Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dead Within (2014)

Genre: Zombies, Psychological
Director: Ben Wagner
Country: USA
Availability: Netflix Streaming

If the zombie apocalypse came and you had a safe place to stay, would you ever leave? My reply, given from the comfortable, naive cocoon of normalcy, is fuck yes. In fact, this isn't really a question for me. I can barely stand to be at home with the curtains drawn, let alone be holed up in a cabin and literally not taking a step outside in six months. Zombies be damned, that's no way to live. I'll take my chances with the biters. I'll sleep on the rooftops and bloody my hands with the slaughter, but goddamn don't you cage me.

Dead Within takes place entirely inside a two room cabin with two people. We see their daily routines, how they've held on to the small niceties of life like cleaning the house and getting dressed up for dinner. And we also see how things have changed as they go to bed fully dressed with their shoes on, weapons at their fingertips. Mike leaves Kim during the day to look for supplies. Kim finger paints the walls and talks to a painting of her cat.

There are very few zombies in this zombie movie, mostly because they aren't really the point. The movie is more about isolation and what that can start doing to a person over time. The two actors in Dead Within are terrific. They are believably melancholy,  morose, hopeful and hopeless, scared, paranoid, and tender. The score here is also really great. There's this ominous dread that builds with the music but not just during the suspenseful times, it plays over the mundane scenes as well, adding tension to the entire atmosphere that sustains itself throughout every scene. They really did a lot with very little for this movie and it reminded me of a play I saw last year. Proving that talented actors and a good story will make any production a powerful one.

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mine Games (2012)

Genre: Psychological, Slasher
Director: Richard Gray
Country: USA
Availability: Amazon On Demand

And so begins the horror movie - a group of beautiful young adults road trip to a remote cabin with copious amounts of alcohol and a let's fuckin' party spirit. I'm sold. Throw in a creepy mine? Well, now you're just sweet talking me.

On paper (and in the trailer) Mine Games looks like no-brainer win. Unfortunately, if you're going to wear big boy pants with your complicated plot twist, you better be fucking good at your job. Unfortunately for us, the writer Robert Cross doesn't know a hawk from a handsaw, as is evidence with this ill-conceived story. A little piece of advice for all you would-be horror movie writers out there, just because it's a horror movie doesn't mean your audience will forgive the fact that you don't have any explanations for the crazy shit you start throwing at us. A supernatural cabin and/or mine that creates clones of everyone because... it can? Sweet. Thanks bro.

Do yourself a favor and skip Mine Games. You're better off with Triangle. Same concept, flawless execution. Plus, Melissa George. It's a win-win.

2 out of 5 stars

Proxy (2013)

Genre: Psychological
Director: Zack Parker
Country: USA
Availability: Netflix Streaming

Well, I finally saw Proxy. That's my big takeaway. It's been on my list since it first made its rounds on the horror festival circuit two years ago. But given that it's a two hour "dramatic horror" movie I rarely ever felt like taking the plunge. I'm glad that I finally did but it won't be making my list of favorites anytime soon, even though it's a good movie. In fact, it's very reminiscent in tone to Absentia and Entrance in that it's more of a psychological character study while still maintaining its horror foundation.

Proxy has been synopsised in various ways but I think the most accurate description of the movie  is that it's about two women who seek out attention in demented ways via the use of children. Parents be warned that this movie may not be for you. But like I said, it's a good movie. Alexia Rasmussen is fantastic as the quiet, meek, yet totally psychotic Esther. And Alexa Havins is equally compelling as a twisted woman who doesn't really fully embrace how utterly nuts she is until the life that she's been pretending to have is a reality. And Joe Swanberg. An actor who every single time I see him on screen I wonder, who is that guy, only to discover he's been in every horror movie I've ever seen, ever. Then there's this scene in the bathroom that's so cinematically (horribly) beautiful that I was in awe.

I suppose my only real complaint with Proxy is its running length. And I realize I may not be the most credible judge of how long a movie should be, this coming from the girl who starts checking how much longer till the end about 70 minutes in. But seriously. Unless you have Thor running around with his fabulous hair whilst giant creatures are blowing up New York City, your movie probably doesn't have to be two hours long. I've got shit to do. Like watch a second movie before bedtime.

3 out of 5 stars


Tusk (2014)

Genre:  Creature Feature
Director:  Kevin Smith
Country:  USA
Availability: In Theaters

First, let me start off by saying - Tusk? What the fuck? What kind of crackpot stoner idea did I just watch? Now, to be clear, I'm not bemoaning the ridiculousness of a story that revolves around turning a man into a walrus. I mean, yes, I am. It's really fucking stupid. But hey, I've seen over 900 horror movies in my lifetime and I've witnessed and enjoyed far more idiotic ideas than this. I guess it was the execution that left me wondering if I'd just been insulted. It was like inviting someone into your home and having them make fun of your lifestyle in such a backhanded way that it left you standing there scratching your head.

Now, I'm not for or against Kevin Smith as a writer/director. I never saw Clerks, I really liked Mallrats, Chasing Amy was just okay, Dogma was pretty stupid, and anything after the '90s went completely ignored. Until Red State. I certainly didn't love Red State but it was a solid, good movie.  After all, how can you go wrong with Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman at the helm? And religious zealots running around with firearms? Yeah, that's terrifying right there. So what the hell was Kevin Smith smoking when he decided to do Tusk? Was it a dare? Did he lose a bet? Or did he simply want to show the world that you could make a horror movie about anything at all, and people would fill the seats.

And to even call Tusk a horror movie is to simply conform to the idea that creating a semi-serious movie about a man being turned into a walrus is in and of itself, horrific. But the sad fact is, Tusk isn't a scary movie nor is it a horrific one. It fails in all aspects of horror save for its conception.

That being said, I did enjoy Tusk. Mostly because it was a funny movie but also because Justin Long, Michael Parks, and Johnny Depp did good work under the circumstances [of being in a stupid fucking movie]. So yeah, I'll watch a dumb-ass movie like Blood Lake or a disgusting movie like Human Centipede and love every minute of it. Because even when a horror movie is stupid, you can tell, like getting kissed by someone who loves you, that they mean it. But Tusk? That shit was soulless.

2 out of 5 stars

All Cheerleaders Die (2014)

Genre: Witchcraft, Teen Screams
Director:  Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Country: USA
Availability: Netflix Streaming

Writer/director Lucky McKee likes to make horror movies about strong (albeit sometimes insane) women. Common themes in Lucky McKee movies are lesbianism, rape, outcasts, revenge and witchcraft. All Cheerleaders Die has all of these themes, and so much more. Think Jennifer's Body but with an entire cheerleading squad.

I mean, the plot is ridiculous, don't get me wrong. Four hot cheerleaders come back from the dead because one hot Wicca is pissed that her girlfriend just died. And once the babes are back in uniform, only one thing will satisfy their blood lust - football players. This movie could have been a complete disaster but lucky for Lucky, he found a dynamite cast. These actresses not only pull off being powerful, but they manage to hit comedy right on the nose. So grab your pom-pons bitches, and get ready for a bloody good time.

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (2014)

Genre: Creature Feature
Director: James Cullen Bressack
Country: USA
Availability: Netflix Streaming

I have a soft spot for really bad creature features. I have seen every Lake Placid movie (and there were four of them) as well as Birdemic, Sharknado, Piranha (the original, remake and sequel), and every cheesy killer spider movie you can think of. I don't make it a mission to seek out this sub-genre, but when they pop up on Netflix streaming and there's an added appeal like a former hot teen tv actor turned old washed up desperate actor, I say YES PLEASE and I tune the fuck in.

So imagine my delight when Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lamprey starring Shannen Doherty showed up in Netflix just when I had a bottle of wine and a night to myself. Can you say PARTY?

Admittedly, I didn't really know what a lamprey was when the movie started. Turns out, they are actually pretty terrifying.

I'm kind of surprised there aren't more killer lamprey movies given the fact that they look like that. But as with any good (bad) water-based creature feature, you have to figure out how to make the creature be as menacing on land as they are in the water. Because come on, if something in the water is eating people, you stay out of the fucking water. And that makes 1.) a short movie and 2.) a boring movie. To get around this little detail the lamprey in Blood Lake jump out of water and move across land like giant inch worms. Still, they're no fast-moving zombie so it's pretty hilarious to watch the people get overrun with them and die within moments of being attacked. Because... for reasons.

What Blood Lake lacked in, well, everything, it made up for in blood. And thank goodness. Because if you're going to be called Blood Lake, I'm going to expect there to be a bloody goddamn lake. Even if it doesn't make all that much sense. I mean, I'm watching a movie about killer lamprey, I'm going to buy pretty much anything you throw at me. Let's do this.

I may or may not be binge watching the 90210 reboot currently streaming on Netflix. So the fact that I recently watched an old-looking Shannen Doherty bad act her way through a handful of  guest episodes in season one, alongside of a gracefully aging Jennie Garth, was extremely timely. Turns out she's just as old and bad at acting in Blood Lake as she is in everything else. No matter, I'm still a fan. Because she'll always be Brenda Walsh and Beverly Hills 90210 is a teen crush that will never die. 

But still, I'm not sure why she decided to do this Made-For-TV Animal Planet movie. Was she inspired by fellow 90210 cast member Ian Ziering's performance in Sharknado? Did she lose a bet? Was someone blackmailing her? Either way I'm grateful. Because watching Shannen Doherty get attacked by jumping lamprey and then fall off a ladder, well, that image will be turning my frown upside down for many gloomy days to come.

3 out of 5 stars

Netflix Streaming - Horror Movies October 2014

Whether or not you're a year-round horror movie junky like me, come October most people start to desire two things: pumpkin spice lattes and horror movies. Lucky for you, Netflix just so happens to have a pretty solid selection on the horror movie front.

Here's a list of my top 31 horror movies currently streaming on Netflix. One for each day of the month...

Almost Human
Alyce Kills
American Mary
Bad Milo!
Black Rock
Cabin In The Woods
Collection, The
Dead Before Dawn
Dead Snow
Den, The
Grave Encounters
Hatchet II & III
Host, The
House of the Devil, The
I Saw the Devil
Innkeepers, The
Let the Right One In
Pact, The
Possession, The
Quarantine 2
Silent House
Stage Fright
Tucker & Dale VS Evil
V/H/S & V/H/S 2
We Are What We Are
World War Z
You're Next

And because I find it frustrating that people put up horror movie lists full of films that most horror movie aficionados have probably seen, here's a second list for any of you genre lovers looking for something a bit off-radar.

ABCs of Death
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Audrey Rose
Banshee Chapter
Bay of Blood
Berberian Sound Studio
Caller, The
Don't Look Now
Hellraiser series (1-8)
Last Days on Mars, The
Legend of Hell House, The
Night of the Creeps
Red State
Returned, The
Sacrament, The
Seasoning House, The
Stake Land
Texas Chainsaw
Wake Wood
Wolf Creek 2

Stay scared!

~ Doll