Monday, October 31, 2011

Favorite Horror Movies

In honor of Halloween, I have decided to list some of my favorite horror movies.  So here are two lists: the first is comprised of my favorite older horror movies, while the second is comprised of my favorite newer horror movies.  I went with a top 5 classics and top 10 modern, because I make the rules around here.
If anyone is actually reading this thing, I would encourage you to comment with your own favorites.

The Classics Division:

5. The Bride of Frankenstein

4. Nightmare on Elm Street

3. Halloween

2. Night of the Living Dead

1. Psycho

The Modern Classics Division:

10. Scream

9. The Orphanage

8. Colin

7. 28 Days Later

6. Severance

5. Shaun of the Dead

4. Amityville Horror

3. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

2. Dawn of the Dead

1. Quarantine

I know I’m missing some (I feel like Trick R Treat should be somewhere in the Modern Classics), but, overall, I think they’re pretty good lists.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cyrus, Rubber, Trick R Treat, Severance

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer

I saw this movie in Best Buy a couple weeks ago, and I thought it looked interesting, so I grabbed it from Netflix.
It was a decent movie, but not great by any stretch of the imagination.
In this movie, we follow Maria (played by Danielle Harris), who works for a show called Last Steps, in which she goes to places of notable murders and interviews people.  She goes to a small town for a story on Cyrus, “The County Line Cannibal”.  She finds a man named Emmett (played by Lance Henriksen) who knows a lot about the life of Cyrus.  After we get his backstory, we see some of the murders. 
The more Emmett talks, the more we realize that he knows a lot more details than he probably should.

Like I said, it was a decent movie, but it never really pulled me in.  It seems like they were going for a specific mood, but I don’t think they were quite able to capture it.  Danielle Harris and Lance Henriksen were great, but the guy who played Cyrus (Brian Krause) wasn’t great, and that kind of hurt the movie.

When I watched this movie, all I could think of was how much better Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was.

One final note: it says that this movie was based on a true story, but I haven’t been able to find out what story that is.  I’m pretty sure it’s “Based on a true story” in the same way that The Strangers was based on a true story.  Which, in this case, would mean that there once was a serial killer who lived in a rural area.

Rating: 2.5/5


I had actually started watching this movie about a month ago, but I just wasn’t in the right mood for it.  I’m not sure I was in the right mood for it this time, either, but I watched the whole thing.  So that’s something.

Rubber follows a tire named Robert (I know it’s his name based on the synopsis…I don’t think they ever actually say it in the movie) who can explode objects (bottles, animals, human heads, etc.) through telekinesis.  It rolls through a town, exploding everything it comes across.

There’s a whole “movie-within-a-movie” thing going on here, which is pretty funny.  I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue, and the acting was fantastic.  I only recognized a couple actors (David Bowe and Charley Koontz), although there were a couple more that I’m sure would be recognizable to others (Wings Hauser, Roxane Mesquida and Stephen Spinella).

Overall, it was a really bizarre movie, but with enough funny moments to keep me interested in it.  I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but I’m glad I actually sat down and watched it this once.

Rating: 2.5/5

I had seen these next two movies before, but I rewatched them this past week, so I thought I’d throw them up here.

Trick R Treat

An anthology of horror stories, all taking place in a small town on Halloween.

I think I liked it better the second time around.  It’s a terrific movie, and it’s extremely well done.  Great stories.  Great actors.  And it’s legitimately creepy at times.  There aren’t many likable characters in the movie, but it still works.  If you haven’t seen this yet, you definitely need to watch it.

Notable actors: Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb

Rating: 5/5


A British horror/comedy, which follows a group co-workers who head to a lodge in Hungary for a team-building weekend.  They start hearing things and seeing glimpses of people outside of the lodge.  And, eventually, people start dying.

It’s fantastic.  It’s really funny, but there’s also a fair amount of gore and tense moments.  They mix comedy with the slasher genre (as well as some scenes that would actually fit really well in the torture-porn genre) extremely well.  The characters are funny, but also very human. 
It’s never an easy task to mix genres, but they do it to perfection here. 

Notable actors: Danny Dyer, Toby Stephens

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Hell, Chromeskull

From Hell

The story of Jack the Ripper, as imagined by Alan Moore.  In this version, we find out who Jack the Ripper is...and we find out that it may have been a little more than just one man acting alone.

This is, of course, a big budget movie.  The headliners in the movie are Johnny Depp and Heather Graham (both of whom are fantastic).  There are also a couple other recognizable actors in this movie: Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) were the two that really jumped out at me.

I enjoyed it.  It was a unique take on an old story, and it looked great.  It really drew me in to the world they had created.

Rating: 4/5

Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2

I watched the first movie in this series (Laid to Rest) a year or so ago.  I enjoyed it for what it was...a pretty standard slasher movie.  This guy was high tech, mounting a video camera on his shoulder to tape his kills, locking his victims in coffins and communicating with them by text message, etc.  He never talked, and you never saw his face...he always wore a chrome mask, which I assumed was because he had a messed up face.
The killing was violent, graphic and quick (well, quick provided it wasn't one of his preordained which case it was slow).

This one was kind of along the same lines...but not as good.  The "not as good" part mainly comes because the acting was terrible, the script wasn't great, and Brian Austin Green was prominently involved (seriously.  That guy is terrible).
In this movie, Chromeskull isn't a one-man killing machine.  He has an entire organization behind him.  Brian Austin Green was one of his cronies, but he wasn't happy just helping out.  He wanted to join in on the killing.  So he does.  Which doesn't make Chromeskull happy.  It all goes downhill from there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stake Land

With my baseball team (the Tigers) playing game 6 of the ALCS tonight, I wasn't planning on watching a horror movie.  But a 9 run third inning by the Rangers is probably going to change that.
For now, I'll review a movie I watched a couple nights ago.

Stake Land

This showed up as a "you might like this movie" on Netflix.  So I grabbed it.
You know what?  They were right.  They usually are.
This is a vampire movie that feels more like a post-apocalyptic zombie movie...all scorched earth and undead things roaming around.  The big difference, of course, is that vampires can't come out during the day.
I don't remember them ever saying what caused it, but the movie begins with the world being overrun with vampires.  We follow Martin as he is getting ready to leave with his family, only to watch his family get killed, and himself only surviving because a man (simply known as Mister) comes by and saves him.  Martin begins traveling with Mister, and Mister shows him how to kill a vampire, and how to survive in general.
They pick up a couple of people along the way: a nun (Sister), a pregnant country singer (Belle), and a Marine (Willie).  They are trying to make their way to New Eden, a place in Canada that is supposed to be vampire-free.
But vampires aren't the only thing they need to worry about.  There is a fanatical religious group that calls themselves The Brotherhood, and is fronted by the sadistic Jebedia Loven, who believe that the vampires are a plague brought down by God.

The vampire behave more like zombies than vampires.  They have one goal: to feed.  They don't think.  They don't feel.  They can be killed in the standard vampire ways: stake through the heart, decapitation, and sunlight (although the only one we really see is the stake through the heart).

The movie moves a little slow in parts, but I think it works well.  It sets a good mood overall.  The music works really well for that mood, as well.  Lots of piano.  Pretty stark.  It fits the feeling and mood of the movie perfectly.

Overall, I really liked it.  It was a little different for a vampire movie, but it worked really well.  There were some parts that seemed a little clumsy, but, overall, it worked.
There was one thing that threw me off.  One of the cowriters of the movie was Nick Damici, who also played Mister.  Mister is great at killing vampires, and he's always cool, calm and collected.  So, basically, he's supposed to be a really cool character.  And that character was played by the guy who wrote him.  That just seemed a little cheap to me.  But it doesn't distract from the movie too much.  Just seemed a little odd.  Then again, Sylvester Stallone co-wrote for the Rambo and Rocky series...but Damici is no Stallone.

There were a few people in the movie that I recognized.  Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie's Halloween series, Hatchet II) played Belle, Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness) played Sister, and Michael Cerveris (one of The Observers from Fringe) played Jebedia Loven.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Rangers are now up 12-4.  Guh.  Guess it's horror movie time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Urban Legends, Ripper, Village of the Damned

Urban Legend

It's an interesting take on the slasher genre: someone is killing college students (at Pendleton University) in the manner of urban legends.
People fight.  People die.  The ones that aren't dead try to figure out who is behind the killings before they die.  There's really not much to it, but I think it's a fresh take on the genre.  I really like it.

There are a handful of big names in this movie: Joshua Jackson, Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid, Jared Leto, and Robert Englund.
There are also some other, not-so-big names in this movie: Loretta Devine (who plays the Foxy Brown loving security guard), Alicia Witt (better known for her role at the clarinet player in Mr. Holland's Opus), Brad Dourif, and Danielle Harris.  My favorite connection here is Dourif and Harris.  Dourif played Harris' father in the Rob Zombie Halloween series.  And, while they never share screen time here, I still liked that they were in the same movie.

Rating: 4/5

Urban Legends: Final Cut

This movie is a sequel in name only.  The only character who shows up from the first movie is Loretta Devine, who is now working as a security guard at a new school.
This movie takes place at a film school.  I can't remember the name, but I guess it's not really important.  The main character can't figure out what her senior film thesis should be.  But, after talking with Devine's character, she decides to make a movie where someone kills people in the manner of urban legends.  Shortly thereafter, a friend of hers is said to have committed suicide, but she believes otherwise.  As she begins work on her movie, her friends (and crew members) start being murdered.  Although, unlike the first movie, they're not being killed in the manner of urban legends (except for one).

I don't like this one quite as well as the original, but it was still an enjoyable movie.  I thought it ended really well.

Random actor sighting: Eva Mendes, Anthony Anderson, Joey Lawrence

Rating: 3.5/5

Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

Another sequel in name only.  They reference the events of Pendleton University in passing, but that's about it.  No characters from the first two movies show up at all.

The basic plot: the movie starts in the 50s at a dance.  Football players drug three girls in order do what football players do to girls after they drug them.  One refuses her drink, and fights back.  She is accidentally killed, and her killer stuffs her in a box in a storage room.
Fast forward to present day.  Three girls are having a slumber party, and they talk about Bloody Mary.  So, after a pillow fight, one of the girls says "Bloody Mary" three times.  They giggle.
The next morning, the girls are missing.  As it turns out, some football players drugged them and took them to a cave.  Or something.  Basically just to pull a prank on them.  One by one, the football players start dying in terrible ways.  We find out that it's the girl who was killed in the 50s, exacting her revenge.

This was a terrible movie.  It was just awful.  About the only thing worse than the acting was the script.  This was an amazingly terrible movie.  At about the 15 minute mark, I just started fast forwarding through the movie, stopping at points to see if it got any better.  It never did.

The only person I recognized in this movie was Kate Mara.

Rating: 0/5

Ripper: Letter from Hell

Years before, Molly Keller (AJ Cook from Tru Calling) was the only survivor of a terrible massacre of her friends.  She is now in college, and is studying serial killers under a famous FBI profiler.  One by one, her classmates start getting murdered in the same manner of Jack the Ripper's kills.  By studying Jack the Ripper, the class hopes to find out who the next victim might be, and who the killer is.

This was a fun movie.  Not altogether different from most slasher movies, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: 4/5

Village of the Damned

Since this was on Netflix instant watch, I opted for this version over the 1960 original.

In a small town, the entire population loses consciousness at the same time.  When they wake up, all the women are pregnant.  Then, 9 months later, they all give birth at the same time.
Before too long, it is apparent that these children are not normal.  There are a series of deaths, all of them ruled accidents.  As it turns out, the children are the spawn of an alien race, and are capable of mind control.  As they get older, the children get stranger.  They all have white hair, they all hang out together, they show no emotion, and they kill anyone who gets in their way.
The movie turns into a fight between the townspeople and the children.  But, as the townspeople find, it's hard to fight against a group of mind-controlling children.

It was an enjoyable movie.  The set-up was a little long, but, once it got past the birthing scene, it was really good.

Big name actors in this movie: Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill and Kirstie Alley

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Know What You Did Last Summer Series

I had never seen either of these movies, so I did what any normal person would: I bought a pack with both of the movies on Ebay (for the record, I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer doesn't count as a movie in the series, so I didn't watch that one).  Both of these were pretty predictable horror movies...pretty much exactly what I expected.  But I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Our four main characters are Julie (the good girl), Helen (Julie's best friend), Ray (Julie's boyfriend...he's also supposed to be the poor boy in a rich town, only he doesn't look even close to poor.  Of course, when you're played by Freddie Prinze Jr, it's kind of hard), and Barry (Helen's boyfriend.  He also is, by far, the biggest jerk in the movie).  Helen wins the local beauty contest, and the four of them go out to celebrate.  They get drunk and hit a guy.  Instead of calling the cops, they throw him into the ocean, presuming him to be dead.
A year later, with all four nursing some sort of guilt, people in the town start getting killed, and the four of them are stalked.  They run.  They fight.  They try to figure out what is going on.  And so on.
I will say this for Helen (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar): she's a fighter.  Where Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) makes every stupid mistake imaginable, Helen scraps and claws and punches and jumps out of windows...all to try to get away.

The two survivors from the first movie (Julie and Ray) have defeated killed The Fisherman and are back to living their lives.  Julie is in college, and Ray is working as a fisherman.  Julie and her college friends win a trip to the Bahamas, so they go.  Ray tries to make it, but The Fisherman reappears, killing his friend and putting Ray in a coma.
Somehow, some way, The Fisherman follows Julie and her friends to the Bahamas and starts killing people (including Jack Black, who shows up as a stoner).  They fight back.  And on it goes.
There wasn't much of a difference between this movie and the first one.

Again, there was nothing overly surprising about either of these movies, but I really liked both of them.  For a high school slasher movie, you could do a lot worse.

Rating: 4/5