Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JP Contracted Something - A Mini Review

Man, there truly is nothing worse than being sick is there? Thick liquid pours from every orifice, you're oddly horny but can't really do anything about it (or is that just me?), and meal worms fall from your vagina. Or at least that's what happens if you have the misfortune of starring in an indie body-horror film.

Our story follows the plight of Samantha, amateur horticulturist and lesbian (sorta? she seems like one of those women who have sex with a woman once and then think they're a lesbian when really they only like the attention one gets from being a lesbian, but that's just me), who ends up being date-raped by a mysterious man, played by constant Adam Wingard collaborator Simon Barrett, at a party. We then spend the next three days watching the fastest fucking STD ever rip her a new one while she acts like a complete bitch to a bunch of other wildly unlikable characters.

You might notice I referred to this as a "mini-review" up in the title there. That's because there's really not a whole lot to say about this one. It looks OK and it's pretty well acted, especially by Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 star Caroline Williams, if only the characters were written like regular fucking human beings it would've made all the difference.

An admirable attempt, but ultimately a failure at both body-horror and a horror-drama, I give Contracted 4 out of 10  orchids standing in as visual metaphors.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

JP Gets Carried Away

Ok, I want to go on record and state I tried my very hardest to not compare this to the Brian DePalma classic from 1976 as I don't consider the term "remake" to really apply to films with a literary background (ie. based on a novel or short story)  as this one is. I mean I'm sure no one would ever call the recent Hollywood flop I, Frankenstein a remake of the James Whale classic, now would they? So why would you call the third (That's right, third. Everyone seems to forget the 2002 made-for-TV movie don't they?) version of Carrie a remake?

So Carrie, as I'm sure we're all aware, is about Carrie White, a shy misfit with a laughably religious mother who discovers she has telekinetic powers after her first period.The head bully is kicked banned from prom for her part in leading all the girls in gym class in a particularly cruel joke, so when she finds out that Sue, one of the girls in the class, asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom to ease her guilt at taking part, she plans the ultimate evil prank. When this movie came out a large number of critics complained about the relationship between Carrie and her mother, played with odd restraint by Julianne Moore, as the DePalma film had her far more meek and subservient to her mother while this version portrayed a sassier Carrie. I can only assume these critics never read the book, as this version is far more accurate, so I'm totally cool with that. In fact, the only thing I have a problem with is that, like most Hollywood horror films, they made the decision to cast 25 year-old underwear models as high school students. Even Carrie, described in the book as a very odd-looking girl, is played by one of the most attractive young actresses working right now. All they did was muss up her hair a tad, I'm surprised they didn't just give her glasses and have her take them off when it was time for the prom. You'd think a proud lesbian filmmaker like Kimberly Peirce wouldn't give in to this kind of bullshit, but I guess even lesbians can fall prey to cliches.

  God, just look at that ugly bitch!

But who cares about that shit? The only part of Carrie anyone really gives a shit about is the prom sequence. That certainly seems to be the only part of this movie the writers were interested in judging by how fast they sped towards it like Richard Petty heading to a ridiculous hat sale. Ironic then how badly they dropped the ball.

Even Carrie's shocked.

So, I guess this would be a good time to give the ol' Spoiler Alert for the five people who don't know what happens at the prom.

I know I said in the opening that I wouldn't compare this with the DePalma version but, well, I lied. I lie a lot actually, you probably shouldn't trust me. But back to what I was saying. I wasn't going to get into this, but I feel at this point I have to. In my opinion, the best part of the DePalma film is the prom stuff right leading up to the "blood prank." The dialogue scene between Carrie and Tommy as they're dancing and the camera is swirling around them is beautiful and the single tracking shot as the Prom King and Queen ballots are taken up then switched with fake ones to get Carrie up on that stage is incredibly impressive and I'm sure ridiculously hard to film.  Meanwhile, this version is just so bland I can barely believe it. Granted, it may just seem bland in comparison. Comparing the visuals of a Brian DePalma film to most other movies is like comparing a house cat to a majestic lion, mane ruffling regally in the African wind.

Dull camera work aside, there are a few other major problems here and they both occur after the blood bucket drops. First off, Carrie's silly magic quivering. Again, going back to DePalma, and the TV movie now that I think of it, when Carrie looses her shit and starts the killing, she doesn't really move much. She stands stock still and only moves her head to move things and it's wonderfully creepy. It shows us just how powerful she is and it's great. She doesn't writhe around on the stage like Stevie Nicks doing an interpretive dance and tilt her head like a dog who just heard her owner's voice on the answering machine.

 The other problem I have is a little harder to explain, Carrie does NOT kill sympathetic gym teacher. Why is this a problem? Well, when Carrie starts her murder spree she stops being a "person" per say and becomes blind rage personified. That's why she kills her one friend in the book/movies, so by having enough of herself left to both save the teacher AND effectively torturing the head bully, in my opinion it betrays the point a bit. But I'm probably the only one who cares about that, so oh well.

Add to all these shenanigans a pregnancy subplot (and by subplot I mean two throwaway lines in two throwaway scenes) that go absolutely nowhere and I do believe we have a bad script on our hands. Plus I don't really understand everyone's obsession with Chloe Grace Moretz.

So, even though I actually kinda liked the first half of the film, the latter half is just terrible in every way. I give Carrie (2013) 4 out of 10 hours in the closet.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Fangoria Chainsaw Awards 2014

Well kids, it's that time of the year again. Time for Fangoria Magazines annual Chainsaw Awards! You can use that link to view the nominees and cast your vote. Below are my personal choices and why I chose them. Also post this was supposed to be full of pictures but Blogger once again won't let me post any (is anyone else having this problem, or am I a special snowflake?).

BEST WIDE-RELEASE FILM: The Conjuring, Evil Dead, Insidious: Chapter 2, Mama, You’re Next

This one was a no-brainer. As much as I liked Insidious 2, You're Next wins out for being A) an original film instead of a sequel and B) just being so damned clever and having one of the most well-written heroines in film history.

BEST LIMITED-RELEASE/DIRECT-TO-VIDEO FILM: Berberian Sound Studio, Byzantium, Stoker, V/H/S 2, We Are What We Are

This was a much harder decision. As much as I loved Byzantium and Stoker, I had to give the honor to V/H/S 2 for all the reasons I've already gone into great detail over.

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: The Condemned, Here Comes The Devil, Horror Stories, Tormented, Wither

I'm such a bad horror fan, I've only seen one of these, the Japanese film Tormented directed by Ju-On titan Takashi Shimizu. So I really had no choice but to vote for that one, regardless of how awesome everyone tells me Here Comes the Devil is.

BEST ACTOR: Franciso Barreiro (Here Comes The Devil), Toby Jones (Berberian Sound Studio), Bill Sage (We Are What We Are), Patrick Wilson (Insidious: Chapter 2), Elijah Wood (Maniac)

This year's Maniac remake was one of my favorite films of the year, and one of the many reasons as to why was Elijah Wood's performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matthew Goode (Stoker), Stephen McHattie (Haunter), Michael Parks (We Are What We Are), Lou Taylor Pucci (Evil Dead), Joe Swanberg (You’re Next)

This one was a bit tough as well, and even though I enjoyed Joe Swanberg (what can I say, he plays a good asshole) I had to go with Matthew Goode, the murderous uncle from Stoker.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Ambyr Childers (We Are What We Are), Julia Garner (We Are What We Are), Julianne Moore (Carrie), Tristan Risk (American Mary), Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)

This was another category where I've only seen two of the movies involved so it's hard to make an informed decision. However, I'm pretty even if I had seen them all I would still be going with Tristan Risk, the creepy Betty Boop lady from American Mary

 BEST SCREENPLAY: Kevin Lehane (Grabbers), Brian King (Haunter), Wentworth Miller (Stoker), Nick Damici & Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are), Simon Barrett (You’re Next)

Talk about Sophie's Choice! Again, as much as I loved Stoker (and as impressed as I am that Wentworth Miller, known mostly as an actor appearing in Prison Break and some of the Resident Evil movies, is a shockingly good writer), I really had to go with Simon Barrett for the wildly clever You're Next.

BEST SCORE: Broadcast (Berberian Sound Studio), Javier Navarrete (Byzantium), Rob (Maniac), Philip Mossman, Darren Morris & Jeff Grace (We Are What We Are), Jasper Justice Lee, Kyle Mckinnon & Mads Heldtberg (You’re Next)

Remember further up in the beginning of the article when I said one of the reasons I loved Maniac was Wood's performance? Well another reason is the incredible retro-style synth score by the mono-named Rob.

BEST MAKEUP/CREATURE FX: Justin Raleigh (Bad Milo!), Roger Murray & Jane O’Kane (Evil Dead), Rogier Samuels (Frankenstein’s Army), Paddy Eason & Shaune Harrison (Grabbers), Mike Elizalde, Tamar Aviv & Jorn Seifert (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)

Readers, I'm not stupid. I know for a fact the FX guys from Evil Dead are probably going to win for their generic, clichéd possessed 20-somethings. That is a shame as I put my vote for Rogeir Samuels (the creature design is the only positive thing I can say about Frankenstein's Army).


This is one of two write-in categories, so you can say whatever your little heart desires. Me, I nominated Texas Chainsaw 3D, you know why.


This is the second write-in category, and it is much harder to decide than Worst Film. You see, every year Fangoria asks it's readers to nominate a prolific film, writer, actor, or director in the horror genre to be inducted in their hallowed Hall of Fame. I've chosen to nominate someone I've been a huge fan of for years; Tom Holland. Among his many contributions to our beloved genre includes writing the underrated Psycho 2 and the Mississippi-lensed The Beat Within and directing such classics as Child's Play and Fright Night.

So there you have it kids, head on over to the Fangoria website and rock your own vote...as long as your vote syncs up with mine.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'm Having Some Revelations about Hellraiser

You guys, I fucking love Hellraiser. It's one of my favorite movies of all time, and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is easily one of the best sequels of all time. As far as sequels go it's perfect, adding to the mythos and expanding upon it but without going too far. After that, shit began rolling downhill fast. Hellrasier 3: Hell on Earth, even though I still like it, started a really bad trend with these movies. In the first two films, Pinhead and the Cenobites weren't villians in the traditional sense. Originally, while you would never use the term benevolent to describe them, they were more neutral characters, only a danger if you opened the Lament Configuration. Part 3 took Pinhead and turned him into a more obvious Lucifer-like character who was actively evil, which I don't think is near as interesting.

Hellraiser: Revelations, the ninth sequel, actually takes Nail Face (I refuse to call this non-Doug Bradley thing Pinhead) back to his ambivalent roots. Sadly that's the only positive thing I can say about this mess.

Our story starts with two Upper-Middle Class white kids - whose main hobby seems to be complaining about how hard it is to be Upper-Middle Class and white - taking a trip down to murder capital of the world, Tijuana, for a weekend of whoring, not being able to hold their liquor, and maybe taking in a donkey show if there's time. Their plans our cut short, however, when they are giving the infamous Lament Configuration by...someone, and the more assholish of the two opens it. When then cut to what I assume is roughly a week later. Both boys are missing and their respective parents, seemingly not all that bothered by their disappearance, get together for dinner. Suddenly, one of the kids shows up at the door, covered in someone else's blood and apparently in shock.

You guys, this movie is so bad I'm not sure it even qualifies as a movie. It has scenes like a movie, it's full of people who resemble actors speaking words that resemble dialogue, there are some not particularly special effects plus one of the weirdest uses of CG I've ever seen (would it really have been so hard to make the inside of the box glow practically?) and presumably there is a director and writers and producers and a craft service table with M&Ms and low-fat dressing, but it doesn't feel like a real movie. In fact, it has so many fan service, gushy moments it feels more like a fan film than something an actual studio would be behind. It's actually kind of sad that Revelations seems to think it's in the same boat with the original film when it's really not even in the same ocean. See, the thing is there is a very thin line in the world of Hellraiser separating beautiful, stylized fantasy horror from really goofy looking music video and that line can be incredibly hard to walk. What Clive Barker did with the first film and the vastly underrated Tony Randel did with Hellbound was bring a touch of incredible operatic class to the everything. Pretty much every other entry in the series has really lacked that. Well, they've lacked several things but there simply isn't enough time in the day to write about all of it.

While probably not the worst film in the series (I'm looking at you Hellraiser: Inferno), this is pretty damn close to it. I give Hellraiser: Revelations 3 out of 10 laughably fake beards.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 10 Worst Horror Flicks of 2013 (Plus Some Dishonorable Mentions)

You wanted the best? Well, why did you click on a post with the word "worst" in the title?! Huh, tough guy?! Riddle me that, Edward!

I Spit on Your Grave 2

The very idea of making a sequel to I Spit on Your Grave is already leaning over towards that whole "Exploitation in the worst possible meaning of the word" side of horror even before you find out it's basically a complete beat-for-beat remake of the first except with an added side order of bizarre xenophobia.

Would You Rather?

Despite a wonderful performance by genre titan Jeffery Combs and some great music and set design, this movie simply can't rise above it's torture porn plot of a rich man who gathers a group of desperate people to royally fuck up themselves and each other with the promise that the sole survivor will be handsomely compensated.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

That hype monster can be a tricky bitch can't it, Mandy Lane? How this boring, poorly shot, clichéd teen slasher flick with it's intentionally obnoxious cast of cardboard cutouts ever managed to garner such praise during it's initial festival run it beyond me.


A sad Men In Black rip-off with Jeff Bridges phoning in with his character from True Grit again and Ryan Reynolds trying super hard to act again with a plot-hole-filled script and awful sightgags that fall flatter than Double R's face.

Texas Chainsaw 3D

Not just a bad sequel or even bad horror flick, but a bad MOVIE in general, this condescending garbage gets my vote for worst fucking movie of the year. Insultingly stupid writing and casting (really, you're gonna cast a girl who is very obviously in her 20s to play a character that should be in her mid-40s and just assume all horror fans are too mentally regressed to notice?) and completely dull and lackluster directing and photography, I hope everyone involved dies in a fire.

Black Rock

 You know what's wonderful? Screenwriters seem to really be trying to write real, relatable female characters these days. You know what's a big mistake? Screenwriters trying to make their female characters seem smarter by making their male characters insultingly dull and stupid. Despite decent acting and directing, this clichéd tale of three lady friends on a camping trip that goes awry has been done many times over and far better than what we get here.

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond

I think I'm going to call 2013 The Year of Movies About a Group of "Friends" Who All Seem to Genuinely Hate One Another. Basically a horror version of Jumanji, nine "friends" vacationing in a cabin on a secluded island find a weird-ass board game that...possess people, I guess? There are more holes in this plot than a size Small blouse after Kirstie Alley tries to squeeze her mysteriously reappearing bulk inside.

Hatchet III

I guess I shouldn't be surprised considering just how awful Part 2 was, and if I'm being honest this at least wasn't quite as obnoxious, but this third installment the tale of undead T-Rex Victor Crowley is still a poorly made mess.


Man, this is unfortunate, I had really high hopes for this story of a group of friends in Chile trying to survive both the titular aftershocks of a massive earthquake and the rabid gang of prisoners who escape during it. Sadly every character decision is nonsensical and it's direction fairly dull.

Curse of Chucky

I've said everything I can about this disappointing fifth sequel in the Child's Play series in my original review, so I'll just let you do the work for me and you can read that instead of me writing something completely new.

And now, as promised, some dishonorable mentions (ha, see what I did there?).


Yes, this movie looks fucking incredible, sadly the plot is just so fucking stupid. A contrived Hollywood ending, magic space trash that seems to somehow follow Sandra Bullock, one of the most absurd instances of Deux Ex Machina in film history, and a nonsense backstory all combine to, apparently, make a massive hit movie.

American Horror Story: Coven

So, I guess I'm the only one that hates AHS's "hey let's just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks" style of writing?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Top 10 of 2013 (Plus Some Honorable Non-Horror Mentions)

My word, where does the time go, eh? It seems like just yesterday I was shaking my fists to the sky in anger over Sinister and truly wishing (rec) 3: Genesis was so much better than it was. But that's all in the past. 2013 was a very strange year wasn't it? Paula Deen and the Duck Dynasty boys proved that we CAN in fact judge books by their covers; a neighborhood watch guy got away with murdering a 15 year old; for some reason it was news when Miley Cyrus ground her chicken ass into the groin of a subpar Michael Buble impersonator (come on guys, Madonna rolled around on the floor miming masturbation at the VMAs 30 years ago, it's not that impressive); said subpar Michael Buble impersonator wrote a number one song about rape that's being called the best song of the year despite Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" being objectively better in every way; one of the most important political figures and civil rights leaders of all time passed with barely a nod while America was obsessing over the wonderfully ironic death the white guy from one of the most brain-numbing film franchises in the history of film; the world claimed to be in love with a tornado full of sharks on Twitter when in reality it's actual ratings were surprisingly average; an overwhelming number of Hollywood films that seemed like sure things flopped harder than me after to many Jaegerbombs; the new Pope is kinda fucking awesome; the world seems to finally be getting sick of Lady Gaga's bullshit; Breaking Bad, one of the best god damn dramas TV has ever seen, ended; everyone wanted to know what the fox had to say; and a meteor struck Russia, which I can only assume will be the back story of a few sci-fi flicks in the future.

During all of this, some pretty fantastic horror movies were made. Like every year, there are a few basic guidelines which are as follows;

1. The film either had to have a wide theatrical release or be released on DVD this year. I, like most people, don't have access to theatres that play limited releases nor films that exclusively played at festivals.

2. Look, I can't see EVERY movie released in any given year, so this and the worst list will be sadly incomplete (how could I have possibly missed You're Next?!?!)

3. Both the best and worst lists will be limited to just 10 films, so if you don't see a film you loved or hated, clearly I didn't feel as strongly as you about them.

And that's it really. So, without further delaying tactics, let's get on with the list.


This grand, centuries-spanning film by Interview with a Vampire director Neil Jordan tells the tale of mother/daughter vampires moving to a small coastal town while we gradually learn how they became the undead thanks to multiple flashbacks. Finally, just when I was starting to think the vampire had become little more than a thinly-veiled abstinence metaphor for chubby 13 year old girls to flick their beans to, Mr. Jordan swoops in and creates the first epic, mature vamp film in years.


Some might say I've gushed about VHS 2 quite enough recently. Well, those people are wrong, as this found footage anthology sequel has managed to do a few things that very few other films have achieved; it's a sequel that manages to far surpass the original, it's a found footage movie that gives not one but four excellent reasons why no one ever just puts the fucking camera down, and it's an anthology that doesn't have a weak link. Ok, gushing over for now, follow the link up there to my original review if you want more detail.

Insidious 2

The second of James Wan's two ghost films this year and in my opinion the better of the two, it continues chronicling the plight of the Lambert family as they astral-project and fight off some very nasty spirits. I love James Wan, and this film pretty perfectly sums up why. Follow this link for more detail, and to learn more about The Last Will and Testament of Rolalind Leigh.

The Last Will and Testament of Rolalind Leight

Well, since I've already posted a link to my original review of this incredibly subtle and creepy flick by Rue Morgue Magazine founder Rodrigo Gudino, I guess I should go ahead and place it on this list as well (right, like I wasn't already planning on that already).

The Purge

Even though it was surprisingly successful, this movie seemed to get a lot of hate from critics who claimed it had an interesting concept but didn't do enough with it. I respond with a hearty scoff, the declaration that the REAL idea behind the movie passed right over their heads, and a link to my original review where I explain exactly what the movie is really about.

Room 237

My word have I already talked about a bunch of the movies on this list already. Still, this incredibly interesting documentary about several of the conspiracy theories behind Kubrick's classic The Shining truly deserves another mention.


I don't think anyone expected Chan-wook Park's first English language film to be a fairly slow-burning, fucked up family drama, but no one was surprised when it ending up being so God damn beautiful. You could pretty much pause this film, about a young girl whose recently deceased father's brother comes to live with her and her unstable mother, pretty much anywhere and it could easily be mistaken for a painting.

The Lords of Salem

Again, I've written previously about this film, so if you'd like more details about the film itself and why I fucking loved it so much, read that. I'll just say that this tale of a young DJ apparently being cursed by a record has shown us such incredible grown in Rob Zombie's directing and writing I'm super excited to see what he does next.


Man, Brandon Cronenberg certainly is his father's son. I'm not sure anyone else could've conceived of a story about a young man working for a company that specializes in selling celebrity diseases and filmed it with such cold beauty.


This remake of the 1980 classic, about a disturbed man who scalps women and nails the bloody souvenirs to mannequins in his apartment, is a truly original take on an idea that is now old hat and that could've come off as incredibly gimmicky if in less talented hands. Read my original review here for more details.

And now kids, something I've never done on this blog before. I want to give a shout-out to two non-horror films and a TV show (I know right?!) for being so damn jaw-droppingly good this year.


One rainy Thanksgiving two neighboring families get together to spread some festive joy when they realize their two small children are missing. Hugh Jackman's character Keller kinda snaps when the only suspect, a mentally handicapped man played by the always impressive Paul Dano, is released from custody due to lack of evidence and kidnaps him in order to torture the location of the little girls out of him. Some fucked up shit happens, and despite a somewhat silly last 15 minutes, this movie really impressed me. The reason I liked this movie so much is it seems to be sort of an anti "American revenge movie." You know what I mean when I say that. In other cultures revenge is usually portrayed as a hopeless exercise as it doesn't change anything that happened, like the incredible Irreversible or I Saw the Devil. America has this really unfortunate tendency to glorify violent revenge, like the Taken movies. That is not the case here. In fact, my favorite thing about Prisoners is how Hugh doesn't get any of the information he needs to piece together what happened from the tortured Dano, the film practically telling us what he's doing is pointless. Add in beautiful photography and career-best performances by all involved make this one of the best of the year.

12 Years a Slave

The true story of a free man in New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep South. This is going down in my book as the best, most intensely unpleasant movie about slavery ever made. Truly disturbing scenes of abuse and what I can only hope is a star-making performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor, an actor I've been championing for years, plus music that almost sounds like it was taken straight from a horror flick. Fucking watch this movie people!

Hannibal Season 1

I have to say, I really don't watch much TV, but this year we've had an explosion of horror on the small screen. Under the Dome, Dracula, The Following, Sleepy Hollow, and of course that tired cliché-riddled cumrag that refuses to go away The Walking Dead, but they were all easily eclipsed by Hannibal, the series based on Thomas Harris' classic Red Dragon and the world's introduction to one of the most well known madmen in pop culture Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter. Well, this is actually something of a prequel, and can I just say this is truly the prequel we deserved instead of that Hannibal Rising...thing, we got a few years ago. The English language has not invented words yet to describe how pumped I am for season 2, started in just a month.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

JP "Massive House Fly" Wendel Presents Masters of Horror Part 4: Sounds Like

Oh my stars, it has been some time since I've done one of these Masters of Horror reviews hasn't it? In fact, the last time I wrote one of these Casey Anthony was getting away with murder and The Tree of Life was confusing the shit out of everyone. So it seems only fair that I reintroduce this ongoing article with one of my favorite episodes, Brad Anderson's Sounds Like.

Written by Mr. Anderson himself, based on the short story of the same name by Scottish writer Mike O'Driscoll, our tale follows a quality control supervisor by the name of Larry Pearce -played by professional sad sack Chris Bauer- who has the gift/curse of super sensitive hearing.

If this film were animated, he would be drawn as a sad dog.

After the death of his young son thanks to some heart problems he himself is the first to notice as a result of his hearing, we watch as he slowly (some people say too slowly, but those people can fuck themselves) unravels, being driven insane by loud and distorted noises.


I think by now we should all be aware of my undying love for Brad Anderson, I count Session 9 and The Machinist as two of my all-time favorite films after all, and he is truly in fine form here. Every move of the camera and the framing of every scene help to highlight Larry's alienation and the pain of his loss. Not surprisingly, most people really don't like this one and I will admit it is easily the most conceptual episode in MoH oeuvre, but those who appreciate Anderson's subtle style of horror will find plenty to like here.


In addition, the acting is wonderful and, of course, the sound design is stunning. I give Sounds Like 9 out of 10 sexual harassment complaints.