Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser (1987)

The horror genre is typically dismissed as distasteful, uncultured schlock, and most of the time, it is. But every once in a while you get someone who crafts something a little off the beaten path, something that uses horror as a means to tell a story rather than just making another horror story. Clive Barker, known best as the author of such books as The Great and Secret Show, The Hellbound Heart, and Imajica used horror as a vessel and a tool to write compelling fantasy stories with intricate backstories and expansive worlds that live and breathe on their own. His stories had an air of sophistication about them. Sure there was blood spilled and guts strewn about, but the stories had human drama that was grounded in real world problems. From marital and family issues, to addiction and obsession (pick your poison: people, drugs, and faith were all under fire from Barker’s writing), to the cultural, class-based, and racial divide caused by the urban Chicago housing projects. Barker had a knack for weaving interesting, grounded tales together that used the macabre to elevate them. Also sex. Clive Barker stories have lots of sex in them.

Barker went through a film making phase in the ’80s and ’90s where he would adapt his own written stories to film. I think Barker’s thought process was that if his material was handled by anyone else, they would neuter it. They just didn’t know it as thoroughly as him. The Hellbound Heart was one of his most popular novellas at the time, so he adapted it into his debut feature length film: the 1987 horror masterpiece, Hellraiser.

This film is about the resurrection of Frank Cotton, a man obsessed with pursuing increasingly extreme carnal desires. After he purchases a mysterious puzzle box and solves it, he opens a gate to hell and promptly dies. His resurrection is brought about when his brother Larry injures himself while moving his family into Frank’s house. After cutting his hand on an old nail, Larry’s blood is spilled on the very floor where Frank held his last breath. Larry’s wife (and Frank’s ex-lover), Julia finds the rejuvenated-from-the-inside-out Frank, and decides to bring men back to the house and kill them, letting Frank consume their blood to slowly rebuild himself. All the while, Larry and Julia’s daughter, Kirsty has found the puzzle box and must deal with the Cenobites, a group of sadomasochistic inter-dimensional beings who cannot distinguish between pleasure and pain. The Cenobites are looking for Frank now that he is back in the material plane, and hope to find him to drag him back to hell once and for all.

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

We did it! We made it to the end of the original run of Halloween films! Everybody come get drunk with me and celebrate one great movie, a couple okay ones, and a whole slew of shit. I don’t have much else to say in my preamble here, I’m just excited to move away from an old, dated slasher franchise and start working my way through an old, dated, rebooted slasher franchise.

Halloween: Resurrection is the eighth film in the Halloween franchise and the first before Rob Zombie infamously took the reigns. It’s directed by Rick Rosenthal, the director of Halloween II, one of the better in the series and stars Jamie Lee Curtis (!), Katie Sackhoff (!), Tyra Banks (?) and Busta Rhymes (!). Regardless of the quality of this entry into the Halloween series, you’ve got to be interested in how a cast like that would work in a slasher film.

Halloween: Resurrection takes place a few years after the events of the tragically titled Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. Michael Myers is hunting down his sister Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) before returning to his childhood house to terrify a group of young actors participating in Dangertainment, an awful early 2000s reality TV show. (more…)

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)

Back to the grind. I’m so close to wrapping up the original Halloween series that I can taste it. All I have left to watch is Halloween Resurrection before I start on the duo of Rob Zombie flicks that I can say I hate because it’s cool to hate on Rob Zombie even though a majority of the films in the original franchise are awful (fight me, Halloween fans). I’m actually curious if I might like Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II more than most people because I don’t have a zealous devotion to the almost 40 year old series. I’m getting ahead of myself, here. I’ve just cleared the seventh of the eight original films, and I’m rearing to go fly down the home stretch.

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later is the worst titled slasher film ever, and was a nice change of pace to the Halloween franchise when it came out. Directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th parts 2 and 3), H20 made a point to completely ignore the giant, incoherent mess that was Halloween 4, 5, and 6.

H20 follows a disguised Laurie Strode twenty years after the events of John Carpenter’s Halloween and Halloween II. Jamie Lee Curtis makes a return as Laurie Strode, now living as Keri Tate, the headmistress of a private school in California. Her son, John (Josh Hartnett) is also there, whenever the plot demands it. Michael Myers tracks Laurie down and makes a sweet road trip from Illinois to California to confront her and try to kill her again. It’s pretty much just a direct sequel to 1981’s Halloween II, but Jamie Lee Curtis was twenty years older than she was in the original, so they obviously had to push that aspect. Also, LL Cool J is in this movie. (more…)

Possession (1981)

Possession (1981)

I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to make proper art, you shouldn’t half-ass it. Sure, things will probably get screwy if an artist relentlessly pursues their vision for a project but I think all the best art is at least a little weird. You can easily tell if a film is half-assed or is the result of muddled or conflicting goals from the filmmakers, and I find it harder and harder to watch movies that are the result of handing a camera and a bunch of money to one person and letting them see their project through to the end however they see fit. Whether the film ends up good or bad, they’re almost never bland or forgettable.

Possession is a Franco-German drama/ horror film written and directed by Andrzej Żuławski starring the beautiful Isabelle Adjani and the incomparably hammy Sam Neill as Anna and Mark, a married couple going through the most extreme breakup ever committed to film.

Mark has returned home to Cold War era Berlin, West Germany from a business trip to find his wife Anna wanting a divorce. Her behavior has become somewhat erratic and hysterical recently, and Mark finds out that she has been cheating on him with a man named Heinrich (played by Heinz Bennent, a German more Udo Kier-y than Udo Kier). In shock and stricken with grief, Mark dives deep into a rabbit hole trying to investigate Anna’s alternate life to figure out why she would betray him so, and if they could ever reconcile their love. The further he digs into Anna’s affairs, the more sinister and disturbing things he finds out about her, leading to the discovery that perhaps something evil is driving Anna to have these new, depraved desires. (more…)

Fender Bender (2016)

Fender Bender (2016)

2016 is was an interesting point in the timeline of slasher movies. We’ve seen the rise (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Friday the 13th) and fall (Jason Takes Manhattan, Silent Night Deadly Night 2) of the subgenre in the late ’70s and ’80s, its revival and the introduction of the meta-slasher in the ’90s (Scream), then the shortlived wave of slasher reboots in the mid 2000s, and finally the meta-meta-slashers (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, The Final Girls) of the later 2000s and the 2010s. Turns out after 40 some odd years of masked dudes killing people with every sharp, blunt, and pointy object known to man, the one blood-filled well has run dry. Or has it?

It has. Fender Bender is a slasher film written and directed by Mark Pavia (slightly known for his rendition of Stephen King’s The Night Flier), starring Makenzie Vega (The Good Wife, Saw, and Sin City) and Bill Sage (a throwaway character in American Psycho). You know you’re in for a treat watching a movie with such a distinguished horror pedigree.

Fender Bender follows Hilary, a young woman who gets into a small car accident in her mom’s new car. After exchanging insurance information with the man who hit her, she suspects him of following and stalking her and her friends over the weekend when her parents are away.  Stalking turns into murderin’, and Hilary’s got to fight for her life if she wants to survive.

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