Archive for February, 2012

Creak (2012)

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Movie Review
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One of the coolest things about having a horror blog is that every once in awhile I get to here from independent Director’s out there trying to get the word out about their latest projects.  Recently, I was approached by Luther Bhogal-Jones, owner of Sincerly, Psycopath about his latest short, “Creak.”

Creak is a 5 minute short about something we have all encountered, at least to a point.  All of us have heard that noise in the middle of the night that wakes us out of a deep sleep, ruining what was a good night’s sleep.  In Creak, the same thing happens to Heather and Ellen, but this time there is something causing the noise, something sinister.

Creak is a very well made short.  I was impressed with the music and the tone that it help set.  It helped create tension in a very short period of time, and was one of the strong suits here.  About the only thing that I initially questioned was the look of The Pioneer (watch the credits for the name).  At first it seemed out of place, but then I really started to think about it and wanted to know why he looked that way, which made me realize that the very costume that I questioned did what it was supposed to do.  It intrigued me and made me think about it well after the film was over.  It also makes me think that maybe there is a feature length film to be made here.

It’s available on Vimeo here, I suggest you go and check it out.  Luther also mentioned a couple more shorts coming out soon, “Knock Knock” and  “eXtended” both of which I am really looking forward to seeing.

The Prospector’s Curse

There’s blood in them there hills!

The vengeful corpse of an old prospector haunts two gold thieves as they struggle for salvation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A western-themed horror film entitled “The Prospector’s Curse” has wrapped production near the remote town of Ponty Pool, Ontario.  Set during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890’s, the darkly comedic short is Written and Directed by Josh Heisie (‘Mail Order Bride’), Produced by Bruno Marino (‘Anything Goes’) and is currently in Post Production in Toronto, Canada.

The talent lineup for “The Prospector’s Curse” includes David Roberts (‘Curious and Unusual Deaths’), Johnny Quinn (‘Mind’s Eye: The Series’), Amanda Ives (‘I Hate Toronto: A Love Story’) and Robert Nolan (‘Worm’).

Rounding out the creative team are Director of Photography Michael Jari Davidson (‘SICK’), and Special Effects Makeup Artist Carlos Henriques (‘Red: Werewolf Hunter’) of The Butcher Shop.

Synopsis

Theodore “Tubby” Ellsworth and Jack smith are two criminals on the run, lost in the untamed wilderness.  When they stumble across a mutilated Prospector, dying on Indian ground, they promise to give him a Christian burial.  The fugitives break their oath and steal the old man’s gold…but that night, the Prospector’s corpse returns to make them pay!

Facebook Fan Page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Prospectors-Curse/141337662650150

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Movie Review
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My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Directed By: George Mihalka

Starring: Paul Kelman, Neil Affleck, Lori Hallier, Don Francks, Pete Cowper

Subgenre: Slasher

My Bloody Valentine

Synopsis: Harry Warden, the sole survivor of a mining accident, returns to the town of Valentine’s Bluff on the eve of a Valentine’s Dance to commit grizzly murders.

Thoughts: In the wake of the birth of the slasher movie, studios big and small pumped out tons of titles trying to take advantage of the new found goldmine.  A surprising source of many early slasher movies was Canada.  One of my favorites is this little gem here, My Bloody Valentine. 

My Bloody Valentine hits all the important points for a successful slasher; a killer with a great look, plentiful victims, and thanks to the recently released unrated DVD, some really great death scenes.  The MPAA originally slashed about 9 minutes of footage that they deemed to contain excessive violence and gore, but the latest release reinserts the footage.

I’m not going to blow smoke and say that the acting is great.  Hell it’s a stretch to call it good.  The Canadian accents are readily apparent and the script really isn’t all that great.  Still, there is something about My Bloody Valentine that makes it work.  I believe most of the credit goes to the villain, Harry Warden, or the Miner, if that suits you better.  I am really surprised that the character didn’t take off and spawn multiple sequels.  Instead, we would have to wait until 2009 for the remake (more on that in a later post).

George Mihalka, the Director, would go on to direct many more projects, some for TV and some theatrical.  Looking through his filmography, I don’t recognize much. It’s a shame he never returned to the horror genre, I would have liked to have seen what else he could have given us.

If you find yourself wanting to check out some classic 80s slashers, but don’t want to revisit Michael Myers or Jason for the hundredth time, I think My Bloody Valentine is a great place to start.  It’s one of my favorite slashers from the 80s.

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Doug Bradley, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot, Khary Payton, Henry Cavill

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellrasier Hellworld

Synopsis: A group of college kids get invited to a private party for players of Hellworld, an online game based on the Hellraiser universe.

Thoughts: Hellraiser has gone through many iterations in its existence.  Producers have treated Pinhead like a slasher and even sent him into space.  Hellworld takes this to another level.  They put him in a video game.  Seriously, there is a game based on the Cenobites and the Lament Configuration.  Thankfully, the movie quickly moves away from the video game.  I was afraid that we were going to be treated to a version of Pinhead akin to The Lawnmower Man.

The premise isn’t the only thing that differs in Hellworld.  There is a lot more sex.  A lot more.  Not that I am one to complain about such a thing, but it seemed out of place in a Hellraiser movie.  On top of that, the deaths seem to gratuitous as well.  They felt like they were lifted from a discarded Saw script. 

Aside from Doug Bradley, Hellworld also brings in genre favorite Lance Henriksen as the nefarious host of the party.  There isn’t anything great about Henriksen’s role, but just his presence on the screen adds a “cool factor” to the movie.  The cast of party goers is reminiscent of slasher movies.  They are attractive and wholly disposable.

In some ways, Hellworld works as a horror flick.  It has a lot of elements that horror fans look for, making it a decent watch.  Personally, I don’t think it fits into the Hellraiser canon, but it is a better movie than Deader, the previous entry.  Check it out, but don’t be expecting something that reinvents the genre.

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys, Marc Warren, Doug Bradley

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellraiser Deader

Synopsis: Reporter Amy Klein sets off to research a cult that appears to have the ability to resurrect themselves after committing suicide.

Thoughts: The Hellraiser series takes another turn, this time going for a much grittier look and storyline.  The story revolves around a reporter investigating a cult with the ability to resurrect the dead.  The cult is led by Winter LeMarchand, ancestor to Phillip LeMarchand, the creator of the Lament Configuration.  Winter has discovered the secret to resurrection, and is manipulating people into committing suicide and then bringing them back to life, all in the hopes of finding someone that can open the box and bring forth the Cenobites.  Winter has aspirations of controlling the Cenobites and becoming their master.  I think we all can figure out how that is going to end.

I wasn’t a big fan of Deader.  I had liked the approach of the last two installments, but just couldn’t get into this storyline.  It seemed to worry more about the visuals than anything else, and the camera work was reminiscent of Saw.  Everything had a layer of grime to it, and while an effective method, it just didn’t work for me.

I also thought that the acting was uninspired.  One of the strengths of the successful sequels has been the strong leads to play opposite Doug Bradley.  Kari Wuhrer has plenty of genre credits, but she just didn’t do it for me here.  Overall, I would say this has some of the weakest acting of the entire series to date.

The director, Rick Bota, also directed the previous entry, Hellseeker.  Even though I didn’t enjoy this entry nearly as much as the previous one, I still think that Bota has a solid career in front of him.  He seems to be searching for a directing identity and trying different methods.  I mentioned before that Bota only has the three Hellraiser sequels to his directorial filmography right now (Hellseeker, Deader, and Hellworld), but I look forward to seeing what he can deliver in the future.

Deader is really only for the Hellraiser completest.  It’s easily one of the weakest entries to the series, and probably my least favorite (I have yet to see Revelations).  Check it out if you are inclined, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Woman in Black (2012)

Directed By: James Watkins

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Jessica Raine, Liz White

Subgenre: Ghosts and Haunted Houses

Synopsis: Arthur Kipps, a widower and lawyer in the early 1900s, must handle the affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drabow, owner of the Eel Marsh House.  Kipps begins to hear noises in the house and sees a mysterious woman dressed in black, which seems to lead to the death of some children in town. 

Thoughts: Daniel Radcliffe has a pretty steep hill to climb to get away from the role that made him one of the most recognizable characters in the history of film.  Starring in a creepy ghost story from Hammer Films is a great start in my opinion.

Daniel Radcliffe does an amicable job as Kipps, the lawyer that must complete this task or risk losing his job.  It is difficult for him to get away from, but I did see bits of Harry Potter in his character.  The inner conflict and struggles of Kipps parallel Potter in many ways.  On the same note, there was more than once that I was reminded of a young Peter Cushing when Radcliffe was on screen.  Much of that can be attributed to the physical similarities and the fact that this was a Hammer Production, but I think the comparison is valid.

There are some basic tenants that a ghost story needs to be effective.  The story needs to be compelling, the atmosphere must be creepy, and the ghost itself should be frightening.  I think The Woman in Black covers all those areas.

While the story does start out slowly, it really pulls you in once it gets going.  As a parent, I can say that there is not much more unsettling than the death of a child.  It chills a parent to the bone, and that had me on edge from the very beginning.  The atmosphere and locale are also a very important part of the movie.  The town takes place in rural England along the coastline, so it feels dark and dreary, and that is before you even get to the Eel Marsh House.  The house sits in solitude on an island, accessible only by a road that the tide covers at times.  It has been sitting vacant, so it has the typical cobwebs and furniture coverings you expect to find.  One of the creepiest things you will see in the entire house is the toys.  I’m not sure where they dug those wind-up toys from, but if kids in that era played with those things, I can’t imagine them getting a full night’s sleep.

Now, the titular Woman on Black really was scary.  Horror fans have been saturated with ghost stories the last ten years or so with the tidal wave of Asian Horror and the inevitable American remakes, but I think this was one of the scariest I have seen since Ju-On.  Some of the noises the ghost makes here remind me of Ju-On and serve to unsettle the viewer (at least this one.)  There are a few false jump scares, which makes the legitimate ones all the more effective.

I did see this in a very full theatre, which is a mixed bag.  At times, the crowd was a little rambunctious, but there is something to be said about being scared with a large group of people.  The movie was very well received, and actually got an ovation during the credits, which I don’t see very often.  I suggest going to see this, it really is one of the better horror movies I have seen in recent years.

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Directed By: Rick Bota

Starring: Dean Winters, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, William S. Taylor, Michael Rogers, Rachel Hayward

Subgenre: Demons & Possession

Hellraiser Hellseeker

Synopsis: A man survives a car accident in which his wife dies and finds himself tormented by the Cenobites.

Thoughts: The theme of Inferno continues in Hellseeker as the Cenobites mentally torture their prey.  Hellseeker does amp up the gore a bit, but still not in excess.  There are a lot of times that, as the viewer, you are not sure if Trevor is dreaming or not.

I thought the cast was great, but I admit to being a fan of Dean Winters, so that definitely sways my opinion.  I would like to see him get some more mainstream cinematic roles.  Hellseeker also marks the return of Kirsty Cotton, played by Ashley Laurence, so that benefits Hellseeker as well.  I’m not sure how many times I can say it, but Doug Bradley was great as Pinhead.  It really is a role that he defined, and I just can’t see someone else playing the role (I have yet to see Revelations).

Rick Bota gets his directorial debut, but he is no stranger to the horror genre.  He has been the cinematographer for several genre titles, including Demon Knight, House on Haunted Hill and Valentine.  He would go on to direct three Hellraiser sequels, but has yet to have another movie released.  While he hasn’t set the genre on fire, I would think that his track record would get him some more opportunities.  I actually think that this is the best of the three Hellraiser movies he directed, but that has more to do with the script than the direction.  Oddly enough, the three movies are all very different.

I would imagine that fans of Inferno would enjoy Hellseeker, and I am actually a little surprised that it doesn’t get at least a little love.  It really is a decent flick, especially compared to some of the other sequels.  It’s similarities to Inferno make it a great choice for a double feature.  I suggest giving this one a shot.