Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

krampus

Directed By: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Emjay Anthony, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Stefania LaVie Owen,

Synopsis: A family’s Holiday gathering is spoiled by the arrival of Krampus, a spirit that comes during Christmas to punish the wicked.

Thoughts: The legend of Krampus, which comes from German folklore has become quite a popular subject the last couple of years. He’s appeared in a few films and can be found throughout popular culture. From what I’ve seen, this is one of the better movies to depict Krampus, and it also happens to be the long awaited follow up of Michael Dougherty, who brought is 2007’s classic Trick ‘r Treat.

The story here is straight forward, a family gets together to celebrate, but tensions are high, causing everyone to fight and therefore make the whole affair miserable. Max, one of the children, rips up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window, which summons Krampus.

There is a lot to like about Krampus. The cast is well above average with Adam Scott, Toni Collette and David Koechner being the most well-known actors involved. The FX are also great, with Krampus and his army of nasty creatures being well thought out and pretty damn creepy. Even with that, there is something… lacking with Krampus. Maybe it is because Trick ‘r Treat is so damn perfect, I was expecting the same here. I’ve watched it twice now, and found it enjoyable, but just not blown away. That being said, I believe time will be kind to Krampus, and I can see it becoming a Christmas horror classic, even if it isn’t as good as Trick ‘r Treat. The story and quality of the movie overall are more than enough to carry it. I’m glad to have it in my collection, and will certainly be watching it again next December.

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Directed By: Martin Kitrosser

Starring: William Thorne, Jane Higginson, Van Quattro, Tracy Fraim, Mickey Rooney, Brian Bremmer, Neith Hunter, Clint Howard

Synopsis: Deadly toys lead to a nefarious toymaker and his bizarre son, but not everything is as it seems.

Thoughts: The final installment of the original franchise is, without a doubt, the most bizarre entry. While the first there were slasher films, and the second dealt with the occult, The Toy Maker starts with someone delivering killer toys. It’s not very clear why the toys are being delivered at first, but the story starts to unwind as the movie progresses.

The most interesting casting choice is that of Mickey Rooney as a toy shop owner. Rooney famously campaigned against the first movie. I guess that a paycheck outweighed his morals when it came to The Toy Maker. The rest of the cast is pretty much what you’d expect, but Brian Bremmer turns in a rather bizarre performance as Pino, the son of Rooney’s character Joe Petto.

The Toy Maker is worth checking out just for the bizarre twists in the movie. The ending is pretty unique, and definitely not something you see coming. Sadly, there isn’t a quality release of The Toy Maker (just like part 4), but you can find the triple feature on DVD pretty cheap.

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Directed By: Brian Yuzna

Starring: Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Tommy Hinkley, Reggie Bannister, Allyce Beasley, Maud Adams, Hugh Fink, Ricard Gladstein, Geln Chin

Synopsis: An investigation into a woman’s death leads a reporter to uncover a coven of witches.

Thoughts: The fourth installment of Silent Night, Deadly Night foregoes the killer Santa brothers from the first three movies and takes a completely different turn towards the supernatural. In my opinion, this was a good move. There wasn’t a lot more to do with Billy and Ricky’s story (although the earlier movies get a cameo of sorts as it is playing on a background TV in one scene). What did surprise me is that this has very little to do with Christmas. The ritual that is set to take place in the climax takes place on Christmas Eve, so there is some connection, but not nearly as overt as the first three movies.

The cast is led by Neith Hunter, who plays Kim, the aspiring reporter looking to uncover the bizarre circumstances of a woman’s death. For someone without a lot of experience, I thought she did a good job. The coven that she encounters is also very good, and made me wonder how much of an influence that this movie had on Rob Zombie for Lords of Salem. There are a lot of parallels between the two movies. There are also a couple of very familiar faces to horror fans here as well, with Clint Howard playing a significant role as Ricky (nod to preceding entries), the servant to the coven. Kim’s boss, the editor at the newspaper is played by Reggie Bannister, of Phantasm fame.

The familiar names don’t stop there, as Initiation was directed by Brian Yuzna, who brought us gems like Society and Bride or Re-Animator. He also wrote this, and it shows. Yuzna has always had a penchant for pretty gory scenes, and there are a few of those in Initiation. Yuzna relied on Screaming Mad George for the FX here, which proved to be another great decision.

Oddly enough, I found this to be one of the better entries in the series, which is not something I was expecting. I believe that is partly due to the deviation from the slasher formula, which really wasn’t done particularly well in the previous entries anyway.

Unfortunately, the DVD release of this is of pretty poor quality. I’d love to see Scream pick up the series and give the original a Collector’s Edition, 2 & 3 a double feature and 4 & 5 a double feature. An Arrow box set would also be pretty sweet.

This was an interesting watch, and I do plan on revisiting it someday, probably as a double feature with Lords of Salem, just to see how similar the movies are (or if it is my shoddy memory).I think Initiation is worth checking out, but not necessarily as a Christmas horror movie.

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Directed By: Monte Hellman

Starring: Bill Moseley, Richard Beymer, Samantha Scully, Eric Da Re, Laura Harring, Robert Culp, Elizabeth Hoffman

Synopsis: Ricky awakens from a coma, going on a killing spree and stalking a blind psychic girl.

Thoughts: It turns out Ricky survived the end of the previous movie, and doctors have reconstructed his head, placing a plastic dome over his brain. They’ve also decided to use a psychic to try and reach him, because that is always a great idea with a psychotic killer. Interestingly enough, this came out the year after Friday the 13th introduced a psychic twist to their franchise with A New Blood.

When I first set out to watch this, I was excited to see Bill Moseley had taken up the role of Ricky, but honestly, I was pretty underwhelmed with his performance here, as I was with the entire movie. It wasn’t dreadful, but it sure wasn’t good either. It is the last in the series to follow the story of Billy and Ricky as the Santa Claus killers. The final two movies in the series take a completely different turn.

The Silent Night, Deadly Night series is infamous for its iconic imagery of a killer Santa Claus and the controversy around the first film, but the reality is that the series is not very good. It’s a testament to the power of home video in the 80s that 4 sequels were made in fairly quick succession. If you don’t check out the sequels, you won’t be missing much, but I do know that many people consider them essential viewing during the holiday season.

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Directed By: Rob Zombie

Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, Lew Temple, David Ury, EG Daily, Torsten Voges, Ginger Lynn

Synopsis: A group of carnies are abducted and forced to play a murderous game of cat and mouse with killer, psychotic clowns.

Thoughts: When you sit down to watch a Rob Zombie movie, there are certain things you should expect. First, he has a deep love of the horror genre, so there are often some very obvious influences from other movies as well as familiar faces from the genre. Second, you’ll get the unmistakable Rob Zombie look and feel. Lastly, you’ll get his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie.

31 is no different. Saw, The Purge, The Hills Have Eyes, The Running Man and other movies all seem to have influenced 31 at least a little bit. As far as genre stars, this may be one of the lightest representations of genre stars in any of his films. Meg Foster and Malcolm McDowell are huge names and Lew Temple has done a few movies and The Walking Dead, but other than that, there are some lesser known and new names here.

It has Zombie usual gritty feel, complete with his raucous soundtrack, dirty settings and gratuitous use of profanity. Of course, his wife is front and center in the movie. Some people can’t stand her, but I often don’t mind her acting. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it, but I also think that there is a part of me that thinks it’s pretty cool that Zombie puts her in all his movies, no matter what anyone says.

As far as the movie itself, it’s a very a basic storyline. A group of friends making a cross country trip run into trouble. This particular trouble just happens to be a sadistic trio of aristocrats employing psychotic clowns (there’s that RZ twist). The group of friends tend to blend into most of Zombie’s other characters from Halloween, The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses, but he does make an impression with the clowns.

Pancho Moler is unforgettable as Sick-Head, a midget Hitler that is the first clown to hunt the group. I’ve read that some people found him annoying, but I thought her was hilarious and a great character. The other “Heads” (Psycho, Schizo, Sex and Death) are fairly shallow characters and don’t spend a lot of time on screen, but they do the job. The real star here is Richard Brake as Doom-Head. While he follows many of the RZ stereotypes, he does it with flare and really delivers an awesome adversary.

Overall, I found this to be one of Zombie’s most entertaining movies to date. It’s not his best, I’d give that to The Devil’s Rejects, and it’s not his most original (Lords of Salem), but it was the one I had the most fun watching. Maybe it’s the clowns, but I think it has a lot to do with that he didn’t try to hard here. He ran with an idea and I think it really worked. This isn’t going to blow your mind or turn the genre on its head, but grab a drink and some popcorn and enjoy this ride courtesy of Rob Zombie.

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Directed By: Fede Alvarez

Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang

Synopsis: Three young thugs break into the house of a blind man who is supposedly sitting on a mountain of cash, looking for an easy score.

Thoughts: Home invasion stories have been done to death over the last ten years, so I was a bit skeptical going into see Don’t Breathe, even though it is directed by up and comer Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead).  Luckily, I was lucky enough to get tickets to an advanced showing at The Alamo Drafthouse, my favorite place to catch a flick on the big screen.  In addition to the movie, there was a Q&A with Alvarez streamed from Austin that was hosted by Robert Rodriquez.

Right from the start, you see that Rocky, Alex and Money are not really great people.  Alex uses his father’s job as a security guard to target homes where they can break in easily. He pines over Rocky, but she is in love with “Money”, the prototypical thug.  It’s a basic love triangle, and not a lot is really done with it, but it adds another layer of tension in the movie.  It’s very easy to see the trio as the bad guys throughout the first act of the movie.  As things progress, you’re not sure who the villain really is.

Jane Levy returns to work with Alvarez, having starred in his Evil Dead remake.  Levy must surely be a glutton for punishment after seeing what she goes through in each movie.  The real star of the movie is Stephen Lang, veteran of both film and theater.  His turn as “The Blind Man” is what elevates this movie above your run of the mill home invasion fare.

Don’t Breathe clocks in at a very brisk 88 minutes, and that is a key to the success of the movie.  The tension builds very quickly and it doesn’t let  up throughout the entire movie.  There is one scene that takes place in the basement in the pitch black.  While I am not sure how it was shot, it looks like it is black and white, and the actors eyes are fully dilated.  It is probably the most tense scene in the entire film.  All puns aside, I found myself holding my breath at times!  I’m really hoping that the scene is dissected in the home video release.

I recommend checking out Don’t Breathe.  It’s done well in theatres, which is always a good thing for my favorite genre,  but don’t let that dissuade you from supporting it.  The better horror movies do, both independent and studio funded, the more we see.

It’s Madness Time! This year’s theme is crazy clowns, demented circuses and dark carnivals!  I’ll be posting weekly updates on my progress and what I am watching.  Not everything will match the theme as there is really only so many clown movies I can stand, but you can bet I will get in as many as I can while still watching the classics for this time of year.

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