Monday, May 30, 2011

Zombie Prom

As I mentioned in my last post, the Zombie Prom was a tremendous success.  Around 150 kids showed up, which far exceeded expectations.  I hope this means that we'll do it again next year.
I was slightly discouraged at first.  I had spent months putting together a playlist of monster/zombie/sinister songs, only to get 10 minutes into the event and have people start clamoring for Britney Spears, Willow Smith, Ke$ha, "The Electric Slide", and other such songs.  So the majority of my playlist was scrapped about 10 minutes in.  
Like I said, I was kind of discouraged at first, but, once I settled in, I had a blast.  I was able to mix in some of my music with some of the top 40 stuff (Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Misfits, Parov Stelar, Raveonettes, some horror theme remixes, etc.).  Everyone seemed to have a ton of fun.
About halfway through the night, a big thunderstorm hit.  It didn't really do any damage, but the lightning made for a great effect.
The people at the Arts Center set up a projector connected to a laptop, which put a bunch of zombie related clips on one of the walls.  It was amazing seeing all these kids dancing while zombies appeared on the wall behind them.
So, it was a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to doing it again next year.  In fact, I hope it comes a little sooner than that.

As promised, here are some pictures.  You can find more here (courtesy of Paul Muth) and here (courtesy of Ryan Bowe).

The folks at the Arts Center boarded up the windows and made it look terrific.

Brandon and me, getting ready to start


Me again (I love this pic)

The Zombie King and Queen (they were crowned to my modified version of Nan Vernon's "Love Hurts")

As you can see, there were a lot of kids there, and there were some terrific costumes.

Thanks for all the fun, kids.  Let's do it again, real soon.

As a reminder, my remixes can be found here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Return of the Living Dead Series

The Zombie Prom was this past Saturday.  I'll get into it a little more in my next post, but I'll say this here: it was a lot of fun.  Around 150 kids showed up, which far exceeded our expectations.  The place looked great, and there were some fantastic outfits.  I'll post some pictures in the next post.

I watched the entire Return of the Living Dead series on the day before and day of the Zombie Prom.  That is an awful lot of Return of the Living Dead in a short period of time.  So these will probably be very short reviews.

Return of the Living Dead

This is about the only movie I've ever seen that actually references other zombie movies (or previous knowledge of zombies).  The story goes that the events that happened in Night of the Living Dead actually happened.  The bodies that were taken were actually sent to a medical supply warehouse on accident, which is where this movie is set.  Of course, one of the barrels breaks open, unleashing the plague upon the workers at the well as the dead bodies in the warehouse.  One of the bodies comes to life and attacks the workers.  But, unlike most zombie movies, a shot to the head doesn't kill them.  In fact, nothing seems to kill them.  They eventually cremate the body, which kills the zombie...but the ashes end up causing acid rain that reanimate all the corpses in the adjoining cemetery.  Of course, all hell breaks loose.
I love this movie.  It's funny and crazy and a little strange.  It's a little different from your typical zombie movie, but it fully embraces that.

Rating: 5 stars

Return of the Living Dead Part II

Some kids are playing around in the woods at the beginning of this movie, and they find a barrel with a body inside.  Like the first movie, it's opened, people get infected, and the dead are reanimated.  Not much more to say, except for the fact that two of the main characters from the fist movie reprise their roles in this movie...even though they died in the first movie.  Of course, they don't have the names, and they even make mention of it during the course of the movie ("All of this seems like it has happened before,").
There's not much to's a pretty standard zombie movie.  But it's a very good zombie movie.

Rating: 4 stars

Return of the Living Dead 3

There are a couple teenagers in love at the beginning of this movie.  The father of the boy in love works for the government in a program where they try to reanimate corpses and control them for use in wars (through the help of an exoskeleton and a gun that freezes their brains (which stops them, and allows them to be stored for future use).  Of course, this doesn't work.  The young couple sees this experiment.  They decide to start a new life for themselves, and they ride off on his motorcycle.
Of course, they get in a wreck, and the girl dies.  The boy heads back to the lab to reanimate his girlfriend.  He does.  She starts eating people.
But she's a little different.  She doesn't try to eat him (something about their deep connection).  She is somehow able to curb her hunger by inflicting pain on she jabs nails through her hands, and spikes all over her body.  It's a little strange.
It goes on like this.  They have to fight a small gang (who she bites and turns).
It's good, but not great.

Rating: 4 stars

Return of the Living Dead IV: Necropolis

A group of kids are messing around on their dirt bikes.  One falls off and is knocked unconscious.  He goes to the hospital...but he is taken out of the hospital, and to a government laboratory that experiments with (you guessed it) the undead.  The kids devise a plan to break in and free their friend, which they do...but they also free a bunch of other undead, including a couple that have been fitted for war.  The kids fight the zombies.
Some odd things happened in this movie.  For one, when a living person has been infected, they just start acting like jerks.  In previous movies, they just act sick.  So I don't know where that started.
Even stranger, in this movie, a shot to the head can kill the undead.  In 1-3, nothing (short of burning the body completely) can kill the zombies.  But a bullet to the head can now kill them, and they never explain why.
It's an enjoyable movie.  Not the greatest in the series, but it was fun.

Rating: 3 stars

Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave

The survivors from Necropolis are now in college.  Somehow the stuff that reanimates the dead gets put into pill form, and is sold as a kind of Ecstasy (instead of "E" it's called "Z", because it puts the user in a zombie-like state for a short period of time).  The only problem is that it's not just a short period of eventually will turn anyone who uses it into zombies.
The big scene at the end of this movie involves a rave, where most of the people have been taking Z.  So they all turn into zombies, and it gets a little out of hand.  Again, head shots can kill the zombies, so the humans begin killing the zombies, but there are too many of them.  Cops come, and missiles are fired.  Big fun.

I'll put this one on the same level as Necropolis.  Not great, but an enjoyable movie.

Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dead & Buried, Dylan Dog

Dead & Buried

This is a little different kind of zombie movie.  First of all, it's more of a mystery than a horror movie.  We see a number of people getting killed in a small town by emotionless mobs.  The bodies are found later, and all of them have been badly brutalized.  In fact, we see a man being burned alive in the very first scene.  The local sheriff is trying to figure out what's going on.  The rest of the town seems to be in on it, but the sheriff is left in the dark.  So he starts investigating the murders, and things keep getting stranger and stranger.
And then we start seeing the dead bodies from before...only now they're members of the town.
So they're zombies, but not modern day zombies.  They're basically Haitian zombies (think White Zombie or Sugar Hill) as they serve the commands of their zombie master.  However, they don't shuffle around and look brainless like Haitian zombies usually look...they are functioning members of society...they just happen to kill people when their master tells them to.

It's not a fast-moving movie, but it's an eerie movie.  It's one that demands your time and attention.  It's a little different for a zombie movie, but it's fantastic.  It kind of feels like a Twilight Zone episode.

Random actor sighting: Robert Englund

Rating: 4 stars

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

This movie was playing at the dollar theater, so Daniel and I went to go see it tonight.  I didn't really know what to expect, but I hadn't heard good things about it (it's currently at 3% over at Rotten Tomatoes).  Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much.
This movie was a little...confusing.  I didn't read the graphic novels, so maybe they nailed the feel of it.  To me, it felt like they were going for a noir feel (the main character was a P.I. and he did a voice over and everything), but they didn't quite capture it.  It was pretty goofy at times, but I'm not sure they always meant it to be goofy.  I don't's hard to describe.
The plot: Dylan Dog used to work as a kind of consultant for the legions of the undead living in New Orleans (vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.), but something went wrong, he got kicked out, and now he's a P.I.  Except he took a case that puts him smack-dab in the middle of that world again.
Also, his assistant was killed and came back as a zombie (he was the best part of the movie, by the way...I loved that guy).

Anyway, I enjoyed it.  I was talking to Daniel afterwards, and we came to the conclusion that we liked it...but we're not sure if we can ever really recommend it to anyone.  It's not a serious movie, and it's not even necessarily a good movie...but it's a pretty fun movie.  If you're just looking for something entertaining, you could do a lot worse than this movie.

Rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Night of the Creeps, Dawn of the Dead

The Zombie Prom is this Saturday, so I dubbed this week to be Zombie Week.  I'm only going to watch zombie movies in the days leading up to the prom.

Night of the Creeps

A zombie comedy.  The movie starts in the 50s, on an alien ship.  A vial gets released into space, and eventually ends up on Earth.  The vial contains slug-like creatures who jump into people's mouths, kill them, then reanimate them.  Luckily this only happened with one person in the 50s, and they were able to freeze him before anything happen.
Fast forward to the 80s, and his body is kept near a college.  To try to get into a fraternity, two college kids break into the facility and release the body.  The body's head explodes, releasing the slugs into the unsuspecting world.
They start jumping into college kids, and pretty soon the town is overrun with frat zombies.  A detective, a college kid and his love interest try to stop the horde, armed with guns and a flame thrower.

It's a fun movie.  Good characters.  Funny lines.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Random actor sighting: David Paymer

Rating: 4 stars

Dawn of the Dead

This is, of course, a classic in horror cinema.  Night of the Living Dead may have given birth to the modern zombie movie, but Dawn of the Dead took it to another level.  On many lists, this is considered the greatest zombie movie of all time.
But not on my list.
I can understand it's place in history, and I can understand what it means to the genre as a whole.  I understand it, and I can appreciate it...but I can't rank it at the top of the list.  It spawned a generation of zombie movies, and that's amazing...but a number of those movies are better than this one.
For one, it kind of suffers from the 70s era of filmmaking, when scenes were drawn out longer than they should be, and the movie kind of dragged along as a result.  I also had a problem with the characters.  I didn't really like any of them.  They also didn't really have much of a progression.  It's almost like they completely changed how the characters were supposed to act halfway through the movie, but didn't really have any lead-up to it.  I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that's how it felt.

All of this sounds like I hate it.  I don't hate it.  It's a little long and kind of boring in spots, but I still like the movie as a whole (and I love the theme).  I can also see why it was so influential.  It really did great things for the horror genre, and the zombie subgenre, specifically.

So...I liked it.  I can respect it for what it is, but I can't call it the greatest zombie movie ever made.  In fact, I have it ranked pretty far below Night of the Living Dead.

Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Hills Have Eyes, Jennifer's Body, Night of the Demons

The Hills Have Eyes

In keeping with the whole "inbred cannibal" theme, I went with this movie.  In this case, "inbred" isn't really accurate.  Sure, this family has deformities, but it's due to the nuclear testing site that they were living on.  Still, they're crazed cannibals, so it still kind of fits in with the theme of Wrong Turn.
A family is driving through the desert when their tires are blown by a strip of nails thrown down by one of the deformed cannibals.  The family, of course, has no idea what caused the blow-out, so they don't know that they should be cautious.  Of course, members of the family go in different directions to try to find help.  The cannibals descend on the Airstream trailer, and begin picking off the family members (there is an especially grisly and long rape scene).  They steal a baby, and the family fights back.  Some of them make it out alive, but most of them die.
I enjoyed it.  Liked, but didn't love.

Rating: 4 stars

Jennifer's Body

I had heard terrible, terrible things about this movie, so I went in with extremely lowered expectations.  Maybe that helped.  (Something else that helped?  A pint of Trader Joe's Vintage Ale.)
As it turns out, I really liked this movie.  Yeah, it was a little cheesy, but, for the most part, it was pretty good.  I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Brody's Satanic indie rocker.  I thoroughly enjoyed Amanda Seyfried playing the bookish best friend.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fact the J.K. Simmons was in it.  And, of course, I thoroughly enjoyed Megan Fox as a man-eating demon.
Was it the best movie of all time?  No.  And maybe I was just in the right mood to watch it, but I really liked this movie.

Rating: 4 stars

Night of the Demons

I hadn't really heard much about this, but it showed up on my Netflix recommendations.  From watching Undeclared, I'm a big fan of Monica Keena, so I thought I would check this one out.
Some college kids throw a party in an old mansion that is something of a local legend.  The party gets broken up by the cops, but a handful of kids stay behind.  They go to the basement and find a bunch of skeletons.  One of them bites a girl, and she is quickly overtaken by a demon.  Much like zombies, if the demon bites (or kisses) another person, then they will also be overtaken by a demon.  So the demon spreads, and slowly most of the group is taken over by demons.  The three remaining humans try to fend off the demons throughout the night (they find that if they survive until daylight, they'll be free of the demons...but, if they don't, then the world will be overtaken by these demons).  So the humans fight the demons for the remainder of the movie.
It was a fun movie.  Not great, but enjoyable.  Also, it has a fantastic soundtrack.

Random actor sighting: Shannon Elizabeth, Edward Furlong

Rating: 3 stars

I finished three remixes, and you can listen to them here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wrong Turn 3, The Crazies

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead

So, as it turns out, these movies get less good the further they go along.
This movie starts out with some pointless nudity, and then a bunch of killing.  For some reason they decided to make the murder scenes more elaborate in this installation, even though they obviously don't have as big a budget.  They use CGI, but not good CGI, so it just looks really cheesy.  I have no idea why they would do this.
So, the plot: prisoners are being transported from one prison to another.  Instead of taking the main roads (they suspect an escape plot), they take the backroads...which, of course, lead them into the family of cannibals that we know from the first two movies.  Except only one of the original family members remains, so he has some new inbreds with him.  They stalk and murder the prisoners and the cops that are transporting them.
There is, of course, a love story between one of the cops and a surviving member of the party that is murdered at the beginning of the movie.  And a bunch of psychotic prisoners pitted against some insane inbreds.
That sounds like it should be awesome, but it's really not.  It's a fairly boring movie, that really adds nothing to the first two.

Rating: 2 stars

The Crazies

I had seen this movie before, but Daniel came over on Friday the 13th, and he had never seen it, so we watched it.
Fantastic movie.  There is a lull at about the halfway point, but, for the most part, it's pretty tense the entire way through.
The people in Ogden Marsh start acting - well - crazy.  A local walks onto the field during a high school baseball game with a shotgun, and has to be shot dead by the local sheriff.  As it turns out, this is not an isolated incident (as we find a little later, when a man locks his wife and child in the house and lights it on fire...then mows the lawn while the house burns).  These incidents being to increase over the next few days, and pretty soon the entire town is under quarantine.  I can't say much else without giving the entire movie away.
As I mentioned before, it's pretty tense throughout the entire movie, and there are a number of really creepy parts.  I really like it.

Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

It should be noted that, while I'm watching a ton of horror movies and trying to remix horror themes, my little sister is down in Chattanooga, helping a town that was recently hit with a massive tornado.  In short, she's a much better person than I, and you can follow her time in Chattanooga at her blog.  I would encourage you to swing by and check it out when you get a free minute.

Now...on to horror movies.

This movie starts with a slutty blonde chick getting part of her face bitten off by a man with three teeth.  That really tells you everything you need to know about this movie.

This one takes place in the same area as the last one, and involves the same family of murderous inbreds.  They're given more "personality" in this movie...meaning the girl laughs like Baby from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.  Also, you get to see a couple of them having sex (while the woman wears the scalp of a recently murdered girl).  You also get to see one of himself.  It's lovely.

This movie follows a reality show set to simulate life in a post-apocalyptic world.  It's hosted by Henry Rollins (of course it is), who plays an ex-Marine.  It's a reality show filled with beautiful people, a couple strange looking ones, and one guy who you just want to punch in the face all the time.  Eventually the family find these people and kill/eat most of them.  Because that's what they do.  However, they decide to kidnap two of them (including the girl who played Pepper in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the jock from Final Destination 3).  I have no idea why they chose these people to kidnap (and not kill), but it doesn't really matter, I guess.  The girl is tied up to a chair while the family eats.  It's pretty much the exact scene from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  I will assume that this was an homage instead of a blatant rip-off.

There's a big final showdown, there is a lot of blood, and it sets up a sequel.  Which I will be watching within the next day or two.  It was going to be tomorrow, but the Red Wings, once down 3-0 in the series, won the last three games, setting up what is sure to be a fantastic game 7, so I will be watching that instead.  But I sense a doubleheader coming up on Friday: Wrong Turn 3 and The Hills Have Eyes.  Should be fun.

Anyway, I enjoyed this movie.  Not as good as the first (that may have something to do with the extreme lack of Eliza Dushku), but still an enjoyable movie.

Rating: 3 stars

It should be noted that the Zombie Prom is coming up on May 21.  That's a week and a half away.  If you can make it, please try to.  It's going to be a lot of fun.  You can find more information (and buy tickets) here.

I have also been working on remixing some horror movie themes.  At the moment, I have working remixes for Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Suspiria.  I've been working on them during my lunch break at work.  I hope to have at least one more done before the Zombie Prom (at the moment, that theme will probably be Dawn of the Dead, but I'm open to suggestions).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wrong Turn, Phantasm

Wrong Turn

I had seen this before, but it had been a while.  I decided to watch the rest of the series, so I started with this one.
It is what it is: a slasher movie set in West Virginia, with a family inbreds killing and eating people.  Mainly hot people, but people all the same.  Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington (Quinn from Dexter) and a handful of other people are hunted down by this family.  Some of them escape, some don't.  It's basically A not-quite-as-interesting version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the entire family is Leatherface.
It's not exactly a groundbreaking movie, but, taken for what it is, it's actually quite enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars


This movie is always talked about as a classic in independent horror, often mentioned in the same conversations as Suspiria.  I liked (but didn't love) Suspiria, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  Also, this was supposed to be a quasi-zombie movie, and it had been a while since I've really watched one of those.
For starters, the zombies looked like cloaked Jawas (but without the glowing eyes).  Apparently they killed people and chopped off their legs?  I'm not sure they ever really addressed this.
I started watching this movie, and kind of stopped paying attention at some point.  Basically, there was a funeral home run by an ageless guy (the Tall Man, I believe he was called).  He had an altar-ego (the Lavender Woman) who had sex with men, then killed them, then turned them into zombies.  One kid kind of knew what was going on, and he was able to talk his brother and the local ice cream man into helping him stop those shenanigans.  They confronted the Tall Man or something, and the kid went into a different dimension for a couple seconds or something and saw the Jawas as slaves of the Tall Man.
The movie ended with some kind of "it was a dream...or was it" nonsense, with the ice cream man talking to the kid in front of a fire.  It was all very romantic and extremely uncomfortable.

Anyway, this movie was pretty terrible.  There were a couple of kind of cool moments, including one where a flying sphere latched onto a guy's face and this happened:

Shortly thereafter a bunch of blood came pouring out of the front, like some kind of deranged spout.

That scene alone made it impossible to give this a 1 star rating...but not by much.

Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Trick R Treat

I didn't really hear anything about this movie prior to its DVD release....and even then I didn't hear much, which is kind of shocking, because there were a number of recognizable faces in this movie (Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb, Brian Cox, the fat kid from Bad Santa, etc.).
It was an interesting movie.  It followed 5 separate storylines, all involving people from the same block on Halloween night, in a small town in Ohio.  All of the stories are interwoven, but not necessarily intertwined. Throughout the movie, we hear this line: "On Halloween night, the line between ours and the demons is thinnest," or something along those lines.  And that's what drives this movie...a movie filled with ghouls and demons and serial killers and whatnot.  Also, as it turns out, there is no such thing as a good person in small town Ohio.  Everyone has a dark secret, and no one really cares about anyone else.  It's a movie filled with demons and depravity.
That being said, I really liked it.  Even if there weren't any redeeming characters in the movie, it was extremely well done.  You could see different parts of the story from the perspective of different characters.  It was a creepy movie, but not overly scary.

Here are the two lessons I learned from this movie:
1. Small towns in Ohio are terrifying.
2. Children in masks who do nothing but stand and stare are really creepy.

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Halloween H20 & Resurrection

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

Welcome back, Laurie Strode.  In this movie we find her twenty years after the events of the first two movies.  Having faked her death, she is living in California under the name Keri Tate, and being the headmaster for a private high school.  She has a son (played by Josh Hartnett...who has a little of the Michael Myers soulless eyes going on), and he has just turned 17 (the age Laurie was during Michael's first killing spree in Haddonfield).  Of course, Michael finds out where she is (by killing the nurse of the late Dr. Loomis and stealing Laurie's files), shows up, and starts killing.
Really, it's the same formula as all the others, but this one feels more tense.  More well done...less a sequel just to have another movie.  And, of course, it's great to have Laurie back.
It's not as good as the original, but it's still really, really good.

Rating: 4 stars

Unexpected actor sighting: Michelle Williams, Janet Leigh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Halloween: Resurrection

At the end of H20, we see Laurie chop Michael's head off.  Well, as it turns out, that wasn't was a paramedic who Michael knocked unconscious and put his mask on.  Not being able to live with the guilt, she ends up in a mental institution, which is where we find her at the beginning of this movie.  Michael comes back, yada yada, Laurie isn't in the movie anymore.  Sad, really.
This movie follows an online reality show.  They grab a group of college students, put cameras on them, and have them go into the Myers house to find out "what makes a killer tick".  Of course, Michael comes back and starts killing them, but everyone thinks it's a hoax.  At the end, they try to make it some sort of commentary on the downfalls of fame, but it falls a little flat, because no one really cares what a kung-fu obsessed Busta Rhymes thinks.
Not as good at H20, but still enjoyable.

Rating: 3 stars

Unexpected actor sighting: Katee Sackhoff ("Starbuck" from Battlestar Galatica), Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks

The Zombie Prom is coming up (May 21), and I'm working on remixing some horror movie themes (currently working on Psycho and Nightmare on Elm Street, already have one for Halloween).  Any suggestions for themes to remix?
Also, I've decided to go with the name of DJ Braineater.