Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Leviathan Review


 "Leviathan," a 1989 science fiction horror film directed by George P. Cosmatos, nestles into the depths of underwater terror alongside other genre fixtures of the era. While it might not achieve the cult status of its peers, such as "The Abyss" or "Alien," "Leviathan" offers a unique concoction of suspense, horror, and the claustrophobic fear of being trapped underwater with an unknown entity.

The film stars Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, and Ernie Hudson, among others, as a crew working on an underwater mining facility. The ensemble cast delivers performances that oscillate between serious drama and the occasionally campy tone that characterizes many late 80s horror films. Weller, as the stoic leader, grounds the narrative, providing a central pivot around which the chaos and horror unfold.

"Leviathan" delves into the familiar theme of human greed and the relentless pursuit of progress, regardless of the ethical or environmental cost. The crew discovers a sunken Soviet vessel, the Leviathan, and retrieves a safe containing documents and a flask of vodka. The decision to consume the vodka leads to a horrific transformation in one of the crew members, kickstarting a series of events that escalate into a fight for survival against a mutating creature.

The creature's design, a combination of practical effects and limited CGI, reflects the era's limitations and ingenuity. While it may not hold up against the high-definition monsters of contemporary cinema, there's a tactile realism to the creature that CGI often struggles to replicate. The design borrows elements from both aquatic life and human anatomy, creating a grotesque amalgamation that is both alien and disturbingly familiar. This visual choice amplifies the horror of the creature, making it a tangible manifestation of the crew's fears and the consequences of their intrusion into the depths.

George P. Cosmatos directs "Leviathan" with a keen eye for tension and atmosphere. The claustrophobic environment of the underwater facility and the omnipresent danger of the deep sea serve as a backdrop to the unfolding horror, making the setting itself a character. The director uses shadows and confined spaces to great effect, building suspense and a sense of impending doom. However, the film occasionally succumbs to genre clich├ęs, with some characters making predictably poor decisions that serve the plot but detract from the realism of their predicament.

The screenplay, penned by David Webb Peoples and Jeb Stuart, weaves themes of corporate negligence and the expendability of workers in pursuit of profit. The mining corporation's indifference to the crew's plight and their decision to abandon them reflects broader societal concerns about the dehumanization of workers and the moral vacuity of corporate entities. This theme resonates with contemporary audiences, making "Leviathan" more than just a creature feature; it's a critique of capitalism's darker facets.

One of the film's strengths is its score, composed by Jerry Goldsmith. The music enhances the atmosphere, adding layers of tension and emotional depth to the narrative. Goldsmith's use of synthesizers alongside traditional orchestration creates a sound that is both of its time and timeless, underlining the film's suspenseful moments and the isolation of the underwater setting.

"Leviathan" is not without its flaws. The pacing can feel uneven, with some stretches of the film lingering on character interactions at the expense of advancing the plot. Additionally, the final act feels rushed, with a resolution that seems both convenient and underdeveloped. These shortcomings, however, do not entirely detract from the film's ability to entertain and horrify.

In retrospect, "Leviathan" can be seen as a product of its time, reflecting the late 80s fascination with underwater exploration and the unknown depths of the ocean. It captures the zeitgeist of an era that stood on the precipice of the digital revolution, clinging to the practical effects and storytelling techniques that defined a generation of horror films.

Comparatively, "Leviathan" may not stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants of its genre, but it offers a compelling narrative, memorable performances, and a glimpse into the fears and hopes of its time. For fans of sci-fi horror, it remains a worthy dive into the depths of underwater terror, a reminder of the genre's capacity to explore the unknown and reflect the anxieties of the human condition.

In conclusion, "Leviathan" is a testament to the enduring appeal of sci-fi horror. It combines the fear of the unknown with the terror of man-made horrors, encapsulating a moment in cinema where the depths of the ocean were the final frontier. While it may not redefine the genre, it remains a noteworthy entry, a piece of cinematic history that continues to entertain and provoke thought about the cost of human ambition and the mysteries that lie beneath the waves.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Leatherface (2017) Review

Leatherface (2017) Review

Buckle up, because we’re slicing into the grisly world of “Leatherface” (2017). As a hardcore enthusiast of the genre, you know that when it comes to chainsaw-wielding maniacs, few can hold a candle to the infamous Leatherface. So, let's dive into this raw and rugged prequel to the iconic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” series and see if it lives up to the bloody legacy!

Plot and Atmosphere

Set before the events of the original 1974 classic, “Leatherface” takes us on a dark journey, exploring the origins of the titular character. We're not in the typical haunted house or foggy cemetery; no, we’re thrown into the dusty and desolate backroads of Texas. The story follows a young Jed Sawyer, who after a series of tragic events, is sent to a mental institution. Years later, a violent breakout leads him on a path of mayhem and gore, shaping him into the Leatherface we all love to fear.

Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury don't skimp on the ambiance. They paint a picture of rural decay and moral emptiness, setting the perfect stage for a horror show. The grim tone and visceral violence are not for the faint of heart – but then again, neither are you!

Performances and Cinematography

The cast delivers performances as raw as the film’s aesthetics. Newcomer Sam Strike portrays the young Leatherface with a disturbing blend of innocence and burgeoning madness. His transition from troubled teen to the chainsaw-toting titan is both unsettling and captivating. The supporting cast, including Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor, add depth and darkness to this twisted tale, making every character memorable in their own right.

Visually, “Leatherface” doesn't hold back. The cinematography is a gritty spectacle, with each frame oozing dread and despair. The directors masterfully use shadows and light to amplify the horror, making you feel the heat of the Texas sun and the chill of the approaching doom.

Gore and Grind

Let’s get to the meat of it – the gore. This film delivers it in spades. It's visceral, unapologetic, and downright brutal. Every slash of the chainsaw, every scream, feels raw and real. But it's not just gore for gore's sake; it serves the story, illustrating Leatherface's descent into darkness.

“Leatherface” (2017) is a bloody, brutal ride that digs into the roots of a horror icon. It’s a must-watch for those who crave the thrill of the chase and the chill of the chainsaw. If you're a true horror hound, this film deserves a spot in your Blu-ray collection. Don’t just take my word for it – grab your copy, turn down the lights, and prepare for a night of terror. You can thank me later – if you make it through the night, that is!

Purchase your Blu-ray of “Leatherface” here and completeyour horror collection today!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Thanksgiving Review

Thanksgiving 2023

Thanksgiving: A Middle-of-the-Road Feast for Horror Enthusiasts

In the realm of horror, few films manage to serve a dish that's both familiar and surprisingly fresh. Thanksgiving attempts just that, situating itself comfortably within the genre while trying to carve out its own niche. This review promises a casual and entertaining stroll through the film's highs and lows, catering specifically to the pallet of horror aficionados.

Plot at a Glance

Thanksgiving unfolds in a typical small town where the holiday spirit is as thick as the November fog. But this year, the town's tranquil veneer cracks when a series of bizarre incidents begin to spoil the festive mood. As the townsfolk's Thanksgiving preparations turn into a fight for survival, the movie cleverly uses tension and suspense to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. While the narrative occasionally trots down the well-worn paths of the genre, it's the unexpected twists that keep the feast interesting.

The Meat of the Matter

For horror movie enthusiasts seeking the next film to add to their 'best horror movies' list, Thanksgiving offers a mixed bag. The cinematography adeptly captures the eerie atmosphere of a town caught between tradition and terror. Performances are robust, with characters that, while archetypal, provide a solid foundation for the unfolding horror. However, it's the special effects where Thanksgiving truly shines, skillfully blending practical effects with CGI to create a visceral horror experience that's as unsettling as it is visually captivating.

A Slice of Critique

While Thanksgiving succeeds in many aspects, it's not without its shortcomings. The pacing, brisk in some sections, feels sluggish in others, making the film's narrative flow feel slightly disjointed. Character development, although adequate, misses some opportunities to deepen the emotional impact of the story. Nonetheless, for fans scouring through horror movies free of pretense and filled with genuine genre love, these are minor quibbles in an otherwise enjoyable watch.

Final Thoughts and Rating

Thanksgiving is a film that, much like the holiday itself, offers comfort in the familiar while sprinkling in enough novelty to keep things interesting. It's a solid addition to any horror fan's collection but doesn't quite reach the pinnacle of the genre. This cinematic dish earns a hearty 3 out of 5, making it a worthy watch for those who enjoy their horror with a side of dark humor and traditional scares.

Craving more after the feast? Grab your copy of Thanksgiving on Blu-ray for the ultimate horror experience, complete with bone-chilling bonus features that are sure to keep the holiday spirit (and scares) alive in your collection!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Midsommar Review

Midsommar Review

I didn’t catch up to Midsommar until recently. I was definitely not sure what to expect, but I kept getting told that it was up my alley. I finally sat down, and was a little intimidated because the run time is longer than the average horror film. The first thing I noticed about the movie was how well it looked. It is bright, full of life, and has an interesting backdrop overall. I loved the scenery, and the cinematography off the bat was good. It took a little bit to get to the locales but it was worth the wait as it really did showcase a great deal of beauty. I love a well shot film, and this one was well shot from the start.

The plot starts simple enough, a group of students go to Sweden after the death of the main character’s family. They go to there with the premise of studying a festival that only occurs every 90 years. Upon seeing some of the things going on, a sinister plot brews, and they see themselves trapped in a cult’s arms. The plot thickens slowly, and things really get out of hand as some of them start to get killed before they could leave. As the body count rises, things get out of hand, and our main heroine is placed as a queen, meanwhile her boyfriend is used to breed a child, and things just keep getting nuts.

Visually this movie is superior to a lot of movies in the horror genre. The cult is sensationalized, and really well done throughout, with some very interesting moments. The acting from Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, and the rest hits hard, especially when things start to go awry in the cult and people start getting killed. Even the sex scene is shot with immense attention to detail, and the horrors therein are shown with a sinister spin.

Midsommar hits you in the head really hard a few times, and shows you some extremes in terms of cult behavior. It also shines light on the horrors of outsiders coming into a new locale. I’m not saying that all communities are going to gut you, but this one certainly did. The movie is long, but it unravels into a sinister story if you stick with it. There is a lot to unravel with this one, but I don’t want to spoil things for you, but rather am going to tell you to see it. There’s some hard moments, and a bit of gore, but the majority of the film is shot with cinematography in mind and detailed throughout. It will leave you unsettled, especially towards the end, as it really is a movie with dread and obscenity in mind. It’s presented in a good visual, and wow, I was impressed. I recommend owning this one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Tank Review

The Tank movie poster

Another day, another horror movie, and this time around we are dealing with a creature feature. I like a good one, and I don’t want to reveal my thoughts too quickly, but I will say that this one had me guessing at first, and with a solid trailer, I thought it was going to be a lot better than what it turned out to be. ”The Tank” has a story to tell, and it doesn’t hold back, it’ll just take a little bit of effort to et yourself through the slow pacing.

This movie has a simple plan of action. It features a couple with their child and dog, they own a pet store and are told that they have inherited a house. They visit this house and odd things start to happen. The kid starts to see things trying to get into the house, meanwhile the parents start to explore a water tank that is connected to the house. As the film progresses, we are shown a scary salamander type monster, and it eats alive the realtor, and then some as it terrorizes the family.

There’s a side story that tries to tie together the past and present, but overall, I found that the movie was slow moving. It is a slow progression to get through to the end, and if you invest in the movie, it will reveal itself to you in a good way. However, I’m not going to lie, it’s a slow burn. Once the suspense gives way to the monster, you start rooting for the family to take on the monster and escape. That doesn’t happen right away, as the monster takes them on head first, and attacks. There’s even a point where the kid gets kidnapped, and the dad gets almost eaten alive as well, making this a true monster flick.

“The Tank” isn’t half bad, but it isn’t half good either. It is slow, but it has some redeeming factors here and there. The monster itself is ugly, strong, and attacks with relative ease in water and out. The family is loveable, so you start to root for them towards the end. I found myself hoping that they beat the monster, and in the end, well, I won’t spoil it for you. The movie was slow, but there was enough to make it worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of monster flicks. The monster is CG for the most part, and it’s not terribly done. If you can suspend your belief, you will find this to be an entertaining popcorn flick. It’s not grand, but it doesn’t suck either.

I recommend “The Tank” to horror fans that need a new movie to check out and are out of ideas. I wouldn’t watch it again, but in my quest to see it all, it was a nice feather in the cap.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Toy Box Review

The Toy Box poster

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Lynette recommended we watch The Toy Box. I was definitely not sure, but in my quest to see all things horror, I decided to check it out alongside her. “The Toy Box” came out in 2018 and it featured a variety stars but would eventually get released to VOD and some smaller theaters overall. I could see why, as it is not exactly the best filmed movie, but let’s explore it a little more before I give it a recommendation or a beware of viewer.

The movie has a simple plot. A family goes on an adventure with a RV that they purchased. Along the way however, they start to find that their RV is not all it seems. In fact, the windows won’t open, and it takes over the driving at one point. As it turns out, the RV is haunted! No joke, it is haunted, and it was previously owned by a serial killer, and his spirit resides inside of the thing. With that in mind, you’ll find that the movie mixes a lot of genres as the family starts getting killed one by one thanks to the RV overall. All sorts of things occur, but it’s isolated to the camper, and it’s interesting to see how things play out, but don’t expect much, as the gore is limited.

With limited gore, and overall limited production, you get a horror movie that isn’t that great, but isn’t horrible at all. I didn’t find that this was bad, but overall, I did think that it lacked something. I don’t know what it was, but it just lacked. The acting is not that great, it stars Mischa Barton and Denise Richards, whom both do an ok job with the script that they are given, but it is just so slim that you don’t really get a lot out of it.

One thing that I like in horror is the ability for characters to survive somehow, or to defeat the spirit or antagonist in a way. It bugs me when there is no out, and well, in this case there wasn’t much of an out at all. In fact, I found that this was a bleak, sad sack of a story, and eventually just ended without any recourse. I guess that’s how it goes sometimes, especially when it comes to horror movies.

Overall, “The Toy Box” is enjoyable on a smaller scale, but it definitely lacks something. It’s straight to DVD quality, and there are some moments that aren’t half bad, especially when the spirit shows itself as the serial killer, but other than that, it’s a lackluster romp that you can avoid unless you’re running out of horror movies to watch and just find this one. Collectors only, if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Open Graves Review

Open Graves dvd review

I don’t usually take so long between posts, but I have been without a computer for a while. I recently purchased a new option, and have some time on my hands. With that in mind, I decided to jump into the pantheon of horror again and start reviewing. Today, we go back to 2009 and we look at the movie “Open Graves”. This is a horror movie that fell under the radar for me, and only recently have I circled back to check it out. It’s a movie that I had no idea existed, then boom, it comes to streaming and I decide to check it out.

The opening is a little fast, and you are taken to medieval times where someone is being tortured. Their skin and organs are made into a game, a board game that is given a curse, that will be the crux of what the movie is about overall. The movie then moves to modern times, showing a great deal of surfing to begin. Surf fans will like this, but I’m not sure why the movie spent so much time with surfing, as it doesn’t need to be there as much as it is, so I guess it’s fine.

After we get to present day, we meet up with a group of friends that are on vacation and are tourists in a new town. One member finds a weird store that has oddities, and once he goes in he is given a game by a man in a wheelchair. The game, however, is not what it seems, and much like you saw in “Jumanji’, something sinister is afoot. You see, the game is simple enough, if you win you get a wish, but if you lose, you will die in the manner that the game states.

The friends begin to play and they progress, only to have some lose. As people lose, they start to leave the house for various reasons. When they leave their house, however, they end up dealing with sinister issues. They end up dying as the game foretells, and the movie shifts gears to where our main character Jason, has to keep playing and hope that he can win to get a wish to bring back his friends.

“Open Graves” stars Eliza Dushku, and Mike Vogel, and it’s 100 minutes long. It isn’t too bad, it speeds through, and then really kicks into full gear when our main hero decides to fight back and try to win the game. The movie was filmed on a low budget, and it somehow overcomes that. Mix “Final Destination” and “Jumanji”, and you get a feeling for what “Open Graves” is all about.

Not all is good with the movie, mind you There is bad CGI, there are some grotesque moments, and overall its comedic to see how things work out. I didn’t hate the movie, but it definitely has some holes in the presentation. Overall, however, “Open Graves” delivers on the premise, without hand holding, and it’s a strong movie to watch. I liked it. Check it out streaming today.