UNK SEZ: Happy Memorial Day to all! My apologies that things have been so quiet around here as of late, but sadly my dear computer has died and gone to computer heaven (or hell). I can use your Aunt John’s but it’s kinda like borrowing a bathing suit or a pair of glasses; it’s just not the same. Plus let’s face it, a blog post and dollar bill won’t buy ya a cup of coffee these days. Don’t worry we’ll be back to bother you soon enough. In the meantime, go on outside and enjoy some semi fresh air! Eat a popsicle!
May 30th, 2016 · No Comments
March 10th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Would you believe that this very March 10th marks the tenth, as in one decade, anniversary of that THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) remake? What in the world? Usually I don’t remember such details but this flick holds a special place in my heart because my very first movie date with your Aunt John was to a matinee of this bad boy. How romantic! Of course, I already knew we were compatible because I spied a VHS copy of THE BABY (1973) on his TV set, he dug the 4AD chumminess of THE PIXIES and THROWING MUSES and was unabashedly in awe of the then somewhat recent airing of RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER (2005) but spending a fine weather day indoors watching an unsuspecting family being randomly terrorized sort of sealed the deal. Wow, the world was a very different place ten years ago, now that I think about it. The PUSSYCAT DOLLS were climbing the charts, LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT was still good because CHRIS MELONI hadn’t left yet and your Aunt John and I were not yet able to get married but we were still able to rent movies from the local video store …so… it’s difficult to say if society has gone in the right direction or not. One step forward, two steps back.
Some people don’t like remakes and they can cry me a river because I’m not in the mood to list the super obvious titles that more than justify their existence. THE HILLS HAVE EYES is actually a perfect movie to get a modern update because the original, perpetually entertaining though it may be, does suffer from some dated hokeyness. The lone person who might have had a legitimate gripe about this remake is our late great pal WES CRAVEN and he happily produced it! Like many, CRAVEN was super impressed with the work of director ALEXANDRE AJA and his writing partner GREGORY LEVASSEUR after taking in HIGH TENSION (2003). Even with its slick new (I’m going to call it uggo-licious) paint job, THE HILLS HAVE EYES remains all kinds of signature guilt-trippy CRAVEN. You don’t have to dig far in the dirt to find him stoking the (distinctly American) fear that building your dreams on someone else’s nightmares may come back to haunt you ten fold. Indeed hardly a minute passes without a wound being salted and pointedly dad’s guns and mom’s prayers are little help in keeping the ugliness swept under the rug.
And yikes this is some fierce, wicked, unpleasant nerve-wracking business. If you don’t think this movie is scary, what is wrong with you? Go to a doctor. No, don’t be proud of yourself, there’s something MISSING in you. You need help. Maybe I’m biased because this movie doesn’t touch on, but stomps on, my biggest bugaboos. Here’s a perfect recipe for Make-Me-Squirm Salad: A far from home road trip, local yokels with questionable dental hygiene, an environmentally unfriendly styrofoam container (containing a severed ear), outhouses, unclear showering facilities, excessive sunlight, excessive time spent with family, people being burned alive, dogs in danger, a gun pointed at a baby, smiling mannequins, daytime television, people with gigantic bulbous heads singing patriotic songs while asthmatically wheezing and the foreboding prospect of inevitable rape hanging in the air like a forgotten piñata on a rainy day…and that’s just for starters. Just about the only thing in this flick that doesn’t bite me like a bedbug is the found object, multi-colored bottle folk art that appears at the gas station. Thumbs up. I want to make one.
Let me shelve the anguish inducers for a moment and tell ya what I think is absolutely awesome in this movie (even though it will so clearly out me as having the brain of a 14-year-old action figure collector). It actually happens directly after my LEAST favorite part of the movie. Our hero is looking for his kidnapped baby and he comes across a rogue’s gallery of mutants who culminate in the figure of a disturbing dude immobilized by his droopy gargantuan head. Then said mutant, who is listed as “Big Brain” but should be called “Mr. Exposition,” starts yapping about why the mutants are peeved as if simply being a mutant isn’t enough to ruin one’s day. I hate this part. If you think “mansplaining” is annoying try “mutantsplainng” on for size. But…just when you start getting twitchy…in charges trademark super-mutant “Pluto” and he’s resplendent. At this point HILLS becomes a full on monster/slasher flick and if there’s any mini-subgenre that makes me gleeful, monster/slasher is it! You know like, HELL NIGHT, THE FUNHOUSE, multiple FRIDAY THE 13th movies (but mostly PART 2 and 3 and certainly not 1 or 5) and your WRONG TURN(s). I love it. It’s a harsh as hell, surprisingly suspenseful showdown that finishes with a clever tip of the hat to STRAW DOGS. It’s so good it makes me wish this flick were less draining so I could watch it more often.
So anyway, Happy Anniversary THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake! You can be difficult to digest at times (I didn’t need to see THAT) but what is horror if you are not getting your boundaries threatened every once in a while? Safe horror is for the birds (and now I just remembered the part where you showed a bird’s head being bitten off). On the positive side, what wonderful performances you feature from the fantastic TED (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, JOY RIDE) LEVINE as in way over his stubborn head pop and lovable genre legend KATHLEEN (TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, EVENT HORIZON, BREAKDOWN and WARNING SIGN) QUINLAN as committed-to-denial ma. Plus, kudos on landing duo TOMANDANDY (THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES) to craft your riveting score! Who knows, if Aunt John and I had gone to another movie that was playing that same week ten years ago like say, FAILURE TO LAUNCH, MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION or BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, maybe we would not have had such a squeamishly agreeable time. Maybe we might have gotten into a huge fight over one of those controversial titles and never spoken again! If that happened there would be no KINDERTRAUMA! Can you imagine anything worse? No need to answer that, THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake, I know for a fact you can.
December 25th, 2015 · 1 Comment
December 18th, 2015 · 7 Comments
October 31st, 2015 · 2 Comments
Happy Halloween to all of you nice people who visit here! I’m off to see CRIMSON PEAK as per the advice of our pals over at FASCINATION WITH FEAR but I hate to leave you with nothing to watch so here is a double feature of the classics THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T and WITCH’S NIGHT OUT ! Remember to eat tons of candy while watching!
October 29th, 2015 · No Comments
If you follow these pages you already know that my best buddies are cats even though they are incredibly inconsiderate when I’m trying to sleep. If you don’t have a cat make sure you get one and if you do have a cat, make sure it’s neutered because there’s nothing sadder than a homeless hobo cat especially in bad weather. In any case, here are a handful of movies that feature our whiskered friends…
SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)
A cat that witnesses the murder of its old lady owner seeks revenge on the conniving creeps responsible! Yes, please! If you like old dark houses, BARBARA SHELLY who also starred in CAT GIRL (1957) or just the fact that most cats have no problem detecting a degenerate when they see one, this is for you!
HAUSU (AKA HOUSE, 1977)
Is it even possible to describe this movie? Once upon a time I think I tried to HERE. As I recall a bunch of teenage girls take a trip to one of the girl’s aunt’s house in the country and an avalanche of inexplicable events ensue. The insanity is somehow overseen by a painting of a big white fluffy cat that eventually shoots blood out of its mouth. This movie can also be watched on National Watermelon Day.
CAT’S EYE (1985)
Don’t even get me started. General the cat is my hero and I will weep tears of joy when he turns on the record player while the troll is standing on it and sends him flying. You’d probably have to live under a rock to have never seen this STEPHEN KING-penned horror anthology directed by the guy who did CUJO (LEWIS TEAGUE) and starring the only human nearly as cute as a cat, the young DREW BARRYMORE. My younger self thought this movie was pretty good but my smarter older self knows it’s beyond phenomenal. Why am I not watching it now?
THE UNINVITED (1988)
As I revealed to you HERE, my late great cat Gato Malo once starred in a movie with the legendary GEORGE KENNEDY and the result was high entertainment on the high seas! I have a theory that every night when God goes to bed he/she cries himself to sleep because he/she knows that he/she lacks the power and ability to create something as perfect as THE UNIVITED and it makes him/her feel like a slouch.
HOCUS POCUS (1993)
Here’s my last choice and I know I had several EDGAR ALAN POE cats to choose from for this list but I’m going to ignore them because you never know when a cat in POE movie is going to get strangled or something (I’m looking at you, TOMB OF LIGEIA– and don’t act so innocent TWO EVIL EYES). Besides, Halloween is just days away so let’s say we again salute good ol’ Binx shall we? I’m always astounded when I hear that black cats are the hardest for shelters to adopt because black cats are the best and smartest and most personable. Trust me! If you want to be superstitious about something be superstitious about Friday the 13th because that is the day Jason Voorhees comes out and shoots an arrow into your eyeball in 3-D. For real.
EXTRA BONUS DON’T WATCH: THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)
Ugh, what was wrong with people in the fifties? Were they Neanderthals? I had to turn this crap off when a little boy’s cat got stuck in a pit in a cave and then the boy was like, “I’ll be back to help you later!” (!!!) and then he left the cat in the hole OVERNIGHT and when he went to rescue him in the morning it was dead. What? Take a hike RETURN OF DRACULA, you suck.
October 28th, 2015 · 5 Comments
It doesn’t quite feel like Halloween unless I get some black-and-white films in my diet. I know y’all know to check out the classic UNIVERSAL stuff that includes all the usual suspects (FRANKENSTEIN, WOLF MAN, THE MUMMY, et al.) and I know you’ve heard me harp on and on about supernatural favorites like THE HAUNTING, THE INNOCENTS, BURN, WITCH, BURN, CURSE OF THE DEMON, THE UNINVITED and HORROR HOTEL. And certainly you know enough to salute any and everything within a seven mile radius of the name VAL LEWTON (GHOST SHIP, 7TH VICTIM, CAT PEOPLE and assorted kin) but here are five more glorious and nutritious mood setting B&W features that deserve a tip of the pointy witch’s hat this time of year!
THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942)
I’ll never forget the fine night I fell asleep in front of the TV and woke up to this gem and was instantly mesmerized. Somehow this one is known as a tag along B-flick but it could have fooled me with its incredible atmosphere and memorable visual flair (which includes a smoke-framed POV shot from within a fireplace). There’s a gloomy, fog-dipped mansion on a seaside cliff (with massive stain glass windows), an ancient family curse involving a ferocious fuzzy beast and wall-to-wall off-beat characters trying to figure it all out. My only complaint is that it’s too short!
ARSENIC & OLD LACE (1944)
This FRANK CAPRA flick based on the popular stage play is a well-known classic of course but I don’t think we’ve mentioned it enough around here. CARY GRANT should be more than enough to charm you into checking it out but if horror fans require more: it includes plenty of murder and mayhem; it takes place on a Halloween day littered with swirling dead leaves; and it features PETER LORRE and RAYMOND MASSEY doing a fine impression of BORIS KARLOFF, his costar in another B&W necessity, JAMES WHALE’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE.
THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945)
Please don’t act like you’ve seen enough movies starring THE BAD SEED’s momma NANCY KELLY because you know you haven’t. Here she stars as a lady who returns to her hometown after surviving an incredible bus accident (the special effect showing a toy bus falling over a miniature cliff is adorable) and begins to suspect that thanks to her witch hunting ancestor, she’s living under a witch’s curse and may be possessed by a dead witch herself. I certainly could do without the tacked on ending that explains all of the cool stuff we’ve witnessed away (boo, science!) but otherwise this is one highly entertaining and pleasantly spooky flick.
THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1946)
Exactly one year ago today on October 28, 2014, I was singing the praises of this movie so jump back in time and read all about that HERE.
SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
This is another one we’ve talked about before (HERE) but I’m bringing it up again because it was just recently finally released on DVD (under the title HAMMER FILMS COLLECTION) thanks to the wonderful and generous folks over at MILL CREEK. I got my copy for less than 5 bucks and it includes four other movies for crying out loud! You can’t beat that kids, not even with a broomstick!!!
October 23rd, 2015 · No Comments
It’s that time of year when I tend to watch every movie in the HALLOWEEN series and yes, that does include ROB ZOMBIE’s 2007 stab and especially its profound 2009 sequel. With the news announced that the next HALLOWEEN installment will be a direct continuation of 1981’s HALLOWEEN II, I guess I’ll have to get used to the fact that I won’t be seeing ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 3 anytime soon.
That’s just what you naysayers would like, isn’t it? Well, it just so happens that I am not bound to the laws of your puny reality and in fact, I have already carved out my own dimension in which ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 3 does indeed exist! What’s more, it’s standing right there under your pointy nose and it just happens to be called THE LORDS OF SALEM! You heard that right, from this day forth I’m just going to watch TLOS as if it were a very loose remake of H3:SOTW. Go ahead, try and sue me! No professional lawyer in his or her right mind would take your case! To be on the safe side though, let’s look at the mountains of spurious evidence I’ve haphazardly compiled. Shall we?
Let’s get the most obvious similarity out of the way first and that similarity is the overall lack of similarity! LORDS OF SALEM is to ROB ZOMBIE’s two back-to-back HALLOWEEN films as H3: SEASON OF THE WITCH is to the original HALLOWEEN films in that they both feature a completely different storyline. Not for nothing, both movies directly focus on witchcraft and the pestilential use of black magic. And hey look… TLOS and SOTW have only one letter that differentiates them in the initials of their respective titles too! That probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but when it comes to witchcraft, stuff like that matters. I think.
*Both films feature an actress who appeared in the first two installments (alive in the first, dead in the second) now playing a completely different role and sporting a hairstyle I’m not entirely on board with.
*HALLOWEEN 3 famously features a song that has the power to corrupt and destroy (The Silver Shamrock jingle) and yep, that’s a pivotal part of TLOS too.
*Yikes! Silent, robot-like henchmen are seen roaming about!
*Look at these three darling ladies! They look harmless enough but that’s not the case! They are wearing masks, so to speak, and should not be trusted!
Stand warned, troikas are powerful and the most powerful troikas fit a somewhat particular design. There is the grounding mother/boss (witch) symbolizing birth, there is the more jovial prankster (pumpkin) representing life and the final is the darkest, death (skull) representing conflict, closure and the proverbial kicking of the bucket. These three can be found in the duplicitous witches in TLOS and they appear in baser forms as H3‘s iconic Silver Shamrock masks. Here are some other examples:
(In some cases there may be overlapping characteristics here and there but you get the idea.)
It is important to note that in both the case of SEASON OF THE WITCH and THE LORDS OF SALEM, the nefarious plan to utilize witchcraft to trigger devastation can be deemed successful and that our heroes’ attempts to alter the outcome are for naught. In one flick, the darkness seeps in thanks to a door left open by a nationwide addiction to consumerism and in the other, a more personal rekindled drug addiction is to blame… but what’s the difference when the end result is pretty much the same?
Still not convinced? Neither am I! Oh well! What can I say; I enjoy a facetious fan theory every once in a while. I guess my point is that a fellow needs to watch something after they’ve finished the entire HALLOWEEN series and THE LORDS OF SALEM hits the spot for me because….witches! You can’t do Halloween without witches! Nope, there’s no replacing the one of a kind insanity-mobile that is H3: SOTW but I still hold strong to the belief that two films concerning witches scheming to cause mayhem on a massive scale can stand side by side in harmony! If witches have taught us anything it’s that there’s strength in numbers!
October 18th, 2015 · No Comments
I have nothing very original to offer today BUT I don’t mind reminding you that if you neglect to watch THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL right about now you are doing this entire month wrong, more wrong and super wrong.
September 7th, 2015 · 3 Comments