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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Walking Dead - Episode 5 - Wildfire



 Having traveled last month, I missed out catching the ending of The Walking Dead. However, with the snow coming down and a blizzard at hand it was nice to finally be able to get caught up on what I have missed.
Plot/ Rick tries to make contact with Morgan to tell him his location. Back at camp, after the fight with the zombies, Jim has been bitten and is slowly beginning to change; Andrea mourns over Amy's death; and Shane blames it all on Rick for leaving. Now that camp isn't safe anymore, Rick decides that it's time for them all to move out. He plans to take them to the C.D.C., a military base, to find a cure for Jim and, hopefully, more survivors.

As I am finally catching up and finishing the Walking Dead, it was nice to see the focus change up a bit in this episode, focusing on the humanity of the situation at hand. While the pacing was a bit slow for my taste, I have to admit that it allowed for some very good moments within the developing story. Unfortunately, the season is about to come to an end. To me, the six episode format is something that has hampered this series from the beginning, with such a constricted timeline allotted to develop all of this intricacies of such a vast storyline, many parts have been truncated maybe too much. Still, this is one of the best television series I have seen and I look forward to finally catching the finale.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dead End (2003)



As the countdown to Santa’s arrival nears, I was searching for something to watch. That is when I stumbled upon, the 2003 semi-holiday horror flick Dead End.


Plot/ For the past 20 years, Frank Harrington has grudgingly driven his family to celebrate Christmas with his mother-in-law. This year, he takes a shortcut. It's the biggest mistake of his life: The nightmare begins. A mysterious woman in white wanders through the forest, leaving death in her wake. A terrifying black car - its driver invisible - carries the victims into the heart of the night. Every road sign points to a destination they never reach. The survivors succumb to panic, to madness; deeply buried secrets burst to the surface, and Christmas turns into a living hell.


I was extremely surprised by this flick. It was really an excellent example of what can be done with a low budget. The directors proved that with a minimalist concept of great story, solid small cast and a few locations, a great movie can be created. This movie excels by mixing a stripped down instrumental soundtrack with a claustrophobic aura that creates a paranoid atmosphere that drives everything. Throw in a script that has just enough comedic and sarcastic moments, and you have a winner. This is definitely a MUST see and a holiday horror that often gets overlooked


Friday, December 24, 2010

Tales from the Crypt (1972)



With the Steelers game on last night, it was not until late in the evening that I could relax and decide on another holiday horror classic. After some searching, I decided on the 1972 Amicus entry Tales from the Crypt.


Plot/ Five people are trapped in a crypt and are shown their futures by the evil cryptkeeper. They are given the option of avoiding their fates - by avoiding living out the rest of their lives.


This may be the best adaptation of the once controversial comic book, taking each of these stories directly from the pages. These tales are definitely a combination of the strange, terrifying and often baffling elements that seem to come out and perplex people. The script was solid, the cinematography was good and the atmosphere was tremendous. More importantly, the acting, which featured a cast with the likes of Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, Patrick Magee and Sir Ralph Richardson as the crypt keeper was very believable. In all, this is a fantastic piece of 1970s British Horror and one that make perfect viewing during the holiday season.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Christmas (1974)



After taking a night away from the computer to work on some Christmas items, it was back at it with the Bob Clark forgotten classic Black Christmas from 1974!


Plot/ A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.


This is a true horror classic! To me, it is clearly one of the biggest influences of the slasher genre and a film that helped shaped horror as we know it today. The atmosphere created does a masterful job of carrying a feeling of terror and dread throughout the film. Amazingly, this classic has stood the test of time, with a decent array of acting, believable plot, and a great use of sound and visual elements that really work. Truly an often overlooked masterpiece that may be the greatest holiday horror flick ever made and one that is a MUST see!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Legend of Hell House (1973)



With Santa Claus being such a big player in my last review, I figured I would go in a slightly different way with my next movie. With that in mind, I decided to go with the 1973 classic The Legend of Hell House for tonight’s entry.


Plot/ A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. Previous visitors have either been killed or gone mad, and it is up to the team to survive a full week in isolation, and solve the mystery of the Hell House.


Sure, this is not the perfect selection as a holiday horror flick, but hey, the timeline works. Plus, this is a classic tale of gothic horror which may truly be one of the best haunted house movies ever made. This film cries atmosphere, and is backed up by a tremendous soundtrack that supports the creepiness throughout the story. The acting is sound and very believable, something that gives the simple story a life of its own. Incredibly, there are almost no special effects, however, in this case it is a plus, adding to the tension throughout the flick. In the end, this remains one of the greatest supernatural / haunted house movies ever made and a must see.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa's Slay (2005)



With Christmas a mere week away, I figured it was the perfect time to enjoy some of the great holiday related horror flicks that have come to light over the years. My first entry, the 2005 Satanic Santa romp, Santa’s Slay.


Plot/ Iconic wrestler Bill Goldberg plays the devil's son who lost a wager with a angel and was forced to spend 1000 years playing Santa, but now the wager of that time has run out, and good old Santa isn't so joyful anymore. He makes up for lost time and starts to kill people.


Luckily, I did not go into this movie expecting anything, especially not a rational plot, good acting, or even credible special effects. However, I must say what I found was quite enjoyable on some absurd level. It does have some decent characters, some hilarious moments and Goldberg actually does a decent rendition of what an evil Santa should be. Ironically, there are some very creative kills, with Santa finding the oddest way of killing people throughout the flick (especially during the opening star-studded scene which had me rolling before the first ounce of blood had fallen). Unfortunately, to me, there is not enough gore to coincide with the amount of death and destruction, which would have definitely taken it to another level. Honestly, two Immaculate Conceptions, one Jesus and one Santa Claus, who needs more? If you are looking for a friendly, family-oriented Christmas movie, stay clear of this carnage-filled holiday massacre.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Star Wars (1977)



I was thinking about what to watch tonight, so I could do another review, when one of my daughters asked if she could watch Star Wars. For the life of me, I swore they had already watched every episode, guess not. So, although there is not much more I can add, my review tonight with be the classicStar Wars.


Plot/ Part IV in a George Lucas epic, Star Wars: A New Hope opens with a rebel ship being boarded by the tyrannical Darth Vader. The plot then follows the life of a simple farmboy, Luke Skywalker, as he and his newly met allies (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Ben Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2) attempt to rescue a rebel leader, Princess Leia, from the clutches of the Empire. The conclusion is culminated as the Rebels, including Skywalker and flying ace Wedge Antilles make an attack on the Empires most powerful and ominous weapon, the Death Star.


As everyone surely knows, this movie may have made cinema what it is today. In many ways, it did a remarkable job taking the typical fairy tale and turning it into an epic that will stand the test of time. It had it all, a love story, good versus evil, and more importantly a modern social twist of what society was going through at the time. The cinematography, soundtrack, acting and effects were tremendous, and the plot was even better. I will never forget being a small boy and hoping to someday live in a world exactly like what I had experienced, I swear I listened to that record hundreds of times trying to put myself into the vision. While this is not my favorite entry in the series (that would be The Empire Strikes Back), this is and remains an important movie in my life by demonstrating what a creative mind can accomplish when given a chance. This is a true CLASSIC and one that should be enjoyed by everyone for generations to come.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bay Cove (1987)



 I was searching for something to watch last night while researching items for the curiosity cabinet I am building, I stumbled upon the 1987 made for television film Bay Coven (Bay Cove). As a huge fan of Pamela Sue Martin as I was growing up (Nancy Drew was hot!), I could not pass up this flick.


Plot/ A young newlywed couple move into a remote village in middle America only to find a secret coven of witches who want them to join all the fun; or face the consequences.


I was not expecting much from this, but to my surprise, this is not a terrible film at all. In fact, I found it an interesting conglomeration of occult story ideas from movies of the past. The pacing was slow, but that actually added something to the tension, which builds up until the ending. The cinematography, acting and soundtrack are solid and work rather well, as do the special effects when they are used. All in all, this made for TV entry is a decent little mystery / thriller that is entertaining, and definitely brings back memories of Nancy Drew from my childhood.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)



 While I was on my small vacation, I saw a DVD on the shelf that looking interesting,the Human Centipede (first sequence). Having spent most of this past week searching for items to populate a curiosity cabinet, I decided to finally break down ands see what this has to offer (although, I am sure it will be nowhere near as good as the DVD case says it is). If something like this was real, it would definitely find its way onto a shelf in the curiosity cabinet.

Plot/ Two pretty but ditsy American girls are on a road trip through Europe. In Germany, they end up alone at night with a broken car in the woods. They search for help and find an isolated villa. The next day, they awaken to find themselves trapped in a terrifying makeshift basement hospital along with a Japanese man. An older German man identifies himself as a retired surgeon specialized in separating Siamese twins. However, his three "patients" are not about to be separated but joined together in a horrific operation. He plans to be the first person to connect people via their gastric systems. By doing so, he plans to bring to life his sick lifetime fantasy, the human centipede.


While hanging out with my brother Matt, I saw the case for this DVD and was intrigued. I am always interested in seeing things that try to press the boundary and this sounded like it would do just that. Personally, I do not care if it is medically accurate, it is a horror flick meant to shock. Unfortunately, there seem to be more bad points than good ones, considering the lack of scares, gore, pacing and atmosphere, but there is something that is at least a bit disturbing in the idea of creating a human centipede. I have to admit that idea, much like Frankenstein’s desire to create a human, is one that sends chills down my spine. Plus, it kept me a bit entertained as I waited patiently to see the end result. Sure, the ending was a bit disappointing but all in all, found it semi-enjoyable, different, but not as disturbing as everyone said is was.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Knowing (2009)



While working on updating my ETSY page, I decided to sit back and work on it with some Sci-Fi / end of the world entertainment. My selection for the evening, 2009s Knowing.


Plot/ A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions (some that have already occurred and others that are about to) that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.


This was sort of a mixed bag for me. The flick had a solid beginning complete with an interesting plot that did a great job of hooking you. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle it drifted until it had an unbelievably bad ending. In all, there was some great cinematography, haunting images and a decent plot. Everything was not great though; there was some stale acting, very predictable moments and special effects that looked very contrived. Overall, this is a solid Sci-FI entry that is entertaining. Yes, it is not perfect, and sure, the ending may make you groan out loud, but there are many interesting and entertaining movies that do that.