Archive for January, 2012

TShirt Bordello

It seems like you can’t help but stumble on websites selling genre t-shirts these days, but if you are like me, you tend to be leery on the quality and whether or not you will actually get your product.  Well, I was recently contacted by Don (of the Dead) over at TShirt Bordello and asked if I wanted to check out his website and see what I thought, so over I went.

I would suggest that genre fans check them out.  Not only do they have plenty of great horror related shirts, but they also cover a lot of other genres.  Here are just a couple of the shirts that caught my eye:

 

In addition to their shirts, you’ll stumble across some other goodies as well.  I just might have to order up some of these awesome glasses:

 

So, after combing through the site, I had Don send me a shirt to try out.  I went with the “Stephen King Rules” shirt that is right out of Monster Squad and my wife picked the vintage “Amity Island” one.  I gotta say I am impressed with both the quality of the shirt and the design.  The shirts are soft, but still look like they will hold up over time.  The men’s shirt fit well, but it looks like the ladies tees run a tad small.  My wife thought hers was a little tight, but I thought it looked great!  Keep that in mind if you are looking at the women’s shirts.  The prices are great and right now they are running a Buy 3, get 1 free deal. 

I highly suggest you head over to TShirt Bordello and order up some goodness.  I know it will become one of my go-to locations for shirts and more.

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

Directed By: Kevin Yagher/Alan Smithee

Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Doug Bradley, Christine Harnos

Subgenre: Demons & Possession, Science Fiction-Horror

Hellrasier Bloodline

Synopsis: The fourth installment of the Hellraiser series serves as both a sequel and a prequel, telling the origin of the Lament Configuration, as well as its destruction.

Thoughts: It usually doesn’t bode well for a movie when there are issues between the Director and the studio, and Bloodline is no exception.  I thought that the storyline was there, but it was just never developed.  The editing and pacing is pretty rough, and the cuts were forced by the studio, which then prompted Director Kevin Yagher to disown the film.  Joe Chappelle was brought in to finish off the movie, but it was credited to the infamous Alan Smithee.

Clive Barker served as a producer, and this was actually his last involvement with any of the films.  I would love to see him return for another film, but it isn’t looking good with his health and the track record of the series lately.

There are a couple of bright points to Bloodline.  I thought Bruce Ramsay played his multiple roles well and he was a welcome addition to the Hellraiser multiverse.  As always, Doug Bradley is awesome as Pinhead.  I even enjoyed Valentina Vargas in her multiple roles and makes for a pretty bad ass Cenobite.

Like I said, there were some interesting ideas presented in Bloodline, but the pacing and editing was just a mess, and ultimately ruined what could have been a pretty damn good movie.  It just goes to show that Hollywood studios don’t know what they are doing, especially when it comes to the horror genre.

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
(Day of the Woman)

Directed By: Meir Zarchi

Starring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemanns

Subgenre: Exploitation, Revenge

I Spit on Your Grave 1978

Synopsis: Author Jennifer Hills retreats to the country for some peace and quiet while she writes her novel.  What she finds is the unwanted attention of the locals when a group of four men abduct and repeatedly rape her.

Thoughts: The horror genre has countless subgenres, but the revenge film is often one of the more difficult ones for me to watch and review.  Often times, they are not entertaining, per say, but when done well, they tell a poignant story and evoke emotions that are difficult to summarize.  I Spit on Your Grave is not a “fun” movie by any means.  It can be difficult to sit through some of the scenes, but I think it is an important movie in the horror genre.

The production values are pretty low, even compared to other similar movies, and the acting can be a bit amateurish at times, with one major exception.  I thought that Camille Keaton was fantastic in a very harrowing role.  What she went through on the screen could not have been easy to depict as an actress, not to mention her completely changing direction when it came time for her revenge. 

It is interesting to hear the various opinions of this movie, as some critics refer to it as garbage not fit for viewing and some see it as an extremely strong statement about Women’s rights.  I guess I am somewhere in between.  I don’t see this as a revelation in film making, but it has its place in the genre.    Be warned before watching this though, the rape scene, or scenes, are pretty drawn out, and the revenge that Jennifer enacts is pretty damn cringe worthy as well.

The Innkeepers (2011)

Directed By: Ti West

Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, George Riddle

Subgenre: Supernatural, Ghosts and Haunted Houses

The Innkeepers

Synopsis: During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

Thoughts: Once again, a Ti West horror flick is building a very strong buzz, so I decided to check it out before hearing too much about it.  It is available on pay per view all over the place and comes out on DVD later this year.

I have to say that if you like Ti west’s House of the Devil, you will love The innkeepers.  It has that same slow burn to it, building tension throughout with a tense climax.  This time around, West uses more comedy in the first and second acts, which I thought really helped the movie along.  My chief complaint for House of the Devil is that it was pretty slow at times, so the added comic relief was a great touch.

The cast, although small, was fantastic, especially Sara Paxton, who plays the protagonist, searching for proof that the hotel she works in is haunted.  The rest of the cast is impressive as well, which is essential in the success of a movie like the Innkeepers.

I continue to be impressed with the Direction of Ti West, although this is just the second movie of his I have seen.  His movies have a sense of realism and intimacy that is not often seen in this genre.  I really feel like I am involved with the characters.  I look forward to see what West brings us and how his style evolves and grows.

I highly recommend The Innkeepers, although it probably isn’t for everyone.  Like House of the Devil, it takes a bit of patience to get to the climax, but it is a great piece of storytelling. 

House of the Devil (2009)

Directed By: Ti West

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace

Subgenre: Supernatural, Demons & Possession

House of the Devil

Love this version of the poster.

Synopsis: A babysitter accepts a job that turns out too good to be true

Thoughts: A couple years back, I heard of a movie that was a throwback to the 70s, both in its style and substance.  House of the Devil was pumped up so much that I picked up the DVD the first chance I got…and was disappointed with what was delivered.  I was pretty bummed, as I was really hoping to like it.  It sat on my shelf for a couple of years before I decided to give it another shot.  I’ll revisit just about any movie, and I figured House of the Devil deserved another shot.

The first thing I noticed was that House of the Devil is beautifully shot.  To look like a film from the 70s Director Ti West used 16mm film and even mimicked the camera work so often seen in that era.  It worked to perfection, and I was already being pulled into the movie the second time around.

The acting is almost voyeuristic at times, as it seems they aren’t acting at all.  I guess that shows that they did a good job.  I know one thing, if I were a babysitter and TomNoonan answered the door, I doubt I would take the job.

Now, I enjoyed House of the Devil the second time around, but it’s not a perfect film.  It does drag in the middle.  As an audience, we can start to see what is happening around Samantha (the babysitter), but I think that West waited a little too long to ratchet up the action.  The finale was pretty tense and I loved the ending, so it balances out.

I look back and can’t figure out why House of the Devil didn’t grab me the first time around, but it just goes to show that you should give a movie a second chance.  I was glad I did, and recommend House of the Devil to horror fans out there, but just keep in mind that it is character driven and works to build tension slowly.

Piranha 3D (2010)

Directed By: Alexandre Aja

Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Steven McQueen, Kelly Brook

Subgenre: Creature Feature

Synopsis: A school of prehistoric piranha infests a lake during spring break.

Thoughts: I’ve said it before, but you can’t disqualify a movie just because it is a remake before seeing it.  A movie like Piranha was a good target for a remake, but here’s the thing, other than the title, there is little in common between the 1978 version and this one.  I can easily enjoy both the original and Aja’s vision.

Alexandre Aja is a name most horror fans know, as he brought us the brutal Haute Tension and the equally brutal The Hills Have Eyes remake.  I think he stumbled a bit with Mirrors, but that was still pretty decent.  Piranha is definitely campier than his other work, but his penchant for gore shines through.

There is a surprisingly strong cast here as well, with such names as Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Jerry O’Connell and a great cameo by Richard Dreyfuss.  The story is nothing to exciting, but is still done well, even if it serves as a vehicle for the gore and gratuitous nudity.

Piranha 3D is a fun movie, which seems odd with all the gore in it, but it really is.  If you go into it looking to have fun, I think you will enjoy it, I know I did.

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Directed By: Renny Harlin

Starring: Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, Saffron Burrows, Michael Rapaport, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel Jackson, Jacqueline McKenzie,

Subgenre: Creature Feature

Deep Blue Sea

Synopsis: A group of scientists at a remote marine facility are genetically altering Mako sharks in an attempt to cure Alzheimer’s.  The experiments make the sharks smarter, and ultimately more dangerous.

Thoughts: I’m a sucker for creature features.  Give me killer sharks, giant snakes, rogue gators, whatever, I usually eat it up.  So, it’s no surprise that I am a pretty big fan of Deep Blue Sea.  As far as horror movies go, this has a pretty ridiculous cast with Jane, Rapaport, Skarsgard, Jackson and even LL Cool J.  None of the actors give a lights out performance, but their cumulative talent really helps the movie.  One of the cast suffers a very surprising and early death that is one of the best deaths in any movie.

There really isn’t much of a plot, other than the genetically engineered sharks get loose during a storm and the people at the facility must try and escape, all while the place is flooding.  The simplicity is what makes it work for me.  There are a few nuances with motivation and trying to sure Alzheimer’s, but this is really about some killer sharks stalking their prey in close quarters.

Deep Blue Sea epitomizes a “fun” horror movie for me.  It’s not overly dark, gory and doesn’t deal with difficult material.  It’s fun to watch, and that is a big reason that I like this one.  If you want to watch a fun shark flick, check it out, if you want to watch one that is scary, watch Jaws.

The Perfect Host (2010)

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Movie Review
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The Perfect Host (2010)

Directed By: Nick Tomnay

Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford, Nathaniel Parker, Helen Reddy, Megahn Perry, Joseph Will

Subgenre: Thriller

Perfect Host

Synopsis: A bank robber on the run crashes the wrong dinner party when he finds out that his host is more than he appears.

Thoughts: So, here’s a pretty good thriller that flew under most people’s radar.  John Taylor, a bank robber on the run, decides to hide out in a house, posing as a friend of the home owner, but he soon finds out that he chose the wrong house.

Without a doubt, the biggest strength of The Perfect Host is the acting.  I was really impressed with David Hyde Pierce here.  Honestly, I can’t remember him from anything other than Frasier, but he is pretty typecast from that role.  He takes that typecast and runs with it here, but totally turns it around.  Clayne Crawford, another fairly unknown actor, does a great job as the bank robber too.

I was totally on board with this movie until it decided to go all Shymalan on us.  What takes place in the house is great, and they should have just stuck with that part of the story, but there are several twists after the segment in the house that tend to cheapen it, dropping it from a really great movie, to a pretty good movie with a flawed ending.

Even with some of the asinine twists and pretty poor ending, I recommend this one just to see Hyde Pierce play the role of the perfect host.