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Horror Movies

Mortuary

boxdwMy first thought when I saw this, was “cool! Denise Crosby is in this! ”

mv5bmtq1mdu3nzy2ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwntuznzizmq-_v1_uy268_cr50182268_al_I wonder if anybody ever asks her about this one? Her inclusion in the movie actually makes it feel a little bit more like pet semetary– and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess Mortuary is basically a stylised zombie story? There is a findish sort of moss that turns people into the walking dead – you don’t necessarily have to be bitten either. I almost feel like we also have a kind of Lovecraft story going on with a vast monster hiding behind the mortuary itself.  This is a solid fun horror film – it’s not going to win any awards and the 90s CG I is actually looking pretty dated, but it’s forgiveable because of the period and because they’re trying to create something that looks otherworldly done kinder in the way that stop motion is forgiveable on monsters because we knows? Maybe that’s just the way they move down there some fun make-up choices here as well – green beans on action faces things that point back to the plant-based nature of this infection doesn’t think kind of the Stephen King segment show. I like this that it’s probably one that upload again or have running at a Halloween party… I’m not convinced that it’s the best offering in this sad, but it certainly one of the highlights.


Night train to terror

boxftdnight_train_to_terror_poster_01For some strange reason, I can’t remember anything about this film except the band. I know I’ve seen it in the past, but honestly as I looked at it and was kind of drawing a blank so I thought I’d throw it in for a viewing while I was watching the rest of this collection. I still can’t believe that I just don’t remember any of this! It’s an anthology film with three stories told against the backdrop of a train ride to heaven or hell – we’re not exactly told which. God and the Devil are examining the lives of certain people and bargaining for who is going to go where.

During these framing sequences, we also get treated to an extremely 80s rock band playing the same song over and over again. It’s not aparticularly good or bad tune but it does get stuck in your head.

There’s stories about the devil trying to recruit as well as tales of mad scientists and doctors of using patients… I can’t believe I forgot Richard Moll is in this! He plays two different characters into different segments! I love Richard, I especially love his exploitation and horror work – and I told him that myself by the way. Of all the people from my favorite Sitcom;Night Court, he has by far had the most interesting career. Night Train to Terror is a fun film, it’s very much a product of its time and also very much a direct to video kind of film. The back and forth between God and the Devil – I can’t argue the conceit, but it does come off as cheesy. So does the band. The vignettes are utterly forgettable, indeed, Not only have I forgotten them once… But even as I attempt to write this article the stories are a little fuzzy. It’s a nice quick watch though – and really good fodder for horror hosts (in fact that maybe where I’ve seen this previously), More than anything and I can say for this, is that it is a fun film – and definately a recommend. I’d even go as far as to say this one is a buy. You can usually find it cheap, and considering I can never remember these plots – it’s a great value because I feel like you’re seeing a new movie every time!


The farm

boxftdthe-farm-survive-the-dead-dvd-cover-fsk-18For a low-budget micro production, the farm sure does feel like it’s got some good production values. he film is shot well and the actors are reasonably competent done the problem with the bar, is that it takes itself way too seriously. This wants to be a serious interpersonal drama with musings on mortality and purpose – but it doesn’t earn it.

Moreover it’s a zombie film that forgotten that it’s a zombie film. The monsters are somewhat alluded to – that is, we know there is a thread out there, but we don’t actually see the zombies until we are well past the half way point here.

This is the story of two brothers that have survived a zombie apocalypse on the family farm, when a girl stumbles into their life searching for her sister – a sister that they had just killed moments before she turned up. The story is actually much simpler than that, it’s looking at the wounded younger brother, the protective over older brother, and let’s go get some supplies so that we can actually shoehorn some zombies into this story. I think this film could work better if they attempted to have fun with that. If they injected some core humour… But the film insists on itself, and this makes it come off as way too heavy handed. It wants to be an art film instead of a zombie film, but in doing so it succeeds it being neither.

The greatest care is given to the brothers make up, which is an interesting scarring along with the missing arm – it’s cleverly pulled off, though it’s fairly simple see how it’s been done and the greasepaint doesn’t always match his skin tone. The zombies on the other hand are far simpler – shambling ragged clothes with blood poured over them. I’m a little less impressed by this. In some ways it almost feels like someone wanted to make the walking dead but didn’t want to put in the effort. Really that’s the perfect way to sum up this film – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see at a film festival with dozens of other movies, or in a film class where the student is just a little bit too impressed with himself. This one is definitely a pass.


Eaters : Rise of the dead

boxftdeaters__rise_of_the_dead_eaters_dvd_s5_03bEaters : Rise of the dead is a by the number is zombie film.it’s right out of the Romero playbook, zombie outbreak and fall of society. Very standard fare, with a lot of actors who are definitely into horror and genre films. The zombies here are viral, not quite as fast as rage zombies but certainly that same origin done make up is good, the splatter is fun and the filmmakers are trying very hard to make an enjoyable film. They realise this is not art, and there are definately not trying for a high concept piece here.  It’s good bloody fun to throw on and play in the background at a party or will you do something else.it’s exactly the sort of thing that I expect to see a compatible like cinema wasteland done it also exactly the sort of film that I could see myself renting back in my College days. It’s a recommend, but a shaky one. Go in with low expectations and you’ll have fun.


Wasteland 2017

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As the blue skull face alien stepped up to the urinal, a blood soaked priest burst out of one of the stalls.  The crimson stains on his white vestments matched the red pus oozing out of the recesses in the zombie-like aliens face.

“Is that Skelly over there?” The priest yelled out as he was joined by another man slowly been eaten by the zombie on his shoulder.
What’s funny is the part I find most disturbing about the scene, is that there are guys actually talking to each other in the bathroom – it’s kind of a violation of bro code, whereas everything else I’ve described here is perfectly normal for Cinema Wasteland.  Strap in. You know it’s going to be a long post when I can’t get it out on Monday….

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S17800442_10211327814345393_3971375962380807217_nometimes Fridays are a slow night, where you ease yourself in with the short film block and panels, other times it’s just as busy as Saturday.  This time around I came in, greeted friends and grabbed my autographs because it looked like it was going to be a busy day. They had already been busy, braving the snow that Cleveland had dumped on us overnight. As I sat at work Friday morning I watched as Wastelanders built a snowman in the hotel yard. My friend Bruce Wayne was in attendance this year and I had his room number, so as soon as I arrived, I started to post Superman pictures on the door to his weekend batcave. Then it was time to pop over to some of the guests – this time round we were doing a Night of the Living17861849_10211337550828799_5904138464313148965_n Dead Reunion, and Wasteland had brought in a number of the stars.  It just so happens that my daughter is making her own zombie video at this very moment and I spent some time securing cameos for her movie. Stuff like this is one of the joys of small conventions; you have time to spend with the guests and get a greater  connection.

I discovered I had some time to kill between panels and movies so I  made my way over to the Mummy and the Monkeys show.  They were screening King of the Zombies, a film I’m very fond of – Mantan Moreland was a genius and because this is in the public domain it’s a horror host staple.  As the mummy, Janet Decay did  her segment I gasped with delight.  She covered one of our local zombie walks, and I found myself appearing in the video – a zombie clad in iron man out armor carrying around a skeletal Spiderman.  This is actually the Second time I’ve appeared on the Mummy and the Monkey, and that’s not 17800239_1498628463514905_8764492152077863591_neven counting my appearance on Janet’s previous show.

I slipped out of there in time to catch the first panel – Rick Cazoine is an animator whose work you seen even if you don’t realize it.  He did the end credits for Night of the Living Dead, as well as the animation for Creepshow, and even some work on Evil Dead two.  With that kind of a filmography under his belt, you can imagine this was a fascinating talk. Rick came prepared, complete with a slideshow covering his career – it was a really fun way of transcending the normal movie panel chitchat, and made it all the mor17554302_1498630080181410_5279314687070247217_ne engrossing.

After pasting more Superman on Bruce’s door, I snuck into to Gunga Jim’s screening.  I really like Jim and his approach to her hosting, the commentary that he lays over tracks is always hilarious – unexpectedly so sometimes.  He passed out graduation caps and introuced his presentation for the evening. Cinema Wasteland is basically a show that celebrates bad movies, but the Bigfoot movie that Gunga was screening this weekend was so  terrible I couldn’t even manage to get past the half an hour mark.  I struggled from the room in search of my team for that nights trivia challenge.

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The Red Robsters were all huddled around a table in the bar as Nicole tried in vain to set up 17522709_1498654336845651_6431376287077201369_na Skype session with Angelique and her sainted fiancé – the two of them had to unexpectedly cancel their trip wasteland this year and we were all missing them back in Georgia.  We got the video working, but the audio never came through which was just as well – the noise level in the bar was so high that she probably wouldn’t of been able to hear us anyhow.  We communicated through Skype by holding up handwritten notes to each other, jokes and sketches and general wasteland like conversation.  It was by far my favorite part of the night.
The trivia contest itself was a bust, taking too long, with the organization too confusing not to mention the questions being really stinking hard! I17759684_1498654296845655_7743526498048440778_n figured the questions would be similar to the ones we used to get during Ghastlee night at the movies, when we played 42nd Street Pete’s 42 questions. No such luck, these questions were truly obscure and crazy difficult stuff. I threw my graduation cap down in disgust

“It’s like this doesn’t work at all! Look this cap comes right off!” I exclamed as Nicole grabbed a knife and tried to take out the competition.

The game ran long and I missed the final movie of the night leaving me tired and about ready to be done for the day.  I politely declined everybody’s invitation to head back to the hotel room and eat junk food while watching the Greasy Strangler in favor of running home and heading the hay, to be fresh for the next day.

swag17884091_1498654346845650_1307033040306387782_nAfter getting up, making the girls breakfast, and then presenting them and my wife with the surprises I had brought them from Wasteland I was back in the car and ready for day two.

Saturday is always the big day in Wasteland.  There are movies galore, not to mention panels and events.  With two Night of the Living Dead panels, split between the actress and the original investors, even the most diehard fan was going to learn something new about the seminal classic.

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17884303_1498654186845666_3448893362343830586_nI managed to sneak out for lunch with friends and then shuffle into my make up between panels.  I was trying out a They Live look…it’s a make-up I’ve never quite perfected – and Saturday was no exception.  Everything is still a little bit too big, the chin hangs down to low, and the eyes are too bulky.  They also didn’t want to stay in place.  I had tried these out at home previously, but only for a short while – just to see if they would stay when I put them in and to discover whether or not is was possible to hold them in with my eyebrows and cheeks; much like a monocle.  It was okay at first, but after 20 minutes they started popping up and did not want to stay in any longer.  I ended up sealing them in with liquid latex (Spirit Gum didn’t hold either), which meant the bug eyes would render everything around me somewhat blurry for the next six hours.

17861941_1498654110179007_567041073323952008_nOutside the convention hotel, I grabbed Rhonda and Criss and we sat and played her new board game “go to hell! “.  Rhonda is the only person that I know who brings card games and board games to a convention, but really it’s a brilliant idea. It’s a great way to fill some of the dead spots between movies and panels, not to mention giving the smokers something to do while they feed their addiction in exile.

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17883679_1500544996656585_6659400803700577757_nI slapped some more Superman stuff on Bruce’s door, only to discover that I wasn’t the only one doing this now! There were superman towels and stuff there that I hadn’t taped up there. I added a few more contributions and headed back down the hall, because it was time for Ghastlee Night at the Movies.

This is always my favorite part of the convention, with bizarre games and activities going on after the house band opens the ceremonies.  I jumped up for the first game, and found myself standing on the stage with Rhonda and another young man who was attending wasteland for the very first time. We played a game where they revealed movie posters and characters on the screen, one small part at a time – the goal was to guess the character with as little of it showing as possible.  Ghastlee came 17522939_1503415986338320_1664212113282158932_nup to me to introduce me as one of the players and ask my name.  “My name is Matt, “I replied.  Ghastlee stepped back for a second, aghast.
“Oh my God, it really is Matt! “He turned to the audience.  “Matt’s a friend, and I didn’t recognize him with all that stuff on his face! “. Yes, the game is off to a roaring start.

“And the picture is – Ghastlee’s wedding night video! ”
“Oh God, I hope not – if that’s the case EVERYONE loses! ”
“Hey, YOU wanna come up here and host this thing? I didn’t think so! ”

Of course, keep in mind that my vision is impaired – and we are playing a picture game. 17800358_1498653890179029_5866221005921311980_n How I won this one by correctly identifying Tarman from Return of the Living Dead is absolutely beyond me. It may have had to do with me clapping my hands over Rhonda’s eyes when it was her turn to guess…. The festivities carried on with murder mysteries, appalling displays, and of course the S@#%heel of the year award.  I tried with all my might to sway the vote for Ryan, but alas it was to no avail.17884494_1498653750179043_1034277653258080956_n

17862595_1498653963512355_1318173451403085632_nAs things wound down, I ran to the bathroom to peel off my make up before the late nights screenings.  It was clinging much harder to my face then I had expected and had dried into something somewhat different than the look I had intended.  Like I said earlier, I really need to refine this particular lock.

Sundays are always a bit melancholy and I frequently skip them.  It’s a day to say goodbye to everybody, and catch up on any films that you may have missed throughout the weekend. It’s also cheaper day so people like my friend Sean will pop in just to shop on 17799288_1498654170179001_340389264604830501_nthose days. Still, everyone is moving just a bit slower than usual – my friend Jason refers to Sundays at Wasteland as “the unofficial Strongsville zombie walk”.  The film selection this Sunday gave me a very VHS vibe.  They really felt like the sort of movies that I’d pull off the shelf at Heights Video  on the Friday evening to take home with a pizza and friends.  Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a slower film but has moments of magnificent gore, and the style that is very distinct.  The same can’t be said for Nightmare City, which seems to break all rules of zombies by having them cognizant, fast, and using tools and weapons.  Really not sure what I was watching here!

17800493_1312408058796108_1108683952491348577_nIn between my two features, I managed to sneak back in for the tail end of the 16 mm screening of Night of the Living Dead – it was about half over, but still worth watching.  Midafternoon on Sunday feels like a good time for this movie and I let myself be drawn in with the familiar faces – faces that I had just spoken to over the weekend.

I tried not to glance at the dealers room as I left. It always feel sad to see them packing everything up and to watch people checking out of the hotel, but it’s okay – because it will all be back in just six months. My friend Nicole says “You know why Wasteland is only three days? Any longer and God would notice and rain fire on us.”

See you in October.


The Fly II

Movie banner300px-Fly_twoUsually when we see a sequel to a remake, it’s a whole new story. It becomes it’s own thing with the license to depart from the franchise source material – so from this I expected the Fly 2 to have very little in common with Return of the Fly ( the sequel to the original Fly film). I was surprised at just how many similarities I found instead.

The Fly 2 is still very much a descendant from Cronenberg‘s Fly. Indeed, despite the fact that we pretty much have an entirely new cast and crew, they manage to match the tone and transgressive levels that the 1986 film presented, making a very strong connection visually.

The son of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis’ characters is being raised by the corporation that seized the Telepods after Goldblum’s death – the boy, Martin is raised as a sort of human gunia pig – watched to see what happens to the warped genes he inherited from his father. It’s a good conceit to avoid a simple retread of the previous film’s fly-2-brundle-flyplot device.

Still, there’s more similarities here than you may expect. Much like in the Fly Returns, the monster makeup is bigger, there’s a definite attempt to be far more gruesome (though it kind of comes off as cartoonish). This monster is definitely more of a killer as well, taking revenge on those who wronged him. It’s an interesting parallel, creating once again, a more straightforward story. The ending mirrors the Fly Returns as well, with us against all odds, finding a cure for the mutation and living happily ever after. Probably.

As good as this is though, I must say, this is another reason to reboot the franchise. I like the look and MV5BZWE1YmNhMmMtNTdhYi00YWMwLWIyYmYtZWY3NDZkYjI0NzhkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzM1MjQzNTk@._V1_feel of the film, but it’s extremely dated. One look and you instantly see you’re still in the 80’s, along with the stereotypical “evil corporation” being the villian in three piece suits. Driopping Princess Vespa from Spaceballs in as the love intrest dosen’t help it any.

Still, I really do enjoy this film and honestly this entire series. Plowing through a franchise like this has been fun.

We should do this again sometime.


The Fly 1986

Movie bannerflyWay back In 2011, I mentioned how I thought The Fly should be remade by someone other than Cronenberg. It’s a thought I still stand by because of how the movie is tied very much to Cronenberg‘s style and I’d like to see something that is more about the Fly than Cronenberg.

That’s not to say I don’t like the film. Indeed, considering t he central premise of the Fly movies is body horror, Cronenberg is really a logical choice and what he gave us was a terrifying update of the story. His invented some iconic images, the telepods themselves in particular.

Remakes were different in the 80s, when video was still in it’s infancy and the internet didn’t exist in it’s current form. Old movies weren’t as readily accessible, and sometimes a remake was the only way for a new generation to experience a story – yet in a lot of cases they really went thier own directions with the remakes. It’s a mix of those things here; this isn’t the tense mystery that the original was. We’re not searching for a fly with a white head to try and reverse this acciedent. We’re focused more on the transformation. It’s not about body part swapping, but corrupt genes and the horror of losing control of your own form.

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The relationship between Jeff Goldbum and Geena Davis is a flirtation and romance rather than an established marriage like in the original – it provides it’s own tension as we add the factor of a budding relationship to the trauma of mutating into something else. It comes off as 76d72-images-3more real because of the fact that Goldblum and Davis were in a relationship at the time in real life as well.

Despite the creature effect being far more horrifying that anything we’d seen in previous Fly films, the heart of the story is here (by the way, this is something I’ve only come to realize lately…so I was wrong back in this post when I said he missed the heart of the film. Consider this my retraction of that one statement). It’s not about a crazed monster killing people. It’s a far more personal story and the ending here is just as heartbreaking as it was in the original.

I think this stands alone – you don’t need any knowledge coming it, it dosen’t stand on the source material, but is certianly enhanced by it. I was fortunate enough to catch this at the Capitol on  the big screen, and it’s always going to be a recommend.

Okay now- four movies down…one to go.

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Population 2

boxftdf4e41c12817663fa8ff085a6e81974fcPopulation 2 is a story about a post nuclear apocalypse told mostly in flashback from the perspective of the sole survivor – a woman who wanders the earths looking for supplies and attempting to stay alive. Ther production values here are extremely good, well lit, well shot. In some ways it feels a bit like a student film, but with real actors – done, say at the end of the semester.

There is a good story here somewhere, but it gets lost in the form – the way that the story jumps back and forth between present day and it’s flashbacks can sometimes be a little bit jarring. While all the characters are extremely well performed and giving a compelling narrative, I spent about half the film A little confused and off balance – I get why now that I know the story, but as I was watching I frequently found myself not totally certain what’s going on or why – the set up is occasionally too vague, but the payoffs generally explain away my confusion.

The CG is the most daunting part of the film, the cutaways to the bomber aeroplane that occur in between just about every flashback and flash forward to the present. The plane itself is a compently constructed CG model, but it never feels right to the eye – the movement and the shadows are off, it just doesn’t work. Inside the plane, we have an equally CG cockpit – obviously a guy on a flight suit shot against a green screen and we cut back and forth between angles of him and a cockpit dashboard that again has obviously been created by computer. I understand the limitations of budget, but they use this sequence so much – and it’s the same footage again and again and again, with voices overdubbed to give the impression of the pilot in a casual conversation with whoever is on the ground. It does nothing to drive the story, and you can’t even find any sympathy for these characters as you’re still not sure what the deal is. I genuinely wonder if the sequences want inserted just to inflate the running time and get a respectable distance past 60 minute mark. This is a perfect example of how this film loves its stock footage. We also get stock of the Holocaust itself, as well as bits and pieces introducing talk shows and such – it all becomes a little over the top. The film earns its beats, the drama that we feel is absolutely justified, but undermined by those aeroplane sequences. Even the framing sequence is poorly paced – it’s too long to really be considered just framing sequence, but too short to really contribute anything other than some interesting imagery.

This film would probably work far better as a short feature – trimming the stock, trimming the present day, dropping the aeroplane stuff altogether to bring it down to a tight 35 to 40 minutes – I think we’d feel the drama and engage with these characters far better then.

It really is the perfect kind of film for a collection like this… I’m glad I saw it, and if I’d watched it at a film festival, it would’ve stuck with me just like it does now. But I don’t think it be too happy if I plunked down $10 for a DVD. Great get a collection like this and definitely worth a watch, but not worth the buy by itself.


To survive

boxftdto_survive_xlgTo Survive is the story of an ex cop in a surprisingly green post apocalyptic world – doing just with the title says trying to survive. Early in the film he gets on the wrong side of some bad guys and takes refuge in a church. There he finds a family who he sort of adopts and takes responsibility for protecting. As the film progresses a few more people join the group.

To Survive is really the Walking Dead, just without the zombies. It’s the breakdown of society and the interpersonal relationships that spring from this ragtag band of survivors. Generally with an apocalypse like this we see more desolation, more Desert Mad Max style landscapes. This is a little strange to have so much woodland and such an intact looking world. Again, it’s very reminiscent of the walking dead – the main character even looks more than a little bit like Rick Grimes. It’s obvious that’s what they’re going for, and it fits perfectly in this box set with the cover being so walking dead inspired. It’s a good film, competently made, but the comparisons to the walking dead are inevitable and they kind of taint the film for me. It makes me realize just how important this zombies are to this story as a McGuffin… as a storytelling device. I miss them here.

Still, all in all it’s a good film – and I wish we could see more of these kind of movies on the sci-fi channel rather than the dregs they constantly spew on the screen. It’s definitely worth a watch, and a great inclusion in a box set like this.


The devils messenger

boxftdthe-devils-messenger-movie-poster-1961-1020557460There actually a Lon Cheney junior movie in this Pack? Yes please! Sign me up!

Of course the problem is, it’s another anthology. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate anthologies? I know some people really dig them – like you’re getting three films for the price of one… But for me I have this strange problem where I’m always way more interested in what’s going on in this framing sequences that I ever am in any of the film segments – indeed, I had the same problem with most horror host shows… But I digress.

Cheny plays the devil in this film, and as he is judging peoplehe comes across a suicide victim and decides to give her another chance – “you’re only sinwas against yourself, that’s a different matter”. He offers to take care of her and maybe try and get her into heaven if she agrees to be his messenger on earth for a couple of tasks. As such this leads us into our stories.

I’ll admit, I only later discovered that there are actually three separate episodes of an anthology horror television show. It makes sense, and it definately feels like one. The first involved a cavewoman, preserved in an iceberg – something like the film iceman, but with a chick and a scientist who is obsessed with her. It’s actually very good and I was a little disappointed that it ended as quickly as it did. We  move on to the story of an artist – photographer who sees a woman at the house, smaps a photo of her and yet no one else ever sees her in the photo. It’s a charming ghost story that really ends up feeling spooky. We move on, finally ending up in a tale of infidelity that features the very man our messenger fell in love with and committed suicide over. Indeed he appears in Hell with Cheny and his messenger at the very end of the film… Great way of tying everything together. This one is an extremely high recommend. More than any of the others, it passess the watch test and Cheney’s presence is totally worth it. Oh he’s chewing the scenery, but his name lends it a certain degree of horror cred. This one is worth the buy even outside of a collection like this.