Sunday, January 20, 2019

Don't You Come Into this Village on that BS!

So, here we go, Week One of The Frankenstein portion of the blog!

The DVD I’m pulling this from is Frankenstein: The Complete Legacy Collection which features eight of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies. Now, since this whole project only covers movies that I have not seen, I won’t be covering all the movies in this selection as I’ve, for sure, seen four of them. For the sake of those of you who have never seen the old school Frankenstein movies, I highly recommend them. Old school horror is the foundation for the new school, after all.

Speaking of foundations, after watching this week’s movie, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mel Brooks might’ve seen this one too at some point.

You know, just a wild guess.

Son of Frankenstein starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwell, Edgar Norton, Lawrence Grant, Josephine Hutchinson, and Donnie Dunagan.

Okay, so this one takes place after the events of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Word has gotten out in the village that Baron Wolf von Frankenstein(Rathbone) is coming to town and nobody is happy about it. In fact, the villagers hold a meeting so that they can plan on telling Frankenstein not to come in here with that BS.

Meanwhile, Frank Jr. is on a train with his wife, Elsa (Hutchinson) and his son Peter (Dunagan). He spends the time complaining about the bad reputation that his family name now has because of his father. “They even think the monster is named Frankenstein!”

Hey, fun fact. The monster is not Frankenstein. If you didn’t know that before now:

So, as soon as they get there, the whole town shows up and the Burgomaster—

No, Not Burgermeister. Burgomaster. At least, according to IMDB.

Burgomaster(Grant) tells him: “Here’s a box your dad left you and we would appreciate it if you did not come into this town on that BS.”

Frank Jr. gets offended but takes the box anyway. Back at the castle, they get to know their staff, including Frank Jr.’s childhood butler, Benson.

Heh, just kidding. Not that Benson.

Frank Jr. also gets acquainted with the local police inspector, Krogh (Atwill) who has a fake arm that was torn out when he was attacked as a child by the Frankenstein monster. He delivers my first favorite line in this movie. “One doesn't easily forget, Herr Baron, an arm torn out by the roots.”

So, Frank is trying to live his best life with his wife and his kid when he becomes suspicious that someone else might be in the castle. He goes to investigate and comes across Ygor(Lugosi), the former assistant to his father. Ygor explains to him that after the whole thing with his dad went down, the villagers tried and convicted him. He was hung in the town square, but he survived.

Ygor tells him that he’s got a secret to show him. He leads him down into an old crypt. Lo and behold:

Yup. Frank Jr’s dad’s monster(Karloff) is sleeping in the crypt. Ygor tells him that he and the monster have been hanging out all this time, even though the monster has pretty much been kind of dead since his father died.

And that’s around the time that Frank Jr. decides to come up in the village with that BS.

Frank Jr. and Ygor take the monster up to his father’s old lab (which is right next to a giant sulfur…pit) and start working on bringing the monster back to life. He brings in Benson to help and, like an old carburetor, they managed to get him working again. Can’t really walk yet, but:

Pretty soon, people start dying in the village. Inspector Krogh pays them a visit to tell them about the mysterious deaths and how similar they are to the deaths that the monster used to do back in the day. He asks Frank Jr. if he’s on his father’s BS and Frank Jr.s all:

Okay, so then, Junior Jr. comes walking in and tells his father he can’t sleep because a man came into his room. A big man. Wearing a fur shirt. With a flat head. And bolts in his neck.

Frank Jr. excuses himself and runs back to the lab, only to find the monster gone. He wrecks his lab in anger. Oh, wait, by the way, Benson has gone missing. Frank Jr.’s wife keeps commenting on how strange it is, but Frank Jr. brushes it off for the most part.

So, people keep dying, Benson’s missing, and Inspector Krogh starts getting closer and closer to discovering that the monster is on the loose. Frank Jr. eventually finds Ygor and confronts him about the monster. Ygor tells him that yeah, he’s been using the monster. He was using the monster to take revenge on the men who convicted him in the first place. Angry that Ygor brought his own BS to his party, he shoots Ygor and kills him.

The monster finds dead Ygor and decides to kidnap Junior Jr. out of revenge. Inspect Krogh and Frank Jr. find and corner the monster with Junior Jr. They shoot the monster and it falls into the sulfur pit, never to be seen again…I imagine until we review Ghost of Frankenstein next week anyway.

And so, with the monster gone, Baron Wolf von Frankenstein and his family hop and train and get out of town.

Okay, so what did I think? Well, what do you think I thought? Yes, of course, it gets a jewel for the culture, but more than that, this was actually a pretty good movie. The sets were gothic works of art – all angles and shadows and wide spaces. Rathbone was pretty spot on that he actually reminded me of the original Dr. Frankenstein in spots. And Little Peter Frankenstein was pretty darned cute.

All right, so next week’s movie? The Ghost of Frankenstein! See you next time!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Well, this seems like a nice movie-- OMG IS HE EATING THAT WOMAN'S EYEBALL?!?!

Ahoy-hoy Horror fans! And welcome to another edition of Will Twerk for Horror Movies!

So, this week’s horror movie reminds me of a stupid thing I tried to do about four or five years ago. Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Once upon a time, I found myself getting a little burned out on horror movies. You see, at the time, I realized that I hadn’t seen any horror movies lately that thrilled me very much. For a while, horror movies kind of lacked imagination. It was all chop up some bodies, throw blood at the screen, call it a day. (Still, looking at you Eli Roth)

So, I set upon a mission to find the most thoroughly f’ed up movie I could lay my hands on. I went through a lot of trash and a lot of Asian horror before the coup de grace fell in my lap.

That movie was A Serbian Film. Now, before I go any further, what I am about to say is NOT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM AN ENDORSEMENT. You’re going to read this and say to yourself “Hey, if it’s that’s messed up, maybe I should watch it.” LISTEN TO ME. Watch. This. Movie. At. Your. Own. Risk! This movie is not for the casual horror movie watcher. Only advanced horror nerds need apply.

And if you DO decide to watch A Serbian Film - DO NOT COME FOR ME. Do not email me. Do not tweet me. Do not slide into my DMs or catch me in the street with your “OHMYF’INGGODWHYDIDYOUMAKEMEWATCHTHATMOVIE?!?!?” crap. I just sat here and tried to warn your hard-headed behinds.

All of that being said, I learned that day what my limit for horror is. At the top of my “Great Caesar’s Ghost! WTH did I just watch” list of horror, A Serbian Film is at the top. If there is anything out there that is worse than that, I’m really not interested.

That leads me to this week’s movie. Welcome to this special edition that I like to call “It’s not A Serbian Film, But It’s Still Pretty Messed Up.”

The movie?

found. Starring Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro, Louie Lawless, Alex Kogin, and Edward Jackson.

Meet Marty(Brown). Marty is a twelve-year-old boy who likes horror movies and idolizes his older brother. He’s also a twelve-year-old boy who likes to snoop around the house and look at his family’s personal things when they’re not home...which is all fine and good until he finds the head of a black woman in a bowling ball bag in his brother Steve’s(Philbeck) closet.

The worst part about that is that it’s not even the first time he’s found a black woman’s head in a bowling ball bag in his brother’s closet.

So, Marty is also being bullied at school by a black kid named Marcus(Jackson). Marcus catches him in the bathroom one day and after harassing him in front of his friends, he tells everyone that Marty has a small penis and he likes boys AND he tried to kiss him. Marcus is punished with detention for his behavior, but the damage is already done. Everyone in school thinks Marty likes boys.

When Marty’s father finds out, he goes into a pretty terrible racist rant complete with N-bombs and everything at the dinner table. His mother offers little resistance. She just kind of changes the subject because, you know, racism.

Marty continues creeping around the house and his brother catches him in his room. When Marty tells his brother what happened to him, Steve is all: “What’s his name again? Bet.”

Marty’s mom feels bad about what happened to him, so she tells him he can have a sleepover with his friend David(Kogin) and he can even pick out whatever scary movie he likes at the video store...which has in the 80s.

Just a pause for a second. I imagine that this is supposed to take place in the 70s or 80s, but to be quite honest with you, the filmmakers don’t make too much of an effort to make that apparent. No one is wearing clothing from that time period, every car that you see was clearly built sometime during the 2000s. It’s like Marty and his family are experiencing a weird temporal pocket or something.

So, anyway, Marty picks out three horror movies, one of which is entitled “Headless”. When they try to rent it, they discover the video is missing. The video store guy tells him that the movie was probably stolen.

Later, after witnessing some weird stuff that Steve has been doing, he starts snooping in his brother’s room again to find the missing video, which a piece of paper noting certain times from the movie. He puts the video back and goes on with his life.

Then later, later, he’s doing the sleepover thing with David. They’re watching one of the other movies, but David is bored. Marty gets the bright idea to watch the movie that Steve stole instead. They watch it and it’s really disturbing.

I mean, really disturbing. So disturbing that Marty starts imagining that his brother as the killer in the movie...chopping off heads and boobs and eating eyeballs and screwing the skulls and bathing in the blood from their head stumps...

Yes, all that happens in the “Headless” movie, folks. And as a side note, if you are so inclined, you can watch the movie in its entirety as part of a special feature on the DVD. I was not so inclined.

So, twelve-year-old Marty is scarred by watching the movie...because he realizes that his brother is using the movie as a template for the murders he’s committing. David, being the good friend that he is, sees how shaken Marty is and completely denigrates him for it. After calling him all kinds of wusses, he tells Marty that he doesn’t like him anymore because everyone makes fun of him for being a wimp.

Marty gets pissed and decides he’s going to show David one of Steve’s bowling bag heads. He brings the bag into his room and opens it, only to find the head in the bag is Marcus’. David freaks out and goes and throws up in the bathroom, which wakes up Marty’s mom. When Marty’s mom goes to check on him, David tells her he wants to go home, he’s sick.

Marty, afraid his brother might catch him with the head, hides the bag in his closet. Steve, however, comes in his room in the middle of the night and steals it back.

The next morning, Marty is sweating at the prospect of his brother coming to kill him next. He goes to the movie with his father. When he goes to the bathroom, Steve comes in and threatens him. Marty promises he won’t narc him out and Steve tells him that they have to talk this whole thing out later.

Well, later, Marty hides out in a train yard (where there is a haunted train car for some reason? They never really explain that.) when his brother finds him. Steve confesses to him that he is definitely killing people, but only black people because he hates them. That’s why he killed Marcus, you see because that’s how they all act. Marty’s all: “No...Marcus was just an a-hole. Thanks for killing him anyway, though.”

Later, later, Marty’s mom takes him to church...which is in a park, but, okay. During the service, Marty goes wandering off, where another kid in their group follows him and teases for the rumors of him being gay. Marty snaps and beats the boy up. When the minister and Marty’s mom try to make him apologize, he gives them; “I’ll do it again! Screw that guy!”

You see, Marty feels good about sticking up for himself, even though it meant hurting another kid. When they get home, Marty’s dad flips out on him and starts beating him up.

No really, beating him up. Like punching him. Steve shows up and defends him and Steve starts beating their dad up. Their mom jumps on him and he pushes her down. It’s then that their father tells him to get out and never come back.

Later that night, Steve comes back. He lures Marty outside where he tells him that he wants him not to sleep in his own room, but rather, to stay in Steve’s room. Marty’s suspicious as all hell and is like: “I’m not doing that.”

They get into an argument, which wakes up with parents. When their father tries to front Steve off, Steve hits him with a shovel a bunch of times, then attacks their mother. Marty watches as he starts to rape his mother and he jumps on his back to stop him. Steve rams him into the wall and he’s knocked out.

When he wakes up, he’s tied to his brother’s bed with a ball gag in his mouth. From there, he hears his brother murdering his parents in the next room. After they’re dead, he comes into the room wearing nothing but a gas mask--

Another side note. I can’t show the picture here for the sake of common decency, but Steve is not only wearing only a gas mask and his parent’s blood, but he’s apparently part horse...or he had a telephone pole strapped to his legs.

He pulls off his mask and tells Marty that he had to kill their parents and in the morning, he would show him what he did and then he would understand why he had to do it. Marty is beside himself with terror and starts crying, which makes Steve realize that by murdering their parents, he’s hurt Marty too.

Not that that matters much because by morning, Steve’s walks out into broad daylight naked and bloody while his brother is still tied to the bed, with the remains of his parents surrounding him.

And that’s how it ends. Pretty messed up, right?

All in all, this one gets a jewel. I was quite disturbed by this movie, but, weirdly enough, I liked the concept. I’d have liked to see this one with a bigger budget and maybe more character development, but meh. Like I’ve said before, this ain’t Shakespeare.

Next week I’m going to have to do something different. The next DVD on the shelf is actually a compilation of all the old school Frankenstein movies. All eight of them, that is. Given that I’ve seen three of them, I’ll have to watch five and, instead of trying to hammer out one blog post on five movies, let’s just spread them out over the coming weeks instead. Sound good? Okay!

-- O~

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cloris Leachman needs a pool

Ahoy-hoy people of the world! Welcome to this week’s edition of Will Twerk for Horror Movies!

Do you remember, oh, about a week ago when I gave Felt a raspberry? You know, because it was such a crap movie? So…

Out of curiosity, I started reading some of the reviews that others have put for this movie. And…well…people liked this one, if you can believe it. It even won some awards. Rotten Tomatoes – the only critical source that I trust more than sixty percent of the time (That’s a lot for me, trust me) – even gave it a 63 percent rating.

So, what does that mean? Do I retract my earlier statement? Do I reconsider my own horror movie guru-like wisdom and rethink the whole gauge by which I base the watchability of the movies I enjoy on?

Yeah, I don’t think so. I never said my opinion was the end all, be all for all horror movies that you’ll ever see. Horror is pretty subjective when it comes down to it and I love debating your type of scary and comparing it to mine. I’m not elitist about it at all. Really, it’s all good...

Except for Felt. That still sucked.

Which leads me to this week’s movie:

The Fields starring Cloris Leachman, Tara Reid, Joshua Ormond, Faust Checho, Bev Appleton, Louis Morabito, Karen Ludwig, Brian Anthony Wilson, and Suzanne Inman.

So, I’m not really sure how to go about a synopsis for this movie. The movie’s kind of constructed like someone is telling you a story about what happened to them when they were a kid, but they keep forgetting parts and adding them in later.

Oh, yeah, and this is based off a true story, so, I don’t know. That might have been on purpose.

So, I’ll just sum up this time.

Steven(Ormond) is a little boy in 1973. He witnesses his father, Barry(Checho) pull a gun on his mother, Bonnie (Reid). His mother decides to leave Steven with his father’s parents Hiney(Appleton) and Gladys(Leachman). Gladys has a foul mouth and Hiney has his dogs. Some scary hippies come into town. There’s a cornfield that Steven keeps going into which leads to a lot of adults screaming his name.

The hippies terrorize their house, Steven’s dad drives into the cornfield and almost runs Steven over, they find the head hippy who’s hung himself. The end.

Yeah, there’s not much more than that plotwise. All the in-between stuff is stitched together in a sort of drunken patchwork quilt kind of storytelling. Steven likes to play with dinosaurs, grandma still calls black folks the n-word, Steven’s mother might be a lesbian and that’s why their breaking up – not sure about that one.

But, yeah, it’s a whole lot of fat that needs trimming before I can call it horror.

There were some high points however. For example, I really appreciated the way the film was shot. Everything was grainy and low-quality color like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre/The Hills Have Eyes kind of quality. It made everyone and everything look just a little more off kilter. For a second…a long second because there’s a lot of nothing that goes on in the movie, but for a second, I kind of thought of this movie like what the family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre must have done between massacres.

There was one part that looked like it might turn into something interesting. At a certain point, Gladys, Hiney and Steven go to visit Grace, Gladys’ sister. Grace is horribly deformed (Her face is twisted in a way that you can’t really understand anything she’s saying, but that’s okay! Gladys understands her) and her house is filthy. At one point she offers Steven a peanut butter cracker and gives him what looks like a loogie on a cracker.

Yeah, real nasty. Steven creeps around the house and finds three other family members in the basement chasing around a chicken for fun. Then they catch it and chop its head off. Apparently, this is normal. Steven’s grandfather pats him on the shoulder and tells him that it’s time to go without acknowledging any of the weirdness.

But nothing happens after that. And nothing really happens for most of the movie. All things considered, however, it wasn’t as bad as Felt was. I mean, the filming and direction were spot on – even though the acting was pretty bad and the plot was pretty bad. I still feel like the filmmakers did their best with what they had.

I still don’t know what Cloris Leachman was doing in this movie, though. She was probably the best thing about it. It was kind of like watching Meryl Streep in Snakes on a Plane.

So, for that reason, this one doesn’t get a full raspberry. Just a little one.

All right. For next week, we’re doing Found, the first movie I’ve encountered that the library felt the need to put a warning label on. I’m all a twitter. See you next week.