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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fritt Vilt 2 (2008): (Cold) Prey for Death

fritt vilt 2 2008 poster

Way back in August of 2009 I wrote a review over at Paracinema for Fritt Vilt (aka Cold Prey), a Norwegian Slasher flick that made a pretty solid splash on the horror genre in 2006. From what I recall, I quite liked the film, so I figured it was high time I took another trip to the frigid mountains of Norway for a little slaughter in the snow with the 2008 sequel, Fritt Vilt 2.

Fritt Vilt begins exactly where the last film left off, with the lone survivor, Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) being taken to a hospital after she is discovered on the side of the road. Being found covered in blood and holding a pickaxe, the authorities are naturally present for questioning when Jannicke awakens. She tells them the story of how her friends were murdered and dumped in a deep mountain crevasse and how she was able to overcome the killer and send him down the same crevasse to join her friends in death. The authorities aren't quite sure what to make of her story at first; is she lying or is everything she has told them, as crazy as it all sounds, the truth?

fritt vilt 2 (Cold Prey 2) 2008 1

The police immediately investigate the area where this all took place, and after finding the bodies of her friends and the killer, they are brought back to the hospital morgue which happens to be where Jannicke is being treated. Now, considering this is a sequel to a Slasher film, it should be obvious where the film might go from that point, so I'll just say that when you bring the presumed killer to the same hospital where the previous film's final girl is being taken care of, well, things are going to happen. Namely murder.

As you may have already noticed, Fritt Vilt 2 takes a lot of "inspiration" from 1981's Halloween 2, specifically in its setting and how it takes off at the same point in which the first film landed. However, unlike Halloween 2 (which is a film that I adore, mind you), Fritt Vilt 2 is far from the bigger, stronger, faster, but infinitely less competent sequel that Halloween 2 is. In fact, I am more than confident in saying that what director Mats Stenberg (who took over for Fritt Vilt director, Roar Uthaug) did with Fritt Vilt 2 is piece together a sequel that not only goes toe-to-toe with its forefather, it surpasses it.

fritt vilt 2 (Cold Prey 2) 2008 3

Now, while I did enjoy Uthaug's Fritt Vilt, I did have a few minor quibbles with it, namely being that there simply weren't enough kills. To top it off, with a runtime of 98 min, mixed with a body count that can be counted on one hand, the film ran a little long. In fact, in my review of that film I specifically stated that it should have been at least ten minutes shorter. Thankfully, both of these issues are addressed in Fritt Vilt 2. Not only are there a few more kills, but this installment comes in at a brisk 86 min, which makes for a perfectly balanced modern day Slasher film. However, the most important aspect of what makes Fritt Vilt 2 a superb sequel is the fact that it not only fixes the few nagging issues that Fritt Vilt had, it does so without losing even an ounce of quality, something that is sort of unheralded when it comes to a Slasher film, let alone a sequel to one.

fritt vilt 2 (Cold Prey 2) 2008

Trading in the confines of an abandoned ski resort for a remotely located hospital on the verge of shutting down (for reasons that are never dwelled upon), Fritt Vilt 2 delivers a setting that feels cold, empty and perfect for stalking. The backdrop, as well as the film as a whole, is brought to life quite nicely by cinematographer Anders Flatland, who clearly knows how to make great use of the hospital setting. While the film is technically impressive, one of the biggest compliments I must hand out are for the deep and cleverly written characters. I appreciate the fact that the characters are full of honest dialogue that proves to be refreshingly confident in its audience's intelligence level. These characters and their interactions with each other feel genuine and true to real life, specifically when it comes to the new female lead, Camilla, who is wonderfully portrayed by Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik.

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Like the first film, Fritt Vilt 2 also makes way for some very strong, respectably written female characters. From the returning heroine Jannicke, who is still in complete survival mode, and the compassionate Camilla, to all of the minor female characters, these women are treated as real people, not empty headed eye candy waiting to be slaughtered. It's always refreshing to have female characters in a Slasher film treated in such a way, and when you add that dimension to a film that already does so many things right, great things can happen. And they certainly do, as the end result is a film that brings in all of the best attributes of its predecessor, while leaving behind all of its issues to present the audience with what I consider to be one of the best Slasher films of the last decade.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Gift Ideas for: David Lo Pan

Lo Pan

Being balls deep in the holidays, many of us are focusing our every effort on last minute gifts items for Christmas. Between friends, family members, co-workers, etc., it seems as if there are always more and more people to shop for as each year passes, and this ever growing number of salivating fiends makes it quite difficult to come up with fresh gift ideas. Now, while it may be tough searching for that perfect gift for your uncle Joe, who doesn't seem to care about anything other than Spike TV, YouPorn and the bottom of a beer can, no one is more difficult to shop for than the cursed evil sorcerer in your life. I mean, you know you can always pick up a few scratch tickets and a special edition Busch bottle opener with Toby Keith's signature engraved on it and ol' uncle Joe will be so thrilled he might even put the feet of his recliner down. David Lo Pan, on the other hand, is much more difficult to satisfy, so as a way to help you get started in the right direction, I have put together this list of gift ideas for the David Lo Pan in your life. 

  • Oil of Olay Age Defying Anti-Wrinkle Day Lotion With Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15: Naturally, David is on a quest to look younger, and he also has very pale skin, which mean he is easily susceptible to burning when out in the sun. This Oil of Olay product will not only help give him the vibrancy he so desires, it will also help protect his fair complexion. 
  • A year subscription to eHarmony: With that boring skank Miao Yin out of the picture, Lo Pan simply cannot find the ever lasting love he so desires until he finds himself that one special girl. Preferably a Chinese gal with green eyes who's also skilled as a manicurist, but I believe eHarmony has a filter to help search for those specifics.    
  • Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Instant Nail Hardener: If you haven't noticed, David has a few long ass fingernails. They certainly aren't on the Jazz Ison Sinkfield level of grotesquery, but they are long enough to the point where they do need some serious attention to ensure they stay strong and last long.
  • Proactiv dark Spot Corrector: Let's face it, when David is in full-on "Lo Pan is the Man" mode, he looks very healthy, with that milky white skin and ability to walk. However, for those days when he's a wheelchair bound David Lo Pan, his face looks pretty jacked up, and this is where the Proactiv can really help him cover up his poop spots.
  • $50 Gift Card to Sephora: With his penchant for wearing blue eye shadow, those long fingernails and the incredible amount of powder he puts on his face, Dave clearly has a taste for beauty make-up. Therefore, I think a $50 gift card to Sephora would likely be greatly appreciated. It's nice to let David pick out what he wants, plus it gives him an excuse to go to the mall. He really loves Orange Julius.

I suppose I never realized that shopping for Mr. Lo Pan was sort of like shopping for a lady, but it's tough to keep up with your looks, especially when you're 2,000 something years old. I truly hope this makes at least the shopping you'll have to do for Lo Pan a little easier, and if you have any great gift ideas of your own, please feel free to share them with the rest of us!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silent Night (2012): Deck the Halls with Blood and Gory

Silent Night 2012 Remake poster

It's Christmas Eve in a small Midwestern town, but all is not calm nor is there anything bright about this long, wintry night, because there's a killer on the loose; a killer dressed up as Santa Claus. As this Santa Psycho goes about slaying all who dare to be naughty, it's up to the local police to try to stop the killer and put an end to a nightmare that has haunted the town for far longer than just this one night.

Directed by Steven C. Miller, Silent Night is, on paper, a remake of the 1984 Santa Slashterpiece, Silent Night, Deadly Night, though, outside of a few nods and the fact that it's a Christmas Slasher film featuring a killer dressed up as Santa, the film has almost nothing in common with its predecessor. Silent Night very well could have been titled Santa's Slaughter or Naughty, Not Nice, and no one would have batted a lash, let alone cried about there being "another remake?!"

Silent Night 2012 Remake 1

As the tagline "He Knows Who's Been Naughty" suggests, Santa (Rick Skene) seemingly has the 411 on every scum bag this town has to offer, and he makes it a point to pay each and every one of them a personal visit. The film proudly presents a handful of less than respectable characters for the audience to root against almost to the point of folly. Some of these characters/victims include a couple participating in adultery, pornographers, a selfish little girl with the mouth of a sailor, a perverted priest who likes to dip into the collection jar, and, well, you probably get the picture. The fashion in which these characters are presented was concerning at first, as I don't need to be goaded into rooting for characters to die when, well, it's why I'm watching the film. Thankfully, however, the near irritation I felt with how these characters were handled subsided before it became a real problem, and soon enough I got on board with the over-the-top fashion in which they were presented.

Silent Night 2012 Remake

The anchor of Silent Night is Aubrey (Jaime King), a police woman dealing with some issues from her past that are affecting her confidence as an officer of the law. King stands out with a good performance for a film that some might not believe calls for it. She has a way of emoting without feeling phony, and she's able to bring the character to life in a way that commands a dash of sympathy. Malcolm McDowell also appears in the film as Sheriff Cooper, a cocky know-it-all who somehow goes from being an asshole to being an asshole that you kind of love. McDowell gleefully chews up nearly every scene he's in a way that is difficult not to enjoy. 

There is clearly a common theme in Silent Night, and that's how awful and cruel this world can be sometimes, something that, for certain people, is greatly enhanced during the holiday season. "Christmas can really mess people up" is a phrase uttered by more than one character, specifically characters who are trying to make a few bucks during the holidays by playing Santa. Dressed up as the physical incarnation of their own misery, or the physical incarnation of where their misery is being projected, which is almost poetic if not for the fact that the message is a tad heavy-handed. I appreciate the thought, though.     

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The film is nicely put together in a way that seems to be almost the standard for some of the better modern day horror films of similar notoriety. There are a few visual moments that stand out in an impressive way, and there was clearly a lot of thought and care put into certain details that slightly elevate the movie from being just a simple, modern-day Holiday themed Slasher flick. With that said, some of the most notable moments, thankfully, belonging to the kills, as Silent Night serves up some gruesomely fun and satisfying death scenes. From start to finish, the limbs are flying and the blood is spurting, but there is one specific scene involving a wood chipper that is not only THE highlight of Silent Night, it's certainly a candidate for best death scene of 2012.

Silent Night surprised me in two ways: One being that it is a very solid, well made and completely entertaining Slasher film. The other is the fact that the film is directed by Steven C. Miller, who is the director behind the low-budget zombie film, Automaton Transfusion, a movie I absolutely hated. And I mean HATED. Hated in a way where I would have never expected the director to do anything even remotely good, so I suppose I should tip my proverbial cap to Miller for stepping up his game and giving me a good reason to keep an eye on his future projects. 

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Silent Night succeeds as a remake by shedding the skin of the film that would influence its creation, while delivering the classic Slasher goods to near perfection. You aren't getting anything groundbreaking with this one, which should be apparent, one would assume, but that's not the goal when it comes to making a good, or at least moderately fun, Slasher film. Keep it simple, follow the basics and deliver the goods, and all will go to sleep with a smile on their face. Well, unless they've been naughty, that is. In which case, maybe their night might be a little more silent than expected…

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Iced (1988): These Ski Boots Are Made for Stalking

iced 1988

I'm pretty sure that most of you are well aware of the old saying, "It's all fun and games, until someone gets hurt." Well, never has that saying been truer than for Jeff, who was suddenly taken from us when he took to the slopes for a few runs of drunken skiing shortly after being humiliated in a race that was meant to win him a chance with the girl of his dreams. The whole gang thought it would be super happy fun time to take the piss out of Jeff, mocking him for his claims of skiing the Alps and being a weirdo crybaby with no game whatsoever. But boy did they regret it after Jeff took a 3 foot nosedive right on to a pile rocks that probably wouldn't even hurt Elijah Price. Ever since this horrific day, each one of them has been forced to live with this guilt, but now, five years later, as the whole gang meets up for a weekend of skiing, booze, sex, and cooking while lifting weights, they will all be forced to die with it, because Jeff is back… for vengeance! Or for breakfast, but maybe he's too shy to ask?

Iced 1988 Slasher film

"Looks like Jeff's really hit rock bottom!"

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"Always a sign of quality to come"

Directed by Jeff Kwitny, 1988's Iced is a tremendously low-budget Slasher film that's so bad it would actually have you believe the main threat is a guy named Jeff. It's the type of Slasher where the real killer is the wardrobe, with ski suites so bright that night skiing is never a problem. Iced is the type of B-Movie where no matter how slow a snowplow is moving, you simply cannot get out of its way before it crushes your body into a pile of slow dead loser. We're talking about the type of film that has more tits in it than a dairy farm, and where most of those tits on display belong to Wednesday Addams. Most importantly, however, Iced is the type of Slasher flick that entertains on almost every level, delivering the goods in a way that make the word "goods" feel somewhat uncomfortable by association.

Despite being a little slow with getting to the kills (and by a little slow, I mean an hour), all of which are completely short of even the slightest touch of quality, Iced is your typical ineptly edited/acted/shot/written B-Movie Slasher flick that tells the age old tale of revenge for something done in the past by a group of obnoxious characters. As far as obnoxious characters go, however, one specific character begs for elaboration, and that is Carl (Ron Kologie), a mini-ponytail wearing coke head who can often be found in the bathroom, naked and wet, doing a little "indoor skiing." His rapey ways, bad sense of humor and how he tucks his black jeans into his cowboy boots (when he's dry and dressed) should be enough to clue you in on the type of guy Carl is (an awesome guy).

Iced 1988 Slasher film 4

"A serial killer wearing busted ski goggles can mean only one thing…"

Iced 1988 Slasher film 3

"Busted ski goggle vision!!"

There are a few familiar faces that adorn the cast of this minor masterpiece, most notably being Slumber Party Massacre's Debra Deliso who plays Trina, the girl who Jeff was in love with before he took a nosedive to his untimely (possible) death. Joining Deliso is another Slumber Party Massacre alumni and the writer of the masterful 1988 Slasher flick, Iced, Joseph Alan Johnson, who plays Alex, a sort of real estate agent who's trying to sell the group of reunited friends on purchasing the weekend getaway property. Of course, I already mentioned Lisa Loring, who plays the desperate for male attention Jeanette. Loring is best known for playing Wednesday on the classic sitcom, The Addams Family, but in Iced, Loring will be best remembered as the girl whose boobs have more screen time than any other character in the film. And to be honest, she's pretty good looking, and her boobs are right as rain, so I'm okay with the erecti… err, direction her career took.

Iced 1988 Slasher film 7

"Hump day indeed"

Iced 1988 Slasher film 6

"Open up and say AHHHHHHHHHH (sorry)"

As bad as Iced is, I will give the film credit for having a good setting, which is inherent when your movie takes place at a cabin in the snow covered mountains. I'll even give props to the film for focusing on adults who actually have somewhat adult issues, even if their dialogue is insanely bad. However, giving credit for things well done means little, because none of those things matter with a movie like Iced. The lack of skill on display as a piece of "cinema" screams straight to video shit, but it's ineptitude is a major part of its charm. If Iced delivers one thing, it's laughs (and boobs), and regardless of whether or not that was the goal, the achievement shall be applauded.

P.S. Instead of sharing the trailer, which I couldn't find anywhere, here's the entire movie on YouTube! The opening ski race should be more than enough to sell you on this one.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Death-cember: Dropping a Yule Log on the Holidays

Banner Death-cember

The ten year old decorations are up, the house smells of cheap booze, depression and self-doubt, and the realization that the magic of the holidays is nothing more than a bowel movement becomes more and more evident with every trip to Wal-Mart. These things can mean one thing and one thing only: the time has come to once again celebrate the holidays in poor fashion, as today marks the first day of

DEATH-CEMBER!

God how I wish that was a sparkly graphic.

With this being the fourth annual Death-cember, all of this is sort of old hat for me, and possibly familiar territory for a few of you out there, too. However, for those of you who aren't longtime readers (lucky dog), I shall briefly explain what all this nonsense is about. Simply put, Death-cember is a month in which I dedicate all of my posts to things that are either holiday or winter related. So every movie I review will either be set on or around a holiday or during the wintertime. I'll also share some other random holiday stuff such as any cool movie related presents I receive as well as some more humor based posts. Pretty much the same shit I do every Death-cember.  

Anywho, I needn't waste anymore of you time, so I won't; however, if you feel as if the holiday spirit is so deep inside of you that you simply cannot leave just yet, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read some posts of Death-cember past. All you have to do is click on the creepy golden Santa below, and away you will go, you ho-ho-ho! 

death-cember

Monday, November 19, 2012

Haywire (2012): 93 Minutes of Lay and Pray

Haywire 2012 Poster

Steven Soderbergh's Haywire follows a plot so thin that it's almost barely worth mentioning. The nuts and bolts of the story boils down to this: after being betrayed during a mission, a female special ops soldier (played by Gina Carano) is forced to take revenge on the people who set her up. It's the type of plot that would appear to serve one purpose and one purpose only: to play as a vehicle for some action tough guy (or in this case, tough girl) to knock a few blocks off. Meat and potatoes action, and nothing more. Such simplistic cinema needn't rely on any sort of depth, as such films exist simply as mindlessly fun action flicks meant to entertain our primordial instinct to watch people get their heads bashed in.

Instead of delivering an action platter served over a bed of bodies, Soderbergh, unsurprisingly, goes for a more artistic approach. As a result, much of the action you would come to expect from a plotless film built around a rookie actress whose selling point is the fact that she's a successful female MMA fighter is all left by the wayside in an attempt to do something more important. It's an odd choice bringing on a professional fighter in Carano to play a role where her screen presence is dictated more by her acting and charisma rather than her physical abilities. Even stranger is sticking her in the ring with actors who are, for the most part, some of the best working today, while Carano is barely at the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin level. As a result, Carano is completely left out to dry, playing big league ball with little league abilities. 

Haywire 2012 4

It's unfortunate, really, because when Carano is given the chance to show off her stuff, she's quite brilliant. Her Mixed Martial Arts style of fighting translates well to screen, and Soderbergh does a fairly decent job of capturing some of these moments. Much like the film's big name actors diminish her acting skills to that of a grade school level church play, Carano makes a handful of those same actors look about as tough as Rudy Ray Moore pitted up against Bruce Lee. I wish I could say it was a fair trade off, but for Carano, it's not. Unfortunately, she had no business playing a role of this stature because she's simply just not qualified, and I think it shows a complete lack of respect for her on Soderbergh's part to put her in a position in which she cannot escape from (and I certainly cannot blame her for taking the role).  

Haywire 2012 1While I take issue with Gina Carano's acting ability and, more so, how she is utilized by her director, that's only the beginning when it comes to the issues that Haywire has as a film. One of the biggest problems that faces Haywire is the fact that there's no real care behind it. The film is essentially a mishmash of underdeveloped characters and a handful of poorly conceived filtered shots that come to be plundered by an obtrusively ill fitting and genuinely confused score that has no place in any film past 2002. Though, it should be said that this is a bigger issue in the first half, as the latter portion of Haywire plays slightly better in terms of a consistent style. Regardless, this only proves to me that Soderbergh has no sense of cohesion, or at least no care to try to put something together with any sort of thought, let alone heart.

Soderbergh's lack of passion is shown in how he pollutes both Haywire (and a number of his other films) with an inordinate amount of useless characters; character who only seem to exist as a reason for him to get one of his many Hollywood friends involved. Not one single character in Haywire has even the slightest ounce of meat to chew on. Each character is one dimensional, uninspiring and flat out boring, and no matter which one of these great actors fills the role, there is nothing to take away from the lot of them. I almost feel as if Soderbergh knows he can get whoever he wants to play whatever role, regardless of how lackluster the character is, so he simply doesn't even bother to put in any effort, and it shows. That, or he's incapable of writing good characters, which isn't hard to believe, either. To put it bluntly, there's no possible way that anyone will ever walk away from a film like Haywire with a single memory of any character or performance, save for Carano's, but that's for the completely wrong reasons.

Haywire 2012

With the kinds of films that he's been putting out over the past few years, Soderbergh seems to have set his directing sites on literally cranking out easy to digest, artistic laced genre films that significantly suffer from both a lack of competent style and ability as well as lack what makes a genre film fun or enjoyable. Instead of making a basic action flick staring a female MMA fighter, which is what he wrote and cast his lead for, Soderbergh attempted to make a classy, stylish action film. Now, I have no problem with that, so long as the movie is actually solid; however, the end result here is simply not very good, let alone competent or interesting. And no amount of attempt at style, groovy music or fantastic Hollywood actors will ever change that. Some might call Steven Soderbergh a risk taker. I simply call him lazy and boring, much like Haywire.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Linnea Quigley/Kuato Case Reopened for Investigation

Kuato

You may *ahem* recall me doing a few posts back in June concerning the much beloved Scream Queen, Linnea Quigley, doing some puppeteer work for the Kauto puppet in Paul Verhoeven's Sci-Fi Actioner, Total Recall. It all started when I was watching the "Imagining Total Recall" DVD featurette, and for a brief second I spotted (or at least I thought I spotted) one Linnea Quigley doing some puppeteer work on Mr. Lumpy Butt himself, Kuato. Here's that post as well as my photographic evidence below:

Linnea Quigly Total Recall

Looks just like her, right?! At least I thought so. Anyway, shortly after I did that post, I reached out to Miss Quigley via email and received an answer back that wasn't exactly definite, but it certainly didn't hurt my case (you can read more right here!). In any event, I considered this Quigley/Kuato mystery to be solved, that is, until about a month later when I received a very interesting email from someone who does seem to have a definitive answer in this matter.

Here's the email:

"In my opinion Linnea did not puppeteer Kuato and that is not her in the photo. I know both Steve Johnson and Linnea personally, was working with Johnson when Total Recall was being made and the lead up to it coming out... I am quite sure I would have known had she puppeteered Kuato for Bottin.  Nor does it really look like Linnea in the picture to me, and I worked with her a lot.  I recall to this day being in Johnson's shop when Rob Bottin was being interviewed by a local radio station about his work on Total Recall, certainly Linnea puppeteering for Bottin would have been discussed in shop had it somehow happened.

Kuato was a sophisticated puppet, and Bottin being a perfectionist, would be more likely to enlist either the mechanics who built Kuato or more bonified "puppeteers" (you know, the folks who can put a sock on their hand and create an entertaining character with it) and not "Scream Queens".  Total Recall was shot in Mexico, at a minimum, Bottin would have used his regular crew people to puppeteer, Linnea was not on his crew and bringing Linnea in to do this makes no sense.

From what I heard at the time, Kuato had problems getting through Mexican customs, was supposedly cut into by officials (looking for contraband?) and that it was essentially held ransom awaiting a payoff to government officials by production.  I was told at one point that Kuato got really goofed up by customs and had to be put back together or otherwise assembled or re-assembled after the fact. Whether this is true or not, it was put out there at one time by a Bottin crew member and was discussed within the make-up effects community.

Whoever did puppeteer Kuato was probably down there for most of the show as it had numerous puppeteered elements.  I would have recalled Linnea not being in town and traveling to Mexico to work with Bottin.  Even had it been shot in the states, Steve certainly would have told me of such.

Also, Bottin and Johnson were from different camps and those camps didn't really mix. Bottin kept to himself (his shop was out in the boondocks) and few people at that time that worked for Bottin, really intermingled with the rest of the FX shops.  Most people who worked in make-up effects (the regular shops in the Valley) kind of thought of Bottin as a mystery man, wondering what it would be like to work with him.  Also, at the time, a few of the shops were at odds with each other, and it is my recollection, at that time, that Bottin and Johnson didn't really talk to each other.  For this reason alone, I don't think Bottin would have had Steve Johnson's girlfriend / wife to work on his project."


The person who sent this had no problem with me sharing a slightly edited version of the email, but he did ask to remain anonymous, which I can completely understand. I will say that this mystery man is indeed a make-up effects artist who has some seriously rad credentials listed on his impressive IMDB page, and it was pretty cool getting an email from him. There's certainly some very fascinating behind the scenes information here, and it's nice to finally have an answer to the question that has been nagging at Total Recall fans across the globe:

Linnea Quigley did not do any puppeteer work on Kuato for Total Recall

Linnea Quigly Case Closed Again

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween Happenings: Post Mortem

The Chucktober decorations have been taken down and Halloween has done left the building for yet another season. By the time Halloween day comes, I often feel sort of empty about the whole thing. I suppose I get a little bummed out that all the fun leading up to the big day has to end in such anticlimactic fashion. However, this year was a little different; instead of being bummed out as the final days counted down, I felt satisfied, and I think I can attribute that to having a fantastic Halloween weekend in Columbus and a genuinely satisfying Halloween overall. I don't want to get too detail heavy here, as the purpose of this post is to share with you my rocking Halloween weekend in a way that won't take up too much of your time. With that said, as Jello once belted, LET'S MOVE 'EM OUT!! 


On Friday night, we went to The Scare-A-Torium, a haunted attraction in Dublin, OH. Ye ol' lady and I had a total blast at this place, as it delivered the haunted horror goods on all levels. Definitely a recommend if you're ever in the area around Halloween time.

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This meatball pizza from Pizza Rustica was pretty much off the chain, and the owner touched my shoulder as he made a joke. By doing that, and by providing me with such a tasty treat, he has made a friend for life.

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Sometime after my touching pizza moment, we went to see a special little film on the big screen in THE COOLEST THEATER EVER, Gateway Film Center. Any film fan, especially a genre fan such as myself, would blow rope at this place, and I did, all while enjoying an afternoon spent with Psycho on the big screen. For me, it was the highlight of the entire weekend, and it was made even better by the fact that my wife, who had never Psycho before, seemed to absolutely love it.

Psycho

Speaking of my wife, I dumped her for some chick dressed up as a Wu-Tang killer bee. She kept saying that she wanted me to swarm her nest… I wasn't sure what that meant, but I played along with it.

Halloween Liz

Things got a little hairy when Chance Boudreaux from Hard Target showed up, stole my new dime piece from me, and then bit the rattle off of a rattlesnake. It was weird, but I sort of dug it since he was so handsome and all.

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Later on, Chance and the killer bee chick made me go to some amazing party called Highball Halloween, where something like 10,000 people, all dressed up in awesome costumes, partied the night away. I didn't have much fun, as Chance and the killer bee girl kept yelling at me to get them beers and take pictures of them groping. At one point, Chance was repeatedly screaming, "We are the John Woo-Tang!" It wasn't even funny, but they wouldn't stop laughing and yelling at me. I hate them both. 

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Oh well, it was still a great Halloween weekend and certainly one of the best that I've had in a very long time, and I'm happy to have been able to share some of it with all of eww. So for now, I suppose I can chill out and recuperate for most of November, and then I need to start gearing up for this certain little thing known as Death-cember!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Happenings: Why Not Take All of Me?

Whew… Halloween sure is an extremely busy time of year around these parts. Outside of all the epic awesomeness that I have brought to you throughout Chucktober here on CNAMB, I have also had my devilish little hands dipped in all sorts of other wicked things that you should certainly enjoy on this All Hollow's Eve!!

First up, the master blaster of disaster, Aaron of The Death Rattle, was kind enough to ask me to partake in a special Halloween edition of 13 Questions. Aaron put together some fantastic questions that I truly enjoyed answering, so if you love you some me and would love to learn a whole lot more about what makes my blackened Halloween loving heart tick, then please take a moment to stop by The Death Rattle. And while you're there, check out all the other maniacal little goodies that Aaron always has up his sleeve (and sometimes in his pants)!

13 Questions (Halloween Edition): Matt House


 

halloween fifteen

Next up, Ryne of the always fantastic The Moon is a Dead World was gracious enough to ask me to partake in his super celebration of all things All Hollow's Eve with the Halloween 15, which features a slew of wonderful guest bloggers sharing their thoughts on 15 different films hand selected by Ryne himself. When Ryne sent me the list of films to choose from, one movie immediately jumped off the email: director Aldo Lado's Who Saw Her Die?, a Giallo that I have been itching to review for quite some time for reasons you will have to read about for yourself. 

WhoSawHerDieOriginalPoster

 

Please take a moment to check out my thoughtful take on the near fantastic Who Saw Her Die? over at The Moon is a Dead World, and since your heading over there, you might as well take a stroll around and check out all the other Halloween horrors that Ryne has up his sleeve!

Halloween Fifteen #12: Who Saw Her Die? (Featuring Matt House)


That does it for the time being. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you enjoy these egotistical Halloween treats I have brought you, but more importantly, I hope you are having a frightfully fulfilling Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I'll probably be sharing another Halloween filled post sometime later on this evening, but I wanted to be sure to wish all of you wicked little monsters a Happy Halloween!  

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hollow Gate (1988): Do You Like Meatball Sandwiches?

Hollow Gate 1988 VHS Cover

What happens when you mix a children's Halloween party, an abusive alcoholic stepfather who enjoys drinking in darkened kitchens and a stepson who's too much of a pussy to be successful at bobbing for apples? The answer is the greatest catalyst for a serial killer as well as the greatest opening to a movie ever. Well, at least the greatest opening to a shot on video Halloween themed Slasher flick titled Hollow Gate ever.

Written and directed by Ray Di Zazzo, who is best known for writing and directing 1988's Hollow Gate and absolutely nothing else to speak of, Hollow Gate is a shot on video Slasher that does in fact open with a scene that is quite epic. As little Mark and all his friends are enjoying an evening of fun, the lingering threat of a drunken abusive stepfather waits to ruin the evening for everyone. Things aren't going so bad at first; however, once the apple bobbing gets-a-going, the proverbial shit hits the fan when Mark's stepfather nearly drowns Mark when he is unable to come up with an apple. Naturally, this might seem like a bit of an overreaction on drunken abusive stepdad's end, but you have to realize that there were other kids, more specifically girls, who were able to properly dig their teeth into an apple. And I mean, c'mon bro, if a girl can bob for apples, anyone can.

Hollow Gate 1

Flash-forward ten years later, a couple are introduced as they're about to embark on an evening of lustful romance on a patch of dead grass in an open field. I suppose the backseat of the Delta 88 parked right next to them didn't cross their minds as an option, but then again the open air does feel pretty nice on one's backside. Anyway, after the couple copulate, they decide to make a quick pit stop at the local gas station to mess with the resident weirdo, Mark aka Mark the pussy who can't bob for apples and is only good at embarrassing his drunken abusive stepfather. Here's where things get strange (well, stranger); you see, the couple's idea of screwing with Mark is by doing sex shit in front of him, something that is supposed to embarrass him, I guess. But what these rambunctious sexual deviants don't know is, Mark isn't bobbing for apples anymore, and making a mockery of Mark only leads to their car being turned into a mobile Molotov cocktail, sending the sex-crazed couple on an explosive one-way journey to hell.  

Hollow Gate 2

Flash-forward two years later (that's twelve years now, for those of you not keeping track), and once again Mark is faced with adversity, except this time it's from a sexy little dime piece who refuses Mark's advances. Big mistake, babe, because Mark don't take no for an answer, and this unlucky lass finds herself on the wrong side of dead. After this event, Mark is placed in a mental hospital for a period of time but is eventually allowed to leave under the care and guidance of his grandmother, where he will be cared for at her palatial mansion, Hollow Gate. While staying at Hollow Gate, Mark does appear to be well enough. He's been taking his meds, reading books, wearing v-neck sweaters, and even loving his sweet dear grandmother. All the makings of a sane, logical young man. Or so it seems…. Who am I kidding? Obviously Mark is not taking his meds, and the whole v-neck sweaters, reading books and loving grandma thing is just an act he's put on to gain the opportunity to kill! Which he does, in incredibly entertaining fashion, I might add.

After this massive setup that spans twelve plus years, Mark is free to reign terror on all those who dare come to Hollow Gate, more specifically the group of partying teens who (for reasons too insane/awesome to even attempt to explain in a review less than 10,000 words) are sent to deliver a bunch of costumes for the supposed Halloween party that Mark is throwing. What follows is some incredible over-the-top mayhem from Mark, as he slices and dices his victims while spewing out some crafty dialogue. And when I say crafty, I mean awful. And when I say awful, I mean incredible.

Hollow Gate 4

Every serial killer has his or her own hook, and Mark is no different. Not only does Mark dress up in the various Halloween costumes, he also likes to take on the specific identity of the actual costume itself. This leads to some pretty brilliant moments, as Mark hysterically assumes the personalities of a Texas rancher, an English foxhunter, a doctor, and a Vietnam era soldier, who has a habit of referring to everyone as "gooks." While being a fairly decent concept, this costumed approach is actually quite familiar to a film I reviewed, 1987's Bloody Movie (aka Terror Night), where the killer dispatches each victim while dressed up as various classic film characters. I actually really like this idea, but both Bloody Movie and Hollow Gate are not really the types of movies where good ideas can be properly realized.

Hollow Gate 5

As a shot on video Slasher film, Hollow Gate delivers the goods in a way that people with poor taste should certainly appreciate. Most of the deaths are as laughable as the emotional performances given by the "teen" actors (who deserve a review all to themselves). It's not too often you get to see a combine (which goes a whopping 5mph) used to chase down a victim. More significantly, Hollow Gate brings about what might be the very first ever on screen dog attack featuring golden retrievers. It's truly vicious, and never will I look at Brandon the dog the same way again. Nevertheless, as great as some of the kills are, and as magical as most of the characters and their dialogue can be, the king of this poopsicle is without a doubt B-Action film director Addison Randall, who plays Mark. This guy brings it in a way that nearly brought a tear to my eye, but thankfully I was able to hold it back. Otherwise my drunken abusive stepfather would have kicked my ass for being such a crybaby pussy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Goosebumps at 33: The Haunted Mask Parts 1 & 2

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The Haunted Mask

Goosebumps The haunted mask

Carly Beth is feed up. She's feed up with being such a little scaredy cat. She's feed up with all the other kids playing pranks on her because she's such an easy target. She's feed up with being the timid little goodie two-shoes that always follows the rules. But that's all going to change, because this Halloween, Carly Beth is done playing games, and she vows to turn the tables all who have dared to scare her. Carly Beth only sees one solution to exacting revenge on those who have taken advantage of her gullibility, and that is to find the most horrific Halloween costume she can and do a little scaring of her own. There is one major problem, though, and that would her mother has already made one for her, and seeing as it's a duck costume, it is far from frightening. In fact, unless Carly Beth plans on playing The New York Ripper with her classmates, a cute and cuddly duck costume certainly isn't going to do the trick.

Goosebumps The haunted mask 2

Carly Beth isn't sure how to deal with this whole duck costume fiasco, but things take a drastic turn when a few boys in her class decide it would be funny to put a worm in her sandwich during school lunch. Besides being incredibly unsanitary, it embarrasses the hell out of Carly Beth in front of the entire school, which sends her into full on RAGE MODE!! The first victim to fall to the wrath of Carly Beth is actually the duck costume her mother made for her, as Carly Beth tears it to shreds, leaving behind little more than a pile of yellow feathers and the faint sounds of muffled quaking.

This path of duck destruction that Carly Beth has gone on leaves her without a Halloween costume, so she goes to the local costume shop to buy herself the scariest mask she can find. Carly Beth is a little underwhelmed by what she sees in the costume shop, that is until she makes her way into a secret hidden room (aren't all hidden rooms secret?) that contains a handful of truly terrifying masks that Carly Beth knows will scare the doo doo out of her classmates. Unfortunately, the shopkeeper warns her that the masks aren't for sale, but Carly Beth cannot be stopped, so she throws down some money and runs out with the scariest mask in the store.       

Goosebumps The haunted mask5

Needless to say, Carly Beth is extremely excited to go out and frighten her classmates with her new mask, and she begins putting it to use almost immediately. However, things begin to take a strange turn when her behavior becomes erratic and almost dangerous, as she goes all out, scaring little kids half to death, smashing pumpkins and telling pissed off parents to basically eat a fat one. It's pretty awesome. One question remains, though: is this behavior due to Carly Beth's sudden rebellious ways, or is she being influenced by the mask itself (the title should be an indication, of course), which seems to fit her just a little too well?

Originally airing on October 27th, 1995, The Haunted Mask made its television debut as a two-part TV special that also doubles as the pilot for the Goosebumps TV series. What immediately stands out about The Haunted Mask is the fact that there is no actual opening theme, which is a staple of every other episode of Goosebumps made afterwards. Instead, the two-part episode is bookended with an introduction and some closing thoughts by Goosebumps creator, author R.L. Stine, from the very costume shop Carly Beth finds her "haunted" mask.   

Goosebumps The haunted mask4

As for the actual episode itself, The Haunted Mask might be one of the best episodes I have seen in my infantile time spent with the Goosebumps series. Of course it's the first episode, so they certainly went all out, but to be honest, a lot of familiar Goosebumps notes are hit with this one: pranks, bullies, revenge, and some sort of fun little plot twist are featured prominently. These are certainly attributes often found in 80% of Goosebumps episodes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as these are traits that make the series as fun as it is. I will say, though, that it was nice to see my first two-part episode, as there was much more to take from the story and the character of Carly Beth. With the average episode running at 22 min, the stories are generally pared down quite a bit, and it was refreshing to have a little more meat on the bone.

Anyway, as I've stated, The Haunted Mask is a great episode of Goosebumps and an even better way to end Goosebumps at 33 for this Chucktober. So long for this season, and remember, if the mask fits, wear it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad Trick or Treat Ideas: Box of Raisins

bad trick or treat ideas2

I suppose raisins could count as a fruit (which we already know is a big no-no!); however, they do come in a box (with a sexy ass chick on it) therefore disguising this "only good with bran" trick as a faux tasty treat. No matter how hard the California Raisins tried, children cannot be conditioned to believe that raisins are in any way, shape or form delicious (unless they are covered in chocolate). So do yourself a favor, raisin giver: take your raisins, throw them away, and buy some grapes. But don't even think about giving me those, either. Unless they're seedless. And green.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Happenings: Tales from the Front Yard!

I wanted to take a quick moment to share some of the front yard decorating my domestic partner in crime and I had done for Halloween this year. Unfortunately, however, as exciting as this should be, this post is plagued by sadness and despair. More on that in a minute, though. In the meantime, I'll go over these sick pics real quick so you can see what we did!


Here are a couple of jack-o'-lanterns that my slave lady and I carved up to ward off demon's during the Halloween season. This was only our second Halloween carving jack-o'-lanterns, and I think they came out pretty rad, especially considering we did them freehand. Ain't no stencils up in dis piece!

Jack-O

This is a quick glimpse of the rave to the graveyard we put together. This is certainly the most we've ever done as far as outdoor decorating goes, and I like how it all came together. I actually built the spooky looking dude on the left as well as the rave to the graveyard fence, both of which were done for under $10 in total.  

Front Yard

Here's a video that will give you a better look at what we did as far as decorating goes. Don't mind me being an idiot, because I don't.

 


Anyway, as great as all this Halloween decorating was, tragedy struck. Well, actually, lame Ohio weather struck, and because we live on the flat chested part of the country, most of these beautiful decorations took a beating from Mother Nature's unrelenting flatulence. No matter how well I reinforced them, all of the rave to the gravestones were uprooted two or three times, and no matter how far into the ground I stuck him, the grim reaper dude also kept getting blown over. To top it all off, our awesome $2 pumpkin light cover was blown away and into oblivion, never to be seen again. $2 or not, that shit pissed me off like you wouldn't believe. That thing delivered an orange glo powerful enough to clean any surface.  

In the end, I gave up on constantly trying to re-secure and reinforce shit, only to have it get rocked like a hurricane on a constant basis. I've taken out all of the rave to the gravestones as well as the grim reaper dude and away they have been put for the season. At this point, I'm over it. Though, for the record, we did carve the jack-o'-lanterns after all that shit went down, so that's helped make this disaster a little easier to deal with. Keyword being little.

Halloween 2012

RIP Pumpkin Light Cover Guy 

May your orange light glow oh so brightly in pumpkin light cover guy heaven.

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