Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fool's Views (3/22 – 4/11)

Um, hi there.

Yes, the good doctor has been absent for quite a while. I blame work, vacation, and general malaise, all of which conspire to thwart me in my mission to record and share my viewing experiences with you, Faithful Reader. I’ve struggled to conquer the dragon and have managed to get to a point where I’m only a month and a half behind schedule (hey, we take our little victories where we can find them).

These Views represent the last push before the New York Auto Show swallowed my soul for two weeks (you’ll note I was still banging away at the A-F section of the “to-watch” list). But the viddying of George Romero’s latest and the final installment of the Howling series are the direct result of a post Horrorhound Weekend Share the Scare with special guest John Pata. As you’ll see, I’m glad I had company for both.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Amateur Porn Star Killer (2006) (1st viewing) d. Ryan, Shane
Tedious single-camera no-budget experiment that follows a killer through his exploits of luring underage girls back to hotel rooms, having sex with them and killing them on camera. A promising, if seedy, premise, but director Ryan subjects his viewers to over an hour’s worth of obviously improvised dialogue that is neither entertaining nor enlightening – it’s just there to pad out the running time. The premise is that this is “found footage,” again, a novel concept, were it not so obvious that it’s clearly an amateur theatrical effort. The result being a long, long wait for a climax that fails to generate any real payoff. Skip it.

Bad Ronald (1974) (1st viewing) d. Kulik, Buzz
Twisted 70s TV-movie about awkward young lad Scott Jacoby who accidentally murders a neighborhood kid, whereupon his mother Kim Hunter decides that the best solution is to keep him in their house by creating a hidden room. While the basic premise is a pretty thin and unrealistic, the execution is surprisingly well done, especially after a new family moves into the house and Jacoby develops a increasingly deranged crush on the oldest daughter. Kulik also directed numerous episodes of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Doghouse (2009) (1st viewing) d. West, Jake
A group of badly behaved men take their buddy off into the wilderness for some bonding time after his wife leaves him, only to find themselves in a town filled with murderous, zombified females. The overt (and intentional) misogyny is actually the point here, and while it succeeds in being amusing in its own tasteless way, the horror elements of this horror/comedy are extremely weak. The murderous monster chicks careen wildly from being organized and intelligent undead hordes to fumbling and stumbling punchlines without any explanation given. And while the male cast members are clearly having a good time being panicked and quippy, it’s not quite enough to sell the goods. Though it’s far from disastrous, those looking for another inspired genre goof from Evil Aliens creator West might be slightly disappointed.

Embodiment of Evil (2008) (1st viewing) d. Marins, José Mojica
Coffin Joe is back and with a vengeance! Marins dons his iconic top hat and epic fingernails to unleash his personal brand of hell on the world. With surprising adeptness and skill, this decades-later sequel to 1967’s This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse picks up exactly where that film left off, never skipping a beat in following the journey of the most depraved soul on earth. Marins clearly is enjoying the freedom and technology that the new millennium presents, regaling viewers with impressive, nightmarish, gore-soaked scenarios that will satisfy both newbies to the series as well as longtime fans. An amazingly audacious and thrilling return to form, not to be missed.

Feed (2005) (1st viewing) d. Leonard, Brett
An Australian cybertracker (Patrick Thompson) pursues a man (Alex O’Loughlin) suspected of force-feeding morbidly obese women to death on camera. Unfortunately, this astonishingly original concept is submarined, thanks to ridiculous character motivations and plot machinations that would make a third grader guffaw. The filmmakers are clearly interested in exploding the conventional notions of normal/abnormal sexuality and love, and when these elements are at the forefront, Feed transcends its audacious, prurient set-up. (Exactly when does “different” equal “wrong” between consenting adults, and who gets to decide?) But when the ham-fisted thriller/action sequences are introduced, the cookie badly crumbles. As it stands, one can only wonder if anyone else will be brave enough to tackle such bizarre subject matter again…and do it better.

Howling: New Moon Rising, The (1995) (2nd viewing) d. Clive Turner
Writer/producer/director/star Turner resurrects the long-running, wildly erratic lycanthrope series for a seventh installment… then proceeds to line-dance all over its grave. (There’s no point in lodging complaints about the besmirchment of Joe Dante’s 1981 original, since Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf already took care of that.) There’s nary a hairy beast nor transformation to be seen throughout the entire film, unless you count the occasional flashback to Howlings 4, 5 and 6, the exception being a clumsy, lazy, last minute morph that constitutes the film’s “climax.” Instead, we are treated to countless country music numbers, glum and shadowy dance sequences, hysterical fashion accidents, low-wattage acting, numerous “comedic” vignettes showing off Turner’s supposed wit and guile…and fart jokes. Only to be seen in the company of trash-loving friends, preferably with alcohol to dull the pain.

Survival of the Dead (2010) (1st viewing) d. Romero, George A.
It’s clear the Godfather of the Undead has the ability to make a good movie (Survival looks great), but without a single memorable or likable character, coupled with the implausible Hatfields/McCoys setting and Irish accents (?), there’s nothing to latch onto. It’s just an anemic, ill-told fantasy accented by sloppy CGI kills. George, it’s clear you don’t enjoy making these movies anymore. We don’t enjoy watching them either. So, let’s just stop this unhealthy, co-dependent relationship right here, shall we? Because these days, I alternate between being annoyed with you or pitying you, neither of which are much fun.

Triangle (2009) (1st viewing) d. Smith, Christopher
Melissa George stars in this haunting, challenging, rewarding and mind-bending puzzle film. While there are some sticky plot elements (as is the case with many parallel universe/time travel features such as Memento and Timecrimes), they never prove so troublesome as to distract from the overall power of the plot. To say more would be a disservice to Smith’s tight plotting and moody direction – just see it.

2010 Totals to date: 71 films, 62 1st time views, 37 horrors, 7 cinema


  1. It's no surprise that Brett Leonard was able to screw up a movie. That guy has to be one of the worst directors ever.

  2. Re: Romero
    "these days, I alternate between being annoyed with you or pitying you, neither of which are much fun."

    I've felt that way for over a decade now and I've always felt that I was alone on that until recently. I still haven't watched SOTD, but I can't really say I have been looking forward to it after the last two DEAD films.

  3. Tom, after SURVIVAL was over, we all looked at each other and said, "When was the last *good* Romero film?" Pretty sad when we all realized it was probably DAY OF THE 1985. Sigh.

  4. I'm still looking forward to SURVIVAL, though (and hoping against hope that I'll get to see it in a theater).