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. http://www.moviesforguys.com/blog/uploaded_images/TheDescentPoster-755748.JPG (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. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_T3lzrzH2fMo/SO0SkLxyZYI/AAAAAAAACPo/C_51O4PdVbA/s400/joyrdie_poster.jpg (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. http://img2.allposters.com/images/PE/427429.jpg (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. http://z.about.com/d/horror/1/0/p/w/-/-/BlairWitch2.jpg (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. http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2008/02/22/ruins-poster-2.jpg (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. http://the-reviewer.net/wp-content/uploads/mist-poster-big.jpg (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. http://farm1.static.flickr.com/196/452041288_9773f4443f.jpg (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. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GG_neClzbPw/SoVMa2iMquI/AAAAAAAAArE/J5Y7yRRinvg/s1600/dawn_of_the_dead_ver3.jpg (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. http://www.dreadcentral.com/img/interviews/r/landofthedeadposter.jpg (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. http://yangjigogo.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/501682cabin-fever-posters.jpg (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.



INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
http://www.movienetwork.tv/content/films/i/InvasionOfTheBodySnatchers_1978/Merchandise/InvasionOfTheBodySnatchers_poster.jpg
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)
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3249/2829827734_58a7aafb28_o.jpg
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)
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_T3lzrzH2fMo/SRNruqadncI/AAAAAAAADK4/59U9wHFgz88/s400/the_flyposter.jpg
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.


LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)
http://www.ziyue.com/poster/l/LittleShopofHorrors.jpg
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)
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tLercVPgzNQ/SDJSImXiNXI/AAAAAAAAAfM/LsWT_xTI888/s320/blob_1988_poster.jpg
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.


NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990)
http://rjdent.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/night_of_the_living_dead-savini.jpg
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.


HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999)
http://images.themoviedb.org/posters/11041/House_On_Haunted_Hill01_Full.jpg
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)
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_M3ChEaDJ-2U/SOVspR_F31I/AAAAAAAAAg4/Yts6XMEnbX0/s400/RingPoster.jpg
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.


DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GG_neClzbPw/SoVMa2iMquI/AAAAAAAAArE/J5Y7yRRinvg/s1600/dawn_of_the_dead_ver3.jpg
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.


THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009)
http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2009/02/10/last-house-on-left-poster.jpg
Its scarier, more brutal, and an all-around a better film than Wes Craven's groundbreaking 1972 original. Period.


MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009)
http://iselldreams.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/my_bloody_valentine_3d_final_movie_poster.jpg
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?

http://roberthood.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/kappa_650.jpg

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.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Kappawarning.jpg
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.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_RUPqhnYtByA/Rmn_nTQierI/AAAAAAAAAsQ/33uIPN9J51M/s320/Kappaweb.jpg
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.

http://z.about.com/d/japanesefood/1/I/u/M/kappamakimed.jpg
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.

http://billsmovieemporium.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/evildead4.jpg

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.

http://thecia.com.au/reviews/t/images/texas-chainsaw-massacre-2.jpg

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.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantastic indeed.

Fantastic Fest was far more fantastic than I could have imagined, and I've now got another event that I'm going to have to attend every year until I die. The people who put on this show are some of the nicest most down-to-Earth folks on the planet, and their show is absolutely top-notch.

I spent the majority of the weekend with my good buddy (and New York Asian Film Fest honcho) Marc Walkow, ROBOGEISHA director Noboru Iguchi, FRANKENSTEIN GIRL director Yoshihiro Nishimura, MACHINE GIRL starlet Asami, and awesome-at-just-about-anything Cay Izumi.

Thrown into the mix were a bunch of other great friends, both old and new. If you helped make my time in Austin better, then you're very gratefully included in this general thank you. I had two of the best days... well, ever.



There were movies galore, massive alcohol consumption, pole dancing, karaoke, Australians serving Jamaican beer to Japanese, swords, a goth club, and the latest night I've had in over a decade (I passed out at... wait for it - 8AM).

For limited photos, check out my Facebook album here. If you can read Japanese, check out Iguchi's wrap-up (which includes a photo of me and N) here. And if you're not interested in either, here's disney.com.

In between chugging Japanese alcohol from coffee pots, I managed to catch screenings of CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT and SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.

http://www.collider.com/wp-content/image-base/Movies/C/Cirque_Du_Freak/poster/Cirque%20Du%20Freak%20The%20Vampires%20Assistant%20movie%20poster.jpg

While I expected CIRQUE to be tween-ish, sitting in the theater waiting for it to start felt like a Jonas Brothers concert. The plot has to do with a dreamy teenager who becomes a vampire to save his dreamy friend's life. Then his dreamy friend becomes evil and dreamy #1 has to team up with other G-rated freaks to stop him.

The film was weak, and dreamies #1 and #2 were even weaker. Sadly, the film's stellar supporting cast - who should have been able to save the flick from mediocrity - was extremely underused. Orlando Jones, Jane Krakowski, and Kristen Schaal - three amazingly talented, very funny individuals - probably share a total of 15 lines between them over the course of the entire film. Lame.

http://www.icelebz.com/movies/cirque_du_freak_the_vampire_s_assistant/images/movie-cirque_du_freak_the_vampire_s_assistant-stills-483413473.jpg

Also sadly - and surprisingly - underwhelming were Willem Dafoe (made up to resemble Vincent Price) and the usually stunning Ken Watanabe (who was apparently made up to resemble Sloth from THE GOONIES). The only real high points in the cast came with John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek, who always hit their marks and seemed to have a blast with the material.

Thankfully, the film is pseudo-saved by the special effects work, which is so good, its almost worth the price of admission. For horror fans with kids, check it out. Its Nickelodeon's version of TRUE BLOOD. For folks like myself... wait until it hits cable and Discovery isn't airing any good episodes of MYTHBUSTERS at the same time.



As for Romero's already-controversial SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD: I liked it. Its very different than DIARY and is lacking Georgie's usual political and social commentary. After LAND, he started a new mythos, and I think fans should step back and see where he takes us with it.

The acting is uniformly solid and the effects are fun - even with a touch too much CG. The plot has the dickish military dude from DIARY finding his way to an island off the coast of Delaware where two long-bickering families are duking it out over whether or not zombies should be mercifully put down or left to wander.

http://ramascreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Survival-of-the-Dead.jpg

To add up the absurdity: we've got a team of soldiers (including a woman who is a chronic masturbator), island-dwelling Irish Hatfields and McCoys (oh, did I forget to mention they're all inexplicably Irish?), a random truck full of money, and... well, a few surprises that should really be seen to believed.

I say this film is "good" because, all insanity aside, Romero keeps things extremely fun for about 60% of the film. Sadly, the middle of the flick really drags and is filled with way too much exposition. Right when I was on the edge of my seat, he slammed on the brakes for a good half hour... but the beginning and end (especially the kickass final shot) do make up for it.

Apparently, Romero's plan is do several more of these spinoff stories involving minor characters from DIARY. Personally, I'm all for it. Let's see where these go.

And now, with all that behind me, I'm back in New York. I'm overjoyed to be with my wife, family, and friends... but I'm missing The Alamo Drafthouse a hell of a lot more than I expected to.

If you EVER have the opportunity to hit up this amazing festival, do it. It more than lives up to the hype (and name). I just wish I had another four or five days to soak up all of its awesomeness.

Ah well, I guess that's what next year is for.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Bloggy

Greetings and salutations, people of the interweb. For this somewhat-overdue blog update, I wanted to sound off on some good and bad mojo. Not a whole lot more to it than that, so here goes:

GOOD
After missing their gross perversion for several months, I'm very excited that I get to see TOKYO GORE POLICE director Yoshihiro Nishimura and MACHINE GIRL director Noboru Iguchi again at FantasticFest. I've been obsessed with the various ROBOGEISHA trailers that keep popping up online, and the moment I see these dudes, I'm pouring the soju and photographing Nishimura licking (or staring pensively) at my FRANKENSTEIN GIRL tattoo.


Big thanks go out to my great friend Marc, without whom I never would have sat around naked in a sauna with Iguchi or swapped clothes with Nishimura and friends in the middle of a restaurant. Any person who genuinely enjoys my company and can offer me those kind of memories is a keeper.

BAD

Although I'm headed down to FantasticFest, I'm unfortunately missing the US premiere of Iguchi's ROBOGEISHA by a scant few hours. Sure, the real reason I'm going down there is to network and party, but man, I really wanted to see that flick with an audience.

Haven't seen the trailer yet? Prepare to have your face melted.


(And that's Nishimura getting skewered 19 seconds in)

GOOD

My old pals in Germany, Andreas Schnaas and Timo Rose, decided to team up and make a movie together earlier this year. The resulting film, UNRATED, apparently pleased the both of them and now they've banded together to make another. The trailer for the movie popped up on YouTube a few days ago and I can't stop watching it.

Titled KARL THE BUTCHER VS AXE (and apparently a sequel to his VIOLENT SHIT trilogy), this is the kind of lowbrow micro-budgeted "filmmaking" that Schnaas truly excels at. While I wrote three of his largest films, I'm really eager to see him go back to his roots. This trailer has gallons of gore, fake macho-man muscles, a tank, and more roundhouse kicks than I can count. I honestly don't think I could ask for anything more, and - as a fan and colleague - I genuinely can't wait to see it.


BAD
I know its already old news, but man, Kanye West really IS a jackass. I don't know the guy or his music, but I want to slap that haircut he got at an Ancient Mayan barbershop off his self-righteous head and give Taylor Swift a big kiss.

Its also too bad that Obama will probably have to apologize for agreeing with me. He probably calls Bush a dildo every night, but just because some amazingly unprofessional journalist releases his off-the-record (and very true) statement to the media, he's gonna be forced the back-pedal.

http://www.sohh.com/img/kanye-douche-300x300-2009-09-14.jpg

Personally, I hope Bam holds a press conference to publicly reiterate what a self-righteous child Kanye is, and to express his opinion that the last scene in THE FINAL DESTINATION was "some weak-ass bullshit."

GOOD
I had a great nine days with my family, reconnecting with old friends, and otherwise enjoying the holy living Hell out of Montana. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time, I had the opportunity to show my friends SWEATSHOP on the big screen, and was reminded that there are still some places on Earth where you can get a $6.00 pitcher of beer.

I can't even begin to express how much better I feel, physically and emotionally, when I'm there. It feels like a world away, but knowing that I'll get to permanently settle there within the next few years keeps me going.


The waterfall was very happy something as epic as it finally came along.

BAD
I still can't find the time to get working on a new creative project. It eats me up, as there are so many great ideas that I'm dying to get down on the page, but the two or three hours a night that I have available after the subway, gym, and dinner just aren't enough to get the creative juices flowing properly.

How I would rejoice if I had a free day every week, just to write.

GOOD
But on the flipside of that coin, several of my current and past projects are looking very good. SWEATSHOP is done (and just scored a near-masturbatory review over at Fatally Yours) and we'll be shipping it out to potential distributors within the next three or four weeks.

Also, JIKININKI, the wonderful little script that wouldn't die, is being shopped around Japan (where the story is set), and I'm literally beside myself over the idea of having it made by an amazingly talented cast and crew over there. Fingers tightly crossed.

BAD
Ya know what else has been getting my goat lately? The way people have been fawning all over dead celebrities. Sure, Harlem (where I spend 40 hours a week) went insane when Michael Jackson died, but everyone I know up here said the same thing: Where the Hell were all these people when The King of Pop was drowning the pain of being branded a freakish child molester with sleeping pills?

http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Entertainment/images-3/michael-jackson-goofy.jpg

And now, a totally different crowd is mourning the loss of Patrick Swayze - a very good actor who became so forgettable in the past decade that I challenge you to name any film he's appeared in since 1999 that wasn't DONNIE DARKO.

I like a few songs by MJ, and I love a handful of Jackson Five tracks, but I didn't go buy a "Best Of" album or poorly silkscreened t-shirt when he died. We popped in RED DAWN the other night to enjoy some vintage Swayze (who, I admit, was a fine actor), but I didn't feel the need to follow it up with FATHER HOOD and TO WONG FOO.

Both were great performers, but I can't comprehend the concept of obsessively latching onto a person once they're dead. Enjoy them while they're here. Send 'em a fan letter, fer christssake.

If I find out NIKOS THE IMPALER becomes a huge hit when I'm six feet under, I'm haunting each and every one of you bastards who didn't buy it while I was alive, thereby affording me the money to cure whatever heart ailment eventually killed me.

GOOD
Speaking of NIKOS, my good buddy Joe Zaso is currently in LA, playing the lead in a new horror currently titled H1N1 VIRUS (Man, they'd better change that title). He's acting opposite Priscilla Barnes. He is awesome, and I'm just completely stoked he landed the role.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tSJ2aJumiRE/R7UfM8gHuqI/AAAAAAAAAbs/HUXrKKuEDQc/s320/joez.jpg
This is the only photo ever taken of Zaso with a shirt on. Ever.

GOOD
And finally, why not end with another "good?" The other night, as we were going to bed, I told my wife that every single time she speaks, I learn something new. I've been thinking about that statement for a few days, and I still can't quite describe how proud it makes me to be with someone who can always do that for me.

So, thank you for being the greatest part of my pretty awesome life, Bev. You make all the bad seem a little better, and I can't think of anyone I'm more in-tune with. I've got plenty of good things going for me, but you're the best.


From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
a pair of land shark'd lovers, take their life.

Monday, August 31, 2009

EL SUPERBEASTO, HILLS RUN RED, and random ranting...

Hey all.

So, I caught a private screening of Rob Zombie's "new" film THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO this weekend. Being a huge fan of animation (and naughty cartoons), I was immensely excited to see what someone as warped and wild as Zombie could do with an animated film and virtually no studio interference.

The result, sadly, is one of the worst animated films I've ever seen (and I've seen a LOT). I'll be totally honest. I actually turned the film off after 20 minutes, as I physically couldn't take it any more. Its THAT bad. Its a conglomeration of everything that I thought was "totally sweet" when I was eight years old, yet is so completely unable to find its focus that I don't even know if it would have appealed to me back then. I went into it, ready for the exploits of a masked wrestler who fights crime, and got a masked wrestler who "loves boobies", makes porno films, and occasionally beats people up. I adored the illustrations I'd seen of Dr. Satan - a zoot suit-wearing red devil bent on world domination - until he and his wacky gorilla pal reveal that in order to take over the world, he has to marry and then plow with a girl sporting a 666 tramp stamp birthmark.

Oh yes, and the robot from THE PHANTOM CREEPS now has a super-powered penis.

http://www.dreadcentral.com/img/news/nov06/superbeastopic1.jpg

EL SUPERBEASTO features so many bare cartoon breasts that everyone I was watching it with agreed that the film actually somehow makes boobs boring. Women shake them until they elongate like tentacles, they slap guys around with them, and even inflate and bounce around on them. After a few scenes, I got the impression that Mr. Zombie legitimately has no idea how female anatomy operates - even in a cartoon setting.

The plot (or what I saw of it) feels more like a bunch of FAMILY GUY skits than a film. I'm assuming they all come together at some point, but suffering through another 60 minutes of painfuly unfunny gags just isn't worth it. And to top it off, the animation is really weak, to boot. It looks like early 80s Saturday morning cartoon fare mixed with shoddy flash versions of art pretending to be that of an undoubtedly-pissed off John Kricfalusi. While the Jetsons-like backgrounds are occasionally fun, they tend to overshadowed by everything falling apart in the foreground.

I expected something a bit closer to a comedic DEVIL'S REJECTS - an absolutely brilliant project that Zombie was allowed to create without too much studio interference. I know EL SUPERBEASTO is a cartoon, but I still wanted a fun plot and engrossing characters - not a jive-talking kitten who is all about the poontang.

And for the love of Dr. Satan, where is the excessive exploitation of animation I was expecting? The film continually takes you up the hill, but never to the edge 'o the cliff - and certainly never over it. I grew up with FRITZ THE CAT, SHAME OF THE JUNGLE, COONSKIN, and THE LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND. I know what filth cartoons are capable of. Thrill me.

As one friend and critic put it, "Its trying so hard to be edgy, but just isn't doing it. Its like a 'worst of COOL WORLD' montage." Where's the full nudity (we only get boobs and butts) and ultra gore? Does it show up later? If anyone else has sat through it, please tell me it does. I won't revisit the flick, but I'd just like to know if there's ANY payoff.

http://www.slashfilm.com/wp/wp-content/images/el_superbeasto_vs_myers1-550x309.jpg

All-in-all, it was a MASSIVE (and very sad) letdown. I wanted nothing more than to love the Hell out of this film. I really, genuinely like Rob Zombie as a person, and he's in my top five people I'd love to sit down and have a beer with. He has a truly unabashed love for horror films... I just wish he'd quit un-learning how to make movies. He seems like such an absolutely amazing person. Like Uwe Boll (seriously), I'm constantly rooting for him.

On the flipside of that coin, I also caught Dave Parker's THE HILLS RUN RED, which is an immensely entertaining ode to 70s and 80s horror from Dark Castle's new direct-to-DVD branch. While some might complain it suffers from some BLAIR WITCH 2 storytelling techniques, I liked BLAIR WITCH 2, so you can eat it.

Also, the gore feels like it could have been amped up a touch more, as the majority of gaping wounds end up far less gaping than I prefer... but the hills still run mighty red throughout. As long as I've got a few arterial sprays, I can't complain too much.

Honestly, what makes the film so wonderful is the absolutely stunning villain, Babyface. I was literally transfixed on him every time he stepped on screen. He has substantially more potential than any recent screen baddie to become truly iconic, based on looks alone. I can't gush enough over the complexity of his design, and (SLIGHT SPOILER) when he finally speaks, his singular, emotionless line had the entire room in stitches. Its fantastic.

http://dvdmedia.ign.com/dvd/image/article/100/1006101/the-hills-run-red-20090721110106206_640w.jpg

While Warner is marketing HILLS as a slasher, its actually much more - and anyone who is looking for a groovy pastiche of early modern horror should have a hell of a time with it. I highly recommend picking it up. Plus, Dave's just an awesome guy. Much like Rob Zombie, I'm always rooting for him... and I was very happy to see that he delivered.

Now if someone would just get off of their lazy ass and finance Ralph Bakshi's THE LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND, maybe I could get another quality grown-up cartoon.

File:Last Days of Coney Island.jpg

Maybe.