rob Zombie's talent?), JEEPERS CREEPERS (and its TREMORS-eque sequel), DOOM (its ALIENS - only retarded!), 28 DAYS LATER/28 WEEKS LATER (they kicked my ass), THE ORPHANAGE (made me cry), ZOMBIELAND (total fun), and dozens more.

Tune in tomorrow for my top ten favorite direct-to-DVD (and video, remember those?) horror, suspense, and splatter movies of the oughts! I expect you to both laugh (at my picks) and cry (for my taste in film).

And if you've made it this far, please comment and complain about my picks, make some of your own, and tell me what I obviously forgot!

Happy 2010! ...Feels kinda futuristic, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remakes that don't suck.

With the recent release of the teaser trailer for the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake, a lot of folks have been crying foul once more over the ol' remake trend.

I thought, given the circumstances, I'd just take a few minutes to point out a number of genre remakes that I personally really enjoy. This totally incomplete list contains old favorites, a few I was primed to hate, and a couple others that I sadly didn't even know were remakes until well after the fact.

And geeks, I'm not including great flicks like ALIEN, which was "basically" a remake of IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. Same goes for HOUSE OF WAX (2004), which wasn't so much a remake of the 1953 film of the same name, but rather a surprisingly-entertaining redux of 1979's TOURIST TRAP.

No, I'm talking about straight-up, get-the-fanboys-bitching remakes here.

Again, all the movies listed below are ones that I really enjoy, and I genuinely don't care about the fact that they're based on previous films. They're fun in their own right - and that's what matters.

Oh yeah, and while I cherish the flawed original, I can't freakin' wait for the new CLASH OF THE TITANS.

A thrilling, remarkably scary remake of the 1956 classic. Sutherland's mouth owns this movie, and that dog thing still creeps me the hell out. Jeff Goldblum's great, as is Leonard Nimoy, and bringing original star Kevin McCarthy back was a classy move.

THE THING (1982)
Replacing the 1952 original's James Arness with a giant bloodthirsty pile of self-replicating, dog-eating alien goop is pure genius. Rob Bottin effects are still literally jaw-dropping, and the Carpenter/Russell combo is cinema gold. One of the best remakes... well, ever.

THE FLY (1986)
Cronenberg recently stated that he'd like to re-remake the classic 1958 sci-fi film. I doubt it can match the raw, visceral power of this monster, but he sure can try. Goldblum vomit still makes my skin crawl, and I love that this flick was produced by funnyman Mel Brooks.

Corman's 1960 original... well, just isn't that great. Frank Oz's musical remake, however, boasts brilliant creature designs, a bravura performance from Rick Moranis, and really, really good music. I know every word to every song in the damn thing.

THE BLOB (1988)
As a kid, The Blob remake was the first film where I saw a little kid ("jus' like me") get killed. And damn, did he ever. Chuck Russell's Blob still sports some of the ooiest, gooiest splatter ever weaseled into a mainstream R-rated release.

I love Romero's 1968 original, and virtually nothing is lost in this b-star-studded remake by effects wiz Tom Savini. The zombies look amazing, and IMHO, the different ending suits the story better than the original's.

The last five minutes are a total mess, but everything else in this spookshow is genuinely creepy and totally entertaining. The cast is dead-on and the epic, cavernous set is gasp-inducing. William Castle, director of the 1959 original, would have been proud of the brilliant Geoffrey Rush playing John Waters playing Vincent Price.

THE RING (2002)
The original was a scant four years old when the American-produced remake hit. Having only months earlier had the holy bajeezus scared out of me by Hideo Nakata's original, RINGU, I was hesitant. There was no need to be. Aside from some minor pacing issues, this is a moody, atmospheric gem that scared the crap out of everyone I knew.

1978's DAWN is one of my favorite films of all time and I was determined to hate the remake. Within five minutes, I had forgotten my anger and was lapping up this fast-paced riot. I miss the social commentary, but when I'm having this much fun, who gives a shit? This movie is flat-out awesome.

Its scarier, more brutal, and an all-around a better film than Wes Craven's groundbreaking 1972 original. Period.

The Canadian original, released in 1981, is a far superior film to the remake, but I just can't ignore how entertaining it is to watch Jensen Ackles and Tom Atkins run around this hokey, beautifully-shot bloodbath. The theatrical Real3D experience was fantastic.

There are dozens more, and I had to forcibly restrain myself from leaping out of horror and sci-fi. After all, I love THE DEPARTED, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, THE ITALIAN JOB, THE MALTESE FALCON, ALWAYS, CAPE FEAR, and, truthfully, hundreds of other remakes.

And now that this is a hate-free zone... what beloved remake do you bring up when people start bitching?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just who are these hungry Kappas?

Believe it or not, but I do occasionally get asked what's up with naming my production company "Starving Kappa Pictures." While I'm far from a fratboy, many people assume it has something to do with a fraternity I must have attended (and been unceremoniously expelled from). Truthfully, any friend of mine would be wise to realize that if I named my production company after a frat I didn't attend, it would be "Delta Tau Chi" or "Tri-Lamb Productions."

No, the real story behind my production company is far geekier (but a little less gay) than a bunch of drunk dudes sharing a communal bathroom, giving man-hugs, and slapping each other on the ass. That IS what happens in frats, right?

The Kappa is a ghoulish little Yokai (creature from Japanese mythology) who has a scaly, ape-like body encased in a turtle's shell and a pool of water vital to its survival sitting atop its beaked head. Amazingly smart, they supposedly taught humans how to set bones and have perfect etiquette, even though bowing will cause the water atop their head to spill out, grievously weakening - and sometimes even killing - the little guys.
A sign in Japan actually warning young swimmers about the dangers of Kappas.

But here's where it gets good. The Kappa also has one other quirk. Its favorite food is human innards - and since Kappas live underwater, the easiest way to grab a quick snack is by swimming up underneath a wary victim, attaching its mouth to their anus, and sucking out their guts.

Yes, their guts. Through their anus.
An instructional 1881 woodcut, explaining that a well-aimed fart will repel a hungry Kappa. Seriously.

And while Kappas adore this particular intestinal indulgence, there's one food they love even more: the cucumber. For this reason, people in ancient Japan would oftentimes swim with a cucumber attached to their belt - or throw one in (with their name written on it, no less!) before entering the water. This also explains why those tasty cucumber rolls you order at your local sushi place are called Kappa-maki. Really.
Kappa-maki. Made with cucumber, not anus.

So, always rooting for the underdog, my production company pays tribute to all of the starving Kappas out there who sadly can't find a single butt to suck. My heart goes out to you, guys. Good luck on your hungry little journeys.

And look on the bright side, in America, all we've got is Bigfoot. And he doesn't eat ass.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All Your Horror Are Belong To Us.

Hello there, I'm a typical thirteen-year-old horror fan. I was born in 1996, the same year that Scream, From Dusk Till Dawn, and The Frighteners came out in theaters. They are all what I call "really old."

You might think I'm a bit young to be watching horror movies, but I'm guessing you were around my age when you first started down this slippery, red slope. Sadly, you had to watch everything on video when you were thirteen. Thank God DVD was invented the year before I was born, and VHS was all but obsolete by the time I was old enough to walk. No having to "adjust the tracking", whatever that shit means, for this kid.

My dad was born in 1974. When he was a kid, his favorite movies were the old Halloween, the old Friday the 13th, and the super old Texas Chainsaw Massacre - which, incidentally, came out the same year he did. Apparently there were six Halloweens, nine Friday the 13ths, and three Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels released before I was born. Not surprisingly, none of them scare me. Because they are really fucking old... like my dad.

My old dad is totally determined to scare me with his old movies. One time, he made me watch The Evil Dead, which came out fifteen years before I was born. After I pissed him off by laughing Evil Dead off the screen, I made my dad watch 1959's The Killer Shrews to prove that horror movies made 15 years before you're born are always big piles of un-scary shit.

Even though he is old, my dad and I actually do have a lot in common. My favorite movies are the better versions of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Thanks to the storytelling skills of Rob Zombie (who, I guess, was in a band way before I was born), I expect a real slasher film to have a death at least every 90 seconds. No more of this "waiting around" suspense crap. Blood equals horror. Oh yeah, and his Halloween has a lot of swearing, which I also love. Ass. Shit.

It also has a bunch of wrinkly old actors in it that my dad gives $20 to at conventions and poses me in front of while I pretend to know who the crap they are. But its cool because there are like a billion deaths in Rob Zombie's Halloween. Oh yeah, and all the songs in it are oldies by a band called Rush and a lady named Alice Cooper.

My dad tried to make me watch the old Friday the 13th once, but I got really bored and started twittering my disdain. They spend almost 30 minutes introducing people and giving them names and stories before they started killing them. Jesus. Who has time for that?! Rob Zombie could have stabbed 25 naked girls in the face in that amount of time.

Kevin Bacon is in it, who I believe is now a senator, and like a year into the movie, a hitchhiker gets her throat cut. Unfortunately, dad then made the mistake of telling me there was no hockey mask until the third movie, so I immediately freaked out and put in the remake.

Now there's a goddamn movie. I'm told that in the old Friday the 13th, you have to wait for the whole movie to see the old lady's head get chopped off. In the new one, it happens in 45 seconds. Look how much time that saves! Oh yeah, in MY Friday the 13th there's a bunch of boobs, a giant field of pot, and a black kid who wants to be a rapper. Now that's a movie I can relate to. All 13-year-olds love boobs, weed, and rapping.

Oh yeah, and in MY Texas Chainsaw Massacre (by the guy who made Transformers 2!), Leatherface isn't a fatty. Dad says big fat killers are scarier than bodybuilders, but maybe he says that because he's fat and wants to feel like a badass.

Also, everyone in MY versions of YOUR movies is hot.

Seriously, I just want all you old people to leave me alone, let me watch good movies, and quit giving me shit about them. I don't forbid you from liking Hellraiser - and that movie's so old, I think Lincoln was watching it when he was shot.

The bottom line is this, geezers: my friends and I control horror movies now, so you better get used to the awesome stuff that they're making for us.

Oh yeah, what's A Nightmare on Elm Street about? Is that the one with Freddy? My dumbass dad made fun of me because I dressed up like Freddy for Halloween last year and he said I knew absolutely nothing about him. Well dad, you were wrong. I know Freddy is burned or deformed and has really long fingers. What else do I need to know? Its not like the dude's a goddamn child molester.

Here's an idea, pops. Why don't you test your pacemaker by watching Night of the Living Dead or something else from the 1800s and leave me alone?

...Oh, but before you go, can I have twelve bucks for Halloween II? I hear its totally freakin' sweet, and that the next one's gonna be in 3-D.

Kids my age would watch Nazi propaganda films if they were in 3-D.

Ass. Shit.