Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Witch’s Revenge Brings On The Horror With Spirituality Mixed In

I’ve been catching wind of a lot of horror novels, and one that recently came across my desk is “The Witch’s Revenge”, which is an incredible piece of work that mixes several genres into one compelling story. In a small village, a family lives and thrives amidst friends, family, and a true sense of community. The set up here is nice, as you get a glimpse of the family before you start to unravel the terror that is coming soon.

The story brings a sinister plot twist as a stranger moves in next door, and you get into a horror narrative that is similar to that of “Fright Night”. The neighbor is definitely not there for just any reason, and the story moves forward when evil starts to cloud the area. There’s a good balance between scare points and fighting back for the good of the community. Odato really does well in bringing forth some serious noise amidst the chaos, and you’ll definitely get a good sense for the manifestation of the sinister villain.

One of the highlights of the novel is that spirituality comes to the helm. There is a nice mix of spiritual ideals and faith, especially when the terror truly starts to create trouble for the community at large. There’s an incredible amount of power found in the words here, even if you don’t have a spiritual background. You’ll appreciate the setup of the family, the villain in place, the battle of good and evil, as well as the tremendous effort to create something that doesn’t just rest on the jump scares of cinema, but rather the deep rooted fear of what very well may be close by. This is a good horror story, one that should get a broader audience, I recommend it. Check it out via amazon here. Also check out more from the author on his official page here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

King Kong Review

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Of all the monsters that you may come across in the world of horror movies, you will most likely remember the influential early characters and villains of modern cinema, including Dracula, The Wolfman, and the Mummy. But one of my personal favorites, and one that you just can’t top, is that of King Kong. There have been several iterations of the monster movie, but when you boil them all down, you have one giant ape that stands tall among a lot of others that have tried to take his crown, and he’s upset. That’s why I wanted to make a review of the 1933 classic, monstrous, KONG!

By this point, you should know what the story is. A movie director is out searching for his next project and uncovers something incredible. He uncovers Kong, and hatches a plan to try and bring him back to show him off to the world. His crew catches the beast and brings it back to New York. Putting it on display things go wrong, and the beast creates havoc and all hell breaks loose. He even grabs a woman and starts an epic climb to the top of the tallest building, at the time.

It’s up to the human race to come together and stop the beast, but alas, he has feelings, right? Who cares, it’s onward to slay the giant beast, but he’s not going down without a fight. That in a nutshell is the amazing and powerful narrative that plays out in this 1993 film. The movie is awesome, and holds up well, if you don’t try to think too hard. Yes, you can easily factor in that this movie has a lot of problems, but think about today versus then. They did a lot to create the story, and if you read into the production you will realize that this was no easy feature to produce.

The remake of Kong from the 70s was ok, but the latest updated version was monstrous and really took away from the quality of cheese that you get with the original. King Kong is not a scary movie, but it’s iconic. It’s where the monsters begin, and something that you can go back and watch as part of history. It may not scare, but it most certainly thrills, especially when you’re feeling jaded by the cinema of today. It’s always nice to go back and watch the classics, and King Kong is definitely an instant classic for anyone that watches it. I recommend it, go back and watch, you’ll love it.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alien Review

alien 1979
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Ever go on the movie ride at Disneyworld? It’s weird that amidst all of the movies that they have in there, some of them are horror related, and some of them are harder than others. For instance, they have a whole hallway with Alien on display. This movie is an iconic and oh so real space movie. Ok, it’s not realistic, but it could very well be the fate of those that are going to try and live on Mars and never come back. The movie was released in 1979 and it is directed by Ridley Scott, and stars none other than Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

Fans of the NES game “Metroid” will liken many of the elements from the game to this movie. The movie as a whole stands the test of time in a lot of different ways. The plot is simple, but well played out. A deep sleep is shaken, the crew aboard a mining vessel in space wakes up and has to answer a distress call. It’s during the mission of helping someone else, that they realize they are messing with something that they’ve never seen before.

Aside from the iconic imagery that comes from the product of Alien, you have to think about the time frame. This movie was released in 1979, and during that point there wasn’t anything remotely close to a computer that could do a lot of the rendering that would get done in the next decade. Computer graphics were not available for this film, and therefore the effects are all done the classic way. Modeling, clay, latex, and a lot of other tricks of the trade were employed and you can’t even tell that they aren’t modern.

Visual design aside, Ripley’s character is somewhat believable, tenacious and strong. Women complaining about how female roles are never really action packed, should shut up and munch on a hot dog for a moment while Sigourney Weaver rocks the silver screen. This is an impactful movie and Weaver does well here, vulnerable at times, strong at others, and all woman. I love it. Feminists would love it too, and any underlining text about sexuality and the beast and all that jazz can just shut down for at least a couple hours while I enjoy my moment in the proverbial sun and say that Ripley may be the best women’s horror movie character ever! BADASS! Mover over Lara Croft.

The production of Alien is something that film geeks really go nuts for, and it’s rightfully so, as you watch it over and over again. If ever there was a perfect science fiction tale, with horror elements to boot, this is it. It sparks the imagination like Wells, Lovecraft, Hitchcock, and many more would attest to. If you haven’t seen this, or if you don’t own it, there’s something wrong with your collection. Get the Alien box set here, and let’s not tell anyone that you haven’t checked it out. Idiot.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Phantasm Review

phantasm review
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In 1979 a movie that would spawn several sequels came out, and it’s still a classic in the world of horror, Phantasm. I see it get a lot of talk on the internet, and I still enjoy it from time to time. It’s another example of what you can do without a lot of fancy computer graphics, or top level stars. The movie did star Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Ken Jones and was directed by Don Coscarelli. The 1970s were rocking the hell out of the cinema world with horror movies, more so than any other period of time. Sure, the 1980s had a lot, and the 90s were packed with teen scream, but nothing compares to the sheer terror and horror that came out during the 1970s epic movie making time frame.

Phantasm features a creepy tall man and an insane premise, that a silver ball could very well impale you and treat you like a slave forever. When a small town is plagued by something mysterious, a group of friends go and find out what’s up, targeting a mortician and all hell breaks loose as they start to unravel the mystery.

This low budget horror movie can very well be a cult classic on some lists, but it’s one of my personal favorites today. There are a lot of moments that are absurd and don’t really have a lot of benefit to the casual viewer today. The orbs are super cool, and historically, the gore in this film should’ve gotten the movie the dreaded X rating that was getting pushed, but instead, by some miracle it got a hard R rating and many folks got to see it. I wasn’t born yet, but I sure as hell rented this and the sequels from the Korean video store I lived next door to.

Phantasm features a lot of the clichés that you would expect in horror. A group of naïve but determined friends, a creepy mortician, and a simple antagonizing weapon with supernatural elements thrown in for good measure. With limited budget, and gore throughout, you’ll definitely love this one as I found it to be quite interesting, even after all these years. Look out for the classic make up tricks, and cinematography that speaks of the late 1970s horror movement.

Phantasm is creepy, funny, and a welcome view for horror movie fans that are interested in something unique. It strays from the overdone zombie, vampire, and werewolf genres to give you a taste of the unreal. I recommend it highly.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Event Horizon Review

event horizon poster
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Event Horizon is one of those movies that gets idly passed by at the video stores and through collections as another science fiction romp, but it’s more than that. It reaches to the heart of what horror is and delivers a good narrative, with good acting, and some nice touches here and there to separate itself from the schlock that came out in the late 1990s. In fact, this movie stars Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, two icons of cinema in my view, and definitely do their part well. Directed by Paul Anderson, this is one movie you have to go back and watch again, with the lights on preferably.

The movie centers around a space ship (surprise surprise) headed into the deep recesses of space, and testing a new technology to somehow understand black holes and even control them. It’s there that something goes wrong, and the ship gets taken into a wormhole and that’s that. In the future, the ship returns and it’s up to a rag tag crew to figure out what’s going on, and perhaps try to tell the tale of loss. In the middle of all of this however, something deeply disturbing takes place, each character has to face their fear, their worst fears as it flashes before them and they get pummeled throughout.

At times, this one reminded me of the original puzzle horror film “Cube”, but it’s more than that. It has a lot of little twists and turns, with some serious suspense. The science may be a bit flimsy, but that doesn’t matter because the scenery here is isolated, scary, and filled with horror. You get a bit of gore, a bit of scares, but more importantly, a character study in space.

It is not on par with some other movies, as there are some slow spots, and the concept can be easily lost as it turns out to be a fragile component to the turning of the screws in the film. It’s not bad, by any means, as there are some great highlights, and the acting is so strong that you can overlook some of the minor misses here and there.

As a horror movie Event Horizon stands tall, but as an instant classic, or compared to others, it’s not that grand. It’s easily forgettable, and it has been, until you rewatch it and find something new. That’s why I recommend picking up this film and watching it again, it’s been a while, no doubt. It has an easy flow, horror themes, science fiction notes here and there, and of course better acting than 90% of the teen scream movies from the era.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Amityville Horror Review

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1979 must have been one hell of a year for horror. This movie came out that year and it was based on the novel that was written beforehand. The real events, the documentaries, novel, and so much has come across scrutiny that you will not want to believe it all. Even after so much information has come out, my girlfriend will not set foot in this house. It went on sale recently too, and well, I couldn’t afford it at all but it wasn’t on the cards if we had the money to get it. Too bad, huh? Even though I’ve mentioned The Amityville Horror on this site a ton of times, I haven’t reviewed it properly, so here we go, a little bit of talk on this classic series.

Stuart Rosenberg directs James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and others in this horror film that documents the strange happenings of the Lutz family. As the story goes, the Lutz clan found an incredible house for cheap, and they want to move in and settle down. They are more than happy to do so, but there are problems that keep pushing into their happiness, until things really start to come apart.

Haunted houses are nothing new to the idea of horror film, but this one seemed to manifest a whole new level of fear. The slow breakdown of George Lutz is the focus of this film, much like the insanity that happens to Jack Torrance in “The Shining”. As the movie goes through some slow moving plot points, the supernatural starts to settle in and George goes through a transformation that is epic in nature.

With a haunting, you get true fear manifesting through several aspects of the house, and while it doesn’t nearly pay off like many fans think it will, it still has enough frenetic momentum at the end to get you through a tub of popcorn. The strength of the film relies heavily on Kidder and Brolin’s performance, alongside the story that supposedly happened in real life. I can’t testify to the validity, but if real life moves as slow as some of the moments in this movie, then I’m definitely going to be afraid.

The Amityville Horror is tame by today’s standards. Even though it’s rated R and there are some moments that will scare younger viewers, it’s more of a historical cinema piece than anything else. I recommend it as part of a box set, and as a little bit of background into the novel, even though I haven’t read it. Pick it up, and let me know what you think. I just know that I like this version better than the one that stars Van Wilder.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Lost Boys Review

los boys
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Late in the 1980s there were a slew of vampire movies that came out. One of them featured younger stars, and had a cool soundtrack, that became iconic and even though it has some hilarious moments, it still stands tall amidst the “Twilight” movies. The Lost Boys is of course the film I’m talking about and it came out in 1987. Before Joel Schumacher ruined the “Batman” franchise, he was putting together passable horror movies in the late 1980s, and this is one that worth checking out after all this time. It stars Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, and of course Kiefer Sutherland.

The movie tries to make the iconic vampire lore look hip, or cool. It does so through the introduction of characters that are very much in the sub culture of the hardcore scene. They look more like punk rock metal heads than anything else, but that’s just my two cents on the costume design. The movie features a cast of characters that are exploring a new world. What starts like another edition of Jackass, turns into a vampire flick with one person drinking blood and joining the brood, and his friends trying to stop it.

Even though this was the 1980s equivalent of a teen movie, it had enough gusto to make it more. The horror elements are well placed, and feature some great set design, make up and transitional moments. It’s done with a romanticism that you would get with the Bram Stoker 90s remake, and definitely in “The Hunger”. The two Corey’s do a good duality thing, and the movie doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, despite the fact that it probably should.

The sets aside, this is a fast paced vampire movie with a lot to offer. From a good soundtrack to decent acting, and a clever story, The Lost Boys is a classic. I probably won’t watch it millions of times, but gathering a group together and sipping fizzy drinks while watching this is light fair. It’s not going to win awards for best gore or anything, but it definitely scores points with me on many levels. Go back and check it out, and see why it ended up spawning several terrible sequels. Or don’t, I don’t mind. The Lost Boys gets my recommendation, although, don’t go too out of your way.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Horror Movies Based on True Events That Will Scare You To Hell

Ah yes, the greatest marketing ploy in the history of movies is that of true events. No, I’m not talking about documentaries, I’m talking about the classic biopic, and the horror movies that are all too real for some viewers. I once had an argument with a woman about how some of the iconic movies in horror really happened, and she told me that it was impossible. She was half-right, as some stories are never going to make it to the silver screen, and are reserved for books, magazine articles, and the kindle that never seems to arrive at my front door. (sadly)

After getting a backhanded compliment from a former client about how bad my writing is, I decided to take a step back and write for my passion, which has always been blogging. So here is a list to settle in before I dump 5 or 6 more movie reviews on you, my 2 or 3 readers still waiting for an update. You may be surprised at what I pull out of the proverbial hat, that’s for sure.

Here in no particular order are 5 horror movies based on true events!

From Hell Blu rayFrom Hell

Jack The Ripper’s detailed and intricate story may not be easy to quantify in a biopic, but in this movie we get a whole lot of myth and fact. The story of Jack The Ripper as a part of a larger cult, may work out for the movie, but it’s the gruesome and iconic storytelling that gets this one a nod in my list. Despite the fact that I can’t stand Johnny Depp, I found his portrayal quite fascinating, and the story compelling enough to reel me in. The visuals are shocking, the story is intrepid in terms of what may or may not have happened in reality, and if you are a Ripper historian, you may want to check this one out. Even if it is cartoony-like at times, it has a good narrative flow that will definitely find a home with just about any horror fan. I liked it, even though it gets a tad bit long at times.

The Entity
entity blu ray

Ah yes, horror movies in which women are molested by ghosts. Sounds more like something you’d find in a porno, and in fact I recall purchasing one long ago starring Asia Carrera and…oh never mind. The point is that this movie is one that was based on real world investigation. In the early 1970s a team of investigators looked into the case of Doris Bither, a woman who swore up and down that she was being tormented by a ghost, and was even getting beat and sexually assaulted on a regular basis. Well the investigation turned up some strange happenings in the house, and maybe a ghost like object on film, but other than that, is up in the air as far as I’m concerned. The Entity tries to shoehorn that notion into film and well, it works well enough.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper and his crew made one of the lasting impressions of horror ever when they were able to make Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This 1974 classic is alive and well today, but the events depicted in the film are similar to that of Ed Gein. There were several situations that occurred in Wisconsin in which visitors ended up a part of a sinister plot. The crazy thing about it all was the story of Gein’s arrest. Investigators at the scene reportedly found a heart on the stove of the psychopath, which goes into the same kind of thing that was alive and well for the crew in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I prefer the sequel, which didn’t happen to have true events, and a dancing leather face.

Eaten Alive

Tobe Hooper makes it twice on this list. This classic for me came out in 1977, and it features some awesome moments. The crocodile death sequence from the trailer comes to mind, but the whole movie is just a cool concept with hacked execution. The story is about a Texas psychopath that feeds anyone that crosses him to his croc. The inspiration was a guy by the name of Joe Ball. The serial killer ran an Inn and happened to enjoy feeding people to crocodiles. If you recall the dramatic television show Nip/Tuck, you will recall that feeding people to these reptiles is nothing new of a concept. I you haven’t seen this one in a while, check it out sooner than later, it’s well worth a look or two. Hooper really punched up the gore on this one, on his way to making more and more horror movies.

Every Exorcism Movie Ever!

I was trying to narrow down the list a bit, and ran into a wall. There’s so many movies that feature exorcisms and all of them claim that it happened in real life. So I’m not going to fight it, just go and pick up any movie about hauntings, exorcisms, and the likes and you will most likely run into a film that has been listed on someone else’s top 10 or 13 or 5 list. For this blog, I will just say this much, I hate exorcism movies, plain and simple.

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