#307 -- Candyman (1992)

Director: Bernard Rose
Rating: 4 / 5

 I remember watching this as a kid with my little "boyfriend." The only parts of it I remembered were a bunch of bees coming out of Candyman's mouth, and some woman getting naked. I think the naked lady scared me more than anything, and I'm sure the boy was even more terrified by it than I was. These days, I understand that Candyman is something to be feared.

Helen was working on a thesis paper about the urban legend of a man called Candyman. He resides in the projects, and all the residents are terrified of him. The story says that, if you say his name five times in front of a mirror, that he'll show up behind you and kill you with a hook. At first, Helen was sure that this was just the peoples' way of putting an actual face to the problems (all the crime in their area) that they faced every day. As her research continued, she realized that there was much more to Candyman's story, and she started to believe that he might be more than mass delusion.

Candyman was the son of a former slave who fell in love with a slave owner's daughter. He impregnated the girl, and her father then swore vengeance on him. He ordered a mob to saw off his hand; they then covered his body with honey and unleashed a bee-hive on him. His hand was replaced by a hook, and he lived on throughout the years, killing anyone who dared to say his name. When Helen came into the picture, everything changed. He didn't want to just kill her; he wanted to take her for his bride. Every murder that Candyman committed was blamed on Helen. She ended up getting arrested and committed to a hospital. She had to figure out a way to defeat Candyman while proving her innocence (or at least staying away from the police long enough to fight him). I think that Candyman was trying to make her lose her mind. He planned on ruining her life to a point that she would actually wish for death and join him. His plan, for the most part, worked very well. But not without a price.

Candyman was actually adapted from a short story by Clive Barker called "The Forbidden." It's in a volume of short stories called "The Books of Blood." I actually never realized this. I knew that Barker had something to do with the movie, but I didn't know what. I haven't read the story or the book, but I can't wait to check it out. He has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and I know that the story must be genius, like everything else he does.

As far as the movie goes...Since I saw it at a young age, without having read the story (or knowing anything about it), I really like it. I feel like Candyman is an icon of horror, even though he doesn't get as much recognition as the other big name horror villains. I think the thing that makes Candyman so scary is Tony Todd. Todd is a great actor, and has definitely made a name for himself in the horror world. He's a big guy, and with that deep, rattling voice, he was the perfect choice for the role. And, of course, Clive Barker himself was involved in the production of the movie, and he wouldn't let them ruin something he created. It's an interested movie which tells a tale of not only supernatural horror, but also the horrors of everyday life in the slums. There is sadness, betrayal, and of course, lots of blood. Candyman has it all.


#306 -- Madison County (2011)

Director: Eric England
Rating: 2.5 / 5

When I first saw this, I thought it looked pretty cool. I thought it would be a nice kids-in-the-woods slasher movie, good for some mindless entertainment. Also, there's a Madison County here in Georgia, where I live, so that drew me to it as well. I never had any hopes that it would be mind-blowing, and I was right. It was actually filmed in Arkansas, so I can rest easy knowing that these people weren't shit-talkin' us Georgians. Just southern people in general, I guess. These kind of movies make me wonder if non-southerners are scared of us.

Anyways, the story isn't all that original; it's something we've seen hundreds of times before. A guy decides to go to Madison County to interview the author of a book about some murders that happened there. The legend was that this killer murdered around thirty people; the townsfolk knew about the murders, some even witnessed them, but they never said a word about it. James plans on writing a paper about the book, and he takes some friends along. Once they get there, they meet the creepy locals who don't want any outsiders in there town, and they soon learn that the author knew the killer a little better than they'd thought.

The so-called "twists" were predictable. The characters were also fairly predictable, but it did do some new things that I didn't expect--mainly the fact that the nerdy guy was the only one getting laid. The order in which the kids were killed also felt different to me. If you watch enough movies like this, you can pretty much predict the order they'll die, but this one switched it up on me. All of the characters were likable. There wasn't even that one character that you hate and want dead --there was one that acted like an asshole sometimes, but his reasons were understandable, so I didn't hate him for it--so it was really easy to root for them. I liked the killer here, too. His name was Damien, he had apparently been beaten and tortured by his stepfather as a child (leaving him horribly disfigured, though we never got to see his face), he wore a big pig mask and carried an axe. The pig mask might sound cheesy, but it actually looked pretty neat. It succeeded in being creepy rather than stupid.

I was really enjoying the movie up until the end, because it really didn't have any. There always has to be a main character, and in this case that was James. There was another character with him at the end, but we never learned what happened to them. It cut off before letting us know if they got away or not. I was really disappointed by this, because I felt like the story was incomplete. Sometimes that sort of thing works, but not here. It only left me wanting more. I was also disappointed in the fact that there wasn't all that much gore. The story wasn't deep or profound or all that creepy, so I think it definitely needed more blood. It's not a big problem, definitely not as big as the incomplete ending, but just something I found disappointing.

Overall, though, I thought it was a fairly decent movie with good characters and a creepy killer.


Profile of a Serial Killer: Albert Fish

Name: Albert Hamilton Fish
Date of Birth: May 18th, 1870
Date of Death: January 16th, 1936
Cause of Death: Electrocution

If you know anything at all about real-life serial killers, you know that they are all vicious, monstrous creatures who cannot even be described as human. Even if you know nothing specifically, you understand this fact. But there were none -- and hopefully never will be -- quite like Mr. Albert Fish. He was the craziest, most vile one of the bunch. Not only was he a serial killer, but he was a pedophile, cannibal, and a sado-masochist with some very disturbing quirks. He stated that he grew up in an orphanage that was run with fierce brutality. He was known to scream "I am God!" into the skies, and he later told authorities that the voices in his head made him do it.

By all outwardly appearances, Fish seemed more than normal. He was a grandfatherly figure: a very polite and sweet old gentleman that people trusted and depended on. He was a werewolf, hiding behind a false skin until he found the perfect moment to pounce on his victims. In one case, he employed a young man as a farm-hand. The family loved him, treated him with respect, invited them into their home for lunch, and thought of him as a grandfather to their children. So it was only natural that when he said he had a child's birthday to attend that they agreed to let their young daughter accompany him. She was never seen again, but Fish was kind enough to send a letter to the girl's mother explaining exactly how he cooked her and what she tasted like. He was known to force his six children to beat him with a paddle until he bled, and he also pierced his own skin with long needles--somewhere around twenty of them were found in his pelvic region. He also like to shove alcohol-doused cotton balls into his rectum and light them on fire. When arrested, he admitted to molesting over four-hundred children.

Fish tried for an insanity plea, and despite several psychiatrists agreeing to this statement, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. There are a couple of rumors surrounding his execution. One is that he was not only untroubled by this, but that he liked it and found the idea to be "sexually thrilling." The other is that the execution was not successful on the first try due to the several needles that he'd put inside of his body and left there. It is said that he actually had to be electrocuted twice.

No matter who you hear or read about, there has never been another as terrifying and disturbing as Albert Fish. The scariest part is that he seemed so kind and gentle, and that people trusted their children to this monster. But, yet again, that was his goal.


#305 -- The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Director: Roger Corman
Rating: 3 / 5

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

To me, Edgar Allen Poe is like the Shakespeare of horror. You really have to think to understand exactly what it is he's trying to say. There are obvious points to his stories, but there's always a hidden meaning that is usually more terrifying than the obvious. He was a poet; whether you're speaking of his stories or his poems, all of his work is poetry. I read The Masque of the Red Death in high school, and I re-visited it after watching this movie starring Vincent Price. I felt something was missing from the movie, and felt the need to feel that which the original story had to offer. If you look into the meanings behind the story, you'll find that it is a very deep and terrifying tale, both things I didn't get from the movie. That's not to say that the movie is bad, because it's not; but to get the full effect of this story, you'll need to read Poe's original version.

This adaptation adds a little more depth to the character of Prince Prospero. In the story, he was simply a man who offered a safe haven from the plague of The Red Death, only to have it invade his castle and destroy everyone within. In the movie, however, he definitely had ulterior motives. Prospero (Price) was a devil-worshiper who planned to offer all of his guests as sacrifices to the Prince of Darkness. In the end, the unknown figure who showed up in the middle of Prospero's masquerade ball, once revealed, shared the Prince's face. I feel like this implied that Prospero himself was the Red Death, because he had brought death and decay to his constituents. Since it took place in the 12th century, his being the Prince gave him reign over all in the villages surrounding his castle. He was not a benevolent man; he was quite evil, cared nothing for his people and killed those who defied him without so much as blinking. In a sense, he was death.

The movie was filled with abduction, betrayal and murder. The part of Prospero was played wonderfully by Vincent Price, and Hazel Court (who played Price's wife in The Raven) played the part of Prospero's most faithful follower. The movie wasn't bad, as I said, but it was missing the depth of the original story. It did have a few deep elements: the implication that Prospero himself represented death. But the original was an allegory for the different stages of human life, with the personified "Red Death" representing an entity that one meets at the last stage. There was a tiny hint of this in the movie, but it wasn't explained quite enough. Yes, the story itself was quite vague and requires a bit of thought to fully comprehend (at least on my part). The movie was just as vague as vague, which I feel only brought it down. It is not a literary work of art; therefore it can't afford to remain so vague to its viewers, especially since it obviously wasn't a complete adaptation. It didn't take absolutely everything from the story; it threw its own plots and back-stories in there, so I feel that it should have explained things a bit better.

Even though they were both quite vague, I felt something deep and meaningful while reading the story that the movie couldn't give me.


#304 -- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Director: Rob Hedden
Rating: 5 / 5

Contains spoilers

Okay, so a lot of people have issues with this movie. It looks like most feel one of two things about it. They think either A) putting him in Manhattan was stupid, or B) that was cool, but he wasn't there long enough. Both are true, but I don't really care about all that. I do have some issues with the movie; to me, it feels like one big plot hole. But I don't care about that either. Parts 7, 8, and 9 of the series are the ones that were released around the time I was a kid -- this one was actually released five months before I was born -- so they're really the ones I remember watching back then. They all have a special place in my heart, no matter how silly or gimmicky they are. This one has always been one of my favorite, and it will stay that way, despite the tiny little issues I have with it. Sure, the movie is nothing but a giant plot hole. Sure, they figured people were getting tired of the summer camp setting (which I absolutely never will) so they stuck him some place else, which felt weird. There are only two movies in the series that I will rate anything below five points, and even then I'm only willing to go as low as 4.9. So, there are only two reasons that I will really have an issue: if they A) mess with the story (part five, where Jason wasn't even present), or B) they mess with Jason's appearance (Jason X, when they turned him into a fucking ROBOT). So, in conclusion, despite its faults, I love Jason Takes Manhattan.

Here's the run-down. It wasn't just a random occurrence that took him to New York. A bunch of high school kids were going on some sort of graduation party/field trip to New York, and they were taking a cruise ship. They happened to go through Crystal Lake, where Jason was awoken via some electricity or something. He climbed aboard the ship, because even though they weren't technically in his camp, they were still invading his home, and he didn't like that. So he started killing all the kids on the ship, and of course, it eventually took them to New York. I don't care that the majority of the movie took place on a boat, because, to me, that just makes the events that much more terrifying for the victims. When they're at the lake, at least there's an endless amount of open space that the kids can run into. Even if their cars don't work (which they never do, of course), they're still not completely stuck. Here, though, there was absolutely nowhere they could go. They were trapped in a confined space with Jason, knowing that the only they could do was either hide or fight. Or throw him overboard, but good luck with that. Once they got to New York, they felt like they'd reached a safe haven. They thought, "Okay, we're here, there are other people around, and there are plenty of places to hide." They learned quickly that there was still no way to get away from him, of course. But that was a giant let-down and, and I feel like it showcases the exhaustion that they must have felt. They went through so much already while they were on the boat; they arrived at their destination, believing that they were safe, only to realize that nowhere was safe from Jason Voorhees. I think that these victims had a rougher time than the rest because of this.

Okay, first I'll explain the issues that I do have with the movie, then I'll round things off with reasons why it's still fucking awesome. I mentioned that it feels like one giant plot hole, and it really does. The back-story for this one really doesn't make any sense at all. The main character, Rennie, has something in common with Jason: she can't swim, and she's terrified of the water. To be fair, Jason's not scared of anything (I hate when people say he's scared of water, because he's in it all the fucking time; there's no way he's scared of  anything.), though he was when he was a child. Apparently, when Rennie was a kid, her uncle tried to teach her to swim by throwing her out of their canoe. While under the water, she saw a young, deformed Jason -- which is why she grew so completely terrified of being in the water. Okay, one of two things were happening with this bit. They were either trying to imply that Jason was a ghost, or they didn't realize that he's like, 40 years older than her and there's no way she could have met him as a child. Throughout the movie, she sees glimpses of the young Jason drowning and crying out for help. She sees him in mirrors and in the windows of the boat. Again, is Jason supposed to be a ghost, or are they somehow mentally linked to one another? It didn't really expand on or explain any of that, so I really didn't get it.

Secondly, the way Jason looked. They didn't fuck with his appearance in the same way that Jason X did. For the most part, he looked just like he was supposed to. When he was unmasked, though...I don't know what the fuck that was. His face was flat, he had no teeth, and his skin sort of looked blue. Hillbilly smuf, anyone? When Jason's mask is removed, we're supposed to be terrified by how vile and gruesome his face is. This, though, was just funny -- and that shit ain't right. He was unmasked down in the sewers of New York. The two heroes threw some toxic waste on his face, it melted a little bit, and then he...turned back into a child. What? Yeah, little Jason returned, in the fetal position crying like a baby. Who knew that toxic waste was a time machine? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and it  is actually the biggest issue I have with the movie. Maybe it was imagination or drug-induced hallucination (because Rennie had been drugged and almost raped by some thugs). Maybe they were trying to turn Jason into something different; something less than human that we hadn't seen before, but they weren't really sure how to do it. I think that was actually done better in Jason Goes to Hell. Sure, it was stupid as fuck, but at least it made a little bit of sense.

Despite the fact that Jason Takes Manhattan doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I still love it. It has some of my favorite scenes from the entire series, ones that I always use as examples when explaining why I love these movies so much. First, there's a hot rocker chick who is killed by her own guitar. There's the boxer who thought he could actually beat Jason's ass. Jason ended up letting the guy punch him until he was exhausted, then punched his head clean off. It landed it a dumpster. Later, when his friends were trying to find him, they found his head stuck on the gearshift of a police car. Oh, Jason. You're so funny. There was a guy who had a hot sauna rock shoved into his stomach, which looked extremely painful...and awesome! There was the hockey billboard that really confused Jason when he first arrived in New York. And  the best one, and probably my favorite scene in any of the movies. There were some thugs in New York, outside listening to some music. Jason was angry as he walked past them, so he kicked over their boom-box. They thought they were bad-ass, thought they'd pull a knife on him and start cussing him. He turned around, lifted up his mask, and the thugs stumbled through something like, "Sorry, m-man. It's cool, dude." No, he didn't kill them; which brings me to another thing I like about the movie. It shows that Jason isn't the mindless killer everyone thinks he is. Sure, he was a mongoloid. Sure, he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. But he's not as stupid as people assume. Once they got to New York, he didn't bother anyone. He didn't kill any of the NY citizens unless they got in his way. He wasn't after them. He had no problems with them, because they hadn't invaded his home. I think he only killed one person in New York, actually, which...makes me smile really big. You remember when Kane Hodder was denied the part in Freddy Vs. Jason, in favor of Ken Kirzinger? Well, I really despise Ken, because he really sucked balls. The NY citizen that Jason killed here? He was played by Ken. Ha! I love watching it now and seeing Kane throw Ken around like a rag doll. Little bitch ass.

So, yeah; the movie has its issues, but it also has its charm. I don't care that it doesn't make sense. Sure, I like the stories they throw in, but that's not why I'm here. It's cool if they've got a good story, but mainly it's about Jason. I don't watch these movies to be engaged with the characters' stories. I don't watch them for the characters, because I could give two shits about any of them, despite how likable they are. I'm here to watch Jason fuck shit up. Ghost, mongoloid, whatever they were trying to turn him into...he still does that quite brilliantly.


#303 -- The Possession (2012)

Director: Ole Bornedal
Rating: 2 / 5

The first thing you'll notice when watching this movie is that it claims to be "based on true events." That's not really surprising, as most ghost stories claim the exact same thing. I did some research, though, and it turns out, it kind of actually is. There was a box (known as the Dibbuk Box) selling on Ebay that was supposedly haunted. It was originally owned by a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust; it kept changing hands, each person who owned in claimed that they experienced nightmares, health issues, and sometimes death around them. It eventually made its way to a man named Jason Haxton who wrote a book about the things he experience while in possession of the box. It all comes down to what you, personally, believe. I don't know how much, if any, of that I believe. But it does mean that the movie was at least partially telling the truth. I've made it a mission to find and read "The Dibbuk Box" by Jason Haxton, so that I can see just how truthful the movie is, but I have a feeling that the events in the movie were only loosely based on the things that actually happened.

Anyways, here's what the movie is about. A man, recently divorced, gets to have his two daughters every weekend. After buying a new house, he stops at a yard sale to see if he can find some new dishes. One of his daughters, Emily, finds a strange box that she is very drawn to. He buys the box for her, and she becomes obsessed with the thing. She won't allow anyone else to touch it, and if they do, she gets extremely violent with them. Eventually she even starts getting violent with her family. She stabbed her dad with a fork, and threw a bunch of glass at her mother. But that was pretty much where the action ended. The main reason they were concerned with her to begin with was that she was acting weird, unlike herself. They just decided to get her some help when she started being mean. Her dad, who was a basketball coach, went to a professor at his college to have him inspect the box. He learned that it was a Jewish device used to contain demons, that it should never be opened (which of course, Emily did), and that the only way to get rid of the demon (and save his daughter) was to get the demon back into the box. To New York he goes, to find a rabbi who can help him.

All of that sounds interesting enough, though I still feel like the "real" story is more interesting. The movie, though it had an interesting story, was incredibly boring. It mostly consisted of Emily getting distant from her family and friends and her obsession with the box. By the time there was any action, half of the movie was over; and when that action took place, it wasn't that great. I've already stated two of those things above, and there was only one more to speak of. The ending scenes, where the rabbi was trying to help them get the demon back in the box, were more comical than anything. It wasn't exciting; it wasn't scary. It had an interesting story, but I'd much rather read Jason Haxton's version of things. What's sad is how much I was looking forward to seeing the movie, and how disappointed I was with it. I was hoping for some real scares, even if they were cheesy or cliche; but there were no scares at all.  I will say that once the demon had fully taken over Emily, it looked pretty cool. So, there's that...


#302 -- Circle (2010)

Director: Michael W. Watkins
Rating: 2 / 5

I'll be honest. Going into this, I didn't actually want to watch it. I wanted to watch something, I was resting comfortably in my bed, and I didn't feel like moving an inch; so I started searching through my On Demand. I looked over this one more than once, and I thought it seemed like it would be predictable, and I wasn't all that interested. But of all the movies I looked through, it looked the most promising -- which is pretty sad. Plus, I saw that Silas Mitchell was in it. I've come to really enjoy him, so that at least gave me some hope. But this is a case of having a lot of great things to work with but failing to create an outstanding product.

It's about a group of students that I assume were in college studying to become criminal psychologists. A class project sent them to the childhood home of a guy named Bennett (Mitchell). This guy had murdered five people, I think. He was arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital. The students' assignment was to stay in the house for the weekend to get a feel for how Bennett thought; to get a peek inside the mind of a serial killer. They also hoped to find something that the police overlooked, so that they could get some major brownie points. But little did they know, Bennett had escaped from the institution, and was making his way back home.

The very basic premise sounds an awful lot like Halloween, but don't expect it to be a rip-off, because it's not. I think that these people might have been inspired by Halloween, but it's actually nothing like it. There was a back-story on Bennett that I didn't really understand. He had arranged all of his victims in a half-circle, because that's the shape of an eyeball and apparently the Greeks thought that would...be really cool. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, or maybe my volume was too low, but I actually have no idea what Bennett's deal was. The movie followed a couple of cops trying to find him, and to figure out exactly what it was he was doing so they could prevent him from doing it again. They found, in his room at the institute, that he'd drawn all sorts of symbols on the walls. The doctor said that she'd been interpreting it, and that she'd sent her notes over to the cops; but in the end, she decided not to share them, so we never got to learn what it all meant. I'm not sure what the point of all that was, other than to prove that Bennett wasn't an idiot, because he certainly seemed that way to begin with. I think the idea was interesting enough, but there wasn't enough explanation to make it work. I had a problem with the way the cops operated, as well. When they figured out a key point to Bennett's story, the audience wasn't clued in at all. There was no lead-up and no allowing us to figure it out along with them. Suddenly, they knew something, and we just had to accept it. The problem was that it didn't make enough sense for me to accept.

Though I obviously had some issues with the movie, I do think it had some good things going for it. First of all, the actors. Most of them I had never heard of, but they all worked really well together, particularly the policeman and the female FBI agent. I was kind of disappointed with Silas Mitchell, though. I don't fault him for it at all, but I feel like he was downplayed. Since he was the main reason I even watched the movie, I felt like there should have been more for him to do. His character hardly ever spoke, and when he did, he spoke in Greek. He wasn't creepy at all; he just sort of sulked off-screen and we hardly even saw him. He is such a talented actor, and I don't think they used his talents to the fullest extent. It took way too long for him to actually kill anyone, and when he did it was either off-screen or so excruciatingly forgettable that it was upsetting. I was hoping to see him play a bad ass serial killer who seriously fucked shit up, but I didn't get that at all. There were absolutely no memorable kills and practically no blood and gore to speak of. Oh yeah, back to the good stuff. I think the movie definitely looked good. It wasn't mind-blowing, but it didn't look homemade either, which is always good. Silas wore these light blue/gray contacts that made his eyes really pretty, and sadly, that was the most memorable and exciting thing in the entire movie. I loved his eyes, and his hot brother had the same eyes; yum!

Overall, it was just an okay idea. It had some good things to work with, but nothing ever panned out. It was a bloodless and brainless movie that tried to be smart and scary; and it failed on both accounts.


#301 -- My Stepdad's A Freakin' Vampire! (2009)

Director: David Matheny
Rating: 3 / 5

Everyone knows I'm a sucker for movies that look cheesy. I think it's safe to say that this one looked to be the epitome of the word, which is why I was intrigued by it. Sometimes, when I stumble upon something like this, it ends up being absolutely wonderful and becomes one of my favorite movies. Sometimes, it ends up being a piece of crap I wished I'd never watched. But at other times, like now, it ends up as something I could live with or without.

The movie was about a guy named Rusty, whose mother just married Richard. Rusty hated Richard, because he was sort of an asshole. When mom went out of town, she asked that the two of them get along, but all Rusty wanted to do was stay away from him. When he discovered the body of a missing mailman in their attic, though, he realized he might be dealing with something other than a horrible stepdad. He called the police, but once they arrived, the body was gone. So he went to the same person that all of us would go to in a similar situation: his best friend, Travis. Travis didn't believe him either, that is until they were attacked by the undead mailman.

They were saved by their school's janitor, who just happened to double as a vampire slayer (since, of course, his family had been killed by Richard himself). Gert, the janitor/vamp slayer, explained that Richard was actually the leader of an ancient vampire army. That army was brought to Earth by some sort of talisman, and once the army was defeated, it was taken under the protection of a certain family. It remained in that family ever since, and that family was the Funkhausers. Rusty Funkhauser. So, Richard had spend who-knows-how-long searching for that talisman, which is why he married Ms. Funkhauser. Once he found it, he would be able to raise his army again, and take over the world. It was up to Rusty, Travis, Gert, and a nerd-boy named Brad to defeat the vampire threat.

You can tell that this movie is fairly low budget, but it doesn't always show. It's sort of a hit or miss with this one. Sometimes everything looks wonderful, and at other times it just looks cheesy. As for the story, I liked it. The whole army/talisman thing was cool. The acting was just okay, and the effects, again, where hit or miss. It was definitely a cheesy movie that had quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. For the most part, I say it was a good effort, but I feel like it was missing something. The entire time, I felt like, if they'd just pushed things a little harder and made a little bit more of an effort, it would have been great. It definitely wasn't a bad movie, but it just failed to go the extra mile. I was entertained, and it's definitely something to check out if you're into this sort of thing--like I am.

This review was part of Vampire's Day Soiree, hosted by Holly's Horrorland. What better way to spend the most romantic day of the year than by sitting down to a nice vampire movie? Or, in my case, a cheesy vampire movie. I could have chosen a more sophisticated movie, but instead I chose something that my boyfriend and I could both agree on. He wouldn't have enjoyed an older or foreign movie, so cheesy it was! It is, after all, the couple's holiday, and I wouldn't have felt right watching it alone. Besides, he promised to watch a movie with me, which doesn't happen often, so I didn't want to jeopardize that.

Anyways, I love the idea of this, and I hope it continues throughout the years. I'm looking forward to participating in this event again. Head on over to Holly's blog to check out the other participants and enjoy all the vampire goodness.


#300 -- Fright Night Part II (1988)

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Rating: 3.5 / 5

For a long time, I didn't even know there was a sequel to Fright Night. I saw it on TV, so I recorded it right away. But I waited a long time to actually watch it because, well...naturally, most people are a little hesitant when it comes to sequels. Plus, the description was something about Charlie believing that the events in the first movie never even happened. I was scared that I'd just be watching Charlie doing normal things and not believing in vampires. I was just being cynical, though; I should have known that something would happen to make him start believing again. Duh.

So, Charlie went to college, got a new girlfriend named Alex, and started seeing a therapist after the traumatic experience with Jerry Dandrige. The therapist had him convinced that things were not as they seemed. Charlie started believing that Jerry was just your average every day serial killer. He believed that, after having his best friend and girlfriend kidnapped by he guy, his mind created the vampire scenario. I guess, maybe, he thought a vampire would be easier to deal with than a regular serial killer. It doesn't really make sense to me, and it shouldn't have made sense to Charlie. But what can you do? Therapists can make you believe some crazy things. Anyways, Charlie is afraid to visit his old friend Peter Vincent for reasons I don't really get. It was one of two things: either he didn't want to relive what they went through, or he felt bad for Peter because he still believed in vampires. But after he had his last session with the therapist, he decided it was time to go see him, and he took Alex along for the ride. You could tell straight away that Alex was a keeper. She knew all about Charlie's story and his fear of vampires, and she helped him through it. When she met Peter, she didn't think he was crazy with all his "vampires are real!" talk. She thought he was cute, I think. When Charlie said that he loved the book "Dracula," she went to the library and read it in, like, ten minutes. Plus she was pretty hot. I really hope Charlie married that girl.

Anyways, after their visit with Peter, Charlie was hanging out in the lobby of his apartment building while Alex went to the little girl's room. In walks a group of weird looking people. Instantly, his old hesitance came back. He watched these people like a hawk until he realized that he was doing the exact same thing he did with Jerry, and he decided that he was acting crazy. As time progressed, though, he kept seeing these people, and they only became more and more suspicious. He started following them, until he finally saw two of the girls attack one of his friends. It was at this point that he went to Peter for help. They investigated, found a rational explanation (a vampire-themed party) for what he had seen, and then Charlie went back to his "vampires aren't real" mind frame. It went in an opposite direction than the first movie, as Peter ended up being the one trying to convince Charlie that there were vampires around them.

Let's talk about this "group" that I mentioned. They were a pretty colorful bunch, to say the least. One of them I can only describe as being the epitome of the '80s; complete with an over-the-top teased up hair-do, the roller blades that he never took off, and the wacky clothes. One of them I don't think was a vampire at all. He seemed to be the leader of the group, though. I call him bug-man, because he liked to eat bugs, and once he was killed a whole bunch of maggots and mill worms spilled out instead of guts. One was a werewolf. Wait, what!? A fucking werewolf? Oh yes. And he had a thing for Charlie's girlfriend, so you know that didn't end very well. The one that the movie mainly focuses on, though, was Regine. She plagued Charlie's dreams, seemed to follow him everywhere, and she was so seductive that it was a struggle for Charlie to resist her. He was a gentleman, though, and he stayed faithful to his girl. So don't worry, ladies. Charlie's not a complete ass. Anyways, Regine was holding a grudge against Charlie for something I'll let you figure out for yourself (though you can probably figure it out pretty easily). She planned on turning him into a vampire, so that she could torture him for the rest of his everlasting life.

Fright Night Part II is definitely a good movie. It's got everything the first one had: humor, Charlie panicking like a crackhead, some gnarly special effects, and of course, some evil vampires. I didn't like it quite as much as the first one, but I still thought it was great. The vampires looked a little different -- once they turned into full-on vamp form, they kind of looked like giant deformed bats. They looked awesome, but I didn't like them quite as much as their appearance in the first one. I liked Charlie's girlfriend a lot better in this one, though. Amy was kind of annoying, but Alex was wonderful. She was very supportive of Charlie, she never left his side, and when it came down to vampire-fighting, she was no scaredy cat. Oh, here's one thing that I loved about it. Regine actually stole Peter's job as host of Fright Night. Instead of sitting back and letting her steal his thunder, though, he decided to go and kill her -- while they were filming! He failed and got arrested, of course. He was screaming at the cops about vampires and how he was a vampire killer, and he was committed to the crazy farm. Ha!

Anyways, as far as sequels go, I thought this one was pretty great. No, it's not as good as the first one, but they rarely are. It seems like there are quite a lot of people who love this one just as much (if not more) than the first one, so it's really strange that I never knew about it. I really need to stay in the loop from now on. It won't happen, but a girl can dream. I'm always the last to know.


#299 -- The Devil's Carnival (2012)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Rating: 3 / 5

I didn't know anything about this movie going into it. I found it on Netflix, and I thought it sounded interesting. The synopsis Netflix gave me was something along the lines of lost souls being trapped in hell, forced to face the sins they committed. It sounded pretty cool. But, little did I know, it was directed by the same guy who directed Repo! The Genetic Opera. I didn't like "Repo," so if I had known that going in, I probably would have been more hesitant about it. On the other side of things, if I'd known that he also directed three Saw movies, I probably would have been more hopeful; I probably would have also been more disappointed. Anyways, the point is, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I saw that Emilie Autumn was one of the stars, which intrigued me. I don't know that much of her music, but she does have one song that I happen to love. Seeing her name should have given me a little hint as to what I was getting into, but I guess I'm naive. I had no idea that I was about to watch a musical. The lead singer for one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, was also in the movie; but I didn't care for his part, or the song that he sang, which is a huge disappointment.

What Netflix told me was pretty much spot on, because that's pretty much all there is to it. At the beginning, we see three people die. One was John, who committed suicide in his bathroom for unknown reasons. The second was Tamara, who was apparently murdered by her abusive boyfriend or husband. The third was Merryweather, a jewel thief, who we can assume was killed by police once they caught up with her. The movie is narrated by The Devil, who tells the stories from a book of Aesop's Fables. John wanders around Hell looking for his son, though I have no idea what his son might have been doing there. I think that maybe his son had died, and that was the reason that he killed himself. The Devil did say something about him giving into grief, so it makes sense. But toward the end, it hints that maybe John hated his son and wished that he'd never been born, so again, why was he looking for him in Hell? I'm not sure if his "sin" was the hatred for his son, or the simple fact that he committed suicide. I don't understand why Tamara was there at all. Again, it looked like she was killed by an abusive man, so why should she be blamed for that and sent to hell? Once she got there, she met a guy they called Scorpion. He asked for her help, and promised to protect her. Once he gained her trust, he killed her. This is the fable that I actually recognized, "The Scorpion and the Frog." I guess her sin was that she trusted people too easily, but is that really a sin at all? Merryweather was understandable. She was a thief, she was greedy, and no matter how much she had, it was never enough. She lost everything gambling to gain more possessions.

I didn't really understand the story. I didn't get why these people ended up there, and I didn't understand the things that happened to them once they were in Hell. There was also very little character development. That, and the fact that their stories were impossible to understand, made it very difficult to care at all. The musical aspect of the movie was better than the story, though not by much. They sounded good, and all of the singers were talented; but the songs weren't catchy enough to love, and they were hard for me to understand without looking up the lyrics. Even then, I didn't get the point that they were trying to make. Visually, the movie was incredible. It was all cast in an eerie red lighting, to create more of a Hellish atmosphere, and it looked wonderful. The carnival setting was absolutely beautiful, and all of the demons were great. There were also some ladies dressed like little gothic dolls, and they definitely were easy on the eyes. I was engaged throughout the movie, and interested in seeing where it went next. But sadly, it didn't really go anywhere.

Overall, I think it was a good idea that didn't quite work out. I liked the premise, but it was too hard to follow and I didn't understand the story it was trying to tell. I liked it better than Repo, but not by much. In fact, I feel like I'm reviewing Repo again, because I said basically the same things about it: good idea, but it didn't play out all that well. But with The Devil's Carnival, I at least didn't feel annoyed at the musical aspect of the movie. So I guess I've go to give it props for that.


#298 -- Madhouse (1974)

Director: Jim Clark
Rating: 4 / 5

This was another one of those, "Ah, fuck it" type of deals. I was searching through Netflix for a while and couldn't decide on what to watch. I happened upon this one, Netflix thought I might like it, and I knew that Vincent Price was in it. I was tired of looking. So I trusted Netflix, and used my instinct and the knowledge that Vincent Price fucking rules, and I settled on it. Turns out, it's a pretty great movie.

Vincent played Paul Toombes, a man who became famous by playing a character called Dr. Death in a series of horror movies. During a party for the movies, his soon to be trophy wife was brutally murdered and be-headed. Paul honestly didn't know whether or not he committed the murder, and this led to his being institutionalized. He was never convicted of the murder, he was released back out into the public, and then he was sent to London to start working on a TV show based on his old movies. He stayed with his old friend Herbert, as well as an old co-star, Faye, who had lost her beauty, lived in the basement and was obsessed with spiders. They started shooting the television show, and before long, more people started getting killed by a strange man dressed as Dr. Death. And Paul still wasn't sure whether or not he was to blame. It seemed like, any time Dr. Death was involved, he went into a sort of trance, and woke up with someone dead. But could there be more to the murders?

Vincent as Dr. Death
What I liked about the movie was the suspense factor. Usually, in older movies like this, there's practically none -- at least not for me. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually quite suspenseful and fast paced. In the beginning, it's obvious to everyone that Paul is to blame for the murders. But as the movie progresses, more people are added to the list, until practically everyone Paul knows becomes a suspect. I really didn't know who to blame for the murders, though I did have my suspicions. That was the fun in it. There was practically no gore whatsoever, and where it was present it was in very small amounts. It wasn't a gore fest, but it was exciting. The excitement came from the chase. It came from trying to figure out just who the murderer was, and if Paul was, in fact, killing people without remembering it. By the end, it turned into a full-blown slasher movie, with people running through the studio being chased by the Dr. Death style killer.

Vincent Price was wonderful as usual, but his role in this movie was kind of weird for me. Since he wasn't sure if he was the murderer or not, his character played out like one of the victims, which is strange. I'm used to seeing him as a villain, and this movie showed me that 'ol Vince really didn't know how to scream. Any time he'd find a dead body, he'd let out the weirdest scream I've ever heard. I guess he was used to making other people scream, and it all just sounded weird to me. But that's probably just because I prefer him as a villain. By the end of the movie, his old creepiness came back, and he ended things with a rather magnificent soliloquy that, for me, answered the age-old question "why in the hell do people like horror movies?" So, if nothing else, Madhouse was a learning experience. Now when people ask me that question, I have a definite answer for them, and I thank it for that. It's nice to finally understand my weirdness.

The killer Dr. Death
I'd also like to mention one Adrienne Corri, who played Faye, the basement-dwelling spider lover. This woman was creepy as shit, and I think she should have been the star of the show, rather than the fake Dr. Death (alongside Vincent Price, of course.) She could have been one hell of a serial killer, and he was pretty frightening. I really loved the character, and Corri played her extremely well.

So, despite the lack of gore, and Vincent Price's weird screaming, Madhouse is a wonderful slasher movie with bits of humor, a cool story, great actors, nice suspense, and a fast pace. It's great for Price fans, or horror fans in general, I say. Check it out. You won't be sorry.


#297 -- Stag Night (2008)

Director: Peter A. Dowling
Rating: 3.5 / 5

It's weird. When it comes to watching movies On Demand, when I pick them, they usually turn out to be duds. But when my boyfriend chooses one, they're always good. Maybe I should let him choose them more often. Anyways, the point is, he chose this one, and it's good.

It started off with a couple of guys attending a bachelor party getting kicked out of a club. I assume it's because of Tony, the groom-to-be's trouble making brother. He said he knew of another, better, club that they could go to, so they all loaded up on the subway to continue their partying. On the subway, they met a couple of girls. Tony tried hitting on one of the girls, but she wasn't into it, and kept telling him to get away from her. Being the drunken asshole that he was, he just wouldn't listen, and he ended up with a face full of pepper spray. In fact, I think everyone ended up with a face full of pepper spray. Either that or the fumes got to them, so they all got off the train to get away from the smell and to adjust their eyes. I'm not sure why they had to get off the train to do this, other than it being a crucial part of the story. The accidentally got off at a station that was closed down and gated up. The train left, and they were trapped with no way to get out. Instead of sitting around and waiting for another train --since it was about four in the morning -- some of them decided to try to walk, on the tracks, to the next station. Two of them, one of the guys and one of the girls, stayed behind to get it on and ended up getting more than they'd hoped for. Just when they were getting hot and heavy, a little kid showed up, took the girl's wallet and ran off. The guy chased after him, only to end up having a chunk bitten out of his hand.

Meanwhile, the others have reached another station, where they witness three Rob Zombie look-alikes chopping a police officer to pieces. Being the smart people that they are, they decided that they should probably run, but not before they made some noise, alerting the guys to their presence. Those three guys got back to the original terminal before they did, killed their two friends, and dragged them back to their underground home. By that time, the others had found said underground home, full of giant dogs and plenty of weapons. It was then that they realized what they were dealing with: cannibals. Trapped in the underground world of New York City, it seemed like there was no possible way for them to make it through the night alive.

It wasn't exactly a unique story, but it was good. It played out just as you'd expect. People got killed and eaten, and one person was able to take the cannibals down. The characters weren't really unique either, but then again, they never are in horror movies, so that's okay. What did make the movie unique was that, for one in this particular subgenre, there wasn't as much gore as you would expect. Oh, there was gore, don't get me wrong. People were getting their heads cut off, guts ripped out, and chunks bitten out of them. But it's not nearly as much as you'd expect from cannibals, at least usually. There wren't huge feasts, or the cannibals ripping into people like savages. Mostly, it was the chase that we saw. It was the friends trying to find their way out of the labyrinthine underground tunnels. Which is cool, I guess, but I don't think there was enough story to back up the lack of gore. There was a little bit of character development, but there wasn't enough story to the characters to make their interactions all that interesting. One of them was getting married, one of them had a kid, one was an asshole, and the other was just sort of there. With a little more story, I think the idea would have worked better. I do like that it focused more on the chase than the savagery of the cannibals, because it's different, but I don't think it worked quite as well as they had hoped. Either way, it's a pretty decent movie that'll have you engaged the entire time. Oh, and let's talk about some of the stars. There was Kip Pardue (Sunshine from Remember the Titans) as the groom-to-be, Breckin Meyer (Road Trip & Josie and the Pussycats) as Tony the asshole, and Vinessa Shaw (Hocus Pocus) as one of the girls. So there are definitely some familiar faces here. Overall, I think it was a good movie and not a waste of time.


#296 -- Hunger (2009)

Director: Steven Hentges
Rating: 3 / 5

This is one of those times where, after surfing through Netflix for a while, I just got tired of looking. I settled on Hunger because the plot seemed interesting, and I had sort of an idea of how it would go, and I liked what I had playing out in my head. It was pretty predictable, but it didn't turn out the way I was hoping that it would. However, it wasn't a complete disappointment.

It started off with five people waking up in a dark room, oblivious to how they got there or why. The characters were fairly bland, but they did have enough personality to become at least a little bit likable. Jordan was the main character, and clearly the most intelligent and rational of the bunch. Grant, who became Jordan's biggest ally, was also pretty rational and competent. Luke was unstable from the get-go and it was completely obvious that he would be the first to unravel. Anna seemed extremely weak to begin with, but she ended up surprising everyone by turning into a psychotic bitch. There was a little distrust between them at first, but they soon realized that they'd have to work together if they wanted to get out alive. They searched for an exit for a while, until they found a little bricked-in doorway. The man who imprisoned them gave them two gifts: a carving knife and four giant barrels full of water. They also had a little make-shift toilet, which I'm sure they were very thankful for after a while. They also got a not that said something along the lines of "the human body can only survive for thirty days without food." So, now we've got our motive -- sort of. His very basic motive is to see how long they can survive without food, but there's actually more to it than that. I'm sure you  could tell where it was going from the beginning, and if you couldn't, the carving knife should have surely given it away. He wants to see just how long it will take them to resort to cannibalism, and which of them will unravel to the point of resorting to such measures.

The man's real motive was a little more complex than all of that, though it really wasn't all that interesting. We're shown at the beginning that he was in a terrible car accident when he was a child. It left his mother dead beside him, and he was trapped in the car for several weeks. He had to eat parts of his own mother. So I guess he wanted to see if other people would do the same, so he didn't feel so guilty. It never really expanded on that, as he was left unnamed and completely vague. The flashback was the only little bit of back story we got on him. All the time, we see him sitting in a cozy office watching these people on cameras. He had what I believe was a microphone sitting in front of him, so I really hoped that he was going to start talking to them eventually, but he never said a word throughout the entire movie. I think this would have made things even more frightening for the captives, as they'd have a voice to put to the person behind their imprisonment. They'd have something solid to place the blame on. Also, I feel like it would have made things a whole hell of a lot more interesting. They were pawns in his twisted game, and I feel like he should have played with them a little more, rather than leaving them alone to play with each other. Their interactions with one another were interesting, and watching each of their inevitable mental breakdowns was definitely engaging. But I wanted more.

Though I had a couple of problems with it, I felt that the story was fully developed, and that it made the point it was trying to make. Visually, the movie was good. There wasn't a lot of gore, as you'd expect from something like this. It wasn't purely about the cannibalism; it was mostly about the disintegration of the captives' mental states, and it focused more so on that than the blood and guts. The couple of scenes that showed some gore did look good, as well. Overall, it's actually very good movie, though it's more of a psychological thriller than a horror. There's nothing scary about it for viewers; but it looks into the human psyche, and just how far people will go to ensure their own survival. Though it didn't play out the way that I hoped, that's purely a personal opinion. It didn't really hurt the value of the movie, and I still found it interesting. It's not a mind-blowing feat in film-making; it's not a 100% incredible horror movie. But it's an interesting and disturbing movie that doesn't fail to entertain.


#295 -- Van Helsing (2004)

Director: Stephen Sommers
Rating: 4 / 5

Okay, you caught me. This one isn't technically a horror movie, but I don't anyone will argue with my reasons for including it on a horror movie blog. Anyone who hasn't seen this can figure out the basic story of it; and anyone who has seen it probably loves it. It is a wonderful movie with a very interesting and different version of the story of Dracula.

In the beginning, we see Dracula killing Dr. Frankenstein. He had brought Frankenstein to Transylvania to create the Monster for him, and once he'd succeeded, Dracula felt he didn't need the doctor anymore. That, and Victor refused to let Dracula use his creation for evil, like he'd planned. But Dracula didn't count on the Monster having a working brain that could form its own thoughts. The Monster ran away, holding its father in its arms. They ended up at the windmill that the angry mob burned to the ground. Cut to one year later, and we meet Van Helsing as he's attempting to kill the evil Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde kind of looks like an ogre, he's extremely agile, and he jumps around like a ninja. He finishes Mr. Hyde off, and he is then sent to Transylvania to get rid of Dracula.

Once in Transylvania, he meets the beautiful Anna. She's from a family that has been trying for hundreds of years to kill Dracula, and she will be his aide as he attempts to do the same. Along with these two, there's also a friar/weapons inventor named Carl. They eventually meet up with the Monster, who isn't quite as dead as Dracula had originally thought. They all form a very wonderful team, each with their own assets to help out on the mission. Carl is the brains; Anna and Van Helsing are the brawn, and the Monster has some inside information on Dracula that will help them greatly. Turns out, Dracula needed the monster because he was the key to Dr. Frankenstein's machine, and if he was captured once again, Dracula would be able to raise thousands of his children. Also, the only thing that can kill Dracula is a werewolf. Anna's brother is turned into a werewolf, and we assume for a while that he's the one who will kill Dracula. But he is killed by Van Helsing, and Dracula's real enemy is much more powerful.

There are so many great things going on in this movie that I honestly don't know where to begin. First of all, there's that intro. The beginning is my favorite part of the movie, because it shows a battle between Dracula and Victor Frankenstein. I know there must be more movies that bring these two together, but this is the first one I've seen, and I fucking love it. Frankenstein's Monster looks very different than he did originally, but he doesn't look bad at all; he actually looks really great. I was happy that they didn't change the character's traits too much too. He was still a benevolent and misunderstood creature, and at first, Van Helsing was the only person who could see that. He became a great friend and ally to the rest of them. Not only did it combine Dracula and Frankenstein, but it had the Wolf Man as well. The only thing it was missing was a few zombies, and then it would have been a horror fan's wet dream. There were also a lot of great people here. There was Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing, Kate Beckinsale as Anna, and Robbie Coltrane as Mr. Hyde. Yep, fucking Hagrid. He's practically un-recognizable, but it's just god-damn wonderful. Maybe it's just me, since I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, but I was so excited when I realized.

Besides all that, when you get down to the core of it, it's just a great movie. It has a great story that combined a lot of my favorite things, and it was different than any other I'd seen. It was full of non-stop action, wonderful fight scenes (with a bunch of people who were apparently raised as ninjas), amazing special effects, and a nice little love story thrown in for good measure (or to appeal to women...). It was exciting, different, funny at times and sad at times. Overall, it's very simple -- Van Helsing is a wonderful movie, and even though it might not technically be a horror movie, every horror fan should see it.


#294 -- Scary or Die (2012)

Directors: Bob Badway, Michael Emanuel & Igor Meglic
Rating: 3 / 5

You, like me, might be drawn by that fucking awesome clown on the cover of Scary or Die. And once you watch it, you'll be surprised to find that it's not one of those instances of the cover looking way cooler than the actual movie. Well, at least the clown bit. You might be a little disappointed by the movie as a whole, but if you don't take it too seriously, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's an anthology movie with five separate segments, one of which acts as the wrap-around story for the entire thing.

The Crossing is about a couple of rednecks who act as vigilante border control officers. They abduct Mexican immigrants (and I assume those of hispanic heritage that aren't immigrants at all), return them to the border, and kill them as a warning to those who wish to cross in the future. They're hoping that one day, they'll get the picture and stop coming into "their country." They're real assholes, and it's impossible to care about them at all. Anyways, during this particular trip to the border, some home-made booze gets spilled onto the graves of the fallen immigrants, and this wakes them up. You can guess that they're not too happy about the way they've been treated, and being under the ground for so long has made them hungry. This bit was okay, and I think it acted as more of cultural satire than horror. There are actually a lot of people out there who think this way. The zombies weren't the scary part; you'll actually find yourself rooting for them since the two main characters are such dickheads. The scary part is the way these guys act. Once the zombies start rising, you'll get to see all the people that they've killed, and some of them are children. That's the scary part for me -- that someone would actually murder children simply because of the color of their skin.

Re-Membered is a story about a hit-man who gets more than he bargained for when he is sent to kill a person who I can only assume was a satanist. It shows him cutting this guy up in his bathtub, stuffing him in a bag and throwing him into the trunk of his car. He then starts driving toward an unknown destination, and he keeps hearing a mysterious tapping coming from his trunk. He goes to check it out, finds the body exactly the way he left it. He continues driving, still hearing the noise, and goes to check a second time. This time, the body is gone, and in its place is a note that reads "You can't kill me." I didn't like this one as much as the first, which says a lot, because I didn't like the first one all that much either. I think it could have been better as a full-length movie, or even if it had just a little more time to develop the story. If it told us more about the man that the hit man killed, his history and just why he was being sent to kill him, it could have been interesting.

Taejung's Lament is about a man whose wife died recently. He is very lonely, lives a dull and sad life, and can't seem to pick himself up. One night, he sees a pretty girl walking down the street; they exchange smiles, and it's made obvious that she might be able to help him get over the loss of his wife. But before anything of significance can happen, the girl is kidnapped by a stranger. Taejung uses his cell phone (stuffed into the gas tank of the stranger's car) to track them down, and he saves the girl. She invites him to her apartment for a party, but once he gets there, he realizes that he should have left things alone. The man who abducted the girl was none other than Van Helsing, and this party he is attending is about to get a little out of hand. This one's interesting enough, I guess, but it's the worst of the bunch. The majority of it just shows Taejung walking around and looking sad. Once it gets to the good stuff, it ends. It's too much build-up and not enough pay-off.

Clowned is the best in the collection, which is why it's featured on the cover, I'm guessing. It's the longest of the bunch, which allows it to give us a better, more complex story. It's about a guy named Emmett who gets bitten by a clown at his little brother's birthday party. Afterwards, he starts feeling a little funny and can't seem to get enough to eat. He starts getting sick a lot, but that's only the beginning. Eventually he starts to grow really quickly, causing him to wear funny-looking clothes (because they're the only ones that will fit him) and bigger shoes. His skin also starts to turn colors, and he grows a white afro. He tries to live with it for a short period of time, but when he starts to develop the urge to eat his little brother, he decides it's time to split. He runs away, lives his life like a bum, and tries to resist the urge to eat people. But of course, cannibals will be cannibals...I think the effects in this one were wonderful. I loved the way the clown looked -- with his giant mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth, his weird clothes and that sack he wore over his head. He was genuinely creepy. But not scary. Sure, he ate some people, but they all deserved it. It wasn't just a story about a killer clown; it was a story about a man who is forced to abandon his family for their own safety. He has to run away form his mother, his little brother, his girlfriend, and the unborn child that he doesn't know about. It's a very sad story, and I really enjoyed it.

Lover Come Back is the last, and shortest, in the collection. It's about a woman whose husband became extremely abusive and murdered her. He stuffed her in a box and left her out in the woods. But this woman's grandfather was a master of black arts (or something like that), and as a young child he'd given her a special power. It was something like this -- if there was love in her heart, that love would never die. Even though he was abusive, she still loved her husband. So, she died with that love still in her heart; meaning that she wouldn't die. She came back to get her revenge on him. This one tried to act as a wrap-around story, but ti didn't really succeed. The whole reason that these stories were being strung together was because someone was watching them online. They're separated by a gnarly-looking hand surfing the web and clicking on links that led to the clips. The lady in this short ended up being on the other end of that hand. It's interesting enough, but the wrap-around aspect of it didn't make much sense. The point of a wrap-around story in an anthology is to bring all the separate stories together and make them click. This one didn't do that. There was  no reason that the woman was watching these clips, and it didn't do anything for the rest of the stories. Plus it was so short that it felt completely pointless.

Overall, Scary or Die is an okay horror anthology. It's got some interesting bits, but it's nothing that will leave you breathless. Clowned was great, but the rest were only so-so. Still, it wasn't a complete time-waster, and if you're like me, you'll come away from it at least a little bit entertained.


#293 -- Peter Rottentail (2004)

Directors: John Polonia & Mark Polonia
Rating: 2.5 / 5

First off, I want you to know that I really wanted to like this movie. When I found it on Blockbuster Online, I shoved it up to the top of my queue because I hoped that it was going to be great. The synopsis that Blockbuster gave me was extremely intriguing and sounded just stupid enough to be fucking awesome. I'm not going to bash the hell out of it, as I'm sure many, many people have already done. I think the movie had great potential, but it was just missing something -- probably the budget needed to make a movie like this work. I looked on IMDB; it didn't tell me what kind of budget they had to work with, but I assume it was somewhere around ten bucks. And that was probably just for the rabbit costume. Yeah, it's a bad movie -- really bad -- but it does have potential, and there were parts of it that I did kind of enjoy. I'm sure that I'm not the only one. There have to be others who enjoy this kind of thing, and there might even be someone out there who actually really likes this. Me, I didn't like it, which is a shame because I can see what it could have been. 

First thing, we see a magician trying to entertain at a party. I say trying because he's really dreadful. He leaves the party and meets a mysterious person outside. This guy speaks in the worst Jamaican accent I've ever heard in my life (I assume it was supposed be Jamaican because he said "Mon" at the end of every sentence). This guy/person/thing gives him a vial of something and tells him that it's going to help him out. He takes it, though he doesn't really believe anything the guy says. So, the magician, Peter the Great he calls himself, goes to entertain at a birthday party for two little boys. Again, he's dreadful. His rabbit is under the table taking a shit while he's trying to pull it out of his sleeve, he can't pull off any of his tricks, and no one at the party is enjoying him at all. They're actually pretty mean to him, which is understandable when you pay good money for someone who absolutely sucks. So, in an attempt to liven things up a bit, he decides to drink whatever it is that the weird guy gives him. He tells the kids that it's a potion that will turn him into Peter Rottentail, which is the evil offspring of bunny and man. Nothing happens. More mean things are said, and Peter the Great leaves the party feeling pretty dejected. As soon as he leaves, he starts hearing the voice of the weird guy in his head. The guy says that his soul belongs to him now, and that he will have to do his bidding. A magician's hat and a butcher knife appear out of thin air, and Peter chases one of the little boys, trying to kill him. He does not succeed, and he is now wanted by the police, so he goes home and shoots himself in the face. It's the one thing he was able to get right.

Cut to thirteen years later, and those two little boys are all grown up. They are cousins James and Lenny. James apparently is plagued by nightmares of his experience with the crazy magician. The two cousins go to their late grandmother's house to clean it up to be sold, and things go really sour. Peter the Great was summoned by a couple of pot heads a couple of days earlier, he rose from his grave in the form of a demented rabbit, and now he's going on a killing spree, apparently making his way to James. He uses only two weapons: either the butcher knife, or carrots that are apparently so sharp that they can pierce flesh. James is pretty scared throughout the entire movie. His dreams, along with the weird phone calls, make him feel certain that the magician is coming back for him. Lenny, of course, doesn't believe him. Peter eventually does catch up to James, and there's a battle that was clearly inspired by the Three Stooges.

A killer rabbit who uses carrots to kill people? It isn't hard to figure out that it's going to be stupid. I was hoping for an extremely funny, awesome kind of stupid, and I didn't get it. Peter tried to be a funny killer, but he succeeded only 5% of the time. He got a few laughs out of me, but most of them were from surprise at how stupid he was. There were maybe two times that he said something that was actually funny; one of them was when he told a girl, "Nice carrot patch." I'm not really sure what that means, but yeah...it's pretty funny. I also feel that he could have been pretty creepy if they'd used the right kind of lighting and shadows with him, and the guy who played that part was the only semi-decent actor in the entire movie. So, really, Peter was the only thing worthwhile here, and it's just a shame that he didn't live up to what he could have been. The story isn't the problem here; I actually liked that. Sure, it's a stupid plot, but I -- as well as plenty of other people -- can look past that if it's done well. It was even done in a way that made a far-fetched story make some sort of sense. Even the ending, and the way that Peter was defeated -- though it was a little too easy and cheesy -- made enough sense. I applaud them for that much, at least. I hate to say it, but I feel like, if they'd had a larger budget, it could have been better.

Yeah, it's stupid. I'm sure you knew that before you started reading this. But its stupidity isn't what makes it fail. It fails because it didn't live up to the potential I saw in it.

#292 -- The Raven (1963)

Director: Roger Corman
Rating: 4 / 5

Years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about this version of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem. My dad told me about it, and it was one particular scene he described that made me really want to see it: something about Vincent Price being put into a hole and then using his arms like wings to get himself out. Seriously? Gotta see it. So I watched it, and then I watched it again. I honestly think it only gets funnier the more you watch  it. IMDB says it's a comedy/fantasy/horror movie. I can definitely see the fantasy and horror aspects of it, but there's no denying the fact that it's mostly a comedy. This shit's funny, that's the bottom line.

So, at the beginning we've got a voice-over quoting The Raven. Then we've got a Dr. Craven (Price) sitting in a very luxurious room, drawing a neon-colored raven in thin air using only his finger. Yep, he's a fucking wizard. Or sorcerer, whatever you want to call him. In the movie, they call him a magician, but what he does is so much more than that of your regular magician. Anyways, while he's drawing this raven, he hears a peculiar rapping at his chamber door (it's actually the window, but you get my point), so he goes to see what the noise is. It is a beautiful raven. He asks the thing if it wants to come inside, it dips its head in reply, and he lets it into his room. It flies around for a minute, he talks to it, and eventually it starts to answer. You would think that, maybe Mr. Craven is losing his mind, but that's not the case. This raven is actually a man, a fellow magician who was turned into a bird during a magic duel. He came to Craven in hopes that he could help restore him to his rightful form. There's a potion that will do this, and the raven knows the ingredients, but Craven has to go down into his father's old laboratory to get them. The thing is, Craven is apparently a vegetarian, and the ingredients are extremely disgusting to him. He needs things like dead man's hair, jellied spiders, evaporated bat's blood, and other nasty things. But he's a benevolent man, so he helps the raven. Together, the get the potion going, the raven drinks it, and he turns back into a man.

The raven's name is actually Dr. Bedlo, and he was turned into a raven by Dr. Scarabus, who happens to be the Craven family's rival. Bedlo wants to return to Scarabus' castle to have his revenge on the man, and he wants Craven to accompany him, but he refuses, saying that Scarabus is far too dangerous a man. And Craven, lately, has been living a pretty tame life since his wife Lenore passed away. Bedlo, seeing a photograph of Lenore, tells Craven that he swears he saw the woman in Scarabus' castle only the night before, and Craven becomes convinced that the man has imprisoned his late wife's soul, so he finally agrees to go along. Craven's daughter, worried about her father's safety, also tags along. Before they leave, Bedlo's son Rexford shows up, and he goes along as well. Together, they all travel to the castle of Scarabus to see just what's going on. The whole thing turns out to be a scheme set in motion by Scarabus, because he wants the secret to Craven's wonderful magic. He's an evil, evil man, and the movie ends with an epic duel between the two.

There are many, many great things about this movie. First, let's talk about Craven and Scarabus' duel. It's pretty corny, but the effects were better than I would have expected. They've got streaks of light/power coming from their fingertips; they can make things appear out of thin air, and yes, Vincent Price did mimic a bird in order to get out of a hole that Scarabus created in his floor. There were also a lot of great people here. There was Vincent Price as Dr. Craven, of course; Boris Karloff was Dr. Scarabus, and Rexford Bedlo was played by a very young and handsome Jack Nicholson. Dr. Bedlo was played by a guy named Peter Lorre. I've never seen him in anything else, but I think he's wonderful. His character was an alcoholic, and he was absolutely hilarious. Besides all that great stuff, the movie was written by Richard Matheson, the same guy who wrote the book that I am Legend, as well as several other movies, was based on. So, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Richard Matheson, and the funny guy Peter Lorre...Ready to see it yet?

Even though all of these things I've mentioned are great in themselves, there's only one thing you really need to know about The Raven. A magical duel between Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. 'Nuff said.