Sunday, April 29, 2018

Brad Cutting Class

So. Cutting Class. *sigh*

A little disclaimer: Slasher films will always get an automatic A from me, just because they are slasher films. The minimum criteria for being a slasher film should include the four B’s: Blood, Boobs, Body Count, and Bad acting. That being said, I can confidently say that if Cutting Class were being’s a good thing for that automatic A.

There’s also an extra credit portion - star power. As I’ve mentioned before in my first blog: “Even George Clooney did a horror movie”. The bigger the star, the more extra credit points.

So, let’s switch this up a little. I’m gonna review Cutting Class on a grading system, you know, since the movie takes place in a high school.

Okay, so, here we go.

Blood: D-

There’s like, one bloody scene. One flash of a bloody scene. Like if you happen to blink at the precise moment, you’ll totally miss it. There’s very little gore or blood or anything slasher movie like. It’s kind of like watching an 80’s slasher movie on network television. The only reason it’s not an F is because it happened to be an axe to the face. I’s an axe to the face.

Boobs: F

One boob shot. One. Just one. And it lasts longer than the one blood scene.

That's not the boob the way.

Body Count: C+

There was an admirable amount of dead bodies, but it’s a high school slasher movie. I really would have liked to have seen all of the protagonist's friends murdered by the end of the movie. No such luck, though.

Bad Acting: A++++

Man, is it bad. It is SOOO bad. So, okay, every character was like a stereotype. Brad Pitt plays “The Jock”, Donovan Leitch, Jr. plays the “Creep teen who was just let out from a mental institution” and Jill Schoelen plays the “Virgin Cheerleader”.

Oh, but the best are the other stars in the movie. Roddy McDowell plays “The Perverted Principal” and Martin Mull plays the “dad-who-gets-shot-with-an-arrow-on-a-hunting-trip-two-miles-from-town-and-has-to-slowly-stumble-back-home-but-totally-gets-to-deliver-the-last-line-in-the-movie”.

That line, by the way, is “Why aren’t you in school? I hope you weren’t cutting class!” Heh.

So, I suppose that means that Cutting Class still gets an A even though it’s lacking on the Boobs and Blood. To be honest, I think I would actually enjoy this movie more if someone remade it with drag queens. I mean, it’s really begging to be campy and silly and it is sort of a meme of itself.

I'm not kidding about that. If there are any drag queen troupes out there, please, oh, please get together and make a remake of this. Rupaul, I'm looking at you!

Soo, next week’s movie? Chernobyl Diaries. I am SO stoked for this one. Yay! Found Footage movies!

-- O~

Sunday, April 22, 2018

You suck, Josef.

So, fun fact time!

I, Ophelia Crane, am seriously prone to jump scares.

So, like, we can talk all day long about how jump scares are cheap forms of scare tactics in horror movies and nobody really falls for them, blah, blah, blah.

So, yeah, I fall for them. Me. I do. Every time. All the time.

You remember about ten or fifteen years ago when jump scare videos were all the rage online? Well, I had the misfortune of having friends who would send me those damned videos all the time. I’m still pretty pissed about it.

Let me clarify. I like being scared. I don’t like being jump scared. I can tolerate it most times, I mean, that’s kind of a part of most horror movies, but if I’m dealing with a movie that relies on jump scares…well, it’s a little like being tickled for too long. It’s not fun anymore and you kind of want to throw up.

So, This week’s movie. 2014’s Creep. Point number one: It’s a found footage movie, which I am always initially skeptical of. Found footage films are a mixed bag. Most of them range from decent to straight up boring, but sometimes, you run into a pretty good one. This is not one of those times.

So, here’s how Creep breaks down.

Videographer, Aaron, answers a mysterious ad for someone to come out to their house and video tape a portion of their life. The house in question in out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. When he first arrives, there’s no one there. He goes back to his car where (enter jump scare# 1) he’s surprised by his client, Josef.

Josef takes him inside and tells him that he is dying of cancer and his wife is pregnant with their son. He tells him that he wants to videotape a day in his life for his unborn child…then promptly tells him to follow him into the bathroom, where he is going to take a bath. 

Wait. It gets better.

Josef allows Aaron to film him taking a bath, which, while weird, kind of turns into a sweet kind of thing with Josef pretending to bath with his baby son. He, then, goes a little dark and starts to talk about ending it all. He goes beneath the water and stays there for an uncomfortable amount of time. So long, that Aaron goes to check on him and, enter Jump Scare# 2. 

After the bath, Josef shows him around the house and they find a wolf mask (Jump Scare# 3) that he calls “Peachfuzz”. Blah, blah, something about Josef’s childhood, and they’re going for a walk. 

As soon as they’re in the woods, Josef takes off. Aaron, freaked out looks for him and Jump Scare# 4.

So, by this point, Josef starts to get weird…well, weirder, anyway. After scaring him for the fourth time, he says something to the effect of: “See, that’s what it’s like to feel like you’re gonna die. Isn’t it incredible?”

No, Josef. It’s not. And I hate you.

It’s around that point that the movie lost me. Aaron gets faced with several moments where he can just say; “You know what, I’m good. I’m leaving now.” But he doesn’t. He gets talked into having lunch, having a drink, and staying late into the night with this psycho before finding out that Mr. Weird guy is a deeply disturbed individual.

Aaron manages to escape him only to find that Joseph has sent him creepy DVDs to his house. Aaron does not call the cops until a box comes with a DVD with Josef going all “I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!”, a knife, and a stuffed wolf toy. The cops don’t believe him and he just leaves it at that.

Josef continues to stalk him via DVD and eventually tells him to come out to meet him in a park where they can lay their “feud” to rest. I’m not gonna tell you what happens next…but you’ll pretty much guess the ending by this point.

Perhaps if this was the first found footage or first horror movie I’d ever seen, I might have enjoyed it a little more? The plot was kind of uninspired, though you don’t really notice with all the jump scares.

You might be interested to know that this one rated 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes…which is weird to me because Rotten Tomatoes and I are usually in agreement when it comes to horror films. I guess you can't please everybody.

If you hadn’t guess, I’m giving this a big old raspberry. Let’s give it the old Bronx Cheer, folks!

And if you’re interested, there is a site that counts movie jump scares. Here’s the list for Creep:

Next week? Cutting Class with Brad M-F’n Pitt. I. Can’t. Wait.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

But that Cover tho'

So, first of all, can we talk a second about this cover? Talk about having me at hello, right? I may get a poster of it and hang it in my office.

I present to you, A Christmas Horror Story, starring George Buza and Rob Archer as Santa and Krampus respectively, Zoe de Grand Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Kook, Amy Forsyth, Adrian Holmes, Orion John and Olunike Adeliyi. I have to admit, I could hardly contain my excitement for this movie.

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas horror movies. I love the dichotomy of sacred and profane, at the same time, I’m starved for a good movie among them. There aren’t many, I have to tell you. Most of the them are pretty bad and in the realm of bad horror movies, that’s some kind of feat.

So, how delighted am I to come across A Christmas Horror Story. Now, to be sure, it doesn’t quite take the title from my all-time favorite Christmas horror movie (Gremlins, duh! So, what? I like it anyway! You wanna fight me bro?), but it’s a strong second.

But first thing’s first. Guess who’s got a cameo in this movie. OMG, you’ll never frickin’ guess!
That’s right. William M-F’n Shatner! The Trekkie in me rejoices.

Shatner plays Dangerous Dan, an alcoholic DJ who’s sort of a narrator between stories. Oh, yeah, by the way, A Christmas Horror Story is actually more of an anthology. Four tales of fractured Christmas stories set in the little town of Bailey Downs. Side note: If Bailey Downs sounds familiar to you, then congratulations! You might be as big of a horror fan as I am! Apparently on the off season, Bailey Downs as a little problem with teenager werewolves (See Ginger Snaps for reference). I’ve also heard it has a little problem with clones (Psst, that’s an Orphan Black reference).

Because this is an anthology, I’m going to treat it as such in this review. In no particular order, here goes:

Virgin Mary’s Found Footage

So, Molly (De La Maison), Dylan (Kook) and Ben (Ozerov) are three teenagers looking to complete a documentary on a terrible murder that occurred in their school some years before. They base their research on a police video tape following the police officer who discovered the bodies (more on him later). They break into the school with the help of their friend, and Dylan’s girlfriend, Caprice (Forsyth). Caprice is supposed to accompany them, but gets roped into a family vacation. She provides the keys to the school that she has conveniently stolen and goes on her way to hang with the fam, leaving her three friends to break into the school.

The three friends manage to break in without a problem, but upon completing what we have to assume is the opening segment, the Principal suddenly appears. As he descends the stairs, the three teens disappear into a restricted area.

The restricted area leads them to the scene of the previous murder of two teens. It’s also the location of where the school used to keep pregnant teens back in the olden days when the school was a convent. The teens continue their documentary in the basement, only to find strange and creepy things starting to happen around them. When they decide to leave, they find the door leading out is locked and their keys don’t seem to work in the lock anymore.

Trapped, they find themselves getting a little too close for comfort with the things that go bump in the night. Soon, they figure out that they are being haunted by the spirit of a young girl who had been sent there years ago for being pregnant. The girl had insisted on being a virgin, yet no one believed her and therefore, she was forced to have an abortion.

The three friends soon find themselves in deep shit when the ghost girl decides to possess Molly and, well, bad things happen. Bad things like cryptic messages written in blood on the walls, crucifixion, death by giant wooden cross, pretty standard Exorcist type stuff. All I can say is that it’s a good thing Caprice didn’t hang out with her friends

Krampus Not (Get it? Krampus Nacht? Heh.)

Which leads me to the next story. The aforementioned Caprice is hanging with the fam. Her father has decided that the four of them (Mom, Dad, sister and brother) should go visit their Aunt Etta, you know, for family time. I mean, it is Christmas, right?

So even though the family spent most of their family time on the drive up bickering, they arrive at Aunt Etta’s mansion like one big happy…except their not. Caprice spends most of the time in her phone, her mom starts drinking immediately after arriving, dad is taking a moment to pitch his business idea to his rich aunt and little brother is messing around with Aunt Etta’s Christmas figurines of Santa and, you guessed it, Krampus…you know, ‘cause Aunt Etta is German.

Aunt Etta’s house boy tells him not to play with the figurines and, presumably out of spite, little brother drops the figurine, breaking it. Upon seeing it broken, Aunt Etta tells everybody to get the F out of her house…you know, basically.

They drive home and of course, argue, turning it into a whole “It’s your fault” vibe. The argument reaches a head just as something very Krampus-like runs across the road. They swerve to miss it and end up stuck in a ditch. Then the fun begins!

As they try walking back to civilization by way of the woods, they notice that something is stalking them. Pretty soon, they find themselves fighting for their lives and running from a very large, very scary, very beefy Krampus monster.

Said Krampus attacks and picks off the family members one by one until all that’s left is poor little Caprice. She manages to make it all the way back to Aunt Etta’s house where, in true slasher-movie-last-virgin-left-alive style, battles and defeats the evil Krampus monster, complete with an action movie catchphrase. It was something like "Sayonara, Mothersucker!"  Don't quote me on it, but yeah.

There’s more to the story, of course, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.  Next!

An Argument for Kid Leashes

So, the police officer(Holmes) that discovered the bodies of the teenagers in the first story is tromping through the woods with his wife, Kim (Adeliyi) and small child, Will (John) looking for the perfect Christmas Tree. After little success, they find the perfect tree in a gated off area. 

As they are dragging the tree through the woods with little Will following behind them. Mom and dad are so caught up in their own conversation that they lose track of their kid. They search the woods only to find him hiding in a hole in a tree.  They take little Will home and soon discover that their sweet little boy is acting really frickin’ weird…and scary….but mostly weird.

After police officer Scott loses his mind and spanks little Will out of frustration, Kim banishes him from the boy’s room, citing his behavior on his trauma from that case of the dead teenagers so many years ago. Soon after, she gets a phone call from the man who’s yard they stole the tree from. He promptly tells her that what she has in her house is not her son, but rather, a changeling and she needed to get it back to the wood ASAP.

She doesn’t believe him, of course, until she finds her husband dead. After consulting with the mystery man on the phone, she decides to try to capture the little dickens herself.
Does she? Doesn’t she? No spoilers here. You’ll have to see for yourself. Neeeext!

 The Night Santa Went Crazy

Okay, so there are some things you just have to see for yourself. Let’s just say there’s rampant elf decapitation and a boss level Santa v. Krampus battle involved. Trust me. You will not be disappointed.

So, yeah, totally dropping a jewel for this one. I think the main rule of any horror movie is simple, if you can’t scare me, then in the very least you better be able to entertain me. A Christmas Horror Story is just a whole lot of fun.  A Plus-plus!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Watched Half a Horror Movie, Debating If It Was Worth It.

Okay, so, I don’t normally do this.

I have this belief that a person cannot properly assess a movie or book unless they have completed it in its entirety. With only a few exceptions, I’ve bent the rules on occasion. The Twilight Series, for instance. (I didn’t make it off the first page with that one.) And sometimes, I’ve wholeheartedly regretted other choices, ie. Fifty Shades of Grey. The book. I managed to power through that one with the determination of a person eating their own hand. That’s another rant for another day, however. :)

Today’s review surrounds 2003’s Cold Creek Manor or Cape Fear, Only Way More Boring. The movie stars Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis (who was also in Cape Fear. I see what you did there, filmmakers), and a less bored looking Kristen Stewart when she was just a wee lass. It also bears the burden of being a movie that I have decided to review, even though though extenuating circumstances stopped me from completing it.

As it happens, once in a blue moon, a DVD or CD will suddenly cease to play while you’re watching it. While the good folks at Ferndale Public Library are on top of weeding out the older, more damaged books, CDs and DVDs, sometimes you get a tricky one. Cold Creek Manor is one of those movies. I got about halfway through and the DVD froze. I wasn’t able to clean it in time, and while I could have put off this review...well...I don’t think I care enough to keep watching anyway.

The plot is pretty simple. Big city couple living in the big city doing big city things. Big City Mom (Sharon Stone) is a high powered executive flying on a plane somewhere with her high powered partner. As the high powered partner propositions her, Big City Dad (Dennis Quaid) is back in the Big City rushing to get his children off to Big City Elementary. In all the rush, his Big City Son runs out into traffic and is nearly run down by a big city SUV.

This incident causes Big City Mom and Dad to get serious about Big City Life. Maybe Green Acres is the place to be? Maybe farm living is the life for them? In any event, that’s where the story and the credits start.

So, Big City Family moves out to the country where they buy a big old house in need of repair. The old house also comes with a full load of furniture and belongings owned by the previous family. Being that Big City Family are now the proud owners of somebody else’s stuff, the only logical course of action is to have a big yard sale. The locals don’t take too kindly to them selling the stuff or, even, just to them being in town, but for the most part, everybody keeps to themselves and keeps their misgivings down to a dull roar in hushed whispers at the local diner. Big City Dad decides that he’s going to gather some of the items as he’s a documentary filmmaker.

So, Big City Family is doing as expected in the country. Mom and dad are adjusting, son starts acting creepy by acting like the little boy that used to live in the house and wearing his clothes, teenager daughter is over it. Big City Dad has to go and buy a horse to make her happy.

Enter Stephen Dorff as the scary hillbilly...only, he’s not really that scary? Like there are a few moments in the beginning when you think he’s going to be a terrifying character seeking revenge upon the family...but then, none of it really goes anywhere? I mean, that is until he gets fired and how he gets fired sounds really discriminatory. Big City Family wakes up with snakes in the house. Big City Dad assumes that Scary Hillbilly is responsible and fires him. When he sees him later in a bar, they have a few words, but nothing terribly Scary Hillbilly-like. Just a sort of “You fired me and I don’t like you now”.

Later that night, Big City Dad almost gets run off the road by a giant truck. The chase gets tricky when Big City Dad accidentally hits a deer. When he gets up the next morning, his family is confused as to what’s happened to the car...then they find little Kristen Stewart’s horse floating in the pool. She accuses her dad, his wife accuses him, then his wife asks if they can just go back to the Big City. Then Big City Dad pulls the old You-are-my-wife-goodbye-city-life-speech, yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s around there that the DVD froze.

Now, I know that all of this makes this sound like a really good thriller and, who knows? Maybe it is. Maybe it’s at this point that the movie picks up. Stephen Dorff’s character - who hasn’t really done anything particularly horrible except for hitting his girlfriend - which, don’t get me wrong, is pretty bad. But at this point, he hasn’t really done anything to the family and, well, they behaved unnecessarily hostile towards him at certain points in the movie. At this point, I’m kind of feeling like they have it coming to them.

Which could be the whole point of this story...which basically means I’ve already figured out the rest of the plot of the movie. I’m kind of hoping that’s not the case, but given that the most interesting things that happened in the movie so far can be distilled down to three points (The snakes in the house, Drunk Stephen Dorff hitting his girlfriend, and the horse in the pool). I was halfway through the movie and pretty tired of waiting for something to happen.

Lucky for this one, I’m not going to rate this one. The bottom line is that I didn’t finish it. Maybe this is a good movie. I doubt it, but the truth is that I can’t really judge this one just yet. I’m not particularly motivated to find out anything more about these characters or this story, but if I should ever come across it again in the future, maybe I’ll take it on again.

So, next week’s pick -- A Christmas Horror Story...and judging by the cover, I expect greatness. :D

-- O~

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Don’t Mess With The Cemetery Man

                Okay, so, The Cemetery Man. (echo, echo, echo)

                The Cemetery Man is a 1994 Italian Comedy Horror movie starring Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, and Francois Hadji-Lazaro. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Italian and Comedy and Horror? Can it get any better???

                But seriously, I actually liked this movie a lot and I like it for the same reason I like a lot of B-Movie horror…the fact that it’s really bad and I really shouldn’t like it in the first place.

                So, let me just say this. I love how Italians do horror. In a lot of ways, an Italian horror movie is a lot like an Italian Sculpture from the 1600s. Made with damn near medieval tools, but the finished product is usually pretty cool and really pretty to look at.

                Let me set the scene for you. Beleaguered and bemoaned undertaker, Francisco Dellamorte spends his nights minding a cemetery where the dead routinely comes back to life. The movie opens with Dellamorte talking on the phone with his friend Franco as he casually blows the head off a zombie that happens to come calling to his tiny ramshackle house. 

                He spends his evening digging a grave for the newly undead tenant of the cemetery with his trusty, mentally impaired assistant, Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro) and spends the rest of his time putting together a skull puzzle and perusing old phone books and crossing out the names of the recently dead.

               And then, one day our mournful hero sees the most beautiful girl in the world known only as “She”(Anna Falchi). He sees She during the funeral of her beloved husband…who’s like a thousand years old. Dellamorte is instantly in love with her and prays he sees her again. He does. He finds her mourning the grave of her lost love…who’s like a thousand years old.  Why am I harping on that fact, you ask?  Because she tells him that she doesn’t think she’ll love again because her husband gave her the best sex she’s ever had.

                You read that correctly. Apparently, Paw-Paw was hitting it right.

                So, Dellamorte falls hopelessly in love with She. The two of them end up having amazing sex in the graveyard, and I do mean amazing. Personally, it made my top five – right under the Adrien Brody x Catbaby hybrid sex scene in Splice. Sadly, they happen to be having amazing sex on the grave of her dead husband. He, of course, comes back to life scoring the cockblock of the century and murders her.

                 Depressed, Dellamorte keeps her body (as she has no other family) until it rises and he shoots her…which was magnificent. There are wispy blankets involved. It kind of adds to his morose attitude, a bit, though.

                 The rest of the movie follows Dellamorte as he’s either killing the undead or chasing the latest incarnation of his lost love (there are three, total. They all end bad). The movie has a sort of comic book panel feel to it in that the continuity is really blurry, but that’s okay! Because this isn’t Shakespeare, folks.

The overall theme, though, is Dellamorte trying to find love under the veil of death that surrounds him…which sounds really deep for B-movie horror, but, there it is. The Cemetery Man is as full of existential musings as it is of bad special effects and slapstick comedy. Think Evil Dead with slightly less blood and more Nietzsche.

For what it’s worth, The Cemetery Man gets a Jewel From me:

            I mean, to be honest, this one had me at hello. Rupert Everett is Ash-level cool with a British accent. The camera work had moments that were really beautifully done and while the acting was pretty bad and the special effects made me forget that the movie was done in ’94, not 84, it was still a pretty brilliantly bad movie.