Monday, March 10, 2014
Chastity Bites (2013) d. John V. Knowles (USA)
In the small conservative southwestern community of San Griento, life is its own particular brand of hell for fiery liberal high school student Leah (Allison Scagliotti, Warehouse 13) and her demure bosom buddy Katharine (Francia Raisa, Secret Life of the American Teenager), being the constant butt of taunts and jokes from the popular clique of chicks dubbed “the Hiltons.” But there’s a much more serious threat on the horizon in the form of Liz Batho (Louise Griffiths, The Revenant), a newly arrived and seemingly radical extremist seeking to promote abstinence among the fairer sex. The new spiritual leader soon has the town – and Katharine – wrapped around her immaculately manicured and suspiciously youthful fingers, even as exclusively virginal bodies start piling up in her wake.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Slumber Party Massacre, The (1982) d. Jones, Amy Holden (USA)
Released toward the end of the early ’80s’ slasher-flick explosion, what makes this relatively pedestrian entry with the drive-in-ready title most worthy of note is that it was written, produced, and directed by women. More surprising is the fact that, at first glance, it does little to distinguish itself from its male-directed counterparts, with its helpless, screaming female victim characters just as seemingly objectified via an abundant amount of gratuitous nudity. The only visible novelty is arming the male killer with a two-foot-long power drill (compensating for something?) and framing him onscreen with his (ahem) tool from various suggestive angles.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Darkman (1990) d. Sam Raimi (USA)
Scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson, in his first leading role) is working diligently to uncover the secrets of a new synthetic skin, frustrated at his inability to stabilize it past the 98-minute mark. But when his girlfriend Julie (Frances McDormand) uncovers a corrupt businessman’s (Colin Friels) payoffs to government officials, the noble egghead lands in hot water (or more accurately, boiling acid) at the hands of hired thugs led by the sinister and ruthless Durant (Larry Drake). Awakening in a hospital burn ward, the presumed-dead Westlake escapes and resumes his work, hoping to restore his ruined visage, wreak vengeance on those responsible, and try to become human once again.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
|Use 'em or lose 'em, Doc. Your choice.|
I gotta say, this has been the weirdest winter ever, both in terms of extreme temperatures and logy viewing parties on my part. I mean, when the polar vortex comes to town, shouldn’t it just be a natural reaction to just chill out, flip on the tube, and let the good times roll? In years past, when the weather wasn’t nearly as harsh, I’ve been known to bang out 50-60 movies in January without batting an eye. Yet, here we are with February in the rearview mirror and I have yet to crack the 45-flicker mark or even make it to the multiplex. Oh, the times, they are a-changin’. Granted, much of this has had to do with the ongoing promotion and celebration of HIDDEN HORROR (see Exhibit A), but even the Oscar race hasn't been able to spur the enthusiasm of days gone by.
That said, I’ve enjoyed the fine cinematic diet prompted by the good folks at Shout! Factory and Kitley’s Krypt, not to mention a little dose of nostalgia that sent Burnt Offerings (ergh) and Alone in the Dark (yes!) into the player in between bouts of filming a couple of horror shorts myself. Note: do not sign on for any future projects that involve lying dead in a snowbank in one’s undergarments. It just ain’t worth it.
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
Bad Moon (1996) d. Eric Red (USA)
I’ll admit to having passed up this fuzzy wuzzy flick a few dozen times on the video shelf (remember those?) due to its lackluster moniker and poster art, and probably would have never thought twice about it had it not been for my recent acquaintance with James Newman’s recent terror-ific tome, 666 Hair-Raising Horror Movie Trivia Questions. Since James had seen fit to dedicate no fewer than six, count ‘em, six puzzlers to this DTV title, I figured that if I wanted to get a passing grade in lycanthrope class, I’d better check it out. (To be fair, longtime lycan expert Craig J. Clark had reviewed it on his blog back in 2008, but I don’t know that we knew each other back then.) To my surprise, it proved to be an entirely watchable popcorn flick, with one of the more impressive practical werewolf suits - supervised by f/x ace Steve Johnson - trotted out since the shapeshifting heyday of the 1980s. (However, the less said about the dodgy morphing sequences, the better.)
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Atomic Man, The (aka Timeslip) (1955) d. Ken Hughes (UK)
A reasonably effective sci-fi programmer, although the conceit of a man’s mind having slipped into the future – such that he is answering questions 7.5 seconds before they are asked – isn’t really put to much use and plays out only as a device to sustain the mystery surrounding a Cold War spy plot. Adapted by Charles Eric Maine from his novel, the story revolves around a nuclear scientist Stephen Raymer (Peter Arne) who is fished out of the Thames and, despite the bullet in his back and a brief moment of flatline, revives in hospital but absent any memory. Further complicating matters is the fact that the scientist’s doppelganger is continuing his experiments without anyone being the wiser!
Alone in the Dark (1982) d. Jack Sholder (USA)
Slasher fans, why settle for just one crazed killer when you can have three or four? During a citywide blackout, inmates of an asylum for the criminally insane liberate themselves and proceed to have a high old time in the outside world. Top-billed Jack Palance and Martin Landau are two of the merry murderers (alongside gentle giant Erland van Lidth), while Donald Pleasence plays a head therapist as bonkers as his patients.
Burnt Offerings (1976) d. Dan Curtis (USA)
With their young son (Ben's Lee Harcourt Montgomery) in tow, Karen Black and Oliver Reed (irretrievably miscast as a “normal” couple) rent a country mansion for the summer and soon become entangled in mysterious goings-on. Predictably directed by TV vet Curtis (Trilogy of Terror) with every surprise telegraphed by Bob Cobert's agonizingly familiar woodwind score, this criminally inert entry in the haunted house pantheon is boring to the point of catatonia.
Grand Piano (2013) d. Eugenio Mira (Spain)
Returning to the stage for the first time in five years, former wunderkind concert pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is wrestling with an understandable case of stage fright. But with his glam actress wife (Kerry Bishé) looking on from the opera box, he’s poised to make a grand success (recovering from his last disastrous public appearance, where he blew the crucial climax of the “Unplayable Sonata”) until he turns a page in his musical score mid-concert to find a red-pen-scribbled note: “Play one wrong note and you die.” Soon, the red dot of a laser-sighted rifle is dancing alongside his fingertips, while a menacing voice (John Cusack) via earpiece goads him toward perfection. But why?
Thursday, February 27, 2014
|DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW screenwriter J. D. Feigelson approves of Terror Dave Fuentes' essay|
Sorry it's been a little quiet over here at the Doc's office - promise we'll have some more Views soon, but we've been busy in the lab whipping up some more dynamite since HIDDEN HORROR keeps exploding all over the place.
First, a few more rave reviews: