#326 -- The Last Exorcism (2010)

Director: Daniel Stamm
Rating: 3 / 5

The reason that I even wanted to see this movie is beyond me. I'm not a fan of exorcism-based movies, and I'm definitely not a fan of this found footage craze going on. But, for some reason, this movie intrigued me. It's probably those scenes in the trailers with that girl all bent up out of shape and looking creepy. Who knows. But I took the plunge and checked it out, even though I was still hesitant. I knew that the worst that could happen was that it would be absolutely horrible, and the best, naturally, that I would end up loving it. Neither of those things happened.

It follows Reverend Marcus, a man who has been in the preaching business pretty much his entire life. His father was a preacher, so it's only natural that he'd follow in his footsteps. His dad also reveals that exorcisms run in his family; they've been in the family for generations. Marcus is no different; he'd been doing exorcisms for years. When his son was born with an illness, and they weren't sure he would make it, things changed. His son ended up being perfectly fine, but the whole mess caused him to question his faith and what he was doing. He decided to stop doing exorcisms, because they were all scams and he was no longer into tricking people that way. So, he hired a film crew to follow him on his "last" exorcism, so that he could show them all his tricks and prove that they were, indeed, fake. He would actually rig things very elaborately to make these people believe there was a demon in their presence; and he didn't even believe in demonic possession.

So, he and his camera crew ended up at the farm of the Sweetzer family, where Nell Sweetzer was believed to be possessed by some demon. Marcus performed all his fake exorcism mumbo jumbo and had the family believing that all was well. But Nell still showed signs of some sort of ailment. They took her to the hospital, thinking that she was sick. That wasn't it. The Reverend became convinced that her problems were purely psychological, but her father refused to take her to a psychiatrist; he asked for a second exorcism, and threatened to take care of matters himself if Marcus wouldn't oblige. They also learned that Nell was pregnant, and the issue of incest arose. Marcus and his crew were extremely worried about Nell's well-being, as they'd become convinced that her father was sexually abusing her. Even though Nell had proved that she was dangerous, they refused to leave until they could get her away from her father. Of course, her father wasn't the problem here, and more demonic things were going on. His last exorcism ended up being the only one that was actually real.

Overall, I thought the movie was pretty good. The found footage bit wasn't that annoying, up until the end (people running around in found footage movies never looks good). For the most part, it was done in a way that allowed me to forget about it. I also think the actors were really great; they were very natural, and it felt like it was a real documentary. There were a couple of somewhat spooky moments, but I can hardly call it scary. It's not -- at all. The problem was that it was extremely slow. The characters were easy to care for, yes, but after a while it got boring. By the time the action started, it no longer had my full attention. Therefore, I was left feeling a bit confused. I'm not entirely sure if it's because I wasn't paying attention, or if that was the point all along. But the ending worked in its own way, so I wasn't disappointed by it; just confused. I'll definitely have to be seeing the sequel; hopefully it will answer some of the questions this one left me with.

Spoilers after the jump. Continue at your own risk.


#325 -- House at the End of the Street (2012)

Director: Mark Tonderai
Rating: 3 / 5

By now, everyone knows Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games. I think she's a beautiful girl, and I like how she always seems so natural in her acting. Still, I'm not so sure about her yet. I've become familiar with Max Thieriot from Bates Motel, and he's gorgeous as always; plus, he's a pretty good actor as well. In Bates Motel, he plays Norman's slightly less insane older brother, Dylan. Here, though, things are a bit different.

Synopsis from IMDB: A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over.

What's sad is that the synopsis tells you the entire movie, pretty much. There are some things thrown in for shock value, but even though you might not be expecting these things, they're far from shocking. Jennifer Lawrence plays Elissa, who apparently has a thing for fixing damaged boys. In comes Ryan, the survivor of an apparent slaughter by his younger sister, Cary Ann. He was supposedly away at an aunt's house while this happened, which is the only reason he's still alive. When his parents died, they left him the house, along with some insurance money. When that aunt died, he moved into the house with plans of fixing it up and selling it. That's what he wants everyone to think, anyways.

When Ryan first shows up, I really couldn't help but love him. He's so darn cute, and he was so sad and sweet. I really loved Elissa as well; the rocker chick who was sweet and quick to make friends. I was really rooting for them as a couple. But, of course, everyone has secrets. Ryan's secret was that he was keeping Cary Ann in the basement. She was supposed to have run off into the woods after killing their parents, but no one really knew what happened to her. Some thought she'd died, and some others thought she had become a wild-woman, living in the woods and keeping to herself. It had become a legend in only four years.  Ryan tells Elissa that Cary Ann had an accident when they were children that caused her to have brain damage, which was why she was so psychotic and always trying to escape. She wasn't all there, and he was only trying to protect everyone by keeping her locked up. The plot thickens, though, as more of Ryan's secrets are revealed.

As far as technical things go, it was pretty good. There was very little blood, so there wasn't really a need for special effects. The movie looked good, especially with all those attractive young faces, and the actors were all good. The problem was that there wasn't all that much to it. There were a couple of jump-scares, but they weren't chilling or creepy -- just surprising. Things sneaking up on you but not actually scaring you. There was practically no suspense whatsoever, even in the "build up," and the big reveal at the end was not original at all. I'll tell you this: It's Psycho meets Sleepaway Camp. There, I've ruined the ending for you.

Spoilers after the jump. Continue at your own risk.

#324 -- Wolf (1994)

Director: Mike Nichols
Rating: 2.5 / 5

Let me tell you, the idea of Jack Nicholson as a werewolf if fucking amazing. I've always found him to be one creepy motherfucker, and to turn him into this supernatural beast with a hunger for people meat? Please! I was pretty sure that Wolf would be wonderful, but...well, I was wrong.

I do think that 'ol Jack is a terrific actor, and it's definitely not his fault that this movie didn't work for me. He played a guy named Will Randall who, after getting into a car accident, was bitten by a wolf. Afterward, he returned to his job at a publishing company, where he was being put out of a job by his younger co-worker (who happened to be sleeping with his wife...and this guy was supposed to be his friend). He left his wife and started sleeping with Michelle Pfeiffer who, seriously, should have played his daughter instead. That whole relationship made me uncomfortable for some reason. He was working on a way to get revenge on that asshole I mentioned earlier, and hopefully get his job back in the process. Oh, and sometimes he'd wake up thinking that he might have killed someone in the middle of the night.

Really, this is more of a drama movie that focuses on Will's relationships and the betrayals that he has to face. All that's okay, I guess, but I really didn't give a shit. The werewolf seemed like more of an afterthought, rather than the main focus of the movie. As a drama, it would have been better had Will fallen deeply in love with Pfeiffer's character. He said he loved her, sure, but I wasn't really able to feel that. All I felt was that he was extremely angry about his friend betraying him, and that maybe that was why he couldn't control his transformations as well as he should have. As a horror movie....there are several ways that it could have been better. The pacing was extremely slow, and the whole thing was just boring. They spent more time in the bedroom than anything, and even that wasn't any good. It wasn't steamy or sexy at all, because the entire time I was thinking that he was way too old for her. If she'd called him Daddy, I would've lost it. Also, Jack Nicholson as a werewolf wasn't as awesome as I'd thought it would be. He just looked weird. Maybe it was their special effects; I'm not sure. But I think he's creepier the way he is, without putting on those contacts and fangs and dumping all that extra hair on him.

There was a fight scene at the end of the movie, so there is some action; but it takes far too long for it to show up, and when it does, it's not that great. It's lame. So, I'm sorry Jack, I love you. But as for Wolf...I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't like it. I grew up in the '90s, and I still love all those goodies. It was a great decade for cartoons, that's for sure. But I'm starting to think that the '90s wasn't the decade for horror...at all.

#323 -- The Darkest Hour (2011)

Director: Chris Gorak
Rating: 3 / 5

When I first heard about this movie, I was really interested in seeing it. Not because it looked like the coolest thing ever, but because I didn't know what the fuck it was about and I was intrigued. That was a smart move on their part, I guess, because it definitely roped me in. Then again, I waited for DVD instead of seeing it in theaters, so maybe not.

Plot: A group of youngsters witness some strange beings consuming everyone around them. They hide for a while, to be sure that they're safe, until they finally decide that they should venture outside. They wander through the city for a while until they meet up with an old man and a young girl. The man and girl have found a pretty decent way of keeping themselves safe, so the group sticks with them for a little while. They eventually learn of a possible safe haven, and they all venture outside once again to find it. Sound familiar? Once I really caught on, I couldn't help but feel that this was just 28 Days Later with a science fiction twist. I mean, the basics of it are pretty much spot on. There are some differences, of course, but it really felt like the same movie to me. Well, not the same, because...you know, 28 Days Later is a lot better.

The aliens, robots, or whatever those fucking things were...they sure didn't look like zombies. But if you think about it, they pretty much were. They weren't chowing down on these folks' heads, but they were, in a sense, eating them. The kids figured out that they were drawn to the electromagnetic energy inside their bodies, or something. Whenever the things got near, everything electrical would start going off; so I guess they were batteries. That's what I'll call them. The movie actually started off with a group, rather than one person who eventually met up with a group, and it took place in Moscow, rather than Britain. But other than that, it's essentially the same. I'm not sure if the film-makers were even aware of what they were doing, or if I'm the only one who sees it this way.

The movie was definitely interesting, but there are a few problems that I faced while watching it. Once I got it into my head that these things were zombies, I just couldn't feel anything for them. I love zombies, but not like this. I'm all for sculpting the undead into your own image, but this was a little much. I think if you go into it understanding that these things are Batteries, and not zombies, you might feel a little differently. Of course, you might feel exactly like I do. The second problem I had was that it was kind of hard to understand. I couldn't help thinking that I was too stupid to be watching this movie, because all that science talk made my head hurt. Sure, I got the majority of what was going on. I understand they were feeding on the energy in their bodies, and they were on their way to a much larger food source (energies below the city). But I didn't understand everything 100%, and that bugged me. I like to make myself believe I'm smarter than I actually am, and when that fake intelligence is questioned, I get a little testy. So maybe that's just a personal problem.

Besides all that junk, though, it's actually not bad. The idea of these unnamed creatures coming from some unknown place and devouring practically everything in sight...well, that's pretty scary. The fact that they were practically 100% invisible makes it even worse. There were enough nice friendships and budding relationships going on to keep the characters from being completely dull, but there was nothing that really blew me away. Overall, it was okay.


#322 -- Evil Dead (2013)

Director: Fede Alvarez
Rating: 4 / 5

I was beyond pissed when I realized that this movie was being remade. That anger was increased tenfold when I realized that there would be no Ash character; it just seemed completely pointless and made no sense whatsoever to leave out the character that made these movies. But I guess Bruce Campbell is just too old these days (though Ash returning to the cabin as an old dude sounds interesting to me...), and they didn't want to bring in a new actor for the character. Which I'm actually glad for, because I'd hate to see someone fuck that character up (which they most certainly would, because they're not Bruce Campbell). Anyways, the more I heard about it, and the more I saw the trailers, I started to think that it might actually be good. I read a lot of reviews stating that it was nothing but a gore-fest; some liked that, some didn't. I disagree with that statement, though. There's a lot of gore here, don't be mistaken, but that's not all the movie has going for it.

No, there's no Ash character. It follows a girl named Mia, a drug addict trying to sober up. She's there with her brother and a couple of their friends. I thought that aspect of it was very interesting, since they just thought she was going through withdrawal when she was possessed. The only person who knew what was really happening was the one who found the book and unleashed the demons (the other characters didn't even see the book until he told them that Mia was possessed).

I will say that this is one of the best remakes I've seen, and that's saying a lot because it's a remake of one of my favorite movies ever. I first saw the original when I was around ten years old, so it's been with me for pretty much my whole life. I've always had a soft spot for it, and I always will. But I think this one did exactly what a remake is supposed to do. It appealed to a new, younger audience, while still being able to please fans of the original. It introduced new characters, new situations, and new plots. It switched the story up, like it's supposed to. But it also stayed true to the original. Though everything was almost completely different, I still found parts of the original in there. They even used the first-person camera views when the deadites were coming. There was a boomstick (though, of course, none of these kids would dare call it that), and there was a chainsaw-hand. It didn't copy the original scene for scene (which I think is obvious from the trailers), and I'm glad for that, because...that would have just sucked. But they did honor it and respect it while still bringing new things to the table.

Some people seem to think that this has too much of a budget going for it; that the original worked so well because they had so little to work with. I disagree. I love the low budget charm that the original had, don't get me wrong. But I don't think that's what made the movie. What made the original Evil Dead was Bruce Campbell, plain and simple. That entire series would have been nothing without him. And I honestly believe that, if Sam Raimi did have a large budget back then, this is the movie that he would have made. He and Campbell were both there for it; they produced the damned thing. There's  no way they would have let them fuck it up. I did find a few problems with the movie, but they weren't really that big a deal.

Mia (who, I guess, is the "Ash" character) had the funny lines here. She's no Bruce, but she delivered one or two great one-liners. Like "Kiss me, you dirty cunt" and "Your sister's being raped in Hell!" But that was where the humor ended, which was cool with me. I think it would have been weird if she'd started shouting "Groovy!" all over the place. Okay, let's talk about the gore. There were some pretty gnarly scenes here. Limbs were being cut (or torn) off, faces being removed, and all sorts of other lovely delights. Most of those looked fucking wicked. There were also a couple of cringe worthy moments, like machetes through knee-caps (oh my fucking jesus, I can't handle that shit), and fingers being broken by crow bars. And the gore is pretty much constant. If you're a gore whore like me, you'll love it. The action starts right away and it doesn't stop until the credits roll, which was great. Speaking of credits, if you see this in the theater (which you should; there's no excuse for seeing it otherwise), you should stick around after the credits for something pretty cool. If you're an old school fan like myself, you'll really enjoy it.

So, was it as good as the original? Hell no. Was it the most terrifying film I've ever experience, as the poster suggests? Not even. But it's entertaining, exciting, and I was pleased by it. If you look at is as a remake, you'll definitely find problems, but they're not big ones. You have to compare it, it's only natural. But if you can take a minute and try to view this as its own movie entirely, you'll find that it's actually pretty great. If the original didn't exist, and this was something entirely new, I'd say it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. But since it is a remake of one of the greatest films ever made, I can hardly say that, now can I? I'm rambling, but the point is...either way you look at it, it's definitely a good movie.


#321 -- Otis (2008)

Director: Tony Krantz
Rating: 4.5/ 5

When I first heard about this movie, I knew it was something that I would love. Or at least, I hoped it would be something I loved. I knew it was about some guy who was abducting girls and keeping them locked up in his basement. It's a very dark subject, but the movie looked silly. In a good way, of course. It wasn't anything like I expected it to be, though. Where I expected a bumbling idiot stumbling his way through abduction after abduction, I got a disturbing and tragic tale that added a few laughs in for good measure.

So, the basic story is fairly simple. There's a guy named Otis, who keeps abducting pretty blonde teenagers and keeping them chained up in some room inside his home. Her name was Riley, but he called her Kim, as he did with all the other girls. He acted like a football player, dressed her up in a cheerleader's uniform, and told her that they would be going to prom together. If she didn't play along with his little "game," she would be blinded and burned by a bunch of light bulbs over her bed, or he would just come in and punch her in the face. The other girls were dumb; Riley was not. She learned, quite quickly, that if she wanted to survive, she'd have to play along.

That's some pretty disturbing stuff. Girls, put yourself in that position. Would you be able to play along with Otis, pretend to be his girlfriend and go along with his prom charade? Or you would do everything physically possible to get yourself out of the situation? A lot of the girls seemed to go with the latter, which is understandable due to stress and fear. But which is worse? To drive yourself crazy with the reality of the situation, or to let yourself succumb to the monster with the smallest amount of hope that you'd come out of it alive? There was no guarantee that Otis wouldn't kill her anyways, but she acted out his will and became someone that she wasn't in order to appease him. I think that, after so much of this, some girls would probably wish for death. If Otis didn't kill her, and she kept playing along, would he let her go free once prom was over? No, certainly not. He'd risk exposure; and he wouldn't let her get away, the one who obliged him and made him happy. He would keep her there, a prisoner of his desires until he was either caught or killed, or both. That could be a long time. Even though it is a fairly silly movie (though not nearly as silly as I thought it was going to be), it does have a grim atmosphere, and the things taking place are very real and very dark.

The entire movie wasn't spent in that basement with "Kim" and Otis. The last half of the movie was spent watching Riley's parents break down, and their search for revenge on the monster who harmed their little girl. I think it goes to show that you can only push people so far until they break, and no matter how much of a monster you (or they) might think you are, they'll return with a savageness in their hearts that you will not be able to destroy. The family was so devastated by Riley's disappearance that they were not only heartbroken and worried sick, but they were absolutely infuriated. Once they discovered the identity of the madman, they'd stop at nothing to see that he was stopped. Prison was too good for him. They fucked it up, which was where the comedy popped up. But that rage was still there, and that emotion was also very real.

Toward the end of her imprisonment, I thought I saw a glimmer of forgiveness in Riley. You could catch her smiling as she was dancing with Otis during their "prom," and I felt like she didn't want her parents to do what they had planned. There was one point, where her brother mentioned Otis raping her, and she said..."He didn't rape me. He wanted to, but he couldn't. He just...danced with me." I think that quote adequately sums up the tragedy that was Otis. He was a monster, there's no doubt about that. But this character was so sad that I felt bad for him. I can see his life as vividly as if they'd shown it to me on screen; that's how much emotion I felt from the character. In high school, there was a cheerleader named Kim. Otis was in love with her, but she barely knew he existed; and if she did, she was probably cruel to him. I think he probably tried out for the football team as well, and was rejected. There were scenes with him and his brother, who was also very cruel to him. He called him names, shoved him around, and made him feel like the lowest form of scum on the planet. Even though most would agree that he was indeed all of those things, his brother didn't know anything about the girls in the basement. He simply did not respect Otis at all. I'm sure his childhood was much the same, and his parents were probably just as cruel to him as his brother was. Otis was extremely lonely, and I think Riley could see that.

So, this is a movie that I expected to be very silly. Turns out, it wasn't all that silly after all. Some parts, yes, but mostly it was a disturbing and sad story about a lonely man who would do anything for some love. It left a mark on me, emotionally, which is very rare these days. If anyone knows the song "Prom Queen" by The Insane Clown Posse...This movie is that song come to life. I think it would be incredibly disturbing to watch Otis with that song playing in the background...Something I might have to check into one day.

On a brighter note...Remember the little baby sister in "Growing Pains"? Well, she's all grown up now and looking pretty darn cute.

#320 -- Hold Your Breath (2012)

Director: Jared Cohn
Rating: 3 / 5

I first found this movie in Wal-Mart's little five dollar bin. I thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to shell out the cash to buy it. Sure, it's only five bucks; but I'm a cheapo, so I've got to be absolutely sure about something before I'll buy it. A couple of days ago, I realized it was available for instant streaming on Netflix, so I didn't have to buy it after all. Though it's definitely not a terrible movie, I'm kind of glad I didn't buy it that day. It's not bad, but it's definitely not a movie that I'd be dying to own.

It's about a group of twenty-somethings getting together after being apart, I assume, since high school. They were on their way to a campground way out in the woods (a campground you can just drive right into without paying -- the kind I need to find!). Automatically, we know that this is not a good idea, even if we know nothing about the movie at all. But the first of the movie showed us a deranged serial killer being fried in the electric chair (but not before killing a warden as a last "fuck you!" to everyone), so we know it's going to have something to do with him. On the way to the campground, they passed a little cemetery. One of the girls made everyone hold their breath, because of an old superstition that the evil spirits buried there would be able to possess them if they didn't. Everyone agreed to appease her, except the token stoner, because he was too busy choking on marijuana. The evil spirit of that serial killer possessed him, and later made him murder a police officer. Every once in a while, the spirit would jump between their bodies, making it impossible to fully trust any of them.

There were a few different locations present here. One, of course, was their campground. They explored an old abandoned prison in one segment, which was the best. I thought they should have used that location more. They eventually met up with an ex-security guard of the sanitarium where the killer had been. He was the typical character who knew absolutely everything about their situation, and he promised that, if they did everything he said they'd be able to get rid of the spirit and save their lives.

I want to take a moment to explain my rating system. In most systems, a three-star rating means "I liked it." At least the systems I'm used to. But here's how mine works. 1 star - I hated it. 2 - I didn't like it. 3 - It was okay. 4 - I liked it. 5 - I loved it. So, that's why so many movies here have three star ratings, because most of the movies I've been watching lately are simply okay. There's nothing about Hold Your Breath to make me absolutely hate it, or to say that I didn't like it. It had an interesting story, though the characters were bland (I'm used to that, though, so that's nothing), and it never actually bored me or anything. The problem with these movies is that they lack something that I just can't explain. That, and the fact that they always fail to blow me away. So, if you should decide to give this one a go, you'll be entertained for a little while. You won't necessarily regret watching it, but you won't seek it out for a second viewing.


#319 -- A Little Bit Zombie (2012)

Director: Casey Walker
Rating: 3.5 / 5

When I found this movie on Netflix, what I expected was a fun and quirky ride. Zombies are a fairly easy subject to turn into comedy, and I've seen several very good zombie-comedies. I expected no differently from this one.

What got me was when Netflix told me about the main character trying to fight becoming a zombie. I expected some funny shit to go down while this guy was resisting the virus. The movie started off with a couple of zombie hunters being all bad-ass like they're supposed to be. The woman had some kind of orb that could alert them to the zombies' locations. While they were fighting zombies, a mosquito wandered in and sucked one of the zombies' blood. In an awesome transition scene, it ended up following a group of kids to a cabin out in the woods. They were Steve and his fiance Tina; Steve's sister Sarah and her husband Craig. While trying to break up a fight between Sarah and Tina, Steve got bitten -- several times -- by the zombie mosquito. This is how he became a member of the undead. Meanwhile, the zombie hunters' orb started acting funny. The woman was certain that this meant there was a hybrid somewhere -- someone who was resisting the infection -- and that finding them could mean finding a cure. So they set out on a search for Steve.

Steve definitely had a time of figuring out what was happening to him. At first, he just thought he was sick. Sarah was sure that it was his body's way of telling him he shouldn't marry Tina. But every time anyone said the word "brains," he dropped about a gallon of drool into his lap; when the zombie hunters showed up, he hid and considered the fact that, maybe, he was a zombie somehow. They ended up going to a redneck meat market, where all sorts of animal brains were available for sale. They bought 'em all. Steve felt better for a while, but a book from the zombie hunters gave them said that his system would always reject animal brains. He needed a human. So the girls dressed up like hookers, went to the local bar, and picked up the biggest guy they could find. Steve wasn't a very good zombie, though, because he just couldn't bring himself to kill.

There are definitely some funny bits here. Eating rattlesnake and skunk brains is one thing. Steve having his ear stapled back to his head is another. But my favorite was when he said he didn't think he could eat a woman. This gave Craig an arsenal of jokes about Steve being a gay zombie. Great stuff.

I can't find a whole lot wrong with this movie. The actors were great. Some might say they were over the top, and I would agree, but I believe that their performances were purposely hyped up. The effects were great, especially the transition scenes with the mosquito in the beginning. The soundtrack was wonderful, and I'd love to get my hands on it. The zombie hunters and their orb gave the whole thing a kind of mystical feel, and there were definitely some laugh out loud moments. It's a great movie for some light entertainment, but at the end of the day, I just felt like it wasn't as good as it could have been. It wasn't the best of its kind that I've seen, but it's definitely an entertaining show.


#318 -- Revenge of the Zombies (1943)

Director: Steve Sekely
Rating: 3 / 5

It's really amazing how watching these old zombie movies can make you realize just how much they've changed. As if it isn't obvious to being with, watching things like this will make it certain. It seems like, back then, they still went the route of the Haitian zombies -- portraying them more like servants than flesh-eating monsters. I haven't seen many of the really old, pre-Romero zombie movies, but the ones I have seen make me really appreciate what he did for them. If zombies had stayed like this, I don't think they would have stuck with us the way they have. There would be no Plants vs. Zombies or -gasp!- The Walking Dead, even. Zombies would be what they're supposed to be: dead. But I digress. The point is, zombies were way different back then. Not bad, just different.

This one is about a man named Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann. With a name like that, I assume he was supposed to be German, but he was played by John Carradine, so I think you know how that goes. Anyways, he was in the business of killing folks and turning them into zombies, which he later revealed was an attempt to create an unstoppable army for the government. To my knowledge, this is at least one of the first movies to use the "zombies as super soldiers" story, but I can't be sure. Anyways, the movie started off with a guy who had some suspicions about his sister's death; his sister being, of course, von Altermann's wife. Along with a friend and a doctor, he went to the von Altermanns' home to investigate. At first, everything seemed perfectly normal. The body of Lila von Altermann was safely in her coffin for the majority of the time, until her husband perfected his experiment and finally woke her. He had several other zombie servants, but they served little to no purpose other than scaring the human servants half to death. But Lila von Altermann was different. Where the other zombies simply obeyed without any emotions or personal thought processes, she still had a mind of her own. And she didn't like the idea of being a servant to her own husband. I think you know where this is going...

I think the idea of this movie was great. He was raising an army of the undead. He turned his wife into one of them, but she ended up wanting to destroy him and take control of the other zombies herself. Awesome. The problem is that there wasn't much happening. Most of the time, the three guys were wandering around the house wondering what was up with von Altermann. Once any real action actually took place, the movie was over. I understand that, with these old movies, I can't expect a whole lot of action scenes with exploding cars and heads rolling all over the place. But that doesn't mean that there can't be something fast paced and exciting, because I've seen it done very well before. The best thing about this movie was Jeff, one of the human servants. He was a scaredy cat, jumped at the slightest sound, and didn't like von Altermann's zombies at all. He was absolutely hilarious, and he stole the show here. Other than that, this one was pretty forgettable.


#317 -- Ringu (1998)

Director: Hideo Nakata
Rating: 3 / 5

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I like to pretend I'm cool because I watch foreign movies. But truthfully, sometimes I just don't get them. For the most part, I do really enjoy Asian horror movies, but I can hardly call myself an expert on the subject. Sometimes I just can't get behind them. So, if you catch me saying something like "That's a remake of [insert Asian movie title], you should watch the original," don't pay attention. I'm just talking shit. I actually have no idea what I'm talking about.

That being said, I only slightly enjoyed Ringu. While the story behind it is definitely intriguing and terrifying, the movie itself just failed to give me that special feeling. The story here follows Asakawa, a reporter who finds herself surrounded by the mysterious legend of a killer video tape. She was researching and talking to locals about this tape, when her niece died. She came to believe that her death had something to do with the tape, so she took her research to another level. She ended up in possession of the tape and found herself with only one week to live. Her ex husband helps her in her research, and the search to find a cure for this "curse."

At the basics of it, the remake is the same. It's got the same basic story and follows a woman, her husband (or ex, I can't remember if they went the same way there), and their son. But the remake had several things that this one didn't. For one thing, this one just wasn't scary. There were a few scenes that I assume were meant as jump scares, but they just didn't set in. Even the typical Asian-horror theme -- the creepy, long, black hair -- didn't work very well for me. I think the terror here lies in the "what-if". The idea of this kind of thing happening to you is absolutely terrifying. The idea that you know, without a doubt, that you're going to die in a week...and you're racing the clock to figure out how to prevent that is scary as hell. But watching it on screen just didn't do anything for me. The majority of the time was spent with the characters doing research and travelling back and forth between locations.

There was one interesting concept that I don't remember being present in the remake -- that Sadako and her mother had magical powers, and that is what led to their deaths. Her mother was a psychic, and Sadako was able to kill people simply by wishing it. But other than that, it was generally unremarkable. I've seen Ringu 0, which is a prequel to this one, and I enjoyed it more. It focuses on Sadako's life before she was killed. Even though I can hardly classify it as horror as it's not scary either, it's an extremely sad story that I could get behind simply because of the emotions.

So, here we have something very rare. I actually liked the American version better. I thought it was scarier, it explained the ghostly occurrences better, and it succeeded in getting under my skin. When I first saw it, I was worried that I'd be afraid to watch television anymore. That didn't happen, of course, but you get my point. It left a mark. This one didn't.


#316 -- Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Director: Bradley Parker
Rating: 3.5 / 5

At first look, the story here seems extremely interesting. The idea of abandoned towns is intriguing on its own, but add in a group of people apparently experiencing some horrible things there, and you've got the potential for something really great. I was really interested in Chernobyl Diaries when I first saw an ad for it, but I put off watching it because I thought it was a found footage movie -- which is something I'm never all  that fond of. But I took the plunge and realized that it's actually not, which was good. I also realized that it's a pretty good movie.

A group of friends were travelling through Europe when they were talked into taking an extreme tour of the town that was abandoned by the Chernobyl disaster. The group was led by Uri, who specialized in extreme tours. At first, it seemed like an average tour through an interesting part of the area's history, and Uri assured them that they would be safe. The soldiers that were guarding the area, however, thought differently. They wouldn't allow them to enter; but Uri wouldn't let that stop him. He took them to a different entrance out in the woods, and they began their tour. Surely, the fact that their tour guide wasn't allowed to enter should have been there first sign that it wasn't such a great idea; but they were looking for an adventure, and an adventure was what they were going to get. When car trouble prevented them from leaving, Uri went out searching for some help and was killed by a pack of radioactive dogs. One of the others was injured by the dogs, making it impossible for him to do much of anything. Once the rest of the group realized just how dire their situation was, they went out in search of help as well. Along the way, they discovered that, along with the radioactive dogs, there were apparently radioactive people as well. It became a struggle to find their way through the city that became a maze, all the while trying to avoid the dogs and zombie-like creatures.

All of that is great, but I feel like the movie wasn't as good as it could have been. The so-called radioactive dogs just looked like normal German Shepherds. It never gave a really good look at the people, so I'm not sure what they looked like. I can only assume that they were zombies, because...well, I like zombies. You can make your own assumptions on that point. Other than that, I was entertained by the movie. The characters weren't the best, but they were good. There was the soon-to-be-engaged couple, the big brother, the newlyweds, and of course, the loner. One half of the soon-to-be-engaged was played by Jesse McCartney, so I was destined to root for him. I spent a good two or three years of my life (from around ages 9-12) dreaming about going to New York and making him fall in love with me. So, there's that. His big brother was played by Jonathan Sadowski, who was in the newest Friday the 13th. Naturally, that gave him a special spot as well. But it wasn't just who they were that made me like the characters. I actually did like these two guys. Chris (McCartney) was the sweet one, getting ready to pop the question. He and Paul had the typical big-bro/little-bro relationship, and I think they did a really good job. The rest of the characters were okay, but my main focus was on these two.

A lot of people seem to have issues with this movie for different reasons. How it was made, or the fact that it was based on such a tragic event. None of that matters. I had some issues with it as well, but they were far from major. What it boils down to is entertainment. I never lost interest, and it kept me wanting more. The ending, though not at all what I'd hoped for, made sense and worked perfectly with the story. So, at the end of the day, Chernobyl Diaries was a success in my eyes.