Thursday, January 31, 2013

Movie Review: Super Hybrid

 Meh.

 I guess, at least conceptually, Super Hybrid is something different.  8/10ths Christine and 2/10ths Alien.  What we have is a killer car that is trapped in a building with a crew of auto-mechanics.  The car is really not a car at all, rather it is some kind of monster that can disguise itself as a car.  This makes it a better predator for hunting humans.

 Nothing beyond that makes this film interesting, and that little bit, the concept, is old shortly after the characters figure it out.  Speaking of the characters, the five main ones are the usual troop of five; the strong asshole, his dorky buddy, the slut, the prince, and the come-from-behind heroine.  They mix it up a little bit by making the prince the heroine's nephew, but it is still the same flat, stereotypical characters common to horror films.
I saw one of these in my toilet.

 Most of the film is shot in minimal light, most likely so that you cannot see the driver in the many, many car scenes.  Beyond the stunts and the high-speed chases in tight spaces, the special-effects are fair.  The reveal in the end reminded me a lot of Cloverfield, probably because of the tentacles.

 PG-13, so the gore is minimal and there is no nudity.  I nearly fell asleep watching this, so if you need a nap, here you go. 

Melanie Papalia, the slut, topless in another film.  You're welcome.





















Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie Review: The Theatre Bizarre

 I dig vignettes.

 When I read horror, I tend to prefer collections of short-stories over novels.  This has nothing to do with a short attention-span; I enjoy a good horror novel.  The problem is that there are so many bad horror stories.  When I am reading a novel that has not really demonstrated anything good for the first 100 pages, I invariably continue reading in the hopes that it will get better.  More often than not I read to the end and find that I wasted my time.  With a short story, if one yarn is weak, you get through it quickly and move on the the next story.  

 Horror seems to be fertile ground for vignettes.  There is a long list of infamous titles; Cat's Eye, Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, Twilight Zone the Movie, and so on.  You just don't see these kinds of anthologies of sketches in other genres.  It also seems that the vignette offers the opportunity for writers and directors to be more playful than they might be with a feature film, which can be good or bad.
Beer Goggles X 100.

 The Theatre Bizarre follows a common model for vignette horror films.  A character, representing the viewer, is introduced to a strange situation which leads to them being told a number of short stories, which each story divided by the first character progressing through a process of some sort, typically leading to a moral.  In this film, a young woman is curious about a run-down theater across the road from her home.  When she sees that it has been opened, she pay the show a visit.
Just one more fix...

 The Theatre Bizarre features six stories.

 Mother of Toads is a Lovecraftian tale about a young couple running afoul of a witch in the a remote French village.  It was a fairly common monster story.

 I Love You shows the final end of a relationship where the man is simply too possessive.  It has a kind of sick little twist at the end, but is also otherwise unremarkable.

 Wet Dreams, directed by Tom Savini, is the most intentionally fun of all the vignettes.  A woman gets revenge on her abusive and cheating mate with the help of her husband's psychologist.  
Taking "bitch" to a whole new level.

 The Accident is the most poignant of the tales, with a keenly eerie message.  A mother tries to explain the nature of death to a child after witnessing a tragic accident.

 Of all the stories, I liked Vision Stains the most.  A researcher has discovered a means to see the literal "life flashing before the eyes" of people at the moment of their deaths, and has become addicted to seeing those visions.

 Finally, Sweets, is just a sick story about love, manipulation, and consumption.  The story is gross, but not in the manner that horror fans are accustomed to.
The make-up coming off does not help things.

 The film has some star power.  The ever creepy Udo Kier provides the "narration" throughout the film.  Tom Savini directs and acts in his segment.  It also has an international flavor, with stories set in France and Germany.  Visually, the film is wonderfully rich, with the special effects being masterfully done.  The acting is impressive all around.  

 The framing story, while alright, seemed often to be a bit disjointed, and though that may have been the intent it took away from the film for me.  Also, their is a distinct misogynistic message throughout the stories.  In fact, five of the six stories feature a woman who is either a monster or who is coldly dispassionate toward their partners or others.  While I recognize the anecdotal idea that women are the more viscous gender and that as the target audience is predominantly male (therefore describing the female as dangerous is both alluring and antagonizing), having this theme repeated over and over suggests almost an agenda.

 Still, I dig the film.  It was not fantastic, but not a waste of 2 hours either.

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com


Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie Review: Paranormal Incident

 Why, oh why does Hollywood have such a hard-on for first-person horror films?  I mean, we get it.  The Blair Witch Project was a novel film both for its premise and the manner in which it was shot.  Let the actors film themselves and never actually reveal any monsters.  It worked, but now with Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Entity, Paranormal Incident, Paranormal Senior Orgy, Paranormal Anal Polyp Surgery... it is beginning to get tedious.  

 Especially when that is all you really have going for you.  

 Ooh!  The actors jumped!  Wow, something flashed across the screen!  Gosh, it is scarey in the dark!

 Wait, no it isn't.  That is probably this films biggest flaw.  It isn't scarey.  The stings come so fast and frequent that you quickly get used to them.  Every door slams shut, every corner has a shadow that moves out of site as soon as you round it, something goes "bump" down every dark corridor.  You spend the film waiting for the reveal that never arrives.

Thank you, Ms. Underwood, for sharing your inner slut with us.
 So, let's deal with some problems.  I really appreciate Nadia Underwood's contribution to the film.  Her scenes were the finest of the entire project.  Which one is she?  She's the girl in the gratuitous sex scenes.  Now, I LOVES me some T-n-A in a horror film, but what we are watching is supposed to be an evidence reel which was edited together for the sake of establishing a time-line.  Why are the personal sex-ploits of the stereotypical jock-stud from three days prior spliced into the film?  Other than it gives his Barbie Doll that he brought with him a reason to catch him cheating and split from the group, it serves no purpose to share with us.  You could have simply referenced it through the dialogue, and then have the break-up scene carry it the rest of the way home.  

 Sure, we wouldn't have been able to watch Ms. Underwood's magnificent fun-bags bounce fro-and-hither, but the continuity of the film would have been maintained.

60 of the 82 minutes is this right here.
 By the way.  That scene and that scene only is why this film has an 'R' rating.  What little gore there is you barely have an opportunity to see, and it is just some spattered blood.  At least this production company realized that an 'R' might sell a little better than a 'PG-13'.

 Next, why is Base Camp always some location deep in the bowels of the mental hospital?  Why is Base Camp not right at the entrance, in case something goes wrong and you need to quickly get out and get help?  This place, the "Bates Motel"...

...Sorry.  The Odenbrook Sanitarium, only has one entrance and/or exit as far as the group knows.  I would think that you would camp out right there.  Hell, you would bring one person to act purely as the door-stop, and let him sit with the entrance open and his body impeding any possibility that it would be closed.

They're creepy and they're kooky...
 Next, watch the scenes were they show the Base Camp, especially during the day.  All the windows are barred or have fencing placed over them and the Mystery Gang is desperate to find a way out.  They try every window and find them barred and locked... EXCEPT THE TWO GIANT WINDOWS WITH THE BOX AIR CONDITIONERS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF WHERE THEY ARE SITTING!  Hello?  One good kick and gravity pulls those cheap, heavy bastards to the earth below, leaving you with a GAPING OPEN WINDOW TO CLIMB THROUGH!

 Way to think that one through, set-guys.

Aw, that's nice.  She's a donor.
 Finally, everyone knows that the shit has hit the fan.  Daphne is toast.  Fred left Velma to fend for herself.  Fred, Black Shaggy, and Smart Daphne all haul ass and meet up at the exit gate, outside the building in the bright, shiny, halogen lamp-light.  They are in a cage made of fence, but they are in the open air.  You are all freaked out and confident that death awaits inside the Spooky Mansion.  Fred says Velma is dead.  You know what you do?

 Accept it, and start screaming for help.  Scream your fool heads off, and stay in the nice, bright light outside the hell-house.  Don't be Black Shaggy and Smart Daphne and run back in for Velma.  And, Fred, when you hear the voice of Daphne who just appeared to you in a hospital gown with her grill all fucked-up and moaning "braaaaains", don't go back in after her just because you hear her calling your name.  Scream for the police, and let the cops deal with that noise.  

 This film does offer one other, mildly interesting twist: the Government covers this kind of thing up.  If our Government is this woefully incompetent, we have bigger things to be concerned about.

 If you see this film, it should only be as a instruction video on what not to do when exploring a potentially haunted building.

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com


Movie Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

"Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

 This was one of the first horror films I ever watched, and probably the one that had the largest impact on me.  The dreamy backdrops and transformation sequences, the intensity of the character portrayal, and the tragedy of the story are all iconic, establishing the standard for horror films for years to come.

 Larry Talbot, son of Sir John Talbot, returns from living in the United States to his ancestral home in Wales due to the death of his brother.  Larry is fully Americanized, he has no British accent and is a bit out of pace with the local villages British sensibilities.  He takes an interest in a local girl, Gwen, and goes with her and a friend to have their fortunes read by a band of traveling gypsies.  
Must have made things less confusing for Bela.

 The fortune teller, Bela, sees that Gwen's friend is to be his next victim.  He is a werewolf, and before the three can leave the glen the gypsies are camped in, the girl is attacked.  Larry kills the wolf, but not before being bitten himself.  While a murder investigation ensues, Larry discovers he is now a werewolf, and the body count begins to rise.  

 This film focuses almost entirely on the tragedy of the werewolf.  Larry Talbot was a happy-go-lucky fellow before he was bitten.  He is a good man struggling with a horrible and fantastic secret, one that challenges his very sanity.  By night, he turns into a murderous monster, with no control of his actions or memory of the events.  The story touches upon psychological theories, suggesting a real basis behind the werewolf myth and the power of the mind to create its own reality.  Larry becomes desperate to get someone to believe him and to take appropriate steps to protect the people he loves from the monster he has become, but to no avail.  In the end, he knows that he is going to die, and hopes that it happens before he hurts the ones he loves.  The scene where Larry gives his father the silver-capped cane Larry used to kill the Bela-werewolf is probably the most poignant in the film.  Larry has resigned himself to his fate.
Gonna make her his bitch.

 Curt Soidmak provided most of the common werewolf cannon that is know to horror fans and incorporated into the myth as we know it today.  The phrase introducing this post was his creation, as were the idea that a person bitten by a werewolf becoming a wolf themselves.  Soidmak took credit for creating the werewolf's vulnerability to silver, but that was a part of the myth well before Soidmak's work.

 Lon Chaney Jr. solidified his reputation as an actor with this film, although he failed to exceed the success know by his father, Lon Chaney.  

Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com