Last night I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic lost haunted house 80’s gem from Japan called ‘Sweet Home’! I only heard great things about this one recently online while looking for obscure horror movies and just had to check it out for myself. It was never released here in the USA but luckily there’s a great site called Twisted Anger that has some excellent lost cinema you can purchase if you’re not thrilled about watching movies on Youtube (it however is indeed on Youtube).
Sweet Home has some real sweet things going for it, right from the start of the movie it’s clear some love went into the production of this one. It’s beautifully shot and filled with some stunning locations and sets peices. Writer & director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s probably most well known for his 2001 horror film ‘Pulse’ does a great job here letting his spooky tale unfold on screen with tons of color and a great score to accompany it as well. We follow a TV production crew who’re making a documentary about the legendary, now deceased painter, Mamiya Ichiro. They trek out into the foggy countryside to his creepy abandoned mansion and begin exploring, discovering his strange paintings about the house. Soon they begin filming & are confronted by a deadly presence that intends to possess and destroy all who remain inside.
It’s a simplistic story that takes some nice twists and turns along the way and is filled with some colorful characters as well as some nice comedic moments thrown in for good measure. The real star of the show however is clearly the movies excellent special fx work from American master of trade Dick Smith. Smith’s got an impressive resume too as he’s well known for his work on movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist 2, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, to name a few. The movie starts off with a quiet tone however when weird shit begins to go down Smith’s stunning fx work really pushes the movie into new territory and is a true glory to behold. The quiet little ghost story by the finale explodes into an action packed visual feast with one of the best onscreen ghostly monsters of the 1980’s. Creepy babies, melting men, monsters & with tons of that 80’s electricity I adore so much, it really contains some “why the fuck have I never seen this before” moments that if you’re a fan of that classic decade of horror you’ll truly appreciate and likely never forget.
From what I’ve read about this movie, it’s been said the director wasn’t happy with this or really most of his 80’s work. Like ‘Poltergeist’ where it’s rumored Steven Speilberg was actually the one on set with the megaphone rather than Tobe Hooper, Sweet Home’s producer was also rumored to be quite an imposing force to director Kurosawa’s final vision. Still the movie manages to be one helluva good time despite any behind the scenes squabbling and is must see for any fans of ghostly 80’s horror done right. The movie also spawned a rather hard to find Nintendo NES Capcom video game as well as being the main inspiration of ‘Resident Evil’. I recommend seeking this odd little lost treasure of flick out this halloween, the fx alone are worth the price of admission!
Here’s yet another entry for all you folks out there who STILL get dvds in the mail from Netflix! I know there aren’t all that many of us left these days, but I’m the type of guy who still thinks dvds are the bees knees! Yeah!! So what of it?!! Don’t get me wrong, I still stream stuff on the online Neflix site but let’s be honest most of that shit SUCKS – Hence why I’ve been combing the dvd Neflix library for lost gems!
Good news folks, I found another gem in their vast sea of aging dvds, this time we’re looking at a movie from Hong Kong from way back in 1987: EVIL CAT. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon this cool ass little Chinese horror movie but I’m glad I did cuz it was a ton o’ fun! This crazy ass little movie is jam packed with quirk, 80’s electricity and frantic action sequences, basically everything I dig about the 80’s. Director Dennis Yu brings the fun and amps up some seriously ridiculous shit as we follow the exploits of an evil cat spirit (who’da thunk huh?) that’s released from it’s ancient sealed tomb by a construction crew & unleashed upon Hong Kong in the late 80’s.
The movie moves at brisk pace too, the evil cat spirit moves from body to body kinda like that Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen’ if it was more of a spastic colorful horror romp. It’s actually pretty damn funny when the spirit possesses people, they start acting like wild feral cats growling and scratching like maniacs. It’s pretty cool to see these actors go for it and go pretty far over the top with their possessions.
The evil cat spirit however has problems of it’s own though as we learn over centuries one family has been hunting it and keeping it in check over generations. In the 1980’s there’s an old badass dude from that bloodline who’s dying from cancer who pulls out the old magic bow & arrows from storage to put a stop to the feline madness himself. There’s some sweet plot twists here, crazy characters & some surprising gore that pops in out of nowhere from time to time. The movie never really drags and wears it’s 80’s influences firmly on it’s sleeve. You get a pretty damn fine representation of what Hong Kong was like in the 1980’s, filled with neon and great 80’s fashion. It’s clear if you’re looking for more great crazy cinema from that era, there’s a treasure trove of movies waiting to be discovered from Hong Kong studios.
Evil Cat is definitely worth tracking down and the finale is pretty cool especially when the evil cat possesses a woman who’s nearly as unstoppable as the Terminator! The actual cat spirit is portrayed several times as cool hand drawn animation & then as basically a female cat “creature” pulled from the broadway musical “Cats”.
So while there were several aspects of the movie that could have been done better it was still an incredibly inspired 80’s effort to witness for the first time with no expectations. Also if you’re a fan of kung fu there’s some cool crazy showdowns and plenty of humor thrown into the mix. Some if it being likely being due to some shoddy subtitles and translations that just add more charm to the viewing experience. Track down EVIL CAT or if you still have a Netflix dvd account then throw it into you’re queue!!
We’ve got a ton of movies these days that are trying to be a throwback to the vintage horror classics of the 70’s & 80’s but only a select few of them succeed on the level they attempt. ‘We Are Still Here’ not only succeeds it actually made me forget I was watching a movie released in 2015. What we’ve got here is on helluva ghost story with it’s lead being Scream Queen Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall fame which further legitimizes this flick’s already convincing retro time period.
It’s the 1970’s, after the death of their son Bobby in a car accident, Anne (Crampton) and her husband Paul (Andrew Sensenig) have decided to relocate to a new home way out in the boonies of New England. There they hope to find some peace in the midst of their mourning. Paul hopes this move will help his wife snap out the heavy depression she’s recently been dealing with and perhaps will help her begin to move on. No such luck, upon their arrival Anne is convinced her son’s ghost has now manifested in their new home.
As the ghostly events become more intense she decides to ask for help from her close friend May (Lisa Marie), a supposed psychic, and her pot smokin’ free spirit husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to try and make contact with Bobby. Shit gets even more freaky, as the weird townsfolk begin revealing the house they’ve moved into’s dark past that’s somehow legendary among them.
It’s a simple premise and just when you think you’re gonna get your average ghost about the house flick you’re knee deep in serious gore. That’s an interesting aspect of this movie, these ghosts will fuck you up big time if you’re nosing around where you’re not wanted. Director Ted Geohegan brings the splatter galore in this grisly tale and does it all old school style via some impressive practical effects.
The Ghosts too are pretty cool looking and the movies got a neat little mystery going on as well. It’s a short sweet little haunting movie that stands in a category all it’s own. You won’t want to miss the final conflict either as things get all ‘Evil Dead II’ pretty quick! Also this appears to be Ted’s first time directing and it’s a great debut. Cool to see he was born right here in Oregon a few miles from where I live! Check this flick out on Amazon, Itunes, Google play etc etc. It’s pretty awesome!
Housebound has got to be one of my favorite movies of 2014, easily one of the best “horror” comedies I’ve seen in quite some time! This splendid little flick from New Zealand is filled with a ton of mystery, some great scares, creepy cool atmosphere and a lot of laughs. This one kinda plays out like a twisted Scooby Doo adventure. It’s a simple premise here, our troubled heroine Kylie gets caught trying to rob an ATM and is soon sentenced to home detention back to the house she grew up with her mother. And what a large creepy house it is!
It doesn’t take long before things get weird as Kylie one evening insists on using the phone, while her chatty mother tells her she’s taking an important phone call. Leading to one of my favorite moments in the movie, as Kylie heads of flustered into her bedroom she turns on the radio to a station that’s got a “Coast to Coast” style paranormal program in progress. She notices they’re taking a live phone call from a woman who sounds oddly just like her mother, claiming that the house she lives in is haunted.
From here the story gets incredibly interesting taking twists and turns galore and to give away anymore of the plot would be a crime! Housebound is a nonstop thrill ride and will have you guessing right up to the very end. It’s a crazy little adventure, with real heart at it’s core. That’s not to say it’s devoid of scares or even gore, this one has it all tightly wrapped into one helluva humorous yet creepy package. The house where much of it takes place is pretty awesome as well, filled with more than enough odd rooms, long hallways, creaking doors and mysterious closets and cabinets! It’s also got a great sequence with a Teddy Ruxpin type talking bear that’s pretty damn incredible as well as the most genius use of a cheese grater you’re likely to ever see. So I highly recommend checking this one out if you’re looking for a great Saturday night popcorn flick! A ton of fun & one of the best flicks I’ve seen all year…
I love Stan Winston, he made soooo many amazing movie monsters come to life with his genius special effects wizardry! From the Predator, to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to the incredible Pumpkinhead! Yes Pumpkinhead is one of my fave monster movies of the 1980’s hands down, and it was also directed by good ol’ Stan! Now let it be known that he really didn’t direct much, The Terminator 2 mini-film for the Universal Studios theme park and the Michael Jackson movie/video “Ghosts” in 1997 I thought was it for him. But I just found out today that he did indeed direct another full length feature film besides Pumpkinhead, so naturally I was pumped to check out his follow-up he did back in 1990! Well it just so happens to be a flick titled “A Gnome Named Norm” starring Anthony Michael Hall and a horny ass Gnome who’s lookin’ too impress the ladies!
Check out the trailer:
Well, now isn’t that something?! It looks like perhaps Winston was the inspiration behind flicks like “Munchie”?
Not quite what I was expecting after motherfuckin’ Pumpkinhead, but hey I gotta say that ‘A Gnome Named Gnorm’ looks like a damn good time!! So this one will go on my list of must watch movies-however this one I may need to view with a gang of friends and a few too many drinks!
You can watch the full feature on youtube too! This movie also went by the name ‘Upworld’, it’s crazy to find movies like this that somehow slipped under the radar!
The spookiness doesn’t stop after Halloween! Nope it’s The Day of the Dead today so check out this super incredible stop motion animation short from 2002 by Kirk Kelley “Dia De Los Muertos”!
It’s an awesome little nightmarish vision that will surely get you into the mood to party with the dead! I think he brilliantly captures the spirit of it all…
I have been reading the new image series “Revival” the past few months and it’s quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite monthly titles. I am making bet that it becomes the next big hit for Image comics. I still am a big Walking Dead fanatic, though for me the story has gotten a little dull over the past year or so. Even with the “shocking” death of Glenn recently I think Kirkman needs to shift gears in the series and bring The Walking Dead story to some new fresh levels. The Walking Dead is feeling a little to “dead” lately, as I have said before “shocking” deaths don’t necessarily equal great story telling.
So I am pleased to report there’s a great new series that does deliver us some fresh new ideas on the “undead” a genre which to be quite honest is boring the shit out of me lately. New zombie movies? I don’t even care to see ’em anymore. I’m so burnt out on the zombie thing it makes me kinda sick to my stomach. However this ain’t the case with Revival. So far they’ve crafted an intriguing little story set in my home state of Wisconsin. Yeah there are undead, but not your typical, these people rose from the dead on day in this small contained area of the country. They aren’t mindless creatures, they return to their former daily lives. The only thing is these undead have quite a temper and on top of that you’ve an eerie thin white creature wandering through the forest and a bizarre religious “Limp Bizkit” listening exorcist taking care of possessed teenagers. Yeah it’s a fun one and it’s all in the hands of a small town detective named Dana. So if you’re looking for a cool, original and refreshing horror “farm noir” adventure then you need to grab Revival ASAP! I’s bound to be big.. Also for a great interview with the series creators Timm Seely & Mike Norton check Comicbookresources.com and get the full scoop!