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The Box Set Project

Curse of the Wolf

index.jpgCurse of the wolf starts off in the chat room with someone consulting a bed on how best to tranquilize or subdue the large dog – large like a wolf. I very much get the impression that this movie is trying to be Ginger Snaps, and that worries me – low-budget knock-offs are rarely satisfying.

Our young lady werewolf has obviously been taught by a group of werewolf hunters. We get our first attempt at a transformation sequence through flashbacks as she lays prone and drugged in her basement. It turns out that the other hunters are also werewolves. They do well to keep the suit in shadows and quick cuts as much as possible – because the suit is awful.

We get stark font credits over loud metal music and the whole thing starts to feel very amateur before we even hit 15 minutes. They drag her back to the cavern club house, and we just kind of… Drift. Six months later we cut to a vets office, she appears to be index.jpgworking there mostly to have access to drugs she needs to control her werewolf disease. She stops a bunch of metalheads street dogs from assaulting a woman using her super werewolf kung fu, but at half an hour, about a third of the way through, I’m still waiting for a story to kick in. The hunters are looking for her again to bring her back into their fold– I guess that is close to a story as I’m going to get.

Amateurly filmed with not enough plot (and terrible lighting – everything is crazy dark), curse of the werewolf comes off feeling like a bunch of guys had been playing werewolf the index2apocalypse, or vampire the masquerade too much and decided to make a movie of one of their adventures. Even with the inclusion of several competent martial artists, this is not One of the underworld movies. We get some gore here and there along with copious amounts of metal music and it seems like at some point somebody wanted to turn this into a character study of Life fighting the curse, but it all falls kind of flat. How on earth did they manage to stretch this out to an hour and 45 minutes? Even when viewed on fast forward the movie feels endless. Skip this one – it’s not really even worth putting on for background noise.


The Vampire Conspiracy

indexReading the description for the vampire conspiracy, it sounds like Saw with vampires – in the washed out grey dirty room that it starts in does nothing to dispel that impression. Five people are abducted by maniacal vampire and put into a deadly maze of wits and endurance – if they make it out alive, the vampires fortune is theirs but if they fail they will be doing to be his bloodthirsty slaves forever.

The film starts with two people who are at the end of this particular game, and obviously about to lose as the vampires descend upon them. It’s not a bad start, and I’m feeling optimistic about the next 88 minutes. Maybe less if there is a lot of credits. Then the head vampire shows up, in a long cloak and a frilly pirate shirt, looking like he stepped right out of an Anne Rice porn parody. And now I’m worried again.

On the other side of the credits, the film begins in earnest, with five people in a white marble room – very reminiscent of Cube. 20 minutes and I’m still waiting for the action to start – it’s been a very talky first act with the vampire basically explaining to his index2.jpgcaptives what the plot is. What little action we seen, one of the guys taking a swing at the vampire, the vampire tossing another one out of the way – it’s all stilted and slow.

Once we get into exploring the house, the trap some cells aren’t exactly so complicated – it’s picking the lock on one door and trying not to open the other one that houses the vampires.

They go in for foggy flashbacks, very much like Saw – and attempt to connect the relationships between the people in the game. There is a good deal of squabbling between the prisoners, in an attempt to build tension through the interpersonal conflict – but it’s a waste, we haven’t had enough time to really connect with these characters so the squabbling just falls flat.

The film attempts a third act climax by having the remaining characters confront their pasts – that is to say confront the people that they have loved and lost. Dead partners and brothers, resurrected and to emotionally confront them before revealing they are now vampires.

index2The setting is smart – because they’re wondering through a maze of identical rooms, all they really need is one set with a couple of extra walls to create hallways in. Shooting could be one or two days with a group of extras to provide vampire attacks and the rest of the time we simply got this small cast off for five people.

What really disappoints me, is the lack of  gore. We have some vampire teeth and minimal make up on the horde of bloodsuckers, but the kills and the defense with the stakes never gets particularly bloody – I never get any torn flesh or complex make up jobs. It’s an interesting idea, but lacking both tension and blood. The film ends up being quite unmemorable. You might wanna watch it just for curiosity, but I won’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way through.


Fist of the Vampire

index.jpgFist of the vampire… What a stupid name… And that logo looks a lot like they want to emulate the Shaw Bros intro – the film dives into grainy footage that says it’s from 1977. I don’t know, these 70s vampires look awfully 21st-century to me as they pursue a guy in a ponytail and a three-piece suit down a desaturated alleyway.

On the other hand, maybe I’m being too hard on things – we get into some bloodletting and action right away, and if they keep this kind of pace this may well be a nicely entertaining flick.

The vampire attack is brutal – full of blood and fire. Somebody knows how to use after effects and bought some stock footage. This is especially evident as we watch some very stylized credits over metal music. A lot of quick cuts and flashing images, leading us into the gunfight that begins the film. Young one flees the policeman, shooting it out in a video store and eventually being followed to her hideout where more gunplay ensues. You can tell the makers of the film are movie people, the living room walls are covered in DVD shelves, and I wouldn’t be surprised if index1.jpgthat video store was actually creation in somebody’s basement. Nevertheless, they really know how to stage action, whether it’s hand-to-hand throwing punches and kicks or pistols and automatic weapons enhanced by CG muzzle flashes. It’s well done enough that they’re able to maintain this action sequence for long stretches of time without you getting tired of it. 23 minutes into the film, we are finally getting a breather from the action as detectives investigate this crime scene, – and I didn’t even notice that time fly by.

We move on to a detective investigating an underground fighting ring. It’s being run by the vampires from the 1977 sequence and in large part appears to be there to showcase several martial artists in exciting fighting in sequences that aren’t required to propel the narrative. With all of the stilted performances being delivered by the amateur actors here, I understand why – they need all the production value they can get, and these fight index2sequences really do add quite a bit.

The thing is, even with some of the week performances and by the numbers plt points, this is still a really entertaining action film. A box set like this is the perfect place for it, though it might be more at home in an action set rather than a horror one. Either way, it’s worth a watch. Of all the movies in this said, it was the only one that really made me want to explore the directors other work – and there’s been quite a bit of it – low budget direct to video crap but with as much fun as I had here, it might be worth a look. If you have the opportunity, definitely catch this one at a film festival or marathon. Just remember to turn your brain off first.


Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned

index2.jpgI’m not really expecting much from Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned – but I’m hoping that it’s got its got a sense of humour as the name indicates. I noticed that Lloyd Kauffman is gonna pop in here and I’m looking forward to seeing his cameo. It comes early and is one of Lloyds best ones ever.

Set up is pretty much what the title says, a dude picking up bros and heading to his bachelor party at the bungalow. Strippers arrive about 20 minutes in and of course, Demons. They drug the bachelor before seducing all the guys (not a difficult task, tight leather). Debauchery leads into some gruesome deaths before everything is interrupted by a call from the fiance. The best man escorts the succubi out, And they reluctantly comply, staring longingly at them through the windows. The groom is not dead but looking anemic

This is when the three Demon girls return, claiming thier car has broke down.

index2Around this time, the best man discovers the dead bodies in the Demon ladies attack. The word vampire gets used, but they don’t feel like vampires to me – whatever they are though, the film is full speed ahead from here out – bloody and gory and with plenty of action. The pacing gets a little choppy though, there’s at least two places where the film probably should have ended but wouldn’t have met its length requirements to be a feature – the segways between scens are awkward, almost feeling like they were tagged on. I’d have liked that better if it had been integrated more smoothly. Still, I actually really, really enjoy this. It’s low budget, sophomoric humour,and Unpolished production values but great dumb fun.


Grave Mistake

index.jpgGrave mistake starts off with a drunk guy in the middle of the desert by A shallow grave pouring chemicals on it in the hopes it will destroy the body… Well, at least we know how the zombie apocalypse got started on this one!

During the credits we get a zombie attack on a truck in and some kids heading home from the skate park. It turns out the drunk with the chemicals is also an abusive father – nice.

We kept to the mechanic in his office having flashbacks of his time at war – things ended badly there, and there is some PSTD involved. You are moving seen of him trying to decide whether or not to kill himself we cut to a jump in the car reading is on the box and then what appears to be an impromptu medieval fair going on in the wilderness. I’m extremely confused. (It seems to be more of an excuse to have guys who can swing swords at the zombies later on)

Mechanics assistant is a goofy Conrad Brooks type who’s written a book on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Good thing to do, because there is some news report that the zombies have arrived!

Zombie some cells are only in airbrushed grey with some gruesome flight details, but it’s effective enough and someone’s certainly beginning to learn their gore fx . There are some clever mixtures of gore and camera trickery used to achieve some of the more interesting kills, but not much of a story – it’s secondary to the filmmakers ability to show off their make up skills.

index2We get to standard small group on a run (heading to the local armory), as well as the occasional zombie attacks, the running out of gas gag and the “let’s go shopping” scene.

The actors do a fair job and the cinematography is adequate despite the consumer grade equipment being used here.

It’s worth watching as part of a collection like this, especially for some of that kills force the end and hopefully would serve as a good calling card for the filmmakers to go on to bigger and better things.


Awaking the Dead

index.jpgAwaking the dead begins with a highly stylised to CG sort of introduction. It worries me because it usually signals a poor production values throughout the rest of the film.

From shots of the city we move to a small bedroom, desaturated with a young muscular man waking up to an annoying alarm clock.

He opened up a letter that reads “they didn’t die in vain, go to the old house and wait for me”

The next person to wake up is a young woman in an equally desaturated bedroom, her nudity tastefully obscured.

She has a note as well, “stay inside the house, I’ll be there soon…”

Back to the man who is now revealed to be a priest. He tosses a suitcase in the car and heads out.

Driving montage with gloomy metal playing over. He enters the house with the key that was hidden in a Bible. The girl greats him with a baseball bat. It turns out he used to index.jpgwork with her father and had come for her.

Outside, a plane releases vapour trails that infect a couple of badly dubbed schoolgirls. Children play and neighbours point and priest and discovers his tires been slashed.

Knock on the door and the girls huge, slightly homicidal boyfriend makes his way in. She convinces him to leave with a large knife. The priest continues to wait for her father. She also managed to secure a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a knife in a particularly funny scene. The boyfriend’s been sitting in his car though, stewing and finally busts out again ready to go get her. It’s too late, the schoolgirl zombies get him first.

index2.jpgInside, the priest falls asleep with dreams of faceless people. Children point of him accusingly. dream wakes him, Disturbed, he turns over and attempted to go back to sleep. In the meantime, zombies are at the windows.

Good news is there only one zombie out there. The bad news is it’s her hulking boyfriend. a blow to the eye dispatches him quite well.

As the zombie plague grows, the house becomes a refuge for more and more survivors.  But the priest notices outside someone watching and taking notes – he begins to suspect that this is not a natural phenomenon on, but rather a manufactured one.

Things go badly and it becomes time to leave the relative safety of the house to go seek index2out the location on a map where this or may be stemming from. Survivors get up and take to the streets.

Some of the action is interesting and the character signs suddenly look a lot better but it’s not enough to salvage the film. Waking the dead as the germ of a good idea but drags in its pacing… The constantly saturation seems to be there to disguise poor production values and attempt in artistic astetec, but the film itself never really manages to get up and running. This one is a pass, even in the box set.


I Am Omega

mastersofterror

index.jpgI know I’m in for some pain when the Asylum logo shows up over the I Am Omega credits. It’s my own fault, I knew that’s exactly what this would be, but decided to take the plunge anyhow.

It begins with a mother evacuating herself and her son from their home, now under attack by some fairly impressive and bloody zombies. It turns out however to have all been a dream – our main character of remembering his wife and son as he sleeps. He’s awake now though, and when a perimeter breach sets off the alarm he knows he has some hunting to do. I’ve got to give the asylum props here – they’ve got some inventive and gory kills right there at the beginning and it gives me hope for the rest of the film.

You got the formula down – brooding, exercising and then gearing up to go out and look for supplies. It actually feels like it’s trying to be an update of Vincent Price in Last Man on Earth.

indexHe heads up to an old barn/garage, greeting the corpse inside with her cheerful “hey boss” . He grabs beer and fuel from the joint and cautiously drives off, encountering and dispatching zombies throughout the wasteland, planting what look like explosive charges in the sewers. This is his life until one night, he receives an incoming video feed on the computer. Before he can answer, his perimeter alarm sounds again and he is forced to run outside to check for monsters. One of the unfortunate louts has got his zombified hand stuck in the power box. Blast some out of the garden comes back inside… Staring at the message, unable to believe it and hesitant to accept it.

“Hello? Can you see me???”

The sight of a living woman on his computer screen startles him so badly that he falls index2office chair – she’s not sure how to react.

She tells him that she is trapped – she was lost as part of a caravan on its way to a place called Antioch, a safe haven in the mountains with hundreds of uninfected people.

He turns her down, returning to his usual routine. But the next day an unmarked white van arrives with two guys that claim to be from Antioch want to talk about the girl he  met online. They want to go and rescue her, convinced that she’s got the antivirus in her blood. They need to do it before the man carries out his plan to blow up the city. They force him to help lead them through the sewers to go rescue the girl.

index2He makes it to her, but so did the zombies – they run for it, and of course not all is as it seems with the man from Antioch.

It’s predictable, and not really anything to do with Richard Matheson’s I am legend, but for a low-budget asylum film, it’s actually a good piece of work that manages to hit a lot of the tonal beats and give us an entertaining ride. I’m genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this film – and definitely worth getting as part of the set.


Last of the Living

mastersofterrorindexLast of the living actually starts off pretty nicely – with shots of young men cinematically exploring and abandoned city juxtaposed with news footage of the zombie apocalypse. It’s overlaid with a punky rock song and sets the tone perfectly

We introduced to the trio guys who are living in a house together – young bachelor types reminiscing about the girls  and wondering what they’ve got as far as supplies. The real problem is the beer is low, so they decide they need to make a run. They gear up with sports equipment and run through the abandoned city trying to avoid the zombies while high energy pop music plays in the background. We get some inventive zombie kills and a generally fun vibe from the film. Adam takes a detour to try and rescue a hot girl, but she turns out to be a zombie. We get the impression this isn’t the first time this has happened. They finally arrive at the grocery store and enter cautiously. It’s a stock scene, very much a rip-off of what we saw in Shaun of the Dead.

index1Right around the end of the first act I’m wondering if this is going to be just a slacker dude zombie comedy when our group discovers a young woman and her father hiding in one of the abandoned buildings. The father is immediately dispatched of course because we need some romantic tension, and the young woman reveals that they were trying to transport a sample of what they think might be the cure for the zombie plague to the authorities. She convinces them to help.

They arrive at the lab but things take a turn for the worse when the power goes out in the zombies invade.

index2What was a much more lighthearted film suddenly turned serious as the zombies become more of a threat and the bickering starts amongst our characters. It’s almost as if the film can’t decide what it wants to be, and as we attempt to get this sample to the people who can help during the zombie apocalypse things turn all of it more dire. We get a couple of deaths that I totally didn’t expect towards the end. It ends up being exciting but a severely uneven film. Definitely worth a watch, especially on late night cable or when included in a box set like this.


Dollman

midnighthorrorindex.jpgOh Full Moon, how I love thee. Tim Thomerson too. Albert Pyun perhaps not so much, after all he was the one who gave us that appalling Captain America movie with Matt Salinger. Still, Dollman has been one of Full Moon’s stable of franchises for awhile, so I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Please don’t let me down “story by Charles Band”!

The film begins a galaxy away from earth, on a red planet called Artotos. We get some stock footage from Buck Rogers and then cut to a criminal being chased through concrete alleys. He holds up in a laundry room with 13 hostages and that’s when they send Tim Thomerson . Big gun, sunglasses and an attitude. He’s got a reputation as a Dirty Harry space cop – in other words he’s playing Tim Thomerson . Did I mention he’s also already under suspension? Doesn’t matter, he gets the hostages out without anybody getting hurt and this just makes the index2police chief angrier. Despite him saving the hostages, the police chief and the news reporting that everybody died in attempt to frame Thomerson .

Thomerson is then kidnapped by gangsters who attempt to kill him in the wilderness – he turns the tables on them, blasting them on the pieces before the leader escapes… Pursues his flying saucer in a spaceship and his own and they both plummet through a rift in space, ultimately crashing on earth.

There’s only one problem, the people on Earth are six times larger than the people from index1.jpgThomerson’s planet. It’s a world plagued by graffiti in crime and gangbangers in the middle of a block war.

Six times his size or not, Thomerson isn’t about to sit and watch an assault happened and immediately saves a girl from three gang members with his insanely powerful gun. The girl issafe, but she knows that the gangbangers will be back so she picks up dollman and his entire space ship and runs off. In the meantime the gangbangers discover the head from space, and he makes adeal with them. He promises ultimate weapons  if they take care of him – and more importantly if they take care of Thomerson . The gang shows up at the girl’s house and Thomerson index3.jpgfights them off – the boys are a little surprised that Dollman has such a big gun!.

As the girl attempts to make things better in this impoverished neighbourhood, the 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Dollman starts to give the people hope – hope that maybe they can ultimately get rid of the gangsters. The gangsters of course are ready to respond in kind, kidnapping the girl and spiriting her away to an old ironworks… It’s up to Dollman now to rescue her!

Dollman is classic full moon – an over the top comic book action film with a touch of gore though they’re not veering so far as to be gross. They managed to be low budget without looking cheap and this is a perfect example of full moon when they’re truly on their game!


Ghoulies 4

midnighthorrorindex.jpgI didn’t even realize there WAS a fourth Ghoulies movie – I thought the series died after Ghoulies go to college!

The film begins with a very comic book like Female thief dressed in revealing leather who is able to easily overpower and murder the guards. The killing makes her less than sympathetic but progresses the story quickly. She opens a box from Cairo and extracts a jewel – obviously the prize she was here for. Spray-painting a pentagram on the floor she begins a ritual, and the bodies of the slain guards disappear while in the center a hooded figure materilizes, demanding the jewel. She tried to give it to him but steps over the line, breaking the circle – both men vanish in smoke as the cops arrive. The thief leaves and in doing so misses the arrival of two small Ghoulies.

index1.jpgThese are not the Ghoulies that you may remember from Charles Band’s films, this is really a pair of two little people in suits – more goblin than Ghoulies. They immediately launch into three stooges style violence upon each other before scampering off into the darkness.

I have a bad feeling about this. At least it’s directed by Jim Wynorski.

On the other side of the credits we meet a pair of wacky cops on a stakeout.They foil a robbery at the local liquor store, getting drawn into a bloody gun fight.

In the sewers, our burglar, Alexandria summons the man in the cloak again. He informs her that there is a second stone and that she must find it for him (and it just so happens to be hanging around the cops neck). This means more human sacrifices, fortunately Art index2.jpgCarney’s character from the honeymooners is down there and ready to get killed.

Our two Ghoulies themselves flash back to the first film to try and connect everything… It’s debatable whether or not this was a wise move, it highlights the very different look of the actors in costume from the puppets used in the previous movies. According to IMDb, the puppetry was a cost the film could not afford.

The Ghoulies sneak into the cops trunk to hitch a ride. They accidentally blast a hole in the roof of his car while he is in the quickie-mart getting milk, then run off into the darkness. And this does nothing to inspire confidence from his superior detective Kate. He heads home, too tired to even boff his girlfriend or a hooker or whenever she is… The images.jpgGhoulies follow as he dreams of scenes from the first film.

Elsewhere, the Ghoulies and stop a mugging.

Alexandria luers the cop out by kidnapping his partner, but what she doesn’t know his hooker girlfriend is already absconded with the ruby necklace. It turns out, the cop knows Alexandria – they used to date. When she discovers he doesn’t have the jewel, she commands the brainwashed partner to murder him. We get a fist fight in the warehouse, destroying tons of antiques, conveniently laid out on the table.

Alexandria heads to the cops apartment, but the Ghoulies are already there searching… They pepper spray her and make good there escape.

images1.jpgDetective Kate puts cop to bed and I and meets the hook a girlfriend in a amusingly Catty exchange. Sadly, it’s the last time she’ll see her because Alexandria scoops her up outside the apartment and sacrifices her to hooded guy. Detective Kate notices this happening through the window and it sets the cop off to go look for her. Turns out they used to be Satan worshippers together but she got too into it and he dumped her at the mental asylum.Well now, the inmates are in control of the asylum – and Alexandria is using it as a hideout (And a place to complete her ritual).

Who taught the mental patients Kung fu?

The cop and detective Kate show up just in the nick of time to disrupt the ritual and attempt to save hooker girlfriend.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_In some ways, I really like this.The heavily occult themes of this film really harking back more towards the original movie.I can’t complain that the Ghoulies have minimal screen time, once again that also harkins back to the original film. My main objection is that the Ghoulies are little people in costumes that look nothing like the originals rather than puppets. They are constantly cracking wise – it gets grating .Still, overall it’s a stronger entry into the Ghoulies series then part three and one of the better films in this midnight horror collection


Autumn

midnighthorrorautumn_xlgAutumn has some good ideas. I genuinely like the concept where we see the evolution of the Zombie.

It starts off in urban England which gives it an initial 28 days later feel, but soon moves out to the country and we gt far more of a Night of the Living dead vibe. Forget the cover art by the way, it’s not the sci-fi epic about a plague that the cover would suggest. We don’t really see alot of it, we see more of that first shelter that the survivors are huddled in. We see the first zombies, wandering aimlessly…not eve noticing other people…..not hungry. Not yet.

As the film goes on, we se the zombies start to develop senses, becoming  triggered by sound and light. as time passes, the hunger kicks in and they become the real threat we’re used too. The progression is original and fascinating.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_If this movie has a real problem, it that it’s too long, and WAY too talky. It’s a melodrama in the extreme and would really benefit from some judicious cutting of some of those dialogue scenes. I understand how we got here, the film is based on a book and there’s a LOT of ground to cover. From everything I’ve heard, it’s really true to the source material. Still I think it could have been streamlined into something a bit better paced. This is definitely one to watch, but you need to be prepared for a long somewhat PBS style zombie film and be in the mood for more philosophy than horror.


In the Dead of Winter

midnighthorrorindex.jpgIn the Dead of Winter begins at a bleak prison for somebody out in the mountains… We’ve got a con being released and meeting up with his Friends in their pickup truck. He checks his gun and heads out to cause mayhem…

I can’t help but notice that this film is produced by Tanya York, Donald G Jackson’s old financial partner. That explains the shot on video look to the film and makes me feel just a bit wary.

Sam, the contact that just got out start off by visiting the local sheriff – presumably the man put him in prison. He guns him down front of his family and races off  in the truck. accompanied by a combination of new-age jazz and bad Casio soundtrack.

After that, it’s a joy ride in the mountains on snowmobiles, because why not? They’re looking for an abandoned cabin to hide out in, but when they arrive they find it’s not as abandoned as expected! And amorous young couple have already taken up residence for the weekend and Sam and his crew have found their next victims.

When the boyfriend attempts to fight back, they take him outside and bury him up to his neck in the snow – it’s actually a clever gag.

Inside, girlfriend get Sam scan and turns the table on her attackers – it’s a stand-off, with them threatening the boyfriend and her threatening them. It all goes wrong and the couple both end up dead. Time for Sam and his crew to run off.

After some internal squabbling when they get lost, they discover a cave to hole up in. The cave brings bad dreams but in the morning they take off on the snowmobiles until they run out of gas. That’s when they get shot at.

They flee the unseen gunman and desperately searched the woods for  cover. Their unseen assailant pursues them in a Snowcat. The guys split up, one group and start all the other starts to succumb to frostbite.

All four of the crew are separated – one finding himself and literate than ice, one getting killed accidentally, and one inexplicably encountering Daniel Boone in the middle of the 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_snowy wilderness. We discover it’s the local sheriff that’s been chasing Sam- apparently he didn’t die from his gunshot wound. I was hoping for a twist, like it was the sheriff’s widow or something.Sam stumbles into a bunch of bear traps and the sheriff leaves him to die. The ending is so straightforward it feels anticlimactic. This one is a definite skip.


Haunting of Winchester house

midnighthorror41maVWogqWL._SY445_.jpgIf the asylum logo showing up wasn’t bad enough, the film is made by Mark Atkins which feels a little bit too close to Peter Atkins – as if the author himself is perpetuating the Mockbuster feel. In this frame of mind then, it’s no wonder that I find the opening scene of the UPS driver delivering a parcel to feel very much homage to Spider Baby.

The house itself is achieved in an interesting manner, it’s obviously a matte or possibly a CG model. But more often than not however it’s quite convincing. Still, the thought of family (even if they are just care takers or something) is just casually moving in and out of the Winchester mansion seems a little ridiculous.

They arrived to find the house unlocked and surprisingly furnished, not to mention painted bright colors. They were originally meant to be lodging in the caretaker wing But a note left on the kitchen table states that it’s uninhabitable so they get to live in the main house.

We get foreshadowing almost immediately. A photograph from the 19th century of old images1.jpginhabitants, a mysterious little girl stalking the family’s daughter and a doomsayer who shows up at the house asking what the family is doing there. They let him know they’re just passing through, staying for a couple of months while elsewhere, the daughter follows a creepy ghost  girl into the cellar. The doors slam behind them giving her a good shock, though no harm done. From the cellar she brings up a chalkboard that was obviously once used by one of the people in the old photograph – a deaf man. It’s enough to spark the further curiosity and the dad decides to go for a walk and explore the mansion further.

Back in the house, the little ghost girl creeps on the daughter while the other ghosts draw closer and closer to the father. The daughters intentions are a natural, almost as if she is asked – before the ghosts take her away altogether, vanishing into the house.

images.jpgTogether, the mother and father find hundreds of newspaper clippings in briefly give us the story of the window Winchester. It’s brief though because we have to move along to the next nightmare. Mother dreams of dead, malformed babies while ghosts haunt the daughter. I’ve got to admit, the fact that they’re going so heavy on the spooky visitations and character affects this early on in the movie is impressive. By the time we’re 20 minutes in we’ve already seen some ghosts and things ramp up to some pretty scary levels before you even hit the 40 minute mark!

We get a non-stop hunting and even a certain degree of hopelessness when the police arrive around half way point. Not only are they unable to hear the family within the house, but they find themselves attacked outside the house and unable to render any aid whatsoever.

There are plenty of greasepaint ghosts here but there’s also a fair amount of grotesque latex cases as well – way more than I would’ve expected from a low-budget asylum flick. The ghosts are everywhere, they provide the house and the filmmaker understands lighting – he knows enough to keep these make-up jobs in the gloom and in the shadows. He understands blocking and finds the most effective angles to have to shoot these ghosts from, arranged to create the maximum tension.

I always say that I try to make it to the third act of a horror movie because that’s when the action really gets moving, but this film is all third act action with a brilliant variety of beans and a constant dire threat to our main characters. Just when you think you’re about to get a lull in the action, they throw a creepy ghost in a rocking chair at you or a shape in the shadows emerging.

They managed to get a phone call out to the neighbor – he is a paranormal investigator and he shows up at the house to explain the rules and help get them through the night and solve the mystery of the house. It’s a weird place for this exposition, we usually get this kind of thing closer to the beginning, not in the last 30 minutes. He explains there is poltergeist activity going on here, probably stemming from a hidden object. There are various ghosts in various stages of death, and those different ghosts are dangerous in different ways.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Now with some direction, the activity begins again, and they begin to search for their lost daughter (actually I didn’t entirely notice that the house had abducted her) and a way to expel the spirits. There’s multiple twists along the way and an ending that I probably should’ve seen coming, but really didn’t.

While the questing aspect at the end isn’t as intense and some of the ending is over the top, the siege section in the second act of this film makes it a genuinely good horror film and one of the best asylum productions I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a skilled filmmaker can do with such a production. I don’t even care that it’s one of their mockbusters (released at a time to capitalize on the release of the film Winchester) this one is a definite high recommend.


Gingerdead Man 2

franchisebannerinde4xGingerdead Man 2 begins with a fairytale style recap of the previous film. We get the best moments and an adequate explanation for the sort of insanity that were about to witness.

By the way, I don’t put this out there all the time, but I’m a born-again, conservative, evangelical Christian, so if this title was meant to offend someone it’s me. I find it hilarious – and yes, this scene does appear in the film (at the very end).

The run run run theme song is amazing – it’s like somebody mashed together “run as fast as you can I’m the gingerbread man” with “cherry bomb” and it’s the perfect theme as we movie into a movie studio set where they’re making a horror film. This is Full Moon image8sPictures kind of making fun of itself – this horror movie appears to be a mixture of Ghoulies and Puppet Master. I’m amused that I have the dagger the dark wizard uses.

Wonder what is better accidentally hits the wizard, he screams cat – and we get a glimpse of John Carl Bulchler who is the director of this unfortunate picture.

Craft service arrives with a box of goodies – cookies, doughnuts, and the Gingerdead Man!

images9.jpgA Make-A-Wish kid arrives at Cheatum studios because his last wish was to see the horror movie studio empire. Things aren’t going well – the studio has too many things in production, they’re running out of money, and horror blogs are constantly trashing them. On the set, people are quitting, fighting and there’s just general chaos.

Meanwhile, the ginger dead man is getting edgy – he’s got to kill somebody before he gets too stale! Normally I’d complain about the fact that the first kill happens off screen, but it’s such a hilarious spectacle – we cut back to the Gingerbread Man standing over at the decapitated corpse with several knives sticking it in another one in his hand that it just works so well.

“1 down, 4 to go!”

In the meantime we get back inside the studio where David DeCatoeu is directing a sci-fi picture on another set, while a porn crew is filming a gonzo movie in the directors office, and the Gingerdead Man is off to find his next victim! This ends up being an extremely offensive kill involving an electrified curling iron. The outrageous and offensive really become the pattern – even when it’s a traditional kill like a stabbing it’s punctuated by the Gingerdead Man delivering the most offensive and ridiculous dialogue the filmmakers can think of. This is how we get scenes like the Gingerdead Man hitting on one of the the puppets from the film, before humpin81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_g it and then destroying it with a chainsaw (which is bad news for the puppeteer, whose hand is still in there).

They begin to realize something is wrong when the Make-A-Wish boy is abducted by the chainsaw wielding cookie man. They discover the Gingerdead Man has rewired the robot on the sci-fi set and comes after them using it as a Mecha. And that’s about the time when we hit the third act twist.

The brilliance of Gingerdead Man Two isn’t just the fact that you can get away with the cookie saying whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous or offensive, but it’s the self depreciating satire that this film is. It’s a satire that completely deconstructs the Full Moon legacy – much the way Terror Firmer did with Troma. Gingerdead Man is just good, lunatic fun – filled with Easter eggs and inside jokes for horror fans.midnighthorror


Children of the Corn : Fields of Terror

midnighthorrormovieposterRight off the bat I’m pretty sure in trouble when I see the title of this Children of the Corn sequel is“fields of terror”. Also, I see that Alexis Arquette is starring.  Seeing Fred Williamson and David Carridine billed towards the end gives me a little bit more hope though, and I actually do usually enjoy Eva Mendez, but I’m not getting my hopes up considering how uninspired the opening is. Ethan Wiley has his work cut out for him here if he want’s to creep me out, and I don’t think this little Elliot-from-ET looking kid walking towards the green screen is gonna pull it off. I want blood to kick this thing off, not lasers and lightning and adobe after effects. The kids look too non-descript, and I’m only 10 minutes out. Our corn children in this film dress and very contemporary clothing – and that detracts from the creepiness. It’s not just enough to have a shadowy kid pick up a scythe to make it scary. Thankfully we do seem to be at the tail end of the 90s, so the embargo on blood and gore from that era seems to be lifting. The kills aren’t particularly original, but they are visceral.

Children-of-the-corn-5-fields-of-terror-kidsThe clothes are only part of it – our protagonists talk about how bad the town smells, they try and make a point of describing how boring the place is. That’s funny, considering it’s a farming community, and everything looks so clean and crisp. The clothing is too nice and trendy – it just doesn’t fit the narrative. Equally out of place is David Carridine’s cameo as the leader of a cult – it’s the first time in a Children of the Corn movie that we have seen an adult that seems to be the head of our corn children and it feels very out of place.

I have to admit though, it passes the watch test. It moves right along at a good steady 81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_pace and never really drops my interest. There is a clumsy attempt to expand on the mythology of he who walks behind the rows from the original Children of the Corn,  But it seems more thrown in for styles sake rather than story and is gone too quickly, failing to impact the mythology at all.

I got to admit, I wonder if I’m being too hard on this but at the end of the day, this is a very by the numbers sequel. A group of strangers blunder into the town – discover corn children, and murder ensues. It might be alright if you’re just looking fora midless horror flick, and I probably won’t change the channel if they were running this on the Syfy channel.


Halloween Resurrection

index.jpgI’ve never completely understood all the hate that Halloween resurrection gets. Admittedly, this is not up to the quality of the original, but that’s not really what I’m expecting from a late series sequel to a slasher franchise.

It could be because Jamie Lee Curtis is so prominently featured on the cover and that fans were expecting her to be a central component to the film– in all fairness that is a bit of bait and switch. Her prologue in this movie is really nothing more then A dire epilogue to H20 and dispatching her at the beginning (A demand she had written into her contract) surely left a bad taste in certain peoples mouths– much like the way the survivors from Aliens were treated in Alien three.

Nevertheless the idea of turning the Myers house into a bizarre reality television competition, it was actually timely and clever – a twist that we haven’t seen before… OMIGOD IS THAT KATEE SACKHOFF??? Seriously. I love Katee Sackoff  – in everything but BSG. indexI’d totally fogotten aboyt Tyra banks here too. She’s cringeworthy here and there, but her real job is to be cute as the producer of the show. Busta Rhymes also seems wierd casting, but again, we forget how huge this dude was at that moment – he literally had 15 minutes of fame and then vanished from the scene. And you know what? He’s better than he gets credit for.

It’s a paper thin plot with the main characters set up with body cams and exploring the Myers house, but as Michael arrives and starts to slash his way through the hapless contestants, I’m actually quite well entertained – it’s a better entry then some of the late series sequels, most notably my first Halloween film, number six with the curse of Michael Myers (I know that’s a little bar to clear, but when you’re this deep into the series it’s really the way you should be measuring it). Myers kind of lacks motivation outside of his territory being invaded (and that’s more a Jason Vorhees trope. Perhaps someone got them confused) but the third act twist of someone watching the webcast being able to communicate with the final girl inside to help her is actually pretty clever. The whole thing might have been better served as a stand alone or in another franchise (this would make a dynamite Scream sequel). Honestly, this greatest sin is being largely generic and out of place (almost like a fan film or a TV episode) and ultimately forgettable.

But forgettable isn’t the same as BAD.

At the end of the day, you’re either a fan of this or you’re not. It ‘s almost more of a sidequel and perhaps should be held to a different standard. It really doesn’t belong in this continuity (specifically the timeline that skips 2-6, and picks up at H20) I don’t think anything I’m gonna say is gonna change your mind, but if you’ve never seen it – I do encourage you to check it out. It’s a fun watch once you turn your brain off, and having it on DVD is a great reason to grab the set.


Roman

indexRoman starts with a guy welding at steel mill then coming home, lighting up a cigarette and watching for the girl next door at his window. It’s awkward and creepy with a very indie feel to it, setting the tone for what’s to come.

Roman doesn’t have a television, so his room is set up around that window – his chair and table facing it where he can stay here and watch for the girl next door come out. It’s unnerving and we see how awkward he is, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re going to squeeze 90 minutes out of this.

He dreams of her, dancing nude and backlit against random sets of images – in working, eating, flowers and sparks.

The guys at work make fun of him for not having a television, so he draws one on the wall and pretends to watch it – the girls voice coming from it.

index2Everything changes when he meets a real woman, as he hangs out on the top of his apartment building roof drinking beer – he is surprisingly articulate for such an introvert, but awkward as it is, it’s a charming interaction and now she knows him. A co-worker gives him an old black-and-white TV and he talks the girl over for drinks. This could almost be a romance, at this point… Which is how you know everything is about to go wrong.

Now, he has a secret – and when the next girl comes knocking at his door, it becomes a problem, fueled by his awkwardness and inability to know how to act with other people. (and you know, for being such a social misfit, he sure does attract the cutest women).

indexThere is a lot to love here, from the chilli dogs at the cemetery, to the porn loving superintendent to the beers and holding hands with the severed palm. The movies strangely engrossing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Even being crazy, I really want things to work out for Roman – the closest thing I can compare it to is Adam Green’s Spiral, A similarly awkward head trip with a gawky dude and a cute girl and a dark twist.

Star Lucky McKey would go on to make some of modern horrors more disturbing thrillers such as May and The Woman. This is an interesting project to watch with him, especially seeing him as an actor instead of a director. It’s definitely a high recommend, with an ending I did not see coming, and makes this box set with the purchase price just for this film alone.


Paranormal Entity

index.jpgWithout even looking at the credits, I knew that with a name like paranormal entity this would bean Asylum film. It opens with the 911 call “they’re all dead! My sister is dead! “, before switching to a handheld camera. We get the premise that they were advised to set up cameras in the house to capture the activity, and then cut back to a black screen that gives us a Blair witch type description; This footage was down in their attic a year later, et cetera, et cetera

Back to the handhelds as the narrator introduces us to where the cameras are supposedly placed in the house. It’s a kind of smart idea to give us an idea of what the space looks like and feels like, before we plunged too far into this story. They tried to inject some creepiness right away by introducing us to the slightly catatonic mother – staring at an old stuffed animal. We get a placard telling us that it’s “night one” and start watching footage that has been tinted green to look like nightvision. We go back and forth between this and and daytime footage of annoyed characters who don’t seem too pleased to see the camera. They talk about who they think might be in the house… or might be haunting it, and slowly e to things start to happen – a glass breaks, the television turns on, and a cross falls off the wall – at this point you can tell it’s going to be a slow burner. We get a peek inside the diary, with a plea for God to help the writer. They also sneak in what is meant to be a creepy sketch along with the question “why am I seeing this?”.

Sleepwalking begins at night three around 25 minutes in – and ominous message is written onto a glass coffee table. Around the same time, the wife starts talking about her feelings that something is there – something in the room with her when she goes to sleep, something pressing down on her and trapping her.

As we go further into the film, it stumbles into the typical pitfalls of a found footage haunting film – phenomena and that largely unseen or unremarkable, sounds in darkness that come off as stagehands banging on the walls of screen or actors simply screaming because it’s in the script. Even when they come up with a clever idea like footprints on the ceiling (and ultimately, where they come from), it’s undermined by immediately transitioning over to the mundane stuff like doors slamming and televisions turning on. They fail to reinforce those things with even creepier images . Moreover, the shaky cam work is haphazard and unfocused – even found footage works better when you storyboard and plan your shots. Someone had the beginnings of an idea here, and there are a couple of fun moments – such as  when the mother and wife run off and discover the ghost indexhas followed them, or when we get the revelation of where the footprints come from, there’s even one haunting that where the hits come fast and loud enough to keep you off balance, but not enough for a complete movie – There is a good way of making these kind of films, but this isn’t it.

This film maybe okay if you’re in the mood to do a found footage marathon with a bunch of different indie films or burning through a box set collection like this, but it certainly wouldn’t be the centerpiece and isn’t worth going out of your way for.


Live Animals

index.jpgLive animals starts with the radio report of a missing girl in a rural area as a rancher picks up the feed for his animals. We shift to young people at a bonfire, somebody cloaked in darkness taking photos of them from the car. As the couples break apart from the group to go get busy, we see hands grabbing equipment – a gun, drug darts and needles – and a creepy rubber mask… Oh I’m so happy! These kind of movies are always more interesting when we have a creepy masked killer rather than just some dude walking around with an axe or something! The night atmosphere is beautifully lit, dark with just enough light to make out characters and details but will be enough to create dread. Despite the gun, the killer has the rough and deliberate movement that you see in Jason Vorhees. His murderous rampage makes for a surprisingly long opening sequence, eating up well over 15 minutes at the beginning of this 84 minute film.

index.jpgThings don’t let up though, we had back to the psycho’s place to find people chained up in the stable. He announces that they are all his property now, and that just like a horse, they need to be… broken. We spent the next 20 minutes watching them be tortured and abused, and then a car pulls up to the stable; A prospective buyer. The unlucky girl chosen, is created up in a wooden box and shipped out.

Overall, live animals is standard torture porn fair, a little on the light side when it comes to gore (with the exception of a couple of scenes towards the very end). I suppose I indexshould be grateful that the rapey parts are merely suggested, but all in all the films a drag and I’m not digging this one. I ended up watching the last third of this on fast forward because there’s not really enough dialogue to make a difference. Indeed, I almost wonder if this was a case of the filmmakers having a location –  the stable – and then because they have a location they build a story around it . I almost wonder if this would’ve been better off as a short, there doesn’t feel like there’s enough for to really be a full feature. In any event, it really doesn’t work for me – even with the attempt at a slight twist ending . It may be the first real misfire in this set. Not a big recommend.


Puppet Master

index.jpgYou know, that first puppet master film really is something special… From the moment we start with the dissonant carnival music and the close-up shots of the puppet faces, there is something inherently spooky about everything. Richard Band knew what he was doing when he scored this and Charles Band was really about to find his destiny.

Toulon, The creator of the puppets, is a great character – honest and multi layered.  There is also the brilliance of starting the film out from puppet Blade’s perspective – the lower angle chattering as the bad guys arrive at the scenic hotel. It’s quite bold of this low-budget production to start things off with the introduction being a period piece before moving the modern day – yet again is this a sense of scope and a lush atmosphere that the film alone may have lacked otherwise.

As the group of sensitives attend the funeral of their fellow psychic in this very hotel, they encounter the murderous puppets – the story is as simple as that. But simple works, indexand through it Charles Band has crafted his most enduring creation. In this first installment, more care is given to the puppets – both in personality and in animation… Indeed, in later installments We get a lot less stop motion and more close-ups, with clips from this film used repeatedly. Still, it’s great as a standalone or part of the series – and it’s another one where the opportunity to get this on DVD was worth the three dollar price of this collection!


The Prophecy 2

index.jpgOkay, Jennifer Beals and Britney Murphy. This looks like it just might be an interesting cast – and then I see Glenn Danzig listed as one of the angels – and now I feel fear.

The Prophecy 2 is an interesting follow-up to what was a fairly mediocre movie made particularly interesting by the inclusion of Christopher Walken. In general I’m a fan of Christian mysticism, however, the Prophecy never seemed franchise worthy to me though, so I never followed it up and as a result, don’t know what we’re going to see with two – other than the fact that Walken is here, and joined by Eric Roberts and Glenn Danzig – somewhat bizarre choices.

We begin the film with a shot of someone writing ancient texts dissolving into clouds dissolving into the city and getting us into the modern day setting. Then a person crashes down into Jennifer Beals car window, it definitely wakes me up and gets my attention.

Elsewhere, all monastery, dies in a room covered in papers in writing. It feels very non-Sequitur, is. I cut to a man in a black coat that rests into birds before the city concrete splits reminders for them. I read below emerges from underneath the concrete and between flashes of blood, hands reach out, clawing at the dirt and a muddy body street and read it self out before the concrete back together again. Face risers and we recognize Christopher Walken is back.

Because it’s a  sequel, they don’t waste any time with world building. A priest discovers the prophecy and is driven mad, then a dark angel open the gateway to hell to bring us index2.jpgthe fallen archangel back – and this is all before we even hit the nine minute mark.

Back at the hospital, Beals visits the man who crashed into her windshield, and sits with him in his hospital room as an angel watches on across the street. The man is getting better, and regaining his humor, entertaining children by jumping up and bouncing on the edges of the beds. He wants her home, and because pulling into somebody’s windshield is kind of like a first date, she probably takes him upstairs and gets knocked up.

Back of the monastery, Christopher Walken pays a visit to the monks, it’s a site that receives visions, and walking is sure they’ve seen the person that he is here to get. Seems uncooperative, but fire cleanses all.

Do you angel purchase on the edge of the bed come and watch his feels sleep… And goes back to importance. That. It’s around this time though, that Glenn Danzig shows up and attacks him, mid air. Our boy prevails, but now is on the hunt.

Walkin for his part is looking for Jennifer Beals since she’s pregnant with an angel baby- A somewhat confusing situation. Angel babies grow faster than regular ones and in just a few days, the doctor informs her that she’s in her second trimester.  She searches for answers while Walkin searches for her to prevent her nephilim from being born. He grabs a suicidal Britney Murphy for a sidekick (He needs help because he can’t drive a car or navigate DOS on the computer – can you blame him?), keeping her from being able to die (a trick we saw in the previous film as well). She’s weepy and you can tell that we’ve got a very talky fifty two minutes ahead of us.

In the meantime, Beals visits the corner, to view the body that she suspects is her angel baby daddy, now a stiff, thanks to Walken. The main purpose of this scene though, is for Kenny Banya to make his appearance and explain the plot… describing the angels that he had here in the mortuary for years ago.

Her next stop is the monastery of visions where the teacher continues information dump, this time updating us on angelic script and angels in the second war in heaven, for anybody who missed the first film. It’s here that we first find out about the

In the meantime, Beals visits the corner, to view the body that she suspects is her angel baby daddy, now a stiff, thanks to walk in. The main purpose though is for Kenny Banya to make his appearance and explain the plot… Describing the angels that he had here in the mortuary for years ago.

Her next stop is the monastery of visions where the teacher continues information dump, this time updating us on angelic script and angels in the second war in heaven, for anybody who missed the first film. It’s here that we first find out about the nephilim .

Back in the city, Brittany Murphy hacks computer and gets Jennifer Beals address for Walken, allowing him to arrive there before her.

“You have no idea trouble you got there,”  he tells Beals as he puts his hand on her belly. “Nothing personal, just business.”

Her angel baby daddy, not dead after all, crashes through the window to rescue her but Walkin stakes him, and then runs out to Brittany Murphy, waiting behind the wheel of the car to race after Beals. It’s amusing to note that they’re driving the same kind of car that Sam Raimi refers to as “the classic” in the Evil Dead films, just a different color. Our Angelic hero spirits her away to the monastery, hoping she’ll be safer there, as he attempts to get her to the archangel Michael and real protection.

Walken finds them  of course, but bills in the angel manage to escape while Walkin blunders into a crowd of cops all who all blow him away. He’s not gonna stay dead long though, and revives while the police are questioning Murphy. He collects her and heads out on his way, revealing to us where the final showdown will be held… Eden.

It’s no longer a garden, but rather in industrial hellscape which opens its gate up to Beals and her angel. They navigate through the steamy maze of pies and hot metal until they finally come across the Archangel Michael… This time played by Eric Roberts.

It’s fairly epic to see Walken and Roberts face off across the rusty gate beneath a tumultuous cloudy sky with the occasional angel soaring through it. As Walken gains entrance, it’s time for angelic melees as he sends Murphy to assassinate Beals, but pretty shortly, will all discover just how hard it is to kill the mother of a nephilim .

If you’re a fan of this series, it may be a worthwhile entry, but it doesn’t stand on its own for me (which makes it out of place in the Masters of Terror box set I got it in) and ultimately I found it a little slow, predictable, and boring… This one is probably a pass.


The Nurse

index.jpgCan I just say, I’m really excited to see Lisa Zane in The Nurse – it’s the only name I recognize, but I actually kind of dig her from not only Freddy’s dead but also her appearance on the Human Target. She’s front and center as we begin with an emergency situation in a hospital.

After suffering a family tragedy, she pays a visit to the man she holds responsible – unfortunately he’s already in a coma and there’s not too much she can do… Or is there?

It’s odd, I’m not used to seeing Zane as the villain, but as she goes all stalkery, she inhabits the role with relish. She plays  unhinged very well – it shouldn’t be a surprise, we saw her start to break down her sanity a bit in Freddy’s dead, but here she is able to really let it all hang out, devilish and brilliant.

indexAfter murdering the man’s nurse, she cozies up to the son and gets herself hired on as his personal caregiver. Once there, she plots the death of his entire family – a way to torture him before she dispatches him herself.

It makes for an interesting and suspenseful film, but ends up being a little overblown – the whole thing feels like a TV movie of the week. It’s certainly not the movie that the box cover would lead you to believe it is, but it’s a great entry for Lisa Zane’s acting real. It’s kind of exactly the movie that belongs in a set like this, and is fine as part of this collection though I wouldn’t seek it out on its own.


Dracula 3

lussierindex.jpgWe’ve got a trifecta on this entry – a Box Set category, a Director’s Spotlight, AND a franchise focus!

I like Patrick Lussier, and I’m pleased to see Roy Schneider, Gary Tunicliffe and Rutger However, but that stupid Gothic font worries me. I know that Dimension shot a bunch of these in Romania back to back, along with a couple of Prophecy and Hellraiser films. On the other hand, I rather like a lot of the productions Dimension has done this way so let’s see what we’re in for. Jason Scott Lee is the lead in this film, and that’s not a bad thing either… He was excellent as Bruce Lee in Dragon, I remember really digging that as a teenager when I saw it in the theatre. He is also of course, the voice of David, Nani’s boyfriend in Lilo and stitch.

images3.jpgAs I’ve mentioned before, Dracula 2000 is actually one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, but it was also one of those movies that I never thought should have been turned into a franchise. It stands alone really well and doesn’t lend itself all that well to further installments, however this isn’t a direct sequel anyhow. It’s more in the spirit and style of 2000, attaching itself as a sort of alternate universe sidequel film much the way Fulchi’s Zombie attaches to Dawn of the Dead as a sequel. Despite saying West Craven presents, Craven have nothing to do with this film.

We start off with vampire action in what looks like an abandoned subway and it’s good stuff – modern and slick and cool. They’re taking a cue from John Carpenters Vampires with cool vampire weapons and a militant priest. The fact that Lussier directed all three of these Dracula movies helps create a uniform feel. In addition to some modern sensibilities, he still manages to infuse the film with at least a touch of Christian images2.jpgmysticism, possibly the reason our protagonist is a priest.

After despatching the two bloodsuckers he returns home for more support

Roy Scheider is just phoning in his role as the Cardinal of the order, but even that’s enough to elevate this film a bit. We get sweeping dramatic shots of the train heading to Bucharest and the now-defunct priest continuing his journey and his mission to rescue his beloved Julia and destroy the vampire plague. It’s an occupied country, and the soldiers and equipment create a tense atmosphere. They take full advantage of the Gothic and stone look of Romania in crafting their film – it’s an effective use of limited resources.

This film has an interesting origin for Dracula as well, establishing a terminology – they’re correct that the name Dracula is not a proper name but rather an honorific – and aspirational one to be one of the dragons, the priest tells us he’s had many names over the years and has existed for a long time under many guises – it’s actually a really well images4.jpgdone recap.

The further they get into the city, especially at night the more abandoned things get, unfortunately instead of coming off as creepy, it just shows the lack of budget. A handful of extras wandering around in the background may have actually helped (but they may have needed to save those for later scene in Dracula’s feeding pit). Nevertheless the blue fog and eerie lighting provides a perfectly creepy horror movie setting for them to kill vampires in.

Like John Carpenter’s Vampires, what we get here is basically a horror tinged action movie with some interesting looking bad guys. The stilts vampire has to be seen to be believed. It’s a film that I think is actually strong enough to stand on its own without the name Dracula, and I almost wish they had, but they needed the brand recognition and I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t have found it without that myself so I completely understand. Dracula 3 : Legacy is full of action, intrigue, infections and has a genuinely well thought out story. Much to my surprise, it’s one to recommend


Dominique is Dead

boxevil

indexDominique is dead it’s one of those movies that’s full of people that I feel like I should at least be peripherally familiar with, folks like Simon Ward and Jenny Agutter and Cliff Robertson. It starts off on the eve of dinner party, with the wealthy couple that are obviously having friction. The husband just fired the chauffeur and the wife is in a generally bad humor.

That evening, the wife, Dominique is depressed and scared and pleads with the new chauffeur driver to help her, but he’s just kind of weirded out by it and sends her back off to her room. She plays piano a lot. Her husband wakes up, and heads out to the patio to find her hung by a noose in a blue moonlight.

Watch Check; we’re nearly a full half hour into this thing! This chick better start haunting us, and quick like!

Husband comes home, lights a cigar and sits back, very satisfied. He does a quick check of the house before heading to bed and just stares at the piano. I’ve got a bad feeling about that piano.

index1The next day, a gravestone is delivered to the cemetery… It’s a gravestone with his name and the date of death is… Soon. He tracks down the manufacture, who talks about it being ordered by a woman in black, and said she was a mourning for her husband. She paid cash so there’s no trace, but when the husband comes home the piano is playing by itself and distant echoing footsteps ring out through the gloom of the house. Indeed, there is a figure and black walking through the halls, figure that disappears just as swiftly as it manifested.

Over the next day or two similar events occur, and it’s enough to send the husband after the cemetery to dig up the grave and discover whether or not his wife is truly Dead. Dead or alive, the grave is empty.
index11
I figure in black. In the house, outside the house, outside the office, in the street. He has a vision of his wife hanging again conservatory, but he’s convinced it’s a plan… a conspiracy to drive him mad.

Soon, the grave has a death date etched in its stone surface, and that date is tomorrow. The piano place itself as the husband rises from sleep with a gun in his hand and stocks the house, shooting at the ever present spectral figure. The bullets miss of course and the driver comes out to find out what’s wrong. Wracked with guilt, the husband admits he drove Dominique to her death, then fires the chauffeur.

Now he’s all alone.

I don’t think I will spoil the ending here, because this is a genuinely good film that I’d really like you to seek out and watch. I’ve noticed it in several places, not the least of which is YouTube.
The thing is, the movie is so understated that there are times when I could almost mistake this for a TV movie. It’s not, it’s just the way things looked in 1979 when you’re dealing with this sort of Gothic thriller, but despite the sometimes slow and sometimes flat delivery, it’s a masterful mix of classic mystery and ghostly horror. They get the mix just right, and managed to keep up a sense of dread through a lot of the movie. The trick is to get past that slow first half hour, because the last 2/3 of this film are stellar.