Posts Tagged ‘Demons’

evilspeak

 

Directed By: Eric Weston

Starring: Clint Howard, RG Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Richard Moll, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner

Synopsis: Stanley Coopersmith is often the target of bullies at a military school until he finds an ancient book giving his the ability to exact his revenge.

Thoughts:

Does it ever pay to pick on the outcast in class? You would think we had learned our lesson from Carrie, which has many parallels to Evilspeak. Instead of being psychic, Stanley happens upon a book detailing the powers of a Black Mass.

The movie starts with a flashback to medieval times, where we see Richard Moll as Father Estaban, the leader of a Satanic Church. As I started looking at Moll’s filmography, there are a surprising number of horror and cult titles that he’s been a part of, many of which have had releases lately. Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, The Dungeonmaster and Night Train to Terror, along with House, could make for a pretty kick ass Moll Marathon!

As we flip to the present, we find Clint Howard, who is also no stranger to the horror genre, as Stanley Coopersmith, the orphaned student that seemingly everyone picks on, including the faculty. Evilspeak takes some time getting to the action, but the final scene is pretty insane, with Howard flying around a church (on obvious wires) swinging a monstrous sword decimating his enemies.

Evilspeak isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s not a bad watch. Interestingly enough, Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, is a huge fan of the film. I thought that it took some time to get going, but the finale was worth it.

How Nasty Is It? Evilspeak is included in the infamous Video Recordings Act of 1984, making it a Video Nasty. There’s a good bit of gore in the finale, but it’s not realistic at all. There is also a shower scene, where a secretary meets her demise at the hands (hooves?) of demonic boars. In my opinion, the reason this ended up as a Video Nasty was because of the Satanic themes. Compared to many of the other titles on the list, this is very tame.

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.

Horns (2014)

Posted: December 7, 2014 in Movie Review
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Horns

Directed By: Alexandre Aja

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse

Synopsis: Ig Perrish, accused of the rape and murder of his longtime girlfriend, wakes up one morning with supernatural powers and horns protruding from his head.

Thoughts: I’ve made more of an effort the last year to read more novels. In my younger years, I read voraciously, but the last ten years I just haven’t made the time. One of the authors that I knew I wanted to check out was Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King. The first book of his that I read was Horns, which I loved. While making my way through Horns, I was hearing rumors that it was making its way to the big screen. Movies that are based on novels are always a mixed bag, and Stephen King’s track record is probably the best example of this. I was cautiously optimistic, with my optimism growing as Alexandre Aja was announced as the director.

The cast is impressive for a genre film. Daniel Radcliffe has shown that he isn’t afraid of the horror genre, already starring in the underrated Women in Black, and does an admirable job here. The role of Ig Perrish isn’t an easy one, and I thought Radcliffe really conveyed the sorrow and despondency rather well. It was the scenes where Ig’s rage exploded that I thought waned a bit. Perhaps it is Radcliffe’s demeanor, but I just thought he had to really push to show anger, and it didn’t feel real.

Radcliffe is surrounded by several accomplished actors as well. Names such as Kathleen Quinlan, David Morse and Heather Graham are not ones you often find in this genre, but their inclusion really took an average script and elevated it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Alexandre Aja since watching Haute Tension and I think that other than missing with Mirrors, he has been one of the better genre directors of the last decade. While Aja has a reputation of extreme violence and gore in his movies, he has also shown a bit more range, whether it is the comedy of Piranha 3D or the dramatic romance of Horns. For my money, it takes more than gratuitous amounts of gore to make a horror movie, and Alexandre Aja has shown he can deliver that.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Horns, it’s far from a perfect movie. The pacing is off and I think Horns could have benefited from some more time in the editing room. While I like the fact that Horns has a lot of dramatic elements to it, the switch from horror to drama is a bit jarring at times. I also thought the script was a bit weak, although the stellar cast really helped alleviate that. While Horns isn’t perfect, it is ambitious and well worth your time.

Pumpkinhead 2

Directed By: Jeff Burr

Starring: Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye, Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Linnea Quigly, Kane Hodder, Joe Unger

Synopsis: Pumpkinhead is back for a double dose of revenge.

Thoughts: It took 6 years, but Pumpkinhead would make his return in Blood Wings, a direct-to-video release in 1994.  I am a huge fan of the original and really think that a really good franchise possibility was messed up.  Sure, we’ve seen 4 movies to date, but they have been so spaced apart and so poorly made that they barely make a ripple in the horror genre.

For what it is worth, Blood Wings is pretty well made.  Pumpkinhead himself looks pretty good; not nearly as good as the original, but better than later efforts.  It amazes me that with the advances in FX techniques that the quality can degrade so much.  I get that budgets drop drastically, but you can’t tell me that the original had a massive budget (although it did have Stan Winston).

The cast is pretty cliché, especially the “standard” high school kids.  The very recognizable Andrew Robinson played the new town sheriff who has just moved back to town and is the only one with a chance to stop Pumpkinhead.  I’ve always been a fan of Robinson’s work.  He’s played on countless TV shows as well as many genre entries.  He’s probably most well known to gore-hounds as Larry from Hellraiser.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but a grown up Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) also starred in this. Horror icons Kane Hodder and Linnea Quigly also make cameo appearances.

The name Jeff Burr didn’t ring any bells to me, but when I checked out this guy’s filmography, I was blown away by the amount of horror sequels he has done.  He’s got Stepfather II, TCM III and Puppet Master 4 & 5 on his resume in addition to a pretty cool looking scarecrow flick, Night of the Scarecrow.  He obviously didn’t make a big enough impact to become a big time player, but he does enough right to keep getting work.  There’s a lot to be said for that.

I didn’t love Blood Wings, but I also didn’t hate it.  It was pretty much right down the middle for me.  I think it is worth seeing for fans of the original, because this is as good a sequel as we’ve seen so far.  If you can pick it up cheap or better yet, catch it streaming somewhere, give it a shot.

Wishmaster 4

Directed By: Chris Angel

Starring: John Novak, Jason Thompson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Michael Trucco

Subgenre: Demons, Supernatural

Synopsis: The Djinn returns, intent on granting three wishes to his waker to bring his fellow Djinns back to our dimension.

Thoughts: The story of the Djinn is basic and repeated through all four movies.  Someone accidentally releases the Djinn and then must figure out how to stop the Djinn from destroying all of humanity.  Whether or not that story translates into a good movie is up to the details.  The first Wishmaster really delivered a tight package.  The story wasn’t muddled with bizarre subplots and featured some very good FX.  Things went a little downhill in the first sequel, but overall the story was still good.  The third movie fell off a cliff, both in terms of FX quality and storyline.  Even though the fourth movie was directed by Chris Angel, who also brought us the third, I thought it started off a bit better.

One of the reasons that I found myself liking Wishmaster 4 more so than 3 was Michael Trucco, who played the human version of the Djinn.  He’s a lawyer that the Djinn dispatches and steals his identity and he really embodies the sliminess that Andrew Divoff perfected.  Tara Spencer-Nairn was pretty decent as the “waker” as well.  I didn’t really go for Jason Thompson’s brooding character.  It was just a little over the top for me.

Now, I mentioned that Wishmaster 4 started off better than its predecessor.  What I didn’t say was that it finished any better.  The story continued to travel in an offbeat direction.  There is an Angel that shows up out of nowhere to try and kill the “”Waker” and ends up dying at the hands of the Djinn.  There was no lead-in to this appearance, he just showed up.  It was like they needed another 10 minutes to add to the runtime so they came up with this.   There are also other Djinn that pressure the “main” Djinn to finish granting his third wish.  Why is he dragging his feet you ask?  Well, he’s fallen in love with the “Waker” and wants to convince her to love him for what he is.

I’m all for trying something new in formulaic movies, but the last two Wishmaster movies have really tried some terrible ideas, and they just didn’t help the movie, or series at all.  I don’t think it’s a mistake that Director Chris Angel hasn’t done a lot since making these movies.

If you’re a fan of the Djinn, stick with the first two movies.  Wishmaster 3 & 4 are not worth your time.

Wishmaster 3

Directed By: Chris Angel

Starring: Jason Connery, John Novak, A.J. Cook, Tobias Mehler, Louisette Geiss, Aaron Smolinski

Subgenre: Demons, Supernatural

Synopsis: The Djinn is back, this time on a college campus and facing a more powerful threat.

Thoughts: As franchises roll through sequels, the quality of each movie tends to go downhill.  Some franchises have bucked this trend (Dream Warriors for instance), but Wishmaster does not look to be one of the exceptions.  While Wishmaster 2 was pretty decent, the third installment went off the rails.

The biggest transgression is that Andrew Divoff did not reprise his role as the Djinn.  I really thought he embodied the Djinn, in both his human and demon form.  He was replaced by Jason Connery, who has a lot of theatrical and B-movie experience.  Connery didn’t do a bad job, but he just isn’t the Djinn to me.  The rest of the cast was your run of the mill college kids that you find in so many horror movies.  Uninteresting and very disposable.  To make matters even worse, the storyline pulled in the the Arch Angel Michael to battle the Djinn.  After he possesses one of the students, his growly voice and glowing blue eyes were pretty laughable.  I also found it pretty funny that he could barely wield his sword in battle.  If you are going to go this route, you need to have a more convincing actor playing the part.

Director Chris Angel is pretty much an unknown, without much under his name besides Wishmaster 3 and 4.  I wasn’t all that impressed with his work here.  I thought the overall look of the movie was pretty cheap.  It reminded me of a ScyFy channel release.  I’ve gotta say that I’m not all that excited to watch Wishmaster 4, but the completist in me has to watch and review it!

If you couldn’t tell, I would avoid Wishmaster 3 if I were you.  The third installment doesn’t bring anything new to the series and it just isn’t very good at all.  It’s sad to see the Djinn in the state.  Maybe someone could wish for a better sequel!

Wishmaster 2

Directed By: Jack Sholder

Starring: Andrew Divoff, Holly Fields, Paul Johansson, Bokeem Woodbine, Rhino Michaels, James Kim, Simon Kim, Oleg Vidow, Tiny Lister

Subgenre: Demons, Supernatural

Synopsis: The Djinn is back, and gets busy collecting souls to fulfill the prophecy.

Thoughts: Since the dawn of the horror genre, sequels have been inevitable when a movie has any semblance of success.  It’s been this way since the 30s with the Universal movies and continued on throughout the 20th century, so it wasn’t a surprise when Wishmaster 2 was released for horror fans viewing pleasure.

This time around the storyline is essentially the same with the Djinn collecting souls to bring about the end of the world as we know it.  The difference in the sequel is that the Djinn is wising up and first heads to prison to collect souls, and then to a casino.  I’m not sure I could think of any better locales for desperate souls.

While the cast in the sequel doesn’t have the horror appeal of the first movie, Andrew Divoff returns as The Djinn, complete with the most evil smile in Hollywood. I really enjoyed him in this role through both movies.  The lead in this movie, Holly Fields, was pretty decent, but not quite as good Tammy Lauren in the original.  The rest of the cast was pretty weak, often times coming off as comedic when I don’t think they were intended to be.

There was a dark comedic vein to the first movie, which works with the subject matter.  The way the Djinn twists the wishes of his victims lends itself to that.  However, almost all of the supporting characters came off as over the top in Wishmaster 2.  The only exemption is Holly Fields and Paul Johansson, who plays the priest helping to stop the Djinn.

Director Jack Sholder’s career started off to a great start in 1982 with Alone in the Dark.  He followed that up with a sequel to one of the 80s greatest horror movies in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Since then, his career has consisted of a lot of b-horror and direct to video shlock.  Not that that is a bad thing, but it sure seems like his career started at its peak.  Wishmaster 2 is about the most recognizable movie in his filmography after his first two efforts.

Wishmaster 2 isn’t the best sequel out there, but it still has Andrew Divoff and some pretty laugh out loud moments (the convict that wishes his lawyer would go fuck himself?), so I think it’s worth a watch, especially if you liked the first movie.