Sunday, May 27, 2018

How Many Chuckys Could a Woodchuck, Chuck…?

I know, I missed a week. But it was for a good reason.

So, last week’s movie was supposed to be Cult of Chucky. The problem was – as I figured out about five minutes in – I clearly needed to see Curse of Chucky first. See, I’ve lived through the first five Child’s Play movies and while the first, second and third ones are best watched in order, Bride and Seed of Chucky are interchangeable as far as I’m concerned. I mean, I guess if you’re really interested in how Tiffany and Chucky hooked up and had a doll-baby, you could watch it in order, but it’s not really required.

For that reason, I have to institute a new rule for my movie watching adventures. Rule Number 4: If I haven’t seen the whole series, I gotta start from wherever I left off. I know that for some horror movies that might be unnecessary, but I really hate walking into a movie not knowing what the hell is happening so...

Okay, so being that I had to watch one before the other, that meant that I had to get the other movie. Unfortunately, Curse of Chucky was not available at the Ferndale Library. That’s okay though! Ferndale Library’s in the TLN network – a network of libraries that share resources – so I was able to order it from The Garden City Library through a service called Interlibrary Loan. So, yay!

Now, the Child’s Play movies are, in effect, slasher films and so must be gauged by the Four B’s (Blood, Boobs, Body Count, and Bad Acting). And, yes, this, too, gets an automatic A for being a slasher movie.

So, anywaaaaay…let’s get into it. 

Curse of Chucky (2013)

So, this one stars Chantal Quesnelle, Brendan Elliot, Danielle Bisutti, Maitland McConnell, A Martinez, Summer H. Howell, Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif. Yes, I said Dourif. As in Brad Dourif who is also in this and all the Child's Play as the voice of Chucky. (Bonus points for you if you knew that already. Mega Bonus points if you know him from at least three other movies. Legendary points if you can name more than five WITHOUT Googling.)

By the way, can we just stop for a second and acknowledge how much Fiona looks like her dad? Like, except really hot, which is weird because it makes me think that perhaps Brad Dourif would look great in drag.

Anyway, Nica (Dourif) lives with her mom, Sarah (Quesnelle) in a big, creepy house. Sarah is recovering from depression (I think. I don’t think they ever say. We just assume.) by painting lots of pictures in the living room and Nica is in a wheelchair as she's paralyzed from birth. They receive a package that has – you guessed it – a Chucky Doll in it. Shortly thereafter Mom dies from “suicide” and Nica’s sister, Barb (Bisutti) and her husband (Elliot), their daughter Alice (Howell) and their nanny, Jill (McConnell) move in and try to convince Nica to move to an assisted living place because she’s an "invalid"…at least that’s how Barb sees it. Truth is, though, Barb really just wants to sell the house because she's broke. But there they are all living together and one by one Chucky picks them off in some pretty creative ways.

Okay, so on with the grades:

Blood: B

You would think that a Child’s Play movie would have buckets of blood. Not this time. I mean, there is blood and a nice amount, buuut it’s not really dripping off the walls. The gore factor is down a bit as well. There’s an eye gouging, an ax in the face and a googly-eye-due-to-electrocution, etc and so on, but for a slasher film, I didn’t get the feeling that any of it got on me as I watched it.

Boobs: F

Sorry, no titties here. But you get to see Jill in lingerie and a lesbian make-out sesh, so that makes up for it.

Body Count: A
Okay, so while there were not legions of bodies littering the streets, when you’ve managed to murder five out of the six primary characters (and one additional police officer), those are pretty good numbers. There was an inordinate amount of story in this one though, so a bigger cast might’ve made for a longer movie to account for all the dead people. Five is more than enough for this one.

Bad Acting: D-

Surprisingly, just about everybody in the cast killed it in the acting department. I can’t really say that anyone chewed the scenery too much…except for Barb. Barb was pretty bad when it comes down to it. I mean, maybe she was written poorly? She played the resident bitch (there’s one in almost all of The Child’s Play movies) and I don’t know, but she was almost too bitchy…like she might’ve been a legit sociopath and HOW did anyone like someone so completely heartless and STILL marry them kind of bitchy.

But all that considered, still gets an A because, actually, this one was pretty good. They even redesigned Chucky’s face so that it’s cuter and chubbier when he’s pretending to be a doll which makes it way creepier when he’s killing someone.

Which leads us to the second movie in our double feature:

Cult of Chucky (2017)

Cult of Chucky with Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Matthew Therriault, Zak Santiago, Maria Stephenson Kerr, Adam Hurtig, Grace Lynn Kung, Elisabeth Rosen. This one takes off where the last one left off, only this time our good friend Andy (Vincent) from the first three movies is back. He’s hold up in a house with a bunch of guns and the remains of Chucky’s head that he partially blew off at the end of Curse of Chucky (stick around for the end credits to see it), sitting in a safe. He keeps it and tortures it from time to time like any of us would do if we had spent our childhood being tortured by an animatronic demon doll.

Nica, having been convicted of the death of her family, is sent to an insane asylum where she meets Michael/Mark/Malcolm(Hurtig) a schizophrenic who falls instantly in deep like with her, Carlos (Santiago) the straight-acting gay orderly who’s nice to her even though he doesn’t like her, Angela(Kerr) who thinks she’s a ghost, Claire the overly angry pyromaniac (Kung) who has a seething kind of hate for Nica, and Madeleine who killed her own child and ends up adopting Chucky after their therapist Dr. “Creepy Pants” Foley (Therriault) brings one to their group session for “therapeutic purposes”.

And away we go!

Blood: A+++++
Yup. Buckets this time. It was pretty much a bloody gorefest from the first body on. I have to applaud the creativity level in the deaths as well. I mean, they were Final Destination level creative for a couple of the deaths. 

Boobs: F

Still no titties. Not even any lingerie this time. One lesbian kiss at the end though…I guess.

Body Count: A+++++

Just about everybody buys it in this one, especially since this time Chucky has figured out how to go all Horcruxy and double himself up into multiple Chucky dolls. They pretty much play the twin game on everyone until people start dropping like flies all over the institution.

Bad Acting: F

Nope. Sorry. Everybody did a pretty good job in this one too. I don’t know. Perhaps as time goes on the acting quality in horror movie gets better? I mean, it’s not going to win any awards, but with exception to a few minor characters that they clearly just pulled off the street, there was hardly any scenery chewing.

But, both movies were pretty decent and decidedly better than at least one of their predecessors (I’m looking at you Bride of Chucky). Even without the automatic A, they’re getting Jewels from me. 

So, what’s next, you ask? We’re taking a trip in the way back machine to some classic horror -- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Get ready. We’re going to get our film school geek on next week!

-- O ~

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Nothing to see here!

This week’s movie! Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things starring Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen, Anya Ormsby, Paul Cronin, and Jane Daly. Gather around the campfire!

So, once upon a time in 1972, whenever the leader of a theatre troupe thought that his actors weren’t properly motivated enough, he would gather them together, take them to secluded island with a graveyard, dig up a couple of bodies, light some black candles in a pentagram and call on the dark one to raise said bodies. And if the actors were particular stubborn, the leader of said troop would take one of the dead bodies to an old cabin and engage his actors in a party with it. You know. Normal stuff.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell kind of crazy people are these characters? Who goes to a graveyard and digs up bodies – for fun?? Or theatrical motivation or whatever? What the hell are we talking about Ophelia???

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I have to admit, I love that the setup makes it all seem like this is, just, normal college student shenanigans. I mean, it all does have a bit of a Scooby Doo feel to it. “This week, the gang try to raise the dead and party with a dead body!” Cue running through different doors in a hallway montage!

But I’m not mad at this movie. Ormsby as the theatre troupe director and all around creep leads the cast through certain disaster as he convinces them all that everything he’s doing with them is a totally normal way to develop your acting skills. Daly plays the pretty, yet eager ingenue who goes along with this haywire plan while making snide remarks along the way – which by the way, I have to point out something before I go on. In the beginning of the movie, Alan (Ormsby) is checking out Terry’s(Daly) ass and propositions her all like: “You know, back in the day slave masters would bang the new girls to break them in”. She responds with something like; “Too late, perv. I lost my virginity to an Eagle Scout when I was just a Brownie!”

*record scratch*

It’s been a minute since I knew anything about Girl Scouts, but I’m pretty sure Brownies were the really young Girl Scouts. Like the 6 to 10-year olds, right? Y’all are just gonna blow right past that?


So, anyway, all that I’ve mentioned sounds pretty out there, but the fun doesn’t start until the gang realizes that their little day trip has gone way south when their “pretend” Whoodoo-voodoo has actually raised the dead in the graveyard leaving them to fight for their lives. Who knew, right?

All told, I just can’t bring myself to give this one a raspberry, though, it’s not among the best low budget 70s horror that I’m acquainted with. I recognize its place in the lexicon, however, so no haterade in this review. This movie is absurd, but still 70s low budget cool, so I’ll give it a nod for the culture.

Next week! Well…Not sure what I’m watching next week. I did pick out a movie, but I seemed to have misplaced it. :/:/ So, I guess next week is going to be a surprise.

-- O ~

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dammit, Paul! We Can’t Take You Nowhere!

So, 2012's Chernobyl Diaries, a movie that I was trying to see when it came out, but just never got around to it. Needless to say, I was excited to get the chance to finally check this one out.

First thing’s first. I have never really been one to completely listen to critics - particularly when it comes to horror movies. Even the best critics sometimes miss the entire point of a horror movie. That being said, usually, Rotten Tomatoes and I have been pretty much of the same mind when it comes to horror. So, you can imagine my surprise upon finding that, once again, me and RT have a difference of opinion. RT gave Chernobyl Diaries a whopping 17%, leaving me to doubt whether or not we were ever friends to begin with. RT, how could you? I thought we had a real connection!

Second thing is that I have to correct myself on my initial description. This is not a found footage movie. In actuality, this is a found footage style movie. That is to say that the movie is not pretending it’s some lost tape found after an extensive investigation. It’s more like how Texas Chainsaw was shot like a documentary, but not really a documentary. The style of the movie is expected, coming from Oren Peli who wrote the script. Yes, that’s the same Oren Peli behind the Paranormal Activity movies, which, incidentally, I am not ashamed to say I enjoyed immensely. The Paranormal Activity movies are on my “unabashed love” list. So there.

Well, with exception to the last one. That one was trash.

So, Chernobyl Diaries starring Jonathan Sadowski, Nathan Phillips, Jesse McCartney, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Devin Kelley, Dimitri Diatchenko, and Ingrid Bolso Berdal follows the same kind of found footage vein. It starts with various cell phone footage of three people, Chris (McCartney), Natalie (Dudley) and Amanda (Kelley), living it up on vacation in Europe. It becomes clear that they are meeting up with Chris’ brother Paul (Sadowski).

After meeting up with him, they have a nice night out, during which Chris reveals that he’s going to propose to his girlfriend Natalie, once they reach Moscow. Paul is stoked (as well he should be). The next morning, Paul gets the bright idea to book a tour of a little town just a little ways from Chernobyl. “It’ll be fun!” he says. “We’ll take some pictures and be back in time for dinner!” he says.

Initially, everyone’s all: “Wait. Chernboyl? Like nuclear accident Chernobyl? Are you crazy?” But Paul assures everyone that it’s totally safe and the guide has been doing the tour for years and besides it’s not even in Chernobyl anyway it’s the town next to it quit trippin’, etc, etc, etc.

So, they meet the tour guy, Uri (Diatchenko), who they note is a former marine so, yeah, he’ll keep them safe, right?

All right, Paul, Chris, Natalie, Amanda and their new friends who showed up at the last minute, newlyweds, Zoe (Berdal) and Michael (Phillips). They all pile into an old beat up van and head out to the little town of Pripyat. Yay, Road Trip!

When they get there, there’s a blockade and they’re told they can’t go through. Uri says it’s never happened before, but never you mind, children! There’s more than one way to skin a Pripyat!

They get into the abandoned town and everything is copacetic until they’re almost mauled to death by a bear. Well...maybe not almost mauled to death, but definitely almost jump scared to death.

Upon the appearance of the bear, Uri goes; “Yeah, that’s not really supposed to happen. Let’s get out of dodge.” They head back to the van where, surprise, surprise something has chewed through the wires of the van. It’s about there that things get progressively bad. Let’s see if I can list the awful in order of sequence. (Spoilers ahead):

1. Uri gets eaten looking for help.

2. Chris’ leg gets broken or mauled or something trying to escape whatever attacked Uri.

3. Monster attacks.

4. Dog Attacks.

5. Something rips apart the van and eats Chris.

6. Something drags Natalie off into the dark and eats her.

7. Michael falls into a lake and fish try to eat Michael, but he lives through that (Yay!)

8. Only to sacrifice himself so that the remaining people survive.(Boo!)

9. Zoe buys it falling into a mosh pit of monsters

10. Running

11. Radiation Poisoning
12. Blinded and radiation burned Paul gets shot

13. Amanda gets thrown into a room full of hungry monsters or zombies or monsters. Who knows?

Pretty sure I didn’t leave anything out.

(Paul's voice "Yay! It'll be fun!  We'll take some pictures and be done by sunset")  Dammit, Paul.

This one gets a jewel, though, despite it’s poor rating. There is a decent build up of tension and Peli uses the old “what you don’t really see is way scarier than if you saw it” technique, which I’ve always been a fan of. I mean, if you can scare an audience with just shadows and smoke, that’s impressive and it shows a clear understanding of what makes horror work.

Okay, so, next week “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”. This is another one that kept passing me by, even though it’s clearly my kind of movie. Hoping for greatness once again.

-- O~