I saw the box for The Dead Hate the Living on the shelf at record exchange. The gruesome monster on the cover combined with the trusty Full Moon logo left me feeling pretty good about snatching it up. Truth is, it has become of my favorite Full Moon films.
The plot is straightforward. An aspiring horror film director sneaks his crew and himself into an abandoned hospital to make his dream movie. When exploring the basement, they discover a dead body and do what any sane, rational person making a movie in an illegal location would do… They decide to use the body in the movie. While fiddling with the equipment, they accidentally resurrect the corpse, a mad scientist who summons two more undead friends and the trio set about our helpless filmmakers, intent on murdering them all and converting them into zombies.
The Dead Hate the Living is one of those films that’s actually grown better as it ages with me. When I first bought this, I liked horror movies but I wasn’t as knowledgeable – and this film is packed full of references, some more obscure than others. They’re not ham-fisted homages like “Dr Craven” or “Police Officer Romero” showing up. It’s more stuff like the main character running from zombies and asking “What would Bruce Campbell do? “. The references are fun in the context, jokes made at the characters expense rather than a wink and a nudge to the audience.
You can tell that Parker really loves the genre as well, it’s evident in every frame of the film – the hurdles and difficulties of making a horror movie and being in one comes off nicely, the perils of filmmaking and the expertise behind make up effects… It all pulls from real life experience.
Most of all, this has the fun that Full Moon Features are known for. It has the manic, almost comic book feel to it, complete with an ending that homages The Beyond (an ending I didn’t care for actually until I was older and understood what it was the referencing).
Fun characters, well done gore, and great looking monsters, and of course, a good behind-the-scenes featurette that really makes you love Parker all the more. It’s a great first feature.
It actually really bothers me that it would be another nine years before he’d get his next turn in the directors chair.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Even as the film opens, I see a difference in quality. Bunnyman is well lit and the suit seems almost more ragged – something it’s needed this entire time. It’s a familiar opening with the Bunnyman luring prey in, but the setting seems creepier this time around. He’s taken up residence with a group of local haunters at thier attraction. The sight of Bunnyman flanked by his two skull faced companions in the misty night is beautiful.
This film seems more introspective, with repeated flashes to Bunnyman’s childhood – and the things that made him what he is.
I’m confused though. It takes a while to learn why the haunters are letting Bunnyman out to kill, or what their angle is. Best I can tell is they are trying to create a local urban legend – a real one – that they can exploit for their haunt…but they seem a little bloodthirsty too – a far cry from EVERY haunter I’ve ever met (and there have been a LOT). To be fair though, that moment a patron gives Bunnyman attitude in the haunt (“so what? You going to cut my fingers off?” She laughs – and then he does just that) had to be cathartic to every haunt actor out there.
Still the haunted house itself provides the most atmospheric set pieces of all the Bunnyman films. Filled with fog and competently lit for the first time in the series, I actually feel creeped out by the character as he starts to fall into madness.
Some dodgy CGI aside, I feel like this time around, someone has tried to make an honest go of this series. I dig it. Vengeance is probably the strongest film in this franchise (man, I still can’t believe this is actually a franchise!).
The Voltron suit is special to me because it was the first time I tried to do something recognizable and detailed. To this day, the nostalga it inspires is very gratifying.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Sound mix guys. Say it with me. SOUND. MIX. Boom mic good. built-in camera mic bad.
The movie starts of with a very strong scene explaining the concept. Gun in her hand, our main character declares “I don’t want to be a monster. I don’t want to be an experiment. I’m dead already, I’m just having trouble lying down.” We shift to an interrogation scene in a hospital with the girl in much worse looking shape than what we saw previously…and then we shift into a full on found footage movie (but you know, with a musical soundtrack).
I feel like I’ve been bait and switched.
It actually ends up being a mix of found footage with cuts back to the interview for the main character to narrate the other scenes. She documents the changes in her appetite for medical waste, lack of sleep and super healing.
There’s actually a good story somewhere in here, tying the idea to the “Killer fungus” that kills insects – a news story that was hot a few years ago and all over Facebook. The mix of documentary and found footage reminds me a bit of the “I Zombie” movie that Fangoria put out about 20 years ago. The director makes excellent use of stock footage and filters, but the whole thing is drug down by a the low production values that have been ineffectively put together and make it difficult to get through. I think I want a do-over on this one. I’d really like to see these film makers come back with a little more experience, and see this film done with a little more finesse.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Of all my autographs from Tony (He’s a regular on the con circuit around here) this may well be my favorite. The CW was promoting thier new Black Lightning series and Tony was signing the posters at NEO Comic Con last year!
So Discovery came back last week, though it took me until the weekend to actually see it. It hasn’t been that long a wait for me actually. With the exception of the first two episodes, I only finally got around to watching the bulk of the first season this past December.
Let’s get straight to the heart of this, because I see a lot of Trek fans constantly trashing this series out of hand. Discovery is not bad. It’s better than Voyager and Enterprise. It’s closer to Star Trek in spirit than the J.J. Abrams movies (hereon out referred to as the Kelvan timeline) ever came. It’s not as good as TNG, but might tie with DS9 as far as quality and originality goes.
There. We’ve established a pecking order. We’ve also established that I like it, more or less. Indeed, when CBS premiered the show last year with their two episode sneek peak, I actually told friends I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. The effects are up to par. I love the uniforms (I ALWAYS wanted blue uniforms, back as far as 8th grade. Asymmetrical even. I couldn’t have done a better job myself.) and I’m totally in love with that spunky plump redhead on the show (Seriously, Tilly pushes all of my buttons). Sonequa Martin-Green does a fine job here, and actually is a far more interesting character than she ever was on The Walking Dead. Also, I’m pretty much on board with anything Jason Issacs is in. I also love the redesign of the Enterprise (brief glimpses as we get). It’s actually EXACTLY what I wanted to see done to the ship when TOS went through all it’s remastering and redone FX all those years ago. I also have to give them credit for finding flattering angles to shoot the U.S.S. Discovery from – ones that help it look dynamic and cool. No small feat to pretty up what is possibly the ugliest ship in Trek history. They definitely deserve some praise for that.
But there are problems.
- I’m so sick to death of prequels. Not only is making this a prequel unnecessary, it’s CONFUSING. Exactly what is this a prequel to? Is it taking place in the Kelvan timeline? Because that might make sense. Tech and fashion and stuff in general developed differently there. If however, this is supposed to be in the prime timeline with the original series, it’s creating some continuity holes big enough to drive a Klingon warship through. Not one of the little ones either like a bird of prey, no I’m talking one of those ginormous Neghvar cruisers that dwarfed the Vor’Cha class.The Holographic communicators really bother me since we actually SAW the introduction of this tech in the fifth season DS9 episode “For the Uniform”. Yeah, it’s funny that that’s the one t hat irks me more than the jump drive thing….I suppose I can believe that the Jump tech was classified and never used again. Maybe. If I start thinking about it, the whole thing unravels pretty quick.
So for fifty years we’ve just forgotten that the Jump tech exists. We’ve also forgotten about the brief use of the Discovery uniforms and the rank designations being on the arrowhead insgina (which is different from any we’ve ever seen before). This stuff is the peril of doing a prequel. What’s frustrating is that this didn’t HAVE to be a prequel. It’s not about forging the frontier or any significant events that were history in TOS. This could have just as easily been set fifty years after the end of Voyager and been the next, NEXT generation. It means you don’t get to use Sarek or Mudd, but those could easily be swapped out with other characters.
- We’re going back to the well. The last THIRD of Discovery’s first season was all about the mirror universe. This has quickly become the go-to stock story for these series. It’s the single thing most people remember and rave about Enterprise. It’s a trope so often used in TV and print that I’m actually shocked that Discovery got to it before the Kelvan timeline films did (To be fair though, they were busy with regurgitating Star Trek 2 – another trip to a different well). This is another one of those things that plays havoc with the timeline by the way. In the TOS story “Mirror Mirror”, both the Enterprise crew and the mirror universe blokes all seem blissfully unaware of the whole thing, despite incursion by both Archer’s Enterprise and the Discovery crew. This does not compute.
Mirror Universe aside, the fact that season 2 is bringing in both Captain Pike and Spock as major players signals a certain degree of uncertainty on CBS’s part. It’s a mandate to bring in familiar faces. The problem is even though this Spock actually looks better than Zachery Quento, I’m not actually jonseing for more Spock and I certainly don’t dig the importance they are putting on this long-lost sister thing that Michael Burnham represents.Where did Sybok go anyhow?
- TV-MA. Seriously, I understand that Star Trek has always been Adult Sci-Fi, but it’s never been ADULT (Bam-chika-wow-wow) fare. I wasn’t a particular fan of Data’s expletive as the Enterprise-D crashed in Generations but it felt organic and wasn’t excessive. Honestly though, I don’t really feel the need F-Bombs or Klingon breasts in my Star Trek. It doesn’t make it any more mature subject matter nor does it push the narrative. It’s a classic case of “We’re doing it because we CAN” rather than doing it because they should. I had the EXACT same criticisms of the film Logan, which did precisely the same thing. The only thing this accomplishes is to guarantee that my kids won’t be watching it. That’s kind of a shame isn’t it?
- You can’t talk about Discovery without talking about the paywall. Quite frankly, no matter how good the series is, the paywall was always going to turn a lot of people off. We’re still in the middle of figuring out the business model for streaming services. CBS is operating on an old model, releasing one episode a week, while applying the netflix pay model (and ironically, for foreign markets CBS decided to forego the streaming platform and just go on Netflix). That hybrid is turning a lot of souls off, as evidenced by Discovery consistently being in the to 20 most pirated shows on TV, with the pilot actually hitting #12 (and that was one of the ones CBS made free to everyone to watch!), rivaling shows like Game of Thrones. Plenty who don’t pirate, just waited for DVD. I didn’t have cable growing up and I still never missed an episode of any Trek series – as evidenced by snowy VHS recordings with the Channel 43 logo in the bottom right corner. One more service on top of cable and netflix and maybe Prime or Hulu….it’s to much. The guy to finally make sense of this ala carte system is going to be a millionaire. But untill then, the various individual streaming platforms is only going to generate a bunch of ill will, especially for millenials, who already despise paying for cable. CBS hoped that Trek would help their streaming brand. While it probably has, I’d say it’s had a greater effect to the opposite – it’s damaged the Star Trek brand too, and hung a particular taint around the neck of Discovery. There’s a good article about this over here – https://www.fudzilla.com/news/44594-star-trek-discovery-shows-that-big-content-still-has-not-got-the-message.
I don’t think Discovery is a bad show. If you haven’t given it a chance, I think you should (and I wish there was an alternative to dropping the cash on the streaming service or the DVD set. Come over to my house. We’ll crack a couple Dews and watch a couple, the same as I used to do with my buddy Johnny Em.)But I think it has some serious baggage. Voyager and Enterprise limped along despite fatigue and softening ratings. But they didn’t have the baggage Discovery does. Now with the announcement that fourth Kelvan timeline film has been shelved, combined with the sort of playing-it-safe move that bringing in Spock is do make me wonder for the future of the series.
Every Wednesday and Friday
100 minuets? Oh man, someone is optimistic. There’s no WAY this shot on video film should be 100 minuets.
We start off with newsreel type imagery flickering under credits and then shift to a schoolbus on a desert road. The bunnyman comes out of nowhere with a chainsaw and shotgun and goes to work on the kids. The blood flying up to hit the camera is obviously ment to be dramatic and styalized, but it just comes off as annoying and sloppy. The title comes up as blood hits a traffic sign (this one is a nice touch).
We immediately shift to a cornfield where the bunny man is stalking campers, Friday the 13th style (Who camps in a cornfield anyhow?). Yet for all the killing (beautifully done for a micro budget production) it’s a while before we get anything resembling a story….good thing it’s 100 minuets huh?
Bunnyman has obviously found a new family, and we get vague references to the previous film as he comes home, then shift to exteriors of the town the film takes place in. Almost a ghost town (Someone had access to an old west set or amusement park or something…) that an unsuspecting family drives through.
Almost half an hour in we get a troup of college girls hiking through the woods and the Bunnyman is sent out. Time for things to really begin. The problem is, it then goes on to focus on the pervy redneck t hat has adopted Bunnyman and we get a very diffrent kind of movie for the next thirty to forty minuets – as if they just kind of grafted two disparate films together.
Much like the first one, this film really wants to be Texas Chainsaw in an Easter Bunny suit. However, where homages like House of a Thousand Corpses really succeeds in paying tribute, this merely imitates in the basest ways, and the schizophrenic nature of the spliced films only works to it’s detriment. Yet they manage to throw a level of blood and gore that keeps me entertained even as I roll my eyes. I’m so conflicted, I just don’t know what to make of this stuff.
Every Wednesday and Friday
The wife bought me a black car! How could she NOT have expected I’d make it into a Batmobile?
If you’ve been following the blog or Facebook account for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about Cinema Wasteland. It’s my favorite horror convention. I never miss the twice yearly celebration of bad movies. It’s not just that Wasteland is home (though it is), and wastelanders are family (though they are). Back when I was still a stranger there and roamed the halls alone and anonymously, what kept me coming back were the films. Wasteland curates the strangest films known to man. They screen movies I’d never think to seek out on my own. They show the best (actually more often it’s the worst) stuff I never knew I NEEDED.
When word came down that Wasteland was going to host a movie night, it seemed like a perfect fit. Ken Kish (showrunner and founder of Cinema Wasteland) announced that he basically had so many movies he wanted to screen that even with as many as he shows at the convention, it’d still take dozens of cons before he’d get through them, so he decided to try this out and see how it went. From what I can see, it went well. I set the DVR to record Svengoolie and drove out to the Elks Lodge in Berea Saturday night. We got our first real bad snow that night and while roads were challenging coming in, they’d be a nightmare going home. Still, it didn’t seem to deter anyone. The hall filled up quickly. As I took my seat on the uncomfortable steel chairs I noticed light glinting off a bald head that struck me as familiar. I popped over to find Mark and Brandi from Michigan who had made the trip over to Cleveland just for the show. Next to them, Mike Watt and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud media in PA. Our buddy Jason joined us right after his work shift down the street, about halfway through the event. (That’s what I mean by Wasteland is family).
I’ve heard stories about movie nights at Quentin Tarintino’s house. How he would screen double features, but add a short or a cartoon and some trailers into the presentation, and then proceed to screen things no one else had ever seen. This had that kind of vibe to it. Local Horror Hosts the Mummy and the Monkey had teamed up with Wasteland to help Emcee the show (they’re regulars at the con) and run a raffle, then the lights went out. A cartoon and an old “Our Gang” short preceded the film. Ken was playing it safe for the first feature by running a reliable old Vincent Price standard. Nevertheless, “Last Man on Earth” is a solid film and was made more fun watching it with an audience. We got about ten minuets into it when there was a sprocket malfunction. The print shook and blurred.
“I’m just trying to give you a REAL grindhouse experience!” Ken shouted as he swapped out the faulty projector with a spare.
“There’s not enough hookers or broken needles for it to be a genuine grindhouse experience!” I shouted back, then took the opportunity to nip back to the bathroom. Sure enough, needle and hooker free.
Intemission was marked by a trailer reel of the strange and wonderful, along with another cartoon and a raffle drawing. The seats were getting uncomfortable and the snow continued to fall as we headed into the second feature “The Man Who Turned to Stone”. This was the one I was waiting for since I had never even heard of this. It’s a 1957 classic and I knew I was in for something good when I saw Victor Jory in the credits. Jory Was the Shadow in the only film outing that matters, and that dark tone made him perfect for a sinister old-world type. Jory leads a group of immortals who stay young by draining the life force of others. Young women in particular are the best nourishment and they just happen to be running a women’s prison. Hijinks ensue.
The event went well enough to justify a second film night. This one will fall on Feb 9th, and feature “Voodoo Woman” (1957) and “Motorcycle Gang” (1957). I know I’ll be back. I hope to see all of you there too!
Every Wednesday and Friday
When Occupied opens to a pretty blonde with a nice spiral perm sleeping on the beach under a blue filter and new age music, it immediately got me worried that this is going to be an art film. Rolling her bicycle down the woodland road to a log cabin does nothing to allay my fears.
Still, the production values are good – video and sound are professional quality as the blonde is greated by what appears to be an extended family member (a niece?) that she is staying with at the house. Weird that we don’t see the parents though, the father – who has set up in cameras all through the house – makes a phone call to check up on our characters and about the 21 minute mark, but otherwise there’s not another human it sight.
Our first act is spent getting to know our main character and her niece, exploring the area – the little girl with a video camera constantly in her hand.
As we begin the second act, the voices began to swirl in our main characters head. More creepy new age music pops up as she writes strange things in her notebook and tries to find her way into the forbidden room… Did I mention, the log cabin has a forbidden bedroom? It’s always locked and off-limits the niece informs her. Her father works in there and keeps it locked even when he’s working (Don’t sweat it. That whole thing is a red herring. So are the cameras).
It’s the notebook though, the notebooks seems to be the trigger of her madness. As she begins her descent in earnest I find myself wondering more and more what’s going on – is this a procession flick? Is it just a crazy girl movie? A haunting? This is kind of information I need, and it’s not apparent on the box.
In the end, The best way I can describe this is as a suspense film made by an art film student who watches too many lifetime movies. Being under 90 minutes, it’s not over long – the film takes exactly as much time as it needs, no more, no less. There are some interesting moments here, and occasionally we hit a really well done emotional beat. You really do feel for the niece in particular. Ultimately though, nothing actually happens in the film. It comes off too much like a soap opera and feels out of place in this horror set (Though I can’t imagine where else it would play).
Every Wednesday and Friday
Back in the day, one of the things that drew me to Full Moon features was their bonus features. every movie had a “Video Zone” featurette on the making of the movie. This was back before the was such a thing as DVD extras – in fact, it was back before there was such a thing as DVDs!
Dave Parker got his start making a lot of these short making-of documentaries. Eventually he’d graduate to doing his first feature with Full Moon, though he’d keep working on special features for films like X3 and Superman Returns. Chances are, you’ve seen his work and never even knew it.
In addition to he proficient behind the scenes work, Parker is a talented feature director. His work sometimes gets confused because while he’s done three features proper, he’s also got credits in things like “The Dead Reborn” (Which uses footage culled from his first film, but isn’t as a whole, his actual movie) or “Bimbo Movie Bash” which is just a clip show compilation. We’re going to ignore stuff like that and his “Masters of Horror” TV doc and really focus on his feature work and the stuff that reflects his most creative work. There’s only a few of these, but he’s one of these guys I really wish more people knew about!
Every Wednesday and Friday
Bunnyman starts with a low res shot on video bit featuring a girl running from the house and getting murdered. It’s very reminiscent of Texas chainsaw massacre actually, fortunately it’s just the appetizer and the rest of the film is done with a higher quality video. It opens with a girl stuck in a refrigerator and once again, running from something – it’s a weird enough opening to grab your attention and steel you for what comes next
We get some kids on a road trip, who managed to anger the large truck behind them. It’s not a promising beginning and I feel like I’ve seen this before too many times already.
The truck driver begins to stalk them, and action made all the more ominous by the brief glimpse we see of the fur covered hand inside the trucks cab. By the way, the girl we saw running earlier? She is in the back of the truck and about to be chained to a tree.
Eventually the kids are run off the road and the Bunnyman continues on to his evil deeds. We’re treated to some excellent gore. It’s our first glimpse of the bunny man, and he won’t be back though until the 50 minute mark.
The kids travel on foot, looking for help, and as the night wears on, things get dire and ominous. It’s a slow strech – not a slow burn, just a middle section that drags. However, when the Bunnyman shows back up and the stalking begins things ramp right back up.
I kind of wonder if there just wasn’t enough in this movie for a full feature. Seriously, this may have been better off as just a short. The suit is too stark, though it provides a surreal image on occasion and that helps. Still, the film feels weak, and I’d kind of like to see it redone with more care and gore.
Wait, what? What do you mean they made two more of theses things?
It’s a new year and it occurs to me that we’ve been around for a while, but some of you might not know exactly what we do here, so here’s an overview of our categories and focus on this blog!
Franchise Focus is when we take a series, usually one with less noticed sequels and watch the entire thing. All the sequels, sidequels, even the close knock offs and clones. Sometimes it’s something fairly mainstream like Death Wish or The Fly. Other times its something completely off the rails like Bunnyman or Roller Blade where you don’t even know how the follow ups ever got made.
Director Spotlight is my attempt to get some extra exposure to directors I enjoy but feel are underappreciated. We go through their filmography so you can get a taste for their style and output.
You know those DVDs you see at Wal-mart or the drug store? “10 movies for five dollars!” “Horror movie pack!” The stuff that might have one film you’ve heard of, followed by a bunch that look like Netflix bait or worse? Did you ever wonder who actually buys these things? That would be me. I like the wierd curation, it reminds me of the kind of movies I see on the convention or festival circuit. Usually there’s one or two good films in these things and that’s what I watch them for. We go through two or three of these box sets a year.
Sometimes its a review of something new that’s about to hit the theaters, other times it’s just something strange that popped up on my radar. If you want to know my thoughts n the latest blockbuster, or what secret movie was screened at the Cedar Lee this year, this is the place.
Violent Blue is our original webcomic, now in reprints. It ran for over 900 strips over six years, and covers pop culture, faith and relationships in fun acerbic ways.
I build costumes for comic conventions and also do Photoshop edits. This is where we share those
I attend anywhere from 10-20 conventions a year. Comics, horror, anime, you name it. This is where I review them. We use the term “Review” loosely, I’m more about telling you what I did, what happened, what things cost and what kind of time I had. It’s not objective by any means, but hopefully gives people a taste of what to expect if they wanted to hit these cons for themselves. Also where I announce shows coming up that I may or may not be heading out to.
Occasionally you’ll see other categories – Autographs I’ve collected, commissions I’ve done, things like that. For the next couple years though, we’ll be focusing mostly on these categories!