Watchin’ Stuff

It is a difficult quest, to try to find good horror movies that I’ve never seen before, when I’ve already seen so very many of them. You have to dig through a lot of shit to find the ever-shrinking number of rare gems within. Tonight is no different. The Boogens is another one of those boring-ass horror movies where 90% of the movie is spent doing absolutely everything to avoid actually being a horror movie because that shit costs money. It takes an hour for them to even show just the tentacle of one of the creatures on screen. It’s unfortunate, because the actors and the script were relatively decent for a low budget early 80’s horror movie, but they just sit around talking for almost the whole thing because the budget for the creature effects was about $50.

Profundo Rosso, a.k.a. Deep Red, is another crazy giallo film from Dario Argento. This time a musician witnesses a murder and gets caught up in trying to solve the case pretty much all on his own because the police are oddly absent throughout most of the story. This is basically the same plot of his previous movies again, but whatever. This one was particularly weird though. The movie randomly switches between Italian and English on a regular basis. The whole romance/team-up subplot with the main guy and the reporter lady is incredibly strange and laced with out-of-place slapstick comedy moments. The transitions between some scenes lead me to believe that there was some kind of problem with the editing. It feels almost like this movie changed direction multiple times during creation, then was never actually completed, but then they just decided to splice all the parts together anyway and say “eh, close enough”, yet…somehow it kind of works. It’s insane and absolutely ridiculous, but I couldn’t stop watching it.

Pro tip though: there’s a part very early on where the hero sees something important at the crime scene and if you’re paying attention you might notice this thing briefly, but it happens too fast for you to see it clearly…UNLESS you get the bright idea to rewind and pause at the exact right fraction of a second, in which case you’ll end up seeing the identity of the murderer and spoiling it for yourself right away, just like I did! So…don’t do that.

This is presented as a babysitter and a kid being stalked by a killer on Christmas, but this is completely misleading. Spoiler: the home invasion is very quickly revealed to have been staged to make her scared which was supposed to end up making the babysitter fall in love with the kid somehow, but when the stupid scheme doesn’t work, it turns into this awkward kidnap/rape/murder fantasy, which is what the movie is really all about. There’s nothing scary about some horny 12 year old kid. It’s also supposedly a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about it. It was all just very unpleasant to me. Turned it off halfway through.

Another cheap snoozefest. I like how the lady on the cover isn’t even the actress who actually plays the baddie in the movie. That should tell you what kind of shit movie this is. Nothing else even worth mentioning here. Couldn’t finish this one either. Next!

Ah, dammit. I’ve already seen this one and I couldn’t finish it that time either! This is why I need to keep track of these things, because how else can I possibly keep track of all these crap movies. This isn’t even the only movie called Death Ship (they’re both awful)! NEXT!

Why am I doing this to myself? This is absolute garbage. It was a little funny from time to time, but everything about it was just so awful. Horrible acting, absolutely godawful effects…what’s to like? Oh, the shit I watch…

Back to Dario Argento so I could go out on a high note (I hoped). This was Argento‘s second step away from his usual giallo stuff, into the world of weird supernatural horror (Suspiria being the first, but I already watched that again for the dozenth time not that long ago). It’s also the second in the “Three Mothers” trilogy of bizarre witch stories. Much like Suspiria, it’s very cryptic, slow-moving, and strange. The scenery isn’t bad, but it’s not as impressive as Suspiria. It didn’t have the catchy, haunting music of Suspiria going for it either. Very weird and requires a lot of patience, but mostly likable in that crazy Argento way.

Watchin’ Stuff

Haven’t watched the original in, oh I don’t know, 15 years at least. Still a fun movie. It’s a pretty slow-paced and reserved movie, so it’s awfully strange that so many “hardcore fans” are complaining about those aspects of the new one, but let’s not even get into that. I always get a kick out of these 80’s visions of the future where future tech is just like an old CRT tv with clocks and fax machines glued to it.

What a fucking great movie. Villeneuve continues to show why he’s the greatest modern director out there. Yes, it’s a very long movie and like its predecessor it takes its own sweet time getting where it wants to go, but man, it’s so worth the investment of your time and patience. It’s definitely a strange and unconventional film, which unfortunately seems to already be driving the mainstream audience away pretty quickly, but that’s their loss. It’s hard to say much more about it without getting into spoilers. Let’s just say that Ryan Gosling’s character, K, and the evolution he undergoes in the process of the film are both exceptionally acted and directed. There’s so much more depth here than people are giving it credit for, simply because it doesn’t hold your hand and spell everything out for you. See for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Checked this out after reading about it at Jordan and EddieThey were right, it is pretty good for one of those found footage films, which is quite rare. I had kind of hoped that the ultimate secret of what happened in the basement would have been a little creepier somehow, but then again, it was pretty unlikely that anything they did could have lived up to the sense of dread they built up surrounding that incident. Enjoyable overall.

The new non-X-Men X-Men show has begun. It was ok. Not amazing, not bad. We’ll have to see where it goes. I will never understand Bryan Singer’s tendency to take famous character names and then slap them on completely unrelated characters. Like the Strucker family here, who are the sympathetic good guy family that are for some inexplicable reason named after a famous family of evil Nazi terrorists in the comics. Oh well. We’ll see, but it’s sure no Legion.

Wooooo, Curb Your Enthusiasm has returned! Everyone involved looks noticeably older, but it doesn’t seem to have affected anyone’s performance one bit. Still the same old  hilariously awkwardly offensive show.

Man, I really need to try to fit in some more horror movies this week. My horror intake has been pathetic for October so far! I’ll try to make it up to…you, me, Samhain, or whoever the fuck.

Now Reading: Providence

Providence is the latest (and possibly last, we’ll see) story from comic book guru Alan Moore. To put it simply, it’s a Cthulhu story that dives into the origins of the various mythologies of Cthulhu, The Necronomicon, and many other H.P. Lovecraft tales. Before getting into it further though, it’s probably important to point out that Moore’s Neonomicon should really be read first.

Neonomicon deals with somewhat the same subject matter, but it takes place in the present day and is a good deal more graphic and rapey than Providence (can’t have an Alan Moore comic without some rape, unfortunately). It introduces several key characters, that while not present for most of Providence, are still important to the end of the whole thing. There are also several locations and concepts introduced here that get re-visited and explained more thoroughly in Providence, so while I suppose you could technically read one without the other, I really wouldn’t advise it.

Anyway, Providence itself jumps back to the early 1900’s and digs deeply into the origins of the “Cthulu-verse”. Where Neonomicon was more overt in it’s horror, Providence moves at much slower, more atmospheric pace. Ex-reporter Robert Black finds himself travelling across America, searching for the secret places behind the curtains and finding much more than he bargains for. His quest begins to take him on a tour of the origins of a mysterious secret society who sprung from the teachings of a certain mysterious book, and he finds himself in some very strange situations, which he tries his hardest to be in complete denial about until it’s too late.

This approach of keeping the protagonist perpetually in the dark, while the audience clearly sees all the hidden evils lurking right behind them, doesn’t always work, but Moore pulls it off with his usual mastery of the art, turning each location that Black visits into an intricate tapestry of tension and terror. As usual with a Moore story, the design and detail of everything going on is staggering. Extremely meticulous amounts of research went into crafting this world and much thought and care was clearly put into each and every word spoken here. Everything is connected and filled with multiple meanings.

Even the title, Providence, is a clever little package of information. Providence is not only the name of Black’s ultimate destination, the town in which H.P. Lovecraft grew up and wrote his many stories, but it also literally means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power” and “timely preparation for future eventualities”, which are both highly relevant to what’s really going on in this story and also very interestingly used here, as for some reason, the word providence tends to be used in an inherently positive context, with an assumption that the being behind it has benevolent intentions, but nothing about the word or its definitions ever actually specify a moral stance.

So if you have any interest in Cthulhu/Lovecraftian horror, the patience for what is an extremely dense read for a comic book, and the stomach for some occasionally very disturbing content, check this out. I hope that it’s not really the last comic Alan Moore ever writes, as he has recently claimed, but at least if it is, he sure as hell went out on a high note. Now I guess I’ll be re-reading Alan Moore stuff again for the next month…

Watchin’ stuff

Is it not even October yet? Well too bad. I can’t wait any more! Need more horror movie intake, STAT!

Death Spa, apparently also known in some places as Witch Bitch, is an awful movie, but it’s that special kind of awful that’s hilarious to watch. This “futuristic” semi-automated health spa seems to be undergoing acts of sabotage that may or may not be the act of an angry ghost. The future tech of the spa is ridiculous and nonsensical and the story is so all over the place and bizarrely paced, and by all rights, it should not be fun to watch at all, but holy shit it’s just so dumb and insane that I can’t look away.

This was the previous (and only) movie by the director of the recent IT remake. You can see little moments of potential here and there, but it’s not surprising at all that no one seems to have heard of this one. There’s a surprisingly good cast and it’s filmed well enough, but the script and the CGI are pretty lacking. This is one of those movies where they show the audience almost immediately that there is unquestionably something supernatural going on, but it takes the idiot main characters most of the movie to figure it out, no matter how many blatant signs there are. The only real thing of interest here is that the Mama creature is very clearly the same model that they refined and reused as the crooked woman creature in IT, but this isn’t something worth watching this whole movie for.

I probably never would have seen this if Mrs. Fotchenstein hadn’t suddenly insisted on seeing the movie that this popular YouTube meme was taken from:

Wow. This is another special one like Death Spa. It’s so very ridiculous and crazy that it’s thoroughly entertaining, despite being so very bad. There are a lot of memorable scenes and it actually has some pretty good over the top synth music. This is definitely a hidden gem of the 80’s horror craze that I’d recommend to anyone that likes this kind of junk. Luckily you don’t need to see the first one to understand this one either, because that one was just embarrassingly bad.

Saw this a while back on Netflix and had mixed feelings about it, but thought I’d try it again since a new sequel just came out, which I was told (falsely!) was good. It’s one of those found footage/fake documentary movies, which I don’t usually like, but this one was somewhat interesting as it involved touring the country in search of the most extreme haunted house. Seeing all the different haunted houses was interesting and the characters being increasingly followed and harassed by mysterious masked people was compelling when it seemed to *SPOILERS* be something supernatural, but then it turns out that it’s all just something very ordinary going on, which isn’t explained at all, and the motivations of the baddies and plausibility of their actions all kind of fall apart once you realize they were just normal people all along. The ending kind of soured it for me, but since it was decent up until that point I figured I’d give the sequel a chance, hoping that it would make sense of it all.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t. This one actually makes even less sense than the first one and features a lot of confusing and completely unrealistic acts by the mysterious baddies, as well as dropping a lot of the haunted house content of the first one in favor of strange things like zombie runs and zombie eating contests. Most of the time you just feel like you’re watching someone’s travel videos, with little to no story behind any of it, until near the end when of course they do the exact same stupid things they did in the last one and seem to find themselves in trouble again. This one doesn’t even bother to try to pretend that there’s anything supernatural going on. We’re clearly shown that these guys in masks are following them around in a car, and then later, strangely following them in a helicopter, and then even more strangely, physically dangling from the bottom of their vehicle. Why would they be doing that when they’ve got the vehicle bugged and are tracking them with cars and helicopters already? Why is a secret underground haunted house club that is so extreme that they have to change to a different secret location every year spending what would have to be huge amounts of money to be employing dozens of people to travel across the country following small groups of people in helicopters and such all so they can get more mainstream recognition so they can provide this same unfeasible experience for everyone all the time at what must be a huge monetary loss to them? None of it really makes sense. Oh well.

Now I have to turn to an old classic to cleanse my palate. SLUGS! A sadly overlooked classic from the 80’s. This is yet another so-bad-it’s-good one. It kind of feels like a made-for-tv movie, except it has some surprisingly grisly death scenes for being a low budget movie about killer slugs. Pretty good gore effects for a low budget movie of its time. A pleasure that I should probably feel guilty for, but don’t, because I love this shit. Again, check this one out if you’re into ridiculous 80’s horror and more impossibly deadly animals!

Now Reading: Junji Ito stuff

I don’t have much knowledge or experience in the realm of manga, but I do know that Junji Ito is fucking awesome and I wish there was more stuff like this out there. His stories are extremely strange and very graphic, and his art style matches that tone perfectly. He is basically like if David Cronenberg and John Carpenter moved to Silent Hill and somehow had a baby together.

Gyo means fish and this is indeed a story about fish, sort of. It starts out with some fish crawling out of the water on mysterious new legs, with a bunch of tubes jammed in their gills. They seem to be acting strangely and emitting a terrible smelling gas. More and more sea creatures start appearing on these mystery legs until it becomes a worldwide plague, and it only gets weirder from there on. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s an extremely bizarre tale that features some truly grotesque (in a good way!) imagery.

Uzumaki, or spiral, is not as graphic as Gyo, but it is much weirder. Most of it is made up of a bunch of short stories following the people in this town that’s become “infected by spirals”. At first, people just seem to be getting mysteriously obsessed with spiral shapes, but then come the strange spiral-related occurrences and deaths, and it just keeps getting weirder and weirder as the whole town seems to be caught up in this mysterious curse. Most of the stories follow this main girl, Kyrie, who you would really think would get the fuck out of there after being directly involved in about a dozen blatantly supernatural and horrible deaths, but no, she and everyone else stick around until it’s too late and no one can leave anymore. At this point the story turns into a continuous series of tales about the final stages of the town’s curse and how the survivors try to stay alive and figure out just what the hell is going on.

Tomie seems to be his most famous work, having spawned 7 or 8 movie spin-offs, but it’s also one of his earliest and arguably the weakest of these 3. Tomie is really just a collection of short stories about Tomie, a mysterious undead girl who seems to be some kind of mash-up of a succubus and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Occasionally one or two stories in here are connected to each other, but for the most part they’re all standalone tales, and there isn’t really an ending to any of it. It’s still some pretty interesting stuff though. Tomie worms her way into random people’s lives, makes them obsessed with her and destroys their personal lives, and usually ends up being horribly murdered as a result, which just leads to her multiplying and mutating into even worse things. Again, very strange stuff.

Anyone else read this stuff and have any similar recommendations? I could really use more of this in my life. I’ve read Gantz and I’m going to get around to Berserk one of these days, but if you know of any other crazy horror or seinen stuff, I’d be glad to hear it (I think I actually already made a list somewhere of recommendations that I’ve been meaning to check out, but still, I could always use more)!

Watchin’ stuff

Just got back from seeing IT, and it was pretty damn good. It was very similar to the old mini-series (this being just the first half still) in a lot of ways, but of course with everything turned up to R-rated levels. There were one or two iffy CG parts, but the majority of the effects were very well done. Well paced, creepy, consistently entertaining, and some surprisingly funny moments, mostly coming out of the mouth of that kid from Stranger Things. Definitely a winner of a remake.

Back to yesterday though, it was time to watch some of these recent new Netflix movies. I hadn’t been planning on watching this. I never saw the show or read the comic. I’ve heard all the praise about it, but it always just sounded too teen drama for my liking, so I had zero interest in seeing this version of it either. Then I heard that Adam Wingard (GO WATCH THE GUEST RIGHT NOW!) directed it, so I had to check it out. I thought it was pretty good. I’m sure it’s very different than the originals, because of course an overseas movie adaptation of a much longer story is going to be, but I don’t know anything about that, I just know that this was an enjoyable movie and that it’s made me interested in checking out the original stories, so that seems like a job well done from my perspective. My wife saw the show and told me it’s been changed quite a bit, referring to this version as “not Death Note”, but also saying that it was still good for what it was (so it’s not just me and my Adam Wingard fan bias!).

This wasn’t bad. It’s a goofy concept, with Noomi Rapace playing the part of 7 identical sisters, which is the kind of premise you’d expect to come out in the 80’s or 90’s. The core plot is pretty predictable, but it’s still a solid enough light-sci-fi/action/thriller to be enjoyable.

Black Panther runs around L.A. beating the shit out of people with a bicycle chain while trying to find out who killed his sister. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Some nice performances from a pretty good cast and some pretty graphic violence.

An action/thriller that actually has very little action in it. It’s kind of a bait and switch, really. You go in expecting Steven Seagal to be beating everyone up, but in reality (INCOMING SPOILER FOR 20+ YEAR OLD MOVIE) the plan to save the hijacked plane goes wrong almost immediately and Seagal dies, leaving a leaderless, wounded crew that’s missing most of their gear to figure out how to complete the mission before the government just shoots the plane down. It’s from the 90’s, so of course it gets a little goofy at times, but it’s still a pretty good thriller.

And finally, David Mitchell and Robert Webb‘s new comedy series has begun. It’s not really a “laugh out loud a lot” kind of comedy. It’s more on the dry and awkward side, sort of like Peepshow, but not quite as goofy so far. It’s off to a good start though.

Watchin’ Stuff

I’ve seen some really bad horror movies, and sometimes I even enjoy them, but this was a special kind of awful. Let me set a scene for you. A naked girl that’s very visibly completely covered in blood awkwardly stumbles up to people at a campfire.

Girl at campfire: “There’s something wrong with her.”
Guy at campfire: “She’s standing right in front of us. Completely nude. There’s nothing wrong about this.”

People were actually paid to say this out loud. It’s just a small example of how childishly unpleasant the characters and dialogue are in this movie. These characters go far beyond the usual stereotypes of dumb teenagers in horror movies, to the point where it’s not funny, it’s just uncomfortable because it legitimately feels like this was written by a 12 year old child shut-in who doesn’t know what real people act like. Some poor dumb kid who thought “Gee whiz, it sure would be cool to make a horror movie where the monster is a nekkid lady!”, but didn’t consider that movies need things like writers and effects artists and etc., and so just slapped together a movie that’s almost entirely dialogue, all of which is excruciatingly bad, and padded it out with a few horribly juvenile gross-out scenes that lack any humor, and a bunch of cheap jump scares. If you’re going to make a ridiculous gross-out movie, you have to at least bring some funny writing and good effects, because otherwise what do you have? Just another piece of bargain bin trash.

This was an interesting old action movie. It really goes against most of the major action movie cliches of the old days. Jeff Speakman‘s character is a great fighter and ultimately comes out the final winner of the story, but unlike typical action heroes, he takes a lot of nasty hits in the process and even actually loses a few fights. His character is portrayed as surprisingly flawed too, with his hot-headedness and lust for vengeance actually having a pretty negative impact on him and the people around him, as he slowly comes to realize that he needs to learn some self control before he gets someone killed. It’s basically the complete opposite of your standard action hero story, which is perhaps why no knows who Jeff Speakman is anymore, despite there being no shortage of impressive martial arts on display here.

A compelling train wreck by Oliver Stone. U-Turn tells the story of a scumbag criminal who gets stranded in a small town full of other scumbag criminals and finds himself wrapped up in a bunch of their smalltown scumbag politics, as they all try to screw each other over in various ways. There is not one single likable character here, yet they were all interesting and well-acted enough characters to keep me interested in seeing what depravity they would each unleash upon each other next.

Another attempt to get into the giallo genre, since I’ve seen just about everything there is in world of supernatural horror, which I tend to prefer. This is an early Dario Argento movie, who I’ve only ever seen crazy supernatural horror from before. This one holds up pretty well for its age. It’s about an American visiting Italy, who was about to leave, but ends up witnessing a bizarre murder attempt and ends up getting caught up in the hunt for a mysterious serial killer. It’s not as bizarre as Body Puzzle, but it’s a pretty interesting mystery, with some great looking sets. There’s a surprising lack of any real graphic content too for a Dario Argento movie about stabbing people, though it managed to be a good enough story that I didn’t really mind.

Another 70’s giallo by Argento, but I didn’t really enjoy this one as much. It started off with a great premise, but things just don’t come together as well as in the previous one. This time the story is about a man who accidentally kills someone and is then apparently blackmailed by a mysterious stranger, but this stranger doesn’t seem to want money, they just start stalking the guy in increasingly strange ways. The main character just isn’t that likable this time though, and since his situation is all about saving his own ass instead of stopping a killer, his attempts to deal with the situation all end up coming off as pretty weasely. The final reveal of the killer and their explanation for their actions feels a little more convoluted and forced too, and things are resolved much too quickly immediately afterwards. Oh well.

Man, I haven’t seen this in a loooong time. Great animation and a fascinating story that makes you wonder even more exactly why the hell they changed the story of the modern remake so much. The only real downside of this movie is that it goes by so quickly, setting up this amazing cyberpunk world and then ending right when things get most interesting.

I had never seen the sequel. It’s pretty good and satisfyingly continues the adventures of some of the characters from the previous movie, despite being a bit heavy on the exposition and philosophy quotes. I had no idea just how many more sequels and prequels there have been since this came out. It’s going to take quite some time to get through all of them after this…

One final item of interest, the final season of The Strain has begun. I can only hope that Zack, the absolute worst child character to ever live, dies a horrible, horrible death before it all ends. Hopefully he becomes the new king of the vampires only to get locked in a box and dropped to the bottom of the ocean for eternity…

Now Reading: Crossed +100

Crossed +100 is the story of what the world is like 100 years after the original outbreak of the crossed, who if you’re not familiar with, are basically really rapey 28 Days Later-style-rage-non-zombies. Most Crossed comics since the original series by Garth Ennis have been little more than extreme gore porn, but occasionally some good stuff comes out of it and this is one of them.

Started by Alan Moore and picked up by Simon Spurrier, this story deals with how the remnants of humanity are surviving in a post-apocalyptic world and how the crossed have also been secretly evolving through some complex long-term secret plots. The broken future-English takes some getting used to, though its existence is understandable considering that this is 100 years after the collapse of civilization and modern education systems and such are all long gone.

It’s a pretty interesting look at what humanity could turn into with all their modern conveniences removed and how the crossed manage to work around their complete lack of impulse control in order to avoid extinction. The only downside is that it ends a bit suddenly. There was clearly going to be more to this story, but it was canceled before it could all play out. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them revisiting it and maybe finishing it up with a mini-series or new ongoing someday, as Avatar has been known to do that every now and then, but for now, these 3 story arcs are all there is. While it isn’t quite as good as Spurrier’s earlier Crossed – Wish You Were Here, it’s still one of the best stories in the Crossed world.

Now Playing: Resident Evil – Outbreak File #2 (2004)

Yeah. Just not feelin’ this one. It’s just too similar to the first one, which is to say it’s a barely tolerable version of Resident Evil with a lot of running around through empty rooms full of sticks and toilet brushes, unpleasant battles with dumbed-down, poorly animated versions of enemies you’ve fought a million times before, and constant fucking inventory management due to your insanely tiny carrying capacity and braindead AI companions. It’s not terrible enough to have stopped me from playing one of them, but when the second one is basically just the exact same thing all over again, nope, can’t do it again. Not going to waste any more time on this unpleasant game. The Outbreak games just don’t hold up well at all compared to the real older Resident Evil games. Resident Evil Outbreak can go back to being the forgotten bastard child of Resident Evil like it deserves.

Now Playing: Outlast 2 (2017)

Wooooo Outlast 2 is here! We always need more new (good) horror games, and this one did not disappoint. Outlast 2 plays much like its predecessor, with enough gore and depravity to make even the strongest of stomachs turn at least once and hours worth of tense hide and chase scenes where a whole new batch of disgusting maniacs want to do terrible things to your special bits.

Continue reading “Now Playing: Outlast 2 (2017)”