M. Night Shyamalan Doesn’t ‘KNOCK AT THE CABIN’ Hard Enough!
Oh M. Night Shyamalan I always return to you! Yes he really got a hold on me ever since the ‘Sixth Sense’ and never really let go. I’m always willing to give Shyamalan the benefit of the doubt on whatever he decides to get behind. I can still remember the very first time I saw the Sixth Sense in the theater and was completely blown away. Then he brought us my favorite of his films, ‘Unbreakable’. M. Night stayed pretty consistent in my opinion all the way up until ‘The Happening’. Yes, I really do like ‘Lady in the Water’! DEAL with IT!
He had a few misses there but came back STRONG in 2015 with ‘The Visit’, then ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’ (which I loved) but then imo quickly returned right back to poor form with ‘Old’. Now hes back with ‘Knock at the Cabin’ which sadly is yet another big miss for Mr. Night. Of course, to his credit, all of his films are beautifully shot and well acted but that alone just don’t cut the mustard for his latest endeavor!
Probably the best thing about this movie is the group of strong protagonists, a gay couple and their adopted daughter who’re renting a cabin in the woods. This trio had so much potential to shine, as they’re all really well acted, likable characters that I was hoping would be in a far more compelling horror thriller. Unfortunately I’m sad to say, if you’ve seen Knock at the Cabin’s trailer you’ve basically seen the entire damn movie. Yeah, there’s not much to be said, as it’s sort of feels like a “cliff note” version of the film. Whoever made the decision to release it this way made a serious misstep. Nothing much more of real interest actually happens and it’s a pretty standard paint by number plot. That’s not to say that he always needs to incorporate a “twist” into his pictures. In this there was too much revealed and not enough diversion from the trailer. I was really hoping the movie might move in more interesting directions, hoping perhaps the cabin scenario might be just the first third of the film’s plot, as it was a good set up-the movie never took us much of anywhere else relying on a few flashbacks and tv broadcasts to try and fill in the void on the one location premise.
‘Knock at the Cabin’ doesn’t really bring much of anything else to the table of interest and it certainly doesn’t switch paths to any sort of unexpected narrative. Sure there is a thick hazy fog of tension looming throughout it’s run time but M. Night decided to (spoiler) change the ending drastically into something far more tame and much less interesting than the book it was based on. I gotta confess I’ve never read the book but I knew exactly where this movie was going every step of the way, which is not the way you want to experience an M. Night Shyamalan flick.
That seems to be the big problem, M. Night started out with arguably his greatest film of all time and ever since then he really hasn’t been able to live up to the intensity & mystery of The Sixth Sense. Every time I go to the theater to see one of his films I’m hoping that what he’s going to give me will rival his early films. That’s not an easy task for a filmmaker to achieve 24 years after a crowning achievement with one of the best movie twists in cinematic history. Watching his movies can be difficult when you’re yearning for the movie to pull out the big guns in the plot. What I wish for honestly at this point would be for M. Night to just simply direct some high level horror scripts, ones that he DIDN’T write himself. He’s an incredible director but at this point hes just sort of hit the wall idea wise. I’d love for him to take us to a true ‘R Rated’ level of horror, completely take the gloves off and give us something truly terrifying. His first venture into R-Rated horror was truly pathetic with ‘The Happening’. Knock at the Cabin starts off strong with a great small cast but quickly meander into mediocrity. Truth be told I didn’t even realize his latest film was ‘R Rated’, it felt pretty tame and maybe he needed to amp up the horror/red stuff a few notches to make his mark this time? Where does this film stand in the scope of his filmography? Here’s my ranking:
2: The Sixth Sense
4: The Visit
7: The Village
8: Lady in the Water
9: Knock at the Cabin
10: The Happening
11: After Earth
13: The Last Airbender
I’ve never seen Praying with Anger (1992) or Wide Awake (1998) but I have heard they SUCK! What’s YOUR ranking?
Hong Kong HALLOWEEN: 1990’s A Chinese Ghost Story 2!
I’m making this post assuming that obviously everyone has seen the legendary 1987 Hong-Kong horror romance action hybrid ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’?! No?! Well It’s often referred to as the “Chinese Evil Dead” and that’s a great comparison. So If you haven’t seen part one you definitely need to check it out ASAP, but even so you can still watch part 2 without having to know much about the original!
‘A Chinese Ghost Story 2’ continues right after the events of the 1st movie but this time puts the romance a bit more in the back seat and the action/monster mayhem a bit more front and center! This 1990 Hong Kong horror hybrid follows a wandering scholar as he as he continues his outrageous supernatural adventures while trying to find romance simultaneously.
Along the way he encounters cannibals, escapes prison, hides out in haunted temples, fights off an amazing giganto (animatronic puppet) tree troll, meets the reincarnated woman of his dreams, teams up with a wild martial artist turned sorcerer, faces a gigantic flying centipede (ending up inside of its stomach) and even manages to perform a rap song while taking a bath in pool of rainwater. And that’s just the shortlist of this radical spectacle!
As you can probably tell thus far, there’s really never a dull moment within it’s entire 98 minute run time. It’s filled with charming, colorful characters, amazing sets/landscapes filled with lush vegetation, roaming fog and spooky blue lighting in nearly every scene.
It’s also jam packed with awesome neon 80s animated lightning, some over the top martial arts and even manages to sneak in a little sweet romantic plot amidst all the magnetic mayhem. Better yet this one has some pretty on point comedy that shines through even despite the rudimentary but often incredible subtitles…
This is just a great big ball of fun. It’s equal parts fantasy/adventure/horror and comedy all stuffed into a juicy blender. I really think a great double feature would be to show both parts 1 & 2 back-to-back. I’d go as far to say this is probably the strongest horror franchises in all of Hong-Kong cinematic history. I have yet to see part 3 but from what I understand and these 2 are pretty much the cream of the ghostly crop.
So if you’re looking to get out of the American pumpkin patch this Halloween I highly suggest a trip to Hong-Kong’s golden era of of supernatural horror! These will not disappoint to deliver enough spooky, highly ambitious trick-or-treats from the Far East!
Best of VHS Box Art: ‘Creepers’ Still Makes My Skin Crawl!!!
It’s always great when you find a movie with cover art from the 1980’s that is just as awesome as the actual movie, it really doesn’t happen all that often. But today I wanted to showcase some vhs box art that’s just as killer as the actual movie. I watched for the first time Dario Argento’s ‘Phenomena’, the 116 minute cut the other night and it still stands as my fave Argento movie. Previously I’d only seen the heavily edited USA cut of the movie called ‘Creepers’ on VHS. One I distinctly remember back in the 80’s oogling at in the video stores as a kid like some forbidden fruit! It’s such a great piece of horror art and it inspired me to post an image of it today! Totally Metal too!!!! Iron Maiden & Motorhead! whoohoo!
VHS Verdict: ‘Wizard’s Curse’ 1992’s Bizarre Raunchy Kung Fu Horror Flick!!
I’ve been checking out a lot of 1980’s and 90’s foreign horror movies lately and the ones from Hong Kong are most definitely the most outrageous of them all. 1992’s ‘Wizard’s Curse’ is certainly proof of that, a mix of raunchy sex comedy, horror, fantasy and action all rolled into one big weird ball. A pair of “on the run” criminal lovers rumored to be practitioners of dark magic are hunted down by local police lead by a taoist priest. Using his own unique supernatural abilities he aids the cops, managing to personally slay them both. Soon after, a local cult leader resurrects their spirits into a one shared physical body, granting them superhuman powers & leaving them thirsting for human brains. They set out on a mission, to track down the priest for revenge and seeking to eat the brains of a virgin to gain ultimate powers of evil. This sets into motion a chase as the priest battles them to protect his daughter and the life of a tuff guy virgin cop who becomes entangled in the case.
Yeah it’s a weird one. It features Ching-Ying Lam better known for his role in the iconic ‘Mr. Vampire’ movies of the 1980’s as the even tempered ass kickin’ priest. The bad guy & girl share one body, change sexes at random & wear a totally 80’s leather clad outfit that’d make ‘The Terminator’ jealous. They rip though Hong Kong eating brains and murdering people with a huge glowing phallus, that’s used most of the time like a super powered snake like battering ram. There’s some really great 80’s style fx work going here, creepy moments and some frenetic action sequences keep Wizard’s curse moving at a brisk pace. Together (literally) they make a unique villain and the camera tricks utilized to make inhabit the same body are a lot of fun as well.
Ching-Ying Lam never disappoints with his kung fu either, he’s one of the best and there’s some incredibly fun supernatural kung fu battles to behold. However the movie is also entirely unsure of what it wants to be as it’s littered with sex & dick jokes when you least expect it. A lot of these Hong Kong horror movies of that era go lots of different directions and while it certainly makes things interesting this one could have really benefitted by keeping the raunchy comedy to a bare minimum. Also watching the movie with it’s rudimentary english subtitles leads me to believe the comedy may have played better if I’d have actually understood the language they’re speaking. My bad.
At the end of the day though, I definitely do recommend ‘Wizard’s Curse’, if even just for it’s sheer absurdity alone. Though it was released in 1992 it feels one hundred percent 80’s. Lots of neon, cool clothing, real stunts and a ton of 80’s FX work make it a unique little movie that never gets sleepy. It’s also filled with plenty of non PC “comedy” mostly revolving around sex yet never ends up being overly offensive some how. I liked the role of the virgin too being the wise crackin’ cop instead of the priests daughter, who regularly spends her time dodging super creepy advance & ploys from mega douchey men. The movie’s finale is pretty fun too as the Taoist Priest is forced to team up with his hilarious ex-wife who’s also a bad ass magician. And of course the movie’s final moment gag hinges on an over the top sex joke. If you’re looking for an utterly odd hybrid horror movie check this one out, it’s got a lot of weird ass shit going for it, if that’s your cup of tea!
VHS Verdict: 1985’s Female Fueled Supernatural Horror Flick ‘THE ORACLE’!!
I’d never seen a Roberta Findlay movie before up until a few days ago, but I’m pretty damn stoked to check out more of her work in the horror genre for sure! ‘The Oracle’ is a sweet yet nasty little horror film from 1985 that took me pleasantly by surprise. It really looks more like it was filmed in the late 70’s, even the clothing styles and general quality of the film has a gritty and dirty grindhouse vibe to it that certainly amplifies the charm. Taking place in the seedy areas of NYC during Christmas time (yeah a new holiday horror flick for the books) Jennifer & her asinine hubby move to a new apartment once occupied by an elderly psychic woman and soon stumble upon her creepy ass ouija board ‘The Oracle’ that she often used to communicate with the spirit world.
Jennifer, hyped on her new place, throws a swingin’ housewarming bash and with everyone witnessing, uses “the oracle” to contact a angry spirit of murdered man who demands bloody revenge upon his killers. From that point on the ghostly presence relentlessly terrorizes her & tries to manipulate her into avenging his death. Eventually she complies, but soon the murderers (the dead dude’s ex-wife & greedy biz partner) become suspicious of her snooping, and they re-hire the psycho who’d carried out the vicious killing before to try and track down Jennifer.
There’s a lot to love here with this mean ass supernatural horror romp. it’s got some truly unique characters, a cool female heroine & the killer is equally interesting being a trans/lesbian villain who’s as nasty as they come for horror movie standard of the day back then. The movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to get the point across, but in today’s landscape I doubt that you could present the character at all in the light portrayed in The Oracle. Still it was interesting deviation from the evil traditionally male killers of the 70’s & 80’s. For the obviously low budget it has it makes great use of it’s big city locales & it’s charming, ambitious special fx work. Interestingly enough this film came out a full year before 80’s cult classic ‘WITCHBOARD’.
These two actually have very similar plots and while Witchboard remains the winner here as far as quality horror there’s definitely something awesome about Findlay’s attempt. It’s nastier and carries a sort of sleezy quality that genre fans of B-movies might actually appreciate more when all is said and done. There’s plenty of subpar acting going on here and decent amount of fairly impressive gore to be found. The end of course tries to go the distance with it’s limited FX budget and in my opinion delivers the goods via a sweet little supernatural encounter.
I’m quite curious to check out more of Findlay’s movies, from what I’ve read it seems she dabbled in directing “X-rated” stuff in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s before tackling the horror genre with this movie in ’85. I’m curious about her string of movies through the 80’s, her most popular being Tenement. If you’re a fan of trashy 80’s horror you just might dig The Oracle & now you’ve got an excuse to give this underrated gem a whirl during the holiday season too!
VHS Verdict: ‘Vibes’ Starring Jeff Goldblum & Cyndi Lauper Is a Forgotten Gem!!
I do tons of hunting around town here in Portland Oregon and beyond for awesome VHS tapes for my own viewing pleasure and also for my shop Hollywood Babylon. The fun is always running across cool movies, often times I never even knew existed. This is most definitely the case when I ran across a VHS copy of ‘VIBES’ from 1988 starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum!? Yeah, at least for me this was a surprise as I’d never even heard of this one before and the unlikely pairing of Goldblum as “Nick” & 80’s pop icon Lauper as “Sylvia” kinda blew my mind. At first I thought it was simply an 80’s rom com, but upon reading the synopsis on the back I was even more excited to find that Vibes is actually a supernatural adventure flick with light elements of Indiana Jones sprinkled about it’s odd colorful plot.
Talk about a movie that sounds right up my alley? Vibes was indeed a ton of fun and it’s two unlikely leads make it a full on trip down 80’s nostalgia lane. Both Lauper and Goldblum play quirky down on their luck psychics who are hired to head off to Ecuador to find the missing son of a mysterious wealthy fortune hunter. Both seem reluctant to work together even though Sylvia who’s major bad luck with men, seems immediately enamored with Nick who’s character is as over the top Godlbum-esque here as they come. Both use their unique powers to piece together the mystery they become entrenched in, Sylvia speaks with a dead woman named Louise and Nick can see the psychic history of objects from merely by touching them.
Once the two leave the city they quickly realize there’s a supernatural element at play and their employer hasn’t been entirely honest about why they’ve been hired for the job. It’s a total pleasure to see the two leads playing off each other and it’s quite obvious from the get go it’s gonna be physically impossible for Golblum to resist the cute as a button Lauper. Cyndi shines here with her extra thick New York accent and most of all it’s the unlikely pairing of these two icons that really make this one such a treat.
The back of the VHS boasts something of a special fx extravaganza from one of the dudes from Ghostbusters which was sadly a bit misleading. There are a few neat scenes of 80’s fx at play here but ultimately the supernatural spectacle here wasn’t nearly as impressive as I’d hoped for. A few more scenes of paranormal mayhem would have made this one a full on lost 80’s classic. It does have some great sets though and the Ecuador back drop gives this a bit of a Romancing the Stone vibes at times although with less physical adventure actually going on. There’s a great dance sequence between the two as well that’s pretty darn cute as well. The main reason to seek this out is the two leads, it’s an interesting pairing and filled with a ton of fun moments despite it being a full on bonafide box office flop. One of the best parts of the movie is the closing credits song by Cyndi Lauper called “Hole In My Heart” which is one of her best and adds to the pure nostalgia of this little forgotten gem of an 80’s movie.
Lets Give M. Night Shyamalan One More Chance?!!
Well, well, well, it seems that M. Night Shyamalan has just dropped his trailer for his latest flick ‘The Visit’ and I’ve just got to say I really think he’s going to hit a home run this time! Ok so Night has struck out a LOT over the years as it seems each movie he directs gets progressively worse. But deep down in his heart I think he’s got a couple winners left to offer now that he’s kinda hit rock bottom. His problems often times are his “lessons” which he tries to teach within every movie. They come off a little too hokey most times, a little too feel good family friendly and at times a bit preachy. But many times his movies are pretty damn cool up until the final five to ten minutes.
The Visit was originally titled “Sundowning” a much better name as far as I am concerned, but perhaps he wanted to avoid giving away too much plot with the term. By the way Sundowning is a psychological phenomenon associated with increased confusion and restlessness in patients with some form of dementia. Most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. For patients with sundowning syndrome, a multitude of behavioral problems begin to occur in the evening or while the sun is setting.
With The Visit it looks like Night is going for a much more straight up horror vibe something I’ve always wished for him to try. Let’s face it the guy knows how to create some truly nerve bending moments, straight up chills and a ton of atmosphere to tingle the senses. He’s done some real shit though too like The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth (I honestly liked all of his other movies-yes even Lady In the Water!). But “The Visit” I think just might catch people off guard as the first trailer looks exactly like what I’ve been hoping for him to try, a straight up horror romp. Let’s hope he doesn’t try and teach us some worldly lesson by the end. I’m also always down for a “twist” that’ll blow my mind, but these days getting a twist by and audience or a noisy internet is pretty much impossible.
Well now that was jumping the gun a bit huh?
So if you can find it in your jaded hearts to give Night one last chance I think we might all be surprised. I mean this one is truly his low budget independent micro film. Sometimes these overblown directors need to go back to the basics, hint hint Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi? Check out this trailer I think The Visit is going to be his comeback!
Aragorn Get’s Life in ‘PRISON’!
The totally awesome and long forgotten “Prison” from 1988 has finally gotten a proper DVD release! This little gem of a movie is a real 80’s treat jam packed with cool effects, gore and some great actors to boot! Viggo “Lord of the Rings” Mortensen stars in this supernatural horror romp as a prisoner ordered to knock down a wall to an execution room where a former convict died for a crime he didn’t commit. Well as you can imagine this releases his angry spirit into a path of pure mayhem throughout the prison walls. Apparently this movie features real ex-cons too adding to it’s “realism”.
It’s been a long time since i have seen this flick but I am sure as hell looking forward to revisiting it! This one was directed by Renny Harlin who is also responsible for movies like ‘Die Hard 2’, ‘Nightmare on Elm St 4: The Dreammaster’, ‘The Adventures of Ford Fairlane’ (uggh remember that one with The Dice Man?) and that terrible prequel from the Exorcist from 2004 just to name a few. But all that aside, check out the trailer and look for it as it was released Feb. 19th on Blu-Ray/DVD via Shout Factory.
Baywatch Nights Season 2 Marathon! The Poor Man’s X-Files!
Yes! I just discovered that Baywatch Nights season two is all on Youtube! So I’ve recently been re-watching some of this stuff and it’s awesome! See what some people don’t remember is that when Baywatch Nights started out it was just a spin-off of the original show with Mitch Buchannon (Hasslehoff) continuing his beach front patrol into the late night, BUT when the ratings dropped after the first season the Hoff wanted to jump on the bandwagon of the success of the X-Files!
So what happened in season two? Suddenly the Baywatch universe was jam packed with the ridiculous supernatural creatures with only one man who could get to the bottom of shit-you guessed it The Hoff!
Still playing the same character! A lot of people never even knew this happened, they were too damn busy watching the X-files…so now I figured was as good a time as any to see what the hell I missed back in the day. Well it seems I missed a LOT! If you got some time to kill and brews to drink check out some of these-here’s a good one “Frozen out of Time” where Hasselhoff hunts down two real life vikings who’ve been thawed from the ice and storm the waterfront beating up local fisherman with their catches of the day-CLASSIC!!
The 8 Other Movies “Super 8” Owes it’s Success to…
So I’m here to tell tell you a few things today, as you guessed “Super 8” is the movie to see this summer, I loved it. Secondly it’s very obvious that JJ Abrams was a fan of The Goonies and E.T. and was trying his best (he succeeded) in replicating the nostalgic vibe of those movies for the big screen this year. He gave us that feeling we all have missed for so many years in our summer movies. But most of all it was a formula that had been used many times throughout the 80’s not only in E.T. and The Goonies but many more that have been all but forgotten.
It was a formula that seemed to put kids on dangerous adventures, most often supernatural ones, usually in small towns or the suburbs and most often trying to prove to their parents some crazy story to be true with often times unlucky results. These stories were filled with wonder and most of all they were so undeniably fun to watch that to see a movie like “Super 8” or even Joe Dante’s latest movie “The Hole” in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. So here today in response to Super 8 I’d like to honor 8 more movies Abrams was likely heavily influenced by when he made his latest
1. The Gate (1986) To say JJ wasn’t influenced by this movie when making Super 8 would be a crime!! Continue reading