Monday, August 18, 2014

Deliver Us from Evil; Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Doors

I like to wait until a movie has been out of the theaters for a solid month before I write a review, so sue me.

Don't fucking look at me like that, Owl!

Our story follows Brooklyn detective Ralph Sarchie, the real life cop whose non-fiction autobiography this movie is vaguely based on, as he starts investigating a series of crime that involve three men who served in Iraq and came back...different. During his investigations he hooks up with a rogue ex-junkie exorcist who slowly convinces him to get back in touch with his lost faith and face the true evil at work.

The evil of graffiti.

For those not in the know this movie was directed by Scott Derrickson, that absolute rarest of creatures, the Christian horror director. He's a very hit or miss type of director for me. He helmed the excellent The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the absolutely abysmal Day the Earth Stood Still remake, and the terribly frustrating Sinister. I'm happy to say apparently he met his true calling, and that is possession films because this movie is great.

 And surprisingly gory.

One of the problems of making a possession film is that no matter what, people are going to invariable compare it to The Exorcist. Deliver Us from Evil (or DUFE from now on) is fully aware of this and uses that fact to it's advantage by following some similar beats. Both films mine Middle Eastern folklore and legend for their inspiration and both portray everything in a very realistic way, smart way.

For the most part.

The acting is excellent also,  even Joel McHale (mostly known for his comedy work in Community and his E! show The Soup) was totally believable as Officer Sarchie's knife-fighting partner, a character that could've easily been played too over the top. Eric Bana as our lead protagonist was wonderful also, though I was really impressed by Olivia Munn as his long-suffering wife. I also liked the animalistic way the actors portrayed the possessed characters.

There's also a certain aspect of the script I really love that you just don't see in movies often, and this is something a friend of mine pointed out to me originally, but the script is surprisingly Lovecraft-esque. Now obviously I'm not talking about fish people walking around and tentacles exploding from everywhere, I'm talking about the amount of research involved. Lovecraft stories predominately use academics as their protagonists and include a ton of scenes of characters just reading and studying, and I love that. I suppose Sinister did that too, just not to as good an effect as DUFE.

Really the only problem I have is everything just leads up to an exorcism scene that unfortunately just isn't very interesting or tense, which is weird considering how fucking amazing the exorcism scene in Emily Rose was. But that's a very minor complaint, and at least the gentleman possessed looks cool.


All in all, one of the best movies I've seen so far this year. I give Deliver Us from Evil 8 out of 10 angry lions.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dick Smith Dead at 92

It's a sad day in the SFX world today as Dick Smith, Oscar winning make-up artist behind such films as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Amadeus and The Deer Hunter, has died. In addition to his incredible work behind the classic dramas mentioned above, he held a special place in horror fans' hearts for The Hunger, Scanners, Altered States, The Sentinel (a personal favorite around here at the Death Blog) and of course, The Exorcist. He was 92.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Devil's Due Any Minute!

Every now and then a movie comes along that is so universally panned, with reviews filled with so much bile, you wonder if the director of said film molested a busload of children and you just never heard about it.

Though no one seems to mind when that actually does happen.

A couple years ago that movie was the surprisingly creepy alien abduction film Dark Skies, but it has been usurped by found footage possession flick Devil's Due.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming Devil's Due is some sort of persecuted gem. Far from it; in fact it's pretty cliched and predictable, but that's kind of why I like it. It plays very much like a greatest hits of the past decade's slew of possession and FF movies, except cranked up to 11.

Pictured above: Originality

Our story follows a newlywed couple who, on the last night of their honeymoon in some undisclosed latin country, are drugged and used in some obscure ritual neither of them remember the next morning. Upon returning home they discover the wife is pregnant even though she had religiously taken birth control pills for years, and silly demonic hijinks ensue.


Like I said above, there is nothing here you haven't seen before and the acting/directing is only serviceable, but where this movie shines is how far over the top it all is. In fact, the whole thing has such a Halloween haunted house feel to it, it's almost like watching a William Castle movie, a feeling only indulged by Lionsgate handing out Devil's Due condoms as promotional items.

 What, you thought I was joking?

All in all, I think this goes firmly into the "guilty pleasure" category. I give Devil's Due 6 out of 10 bleeding priests.





Monday, June 30, 2014

JP is Almost Human


Surly one of the oddest phenomenon out there, aside from people being able to listen to Ray Romano's voice without there eardrums bursting, is popping a brand new movie into your movie-playing device of choice and feeling nostalgia for it like it's a partially-remembered 80s flick you saw on TV once. That is exactly how I felt watching Almost Human, an alien abduction film by first time writer/director Joe Begos.

We start our tale in 1987 in Maine as an incredibly cute bearded man named Mark is abducted through a blue light outside his home while his best friend Seth watches helplessly. Two years later Seth begins having severe multiple nose bleeds and the uneasy feeling something bad is about to happen while Mark reappears, naked and covered in what I can only assume is alien splooge, infected with an alien slug that drives him to violently murder all those in his path. To make things worse, he can infect his victims bodies with more slug things and reanimate them.

To answer your question, yes, his ass is beautiful.

Guys, this is probably the best horror flick I've seen in months. Despite a clearly small budget it features some really impressive gore effects inflicted by everything from rifle to hacksaw to hunting knife. It also looks fantastic, managing to achieve something of an 80's throwback look without cheapening it by trying to digitally add grit like all those films that try to replicate the "grindhouse" look. The acting was a tad uneven though pretty solid over all, especially by hunky alien killer Josh Ethier (Fun Fact: He was also the film producer and editor). Really the only problem was the period detail. Usually everything looked like it was suppose to but every now and then something from this century would slip into frame. It was never anything truly distracting, like that segment in SOV flick The Zombie Chronicles that is suppose to be taking place in the 70's yet the main characters ride around in a 2005 Subaru, but I'm really having to nitpick to find anything negative to say.

I guess I could also complain we only see him naked once.

With shades of Fire in the Sky, Night of the Creeps, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers this movie in lesser hands could've been a big dull dud but manages to feel both familiar and fresh simultaneously. Almost Human is on the fast track to becoming my favorite horror movie of the year so far, and I give it 9 out of 10 Stephen King references.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Queers in Horror

I know this is usually the spot a write a big three or four paragraph introduction to my articles, but to be totally honest I'm suffering through a pretty hardcore sinus infection right now so I just don't feel like it. I'm trying to take advantage of the very short window of lucidity between incredible pain and medicated numbness that I'm in right now, so I'll keep this short.

Believe it or not, homosexuality has been creeping it's way into film since the early days of cinema. Even then it wasn't until 1936's Dracula's Daughter we were treated to a gay character, albeit in coded form ("coded" is a term used to describe characters that have all the mannerisms of gayness without actually saying they're gay). Things stayed very much in the closet like this until the counter-cultural revolution and the Stonewall Riot of the '60s changed Hollywood forever, independent and underground film began reaching more viewers than ever and even mainstream film started taking more chances.

Right now is an incredible time to be gay in America (though sadly not in most other places) with a majority of citizens -51% in fact- are in support of same sex marriage, which is already perfectly legal in 19 states. People are finally starting to realize we are fully-rounded human beings, not a single offensive stereotype. For example, most don't seem to realize just how big the gay horror fanbase is. Just take a look at the great new book Out in the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors  to get just a taste.

Below is a list of films with either gay themes, positive gay characters, or gays behind the camera.


Pink Flamingos

"But JP, Pink Flamingos isn't a horror movie, its a comedy!" You're right just a comedy. A comedy filled with incest, rape, murder, unsimulated sex, drug use, baby theft, cannibalism, and coprophagia. Vintage John Waters in all it's grotesque glory.


Socket

Imagine what it would be like if David Cronenberg made a gay movie, you're probably thinking of something kinda like this. This tale of a group of men deeply aroused by being electrocuted, going so far as to implant electrical outlets and plugs into their wrists, is unfortunately marred by some really bad directing and editing but otherwise is pretty impressive.


Bride of Frankenstein

This sequel to Franenstein is openly gay director James Whale's masterpiece, wildly subversive, and even managing to sneak some real gay humor past the censors via also openly gay actor Ernest Thesiger's Dr. Pretorius.


Daughters of Darkness

I was having a pretty intense internal conversation with myself over whether or not I should include any of the copious "lesbian" vampire films as 99% of them are nothing more than an excuse for stuffy white guys to film lame softcore porn sequences. I decided to include this Harry K├╝mel film as I feel it's slightly more interested in art than tits and therefore doesn't really have the sleaze factor of it's contemporaries.


Monster

Now some have argued this movie sort of enforces the whole "killer gay" stereotype, but seeing as it's based on the true story of real life killer Aileen Wuornos (easily the best and most accurate killer biopic I've seen)I don't really agree. Lead actress Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her role, and arguably has never bettered her performance here.


Creatures From the Pink Lagoon

  Astute reader may remember this film as being one of my first reviews way back in the day, and I still love this little 50s throwback now just as much as I did then.


Hellbent


Speaking of blasts from the past, who remembers when I discussed this clever little gay slasher flick?


The Haunting


You know, for some reason I always forget this fantastically atmospheric ghost film directed by Robert Wise co-stars a very blatant, open lesbian character. Even more, she's a good, multi-layered character who doesn't try to kill anyone, which is super rare.


I Was a Teenage Werebear

It's just occurred to me I make reference to bears on this blog all the damn time but have never actually described what a "bear" is in gay terms. Basically a bear is a bigger, hairy gay man, like myself, and this segment from anthology flick Chillerama directed by openly gay director Tim Sullivan and starring gay porn star Sean Paul Lockhart is a hilarious musical throwback to 50s "teenage delinquent" films.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge


Definitely the weirdest entry in the Elm Street series, this thing is loaded with innuendos inserted into an already pretty gay scripts by both the gay lead actor and the gay production designer.


Tetsuo: The Iron Man


Written/directed/edited/starring one of the strangest Japanese directors around, Shinya Tsukamoto, this one doesn't even register as a gay film until after you've seen it a few times. Then you're trying to figure out if that ending is positive or negative.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Top 10 Friday Kills

Well, it's that time of year again, Friday the 13th! Not only a day steeped in mystery, superstition, and....stuff, but a paradoxically beloved film franchise. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet with only minimal explanation as I'm busy today, so without further ado here's my list of my 10 favorite Friday kills.

Friday the 13th- Axe to Grind


Easily the most graphic kill in the original movie, this is really the only one that has any kind of suspenseful build-up.


Friday the 13th- Betsy Palmer Loses Her Head


The catalyst for the rest of the series, the climax of the original film is the only kill on this list not committed by the killer.


Friday the 13th- Scratchy Throat


Kevin Bacon, in one of his earliest roles, is impaled through the throat with an arrow after what I can only assume was a very disappointing bout of lovemaking.


Friday the 13th Part 2- Handicap-able



Even being an inspiration in a wheelchair sometimes just isn't enough to survive a Friday flick.


Friday the 13th Part 3D- Splitting Headache



Hey look, I even went through the trouble of providing this portion of the list in 3D for you. I am a wonderful man.


Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter- (Cork)Screwed


"Nevermind Ted, found the corkscrew!"


Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives


I don't know why this still is in black and white, but it sure classes things up doesn't it?


Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan




Jason Takes Manhattan is widely considered the worst of the Friday films, but hey, at least we see a dude get his head punched off.


Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday- Country Fried Cracker



If only someone would submerge Leslie Jordan's head in a deep fryer in real life.


Jason X- Freezer Burn


Ok guys, real talk? I kinda love Jason X, and I especially love when this lady has her head dunked in liquid nitrogen ( I guess that's what it's supposed to be).


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My 10 Favorite Creepypastas


Ok, I want to go ahead and get this out of the way right now: I am not writing this list as a show of any kind of support or solidarity with the teenage scum who recently tried to "sacrifice" a young girl to the strangely popular creepypasta character Slenderman. As far as I'm concerned those two lumps of shit deserve to be tried as adults and locked away for a VERY long time, and I'm very happy to say the intended victim has survived her 15 stab wounds. No, I had been planning to write this article for a while now and I felt it was more important now than ever to remember there are several smart, intelligent stories out there that don't just revel in violence and gore but aim for something far more interesting.

I suppose before I go any further I should explain what exactly a creepypasta IS to any who might not know. Essentially it's a form of micro horror fiction mostly told in the 1st person narrative style to lend some kind of credibility and realism. They have effectively become a new form of folklore or urban legend for the Internet age. Over the years several different sub-genres have developed: The Creature/Killer, to which the above-mentioned Slenderman belongs; the Lost Episode type is all about disturbing episodes of popular TV shows or in some cases entire lost series, but more on that later; Haunted Gaming pastas account for at least half of all pastas mainly because they're so damned easy to write, most of them follow the exact same story beats with the choice of game being the only difference; Mindfuck pastas are there only to fuck with you; Conspiracy pastas are all about the shady ways of the government, usually our own but there are many examples of misconduct from other countries; Internet pastas detail the dark corners of our beloved World Wide Web; Ritual pastas tell you how to do everything from summoning demons to entering an alternate dimension.

I'll go ahead and let you know now, you will not see any pastas from the Creature/Killer sub-genre on my list of favorites. Why? Well, mostly I just don't find them to be all that interesting, so if you came to read about Slender or Jeff the Killer, to bad 'cause I just ain't putting up with their shenanigans. You also won't find anything really overtly gory, with the exception of one entry, as generally I find the subtle creep far more affecting than intestines thrown all over. So, in no particular order, my 10 favorite creepypastas!

Abandoned by Disney


This tale about an urban explorer who finds a very unwelcome surprise in the bowels of an abandoned Disney resort holds a special place to me for being one of the first pastas I was exposed to and it's still one of my favs. I love stories that don't really become horror stories until the last paragraph and that's exactly what this pasta does.

Read it here.


Candle Cove


This may be my absolute favorite pasta, and one of the reasons is the way it's written. I'm kind of a sucker for pastas that are written in interesting ways, and Candle Cove is a great example of that. Told through a series of posts on a forum thread, we gradually come to learn more and more about a regional kids show that managed to go from ok to pants-shittingly terrifying in just a few short episodes. I also love the way small details are exposed every post and the final post has so many crazy implications I can't help but love it.

Read it here.


Dark Reflections


Dark Reflections is the rarest of beasts, a Ritual creepypasta that gives a legitimate reason for actually going through with the ritual. Essentially the ritual is all about releasing all the potentially fatal negative energy from a mirror. Why would someone want to do this? Well, if you survive you will experience an incredible lucky streak lasting anywhere from a few days to a few years depending on how old the mirror is.

Read it here.


Funnymouth

Told through a series of IM chats and emails with a more traditional narrative linking it all together, Funnymouth is about a guy who attracts the Internet stalker to end all stalkers. Incredibly well paced with a great ending and good imagery.

Read it here.


I Hate You

I Hate You, a Video Game pasta about Super Mario World, is the only one of it's kind that I really like specifically because the writer went out of his way to stress there is NOTHING supernatural about it. Basically he finds a hidden level in Super Mario World that changes everything you know about the world of Mario (see what I did there?) and it's really great. You never normally get to see Greek tragedy as creepypasta.

I couldn't find the actual written pasta itself for some reason, so here's a link to a video of some guy reading it instead.


Normal Porn for Normal People

Remember up at the top when I said there was one pasta that I like specifically for the excessive gore? This is it! This pasta is about a guy being sent a link to the above mentioned website from a random email by an anonymous sender. If you think you know the kind of videos he comes across, man you only know the half of it. I love several things about this pasta; the great name, the non-sexual (for the most part) videos that border on the surreal, and the almost Argentoesque nature of the last video. This website is now both a real site and hosts fan-made pasta videos.

Read it here.


Squidward's Suicide

Easily the most popular of all the Lost Episode pastas, Squidward's Suicide deals with an episode of Spongbob Squarepants, viewed only by some Nick employees, that ends with the death-by-shotgun of the grumpy squid with one second frames of dead children interspersed in it. You owe it to yourself to read this one.

Read it here.


The Strangest Security Tape I've Ever Seen

This is an awesome Mindfuck pasta about an employee at a gas station who appears to be stuck in some kind of time loop while going through security tape at the behest of his boss to find out if one of the other employees is stealing from the store. Written as a series of blog posts, this one is so subtle you might not even notice what going on at first. It's a travesty this one isn't more popular.

Read it here.


The Russian Sleep Experiment

This pasta takes place around WWII and deals with Russian scientists who try an experimental gas which stops you from sleeping on a small group of political prisoners. After roughly 15 days, something awakens in those men. This is one of those rare pastas that people seem to think legitimately happened for some reason.

Read it here.


Morbus.avi

 Morbus.avi is an Internet creepypasta I only recently found and it has quickly become one of my favorites.  The story involves the titular video being sent to a guy who becomes wildly sick upon watching it. Basically, someone has managed to digitize the Black Plague in the form of that video. The buildup and execution is fantastic, much better than I just made it sound honestly.

Read it here.