Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ & ‘Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.
It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.
Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.
If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!
I’ve just read some interesting news that the currently upcoming ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ movie which was rumored for a long time to be a remake of the classic John Carpenter flick is actually a damn sequel! That’s some VERY interesting news indeed. Especially since so many were under the impression that Duane “The Rock” Johnson might be recast as the legendary cult hero Jack Burton. It turns out that’s not the case at all, this is what Collider had to report about all things ‘Little China’:
“There’s a lot of things going on with ‘Big Trouble in Little China’. We are in the process of developing that, and let me tell you, the idea is not to actually remake Big Trouble in Little China,” producer Hiram Garcia tells the site. “You can’t remake a classic like that, so what we’re planning to do is we’re going to continue the story. We’re going to continue the universe of Big Trouble in Little China. Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone and I think there’s only one person that could ever play Jack Burton, so Dwayne would never try and play that character. So we are just having a lot of fun. We’re actually in a really great space with the story that we’ve cracked. But yeah, no remake. It is a continuation, and we are deep into development on that as well, and I think you’ll start hearing some things about that probably soon.”
So this sounds like it just might be a step in the right direction, however, there’s two big ass elephants in the room. The first of course is will Kurt Russell then return as ‘Jack Burton’? That actually sounds like a damn ridiculous question, because no shit Russell SHOULD return!! Why the hell not? The guy has proven time and time again recently that he’s indeed still got it as a total bad ass. Bone Tomahawk anyone?! The guy still looks awesome as well and the article explains that it could be a tricky one to film as Duane Johnson’s movie schedule is pretty tight these days filming movies like Disney’s ‘Jungle Cruise’ and some Fast & Furious spin off movie. It strikes me as pretty funny because my question here is why the fuck do we need to wait for Duane Johnson for BTILC2, just cast Kurt Russell and let’s get this shit moving! There’s gonna be some blowback IF they don’t put Russell in the movie and that’s a damn fact folks. Continue reading
If you love puppets as much as I do then this is most definitely for YOU! Have you ever imagined what horror movie would look like if everyone one in it was a puppet? Well imagine no more because someone is indeed wrapping up an ALL puppet horror flick called ‘Frank & Zed’! Holy Moly!!
Yeah this one looks like a total blast and it was recently fully funded off of a Kickstarter. It’s also comes straight outta my base of operations here in Portland, Oregon from mastermind Jesse Blanchard. Damn! It looks like a demented version of the muppet show, but with even better looking puppets. It’s gonna be a full on puppet slaughter by the looks of the footage out there. We’ll see if a puppet themed movie can really dish out the goods check this shit out! I’m stoked to see this thing is a go and is a full on feature film!
Frank & Zed is the 100% puppet horror monster movie that lives up to that premise. Done with the attention to detail and world building of the Dark Crystal and the mad mayhem and glee of Meet the Feebles (the only other two features done with this method).
It stars two classic monsters, Frank & Zed whose powerful master is long defeated. Since his death, they have survived the wrath of the mob by hiding in the ruins of an old castle. But they are soon discovered and their fates, along with those of the village below, will be decided in the prophesied ‘Orgy of Blood.’
Up until last night I’d never even heard of the HBO movie ‘Cast A Deadly Spell’ from 1991, but I was lucky enough to run across a VHS copy of this one recently. It immediately peaked my interest, the box had some quotes on it comparing it to ‘Ghostbusters’ & ‘Roger Rabbit’ with monsters instead of cartoons. Sign me up already! The movies a ton of fun and filled with some sweet totally 80’s style fx work as well as an equally impressive cast. It really perplexed me as to why I’d never even heard of this one as it’s something I would have totally dug back in ’91. Hey I think it’s better sometimes seeing a lost gem from way back in the modern era anyway…it takes me way back…
Anyway this cool movie stars Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft (seriously, how have I never heard of this movie?!) a private investigator, who hired to track down the legendary book, the Necronomicon. Lovecraft is one of the only people who’ve chosen not to use magic of any kind making his little quest all that much more difficult to accomplish. It’s a full on 40’s noir, placed in a time when witchcraft has been fully exposed to the general populace and things that go bump in the night are far more common than ever before. We’ve got a bunch of neat monsters, werewolves & zombies along the way as well as an awesome scene with some pesky gremlins by way of rad old school puppetry. Hell, we even get a random unicorn that enters the equation into this unique little horror noir comedy.
There’s some cool scenes as well that up the movie’s horror factor with some impressive unexpected gore. There’s weird super powered gangsters, voodoo priests and plenty of that classic style animatronic monster mayhem to behold here. It’s also got it’s fair share of comedy though too and it in ways really is a bit like a horror version of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. Director Martin Campell went on to direct more recent stuff like the god awful ‘Green Lantern’ movie and ‘Casino Royale’. Along side Ward is also Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown & David Warner which is a pretty star studded cast for just how relatively forgotten this movie is today.
The movie spawned a sequel as well in 1994 but I haven’t heard to many good things about that one. There’s never been an official DVD release of the movie, but it certainly deserves one. The movie is available to watch on Amazon and a few other online platforms, so if you’re looking for a little lost nostalgia this one’s a cool little forgotten gem of a movie…
I highly recommend the brand new Netflix Original movie ‘Little Evil’, especially if you’re already a fan of the modern cult classic ‘Tucker & Dale vs Evil’. It turns out ‘Little Devil’ is the newest & second movie from that very director, Eli Craig. That explains a lot about why the movie’s comedic horror charm is so damn spot on. It’s a great concept that puts a unique spin on The Omen and the “birthing of the antichrist” sub-genre of horror movies. We follow a newly married stepfather (played brilliantly by Adam Scott) as he struggles to bond with his new son Lucas while appearing to be the perfect dad to his new wife (Evangeline Lily).
It doesn’t take long before he notices his new son’s incredibly creepy & bizarre behavior and weird ass style of dressing. Most of the laughs revolve around just how crazy the kid acts while the plot ridiculously thickens as the stepdad slowly begins to accept that his new son is a god damned demon spawn. There are a shitload of memorable scenes here to relish and Craig proves once again he’s one of the best when it comes to horror comedy (damn that goat puppet is awesome!). So many attempt to pull it off usually with mixed results. The movie explores some familiar horror tropes too while adding just the right amount of eye winking to fans of old school horror.
The movie has a ton up and coming comedians & familiar faces (Watch for “Tucker” in an amazing scene) that add to it’s charm, my fave being Clancy Brown as a mysterious priest who you might remember from his role on the incredible cult classic series ‘Carnivale’. The movie’s a helluva good time (no pun intended) and has a ton of heart to it. It’s also got some genuinely creepy moments as well mixed in which is a nice touch, with all the absurdity the movies got going for it already. My only complaint is a minor one, near the final act the movie gets a little bit too cutesy, when I was really hoping they might build upon the terror of the creepy kid that was already brilliantly established. However things go in a bit in way of ‘major Hollywood style feel good comedy’ which I’m not against necessarily but was hoping for something a bit more off beat in the final act. All in all though this one’s a great Netflix original movie that’s filled with something for everyone and a second win (although not quite as good as Tucker & Dale) for director Eli Craig. Check it out!
So I recently found a copy of an 80’s monster movie I’d been trying to track down for years- Blue Monkey from 1987. One thing I totally dig is an awesome or even badly entertaining 80’s horror flick and with this one I was certain I’d found either a lost gem or at the very least a full on golden turd!! Well it turns out I was quite wrong on both guesses, after years of waiting I was quite disappointed to find out Blue Monkey is neither, but rather a total snooze fest that’s bound to put the kibosh on any movie nite party!!
The funny thing is for the first half hour this one delivers some serious promise, that’s the sad thing because after a strong opening you’re so damn sure this movie is going to deliver the goods and then some that it’s tough to give up on it! The basic premise is someone gets bit by a weird bug in an exotic greenhouse that causes big slug like parasites to emerge from the hosts mouth. When the person is taken to the hospital that’s when the “mayhem” begins and then quickly peters out into a movie that feels far, FAR longer than it’s 97 minute run time!! Yeah the first half hour has some cool gross out fx and even introduces us to a young Sarah Polley!
Aside from that there’s not much else to report, the rest of the movie features a shit ton of boring ass scenes of people walking around dark hallways and talking about a ton of shit my brain wasn’t willing to absorb. I watched this at a movie nite on a projector and as I looked around the room it was clear this movie was the fucking cure to the most intense case of insomnia!! I’d also like to add that there’s no blue monkey or anything related to a damn blue monkey in the whole damn film!!
Yeah people were nodding off and some I think got some nice zzzzz’s during most of the movies tiresome duration. When we finally get to see the monster mutant bug it’s just too little too late to give a damn. The only thing that kept this movie the least bit interesting were the two boozed up senior citizen patients at the hospital, and even the promise they showed waned pretty damn quick. The actual monster itself was actually pretty well done. If they’d have had the creature stalk people on and off during the loooong ass middle section of this movie it’d have been a helluva lot easier to sit through. Even adding a few of those “shadowy creature arm attacks and you throw some fake blood on a wall” type of scenes could have saved this one from being a full blown fucking sleep-aid!
I get really bummed out by movies like this, that with some clever editing, could have actually been a pretty fun little romp. It seems though the only thing this one succeeds at is being spectacularly boring, proving again the search for that lost 80’s horror gem is a tuff one. Every so often I’m proven wrong but usually if I haven’t heard of a movie being awesome from the 70’s or 80’s by the year 2017 there’s usually good reason! I’m glad the wait is over though with Blue Monkey, even though it was a total turd, it’s one I can happily cross off the list. This one never got a proper DVD release and now it’s finally clear why…you’ve been warned!!
I haven’t even heard of ‘Stan Against Evil’ the latest horror comedy series debuting on IFC this coming week but one thing is for certain someone is trying to give Ash Williams a run for his money. I’m not sure this series will hold a candle to Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead BUT I do love me some John C. Mcginley that’s for sure! Anyway I had a feeling that someone would come along and try something similar to Campbell’s hit series sooner or later.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think from the preview that the show actually looks like something I’ll totally like and the premise sounds promising too:
“STAN AGAINST EVIL follows Stan Miller (McGinley), a perpetually disgruntled former sheriff of a small New England town who was forced into retirement. Stan has trouble relinquishing his authority to Evie Barret (Varney), the tough and beautiful new sheriff in town, but they form an unlikely alliance when both begin to realize things are not quite right in their quaint New England town. Together, they valiantly fight a plague of unleashed demons that have been haunting the town, which just happens to be built on the site of a massive 17th century witch burning.”
The show looks promising and I’m excited to see exactly what it brings to the table, perhaps some hyper crazy HP Lovecraftian adventures?
Well whatever the case count me in, Mcginley has been in a ton of cool flicks over the years and he deserves his time to shine again, I hope this is it!! What do you think? Does this look like competition for Ash?!