Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee: 1922-2015

God damn this sucks. This is the hardest sentence I've ever had to write, but genre legend Christopher Lee is dead at the age of 93.

Born in 1922, Lee's first acting gig was in 1946 in the early TV show Kaleidoscope back when television was practically brand new. He spent the next several years starring in dozens of stageplays while being relegated to minor roles in TV and film until 1957, when he played the best damn Frankenstein Monster since Karloff, imbuing him with an almost wounded animal sympathy, in The Curse of Frankenstein. One year later, his terrifying turn as a truly vicious Dracula (the role he would reprise multiple times and refuse to speak about for years) in The Horror of Dracula would cement him as a horror superstar and the face of Hammer Studios. The late 50s to the early 70s were his heyday, with starring roles in such classics as The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The City of the Dead (AKA Horror Hotel), Hercules in the Haunted World, The Gorgon, The Skull, Scream and Scream Again, Horror Express, and of course The Wicker Man (which Lee himself said several times was his favorite of all his film roles).

Sadly the fall of Hammer shoved Lee out of the spotlight, once again relegating him to voice and TV work, until he was introduced to a whole new generation of fans thanks to appearances in several Tim Burton movies (like Sleepy Hollow and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and his roles in the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings films as Count Dooku and Saruman, respectively. He continued working until the day he died, with one film, Angels in Notting Hill, finished and had another, The 11th, in pre-production.

In addition to holding the record for the most films roles by an actor, Lee was a classically trained singer who somewhere along the line fell in love with metal, recording with Italian fantasy metal band Rhapsody and releasing not one but SIX solo metal albums including a concept album about Charlemange! All around multi talented man, and he will be deeply missed by all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Pyramid - Sorely Lacking a Point

Hey, you know what really grinds my gears? When a film adopts a gimmick solely because its what's perceived to be "popular" at the time and then promptly abandons said gimmick. Sorry, didn't really give you any time to answer, I was too excited. Well, since I've already told you let me give you an example. Let's say a film about a father/daughter archeology team and a two-person documentary crew go in to investigate a newly discovered Egyptian pyramid, and again I'm pulling this example totally out of my ass here, and the film tries to sell itself as a found footage film but then every single other shot in the film is just traditional camera work. Filmmakers, if you're going for a gimmick, DO THE FUCKING GIMMICK! Either all in or all out, because the audience can sense you're trepidation and half-assery.

Of course, this is far less irritating when the film in question is awful regardless of showmanship, and that describes The Pyramid to a tee. First time director Gregory Levasseur --who, ironically enough considering the trite and strangely familiar screenplay, is a writer by trade-- essentially gives us a significantly less interesting version of last year's As Above So Below but in Egypt and populated with deplorable characters who constantly lie to one another about shit they all already know for absolutely no reason. No really, its the same lost-in-a-mindfucky-labyrinth-with-ancient-dead-languages-on-the-walls-giving-clues-while-culturally-specific-supernatural-shit-happens plot as the Paris-set film. Granted some interesting things happen in roughly the last twenty minutes while AASB's finale was something of a colossal clusterfuck, but by that point its WAY to little WAY to late, especially when you factor in the PS1-level CG used for effects that very easily could've been done practically and the various little absurdities of the characters and plot (really, a documentary cameraman can rewire state-of-the-art NASA technology but he can't make the light on top of his camera come back on?).

That's similar to the face I had while watching. She's missing the slight drunken glaze that fell over my eyes about half-way through.

A half-assed gimmick of a film that really couldn't have been saved regardless, I give The Pyramid 3 out of 10 of those gross hairless cats.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Insidious Chapter 3

Astute readers may remember I absolutely ADORED the film Insidious, brought to us by the writer/director team that also gave the world Saw and Dead Silence, and I greatly enjoyed the sequel despite it being a bit to convoluted for it's own good, so when I heard a third film was in the works I was elated. Hell, I sorta almost cracked a smile! Then it was revealed Leigh Whannel would pick up triple duty by not just writing and reprising his role of hapless ghost hunter Specs, but directing as well. Suddenly the world was rife with questions, the big one being would he just copy and paste what series director James Wan had done, or would he surprise us all and bring his own unique style? Surely you can understand my concern, seeing as sequels to Wan films tend to not have the best track record.

Sometimes they fall off the track completely and break both ankles right at the beginning of the race.

So our film starts out an unknown amount of time before the events of the first film (that's right, a prequel with a number attached as though its a sequel, a fairly big pet peeve of mine), I would set it around 2004 or 2005, and follows the story Quinn, a high school senior and actress hopeful whose attempts to contact her recently deceased mother lead to her attracting the attention of a demon known as The Man Who Can't Breath. After a car accident leaves her bedridden with two broken legs and at the mercy of the super groddy entity, it's up to Lin Shaye's psychic Elise, who also recently lost a loved one and vowed to never use her powers again, to help her before he can add her soul to his teen girl zoo (go on, tell me that's not what's going on!) in The Further. Along the way we see Elise and her ghost-lovin' colleagues Specs and Tucker meet for the first time, we have references to the other two films that actually make sense story-wise instead of being blatant obnoxious fan service, and we set up another obligatory sequel.

  Also, the guy who played Gavin in three episodes of 'Friends' is in it as Quinn's dad, so that's worth the ticket price alone.

So you're probably wondering what the answer to my question at the end of the first paragraph was, and I'm pleased to report it was the latter of the two options I put forth.Whannell shows us a more restrained, realistic --realism being a relative term here of course-- version of Insidious that focuses more on the relationships in the film than the outright scary stuff. That means this film moves at a slower, more methodical pace than the other two films, which would explain why this one hasn't really been getting the best reviews ever written. Well, that and the fact that Mr. Whannell seems to have, let's say, slacked a bit in the writing department to focus more of his energy on the visual aspect. There are a few holes here and there, some story threads that just seem to either languish or come out of nowhere, and my God the last 10 minutes were so shmaltzy and sickeningly saccharine I had to test my blood sugar levels after.


Plus, remember Sidekicks? As if anyone actually had one of those.

What we're left with is a flawed though still interesting and well made entry in a fantastic series that could easily go on forever, and I'm sure it probably will as long as Blumhouse Productions stays in business. I give Insidious Chapter 3 7 out of 10 delicious cupcakes.




PS: Look how goddam gorgeous mohawk Tucker is!


 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

10 More Favorite Creepypastas

Hey, remember a while back when when those two vile cunts with preexisting mental issues tried to sacrifice a 10-year-old girl to a non-existent entity and the media freaked out about how those new fangled 'creepypastas' were destroying the minds of our children (apparently movies, music, comic books, books in general, and the gays were taking the week off) and I wrote this article in defense of pastas? Yeah, I'm doing it again so I can talk about all the stories I didn't get a chance to originally. If you don't know what the holy hell I'm talking about, just go back and read the first one before advancing.


1999
1999 is the story of one kid who stumbled across a public access channel, with every separate show seemingly shot in one guy's basement and recorded on a camcorder, that is revealed to be a trap designed to entice children to come so the man behind it, who calls himself Mr. Bear and wears a matted bear costume, can kidnap, torture, and sacrifice them. As I said before in Part 1 of my little burgeoning series, I'm a sucker for pastas that are written in an interesting way, and 1999 --the year the "author" of this story first saw the channel-- falls right into that being written in the style of a blog that spans the course of perhaps a couple years, being "updated" every time he learns something new about what happened. This is easily one of the most realistic pastas out there with nary a supernatural being or happening to be seen. It's also one of the longest I've seen, but the pacing is absolutely fucking perfect. I can't recommend this one enough.

You can read it here.



Ed, Edd, and Eddy: Lost Episode
 As I've stated before, I'm a big fan of the "Lost Episode" type of creepypasta, and this one, based on the popular Cartoon Network show from the late-90s/early-00s, is one of the best out there because of it's nonviolent-and-all-the-creepier-for-it images. Images like Rolf fisting a cow in a dark shed, an eyeless Jimmy crawling out from under Nazz's couch and swallowing her head, and shots of Double D portrayed in claymation for some reason laying unmoving on Eddy's floor.

You can read it here.



Gateway of the Mind
This one takes place in 1983 and details an experiment conducted by a group of scientists who've theorized that if a person were cut off from their senses they could see and talk to God. What follows is an account of what happened when they tested the theory on an old man.

You can read it here.


Lost Episodes
This is a particularly meta pasta, written by the incredible Slimebeat, that puts forth the idea that not only are all 'lost episode' pastas true, but they were all created by one deeply disturbed guy.

You can read it here.


Meek
This one, about a morbidly obese hoarder and the personal hell he's created around himself, is so sad and depressing I'd go so far as to say its less of a creepypasta and almost a full fledged feelspasta (a story meant to totally bum you out).

You can read it here.


Room Zero/A Few Suggestions
These are two separate stories, but since they act as a sequel and prequel respectively of the insanely popular Abandoned By Disney I decided to count them as one. While nowhere near as popular as ABD, I love Room Zero, which features the same protagonist as he is stalked by Mickey heads and learns about an awful thing that occurred at Disneyland in the 60s that lead to the death(?) of several hundred park-goers. Suggestions, on the other hand, is written as several suggestion cards, presumably found at the old Disney attraction from the first story and written by different employees might possibly give clues as to what the thing found there is.

You can read them here and here.


Mr. Mix
Astute readers may remember I stated in my first list I'm not a fan of 99.9% of video game creepypastas. Mr Mix, one of those games designed to teach kids to type but instead taught them to have extremely vivid nightmares, is in the other 0.1%.

You can read it here.


Rap Rat
Remember those board games from the 80s and 90s that came with a VHS tape you're supposed to play when you play the physical game? Rap Rat is one such game that the protagonist is terrorized by as a kid and then again as an adult and may contain a Haitian demon.

You can read it here.


Whimsywood
So, in case you haven't noticed by me placing four stories by him on this list alone, I love me some Slimebeast. This story is about a kid on a long road trip with his parents. They come across a seemingly lovely local amusement park and decide to stop, but things slowly start to go to shit, culminating in the least fun tunnel ride ever.

You can read it here.


The Theater
Last, but certainly not least, The Theater is another in that 0.1% of video game pastas I actually like. It's relatively short so I can't really say much, but it's the simplicity that makes it so wonderful, so read it.

You can read it here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

JP Learns His ABCs...Again. He's a Very Slow Learner

Long-time fans of the Death Blog may remember my somewhat unusual review style for the first ABCs of Death, an incredibly ambitious anthology that brought together 26 international directors who each used one letter of the alphabet and made a 2-4 minute short film about them, wherein I only discussed my five favorite segments since it's nigh on impossible to really describe the full assault. Welp, it's 2015 and I'm doing the same thing, bitches!

The problem with this method is basically all of my choices are practically beyond description, but whatever. #YOLO


D is for Deloused - Directed by Robert Morgan

 This animated segment directed by Robert Morgan, the man who scared the shit out of me with The Cat with Hands and plucked my heartstrings with The Separation, is one of the most unusual and inventive in a film filled with the unusual and the inventive. To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what the short is meant to represent, but it's beautiful and just so damn cool!


N is for Nexus - Directed by Larry Fessenden

I guess no one should be surprised that the segment directed by my boo Larry Fessenden is, in my humble and totally-not-biased-at-all opinion, the best looking segment of the bunch. The simplicity of the story, four people convening in one spot in a very unfortunate way, allowed for Fessenden to really expand visually in interesting and unique ways.


W is for Wish - Directed by Steven Kostanski

Possibly THE strangest of the bunch, written/directed by Astron-6 member Kostanski, the titular wish by two young kids to enter the world of a Master of the Universe-style toy line goes wildly awry in some wonderfully unpleasant ways.


Y is for Youth - Directed by Soichi Umezawa

  First time director Umezawa, primarily a make-up artist by trade, managed with this short to make teenage angst sincere, disturbing, and hilarious all at once, in ways I doubt anyone else could've possibly imagined.


Z is for Zygote - Directed by Chris Nash

The short is about a man who leaves his pregnant wife for some kind of business reason (it's not really that clear honestly). Before he does, however, he gives her a jar of some type of root that will stop her from delivering the child until he gets back if she eats one everyday. We then smash cut to 13 years later, and the story culminates in one of the most gory and disturbing denouncements in the entire two films.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014

I hesitate to call this remake or reimagining -or whatever other "re-" words are in vogue these days- of the  Charles Pierce-directed 1976 cult classic since the movie it's suppose to be a remake of that movie already exists as a movie in this movie universe. We need a new word to call that sort of thing, like a "Meta-make" or something.



So our story takes place in Texarkana, named so because it straddled the border of Texas and Arkansas, where back in the 40s a sting of random violent murders occurred during one long summer then stopped as quickly as they began, leaving 7 or 8 people dead. Every year on Halloween the town has a public showing of the original 70s movie I made mention of above, and during the showing of the 65 anniversary of the killing the masked man known as the Phantom Killer, just like crazy-tight pants, seems to have made a comeback. He begins recreating the events of the film, and it's up to damaged orphan Jami to unravel the mystery of his identity. However, there are plenty of red herrings along the way, will she be able to tell the killer from the killee?

I don't really have much to say about this one, guys. The acting and directing are pretty solid, and it is an interesting take that sets it apart from the usual remakes, much like 2013's Maniac remake and it's innovative POV style. Sure it drags in places, and the ending is pretty fucking dumb and reminiscent of Scream 2 (really kid, that's a pretty weak motive) but I feel those can be pretty easily overlooked. What can't be overlooked? Well, let me tell you.


So, for those of you wondering, yes, of course the trombone murder is in this movie. You can't bring up The Town That Dreaded Sundown without at least a mention of the trombone murder, like this mention here. Here's my problem with the new film. The victim of the trombone murder here is a gay man who was about to engage in some sweet downstairs play with what I assume to be a BBC. So, a weirdly fetishistic type of murder that in the original happened to a woman, then a gay man. What exactly was the writer trying to say here? Is he yet another straight man equating gay with feminine and womanly? It's 2015, this is not a question I should have to ask.


   So should you see this movie? I can only give a resounding "meh" as an answer. I give The Town That Dreaded Sundown 5 out of 10 blowjobs.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Worst of 2014

Well kids, this list kinda hurt to make. You see, several of the movies on this list were movies I was actually really excited about. So excited that I took it personally when they ended up sucking.  Movies like......


Stage Fright


A horror-musical about a killer at a drama camp sounds like a great idea, right? To bad it was completely toothless, so poorly written it sets up a half-dozen subplots then just forgets about them, and the music is fucking awful. Not even Meat Loaf could save this glittery lump of shit.


Willow Creek

As a man who's enjoyed all of Bobcat Goldthwait's previous work, no one was more surprised than me when I watched this found footage Bigfoot movie and was bored to tears by the shit acting and the complete lack energy.


The Human Race


80 people from all walks of life wake up and are told via PA system they are to race until only one is left could've been interesting if it had better writing behind it, but as it stands everyone, with the except of a couple characters, is a fairly one-dimensional cutout.


The Monkey's Paw


I think the general theme of the movies I didn't like this year is all revolves around interesting ideas that are handled poorly. Take, for instance, this newest version of The Monkey's Paw. The idea of taking the classic WW Jacobs story and placing it in rural Louisiana is a very interesting one, but it's just so poorly written and the acting -with the exclusion of villain Stephen Lang- is so bad everything falls flat.


Contracted


I've talked about genital wart of a film before, and I honestly don't want to spend even one more second of thought on it, so let's move on.


Nurse 3D


This is going to be a controversial entry, I know that. Most would argue that this movie, about a nurse with a long history of stalking her fellow nurses and killing cheating men, is suppose to be silly and over-the-top and campy. Here's the thing though, it's not fucking entertaining like a campy and over-the-top film is. It's dull, dumb, and just downright boring.


Beneath


Oddly enough there were two indie horror films this year called Beneath. This is the one that sucks. Not that the other film is good, but that one didn't make me doubt my love of Larry Fessenden like this one did, as I've previously mentioned.


Bad Milo

Now this one really hurt as I'm a big fan of all involved, but sadly this tale of an overworked man and his ass demon just doesn't go nearly far enough to make the jokes actually work.


The Devil's Hand

Who ever thought that blending a slasher film with a devil/cult film could be so boring, predictable, bloodless, and just plain stupid? The writing and acting in this thing makes Friday the 13th look like The Godfather.


All Cheerleaders Die

What I'm sure is to be another controversial entry, I get that this tale of cheerleaders being killed by the basketball team only to come back from the dead (somehow) is suppose to be a satire. However, I also thought satire was suppose to be funny and say something. I really don't get why everyone looks to Lucky McKee as some kind of horror film feminist when ever female character of his is either a "killer lesbian" stereotype or a sexualized mean girl.