Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Crimson PeakDirected By: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Doug Jones

Synopsis: Edith falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe, returning to his estate after marriage, but everything is not what it seems.

Thoughts: Leave it to Hollywood executives to second guess a director like Guillermo del Toro. He has said many time that this is not a horror movie, but a romance that just happens to have a supernatural element to it. The studio tried to market it as one of the scariest movies of the year, likely driving off potential viewers that wanted to see a gothic romance and enticing some viewers that wanted to see a gory scarefest. In my opinion, this is what led to a very weak box office for Crimson Peak (27.7 million in North America and 61.9 million worldwide as of November 1st).

What you think of Crimson Peak largely depends on what you were looking for in the movie. It is, without a doubt, a beautiful film. The costumes, settings and SFX are amazing to behold. As he’s done before, del Toro has a penchant for showing gratuitous violence on the screen in a beautiful way. It’s amazing that the bathroom scene can make its way into a mainstream film!

While the movie is beautiful, it can be slow at times. The story is cliché and the plot is predictable. Some of the plot points take too long to play out, likely because there isn’t a lot of suspense for most viewers. Perhaps if the movie was a little shorter, that would’ve helped.

As far as the acting, there are some amazing performances here, but there are also a few I found to be a bit lacking. Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain were phenomenal as the Sharpe siblings. Hiddleston has become a force and chews scenery like no other, no matter the role he is in. Mia Wasikowska was alright as the lead, but her character always came across as a little flat to me. I was a huge fan of Charlie Hunnam in Sons of Anarchy, but it seems he brings that same character to all of his roles now. He seemed woefully out of place in this period piece.

There’s not a lot to say about del Toro. It seems you either love him, or hate him. I happen to love his work, but this movie is probably towards the bottom of the list of his movies for me. His eye and imagination are intoxicating for me to experience.

Crimson Peak is a beautiful, yet tragic gothic romance. It just happens to have a few scary moments with some ghosts as well as an overly violent scene or two to link it to the horror genre. It can be a tad slow at times, but del Toro throws enough eye candy out there to keep viewers engaged. This is a film I recommend checking out, but don’t fall for the Hollywood marketing machine and expect a scary movie, but be ready for a romantic drama that just happens to have a ghost or two in it.

Only Sin Deep is a classic tale, as Leah Thompson chooses beauty over longevity, but this time there is a twist, applying pawn shop guidelines.  This may be the least original episode in Season 1, but don’t let that detract from its quality.  It’s very good, mixing vanity and greed with murderous intent.

Director Howard Deutch may be the most displaced in Season 1, as his specialty was comedy’s, including Pretty in Pink and The Great Outdoors.  Still, he weaves this tale masterfully, moving the episode along at a quick enough pace that you don’t get bored.  As an added plus, the episode was written by none other than Fred Dekker, director of Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps.

Overall, this is my least favorite episode from Season 1, but it still isn’t a bad episode.  The horror elements are dialed way back, and this plays more like a Twilight Zone episode.  Other than a couple of gunshot wounds, this episode is devoid of the grue and guts you expect to see.  It’s a pretty tame episode all around, but still very worth watching.



Santa Clause as a killer. You have to admit, it’s an effective visual, although it’s been done before to varying degrees of effectiveness.  Larry Drake delivers one of the scariest looking of the bunch, making this entry another winner.  Mary Ellen Trainor does the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to acting, and does it well.  A large portion of the success of Tales from the Crypt was due to the amazing talent that worked on each episode.

Speaking of talent, it blew my mind to see Robert Zemeckis directed this, until I took a closer look at his work.  Sure, he’s directed movies like Back to the Future, Forrest Gump and Cast Away, but he’s also directed What Lies Beneath and produced several horror movies from the Dark Castle production company.  He’s masterful here, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

This episode is a classic, and often one of the first recalled when the series is a topic of discussion.  Part of that is due to the iconic imagery of Santa as a killer, but the strength of the episode is also a major reason.  I often wonder what a similar approach would look like today, with our generation’s Masters of Horror working with A-list talent to produce an anthology.   The closest I’ve seen is the recent series American Horror Story, which has attracted some great talent, but I’d love to see something similar to Tales make a return.  Hell, bring back the Cryptkeeper!

Island of Death

Directed By: Nico Mastorakis

Starring: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Nikos Tsachiridis

Synopsis: A British couple terrorize a small Greek island, killing anyone they deem as sinful.

Thoughts: Yet another Video Nasty to mark off my list! This time around it is the Greek exploitation flick Island of Death, also titled A Craving for Lust or Devils in Mykonos. I’d heard quite a bit about this movie prior to seeing it, so I thought I knew what I was settling in for. I was wrong.

Island of Death isn’t afraid to go the extra mile to shock you. I don’t mean excessive gore. I mean it has your standard genre fare of violence and mayhem, but it also goes the extra mile with bestiality, incest and golden showers. There is also a rather bizarre scene where the couple is having sex in a phone booth and the guy decides to call his Mom and tell her what he is doing. It’s all to show just how insane the couple is, but Mastorakis really pushes the envelope. It’s not hard to see why this landed on the Video nasty list.

As you would expect, the acting is quite bad, but I can’t imagine that is why you would watch this movie. There aren’t really any redeeming characters, or actors to be found here. Mastorakis attempts to cover just how awful the acting is with the beauty of lead actress Jane Lyle, and finding every excuse to have her naked on the screen.

As awful as the acting is, this was a fairly enjoyable experience. I found myself laughing more than anything, which I don’t think was the initial intention, but it works. The Director admitted in an interview that his sole reason for making the movie was to make money. He was inspired by the financial success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Although this isn’t a movie I will be watching on a regular basis, it is something that I think fans of exploitation need to see. It is so over the top that you won’t believe what you’re seeing on screen. It’s also worth noting that the scenery is great. The island that this takes place on is really a place of beauty. It serves as a great contrast for the carnage happening around it.

Night Train Murders (1975)

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Movie Review
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Night Train Murders (1975)
{L’Ultimo treno della notte}


Directed By: Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Gianfranco De Grassi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo, Macha Meril, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi

Synopsis: Two thugs, influenced by a demented matriarch, torture and kill two teenage girls heading home for Christmas, only to encounter the parents of one of the girls at the train station.

Thoughts: Ah, the Video Nasties; a veritable checklist of carnage that horror fiends often reference. As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer titles that I have yet to see. My latest foray into the list is Night Train Murder, which among many other names, is known as The New House on the Left, mostly because it is the exact same story as Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker. Two young girls, out on their own, encounter trouble, ending up sexually assaulted and killed and then the killers end up running into the parents of one of the girls. The parents find out, and then exact revenge upon the killers. My guess is that the studios in the US either didn’t know, or didn’t care about the “similarities” between the two movies, otherwise you would think that they could have blocked the release.

I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the rape/revenge genre. Watching movies like this is an uncomfortable experience, so when I do watch them, I want there to be some substance behind them. Movie like Last House and I Spit on Your Grave are really well made movies with a lot of context and messages to them. I don’t get that from Night Train Murders. There is a minor, ham-handed attempt at making this a social comment on violence in society, primarily driven by the father’s comment early in the movie, but this just seems like a blatant cash in on Wes Craven’s movie. On top of being a rather shallow movie, the pacing is off, the script is mostly awful and the moments that should be tense, tend to cut away. For being considered a brutal movie, not a lot happens outside of the knife scene that will make you flinch.

Fans of Italian cinema will likely pick up the familiar presence of Ennio Morricone, who supplies the score. Morricone’s score is far from his best, but even that is better than most movies. It’s one of the lone highlights here for me.

I can’t really recommend Night Train Murders other to the most ardent of fans of Italian horror. I imagine a lot of people will check it out if they are interested in the Video Nasty list, but it is one of the least entertaining entries on that list in my opinion. If you are interested in picking it up, 88 Films did a nice job with their release of it. It is the first title in the Italian Collection.

Cooties Poster

Directed By: Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion

Starring: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Morgan Lily, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia, Peter Kwong, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Leigh Whannell

Synopsis: A deadly virus infects grade school children, turning them into flesh eating maniacs.

Thoughts: It’s a safe bet to say the majority of horror fans are getting tired of the overwhelming amount of zombie, and zombie-like movies being released. For the record, I see “infected” movies as the third generation of zombies. If you look back to the 30s, zombies were the result of voodoo, turning people into mindless slaves. George Romero turned the genre on its head by introducing his version, flesh eating undead (although he didn’t originally call them zombies). In 2002, Danny Boyle unleashed 28 Days Later, one of the first infected movies, and likely considered one of the best.

Cooties throws its hat into the ring of infected movies, although with a comedic twist. This time around, a tainted chicken nugget unleashes a virus at Ft. Chicken Elementary, turning children who have not gone through puberty into vicious, flesh eating monsters.

There are plenty of gross out moments in Cooties, starting with the montage of the chicken nuggets journey and the principal getting drawn and quartered on the playground, but there isn’t a lot here that you haven’t seen before. It’s gory, but not to the point that it is difficult to watch for the average viewer. I’ve heard gorehounds say that they were left wanting more, but for me, it was spot on.

The strength of Cooties is, without a doubt, the cast and script. You start with very cliché characters, but they all end up a little differently than you would expect. Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer and Leigh Whannell are fantastic. Whannell’s character was one of my favorite in recent memory. I read in an interview that he played him as having just a little bit of that serial killer vibe in him, but not quite enough to act on it.

If I were to have one complaint about the movie, it would be the conclusion. It seemed rushed, and not quite as thought through as the rest of the movie, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience. Cooties isn’t revolutionary, but it is entertaining, which in a genre where we are being inundated with zombies, is refreshing. I recommend checking it out. It’s available now through various on demand services.

Society (1989)

Posted: September 13, 2015 in Movie Review
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Society Poster

Directed By: Brian Yuzna

Starring: Billy Warlock, Patrice Jennings, Connie Danase, Charles Lucia, Ben Slack, Evan Richards, Tim Bartell, Devin DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson

Synopsis: Bill Whitney just doesn’t seem to fit in to the Beverly Hills society, and he can’t figure out why.

Thoughts: I’ve long been a fan of Brian Yuzna. His work with Stuart Gordon put him on my radar, and seeing as how I love the Re-Animator series and From Beyond, it was no surprise that I jumped on the new Society release from Arrow. Prior to this latest release, I hadn’t seen this movie. It evaded me back in the VHS days and the DVD release was always too expensive to pick up.

I’m grateful that Arrow put out such a fantastic release. It is really a great time to be a horror movie collector. There are a multitude of companies out there releasing amazing editions of some great movies. It’s a constant struggle to decide what to order.

I imagine that Society delivered a powerful message when it was released, but I have to believe that it is even more poignant today. Society really criticizes the social classification that we see today and even creates an extremely overt example of the rich feeding off the poor.

On top of being a smart genre flick, Society also delivers some pretty gruesome scenes, which you would have to expect from Brian Yuzna based on his earlier work. In fact, the only bit of information I had about Society prior to watching it was the picture of the “butt-face.” Society is considered to be an entry into the “body horror” genre, but doesn’t quite push the boundaries that Cronenberg tends to. I see it very much in line with From Beyond, and I absolutely recommend checking it out if you haven’t.

This is a movie that belongs in your collection. I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t get more attention, but it is fantastic. On top of being a great flick, the Arrow release is something else. Great packaging, tons of extras and a great transfer. While not a limited edition, I think that Arrow has already announced that this is out of print, so I highly suggest taking a look around and picking this up.