The Lawnmower Man

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Rating: ***.5 (three and a half out of five)
Year: 1992

Plot: Poor Jobe. He’s used to be a happy simpleton spending his days mowing lawns and his nights being abused by priests. He wasn’t happy, but he was dumb enough not to realize that he wasn’t happy, so he was. Then the brainy neighbor, made entirely of chest hair and suave, had to come and muck things up for him. The neighbor makes him play virtual reality games that make him as smart as a smart monkey, and then way smarter. Jobe realizes how shitty his life is at about the same time that he gets the power to set people on fire with his mind. This turns out to be a bad combination for the meanies in his life.

Review: This is Flowers for Algernon meets Johnny Mnemonic, but more ridiculous. I do have to admit that I gave it at least a full star just because I love the feel of movies made in this era. I also gave it some leeway for the originality and weirdness of the movie, but I have a lot of complaints. The business that Dr. Angelo worked for was not believable, nor were his ‘experiments’. The 3D sequences showing Jobe getting smarter actually made me dumber for watching them. Fahey also made the mistake in the beginning of the movie that goes directly against the sage advise of Robert Downy Jr. to ‘never go full retard’. All that being said, the characters themselves and interactions between them felt pretty genuine, and the special effects were pretty damn good for their time. Most importantly, it was fun to watch.

Notable scene: When ultra-Jobe takes out a fleet of bad guys by scrambling their molecular makeup with his mega mind.
Gore:            Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:     Screams
Campiness:  Donald Pleasances
Creepiness:  Cellar Doors
Munchy Suggestion: Weird fancy wafer things with chocolate inside from California.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.
31Nights on October 14th, 2013 | File Under 3 Stars, 4 Stars, Biblical, Sci-Fi | 2 Comments -

Wait Until Dark

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Rating: ****.5 (4.5 out of five)
Year: 1967

Plot: Mission: stick a bunch of heroin in a doll in Canada and smuggle it into the states. Outcome: doll is given to stranger in airport, and when you get to the states you have difficulty retrieving it… and when I say difficulty I mean that you are murdered. Murderer’s new mission: try to finesse the blind girlfriend of the guy who has the doll into giving it to you willingly. Keep yourself untraceable by conning the Keystone Cops into doing some softshoe for you, and keeping the whole murder thing on the hush-hush. Murderer’s outcome: success on many fronts; marked lack of success on others.

Review: I’ve never been a fan of old movies. In fact, I’d never even seen a movie starring Katherine Hepburn, but the g/f wanted to alleviate such a deficiency by showing me this film. I now realize what all the hubbub’s about. There’s only about a teaspoon’s worth of blood. No aliens, no demonic children, and no naked, screaming sorority girls. And yet, somehow, the movie provides eminently compelling gripping suspense. Remember how much you loved old NES or Genesis video games? Have you ever noticed how the newer games, while 1000 times prettier, simply don’t have the same draw as the old ones you fell in love with? Well, one could argue that this phenomenon is due to the fact that the old stuff relied completely on substance. The same argument can be made here. There was no Weta Workshop back then, so the scares had to be genuine. They had to come from real characters and eerily plausible plot-lines. It is obvious that the writers have attended painstakingly to every detail. The plot and dialogue are masterfully crafted. While this movie might fall more into the suspense category than straight-up horror, it packs more creeps than a childless, solo, mustached man in a raincoat at a little league game.

Notable scene: When Hep describes “important things” to be “picking out a wallpaper or choosing a necktie”, you see just how successful the feminist movement has been over the last 40 years. Oh, and specifically, when the refrigerator door opens
Gore :            Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:     Screams
Campiness:  Donald Pleasances
Creepiness:  Cellar Doors
Munchy Suggestion: A box of chocolate flavored Oreos Your poo will be black as night.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.
31Nights on October 25th, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, 5 Stars, Classic | No Comments -

The People Under the Stairs

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Rating: ***.5 (3 and a half out of five)
Year: 1991

Plot: A young boy from the ghetto named Fool gets dragged along to a burglary by his mom’s boyfriend (Ving Rhames). He’s heard that there’s gold there! The house is very well guarded by pit bulls and crazy inbred freaks. The burglars quickly die and Fool is left to fend for himself and try to escape. He runs into a young captive girl (Rayanne from My So-Called Life) and decides to try to get her out too. Apparently, being caught by the homeowners and held captive is a pretty common occurrence, cause there are about 20 people who live in the basement, and it looks like they’ve been there a long time. Can they all find a way to work together? I’d imagine so… otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have named the movie after them.

Review: You really can’t go wrong watching a Wes Craven horror movie. He has a sixth sense on how to creep you out. The idea isn’t all that original… it’s pretty much Texas Chainsaw Massacre set in the inner city with a kid as the hero, but it is executed very well. The homeowners are creepy as hell, and they do a good job of implying horrific acts and pasts without going through the painful experience of showing them to us.

Notable scene: Remember when that kid turned into McGuyver? That was awesome.
Gore :            Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:    Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors
Munchy Suggestion: Tostitos Scoops with spinach dip.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


admin on October 23rd, 2008 | File Under 3 Stars, 4 Stars | No Comments -

Cube

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Rating: ****.5 ( 4 and a half out of 5)
Year: 1997

Plot: The Village People and a mentally retarded man awaken to find themselves in an odd room that takes the shape of a cube. There are doors in all 6 surfaces that lead to other rooms that are exactly alike, with the exception of the ambient light color and the occasional homicidal booby trap. They have had all their possessions stripped and have been put into jumpsuits. They have no idea why or how they got there, or what the hell they are supposed to be doing. They laugh, they cry. They get each other killed and occasionally try to rape each other. Good times all around.

Review: The acting is terrible. The script is even worse. How then, can I justify 4.5 stars? Because the idea is f’ing brilliant. With the combination of no-name actors, simple technical effects, and a set that pretty much consisted of one room, the producers were able to make an innovative and eminently watchable movie for a very small amount of money. They did obviously spend some cash on the cgi death sequences, and they were worth every penny – the opening sequence plays like a Tool music video. It’s hard not to get creeped out while watching this… it preys on so many common fears: claustrophobia, xenophobia, confusion, and helplessness. And plus, it has lots of fun math-y-ish themes, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Notable scene: The math parts can be fun. Here’s a quote:
“Leaven: Descartes!

Quentin: What?

Leaven: Cartesian coordinates. Of course! Coded cartesian coordinates. They’re used in geometry to plot
points on a 3 dimensional graph.

Quentin: In English, slower.”

Also worth a laugh is when Leaven is figuring out which numbers aren’t prime. It always takes her 3 seconds, even if the number ends in a 2.

Gore :         Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors

Munchy Suggestion: Ham and Cheese cubes with some Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Mustard… No. 7 mustard… get it? :)

For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


admin on October 20th, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, Sci-Fi, Series | 1 Comment -

Vacancy

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Rating: ***.5 ( 3 and a half out of 5)
Year: 2007

Plot: A couple’s failing marriage is punctuated by car failure. They check into a skeezy little local motel where they are the solitary residents. The husband David (played by Luke Wilson) tries to pass the time by popping in some old VHS tapes only to discover that they are home-made snuff films… and they were taped in the same room that they are currently nervously staying! Will the prospect of vicious murder help the couple put aside their differences and stymie the hotel’s snuff producer’s plans for them? Will they make it out alive?

Review: Director Nirod Antal does a superb job of creeping me out without actually showing me all that much. The anxiety starts in early and builds upon itself exponentially. My heart caught in my throat 15 minutes in, and I couldn’t choke it back down until the movie’s final sequence. The premise is believable, and the characters are fleshed out with reality. Here’s a good example of how to scare people without any appeal to the supernatural.

Notable scene: Opening credits are an oft-neglected way to bring the viewer into the movie. They get a mention here not because the rest of the movie was bad but because the credits are just that good!
Gore :         Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
(but you’ll feel like you’ve seen a helluva lot more)
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: Take home order of Egg Fu-Yung
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


31Nights on October 14th, 2008 | File Under 3 Stars, 4 Stars, Exploitation | No Comments -

Silent Hill

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Rating: ****.5 ( 4 and a half out of 5)
Year: 2006

Plot: A little girl’s somnambulistic adventures make mom (Radha Mitchell) fearful and frantic. She decides to take her daughter to the town she mentions while in her trances: Silent Hill. They do so against the advice of the locals, the commands of the police, and without the husband’s knowledge. Mom and daughter are separated upon arrival, and the rest of the movie is about her search to find her child. Is Rose (the mother) experiencing some sort of psychotic episode, or does the town of Silent Hill possess a demonic power to twists the nature of reality which it uses to force new-comers to hear it’s terrible tale? Here’s a hint, it’s the latter.

Review: Probably the best movie to come from a video game. The set design, color schemes, monster effects, pacing, sound design, and religious overtones combine for a permeating sense of creepy apprehension. The movie itself develops in much the same way that a video game would, with tasks that enable the pursuit of more advanced goals, the progressive release of background exposition, and even a cut sequence towards the end that feels very much like an end-of-the-game reward video. The movie makes use of a clever mechanism that allows the town to transition every 15 minutes or so between a simply creepy, off-putting ghost town and an out-and-out hell dimension. The protagonist’s journeys into the depths of that hell build to a panting crescendo that release the viewer at just the right moment. This is a movie I watch year after year.

Notable scene: Have you ever seen a man who wears a giant, metal, pyramidical helmet rip the skin from a human being as if it were a Little Debbie snack wrapper? Pretty wicked.
Gore :         Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: Leftover cheeseburger patty and tofu scramble from The Grit in Athens, GA.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


31Nights on October 13th, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, 5 Stars, Biblical, Creature | 1 Comment -

Turistas

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Rating: **** ( 4 out of 5)
Year: 2006

Plot: A guy and his sister are vacationing in Brazil when the tour bus driver sends his charge over the side of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. All the occupants escape, and the siblings partner up with a handful of other tourists and decide to pass the time until the next bus’ arrival at a picturesque beach bar. That night, they are drugged, and through an increasingly creepy series of events end up imprisoned at a black market organ farm.

Review: A masterfully crafted blend of “Hostel” and “The Cave”. The bodies and beaches of Brazil serve as delectable eye candy for the first act of the movie. Tension in the second act plays on our fears of isolation and xenophobia. The third act is a combination of claustrophobic cave diving and heart pounding chase sequences where the chasers are intent on harvesting the chasee’s most precious possessions: their organs! The previews make this movie seem like another of the recent crop of torture/exploitation films, but the film is executed with a reserved and careful hand. The violence is, for the most part, necessary to the plot and stays shy of the negatively connotative ‘gratuitous’.

Notable scene: There’s an especially visceral bit where the bad guy keeps his minions in line by popping a rogue’s eye out with a pencil. Icky.
Gore :         Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
(prepare for the most absolutely bonable operation dummy that you’ve ever laid eyes on)
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: Garlic bread dipped in special pizza sauce all the way from Nashville.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


31Nights on October 11th, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, Exploitation, GoreGalore | No Comments -

Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Made For TV)

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Rating: ***.5 ( 3 and a half out of 5)
Year: 1980

Plot: Icabod Crane comes to the teensy, snowy town of Sleepy Hollow to try out the job of schoolmaster. He discovers that the last 3 or 4 schoolmasters had all ‘gone strange’, but this fact doesn’t sway his empiricist’s attitude towards the town’s odd goings-on. He fancies Katrina Van Tassel, but Brom Bones is going to do everything in his power to prevent their union.

Review: This low-budget, made-for-tv version far surpasses Burton’s blockbuster. Jeff Goldblum is perfectly cast as the gangly, eccentric Icabod. Dick Butkus hams it up as the villain; it’s bad, but works well for the part. Despite a virtually non-existent budget, the writing is decent, some scenes are rather spooky, and the viewer is treated to fuller, more complex version of the story than he or she might be accustomed to.

Notable scene: You gotta love the stills played as the station comes out of commercial break… maniacal laughs and all!
Gore:          Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: A slice of Butterfinger pie dropped into a melted pint of Mayfield’s “Cupcake” ice cream.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: IMDB. (No Wiki entry)


31Nights on October 10th, 2008 | File Under 3 Stars, 4 Stars, Classic, Creature, Demonic, GoreGalore, Possession, Supernatural | No Comments -

Poltergeist

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Rating: ****.5 ( 4 and a half out of 5)
Year: 1982

Plot: Daddy is a premiere real estate salesmen for Cuesta Verde development; so good, in fact, that he and his family get to live in one of the units. Problem is, when the community was built, the devs didn’t think it necessary to respect the dead people in the cemetery by not building houses on top of them. The ghoulies are pissed, and are salivating at the opportunity to take out their hostilities on the home’s current residents.

Review: Do you remember the good ol’ days when mom and dad smoked pot before going to bed, t.v. stations played the national anthem at the end of the day’s broadcast, and Stephen Speilburg had skill and integrity? Seems like a long time ago. Speilburg and director Tobe Hooper manage to take this 15 cent plot line and turn it into one of the most dynamic, intriguing, and terrifying horror flicks of all time. The completeness of the family’s backstory and the genuine nature of their interactions bring you in close to the action, giving you reason to care whether or not they are pulled into a hell dimension. With ahead-of-its-time special effects and a really creepy ghost hunter, you’ll find yourself holding your breath time and again. Craig T. Nelson also brings some acting chops that he must have left on the set before going on to star in “Coach”.

Notable scene: For those who haven’t seen it before, you’ll finally understand the oft-parodied lines, “They’re heeeeeere” and “This house is clear”.
Gore         : Buckets
Sex/Nudity: Nipples
Scariness:   Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: Mellow Mushroom pizza with pesto base, extra cheese, bacon and pepperoni on top.
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.


31Nights on October 8th, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, 5 Stars, Classic, Demonic, Possession, Supernatural | No Comments -

976-EVIL

Rating: **** (4 out of 5)
Year: 1989

Review: Another director of note starts off our second movie of the month: Robert Englund (aka Freddy Kreuger). I really wish that I had watched this the previous night; just what I was in the mood for! Its 1988 release date gives it that grainy nostalgic feeling with which movies from other decades simply can’t compare. The satanic powers of the horro-hotline are never really explained, but I think it was better that way. The kid who is the ostensible protagonist is a borderline sex-offender who would have been a trench coat mafia member in the 90s. The fact that he’s the one we’re routing for makes for an entirely disturbing viewing experience.

Notable Scene(s) :anything that involves the pneumatic tube system. What, did they build the house on an old, Indian curbside banking cemetery? Oh, and the random jump-cuts that truncate every other scene.
Gore:         Buckets
Sex/Nudity:

a tumescent Nipples

Scariness:  Screams
Campiness: Donald Pleasances
Creepiness: Cellar Doors


Munchy Suggestion: 2 Original Cookie Company Double Doozies
For More: Information than you require about the flick, look here: Wiki or here: IMDB.
31Nights on October 2nd, 2008 | File Under 4 Stars, Demonic, Supernatural | No Comments -