Tagged: special fx

VHS Verdict 1987: ‘The Caller’ & The Art of the Twist Ending!

I checked out a perplexing VHS tape last night, ‘The Caller’, a “thriller” from 1987 starring Malcolm Mcdowell & Madolyn Smith. Now even though I’d been told this flick had a twist ending and even on the cover it boasts “a surprise ending”, somehow I’d just had no way of predicting what was gonna go down no matter how hard I tried during. That’s a pretty difficult task especially in this day and age. M Night Shyamalan eat your heart out. Warning, this one’s got a ton o’ dialogue and then some, oh boy and then some. At it’s beginning something is most definitely off with our two main characters and immediately my mind began racing to try to figure out just what the hell it could be. Basically it’s just two actors the entire movie and is a simple story about a woman who resides in an cabin out in the woods, who one dark night has a strange creeping man, Mcdowell, appear at her front door, claiming his car broke down and needs to use a phone.

From that point on both of these characters act in truly bizarre ways, they talk to each other about how they’d get away with murdering one another and at times actually get quite physical while doing so. There’s a ton of tense talk here and overacting a ‘plenty to behold from them both. The premise though startlingly simplistic and a bit absurd does a decent enough job of keeping you curious about where the fuck this one’s going to end up. It’s not the average “stalker” movie that the cover makes it out to be either, think more of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone instead. I’ve gotta admit the interesting thing about this one is that about an hour in I was getting a bit frustrated and had some serious doubts that things were going anywhere remotely interesting. There’s a lot of weird motive flip flopping amongst the two leads & at one point it almost seemed as if it might sharply go the erotic thriller route.

The odd banter at times can become quite tiresome but as the movie ended, I appreciated it and actually consider the lengthy chatty-ness of it all to make the finale that much more effective. Being a bit of a sleuth at the movie’s beginning I’d noticed a couple things that reinforced my will to stick it through to the end the first being the legendary horror b-movie bandit Charles Band was an executive producer, Richard Band did the music and also fx wizard John Carl Beuchler who’s know for his work on Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood (which is one of my faves), Nightmare on Elm St. 4: The Dream Master & Re-Animator was behind the fx work. These three things should give you enough of a reason to check this one out, if in fact the names mean anything to you. Definitely a hidden gem, that most definitely worth one solid viewing!! It also may deserve a quick re-watch to see if there perhaps are some clues amidst all the dialogue that may have really foreshadowed the movies bizarre ending. A neat-o 80’s low budget mind bender~

I couldn’t find a trailer for this one but here’s the whole damn movie if you’re feeling frisky!

 

 

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Movie Review: ‘Sweet Home’ A Lost 80’s Japanese Ghost of a Gem!

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!  

 

Movie Review: ‘The Void’ is a Total 80’s Throwback Nightmare!!

I was lucky enough to be able to check out the latest 1980’s throwback monster movie ‘The Void’ at the Hollywood Theater here in Portland Oregon last night. I’m pretty fucking stoked that I’m so close to one of the coolest theaters in the country that’s constantly giving us here alternatives to the huge Hollywood blockbusters continuously cranked out. If you’re ever in Portland I highly suggest checking out this place as it always has several incredibly unique events and movies happening there. But I digress, The Void was definitely a thrill to see on the big screen!

I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while and right now it’s showing all across the country at select theaters. If you’re a fan of classic 1980’s horror flicks like ‘The Thing’, ‘Reanimator’ & ‘Hellraiser’ you’re in for quite a treat. ‘The Void’ captures the look and feel of films like these with ease, similarly creating an incredibly unsettling sense of dread throughout. Seeing it at the particular venue I did intensified the experience, along with the fact I smoked some pot (hey it’s legal here now so get off my back!) before and I felt a little bit like I was transported back to simpler times when horror flicks were at the peak of their charm. It’s story is pretty simple at it’s surface, taking place almost entirely inside a lonely hospital during a graveyard shift. We meet a group of people whose quiet night soon becomes a descent into total madness as the hospital becomes surrounded by a weird ass masked cult dressed in white robes with black triangles displayed upon their hoods. Continue reading

The Suckling: The Weirdest Revenge Film Ever!

Damn! I recently found a rare copy of The Suckling (AKA Sewage Baby) from 1990 on vhs and it easily goes down as one of the most controversial schlock horror films of all time. This little weirdo of a movie give us a truly unsettling plot of revenge you’re likely not going to find anywhere else. So what makes this movie any different than any other horror movie? Well the dicey plot is surely going to offend a large number of folks, especially in 2017.

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It goes something like this, a young couple considering having an abortion, heads off to an inner city brothel to contemplate this tough decision. Because of course that’s a great place to ponder things like this! Of course things don’t go quite as planned as the loser boyfriend who’s eagerly pressuring his girlfriend to go through with it arranges for her to meet with the head Mistress “Big Mama” to run through the details of the procedure. Well Mama has other plans as she drugs the young woman and orders one of her “employees” to help her go through with it without the woman’s consent. Totally normal stuff there huh?! Well they then proceed to flush the fetus down the toilet and we follow it’s journey as it arrives in the sewer, leading us to a pretty memorable horror movie moment. Pretty goddamn weird huh? I’ve gotta say though, nothing gets too gruesome here thus far as the movie’s clearly spent ALL of it’s money on the monster and that’s a good thing. So no real worries about being grossed out by realism.

 

To make matter even worse, we then see the fetus is sitting in a pile of toxic waste that’s seeping into the ground from above and quickly begins to mutate into full grown pissed off monster who’s hell bent on revenge from the the people who’ve sent him to his doom. I mean talk about a political statement huh? This one’s definitely NOT for everyone and the filmmaker likely had some strong feelings in the topic? Or maybe they just simply thought it’d be a good setup for a creature feature? Looking at it as a revenge flick, it’s actually got a pretty inventive plot no matter what side of the argument you stand on.

Things get nasty pretty quickly inside the brothel and soon the monster is trapping the people inside with a nasty membrane that begins to grow around any exits the house has. Pretty much everyone in this movie is either a moron or a total asshole, so seeing them get picked off is never all heartbreaking. We got a ton of bad acting, combined with some attempts at decent action scenes & surprisingly solid monster effects that utilize some cool animatronics along with an impressive man in suit monster. That’s the interesting thing here, the creature actually is pretty cool and stands strong alongside some of the best b-movie monsters of the 80’s & early 90’s. I’ve gotta give them props for that.

Yep, the movie’s whole budget likely went into the monster effects & the funniest thing about it all is that on the back of the vhs they say this “THE SUCKLING has been compared to Alien for its claustrophobic intensity and Die Hard for its non-stop action.” Sounds kinda like the best movie ever huh? Well I’m not quite sure who decided to compare it to those because inventive as it all is it really never quite hits the mark of either of those films. Instead though what you get is an enjoyable offensive schlocky monster movie that’s exceeds just with the pure outrageousness of it storyline. This one is definitely not for everyone but if you’re a fan of odd-ball vintage cinema you’re likely to wanna track this little flick down and be fully ready to go full on mystery Science Theater 3000 on it!

Review: Ash Vs Evil Dead Season Two Debut!

I checked out the first episode last night of season two of Ash vs Evil Dead that’s streaming for FREE on Starz website. I’ve gotta say I think this episode might be one of the best ones thus far in the whole series. I really enjoyed season one, it did exactly what it set out to do which was bring us a fully over the top adventure featuring everyone’s favorite iconic cult horror anti-hero Ash. Did it have it’s flaws? Certainly. Some of the FX work relied too much on some questionable CG and at times there were a couple episodes that were just a little bit flat. Overall though, it packed the punch it promised and it was truly incredible to finally see Bruce back in the role. I gotta say I really never thought it would actually happen.

So season two comes around and part of me wonders if this whole formula will grow tired? Well the first episode did NOT disappoint! I couldn’t help but smile during it, Bruce is just so damn lovable and his two sidekicks have definitely grown on me, In fact someday I could see these two continue on the Evil Dead franchise without Bruce if he someday decided to hang up the chainsaw. I also loved the opening, having lived in Jacksonville Florida myself, the whole idea that THAT city is Ash’s personal view of paradise makes the idea that much more comedically potent.

I’m totally diggin’ where the show is going and we get to meet Ash’s very non PC dad (Lee Majors) which is a total treat. I do wish they’d have stayed a bit longer in Jacksonville, but I love how we’re getting some of Ash’s backstory in his home town in Michigan. What really do we know about the character otherwise? This begins to really flesh him out. Also someone must have been listening to fans reaction to the CG FX because the season two debut is almost entirely done with gory ass practical effects. It really looks great and feels more like the original movies than any of the other episodes. Well done. This show is pretty damn awesome and it’s the perfect thing to get you into a good mood if you’re feeling blue. I’ve just gotta catch this season weekly, it really is a show that makes me smile. In the meantime I’m going to watch this episode again, yeah it’s that good…  

Here’s the teaser for the next episode:

The Birch: A Truly Tree-rific Short Horror Film!

I’ve been on a bit of a horror kick lately here and I just had to share this awesome short horror film called Birch. Beautifully filmed along with a totally original story and an incredibly awesome creature too make this one easily of the best super short horror films I’ve ever seen.

I’d say directors Ben Franklin & Anthony Melton are two people to watch in the future. This on is under five minutes long but it’s one of the best, most unique “getting even with a bully” stories you’re likely to ever see. I think the premise would make for a great feature film. Check this out:

 

That Ultra Freaky Doug Jones Puppet In Gehenna!

There’s a cool little indie horror flick wrappin’ up production right now called Gehenna and from what’s been revealed thus far it’s looking like it’s going to be quite a spectacle! Directed by effects wizard/master sculptor Hiroshi Katagiri who’s worked on movies like Pacific Rim, Looper & The Hunger Games comes this full on practical fx driven horror flick.

Also add Doug Jones into the mix as one of creepy creatures and  you’ve can bet that you’re in for something special. The movie was successfully fund via Kickstarter and thus far this is all we’ve got in way of a plot synopsis:

                                                                                                    Doug Jones masters his personal puppet!

“A group visits Saipan to search for locations for their company’s newest resort. As they find what they think is the perfect spot, they discover a hidden bunker on the property which they decide to explore. However, they soon find out that curiosity can kill.

As each member faces their most private secrets and the secrets of the bunker itself, the results lead to a most shocking conclusion. …”

Keep your eyes peeled on this one as it looks like it’s going to be pretty awesome and follow it on Facebook here!