HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Ten – 10/10/18

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Ten – 10/10/18

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1996…It was a draw for me; too tough to narrow down the list of all the great flicks I had to choose from. I finally managed to whittle it down to two: SCREAM, and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, and even then, I just couldn’t bring myself to choose between them. Both are as important and influential to the genre during this time, yet both are certainly unique: one redefined what fans had thought of the teen slasher genre, while the other took vampire lore to a whole new place unconsidered up to that point.

Legendary director WES CRAVEN had always been an innovator of modern horror, re-establishing himself in several sub-genres over the course of many decades. With LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, he’d done things that most directors in the field never achieve over the course of their entire careers. So when he was looking for the next big thing, he wasn’t even considering sticking with horror, when he crossed paths with a brilliantly subversive script by DAWSON’S CREEK scribe KEVIN WILLIAMSON; a nicely-nasty little number called “SCARY MOVIE”, which was soon to beretitled…SCREAM.

Snarky, self-reverential, almost to the point of being a bit too “nudge-winky” at times, nevertheless, SCREAM never once forgot to bring the laughs, the scares AND the gore in ample supply.  A slasher of teens begins to decimate the youth population of the little bedroom community of Woodsboro, but if that wasn’t bad enough, said killer seems to be every bit as smart as the “Scooby Gang wanna-be” group of horror-loving kids, who soon realize that their stalker not only knows the ‘rules of horror’ as well as – if not  better than they do, and he’s not only using the playbook to take them out one-by-one, but he (or she?) is even bending and changing the rules! Much like Williamson’s TV creation, the cast couldn’t have been more suited as an ensemble, even though the standout was DREW BARRYMORE, if only for the mere fact that she pulls a “Janet-Leigh-in-PSYCHO” on the audience in the first few moments of the film – a shock that has since become legendary, even though people still remember where the idea came from!

NEVE CAMPBELL, SKEET ULRICH, ROSE MCGOWAN, JAMIE KENNEDY, MATTHEW LILLARD, W. EARL BROWN, LIEV SCHREIBER, COURTNEY COX and DAVID ARQUETTE (who married and divorced over the course of the franchise); JOSEPH WHIPP (who could’ve been playing the same character from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – and probably was!), plus unexpected cameos from LINDA BLAIR and HENRY WINKLER going way out-of-typecasting as an asshole of a principal…It didn’t get any better than this! Plus Craven’s direction, with tongue firmly-in-cheek the entire time, could have you rolling your eyes and chuckling one minute, and yes, SCREAMING the next! This film helped usher in a new age, where the movie and the characters were as smart – if not smarter than the audience that eagerly made SCREAM a box office smash!

Meanwhile, thanks to buddy and sometime collaborator QUENTIN TARANTINO, cinematic ‘one-man-band’ ROBERT RODRIGUEZ was having fun playing “Dr. Frankenstein”, by smashing two unexpected sub-genres together, if not three: serial killers, true crime…and vampires.  FROM DUSK TILL DAWN is the kind of film you never expect…until it bops you upside the head from seemingly out of nowhere!

The notorious Gecko brothers, handsome and sarcastic Seth (GEORGE CLOONEY) and ‘quiet, reserved’ Richard (no less than TARANTINO himself) are cutting a swath of robbery, assault and murder across the Southwest.  The “murder” part of their spree is owed mostly to Richard, who just can’t curb his impulses to kill and rape people. Well, to be a bit more specific, he kills and rapes womennot the men, let’s be clear on that (as Richard would probably say himself.)

Their antics – but especially Richard’s body count – has made it necessary to hotfoot it South of the Border, and maybe lay low somewhere in Mexico, until things die down…If they do. Along the way, as they change vehicles, they hijack an RV and the vacationing family inside it and skip town.

The intent was to just keep on going until they reached their objective, but all that changes when they make a fateful detour to a truck stop on the way.  But not just ANY truck stop: The “TITTY TWISTER.” A blood-and-guts dive that definitely lives up to its name…in more ways than one. And its hours of operation are…well, you know the title.

The bar has some of the most gorgeous dancing girls you ever saw, but they’re all woofers compared to the luscious, insanely beautiful main attraction, a hypnotic dancer who goes by the name of ‘SANTANICO PANDEMONIUM’.  No one into women could possibly resist her, and all men should, as Seth and Richard quickly discover, along with the rest of the hapless ‘Twister’ patrons, when the girls, the bouncers, the bartenders, everyone who ‘works’ there, finally reveal their true faces.  They’re all flesh-and-blood hungry vamps, and less the TWILIGHT variety than the FRIGHT NIGHT kind.

Rodriguez knew exactly what the fans wanted from Quentin’s script, and together, they sure gave it to us…stylish, sensual, sexy and soaked in red. And the Tarantino/Rodriguez combo attracted a cast that was instant boxoffice catnip, right down to the cameos: HARVEY KEITEL, JULIETTE LEWIS, FRED WILLIAMSON, TOM SAVINI; the stunning SALMA HAYEK as “SANTANICO”; everybody’s favorite badass, DANNY TREJO, plus CHEECH MARIN, MICHAEL PARKS, JOHN SAXON, KELLY PRESTON, MARC LAWRENCE; even a special appearance by Robert’s favorite “Hell House band”, TITO AND TARANTULA…Hell, you just knew that if he wasn’t already starring in it, Quentin would have probably directed this one, too!

The “Titty Twister” sequences – especially the gore-soaked fight scenes – are now a thing of legend, (check out Savini’s “special weapon” and the reason why his character’s nickname is “Sex Machine”!) and the closing shot is as breathtaking as any iconic final scene from the best and most unforgettable horror films, (I’d compare it for impact to the last shot of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT; in fact, DAWN’S final shot is probably a tad better.)

But for thrills, chills and maximum blood spills, whether you’ve seen these movies a hundred times or not even once…you can’t go wrong with these choices for a monumentally successful Halloween Night of Frights!

MOVIE REVIEW: The 5th Wave (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: The 5th Wave (2016)

By Dixielord

Chloe Grace Moretz in the 5th Wave

Chloe Grace Moretz in The 5th Wave

I know if you are anything like me, you have always wondered, “What if Stephanie Meyers had given up on the Twilight franchise, and instead had written the screenplay for a crossover of Independence Day and They Live ?” Well now thanks to The 5th Wave you don’t have to wonder anymore. The 5th Wave is the new horror/scifi/adventure/teen romance/whatever movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Carrie). It also stars Liev Schreiber (Wolverine), Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy), Maika Monroe (It Follows), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Nick Robinson (Jurassic World)and Alex Roe (The Calling). So it's a decent enough film, it should be OK, right? Eh, not so much.

Liev Schreibner in The 5th Wave

Why am I in this movie? My agent is so fired if there isn't a sequel.

Now full disclaimer, this is a young adult movie, based on a young adult novel. It's nowhere near real horror or even real Science Fiction. Still, even giving it this handicap it's pretty bad. The 5th wave was directed by J Blakeson, in his second feature direction. The plot is basically aliens send a giant ship (Ala Independence Day) to circle the Earth and release “waves” to destroy us humans. The first wave, which is actually the most impressive is an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse), which sends the planet back to the dark ages, and kills a lot of people. The second wave is world wide tidal waves, the third wave is a modified bird flu, fourth wave is aliens disguised as humans, and the titular fifth wave is, well that's the big reveal, more on that later (SPOILERS!!!).

The heroine of the alien apocalypse is young Cassie Sullivan, played by Moretz. Cassie is an awkward 16 year old high school student, a role Moretz should have down by now. She lives with her parents and younger brother Sam, when the “others” attack. Her parents quickly fall victim to the evil aliens and her brother Sam is recruited by the military. There he is trained as part of a children s crusade to wipe out the aliens, alongside Cassie's high school sweetheart Ben (Robinson). Cassie sets out to rescue him, and along the way finds love and loses her virginity (assuming she had it to begin with) with ruggedly handsome and well dressed farmer Evan. But off course, all is not what it seems, not with the army, not with Evan, and definitely not with this film.


Chloe Grace Moretz in The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave

Ever since Chloe Grace Moretz came to my attention in Let Them In, I have predicted a bright future, and that she would turn into a wonderful actress. While she can claim success, it is time she really showed some potential as an actress. It's past time. She should probably be more selective in the roles she takes. It's sad that some of her more interesting roles like Let Me In, Kick Ass, and Hick came early in her career. I'm assuming she took this role for financial stability, hoping for a franchise along the lines of Twilight. I don’t see that happening.

Not that she is horrible in The 5th Wave. But it's the same awkward, mopey teen role that we have seen so many times before including Carrie, Kick Ass 2, and even to some extent in Let Me In. She does play that role well, but at what point does it cease to be acting and become repetitive motion.

The movie itself starts off with a bang, and the most emotionally charged “real” scene in the movie. It's brutal and what an end of the world film should be. It posits Moretz as a gritty character having to make hard, and wrong decisions. Sadly that feel doesn't really continue after that. Instead we get a typical teen romance/drama with aliens thrown in. There are just so many silly moments, silly decisions that I couldn't enjoy it. 

Since it's based on a book you could blame a lot on the original subject matter, but since when does a movie have to stay true? Movies have obligation to fix bad points in the subject matter not parrot them. I haven't read the book but from a synopsis it looks like the movie actually expands some of the worse points. For one instance in the movie the aliens genetically alter avian flu and release it on mankind. Why? Why alter an earth flu when they could introduce an alien disease from their home world. An alien common cold that would be harmless to them but wipe us out. In the book, as far as I have heard this is closer to what happens.


Chloe Grace Moretz takes aim in The 5th Wave

The best scene in The 5th Wave with Chloe Grace Moretz

The earthquakes and tidal waves were left unexplained. It comes off as bad in the film, suddenly huge wave almost takes out our heroine, then magically recedes leaving no discernible damage in it's wake. But reading a book summary it's probably best to not go to deep into it's goofy cause of the quakes.

The fourth and fifth waves are just as silly. The fourth wave is they can apparently possess humans. They do this to kill the human refugees, which we are lead to believe they possess a couple of hunters who prowl the woods killing anyone they come across. We find out later the fourth wave is actually a way of initiating the fifth wave so it's a bit of a dodge But here's the kick. They can either posses or replicate the military. They use this to gather children and train them to hunt other humans. Why do they need human kids to kill them? You have guns, planes, tanks and training. Do it your damn self

The fifth wave is where the story blatantly steals from They Live. The children are told you can only spot the aliens wearing special glasses. Glasses that make the alien humans appear to be a green glowing skull. Seriously. I was half expecting Roddy Piper to come back from the grave and start kicking everyone’s ass. Starting with the director and writer of the film.

Of course eventually Ben finds out the truth. That they are killing other humans and he very casually allows one of his friends to shoot him in the belly. You know, non fatally. No big deal. Doesn’t hurt much apparently.

Meanwhile Cassie is on her way to rescue Sam, and runs across hunky, hipster farm boy Evan. Evan teaches her the finer points of disarming an opponent, and in true Mary Sue fashion she gets it down pat in one lesson. Which is fitting since she learned how to fire a pistol in one lesson (that only consisted of “this is how you remove the clip”), and learned to fire an assault rifle with no training at all. Her and Evan hook up, which we all knew was coming, and he turns out to be an alien hybrid. Or spy or something, who knows. It of course follows that Twilight theme of taboo love between different species. All we can say is Cassie must me a wiz in bed, er in abandoned vehicle, cause one lay and Evan defects to the human cause. Once you go homosapien, you....well... forget you're an alien, I guess. Forget I said anything.

Now back to another point which bothered me. A lot of people might say I'm nit picking but it bothers me. The first wave, world wide EMP blast. The film clearly states, no electricity, no running water....then how the hell is everyone clean shaved, except neatly shaved Evan, and clean. How are they always wearing clean clothes? Even after Cassie is abandoned and alone, shes always clean and in clean freshly pressed clothes! I'm not the world's biggest Walking Dead fan, but at least they try to make the survivors look grungy. Except for Norman, I think he just likes the look. Even when they FINALLY put some dirt on Chloe's face, it looks like it was professionally applied by Merle Norman himself.

And why does the family leave their home? Yes there is no running water and lights, but it has a roof, walls and presumably a basement. As well as a closet that seems infinitely full of clean clothes. But no, they leave their home to move to a tent city in the woods. You know, where the aliens can wipe them out all at once, no walls, no defenses, but already with crops planted and harvested.....I know this is young adult fiction, but come the fuck on!

So here's my thing unless you are a teenage girl, or a dude with the hots for Chloe Grace Moretz, avoid The 5th Wave. There are tons of other movies out there. I wasn't expecting much, and it delivered not much in spades. There are much better alien films out there, better teen adventure/romance, and much, much better Chloe Grace Moretz films to be seen. As far as adult, science fiction or horror fans, don’t bother. One giant green skulled alien star out of ten.


Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Kristy (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Kristy (2014)

By Amy Mead

Kristy poster


>Directed by Oliver Blackburn

Starring: Haley Bennet, Lucas Till, and Ashley Greene

Kristy starts off with a group of hooded youths at dawn returning from an apparent murder and are seen, photographing the body of a young girl. We then move into a sequence showing a website devoted to the annihilation of "Kristy". "Kristy is pretty, pure, blessed". The site encourages users to find them, hunt them, kill them and then share the murders to the site, saying, "Kristy is a follower of God. Kill Kristy, Kill God".

Due to financial woes, young college student Justine has decided to stay on campus with her roommate Nicole for Thanksgiving break. She returns from doing laundry the first night only to discover that Nicole has gotten a surprise ski trip invitation to Aspen from her father at the last minute. Nicole ends up leaving Justine alone in the dorm but only after leaving her the keys to her BMW to use while she's gone.

On the second day, Justine goes on a run for some Ben and Jerry's and through a creepy encounter at a convenience store with a strange young woman, she unknowingly becomes a target for a group of violent cult members who are after "Kristy", because they believe her to be a privileged girl due to her appearance and the car she is in. Little do they know she is on a work study program and the car is not her own.

She is tormented by a group led by the woman from the convenience store on the short drive back to the campus, and narrowly avoids an altercation. A dangerous and deadly game of cat and mouse quickly ensues and before the night is through, she must dig deep and find the strength and courage to conquer her fears, fight back and outwit the murderous cult in order to stay alive...

I am a sucker for home invasion type films, and I also really enjoy films where the female protagonist suddenly grows a pair and turns around and brutally kicks some antagonist ass. Kristy is kind of a mash up of The Strangers and You're Next all rolled into one and I really enjoyed watching intended victim Justine get even with her cult crazed stalkers. The film is geared towards survival rather than revenge and thus is somewhat light on gore, but there were some great kills in spite of that, although I wish there had been a few more.

There is minimal character development to be had in the film but for me personally that made it more effective. Sometimes fucked up shit happens to people for no good reason and for me that's what makes this film frightening. Stuff like that truly scares the shit out of me. If you've ever done the babysitting gig in an old creepy house or been in a big building alone, this film will make you uneasy and maybe even raise your blood pressure a little.

While a bit predictable and filled with jump scares, Kristy is a tense, beautifully shot thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat through a good portion of its run. The film’s overall sense of creepiness is bolstered by the direction of Oliver Blackburn (Donkey Punch) and the performances of Haley Bennet (The Haunting of Molly Hartley) as the proposed victim and Ashley Green (Twilight) as gang leader Violet, who both really deliver in their respective roles. While Kristy is nothing ground breaking by any means, it is definitely worth a watch if you are into psychological thrillers. I could think of far worse ways to spend an afternoon.

I give Kristy 7/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments